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Full text of "Run to earth"

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BERKELEY 

LIBRARY 

UWJVERSITY OF 
CALIPORNIA 



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Cbe Jlulbor's eaiiion 



RUN TO EARTH 



NOVELS BY THE SAME AUTHOR. 



Lady Audley's Secret. 
Henry Dunbar. 
r.leanor's Victory. 
Aurora Floyd. 
John Marchmont's 

Legacy. 
The Doctor's Wife. 
Only a Clod. 
Sir Jasper's Tenant. 
Trail of the Serpent. 
The Lady's Mile. 
Lady Lisle. 

Captain of the Vulture. 
Birds of Prey. 
Charlotte's Inheritance. 
P.upert Godwin. 
Run to Earth. 
Dead Sea Fruit. 
Ralph the Bailiff. 
Fenton's Quest. 
Lovels of Arden. 
Robert Ainsleigh. 
To the Bitter End. 
Willy Darrell. 
Strangers and Pilgrims. 
Lucius Davoren. 
Taken at the Flood. 
Lost for Love. 
A Strange World. 
Hostages to Fortune. 
Dead Men's Shoes. 
Joshua Haggard. 
Weavers and Weft. 



An Open Verdict. 

Vixen. 

ihe Cloven Foot. 

The Story of Barbara, 

Just as I am. 

Asphodel. 

Mount Royal. 

The Golden Calf. 

Phantom Fortune. 

Flower aiid Weed 

Ishmael. 

Wyllard's Weird. 

Under the Red Flag. 

One Thing Needful. 

Mohawks. 

Like and Unlike. 

The Fatal Three. 

The Day will come. 

One Life, One Love. 

Gerard. 

The Venetians. 

All along the River. 

Thou art the Man. 

TheChristmas Hirelings. 

Sons of Fire. 

London Pride. 

Under Love's Rule. 

Rough Justice. 

In High Places. 

His DarHng Sin. 

The Infidel. 

The Conflict. 

A Lost Eden. 



R 



UN TO EARTH 



^^^' . t , B, 



M. E.^BRADDON 

Aui/ior of ''LADY A UDLEVS SECRET," " VIXEN 
''LONDON PRIDE," ETC. 



^ 



Xonbon 

SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, HAMILTON, KENT & CO., Ltd. 



CONTENTS. 



1 '^ 



I. Warned in a Dream ,♦♦,,. 1 

II. Done in the Darkness ■. » * . . 13 

in. Disinherited ..,..,.. 27 

rv. Out or the Depths 34 

T. " Evil, be Thou my Good ! ■ 46 

VI. AuLD Robin Gray 51 

VII. " O Beware, My Lord, of Jealousy I *' , .72 

VIII. After the Pic-nic 85 

IX. On Yarborough Tower 96 

X. "How ART Thou Lost! How on a Suddkn Lost I" 106 

XI. "The Will! the Testament! " . . . .115 

XII. A Friend in Need ..*.... 137 

xiii. In Your Patience Ye are Strong , , . 151 

xrv. A Ghostly Visitant 160 

XV. A Terrible Resolve ....... 3171 

jvi. Waiting and Watching ..... 182 

XV ij. Doubtful Society .187 

I VIII. At Anchor 200 

XIX. A Familiar Token ....... 205 

XX. On Guard 211 

XXI. Down in Dorsetshire 225 

XXII. Arch-Traitor Within, Arch-Plotter Without 232 

XXIII. " Answer me, if This be Done ? " . . . . 245 

XXIV. "I AM Weary of my Part" .... 258 
XXV. A Dangerous Alliance 274 

XXVI. Move the First 286 

xxvii. Weave the Warp, and Weave the Woof . . 289 

rxviii. Preparing the Ground ..... 298 

XXIX. At Watch 303 

XXX. Fount) Wanting ...... 307 

XXXI. "A Worthless Woman, MERE Cold Clat" . . 320 

ixxii. A Meeting and an Explanation . . . 328 

xxxin. "Treason has Done his Worst" .... 336 

xxxiv. Caught in the Toils 348 

XXXV. Larkspur to the Rescue! ..... 353 

xxxvi. On the Track 363 

ixxvn. " O, above Measure False I " 371 

rxxviii. "Thy Day is Come" 389 

xxxix. " Confusion Worse than Death "... 398 

xIm "So Shall t» Eiur»" 405 



697 



CHAPTER 1. 

WAluSJiD LN A DUE AM. 

6£VE>t'-AJfD-TWENTY years ago, and a bleak evening in MarcL 
There aie gas-lamps llaring down in Eatcliff Highway, and 
the sound of squeaking fiddles and trampling feet in many 
public-houses tell of festivity provided for Jack-along-shore. 
The emporiums of slop-sellers are illuminated for the better 
display of tarpaulin coats and hats, so stiff of build that they 
look like so many sea-faring suicides, pendent from the low 
ceilings. These emporiums are here and there enlivened by 
festoons of many-coloured bandana handkerchiefs; and on ever)- 
pane of glass in shop or tavern window is painted the glowing 
representation of Britannia's pride, the immortal Union Jack. 

Two men sat drinking and smoking in a Httle parlour at the 
back of an old public -house in Shadwell. The room was about 
ae large as a good-sized cupboard, and was illuminated in the 
day-time by a window commanding a pleasant prospect of 
coal-shed and dead walk The paper on the walls was dark and 
greasy with age ; and every bit of clumsy, bulging deal furni- 
ture in the room had been transformed into a kind of ebony by 
the action of time and dirt, the greasy backs and elbows of idle 
loungers, the tobacco-smoke and beer-stains of half a century. 

It was evident that the two men smokin;^ and drinking in this 
darksome little den belonged to the seafaring community. In 
this they resembled each other; but in notliing else. One was 
tall and stalwart; the other was small, and ^vizen, and mis- 
shapen. One had a dark, bronzed face, with a frank, fearless 
expression; the other was pale and freckled, and had small. 
li'T'-ht-gray eyes, that shifted and blinked j^erpetaally, and shifted 
and blinked most when he was talking with most animation. 
The first had a sonorous bass voice and a resonant laugh; the 
second spoke in suppressed tones, and had a trick of droppinj^ 
nis voice to a whisper whenever he was most enerizetic. ^ 

The first was captain and half-owner of the brigantinf- 
** Pizarro," trading between the port of London and the coast 
of Mexico. The second was his clerk, factotum, and confidant; 
half- sailor, half-landsman : able to take the helm in dangeroui 



2 * Run to Earth. 

weather, if need were ; and able to afford hia employer ooonad 
iu the most intricate questions of trading and speculation. 

The name of the captain was Valentine Jernam, that of his 
factotum Joyce Harker. The captain had found him in an Ameri- 
can liospital, had taken compassion upon him, and had offered 
him a free passage home. On the homeward voyage, Joyce 
Harker had shown himself so handy a personage, that Captain 
Jernam had declined to part with him at the end of the cruise: 
and from that time, the wizen little hunchback had been tha 
stalwart seaman's friend and companion. For fifteen years, 
during which Valentine Jernam and his younger brother, George, 
had been traders on the high seas, things had gone well with 
these two brothers ; but never had fortune so liberally favoured 
their trading as during the four years in which Joyce Harker 
had prompted every commercial adventure, and guided every 
speculation. 

" Four years to-day, Joyce, since I first set eyes upon your 
face in the hospital at New Orleans," said Captain Jernam, in 
the confidence of this jovial hour. *' ' Why, the fellow's dead,' 
Baid I. ' No ; he's only dying,' says the doctor. ' What's the 
matter with him P' asked I. ' Home-sickness and empty pockets,' 
says the doctor; *he was employed in a gaming-house in the 
city, got knocked on the head in some row, and was brought 
here. We've got him through a fever that was likely enough to 
have finished him ; but there he lies, as weak as a starved rat. 
He has neither money nor friends. He wants to get back to 
England ; but he has no more hope of ever seeing that country 
than I have of being Emperor of Mexico.' ' Hasn't he ?' says 
I ; ' we'll tell you a different story about that, Mr. Doctor. If 
you can patch the poor de\al up between this and next Monday, 
I'll take him home in my ship, without the passage costing him 
sixpence.' You don't feel offended with me for having called 
you a poor devil, eh, Joyce ? — for you really were, you know — 
you really were an uncommonly poor creature just then," mur- 
uinred the captain, apologetically. 

" Offended with you ! " exckimed the factotum ; " that's a 
likely thing. Don't T owe you my life ? How many more of 
my countrymen passed me by as I lay on that hospital-bed, and 
loft me to rot there, for all they cared ? I heard their loud 
voices and their creaking boots as I lay there, too weak to lift 
my eyelids and look at them ; but not too weak to curse them." 

" No, Joyce, don't say that." 

*' But I do say it ; and what's more, I mean it. I'll tell you 
what it is, captain, there's a general opinion that when a man's 
•ihouMers are crooked, his mind is crooked too; and that, if his 
boor unfortunate legs have shrivelled up small, his heart must 
liave hhrivelled up small to match 'em. I dare say there's &ome 



Warned in a Bream. 8 

h ath in the general opinion ; for, jou see, it doesn't improve a 
man's temper to find himself cnt ont according to a different 
pattern from that his fello\v-creatures have been made by, and 
to lind his fellow-creatnres setting themselves against him because 
of that difference; and it doesn't soften a poor wretch's heart 
towards the world in general, U) find the world in general harder 
than stone against him, for no better reason than'his poor weak 
legs and his poor crooked back. But never mind talking about 
me and my feehngs, captain. I ain't of so much accou'nt as to 
make it worth while for a fine fellow like you to waste words 
upon me. What I want to know is your plans. You don't 
Intend to stop down tliis way, do you ?" 
"Why shouldn't I. »" 

" Because it's a dangerous way for a man who carries his for- 
tune about him, as you do. I wish you'd make up your mind to 
bank that money, captain." 

"Not if I know it," answered the sailor, with a look of pro- 
found wisdom ; " not if I k:;ow it, Joyce Harker. I know whai 
your bankers are. You go to them some fine afternoon, and find 
a lot of clerks standing behind a bran new mahogany counter, 
everything bright, and shining, and respectable. ' Can I leave a 
few hundreds on deposit ? ' asks you. ' Why, of course you can,' 
reply they ; and then you hand over your money, and then they 
Land you back a little bit of paper. ' That's your receipt,' say 
they. • All right,' say you ; and off you sheer. Perhaps you 
fe«jl just a little bit queerish, when you get outside, to think that 
all your solid cash has been melted down into that morsel of 
p.'iper; bat being a lii^^ht-hearted, easy-going fellow, you don't 
think any more of it, till you come home from your next voyage, 
and go ashore again, and want your money; when it's ten to one 
ff you don't find your fine new bank shut up, and your clejks and 
bran-new mahogany counter vanished. Xo, Joyce, I'll trust no 
bankers." 

" I'd rather trust the bankers than the people down this way, 
any day^in the week," answered the clerk, thoughtfully. 

" Don't you worry yourself, Joyce ! The money won't be in 
my keeping very long. George ia to meet me in London on the 
fiflh of April, at the latest, he says, unless winds and waves are 
more contrary than ever they've' been since he's had to do with 
them ; and you know George is my banker. I'm only a sleeping 
partner in the firm of Jemam Brothers. George takes the 
money, and George does what he hkes with it — puts it here and 
there, and speculates in this and specidates in that. You've got 
% business head of your own, Joyce; you're one of George's own 
g^.rt; and you are up to all his dodges, which is more than I am. 
However, he tells me we're getting rich, and that's pleasant 
aaou^di— not that I think I should break my heart about it if we 



4 IiHH to Earth. 

were getting poor. I .luxe the sea because it is the sea, and 1 
love my ship for her own sake." 

" Captain George is right, though," answered the clerk. " Jer- 
nam Brothers are growing rich ; Jernam Brothers are prospering. 
But you haven't told me your plans yet, captain." 

'• Well, since you say I had better cut this quarter, T suppose 
I must ; though I like to see the rigging above the housetops, 
and to hear the jolly voices of the sailors, and to know that the 
" Pizarro '' lies hard by in the Pool. However, there's an old 
aunt of mine, down in a sleepy little village in Devonshire, who'd 
be glad to see me, and none the worse for a small slice of Jernam 
Brothers' good luck; so I'll take a place on the Plymouth coach 
to-morrow morning, and go down and have a peep at her. You'll 
be ab^e to keep a look-out on the repairs aboard of the " Pizarro," 
and I can be back in time to meet George on the fifth,** 

" Where are you to meet him P" 

" In tliis room." 

The factotum shook his head. 

" You're both a good deal too fond of this house," he said 
** The people that have got it now are strangers to us. They've 
bought the business since our last trip. I don't like the look oi 
them." 

"No more do I, if it comes to that. I was sorry to hear the 
old folks had been done up. But come, Joyce, some more rum- 
and-water. Let's enjoy ourselves to-night, man, if I'm to start 
by the first coach to-morrow morning. What's that ?" 

The captain stopped, with the bell-rope in his hand, to listen 
to the sound of music close at hand. A woman's voice, fresh 
and clear as the song of a sky-lark, was singing " Wapping Old 
Stairs," to the accompaniment of a feeble old piano. 

" What a voice !" cried the sailor. " Why, it seems to pierce 
to the very core of my heart as I listen to it. Let's go and hear 
the music, Joyce." 

" Better no^ captain," answered the warning voice of the 
clerk. •' I tell you they're a bad lot in this house. It's a sort 
of concert they give of a night ; an excuse for drunkenness, and 
riot, and low company. If you're going by the coach to-morrow, 
you'd better get to bed early to-night. You've been drinking 
quite enough as it is." 

"Drinking!" cried Valentine Jernam; " why, I'm as sober 
as a judge. Come, Joyce, let's go and listen to "that girl's sin^r 
ing." 

The captain left the room, and Harker followed, shrugging 
his shoulders as he went. 

"There's nothing so hard to manage as a baby of thirty years 
nl.l," he muttered^ "a blessed infant that one's obliged to cUJ 
chaste? " 



Warned in a Dream. 5 

He followed the captain, tlirougli a fli^^'J little passage, into 
a room with a sanded tloor, and a little platform at one end 
The room was full of sailors and disreputable-looking women ; 
and was lighted by several jets of coarse gas, which tiarcd in Liie 
bleak March wind. 

A group of black -bearded, foreign-looking seamen made room 
for the captain and his companion at one of the tables. Jemam 
acknowledged their courtesy with a friendly nod. 

" I don't mind standing treat for a civil fellow like you," he 
said; "come, mates, what do you say to a bowl of punch?" 

The men looked at him and grinned a ready assent. 

Valentine Jemam called the landlord, and ordered a bowl of 
rum-punch. 

" Plenty of it, remember, and be sure you are not too liberal 
with the water," said the captain. 

The landlord nodded and laughed. He was a broad-shouldered, 
square-built man, with a flat, pale face, broad and square, Hke 
his figure — not a pleasant-looking man by any means. 

Valentine Jernam folded his arms on the rickety, liquor-stained 
table, and took a leisurely survey of the apartment. 

There was a pause in the concert just now. The girl had 
finished her song, and sat by the old square piano, waiting till 
she should be required to sing again. There were only two per- 
formers in this primitive species of concert — the girl who sang, 
and an old blind man, who accompanied her on the piano ; but 
such entertainment was quite sufficient for the patrons of thg 
" Jolly Tar," seven-ar»d-twenty years ago, before the splendours 
of modern music-halls nad arisen in the land. 

Valentine Jernam's dark eyes wandered round the room, till 
they lighted on the face of the girl sitting by the piano. Thei>* 
^hey fixed themselves all at once, and seemed as if rooted to the 
face on which they looked. It was a pale, oval face, framed in 
6ands of smooth black hair, and lighted by splendid black eyss ; 
the face of a Eoman empress rather than a singing-girl at a 
pubHc-house in Shad well. JTever before had Valentine Jemam 
looked on so fair a woman. He had never been a student or 
admirer of the weaker sex. He had a vague kind of idea that 
there were women, and mermaids, and other dangerous creatures, 
lurking somewhere in this world, for the destruction of honest 
men; but beyond this he had very few ideas on the subject. 

Other people were taking very little notice of the singer. The 
regular patrons of the "Jolly Tar" were accustomed to her 
beauty and her singing, and thought very little about her. Thy 
girl was very quiet, very modest. She came and went under 
the care of the old blind pianist, whom she called her grandfather, 
and she seemed to shrink alike from observation or admiration. 

She began to sing again presently. 



6 Run to Earth. 

She stood by the piano, facing tlie audience, calm as a statue, 
with her large black eyes looking straight before her. The old 
Ijaan listened to her eagerly, as he played, and nodded fond 
approval every now and then, as the full, rich notes fell upon hia 
ear. The poor blind face was illuminated with the musician's 
rapture. It seemed as if the noisy, disreputable audience had 
no existence for these two people, 

'* What a lovely creature!" exclaimed the captain, in a tone of 
iubdued intensity. 

" Yes, she's a pretty girl," muttered the clerk, coolly. 

*' A pretty girl!" echoed Jemam; "an angel, you mean I I 
did not know there were such women in the world ; and to think 
that such a woman should be here, in this place, in the mi'1i>t of 
all this tobacco-smoke, and noise, and blasphemy ! It seema 
hard, doesn't it, Joyce .5^" 

" I don't see that it's any harder for a pretty woman than an 
ugly one," replied Harker, sententiously. " If the girl had red 
hair and a snub nose, you wouldn't take the trouble to pity her. 
I don't see why you should concern yourself about her, because 
f*\\e happens to have black eyes and red lips. I dare say she's a 
bad lot, like most of 'em about here, and would as soon pick your 
IX)cket as look at you, if you gave her the chance." 

Valentine Jemam made no reply to these observations. It is 
possible that he scarcely heard them. The punch came presently ; 
out he pushed the bowl towards Joyce, and bade that gentleman 
dispense the mixture. His own glass remained before him un- 
touched, while the foreign seamen and Joyce Harker emptied the 
bowl. ^\Tien the girl sang, he listened ; when she sat in a listless 
attitude, in the pauses between her songs, he watched her face. 

Until she had finished her last song, and left the platform, 
it^ading her blind companion by the hand, the captain of the 
*• Pizarro " seemed like a creature under the influence of a spelh 
'l'':]tire was only one exit from the room, so the singing-girl and 
her grandlatner had to pass along the narrow space between the 
tv/o rows of tables. Her dark stuff dress brushed against Jer- 
TXLia as she passed him. To the last, his eyes followed her %vith 
U\s same entranced gaze. 

When she had gone, and the door had closed upon her, ha 
started suddenly to his feet, and followed. He was just in time 
wO see her leave the house with her grandfather, and with a big, 
iil-looking man, half-sailor, half-landsman, who had been drink- 
IRS at the bar. 

The landlord was standing behind the bar, drawing beer, as 
Jemam looked out into the street, watching the recedin» figures 
tf the girl and her two companions. 

•* She's a pretty grirl, isn't wher' " said the landlord, as Jemam 

lli-nt til ft dorir 



Warned in a Dream. 7 

" She 18, mdee<i ! " cried the sailor. " Who is she ? — where 
does she come from ? — what's her name ? " 

*' Her name is Jenny ILilsom, and she lives ^vith her father, a 
rer\' respectable man." 

" Was that her father who went ont with her just now ? " 

•' Yes, that's Tom :^ilsom." 

" He doesn't look very respectable. I don't think I ever set 
eyes on a worse-looking fellow." 

"A man can't help liis looks," answered the landlord, rather 
sulkily ; "I've known Tom !Milsom these ten years, and I've ne\ ci 
known any harm of him." 

" Xo, nor any good either, I should think, Dennis "Wayman," 
said a man who was lounging at the bar ; " Black Milsom is the 
name we eave him over at Eotherhithe. I worked with him in 
I shipbuilder's yard seven years ago : a surly brute he was then, 
and a surly brute he is now; and a lazy, skulking vagabond into 
ihe bargain, Hving an idle life out at that cottage of his among 
the marshes, and eating up his pretty daughter's earnings." 

" You seem to know Milsom's business as well as you do your 
own, Joe Dermot," answered the landlord, with some tocich of 
anger in his tone. 

" It's no use looking savage at me, Dennis," returned Dermot; 
" I never did trust Black Milsom, and never will. There are men 
who would take your life's blood for the price of a gallon of beer, 
and I think Milsom is one of 'em." 

Valentine Jernam listened attentively to this conversation — 
not because he was interested in Black Zvlilsom's character, but 
because he wanted to hear anything that could enlighten him 
about the girl who had awakened such a new sentiment in his 
breast. 

The clerk had followed his master, and stood in the shadow 
of the doorway, hstening even more attentively than his em- 
ployer; the small, restless eyes shifted to and fro between the 
faces of the speakers. 

More might have been said about Mr. Thomas Milsom ; but it 
was evident that the landlord of the "Jolly Tar" was inclined 
to resent any disrespectful allusion to that individual. The man 
called Joe Dermot paid his score, and went away. The captain 
and his factotum retired to the two dingy Httle apartments which 
were to accommodate them for the night. 

All through that night, sleeping or waking, Valentine Jernam 
was haunted by the vision of a beautiful l"ace, the sound of a 
melodious voice, and the face and the voice belonged aUke to the 
iinging-girl. 

The captain of the " Pizarro " left his room at five o'clock, and 
tapped at Joyce Harker's clcor, witn the intention of bidding 
Kim good-»ve. 



8 Bun to Earth. 

"I'moiT, Joyce," he said; "be sure you keep your eye u^x^n the 
repairs between this and the fifth." 

He was prepared to receive a drowsy answer; bnt to his snrprise 
the door was opened, and Joyce stood dressed u])on the threshold, 

"I'm coming to the coach-office with yon, captain," answered 
Harker. " I don't like this place, and I want to see yon safe ont 
of it, never to come back to it any more." 

"Xonsense, Joyce ; the place suits me well enough." 

" Does it ? " asked the factotum, in a whisper ; " and the 
landlord snits you, I suppose ? — and that man they call Black 
Milsom ? There's something more than common between those 
two men, Captain Jernam, However that is, you take my advice. 
Don't you come back to this house till you come to meet Captain 
George. Captain George is a cool hand, and I'm not afraid of 
him ; but you're too wild and too free-spoken for such folks as 
hang about the ' Jolly Tar.' You sported your pocket-book too 
freely last night, when you were paying for the punch. I saw 
the landlord spot the notes and gold, and I haven't trusted my- 
self to sleep too soundly all night, for fear there should be any 
attempt at f(>ul play." 

" You're a good fellow, Joyce ; but though yon've pluck enough 
for twenty in a storm at sea, you're as timid as a baby at home." 

" I'm like a dog, captain — I can smell danger when it threatens 
those I love. Hark ! what's that ? " 

They were goin^ down stairs quietly, m the darkness of the 
early spring morning. The clerk's quick ear caught the sound 
of a stealthy footstep; and in the next minute they were face to 
face with a man who was ascending the narrow stairs. 

" You're early astir, Mr. "Wayman," said Joyce Harker, re- 
cognizing the landlord of the " Jolly Tar." 

" And so are you, for the matter of that," answered the host. 

" My captain is off by an early coach, and I'm going to walk 
to the office with him," returned Joyce. 

" Off by an early coach, is he ? Then, if he can stop to drink 
it, I'll make him a cup of coffee." 

" You're very good," answered Joyce, hastily ; "but you see, 
the captain hasn't time for that, if he's going to catch the coach." 

"Are you going into the country for long, captain?" asked 
the landlord. 

"Wei], no; not for long, mate ; for I've got an appointment 
to keep in this house, on the fifth of April, with a brother of 
mine, who's homeward-bound from Barbadoes. You see, my 
brother and me are partners ; whatever good luck one has he 
shares it with the other. We've been uncommon lucky lately." 

The captain slapped his hand upon one of his capacious pockets 
as lie spoke. Dennis Wayman watched the gesture with eager 
ey^s. AH throu?:h Valentine's eppeoh. Joyce Harker had been 



Warned in u Vream. 9 

trying to arrest his attention, bnt trying in vain. When the 
owner of the " Pizarro " begaa to talk, it was very difflcnlt U 
stop him. 

The captain bade the landlord a cheerful good day, and de- 
parted with his faithful follower. 

Out in the street, Joyce Harker remonstrated with his employer. 

** I told you that fellow was not to be trusted, captain," he 
''aid ; " and yet you blabbed to him about the money." 

•' Nonsense, Joyce. I didn't say a word about money." 

" Didn't yon though, captain P You said quite enough to let 
that man know you'd got the cash about you. But you won't 
go back to that place till you go to meet Captain George on 
the fifth?" 

"Of course not." 

" You won't change your mind, captain P ** 

"Not I." 

*• Because, you see, I shall be down at Blackwall, looking after 
the repairs, for it will be sharp work to get finished against you 
want to sail for Rio. So, you see, I shall be out of the way. 
A.nd if you did go back to that house alone. Lord knows what 
they might try on." 

" Don't you be afraid, Joyce. In the first place I shan't go 
back there till twelve o'clock on the fifth. I'll come up from 
Plymouth by the night coach, and putupatthe "Golden Cross" 
iike a gentleman. And, in the second place, I flatter myself I'm 
a match for any set of land-sharks in creation." 

" No, you're not, captain. No honest man is ever a match for 
a scoundrel." 

Jemam and his companion carried the captain's portmanteau 
l)etween them. They hailed a hackney-coach presently, and drove 
to the *' Golden Cross," through the chill, gray streets, where 
the closed shutters had a funereal aspect. 

At the coach-office they parted, with many friendly words on 
both sides ; but to the last, Joyce Harker was grave and anxious. 

The last he saw of his friend and employer was the captain's 
dark face looking out of the coach- window ; the captain's hand 
waved in cordial farewell. 

" What a good fellow he is !— what a noble fellow ! " thought 
the wizen little clerk, as he trudged back towards the City. "But 
was there ever a baby so helpless on shore? — was there ever an 
^inocent infant that needed so much looking after P " 
• • # • • 

Valentine Jemam arrived at Plymouth early the next morning, 
and walked from Plymouth to the little village of Allanbay, in 
which lived the only relative he had in the world, except his 
irother George. Walking at a leisurely pace along the quiet 
toad. Captain Jemam, although not usually a thoughtful per«on« 



10 Bwn to Earth. 

was fain to think about something, ajid fell to thinking ovei 
the past. 

Light-hearted ani cheery of spirit as the adventurous sailoi 
was now-a-days, his childhood had been a very sad one. Mother- 
less at eight years of age, and ill-used by a drunken father, the 
boy had suffered as the children of the poor too often suffer. 

His mother had died, leaving George an infant of less than 
twelve months old ; and from the hour of her death^ Valentine 
had been the infant's sole nurse and protector ; standing between 
the helpless little one and the father's brutality ; enduring all 
hardships cheerfully, so long as he was able to shelter little 
Georgy. 

On more than one occasion, the elder boy had braved and 
defied his father in defence of the younger brother. 

It was scarcely strange, therefore, that there should arise 
between the two brothers an affection beyond the ordinary 
measune of brotherly love. Valentine had supplied the place of 
both parents to his brother George, — the place of the mother, 
wlio lay buried in AUanbay churchyard ; the place of the father, 
who had sunk into a Hving death of drunkenness and profligacy. 

They were not peasant-bom these Jemams. The father had 
been a lieutenant in the Eoyal Navy ; but had deservedly lost 
his commission, and had come, with his devoted wife, to hide his 
disgrace at AUanbay. The vices which had caused his expulsion 
from the navy had increased with every year, until the family 
had sunk to the lowest depths of poverty and degradation, in 
spite of the wife's heroic efforts to accomplish the reform of a 
reprobate. She had struggled nobly till the last, and had died 
broken-hearted, leaving the helpless children to the mercy of a 
wretch whose nature had become utterly debased and brutalized. 

Throughout their desolate childhood the brothers had been all 
in all to each other, and as soon as George was old enough to 
face the world with his brother, the two boys ran away to sea, 
and obtained employment on board a small trading vessel. 

At sea, as on shore, Valentine stood between his younger 
brother and all hardships. But the rough sailors were kinder 
than the drunken father had been, and the two lads fared 
pretty well. 

Thus began the career of the two Jemams. Through all 
changes of fortune, tlie brothers had clung to each other. De- 
spite all differences of character, their love for each other hfui 
known neither change nor diminution; and to-day, walking 
^lone upon this quiet country road, the tears clouded Valentine 
Jemam's eyes as he remembered how often he had trodden it in 
the old time with his little brother in his anns. 

" T shall see his dear face ou the fifth," he thought ; " Go^ 
bless him ! " 



Warned tn a Dream. -^-^ 

The old aunt lived in a cottage near the entrance to thf 
Tillage. She was comfortably off now — thanks to the two mer- 
chant captains ; but she had been very poor in the days of their 
childhood, and had been able to do but little for the neglected 
lads. She had given them shelter, however, when they had been 
afiaid to go home to their father, and had shared her humble 
fare with them very often. 

Mrs. Jemam, as she was called by her neighbours, in right of 
her sixty years of age, was sitting by the window when her 
nephew opened the little garden-gate : but she had opened the 
door before he could knock, and was standing on the threshold 
ready to embrace him. 

"^fv boy," she exclaimed, "I have been looking for von so 
long!"" 

That day was given up to pleasant talk between the aunt and 
nephew. She was so anxious to hear his adventures, and he was 
so willing to tell them. He sat before the fire smoking, while 
Susan Jemam' s busy fingers plied her knitting-needles, and re- 
lating his hair-breadth escapes and perils between the puffs of 
blue smoke. 

The captain was regaled with an excellent dinner, and a bottle 
of wine of his own importation. After dinner, he strolled out 
into the village, saw his old friends and acquaintances, and talked 
over old times. Altogether his first day at Allanbay passed very 
pleasantly. 

The second day at Allanbay, however, hung heavily on the 
captain's hands. He had told all his adventures ; he had seen 
all his old acquaintances. The face of the ballad-singer 
haunted him perpetually; and he spent the best part of the day 
leaning over the garden-gate and smoking. Mrs. Jemam was 
not offended by her nephew's conduct. 

"Ah! my boy," she said, smiling fondly on her handsome 
kinsman, "it's fortunate Providence made you a Bailor, for you'd 
have been ill-fitted for any but a roving life." 

The third day of "Valentine Jemam' s stay at Allanbay was 
the second of April, and on that morning his patience was ex- 
hausted. The face which had made itself a pai-t of his very mind 
lured him back to London. He was a man who had never ac- 
cu5^U>med himself to school his impulses; and the impulse that 
dr-;w him back to London was irresistible. 

"1 must and will see her once more," he said to himself ; 
" perhaps, if I see her face again, I shall find out it's only a 
common face after all, and get the better of this folly. But I 
must see her. After the fifth, George will be vnth. me, and I 
shan't be my own master. I must see her before the fifth." 

Lnpetuous in all things, Valentine Jemam was not slow tc 
act up^n his resolution. He told his aunt that he had bueinesi 



liJ Run to Harih. 

to transact in Loudon. He left Allanbay at ncvn, walked t«!/ 
Plymouth, took the afternoon coach, and rode into London on 
the following day. 

It was one o'clock when Captain Jernam found himself once 
more in the familiar seafaring quarter; early as it was, the 
noise of riot and revelry had begun already. 

The landlord looked up with an expression of considerable 
surprise as the captain of the " Pizarro " crossed the threshold. 

" Why, captain," he said, " I thought we weren't to see you 
till the fifth." 

" Well, you see, I had some business to do in this neighbour- 
hood, 80 I changed my mind." 

" I'm very glad you did," answered Dennis Wayman,_ cor- 
dially; "you've just come in time to take a snack of dinner 
%vith me and my missus, so you can sit down, and make yourself 
at home, without ceremony." 

The captain was too good-natured to refuse an invitation that 
seemed proffered in such a hearty spirit. And beyond this, he 
wanted to hear more about Jenny Milsom, the ballad-singer. 

So he ate his dinner with Mr. Way man and his wife, and 
found himself asking all manner of questions about the singing- 
girl in the course of his hospitable entertainment. 

He asked if the girl was going to sing at the tavern to-night. 

"No," answered the landlord; "this is Friday. She only 
sings at my place on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays." 

" And what does she do with herself for the rest of the 
week?" 

"Ah! that's more than I know; but very hkely her father 
will look ki here in the course of the afternoon, and he can tell 
you. I say, though, captain, you seem uncommonly sweet on 
this girl," added the landlord, with a leer and a wink. 

" Well, perhaps I am sweet upon her," replied Yalentine Jer- 
nam ; " perhaps I'm fool enough to be caught by a pretty face, 
and not wise enough to keep my folly a secret." 

" I've got a Httle business to see to over in Eotherhithe," said 
Mr. Wayman, presently ; " you'll see after the bar while I'm 
gone, Nancy. Tnere's the little private room at your service, cap- 
tain, and I dare say you can make yourself comfortable there 
with your pipe and the newspaper. It's ten to one but what 
Tom Milsom will look in before the day's out, and he'll tell you 
all about his daughter." 

Upon this the landlord departed, and Valentine Jernam re- 
tired to the little den called a private room, where he speedily 
fell asleep, wearied out by his journey on the previous nigtt. 

His slumbers were not pleasant. He sat in an uneasy position, 
upon a hard wooden chair, with his arms folded on the tabl« 
before him, and his head resting on hia folded arras. 



Done in the Darkness. 1% 

There was a miserable pretence of a fire, made with bad coali 
smd damp wood. 

Sleeping in that wretched atmosphere, in that nncomfortaV 
attitude, it was scarcely strange if Valentine Jemam dreamt 
bad dream. 

He dreamt that he fell asleep at broad day in his cabin on 
board the "Pizarro," and that he woke suddenly and found 
himself in darkness. He dreamt that he groped his way np the 
companion-way, and on to the deck. 

There, as below, he found gloom and darkness, and instead of 
a busy crew, utter loneliness, perfect silence. A stillness hke 
the stillness of death reigned on the level waters around the 
motionless ship. 

The captain shouted, but his voice died away among the 
shrouds. Presently a glimmer of star-light pierced the universal 
gloom, and in that uncertain light a shadowy figure came gliding 
towards him across the ocean — a face shone upon him beneath 
the radiance of the stars. 

It was the face of the ballad-singer. 

The shadow drew nearer to him, with a strange gliding motion. 
The shadow lifted a white, transparent hand, and pointed. 

To what ? 

To a tombstone, which glimmered cold and white throngh the 
gloom of sky and waters. 

The starlight shone upon the tombstone, and on it the sleeper 
read this inscription — " In memory of Valentine Jemam, aged 3o." 

The sailor awoke suddenly with a cry, and, looking up, saw 
the man they called Black Milsom sitting on the opposite side 
of the table, looking at him earnestly. 

" Well, you are a restless sleeper, captain ! " said this man : 
** I dropped in here just now, thinking to find Dennis Wayman, 
and Pve been looking on while you finished your nap. I never 
saw a harder sleeper." 

** I had a bad dream," answered Jemam, starting to his feeL 

" A bad dream ! What about, captain P *' 

" About your daughter ! " 



CHAPTER n. 

DONE IN THE DARKNESS. 

Before Thomas Milsom, otherwise Black Milsom, conld expresi 
his surprise, the landlord of the " Jolly Tar " returned from his 
business excursion, and preiented himself in the dingy little 
room, where it was already beginning to grow dusk. 

Milsom told Dennis Wayman how he had discovered the cap- 
tain sleeping uneasily, with his head trpon the table ; and on 

B 



14 Bun to Earili. 

being pressed a little, Valentine Jernam told his drtam aa freelj 
as it was his habit to tell everything relating to his own affairs. 

' I don't see that it was snch a very bad dream, after all," said 
Dennis "Wajman, when the story was finished. " You dreamt 
yon were at sea in a dead calm, that's about the plain Enghsh 
ofit." 

"Yes; but such a calm! I've been becalmed many a time; 
but I never remember anything like what I saw in my dream 
just now. Then the loneliness ; not a creature onboard besides 
myself; not a human voice to answer me when I called. And the 
face — there was something so awful in the face — smiling at me, 
and yet with a kind of threatening look in the smile ; and the 
hand pointing to the tombstone ! Do you know that I was 
thirty-three last December ? " 

The sailor covered his face with his hands, and sat for some 
moments in a meditative attitude. Bold and reckless though he 
was, the superstition of his class had some hold upon him; and 
this bad dream influenced him, in spite of himself. 

The landlord was the first to break the silence. " Come, cap- 
tain," he said ; " this is what I call giving yourself up to the 
blue devils. You went to sleep in an uncomfortable position, 
and you had an uncomfortable dream, with no more sense nor 
reason in it than such dreams generally have. What do you say 
to a hand at cards, and a drop of something short ? You want 
cheering up a bit, captain ; that's what you want." 

Valentine Jernam assented. The cards were brought, and a 
bowl of punch ordered by the open-handed sailor, who was 
always ready to invite people te drink at his expense. 

The men played all-fours ; and what generally happens in 
this sort of company happened now to Captain Jernam. Ee 
began by winning, and ended by losing ; and his losses were 
much heavier than his gains. 

He had been playing for upwards of an hour, and had drunk 
several glasses of punch, before his luck changed, and he had 
occasion to take out the bloated leathern pocket-book, distended 
unnaturally with notes and gold. 

But for that rum-punch he might, perhaps, have remembered 
Joyce Harker's warnincr, and avoided displaying his wealth 
liefore these two men. Unhappily, however, the fumes of the 
Btrong liquor had already begun to mount to his brain, and the 
clerk was completely forgotten. He opened his pocket-Vjok 
every time he had occasion to pay his losses, and whenever he 
©pened it the greedy eyes of Dennis Wayman and Black Milsom 
devoured the ':onlyents with a furtive gaze. 

With every hand the sailor grew more excited. He was play- 
ing for email stakes, and as yet his losses only amounted to a 
few pounds. But the sense of defeat annoyed him. He waa 



I)07i6 in the Darkness. IS 

feverislilj eager for his revenge : and when Milsom roie to gov 
the captain wanted him to continue t-o play. 

"You shan't sneak off like that," he said; "I want my revenge, 
and I must have it." 

Black Alilsom pointed to a little Dutch clock in a comer of 
the room. 

" Past eight o'clock," he paid ; " and I've got a five-mile walk 
between me and home. My girl, Jenny, will be waiting up for 
me, and getting anxious about her father." 

In the excitement of play, and the fever engendered by strong 
drink, Valentine Jernam had for^rotten the bullad-singer. Bat 
this mention of her name brought the vision of the beautiful 
face back to him. 

" Your daughter ! " he muttered ; " your daughter ! Yes ; the 
girl who sang here, the beautiful girl who sang." 

His voice was tliiek, and his accents indistinct. Both the 
men had pressed Jernam to drink, while they themselves took 
ver}' little. They had encouraged him to talk as well as to drink, 
and the appointment with his brother had been spoken of by 
the captain. 

In speaking of this intended meeting, Valentine Jernam had 
spoken also of the good fortune which had attended his latest 
trading adventures ; and he had said enoui^h to let these men 
know that he carried the proceeds of his trading upon his person. 

"Joyce wanted me to bank my money," he said; " but none 
of your banking rogues for me. My brother George is the only 
banker I trust, or ever mean to trust." 

Milsom insisted upon the necessity of his departure, and the 
Bailor declared that he would have his revenge. They were 
getting to high words, when Dennis NVayman interfered to keep 
the peace. 

" I'll tell you what it is," he said ; " if the captain wants hia 
revenge, it's only fair that he should have it. Suppose we go 
down to your place, ]\Iilsr)m ! you can give us a bit of supper, I 
dare say. What do you say to that 'f " 

Milsom hesitated in a sheepish kind of manner. "Mine'j 
sucli a poor place for a gentleman like the captain," he waul. 
" My daughter Jenny will do her best to make things straight 
and comfortable ; but still it is alaout the poorest place that ever 
was — there's no denying that." 

" I'm no tine gentleman," said the captain, enraptured at the 
idea of seeing the ballad-singer; " if your daughter will give us 
& cmst of bread and cheese, I shall be satisfied. We'll take two 
or three bottles of wine down with us, and we'll be as jolly 
as princes. Get yonr trap ready, Wayman, and let's be off at 
•nee." 

rhe captain was all impatience to start Dennis "Wayraan 



t tlun to ^ari%. 

Kent away to get the vehicle ready, and Miisom followed hitd, 
Dut they did not leave Captain Jernam much time for thought, 
for Dennis Wayman came back ahnost immediately to say that 
^e veliicle Avas ready. 

"Now, then, look sharp, captain!" he said; "it's a dark 
night, and we shall have a dark drive." 

It was a dark night — dark even here in Wapping, darker still 
on the road by which Valentine Jernam found himself travelling 
presently. 

The vehicle which Dennis Wayman drove was a disreputable- 
looking conveyance — half chaise-cart, half gig — and the pony 
was a \ncious-looking animal, with a shaggy mane; but he waa 
a tremendous pony to go, and the dark, mar.shy couDtry Hew past 
the travellers in the darkness like a landscape in a dream. 

The ripple of the water, sounding faintly in the stillness, told 
Valentine Jernam that the river was near at hand ; but beyond 
this the sailor had little knowledge of his whereabouts. 

They had soon left London behind. 

After driving some six or seven miles, and always keeping 
within sound of the dull plash of the river, the landlord of the 
" Jolly Tar " drew up suddenly by a dilapidated wooden paling, 
behind which there was a low-roofed habitation of some kind or 
other, which was visible only by reason of one faint glimmer of 
light, flickering athwart a scrap of dingy red curtain. The dull, 
plashing sound of the river was louder here; and, mingling with 
that monotonous ripple of the water, there was a shivering sound 
^-xne trembling of rushes stirred by the chill night wind. 

" I'd almost passed your place, Tom." said the hmdlord, as he 
drew up before the darksome habitation. 

" You might a'most drive over it on such a night as this,*' 
answered Black Miisom, "and not be much the wiser." 

The three men alighted, and Dennis Wayman led the vicious 
pony to a broken-down shed, which served as stable and coach- 
house in Mr. Milsom's establishment. 

Valentime Jernam looked about him. As his eyes grew more 
familiar with the locality, he was able to make out the outline 
of the dilapidated dwelling. 

It was little better than a hovel, and stood on a patch of waste 
f^ound, which could scarcely have been garden within the 
memory of man. By one side of the house there was a wide, 
open ditch, friuged with rushes — a deep, black ditch, that flowed 
down to the river. 

" I can't compliment yon on the situation of your cottage, 
mate," he said ; '* it might be Hvelier " 

" I dare say it might," answered Black Miisom, rather sulkily, 
•*Itook to this place because everybody else was afraid to 
take to it, and it was to be had for nothing. There was an old 



Done in tJie DarTcness. 17 

miser as cut his throat here seven or eight year ago, and the place 

has been left to go to t'.ecay ever since. The miser's ghost walks 
about here sometimes, after twelve o'clock at night, folks say. 
' Let him walk till he tires himself out,' says I. 'He don't come 
my way ; and if he did he wouldn't scare ine.' Come, captain." 

Mr. jlilsom opened the door, and ushered his visitor into the 
lively abode, which the prejudice of weak-minded people permit- 
ted him to occupy rent-free. 

The girl whom Jernam had seen at the Wapping public-house 
was sitting by the hearth, where a scrap of fire bunit in a rusty 
grate. She had been sitting in a listless attitude, with her 
hands lying idle on her lap, and her eyes fixed on the fire; but 
she looked up as the two men entered. 

She did not welcome her father's return with any demonstra- 
tion of affection; she looked at him with a strange, wouderimg 
gaze; and she looked with an anxious expression from him to 
his companion. 

Dennis Wayman came in presently, and as the girl recognized 
him, a transient look, almost hke horror, fiitted across her face, 
unseen by the sailor. 

" Come, Jenny," said Milsom ; " I've brought Wayman and a 
friend of his down to supper. What can you give us to eat? 
There's a bit of cold beef in the house, I know, and bread and 
cheese; the captain here has brou-jht the wine; go we shall do 
well enough. Look sharp, lass. Ycu're in one of your tempers 
to-night, I suppose; but you ought to know that don't auswer 
with me. 1 say, capUiin," added the man, with a laugh, " if ever 
you're going to marry a pretty woman, make sure she is'nt 
troubled with an ugly temper; for you'll find, as a rule, that tlie 
handsomer a woman is the more of the denl there is in her. 
Now, Jenny, the supper, and no nonsense about it." 

The girl went into another room, and returned [)re8ently with 
such fare as Mr. Milsom'sestabhshraent could afford. The sailor's 
eyes followed her wherever she went, full of compassion and love. 
He was sure this brutal wretch, Milsom, used her badly, and he 
rejoiced to think that he had disregarded all Joyce Harker's warn- 
ings, and penetrated into the scoundrel's home. He rejoiced, for 
hemeanttorescue this lovely, helpless creature. He knew nothing 
of her, exce])t that she was beautiful, friendless, lonely, and ill- 
used ; and he determined to take her away and marry her. 

He did not perplex himself with any consideration as to whe- 
ther she would return his love, or be grateful for his devotion. 
He thought only of her unhappy position, and that he vraa pre- 
destined to save her. 

The supper was laid ui>on tl>e rickety dwil table, and tlie throe 
men sat down. Valentine would have waib^d till his host's 
4ftughter \^ seated h§rbe4f ; but she hewi Itiid no plate or kttil'^ 



18 Bun to Earth. 

for herself, and it was evident tliat she was not expected to Bhare 
the social repast. 

" You can go to bed now/* said Milsom. " We're in for a 
jolly night of it, and you'll only be in the way. Where's the 
ohl man P " 

"Gone to bed." 

" So much the better : and the sooner yon follow him will be 
10 much the better again. Good night." 

The girl did not answer him. She looked at him for a few 
moments with an earnest, inquiiing gaze, which seemed to com- 
pel him to return her look, as if he had been fascinated by the 
profound earnestness of those large dark eyes ; and then she 
went slowly and silently from the room. 

"Sulky!" muttered Mr. Milsom. " There never was such a 
girl to sulk." 

He took up a candle, and followed his daughter from the room. 

A rickety old staircase led to the uj^per tloor, where there were 
three or four bed-chambers. The house had beeu originally 
something more than a cottage, and the rooms and passages 
were tolerably large. 

Thomas Milsom found the girl standing at the top of the stairs, 
as if waiting for some one. 

" \Vhat are yon standing mooning there for ? " asked the man. 
** 'vVhy don't you go to bed.'''' 

" Why have you brought that sailor here P " inquired the girl, 
without noticing Milsom's question. 

" What's that to you ? You'd like to know my busine^^g, 
wouldn't yon P I've brought him here because he wanted to 
come. Is that a good answer ? I've brought him here because 
he has money to lose, and is in the humour to lose it. Is that a 
Wtler answer ? " 

" Yes," returned the girl, fixing her eyes upon him with a look 
of horror; " you will win his money, and, if he is ani^^ry, there 
will be a quarrel, as there was on that hideous night three years 
ago, when you brought home the foreign sailor, and what hap- 
pened to that man will happen to this one. Father," cried the 
girl, suddenly and passionately, " let this man leave the house in 
safety. I sometimes think my heart is almost as hard as yours; 
bi:! this man trusts us. Don't let any harm come to him." 

" Why, what harm should come to him .' " 

For some time the girl called Jenny st«H»d l»efore her father in 
sil'-nce, with her head bent, and her face in shadow ; then she 
lifU'd herheud suddenly, and looked at him piteously. 

" The other ! " she murmured; " the other ! I remember what 
hap[>ened to him." 

"Tome, -rof. th?t ' " "Tied i\Iilsora, pavagelv; " do yon think 
I'm ^ aiij^ < stanu ^'-/iir read talkP Get to beu, and go to sleejs. 



Done in the Dwrlcness. IC 

And the sounder you sleep the better, unless you want to sleep 
uncommonly sound for the future, my lady." 

The ruffian seized his daughter by the arm, and half poshed, 
half flung her into a room, the door of which stood open. It 
was the dreary room which she called her own. Milsom shut 
the door upon her, and locked it with a key which he took from 
his pocket — a key which locked every door in the house. ^ " And 
now, I flatter myself, you're safe, my pretty singing- bird," he 
muttered." 

He went down stairs, and returned to his guest, who had been 
pressed to eat and drink by Dennis Wayman, and who had 
yielded good-naturedly to that gentleman's hospitable attentions. 
• • # « « 

Alone in her room, Jenny Milsom opened the window, and sat 
looking out into the inky darkness of the night, and listening 
to the voices of the three men in the room below. 

The voices sounded very distinctly in that dilapidated old 
house. Every now and then a hearty shout of laughter seemed 
to shake the crazy rafters; but presently the revellers grew silent. 
Jenny knew they were busy with the cards. 

" Yes, yes," she murmured ; " it all happens as it happened 
that night — first the loud voices and laughter; then thesiience; 
then — ^Great Heaven ! will the end be hke the end of that 
night ? " 

She clasped her hands in silent agony, and sank in a crouch- 
ing position by the open window, with her head lying on the sill. 
For hours this wretched girl sat upon the floor in the same atti- 
tude, with the cold wind blowing in upon her. All seemed tran- 
quil in the room below. The voices sounded now and then, 
subdued and cautious, and there were no more outbursts of 
jovial laughter. 

A dim, gray streak glimmered faint and low in the east — the 
first pale flicker of dawn. The girl raised her weary eyes towards 
that chill gray light. 

" Oh ! if this night were only ended ! " she murmured : " if 
it were only ended without harm ! " 

The words were still upon her lips, when the voices sounded 
load and harsh from the room below. The girl started to her 
feet, white and trembling. Louder with every moment grew 
those angry voices. Then came a struggle ; some article of fur- 
niture fell with a crash ; there was the sound of shivered glass, 
and then a dull heavy noise, which echoed through the house, 
and shook the weather-beaten wooden walls to their foundations. 
Al'ter the fall there came the sound of one loud groan, and 
then subdued murmurs, cautious whispers. 

The window of Jenny Milsom's room looked towards the road 



20 Run to Earth, 

From that window she could see nothinor of the sluggish ditch 
or the river. 

She tried the door of her room. It was securely locked, as she 
had expected to find it. 

" They would kill me, if I tried to come between them and 
their victim," she said ; " and I am afraid to die." 

She crept to her wretched bed, and flung herself down, dressed 
as she was. She drew the thin patchwork coverlet round her. 

Ten minutes after she had thrown herself upon the bed, a 
key turned in the lock, and the door was opened by a stealthy 
hand. Black Milsom looked into the room. 

The cold glimmer of day fell full upon the girl's pale face. 
Her eyes were closed, and her breathing was loud and regular. 

"Asleep," he whispered to some one outside ; " as safe as a rock." 

He drew back and closed the door softly. 

# * « « * 

Joyce Harker worked his hardest on board the "Pizarro," and 
the repairs were duly completed by the 4th of April. On the 
morning of the 5th the vessel was a picture, and Joyce sur 
veyed her with the pride of a man who feels that he has not 
worked in vain. 

He had set his heart upon the brothers celebrating the first 
day of thefe" re-union on board the trim little craft : and he had 
made arrangements for the preparation of a dinner which was 
to be a triumph in its way. 

Joyce presented himself at the bar of the '* Jolly Tar " at 
half-past eleven on the appointed morning. He expected that the 
brothers would be punctual; but he did not expect either of them 
to appear before the stroke of noon. 

All was very quiet at the " Jolly Tar " at this hour of the day. 
The landlord was alone in the bar, reading a paper. He looked 
up as Joyce entered ; but did not appear to recognize him. 

" Can I step through into your private room? " asked Joyce; 
" I expect Captain Jernam and his brother to meet me here ia 
half an hour." 

" To be sure you can, mate. There's no one in the private room 
at this time of day. Jernam — Jernam, did you say ? What 
Jernam is that ? I don't recollect the name." 

" You've a short memory," answered Joyce; "you might re- 
member Captain Jernam of the ' Pizarro ; ' for it isn't above a 
week since he was here with me. He dined here, and slept here, 
and left early in the morning, though you were uncommonly 
pressing for him to stay." 

" We've so many captains and sailors m and out from year's 
end to year's end, that I don't remember them by name," said 
Dennis Wayman ; " but I do remember your friend, mate, 90"W 
you remind me of him ; ajid X remember you, too," 



Bone in the Barhtest. 21 

" Yes," said Joyce, with a grin ; •* there ain't so many of my 
pattern. I'll take a glass of rum for the good of the house ; 
and if yon can lend me a paper, I'll skim the news of the day 
wliile I'm waiting." 

Joyce passed into the little room, where Dennis took him the 
newspaper and the rum. 

Twelve o'clock struck, and the clerk began to watch and to 
listen for the opening of the door, or the sound of a footstep in 
the passage outside. The time seemed very long to him, watch- 
ing and listening. The minute-hand of the Dutch clock moved 
slowly on. He turned every now and then towards the dusky 
corner where the clock hung, to see what progress that slow hand 
had made upon the discoloured dial. 

He waited thus for an hour. 

" AYhat does it mean ? " he thought. "Valentine Jemam so 
faithfully promised to be punctual. And then he's so fond of 
his brother. He'd scarcely care to be a minute behindhand, when 
he has the chance of seeing Captain George." 

Joyce went into the bar. The landlord was scrutinizing the 
address of a letter — a foreign letter. 

" Didn't you say your friend's name was Jemam P ** he asked. 

"I did." 

" Then this letter must be for him. It has been lying here for 
the last two or three days; but I forgot all about it till just this 
minute." 

Joyce took the letter. It was addressed to Captain Valentine 
Jernam, of the " Pizarro," at the " Jolly Tar," care of the land- 
lord, and it came from the Cape of Good Hope. 

Joyce recognized George Jernam's writing. 

"This means a disappointment," he thought, as hetnrned the 
letter over and over slowly ; " there'll be no meeting yet awhile. 
Captain George is off to the East Indies on some new venture, 
I dare say. But what can have become of Captain Valentine ? 
I'll go down to the ' Golden Cross,' and see it" he's there." 

He told Dennis Way man where he was going, and left a mes- 
sage for his captain. From Eatcliff Hiiihway to Charing Cros? 
was a long journey for Joyce; but he had no idea of indulging 
in any such luxury as a hackney-coach. It was late in the after- 
noon when he reached the hotel ; and there he was doomed to en- 
counter a new disappointment. 

Captain Jernam had been there on the second of the month, 
and had never been there since. He had left in the forenoon, 
after saying that he should return at night ; and in evidence 
that such had been his intention, the waiter told Joyce that the 
captain had left a carpet-bag, containing clean linen and a change 
of clothes. 

" He's bro^fen his word to ine, and l\e's got into bftd baii^fii,*' 



22 Emu to Earth. 

thought Harker. " He's as simple as a child, and he's got into 
bad hands. Bnt how and where ? He'd never, surely, go baok 
tx) the 'Jolly Tar,' after what I said to him. And where else 
can he have gone ? I know no more where to look for him in 
tliis great overgrown London than if I was a new-born baby." 

In his perfect ignorance of his captain's movements, there was 
only one thing that Joyce Harker could do, and that was to go 
back to the " Jolly Tar," with a faint hope of finding Valentine 
Jernam there. 

It was dusk by the time he got baok to Ratcliff Highway, 
and the flaring gas-lamps were lighted. The bar of the tavern 
was crowded, and the tinkling notes of the old piano sounded 
feebly from the inner room. 

Dennis Wayman was serving his customers, and Thomas Mil- 
8om was drinking at the bar. Joyce pushed his way to tlie 
landlord. 

"Have you seen anything of the captain ?" he asked. 

" No, he hasn't been here since you left." 

" You're sure of that ? " 

" Quite sure." 

" He's not been here to day; but he's been here within the 
week, hasn't he P He was here on Tuesday, if I'm not misin- 
formed." 

"Then you are misinformed," Wayman said, coolly; "for 
your seafaring friend hasn't darkened my doors since the morn- 
ing you and he left to go to the coach-office. 

Joyce could say nothing further. He passed through the 
passage into the public room, where the so-called concert had 
begun. Jenny Milsom was singing to the noisy audience. 

The girl was very pale, and her manner and attitude, as she 
gat by the piano, were even more listless than usual. 

Joyce Harker did not stop long in the concert-room. He 
w*»nt back to the bar. This time there was no one but Milsom 
and Wayman in the bar, and the two seemed to be talki g 
earnestly aa Joyc« enterc\i. 

They left off, and looked up at the sound of the clerk's fo t* 
tteps, 

" Tireil of the music already ? " asked Wayman. 

" I didn't come here to hear music," answered Joyce; "I came 
to look for my captain. He had an appointment to meet his 
brother here to-day at twelve o'clock, and it isn't hke him to break 
it. I'm beginniner to get uneasy about hira." 

" But why should you be uneasy.^ The captain is big enough, 
and old enougli, to take care of himself," said the landlord, vriik 
a laugh. 

" Yes; but then you see, mate, there are some men who never 
know how to take care of themselves when they get into bad 



Done in the Da/rhness. 28 

company. There isn't a better sailor than "Valentine Jemam, 
or a finer fellow at sea ; but I don't think, if you searched from 
one end of this city to the other, you'd find a greater innocent 
on shore. I'm afraid of his ha\nng fallen into bad hands, Mr, 
VVayman, for he had a goodish bit of money about him ; and 
there's land-sharks as dangerous as those you meet with on the 
sea." 

"So there are, mate," answered the landlord; " and there's 
some queer characters about this neighbourhood, for the matter 
of that." 

" I dare say you're right, Mr. Wayman," returned Joyce ; "and 
I'll tell you what it is. If any harm has come to Valentine Jer- 
nam, let those that have done the harm look out for themselves. 
Perhaps they don't know what it is to hurt a man that's got a 
faithful dog at his heels. Let them hide themselves where they 
will, and let them be as cunnitio^ as they will, the dog will smell 
them out, sooner or later, and will tear them to pieces when he 
finds them. I'm Captain Jernam's dog, Mr. Dennis Wayman; 
and if I don't find my master, I'll hunt till I do find those that 
have got him out of the way. I don't know what's amiss with 
me to-night; but I've got a feeling come over me that I shall 
never look in Valentine Jernam's honest face again. If I'm 
right, Lord help the scoundrels who have plotted against him, 
for it'll be the business of my life to track them down, and bring 
their crime home to them — and I'll do it." 

After having said this, slowly and deliberately, with an 
appalling earnestness of voice and manner, Joyce Harker looked 
from Dennis Wayman to Black Milsom, and this time the 
masks they were accustomed to wear did not serve these scoun- 
drels so well as usual, for in the faces of both there was a look 
of fear. 

" I am going to search for my captain," said Joyce. " Good 
night, mates." 

He left the tavern. The two men looked at each other 
earnestly as the door closed upon him. 

"A dangerous man," said Dennis Wayman. 

"Bah!" muttered Black Milsom, savagely; " who's afraid of 
a hunchback's bliist,er ? I dare say he wanted the handling of 
the money himself" 

All that night Joyce Harker wandered to and fro amidst the 
haunts of sailors and merchant captains; but wander whore he 
would, and inquire of whom he would, he could obtain no 
tidings of the missing man. 

Towards daybreak, he took a couple of hours' sleep in a tavern 
at Shadwell, and with the day his search began again. 

Throughout that day the same patient search continued, the 
•ame inc^uiries were repeated with indomitable perseveraace, in 



24 Eun to Earth 

every likely aaid tmlikely place ; but everywhere the result wai 
failure. 

It was towards dusk that Joyce Harker turned his back upon 
a tavern in Rotherhithe, and «et his face towards the river bank. 

•' I have looked long enough for him among the Uving," he 
said ; " I must look for him now amongst the dead." 

_ Before midnight the search was ended. Amongst the ])rinted 
bills flapping on dreary walls in tliat river-side neigh lx)urhood, 
Joyce Harker had discovered the description of a man " found 
drowned." The description fitted Valentine Jernara, and the 
body ha<l been found within the last two days. 

Joyce went to the police-oh^ice where the man was lying. He 
had no need to look at the poor dead face — the dark, handsome 
face, which was so familiar to him. 

_ " I expected as much," he said to the official who had admitted 
him to see the body; "he had money about him, and he had 
fallen into the hands of scoundrels." 

" You don't think it was an accident ?" 

" No ; he has been murdered, sir. Ajid I think I know the 
men who did it." 

"You know the men ?" 

"Yes; but my knowledge won't help to avengre his death, if 
I can't bring it home to them — and I don't 8up])ose I can. 
There'll be a coroner's inquest, won't there r" 

At the inquest, next day, Joyce Harker told his story; but 
tliat story threw very Httle light on the circumstances of 
Valentine Jernam's death. 

The investigation before the coroner set at rest all question 
as to the means by which the captain had met liis death. A 
medical examination demonstrated that he h:id been murdered 
by a blow on the back of the head, inflicted by some sharp 
heavy instrument. The unfortunate man must have died before 
he was thrown into the water. 

The verdict of the coroner's jury was to the effect that 
Valentine Jemam had been wilfully murdered by some person 
or persons unknown. And with this verdict Joyce Harker was 
obhged to be content. His suspicions he dared n..t nientinu in 
open court. They were too vague and shadowy. But he called 
U{'On a celebrated Bow Street officer, and submitted the case to 
him. It was a case for secret inquir}-, for careful investigation; 
and Joyce offered a handsome reward out of his jwu savings. 

"While this secret investigation was in progress. Joyce opened 
the letter addressed to Valentine by hie brother George. 

"Deaji Val," wrote the sailor: ** I have been tempted to make 
another trip to Calcutta with a cargo eJiipped at lA^han, and 
%haU not he ahle to mett you in Lrmdon on the bth o/" April. Ji 



Done in ilie Vartiness. 25 

toill he ten or twelve months hefora I see England again ; hut 
when 1 do come hack, I hope to add something handsome to our 
joint fortunes. I long to see your honest face, and grasp your 
hand again ; hut the chance of a big prize lures me out yonder. 
We are both youvg, and have all the world before us, so vje can 
afford to wait a year or tvjo. Bank the money ; Joyce will tell 
yoK wh-ere, and hoio to do it ; and let me know your plans before 
you leave London. A letter addressed to me, care of BiverdaU 
and Co., Calcutta, will he safe. Good kick to you, dear old boy, 
now and always, and every good wish. — From your affectionate 
brother, " Geokge Jernam.'* 

It was Joyce Harlcer'a melancholy task to tell Yalentine 
Jernam's younijer brother the story of the seaman's death. He 
wrote a lon^^ letter, recording everything that had happened 
within his knowledge, from the moment of the " Pizarro" 
reachinsr Gravesend to the discovery of Valentine's body in the 
river-side police oiHce. He told George the impression that had 
been made upon his brother by the ballad-singer's beauty. 

" I tli-tnl- that this girl and these two men, her father, Thomas 
Mllsoin, and Dennis V/ayman, the Umdlurd of the ' Jolbj Tar,* 
ore in the secret — are, between tliem, the murderers of your brother, 
I think that when he broke his promise to me, and came back to 
this end of London, before the fifth, he came lured by that girVs 
beauty. It is to the girl we must look for a key to the secret 
of his death. I do not expect to extort anything from, tkhe fears 
jf the men. Tliey are both hardened villains; and if, as 1 
believe, thoy are guilty of this crime, it is not likely to be the first 
in which they have been engaged. The police are on the watch, 
and I have promised a liberal revjard for any discoveries tliey 
may make ; hut it is very slow work." 

This, and mnch more, Joyce Harker wrote to George Jemara. 
The letter was written immediately after the inquest ; and on 
the night succeeding that inquiry, Joyce went to the "Jolly 
Tar," in the hope of seeing Jenny Milsom. But he was doomed 
to disappointment; for in the concert-room at Dennis Wayman's 
tavern he found a new singer — a fat, middle-aged woman, with 
red hnir. 

" What has become of the pretty girl who used to sing here ?** 
he asked the landlord. 

" Milsom's daughter P^ said Wayman. " Oh, we've lost Iier. 
She was a regular she-devil, it seems. Her father and she had 
ft row, and the girl ran away. She can get her living anywhere 
with that voice of hers ; and I don't suppose Milsom treated her 
over well. He's a rough fellow, but an honest one." 

" Yes," answered Joyce, with a sneer; " he &^ms xmcoiuBioDly 



2^ Hufi to Earth. 

honest. There's a good deal of that sort of honesty alxMit this 
neighbourhood, I think, mate. I suppose yon' ve heard about my 
captain P" 

" Not a syllable. Is there anything wrong \vith him P" 

** Ah 1 news seems to travel slosvly down here. There was an 
inquest held this morning, not so many miles from this house." 

The landlord shrugged his shoulJers. 

" I've been busy in-doors all day, and I haven't heard bjij- 
thing," he said. 

Joyce told the story of liis captain's fate, to which Dennis 
Wayman Hstened with every appearance of sympathy. 

" And you've no idea what has become of the girl?" Harker 
asked, after having concluded his story. 

"iSTo more than the dead. She's cut and run, that's all I know." 

" Has her father gone after her ?" 

•* Not a bit of it. He's not that sort of man. She has chosen 
to take herself off, and her father will let her go her own way." 

" And her grandfather, the old blind man ?" 

" He has gone with her." 

There was no more to be said about the girl after this. 

*' I'll tell you what it is, Mr. Wayman," said Joyce, " I'm likely 
to be a good bit down in this neighbourhood, while I'm waiting 
for directions about my poor captain's ship from his brother 
Captain George, and as your house suits me as well as an} 
other, I may as well take up my quarters here. I know you've 
got plenty of room, and you'll find me a quiet lodger." 

" So be it," answered the landlord, promptly. "I'm agreeable." 

Joyce deliberated profoundly as he walked away from the 
"Joliy Tar" that night. 

'* He's too deep to be caught easily," he thought. " He'll let 
me into his house, because he'\nows there's nothing I can find 
out, watch as I may. Such a murder as that leaves no trace 
behind it. If I had been able to get hold of the girl, I might 
have frightened her into telling me something; but it's clear to 
me she has really bolted, or Wayman would never let me into 
his house." 

For weeks Joyce Harker was a lodger at the "Jolly Tar;" 
always on the watch ; always ready to seize upon the smallest 
clue to the mystery of Valentine Jernam's death ; but nothing 
came of his watching. 

The police did their best to discover the key to the dreadful 
secret ; but they worked in vain. The dead man's money had 
been partly in notes and gold, partly in bills of exchange. It 
was easy enough to dispose of such bills in the City There 
were men ready to take them at a certain price, and to send 
them abroad; men who never ask questions of their customers. 

&o there was little chance of any light being thrown on thi» 



THsinTieriied. 27 

^ark and evil mystery. Joyce wat<:hed and vait^ ^ith dog- 
like fidelity, ready to seize npoQ the faintest cine; but be waited 
Csxdi watched in rain. 

CHAPTER HL 

DISINHERITED. 

Neaklt a year had elapsed since the mnrder of Valentine 
Jernam, and the ^arch winds were blowing amongst the ' 
leafless branches of the trees in the Green Park. 

In the library of one of the finest houses in Arlincrton Street, 
a gentleman paced restlessly to and fro, stopping before one of 
the v\'indows every now and^ then, to look, with a fretful glance, 
at the dull sky. "What weather!" he muttered: "what 
execrable weather !" 

The speaker was a man of some fifty years of age — a man 
who had been very handsome and who was handsome still — a 
man with a hauehty patrician countenance — not easily forgotten 
by those who looked upon it* 

Sir Oswald Eversleigh, Baronet, was a descendant of one of | 
the oldest families in Yorkshire. He was the owner of Raynham 
Castle, in Yorkshire; Eversleisrh Manor, in Lincolnshire; and 
his property in those two counties constituted a rent-roll of forty 
thousand per annum. , 

He was a bachelor, and having nearly reached bia fira.?la / 
year it was considered unlikely that he would marry. 

Such at least was the fi:!:ed idea of those who considered 
themselves the Ukely inheritors of the baronet's wealth. The 
chief of these was Reginald Eversleigh. his favourite^ nephew, 
the only son of a younger brother, who had fallen gloriously on f 
an Indian battle-field. ^ 

There were two other nerihews who had some right to look 
forward to a share in the baronet's fortune. These were tha 
two sons of Sir Oswald's only sister, who had married a country | 
rector, called Dale. But Lionel and Douglas Dale were not the 
Bort of young men who care to wait for dead men's shoes. They 
were sincerely attached to their uncle; but they carefully 
abstrined from any demonstration of affection which could 
seem like worship "of his wealth. The elder was preparing , 
himself for the Church; the younger waa eetab listed in 
chambers in the Tem^ le, reading for the bar. 

It was otherwise with Reginald Eversleigh.^ ^ Prom his e&rl^ . 
boyhood this young m an had occupied the position of an adopted 
«cn rather than a nep ew. 

There are some who can bear indulgence, some flowers tk&t 
ionrish best with tender rearing; but Reginald Evertleigh «ai 
3ot -a? "^ these. 



28 B/iin to Earth. 

Sir Oswald was too generous a man to require innch display 
of gratitude from the lad on whom he so freely lavished his 
wealth and his affection. "When the boy showed himself proud 
and imperious, the baronet admired that high and haughty spirit. 
"\Ylien the boy showed himself reckless and extravagant in his 
expenditure of money, the baronet fancied that extravagance the 
proof of a generous disposition, overlooking the fact that it was 
only on his own pleasures that Reginald wasted his kinsman's 
money. When bad accounts came from the Eton masters and 
the Oxford tutors, Sir Oswald deluded himself with the belief 
that it was only natural for a high-spirited lad to be idle, and 
that, indeed, youthful idleness was often a proof of genius. 

But even the moral blindness of love cannot last forever. The 
day came when the baronet awoke to the knowledge that his dead 
brother's only son was unworthy of his affection. 

_ The young man entered the army. His uncle purchased for 
him a commission in a crack cavalry regiment, and he began his 
milii^ry career under the most brilliant auspices. But from the 
day of his leaving his military tutor, until the present hour, Sir 
Oswald had been perpetually subject to the demands of his ex- 
travagance,_ and had of late suffered most bitterly from dis- 
coveries which had at last convinced him that his nephew was a 
villain. 

In ordinary matters. Sir Oswald Eversleigh was by no means 
a patient or long-suffering man; but he had exhibited extraor- 
dinary endurance in all his dealings with his nephew. The hour 
had now come when he could be patient no longer. 

lie had written to his nephew, desiring him to call upon him 
at three o'clock on this day. 

The idea of this interview was most painful to him, for he had 
resolved that it should be the last between himself and Reginald 
Eversleigh. In this matter he had acted with no undue haste ; 
for it had been unspeakably distressing to him to decide upon 
a step which would separate him for ever from the young man. 

As the timepiece struck three, Mr, Eversleigh was announced. 
He was a very handsome man ; of a refined and aristocratic 
type, but of a type rather effeminate than powerful. And per- 
vading his beauty, there was a winning charm of expression 
which few could resist. It was difficult to believe that Reginald 
Eversleigh could be mean or base. People liked him, and 
trusted him, in spite of themselves ; and it was only when their 
confidence had been imposed upon, and their trust betrayed, 
that they learned to know how despicable the handsome young 
officer could be. Women did their best to spoil him; and hia 
personal charms of face and manner, added to his brilliant 
expectations, rendered him aji universal favourite in fasiiion- 
tihle circles. 



DinnliGrited. 29 

He came to Arlington Street prepared to receive a lecture, 
and a «cvere one, for he knew that some of hie late delinquen- 
cies had become known to Sir Oswald; but he trusted in the 
intiuence which he had always been able to exercise over hia 
uncle, and he was determined to face the diiliculty boldly, as he 
had faced it before. 

He entered the room with a smile, and advanced towards his 
ULcle, with his hand outstretched. 

But Sir Oswald drew back, refusini^ that proffered hand. 

" I shake hands only with ^^entleiiien and honest men,** h^ 
said, liauu'htily. "You are neither, ]\Ir. Eversleigh." 

RetrinalJ hud Iteen used to hear his uncle address him in 
ani/er; but never before had Sir Os^waJd spoken to him in that 
tone of cool contempt. The colour faded from the youug man's 
face, and he looked at his uncle with an expression of alarm. 

" My dear uncle ! " he exclaimed. 

" Be pleased to forget that you have ever addressed me by that 
name, or that any relatiunsbip exists between us, Mr. Evers- 
leigh," answered Sir Oswald, with unaltered sternness. '* Sit 
down, if you please. Our inter\Hew is likely to be a long 
one." 

The young man seated himself in silence. 

"I have sent for you, Mr. Eversleigh." said the baronet, "be- 
cause I wished to tell you, without passion, that the tie which 
has hitherto Ixmnd us has been completely broken. Heaven 
knows 1 have been patient; 1 have endured your misdoings, 
hoping that they were the thoughtless errors oi youth, and not 
the deliberate sins of a hardened and wicked nature. I have 
trusted till I can trust no longer; I have hoped till I can hope 
no more. Within the past week I have learned to know you. 
An old friend, whose word I cannot doubt, whose honour is 
beyond all question, has considered it a duty to acquaint me 
with certain facts that have reached his knowledge, and haa 
opened my eyes to your real character. I have given much time 
to retiection before determining on the course I shall pursue 
with one who has been so dear to me. You know me well enough 
to be aware that when once I do arrive at a decision, that deci- 
sion is irrevocable. I wish to act with ju.stice, even towards a 
scoundrel. I have brought you up with the habits of a rich 
man, and it is my duty to save you from absolute poverty. 1 
have, therefore, ordered my solicitors to prepare a deed by which 
an income of two hundred a year will be secured to you for lite, 
unconditionally. After the execution of that deed 1 shall have 
uo further interest in your fate. You will go your owu way, 
Mr. Eversleigh, and choose your own companions, without re- 
monstrance or interference trom the foolish kinsman who hai 
lOY^ you too well," 





•0 Bmi to Earth. 

" Bnt, my dear nncle — Sir Oswald — what haye I done that 
yon should treat me so severely P " 

The young man was deadly pale. His tinclc's manner had 
taken him by surprise ; but even in this desperate moment, when 
he felt that all was lost, he attempted to assume the aspect of 
injured innocence. 

" What have you done ! " cried the baronet, passionately. 
" Shall I show you two letters, Reginald Eversleigh — two letters 
which, by a strange combination of circumstances, have reached 
my hands ; and in each of which there is the clue to a shame- 
ful story — a cruel and disgraceful story, of which you are the 
hero P " 

"Wliat letters?" 

" You shall read them," replied Sir Oswald. "They are ad- 
dressed to you, and have been in your possession ; but to so fine 
a gentleman such letters were of little importance. Another 
person, however, thought them worth preserving, and sent them 
to me." 

The baronet took up two envelopes from the table, and handed 
them to his nephew. 

At the sight of the address ot the uppermost envelope, Regi- 
nald Eversleigh's face grew livid. He looked at the lower, and 
then returned both documents to his uncle, with a hand that 
trembled in spite of himself. 

" I know nothing of the letters," he faltered, huskily. 

" You do not ! " said his uncle ; " then it will be necessary for 
me to enlighten you." 

Sir Oswald took a letter from one of the envelopes, but before 
reading it he looked at his nephew with a grave and mournful 
countenance, from which all traces of scorn had vanished. 

" Before I heard the history of this letter, I fully believed 
that, in spite of all your follies and extravagances, you were at 
least honourable and generous-hearted. After hearing the story 
of this letter, I knew you to be base and heartless. You say 
you know nothing of the letter ? Perhaps you will tell me that 
you have forgotten the name of the ^vriter. And yet you can 
scarcely have so soon forgotten Mary Goodwin." 

The young man bent his head. A terrible rage possessed him, 
for he knew that one of the darkest secrets of his life had been 
revealed to his uncle. 

"I will tell you the history of Mary Goodwin," said the baronet, 
" since you have so poor a memory. She was the favourite and 
foster-sister of Jane Stukely, a noble and beautiful woman, to 
whom y^u were engaged. You met Jane Stukely in London, 
fell in Ibve with her as it seemed, and preferred your suit. You 
were accepted by her — approved by her father. No alliance could 
have been more advantageous. I was never better pleased than 



Dismherited. 31 

when yon announced to me your engagement. The inflnence of 
a good wife will cure him of all his follies, I thought, and I shall 
yet have reason to be proud of my nephew." 

" Spare me, sir, for pity's sake," murmured Eeginald, 
hoarsely. 

"When did you spare others, Mr. Eeginald Eversleigh? 
When did you consider others, if they stood in the way of your 
base pleasures, your selfish gratifications ? Never ! Nor will 1 
spare you. As Jane's engaged lover, you were invited to Stukely 
Park. There you saw Mary Goodwin. Accident threw you 
across this girl's pathway very often in the course of your 
visit; but the time came when you ceased to meet by acci- 
dent. There were secret meetings in the park. The poor, 
weak, deluded girl could not resist the fascinations of the fine 
gentleman — who lured her to destruction by means of lying 
promises. In due time you left Stukely Park, unsuspected. 
Within a few days of your departure, the girl, Mary Goodwin, 
disappeared. 

" For six months nothing was heard of the missing Mary 
Goodwin ; but at the end of that time a gentleman, who remem- 
bered her in the days of her beauty and innocence at Stukely 
Park, recognized the features of Miss Stukely's protegee in the 
face of a suicide, whose body was exhibited in the Morgue at 
Paris. The girl had been found drowned. The Englishman 
paid the charges of a decent funeral, and took back to the 
Stukelys the intelligence of their -protegee's fate; but no one 
knew the secret of her destruction. That secret was, however, 
suspected by Jane Stukely, who broke her engagement with you 
on the strength of the dark suspicion. 

*' It was to you she fled when she left Stukely Park — in your 
companionship she went abroad, where she passed as your wife, 
you assuming a false name — under which you were recognized, 
nevertheless. The day came when you grew weary of your 
victim. When your funds were exhausted, when the girl's tears 
and penitence grew troublesome — in the hour when she was most 
helpless and miserable, and had most need of your pity and pro- 
tection, you abandoned her, leaving her alone in Paris, with a 
few pounds to pay for her journey home, if she should have 
courage to go back to the friends who had sheltered her. In 
this hour of abandonment and shame, she chose death rather 
than such an ordeal, and drowned herself." 

" I give you my honour. Sir Oswald, I meant to act liberally. 

t meant, " the young man interrupted; but his uncle did not 

notice the interruption. 

" I will read you this wretched girl's letter," continued the 
baronet ; " it is her last, and was left at the hotel where you 
lUserted her, and whence it was forwarded to you. It is a very 



82 ^un to Earth 

simple letter; but it bears in every Hne the testimony of a broken 
heart: — 

***Tou hwve left me, Reginald, and in so doing have 'proved to 
me mo£t fully that the love you once felt for me has indeed per- 
ished. For the sahe of that love I have sacrificed every principle 
and broken every tie. I have disgraced the name of an honest 
family, and have betrayed the dearest and kindest friend who 
ever protected a poor girl. And now you leave me, and tell me 
to return to my old friends, who will no doubt forgi/ue me, you 
ay, and shelter me in this hitter time of my disgrace. Oh, Re- 
ginald, do you know me so little that you think I could go back, 
could lift my eyes once more to the dear faces that used to sraiU 
upon me, but which now would turn from me with loathing and 
aversion ? You know that I cannot go back. You leave me in 
this great city, so strange and unknown to me, and you do not care 
to ask yourself any questions as to my probable fate. Shall I tell 
you what I am going to do, Reginald ? You, who were once so 
■fond and passionate a lover — you, whom I haue seen kneeling at 
my feet, humbly born and penniless though I was — it is only 
right that you should know the fate of your abandoned mistress. 
WJien I have finished this letter it will be dark—the shadows are 
closing in already, and I can scarcely see to write. I shall creep 
quietly from the house, and shall make my way over to that river 
which I have crossed so often, seated by your side in a carriage. 
Once on the bridge, under cover of the blessed darkness, all my 
troubles will be ended; you will be burdened with me no longer, 
cmd I shall not cost you even the ten-pound note which you so 
generously left for me, and which I shall enclose in this letter. 
Forgive me if there is some bitterness in my heart. I try to for- 
give you — I do forgive you ! May a merciful heaA)en pardon my 
sins, as I pardon your desertion of me ! " M. G.' " 

There was a pause after the reading of the letter — a silence 
which Mr. Eversleigh did not attempt to break. 

"The second letter I need scarcely read to you," said the 
baronet; "it is from a young man whom you were pleased to 
patronize some twelve months back — a young man in a banking 
office, aspiring and ambitious, whose chief weakness was the 
iesire to penetrate the mystic circle of fashionable society. You 
were good enough to indulge that weakness at your own price, 
and for your own profit. You initiated the banker's clerk into 
the mysteries of card-playing and billiards. You won money of 
him— more than he had to lose; and after being the kindest and 
most indulgent of friends, you became all at once a stern and 
pitiless creditor. You threatened the bank-clerk with disgrace 
& he did not pay his losses. He wrote you pleading letters ; but 
•^D Ig-ughed to seem iiis prayers for mercy, and at last, mad* 



t)isinherited. $3 

dened by shame, he helped himself to the money entrusted to 
him by his employers, in order to pay you. Discovery came, as 
discovery always does come, sooner or later, in these cases, and 
Yonr friend and victim was transported. Before leaving Eng« 
land he wrote you a letter, imploring you to have some compas- 
sion on his widowed mother, whom his disgrace had deprived of 
all support. _ I wonder how much heed you took of that letter, 
Mr. Eversleigh ? I wonder what you did towards the consola- 
tion of the helpless and afflicted woman who owed her misfor- 
tunes to you?" 

The young officer dared not lift his eyes to his tmcle's face; 
the consciousness of guilt rendered him powerless to utter a 
word in his defence. 

" I have little more to say to you," resumed the baronet. " I 
have loved you as a man rarely loves his nephew. I have loved 
you for the sake of the brother who died in my arms, and for 
tlie sake of one who was even dearer to me than that only 
brother— for the sake of the woman whom we both loved, and 
who made her choice between us — choosing the younper and 
poorer brother, and retaining to her dying day the affectfon and 
esteem of the elder. I loved your mother, Reginald Eversleigh, 
and when she died, within one short year of her husband's death, 
I swore that her only child should be as dear to me as a son. I 
have kept that promise. Few parents can find patience to for- 
give such follies as I have forgiven. But my endurance is ex- 
hausted ; my affection has been worn out by yotir heartlessness : 
henceforward we are strangers." 

"You canuot mean this, sirP" murmnred Eeginald Evers- 
leigh. 

There was a terrible fear at his heart— an inward conviction 
that his uncle was in earnest. 

" My solicitors will furnish yon with all particulars of the 
deed I spoke of," said Sir Oswald, without noticing his nephew's 
appealing tones. " That deed will secure to you two hundred a 
year. You have a soldier's career before you, and you are young 
enough to redeem the past — at any rate, in the eyes of the world, 
if not before the sight of heaven. If you find your regiment 
too expensive for your altered means, I would recommend yon to 
exchange into the line. And now, Mr. Eversleigh, I wish yon 
good morning." 
" But, Sir Oswald — nncle — my dearnncle — yon cannot snrely 

cast me off thus coldly — you " 

The baronet rang the bell. 

" The door— for Mr. Eversleigh," he said to the servant who 
answered his summons. 

The young man rose, looking at his kinsman with an incredu- 
lous gaze. He could not believe that all his hopes were utterl/ 



84 Ihm to Earili. 

ruined; that he was, indeed, cast off with a pittance T^hichto 
him seemed positively despicable. 

But there was no hope to be derived from Sir Oswald's face. 
A mask of stone could not have been more inflexible. 

" Good morning, sir," said Reginald, in accents that wera 
tremulous with suppressed rage. 

He could say no more, for the servant was in attendance, and 
he could not humiliate himself before the man who had been 
wont to respect him as Sir Oswald Eversleigh's heir. He took 
up his hat and cane, bowed to the baronet, and left the room. 

Once beyond the doors of his uncle's mansion, Reginald Evers- 
leigh abandoned himself to the rage that possessed him. 

" He shall repent this," he muttered. " Yes ; powerful as he 
is, he shall repent having used his power. As if I had not suf- 
fered enough already ; as if I had not been haunted perpetually 
by that girl's pale, reproachful face, ever since the fatal hour in 
which I abandoned her. But those letters; how could they have 
fallen into my uncle's hands? That scoundrel, Laston, must 
have stolen them, in revenge for his dismissal." 

He went to the loneliest part of the Green Park, and, stretched 
at full length upon a bench, abandoned himself to gloomy reflec- 
tions, with his face hidden by his folded arms. 

For hours he lay thus, while the bleak March winds whistled 
loud and shrill in the leafless trees above his head — while the 
cold, gray light of the sunless day faded into the shadows of 
evening. It was past seven o'clock, and the lamps in Piccadilly 
shone brightly, when he rose, chilled to the bone, and walked 
away from the park. 

" And I am to consider myself rich — with my pay and fifty 
pounds a quarter," he muttered, with a bitter laugh ; *' and if I 
find a crack cavalry regiment too expensive, I am to exchange 
Uito the line — turn foot-soldier, and face the scornful looks of all 
uiy old acquaintances. No, no, Sir Oswald Eversleigh ; you 
have brought me up as a gentleman, and a gentleman I will 
remain to the end of the chapter, let who will pay the cost. It 
may seem easy to cast me off, Sir Oswald; but we have not done 
with each other yet." 

CHAPTER IV. 

OUT or THE DEPTHS. 

After dismissing his nephew. Sir Oswald Eversleigh abandoned 
idmself fo- Aome time to gloomy thought. The trial had been a 
very bitter one ; but at length, arousing himself from that gloomy 
reverie, he said aloud, " Thank Heaven it is over ; my resolution 
did not break down, and the link is broken." 

Sir Oswald had made his arrangements for leaving London 



Out of ilie DeptJis. 8S 

that afbernoon, on the first stage of his jowrney to Raynham 
Castle. There were few railroads six-and-twenty years ago, and 
the baronet was in the habit of travelling in his own can-iag^ 
\\-ith post-horses. The journey from London to the far north ol 
Yorkshire was, therefore, a long one, occupying two or three days. \ 

Sir Oswald left toWn an hour after his inter\aew with Beginald 
Eversleigh. 

It was ten o'clock when he alighted for the first time in a 
large, bustling tovm on the great northern road. He had changed 
horses several times since leaving London, and had accomplished 
a considerable distance within the five hours. He put up at the 
principal hotel, where he intended to remain for the night. From 
the windows of his rooms was to be seen the broad, open market- 
place, which to-night was brilliantly Hghted, and thronged with 
people. Sir Oswald looked with surprise at the bustling scene, 
as one of the waiters drew the curtains before the long windows. 

" Tour town seems busy to-night," he said. 

"Yes, sir; there has been a fair, sir — our spring fair, sir — a 
cattle fair, sir. Perhaps you'd rather not have the curtains 
drawn, sir. You may like to look out of the window after 
dinner, sir.*' 

"Look out of the window ? — oh, dear no ! Close the curtains 
by all means." 

The waiter wondered at the gentleman's bad taste, and with- 
drew to hasten the well-known guest's dinner. 

It was long past eleven, and Sir Oswald was sitting brooding 
before the fire, when he was startled from his reverie by the 
sound of a woman's voice singing in the market-place below. 
The streets had been for some time deserted, the shops closed, 
the lights extinguished, except a few street-lamps, dickering 
feebly here and there. All was quiet, and the voice of the street 
ballad-singer sounded full and clear in the stillness. 

Sir Oswald Eversleigh was in no humour to listen to street- 
singers. It must needs be some voice very far removed from 
common voices which could awaken him from his gloomy 
abstraction. 

It was, indeed, an uncommon voice, such a voice as one rarel;^ 
hears beyond the wall« ©f the Itahan opera-house — such a voice 
as is not often heard e^n within those walls. Full, clear, and 
nch, the melodious accents sent a thrill to the innermost heart 
of the listener. 

The song which the vagrant was singing was the simplest of 
oallads. It was " Auld Robin Gray." 

While he sat by the fire, listening to that familiar ballad, Sir 
Oswald Eversleigh forgot his sorrow and indignation — forgot his 
nephew's baseness, forgot everything, except the voice of the 
woman singing in the deserted market-place below the windows. 



36 lUin to Earth. 

He vreTit to one of tlie windows, and drew back tbe ciirtaiti. 
The night was cold and boisterous; but a full moon was shining 
in a clear sky, and every object in the broad street was visible in 
that penetrating light. 

The windows of Sir Oswald's sitting-roora opened npon a 
balcony. He lifted the sash, and stepped out into the ch>Jl night 
air. He saw the figure of a woman moving away from thepave- 
ment before the hotel very slowly, with a languid, uncertain step. 
Presently he saw her totter and pause, as if scarcely able to pro- 
ceed. Then she moved unsteadily onwards for a few paces, and 
at last sank down upon a door-step, with the helpless motion of 
utter exhaustion. 

He did not stop to watch longer from the balcony. He went 
back to his room, snatched up his hat, and hurried down stairs. 
They were beginning to close the establishment for the night, 
nnd the waiters stared as Sir Oswald passed them on his way to 
the street. 

In the market-place nothing was stirring. The baronet could 
flee the dark figure of the woman still in the same attitude inbi 
which he had seen her sink when she fell exhausted o'i the door* 
step, half-sitting, half-lying on the stone. 

Sir Oswald hurried to the spot where the woman had sunk 
doAvn, and bent over her. Her arms were folded on the st^jne, 
her head lying on her folded arms. 

" Why are you lying there, my good girl ?" asked Sir Oswald^ 
frently. 

Something in the slender figure told him that the baliad-slnger 
was young, though he could not see her lace. 

She lifted her head slowly, with a languid action, and looked 
up at the speaker. 

"Where else should I go P" she asked, in bitter tones, 

" Have you no home ? " 

" Home ! " echoed the girh "I have never had what gentlemen 
like you call a home." 

"But where are you going to-night?*' 

"To the fields — to some empty Ijarn, if I can find one with a 
door unfastened, into which I may creep. I have been singing 
all day, and have not earned money enough to pay for a lodging," 

The full moon shone broad and clear upon the girl's face. 
Looking at her by that silvery light, Sir Oswald saw that she 
was ver}-- beautiful. 

" Have you been long leading this miserable life ?" Sir Oswald 
ftsked her presently. 

"My life has been one long misery," answered thel^allad-singer. 

"How long have you been singing in the vstreets ?" 

"I have been singing about the country for two years ; net 
always in the streets. For some time I was in a company of 



Out of the Depths. 37 

sKow'-people; but the mistress of the show treated me badly 
and 1 left her. Since then I have been wanderint^ about from 
place to place, singing in the streets on market-dajs, and sing- 
ing at fairs." 

The girl said all this in a dull, mechanical way, as if she were 
accustomed to be called on to render an accouut of herself. 

" And before you took to this kind of life," said the baronet, 
utrangely interested in this vagrant girl ; " how did yon get 
your li\nng before then ? " 

"I lived with my father," answered the girl, in an altered 
tone. " Have you tinished your questions ? " 

She shuddered slightly, and ro^e from her crouching attitude. 
The moon still shone upon her face, intensifying its deathhke 
pallor. 

" See," said her Tinknowii questioner, " here are a couple of 
sovereigns. You need not wander into the open country to look 
for an empty barn. You can procure shelter at some respect- 
r.ble inn. Or stay, it is close upon midni^rht: you might find 
it difficult to get admitted to any respectable house at such an 
hour. You had better come with me to my hotel yonder, the 
'Star' — the landlady is a kind-hearted creature, and will see 
you comfortably lodged. Come!" 

The girl stood before Sir Oswald, shivering in the bleak wind, 
with a thin black shawl wrapped tightly around her, and her 
dark brown hair blown away from her face by that bitter March 
wind. She looked at him with iinutterable surprise in her 
countenance. 

"You are very good," ehe said; "no one of your class ever 
before stepped out of his way to help me. Poor people have 
been kind to me — often — very often. Yoa are very good." 

There was more of astonishment than pleasure in the girl's 
k>ne. It seemed as if she cared very little al)out her own fiite, 
nnd that her chief feeling wa^ surprise at the goodness of this 
fine gentleman. 

"Do not speak of that," said Sir Oswald, gently; "I am anxious 
to get you a decent shelter for t^ie night, but that is a very small 
favour. I happen to be something of a musician, and I have 
been much struck by the beauty of your voice. I may be able to 
put vou in the way of making good use of your voice." 

*' Of my voice ! " 

The girl echoed the phrase as if it had no meaning to her. 

" Come," said her benefactor, " you are weary, and ill, perhaps. 
You look terribly pale. Come to the hotel, and 1 will place yon 
in the landlady's charge." 

He walked on, and the girl walked by his side, very slowly, as 
if she had scarcely sufficient strength to carry her even that 
•hort distance, 



38 Sun to Earifu 

There was sometliing strange in the circumstance of Sir 
Oswald's meeting with this girl. There was something strange 
in the sudden interest which she had aroused in him — the eager 
desire which he felt to learn her previous history. 

The mistress of the " Star Hotel " was somewhat surprised 
when one of the waiters summoned her to the hall, where the 
street-singer was standing by Sir Oswald's side; but she was too 
clever a woman to express her astonishment. Sir Oswald was 
one of her most influential patrons, and Sir Oswald's custom 
was worth a great deal. It was, therefore, scarcely possible that 
such a man could do wrong. 

" I found this poor girl in an exhausted state in the street 
just now," said Sir Oswald. " She is quite friendless, and has 
no shelter for the night, though she seems above the mendicant 
class. Will you put her somewhere, and see that she is taken 
good care of, my dear Mrs. Willet ? In the morning I may be 
able to think of some plan for placing her in a more respectable 
position." 

Mrs. Willet promised that the girl should be taken care of, 
and made thoroughly comfortable. 

"2oor young thing," said the landlady, "she looks dreadfully 
pale and ill, and I'm sure she'll be none the worse for a nice 
little bit of supper. Come with me, my dear." 

The girl obe^^ed ; but on the threshold of the hall she turned 
and spoke to Sir Oswald. 

" I thank you," she said; "I thank you with all my heart and 
soul for your goodness. I have never met with such kindness 
before." 

" The world must have been very hard for you, my poor child," 
he replied, "if such small kindness toadies you so deeply. 
Come to me to-morrow morning, and we will talk of your future 
life. Good night ! " 

" Good night, sir, and God bless you ! " 

The baronet went slowly and thoughtfully up the broad 
staircase, on his way to his rooms. 

Sir Oswald Eversleigh passed the night of his sojourn at the 
• Star ' in broken slumbers. The events of the preceding day 
haunted him perpetually in his sleep, acting themselves over 
and over again in his brain. Sometimes he was with his nephew, 
and the young man was pleading with him in an agony of selfish 
terror ; sometimes he was standing in the market-place, with the 
ghost-like figure of the vagrant ballad-singer by his side. 

When he arose in the morning, Sir Oswald resolved to dis- 
miss all thought of his nephew. His strange adventure of the 
pre^-ious night had exercised a very powerful influence upon his 
mind ; and it was upon that adventure he meditated while h^ 
break fa.s ted. 



Out of the iDepths. ^^ 

" 1 tave seen a landscape, whicli had no special charm in 
broad daylight, transformed into a gUmpse of paradise by the 
magic of^the moon," he mused as he lingered over his breakfast. 
•' Perhaps this girl is a very ordinary creature after all — a mere 
street wanderer, coarse and vulgar." 

But Sir Oswald stopped himself, remembering the refined 
tones of the voice which he had heard last night — the perfect 
self-possession of the girl's manner. 

"ISTo," he exclaiixied, " she is neither coarse nor vulgar; she is 
no common street ballad-singer. Whatever she is, or whoever 
she is, there is a mystery around and about her — a mystery 
which it shall be my business to fathom." 

When he had breakfasted, Sir Oswald Eversleigh sent for the 
ballad- singer. 

" Be good enough to tell the young person that if she feels her- 
self sufficiently rested and refreshed, I should like much to ha --e 
a few minutes' conversation with her," said the baronet to the 
head-waiter. 

In a few minutes the waiter returned, and ushered in the 
^rl. Sir Oswald turned to look at her, possessed by a curiosity 
i^hich was utterly unwarranted by the circumstances. It was 
not the first time in his life that he had stepped aside from his 
pathway to perform an act of charity ; but it certainly was the 
first time he had ever felt so absorbing an interest in the object ot 
his benevolence. 

The girl's beauty had been no delusion engendered of the moon- 
light. Standing before him, in the broad sunlight, she seenied 
even yet more beautiful, for her loveliness was more fully visible. 

The '^^llad-singer betrayed no signs of embarrassment under 
Sir Oswald's searching gaze. She stoo 1 before her benefactor 
with calm grace ; and there was something almost akin to pride 
in her attitude. Her garments were threadbare and shabby : 
yet on her they did not appear the garments of a vagrant. Her 
dress was of some rusty black stuff, patched and mended in a 
dozen places ; but it fitted her neatly, and a clean linen collar 
surrounded her slender throat, which was almost as white as the 
Hnen. Her waving brown hair was drawn away from her face 
in thick bands, reveaUng the small, rosy-tinted ear. _ The dark 
brown of that magnificent hair contrasted with the ivory white 
of a complexion which was only relieved by transient blushes ot 
faint rose-colour, that came ar-^ went vrith. emotion or excitement. 

" Be good enough to take a seat," said Sir Oswald: "I wish 
to have a Uttle conversation with you. I want to help yon, if I 
can. You do not seem fitted for the lif vou are leading; and 
I am conviaced that you possess talent which would elevate you 
to a far higher sphere. But before we talk of the future, I muat 
ask you to tell me something of the past " 



40 l^n to Earth. 

"Tell me," he continned, gently, "how is it that jon are go 
friendless ? How is it that your father and mother allow you to 
lead such an existence ? " 

" My mother died when I was a child," answered the girL 

" And your father ? " 

" My father is dead also." 

"You did not tell me that last ni;^ht," replied the baronet, 
with some touch of suspicion in his tone, for he fancied the girl's 
manner had changed when she spoke of her father. 

" Did I not ? " she said, quietly. " I do not think you asked 
me any question about my father; but if you did, I may have 
answered at random ; I was confused last night from exhaustion 
and want of rest, and I scarcely knew what I said." 

" What was your father ? " 

" He was a sailor." 

"There is something that is scarcely English in your face," 
eaid Sir Oswald ; " were you bom in En.irlaud ? '* 

" Xo, I was born in Florence ; my mother was a Florentine." 

"Indeed." 

There was a pause. It seemed evident that this girl did not 
care to tell the story of her past life, and that whatever informa- 
tion the baronet wanted to obtain, must be ertorted from her 
little by little. A common vagrant would have been eager to 
pour out some tale of misery, true or false, in the hearing of the 
man who promised to be her benefactor; but tliis girl main- 
tained a reserve which Sir Oswald found it very dilncult to 
penetrate. 

" I fear there is something of a painful nature in yonr past 
history," he said, at last; " something which you do not care to 
reveal." 

"There is much that is painful, much that I cannot tell." 

"And yet you must be aware that it will be very difficult for 
me to give you assistance if I do not know to whom I am giving 
it. I wish to place you in a position very different from that 
which you now occupy ; but it would be folly to interest myselJ 
in a person of whose history I positively know nothing." 

" Then dismiss from your mind all thoughts of me, and let me 
go my own way," answered the girl, with that calm pride of 
manner which imparted a singular charm to her beauty. "I 
shall leave this house grateful and contented ; I have asked 
nothing from you, nor did I intend to ask anything. You have 
been very good tome; you took compassion upon me in my 
misery, and I have been accustomed to see people of your class 
pass me by. Let me thank you for your goodness, and go 
on my way. So saying, she rose, and turned as if to leave the 
room. 

" No ! " cried Sir Oswild. impetuously ; " I cannot let yon go, 



Out of the Depth. 41 

I must help you in eome manner— even if you wLi throw no 
light upon your past existence ; even if I must act entirely in 
the dark." 

"You are too good, sir," replied the girl, deeply touched; 
"but remember that I do not ask your help. My history is a 
terrible one. I have suffered from the cnmeg of others; Lnit 
neither crime nor dishonour have sullied my own life. I have 
lived amongst people I despised, holding myself aloof as far as 
was possible. I have been laughed at, hated, ill-used for that 
which has been called pride; but I have at least presei-ved 
myself unpolluted by the corruption that surrounded me. If 
you can believe this, if you can take me upon trust, and stretch 
forth your hand to help me, knowing no more of me than 1 have 
now told you, I shall accept your assistance proudly and grate- 
fully. But if you cannot beHeve, let me go my own way." 

"I will trust you," he said; "I will help you, blindly, since 
it must be so. Let me ask you two or three questions, then all 
questioning between us shall be at an end." 

" I am ready to anssver any inquiry that it is possible for m* 
to answer." 

" Your name P " 

" My name is Honoria Milford.** 

" Your age ? " 

" Eighteen." 

" Tell me, how is it that your manner of speaking, your tones 
of voice, are those of a person who has received a superior edu- 
cation P " 

" I am not entirely uneducated. An Italian priest, a cousin 
of my poor mother's, bestowed some care upon me when I was 
in Florence. He was a very learned man, and taught me much 
that is rarely taught to a girl of fourteen or fifteen. His house 
^•a8 my refuge in days of cniel misery, and his teaching was the 
only happiness of my life. A nd now, sir, question me no further, 
I entreat you." 

" Very well, then, I will ask no more ; and I %vill trust you." 

"I thank you, sir, for your generous contidenoe." 

" And now I will tell you my plans for your future welfare,' 
Sir Oswald continued, kindly. "I was thinking much of yon 
while I breakfasted. You have a very magniiirent voice; audit 
is upon that voice you must depend for the futare. Are you 
fond of musio? " 

" I am very fond of it." 

There was^httle in the girl's words, but the tone in which they 
were spoken, the look of inspiration which hghted up _ the 
speaker's face, convinced Sir Oswald that she was aij CQthusiust. 

" Do you play the piano ? ** 

' A little; by ear." 



42 ^^J/n to Earth. 

" And yon know nothing of the science of mnsic P " 

"Nothing." 

" Then yon will have a great deal to learn before yon can makt 
any profitable use of your voice. And now I will tell yon what 
I shall do. I shall make immediate arrangements for placing 
you in a first-class boarding school in London, or the neighbour •• 
hood of London. There you will complete your education, and 
there you will receive lessons from the best masters in music and 
ginging, and devote the greater part of your time to the cultiva- 
^on of your voice. It will be known that you are intended for 
the career of a professional singer, and every facility will be 
afforded you for study. You will remain in this estabUshment for 
two years, and at the end of that time I shall place you under the 
tuition of some eminent singer, who will complete your musicaJ 
education, and enable you to appear as a pubhc singer. AU 
the rest will depend on your own industry and perseverance." 

" And I should be a worthless creature if I were not more 
industrious than ever any woman was before ! " exclaimed Hon- 
ona. " Oh, sir, how can 1 find words to thank you ? " 

" You have no need to thank me. I am a rich man, with 
neither wife nor child upon whom to waste my money. Besides, 
if you find the obhgation too heavy to bear, you can repay me 
when you become a distinguished singer." 

" I will work hard to hasten that day, sir," answered the girl, 
earnestly. 

Sir Oswald had spoken thus lightly, in order to set his protegee 
more at her ease. He saw that her eyes were filled with tears, 
and moving to the window to give her time to recover herself, 
stood for some minutes looking out into the market-place. Then 
he came back to his easy chair by the fire, and addressed her 
once more. 

" I shall post up to town this afternoon to make the arrange- 
ments of which I have spoken," he said ; " you, in the mean- 
time, will remain under the care of Mrs. Willet, to whom I shall 
entrust the purchase of your wardrobe. When that has been 
prepared, you will come straight to my house in ArHngton Street, 
whence I will myself conduct you to the school I may have 
chosen as your residence. Eemember, that from to-day you will 
begin a new life. Ah, by the bye, there is one other question I 
must ask. You have no relations, no associates of the past who 
are likely to torment you in the future ? " 

"None. I have no relations who would dare approach me^ 
and I have always held myself aloof from aU associates." 

" Good, then the future lies clear before you. And now yon 
can return to Mrs. "Willet. I will see her presently, and make 
ibll arrangements for your comfort." 

Honoria curtseyed to her benefactor, and left the room in 



Out of iU Depths. 43 

iilence. Her every gesture and her every tone were those of a 
1 dy. Sir Oswald looked aft^r her with wonder, aa she disap- 
peared from the apartment. 

The landlady of the " Star " was very much surprised when 
Sir Oswald Eversleigh requested her to keep the ballad-singer 
in her charge for a week, and to purchase for her a simple but 
thoroughly complete wardrobe. 

"And now," said Sir Oswald, " I confide her to you for a week, 
Mrs. Willet, at the end of which time I hope her wardrobe will 
be ready. I will write you a cheque for — say fifty pounds. If 
that is not enough, you can have more." 

" Lor' bless you, Sir Oswald, it's more than enough to set her 
tip hke a duchess, in a manner of speaking," answered the land- 
laidy; and then, seeing Sir Oswald had no more to say to her, 
ehe curtseyed and withdrew. 

Sir Oswald Eversleigh' s carriage was at the door of the "Star" 
at noon ; and at ten minutes after twelve the baronet was on his 
way back to town. 

He visited a great many "West-end boarding-schools before ne 
found one that satisfied him in every particular. Had his protegee 
been his daughter, or his affianced wife, he could not have been 
more difficult to please. He wondered at his own fastidiousness. 

" I am Hke a child with a new toy," he thought, almost 
ashamed of the intense interest he felt in this unknown girl. 

At last he found an estabhshment that pleased him ; a noble 
old mansion at Fulham, surrounded by splendid grounds, and 
presided over by two maiden sisters. It was a thoroughly aristo- 
cratic seminar}^ and the ladies who kept it knew how to charge 
for the advantages of their establishment. Sir Oswald assented 
immediately to the Misses Beaumonts' terms, and promised to 
bring the expected pupil in less than a week's time. 

" The young lady is a relation, I presume, Sir Oswald ? " said 
the elder Miss Beaumont. 

" Yes," answered the baronet ; " she is — a distant relative." . 

If he had not been standing with his back to the light, the 
two ladies might have seen a dusky flush suffuse his face as he 
pronounced these words. Never before had he told so dehberate 
a falsehood. But he had feared to tell the truth. 

"They will never guess her secret from her manner," he 
thought ; " and if they question her, she will know how to baffla 
their curiosity." 

On the very day that ended the stiptilated week, Honoria 
Milford made her appearance in Arhngton Street. Sir Oswald 
was in his hbrary, seated in an easy-chair before the fire-place, 
with a book in his hand, but with no power to concentrate his 
attention to its pages. He was sitting thus when the door wai 
cpened, and a servant announced — 



44 Bun to Earth, 

•'MissMilford!" 

Sir Oswald rose from liis cKair, and beheld an e.egant young 
lady, who approached him with a crraceful timidity of manner. 
She was simply dressed in pray merino, a black silk mantle, and 
a straw bonnet, trimmed with white ribbon. Nothing could have 
been more Quaker-like than the simphcity of this costume, and 
yet there was an elegance about the wearer which the baronet 
had seldom seen surpassed. 

He rose to welcome her. 

" You have just arrived in town P " he said. 

•* Yes, Sir Oswald; a hackney-coach brought me here from the 
coach-olhce." 

" I am very glad to pee you," said the baronet, holding out his 
hand, which Honoria Milfurd touched lii^htly with her own neatly 
gloved fingers; "and I am happy to tell you that I have secured 
you a home which I think you svill hke." 

" Oh, Sir Oswald, you are only too good to me. I shall nevfcx- 
know how to thank you." 

" Then do not thank me at all. Believe me, I desire no thanks. 
I have done nothing worthy of gratitude. An influence stronger 
than my own will has drawn me towards you ; and in doing what 
I can to befriend you, I am only giving way to an impulse which 
I am powerless to resist." 

The girl looked at her benefactor with a bewildered expression, 
and Sir Oswald interpreted the look. 

•' Yes," he said, " you may well be astonished by what I tell 
you. I am astonished myself. There is something mysterious 
in the interest which you "have inspired in my mind." 

Although the baronet had though i: continually of his protegee 
during the past week, he had never asked himself if there might 
not be some uimple and easy solution possible for this bewildermg 
enigma. He had never asked himself if it were not just within 
the limits of possibilit}' that a man of fifty might fall a victim 
to that fatal fever called love. 

He looked at the girl's beautiful face with the admiration 
which every man feels for the perfection of beauty— the pure, 
calm, reverential feeling of an artist, or a poet— and he never 
suppo^jed it possible that the day might not be far distant when 
he would contemplate that lovely countenance with altered sen- 
timents, with a deeper emotion. 

"Come to the dining-room, Miss !Milford,"hesaid; "I expected 
you to-day — I have made all my arrangements accordingly. You 
must be hungry after your journey; and as I have not yet 
lunched, I hope you will share my luncheon?" 

Honoria assented. Her manner towards her benefactor waa 
pharming in its quiet grace, deferential without being syco- 
phantic— the manner of a daughter rather than a depeftde»t 



Out of the Deptlis. 45 

Before leaving the library, she looked round at the book8^ the 
bronzes, the pictures, with admiring eyes. Never before had 
she seen so splendid an apartment : and she possessed that intui- 
tive love of beautiful objects which is the attribute of all refined 
and richly endowed natures. 

The baronet placed his ward on one side of the table, and seated 
himself opposite to her. 

No servant waited upon them. Sir Oswald himself attended 
to the wants of his guest. He heaped her plate with dainties ; 
he filled her glass with rare old wine ; but she ate only a few 
mouthfuls, and she could drink notliing. The novelty of her 
present position was too full of excitement. 

During the whole of the repast the baronet asked her no ques- 
tions. He talked as if they had long been known to each other, 
erplaining to her the merits of the difierent pictures and statues 
which she admired, pleased to find her intelligence always on © 
level with his own. 

"She is a wonderful creature," he thought; "a wonderfa3 
creature — a priceless pearl picked up out of the gutter." 

After luncheon Sir Oswald rang for his carriage, and presently 
Honoria ]\Iilford found herself on her way to her new home. 

The mansion inhabited by the Misses Beaumont was called 
*' The Beeches." It had of old been the seat of a nobleman, and 
the grounds which encircled it were such as are rarely to be 
found within a few miles of the metropolis ; and they would in 
vain be sought for now. Shabby little streets and terraces cover 
the ground where grand old cedars of Lebanon cast their dark 
shadows on the smooth turf seven-and-twenty years ago. 

Honoria Milford was enraptured with the beauty of her new 
home. That stately mansion, shut in by noble old trees from all the 
dust and clamour of the outer world; those smooth lawns, and 
exquisitely kept beds, filled with flowers even in this chill spring 
weather, must have seemed beautiful to those accustomed to 
handsome habitations. What must they have been then to the 
wanderer of the streets — the friendless tramp — who a week ago 
had depended for a night's rest on the chance of finding an 
empty bam. 

She looked at her benefactor with eyes that were dim with 
tears, as the carriage approached this delightful retreat. 

" If I were your daughter, you could not have chosen a better 
place than this," she said. 

" If you were my daughter, I doubt if I could feel a deeper in- 
terest in your fate than I feel now," answered Sir Oswald, quietly. 

_ Miss Beaumont the elder received her pupil with ceremonious 
kindness. ^ She looked at the girl with the keen glance of exami- 
nation which becomes habitual to the eye of the schoolmistress; 
but the most severe scrutiny would have failed to detect aay* 



46 liun to Earth. 

thing nnladylike or ungraceful in the deportment of Honoria 
Milford. 

" The young lady is charming," said Miss Beaumont, confiden* 
tially, as the baronet was taking leave ; " any one could gues8 
that she was an Eversleigh. She is so elegant, so patrician in 
face and manner. Ah, Sir Oswald, the good old blood will show 
itself." 

The baronet smiled as he bade adieu to the schoolmistress. 
He had told Honoria that policy had compelled him to speak of 
her as a distant relative of his own ; and there was no fear that 
the girl would betray herself or him by any awkward admissions. 

Sir Oswald felt depressed and gloomy as he drove back to 
town. It seemed to him as if, in partmg from his protegee, he 
had lost something that was necessary to his happiness, 

"I have not spent half a dozen hours in her society," be 
thought, " and yet she occupies my mind more than my nephew, 
Reginald, who for fifteen years of my hfe has been the object of 
BO much hope, so many cares. What does it all mean? What 
is tb« key to thif? mystery ? " 



CHAPTER Y. 

"EVIL, BE THOU MY GOOD." 

Eeginald Eversleigh was handsome, accomphshed, agreeable — 
irresistible when he chose, many people said ; but he was not 
richly endowed with those intellectual gifts which hft a man to 
either the good or ijad eminence. He was weak and vacillating 
— one minute swayed by a good influence, a transient touch of 
penitence, affection, or generosity; in the next given over entirely 
to his own selfishness, thinking only of his own enjoyment. He 
was apt to be influenced by any friend or companion endowed 
with intellectual superiority; and he possessed such a friend in the 
person of Victor Carrington, a young surgeon, a man xifinitely 
below Mr. Eversleigh in social status, but whose talents, united 
to tact, had lifted him above his natural level. 

The young surgeon was a slim, elegant-lookinsr young man, 
with a pale, sallow face, and flashing black eyes. His appearance 
was altogether foreign, and although his own name was Eng- 
lish, he was half a Frenchman, his mother being a native of 
Bordeaux. This widowed mother now hved with him, dependent 
on him, and loving him with a devoted affection. 

From a chance meeting iu a pubhc billiard-room, an intimacy 
arose betweei Victor Carrington and Reginald Eversleigh, which 
speedily ripened into friendship. The weaker nature was glad 
to find a stronger on which to lean. Reginald Eversleigh invited 
his new friend to his rooms — to champagne breakfasts, to suppers 
of broiled bones, eat^n lone after midnigrht: to card-Darties, at 



**Evil, he iliou my Good.** JS\ 

which large stims of money were lost and won ; bnt the losera 
were never Victor Carrintjton or Keginald Eversleigh, and there 
were men who said that Eversleigh was a more dangerous oppo- 
nent at loo and whist since htehad picked up that fellow Carrington. 

"I always feel afraid of Eversleigh, when that sallow-faced sur- 
geon is his partner at whist, or hangs about his chair at ecarte,'* 
said one of the officers in Reginald Eversleigh's regiment. "It's 
my opinion that black-eyed Frenchman is Mephistopheles in 
person. I never saw a countenance that so fully realized my 
idea of the devih" 

People laughed at the dragoon's notion: but there were few 
of !Mr. Eversleigh's guests who hked his new acquaintance, and 
there were some who kept altogether aloof from the 3'oung cor- 
net's rooms, after two or three evenings spent in the society of 
Mr. Carrington. 

"The fellow is too clever," said one of Eversleigh's brother- 
officers; "these very clever men are almost invariably scoundrels. 
I respect a man who is great in one thing — a great surgeon, a 
great law}'er, a great soldier — but your fellow who knows every- 
thing better than anybody else is always a villain." 

Victor Carrington was the only person to whom Reginald 
Eversleigh told the real story of his breach with his uncle. He 
trusted Victor: not because he cared to confide in him — for the 
story was too humiliating to be told without pain — but because 
he wanted counsel from a stronger mind than his own. 

"It's rather a hard thing to drop from the chance of forty 
thousand a year to a pension of a couple of hundred, isn't it, 
Carrington ^ " said Reginald, as the two young men dined to- 
gether in the cornet's quarters, a fortnight after the scene in 
Arlington Street. " It's rather hard, isn't it, Carrington? " 

" Yes, it would he rather hard, if such a contingency were pos- 
sible," replied the surgeon, coolly; " but we don't mean to drop 
from forty thousand to two hundred. The generous old uncle 
n ay choose to draw his purse-strings, and cast us off to ' beg- 
g jly divorcement,' as Desdemona remarks ; but we don't mean 
to let him have his own way. We must take things quietly, 
and manage matters with a little tact. You want my advice, 
I suppose, my dear Reginald ?" 

"I do." 

The surgeon almost always addressed his friends by their 
Christian names, more especially when those friends were of 
nigher standing than himself There was a de[)th of pride, which 
few understood, lurking beneath his quiet and unobtrusive man- 
ner; and he had a way of his own by which he let people know 
that he considered himself in every respect their equal, and in 
iome respects their superior. 

" You want my advice. Very well, then, my advice is tha4 



48 H^n to Earth 

yon play tlie penitent prodigal. It is not a difficult part to per* 
form, if you take care what you're about. Sir Oswald ha« 
advised you to exchange into the line. Instead of doing that, 
yon will sell out altogether. It will look like a stroke of prudence, 
and will leave you free to play your cards cleverly, and keep your 
eye upon this dear uncle." 

" Sell out 1 " exclaimed Reginald. " Leave the army ! I have 
Bworn never to do that." 

" But you will find yourself obliged to do it, nevertheless. 
Your regiment is too expensive for a man who has only a pitiful 
two hundred a year beyond his pay. Your mail-phaeton would 
cost the whole of your income; your tailor's bill can hardly be 
covered by another two hundred; and then, where are you to get 
your gloves, your hot-house flowers, your wines, your cigars ? 
You can't go on upon credit for ever; tradesmen have such a 
tiresome habit of wanting money, if it's only a hundred or so 
now and then on account. The Jews are beginning to be sus- 
picious of your paper. The news of your quiirrel witli Sir Os- 
wald is pretty sure to get about somehow or other, and then 
where are you P Cards and billiards are all very well in their 
way; but you can't live by them, without turning a regular 
black-leg, and as a black-leg you would have no chance of the 
Kaynham estates. No, my dear Reginald, retrenchment is tlie 
word. You must sell out, keep your^ielf very quiet, and watch 
your uncle." 

" What do you mean by watching him P " asked Mr. Evers- 
leigh, peevishly. t, . i- tt 

Hls friend's advice was by no means palatable to him. He 
sat in a moody attitude, with liis elbows on his knees, an-l his 
head bent forward, staring at the fire. Ilis wine stood untaated 
on the table by his side. 

" I mean that you must keep your eye upon him, in order +x) 
see that he don't play you a trick," anssvered the surgeon, at his 
own leisure. 

" What trick should he play me? " 

" Well, you see, when a man quarrels with his heir, he is apt 
to turn desperate. Sir Oswald miuht marry." 

" Tklarry ! at tiftv vears of age ? " 

"Yes. Men of "'fil'ty have been known to fall as desperately 
in love as any of your heroes of two or three aud twenty. 
Sir Oswald would be a t^plendid match, and depend upon 
'^^ there are plenty of beautiful and hi^h-born women who 
would be glad to call themselves Lady Eversleigh. Take my 
advice, Reginald, dear boy, and keep your eye on the baronet." 

" Bat he has turned me out of liis house. lie has severed 
every link between us." 

" Then it mnst be ow business to estabhsh a secret chain o1 



*'J5?vit, he ihou my Good:' 49 

eomrannication with his household,** answered Victor. " He has 
some confidential servant, I suppose ? " 

" Yes ; he has a valet, called Millard, whom he trusts as far 
ifi he trusts any dependent; but he is not a man who talks to 
his servants." 

" Perhaps not ; but sen-ants have a wayof their own of getting 
at information, and depend upon it, Mr. Millard knows more of 
your uncle's business than Sir Oswald would Ansh hira to know. 
We must get hold of thih; faithful Millard." 

" But he ia a very faithful fellow — honesty itself— the pink of 
fidelity.** 

" Humph ! " muttered the young snrLreon ; " did you ever try 
the effect of a bribe on this pink of Mduhty ? " 

♦• ^'ever." 

" Then yon know nothing about him. Eemembor what Sir 
Robert 'W^'alpole said, * Every man has his price.* We muot find 
out the price of Mr. Millard." 

" You are a wondtrful fellow, Carrington." 

" You think so ■' Bah, I keep my eyes open, that's all; other 
men go through the world with their eyes half-shut. I gradu- 
ated in a good school, and I may, perhaps, have been a tolerably 
apt pupil ? " 

"What school P'* 

"The school of poverty. That's the sort of education that 
sharpens a man's intellect. My father was a reprobate and a 
gamester, and I knew at an early age that I had notliing to hope 
for from him. 1 have h;id my own way to carve in life, and if 
I have as yet made small progress, I have fouirht against terrible 
odds." 

"I wonder you don't set up in a professional career," said Mr. 
Eversleigh ; " you have finished your education; obtained your 
degree. What are you waiting for.^" 

" I am waiting; for my chances," answered Victor; "I «1on"t 
care to begin the jog-trot career in whioh other men toil for 
twenty years or so, before they attain anything like prosperity. 
I have studieil as few men of five-anci -twenty have studied, — 
chemi.stry as well as surgery. I can affor-l to wait my chances. 
I ])ick up a few pounds a week by writing for the medical jour- 
nals, and with that resource and occasional luck with cards, 1 
can very easily supj)ort the siniple home in which my mothci 
and I live. In the meantime, I am free, and believe me, my dear 
Efginald, there is nothing so precious as freedom." 

" And you will not desert me now that I am down in the -rorld, 
eh, old fellow ?" 

"No, Reginald, Twill never desert you while you have the chanco 
of succeeding to forty thousand a year," answered the surgeon, 
with a laugh, 



5() ^un to ^ari%. 

His sinall black eyes flashed and sparkled aa he laughed. 
Reginald looked at him with a sensation that was almost fear. 

" What a fellow you are, Carrington ! " he exclaimed ; "you 
don't pretend even to have a heart." 

" A heart is a luxnry which a poor man mnst dispense with," 
answered Victor, with perfec-t song froid. " I should as soon 
think of setting up a mail-phaeton and pair as of pretending 
to benevolent feelings or high-flown sentiments. I have my 
^^av to make in the world, Mr. Eversleigh, and must consider 
my own inter3sts as well as those of my friends. You see, I am 
no hypocrite. You needn't be alarmed, dear boy. ^ I'll help you, 
and you shall help me; and it shall go hard if you are not 
restored to you'- uncle's favour before the year is out. But you 
must be patient. Our work will be slow, for we shall have to 
work underground. If Sir Oswald is still in Arlington Street^ 
1 shall make it mv business to see Mr. Millard to-morrow." 
* "^ * * * * 

Sir Oswald Eversleigh had not left Arlington Street, and at 
dusk on the following evening Mr. Carrington presented himself 
at the door of the baronet's mansion, and asked to see Mr. Mil- 
lard, the valet. 

Victor Carrington had never seen his friend's kinsman ; he was, 
therefore, secure against all chances of recognition. He had 
chosen the baronet's dinner-hour as the time for his call, knowing 
that during that uour the valet must be disengaged. He sent 
his card to Mr. Millard, with a Hne written in pencil to request 
an interview on urgent business. 

Millard came to the hall at once to see his visitor, and ushered 
Mr. Carrington into a small room that was used occasionally by 
the upper servants. 

The surgeon was skilled in every science by wliich a man may 
purchase the hearts and minds of his fellow-men. He could read 
Sir Oswald Eversleigh's valet as he could have read an open book 
He saw that the man was weak, irresolute, tolerably honest, but 
open to temptation. He was a middle-aged man, with sandy 
hair, a pale face, and hght, greenish-gray eyes. 

" Weak," thought the surgeon, as he examined this man's 
countenance, " greedy, and avaricious. So, 80 ; we can do what 
we like with Mr. Millard." 

Victor Carrington told the valet that he was the most intimate 
friend of Eeginald Everslei.ijh, and that he made this visit entir^^ly 
without that gentleman's knowledge. He dwelt much upon Mr. 
Eversleigh's grief — his despair. 

" But he is very proud," he added ; " too proud to approach 
this house, either directly or indirectly.^ The shock caused by 
his uncle's unexpected abandonment of him has completely pros- 
trated him. I am a member of the medical profession, Mr. Mil- 



Auld Robin Gray, 51 

lard, and I assnre you that during the past fortnight I have 
almost feared for my friend's reason. I therefore determined 
upon a desperate step — a step which Reginald Eversleigh would 
never forgive, were he to become aware of it. I determined upon 
coming to this house, and ascertaining, if possible, the nature of 
Sir Oswald's feelings towards his nephew. Is there any hope of 
a reconciliation ?" 

" I'm afraid not, sir." 

" That's a bad thing," said Victor, gravely ; " a very bad 
thing. A vast estate is at stake. It would be a bad thing for 
every one if that estate were to pass into strange hands — a very 
bad thing for old seiwants, for with strangers all old links are 
broken. It would be a still worse thing for every one if Sir Os- 
wald should take it into his head to marry." 

The valet looked very grave. 

" If you had said such a thing to me a fortnight ago, I should 
have told you it was impossible," he said ; '* but now——." 

" Xow, what do you say ? " 

" Well, sir, you're a gentleman, and, of course, you can keep a 
secret ; so I'll tell you candidly that nothing my master could do 
would surprise me after what I've seen within the last fortnight." 

This was quite enough for Victor Carrington, who did not 
leave Arlington Street until he had extorted from the valet the 
entire history of the baronet's adoption of the ballad-singer. 



CHAPTER VL 

AULD ROBIN GRAY. 

A YEAR and some months had passed, and the midsummer snn- 
hght shone upon the woods around Raynham Castle. 

It was a grand pile of buildings, blackened by the darkening 
hand of time. At one end Norman towers loomed, round and 
grim ; at another extremity the light tracery of a Grothic era was 
visible in window and archway, turret and tower. The centre 
had been rebuilt in the reign of Henry VIII. , and a long range 
of noble Tudor windows looked out upon the broad terrace, beyond 
which there was a garden, or pleasaunce, sloping down to the 
park. In the centre of this long facade there was an archway, 
opening into a stone quadrangle, where a fountain played per- 
petually in a marble basin. 

This was Eaynham Castle, and all the woods and pastures as 
far as the eye could reach, and far beyond the reach of any 
human eye, belonged to the castle estate. This was the fair do- 
main of which Reginald Eversleigh had been for years the 
acknowledged heir, and which his own folly and dishonour had 
forfeited. 

Now aU waa changed. There was not a peasant in Baynhioo 



52 Itun to Earth. 

village who had not as much right to enter the castle, and as 
good a chance of a welcome, as he who had once been acknowledged 
heir to that prond domain. It was scarcely strange if Reginald 
Eversleigh felt this bitter change very keenly. 

He had placed himself entirely in the hands of his friend and 
adviser, Victor Carrington. He had sold out of the cavalry 
regiment, and had taken up his abode in a modest lodging, situated 
in a small street at the West- end of London. Here he had tried 
to live quietly, according to his friend's advice ; but he was too 
much the slave of his own follies and vices to endure a quiet 
existence. 

The sale of his commission made him rich for the time being , 
and, so long as his money lasted, he pursued the old course, 
betting, playing billiards, haunting all the aristocratic temples 
of folly and dissipation; but, at the worst, conducting himselt 
with greater caution than he had do:»e of old, and always allow- 
ing himself to be held somewhat in check by his prudent ally 
and counsellor. 

" Enjoy yourself as much as you please, my dear Eeginald," 
said Victor Carrington ; "but take care that your little follies 
don't reach the ears of your uncle. Eemember, I count upon 
your being reconciled to him before the year is out."^ 

"That will never be," answered Mr. Eversleigh, mth a tone of 
Bullen despair. " I am utterly ruined, Carrington. It's no use 
trying to shirk the truth. I am a doomed wretch, a beggar for 
life, and the sooner I throw myself over one of the bridges, and 
make an end of my miserable existence, the better. According 
to Millard's account my uncle's infatuation for that singing-girl 
grows stronger and stronger. Not a week now passes without 
his visiting the school where the young adventuress is finishing 
her education. As sure as fate, it will end by his marrying her, 
and the street ballad-singer will be my Lady Eversleigh." 

" And when she is my Lady Eversleigh, it must be our business 
to step between her and the Eversleigh estates," answered Vic- 
tor, quietly. " I told you that your uncle's marriage would be 
an unlucky thing for you ; but I never told you that it would 
put an end to your chances. I think, from what Millard tells us, 
there is very little doubt Sir Oswald will make a fool of himself 
by marrying this girl. If he does, we must set our wits to work 
to prevent his leaving her his fortune. She is utterly friendless 
and obscure, so he is not hkely to make any settlement upon her. 
And for the rest, a man of fifty who marries a girl of nineteen 
is very apt to repent of his folly. It must be our business to 
make your uncle repent very soon after he has taken the fatal step." 

" I don't understand you, Carrington." 

" My dear Eversleigh, you very seldom do understand me," 
answered the surgeon, in that half- contemptuous tone in which 



Autd Piohin Gray. S3 

he was apt to address liis friend ; " bnttliat is uot of the smallest 
consequence. Only do what I tell you, and leave the rest to 
me. You shall be lord of Kaynham Castle jet, if my wits ara 
good for anything." 

* « • • • 

A year had elapsed, which had been passed by Sir Oswald b« 
tween Eaynham Castle and Arlington JStreet, and during which 
he had paid more visits than he could count to " The Beeches." 
; On the occasion of these visits, he only saw his jprottgce fcr 
about a quarter of an hour, while the stately Miss Beaumont 
looked on, smiling a dignified smile upon her pupil and the liberal 
patron who paid so handsomely for that pupil's education. She 
had always a good account to give of Sir Oswald's '[n-otegee 
— there never was so much talent united to so much industry, 
according to Miss Beaumont's report. Sometimes Sir Oswald 
begged to hear Miss Milford sing, and Honoria seated herself at 
the piano, over whose notes her white fingers seemed to have 
already acquired perfect command. 

The rich and clear soprano voice had attained new power since 
Sir Oswald had heard it in the moonlit market-place ; the execu- 
tion of the singer improved day by day. The Italian singini;- 
master spoke in raptures of his pupil — never was there a finer 
organ or more talent. Miss Milford could not fail to create a 
profound impression when her musical education should be com- 
pleted, and she should appear before the public. 

But as the year drew to its close, Sir Oswald Eversleigh talked 
less and less of that public career for which he had destined his 
'protegee. He no longer reminded her that on her own industry 
depended her future fortune. He no longer spoke in glowing 
terms of that brilliant pathway which lay before her. His manner 
Was entirely changed, and he was grave and silent whenever any 
allusion was made by Miss Beaumont or Honoria to the future 
use which was to be made of that superb voice and exceptional 
genius. 

The schoolmistress remarked upon this alteration one day, 
when talking to her pupil. 

" Do you know, my dear !Miss ^Milford, I am really inclined to 
beheve that Sir Oswald Eversleigh has changed his mind with 
regard to your future career, and'that he does not intend you to 
be an opera-singer." 

" Surely, dear Miss Beaumont, that is impossible," answered 
Honoria, quietly ; " my education is costing my kind bene — rela- 
tive a great deal of money, which would be wasted if I were not 
to make music my profession. Besides, what else have I to look 
to in the future ? Eemember, Sir Oswald has always told yoD 
that I have my own fortune to achieve. I have no claim on any 
one, and it is to his generosity alone I owe my present position." 



54 Run to Earth. 

" Well, I don't know how it may be, my dear," ans^rered Mis« 
Beaumont, " I may be mistaken ; but I cannot help thinking 
that Sir Oswald has changed hi? mind about you. I need not tell 
yon that my opinions are opposed to a professional career for any 
young lady brought up in my establishment, however highly 
gifted. I'm sure my blood actually freezes in my veins, when J 
think of any pupil of mine standing on a public stage, to be 
gazed at by "the common herd ; and I told Sir Oswald, when he 
first proposed bringing you here, that it would be necessary to 
keep your destiny a profound secret from your fellow-pupils ; for 
I assure you, my love, there are mammas and papas who would 
come to ^this house in the dead of the ni^ht and carry off their 
children, without a moment's warning, if they were infonned 
that a young person intended to appear on the stage of the Italian 
Opera was receiving her education within these walls. In short, 
nothing but your own discreet conduct, and Sir Oswald's very 
Uberal terms, could have reconciled me to the risk which I have 
ran in receiving you." 

The first yearof Honoria Milford's residence at "The Beeches" 
expired, and another year began. Sir Oswald's visits became 
more and more frequent. AVhen the accounts of his proteriee's 
progress were more than usually enthusiastic, his visits were 
generally followed very speedily by the arrival of some costly gitl 
for ]\Iiss"Beaumont's pupil — a ring — a bracelet — a locket — always 
in perfect taste, and such as a young lady at a boarding-school 
mi?ht wear, but always of the most valuable description. 

Honoria ]SIilford must have possessed a heart of stone, if she 
had not been grateful to so noble a benefactor. She was grateful, 
and her gratitude was obvious to her generous protector. Her 
beautiful face was illuminated with an unwonted radiance when 
she entered the dra%%-ing-room where he awaited her coming : and 
the pleasure with which she received his brief visits was as pal- 
pable as if it had been expressed in words. 

It was midsummer, and Honoria ^Milford had been a year and 
a quarter at "The Beeches." She had acquired much during that 
period ; new accomphshments, new graces ; and her beauty had 
developed into fresh splendour in the calm repose of that com- 
fortable abode. She was hked by her fellow-pupils; but she 
had made neither friends nor co/'n'?'7n/e.s. The dark secrets of 
her past hfe shut her out from all intimate companionship with 
girls of her own age. 

She had, in a manneV, lived a lonely life amongst all thes* 
companions, and her chief happiness had been derived from her 
studies. Thus it was, perhaps, that she had made double pro- 
gross during her residence with the Misses Beaumoiit. 

One bright afternoon in June. Sir Oswald's mail-phaeton an| 
pair drovepast the windows of the school-room. 



Auld "Robin Gray, 55 

•'Visitors for Miss Milford ! " exclaimed the pupils seatf^d neai 
the windows, as they recognized the elegant eqaipage. 

Honoria rose from her desk, awaiting the summons of the 
8choolroom-maid. She had not long to wait. The young woman 
appeared at the door in a few moments, and !Miss Milford waa 
requested to go to the drawing-room. 

She went, and found Sir Oswald Eversleigh awaiting her 
alone. It was the hrst time that she had ever known i\[is3 
Beaumont to be absent from the reception-room on the visit of 
the baronet. 

He rose to receive her, and took the hand which she extended 
towards him. 

" I am alone, you see, Honoria," he said; " I told jMiss Beau- 
mont that I had something of a, serious nature to say to you, 
and she left me to receive you alone." 

*' Something of a serious nature," repeated the girl, looking 
at her benefactor with surprise. " Oh, I think I can guess what 
you are going to say," she added, after a moment's hesitation ; 
"my musical educ£'^ion is now sufficiently advanced for me to 
take some new step in the pathway which you wish me to tread." 

"iNo, Honoria, you are mistaken," answered the baronet, 
gravely; " so far from wishing to hasten your musical education, 
I am about to entreat you to abandon aU thought of a profes- 
sional career." 

" To abandon all thought of a professional career ! You 
would ask me this, Sir Oswald — you who have so often told me 
that all my hopes for the future depended on my cultivation of 
the art I love ? " 

" You love your art very much then, Honoria ? " 

"More than I love life itself." 

*' And it would grieve you much, no doubt, to resign all idea 
of a public career — to abandon your dream of becoming a public 
sin^rer ? " 

There was a pause, and then the girl answered, in a dreamy 
tone — 

" I don't know. I have never thought of the public. I have 
never imao-ined the hour in which I should stand before a great 
crowd, as I have stood in the cruel streets, amonL^st all the noise 
and confusion, singing to people who cared so little to hear me, 
I have never thought of thatr— I love music for its own sake, 
and feel as much pleasure when I sing alone in my own room, 
as I could feel in the grandest opera-house that ever was built." 

"And the applause, the admiration, the worship, which your 
beauty, as well as your voice, would win — does the idea of 
resif^ning such intoxicating incense give y«a no pain, HoiJoria?" 

The girl shook her head sadly. 

" You forget what 1 was when you rescued me from the piti« 



56 Run to Earth. 

less stones of the market-place, or you -would scarcely ask mft 
Buch a question. I have confronted the public — not the bril- 
liant throng of the opera-house, but the squalid crowd which 
gathers before the door of a gin-shop, to listen to a vagrant 
ballad-singer, i have sung at races, where the rich and the high- 
bom were congregated, and have received their admiration. I 
know what it is worth. Sir Oswald. The same benefactor 
who throws a handful of half-pence, offers an insult with his 
donation." 

Sir Oswald contemplated his profegee in silent admiration, and 
it was some moments before he continued the conversation. 

" Will you walk with me in the garden ? " he asked, pre- 
sently; " that avenue of beeches is delightful, and — and I think 
I shall be better able to say what I wish there, than in this 
room. At any rate, I shall feel less afraid of interruption." 

Honoria rose to comply with her benefactors wish, with that 
deferential manner which she always preserved in her intercourse 
with him, and they walked out upon the velvet lawn. Across 
the lawn lay the beech-avenue, and it was thither Sir Oswald 
directed his steps. 

'" Honoria," he said, after a silence of some duration, *' if you 
knew how much doubt — how much hesitation I experienced be- 
fore I came here to-day — how much I still question the wisdom 
of my coming — I think you would pity me. But I am here, and 
I must needs speak plainly, if I am to speak at all. Long ago 
I tried to think that my interest in your fate was only a natural 
impulse of chanty — only an ordinary tiilnite to gifts so far above 
the common. I tried to think this, and I acted with the cold, 
calculating wisdom of a man of the world, when I marked out 
for you a career by which you miirht win distinction for your- 
self, and placed you in the way of following that career. I meant 
to sj^end last year upon the Continent. I did not expect to see 
you once in twelve months; but the strange influence which 
jK»ssessed me in the hour of our first meeting grew stronger upon 
me day by day. In spite of myself, I thought of you; in spite 
of myself I came here again and again, to look upon your iucc, 
to hear your voice for a few bnef moments, and then to go out 
into the world, to find it darker and colder by contrast with the 
brightness of your beauty. Little by little, the idea of your 
becoming a public singer became odious to me," continued Sir 
Oswald. " At first I thought with pride of the success which 
would be yours, the worship which would be offered at your 
shrine; but my feeling changed completely before long, and I 
shuddered at the image of your triumphs, for those triumphs 
must, doubtless, separate us for ever. Why should I dwell 
npon this change of feeling. P Tou must have already guessed 
tlie secret of my heart. Tell me that you do not despise me ! '* 



Auld BoUn Gray. 57 

" Despise you. Sir Oswald ! — you, the noblest and most gene- 
rous of men ! Surely, you must know that I admire and reve- 
rence you for all your noble qualities, as well as for your good- 
ness to a wretched creature like me." 

*' But, Honoria, I want something more than your esteem. 
Do you remember the night I tirst heard you singing in the mar- 
ket-place on the north road ? '' 

" Can I ever forget that miserable night? " cried the girl, in a 
tone of surprise — the question seemed so strange to her — " that 
bitter hour, in which you came to my rescue ? " 

" Do you remember the song you were singing — the last song 
yon ever sang in the streets?" 

Honoria Milford paused for some moments before answering 
It was evident that she could not at first recall the memoiy oi 
that last song. 

•' My brain was almost bewildered that night," she said ; " I 
was so weary, so miserable ; and yet, stay, I do remember the 
Bong It was ' Auld Robin Gray.' " 

" Yes, Honoria, the story of an old man's love for a woman 
young enough to be his daughter. I was sitting by my cheerless 
fire-side, meditating very gloom'''y upon the events of the day, 
which had been a sad one for me, when 5^our thrilling tones stole 
upon my ear, and roused me from my reverie. I hstened to every 
note of that old ballad. Although those words had long been 
familiar to me, they seemed new and strange that night. An 
Irresistil.ile impulse led me to the spot where you had sunk down 
in your helplessness. From that hour to this you have been the 
ruling irilluence of my life, I have loved you with a devotion 
which few men have power to feel. Tell me, Honoria, have I 
loved in vain ? The happiness of my life trembles in the balance. 
It is for you to decide wiiether my existence henceforward is to 
Le worthless to me, or whether I am to be the proudest and hap- 
piest of men." 

•* Would my love make you happy, Sir Oswald P " 
Unutterably happy." 

"Then it is your^." 

"You love me — in spite of the difference between our 
ages?" 

" Yes, Sir Oswald, I honour and love you with all my heart," 
answered Honoria Milford. "Whom have I seen so worthy of a 
woman's aii'ection ? From the first hour in which some guardian 
angel threw me across your pathwa}^ what have 1 seen in you 
but nobility of soul and generosity of heart ? Is it strange, 
therefore, if my gratitude lias ripened into love ? " 

" Honoria," murmured Sir Oswald, bending over the drooping 
head, and pressing his lips gently on the pure brow — " Honoria, 
Fou have made me toe happy. I can scarcely bfili**^''' ^4iat this 



58 i^M7^ to Earth. 

happiness is not some dream, whicli will melt away presently, 
and leave me alone and desolate — the fool of my own fancy." " 

He led Honoria back towards the house. Even in this moment 
of supreme happiness he was obhged to remember Miss Beau- 
mont, who would, no doubt, be lurking somewhere on the watch 
for her pupil. 

" Then yon will give up all thought of a professional career, 
Honoria ? " said the baronet, as they walked slowly back. 

"I will obey you in eveiythiug." 

" My dearest girl — and when you leave this house, you will 
leave it as Lady Eversleigh." 

Miss Beaumont was waiting in the dra-sving-room, and waa 
evidently somewhat astonished by the duration of the interview 
between Sir Oswald and her pupil. 

" You have been admiring the grounds, I see. Sir Oswald," 
she said, very graciously. " It is not quite usual for a gentle- 
man visitor and a pupil to promenade in the grounds tete-a-ttte; 
but I suppose, in the case of a gentleman of your time of Hfe, 
we must relax the severity of our rules in some measure." 

The baronet bowed stiffly. A man of fifty does not care to 
be reminded of his time of Hfe at the very moment when he has 
just been accepted as the husband of a girl of nineteen. 

"It may, perhaps, be the kst opportunity which I may have 
of admiring your grounds. Miss Beaumont," he said, presently, 
"for I think of removing your puj^il very sliortly." 

" Indeed ! " cried the governess, reddening with suppressed 
indignation. " I trust ]\Iiss Milford has not found occasion to 
make any complaint; she has enjoyed especial privileges under 
this roof — a separate bed-room, silver forks and spoons, roast 
veal or lamb on Sundays, throughout the summer season — to 
say nothing of the most unremitting super\'ision of a positively 
maternal character, and I should really consider Miss Milford 
wanting in common gratitude if she had complained." 

" You are mistaken, my dear madam ; Miss Milford has uttered 
no word of complaint. On the contrary, I am sure she has been 
perfectly happy in your establishment; but chang-es occur every 
day, and an impoitant change will, I trust, speedily occur in my 
life, and in that of Miss Milford. When I first proposed bring- 
ing her to you, you asked me if she was a relation; I told yoa 
uhe was distantly related to me. I hope soon to be able to say 
that distant relationship has been transformed into a very near 
one. I hope soon to call Honoria Milford my wife." 

Miss Beaumont's astonishment on hearing this announcement 
was extreme; but as surprise was one of the emotions peculiar 
to the common herd, the governess did her best to suppress all 
signs of that feeling. Sir Oswald told her that, as Miss Milford 
was in orphan, and wi-'hout any near relative, he would wish to 



Auld Boht'n Gray. 

take her straight from "The Beecli©i " to the chn«;h in which he 
would make her his wife, and he begged Miss Beaumont to 
give him her assistance in the airangement of the wedding. 

The mistress of "The Beeches "possessed a really kmd heart 
beneath the ice of her ultra-genlilitj, and she was pleased with 
the idea of assisting in the bringing about of a genuine love- 
match. Besides, the affair, if \-'ell managed, would reflect con- 
siderable imi^ortance upon herself, and she would be able by and 
bye to talk of "my pupil, Lady Eversleigh;" or, " that sweet 
girl, Miss Milford, who afterwards married the wealthy baronet, 
Sir Oswald Eversleigh." Sir Oswald pleaded for an early cele- 
bration of the marriage — and fionoria, accustomed to obey him 
in all things, did not oppose his wish in this crisis of his life. 
Once more Sir Oswald wrote a cheque for the wardrobe of his 
yroteijee, and Miss Beaumoat swelled with pomposity as she 
thought of the grandeur vz-hich might be derived from the ex- 
penditure of a large sum of money at certain West-end em- 
poriums where she was in the habit of making purchases for 
her pupils, and where she was already considered a person of 
some importance. 

It was holiday-time at " The Beeches," and almost all the pupils 
were absent. Miss Beaumont was, therefore, able to devote the 
ensuing fortnight to the delightful task of shopping. She drove 
into town almost every day with Honoria, and hours were spent 
in the choice of silks and satins, velvets and laces, and in long 
consultations with milliners and dressmakers of Parisian celebrity 
and boundless extravagance. 

" Sir Oswald has intrusted me with the supervision of this 
most important business, and I will drop down in a fainting-fit 
from sheer exhaustion before the counter at Howell and James's, 
sooner than I would fail in my duty to the extent of an iota," 
!Miss Beaumont said, when "Honoria begged her to take less 
trouble about the wedding trousseau. 

It was Sir Oswald's wish that the wedding should b« strictly 
private. Whom could he in^-ite to assist at his union ^vith a 
nameless and friendless bride ? Miss Beaumont was the only 
person whom he could trust, and even her he had deceived ; for 
she believed that Honoria Milford was some fourth or fifth cousin 
— some poor relative of Sir Oswald's. 

Early in July the wedding took place. All preparations had 
been made so quietly as to bafEe even the penetration of the 
watchful Millard. He had perceived that the baronet was more 
than usually occupied, and in higher spirits than were habitual 
to him ; but he could not discover the reason. 

" There's somethinof going on, sir," he said to Yictor Camng- 
ton; " but I'm blest if I know what it is. I dare say that young 
woman is at the bottom of \t. I never did see my master look 



60 i^^m to Earth, 

so well or so happy. It seems as if lie was growing yotiiigoi 
every day." 

Reginald Eversleigli looked at his friend in blank despair when 
these tidings reached him. 

" I told yon I was ruined, Victor," he said; " and now, perhaps, 
you will believe me. My uncle will marry that woman." 

It was only on the eve of his wedding-day that Sir Oswald 
Eversleigh made any communication to his valet. "While dress- 
ing for dinner that evening, he said, quietly — 

" I want my portmanteaus packed for travelling between this 
and two o'clock to-morrow, Millard; and you will hold yourself 
in readiness to accompany me. I shall post from London, start- 
ing from a house near Fulham, at three o'clock. The chariot must 
leave here, with you and the luggage, at two." 

" You are going abroad, sir?" 

" No, I am going to North Wales for a week or two ; but I do 
not go alone. I am going to be married to-morrow morning, 
Millard, and Lady Eversleigh will accompany me." 

Much as the probability of this marriage had been discussed 
I in the Arlington Street household, the fact eeme upon Joseph 
Millard as a surprise. Nothing is so unwelcome to old servants 
as the marriage of a master who has long been a bachelor. Let 
the bride be never so fair, never so high-bom, she will be looked 
on as an interloper ; and if, as in this case, she happens to be 
poor and nameless, the bridegroom is regarded as a dupe and a 
fool ; the bride is stigmatized as an adventuress. 

The valet was fully occupied that evening with preparations 
for the journey of the following day, and could find no time to 
call at Mr. Eversleigh's lodgings with his evil tidings. 

"He'll hear of it soon enough, I dare say, poor, unfortunate 
young man," thought Mr. Millard. 

The valet was right. In a few days the announcement of the 
baronet's marriage appeared in "The Times" newspaper; for, 
though he had celebrated that marriage with all privacy, he had 
no wish ir keep his fair young wife hidden from the world. 

" On Tliursday, the Uh instant, at St. Mary's Church, Fulham, 
{ Sir Oswald Morton Vansittart Eversleigh, Bart., to Ilonoria 
daughter of the late Thomas Milford." 

This was all ; and this was the announcement which Reginald 
Eversleigh read one morning, as he dawdled over his late break- 
fast, after a night spent in dissipation and folly. He threw the 
paper away from him, with an oath, and hurried to his toilet. 
He dressed himself with less care than usual, for to-day he wag 
in a hurry ; he wanted at once to communicate with his friend, 
Victor Currington. 

The yourg surgeow lived at the very extremity of the Maida 



Auld Piohin Qray. 61 

Hill uistrict, in a cottage, which was then almost in the country. 
It was a comfortable little residence; but Eeginuld Everslei;,'b 
looked at it with supreme contempt. 

" You can wait," he said to the hacknej coachman; "I shall 
be here in about half an hour." 

The man drove away to refresh his horses at the nearest inn, 
and Ee;^inald Eversleigh strode impatiently past the tnm little 
Fervant-girl who opened the ganlen gate, and walked, unan- 
nounced, into the miniature hail. 

Everything in and about Victor Carrincrton's alx>de was the 
perfection of neatness. The presence of poverty was ^•isil1le, it 
IS true ; but poverty was made to wear its fairest shape. In the 
snug dra^ving-room to wliich lieginald Eversleigh was admitted 
all was bright and fresh. White muslin curtains shaded the 
French window ; birds sang in gilded cages, of inexpensive 
quality, but elegant design ; and tall glass vases of freshly cut 
fiowers adorned tables and mantel-piece. 

Sir Oswald's nephew looked contemptuously at this ele;::ance 
of poverty. For him nothing but the splendour of wealth pos- 
Bessed any chami. 

Tb/^ surgeon came to him while he stood musing thus. 

"Do you mind coming to my laboratoiy r " he asked, after 
shaking hands Avith his unexpected visitor. " I can see that you 
have something of importance to say to me, and we ehall be 
safer from interruption there." 

"I shouldn't have come to this fag-end of Christendom if I 
hadn't wanted very much to see you, you may dppend upon it, 
Carrington," answered Eecrinald, sulkily. " AVhat on earth 
makes you hve in such an or* t -of- the- way hole?" 

" I am a student, ar:d an CT3t-of-the-way hole — as you are good 
enou'^^h to call it — suits my fcat-^ts. Besides, this bouse is cheap, 
and the rent suits my p-CKzke"*"/' 

" It looks like a doll's honge." said Eeginald, contemptuously. 

"My mother likes to snrrorsn'i nerselfwith birds and flowers," 
answered the surgeon ; ** ana I like to indulge any fancy of my 
mother's," 

Victor Carrington's countenance seemed to undergo a kind of 
transformation as he spoke of his mother. The bright glitter of 
his eyes softened ; the hard lines of his iron mouth relaxed. 

The one tender sentiment of a dark and dangerous nature was 
this man's affection for his widowed mother. 

He opened the door of an apartment at the back of the house, 
and entered, followed by !Mr, Eversleigh. 

Eeginald stared in wonder at the chamber in which he found 
himself. The room had once been a kitchen, and was much 
larger than any other room in the cotta'ic. Here there was no 
attempt at either comfort or elegance. The bare, whito-washed 



62 JRnin to EourtJi. 

walls had no adornment but a deal shelf here and there, loader 
\\-ith strange-looking r>hials and gallipots. Here alHhe elaborate 
paraphernalia of a chemist's laboratory was visible. Here 
Reginald Eversleigh beheld stoves, _ retorts, alembics, distilling 
apparatus; all the strange machinery of that science which 
always seems dark and mysterious to the ignorant. 
The visitor looked about him in utter bewilderment. 
"Why, Victor," he exclaimed, "your room looks like the 
laboratory of some alchymist of the Middle Ages — the sort of 
man people used to burn aa a wizard." 

" I am rather an enthusiastic student of my art," answered 
the surgeon. 

The visitor's eyes wandered round the room in amazement. 
Suddenly they alighted on some object on the table near the 
stove. Carrington perceived the glance, and, with a hasty move- 
ment, very unusual to him, dropped his handkerchief upon the 
object. 

The movement, rapid though it was, came too late, for Regi- 
nald Eversleigh had distinguished the nature of the object which 
the surgeon wished to conceal from him. 
It was a mask of metal, with glass eyes. 

" So you wear a mask when you are at work, eh, Carrington?" 
said Mr. Eversleigh. " That looks as if you dabble in poisons." 
"Half the agents employed in chemistry are poisonons," 
answered Victor, coolly. 

" I hope there is no danger in the atmosphere of this room 
just now?" 

" l^onQ whatever. Come, Reginald, I am sure you have bad 
news to tell me, or you would never have taken the trouble to 
come here." 

" I have, and the worst news. My nncle has married this 
street ballad-singer." 

•' Good ; then we must try to turn this mamage to account." 
" How so?" 

"i3y making it the means of bringing about a reconciliation. 
You ^^dll write a letter of congratulation to Sir Oswald— a gene- 
rous letter— in which you will speak of your penitence, your 
affection, the anguish you have endured during this bitter period 
of estrangement. You can venture to speak freely of these 
things now, you will say, for now that your honoured uncle has 
found new ties you can no longer be suspected of any mercenary 
motive. You can now approach him boldly, you will say, for 
you have henceforward nothing to hope from him except his for- 
giveness. Then you will wind up with an earnest prayer for hia 
happiness. And if I am not very much out in my reckoning of 
human nature, that letter will bring about a reconciliation. Do 
you understand my tactics?" 



Auld Bohm Gray, Q$ 

" i do. You are a wonderful fellow, Carrington.** 

" Don't say that until the day when you are restored to /our 
old position as your uncle's heir. Then you may pay me any 
compliment you please." 

" If ever that day arrives, you shall not find me ungratefal.'* 

" I hope not ; and now go back to town and write your letter. 
I want to see you invited to Eaynham Castle to pay your re- 
spects to the bride." 

" But why so?" 

" I want to know what the bride is like. Our fature plans will 
depend much upon her." 

Before leaving Lorrimore Cottage, Eeginald Eversleio-h was 
introduced to his friend's mother, whom he had never before seen. 
She was very like her son. She had the same pale, sallow face, 
the same ghttering black eyes. She was sHm and tall, with a 
somewhat stately manner, and with little of the vivacity usual to 
her countrywomen. 

She looked at Mr. Eversleigh with a searching glance— a glance 
which was^ often repeated, as he stood for a few minutes talking 
to her. Nothing which interested her son was without interest 
for her ; and she knew that this young man was his chief friend 
and companion. 

Eeginald Eversleigh went back to town in much better spirits 
than when he had left the West-end that morning. He lost no 
time in writing the letter suggested by his friend, and, as he was 
gifted with considerable powers of persuasion, the letter was a 
good one. 

" I believe Carrington is right," he thought, as he sealed it : 
" and this letterwill bring abo'ut a reconcihation. It will reach 
my uncle at a time when he will be intoxicated with his new 
position as the husband of a young and lovelv bride; and he will 
be inchned to think kindly of me, and of alfthe world. Yes— 
the letter is decidedly a fine stroke of diplomacy." 

Eeginald Eversleigh awaited a reply to his epistle with feverish 
impatience ; but an impatience mingled with hope. 

His hopes did not deceive him. The reply came by return of 
post, and was even more favourable than "his most sanguine 
expectations had led him to anticipate. 

"Dear Eeginald," wrote the baronet, "your generous and 
disinterested letter has touched me to the heart. Let the past he 
forgotten and forgiven. I d^o not douht that you liave suffered, as 
all men must suffer, from the evil deeds of their youth. 

" You were no douht surprised to receive the tidings of my 
marriage. I have consulted my heaH alone in the /liuice which 
I have made, and I venture to hope that choice will secure th^ 
\uppine88 of my future existence. I am spending the first wee]c4 



G4 ^un to Earili. 

of nvy married life amidst the lovely solitudes of itortli Walei, 
On the 2Uh of this month, Lady Eversleigh and I go to 
Baynham, where we shall he glad to see you immediately on our 
arrival. Come to us, my dear hoy; come to me, as if this unhaimy 
estrangement had never arisen, and we will discuss your future 
together.— Your affectionate uncle, " Oswald Eversleigh. 

" Royal Hotel, ' Barmerdoon, N.W." 

Kotliing could be more satisfactory than this epistle. Regi- 
nald Eversleigh and Victor Carrington dined together that 
evening, and the baronet's letter was freely discussed between 
them. 

" The ground lies all clear before you now," said the surgeon: 
" you will go to Raynham, mahe yourself as agreeable as possible 
to the bride, win your uncle's heart by an appearance of extreme 
remorse for the past, and most complete disinterestedness for the 
future, and leave all the rest to me." 

" But how the deuce can you help me at Raynham ?" 

" Time alone can show. I have only one hint to give you at 
present. Don't be surprised if you meet me unexpectedly 
amongst the Yorkshire hills and wolds, and take care to follow 
suit with whatever cards you see me playing. Whatever I do 
will be done in your interest, depend upon it. Mind, by the bye, 
if you do see me in the north, that I know nothing of your visit 
to Raynham. I shall be as much surprised to see you as yon 
will be to see me." 

" So be it ; I will fall into your plans. As your first move has 
been so wonderfully successful, I shall be inclined to trust you 
imphcitly in the future. I suppose you will want_ to be paid 
rather stiffly by and bye, if you^do succeed in getting me any 
portion of Sir Oswald's fortune ?" 

" Well, I shall ask for some reward, no doubt. _ I am a poor 
man, you know, and do not pretend to be disinterested or 
generous. However, we will discuss that question when we 
meet at Raynham." 

» * # * * 

On the 28th of Julv, Reginald Eversleigh presented himself at 
Raynham Castle. He had thougrht never more to spt foot upon 
that broad terrace, never more to pass Dcneath the shadow of that 
grand old archway ; and a sense of triumph thrilled through his 
veins as he stood once again on the familiar threshold. 

And yet his position in life was terribly changed smce he had 
last stood there. He was no longer the acknowledged heir to 
whom all dependents paid deferential homage. He fancied that 
the old servants looked at him coldly, and that their greeting 
was the chilling welcome which is accorded to a poor relation 
He had never d'^ne much to win affection or gratitude in tha 



Auld Bohin Gray. 65 

days of liis prosperity. It may be tliat he remembered this now, 
and regretted it, not from any kindly impulse towards these 
people, but from a selfish annoyance at the chilKng reception 
accorded him. 

'• If e-er I win^ back what I have lost, these pampered 
parasites shall sulier for their insolence," thought the young 
man, as he walked across the broad Gothic hall of the castle', 
escorted by the grave old butler. 

But he had not much leisure to think about his uncle's servants. 
Another and far more important person occupied his mind, and 
that person was his uncle's bride. 

" Lady Eversleigh is at home?" he asked, while crossino- the 
haU. 

" Yes, sir; her ladyship is in the long drawing-room." 

The butler opened a ponderous oaken door, and ushered 
Reginald into one of the finest apartments in the castle. 

In the centre of this room, by the side of a grand piano, from 
which she had just risen, stood the new mistress of the castle. 
She was simply dressed in pale gray silk, relieved only bv a 
scarlet ribbon t\%-isted in the masses of her raven hair. Her 
beauty had the same effect upon Eeginald Eversleigh which it 
exercised on almost all who looked at^'her for the first time. He 
was dazzled, bewildered, by the singular loveliness. 

" And this divinity — this goddess of grace and beautv, is my 
uncle's ^vife," he thought; "this is the street ballad-singer whom 
he picked up out of the gutter." 

For some moments the elegant and accomplished Eeginald 
Eversleigh stood abashed before the calm presence of the name- 
less girl his uncle had married. 

Sir Oswald welcomed his nephew with perfect cordiality. He 
was happy, and in the liour of his happiness he could cherish no 
unkind feehng towards the adopted son who had once been so 
dear to him. Bat while ready to open his arms to the repentant 
proligal, his intentions with regard to the disposition of his 
wealth had undergone no change. He had arrived, calmly and 
deUberately, at a certain resolve, and he intended to adhere to 
that decision. 

The baronet told his nephew this frankly in the first con- 
fidential conversation which they had after the young man's 
arrival at Eaynham. 

" You may think me harsh and severe," he said, gravely; "but 
the resolution which I announced t-o you in Arhngton Street 
cost me much thought and care. I believe that I have acted for 
tlie best. I think that my over-indulgence was the bane of your 
youth, Eeginald, and tnat you would have been a better man had 
you been more roughly reared. Since you have left the armv, 
1 have heard no more of vour follje? ; and I trust that voti hays 



66 Bim to Earth. 

at last struck ont a better path for yourself, and separated 
yourself from all dangerons associates. But you must choose 
a new profession. You must not live an idle life on the small in- 
come which you receive from me. I only intended that annuity 
as a safeguard against poverty, not as a sufficient means of life. 
You must select a new career, Reginald; and whatever it may be, 
I will give you some help to smooth your pathway. Your first 
cousin, Douglas Dale, is studying for the law — would not that 
profession suit you ?" 

" I am in your hands, sir, and am ready to obey yon in every- 
thing." 

*' Well, think over what I have said ; and if you choose to 
enter yourself as a student in the Temple, I will assist you with 
all necessary funds." 

" My dear uncle, you are too good." 

" I wish to serve you as far as I can with justice to others. 
And now, Reginald, we will speak no more of the past. What 
do you think of my wife ?" 

" She is the most beautiful creature I ever beheld." 

"And she is as good and true as she is beautiful — a pearl of 
price, Reginald. I thank Providence for giving me so great 
a treasure." 

** And this treasure will be possessor of Raynham Castle, I 
suppose," thought the young man, savagely. 

Sir Oswald spoke presently, almost as if in answer to his 
nephew's thoughts. 

" As I have been thoroughly candid with you, Reginald," he 
said, " I may as well tell you even more. I am at an age which 
some call the prime of life, and I feel all my old vigour. But 
death sometimes comes suddenly to men whose life seems as full 
of promise as mine seems to me now. I wish that when I die 
there may be no possible disappointment as to the disposal of my 
fortune. Other men make a mystery of the contents of their 
wills. I wish the terms of my will to be known by all interested 
in it." ... 

" I have no desire to be enhghtened, sir," murmured Reginald, 
who felt that his uncle's words boded no good to himself. 

" My will has been made since my marriage," continued Sir 
Oswald, without noticing his nephew's interruption ; " any 
previous will would, indeed, have been invahdated by that event 
Two-thirds — more than two-thirds — of my property has been 
left to my wife, who will be a very rich woman when I am dead 
and gone. Should she have a son, the landed estates will, oi 
course, go to him ; but in any case, L^dy Eversleigh will be 
mistress of a large fortune. I leave fivu thousand a year to 
each of my nephews. As for you, Reginald, you will, perhaps, 
©onsider yourself bitterly wronged ; but you must, in justic-tt. 



Auld Robin Qray. 67 

remember that yon have been your own enemy, Tlie annuity 
of two hnndred a year which yon now possess will, alter my 
death, become an income of five hnndred a year, derived from a 
small estate called Morton Grange, in Lincolnshire. You have 
nothing more than a modest competency to hope for, therefore; 
and it rests with yourself to win wealth and distinction by the 
exercise of your own talents." 

The pallor of Regiualcl Eversleigh's face alone revealed the 
passion which consumed him as he received these most un- 
welcome statements from his uncle's lips. Fortunately for the 
young man. Sir Oswald did not obseixe his countenance, for 
at this moment Lady Eversleigh appeared on the terrace-wallj 
outside the open window of her husband's study, and he hunied 
to her. 

"What are to be our plans for this aft-emoon, darling?" he 
asked. " I have transacted all my business, and am quite at youi 
seiT-ice for the rest of the day." 

" Very well, then, you cannot please me better than by show- 
ing me some more of the beauties of your native county." 

"Yon make that proposition because you know it pleases me, 
artful puss ; but I obey. Shall we ride or drive ? Perhaps, as 
the afternoon is hot, we had better take the barouche," continued 
Sir Oswald, while Honoria hesitated. '• Come to luncheon. I 
will give all necessaiy orders." 

They went to the dining-room, whither Eeginald accompaniea 
them. Already he had contrived to banish the traces of emotion 
from his countenance: but his uncle's words were still ringing in 
his ears. 

Five hundred a year I — he was to receive a pitiful five hundred 
a year; whilst his cousins — struggling men of the world, nn- 
accustomed to luxury and splendour — were each to have an 
income of five thou.sand. And this woman — this base, unknown, 
friendless creature, who had nothing but her diabohcal beauty to 
recommend her — was to have a splendid fortune ! 

These were the thoughts which tormented Reginald Eversleigh 
as he took his place at the luncheon-table. He had been now a 
fortnight at Raynham Castle, and had become, to all outward 
appearance, perfectly at his ease with the fair young mistress of 
the mansion. There are some women who seem fitted to occupy 
any station, however lofty. They need no teaching ; they are 
in no way bewildered by the novelty of wealth or splendour; 
they make no errors. They possess an instinctive tact, which 
all the teacliing possible cannot abvays impart to others. They 
glide naturally into their position ; and, looking on them in 
their calm dignity, their unstudied grace, it is diificult to believe 
they have not been bom in the purple. 

Snch a, woman was Honoria, Lady Eversleigh. The novelty 



68 jBw» io Earth. 

of her position gave her no emban-assment ; the splendonf 
around her charmed and delighted her sense of the beautiful, 
but it caused her no be^vildel'ment ; it did not dazzle her un- 
accustomed eyes. She received her husband's nephew with the 
friendly, yet dignified, beaiing which it was Htting Sir Oswald's 
wife should display towards his kinsman; and the scrutinizing 
eyes of the young man sought in vain to detect some secret 
hidden beneath that placid and patrician exterior. 

"The woman is a mystery," he thought; "one would think 
she were some princess in disguise. Does she really love my 
uncle, I wonder? She acts her part well, if it is a false one. 
But, then, who would not act a part for sucli a prize as she ia 
likely to win ? I wish Victor were here. He, perhaps, might 
be able to penetrate the secret of her existence. She is a hypo- 
crite, no doubt; and an accomplished one. I would give a great 
deal for the power to strip the veil from her beautiiul face, and 
show my lady in her true colours ! " 

Such bitter thoughts as these continu.ally harassed the ambi- 
tions and disappointed man. And yet he was able to bear him- 
self with studied courtesy towards Lady Eversleigh. The best 
jjcople in the county bad come toRayuham to pay their horn ag<» 
to Sir Oswald's bride. Nothing coald exceed her husband s 
pride as he beheld her courted and admired. No shadow of 
jealousy obscured his pleasure when he saw younger men flock 
round her to worship and admire. He felt secure of her love, 
for she had again and again assured him that her heart had been 
entirely his even before he declared himself to her. He felt an 
implicit faith in her jnirity and innocence. 

Such a man as Oswald Eversleigh is not easily moved to 
jealousy ; but with such a man, one breath of suspicion, one word 
ofslander, against the creature he loves, is horrible as the agony 
of death. 

Reginald Eversleigh had shared in all the pleasures and 
d.m usements of Sir Oswald and his wife. They had gone nowhere 
v/ithout him since his arrival at the castle; for at present he was 
the only visitor staying in the house, and the baronet was too 
courteous to leave him alone. 

" After the twelfth we shall have plenty of bachelor visitors," 
eaid Sir Oswald; " and you will find the old place more to your 
taste, 1 dare say, Reginald. In the meantime, you must content 
j^ourst'lf with our society." 

" I am more than contented, my dear uncle, and do not sigh for 
the arrival of your bachelor friends ; though I dare say I shall 
on very well with them when they do come." 

" I expect a bevy of pretty girls as welL Do you remember 
Lydia Graham, the sister of Gordon Graham, of the FusiUera?" 

" YePi -l i^^iuember her perfectly," 



Auld EoUn Gi-ay. 69 

"Itlunk there used to be something like a flirtation between 
jTou and her." 

Sir Oswald and Lady Eversleigh seated themselves in the 
barouche; Pteginald rode by their side, on a thorough-bred hack 
out of the Eaynham stables. 

The scenery ^s'ithin twenty miles of the castle ^vas varied in 
character and rich in beauty. In the purple distance, to the 
west of the castle, there was a range of heather-clad hills ; and 
between those hills and the village of Eaynham there flowed a 
noble river, crossed at intci-vals by quaint old bridges, and bor- 
dered by little village??, nestling amid green pastures. 

The calm beauty of a rustic landscape, and the grandeur of wilder 
icenery, were alike within reach of the explorer from the castle. 

On this bright Au'^aist afternoon, Sir Oswald had cho.sen for 
the special object of their drive the summit of a wooded hill, 
whence a superb range of country was to be seen. This hill was 
called Thorpe Peak, and was about seven miles from the castle. 

The barouche stopped at the foot of the hill; the baronet and 
his wife alighted, and walked up a woody pathway leading to 
the summit, accompanied by Eeginald, who left his horse with 
the servants. 

They ;iscended the hill slowly. Lady Eversleigh leaning upon 
her husband's arm. The pathway wound upward, through 
plantations of tir, and it was only on the summit that the open 
country bur.st on the view of the pedestrian. On the summit 
they found a gentleman seated on the trunk of a fallen tree, 
sketching. A Hght portable colour-box lay open by his side, 
and a small portfoho rested on his knees. 

lie seemed completely absorbed in his occupation, for he did 
not raise his eyes from his work as Sir Oswald and his com- 
panions approached. He wore a loose travelling dress, which, in 
its picturesque carelessness of style, was not without elegance. 

A horse was grazing under a trroup of firs near at hand, fas- 
tened to one of the trees V<y the bridle. 

This traveller was Victor Carrin-^ton. 

" Carrington !" exclaimed ]\Ir. Eversleigh; "whoever would 
have thought of finding you up here ? Sketching too ! " 

The sur^^eon lifted his head suddenly, looked at his friend, and 
burst out laughing, as he rose to shake hands. He looked hand- 
somer in his artistic costume than ever Eeginald Eversleigh had 
seen him look before. The loose velvet coat, the wide linen 
collar and neckerchief of dark-blue silk, set ofi" the slim figure 
and pale foreign face. 

" You are surprised to see me ; but I have still more right to 
be surprised at seeing you. What brings yon here ? " 

"I am staving with my uncle, Sir Oswald Eversleigh, ^1 
Bsky^am Castle," 



70 -Kt*n to EaHh. 

"Ah, to be sure; tliat superb place within four miles of tli€ 
Tillage of Abbey wood, where I have taken up my quarters." 

The baronet and his wife had been standing at a little distance 
from the two young men; but Sir Oswald advanced, with 
Honoria still upon his arm. 

" Introduce me to your friend, Keginald," he said, in his most 
cordial manner. 

Reginaldobeyed,and Victor was presented to Sir Oswald andhia 
wife. His easy and graceful bearing was calculated to make an 
agreeable impression at the outset, and Sir Oswald was evidently 
pleased with the appearance and manners of his nephew's friend. 

" You are an artist, I see, Mr. Carrington," he said, after 
glancing at the young man's sketch, which, even in its unfinished 
state, was no contemptible performance. 

"An amateur only, Sir Oswald," answered Yictor. "I am by 
profession a surgeon; but as yet I have not practised. I find 
independence so agreeable that I can scarcely bring myself to 
resign it. I have been wandering about this delightful county 
for the last week or two, with my sketch-book under my arm — 
halting for a day or two in any picturesque spot I came upon, 
and hiring a horse whenever I could get a decent animal. It is 
a very simple mode of enjoying a holiday ; but it suits me."_ 

" Your taste does you credit. But if you are in my neigh- 
bourhood^ you must take your horses from the Eaynham stables. 
Where are your present quarters ? " 

" At the little inn by Abbey wood Bridge." 

" Four miles from the castle. ^Ye are near neighbours, Mr. 
Carrington, according to country habits. You must ride back 
with us, and dine at Raynham." 

"You are very kind, Sir Oswald; but my dress will pre- 
clude " 

" No consequence whatever. We are quite alone just now; 
and I am sure Lady Eversleieh will excuse a traveller's toilet. 
Ifyouarenot bent upon finiUiing this very charming sketch, 
I shall insist on your returning with us ; and you join me in the 
request, eh, Honoria ? " 

Lady Eversleigh smiled an assent, and the surgeon murmured 
his thanks. As yet he had looked little at the baronet's beau- 
tiful wife. He had come to Yorkshire with the intention of 
studying this woman as a man studies an abstruse and difficult 
acience; but he was too great a tactician to betray any unwonted 
interest in her. The policy of his life was patience, and in this 
as in everything else, he waited his opportunity. 

" She is very beautiful," he thought, " and she has made a 
good market out of her beauty ; but it is only the beginning of 
the story yet— the middle and the end have still to come." 
« « « « « 



Auld Bohin Gray. 71 

After this meeting on Thorpe Peak, the surgeon became a 
constant visitor at Ea3'nham. Sir Oswald was delighted with 
the young man's talents slCiC. accomplishments ; and Victor con- 
trived to win credit by the apparently accidental revelation of 
his early struggles, his mothePs poverty, his patient studies, and 
mdomitable perseverance. He told of these things without 
seeming to tell them ; a word now, a chance allusion then, re- 
vealed the story of his friendless youth. Sir Oswald fancied 
that such a companion was eminently adapted to urge his nephew 
onward in the difficult road that leads to fortune and distinction. 

" If Eeginald had only half your industry, half your perse- 
verance, I should not fear for his future career, Mr. Carrington," 
said the baronet, in the course of a confidential conversation 
with his visitor. 

" That will come in good time. Sir Oswald," answered Victor. 
*' Reginald is a noble fellow, and has a far nobler nature than 
I ca-n pretend to possess. The very qualities which you are good 
enough to praise in me are qualities which you cannot ezpect to 
find in him. I was a pupil in the stern school of poverty 
from my earliest infancy, while Reginald was reared in the lap 
of luxury. Pardon me, Sir Oswald, if I speak plainly ; but I 
must remind yon that there are few young men w^ho would have 
passed honourably through the ordeal of such a change of for- 
tune as that which has fallen on your nephew." 

" What do you mean ? " 

" I mean that with most men such a reverse would have been 
utter ruin of soul and body. An ordinary man, finding all the 
hope^ of his future, all the expectations, which had been a part 
of his very life, taken suddenly from him, would have aban- 
doned himself to a career of vice ; he would have become a 
blackleg, a swindler, a drunkard, a beggar at the doors of the 
kinsman who had cast him off. But it was not so with Reginald 
Eversleigh. From the moment in which he found himself cast 
adrift by the benefactor who had been more than a father to 
him, he confronted evil fortune calmly and bravely. He cut the 
link between himself and extravagant companions. He dis- 
appeared from the circles in which he had been admired ai.d 
courted ; and the only grief which preyed upon his generous 
heart sprang from the knowledge that he had forfeited his 
uncle's affection." 

Sir Oswald sighed. For the first time he began to think that 
it was just possible he had treated his nephew with injustice. 

_"You are right, Mr. Carrington," he said, after a pause; 
** it was a hard trial for any man ; and I am proud to think that 
Reginald passed unscathed through so severe an ordeal. But 
the resolution at which I arrived a year and a half ago is one 
Uiat I canQ:t alter now. I have formed new ties; I havg 



7t Bun to Earth. 

new hoi)es for tlie future. My nephew must pay the penalty ol 
his past errors, and must look to his own exertions for wealth 
and honour. If I die without a direct heir, he will succeed to 
the baronetcy, and I hope he will try his uttermost to win a for- 
tune by which he may maintain his title." 

There was very little promise in this; but Victor Carrincrton 
was, nevertheless, tolerably Avell satisfied with the result of the 
conversation. He had sown the seeds of doubt and uncertainty 
in the baronet's breast. Time only could bring the harvest. The 
surgeon was accustomed to work underground, and knew that 
all such work must be slow and laborious. 



CHAPTER Yll. 

**0 BEWARK, ilY LUiiD, Of JEALOUSY.* 

The castle was gay with the presence of many guests. The 
baronet was proud to gather old friends and acquaintances round 
him, in order that he might show them the fair young wife he had 
chosen to be the solace of his declining years. A man of fifty 
who marries a girl of nineteen is always subject to the ridicule of 
scandalo^is lips, the ironical jests of pitiless tongues. Sir Oswald 
Eversleigh knew this, and he wanted to show the world that he 
was haiipy — supremely happy — in the choice that he had made. 

Amongst those who came to Eaynham Castle this autumn 
was one trusted friend of Sir Oswald, a gruff old soldier. Captain 
Copplestone, a man who had never won advancement in the ser- 
vice ; but who was known to have nobly earned the promotion 
which had never been awarded him. 

This man was on brotherly terms with Sir Oswald, and was 
about the only creature who had ever dared to utter disagrecal da 
truths to the baronet. He was very poor; but had never ac- 
cepted the smallest favour from the hands of his wealthy friend 
Sir Oswald was devoutly attached to him, and would have gladly 
opened his j)urse to him as to a brother; but he dared not offend 
the ^tem oLl soldier's pride by even hinting at such a desire. 

Captain Cop;-«lcstone came to Raynham prepared to remon- 
strate with his friend on the folly of his marriage. He arrived 
when the re-jeption-room was crowded with other visitors, and ]\i> 
stood by, looking on in grim disdain, while the newly arrived 
guests were pressing their felicitations on Sir Oswald. 

By and bye the guests departed to their rooms, and the friends 
were left alone. 

" Well, old friend," cried the baronet, stretching out both hij 
hands to grasp those of the captain in a warmer salutation than 
th;it of his first welcome, " am I to have no word of congratula- 
tion fVom yau? " 

•' Vv !w«L vfOT^ do yon want.^ " growled Coppbatone. " If I tell 



*' beware, ^y Z&rd, df Jealmisy.** 73 

fou the truth, you won't like it; and if I were to trj? to tell 
you a lie, egad ! I think the syllables would choke me. It haa 
neen hard enous:!! for me to keep patience while all those idiota 
have been babbling their unmeaning compliments ; and now 
that they've gone away to laugh at you behind your back, you'd 
better let me follow their example, and not risk the chance of a 
quarrel with an old friend by speaking my mind." 

" You think me a fool, then. Copplestone ? " 

" 'SVh.j, what else can I think of you ? If a man of fifty must 
needs go and marry a girl of nineteen, he can't expect to be 
thought a Solon." 

" Ah, Copplestone, when you have seen my wife, you will 
think differently." 

" Xot a bit of it. The prettier she is, the more fool I shall 
think you ; for there'll be so much the more certainty that she'll 
make your life miserable." 

" Here she comes ! " said the baronet ; "look at her before you 
judge her too severely, old friend, and let her face answer for hei 
truth." 

The room in which the two men were standing opened into 
another and larger apartment, and through the open folding- 
doors Captain Copplestone saw Lady Eversleigh approaching. 
She was dressed in white — that pure, transparent muslin in 
which her husband loved best to see her — and one large natural 
rose was fastened amidst her dark hair. As she drew nearer to 
the baronet and his friend, the bluff old soldier's face softened. 

The introduction was made by Sir Oswald, and Honoria held 
out her hand with her brightest and most bewitching smile. 

*' My husband has spoken of you very often, Captain Copple- 
stone," she said ; " and I feel as if we were old friends rather 
than strangers. I have pleasure in bidding welcome to all Sir 
Oswald's guests ; but not such pleasure as I feel in welcoming 
you." 

The soldier extended his bronzed hand, and grasped the soft 
white fingers in a pressure that was something hke that of an 
iron %*ice. He looked at Lady Eversleigh with a serio-comic 
expression of bewilderment, and looked from her to the baronet. 

" Well ? " asked Sir Oswald, presently, when Honoria had 
left them. 

" Well, Oswald, if the truth must be told, I think you had 
some excuse for your folly. She is a beautiful creature ; and if 
there is any faith to be put in the human countenance, she is as 
good as she is beautiful." 

The baronet grasped his friend's hand with a pressure that 
was more eloquent than words. He believed miphcitly in the 
captain's powers of penetration, and this favourable judgment 
of the wife he adored filled him with gratitude. It was not that 



?4 Sim to EaHh. 

the faintest shadow of doubt obscured his own mind. Se 
trusted her fully and unreservedly; but he wanted others tj 
trust her also. 

* * ♦ • • 

While Sir Oswald and his friend were enjoying a brief interval 
of confidential intercourse, Eeginald Eversleigh and Victor Car- 
rington lounged in a pleasant Kttle sitting-room, smoking their 
cigars, and leaning on the stone sill of the wide Gothic window. 

They were talking, and talking very earnestly. 

_" You are a very clever fellow, I know, my dear Carrington," 
eaid Eeginald; " but it is slow work, very slow work, and I don't 
gee my way through it." 

" Because you are as impatient as a child who has set his heart 
on a new toy," answered the surgeon, disdainfully. " You com- 
plain that the game is slow, and yet you see one move after 
another made upon the board — and made successfully. A 
month ago you did not believe in the possibility of a recon« 
ciliation between your uncle and yourself; and yet that recon- 
cihation has come about. A fortnight ago you would have 
laughed at the idea of my being here at Eaynham, an invited 
guest ; and yet here I am. Do you think there has been no 
patient thought necessary to work out this much of our scheme? 
Do you suppose that I was on Thorpe Hill by accident that 
afternoon ? " 

" And you hope that something may come of your visit here ?" 

" I hope that much may come of it. I have already dared 
to drop hints at injustice done to you. That idea of injustice 
will rankle in your uncle's mind. I have my plans, Eeginald, 
and you have only to be patient, and to trust in me." 

"But why should you refuse to tell me the nature of your 
plans ? " 

" Because my plans are as yet but half formed. I may soon 
be able to speak more plainly. Do you see those two figures 
yonder, walking in the pleasounce ? " 

" Yes, I see them — my uncle and his wife," answered Ee- 
ginald, with a gesture of impatience. 

" They are very happy — are they not ? It is quite an Arcadian 
picture. I beg you to contemplate it earnestly." 

"What a fool you are, Carrington ! " cried the young man, 
flinging away his cigar. '' If my uncle chooses to make an idiot 
of himself, that is no reason why I should watch the evidence of 
his folly!" 

" But there is another reason," answered Victor, with a sinis- 
ter look in his glittering black eyes. " Look at the picture while 
you may, Eeginald, for you will not have the chance of seeing it 
f ery often." 

<* ^liat do ya» ^uisian P " 



" Beware, my Lord, of Jealousy ^ ^5 

" I mean that the day is near at hand when Lady Eversleigh 
will fall from her high estate. I mean that an elevation as sud- 
den as hers is often the forerunner of a sudden disgrace. The 
hour will come when Sir Oswald will nioum his fatal marriage 
as the one irrevocable mistake of his life ; and when, in his de- 
spair, he will restore you, the disgraced nephew, to your place, as 
his acknowledged heir; because you will at least seem to him 
more worthy than his disgraced wife." 

" And who is to bring this abont ?" asked Eeginald, gazing at 
his friend in complete bewiiderment. 

" I am," answered the surgeon ; "but before I do so I must 
have some understanding as to the price of my services. If the 
cat who pulled the chestnuts out of the fire for the benefit of the 
monkey had made an agreement beforehand as to how much of 
the plunder he was to receive for his pains, the name of the 
animal would not have become a bye-word with posterity. ^Yhen 
I have worked to win your fortune, I must have my reward, my 
dear Eeginald." 

" Do you suppose I should be ungrateful ? " 

" Of course not. But, you see, I don't ask for your gratitude 
—I want a good round sum down on the nail — hard cash. Your 
uncle's fortune, if you get two-thirds of it, will be worth thirty 
thousand a year; and for such a fortune you can very well 
afi'ord to pay me twenty thousand in ready money within two 
years of your accession to the inheritance." 

" Twenty thousand ! " 

" Yes ; if you think the sum too much, we wiU say no more 
RUout it. The business is a very difficult one, and I scarcely 
care to engage in it." 

" My dear Victor, you bewilder me. I cannot bring myself to 
beheve that you can bring about my restoration to my old place in 
my uncle's will; but if you do, the twenty thousand shall be yours." 

" Good !" answered the surgeon, 12. his coolest and most busi- 
ness-Hke manner ; " I must have it in black and white. You will 
give me two promissory notes ; one for ten thousand, to fall due a 
year hence— the other for the same sum, to fall due in two years." 

" But if I do not get the fortune— and I am not Hkely to get 
it within that time ; my uncle's Ufe is a good one, and " 

•' Never mind your uncle's life. I will give you an undertaking 
to cancel those notes of hand if you have not succeeded to the 
Havnham estates. And now here are stamps. You may as weU 
filfin the body of the notes, and sign them at once, and so close 
the transaction." 

•'You are prepared with the stamps?" 

"Yes; I am a man of business, although a man of science.'* 
"Victor." said Eeginald Eversleigh; "you sometimes make 
me shudder. Thexe is something almost diabolical about you." 



76 Mnn to ^arih. 

'*'Bi\i if I drag yonder fair lady down from tier LigK estyt<0, 
you would scarcely care if I were the foul fiend in person," said 
Carrington, looking at his friend with a. sardonic smile. " Oh, 
I tliink I know you, Eeginald Eversleigh, better than you know 
me." 

« * * * • 

Amongst the guests who had arrived at the castle within the 
last fe^v days was Lydia Graham, the young lady of whom the 
baronet had spoken to his nephew. She was a fascinating girl, 
with a bold, handsome face, brilliant gray eyes, an aquiline nose, 
rtud a profusion of dark, waving hair. She was a woman who 
knew how to make the most of every charm with wliich nature 
had endowed her. She dressed superbly ; but with an extrava- 
gance far beyond the limits of her means. She was, for thia 
reason, deeply in debt, and her only chance of extrication from 
her dilficulties la}^ in a brilliant marriage. 

For nearly nine years she had been trying to make this bril- 
liant marriage. She had "come out," as the phrase goes, at 
sevfTLtt-en, and she was now nine-and-twenly. 

During that period she had been wooed and flattered by troopja 
of admirers. She had revelled in flirtations; she had triumphed 
in the power of her beauty; but she had known more than one 
disappointment of her fairest hopes, and tne had not won the 
prize in the great lottery of fashionable Hfe — a wealthy and 
patrician husband. 

Her nine-and-twentieth birthday had passed; and conto irradiat- 
ing herself earnestly in her glass, she was fain to confess thrtt. 
something of the brilliancy of her bc;iUty had faded. 

" I am getting wan and sallow," she said to herself; "what fa 
to become of me if I do not marry ?" 

The prospect was indeed a sorry one. 

L3'dia Graham possessed an income of two hundred a ye^*" 
iaheritt d from her mother : but such an income was the merest 
pittance for a young lady with Miss Graham's tastes. Hg/- 
brothi^r was a captain of an expensive regiment, selfish and extrn 
-;agant, and by no means inclined to open his purse for hio sis- 
ter's benefit. 

She had no home; but lived sometimes with one wealthy 
relation, sometimes with another — always admired, alwaj-s 
elegantly dressed ; but not always happy. 

A.midst all Miss Graham's matrimonial disappointment?, T,rte 
had endured none more bitter than that which she had felt when 
ehe read the announcement of Sir Oswald Eversleigh's mar- 
riage in the "Times" newspaper. 

She had met the rich baronet very frequently in society. She 
had visited at Raynham with her brother. Sir Oswald had, to 
ftll appearance, admired her beauty and accomphshmentp ; and 



** B^tvare, my Lord^ of JeahoAt/.** 77 

ihehad imagined that time and opportunity alone were wan tin ^^ 
to transform that admiration into a warmer feeling. In plain 
words, Lydia Graham had hoped with a httle good management, 
to become Lady Eversleigh of Raynham ; and no words can 
fully describe her mortification when she learnt that the baronei 
had bestowed his name and fortune on a woman of whom the 
fashionable world knew nothing, except that she was utterly 
unknown. 

Lydia Graham^ came to Raynham Castle with poisonous 
feehngs rankhng in her heart, but she wore her brightest smiles 
as well as her most elegant dresses. She congratulated the 
baronet in honeyed words, and ofi'ered warmest friendship to the 
lovely mistress of the mansion. 

"I am sure we shall suit each other delightfully, dear Lady 
Eversleigh," she said; "and we shall be fast friends hence- 
forward — shall we not?" 

flonoria's disposition was naturally reserved. She revolted 
against frivolous and unmeaning sentimentality. She responded 
politely to Miss Graham's proffers of friendship; but not with 
corresponding warmth. 

Lydia Graham perceived the coldness of her manner, and 
bitterly resented it. She felt that she had reason to hate this 
woman, who had caused the disappointment of her dearest 
hopes, whose beauty was infinitely superior to her own; and who 
was several years younger than herself. 

There was one person at Raynham whose scrutinizing eyes 
perceived the animosity of feeling lurking beneath Lydia 
Graham's smooth ma.nner. That penetrating observer was 
Victor Carrington. He saw that the fashionable beauty hated 
Lady Eversleigh, and he resolved to make use of her hatred for 
the; furtherance of his schemes. 

" I fancy Miss Graham has at some time of her life cherished an 
i'loa that she might become mistress of this place, eh, Reginald.'' " 
he said one morning, as the two men lounged together on the 
terrace. 

'• How did you know that?" said Reginald, questioning and 
replying at once. 

" By no diabolical power of divination, I assure you, my dear 
RogmaLi. I have only used my eyes. But it seems, from your 
exclamation, that I am right, iliss Graham did once hope to 
become Lady Eversleigh." 

" Well, I believe she tried her uttermost to win my uncle foi 
a husband. I have watched her manoeuvres — when she was here 
two years ago ; but they did not give me much uneasiness, for I 
thought Sir Oswald was a confirmed bachelor. She used to 
vary her amusements by flirting with me. I was the acknow- 
le<ige<J heir in those days, you know, and T have no d^ibt she 



78 Umi to Einh. 

would Kave married me if I had g^!ven her the ofportririity. 
But she ifl too clever a woman for my taste ; and with all her 
brilliancy, I never admired her." 

** You are wise, for once in the way, my dear Reginald, Miss 
Graham is a danc^erous woman. She has a very beautiful 
smile; but she is the sort of woman who can smile and murder 
while she smiles. But she may be made a very useful tool, 
notwithstanding." 

"A tool?" 

** Yes ; a good workman takes his tools wherever he finds 
them, I may be in want of just such a tool as Lydia Graham." 

All went merry as a marriage-bell at Kaynham Castle during 
the bright Aug^^st weather. The baronet was unspeakably 
happy. Honorid, too, was happy in the novelty of her position ; 
happy in the knowledge of her husband's love. "Hi a noble 
nature had won the reward such natures should win. He was 
beloved by his young wife as few men are beloved in the heyday 
of their 3'outh. Her affection was reverential, profound, and 
pnre. To her mind, Oswald Eversleigh was the perfection of all 
that is noble in mankind, and she was proud of his devotion, 
grateful of his love. 

No guest at the castle was more popular than Victor Carring- 
ton, the surgeon. His accomplishments were of so varied a 
nature as to make him invaluable in a large party, and he was 
always ready to devote himself to the amusement of others. 
Sir Oswald was astonished at the versatility of his nephew's 
friend. As a Hnguist, an artist, a musician, Victor alike shone 
pre-eminent ; but in music he was triumphant. Professing only 
to be an amateur, he exhibited a scientific knowledge, a mechani- 
cal proficiency, as rare as they were admirable. 

"A poor man is obliged to study many arts," he said, care- 
lessly, when Sir Oswald complimented him on his musical powers. 
" My life has been one of laborious industry; and the cultivation 
of music has been almost the only relaxation I have allowed 
myself I am not, hke Lady Eversleigh, a musical genius. I 
only pretend to be a patient student of the great masters." 

The baronet was delighted with the musical taleots of his 
guest because they assisted much in the display of Lady T^.vers- 
leigh's exceptional power. Victor Carrington's brilb^x^c playing 
set off the magnificent singing of Honoria. VTiin him as her 
accompanyist, she sang as she oould not sir^ without his aid- 
Every evening there was an impromptu concert in the long 
drawing-room ; every evening Lady Eversleigh sang to Victor 
Carrington's accompaniment. 

One evening, in the summer dusk, when she had been singing 
even more superbly than nflual^ Lydia Graham happened to be 
seated near Sir Oswald, in on© of the broad open windows. 



•^ O Bermre, my Lord, of Jealousy ^ 79 

•• LaJy Eversleigh is indeed a genins," 8aid Misa Graham, at 
the close of a superb 6ravM7-a; "bnt how delirjhttul for her to 

have that accomplished Mr. Carrin^ton to acx)mpaiiy her 

though some people prefer to play their own accompaniment'*. 
I do, for instance ; hnt when one has a rektive who plays so well, 
it is, of course, a different tliinj?." 

"A relative ! I don't understand you, my dear Miss Graliam." 

** I mean that it is very nice for Lady Eversleigh to have a 
cousin who is so accomplished a musician." 

"A cousin?" 

"Yes. Mr. Carrington is Lady Everslcigh's cousin— ia he 
not? Or, I beg your pardon, perhaps he is her brother. I 
don't know your wife's maiden name." 

" My \vife'8 maiden name wasMilford," answered the baronet, 
with some displeasure in his tone. " And Mr. Carrington is nei- 
ther her brother nor her cousin ; he is no relation whatever to her." 

"Indeed!" exclaimed Miss Graham. 

There was a strange significance in that word " indeed"; and 
after having uttered it, the young lady seemed seized with a 
sudden sense of embarrassment 

Sir Oswald looked at her sharply; but her face was half 
averted from him, as if she had turned away in confusion. 

"You seem surprised," he said, haucfhtily, "and yet I do not 
see anything surprising in the fact that my wife and Mr. Car- 
rington are not related to each other." 

" Oh, dear no, Sir Oswald; of course not," replied Lydia, with 
a light laugh, which had the artificial sound of a laugh intended 
to disguise some painful embarrassment. "Of course not. It 
was very absurd of me to appear surprised, if I did really appear 
so; but I was not aware of it. You see; it was scarcely strancre 
if I thought Lady Eversleigh and Mr. Carrington were nearly 
related; for, when people are very old friend?!, they seem like 
relations : it is only in name that there is any difference." 

" You seemed determined to make mistakes this evening, Miss 
Graham," answered the baronet, with icy sternness. " Lady 
Eversleigh and Mr. Carrington are by no meant oid fnends. 
Neither my wife nor I have known the gentleman more than a 
fortnight. He happens to be a very accomphshed musician, and 
is good enough to make himself useful in accompanyinor Lady 
Eversleigh when she sings. That is the only claim which he has 
on her friendship ; and it is one of only a few days' standing." 

" Indee<i ! " said Miss Graham, repeating the exclamation which 
had sounded so disagreeable to Sir Oswald. "I certainly should 
have mistaken them for old friends ; but then dear Lady Evers- 
leigh is of Italian extraction, and there is always a warmth of 
manner, an absence of reserve, in the southern tempenimen* 
Vhich is foreign to Dur colder natuieA." 



80 Hun io Earih. 

Lad^ Eversleigh rose from her seat jnst at this moment, in 
compliance with the entreaties of the circle about her. 

She approached the grand piano, where Victor Carrington wat 
still sitting, tnming over the leaves of some music, and at the 
same moment Sir Oswald rose also, and hurried towards her. 

" Do not sing any more to-night, Honoria," he said ; " you 
win fatigue yourself. * 

There was some lack of politeness in this speech, as Lady 
Eversleigh was about to sing in compliance with the entreaties 
of her guests. She turned to her husband with a smile — 

"I am not in the least tired, mv dear Oswald," she said; "and 
if our friends really wish for another son^, I am quite ready to 
King one. That is to say, if Mr. Carrington is not tired of 
accompanying me." 

Victor Carrington declared that nothing gave him greater 
pleasure than to play Lady Eversleigli's accompaniments. 

" Air. Carrington is very good," answered the baronet, coldly , 
*' but I do not wish you to tire yourself by singing all the even- 
ing ; and I beg that you will not sing again to-night, Honoria," 

Xerer before had the baronet addressed hig wife with such 
cold decision of manner. There was something almost severe in 
his tone, and Honoria looked at him with wondering eyes. 

"I have no greater pleasure than in obeying you," she said, 
gently, as she ^s'ithd^ew from the piano. 

She seated herself by one of the tables, and opened a port- 
folio of sketches. Her head drooped over the book, and she 
seemed absorbed in the contemplation of the drawings. Glanc- 
ing at her furtively, Sir Oswald could see that she was wound<'d; 
and yet he — the adoring husband, the devoted lover — did not 
approach her. His mind was disturbed — his thoughts confused. 
He passed through one of the open windows, and went out upon 
the terrace. There all was calm and tranquil ; but the tranquil 
lovehness of the scene had no soothing influence on Sir Oswald. 
His brain was on fire. An intense affection can scarcely exist 
\vithout a lurking tendency to jealousy. Until to-night every 
jealous feeling had been lulled to rest by the confiding trust of 
the happy husband; but to-night a few words— spoken in ap- 
parent carelessness — spoken by one who could have, as Sir 
Oswald thought, no motive fjr malice — had aroused the sleeping 
passion, and peace had fled from his heart. 

As Sir Oswald passed the window by which he had left Lydia 
Graham, he heard thai young lady talking to some one. 

"It is positively disgraceful," she said ; " her flirtation with 
that Mr. Carrington is really too obvious, though Sir Oswald is 
so blind as not to perceive it. I thought they were cousins until 
to-night. Imagine my surprise when I found that the> were 
not even distantly related; that they have actually only known 



" Beware, my uord, of Jealcnisy." 81 

each other for a fortnight. The woman mnst be a shameless flirt, 
and the man is evidently an adventurer." 

The poisoned arrow shot to its mark. Sir Oswald believed 
that these words had never been intended to reach his ears. He 
did not for a moment suspect that Lydia Graham had recof?nized 
his approa chin 2: figure on the moonlit terrace, and had uttered these 
words to her friend on purpose that they should reach his ears. 

How should a true-hearted man suspect a woman's malice ? 
How should he fathom the black depths of wickedness to which 
a really false and heartless woman can descend ? 

He did not know that Ly.lia Graham had ever hor>ed to bo 
mistress of his home. He did not know that she was inspired bv 
fury against himself— by passionate envy of his wife. To him 
her_ words seemed only the careless slander of society, and ex- 
perience had shown him that in such slanders there lurked gene- 
rally some leaven of truth. 

"I will not doubt her," he thought, as he walked onward in 
the moonlight, too proud and too honourable to Hnger in order 
to hear anything more that Miss Graham might have to 
say. "I will not doubt the wife I love so fondly, because 
idle tongues are already busy with her fair fame. " Alreadv ! 
We have not been married two months, and already evil tongues 
drop the poison of doubt into my ear. It seems too cruel ! °Biit 
1 will watch her with this man. Her ignorance of the world 
may have caused her to be more familiar with him than the rigid 
usages of society would permit. And yet she is generally °so 
dignified, so reserved— apt to err on the'side of coldness rather 
than of warmth. I must watch ! — I must watch ! " 

Xever before had Sir Osv.-ald known the anguish of distrust. 
Biit his was an impulsive nature, easily swayed by the force of 
any absorbing passion. BHndly, unquestionably, as he had 
abandoned himself to his love for Honoria Milford, so now he 
abandoned himself to the jealous doubts inspired by a malicious 
woman's lying tongue. 

That night his slumbers were broken and feverish. The next 
day he set himself to watch his vrife and Victor Carrington. 

The mind, imbued with suspicion, contemplates everything in 
a distorted hght. Victor Carrington was especially attentive to 
the mistress of the castle. It was not that he talked to her, or 
usurped more of her society than his position warranted ; but 
he devoted himself to her service ^^ath a slavish watchfulness 
which was foreign to the manner of an ordinary guest. 

Wherever Lady Eversleigh went, Carrington's eyes followed 
her; every wish of hers seemed to be divined by him. If she 
lingered for a few moments by an open window, llr. Carrington 
was at hand with her shawl If she was reading, and the leaves 
of her book required to be cut open, the surgeon had procured 



82 Ilu/n to Earth. 

her a paper-knife before she co^ild suffer inconvenience or delay. 
If she went to the piano, he was at the instrument before her, 
ready to adjust her chair, to arrange her music. In another 
man these attentions might have appeared very common-place, 
but so quiet of foot, so subdued of voice, was Victor Carrington, 
that there seemed something stealthy, something secret in hia 
devotion; something which had no right to exist. One long day 
of patient watchfulness revealed all this to Sir Oswald Evers- 
leigh ; and with the revelation came a new and terrible agony. 

How far was his wife to blame for all that was exceptional in 
the surgeon's manner h Was she aware of his devotion ? Did 
she encourage this silent and stealthy worship P She did not, 
at any rate, discourage it, since she permitted it. 

The baronet wondered whether Victor Carrington's manner 
impressed others as it impressed himself. One person had, ha 
knew, been scandalized by the surgeon's devotion to Lady Evers- 
leigh; and had spoken of it in the plainest terms. But did other 
eyes a«>e as Lydia Graham and he himself had seen ? 

He determined on questioning his nephew as to the character 
of the gentlemanly and accomplished surgeon, whom an impulse 
of kindness had prompted him to welcome under his roof — an 
impulse which he now bitterly regretted. 

" Your friend, Mr. Carrington, is very attentive to Lady Evers- 
leii'^h," said Sir Oswald to Keginald, with a pitiable attempt at 
in.lifference of manner; " is he generally so devoted in his atten- 
tion to ladies ? " 

" On the contrary, my dear uncle,'* answered Reginald, with 
an appearance of carelessness which was as well assumed as that 
of his kinsman was awkward and constrained; "Victor Carring- 
ton generally entertains the most profound contempt for the fair 
sex. He is devoted to the science of chemistry, you know, and 
in London passes the best part of his Hfe in his laboratory. But 
then Lady Everseigh is such a superior person — it is no wonder 
he admires her." 

" He admires her very much, then ? ** 

"Amazingly — if I can judge by what he said when first he 
(became acquainted with her. He has grown more reserved lately." 

" Oh, indeed. He has grown more reserved lately, has he ? " 
asked the baronet, whose suspicions were fed by every word hia 
nephew uttered. 

"Yes, I suppose bethinks I might take objection to his 
enthusiastic admiration of Lady Eversleigh. Very absurd of 
him, is it not? For, of course, my dear uncle, you cannot 
leel otherwise than prci^d when you see your beautiful young 
Wife Burrounded by worshippers; and one devotee more or 
Ui.ss al the shrine can make little difference." 

These words, carelessly spoken* galled Sir Oswald to the qoicV; 



*' Deiivurey my Lord, of Jealou:^-** SE 

out he tried to conceal liis i)am, aud parted from liis nephew with 
afiected gaiety of spirit. 

Alone in his own study, he pondered long and moodily over 
the events of the day. He shrank from the society of his wife 
Her tender words irritated him ; he began to think those soft and 
loving accents were false. More than once he answered Honoria's 
anxious questions as to the cause of his gloom with a harshness 
that territied her. She saw that her husband was changed, and 
knew not whence the change arose. And this vagrant's nature 
was a proud one. Her own manner changed to the man who had 
elevated her from the very mire to a position of splendour and 
honour. She, too, became reserved, and a cruel breach yawned 
between the husband and wife who, a few short days before, Imd 
been so happily united. 

Truly, Victor Carrington'a schemes prospered. Reginald 
Eversleigh looked on in silent wonder — too base to oppose him- 
self to the foul plot wkich was being concocted under his eyes. 
Whatever the cchemer bade him do, he did without shame or 
scruple. Before him glittered the dazzling vision of future fortune, 

A week elapsed — a weary week for Sir Oswald Eversleisrh, for 
every day and every hour seemed to widen the gulf between 
himself and his wife. Conscious of her innocence of the smallest 
offence against the man she truly and honestly loved, Honoria 
was too proud to sue for an explanation of that mysterious 
change which had banished all happiness and peace from her 
breast. More than once she had asked the cause of her husband's 
gloom of manner ; more than once she had been coldly, almost 
rudely, repulsed. She sought, therefore, to question him no fur- 
thur ; but held herself aloof from him with proud reserve. The 
cruel estrangement cost her dear ; but she waited for Sir Oswald 
to break the ice — she waited for him to explain the meaning of 
his altered conduct. 

In the meantime, she performed all her duties as mistress of 
the mansion with the same calm grace which had distinguished 
her from the first hour of her elevation to her new position. But 
the struggle was a painful one, and left its traces on her beau- 
tiful face. Sir Oswald perceived the change in that lovely coun- 
tenance, and his jealousy distorted this change into a damning 
evidence against her. 

*' This man's devotion has touched her beart," he thought, 
** It is of him she is thinking when she is silent and pensive. She 
Dves me no longer. Fool that I am, she never loved me ! She saw 
21 me a dupe ready to lift her from obscurity into the place she 
tonged to occupy ; and now that place is hers, she need no longer 
care to blindfold the eyes of her dupe ; she may please herself, 
and enjoy the attentions of more agreeable adorers." 

Then, m the next moment, remorse took possession of tbc 



84 Emi to EaHh. 

baronet's heart, and for awhile he fancied that he had wronged 
his wife. 

•* Is she to blame because this man loves her ? " he asked him. 
self. " She may not even be aware of his love, though my 
watchful eyes have penetrated the secret. Oh, if I could only 
kake hei away from Raynham without delay — this very moment 
—or if I could clear the castle of all this frivolous, selfish, heart- 
less gang — what happiness it would be ! But I can do neither. 
I have invited these people, and I must play my part to the end. 
Even this Victor Camngton I dare not send out of my house; 
for, in so doing, I should confirm the suspicions of Lydia Gra 
ham, and all who think Hke her." 

Thus mused Sir Oswald as he paced the broad terrace- walk 
alone, while his guests were enjoying themselves in different parts 
of the castle and grounds; and while Lady Eversleigh spent 
the summer afternoon in her own apartments, brooding sadly on 
her husband's unkindness. 

There was one person to whom, in any ordinary trouble of 
mind. Sir Oswald Eversleigh would have most certainly turned 
for consolation ; and that person was his old and tried friend, 
Captain Copplestone. But the jealous doubts which racked his 
brain were not to be revealed, even to tliis faithful friend. There 
was bitter humiUation in the thought of opening those bleeding 
wounds which had so newly lacerated his heart. 

If Captain Copplestone had been near his friend in the hour 
of his trouble, he might, perhaps, have wrung the baronet's 
iecret from him in some unguarded moment ; but within the 
last week the Captain had been confined to his own apartments 
by a violent attack of gout; and except a brief daily visit of 
inquiry. Sir Oswald had seen nothing of him. 

He was very carefully tended, however, in his hours of suf- 
fering. Even her own anxiety of mind did not render Lady 
Eversleigh forgetful of her huscand's invahd friend. Every day, 
and many times a day, the Captain received some new evidence 
of her thoughtful care. It pleased her to do this — apart from 
her natural inchnation to be kind to the suffering and friendless; 
for the soldier was her husband's valued friend, and in testifying 
her respect for him, it seemed to her as if she were in some 
manner proving her devotion to the husband from whom she had 
become so mysteriously estranged. 

Amongst the many plans which had been set on foot for the 
amusement of the guests at Raynham, there was one on which 
all the visitors, male and female, had especially set their hearts. 
This much-talked-of entertainment was a pic-nic, to take place 
at a celebrated spot, whose picturesque lovehness was supposed 
to be unrivalled in the county, and scarcely exceeded by anj 
bcene in all the expanse of fair England. 



Afler the Pie-nic. %S 

CHAPTER VIIL 

APTER THE PIC-NIC. 

The place was called the Wizard's Cave. It was a gigantic 
grotto, near whicti flowed a waterfall of surpassintr beauty. A 
wild extent of woodland stretched on one side of this roraantio 
•cene ; on the other a broad moor spread wide before a range oi 
hills, one of which was crowned by the ruins of an old Normat 
castle that had stood many a siege in days gone by. 

It would have been ditficult to select a spot better adapted fw 
apic-nic; and some of the gentlemen who had ridden over to 
inspect the scene were rapturous in their praises of its sylvan 
beauty. The cave lay within ten miles of Raynham. "Jug 
the distance for a delightful drive," said the ladies— and from tlit 
moment that Sir Oswald had proposed the entertainment, there 
had been perpetual discussion of the arrangements necessaiy, 
the probability of fine weather, and the date to be finally chosen. 

The baronet had proposed this rustic fete when his own 
heart had been li^ht and happy ; now he looked forward to the 
day with a sickening dread of its weaiiness. Others would be 
happy; but the sound of mirth fal voices and light laughter 
would fall with a terrible discr>rdance on the ear of the man 
whose mind was tortured by hidden doubts. Sir Oswald was too 
courteous a host to disappoint his visitors. All the preparations 
for the rustic festival were duly made : and on the appointed 
morning a train of horses and carriages drew up in a line in the 
quadrangle of the castle. 

It would have been impossible to ima^rine a brighter picture 
cf English life ; and as the guests emerged in groups from the 
'yide, arched doorway, and took their places in the carriages, or 
Bprang lightly into their saddles, the spectacle grew more and 
more enlivening. 

Lydia Graham had done her utiTiost to surpass all rivals on 
this important day. Wealthy country squires and rich young 
lordlings were to be present at the festival, and the husband- 
huntress might, perchance, find a victim among these eligible 
bachelors. Deeply as she was already in debt, Miss Graham 
had written to her French milliner, implormg her to send her a 
costume regardless of erpense, and promising a speedy payment 
of at least half her loug-standing account. The fair and false 
Lvdia did not scruple to hint at the possibility of her making a 
brilliant matrimouial alliance ere many months were over, in 
order that this hope might beguile the long-suffering milfiner 
into giving further credit. 

The fashionable beauty was not disappointed. The milliner 
§ent the costume ordered, but wrote to inform Miss Graham, 
with all due circumlocution and pohteness, that, unless her long- 



86 Run to Earth. 

Btanding account were quickly settled, legal proceedings mu&t 
be taken. Lydia threw the letter aside with a frown, and pro- 
ceeded to inspect her dress, which was perfect in its way. 

But Miss Graham could scarcely repress a sigh of envy as she 
looked at Lady Eversleigh's more simple toilet, and perceived 
that, with all its appearance of simplicity, it was twice as costlj 
as her own more gorgeous attire. The jewels, too, were worth 
more than all the trinkets Lydia possessed ; and she knew that 
the treasures of Lady Eversleigh's jewel-cases were almost in- 
exhaustible, with such a lavish hand had her husband heaped 
his gifts upon her. 

" Perhaps he will not be so liberal with his presents in fatnre," 
thought the malicious and disappointed woman, as she looked at 
Honoria, and acknowledged to her own envious heart that never 
nad she seen her look more beautiful, more elegant, or more 
fitted to adorn the position which Miss Graham would willingly 
have persuaded herself she disgraced. " If he thinks that her 
love is bestowed npon another, he will scarcely find such deHght 
in future in offering her costly tributes of affection." 

There was a great deal of discussion as to who should occupy 
the different carriages ; but at last all was arranged apparently 
to every one's satisfaction. There were many who had chosen 
to ride ; and among the equestrians was Sir Oswald himself. 

For the first time in any excursion, the baronet deserted his 
accustomed place by the side of his wife. Honoria deeply felt 
the slight involved in this desertion; but she was too proud to 
entreat him to alter his arrangements. She saw his favourite 
horse brought round to the broad steps ; she saw her husband 
mount the animal without a word of remonstrance, without so 
much as a reproachful glance, though her heart was swelling 
with passionate indignation. And then she took her place in 
the barouche, and allowed the gentlemen standing near to assist 
in the arrangement of the shawls and carriage-rugs, which were 
provided in case of change of weather. 

Sir Oswald was not slow to remark that appearance of indif- 
ference. When once estrangement has arisen between those 
who truly love each other, everything tends to widen the breach. 
The jealous husband had chosen to separate himself from his 
wife in a sudden impulse of angry distrust ; but he was still 
more angry, still more distrustful, when he saw her apparent 
carelessness of his desertion. 

" She is happier without me," he thought, bitterly, as he drew 
his horse on one side, and watched all that took place around the 
barouche. " Unrestrained by my presence, she will be free to 
revel in the flatteries of her younger admirers. She will be per- 
fectly happy, for she will forget for a while that she is chained 
Cor life to a husband whom she does not love." 



After tlie Tic-nic. f^l 

A silvery langli from Honoria seemed to answer Hs thonghts, 

and to confirm his suspicions. He little dreamed that laugh was 
assumed, in order to deceive the mahcious Lydia, who had just 
uttered a pohte little speech, intended to wound the mistress of 
Baynham. 

The baronet kept his horse a little way behind the carriage, 
and watched his wife with jealous and angry eyes. 

Lydia G-raham had taken her seat in the barouche, and there 
was now a slight discussion as to the gentlemen who should ac- 
company the two ladies. Many were eager for the pri\'ilege, and 
the occasion was a fitting one for the display of feminine co- 
quetry. Miss Graham did not neglect the opportunity; and 
after 'a little animated conversation between the lady and a 
young fop who was heir to a peerage, the lordhng took his place 
opposite the fashionable beauty. 

The second place still remained nnoccupied. The baronet 
waited with painful eagerness to see who would take this place, 
for amongst the gentlemen grouped about the door of the car- 
riage was Victor Carrington. 

Sir Oswald had not to wait long. He ground his teeth in a 
sudden access of jealous fury as he saw the young surgeon step 
li^-htly into the vehicle, and'seat himself opposite Lady Evers- 
leigh. He took it for granted that it was on that lady's invita- 
tion the young man occupied this place of honour. He did not 
for a moment imagine that it was at Lydia Graham's entreaty 
the surgeon had taken his seat in the barouche. And yet it 
was so. 

" Do come with ns, Mr. Carrington," Lydia had said. " I 
know that you are well versed in county history and archaeology, 
and will be able to tell us all manner of interesting facts con- 
nected with the ^•illa^es and churches we pass on onr road." 

Lydia Graham hated Honoria for having won the proud posi- 
tion she herself had tried so h»rd to attain; she hated Sir 
Oswald for having chosen another in preference to herself; and 
she was determined to be revenged on both. She knew that her 
h'lats had already had their efieet on the baronet ; and she now 
sought, by ever}' base and treacherous trick, to render Honoria 
Eversleigh an object of suspicion in the eyes of her husband. 
She had a double game to play; for she sought at once to gratify 
her ambition and her thirst for revenge. On one hand she 
wished to captivate Lord Sumner Howden ; on the other sha 
wanted to widen the gulf between Sir Oswald and his wife. 

She little knew that she was only plaving into the hands of a 
deeper and more accomplished schemer than herself. She little 
thought that Victor Carrington's searching glance had pene- 
trat(^ the secrets of her heart ; and that he watched her malici* 
ons manosuvres with a calm sense of amusement. 



88 Run to Earth. 

Thongh August had already given place to September, tli« 
feather was warm and balmy, as in the full glory of midsummer. 

Sir Oswald rode behind Lady Eversleigh's barouche, too re- 
mote to hear the words that were spoken by those who occupied 
the vehicle ; but quite near enough to distinguish the tones and 
the laughter, and to perceive every gesture. He saw ^ Victor 
bend fonvard to address Honoria. He saw that deferential and 
devoted manner which had so much offended him since he had 
first set himself to watch the surgeon. And Lady Eversleigh 
did not discourage her admirer ; she let him talk ; she seemed 
interested in his conversation; and as LyJia Graham and Lord 
Howden were entirely occupied with each other, the conversation 
between Honoria was a complete tete-a-tete. The young man's 
handsome head bent lower and lower over the plumed hat of 
Lady Eversleigh ; and with every step of that ten-mile journey, 
the cloud that overshadowed the baronet's mind grew more pro- 
found in its fatal gloom. He no longer struggled against hia 
doubts— he abandoned himself altogether to the passion that 
held possession of him. 

But the eyes of the world were on Sir Oswald, and he was 
obliged to meet those unpitying eyes with a smile. The long 
line°of equipages drew up at last on the margin of a wood; tiie 
pleasure-seekers alighted, and wandered about in twos and 
threes amongst the umbrageous pathways which led towards 
the Wizard's Cave. 

After alii^hting from the barouche, Lady Eversleigh waited to 
see if her husband would approach her. and offer his arm; she 
had a faint hope that he would do so, even in spite of his evident 
estrangement; but her hope was cruelly disappointed. Sir 
Oswald walked straight to a portly dowager, and offered to escort 
her to the cave. 

" Do you remember a pic-nic here twenty years ago, at which 
you and I danced together by moon-light, Lady Hetherington ?" 
he said. " We old folks have pleasant memories of the past, and 
are the fittest companions for each other. The young people can 
enjoy themselves much better without the restraint of our society." 
■ He said this loud enough for his wife to hear. She did hear 
every word, and felt there was hidden significance in that care- 
less speech. For a moment she was inclined to break down the 
icy barrier of reserve. The words which she wanted to speak 
were almost on her Hps, " Let me go with you, Oswald."^ But 
in the next instant she met her husband's eyes, and their cold 
gaze chilled her heart. 

At the same moment Victor Carrington offered her his arm, 
with his accustomed deferential manner. _ She accepted the prof- 
fered arm, scarcely knowing who offered it, so deeply did she feel 
iier husband's unkindness. 



After ihb Tic-me. 8^ 

" ^That bave I done to offend liim ?" she thought. " What ig 
^8 cruel mystery which divides us, and which is almost break- 
ing my heart?" 

"Come, Lady Eversleigh," cried several voices; "we want 

you to accompany us to the Wizard's Cave." 

Nothing could be more successful than the pic-nic. Elegantly 
dressed women and aristocratic-looking men wandered here and 
there amidst the woodland, and by the margin of the waterfall ; 
i-'ometimes in gay little parties, whose talk and laughter rang out 
clearly on the balmy air ; sometimes stroUing tete-a-tete, and en- 
>;aged in conversations of a more confidential character. Half- 
hidden by the foliage of a little thicket of pollard oaks, there 
was a nuHtary band, whose services Sir Oswald had obtained 
from a garrison-town some twenty miles from Raynhara, and the 
stirring music added much to the charm of the festival. 

LyJia Graham was as happy as it is possible for any evil- 
minded woman to be. Her envious feelings were lulled to tem- 
jvirary rest by the enjoyment of her own triumphs ; for the 
young lordling seemed to be completely subjugated by her charms, 
and devoted himself exclusively to attendance upon her. 

The scheming beauty's heart thrilled with a sense of trinmph. 
She thought that she had at Ust made a conquest that might be 
better worth the making than any of those past conquests, 
which had all ended in such bitter disappointments. 

She looked at Lady Eversleigh with flashing eyes, as she re- 
membered that by the subjugation of this empty-headed young 
nobleman she might attain a higher position and greater wealth 
than that enjoyed by Sir Oswald's envied wife. 

" As Lady Sumner Howden, I could look down upon the mis- 
tress of Raynham Castle," she thought. " As Countess ol 
Vandeluce, 1 should take precedence of nobler women than Lady 
Eversleigh." 

The day waned. The revellers lingered long over the splendid 
collation, served in a marquee which had been sent from York 
for the occasion. The banquet seemed ajo3'Ous one, enUvened 
by the sound of laughter, the popping of champagne corks, the 
•nyoiis talk that emanated alike from the really light-hearted 
p.nd those whose gaiety is only a mockery and a sham. The 
i»an was sloping westward when Lady Eversleigh arose, absent 
ind despondent, to give the signal for the witlidi-awal of the 
li'Jies. 

As she did so, she looked to the other end of the marquee — 
to the table where her husband had been seated. To her surprise, 
bis place was empty. 

Throughout the whole day Honoria had been a prey to gloomy 
forebodings. The estrangement between herself and her hna- 
Wand vis so unexpected, so inexplicable, that she ^os powerle? 



30 Bun to Ea/nJu 

to Btmggle against the sense of misery and bewilJerment which 
it had occasioned in her mind. 

Again and again she asked herself what kad she done te 
offend him ; again and again she pondered over the smallest and 
most insignificant actions — the lightest words — of the past few 
weeks, in order to discover some clue to the mystery of Sir Os- 
wald's altered conduct. 

But the past afforded her no such clue. She had said no* 
thing, she had done nothing, which could offend the most sen- 
sitive of men. 

Then a new and terrible light began to dawn upon her. She 
remembered her wretched extraction — the pitiable condition in 
which the baronet had discovered her, and she began to think 
that he repented of his marriage. " He regrets his folly, and I 
am hateful in his eyes," thought Honoria, " for he remembers 
my degraded position — the mystery of my past life. He baa 
heard sneering words and cruel innuendoes fall from the Hps of 
his fashionable friends, perhaps ; and he is ashamed of his mar- 
riage. He httle knows how gladly I would release him from the 
tie that binds us — if, indeed, it has grown hateful to hira.'* 
Thus musing and wandering alone, in one of the forest path- 
ways — for she had outstripped her guests, and sought a little 
relief for her overwrought spirits, constrained to the courtesies 
of her position for the moment — she scarcely knew whither, she 
came presently upon a group of grooms, who were lounging 
before a rough canvas tent, which had been erected for the accom- 
modation of the horses. 

" Is ' Orestes ' in that tent, Plummer P " she asked of the 
old groom who generally attended her in her rides and 
drives. 

" No, my lady, Sir Oswald had him saddled a quarter of an 
hour ago, and rode him away." 

*• Sir Oswald has gone away ! " 

" Yes, my lady. He got a message, I think, while he was sit- 
ting at dinner, and he rode off as fast as he could go, across th* 
moor — it's the nighest way to the castle, you know, my lady ; 
though it ain't the pleasantest." 

Honoria grew very uneasy. What was the meaning of thia 
Budden departure ? 

" Do you know who brought the message from Raynham P '* 
■he asked the groom. 

"No, indeed, my lady. I don't even know for sure and cer- 
tain that the message was from Raynham. I only guess aa 
much " 

" \Vhy did not Sir Oswald take you with him P " 

" I can't say, ray lady. I asked master if I wasn't to go with 
him, and he said, ' Nd * he would rather be alout.'' 



Afler the Tic-nic. 91 

This was all that Honoria conld learn from the groom. Sh« 
walked back towards the marquee, whence the sonnd of voices 
and langhter grew louder as the sun sank across the broad eX' 
panse of moorland. 

The ladies of the party had gathered together on a broad 
patch of velvet greensward, near the oak thicket where the 
band was stationed. Here the younger members of the party 
were waltzing merrily to the accompaniment of one of Strauss'a 
sweetest waltzes ; while the elders sat here and there on camp- 
stools or fallen logs of trees, and looked on, or indulged in a 
little agreeable gossip. 

Honoria Eversleigh made her way unobserved to the marquoo, 
and approached one of the openings less used and less crowded 
than the others. Here she found a servant, whom she sent into 
the marquee ^^'ith a message for Mr. Eversleigh, to inquire if he 
could explain Sir Oswald's sudden departure. 

The man entered the tent, in obedience to his mistress ; and 
Lady Eversleigh seated herself on a camp-stool, at a little dis- 
tance, awaiting the issue of her message. 

She had been waiting only a few moments, when she saw 
Victor Carrington approaching her hurriedly — not from the 
marquee, but from the pathway by which she herself had come. 
There was an unwonted agitation about his manner as he ap- 
proached her, which, in her present state of nervous apprehen 
sion, filled her with alarm. 

She went to meet him, pale and trembling. 

" I have been looking for you everywhere, Lady Eversleigh," 
he said, huniedly. 

" You ha%'e been looking for me ? Something has happened 
then— Sir Oswald " 

" Yes, it is, unhappily, of Sir Oswald I have to speak. " 

"Speak quickly, then. ^Vhat has happened? You are 
agonizing me, Mr. Carrington — for pity's sake, speak ! Your 
face fills me with fear ! " 

"Your fears are, unhappily, too well founded. Sir Oswald has 
been thrown from his horse, on his way across the moor, and hes 
dangerously hurt, at the ruins of Yarborough Tower — that 
black building on the edge of the moor yonder. A lad has just 
brought me the tidings." 

" Let me go to him — for heaven's sake, let me go at once ! 
Dangerously hurt — he is dangerously hurt, you say ? '* 

" I fear so, from the boy's account." 

" And we have no medical man among our company. Yos ; 
you are a surgeon — you can be of assistance." 

" I trust so, my dear Lady Eversleigh. I shall hurry to Sif 
Oswald immediately, and in the meantime they have sent from 
the tower for medical help." 



92 Run to Earth. 

" I must go to him ! " said Honoria, wildly. " Call thr Pf?* 
vants, Mr. Carrington ! My carriage— this moment ! " 

She could scarcely utter the words in her excitement. Her 
voice had a cholcing sound, and but for the surgeon's supporting 
arm she must have fallen prone on the grass at his feet. 

As she clung to his arm, as she gasped out her eager entrea- 
ties that he would take her to her husband, a faint rustling 
stirred the underwood beneath 6om£ sycamores at a little dis- 
tance, and curious eyes peered through the foHage. 

Lydia Graham had happened to stroll that way. Her cu- 
riosity had been excited by the absence of Lady Eversleigh 
from among her guests, and, being no longer occupied by her 
flirtation with the young viscount, she had set out in search of 
th<> missing Hcnoria. 

She was amply rewarded for her trouble by the scene which 
she beheld from her hiding-place among the sycamores. 

She saw Victor and Lady Eversleigh talking to each other 
with every appearance of agitation; she saw the baronet's wife 
clinging, in some wild terror, to the arm of the surgeon; and 
she began to think that Honoria Eversleigh was indeed the 
base and guilty wretch she would fain have represented 
her. 

Lydia Graham was too far from the two figures to hear a word 
that was spoken. She could only watch their gestures, and 
draw her own inferences therefrom. 

"My carriage, Mr. Carrington!" repeated Honoria; " v.-hy 
don't you call the servants P " ^ 

" One moment. Lady Eversleigh," said the surgeon, calmly. 
"You must remember, that on such an occasion as this, there 
is nothing so important as presence of mind — self-command. 
If I alarm your servants, all the guests assembled here will take 
the alarm; and they will rush helter-skelter to Yarborough 
Tower, to testify their devotion to Sir Oswald, and to do him all 
the harm they possibly can. What would be the effect of a 
crowd of half-drunken men, clustering round him, with their 
noisy expressions of sympathy ? What I have to propose is this : 
1 am going to Sir Oswald immediately in my medical capacity. 
I have a gig and horse roa<ly, under that group of fir-trees yonder 
—the fa.stest horse andliiihtest vehicle I could find. ^ If you will 
trust yoarself in that vehicle behind that horse, I will drive you 
across the moor, and we shall reach the ruins in half an hour. 
Have you courage to come with me thus. Lady Eversleigh, 
quietly, unobserved by any one?— or will you wait for your 
barouche ; and wait until the revellers yonder a*-e all ready to 
start with you ? " 

The voices came loudly from the marquee as the surgeon 
epoke ; and Honoria felt that he spoke wisely. 



After the Fi'c-nic. 93 

" Y ou are right," she said ; " these people must know notlung 
of the accident until my husband is safely back at Eaynham. 
But you had better go and tell Plummer, the groom, to send the 
barouche after us. A carriage will be wanted to convey Sir 
Oswald from the tower, if he is fit to be moved." 

" True," answered Victor ; " I will see to it." 

"And quickly!" cried Lady Eversleigh; "go quickly, I 
implore. You will find me by the fir-trees when you retoi-u, 
resuly to start with you ! Do not waste time in words, Mr. Car- 
rington. Remember, it is a matter of life and death." 

Victor left her, and she walked to the little grove of firs, 
where she found the gig of which he had spoken, and the horsa 
standing near it, ready harnessed, and with his bridle fastened 
to a tree. 

Two pathways led to this fir-grove — a lower and an upper — 
the upper completely screened by brushwood. Along this upper 

{>athway, which was on the edge of a sloping bank, Lydia Gra- 
lam made her way, careless what icjury she infiicted on her 
costly dress, so eager was she to discover whither lady Ever.^- 
leigh was going. Completely hidden from Honoria, though at 
only a few prices' distance, Miss Graliam waited to watch the 
proceedings of tlie baronet's wife. 

She was mystified by the appearance of the gig and horse, 
stationed in this out-of-the-way spot. She was still more mys- 
tified when she saw Lady Eversleigh clasp her hands before her 
face, and stand for a few moments, motionless and statue-like, 
&s if abandoned to despair. 

"What does it all mean P " Miss Graham asked herself, 
" Surely she cannot intend to elope with this Carrington. She 
may be wicked ; but she cannot be so insane as to throw awav 
wealth and position for the sake of this foreign adventurer." 

She waited, almost breathless with excitement, croucliing 
amongst the brushwood at the top of the woody bank, and 
looking downward towards the fir-grove, with watchful eyes. 
She had not to wait long. Victor appeared in a few minutes, 
out of breath from runniog. 

" Have you given orders about the carriage P " 

" Yes, I have given all necessary orders." 

No more was said. Victor handed Lady Eversleigh into the 
vehicle, and drove away — slowly while they were still on the 
edge of the wood; but accelerating his pace as they emerged 
upon the moorland. 

"It is an elopement ! " exclaimed Miss Graham, whose ae- 
tonishment was unbounded. " It is an elopement ! The infa- 
mous creature has gone off with that penniless young man. 
And now, Sir Oswald, I think you will have good reason to re- 
cent vour fine romantic marriage with a ^ase-bom adventuress, 



94 S/un to iJJarth, 

wliom nobody ever he«.rd of until Bhebursi forth upon the wotU 
Hs Lady Eversleigh of Eaynham Castle." 

Filled with the triumphant delight of gratified malice, Lydia 
Graham went back to the broad greensward by the Wizard'^ 
Uave. The gentlemen had now left the marquee; the full 
moon was rising, round and yellow, on the horizon, like a greaii 
globe of molten gold. Preparations had already commenced for 
the return, and the younger members of the party were busy 
discussing the arrangements of the homeward drive. 

That moonlight drive was looked forward to as one of the 
chief pleasures of the excursion ; it would afford such glorious 
opportunities for flirtation. It would enable romantic young 
ladies to quote so much poetry about the moon and the summer 
night, while pootically-disposed young gentlemen replied in the 
same strain. All was animation and excitement. The cham- 
pagne and burgundy, the sparkling hock and moselle, which had 
been consumed in the marquee, had only rendered the majority 
of the gentlemen more gallant and agreeable ; ana softly- spoken 
compliments, and tender pressures of pretty little delicately- 
gloved hands, testified to the devotion of the cavaliers who were 
to escort the band of fair ones homeward. 

Lydia Graham hoped that she would be able to take up the 
thread of her flirtation with Lord Howden exactly where it had 
dropped when she had risen to leave the dinner-table. She had 
thought it even possible that, if she could secure a tete-d-tete 
drive home with the weak-brained young nobleman, she might 
lure him on until he made a formal proposal, from which he 
would find it no easy matter to recede; for Captain Graham was 
at his sister's call, and was a gentleman of no very yielding 
temper where his own interests were at stake. He had long 
been anxious that his sister should make a wealthy marnatre, for 
her debts and difliculties annoyed him ; and he felt that if she 
were well married, he would be able to borrow money of her, 
instead of being pestered by her applications ^or assistance. 

Miss Graham was doomed to endure a disappointment. Lord 
Sumner Howden was one of the few gentleman upon whom iced 
champagne and moselle had produced anything but an exhila- 
rating eflect. He was dull and stupid, palHd and sleepy ; like 
liome great, greedy school-boy who has over-eaten himself, and 
is sufi'ering the consequences of his gluttony. 

The fair Lydia had the mortification of hearing him tell one 
uf the grooms to put him into a close carriage, where he could 
have a nap on his way home. 

Reginald Eversleigh took the lordling's seat in the barouche, 
which was the first in the line of carriages for the homeward 
journey, in spite of Honoria's entreaties to Victor Carrington. 
The young man was almost as dull and stu]jid, to all appearance. 



After the Vlc-nic. 95 

as L(»Td Sumnor Kowden; but, although he had Ijeen driuking 
deeply, intoxication had nothing to do with his gloomy silence. 

He knew that Carrington's scheme had been ripering day by 
day ; and he knew also that within a few hours the final blow 
was to be struck. He did not know the nature of that intended 
Btroke of treachery ; but he was aware that it would involve 
misery and huraihation for Sir Oswald, utter ruin and disgrace 
for Honoria. The very uncertainty as to the nature of the cruel 
plot made it all the more dreadful; and he waited with no very 
pleasant feehngs for the development of his friend's scheme. 

When all was ready for the start, it was discovered that " dear 
Lady Eversleigh" was missing. Servants were sent in every 
direction to search for her ; but with no avail. Sir Oswald was 
also missed ; but Plummer, the old groom, informed Mr. Evers- 
leigh that his uncle had left some hours before ; and as some of 
the party had seen the baronet leave the dinner-table, in com- 
pliance with a sudden summons, this occasioned little surprise. 

The next person missed was Victor Carrington. It was 
Lydia who drew attention to the fact of his absence. 

The party waited an hour, while search for Lady Eversleigh 
was renewed in every direction, while many of the guests ex- 
pressed their fears that something must have happened to her 
— that she had wandered too far, and lost her way in the wood 
— or that she had missed her footing on the edge of one of the 
deep poois by the cavern, and had fallen into the water — or that 
ihe had been attacked by ruffians. 

But in due time it was discovered that Mr. Carrington had 
been seen to take a gig from amongst the vehicles ; and a lad» 
who had been in charge of the gig and the horse belonging to it, 
told the other servants that Mr. Camngton had said he wanted 
the vehicle to drive Lady Eversleigh home. She was tired, Mr. 
(Jarrington had said, and wanted to go home quietly. 

This information was brought to Eeginald by one of the upper 
flervants ; and the question of Lady Eversleigh's disappearance 
being at once set at rest, the procession of carriages moved away 
in the moonlight. 

" It was really too bad of dear Lady Eversleigh to give us such 
unnecessary alarm," said Lydia Graham. 

The lady who had taken the second place in the barouche 
agreed with this remark. 

" I never was more alarmed in my life," she said. " I felt 
ewe that something very dreadful must have happened." 

" And to think that Lady Eversleigh should prefer going 
home in a gig," said Lydia, maliciously; "for my part, I think a 
gig a most unpleasant vehicle." 

The other lady wliispered something about Lady Eversleigh'i 
humble extraction, and her iicnoraaice of the usages of society. 



96 Jiun to Earth. 

" You can't wonder at It, my dear/' she murmured. " Fof 
my part, I was surprised to see her so much at her ease in hex 
new position. But, you see, her ignorance has now betrayed her 
into a tenible breach of the proprieties. Her conduct is, to say 
the least of it, most eccentric ; and yon may depend, no one 
here will ever forget this ride home in a gig with that clever 
young surgeon. I don't suppose Sir Oswald will very much 
approve of such conduct." 

"Nor I," said Lydia, in the same subdued tone. *| Poor Sir 
Oswald ! What could he expect when he disgraced himself by 
such a marriage?" 

Reginald Eversleigh leaned back in the carriage, with hisarmH 
folded, and his eyes fixed on vacancy, while the ladies goa^ipped 
m whispers. 

CHAPTER rX. 

ON TAKBOROUGH TO WEB. 

No Booner had Victor Carrington got completely clear of the 
wood, than he drove his horse at a gallop. 

The Hght gig swayed from side to side, and jolted violently 
several times on crossing some obstruction in the way. 

" You are not afraid ?" asked Victor. 

" I am only afraid of delay," answered Honoria, calmly ; for 
by this time she had recovered much of her ordinary firmness, 
and was prepared to face her sorrow with at least outward tran- 
quillity. " Tell me, Mr. Carriugton, have you reason to think 
that my husband is in great danger ? " 

•* I can tell you nothing for certain. You know how stupid 
the country people are. The boy who brought the message told 
me that the gentleman had been thrown from his horse, and was 
very much hurt. He was insensible, and was injured about the 
head. I gathered from this, and from the boy's manner, rather 
than hh words, that the injuries were very serious." 

" Why was Sir Oswald taken to such a wretched place as a 
mined tower P" 

♦•Because the accident happened near the ruin; and your 
husband was found by the people who have charge of the tower." 

•• And could they take him to no better place f" 

** No. There is no habitation of any kind within three miles." 

No more was said. It was not very easy to talk while fiying 
through the air at the utmost speed of a spirited horse. 

The moon bathed the broad moorland in mellow light. The 
wide expanse of level turf looked like a sea of black water that 
had suddenly been frozen into stillness. Not a tree — not a patch 
of brushwood, or a solitary bush — broke the monotony of the 
•cene : but tar away against the moonht horizon rose a wild and 



On Yarhoroicgh Tower,. 97 

cng^^j steep, and on the summit of tliat steep appeared a *^ias- 
flive tower, with black and ruined battlements, that stood '^ut 
grimly against the luminous sky. 

This was Yarborough Tower — a stronghold that had defied 
many a besieging force in the obscure past ; but of the origin ol 
which little was now known. 

Victor Carrington drove the gig up a rough and narrow road 
that curved around the sides of the craggy hill, and wound 
gradually towards the top. 

He was obhged to drive slowly here, and Lady Eversleigh had 
fcmple leisure to gaze upwards at the dreary-looking ruin, whose 
walls seemed more densely black as they grew nearer and nearer. 

"What a horrible place !" she murmured. " To think of my 
husband lying there — with no better shelter than those ruined 
walls in the hour of his suffering." 

Honoria Eversleigh looked around her with a shudder, as ths 
gig passed across a narrow wooden drawbridge that spanned an 
enormous chasm in the craggy hill-side. 

She looked up at the tower. All was dark, and the dismal 
cry of a raven suddenly broke the awful stillness with a sound 
that was even yet more awful. 

"Why are there no lights in the windows?" she aske<l; 
" surely Sir Oswald is not lying in the darkness ?" 

" I don't know. The chamber in which they have placed him 
may be on the other side of the tower," answered Victor, briefly. 
"And now, Lady Eversleigh, you must alight. We can go no 
further with the vehicle, and I must take it back to the other 
o^de of the drawbridge." 

They had reached the entrance of the tower, an archway of 
solid masonry, over which the ivy huug like a sombre curtain. 

Honoria ahghted, and passed under the black shadow of the 
ftrch. 

"You had better wait till I return. Lady Eversleigh," said 
Victor. " You will scarcely find your way without my help." 

Honoria obeyed. Anxious as she was to reach Sir Oswald 
without a moment's unnecessary delay, she felt herself powerless 
to proceed without a guide — so dark was the interior of the 
tower. She heard the ravens shrieking hoarsely in the battle- 
ments above, and the ivy flapping in the evening wind ; but sha 
could hear nothing else. 

Victor came back to her in a few minutes. As he rejoined her, 
there was a noise of some ponderous object falling, with a grat- 
ing and rattling of heavy chains ; but Lady Eversleigh was too 
much absorbed by her own anxieties to feel any curiosity as to 
the origin of the sound. 

" Come," said Victor; "give me your hand, Lady Eversleigh, 
ftnd let me guide you " 



98 Bun to Earth. 

She placed her htud in that of the snrgeon. He led her to a 
steep staircase, formed by blocks of solid stone, which were ren- 
dered sUppery by the moss that had gathered on them. It was 
a winding staircase, bnilt in a tnrret which formed one angle of 
the tower. Looking upwards, Honoria saw a gap in the roof, 
through which the moonlight shone bright. But there was no 
sign of any other light. 

"Where is my husband P" she asked. "I see no lights; I 
hear no voices ; the place seems like a tomb."^ 
Victor Carrington did not answer her question. 
" Come," he said, in a commanding voice. " Followme, Lady 
Eversleigh." 

He still held her hand, and she obeyed him, making her way 
with some difficulty up the steep and winding staircase. 

At last she found herself at the top. A narrow doorway 
opened before her; and following her companion through thia 
doorway, she emerged on the roof of the tower. 

Around her were the ruined battlements, broken away 
altogether here and there; below her was the craggy hill- side, 
sloping downwards to the wide expanse of the moorland ; above 
her was the purple sky, flooded with the calm radiance of the 
moon ; but there was no sign of human habitation, no sound of 
a human voice. 

" Where is my husband, Mr. Carrington ?" she cried, with a 
wild alarm, which had but that moment taken possession of her. 
" This ruin is uninhabited. I saw the empty rooms, through 
gaps in the broken wall as we came up that staircase. Where is 
my husband ? " 

" At Kaynham Castle, Lady Eversleigh, to the best of my 
knowledge,'" answered the surgeon, with imperturbable calmness. 
He had seated himself on oue of the broken battlements, in a 
lounging attitude, with one arm leaning on the mined stone, and 
he was looking quietly out at the solitary expanse of barren 
waste sleeping beneath the moonhght. 

Lady Eversleigh looked at him with a countenance that had 
grown rigid with horror and alarm. 

" My husband at Eaynham — at Kaynham ! " she repeated, as 
if she could not credit the evidence of her own ears. " Am I 
mad, or are you mad, Mr. Carrington? My husband at Rayn- 
ham Castle, you say ?" 

"I cannot undertake to answer positively for the movements 
of any gentleman; but I should say that, at this present mo- 
ment. Sir Oswald Eversleigh is in his own house, for which 1>^ 
started some hours ago." 
" Then why am I here ? '* 

"To answer that question clearly will involre the telling of a 
bng story, Lady Eversleigh,** answered Victor. "My motivo hr 



On Yarhorough Tower. 99 

bringing jon here concerns myself and another person. Ton 
are here to further the interests of two people, and those two 
people are Reginald Eversleigh and yonr humble servant." 

" But the accident ? Sir Oswald's danger " 

" I must beg you not to give yourself any further alarm on 
that subject. I regret very much that I have been obliged to 
inflict unnecessary pain upon a lady. The story of the accident 
is a little invention of my own. Sir Oswald is perfectly safe." 

" Thank heaven !" cried Honoria, clasping her hands in the 
fervour of sudden gratitude; " thank heaven for that !" 

Her face looked beautiful, as she lifted it towards the moonlit 
sky. Victor Carrington contemplated her with wonder. 

"Can it be possible that she loves this man ?" bethought. 
'* Can it be that she has not been acting a part after all P" 

Her first thoucrht, on hearing that she had been deceived, was 
one of unmingled joy, of deep and heartfelt gratitude. Her 
second thought was of the shameful trick that had been played 
upon her ; and she turned to Victor Carrington with jmssionate 
indignation. 

"What is the meaning of this juggling, sir?" she cried; 
"and why have I been brought to this place ? " 

" It is a long story, Lady Eversleigh, and I would recommend 
you to calm yourself before you listen to it, if you have any 
wish to understand me clearly." 

"I can stop to listen to no long stories, sir. Your trick is a shame- 
ful and unmanly one, whatever its motive. I beg tliat you will 
take me back to Eaynham without a moment's delay; and I 
would advise you to comply vrith my request, unless you wish 
to draw upon yourself Sir Oswald's vengeance for the wrong 
you have done me. I am the last person in the world to involve 
my husband in a quarrel; but if you do not immediately take 
steps towards restoring me to my own home, I shall certainly 
let him know how deeply I have been wronged and insulted." 

"I am not afraid of your husband, my dear Lady Eversleigh," 
answered the surgeon, with cool insolence ; " for I do not think 
Sir Oswald will care to take np the cudgels in your defence, 
after the events of to-night." 

Honoria Eversleigh looked at the spe-iKer with unutterable 
scorn, and then turned towards the doorway which communi- 
cated with the staircase. 

" Since you refuse to assist in my return, I will go alone anJ 
nnas^ted," she said. 

Victor raised his hand with a warning gesture. 

" Do not atLempt to descend that staircase, my dear Lady 
Eversleigh," he said. ** Li the first place, the steps are slipper)', 
and the descent very dangerous ; and, in the next, yoij would 
find yourself unable to go beyoi4 the aiiihway," 



100 Hdin to Earth. 

" "SMiat do you mean ? " 

" Oblige me by looking down through that breach in tb« 
battlements." 

He had risen from his lounging position, and pointed down- 
ward as he spoke. 

Involuntarily Honoria followed the indication of his hand. 

A cry of horror broke from her lip§ as she looked below. 
The drawbridge no longer spanned the chasm. It had fallen, 
and hung over the edge of the abyss, suspended by massivo 
chains. On all sides of the tower yawned a gulf of some fifteen 
feet wide. 

At first Lady Eversleigh thought that this chasm might 
only be on one side of the ruin, but on rushing to the opposite 
battlements, and looking down, she saw that it was a moss- 
grown stone-moat, which completely encircled the stronghold. 

•' The warriors of old knew how to build their fortresses, and 
how to protect themselves from their foes," said Victor Carring- 
ton, as if in answer to his companion's despairing cry. "Those 
who built this edifice and dug that moat, little knew how useful 
their arrangements would be in these degenerate days. Do not 
pace to and fro with that distracted air, Lady Eversleigh. 
BeUeve me, you will do wisely to take things quietly. You are 
doomed to remain here till daybreak. This ruin is in the care 
of a man who leaves it at a certain hour every evening. When 
he leaves, he drops the drawbridge — you must have heard him 
do it a little while ago — and no hand but his can raise the chains 
that support it; for he only knows the secret of their machinery. 
He has left the place for the night. He lives three miles and a 
half away, at a little village yonder, which looks only a black 
speck in the distance, and he wiU not return till some time after 
daybreak." 

" And you would keep me a prisoner here — you would detain 
me in this miserable place, while my husband is, no doubt, ex- 
pecting me at Kaynham, perplexed and bewildered by my mys- 
terious absence ? " 

" Yes, Lady Eversleigh, there will be wonder and perplexity 
en(^ngh on your account to-night at Raynham Castle. 

There was a pause after this. 

Honoria sank upon a block of fallen stone, bewildered, terrur- 
utricken, for the moment powerless to express either her feavR 
9r her indignation, so strange, so completely inexplicable wag 
tec position in which she found herself. 

" I am in the power of a maniac," she murmured; "no one 
imt a maniac cottld be capable of this wild act. My life is in 
the power of a madman. I can but wait the issue. Let me be 
•"Im. ^ Oh, merciful heaven, give me fortitude to face my dua* 
get quietly 3 ** 



On Yarhorough Tov:er. 101 

The Btrength she prayed for seemed to com« -x'lth the prayer. 

The wild beating of her heart slackened a little. She swept 
the heavy masses of hair away from her forehead, and bound 
the fallen plaits in a knot at the back of her head. She did 
this almost as calmly as if she had been making her toilet in 
her dressing-room at Raynham. Victor Carrington watched 
h<ir with surprise. 

" She is a wonderful woman," he said to himself; •* a noblo 
creature. _ As powerful in mind as she is lovely in person. 
What a pity that I should make myself the enemy of this woman 
for the sake of such a mean-spirited hound as Reginald Evers- 
leigh ! But my interests compel me to run counter to my in- 
clination. It is a great pity. "With this woman as my ally 
I might have done greater things than I shall ever do by my- 
self." 

Victor Carrington mused thus while Honoria Erersleigh sat on 
the edge of the broken wall, at a few paces from him, looking 
calmly out at the purple sky. 

She fully believed that she had fallen into tbe power of a 
maniac. What, except madness, could have prompted such con- 
duct as that of Victor Carrington's ? 

She knew that there is no defence so powerful as an appear- 
ance of calmness ; and it was with tranquillity she addressed 
her companion, after that interval of deliberation. 

•'Xow, Mr. Carrington," she said, "since it seems I am your 
prisoner, perhaps you will be good enough to inform me why 
you have brought me to this place, and what injury I have ever 
done yon that you should inflict so deep a wrong on me ? " 

"You have never injured me, Lady Eversleigh," repHed Vic- 
tor Carrington; " but you have injured one w-ho is my friend, 
and whose interests are closely linked with mine." 

" ^Yho is that friend ? " 

"Reginald Ever.-leigh." 

"Reginald Eversleigh ! '* repeated Honoria, with amazement. 
•* In what manner have I injured Reginald Eversleigh ? Is he 
not my husband's nephew, and am I not bound to feel interest 
in his welfare ? How, then, can I have injured him ? " 

" You have done him the worst wrong that one individual can 
do another — yon stand between him and fortune. Do you 
not know that, little more than a year ago, Reginald Evers 
leigh was the heir to Raynham and all its surroundings?" 

" I know that ; but he was disinherited before I crossed Kin 
rncle's pathway." 

"True ; but had yon not crossed Sir Oswald's path, there is 
nodor.bt Reginald would have been restored to favonr. But 
vou have woven your spells round his kinsman, and his only 
ftope lies in vour dist/race— « — s-** 



102 Run to EaHK, 

"My disgrace!** 

" Yes, Lady Eversleigh. Life is a battle, in which the weak 
est must be tr- »dden down; you have triumphed hitherto, but 
the hour of your triumph is past. Yesterday you were quecu 
of Raynham Castle ; to-morrow no kitchen-wench within its 
walls will be so low as you." 

" What do you mean ? " asked Honoria, more and more mys- 
tified every moment by her companion's words. 

For the first time, an awful fear took possession of her, and 
she began to perceive that she was the victim of a foul and vil- 
lanous plot. 

" What do you mean ? " she repeated, in accents of alarm. 

" I mean this. Lady Everslei.^h— the world judges of people's 
actions by their outward seeming, not by their inward truth. 
Appearances have conspired to condemn you. Before to-morrow 
every creature in Raynham Castle will believe that you have 
fled from your home, and with me " 

** Fled from my home ! " 

" Yes ; how else can your absence to-night — your sudden dis- 
appearance from the pic-nic — be construed ?" 

" If I Hve, I shall go back to the castle at daybreak to-morrow 
morning — go back to denounce your villany — to implore my 
husband's vengeance on your infamy ! " 

" And do you think any one will believe your denunciation ? 
You will go back too late Lady Eversleigh." 

"Oh, villain! /iilain!" murmured Honoria, in accents of min- 
gled abhorrence and despair — abhorrence of her companion's 
in famy, despair inspired by the horror of her own position. 

** You have played for a very high stake, Lady Eversleigh," 
said the surgeon; " and you must not wonder if you have found 
('PponenV_ ready to encounter your play with a still more des- 
perate, and a still more dexterous game. Wjen a nameless an<l 
obscure woman springs from poverty and obscurity to rank 
ana nclies, sJ' xnxist expect to find otliers ready to dispute the 
prize which she has won." 

"And there can exist a wretch calling him? /if a man, and 
yet capable of such an act as this!" cried It ^noria, looking 
ujiward to the calm and cloudless sky, as if dfie would have 
called heaven to witness the iniquity of her enemy "Do not 
speak to me, sir," she added, turning to Victor Carrington, with 
nnutterable scorn. "I believed a few minutes ago that yon 
were a madman, and I thought myself the victim of a maniac'* 
folly. I understand all now. You have plotted nobly for vour 
friend's service; and he will, no doubt, reward you richly if yon 
succeed. But you have not yet puccc^ded. Providence some- 
times Beems to favour the wickod. It his ffivoure*! von, bo far; 
Vat the end baa not o^mo vet." 



On Yaroorough Tower. 103 

She turned from him and walked to the opposite aide of the 
tower. Here she seated herself on the battlemented wall, as 
calm, in outward seeming, as if she had been in her own draw- 
inpr-room. She took out a tiny jewelJed watch ; by that solt 
light she could perceive the figures on the dial. 

It was a few minutes after one o'clock. It was not likely that 
the man who had charge of the ruins would come to the tower 
until seven or eight in the morning. For six or seven hours, 
therefore, Honoria Eversleigh was Kkely to be a prisoner— for 
six or seven hours she would have to endure the hateful presence 
of the man whose treachery had placed her in this hideous 
position. 

Despair reigned in her heart, entire and overwhelming despair. 
When released from her prison, she might hurry back to the 
castle. But who would believe a story so wild, so improbable, as 
that which she would have to tell P 

Would her husband believe her ? Would he, who had to all 
appearance withdrawn his love from her for no reason whatever 
— would he believe in her purity and truth, when circumstances 
conspired in damning evidence of her guilt ? A sense of hope- 
less misery took possession of her heart; but no cry of anguish 
broke from her pale lips. She sat motionless as a statue, with 
her eyes fixed upon the eastern horizon, counting the momenta 
as they passed with cruel slowness, watching with yearning gaze 
for the first glimmer of morning. 

Victor Carrincrton contemplated that statuesque figure, that 
pale and tranquil face, with unalloyed admiration. Until to-night 
ne had despised women as frail, helpless creatures, only made to 
be flattered by false words, and tyrannized over by stronger 
natures than their own. Among all the women ^\dth whom he 
had ever been associated, his mother was the only one in whose 
good sense he had believed, or for whose intellect he had felt the 
smallest respect. But now he beheld a woman of another stam p 
— a woman whose pride and fortitude were akin to the heroic. 

"You endure the unpleasantness of your position nobly, Lady 
Eversleigh," he said; "and I can find no words to express my 
admiration of your conduct. It is very hard to find oneself the 
enemy of a lady, and, above all, of a lady whose beauty and 
whose intellect are alike calculated to inspire admiration. But 
in this world. Lady Eversleigh, there is only one rule — only one 
governing principle by which men regulate their lives — let them 
seek as they will to mask the truth with specious Lies, which 
other men pretend to believe, but do not. That one rule, that 
one ^veming principle, is selt-intekzst. For the advancement 
of ms own fortunes, the man who calls himself honest will 
trample on the dearest ties, will sacrifice the firmest friendships. 
The gi^me wliich Reginald EvcrsUi^^h and I have played agaiiiat 



104 Bim to FariK 

yon is a desperate one; but Sir Oswald rendered his lephe^ 
desperate when he reduced him, in one short hour, from wealth 
to poverty — when he robbed him of expectations that had been 
his from infancy. A depsperate man will do desperate deeds ; 
and it has been your fate, Lady Eversleigh, to cross the path of 
such a man." 

He waited, with his eyes fixed on the face of Sir Oswald's 
wife, But during the whole of his speech she had never once 
looked at him. She had never withdrawn her eyes from the 
eastern horizon. Passionless contempt was expressed by that 
curving lip, that calm repose of eye and brow. It seemed as if 
tliis woman's disdain for the plotting villain into whose power 
she had fallen absorbed every other feeling. 

Victor Carrington waited in vain for some reply from those 
scornful lips; but none came. He took out his cigar-case, 
lighted a cigar, and sat in a meditative attitude, smoking, and 
looking down moodily at the black chasm below the base of the 
tower. For the first time in his life this man, who was utterly 
without honour or principle — this man, who held self-interest as 
the one rule of conduct — this unscrupulous trickster and villain, 
clt the bitterness of a woman's scorn. He would have been 
nmoved by the loudest evidence of his victim's despair; but 
ner silent contempt stung him to the quick. The hours dragged 
themselves out with a hideous slowness for the despairing crea- 
ture who sat watching for the dawn; but at last that long night 
came to an end, the chill morning light glimmered faint and 
gray in the east. It was not the first time that Sir Oswald's 
wife had watched in anguish for the coming of that light. In 
that lonely tower, with her heart tortured by a sense of unutter- 
able agony, there came back to her the memory of another vigil 
which she had kept more than two years before. 

She heard the dull, iilashing sound of a river, the shivering of 
rushes, then the noise of a struggle, oaths, a heavy crashing fallf 
a groan, and then no more ! 

Blessed with her husband's love, she had for a while closed hor 
eyes upon that horrible picture of the past; but now, in the 
hour of despair, it came back to her, hideously distinct, awfully 
pnlpable. 

"How could I hope for happiness?" she thought; "I, the 
daughter of an assassin ! The sins of one generation are visited 
on another. A curse is upon me, and I can never hope for happi- 
ness." 

The sun rose, and shone broad and full over the barren moor- 
land ; but it was several hours after sunrise before the man who 
took care of the ruins came to release the wretched prisoner. 

He picked up a scanty living by showing the tower to visitors, 
»d he >:new that no visitors were likely to come before xdu9 



On Yarhorough Toicer. 105 

clock in the morning. It was nearly nine wlien Honoria saw 
him approachincr in the distance. 

It was atl^r nine when he drew up the bridge, and came across 
it to the mined fortress. 

" You are free from this moment, Ladv Eversleigh," said the 
Burgeon, whose face looked horribly pale and worn in the 
broad sTinlight. That night of watching had not been without 
its agony for him. 

Honoria did not condescend to notice his words. She took up 
the plumed hat, whieh had been lying among the long grass at 
bur feet. The deUcate feathers were wet and spoiled by the night 
dew, and she took them from the fragile hat and tTung them 
away. Her thin, white dre?3 was heavy with the damp, and 
clung round her like a shroud. But she had not felt the chill- 
ing night winds. 

Lady E%'ersleigh groped her way down the winding staircase, 
which was dark even in the daytime — except here and there, 
where a gap in the wall let in a patch of hght upon the gloomy 
stones. 

Under the archway she met the countryman, who uttered a 
cry on beholding the white, phantom-like figure. 

" Oh, Loard ! " he cried, when he had recovered from his terror; 
**I ask pardon, my ladv, but danged if I didn't teak thee for a 
gliaist." 

" You did not know, when you went away last night, that 
there was any one in the tower?" 

" No, indeed, my lady. I'd been away for a few minutes look'n' 
arter a bit of peg I've got in a shed down yander ; and when I 
keame back to let down th' drawbridge, I didn't sing out to ax 
if there wur any one in th' old too-wer, for faint often as there 
be any one at that time of night." 

" Tell me the way to the nearest village," cried Honoria. " I 
•.-ant to get some conveyance to take me to Eaynham." 

" Then you had better go to Edgington, ma'am. That's four 
miles from here — on t' Eaynham ro-ad." 

The man pointed out the way to the village of which he spoke ; 
and Lady Eversleigh set forth across the wide expanse of moor- 
land alone. 

She had considerable difficulty in finding her way, for there 
were no landmarks on that broad stretch of level turf. She 
wandered out of the track more than once, and it was one o'clock 
betore she reached the x-illage of Edgington. 

Here, after considerable delay, she procured a carriage to take 
her on to RajTiham; but there was little chance that she could 
reach the castle until between three and four o'clock in to* 
Rflemooa. 



106 lUn to EariL 



CHAPTER X. 
"now ART Tnou lost! — how on a sudden lost!'* 
If Honoria Eversleis^h had endured a Dight of anguish amid th« 
wild desolation of Yarborough Tower, Sir Oswald had suffered 
an agony scarcely less terrible at Raynham. He had been eum- 
moned from the dinner-table in the marquee by one of his ser- 
vants, who told him that a boy was waiting for him with a letter, 
which he would entrust to no one but Sir Oswald Eversieigh 
himself. 

Mystified by the strange character of this message, Sir Oswald 
went immediately to see the boy who had brought it. He found 
a lad waiting for him under the trees near the marquee. The 
boy handed him a letter, which he opened and read immediately. 

The coij ( f nts of that letter were well calculated to agitate and 
disturb hita. 

The letter was anonymons. It consisted of the following 
words : — 

" If Sir Oswald Eversieigh ivishes to he convinced of his m/e's 
truth 01' falsehood, let him ride hack to Raynham v:ithnut a mo- 
ments delay. There he will receive ample evidence of her real 
character. He may have to wait ; hut the friend who writes this 
advises him to wait patiently. He will not wait in vain. 

"A Nameless Counselloe." 

A fortnight before, Sir Oswald would have flung such a letter 
as this away from him with indignant scorn; but the poison of 
.suspicion had done its corroding work. 

For a little time Sir Oswald hesitated, half-inclined to despise 
the mysterious warning. All his better feelings prompted him 
to disregard this nameless correspondent— all his noblest impulses 
urged him to confide blindly and unquestioningly in the truth of 
the wife he loved; but jealousy — that dark and fatal passion — 
triumphed over every generous feeUng, and he yielded to the in- 
fluence of his hidden counsellor. 

"No harm can arise from my return to Raynham," he thought. 
" My friends yonder are enjoying themselves too much to trouble 
themselves about my absence. If this anonymous correspondent 
is fooling me, I shall soon discover my mistake." 

Having once arrived at this determination, Sir Oswald lost no 
time in putting it into execution. He ordered his horse, Orestes, 
and rode away as fast as the animal would carry him. 

Arrived at Raynham, he inquired if any one had asked for him, 
but was told there had not been any visitors at the castle through- 
out the day. 

Ag^n and again Sir Oswald ?onsulted the anoDjmous letleiv 



*' llou} arf thou Lost ! — how on a sudden Lost ! " 107 

It told him to wait, but for wliat was he to wait ? Half ashamed 
of himself for having yielded to the tempter, restless and uneasy 
in spirit, he wandered from room to room in the twilight, aban« 
doned to gloomy and miserable thoughts. 

The servants lighted the lamps in the many chambers of Eayn- 
ham, while Sir Oswald paced to and fro — now in the long draw- 
ing-room ; now in the library ; now on the terrace, where the 
September moon shone broad and fnll. It was eleven o'clock 
when the sound of approaching wheels proclaimed the return of 
the pic-nic party ; and until that hour the baronet had watched 
and waited without having been rewarded by the smallest dis- 
covery of any kind whatever. He felt bitterly ashamed of him- 
self for having been duped by so shallow a trick. 

" It is the handiwork of some kind friend ; the practical joke 
of some hippant youngster, who thinks it a delightful piece of 
humour to play upon the jealousy of a husband of lifty," mused 
the baronet, as he brooded over his folly. " I wish to "heaven I 
could discover the writer of the epistle. He should find that it 
is rather a dangerous thing to trifie with a man's feelings." 

Sir Oswald went himself to assist at the reception of his 
guests. He expected to see his wife arrive with the rest. For 
the moment, he forgot all about his suspicions of the last fort- 
night. He thought only of the anonymous letter, and the 
wrong which he had done Honoria in being influenced by its 
dark hints. 

If he could have met his wife at that moment, when every 
impulse of his heart drew him towards her, all sense of estrange- 
ment would have melted away; all his doubts would have 
vanished before a smile from her. 

But though Sir Oswald found his wife's barouche the first of 
the carriages, she was not in it. Lydia Graham told him how 
" dear Lady Eversleigh " had caused all the party such terrible 
alarm. 

" I suppose she reached home two hours ago," added the young 
lady. " She had more than an hours start of us ; and with 
that light vehicle and spirited horse she and Mr. Carrington 
must have come so rapidly." 

" My wife and lAi. Carrington! What do yon mean, Miss 
Graham ? " 

Lydia explained, and Eeginald ETerslei2:h confirmed her 
statement. Lady Eversleigh had left the Wizard's Cave more 
than an hour before the rest of the party, accompanied by Mr. 
Carrington. 

No_ words can describe the consternation of Sir Oswald. He 
did his best to conceal his alarm ; but the livid hue of his face, 
the aahen psdlor of his hps, betrayed the intensity of his emu- 
tioE He sent out mounted irrooms tc search the difTerect ro&dg 



108 Run to Earth. 

between tlie ca^itle and the scene of the pic-nic; and then he 
left his guests without a word, and shut himself in his own 
apartments, to await the issue of the search. 

Had any fatal accident happened to her and her companion ? 
. — or were Honoria Eversleigh and Victor Carrington two guilty 
creatures, who had abandoned themselves to the folly and mad- 
ness of a wicked attacliment, and had fled together, reckless 
ahk? of reputation and fortune ? 

He tried to believe that this latter chance was beyond the 
region of possibility , hnt horrible suspicions racked his brain 
as he paced to and fro, waiting for the issue of the search that 
was being made. 

Better that he should be told that his wife had been found 
lying dead upon the hard, cruel road, than that he should hear 
that she had left him for another; a false and degraded creature ! 

" Why did she trust herself to the companionship of this 
man ? " he asked himself. " Why did she disgrace herself by 
leaving her guests in the company of a young man who ought 
to be little more than a stranger to her ? She is no ignorant or 
foolish girl ; she has shown herself able to hold her own in the 
most trying positions. What madness could have possessed 
her, that she should bring disgrace upon herself and me by such 
conduct as this ? " 

The grooms came back after a search that had been utterly in 
vain. No trace of the missing lady had been discovered. In- 
quiries had been made everywhere along the road, but without 
result. No tag had been seen to pass between the neighbour- 
hood of the Wizard's Cave and Eaynham Castle. 

Sir Oav/ald abandoned himself to despair. 

There was no longer any hope : his wife had fled from him. 
Bitter, indeed, was the penalty which he was called upon to yjay 
for his ro/nantic marriage — his blind confidence in the woman 
who had fascinated and bewitched him. He bowed his head 
beneath the blow, and alone, hidden from the cruel gaze of the 
world, he resigned himself to his misery. 

All that night he sat alone, his head buried in his clasped 
hands, stunned and bewildered by his agony. 

His valet, Joseph Millard, knocked at the door at the usual 
hour, anxious to assist at his master's toilet; but the door was 
securely locked, and Sir Oswald told his servant that he needed 
no help. He spoke in a firm voice; for he knew that the valet'a 
ear would be keen to mark any evidence of his misery. When 
the man was gone, he rose up for the first time, and looked 
across the sunlit woods. 

A groan of agony burst from his lips as he gazed upon that 
beautiful landscape. 

He had brought his young wife to V* mistress of this splendid 



*'• How mi thou Lost! — Jiow on a sudden LostT^ 109 

domain. He had shown lier that fair sjene ; and had told her that 
she was to be qneen over all those prond possessions until the 
day of her death. No hand was ever to rob her of them. They 
were the free gift of his boundless love ! to be shared only by 
her children, should heaven bless her and her husband with 
inheritors for this ancient estate. He had never been weary of 
testifying his devotion, his passionate love ; and yet, before 
ghe had been his wife three months, she left him for another. 

While he stood before the open window, with these bitter 
thoughts in his mind, he heard the sound of wheels in the cor- 
ridor without. The wheels belonged to an invahd chair, used 
Dy Captain Copplestone when the gout held him prisoner, a 
self-propelling chair, in which the captain could make his way 
where he pleased. 

The captain knocked at his old comrade's door. 

" Let me in, Oswald," he said ; " I want to see yon imme- 
diately." 

"Not this morning, my dear Copplestone; I can't see any 
one this morning," answered the baronet. 

" You can see me, Oswald. I must and will see you, and I 
shall stop here till you let me in." 

A loud knock at the door with a heavy-headed cane accom- 
panied the close of his speech. 

Sir Oswald opened the door, and admitted the captain, who 
pushed his chair dexterously through the doorway. 

" Well," said this eccentric visitor, when Sir Oswald had shut 
the door, " so you've not been to bed all night ? " 

" How do you know that ? " 

" By your looks, for one thing : and by the appearance of your 
bed, which I can see through the open door yonder, for another. 
Pretty goings on, these ! " 

" A heavy sorrow has fallen upon me, Copplestone." 

*• Your wife has run away — that's what you mean, I suppose? '* 

" What ! " cried Sir Oswald. « It is aU known, then ? *' 

" What is all known ? " 

" That my wife has left me." 

" Well, my dear Oswald, there is a rumour of that kind 
afloat, and I have come here in consequence of that rumour. 
But I don't beheve there's a word of truth in it." 

The baronet turned from his friend with a bitter snule of 
derision. 

" I may strive to hoodwink the world, Copplestone," he said, 
*' but I have no wish to deceive you. My wife has left me— 
there is no doubt of it." 

" I don't beheve it," cried the captain. "No, Oswald Evers- 
leigh, I don't beheve it. Yon know what I am. I'm not quite 
like the Miller of Dee, for I do care for somebody ; and that 

H 



no Bun to Eadh 

Bomebody is my oldest friend. Wlien I first heard of yqa? 
marriage, I told you tliat you were a fool. That was plain- 
spoken enough, if you like. When I saw your wife, I told you 
that I had changed my mind, and that I thought your folly an 
excusable one. If ever I saw purity and truth in a woman'? 
face, I saw them in the face of Lady Eversleigh ; and I will 
stake my life that she is as true as steel." 

Sir Oswald clasped his friend's hand, too deeply moved for 
words. There was unspeakable consolation iu such friendship 
as this. For the first time since midnight a ray of hope dawned 
upon him. He had always trusted in his old comrade's judg- 
ment. Might he not trust in him still ? " 

When Captain Copplestone left him, he went to his dressing- 
room, and made even a more than usually careful toilet, and 
went to face " the world." 

In the great dining-room he found all his guests assem- 
bled, and he took his seat amongst them calmly, though the 
sight of Honoria's empty place cut him to the heart. 

Xever, perhaps, was a more miserable meal eaten than that 
breakfast. There were long intervals of silence ; _ and what 
little conversation there was appeared forced and artificial. 

Perhaps the most self-possessed person — the calmest ^to all 
appearance, of the whole party — was Sir Oswald Eversleigh, so 
heroic an effort had he made over himself, in order to face the 
world proudly. He had a few words to say to _every one; and 
was particularly courteous to the guests near him. ^ He opened 
his letters with an unshaking hand. But he abstained from all 
allusion to his wife, or the events of the previous evening. 

He had finished breakfast, and was leaving the room, when 
his nephew approached him — 

" Can I speak to you for a few moments alone P " asked 
Eeginald. 

" Certainly. I am going to the library to write my letters. 
You can go with me, if you like." 

They went together to the library. As Sir Oswald closed 
the door, and turned to face his nephew, he perceived that Ee- 
ginald was deadly pale. 

" What is amiss ? " he asked. 

" You ask me that, my dear uncle, at a time when you ought 
to know that my sympathy for your sorrow " 

"Eeserve your sympathy until it is needed," answered the 
baronet, abruptly. " I dare say you mean well, my dear Ee- 
ginald ; but there are some subjects which I wiU suffer no man 
to approach." 

"I beg your pardon, sir. Then, in that case, I can tell you 
nothing. I fancied that it was my duty to bring you any in- 
formation that reached me ; but I defer to you entirely. The 



^Sow art ihou Lost! — ?iow oil a sud^n Lost!** Ill 

gnbject is a most nnhappy one, and I am glad to bo spared th ■ 
pain involved in speaking of it." 

" What do you mean ? " said the baronet. " If yon have any- 
thing to tell me — anything that can throw Hght upon the mys- 
tery of my wife's flight — speak out, and speak quickly. 1 am 
almost mad, Reginald. Forgive me, if I spoke harshlyjust now. 
Yon are my nephew, and the mask I wear before the world may 
he dropped in yonr presence." 

"I know nothing personally of Lady Eversleigh's disairpear- 
ance," said Reginald; " but I have good reason to beheve that 
Miss Graham could tell you much, if she chose to speak out. 
She has hinted at being in the secret, and I think it only right 
you should question her." 

" I will question her," answered sir Oswald, starting to his 
feet. " Send her to me, Reginald." 

Mr. Eversleigh left his uncle, and Miss Graham very speedily 
appeared — looking the very image of unconscious innocence — 
and quite unable to imagine what "dear Sir Oswald" could 
want %^'ith her. 

The baronet came to the point very quickly, and before Lydia 
had time for consideration, she had been made to give a full 
account of the scene which she had witnessed on the previous 
evening between Victor Carrington and Honoria. 

Of course, ]\Iiss Graham told Sir Oswald that she had wit- 
■nes.sed this strange scene in the most accidental manner. She 
had happened to "be in a walk that commanded a view of the 
fir-grove. 

" And you saw my wife agitated, clinging to that man P " 

"Lady Eversleigh was terribly agitated." 

" And then you saw her take her place in the gig, of her own 
free will ? " 

" I did, Sir Oswald." 

" Oh, what infamy !" mnrmured the baronet; "what hideous 
infamy ! " 

It was to himself that he spoke rather than to Miss Graham. 
His eyes were fixed on vacancy, and it seemed as if he were 
scarcely aware of the young lady's presence. 

Lydia was almost terrified by that blank, awful look. She 
waited for a few moments, and then, finding that Sir Oswald 
questioned her no further, she crept quietly from the room, 
glad to escape from the sorrow-stricken husband. Mahcious 
though she was, she believed that this time she had spoken the 
truth. 

" ETe has reason to repent his romantic choice," she thought, 
as she left the library. " Perhaps now he will think that he 
mi2ht have done better by choosing a wife from hia own set." 

The day wore on ; Sir Oswald remained alone in the Hbrary, 



liQ Bun io SartJi. 

seated before a table, with his arms folded, his gaze faxed 03 

empty space — a picture of despair. 

The clock had struck many times ; the hot afternoon sun 
blazed full upoii the broad Tudor -windows, when the door waa 
opened gently, and some one came into the room. Sir Oswalt/ 
looked up angrily, thinking it was one of the servants who hai 
intruded on him. 

It was his wife who stood before him, dressed in the white 
robes she had worn at the pic-nic ; but wan and haggard, white 
as the dress she wore. 

'* Oswald," she cried, with outstretched hands, and thelooli of 
one who did not doubt she would be welcome. 

The baronet sprang to his feet, and looked at that pale face 
with a gaze of unspeakable indignation. 

" And you dare to come back ? " he exclaimed. " False- 
hearted adventuress — actress — hypocrite — you dare to come 
to me with that lying smile upon your face — after your infamy 
of last night ! " 

" I am neither adventuress, nor hypocrite, Oswald. Oh, 
where have your love and confidence vanished that you can con- 
demn me unheard ? I have done no wrong — not by so much 
as one thought that is not full of love for you ! I am the help- 
less victim of the vilest plot that was ever concocted for the de- 
struction of a woman's happiness." 

A mocking laugh burst from the lips of Sir Oswald. 

" Oh," he cried, "so that is your story. You are the victim 
of a plot, are you ? You were carried away by ruffians, I sup- 
pose ? You did not go willingly with your paramour ? 
"Woman, you stand convicted of your treachery by the fullest 
evidence. Ydu were seen to leave the Wizard's Cave ! You 
were seen clinging to Victor Carrington — were ^een to go with 
him, willingly. And then you come and tell me you are the 
victim of a plot ! Oh, Lady Eversleigh, this is too poor a 
story. I should have given you credit for greater powers of 
invention." 

" If I am guilty, why am I here ? " asked Honoria. 

" Shall I tell you why you are here ? " cried Sir Oswald, pas- 
sionately, " Look yonder, madam ! look at those wide wood- 
lands, the deer-park, the lakes and gardens ; this is only 
one side of Eaynham Castle. It was for those you returned, 
Lady Eversleigh, for the love of those — and those alone. In- 
fluenced by a mad and wicked passion, you fled with your 
lover last night ; but no sooner did you remember the wealth 
you had lost, the position you had sacriflced, than you repented 
your foUy. You determined to come back. Your doting hus- 
band would doubtless open his arms to receive yon. A few im- 
ploring words, a tear or so, and the poor, weak dupe would bo 



"How? art thou Lost! — how on a sudden Lost!" 113 

melted. Tliis is how yon argued ; but you vrere wrong. I have 
been foolish. I have abandoned myself to the dream of a dotard; 
but the dream is past. The awakening has been rude, but it 
has been efficacious. I shall never dream again." 

" Oswald, will yon not listen to my story .P" ^ , 

" No, madam, I will not give you the opportunity of making 
me a second time your dupe. Go — go back to your lover, Vic- 
tor Carrington. Your repentance comes too late. The Ea3-n- 
ham heritage will never be yours. Go back to your lover ; or, 
if he will not receive yon, go back to the gutter from which I 
took yon." 

"Oswald I** 

The cry of reproach went like a dagger to the heart of the 
baronet. But he steeled himself against those imploring tones. 
He believed that he had been wronged — that this woman was 
as false as she was beautiful. 

" Oswald," cried Honoria, " you must and shall hear my story. 
I demand a hearing as a right — a right which you could not 
withhold from the vilest criminal, and which you shall not with- 
hold from me, your lawfully wedded and faithful wife. You 
may disbelieve my story, if you please— heaven knows it seems 
wild and improbable! — but you shall hear it. Yes, Oswald, 
you sliall!'* 

She stood before him, drawn to her fullest height, confront- 
ing him proudly. If this was guilt, it was, indeed, shameless 
guilt. Unhappily, the baronet beheved in the evidence of 
Lydia Graham, rather than in the witness of his ^ wife's truth. 
\yhy should Lydia have deceived him? he asked himself. What 
possible motive could she have for seeking to blight his wife's 
fair name ? 

Honoria told her story from first to last ; she told the his- 
tory of her night of anguish. She spoke with her eyes fixed on 
her husband's'face, in which she could read the indications of 
his every feeling. As her story drew to a close, her own coun- 
tenance grew rigid with despair, for she saw that her^ words 
had made no impression on the obdurate heart to v.-hich she 
appealed. 

" I do not ask you if you believe me," she said, when her story 
was finished. "I can see that you do not. All is over between 
us, Sir Oswald," she added, in a tone of intense sadness — "all 
is over. You are right in what you said just now, cruel though 
your words were. You did take me from the gutter ; you ac- 
cepted me in ignorance of my past history ; you gave your love 
and your name to a friendless, nameless creature ; and now that 
lircumstances conspire to condemn me, can I wonder if you, too, 
condemn — if you refuse to beheve my declaration of my inno- 
lence ? I do not wonder. I am only grieved that it should b« 



114 Bun to Earth 

so. I should have been so proud of your love if it could have 
survived this fiery ordeal— so proud! Bat let that pass. I 
would not remain an hour beneath this roof on sufferance. I 
am quite ready to go from this house to-day, at an hour's warn- 
ing, never to re-enter it. Raynham Castle is no more to me 
than that desolate tower in which I spent last night — without 
your love. I will leave you without one word of reproach, and 
you shall never hear my name, or see my face again." 

She moved towards the door as_ she spoke. There was a 
quiet earnestness in her manner which might have gone far to 
convince Oswald Eversleigh of her truth; but his mind was 
too aeeply imbued with a belief in her falsehood. This dignified 
calm, this subdued resignation, seemed to him only theconsum- 
mate art of a finished actress. 

"She is steeped in falsehood to the v«ry_ lips," he thoncrht. 
"Doubtless, the little she told me of the history of her child- 
hood was as false as all the rest. Ileavcn only knows what 
shameful secrets may have been hidden in her past life ! " 

She had crossed the threshold of the door, when some sudden 
impulse moved him to follow her, 

" Do not leave Eaynham till you have heard further from me, 
Lady Eversleigh," he said. " It will be my task to make all 
arrangements for your future life." 

His wife did not answer him. She walked towards the hall, 
her head bent, her eyes fixed on the ground. 

" She will not leave the castle until she is obliged to do so," 
thought Sir Oswald, as he returned to the library. " Oh, what 
a tissue of falsehood she tried to palm upon me ! And she 
would have blackened my nephew's name, in order to screen 
her o^vn guilt ! " - r -, 

He rang a bell, and told the servant who answered it to fetch 
]Mr. Eversleigh. His nephew appeared five minutes afterwards, 
still very pale and anxious-looking. 

" I have sent for you, Reginald," said the baronet, "because 
I have a duty to perform— a very painful duty— but one which 
I do not care to delay. It is now nearly a year and a half since 
I made a will which disinherited you. I had good reason for 
that step, as you know ; but 1 have heard no further talk of 
your vices or your follies ; and, so far as I can judge, you have 
undergone a reformation. It is not for me, therefore, to hold 
sternly to a determination which I had made in a moment of 
extreme anger : and I should perhaps have restored you to your 
old position ere this, had not a new interest absorljcd my hpart 
and mind. I have had cruel reason to repent my folly. ^ I might 
feel resentment against you, on account of your friend'a infamy. 
but I am not weak enough for that. Victor Carrington and I 
have a terrible account to settle, and it shall be settled tyO the 



« The Will f—The Testament ! " 115 

uttermost. I need hardly tell yon that, if yon hold any further 
communication with him, you will for ever forfeit my friend- 
ship." 

" My dear sir, you surely cannot suppose " 

"Do not interrupt me. I wish to say what I have to say, 
and to have done with this subject for ever. You know I have 
already told you the contents of the will which I made after 
my marriage. That will left the bulk of my fortune to my 
wife. That will must now be destroyed ; and in the document 
which I shall substitute for it, your name will occupy its old 
place. Heaven grant that I do vrisely, Eeginald, and that you 
will prove yourself worthy of my confidence." 

" My dear uncle, your goodness overpowers me. I cannot find 
words to express my gratitude." 

" iSTo thanks, Reginald. Eemember that the change which 
restores you to your old position is brought about by my misery. 
Say no more. Better that an Eversleigh should be master of 
Ilaynham when I am dead and gone. And now leave me." 

The young man retired. His face betrayed conflicting emo- 
tions. Lost to all sense of honour though he was, the iniquity 
of the scheme by which he had succeeded weighed horribly upon 
his mind, and he was seized with a wild fear of the man through 
whose agency it had been brought about. 



CHAPTER XL 
"the will! the T2STA:irEXT !" 
The_ brief pang of fear and remorse passed quickly away, and 
Reginald went out upon the terrace to look upon those woods 
which were once more his promised heritage ; on which he could 
gaze, as of old, with the proud sense of possession. 'V\Tiile look- 
ing over that fair domain, he forgot the hateful means by which 
he had re-established himself as the heir of Raynham. He for- 
got Victor Carrington — everything except his own good fortune. 
His heart throbbed with a sense of triumph. 

He left the terrace, crossed the ItaUan garden, and made his 
way to the Hght iron gate which opened upon the park. Lean- 
ing wearily upon this gate, he saw an old man in the costume of 
a pedlar. A broad, slouched hat almost concealed his face, and a 
long iron-grey beard drooped upon his chest. His garments 
were dusty, as if with many a weary mile's wandering on the 
parched high-roads, and he carried a large pack of goods upon 
Ais back. 

The park was open to the public ; and this man had, no doubt, 
come to the garden-gate in the hope of finding some servant who 
would be beguiled into letting him carry his wares to the castle, 
for the i-nspection of Sir Oswald's numerous household. 



116 Bun to Earth. 

** Stand aside, my good fellow, and let me pass," said Eegmald, 
as lie approached the little gate. 

The man did not stir. His arms were folded on the topmost 
"bar of the gate, and he did not alter his attitude. 

"Let me be the first to congratulate the heir of Eaynham on 
his renewed hopes," he said, quietly. 

"Carrington !'* cried Eeginald; and then, after a pause, he 
asked, " What, in heaven's name, is the meaning of this mas- 
querade?" 

The surgeon removed his broad-brimmed hat, and wiped his 
forehead with a hand that looked brown, wizen, and wrinkled as 
the hand of an old man. Nothing could have been more perfect 
than his disguise. 

The accustomed pallor of his face was changed to the brown 
and sunburnt hue produced by constant exposure to all kinds of 
weather. A network of wrinkles surrounded the brilliant black 
eyes, which now shone under shaggy eyebrows of iron-grey. 

" I should never have recognized you," said Eeginald, staring 
for some moments at his friend's face, completely lost in surprise. 

" Yery likely not," answered the surgeon, coolly ; " I don't 
want people to recognize me. A disguise that can by any pos- 
sibiHty be penetrated is the most fatal mistake. I can disguise 
my voice as well as my face, as you will, perhaps, hear by and by. 
"\Vhen talking to a friend there is no occasion to take so much 
trouble." 

" But why have you assumed this disguise ? " 

"Because I want to be on the spot; and you may imagine 
that, after having eloped with the lady of the house, I could not 
very safely show myself here in my own proper person." 

" What need had yon to return ? Your scheme is accom- 
plished, is it not?" 

" Well, not quite." 

" Is there anything more to be done P ** 

" Yes, there is something more." 

"'^^^latis the nature of that something?" asked Eeginald. 

"Leave that to me," answered the surgeon; "and now you 
had better pass on, young heir of Eaynham, and leave the poor 
old pedlar to smoke his pipe, and to watch for some passing 
maid-servant who will admit him to the castle." 

Eeginald lingered, fascinated in some manner by the presence 
of his friend and counsellor. He wanted to penetrate the mys- 
tery hidden in the breast of his ally. 

" How did you know that your scheme had succeeded ? " he 
asked, presently. 

" I read my success in your face as you came towards this gate 
jnstnow. It was the face of an acknowledged heir ; and now. 
perhaps, yon will be irood enough to tell me your news." 



''TJie Willi— The TestamerU ! '' 117 

Keginald related all that had happened ; the use he had made 
of Lydia Graham's malice; the interview with his uncle after 
Lady Eversleigh's return. 

"Good!" exclaimed Victor; "^ood from first to last ! Did 
ever any scheme work so smoothly? That was a stroke of 
genius of yours, Eeginald, the use you made of Miss Graham's 
evidence. And so she was watching us, was she ? Charming 
creature ! how little she knows to what an extent we are indebted 
to her. Well, Eeginald, I congratulate you. It is a grand thing 
to be the acknowledged heir of such an estate as this." 

He glanced across the broad gardens, blazing with rich masses 
of vivid colour, produced by the artistic arrangement of the 
flower-beds. He looked up to the long range of windows, the 
terrace, the massive towers, the grand old archway, and then he 
looked back at his friend, with a sinister Hght in. his glittering 
black eyes. 

" There is only one drawback,'* he said. 

"And that is " 

" That you may have to wait a very long time for your in- 
heritance. Let me see ; your uncle is fifty years of age, I think ? '* 

" Yes ; he is about fifty." 

" And he has an iron constitution. He has led a temperate, 
hardy life. Such a man is as likely to live to be eighty as I am 
to see my fortieth birthday. And that would give you thirty 
years' waiting : a long delay — a terrible trial of patience." 

" Why do you say these things ?" cried Eeginald, impatiently. 
" Do you want to make me miserable in the hour of our triumph ? 
Do you mean that we have burdened our souls with all this 
crime and falsehood for nothing ? You are mad, Victor ! " 

" No ; I am only in a speculative mood. Thirty years ! — thirty 
years would be a long time to wait." 

" Who says that I shall have to wait thirty years ? My uncle 
may die long before that time." 

" Ah ! to be sure ! your uncle may die — suddenly, perhaps — 
very soon, it may be. The shock of his wife's falsehood may 
kill him — after he has made a new will in your favour ! " 

The two men stood face to face, looking at each other. 

"What do you mean?" Eeginald asked; "and why do yon 
look at me Hke that ?" 

" I am only thinking what a lucky fellow you would be if this 
grief that has fallen upon your uncle were to be fatal to his Hfe,'* 

"Don't talk like that, Carrington. I won't think of such a 
thing. I am bad enough, I know ; but not quite so bad as to 
wish my uncle dead." 

_" You would be sorry if he were dead, I suppose ? Sorry — 
vrith this domain your own ! with all power and pleasure that 
wealth can purchase for a man ! You would be sorry, would 



118 Bun to Earih. 

Tou? YoTi wisli well to the kind kinsman to wliom yoa hav'e 
been snch a devoted nephew ! Yon wonld prefer to wait thirty 
years for your heritage — if yon shonld live so long !" 

" Victor Carrington," cried Eeginald, passionately, "yon are 
the fiend himself, in disguise ! Let me pass. I will not stop to 
listen to your hateful words." 

" Wait to hear one question, at any rate. "WTiy do you sup- 
pose I made you sign that promissory note at a twelvemonth's 
date?" 

" I don't know ; but you must know, as well as I do, that the 
note will be waste-paper so long as my uncle lives." 

" I do know that, my dear Reginald ; but I got you to date the 
document as you did, because I have a kind of presentiment that 
before that date you will be master of Raynham !" 

*' You mean that my uncle will die within the year ?" 

"I am subject to presentiments of that kind. I do not think 
Sir Oswald will see the end of the year!" 

" Carrington !" exclaimed Eeginald. "Your schemes are 
hateful. I will have no further dealings with you." 

" Indeed ! Then am I to go to Sir Oswald, and tell him the 
story of last night ? Am I to tell him that his wife is innocent ? " 

" Xo, no ; tell him nothing. Let things stand as they are. 
The promise of the estate is mine. I have suffered too much 
from the loss of my position, and I cannot forego my new hopes. 
But let there be no naore guilt — no more plotting. We have 
succeeded. Let us wait patiently for the end." 

" Yes," answered the surgeon, coolly, " we will wait for the end ; 
and if the end should come sooner than our most sanguine hopes 
have led us to erpect, we will not quarrel with the handiwork of 
fate. Now leave me. I see a petticoat yonder amongst the 
trees. It belongs to some housemaid from the castle, I dare say ; 
and I must see if my eloquence as a wandering merchant can- 
not win me admission within the walls which I dare not ap- 
proach as Victor Carrington." 

Eeginald opened the gate with his pass-key, and allowed the 
surgeon to go through into the gardens. 

• *=»•• 

It was dusk when Sir Oswald left the library. He had sent a 
message to the chief of his guests, excusing himself from attend- 
ing the dinner-table, on the ground of ill-health. "When he knew 
that all his visitors would be assembled in the dining-room, he 
left the hbrary, for the first time since he had entered it after 
breakfast. 

He had brooded long and gloomily over his misery, and had 
come to a determination as "to the line of conduct whicn he should 
pursue towards his wife. He went now to Lady Eversleigh's 
apartments, in order to inform her of Jii? decision; but, to his 



**TJie WilU—TJie Testament!** 119 

inrprise, lio found the rooms empty. His wife's maid was sittingr 
at needlework by one of the windows of the dressing-room. 

" Where is your mistress P" asked Sir Oswald. 

" She has gone out, sir. She has left the castle for some little 
time, I think, sir ; for she put on the plainest of her travelling 
dresses, and she took a small travelling-bag with her. There is 
a note, sir, on the mantel-piece in the next room. Shall I 
fetch it?" 

" No ; I will get it myself. At what time did Lady Eversleigh 
leave the castle f"' 

" About two hours ago, sir." 

" Two hours ! In time for the afternoon coach to York," 
thought Sir Oswald. " Go and inquire if your mistress really 
left the castle at that time," he said to the maid. 

He went into the boudoir, and took the letter from the mantel- 
piece. He crushed it into his breast-pocket with the seal un- 
broken — 

" Time enough to discover what new falsehood fihc has tried to 
palm upon me," he thought. 

He looked round the empty room — which she was never more 
to occupy. Her books, her music, were scattered on every side. 
The sound of her rich voice seemed still to vibrate through the 
room. And she was gone — for ever ! Well, she was a base and 
giiilty creature, and it was better so — infinitely better that her 
polluting presence should no longer dishonour those ancient 
chambers, within which generations of proud and pure women 
had hved and died. But to see the rooms empty, and to know 
that she was gone, gave him nevertheless a pang. 

" What will become of her ? " thought Sir Oswald. " She will 
return to her lover, of course, and he will console her for the sac- 
rifice she has made by her mad folly. Let her prize him while 
he still lives to console her ; for she may not have him long. 
Why do I think of her ? — why do I trouble myself about her ? 
I have my affairs to arrange — a new will to make — before I 
think of vengeance. And those matters once settled, vengeance 
shall be my only thought. I have done for ever with love !" 

Sir Oswald returned to the Hbrary. A lamp burned on the 
table at which he was accustomed to write. It was a shaded 
reading-lamp, which made a wide circle of vivid light around the 
spot where it stood, but left the rest of the room in shadow. 

The night was oppressively hot — an August rather than a 
September night; and, before beginning his work. Sir Oswald 
Hung open one of the broad windows le;iding out upon the ter- 
race. Then he unlocked a carved oak bureau, and toc'k out a 
packet of papers. He seated himself at the table, and began to 
examine these papers. 

Among them was the will which he had executed since hx$ 



120 Run to Earth. 

marriage. He read this, and then laid it aside. As he did 8<v 
a figure approached the wide-open vrindow; an eager face, illu- 
minated by glittering eyes, peered into the room. It was the 
face of Yictor Carrington, hidden beneath the disguise of as- 
Bumed age, and completely metamorphosed by the dark skin and 
grizzled beard. Had Sir Oswald looked up and seen that face, 
he would not have recognized its owner. 

After laying aside the document he had read^ Sir Oswald 
began to write. He wrote slowly, meditating upon every word; 
and after having written for about half an hour, he rose and left 
the room. The surgeon had never stirred from his post by the 
window ; and as Sir Oswald closed the door behind him, he crept 
stealthily into the apartment, and to the table where the papers 
lay. His footstep, hght always, made no sound upon the thick 
velvet pile. He glanced at the contents of the paper, on which 
the ink was still wet. It was a will, leaving the bulk of Sir 
Oswald's fortune to his nephew, Keginald, unconditionally. 
Yictor Carrington did not linger a moment longer than was 
necessary to convince him of this fact. He hurried back to his 
post by the window : nor was he an instant too soon. The door 
opened before he had fairly stepped from the apartment. 

Sir Oswald re-entered, followed by two men. One was the 
butler, the other was the valet, Joseph Millard. The will was 
executed in the presence of these men, who affixed their signa- 
tures to it as witnesses. 

" I have no wish to keep the nature of this will a secret from 
my household," said Sir Oswald. *' It restores my nephew, Mt. 
Reginald Eversleigh, to his position as heir to this estate. You 
will henceforth respect him as my successor." 

The two men bowed and retired. Sir Oswald walked towards 
the window : and Yictor Carrington drew back into the shadow 
cast by a massive abutment of stone-work. 

It was not very easy for a man to conceal himself on the ter- 
race in that broad moonhght. 

Yoices sounded presently, near one of the windows ; and a 
group of ladies and gentlemen emerged from the drawing-room. 

" It is the hottest night we have had this summer," said one of 
them. *' The house is really oppressive." 

Miss Graham had enchanted her viscount once more, and she 
and that gentleman walked side by side on the terrace. 

" They will discover me if they come this way," muttered 
Yictor, as he shrank back into the shadow. " I have seen all 
that I want to see for the present, and had better make my 
escape while I am safe." 

He stole quietly along by the front of the castle, lurking 
always in the shadow of the masonry, and descended the ter- 
race steps, From thence he went to the court-yard, on which 



^^The WilH—TJie Testament!'' 121 

trie Bervants' hall opened; and in a few minutes lie was comfort- 
ably seated in that apartment, listening to the gossip of the 
servants, who could only speak upon the one eubject of Lady 
Eversleigh's elopement. 



The baronet sat with the newly-made will before him, gazing 
fat the open leaves with fixed and dreamy eves. 

Now that the document was signed, a feeling of doubt had 
taken possession of him. He remembered how deliberately he 
had pondered over the step before he had disinheiited liis nephew; 
and now that work, which had cost him so much pain and 
thonsrht, had been undone on the impulse of a moment. 

" Have I done right, I wonder ? " he asked himself. 

The papers which had been tied in the packet containing the 
old will had been scattered on the table when the baronet un- 
fastened the band that secured them. He took one of these 
documents up in sheer absence of mind, and opened it. 

It was the letter written by the wretched girl who drowned 
herself in the Seine — the letter of Eeginald Eversleigh's victim 
— the very letter on the evidence of which Sir Oswald had de- 
cided that his nephew was no fitting heir to a great fortune. 

The baronet's brow contracted as he read. 

" And it is to the man who could abandon a wretched woman 
to despair and death, that I am about to leave wealth and 
power," he exclaimed. " Xo ; the decision which I arnved at in 
Arlington Street was a just and wise decision. I have been mad 
to-day — maddened by anger and despair; but it is not too late to 
repent my folly. The seducer of Mary Goodwin shall never be 
the master of Kaynham Castle." 

Sir Oswald folded the sheet of foolscap on which the will was 
written, and held it over the flame of the lamp. He carried it 
over to the fire-place, and threw it blazing on the empty hearth. 
He watched it thoughtfully until the greater part of the paper 
was consumed by the flame, and then went back to his seat. 

" My nephews, Lionel and Douglas Dale, shall divide the 
estate between them," he thoucrht. " I will send for my sohcitor 
to-morrow, and make a new will." 

* * * • • 

Victor Carrington sat in the servants' hall atEaynham until 
past eleven o'clock. He had made himself quite at home with 
the domestics in his assumed character. The women were de- 
lighted with the showy goods which he carried in his pack, and 
which he sold them at prices far below those of the best bar- 
gains they had ever made before. 

At a few minutes after eleven he rose to bid them good night. 

" I suppose I shall find tie gates open ? " he said. 



122 ^n to ^arfh. 

" Yes ; the gates of the court-yard are never locked kill hail- 
past eleven," answered a sturdy old coachman. 

The pedlar took his leave; but he did not go outhy the court- 
yard. He went straight to the teiTace, along -which he crept 
with stealthy footsteps. Many lights twinkled in the upper 
windows of the terrace front, for at this hour the greater num- 
ber of Sir Oswald's guests had retired to their rooms. 

The broad window of the library was still open; but a curtain 
had been drawn before it, on one side of which there remained 
a crevice. Through this crevice Victor Carrington could watch 
the interior of the chamber with very Uttle risk ol being dis- 
covered. 

The baronet was still sitting by the writing-table, with the 
light of the library-lamp shining full upon him. An open letter 
was in his hand. It waa the letter his wife had left for him. 

It was not like the letter of a guilty woman. It was quiet, 
subdued ; full of sadness and resignation, rather than of pas- 
sionate despair. 

"Ihiow now that I ought never to have married you, Oswald'* 
wrote Lady Eversleigh. " The sacrifice which you maAefor ray 
sake was too great a one. No ha^jpiness could well come cf such 
an tmcqual hargain. You gave me everything, and I could 
give you so little. The cloud upon my past life was hlack and 
*.mpenetrahle. You took me namelesc, friendless, unknown; and 
I can scarcely wonder if, ai thefirsthreath of suspicion, yoiLr faith 
wavered and your love failed. Farewell, dearest and best of men! 
You never can know how truly I have loved you ; how I have 
reverencod your noble nature. In all that has come to pass between 
us since the first hour of our tniserable estrangement, nothing has 
grieved me so deeply as to see your generous soul overclouded by 
suspicions and doubts, as unworthy of you as they are needless 
and unfounded. Farewell ! I go back to the obscurity from 
whence you took me. Youneednot fear for my future. The musical 
education which I owe to your generous help will enable me to 
live; aiid I have no wish to live othei-wise than himbly. May 
heaven bless you ! JbLu^oiiIA.** 

This was all. There were no complaints, no entreaties. The 
letter seemed instinct with the dignity of truth. 

" And she has gone forth alone, unprotected. She haa gone 
back to her lonely and desolate life," thought the baronet, in- 
clined, for a moment at least, to believe in his wife's words. 

But in the next instant he remembered the evidence of Lydia 
Graham — the wild and improbable story by which Ilonoria had 
ti-'ed to account for her absence. 

"No no," he exclaimed; '* it is all treachery from first to 
last. She is hiding herself somewhere near at hand, no doubt 



" The Will I^Tlce Testament ! '' 123 

to wait the result of this artful letter. And when she finda 
that her artifices are thrown away — whe;: she discovers that my 
heart has been changed to adamant b'^ xier infamy — she will go 
back to her lover, if he still lives to shelter her." 

A hundred conflicting ideas confused Sir Oswald's brain. But 
one thought was paramount — and that was the thought of 
revenge. He resolved to send for his lawyer early the next 
morning, to make a new will in favour of his sister's two sons, 
and then to start in search of the man who had robbed him of 
his wife's affection. Reginald would, of course, be able to assist 
him in finding Victor Carrington. 

"While Sir Oswald mused thus, the man of whom he was 
thinking watched him through the narrow space between the 
curtains. 

" Shall it be to-night ? " thought Carrington. *' It cannot be 
too soon. He might change his mind about his will at any 
moment; and if it should happen to-night, people will say the 
shock of his wife's flight has killed him. 

Sir Oswald's folded arms rested on the table; his head sank 
forward on his arms. The passionate emotions of the day, the 
previous night of agony, had at last exhausted him. He fell 
into a doze — a feverish, troubled sleep. Carrington vratched 
him for upwards of a quarter of an hour as he slept thus. 

" I think he is safe now — and I may venture," murmured 
Victor, at the end of that time. 

He crept softly into the room, making a wide circle, and 
keeping himself completely in the shadow, till he was behind 
the sleeping baronet. Then he came towards the lamp-lit table. 

Amongst the scattered letters and papers, there stood a claret 
jug, a large carafe of water, and an empty glass. Victor drew 
close to the table, and listened for some moments to the breathim^ 
of the sleeper. Then he took a small bottle from his pocket, 
and dropped a few globules of some colourless liquid into the 
empty glass. Having done this, he withdrew from the apart- 
ment as silently as he had entered it. Twelve o'clock struck 
as he was leaving the terrace. 

" So," he muttered, " it is little more than three-quarters of an 
hour since I left the servants' hall. It would not be difiicult to 
prove an alihi, with the help of a blundering village innkeeper." 

He did not attempt to leave the castle by the court-yard, 
which he knew would be locked by this time. He had made 
himself acquainted with all the ins and outs of the place, and 
had possessed himself of a key belonging to one of the garden 
gates. Through this gate he passed out into the park, climbed 
a low fence, and made his way into Raynham village, where 
the landlord of the " Hen and Chickens " was just closing 
bis doors. 



12-^ ^un to Earth. 

" I have been told by the castle servants tliat you can git 
mo a bed," he said. 

The landlord, who was always delighted to oblige his patrons 
in Sir Oswald's servants' hall and stables, declared himsell 
ready to give the traveller the best accommodation his house 
conld afford. 

"It's late, sir," he said; "but we'll manage to make things 
jomfortable for yon." 

So that night the snrgeon slept in the village of Eaynham. 
He, too, was worn out by the fatigue of the past twenty-four 
hours, and he slept soundly all through the night, and slept 
as calmly as a child. 

It was eight o'clock next morning when he went down the 
steep, old-fashioned staircase of the inn. He found a strange 
hubbub and confusion below. Awful tidings had just been 
brought from the castle. Sir Oswald Eversleigh had been found 
seated in his hbrary, dead, with the lamp still burning near 
him, in the bright summer morning. One of the grooms had 
come down to tiie little inn, and was telling his story to all 
comers, when the pedlar came into the open space before the bar. 

" It was Millard that found him," the man said. " He was 
sitting, quite calm-like, with his head lying back upon the 
cushion of his arm-chair. There were papers and open letters 
scattered all about ; and they sent off immediately for Mr. Dal- 
ton, the lawyer, to look to the papers, and seal up the locks of 
drawers and desks, and so on. Mr. Dalton is busy at it now. 
Mr. Eversleigh is awfully shocked, he is. I never saw such a 
v/hite face in all my Hfe as his, when he came out into the hall 
after hearing the news. It's a rare fine thing for him, as you 
may say; for they say Sir Oswald made a new will last night, 
and left his nephew everything ; and Mr. Eversleigh has been 
a regular wild one, and is deep in debt. But, for aU that, I 
never saw any one so cut up as he was just now." 

"Poor Sir Oswald!" cried the bystanders. "Such a noble 
gentleman as he was, too. What did he die of Mr. Kimber P — 
do you know P " 

" The doctor says it must have been heart-disease," answered 
the groom. " A broken heart, I say i that's the only disease 
Sir Oswald had. It's my lady's conduct has killed him. She 
must have been a regular bad one, mustn't she ? " 

The story of the elopement had been fully discussed on thft 
previous day at the " Hen and Chickens," and everywhere else 
in the village of Raynham. The country gossips shook their 
heads over Lady Eversleigh's iniquity, but they said Httle. This 
new erent was of so appalling a nature, that it silenced even the 
tongue of gossip for a while. 

The pedlar took bis breakfast in the little parlour behind the 



«* The Will !—The Testament ! " 125 

bar, aud listened quietly to all that was said by the villagers and 
the groom. 

"And where is my lady P" asked the innkeeper; "she came 
back yesterday, didn't she ? " 

*' Yes, and went away again yesterday afternoon," returned 
the groom. " She's got enough to answer for, she has." 
• * « « * 

Terrible indeed was the consternation which reigned that day 
at Eajnham Castle. Already Sir Oswald's guests had been 
making hasty arran^^ements for their departure; and man} 
visitors had departed even before the discovery of that awful 
event, which came like a thunderclap upon all within the castle. 

Few men had ever been better liked by his acquaintances than 
Sir Oswald Eversleij^li. 

His generous nature, his honourable character, had won him 
every man's respect. His great wealth had been spent lavishly 
for the benefit of others. His hand had always been open to 
the poor and necessitous. He had been a kind master, a liberal 
landlord, an ardent and devoted friend. There is little wonder, 
therefore, if the news of his sudden death fell like an over- 
whelming blow on all assembled within the castle, and on many 
more beyond the castle walls. 

The feeling against Honoria Eversleigh was one of unmitigated 
execration. No words could be too bitter for those who spoke o/ 
Rlr Oswald's wife. 

It had been thought on the previous evening that she had loft 
the castle for ever, banished by the command of her husliand. 
Nothing, therefore, could have exceeded the surpi-ise which filied 
every breast when she entered the crowded hall some minutes 
after the discovery of Sir Oswald's death. 

Her face was whiter than marble, and its awful whiteness was 
contrasted by the black dress which she wore. 

•* Is this true ? " she cried, in accents of despair. "Is he really 
dead.P" 

"Yes, Lady Eversleigh,'* answered General Desmond, an 
Indian officer, and an old friend of the dead man, " Sir Oswald 
is dead.'* 

" Let me go to him ! I cannot believe it — J. cannot — I cannot ! " 
she cried, wildly. " Let me go to him !" 

Those assembled round the door of the library looked at her 
with horror and aversion. To them this semblance of agony 
Beemed only the consummate artifice of an accompHshed hypo- 
crite. 

" Let me go to him ! For pity's sake, let me see him !" she 
pleaded, with clasped hands. " I cannot believe that he is dead." 

Kfffinald Eversleigh was standing by the door of the library, 
pale as death— more ghastly of aspect than death itself. H** 

I 



126 Bun to Earth. 

had "been leaning acrainst the doorway, as if nnable to support 
himself; but, as Honoria approached, he aroused himself from a 
kind of stupor, and stretched out his arm to bar her entrance to 
the death-chamber. 

"This is no scene for you, Lady Eversleigh," he said, sternly, 
"You have no right to enter that chamber. You have no right 
to be beneath this roof." 

" Who dares to banish me ? " she asked, proudly. " And who 
can deny my right?** 

" I can do both, as the nearest relative of your dead husband." 

" And as the friend of Victor Carrington," answered Honoria, 
looking fixedly at her accuser. "Oh! itis a marvellous plot, 
Reginald Eversleigh, and it wanted but this to complete it. My 
disgrace was the first act in the drama, my husband's death the 
second. Your friend's treachery accomplished one, yon havo 
achieved the other. Sir Oswald Eversleigh has been murdered ! " 

A suppressed cry of horror broke simultaneously from every 
lip. As the awful word "murder" was repeated, the doctor, 
who had been until this moment beside the dead man, came to 
the door, and opened it. 

" Who was it s[)oke of murder ?" he asked. 

" It was I," answered Honoria. " I say that my husband|8 
death is no sudden stroke from the hand of heaven ! There ia 
one here who refuses to let me see him, lest I should lay mj 
hand upon his corpse and call down heaven's vengeance on hi» 
assassin ! *' 

" The woman is mad," faltered Keginald Eversleigh. 

"Look cat the speaker," cried Honoria. "I am not mad. 
Reginald Eversleigh, though, by you and your fellow-plotter, I 
have been made to suffer that which might have turned a stronger 
brain than mine. I am not mad. I say that my husband has 
been murdered; and I ask all present to mark my words. I 
have no evidence of what I say, except instinct ; but I know 
that it does not deceive me. As for you, Reginald Eversleigh, I 
refuse to recognize your rights beneath this roof. As the widow 
of Sir Oswald, I claim the place of mistress in this house, until 
events show whether I have a right to it or not." 

These were bold words from one who, in the eyes of all present, 
was a disgraced wife, who had been banished by her husband. 

General Desmond was the person who took upon himself to 
reply. He was the oldest and most imjiortant guest now remain- 
ing at the castle, and he was a man who had been much respected 
by Sir Oswald. 

" I certainly do not think that any one here can dispute Lad j 
Eversleigh's rights, until Sir Oswald's will has been read, and 
his last wishes made known. Whatever passed between my poor 
friend and his wife yesterday u known to Lady Eversleigh aloua. 



*'The Will!— Hie Testament!*' 127 

It IS for her to settle matters with her own conscierce; and if 
Bhe chooses to remain beneath this roof, no one here can presume 
to banish her from it, except in obedience to the dictates of the 
dead." 

"The wishes of the dead will soon be known," said Reginald; 
" and then that guilty woman will no longer dare to pollute thia 
house by her presence." 

" I do not fear, Reginald Eversleigh," answered H.onoria, with 
sublime calmness. *' Let the worst come. I abide the issue of 
events. I wait to see whether iniquity is to succeed ; or whether, 
at the last moment, the hand of Providence will be outstretched 
to confound the guilty. My faith is strong in Providence, Mr. 
Eversleigh. And now stand aside, if you please, and let me look 
upon the face of my husband." 

This time, Reginald Eversleigh did not venture to dispute the 
widow's right to enter the death-chamber. He made way for her 
to pass him, and she went in and knelt by the side of the dead. 
Mr. Dalton, the lawyer, was moving softly about the room, put- 
ting seals on all the locks, and collecting the papers that had 
been scattered on the table. The parish doctor, who had been 
summoned hastily, stood near the corpse. A groom had been 
despatched to a large town, twenty miles distant, to summon a 
medical man of some distinction. There were few railroads in 
those days ; no electric telegraph to summon a man from one 
end of the country to another. But all the most distinguishec! 
doctors who ever lived could not have restored Sir Oswald Evers- 
leigh to an hour's life. All that medical science could do now, 
was to discover the mode of the baronet's death. 

The crowd left the hall by and by, and the interior of the castle 
grew more tranquil. All the remaining guests, with the excep- 
tion of General Desmond, made immediate arrangements for 
leaving the house of death. 

General Desmond declared his intention of remaining until 
after the funeral. 

_" I may be of some use in watching the interests of my dear 
friend," he said to Reginald Eversleigh. "There is only one per- 
son who will feel your uncle's death more deeply than I shall, 
and that is poor old Copplestone. He is still in the castle, I 
suppose?" 

" Yes, he is confined to his rooms still by the gout." 

Reginald Eversleigh was by no means pleased by the general 'b 
decision. He would rather have been alone in the castle. I.* 
seemed as if his uncle's old friend was inclined to take the pk'^e 
of master in the household. The young man's pride revolt'.-d 
against the general's love of dictation ; and his fears — sti ange 
and terrible fears — made the presence of the general very painlul 
to him. 



128 Bun to EoK-th. 

Joseph Millard had come to Reginald a little time after the 
discovery of the baronet's death, and had told him the contents 
of the new wnill. 

" Master told us with his own lips that he had left you heir to 
the estates, sir," said the valet. " There was no need for it to be 
Iccpt a secret, he said ; and we signed the will as witnesses- 
Peterson, the butler, and me." 

" And you are sure you have made no mistake, Millard. Sir 
Oswald — my poor, poor uncle, said that?" 

" He said those very words, Mr. Eversleigh ; and I hope, sir, 
now that you are master of Raynham, you won't forget that I 
was always anxious for your interests, and gave you valuable in- 
formation, sir, when I Uttle thought you would ever inherit the 
estate, sir." 

" Yes, yes — you will not find me ungrateful, Millard," an- 
swered Reginald, impatiently; for in the terrible agitation of 
his mind, this man's talk Jarred upon him. "I shall reward 
you liberally for past services, you may depend upon it," he 
adiled. 

" Thank you very much, sir," murmured the valet, about to 
retire. 

"Stay, Llillard," said the young man. " You have been with 
my uncle twenty years. You must know everything about h'% 
health. Did you ever hear that he sufiered from heart- 
disease?" 

" No, sir ; he never did suffer from anything of the kind. 
There never was a stronger gentleman than Sir Oswald. In all 
the years that I have known him, I don't recollect his having a 
day's serious illness. And as to his dying of disease of the 
heart, I can't believe it, Mr. Eversleigh." 

" But in heart-complaint death is almost always sudden, and 
the disease is generally unsuspected until death reveals it." 

"Well, I don't know, sir. Of course the medical gentlemen 
understand such things; but I must say that J don't understand 
t^ir Oswald going off sudden like that." 

" You'd better keep your opinions to yourself down stai 
Millard. If an idea of that kind were to get about in the ser- 
vants* hall, it might do mischief" 

" I should be the last to speak, Mr. Everslpigh. You asked 
me for my opinion, and I gave it you, candid. But as to erpresa- 
ing my sentiments in the servants' hall, I should as soon think 
nf standing on my head. In the first place, I don't take my 
meals m the servants' hall, but in the steward's room ; and it's 
very seldom I hold any communication whatever with under- 
scrvants. It don't do, Mr. Eversleigh — you may think me 
'aughty; but it don't do. If upppr-servants want to be re- 
spected by nnder-serrants, they must first respect themselves." 



**The Will!— The Testament!** ]21k 

" Well, well, Millard ; I know I can rely upon yotir dlscretiop, 
foa can leave me now — my mind is quite unhinged by this 
dreadful event." 

No sooner had the valet departed than Reginald hurried from 
the castle, and walked across the garden to the gate by which ha 
had encountered Victor Carrington on the previous dav. He 
had no appointment with Victor, and did not even know if he 
were still in the neighbourhood ; but he fancied it was just pos- 
sible the surgeon might be waiting for him somewhere without 
the boundary of the garden. 

He was not mistaken. A few minutes after passing through 
the gateway, he saw the figure of the pedlar approaching him 
under the shade of the spreading beeches. 

" I am glad you are here," said Reginald; "I fancied I might 
find you somewhere hereabouts." 

" And I have been waiting and watching about here for the 
last two hours. I dared not trust a messenger, and could only 
take my chance of seeing you." 

•' You have heard of— of " 

" I have heard everything, I believe." 

" What does it mean, Victor? — what does it all mean?" 

'• It means that you are a wonderfully lucky fellow ; a^jcl that, 
instead of waiting thirty years to see your uncle grow a semi- 
idiotic old dotard, you will step at once into one of the finest 
©states in England." 

" You knew, then, that the will was made last night P ** 

•' Well, I guessed as much." 

•' You have seen Millard ? " 

•' No, I have not seen Millard." 

" How could you know of my uncle's will, then P It was 
only executed last night." 

" Never mind how I know it, my dear Reginald. I do know 
it. Let that be enough for you." 

" It is too terrible," murmured the young man, after a pause; 
** it is too terrible." 

" What is too terrible*" 

« This sudden death." 

"Is it? "cried Victor Carrington, looking full in his com- 
panion's face, with an erpression of supreme scorn. " Would 
you rather have waited thirty years for these estates ? Would 
you rather have waited twenty years ? — ten years? No, Rej.a- 
nald Eversleigh, you would not. I know you better than yoo 
know yourself, and I will answer for you in this matter. If 
your uncle's hfe had lain in your open palm last night, and the 
closing of your hand wouli have ended it, your hand would 
have closed, Mr. Eversleigh, affectionate nephew though you be. 
You are a hypocrite, Reginald. You palter with your own cou • 



180 Run io Earth. 

science. Better to b« like me and have no wnsmence, than to 
have one and palter with it ae you do." 

Reginald made no reply to thie disdainfuJ speech. His owu 
weakness of character placed him entirely in the power of hia 
friend. The twc men walked on together in silence. 

" Yon do not know all that has occurred since last night at 
the castle," said Reginald, at la«t ; " Lady Eversleigb has re- 
appeared." 

" Lady Eversleigh ! I thought she left Raynham yesterday 
afternoon." 

" So it was generally supposed ; but this morning she came 
into the hall, and demanded to be admitted to see her dead hus- 
band. Nor was this all. She pubHcly declared that he had 
been murdered, and accuied me of the crime. This is terrible, 
Victor." 

" It is terrible, and it must be put an end to at once." 
" But how is it to be put an end to P " asked Reginald. " II 
this woman repeats her accusations, who is to seal her lips, f " 

" The tables must be turned upon her. If she again accuses 
you, you must accuse her. If Sir Oswald were indeed mur- 
dered, who so hkely to have committed the murder as this 
woman — whose hatred and revenge were, no doubt, excited by her 
husband's refusal to receive her back, after her disgraceful 
flight? This is what you have to say; and as every one'a 
opinion is against Lady Eversleigh, she will find herself in rather 
&n unpleasant position, and will be glad to hold her peace foi 
the future upon the subject of Sir Oswald's death." 

" You do not il >nbt my uncle died a natural death, do you, 
Victor ? " asked Reginald, with a strange eagerness. " You dc 
not think that he was murdered ? " 

" No, indeed. Why should I think so P " returned the sur- 
geon, with perfect calmness of manner. "No one in the castle, 
but you and Lady Eversleigh, had any interest in his life or 
death. If he came to his end by any foul means, she must be 
the guilty person, and on her the deed must be fixed. You must 
hold firm, Reginald, remember." 

The two men parted soon after this; but not before they had 
appointed to meet on the following day, at the same hour, and 
on the same spot. Reginald Eversleigh returned to the castle, 
gloomy and ill at ease, and on entering the house he discovered 
that the doctor from Plimborough had arrived during his ab- 
sence, and was to remain until the following day, when his 
evidence would be required at the inquest. 
It was Joseph Millard who told him this. 
•* The inquest 1 What inquest ? " asked Reginald. 
" The coronci^ti inquest, air. It is to bo held to-morrow in the 
gc<v.i tlixa»g.}«.T.ii. Sir OirrmUi died so tfucdcnlj, yen ose, ai-.". 



•* Ths Will !—The TuUimtmi f* 131 

that it's only natural there should be an inquest, I'm sorry 
to say there's a talk about his having committed suicide, poor 
gentleman ! " 

" Suicide — yes — yea — that is possible; he may liave committed 
Buicide," murmured Reginald. 

" It's very dreadful, isn't it, sir P The two doctors and Mr. 
Dalton, the lawyer, are together in the library. The body hafl 
been moved into the state bed-room." 

The lawyer emerged from the library at this moment, and ap- 
proacbed Eeginald. 

*' Can I speak with yon for a few minutes, Mr. Eversleigh P " 
he asked. 

" Certainly." 

He went into the library, where he found the two doctore, and 
another person, whom he had not expected to see. 

This was a country gentleman — a wealthy landed squire and 
magistrate — whom Reginald Eversleigh had known from his 
boyhood. His name was Gilbert Ashburne ; and he was an in- 
dividual of considerable importance in the neighbourhood of 
Baynham, near which village he had a fine estate. 

Mr. Ashburne was standing with his back to the empty fire- 
place, in conversation with one of the medical men, when Regi- 
nald entered the room. He advanced a few paces, to shake 
hands with the young man, and then resumed his favourite 
magisterial attitude, leaning against the chimney-piece, with hia 
hands in his trousers' pockets. 

" My dear Eversleigh," he said, " this is a very terrible affair 
— very terrible ! " 

" Yes, Mr. Ajshbume, my uncle's sudden death is indeed terri- 
ble." 

•' But the manner of his death ! It is not the suddenness 
only, but the nature " 

" You forget, Mr. Ashburne," interposed one of the medical 
men, " Mr. Eversleigh knows nothing of the facts which I have 
stated to you." 

" Ah, he does not ! I was not aware of that. Ton have no 
suspicion of any foul play in this sad business, eh, Mr. Evers- 
leigh ? " asked the magistrate. 

" No," answered Reginald. " There ia only one person I 
could possibly suspect; and that person has herself given utter « 
ance to suspicions that sound like the ravings of madness." 

" You mean Lady Eversleigh ? " said the Raynham doctor. 

" Pardon me," said Mr. Ashburne ; " but this business is alto- 
gether 80 painful that it obliges me to touch upon painful sub- 
jects. Is there any truth in the report which I have heard of 
Ladv Everslrigh'a ilight on the evening of some rastio jjather* 



132 Bun to Earth. 

"Unhappily, tlie rejn.ii hua only too good a foumlation. "S^y 
ancle's wife did take tiiglit with a lover on the night before last; 
but she returned yesterday, and had an interview with her hus- 
band. What took place at that interview I cannot tell you; but 
I imagine that my uncle forbade her to remain beneath his roof. 
Immediately after she had left him, he sent for me, and announced 
his determination to reinstate me in my old position as his heir. 
He would not, I am sure, have done this, had he believed hia 
wife innocent." 

*' And she left the castle at bis bidding P " 

" It was supposed that she left the castle ; but this morning 
fehe reappeared, and claimed the right to remain beneath this 
roof." 

" And where had she passed the night ? " 

" Not in her own apartments. Of that I have been informed 
by her maid, who believed that she had left Raynham for good." 

" Strange ! " exclaimed the magistrate. "If she is guilty, 
why does she remain here, where her guilt is known — where she 
maybe suspected of a crime, and the most terrible of crimes? " 

"Of what crime?" 

" Of murder, ^Ir. Eversleigh. I regret to tell you that these 
two medical gentlemeo concur in the opinion that your uncle's 
death was caused by poison. A imsi-mortem examination will 
be made to-night." 

" Upon what evidence P " 

"On the evidence of an empty glass, which is under lock and 
key in yonder cabinet," answered the doctor from Plimborough; 
"and at the bottom of which I found traces of on© of the most 
powerful poisons known to those who are skilled in the science 
of toxicology : and on the further evidence of diagnostics which 
I need not exjdaiu — the evidence of the dead man's appearance, 
Mr. Eversleigh. That your uncle died from the effects of poison, 
there cannot be the smallest doubt. The next question to be 
considered is, whether that poison was administered by his own 
hand, or the hand of an assassin." 

" He may have committed suicide," said Reginald, with Bom« 
hesitation. 

"It is just possible," answered Gilbert Ashbume; "though 
from my knowledge of your uncle's character, I should imagine 
it most unlikely. At any rate, his papers will reveal the stat« 
of his mind immediately before his death. It is my suggestion, 
therefore, that his papers should be examined immediately by 
you, as his nearest relative and acknowledged heir — by me, as 
magistrate of the district, and in the presence of Mr. Dalton, 
who was your uncle's confidential solicitor. Have you any ob- 
jection to offer to this course, Mr. Eversleigh, or Sir Reginald, 
•1 1 suppose I ought now to caJl jon P " 



*'Tlie Will!— The Testament ! * 133 

It w'as the first time Eeginald Eversleigh had hearJ himself 
addressed by the title which was now his own — that title which* 
borae by the possessor of a great fortune, bestows so much dig- 
nity; but which, when held by a poor man, is so hollow a 
mockery. In spite of his fears — in spite of that sense of re- 
morse which had come upon him since his uncle's death — the 
sound of the title was pleasant to his ears, and he stood for 
the moment silent, overpowered by the selfish rapture of grati- 
tled pride. 

The magistrate repeated his question. 

** Have you any objection to offer, Sir Reginald ? " 

•* None whatever, Mr. Ashburne." 

Reginald Eversleigh was only too glad to accede to the magis- 
trate's proposition. He was feverishly anxious to see the will 
which was to make him master of Raynham. He knew that 
Buch a will had been duly executed. He had no reason to fear 
that it had been destroyed ; but still he wanted to see it — to 
hold it in his hands, to have incontestable proof of its existence. 

The examination of the papers was serious work. The lawyer 
iuggested that the first to be scrutinized should be those that he 
had found on the table at which Sir Oswald had been writing. 

The first of these papers which came into the magistrate's 
hand was Mary Goodwin's letter. Reginald Eversleigh recog- 
nized the familiar hand^vTiting, the faded ink, and crumpled 
paper. He stretched out his hand at the moment Gilbert Ash- 
burne was about to examine the docum ent. 

" That is a letter," he said, " a strictly private letter, which 
I recognize. It is addressed to me, as you will see ; and posted 
ill Parib nearly two years ago. I must beg you not to read it." 

" Very well, Sir Reginald, I will take your word for it. The 
letter has nothing to do with the subject of our present inquiry. 
Certainly, a letter, posted in Paris two years ago, can scarcely 
have any connection with the state of your uncle's mind last 
mght" 

The magistrate little thought how v«ry important an influence 
that crumpled sheet of paper had exercised upon the events of 
the previous night. 

Gilbert Ashburne and the lawyer examined the rest of thiS 
packet. There were no papers of importance; nothing thruw- 
mg any Hght upon late events, except Lady Eversleigh's letter, 
and the wUl made by the baronet immediately after his marriage. 

" There is another and a later will," said Reginald, eagerly ; 
" a will made last Light, and witnessed by Millard and Pe^rsoa» 
This earlier wiU ought to have been destroyed." 

" It is not of the least consequence. Sir Reginald," replied the 
•olicitor. " The will of latest dat« is the true one, if there she u\d 
be a dozen in existence." 



!J14 Run to Earth. 

** We had better search for the will uiaxit kfit nigbt,** wJd 

Reginald, anxiously. 

The magistrate and the lawyer complied. They perceived the 
anxiety of the expectant heir, and gave way to it. The search 
occupied a long time, but no second will was found; the only 
will that could be discovered was that made within a week of the 
bajonet's marriage. 

" The will attested last night must be in this room," exclaimed 
Reginald. " I will send for Millard ; and you shall hear from 
his lips an exact account of what occurred." 

The young man tried in vain to conceal the feeling of alanr 
which had taken possession ot him. What would be his po 
sition if this will should not be found ? A beggar, steeped in 
crime. 

He rang the bell and sent for the valet. Jovseph Millard came, 
and repeated his account of the previous night's transaction. 
Tt was clear that the will had been made. It was equally clear 
that if 't were still in existence, it must be found in that room, 
for the valet declared that his master had not left the library 
after the execution of the document. 

" 1 was on the watch and on the listen all night, yon see, gen- 
tlemen," said Joseph Millard; "for I was very uneasy about 
master, knowing what trouble had come upon him, and how he'd 
never been to bed all the night before. I thought he might call 
me at any minute, so I kept close at hand. There's a little room 
next to this, and I sat in there with the door open, and though 
I dropped off into a doze now and then, I never was sound 
enough asleep not to have heard this door open, if it did open. 
But I'll take my Bible oath that Sir Oswald never left this room 
after me and Peterson witnessed the will." 

"Then the will must be somewhere in the room, and it will 
be our business t« find it," answered Mr. Ashbume. "ThuJ 
tvill do, Millard ; you can go." 

The valet retired. 

Reginald recommenced the search for the will, afisisted by the 
magistrate and the lawyer, while the two doctors stood by the 
lire-place, talking together in suppressed tones. 

This time the search left no crevice unexamined. But all wm 
done without avail ; and despair began to gain upon RegimLl J 
Eversleigh. 

Wliat if all the crime, the falsehood, the infamy of the im,c\ 
few days had been committed for no result? 

Ho was turning over the papers in the bureau for tlie third or 
fourth time, with trembhng hands, in the desperate hope that 
fioinehow or otLsr the missing will might have escaped toriD« 
investigations, when he was arrested by a sudden exclaiuaU»/f» 
trom ALr. Miasenden, th* Plimborou'jh flr*r:x'^:<ri. 



''The Waif^The Testament!** l35 

•* I don't think you need look any farther, Sir Reginald," said 
this gentleman. 

" What do you mean P " 2ned "Reginald, eagerly. 

"I believe the will is found." 

" Thank Heaven ! " exclaimed the young man. 

" You mistake, Sir Reginald," said Mr. Missenden, who was 
kneeling by the fire-place, looking intently at some object in the 
polished steel fender ; " if I am right, and that this really is the 
document in question, I fear it will be of very little use to you." 

" It has been destroyed ! '* gasped Reginald. 

" I fear so. This looks to me like the fragment of a will." 

He handed Reginald a scrap of paper, which he had found 
amongst a heap of grey ashes. It was scorched to a deep yel- 
low colour, and burnt at the edg-es ; but tlie few words written 
opon it were perfectly legible, nevertheless. 

These words were the following : — 

" Nephew, Reginald Eversleigh Raynham Castle ei- 

tate all lands and tenements appertaining sole use ana 

bt^nefit " 

This was all. fieginald gazed at the scrap of scorched paper 
with wild, dilated eyes. All hope was gone ; there could be 
little doubt that this morsel of paper was all that remained of 
Sir Oswald Eversleigh's latest will. 

And the will made previously bequeathed Raynham to the 
testator's window, a handsome fortune to each of the two Dales, 
and a pittance of five hundred a-year to Reginald. 

The young man sank into a chair, stricken down by this over- 
whelmmg blow. His white face was the very picture of despair. 

** My uncle never destroyed this document," he exclaimed ; 
"I will not believe it. Some treacherous hand has been thrust 
b»»tween me and my rights. Why should Sir Oswald have 
mude a will in one hour and destroyed it in the next? What 
could have influenced him to alter his mind ? " 

As he uttered these words, Reginald Eversleigh remembered 
tliat fatal letter of Mary Groodwin, which had been found lying 
uppermost amongst the late baronet's papers. That letter had 
caused Sir Oswald to disinherit his nephew once. Was it pos- 
sible that the same letter had influenced him a second time ? 

But the disappointed man did not suffer himself to dwell 
long on this subject. He thought of his uncle's widow, and 
the triumph that she had won over the schemers who had plotted 
so basely to achieve her destruction. A aavage fury filled hia 
soul as he thought of Honoria. 

" This will has been destroyed by the one person most inter- 
este<l in its destruction," he cried. " Who can doubt now that 
my uncle was poisoned, and the will destroyed by the same 



186 J?iin to Earth, 

CiTson ? — and who can doubt that person to be Lady Evers- 
igh?" 

•' ^My dear sir," exclaimed Mr. Ashbnme, " this really will not 
do. I cannot listen to such accusations, unsupported by any 
evidence." 

*' What evidence do you need, except the evidence of truth ? " 
cried Reginald, passionately. " Who else was interested in the 
destruction of that paper ? — who else was likely to desire my 
uncle's death ? Who but his false and guilty wife P She had 
been banished from beneath this roof; she was supposed to have 
lett the castle; but instead of going away, she remained in 
hiding, waiting her chances. If there has been a murder com- 
mitted, who can doubt that she is the murderess? Who can 
question that it was she who burnt the will which robbed her 
of wealth and station, and branded her vnih disgrace ? " 

** You are too impetuous. Sir Reginald," returned the magis- 
trate. •' I will own there are grounds for suspicion in the cir- 
eumstances of which you speak ; but in such a terrible affair 
as this there must be no jumping at conclusions. However, the 
death of your uncle by poison immediately after the renuncia- 
tion of his wife, and the burning of the will which transferred 
the estates from her to you, are, when considered in conjunction, 
BO very mysterious — not to say suspicious — that I shall con- 
eider myself justified in issuing a warrant for the detention of 
Lady Eversleigh, upon suspicion of being concerned in the 
death of her husband. I shall hold an inquiry here to-morrow, 
immediately after the coroner's inquest, and fehall endeavour to 
sift matters most thurou£jhly. If Lady Eversleii^h is innocent, 
her temporary arrest can do her no harm. She will not be 
called upon to leave her own apartments; and very few outside the 
castle, or, indeed, within it, need be aware of her arrest. I think 
I will wait upon her myself, and erplain the painful necessity." 

" Yes, and be duped by her plausible tongue," cried Reginalds 
bitterly. " She completely bewitched my poor uncle. Do you 
know that he picked her up out of the gutter, and knew no more 
of her past life than he knew of the inhabitants of the other 
planets ? If you see her, she will fool you as she fooled him." 

'* I am not afraid of her witcheries," answered the magistrate, 
with dienity. " I shall do my duty, Sir Reginald, you may de- 
pend upon it" 

Reginald Eversleigh said no more. He left the library with- 
out uttering a word to any of the gentlemen. The despair which 
had seized upon him was too terrible for words. Alone, locked 
in his own room, he gnashed his teetk in agony. 

** Fools I dolts ! idiots that we have been, with all our deeply- 
laid plots and subtle scheming," he cried, as he paced up and 
down the room m a paroxysm of mad rage, " She triumphs in 



A Friend in Need, 137 

rpite of UB — she can laugh us to ecorn ! And Victor Carring- 
lon, the man whose intellect was to conquer impossibilities, what 
A shallow fool he has shown himself, after all ! I thought there 
»cas something superhuman in his success, so strangely did fate 
peera to favour his scheming ; and now, at the last — when the cup 
was at my iipa —it is snatched away, and dashed to the ground I ' 

CHAPTER XII. 

A FRIEND IN NEED. 

While the new baronet abandoned himself to the anguish of 
disappointed avarice and ambition, Houoria sat quietly in her 
own apartments, brooding very sadly orer her husband's death. 

She ha-d loved him honestly and truly. No jounger lover 
had ever won possession of her heart. Her Ufe, before her 
meeting with Sir Oswald, had been too miserable for the indul- 
gence of the romantic dreams or poetic fancies of girlhood. 
The youthful feelings of this woman, who called herself Honoria, 
had been withered by the blasting influence of crime. It wae 
only when gratitude for Sir Oswald's goodness melted the ice 
cf that proud nature — it was then only that Hon oria's womanly 
tenderness awoke — it was then only that affection — a deep-felt 
and pure affection — for the first time occupied her heart. 

That affection was all the more intense in its nature becaup<» 
it was the first love of a noble heart. Honoria had reverenced 
in her husband all that she had ever known of manly virtue. 

And he was lost to her ! He had died believing her false. 

"I conlrl have borne anything but that," she thought, in h^i 
desolation. 

The magistrate came to her, and explained the painful ne- 
cessity under which he found himself placed. But he did not 
tell her of the destruction of the will, nor yet that the mediral 
men had pronounced decisively as to Sir Oswald's death. He 
only told her that there were suspicious circumstances connected 
with that death; and that it was considered necessary there 
should be a careful investigation of those circumstances. 

" The investigation cannot be too complete," replied Honoria, 
eagerly. "I know that there has been foul play, and that the 
best and noblest of men has fallen a victim to the hand of an 
assassin. Oh, sir, if you are able to distinguish truth from 
falsehood, I implore you to listen to the story which my poor 
husbard refused to believe — the story of the basest treachery 
that was ever plotted against a helpless woman !** 

Mr. Ashbumo declared himself willing to hear any statement 
Lady Everslcigh might wish to make; but he warnrd her that 
it was just pcMsible that statement might be used against htn 
hereafter. 



138 Bim io Earth. 

Honoria told him the circumstances which she had related to 
Sir Oswald ; the false alarm about her husband, the drive te 
Yarborough Tower, and the night of agony spent within the 
ruins ; but, to her horror, she perceived that this man also dis- 
believed her. The story seemed wild and improbable, and people 
had already condemned her. They were prepared to hear a fabri« 
cation from her lips ; and the truth which she had to tell seemed 
the most clumsy and shallow of inventions. 

Gilbert Ashburne did not tell her that he doubted her ; but, 
polite as his words were, she could read the indications of dis- 
trust in his face. She could see that he thought worse of her 
after having heard the statement which was her sole justification. 

" And where is this Mr. Carrington now to be found ? " he 
ftteked, presently. 

" I do not know. Having accomplished his base plot, and 
caused his friend's restoration to the estates, I suppose he ha« 
taken care to go far away from the scene of his infamy." 

The magistrate looked searchingly at her face. Was thia 
noting, or was she ignorant of the destruction of the will ? 
Did she, indeed, believe that the estates were lost to herself ? 
• * # « • 

Before the hour at which the coroner's inquest was to be held 
in the great dining-room, Reginald Eversleigh and Victor Car- 
rington met at the appointed spot in the avenue of firs. 

One glance at his friend's face informed Victor that some 
fatal event had occurred since the previous day. Eeginald told 
him, in brief, passionate words, of the destruction of the will. 

" You are a clever schemer, no doubt, Mr. Carrington," he 
added, bitterly ; " but clever as you are, you have been outwitted 
as completely as the veriest fool that ever blundered into ruin. 
Do you understand, Carrington — we are not richer by one half- 
penny for all your scheming?" 

Carrington was silent for awhile; but when, after a consider- 
able pause, he at length spoke, his voice betrayed a despair a-e 
intense in its quiet depth as the louder passion of his coTiipanion. 

"I cannot believe it," he exclaimed, in a hoarse whisper. " I 
tell you, man, you must have made some senseless mistake. The 
win cannot have been destroyed." 

" I had the fragments in my hand," answered Reginald. *' I 
faw my name written on the worthless scrap of burnt paper. 
All that was left besides that wretched fragment were the ashes 
in the grate." 

" I saw the will executed — I saw it — within a few hours oi Sil 
Oswald's death." 

"You saw it done P" 

" Yes, I was outside the window ot the library." 

••And you ! oh, it is too horrible," cried Reginald. 



A Friend in N^^ 139 

-What ig too borrible ?" 

•* The deed that was done that night." 

"That deed is no business of ours," aiip-wpTed Vidor; • th« 
person who destroyed the will was your uncle's assassin, if he 
died by the hand of an assassin." 

"Do you really believe that, Oamngton? or are yoa only 
foolincr me r" 

" Wh;it else should I believe?" 

The two men parted. Resrinald Eversleigh knew that his 
presence would be required at the coroner's inquest. The surgeon 
did not attempt to detain him. 

For the time, at least, this arch-plotter found himself suddenly 
brought to a stand- still. 

The inquest commenced aimort immediately after lieginald'a 
return to the castle. 

The first witness examined wss the valet, who had been th<» 
person to discover the death , the next were the two medij*l 
men, whose evidence was of a ii-.o^t important nature. 

It was a closed court, and no one was admitted who was no*, 
required to give evidence. Lady Eversleigh sat at the opposite 
end of the table to that occupied by the coroner. She had de- 
clined to avail herself of the services of any legal adviser. Sh# 
had declared her determination to trust in her own innocence, 
and in that alone. Proud, calm, and self-possessed, she con- 
fronted the solemn assembly, and did not shrink from the scm- 
tinizing looks that met her eyes in every direction, 

Reginald Eversleigh contemplated her with a feeling of mtir* 
derous hatred, as he took his place at some little distance from 
her seat 

The evidence of Mr. Missenden w^ij? to the effect that 8ir 
Oswald Eversleigh had died from the effects of a subtle and littl«- 
known poison. He had discovered traces of this poison in tL# 
empty glass which had been found upon the table beside th* 
dead man, and he had discovered further traces of the same 
poison in the stomach of the deceased. 

After the medical witnesses had both been examined, Peterson, 
the butler, was sworn. He related the facts connected with the 
execution of the will, and further stated that it was he who had 
carried the carafe of water, claret-jug, and the empty glass to 
eir Oswald. 

" Did you fetch the water yourself?" a^ked the coroner. 

*' Yes, your worship — Sir Oswald wa^^ very particular about 
the water being iced — I took it from a filler in my own charge,*' 

"Andtbeglas??" 

" J ♦/v)k the glas? C?om my own pantry." 

" Are yon sure tlia^ -jft^r* 'S'^is nothing- in taie gla** wftet ytiB 
lock the galver to yoiu master f" 



110 JRun U> EaHK 

•• Qnlte snre, Bir. I'm very particular ilwut having all my 
plass bright and clear — it's the nndei butler's duty to see to 
tliat, and it's my duty to keep him up jo his work. I should 
have seen in a moment if the glass had been dull and smudgy 
at the bottom." 

The water remaining in the caraie had been examined by th« 
medical witnesses, and had been declared by them to be perfectly 
pure. The claret had been untouched. The poison could, there- 
fore, have only been introduced to the baronet's room in the 
glass ; and the butler protested that no one but himself and his 
assistant had access to the place in which the glass had been 
ke])t. 

How, then, could the baronet have been poisoned, except by 
his own hand ? 

Reginald Eversleigh was one of the last witnesses examined. 
He told of the interview between liimself and his uncle, on tlie 
day preceding Sir Otiwald's death. He told of Lydia Graham's 
revelations— he told evei-ything calculated to bring disgrace upon 
the woman who sat, pale and silent, confronting her fate. 

She seemed unmoved by these scandalous revelations. 

She had passed through such bitter agony within the last few 
days and nights, that it seemed to her as if notliing could hav« 
power to move her m.,vre. 

She had endured the shame of her husband's distrust. The 
man she lo^-^l s-o rlf>arly had cast her from him with di^-'lnn nnd 
aversion. What new agony could await her equal to that through 
which she had passed. 

Reginald Eversleigh's hatred and rage betrayed him into 
passing the limits of prudence. He told the story of the de- 
Btroyed will, and boldly accused Lady Eversleigh of having 
Je>-.troyed it. 

*' You for;,^et yourself. Sir Reginald," said the coroner; "you 
•re here as a witness, and not as an accuser." 

" Bat am I to keep silence, when I know that yonder woman 
is guilty of a crime by which I am roblied of my heritage?" 
rr:id the young man, passionately. ""Who but she was in- 
terested in the destruction of that will ? Who had so strong a 
motive for wishing my uncle's death ? ^Tiy was she hiding in 
the castle after her pretended departure, except for some guilty 
|:)urpose ? She left her own apartments before dusk, after writ- 
ing a farewell letter to her husband. Where was she, and wliat 
was she doing, after leaving those apartments ? " 

" Let me answer those qnetstions, Sir Reginald Eversleigh," 
iaid a voice from the doorway. 

The young baronet turned and recognized the speaker. It 
was his uncle's old friend, Captain Copplestone, who had made 
hifl way into the room unheard while Reginald had been giving 



A Frieiid in Need. 141 

lis evidence. He was still seated in his invalid- chair -^ still 
unable to move witiiont its aid. 

" Let me answer those questions," he repeated. " I have only 
jnst heard of Lady Eversleigh's painful position. I beg to be 
Bworn immediately, for my evidence may be of some importance 
to that lady." 

Reginald sat down, nnable to contest the captain's right to be 
neard, though he would fain have done so. 

Lady Eversleigh for the first time that day gave evidence of 
some slight emotion. She raised her eyes to Captain Copple- 
etone's bronzed face with a tearful glance, expressive of grati- 
tude and confidence. 

The captain was duly sworn, and then proceeded to give hia 
evidence, in brief, abrupt sentences, without waiting to be ques- 
tioned. 

" You ask where Lady Eversleigh spent the night of her hus- 
band's death, and how she spent it. I can answer both those 
questions. She spent that night in my room, nursing a sick 
old man, who was mad with the tortures of rheumatic gout, and 
weeping over Sir Oswald's refusal to believe in her innocence. 

"You'll ask, perhaps, how she came to be in my apartments on 
that night. I'll answer you in a few words. Before leaving the 
castle she came to my room, and asked my old servant to admi'*' 
her. She had been very kind and attentive to me throughout 
my illness. My servant is a gruff and tough old fellow, but he 
is grateful for any kindness that's shown to his master. He 
admitted Lady Eversleigh to see me, ill as I was. She told me 
the whole story which she told her husband. ' He refused to 
believe me. Captain Copplestone,' she said ; * he who once loved 
me so dearly refused to believe me. So I come to you, his best 
and oldest friend, in the hope that you may think better of 
me ; and that some day, when I am far away, and time has 
softened my husband's heart towards me, you may speak a 
good word in my behalf.' And I did believe her. Yes, Mr. 
Eversleigh — or Sir Reginald Eversleigh — I did, and I do, beheve 
that lady." 

"Captain Copplestone," said the coroner; " we really do not 
require all these particulars ; the question is — when did Lady 
Eversleigh enter your rooms, and when did she quit them ?" 

" She came to me at dusk, and she did not leave my rooms 
until the next morning, after the discovery of my poor friend's 
death. When she had told me her story, and her intention of 
leaving the castle immediately, I begged her to remain until the 
next day. She would be safe in my rooms, I told her. No one 
but myself and my old servant would know that she had not 
really left the castle ; and the next day, when Sir Oswald's pas- 
lion had been calmed by reflection, I should be able, perhaps, to 



148 Aml^AsiA. 

intercede snccessfolly for tlie mf« wliose innoosnce I most im- 
plicitly believed, in spite of all the circ am stances that had con- 
spired to condemn her. Lady Eversleigh knew my influence 
over her hnsband ; and, after some persuasion, consented to take 
my advice. My diabolical gout happened to be a good deal worse 
than nsnal that night, and my friend's wife assisted my servant 
to nurse me, with the patience of an angel, or a sister of charily. 
From the beginning to the end of that fatal night she never lett 
my apartments. She entered my room before the will c(juU 
have been executed, and ahfi did not leave it until after her hus- 
band's death." 

"Your evidence is conclusive, Captain Copplestone, and it Si- 
onerates her ladyship from all suspicion," said the coroner. 

" My evidence can be confirmed in every particular by my oM 
servant, Solomon Grundy," said the captain, *• if it reqairea 
confirmation." 

" It requires none. Captain Copplestone." 

Eeginald Eversleigh gnawed his bearded Up gayagely. Thia 
man's evidence proved that Lady Eversleigh had not destroyed 
the will. Sir Oswald himself, therefore, must have burned Uia 
precious document. And for what reason P 

A horrible conviction now took possepsion of the young 
baronet's mind. He believed that Mary Goodwin's letter had 
k-een for the second time instrumental in the desti-uction of hia 
prospects. A fatal accident had thrown it in his uncle's waj 
after the execution of the will, and the sight of that letter bad 
recalled to Sir Oswald the stern resolution &t which he had ai- 
rived in Arlington Street. 

Utter ruin stared Eegirndd STcrsleigh in the face. The por- 
cessor of an empty title, and of an income which, to a man of 
his expensive habits, was the merest pittance, he saw before him 
&, life of unmitigated wretchedness. But he did not execrate his 
own sins and vices for the misery which they had brought upon 
him. He cursed the failure of Victor Carrington's scheme?, and 
thought of himself as the victim of Victor Carrington's blun- 
dering. 

The verdict of the ooroner'a jiry wr.g an open one, to the euect 
f hat " Sir Oswald Eversleigh died by poison, but by whom ad- 
ministered there was no evidence to show." 

The general opinion of those who had Hstened to the evidence 
was that the baronet had committed suicide. Ppbhc opinio;.! 
around and about Raynham was terribly against his widow. S:3 
Oswald had been universally esteemed and respected, and ha 
melancholy end was looked on at her work.^ She had been aoi 
quitted of any p^ositire hand in his death ; but aha wsfl "noS 
iticqrJtted of the guilt of haring brck-n Jrjs huart ITJ bSff ""' " " 
liood. 



A Fri^ t?i Ns&L 143 

Hex obscure ongin, her utl/cr friendleaouesa, influencoti people 
against her. "What must be the past life of this wcman, who, 
in the hour of her widowhood, had not one friend to come for- 
ward to support and protect her P 

The world always cliooses to see the darker side of the picture. 
Nobody for a moment imagined that HonoriaEversleigh might 
possibly be the innocent victim of the villany of others. 

The funeral of Sir Oswald Eversleigh was conducted with all the 
pomp and splendour befitting the burial of a man whose race had 
neld the land for centuries, with untarnished fame and honour. 

The day of the funeral was dark, cold, and gloomy; stormy 
winds howled and ehneked among the oaks and beeches of Rayn- 
ham Park. The tall firs in the avenue were tossed to and fro in 
the blast, like the funereal plumes of that stately hearse which 
was to issue at noon from the quadrangle of the castle. 

It was difficult to beheve that less than a fortnight had elap- 
sed since that bright and balmy day on which the pic-nic had 
been held at the Wizard's Cave. 

Lady Eversleigh had declared her intention of following her 
husband to his last resting-place. She had been told that it was 
unusual for women of the higher classes to take part in a funersJ 
cortege ; but she had sted lastly adhered to her resolution. 

"You tell me it is not the fashion !" she said to Mr. Ashbume. 
" 1 do not care for fashion, I would offer the last mark of 
respect and affection to the husband who was my dearest and 
truest friend upon this earth, and without whom the earth is 
very desolate for me. If the dead pass at once into those 
heavenly regions were Divine Wisdom reigns supreme over all 
mortal weakness, the emancipated spirit of him who goes to his 
tomb this day knows that my love, my faith, never faltered. If 
I had wronged him as the world believes, Mr. Ashburne, I must, 
indeed, be the most hardened of wretches to insult the dead by 
my presence. Accept my determination as a proof of my inno- 
Of?nce, if you can." 

" The question of your guilt or innocence is a dark enigma 
wliich I cannot take upon myself to solve, Lady Eversleigh," 
answered Gilbert Ashburne, gravely. " It would be an unspeak- 
able rehef to my mind if I could think you innocent. Unhap- 
pily, circumstances combine to condemn you in such a manner 
that even Christian charity can scarcely admit the possibility of 
your innocence." 

" Yes," murmured the widow, sadly, " I am the victim of a 
plot so skilfully devised, so subtly woven, that I can scarcely 
wonder if the world refuses to believe me guiltless. And yet you 
see that honourable soldier, that brave and true-hearted gentle- 
man, Captilii Oopplestone, does not think me the wretch I seem 
to be" 



141 Eun to EaHJi. 

" Captain Copplestone is a man who allows himself to ba 
guided by his instincts and impulses, and who takes a pride in 
differing from his fellow-men. I am a man of the world, and I 
am unable to form any judgment which is not justified by facts. 
If facts combine to condemn you, Lady Eversleigh, you must 
not think me harsh or cruel if I cannot bring myself to acquit 
you." 

During the preceding conversation Honoria Eversleigh haxi 
revealed the most gentle, the most womanly side of her character. 
1'here had been a pleading tone in her voice, an appealing soft- 
ness in her glances. But now the expression of her face changed 
all at once; the beautiful countenance grew cold and stem, the 
haughty lip quivered with the a^ony of offended pride. 

"Enough !" she said. " I vail never again trouble you, Mr. 
Ashburne, by entreating your merciful consideration. Let your 
ju'lgment be the judgment of the world. I am content to await 
the hour of my justification ; I am content to trust in Time, the 
avenger of all wrongs, and the consoler of all sorrows. In the 
meanwhile, I will stand alone — a woman without a friend, a 
woman who has to fight her own battles with the world." 

Gilbert Ashburne could not withhold his respect from the 
woman who stood before him, queen-like in her calm dignity. 

" She may be the basest and vilest of her sex," he thought to 
himself, as he left her presence; " but she is a woman whom it 
is impossible to despise." 

The funeral procession was to leave Eaynham at noon. At 
eleven o'clock the arrival of Mr. Dale and Mr. Douglas Dale was 
announced. These two gentlemen had just arrived at the castle, 
and the elder of the two requested the favour of an interview 
with his uncle's widow. 

She was seated in one of the apartments which had been al- 
lotted to her especial use when she arrived, a proud and happy 
bride, from her brief honeymoon tour. It was the spacious 
morning-room which had been sacred to the lat€ Lady Evera- 
leif?h, Sir Oswald's mother. 

Here the widow sat in the hour of her desolation, unhonoured, 
finloved, without friend or counsellor; unless, indeed, the gallant 
eoldier who had defended her from the suspicion of a hideous 
cnme might stoop to befriend her further in her bitter need. She 
Bat alone, uncertain, after the reading of the dead man's will, whe- 
ther she might not be thrust forth from the doors of Ka}Tihara 
Castle, shelterless, homeless, penniless, once more a beggar and 
an outcast. 

Her heart was so cruelly stricken by the crushing blow that 
had fallen upon her ; the grief she felt for her husband's un- 
timely fate was so deep and sincere, that she thought but little 
of h«T awn future. She had ceased to feel either hope or fear 



A "Friend in Need. 145 

tet fate do its worst. No sorrow that conld ccme to lier in tlie 
fature, DO disgrace, no humiliation, could equal in bitterness 
that fiery ordeal through which she had passed during the last 
few daja. . , ., _ , 

Lionel Dale was ushered into the monung-room while Lady 
Eversleigh sat by the hearth, absorbed in gloomy thought. 

She rose as Lionel Dale entered the room, and received him 
with stately courtesy. 

She was prepared to find herself despised by this young man, 
who would, in all probability, very speedily learn, or who had 
perhaps already learned, the story of her degradation. 

She was prepared to find herself misjudged by him. But he 
was the nephew of the man who had once so devotedly loved 
her ; the husband whose memory was hallowed for her ; and she 
was determined to receive him with all respect, for the sake of 
the beloved and honoured dead. 

''You are doubtless surprised to see me here, madam," said 
Mr. Dale, in a tone whose chilling accent told Honoria that this 
stranger was already prejudiced against her. " I have received 
no invitation to take part in the sad ceremonial of to-day, either 
from you or from Sir Reginald Eversleigh. But I loved Sir 
Oswald very dearly, and I am here to pay the last poor tribute 
of respect to that honoured and generous friend." 

"Permit me thank you for that tribute," answered Lady 
Eversleio-h. •' If I did not invite you and your brother toat- 
tend thel:uneral, it was from no wish to exclude you. My desirea 
have been in no manner consulted with regard to the an-ange- 
ments of to-day. Very bitter misery has fallen upon me within 
the last fortnight— heaven alone knows how undeserved that 
misery has been — and I know not whether this roof will shelter 
me after to-day." 

She looked at the stranger very earnestly as she said this. It 
was bitter to stand quite alone in the world ; to know herself 
utterly fallen in the estimation of all around her; and she 
looked at Lionel Dale with a faint hope that she might discover 
some touch of compassion, some shadow of doubt in his coun- 

Alas, no, — there was none. It was a frank, handsome face 
—a face that was no pohshed mask beneath which the real man 
concealed liimself. It was a true and noble countenance, easy 
to read as an open book. Honoria looked at it with despair in 
her heart, for she perceived but too plainly that this man also 
despised her. She understood at once that he had been told 
the story of his uncle's death, and regarded her as the indii-ect 
cause of that fatal event. 

And she was right. He had arrived at the chief inn in Rayn- 
ham two hours before, and there he had heard the story of Ladj 



us I?wn to Earth. 

Everaleigh's flight and Sir Oswald's sndden death, with some 
details of the inquest. Slow to believe evil, he had questioned 
Gilbert Ashbnrae, before accepting the terrible story as he had 
heard it from the landlord of the inn. Mr. Ashburne only con- 
firmed that story, and admitted that, in his opinion, the flight 
and disgrace of the wife had been the sole cause of the death of 
the husband. 

Once having heard this, and from the lips of a man whom he 
knew to be the soul of truth and honour, Lionel Dale had 
but one feeling for his uncle's widow, and that feeling was 
abhorrence. 

He saw her in hor beauty and her desolation; but he had no 
pity for her miserable position, and her beauty inspired him 
onlv vnth loathing ; for had not that beauty been the tirst cause 
of Sir Oswald Eversleigh's melancholy fate ? 

" I wished to see you, madam," said Lionel Dale, after that 
silence which seemed so long, " in order to apologize for a visit 
which might appear an intrusion. Having done so, I need 
trouble you no further." 

He bowed with cliilling courtesy, and left the room. He had 
uttered no word of consolation, no assurance of sympathy, to 
that pale widow of a week; nothing could have been more 
marked than the omission of those customary phrases, and 
Honoria keenly felt their absence. 

The dead leaves strewed the avenue along which Sir Oswald 
Eversleigh went to his last resting-place; the dead leaves flat- 
tered slowly downward from the giant oaks — the noble old 
beeches ; there was not one gleam of sunshine on the landscape, 
not one break in the leaden grey of the sky. It seemed as if 
the funeral of departed summer was being celebrated on this 
fii'st dreary autumn day. 

Lady Eversleigh occupied the second carriage in the stately 
procession. She was alone. Captain Copplestone was con- 
fined to his room by the gout. She went alone — tearless — in 
outward aspect calm as a statue ; but the face of the corpse 
hidden in the coffin could scarcely have been whiter than hers. 

As the procession passed out of the gates of Eaynham, a 
tramp who stood among the rest of the crowd, was strangely 
Etartled by the sight of that beautiful face, so lovely even in its 
marble whiteness. 

" Who is that woman sitting in yonder carriage P " he asked. 
He was a rough, bare-footed vagabond, with a dark evil-looking 
countenance, which he did well to keep shrouded by the broad 
brim of his battered hat. He looked more like a. smuggler or a 
gailor than an agricultural labourer, and his skin was bronzed 
by long exposure to the weather. 
" ;She'8 Sir Oswald's widow," answered one cf the bystAiiders; 



A Friend in Need. 147 

•^he's his widow, more sliame for her ! It was slie that Iffought 
dim to his death, with her disgraceful going *..on." 

The man who spoke was a Eajnham tradesman. 
"^Yhat goings-on?" asked the tramp, eagerly. "Fm a 
stranger in these parts, and don't know anything about yonder 
funeral." 

"More's the pity," replied the tradesman. "Everybody 
ought to know the story of that fine madam, who just passed 
us by in her carriage. It might serve as a warning for honest 
men not to be led away by a pretty face. That white-faced wo- 
man yonder is Lady Eversleigh. Nobody knows who she was, 
or where she came from, before Sir Oswald brought her home 
here. She hadn't been home a month before she ran away from 
her husband with a young foreigner. She repented her wicked- 
ness before she'd got very far, and begged and prayed to be took 
back again, and vowed and declared that she'd been lured away 
by a villian; and that it was all a mistake. That's how I've 
heard the story from the servants, and one and another. But 
Sir Oswald would not speak to her, and she would have been 
turned out of doors if it hadn't been for an old friend of his. 
However, the end of her wickedness was that Sir Oswald poi- 
soned himself, as every one knows." 

Xo more was said. The tramp followed the procession with 
the rest of the crowd, first to the village church, where a portion 
of the funeral service was read, and then back to the park, 
where the melancholy ceremonial was completed before the 
family mausoleum. 

It was while the crowd made a circle round this mausoleum 
that the tramp contrived to push his way to the front rank of 
the spectators. He stood foremost amongst a group of villagers, 
when Lady Eversleigh happened to look towards the spot where 
he was stationed. 

In that moment a sudden change came over the face of the 
widow. Its marble whiteness was dyed by a vivid crimson — a 
sudden flush of shame or indignation, which passed away quickly; 
but a dark shadow remained upon Lady Eversleigh's brow after 
that red glow had faded from her cheek. 

No one observed that change of countenance. The moment 
was a solemn one ; and even those who did not reaUy feel its 
solemnity, affected to do so. 

At the last instant, when the iron doors of the mausoleum 
closed with a clanging sound upon the new inmate of that dark 
abode, Honoria's fortitude aU at once forsook her. One long 
cry, which was Hke a shriek wrung from the spirit of despair, 
broke from her colourless lips, and in the next moment she hiui 
frank fainting upon the ground before those inexorable doors. 

No iympathizing eyes had watched her looks, nc ifriendly arm 



148 Bun to Earth. 

was stretcLed fortH in time to support her. But when she lay 
lifeless and miconscious on the sodden grass, some touch of pity 
Btirred the hearts of the two brothers, Lionel and Douglas Dale. 

The elder, Lionel, stepped forward, and lifted that lifeless form 
from the ground. He carried the unconscious widow to the 
carriage, where he seated her. 

Sense returned only too quickly to that tortured brain. Ho- 
noria Eversleigh opened her eyes, and recognized the man who 
stood by her side. 

" I am better now," she said. " Do not let my weakness cause 
yon any trouble. I do not often faint ; but that last moment 
was too bitter." 

"Are you really quite recovered ? Can I venture to leave you ? " 
asked Lionel Dale, in a much kinder tone than he had employed 
before in speaking to his uncle's widow. 

"Yes, indeed, I have quite recovered. I thank you for your 
kindness," murmured Honoria, gently. 

Lionel Dale went back to the carriage allotted to himself and 
his brother. On his way, he encountered Keginald Eversleigh. 

" I have heard it whispered that my uncle's wife was an 
actress," said Eeginald. " That exhibition just now was rather 
calculated to contirm the idea." 

"If by 'exhibition' you mean that outburst of despair, I am 
con d-uced that it was perfectly genuine," answered Lionel, coldly. 

" I am sorry you are so easily duped, my dear Lionel," returned 
his cousin, with a sneer. " I did not think a pretty face would 
have sach influence over you." 

iNo more was said. The two men passed to their respective 
carriages, and the funeral procession moved homewards. 

In the grand dining-hall of the castle, Sir Oswald's lawyer 
was to read the will. Kinsmen, friends, servants, all were as- 
eembled to hear the reading of that solemn document. 

In the place of honour sat Lady Eversleigh. She sat on the 
right hand of the lawyer, calm and dignified, as if no taint of 
suspicion had ever tarnished her fame. 

The solicitor read the will. It was that will which Sir Oswald 
had executed immediately after his marriage — the will, of which 
he had spoken to his nephew, Keginald. 

It made Honoria Eversleigh sole mistress of the Raynham 
estates. It gave to Lionel and Douglas Dale property worth ten 
thousand a year. It gave to Reginald a small estate, producin;^ 
an income of five hundred a year. To Captain Copplestone_ the 
baronet left a legacy of three thousand pounds, and an antique 
seal-ring which had been worn by himself. 

The old servants of Eaynham were all remembered, and some 
cnnous old plate and gold snufi'-boxes were left to Mr. Wargrave, 
the rector, and Gilbert Ashburne. 



A Friend in Kecd. 1-LO 

This was alL Five Imndi-ed a year was the amoiint by which 
Reginald had profited by the death of a generous kinsman. 

By the terms of Sir Oswald's will the estates of Lionel and 
Douglas Dale would revert to Reginald Eversleigh in case tha 
ftwners should die without direct heirs. If either of these young 
luen were to die unmarried, iiis brother would succeed to his es- 
tate, worth five thousand a year. But if both should die, Reginald 
Eversleigh would become the owner of double that amount. 

It was the merest chance, the shadow of a chance, for the livcg 
of both young men were better than his own, inasmuch as both 
had led healthful and steadier hves than the dissipated Reginald 
Eversleigh. But even this poor chance was something. 

" They may die," he thought ; " death lurks in every bush 
that borders the highway of life. They or both may die, and I 
may regain the wealth that should have been mine." 

He looked at the two young men. Lionel, the elder, was the 
handsomer of the two. He was fair, with brown curhng ^"'X, 
and frank blue eyes. Reginald, as he looked at him, thoii. ht 
bitterly, "I must indeed be the very fool of hope and creduii".y 
to fancy he will not marry. But, if he were safe, I should not 
so much fear Douglas." The younger, Douglas, was a man 
whom some people would have called plain. But the dark sallow 
face, with its irregular features, was illuminated by an expression 
of mingled intelhgence and amiabihty, which possessed a charm 
for all judges worth pleasing. 

Lionel was the clergyman, Douglas the lawyer, or rather law- 
student, for the glory of his maiden brief was yet to come. 

How Reginald envied these fortunate kinsmen ! He hated 
them with passionate hate. He looked from them to Honoria, 
the woman against whom he had plotted — the woman w^ho tri- 
umphed in spite of him — for he could not imagine that grief for 
a dead husband could have any place in the heart of a woman 
who found herself mistress of such a domain as Eaynham, and 
its dependencies. 

Lady Eversleigh's astonishment was unbounded. This will 
placed her in even a loftier position than that which she had 
occupied when possessed of the confidence and affection of her 
husband. For her pride there was some consolation in thia 
thought; but the triumph, which was sweet to the proud spirit, 
afforded no balm for the wounded heart. He was gone — he 
whose love had made her mistress of that wealth and splendour. 
He waa gone from her for ever, and he had died beheving her 
false* 

In the midst of her triumph the widow bowed her head upon 
her hands, and sobbed convulsively. The tears wrung from her 
in this moment were the first she had shed that day, and thej 
•were very bitter. 



150 Bu7i to Earth. 

Reginald Eversleigh watched her with soom and hatred in hia 

heart. 

" WTiat do you say now, Lionel P" he said to his consin, when 
the three young men had left the dining-hall, and were seated at 
luncheon in a smaller chamber. " You did not think my re- 
spected aunt a clever actress when she fainted before the doors 
of the mausoleum. You will at least acknowledge that the 
piece of acting she favoured us with just now was superb." 

" What do you mean by * a piece of acting '?" 

" That outburst of grief which my lady indulged in, when she 
found herself mistress of Eaynham." 

** I believe that it was genuine," answered Mr. Dale, gravely. 

** Oh, you think the iuheritance a fitting subject for lamenta- 
tion?" 

" No, Reginald. I think a woman who had wronged her hus- 
band, and had been the indirect cause of his death, might well 
feel sorrow when she discovered how deeply she had been loved, 
and how fully she had been trusted by that generous husband." 

"Bah!" cried Reginald, contemptuously. "I tell you, man. 
Lady Eversleigh is a consummate actress, though she never 
acted before a better audience than the clodhoppers at a country 
fair. Do you know who my lady was when Sir Oswald picked 
her out of the gutter ? If you don't, I'll enlighten you. She 
was a street ballad- singer, whom the baronet found one night 
starving in the market-place of a country town. He picked her 
np — out of charity ; and because the creature happened to have 
a pretty face, he was weak enough to marry her." 

" Respect the foUies of the dead," replied Lionel. " My uncle's 
love was generous. I only regret that the object of it was so 
unworthy." 

"Oh!" exclaimed Reginald, "I thought just now that you 
sympathized with my lady." 

" I sympathize with eveiw remorseful sinner," said Lionel. 

" Ah, that's your sJiop ! cried Reginald, who could not con- 
ceal his bitter feehngs. "Yousympathize with Lady Eversleigh 
because she is a wealthy sinner, and mistress of Eaynham Castle. 
Perhaps you'll stop here and try to step into Sir Oswald's shoes. 
I don't know whether there's any law against a man marrying 
nis uncle's widow." 

*' You insult me, and yon insult the dead. Sir Reginald, by 
the tone in which you discuss these things," answered Lionel 
Dale. " I shall leave Raynham by this evening's coach, and 
there is Httle likeUhood that Lady Eversleigh and I shall evef 
meet again. It is i^t for me to judge her sins, or penetrate the 
secrets of her heart. I believe that her grief to-day waa 
thoroughly genuine. It is not because a woman has sinned that 
she must needs he incapable of anv womanly feeUng." 



In yjo:ir Patience ye are Strong, 111 

*' You are in a very charitable iiumour, Lionel," said Sir liegi* 
nald, with a sneer ; " but you can afford to be charitable.*' 

Mr. Dale did not reply to this insolent speech. 

Sir Eeginald Eversleigh and his two cousins left the village cf 
Raynham by the same coach. The evening was finer than the 
day had been, and a full moon steeped the landscape in her soft 
light, as the travellers looked their last on the grand old castle. 

The baronet contemplated the scene with unmitigated rage. 

"Hers!" he muttered; "hers! to have and hold so long as 
she Hves ! A nameless woman has tricked me out of the inheri- 
tance which should have been mine. But let her beware ! De- 
spair is bold, and I may yet discover some mode of vengeance." 

While the departing traveller mused thus, a pale woman stood 
at one of the windows of Raynham Castle, looking out upon the 
woods, over which the moon sailed in all her glory. 

"!Mine !" she said to herself; "those lands and woods belong 
to me ! — to me, who have stood face to face with starvation ! — to 
me, who have considered it a privilege to sleep in an empty bam ! 
They are mine ; but the possession of them brings no pleasure. 
My hfe has been blighted by a wrong so cmel, that wealth and 
position are worthless in my eyes." 



CHAPTER XnL 

El TOUR PATIENCE YE AEE 8TK0X0. 

Eault npon the morning after the funeral, a lad from the vil- 
lage of Raynham presented himself at the principal door of tlii 
servants' oifices, and asked to see Lady Eversleigh's maid. 

The young woman who filled that office was summoned, and 
came to inquire the business of the messenger. 

Her name was Jane Pay land ; she was a Londoner by birth, 
tnd a citizen of the world by education. 

She had known very little of either comfort or prosperity be- 
fore she entered the service of Lady Eversleigh. She was, there- 
fore, in some measure at least, devoted to the interests of that 
mistress, and she was inclined to beheve in her innocence; 
though, even to her, the story of the night in Yarborough 
Tower seemed almost too wild and improbable for belief. 

Jane Payland was about twenty-four years of age, tall, slim, 
and active. She had no pretensions to beauty; but was the 
sort of person who is generally called lady-Hke. 

This morning she went to the little lobby, in which the boy 
had been told to wait, indignant at the impertinence of any one 
who could dare to intrude upon her mistress at such a time. 

" Who are you, and what do yon want? " she asked angrily. 

"K you please, ma'am, Pm Widow Beckett's son," the boy 
answered, in evident terror of the young woman in the rnat- 



152 Bun to Earth. 

ling black silk dress and smart cap ; " and I've brouglit tliia 
letter, please; and I was only to give it to tlie lady's own maid, 
please." 

" I am her own maid," answered Jane. 

The boy handed her a dirty-looking letter, directed, in a bold 
clear hand, to Lady Eversleigh. 

" Who gave you this ? " asked Jane Payland, looking at the 
dirty envelope with extreme disgust. 

" It was a tramp as give it me — a tramp as I met in the vil- 
lage ; and I'm to wait for an answer, please, and I'm to take 
it to him at the ' Hen and Chickens.' " 

"How dare you bring Lady Eversleigh a letter given yon by 
a tramp — a begging letter, of course ? I wonder at your im- 
pudence." 

" I didn't go to do no harm," expostulated Master Beckett. 
" He says to me, he says, ' If her ladyship once sets eyes upon 
that letter, she'll arnswer it fast enough ; and now you cut and 
run,' he says ; 'it's a matter of life and death, it is, and it won't 
do to waste time over it.' " 

These words were rather startling to the mind of Jane Pay- 
land. What was she to do ? Her own idea was, that the letter 
was the concoction of some practised impostor, and that it would 
be an act of folly to take it to her mistress. But what if the 
letter should be really of importance ? What if there should 
be some meaning in the boy's words ? Was it not her duty to 
convey the letter to Lady Eversleigh ? 

" Stay here till I return," she said, pointing to a bench in the 
lobby. 

The boy seated himself on the extremest edge of the bench, 
with his hat on his knees, and Jane Payland lett him. 

She went straight to the suite of apartments occupied by 
*jady Erersleigh. 

Honoria did not raise her eyes when Jane Payland entered 
the room. There was a gloomy abstraction in her face, and 
melancholy engrossed her thoughts. 

" I beg pardon for disturbing you, my lady," said Jane ; " but 
a lad from the village has brought a letter, given him by a 
tramp; and, according to his account, the man talked in such 
a very strange manner that I thought I really ought to tell 
you, my lady ; and " 

To the surprise of Jane Payland, Lady Eversleigh started snd- 
Jbcnly from her seat, and advanced towards her, awakened into 
sudden life and energy as by a spell. 

" Give me the letter," she cried, abruptly. 

She took the soiled and crumpled envelope from her servant*! 
hand with a hastv gesture. 

•* You may go,* she said ; " J irll ring when I want yon.** 



In your Patience ye are Strong. 153 

Jane Payland would have given a good deal to see that letter 
Cpened; but she had no excuse for remaming longer in the room. 
So she departed, and went to her lady's dressing-room, which, 
as well as all the other apartments, opened out of the corridor. 

In about a quarter of an hour. Lady Eversleigh's bell rang, 
and Jane hurried to the morning-room. 

She found her mistress still seated by the hearth. Her desk 
stood open on the table by her side ; and on the desk lay a 
letter, so newly addressed that the ink on the envelope was still 
wet. 

" You will take that to the lad who is waiting," said Honoria, 
pointing to this newly-written letter. 

" Yes, my lady." 

Jane Pay land departed. On the way between Lady Evers- 
leigh's room and the lobby in the servants' offices, she had ample 
leisure to examine the letter. 

It was addressed — 

" Mr. Brown, at tlie 'Hen and CMchens.* " 

It was sealed with a plain seal. 

jane Pay land was very well acquainted with the writing of 
iier mistress, and she perceived at once that this letter was not 
directed in Lady Eversleigh's usual hand. 

The writing had been disguised. It was evident, therefore, 
that this was a letter which Lady Eversleigh would have shrunk 
from avowing as her own. 

Every moment the mystery grew darker. Jane Payland liked 
her mistress ; but there were two things which she Hked still 
better. Those two things were power and gain. She perceived 
in the possession of her lady's secrets a high-road to the mastery 
of both. Thus it happened that, when she had very nearly ar- 
rived at the lobby where the boy was waiting, Jane Payland 
suddenly changed her mind, and darted off in another direction. 

She hurried along a narrow passage, up the servants' stair- 
case, and into her own room. Here she remained for some fif- 
teen or twenty minutes, occupied with some task which required 
the aid of a lighted candle. 

At the end of that time she emerged, with a triumphant smile 
upon her thin hps, and Lady Eversleigh's letter in her hand. _ 

The seal which secured the envelope was a blank seal ; but it 
was not the same as the one with which Honoria Eversleigh 
had fastened her letter half an hour before. 

The abigail carried the letter to the boy, and the boy departed, 
very well pleased to get clear of the castle without having re- 
ceived any further reproof. 

He went at his best speed to the little inn, where he inquired 
for Mr. Brown. 

That gentleman emerged presently from the inn-yard, wher* 



154 Bun to Earth. 

he had been han^ng about, listeniiig to all that was to bo heard, 
and talking to the ostler. 

He took the letter from the boy's hand, and rewarded him 
with the promised shilling. Then he left the yard, and walked 
down a lane leading towards the river. 

In this unfrequented lane he tore open tho eiiveloi>e» and read 
his letter. 

It was very brief: 

"Since my only chance of escapinrj pe^rsecution is to accede, 
in some measjire, to your demands, I will consent to see you. 
If you will wait for me to-night, at nine o^ clock, by the water- 
side, to the left of the bridge, I luill try to come to that spd at 
that hour. Heaven grant the meeting may he our last ! ' 

Exactly as the village church clock struck nine, a dark figuro 
crossed a low, flat meadow, lying near the water, and appeared 
upon the narrow towing-path by the river's edge. A man whs 
walking on this pathway, his face half hidden by a slouched 
hat, aud a short pipe in his mouth. 

lie lifted his hat presently, and bared his head to the cool night 
breeze. His hair was closely cropped, like that of a convict, 
The broad moonlight shining full upon his face, revealed a dark, 
weather-beaten countenance — the face of the tramp who had stood 
at the park-gates to watch the passing of Sir Oswald's funeral 
train — the face of the tramp who had loitered in the stable-yard 
of the " Hen and Chickens " — the face of the man who had 
been known in Hatcliff Highway by the ominous name of Black 
Milsom. 

This was the man who waited for Honoria Eversleigh in the 
moonlight by the quiet river. 

He advanced to meet her as she came out of the meadow 
and appeared upon the pathway. 

" Good evening, my lady," he said. " I suppose I ougt t to 
be humbly beholden to such a grand lady as you for coming here 
to meet the likes of me. Bui it seems rather strange you must 
needs come out here in secret to see such a very intimate acquaint- 
ance as I am, considering as you're the mistress of that great 
castle up yonder. I must say it seems uncommon hard a man 
can't pay a visit to his own " 

"Hush! " cried Lady Eversleigh. "Do not call me hj thai 
name, if you do not wish to inspire me with a deeper loathing 
than that which I already feel for you." 

" Well, I'm blest! " muttered Mr. Milsom; "that's Tincommoa 
civil language from a young woman to " 

Honoria stopped him by a sudden gesture. 

"I suppose you expect to profit by this interview? '* she said. 

"That I most decidedly do expect," answered the tramp. 



Tn your PatieJice yt are Strong. 155 

" In that case, yon will carefully avoid all mention of the past, 

for otherwise you vrill get nothing from me." 

The man responded at first only with a sulky growL Then, 
after a brief pause, he muttered — 

" I don't want to talk about the past any more than yon do, 
my fine, proud madam. If it isn't a pleasant time for you to 
remember, it isn't a pleasant time for me to remember. It's all 
very well for a young woman who has her victuals found for her 
to give herself airs about the manner other people find tlieir vic- 
tuals ; but a man must Hve somehow or other. If he can't get his 
living in a pleasant way, he must get it in an unpleasant way." 

After this there was a silence which lasted for some minutes. 
Lady Eversleigh was trying to control the agitation which op- 
pressed her, despite the apparent calmness of her manner. 
Black ^Vtilsom walked by her side in sullen silence, waitmg foi 
her to speak. 

The spot was lonely. Lady Eversleigh and her companion 
were justified in beheving themselves unobserved. 

But it was not so. Lonely as the spot was, those two were 
not alone. A stealthy, ghding, female figure, dark and sha- 
dowy in the uncertain light, had followed Lady Eversleigh from 
the castle gates, and that figure was beside her now, as she 
valked with Black Milsom upon the river bank. 

The spy crept by the side of the hedge that separated the river 
bank from the meadow; and sheltered thus, she was able to dis- 
tinguish almost every word spoken by the two upon the bank, 
60 clearly sounded their voices in the still night air. 

" How did you find me here ? " asked Lady Eversleigh, at last. 

•*By accident. You gave us the slip bo cleverly that time you 
took it into your precious head to cut and run, that, hunt where 
we would, we were never able to find yon. I gave it up for a bad 
Job ; and then things went agen me, and I got sent away. But 
I'm my own master again now ; and I mean to make good use 
of my hberty, I can tell you, my lady. I httle knew how you'd 
feathered your nest while I was on the other side of the water. 
I little thought how you would turn up at last, when I least ex- 
pected to see 3'ou. You might have knocked me down with a 
feather yesterday, when that fine funeral came out of the park 
gates, and I saw your face at the window of one of the coaches. 
You must have been an tmcommonly clever young woman, and 
an uncommonly sly one, to get a baronite for your husband, and 
to get a spooney old cove to leave yon all his fortune, after be- 
having so precious bad to him. Did yo:ir husband know who 
yon were when he married yon P " 

** He found me starving in the street of a country town. He 
knew that I was friendless, homeless, penniless. That know* 
ledge did not prevent him making '^e his wife." 



2-56 Run to Earth. 

•* All ! but there was sometliing more lie didn't know. He didn't 
know that yon were Black Milsom's daughter ; yon didn't tell 
him that, I'll lay a wager." 

" I did not tell him that which I know to be a lie," replied 
Honoria, calmly. 

" Oh, it's a lie, is it ? Yon are not my daughter, I suppose ?" 

" ISTo, Thomas Milsom, I am not — I know and feel that I am 
not." 

" Hnmph ! " muttered Black ]\Iilsom, savagely; *' if yon were 
not my daughter, how was it that you grew up to call me father ? " 

" Because I was forced to do so. I remember being told to 
call you father. I remember being being beaten because I re- 
cused to do so — beaten till I submitted from very fear of being 
beaten to death. Oh, i^; was a bright and happy childhood, was 
it not, Thomas ^lilsom ? A childhood to look back to with love 
and regret. And now, finding that fortune has lifted me out of 
the gutter into which you flung me, you come to me to demand 
your share of my good fortune, I suppose ? " 

" That's about it, my lady," answered Mr. Milsom, with su- 
preme coolness. " I don't mind a few hard words, more or less 
— they break no bones; and, what's more, I'm used to 'em. 
What I waut is money, ready money, down on the nail, and 
plenty of it. You may pelt me as hard as you Hke with fine 
speeches, as long as you cash up liberally; but cash I must 
have, by fair means or foul, and I want a pretty good sum to 
Btart with." 

" You want a large sum," said Honoria, quietly; "how much 
do you want ? " 

"*'\Yell, I don't want to take a mean advantage of your ge- 
nerosity, so I'll be moderate. Say five thousand pounds — to 
begin with." 

'" And yon expect to get that from me ? " 

" Of course I do." 

" Five thousand pounds ? " 

•* Five thousand pounds, ready money." 

Lady Eversleigh stopped suddenly, and looked the man full 
in the face. 

"You shall not have five thousand pence," she exclaimed, 
"not five thousand pence. My dead husband's money shall 
never pass into your hands, to be squandered in scenes of vice 
and crime. If you choose to Uve an honest life, I will allow j-ou 
B hundred a year — a pension which shall be paid you quarterly 
— through the hands of my London soUcitors. Beyond this, I 
vill not give you a halfpenny." 

•' What! " roared Black Milsom, in an infuriated tone. "What, 
Jenny Milsom, Honoria, Lady Eversleigh, or whatever you 
msij please to giU yourself, do you think I will stand that P 



Ifi your Patience ye are Strong, 157 

Do you think I will hold my tonorae unless yon pay me kand- 
Bomely to keep silence ? Ton don't know the kind of man yon 
have to deal with. To-morrow every one in the village shall 
know what a high-bom lady Uves np at the old castle — they 
»^hall know what a dutiful daughter the lady of Raynham is, 
and how she suffers her father to tramp barefoot in the mud, while 
she rides in her carriage ! " 

" You may tell them what yon please.** 

** I'll t€ll them plenty, yon may depend upon it." 

"Will you tell them how Valentine Jemam camo by hia 
death ? " asked Honoria, in a strange tone. 

The tramp started, and for a few moments seemed at a loss 
for words in which to reply. But he recovered himself very 
quickly, and exclaimed, savagely — 

"I'm not going to tell them any of your senseless drearaa 
and fancies; but I mean to tell them who you are. That will 
be quite enough for them ; and before I do let them know so 
much, you'd better change your mind, and act generously to- 
wards me." 

" Upon that subject I shall never change my mind," answered 
Honoria Eversleieh, with perfect self-possession. " Yon will ac- 
cept the pension I offer you, or you will reject it, as yon please 
— you mil never receive more, directly or indirectly, from me," 
she continued, presently. "As for your threat of telling my 
miserable history to the people of this place, it is a threat which 
can have no influence over me. Tell these people what you choose. 
Happily, the opinion of the world is of small acoount to me." 

" You will change your mind between this and to-morrow 
morning," cried Black Milsom. 

He was almost beside himself with rage and mortification. 
He felt as if he could have torn this woman to pieces — this proud 
und courageous creature, who dared to defy him. 

" I shall not change my mind," answered Honoria. " You 
could not conquer me, even when I was a weak and helpless 
child ; you must remember that." 

" Humph ! yon were rather a queer temper in those days— 
a strange-looking child, too, with your white face and your big 
black eyes." 

" Ave ; and even in those days my will was able to do battle 
with men and women, and to support me even against your vio- 
lence. You, and those belonging to you, were able to break my 
heart, but were not strong enough to bend my spirit. _ I have the 
same spirit yet, Thomas Milsom ; and yon will find it useless to 
try to turn me from my purp>ose." 

The man did not answer immediately. He looked fiercely, 
gearchinglj, at the pale, resolute face that was turned to him m 
the moonlight. 



158 ll^m to Ea/rih. 

" The mime of my solicitor is Dunford," saia .ttunoria, pte* 
iently ; " Mr. Jo8er)h Dunford, of Gray's Inn. If you ajjply to 
him on yotir arrival in London, he will give yon the first instal- 
ment of your pension." 

"Five and twenty ponndal" grumbled ililsom; "a very 
handsome amount, upon my word I And you have fifteen 
thousand a year!" 

"Ihavo." 

"May the curse of a black and bitter heart cling to you I" 
ciied the man. 

Lady Eversleigh turned from her companion with a gesture 
of loathing. But there was no fear in her heart. She walked 
slowly back to the gate leading into the meadow, followed by 
l^Iilsom, who heaped abusive epithets upon her at every step. 
As she entered the meadow, the figure of the spy drew sud- 
denly back into the shadow of the hedge ; from which it did 
not emerge till Honoria had disappeared through the httle 
gate on the opposite side of the field, and the heavy tramp of 
Milsom's footsteps had died away in the distance. 

Then the figure came forth into the broad moonlight; and 
that subdued, but clear radiance, revealed the pale, thin face of 
Jane Pay land. 

• • • • • 

When Jane Payland was brushing her mistress's hair that 
night, she ventured to sound her as to her future movements, by 
a few cautious and respectful questions, to which Lady Evers- 
leigh rephed with less than her usual reticence. From her 
lady's answers, the waiting-maid ascertained that she had no 
idea of seeking any relaxation in change of scene, but purposed 
to reside at Raynham for at least one year. 

Jane Payland wondered at the decision of her mistress's 
manner. She had imagined that Lady Eversleigh would be 
eager to leave a place in which she found herself the object of 
disapprobation and contempt. 

" If I were her, I would go to France, and be a great lady in 
Paris — which is twenty times gayer and more delightful than 
any place in stupid, straight-laced old England," thought Jane 
Payland. " If I had her money, I would spend it, and enjoy 
life, in spite of all the world." 

"I'm afraid your health will sufier from a long residence at 
the castle, my lady," said Jane, presently, determined to do all 
in her power to bring about a change in her mistress's plans. 
** After such a shock as you have ha3, some distraction must be 
necessary. When I had the honour of living with the Duchesa 
of Mountaintour, and we lost the dear duke, the first thing I 
■aid to the duchess, after the funeral, was — ' Change of scenes 



In your Patience ye are Strong. lb*i 

jonr grace, change of scene; nothing like change of gcene when 
the mind has received a sudden blow.' The sweet duchess's 
physician actually echoed my words, though he had never heard 
them ; and within a week ol the sad ceremony we stai-ted for 
the Continent, where we remained a year ; at the end of which 
period the dear duchess was united to theManiuis of Purpeltown." 

" The duchess was speedily consoled," replied Lady Evers- 
leigh, with a smile which was not without bitterness. "No 
doubt the variety and excitement of a Continental tour did much 
towards blotting out all memory of her dead husband. But I 
do not wish to forget. I am in no hurry to obHterate the image 
of one who was most dear to me." 

Jane Payland looked very searchingly at the pale, eameBt 
face reflected in the glass. 

" For me, that which the world calls pleasnre never possessed 
any powerful fascination," continued Honoria, gravely. " My 
childhood and youth were steeped in sorrow — sorrow beyond 
anything you can imagine, Jane Payland ; though I have heard 
you say that you have seen much trouble. The remembrance 
of it comes back to me more vividly than ever now. Thus it is 
that I shrink from society, which can give me no real pleasure. 
Had I no special reason for remaining at Kaynham, I should 
not care to leave it" 

" But you have a special reason, my lady P" inquired Jane, 
eagerly. 

-I have." 

*' May I presume to ask ** 

" You may, Jane ; and I think I may venture to trust you 
fully, for I believe you are my friend. I mean to stay at Eayn- 
ham, because, in this hour of sorrow and desolation, Providence 
has not abandoned me entirely to despair. I have one bright 
hope, which renders the thought of my future endnrable to me. 
I stay at Eaynham, because I hope next spring an heir will be 
born to Raynham Castle." 

" Oh, what happiness ! And yon wish the heir to be bom at 
the castle, my lady ?" 

" I do ! I have been the victim of one plot, but I will not 
fall blindfold into a second snare; and there is no infamy which 
my enemies are not base enough to attempt. There shall be no 
mystery about my life. Frcm the hour of my husband's death 
to the hour of his child's birth, the friends of that lost husband 
shall know every act of my existence. They shall see me day 
by day. The old servants of the fanuly shall attend me. I will 
live in the old house, surrounded by all who knew and loved Sir 
Oswald. No vile plotters shall ever oe able to say that there 
was trick or artifice connected with the birth of that child. If 
I hve to protect and watch over it, that infant life bhall be 



160 Ilun to Earth. 

guarded against every danger, and defended frora every foe. 
And there will be many foes ready to assail the inheritor of 
Kaynham.'* 

" Why 80, my lady P" 

"Because that young life, and my life, will stand between a 
villain and a fortune. If I and my child were both to die- 
Beginald Eversleigh would become possessor of the wealth to 
which he once was the acknowledged heir. By the terms of Sir 
Oswald's will, he receives very little in the present, but the fu- 
ture has many chances for him. If I die childless, he will inherit 
the Baynham estates. If his two cousins, the Dales, die with- 
out direct heirs, he will inherit ten thousand a year." 

"But that seems only a poor chance after all, my lady. There 
is no reason why Sir Eeginald Eversleigh should survive you or 
tlie two :Mr. Dales." 

" There is no reason, except his own viUany," answered Ho- 
noria, thoughtfully. " There are some men capable of anything. 
But let us talk no further on the subject. I have con tided my 
secret to you, Jane Payland, because I think you are faithfully 
devoted to mv interests. You know now why I am resolved to 
remain at Eaynham Castle ; and you think my decision wise, 
do you not?" 

"Well, yes; I certainly do, my lady," answered Jane, after 
Bome moments of hesitation. 

"And now leave me. Good ni^htl T have kept you lons^ 
this evening, I see by that timepiece. But my thouchts were 
wandering, and I was unconscious of the progress of tmie. Good 
night!" ° 

Jane Payland took a respectful leave of her mistress, and de- 
parted, absorbed in thought. 

" Is she a good woman or a bad one ?" she wondered, as she 
sat by the tire in her own comfortable apartment. " If she is a 
bad woman, she's an out-and-outer; for she looks one in the 
face, with those superb black eyes of hers, as bright and clear as 
the image of truth itself. She must be good and true. Sh% 
must! And vet that night's absence, and that story about 
Yarliorough Tov/€r— tbnt seems too much for anybody on earth 
to believe." 

CHAPTEK XIV. 

A. GHOSTLY VISITANT. 

Fq-b nearlv three years Thomas Milsom had been far awn y from 
London. "He had been arrested on a charge of burglary, within 
a month of Valentine Jernam's ^eath, and condemned to Hve 
years' transportation. In less than three years, by some kind 
of artful mana^eraent, and by the exercise of consummate by- 



A Gh.^ihj Vmiani. 161 

pocrisy, Mr. Milsom had contrived to get himself free again, and 
to return to England his own master. 

He landed in Scotland, and tramped from Granton to York- 
shire, where an accidental encounter with an old acquaintance 
tempted him to linger at Raynham. The two tramps, scoun- 
drels both, and both alike penniless and shoeless, had stood side 
by side at the gates of the park, to see the stately funeral train 
pass out. 

And thus Thomas JVIilsom had beheld her whom he called his 
daughter, — the girl who had fled, with her old grandfather, from 
the shelter of his fatal roof three years before. 

After that unprofitable interview with Honoria, Thomas Mil- 
som set his face Londonwards. 

" The day will come when you and I will square accounts, my 
lady," he muttered, as he looked up to those battlemented tun-ets, 
with a blasphemous curse, and then turned his back upon Rayn- 
ham Castle, and the peaceful little village beneath it. 

The direction in which Mr. Milsom betook himself, after he 
passed the border-land of waste ground and newly-built houses 
which separates London from the country, was the direction of 
Ratcliff Highway. He walked rapidly through the crowded 
streets, in which the crowd grew thicker as he approached the 
regions of the Tower. But rapidly as he walked, the steps of 
Time were faster. It had been bright noon when h§ entered the 
quiet little town of Barnet. It was night when he first heard 
the scraping fiddles and stamping feet of RatcHff Highway. He 
went straight to the " Jolly Tar." 

Here all was unchanged. There were the flaring tallow can- 
dles, set in a tin hoop that hung from the low ceihng, dropping 
hot grease ever and anon on the loungers at the bar. There was 
the music — the same Scotch reels and Irish jigs, played on 
squeaking fiddles, which were made more inharmonious by the 
accompaniment of shrill Pandean pipes. There was the same 
crowd of sailors and bare-headed, bare-armed, loud-voiced wo- 
men assembled in the stifling bar, the same cloud of tobacco- 
smoke, the same Babel of voices to be heard from the concert- 
room within ; while now and then, amongst the shouts and the 
laughter, the oaths and the riot, there sounded the tinkhng of 
the old piano, and the feeble upper notes of a very poor soprano 
voice. 

Black Milsom had drawn his hat over his eyes before entering 
the " Jolly Tar." 

The bar of that tavern was sunk considerably below the level 
of the street, and standing on the uppermost of the_ steps by 
which ISIr. Wayman's customers descended to his hoapitable 
abode. Black Milsom was able tn look across the heads of th^ 
crowd to the face of the lan^lo3^v t>usy behind his bar. 



]G2 Hwn to Earth. 

in tViat elevated position Black ^Milsom waited until Dennis 
\Vayman happened to look np and perceive the stranger on the 
threshold- 

As he did so, Thomas Milsom drew the back of his hand ra- 
pidly across his mouth, with a gesture that w\s evidently in- 
tended as a signal. 

The signal was answered by a nod from Wayman, and then 
Black Milsom descended the three steps, and pushed his way to 
the bar. 

" Can I have a bed, mate, and a bit of snpper ? " he asked, in 
a voice that was carefully disguised. 

"Ay, ay, to be sure you can," answered Wayman; "yon can 
have everything that is comfortable and friendly by paying for it. 
This house is one of the most hospitable places there is — to those 
that can pay the reckoning." 

This rather clumsy joke was received with an applauding 
guffaw by the sailors and women next the bar. 

" If you'll step through that door yonder, you'll find a snng 
little room, mate," said Dennis Wayman, in the tone which he 
might have used in speaking to a stranger; "I'll send you a 
steak and a potato as soon as they can be cooked." 

Thomas Milsom nodded. He pushed open the rough wooden 
door which was so familiar to him, and went into the dingy little 
den which, in the " Jolly Tar," was known as the private parlour. 
It was the room in which he had first seen Valentine Jemam, 
Two years and a half had passed since he had last entered it; 
and during that time Mr. Milsom had been paying the penalty 
of his misdeeds in Van Dieman's Land. This dingy Little den, 
with its greasy walls and low, smoky ceiling, was a kind of 
paradise to the retnrned wanderer. Here, at least, was freedom , 
Here, at least, he was his own master : free to enjoy strong 
drinks and strong tobacco — free to be lazy when he pleased, and 
to work after the fashion that suited him best. 

He seated himself in one chair, and planted his legs on ano- 
ther. Then he took a short clay pipe from his pocket, filled and 
lighted it, and began to smoke, in a slow meditative manner, 
stopping every now and then to mutter to himself^ between the 
puffs of tobacco. 

Mr. Milsom had finished his second pipe of shag tobacco, and 
had given utterance to more than one exclamation of anger and 
impatience, when the door was opened, and Dennis Wayman 
made his appearance, bearing a tray with a couple of covered 
dishes and a large pewter pot. 

" I thought I'd bring you your grub myself, mate," he said; 
•* though I'm precious busy in yonder. I'm uncommonly glad 
to see you back again. I've been Tronderiag where yon wm ere? 
sinc^ you disappeared.** 



A Ghmtly VisUnnt 16f 

"Yon'd htve left off wondering if yon'd known I was on th» 
other side of thifl blessed world of onrs. I thought you knew I 
was " 

Mr. Milflom'B delicacy of feeling prerented his finishing thia 
speech. 

** I knew yon had got into trouble," answered Mr. Wayman. 
"At least, I didn't know for certain, but I guessed as much ; 
though sometimes I was half inclined to think you had turned 
cheat, and given me the slip." 

" Bolted with the swag, I suppose yon mean P " 

" Precisely ! " answered Dennis Wayman, coolly. 

"Which shows your suspicious nature," returned ^Milsom, in 
a sxdky tone. " When an unlucky chap turns his back upon 
his comrades, the worst word in their mouths isn't half bad 
enough for him. That's the way of the world, that is. No, 
Dennis Wayman ; I didn't bolt with the swag — not sirpence of 
Valentine Jemam's money have I had the spending of; no 
even what I won from him at cards. I was nobbled one day, 
without a moment's warning, on a twopenny-halfpenny charge 
of burglary — never you mind whether it was true, or whether it 
was false — that ain't worth going into. I was took under a 
false name, and I stuck to that false name, thinking it more 
convenient. I should have sent to let you know, if I could have 
found a safe hand to take my message ; but I couldn't find a 
living creature that was anything hke safe — so there I was, re- 
manded on a Monday, tried on a Tuesday, and then a fortnight 
after shipped off" like a bullock, along of so many other bullocks; 
and that s the long and the short of it." 

After having said which, Mr. Milsom applied himself to hia 
supper, which consisted of a smoking steak, and a dish of stiU 
more smoking potatoes. 

Dennis Wayman sat watching him for some minutes in 
thoughtful silence. The intent gaze with which he regarded the 
face of his friend, was that of a man who was by no means in- 
clined to believe every syllable he had heard. After Milsom 
had devoured about a pound of steak, and at least two pounds 
of potatoes, Mr. Wayman ventured to interrupt his operations 
by a question. 

" If you didn't collar the money, what became of it P " he aske<.l. 

"Put away," returned the other man, shortly; "and as safe 
as a church, xinless my bad luck goes against me harder tlian it 
ever went yet." 

" You hid itP " said Wayman, interrogatively. 

"I did." 

"WbereP" 

Mr. Milsom looked «| hin friend with a glance of profoTiad 



!64 £wi to EarlK 

•* Wouldn't yon like to know — oh, wouldn't yon jnst like to 
know, Mr. Wayman ? " lie said. " And wouldn't you just dose 
me with a cup of drugged coffee, and cut off to ransack my liid- 
ing-place while I was lying helpless in your hospitable abode. 
That's the sort of thing you'd do, if I happened to be a born 
innocent, isn't it, Mr. Wayman ? But you see I'm not a born 
innocent, so you won't get the chance of doing anything of 
the kind." 

" Don't be a fool," returned Dennis "Wayman, in a surly tonf. 
" You'll please to remember that one half of Valentine Jemam's 
money belongs to me, and ought to have been in my possession 
long before this. I was an idiot to trust it in your keeping." 

" You trusted it in my keeping because you were obliged to do 
«o," answered Black iMilsom, " and I owe you no gratitude for 
your confidence. 1 happened to know a Jew who was wilhng 
10 give cash for the notes and bills of exchange; and you 
trusted them to me because it was the only way to get them 
larned into cash." 

The landlord of the " Jolly Tar" nodded a surly assent to this 
rather cynical statement. 

" I saw my friend the Jew, and made a very decent bargain," 
resumed Milsom, " I hid the money in a convenient place, in- 
tending to bring yon your share at the earliest opportunity. I 
was lagged that very night, and had no chance of touching the 
cash after I had once stowed it away. So, you see, it was no 
fault of mine that you didn't get the money." 

" Humph ! " muttered Mr. Wayman. " It has been rather 
hard lines for me to be kept out of it so long. And now you have 
come back, I suppose you can take me at once to the hiding- 
place. I want money very badly just now." 

** Do you ? " said Thomas j^Iilsom, with a sneer. " That's a 
complaint you're rather subject to, isn't it — the want of money ? 
Now, as I've answered your questions, perhaps you'll answer 
mine. Has there been much stir down this way while I've been 
over the water ? " 

•' Very httle ; things have been as dull as they well could be." 

" Ah ! 80 you^ll say, of course. Can you tell me whether any 
one has lived in my old place while my back has been turned .- " 

The landlord of the " Jolly Tar " started with a gesture of 
Riarm. 

" It wasn't there yon hid the money, was it ? " he asked, eagerly. 

" Suppose it was, what then ? " 

" ^Vhy every farthing of it is lost. The place has l:>een taken 
by a man, who has pulled the beit part of it do^vn, and rebuilt 
it. If you hid your money there, there's little chance of youi 
ever seeing it again," said Wayman. 

Black Milsom's dark face grew livid, aa he started from hii 



A GlosUy Visitant. 165 

chair and draorged on the outer coat which he had taken off on 
entering the room. 

♦♦ It would be like my luck to lose that money," he said ; "it 
would be just like my luck. Come, Wayman. What are you 
staring at, man ? " he cried impatiently. " Come." 

"Where?" 

" To my old place. You can tell me all about the changes a« 
we go. I must see to this business at once." 

The moon was shining over the masts and ringing in the Pool, 
oad over the house-tops of Bermondsey and Wapping, as Black 
Milsom and his companion stai-ted on their way to the old house 
by the water. ^ . . , 

They went, as on a former occasion, in that vehicle winch !Mr 
Wayman called his trap; and as they drove along the lonely 
road, across the marshy flat by the river, Dennis Wayman told 
his companion what had happened in his absence. 

" For a year the house stood empty," he said; "but at the 
end of that time an old sea-captain took a fancy to it because 
of the water about it, and the view of the Pool from the top win- 
dows. He bouglii it, and pulled it almost all to pieces, rebuilt 
it, and I doubt if there is any of the old house standing. He 
has made quite a smart little place of it. He's a queer old chap, 
this Cap'en Buncombe, I'm told, and rather a tough customer.^^' 

" I'll see the inside of his house, however tough he may be," 
answered Milsom, in a dogged tone. " If he's a tough customer, 
he'U find me a tougher. Has he got any family ?" 

" One daughter— as pretty a girl as you'll see within twenty 
miles of London ! " 

" Well, we'll go and have a look at his place to-night. We'd 
better put up your trap at the ' Pilot Boat.' " 

Mr. Wayman assented to the wisdom of this arrangement. 
The " Pilot Boat " was a dilapidated-looking, low-roofed Little 
inn, where there were some tumble-down stables, which were more 
often inhabited by bloated grey water-rats than by horses. In 
these stables Mr. Wayman lodged liis pony and vehicle, while 
he and Milsom walked on to the cottage. 

" WTiy I shouldn't have known the place ! " cried Milsom, as 
his companion pointed to the captain's habitation. 

The transformation was, indeed, complete. The dismal dwell- 
ing, which had looked as if it were, in all truth, haunted by a 
ghost, had been changed into one of the smartest little cottage? 
to be seen in the suburbs of eastern London. 

The ditch had been narrowed and embanked, and two tiny 
nistic bridges, of fantastical wood-work, spanned its dark water. 
The dreary pollard-wiUows had vanished, and evergreens occu- 
] ied their places. The black rushes had been exchanged for 
tiowera, A trim little garden appeared where all had once Ur9 



166 Ban io Earfk, 

waate gronnd; and a flag-ataSi with a bit of bunting, gare a 
naval aspect to the spot. 

All was dark ; not one glimmer of light to be seen in any of 
the windows. 

The garden was secured by an iron gate, and Burronnded by 
iron raSs on all sides, except that nearest the river. Here, the 
only boundary was a hed^e of laurels, which were still low and 
thin; and here Dennis Wayman and his companion found easy 
access to the neatlv-kept pleasure-ground. 

With stealthy footsteps they invaded Captain Buncombe's 
little domain, and walked slowly round the house, examining 
every door and window as they went. 

"Is the captain a rich man.^ " asked Milsom. 

" Yes ; I beheve he's pretty well off — some say uncommonly 
well off. He spent over a thousand pounds on this place." 

" Curse him for his pains ! " returned Black ^Milsom, savage] v. 
" He knows how to take care of his property. It would be a 
very clever burglar that would get into that house. The windows 
are all secured with outside shutters, that seem as solid as if they 
were made of iron, and the doors don't yield the twentieth part 
of an inch." 

Then, after completing his examination of the house, Milsom 
exclaimed, in the same savage tone — 

" Why, the man has swept away every timber of the plac« I 
Hved in:" 

"I told you as much," answered Wayman ; "I've heard say 
there was nothing left of old Screwton's house but a few sohd 
timbers and a stack of chimneys." 

Screwton was the name of the miser whose ghost had been 
■npposed to haunt the old place. 

Black ]^Iil8om gave a start as Dennis uttered the words " stack 
of chimneys." 

" Oh ! " he said, in an altered tone; " so they left thechimney- 
itack, did they ? " 

Mr. Wayman perceived that change of tone. 

** I begin to understand," he said; "you hid that money in 
one of the chimneys." 

" Never you mind where I hid it There's Uttle chance of its 
being found there, after bricklayers pulhng the place to pieces. 
I must get into that house, come what may." 

"You'll find that difficult," answered Wayman. 

" Perhaps, But I'll do it, or my name's not Black Milsom.** 
• *^ • • • • 

Captain Joseph Duncombe, or Joe Duncombe, as he generally 
called himself, was a burly, roty-faoed man of fifty years of age ; 
a heartv, honest fellow. He wai a wifiower, with only one child. 
% danghter, ^^om be idoUzM- 



A 07>j^y Vmiant 167 

Any TatV *r might have been for^ven for being devotedly fond 
df 2u.:ii a daughter as Rosamond Duncombe. 

Rosamond was one of those light-hearted, womanly creatnreg 
who seem bom to make home a paradise. She had a sweet tem- 
per; a laugh which was like music ; a manner which was fasci- 
nation itself. 

When it is also taken into consideration that sne had a pretty 
little nose, lips that were fresh and rosy as ripe red cherries, 
cheeks that were like dewy roses, newly-gathered, and large, 
liquid eyes, of the deepest, clearest blue, it must be confessed 
that Ro'samond Duncombe was a very charming girl. 

If Joseph Duncombe doted on this bright -haired, bine-eyed 
daughter, his love was not nnrecompensed. Ro3£\mond idolized 
her father, whom she believed to be the best and noblest of 
created beings. 

Rosamond's remembrance of her mother was bnt shadowy. 
She had lost that tender protector at a very early age. 

Within the last year and a half her father had retired from 
active service, after selling his vessel, the " Vixen," for a large 
price, so goodly a name had she borne in the merchant service. 

This retirement of Captain Duncombe's was a sacrifice which 
he made for his beloved daughter. 

For himself, the Ufe of a seaman had lost none of its attrac- 
tions. But when he saw his fair young daughter of an age to 
leave school, he determined that she should have a home. 

He had made a very comfortable little fortune during five- 
and-thirty years of hard service. But he had never made a 
sixpence the earning of which he need blush to remember. He 
was known in the service as a model of truth and honesty. 

Driving about the eastern suburbs of London, he happened 
one day to pass that dreary plot of waste ground on which the 
miser's tumble-down dweUing had been built. It was a pleasant 
dav in April, and the place was looking less dreary than usual. 
The spring sunshine Ut up the broad river, and the rigging of 
the ships stood out in sharp black lines against a bright blue sky, 
A board against the dilapidated palings announced that the 
ground was to be sold. 

Captain Duncombe drew up his horse suddenly. 
" That's the place for me !" he exclaimed; " close by the old 
river, whose tide carried me down to the sea on my first voyage 
five-and-thirty years ago— within view of the Pool, and all the 
brave old ships lying at anchor. That's the place for me ! I'll 
Bweep away that old ramshackle hovel, and build a smart water- 
tight little cottage for my pet and me to live in ; ard I'll stick the 
Union Jack on a main-top over our heads, and at night, when I 
lie awake and hew the water rippling by, I shall fancy I'm still 



168 i?«7t to Eaiih. 

A landsman would most likely have stopped tx) consider that 
the neighbourhood was lonely, the ground damp and marshy, 
the approach to this solitary cross-road through the most disre- 
putable pai-t of London. Captain Buncombe considered nothing, 
except two facts— first the river, then the yiew of the ships in 
the Pool. 

He drove back to Wapping, where he found the house-agent 
who was commissioned to sell old Screwton's dwelling. That 
gentleman was only too glad to get a customer for a place which 
uo one seemed inchned to have on any terms. He named his 
]mce. The merchant-captain did not attempt to make a bar- 
gain ; but agreed to buy the place, and to give ready money for 
it, as soon as the necessary deeds were drawn up and signed. In 
a week this was done, and the captain found himself possessor 
of a snug little freehold on the banks of the Thames. 

He lost no time in transforming the place into an abode of 
comfort, instead of desolation. It was only when the transfor- 
mation was complete, and Captain Buncombe had spent upAvards 
of a thousand pounds on his folly, that he became acquainted 
with the common report about the place. 

Sailors are proverbially superstitious. After hearing that 
dismal stoiy, Joseph Buncombe was rather inclined to regret 
the choice he had made ; but he resolved to keep the history of 
old Screwton a secret from his daughter, though it c<5st him 
perpetual efforts to preserve silence on this subject. 

In spite of his precaution, Kosamond came to know of the 
ghost. Visiting some poor cottagers, about a quarter of a mile 
from Eiver View, she heard the whole story — told her unthink- 
ingly by a foolish old woman, who was amongst the recipientg 
of her charity. 

Soon after this, the story reached the ears of the two ser- 
vants — an elderly woman, called Mugby, who acted as cook and 
housekeeper; and a smart girl, called Susan Trott. 

Mrs. Mugby pretended to ridicule the idea of Screwton's ghost. 

"I've lived in a many places, and I've heard tell of a niauy 
ghostes," she said ; '* but never yet did I set eyes on one, which 
riy opinion is that, if people will eat cold pork for supper under- 
done, not to mention crackling or seasoning, and bottled stout, 
which is worse, and lies still heavier on the stomach — unless you 
take about as much ground ginger as would he on a sixpence, 
and as much carbonate of soda as would lie on a fourpenny-bit 
—and go to bed upon it all directly afterwards, they will see no 
end of ghostes. I have never trifled with my digestion, and no 
ghostes have I ever seen." 

The girl, Susan Trott, was by no means so strong-minded. 
The idea of Miser Screwton's ghost haunted her perpetually of 
ED evening ; and she would no more have gone out into the cap- 



A Oh.Hhj Vi^ilnni. 169 

L^iQ's pretty little garvlen ufliir dark, than she would have walked 
Btra.i^-iit to the month of a cannon. 

Rosaraorid Dnncombe affected to echo the heroic sentimeDts 
of the housekeeper, Mrs. Mugbj. There never had 'oeen such 
things as ghosts, and never would be ; and all the foohsh stories 
that vrere told of phantoms and apparitions, had their sole 
foundation in the imaginations of the people who told '■hem. 

Such was the state of things in the household of Captain 
Dnncombe at the time of Black ^lilsom's return from Tan 
Diemen's Land. 

It was within two nights aft^r that return, that an event 
occurred, never to be forgotten by any member of Joseph Dun- 
oombe's household. 

The evening was cold, but fine; the moon, etill at its full, 
shone bright and clear upon the neat garden of Eiver View Cot- 
tage. Captain Buncombe and his daughter were alone in their 
comfortable sitting-room, playing the Cap-tain's favourite game 
of backgammon, before a cheery fire. The housekeeper, Mrs. 
Mugby, had complained all day of a touch of rheumatism, and 
had gone to bed after the kitchen tea, leaving Susan Trott, the 
smart httle parlour-maid, to carry in the pretty pink and gold 
china tea-service, and hissing silver tea-kettle, to iliss Eosamond 
and her papa in the sitting-room. 

Thus it was that, after having removed the tea-tray, and washed 
the pretty china cups and saucers, Susan Trott seated herself 
before the fire, and set herself to trim a new cap, which was 
designed for the especial l^ewilderment of a dashing young baker. 

The dashing young baker had a habit of Hngering at the gate 
of River View Cottage a good deal longer than was required for 
the transaction of his business ; and the dashing young baker 
had more than once hinted at an honourable attachment for 
Miss Su=an Trott. 

Thinking of the baker, and of all the tender thingrs and bright 
promises ot a happy future which he had murmured in her ear, 
as they walked home from church on the last Sunday evening-, 
Susan found the soHtary hours pass quickly enough. She looked 
up suddenly as the clock struck ten, and fotmd that she had let 
the fire bum out. 

It was rather an awful sensation to be alone in the lower part 
of the house after every one else had gone to bed; but Susan 
Trott was very anxious to finish the making of the new cap; so 
she went back to the kitchen, and seated herself once more at 
the table. 

She had scarcely taken up her scissors to cut an end of rib- 
bon, when a low, stealthy tapping sounded on the outer wooden 
ihutter of the window behind her. 

Su^«n gnve a little shriek of terror, and dropped the gcissori 



1?D -feuw to £adh. 

us if they had been red-hot. What could that awful Bonnd mean 
at ten o'clock at night? 

For some moments the little parlour-maid waa completely 
overcome by terror. Then, all at once, her thoughts flew back 
to the person whose image had occupied her mind all that even- 
ing. Was it not just possible that the dashing young baker 
might have something very particular to say to her, and that 
he had come in this mysterious manner to say it ? 

Again the same low, stealthy tapping sounded on the shutter. 

This time Susan Trott plucked up a spirit, took the bright 

ass candlestick in her hand, and went to the little door leading 
from the scnllery to the back garden. 

She opened the door and peered cautiously out. Ko one 
was to be seen — that tiresome baker was indulging in some 
practical joke, no doubt, and trying to frighten her. 

Susan was determined not to be frightened by her sweet- 
heart's tricks, 80 she tripped boldly out into the garden, still 
carrying the brass candlestick. 

At the first step the wind blew out the candle ; but, of course, 
that was of very little consequence when the bright moonlight 
made everything as clearly visible as at noon. 

•' I know who it is," cried Susan, in a voice intended to reach 
the baker ; " and it's a great shame to try and frighten a poor 
gill when she's sitting all alone by herself." 

She had scarcely uttered the words when the candlestick fell 
from her extended hand, and she stood rooted to the gravel 
pathway — a statue of fear. 

Exactly opposite to her, slowly advancing towards the open 
door of the scullery, she saw an awful figure — whose descrip- 
tion was too familiar to her. 

There it was. The ghost — the shadowy image of the man 
who had destroyed himself in that house. A tall, spectral figure, 
robed in a long garment of grey serge ; a scarlet handkerchief 
twisted round the head rendered the white face whiter by con- 
trast with it. 

As this awful figure approached, Susan Trott stepped back- 
wards on the grass, leaving the pathway clear for the dreadful 
visitant. 

The ghostly form stalked on with slow and solemn steps, and 
entered the house by the scullery door. For some minutes 
Su.san remained standing on the grass, horror-struck, powerless 
to move. Then all at once feminine curiosity got the better even 
of terror, and she followed the phantom figure into the house. 

From the kitchen doorway she beheld the figure standing oi» 
the hearth, his arms stretched above the fireplace, as if groping 
for something in the chimney. 

Doubtless this had been the uiiser'ahiJing-pIiC^ for his hoarded 



A Ternile P.tioiv6. 171 

gold, and the ghost rettinied to the spot where the living man 
had been accustomed to conceal his treasures. 

Susan darted across the hall, and ran upstairs to her master's 
room. She knocked loudly on the door, crying, — 

" The ghost, master I the ghost ! the old miser's ghost is in 
the kitchen ! " 

" What ? " roared the captain, starting suddenly from his 
peaceful slumbers. 

The girl repeated her awfal announcement. The captain 
sprang out of bed, dressed himself in trousers and dressing-gown, 
and ran dowu-stairs, the girl close behind him. 

They were just in time to see the figure, in the red head-gear and 
long grey dressing-gov,ii, slowly stalking from the scullery door. 

The captain followed the phantom into the garden ; but held 
himself at a respectful distance from the figure, as it slowly paced 
along the smooth gravel pathway leading towards the laurel 
hedee. 

The figure reached the low boundary that divided the garden 
from the river bank, crossed it, and vanished amongst the thick 
white mists that rose from the water. 

Joseph Duncombe trembled. A ghost was just the one thing 
which could strike terror to the seaman's bold heart. 

When the figure had vanished. Captain Duncombe went to 
the spot where it had passed out of the garden. 

Here he found the young laurels beaten and trampled down, 
as if by the heavy feet of human intruders. 

This was strange. 

He then went to the kitchen, accompanied by Susan Trott, 
who, although shivering like an aspen tree, had jnst sufficient 
strength of mind to find a lucifer and light her candle. _ 

By the hght of this candle Captain Duncombe examined the 
kitchen. 

On the hearth, at his feet, he saw something gleaming in the 
uncertain Hght. He stooped to pick up this object, and found 
that it waa a curious gold coin — a foreign coin, bent in a pecuUar 
manner. 

This was even yet more strange. 

The captain put the coin in his pocket 

" I'll take good care of this, my girl," he said. ** It Isn't 
often a g boot leavea anything behind him." 



CHAPTER XY. 

A TEBJtIBLE EESOLVB, 

When the hawthorns were blooming in the woods of Raynham, 
a r.ew life dawned in the stately chambers of the castle. 

A daughter was bom to the beautiful widow-lady — a svicel 



172 RuH to Earth. 

consoler iti the hour of her loneliness and desolation. Hdiioi^ 
Eversleigh lifted her heart to heaven, and rendered thanks Icr 
the priceless treasnre which had been bestowed upon her. She 
had kept her word. From the honr of her husband's death she 
had never quitted Raynham Castle. She had lived alone, nn- 
visited, unknown ; content to dwell in stately soUtude, rarely 
extending her walks and driyes beyond the boundary of the park 
and forest. 

Some few of the county gentry would have visited her ; but 
she would not consent to be visited by a few. Honoria Evers- 
leigh's was a proud spirit; and until the whole county should 
acknowledge her innocence, she would receive no one. 

" Let them think of me or talk of me as they please," she 
«aid ; " I can Hve my own life without them." 

Thus the long winter months passed by, and Honoria was 
alone in that abode whose splendour must have seemed cold and 
dreary to the friendless woman. 

But when she held her infant in her arms all was changed 
She looked down upon the baby-girl, and murmured softly— 

"Your life shall be bright and peaceful, dearest, whatever 
mine may be. The future looks bleak and terrible for me ; but 
for you, sweet one, it may be bright and fair." 

The young mother loved her child with a passionate intensity ; 
but even that love could not exclude darker passions from her 
breast. 

There was much that was noble in the nature of this woman , 
but there was also much that was terrible. From her childhood 
she had been gifted with a power of intellect — a strength of will 
— that lifted her high above the common ranks of womanhood. 

A fatal passion had taken possession of her soul after the 
untimely death of Sir Oswald; and that passion was a craving 
for revenge. She had been deeply wronged, and she could not 
forgive. She did not even try to forgive. She believed that 
revenge was a kind of duty which she owed, not only to herself^ 
but to the noble husband whom she had lost. 

The memory of that night of anguish in Yarborough Tower, 
and that still darker hour of shame and despair in which Sir 
Oswald had refused to believe her innocent, was never absent 
from the mind of Honoria Eversleigh. She brooded upon these 
dark memories. Time could not lessen their bitterness. Even 
the soft influence of her infant's love could not banish those 
fatal recollections. 

Time passed. The child grew and flourished, beautifnl to her 
mother's enraptured eyes ; and yet, even by theside of that fair 
baby's face arose the dark image of Victor Carrington. 

For a long time the county people had kept close watch npcB 
Vhe proceedings of the lady at the castle. 



A Terrible Besolve. 173 

The county people discovered that Lady Eversleigt never left 
Eaynham ; that she devoted herself to the rearing of her child 
as entirely as if she had been the humblest peasant-woman; 
and that she expended more money upon solid works of charity 
than had ever before been so spent by any member of the Evers- 
leigh family, though that family had been distinguished by 
much generosity and benevolence. 

The county people shrugged their shoulders contemptuously. 
They could not believe in the goodness of this woman, whose 
parentage no one knew, and whom every one had condemned. 

She is playing a part, they thought ; she wishes to impress ua 
with the idea that she is a persecuted martyr — a suffering angel ; 
and she hopes thus to regain her old footing amongst us, and 
queen it over the whole county, as she did when that poor in- 
fatuated Sir Oswald first brought her to Eaynham. 

This was what the county people thought ; until one day the 
tidings flew far and wide that Lady Eversleigh had left the cas- 
tle for the Continent, and that she intended to remain absent for 
some years. 

This seemed very strange ; but what seemed still more strange, 
was the fact that the devoted mother was not accompanied by 
her child. 

The little girl, Gertrude, so named after the mother of the lata 
baronet, remained at Raynham under the care of two persons. 

These two guardians were Captain Copplestone, and a ^vidow 
lady of forty years of age, Mrs. Morden, a person of unblemished 
integrity, who had been selected as protectress and governess of 
the young heiress. 

The child was at this time two and a half years of age. Yery 
young, she seemed, to be thus left by a mother who had appeared 
to idolize her. 

The county people shook their heads. They told each other 
that Lady Eversleigh was a hypocrite and an actress. She had 
never really loved her child — she had played the part of a sor- 
rowing widow and a devoted mother for two years and a half, 
in the hope that by this means she would regain her position in 
society. 

And now, finding that this was impossible, she had all of a 
sudden grown tired of playing her part, and had gone off to the 
Continent to spend her money, and enjoy her life after her own 
fashion. 

This was what the world said of Honoria Eversleigh; but if 
those who spoke of her could have possessed themselves of her 
secrets, they would have discovered something very different from 
that which they imagined. 

Lady Eversleigh left the castle in the early part of November 
locompanied only by her maid, Jane Payland. 



174 Ewn to BaHh. 

A strange time of tL*; year in which to start for the Continent, 
people said. It seemed still more strange that a woman of Lady 
Eversleigh's rank and fortune should go on a Continental jour- 
ney with no other attendant than a maid-servant. 

If the eyes of the world could have followed Lady Eversleigh, 
they would have made starthng discoveries. 

While it was generally supposed that the baronet's widow was 
on her way to E-ome or Naples, two plainly-dressed women took 
possession of unpretending lodgings in Percy Street, Tottenham 
Court Road. 

The apartments were taken by a lady who called herself Mrs. 
Eden, and who required them only for herself and maid. The 
apartments consisted of two large drawing-rooms, two bedrooms 
on the floor above, and a dressing-room adjoining the best bed- 
room. 

The proprietor of the house was a Belgian merchant, called 
Jacob Mulck — a sedate old bachelor, who took a great deal of 
snuff, and disquieted himself very little about the world in 
general, so long as life went smoothly for himself 

The remaining occupant of the house was a medical student, 
who rented one of the rooms on the third floor. Another room 
on the same floor was to let. 

Such was the arrangement of the house when Mrs. Eden and 
her maid took possession of their apartments. 

Mr. Jacob Mulck thought he had never seen such a beautiful 
woman as his new lodger, when he entered her apartment, to as- 
certain whether she was satisfied with the accommodation pro- 
vided for her. 

She was sitting in the fuU light of an unshaded lamp as he 
entered the room. Her black silk dress was the perfection of 
simplicity; its sombre hues relieved only by the white collar which 
encircled her slender throat. Her pale face looked of an ivory 
whiteness, in contrast to the dark, deep eyes, and arched brows 
of sombre brown. 

The lady pronounced herself perfectly satisfied with all the 
arrangements that had been made for her comfort. 

*'I am in London on business of importance," she said; "and 
shall, therefore, receive very Httle company ; but I may have to 
hold many interviews with men of business, and I trust that my 
affairs may not be made the subject of curiosity or gossip, either 
in this house or outside it." 

Mr. Mulck declared that he was the last person in the world 
to talk ; and that his two servants were both elderly women, the 
very pink of steadiness and propriety. 

Having said this, he took his leave ; and as he did so, stole 
one more glance at the beautiful stranger. 

She had fallen into a.n attitude which betrayed complete ab- 



A Terrible Eesolve. 175 

ttraction of mind. Her elbow rested on tlic table by her side ; 
her eyes were shaded by her hand. 

Upon that white, slender hand, Jacob Mnlck saw diamonds 
such as are not often seen upon the fingers of the inhabitants of 
Percy Street. Mr. Mnlck occasionally dealt in diamonds ; and 
he knew enongh about them to perceive at a crlance that the rings 
worn by his lodger were worth a small fortune. 

"Humph!" muttered Mr. Mulck, as he returned to his com- 
fortable sitting-room; "those diamonds tell a tale. There's 
something mystenous about this lodger of mine. However, my 
rent will be safe — that's one comfort." 

While the landlord was musing thus, the lodger was employed 
in a manner which might well have awakened his curiosity, could 
he have beheld her at that moment. 

She had fallen on her knees before a low easy-chair — her face 
buried in her hands, her slender frame shaken by passionate sobs. 

" My child !" she exclaimed, in almost inarticulate murmurs; 
" my beloved, my idol ! — it is ao bitter to be absent from you I 
60 bitter! so bitter!" 

Early on the morning after her arrival in London, Honoria 
Eversleigh, otherwise Mrs. Eden, went in a cab to the office of 
an individual called Andrew Larkspur, who occupied dingy 
chambers in Lyon's Inn. 

The science of the detective officer had not, at that time, 
reached its present state of perfection; but even then there were 
men who devoted their lives to the work of private investigations, 
and the elucidation of the strange secrets and mysteries of social 
life. 

Such a man was Andrew Larkspur, late Bow Street runner, 
now hanger-on of the new detective police. He was renowned 
for his skill in the prosecution of secret service ; and it was ru- 
moured that he had amassed a considerable fortune by his mys- 
terious employment. 

He was not a man who openly sought employers. His services 
were in great request among a certain set of people, andhe had 
little idle time on his hands. His name was painted in dirty 
white letters on the black door of his dingy chambers on a foui-th 
story. On this door he called himself, '' Ayidrew Larkspur, Corn* 
mission Agent." 

It will be seen by-and-by how Honoria Eversleigh had becom« 
acquainted wit'n the fact of this man's existence. 

She went alone to seek an interview with him. She had found 
herself compelled to confide in Jane Payland to a very consider- 
able extent; but she did not tell that attendant more than she 
was obliged to tell of the dark business which had brought hei 
to London. 



176 Bun to Earth. 

She was fortunate enough to find Mr. Andrew Larkspur alone, 
and disengaged. He was a little, sandy -haired man, of some 
sixty years of age, spare and wizened, with a sharp nose, like a 
beak, and thin, long arms, ending in large, claw-like hands, tha 
were like the talons of a bird of prey. Altogether, I^Ir. Lark 
spur had very much of the aspect of an elderly vulture which 
had undergone partial transformation into a human being. 

Honoria was in no way repelled by the aspect of this man. 
She saw that he was clever ; and fancied him the kind of person 
who would be likely to serve her faithfully. 

" I have been informed that you are skilled in the prosecu- 
tion of secret investigations," she said ; " and I wish to secure 
your services immediately. Are you at liberty to devote your- 
self to the task I wish to be performed by you ? " 

Mr. Larkspur was a man who rarely answered even the sim- 
plest question until he had turned the subject over in his mind, 
and carefully studied every word that had been said to him. 

He was a man who made caution the ruling principle of his 
life, and he looked at every creature he encountered in the course 
of his career as an individual more or less hkely to take him in. 

The boast of Mr. Larkspur was, that he never had been 
taken in. 

" I've been very near it more than once," he said to his par- 
ticular friends, when he unbent so far as to be confidential. 
" I've had some very narrow escapes of being taken in and done 
for as neatly as you please. There are soiTxe artful dodgers, 
whose artful dodging the oldest hand can scarcely guard against; 
but I'm proud to say not one of those artful dodgers has ever 
yet been able to get the better of me. Perhaps my time is to 
come, and I shall be bamboozled in my old age." 

Before replying toHonoria's inquiry, Andrew Larkspur studied 
her from head to foot, with eyes whose sharp scrutiny would have 
been very unpleasant to anyone whohad occasion for concealment. 

The result of the scrutiny seemed to be tolerably satisfactor}^ 
for Mr. Larkspur at last replied to his visitor's question in a 
tone which for him was extremely gracious. 

"You want to know whether you can engage my services,** 
he said ; " that depends upon circumstances." 

"Upon what circumstances ? " 

" Whether you will be able to pay me. lyty hands are very 
full just now, and I've about as much business as I can possibly 
get through." 

" I shall want you to abandon all such business, and to devote 
yourself exclusively to my service," said Honoria. 

" The deuce you will ! " exclaimed Mr. Larkspur. " Do you 
happen to know what my time is worth ? " 

Mr. Larkspur looked positively outraged by the idea that 



A Ternble Betolee. 177 

any one conld sTippoee they could secure a monopoly of his valu- 
able services. 

" That is a question vrith which I have no concern," answered 
Honoria, coolly. " The ivork which I require you to do will 
most hkely occupy all your time, and entirely absorb your atten- 
tion. I am quite prepared to pay you hberally for your sei-vices, 
and I shall leave you to name your own terms. I shall rely on 
your honour as a man of business that those terms will not be 
exorbitant, and I shall accede to them without further ques- 
tion." 

" Humph ! " muttered the suspicious Andrew. " Do you know, 
ma'am, that sounds almost too Hberal ? I'm an old stager, 
ma'am, and have seen a good deal of Hfe, and I have generally 
found that people who are ready to promise so much beforehand, 
are apt not to give anything when their work has been done." 

** The fact that you have been cheated by swindlers is no rea- 
son why should insult me," answered Honoria. "^I wished tc 
secure your services ; but I cannot continue_ an interview in 
which I find my offers met by insolent objections. There are, 
no doubt, other people in London who can assist me in the busi- 
ness I have in hand. I will wish you good morning." 

She rose, and was about to leave the room. ^ Mr. Larkspur 
began to think that he had been rather too cautious ; and that 
perhaps, this plainly-attired lady might be a very good customer. 

"You must excuse me, ma'am," he said, "if I'm rather a sus- 
picious old chap. You see, it's the nature of my business to 
make a man suspicious. If you can pay me for my time, I shall 
be willing to devote myself to your service ; for I'd much rather 
give my whole mind to one business, than have ever so many 
odds and ends of affairs jostUng each other in my brain. But 
the fact of it is, ladies very seldom have any idea what business 
is : however clever they may be in other matters — playing the 
piano, working bead-mats and worsted shppers, and such hke. 
Now, I dare say you'll open your eyes uncommon wide when I 
tell you that my business is worth nigh upon sixteen pound a 
week to me, taking good with bad ; and though you mayn't be 
aware of it, ma'am, having, no doubt, given your mind exclusive 
to Berlin wool, and such Hke, sixteen pound a week is eight 
hundred a year." 

Mr. Larkspur, though not much given to surprise, was some- 
what astonished to perceive that his lady-visitor did not open 
her eyes any wider on receiving this intelligence. 

" If you have earned eight hundred a year by your profes- 
■ion," she returned, quietly, "I will give you twenty pounds a 
"week for your exclusive services, and that will be a thousand and 
forty pounds a year." 

Thia time, Andrew Larkspur was stiU more surprised, though 



178 Em io Sarlk 

he was »o completely master of himself as tooonoealthe smallest 
evidence of hia astonishment. 

Here was a woman who had not devoted her mind to Berlin 
wool -work, and whose arithmetic was irreproachable ! 

*' Humph ! " he muttered, too cautious to betray any appear- 
ance of eagerness to accept an advantageous offer. "A thou- 
gand a year is very well in its way ; but how long is it to last? 
If I turn my back upon this business here, it'll all tumble tc 
pieces, and then where shall I be when you have done with me?" 
" I will engage yon for one year, certain. * 
" That won't do, ma'am ; yon must make it three years, cer 
tain." 

"Very well; I am willing to do that," answered Honoria. 
•* I shall, in all probability, require your services for three years.'* 
Mr. Larkspur regretted that he had not asked for an engage- 
ment of six years. 

" Do you agree to those terms P " asked Honoria. 
"Yes," answered the detective, with well-assumed indiffer 
cnoe; "I suppose I may as well accept those terms, though 1 
dare say I might make more money by leaving myself free to give 
my attention to anything that might turn up. And now, how 
am I to be paid P You see, you're quite a stranger to me." 

" I am aware of that, and I do not ask you to trust me," 
replied Honoria. " I will pay yon eighty pounds a month." 

"Eighty pounds a month of four weeks," interposed the cau- 
tious Larks])ur ; " eighty })Ound3 for the lunar month. That 
makes a difference, you know, and it's just as well to be par- 
ticular." 

" Certainly ! " answered Lady Eversleigh, with a half-con- 
temptuous smile. " You shall not be cheated. You shall receive 
your payment monthly, in advance ; and if you require security 
for the future, I can refer you to my bankers. My name is 
Mrs. Eden— Harriet Eden, and I bank with Messrs.^ Coutts." 
The detective nibbed his hands with a air of gratification. 
"Nothing could be more straightforward and business-like," he 
said. "And when shall yourequire my ser\nces, Mrs. Eden ? " 
"Immediately. There is an apartment vacant in the house 
in which I lodge. I should wish you to occupy that apartment, 
as you would thus be always at hand when I had any communi- 
cation to make to you. Would that be possible ? " 

" Well, yes, ma'am, it would certainly be possible," replied 
Mr. Larkspur, after the usual pause for reflection ; " but I'm 
afraid I should be obliged to make that an extra." 
" You shall be paid whatever you require." 
•* Thajik you, ma'am. You see, when a person of my age 
has been Euxustomed to live in one place for a long time, it goe» 
ggaitiBt bim to change hii habits. However, to oblige you, I'iJ 



^ ^mme Mmc^. 179 

g«t together my little trijjs, and sliiffc my quarter to the lodging 
yon speak of." 

" Good. The honse in qnestion is No. 90, Percy Street, Tot- 
tenham Conrt Road." 

Mr. Larkspnr was surprised to find that a lady who could 
afford to offer him more than a thousand a year, was never- 
theless contented to Uve in such a middle-class situation as 
Percy Street. 

"Can you go to the new lodging to-morrow?" asked Honoria. 

" Well, no, ma'am ; you must give me a week, if you please. 
I must wind up some of the affairs I have been working upon, 
yon see, and hand over my chents to other people ; and I must 
set my books in order. I've a few very profitable affairs in 
hand, I assure you. There's one which might have turned out 
a great prize, if I had been only able to carry it through. But 
those sort of things all depend on time, you see, ma'am. They're 
very slow. I have been about this one, off and on, for over 
three years ; and very little has come of it yet." 

The detective was turning over one of his books mechanically 
as he said this. It was a large ledger, filled with entries, in a 
queer, cramped handwriting, dotted about, here and there, with 
mysterious marks in red and blue ink. Mr. Larkspur stopped 
suddenly, as he turned the leaves, his attention arrested by one 
particular page. 

" Here it is," he said ; " the very business I was speaking o£ 
Five hundred pounds for the discovery of the murderer, or mur- 
derers, of Valentine Jemam, captain and owner of the ' Pizarro,' 
whose body was found in the river, below Wapping, on the third of 
April, 1836. That's a very queer business, that is, and I've never 
had leisure to get very deep into the rights and wrongs of it jet." 

Mr. Larkspur looked up presently, and saw that his visitor's 
fcice had grown white to the very lips. 

" You knew Captain Jemam ? " he said. 

« JN^-Q— yes, I knew him slightly ; and the idea of his murdei 
is very shocking to me," answered Honoria, strugghng with her 
agitation. " Do yon expect to discover the secret of that dread- 
ful crime ? " 

" Well, I don't knov about that," said Andrew Larkspnr, 
with the careless and business-Hke tone of a man to whom a 
murder is an incident of trade. " You see, when these things 
have gone by for a long time, without anything being found out 
about them, the secret generally comes out by accident, if it ever 
comes out at aU. There are cases in which the secret never 
does come out ; but there are not many such cases. There's a 
deal in axjcident ; and a man of my profession must be always on 
the look-out for accident, or he'll lose a great many chances. 
You see those red marks stuck here and there, among all that writ- 



180 -Rw« to 'Eart'h. 

ing iablue ink. Those red marks are set against the facts that 
seem pretty clear and straightforward ; the blue marks are set 
tgainst facts that seem dark. Ton see, there's more blue marks 
than red. That means that it's a dark case." 

Honoria Eversleigh bent orer the old man's shoulder, and xeada 
few fragmentary Unes, here and there, in the page beneath her. 
"Seen at the 'Jolly TaVy Batcliff Highway, a low public- 
house frequented hy sailors. Seen with two men, Dennis Way- 
man, landlord of the * Jolly Tar,* and a man called Milson, or 
Milsom. The man Milson, or Milsom, has since disappeared. Is 
helievedto have been transported, hut is not to he heard of abroad.'* 
A little below these entries was another, which seemed to 
Sonoria Eversleigh to be inscribed in letters of fire : — 

" Valentine Jernam was hnown to have fallen in love with a 
girl who sang at the * Jolly Tar ' public-house, and it is supposed 
that he was lured to his death hy the agency of this girl. She is 
described as about seventeen years of age, very handsome, dark 

eyes, dark hair " 

Mr. Larkspur closed the volume before Lady Eversleigh could 
read further. She returned to her seat, still terribly pale, and 
with a sickening pain at her heart. 

All the shame and anguish of her early life, the unspeakable 
horror of her girlhood, had been brought vividly back to her by 
the perusal of the memoranda in the detective's ledger. 

" 1 mean to try my luck yet at getting at the bottom of the 
mystery," said Andrew Larkspur. "Five hundred pounds 
reward is worth working for. I — I've a notion that I shall lay 
my hands upon Valentine Jemam's murderer sooner or later." 
" Who ofi'ers the reward ? " asked Honoria. 
" Government offers one hundred of it ; George Jernam four 
hundred more." 

" Who is George Jernam P " 

" The captain's younger brother — a merchant-captain himself 
— the owner of several vessels, and, I beHeve, a rich man. He 
came here, accompanied by a queer-looking fellow, called Joyce 
Harker— a kind of clerk, I beHeve — who was very much attached 
to the murdered man," 

" Yes — yes, I know," murmured Honoria. 
She had been so terribly agitated by the mention of Yalentina 
Jemam's name, that her presence of mind had entirely aban- 
doned her. 

"You knew that humpbacked clerk I " exclaimed Mr. Larkspur, 
" I have heard of him," she faltered. 

There was a pause, during which Lady Eversleigh recovered 
in some degree from the painful emotion caused by memories so 
unexpectedly evoked. 



A Terrible Resolve. 181 

"I may as well give yon some preliminary instructions to-day," 
Bhe said, re-assnming her bnsiness-like tone, " and I will write 
fon a cheque for the first month of your service." 

JMr. Larkspur lost no time in providing his visitor with pen 
and ink. She took a cheque-book from her pocket, and filled in 
a cheque for eighty pounds in Andrew Larkspur's favour. 
The cheque was signed "Harriet Eden." 
" When you present that, you vdll be able to ascertain that 
your future payments will be secure," she said. 

She handed the cheque to Mr. Larkspur, who looked at it 
with an air of assumed indifference, and slipped it carelessly into 
Lis waistcoat pocket. 

" And now, ma'am," he said, " I am ready to receive your in- 
structions." 

" Li the first place," said Honoria, " I must beg that you will 
on no occasion attempt to pry into my motives, whatever I may 
require of you." 

"That, ma'am, is understood. I have nothing to do with the 
motives of my employers, and I care nothing about them." 

"I am glad to hear that," rephed Honoria. " The business 
in which I require your aid is a very strange one ; and the time 
may come when you will be half-incHned to believe me mad. 
But, whatever I do, however mysterious my actions may be, 
think always that a deeply rooted purpose Hes beneath them ; 
and that every thought of my brain — every trivial act of my 
life, will shape itself to one end." 
" I ask no questions, ma'am." 
" And yon will serve me faithfolly — blindly P " 
" Yes, ma'am ; both faithfully and blindly." 
" I think I may trust you," replied Honoria, very earnestly 
"And now I will speak freely. There are two men upon whose 
lives I desire to place a spy. I want to know every act of their 
lives, every word they speak, every secret of their hearts — I wish 
to be an unseen witness of their lonely hours, an impalpable 
guest at every gathering in which they mingle. I want to be 
near them always in spirit, if not in bodily presence. I want to 
track them step by step, let their ways be never so dark and 
winding. This is the purpose of my life ; but I am a woman- 
powerless to act freely — bound and fettered as wonie*i only are fet- 
tered. Do you begin to understand now what I require of you.** 
"I think I do." 

" Mr. Larkspur," continued Honoria, with energy. " I want 
yon to be my second self. I want you to be the shadow of these 
two men. Wherever they go, you must follow — in some shape 
or other you must haunt them, by night and day. It is, of course, 
a difficult task which I demand of yon. You have to decide 
whether it is impossible." 



iS2 Bim to EaHh. 

" Impossible ! ma'am — not a bit of it. Nothing is Impossible 
to a man who has served twenty years' apprenticeship as a Bow 
Btreet runner. You don't know what we old Bow Street hands 
can do when we're on our mettle. I've heard a deal of talk about 
Fooshay, that was at the head of Bonaparty's pohce — but bless 
your heart, ma'am, Fooshay was a fool to us. I've done as 
much and more than what you talk of before to-day. All you 
have to do is to give me the names and descriptions of the two 
men I am to v/atch, and leave all the rest to me." 

"One of these two men is Sir Eeginald Eversleigh, Baronet, 
a man of small fortune — a bachelor, occupying lodgings in 
VilHers Street. I have reason to beheve that he is dissipated, d 
gamester, and a reprobate." 

" Good," said Mr. Larkspur, who jotted down an occasiona, 
note in a greasy little pocket-book. 

*' The second person is a medical practitioner, called Victor 
Carrington — a Frenchman, but a perfect master of the Enghsh 
language, and a man whose youth has been spent in England. 
The two men are firm friends and constant associates. In keep- 
ing watch upon the actions of one, you cannot fail to see much 
of the other." 

"Very good, ma'am; you may make your mind easy," an- 
iwered the detective, as coolly as if he had just received the 
mo&t common-place order. 

He escorted Honoria to the door of his chambers, and left her 
to descend the dingy staircase as best as she might. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

Wi^ITING AND WATCHING. 

Valektixe Jeknak's younger brother, George, had journeyed 
to and fro on the high seas five years since the murder of the 
brave and generous -hearted sea-captain. 

Things had gone well with Captain George Jemam, and in the 
whole of the trading navy there were few richer men than the 
owner of the " Pizarro," " Stormy Petrel," and " Albatross." 

With these three vessels constantly afloat. George Jemam 
was on the high road to fortune. 

His Hfe had not been by any means uneventful since the 
death of his brother, though that mysterious calamity had taken 
away the zest from his success for many a day, and though he 
no longer cherished the same visions of a happy home in Eng- 
land, when his circumstances should have become so prosperous 
as to enable him to " settle down." This same process of settling 
down was one by no means congenial to George Jemam's dis- 
position at any time ; and he was far less hkely to take to it 
kindly now, than when " dear old Val "—as he began to call hif 



W(iiUsig and Wakhirug. 183 

brothei in his thonghts onoe more, when the horror of the mur- 
der had begun to wear off, and the lost friend seemed again 
familiar — had been the prospective sharer of the retirement which 
was to be so tranquil, so comfortable, and so well-earned. It 
had no attraction for George at all ; for many a long day after 
Joyce Barker's letter had reached him he never dwelt upon it; 
he set his face hard against his grief, and worked on, as men 
must work, fortunately for them, under all chances and 
changes of this nioi-tal life, until the last change of all. At 
first, the thirst for revenge upon his brother's murderers had 
been hot and strong upon George Jernam — almost as hot and 
strong as it had been, and continued to be, upon Joyce 
Harker ; but the natures of the men differed materially. George 
Jernam had neither the dosrged persistency nor the latent fierce- 
ness of his dead brother's friend and protege ; and the long, slow, 
nntiring watching to which Harker devoted himself would have 
been a task so uncongenial as to be indeed imj^ossible to the 
more open, more congenial temperament of the merchant-captain. 

He had responded warmly to Harker's letters; he had more 
than sanctioned the outlay which he had made, in money paid 
and money promised, to the skilled detective to whom Harker 
had entrusted the investigation of the mui'dei- of Valentine 
Jernam. He had awaited every communication with anxious 
interest and suspense, and he had never landed after a voyage, 
and received the letters which awaited his arrival, without a 
keen revival of the first sharp pang that had smote him with 
the tidings of his brother's fate. 

Happily George Jernam was a busy man, and his life was 
full of variety, adventure, and incident. In time he began, not 
to forget, indeed, but to remember less frequently and less pain- 
fully, the manner of his brother's death, and to regard the fixec 
f)urpose of Joyce Harker's fife as more or less of a harmless de- 
usion. A practical man in his own way, George Jernam had 
very vague ideas concerning the Hves of the criminal classes, 
and the faculties and facilities of the science of detection ; and 
the hope of finding out the secret of his brother's fate had long 
ago deserted him. 

Only once had he and Joyce Harker met since the murder of 
Valentine Jernam. George had landed a cargo at Hamburg, and 
had given his brother's friend rendezvous there. Then the 
two men had talked of all that had been done so vainly, and all 
that remained to be d^,'-c, Harker hoped, so effectively. Joyce 
had never been able t^ l.«ing his suspicions concerning Black 
Milsom to the test of f ;wf. Unwearied search had been made 
for the old man who h^ played the part of grandfather to the 
beantifol ballad-singer; but it had been wholly ineffectual. All 
that could be sticei't^ined concerning him was, that he had died 



184 S/un to Earth. 

in a hospital, in a country town on the great northern road, and 
that the girl had wandered away from there, and never more 
teen heard of. Of Black Milsom, Joyce Harker had never lost 
sight, nntil hia career received a temporary check by the sentence 
of transportation, which had sent the mffian out of the country. 
But all efforts of the faithful watcher had failed to discover 
the missing link in the erldence which connected Black Milsom 
"with Valentine Jernam's death. All his watching and question- 
ing — all his silent noting of the idle talk around him — all his 
eager endeavour to take Dennis Wayman unawares, failed to 
enable him to obtain evidence of that one fact of which he was 
convinced — the fact that Valentine Jernam had been at the pub- 
lic-house in Ratcliff Highway on the day of his death. 

When the inutility of his endeavours became clear to Joyce 
Harker, he gave up his lodging in Wayman's house, and locate 
himself in modest apartments at Poplar, where he transacted 
a great deal of business for George Jernam, and maintained a 
constant, though unprofitable, communication with the detective 
officer to whom he had confided the task of investigation, and 
who was no other than Mr. Andrew Larkspur. 

In one of the earliest of the numerous letters which George 
Jernam addressed to Harker, after the death of Valentine, the 
merchant-captain had given his zealous friend and assistant cer- 
tain instructions concerning the old aunt to whom the two deso- 
late boys had owed so much in their ill-treated childhood, and 
whom they had so well and constantly requited in their pros- 
perous manhood. These instructions included a request that 
Joyce Harker would visit Susan Jernam in person, and furnish 
George with details relative to that venerable lady's require- 
ments, looks, health, and general circumstances. 

" I should have seen the good old soul, you know," wrote 
George, " when I was to have seen poor Val ; but it didn't please 
God that the one thing should come off any more than the 
other, and it can't be helped. But I should like you to run 
down to Allanbay and look her up, and let her know that she is 
neither neglected nor forgotten by her vagabond nephew." 

So Joyce Harker went down to the Devonshire village, and 
introduced himself to George Jernam's aunt. The old lady was 
much altered since she had last welcomed a visitor to her pretty, 
;,heerful cottage, and had listened with simple surprise and 
pleasure to her nephew Valentine's tales of the sea, and they 
had talked together over the troublous days of his unhappy 
childhood. The untimely and tragic death of the merchant- 
captain had afflicted her deeply, and had filled her mind with 
Bentiments which, though they differed in degree, closely re- 
sembled in their nature those of Joyce Harker. The determi- 
nation to b6 revenged upon the murderers of " her boy " whick 



Waiting and Watcliing^ 185 

Harter expressed, found a ready echo i-n the breast of liis hearer, 
and she thanked him warmly for his devotion to the master he 
had lost. Strong mntnal hking grew up between these two, and 
when her visitor left her — after having carried out all George's 
wishes in respect to her, on the scale of liberality which the 
grateful nephew had dictated — Susan Jernam gave him a cordial 
invitation to pass any leisure time he might have at the cottage, 
though, as she remarked — 

*' I am not very lively company, Mr. Harker, for you or any- 
body, for I can't talk of anything but George and poor Valentine." 

"And I don't care to talk of much else either, Mrs. Jernam," 
said Harker, in reply; "so, you see, we couldn't possibly be 
better company for each other." 

Thus it happened that a second tie between George Jernam 
and Joyce Harker arose, in the person of the sole sur^dving rela- 
tive of the former, and that Joyce had made three visits to the 
pretty sea-side village in which the childhood of his dead friend 
and his Hving patron had been passed, before he and George 
Jernam met again on English ground. 

When at length that long-deferred meeting took place, Valen- 
tine Jernam' s murder was a mystery rather more than five years 
old, and Mr. Andrew Larkspur had made no progress towards 
its solution. He had been obliged to acknowledge to Joyce 
Harker that he had not struck the right trail, and to confess that 
he had begun to despond. The disappearance of Black Milsom 
from among the congenial society of thieves and ruffians which 
he frequented was, of course, easily accounted for by Mr. Lark- 
spur, and the absence of any, even the sHghtest, additional clue 
to the fate of Jernam, confirmed that astute person in the con- 
viction, which he had reached early in the course of his confabu- 
lations mth Harker, that the convict was the guilty man. There 
was, on this hypothesis, nothing for it but to wait until the 
worthy exile should have worked out his time and once more re- 
turned to grace his mother-country, and then to resume the close 
watch which, though hitherto ineffectual, might in time bring 
Bome of his former deeds to Hght. 

Such was the state of affairs when Captain Duncombe bought 
the deserted house which had had such undesirable tenants, first 
in the person of old Screwton, the miser, and, secondly, of Black 
Milsom. Joyce Harker was aware of the transaction, and had 
watched with some interest the transformation of the dreary, 
dismal, doomed place, into the cheery, comfortable, middle-class 
residence it had now become. If he had known that the last 
hours of Valentine Jemam's life had been passed on that spot, 
that there his beloved master had met with a violent and cruel 
death, with what different feelings he would have watched the 
work ! But though, as the former dweUing of Black Milsom, 



156 S^n to Farik 

the cottage iiad a dreary attraction for him, he was far from 
imagining that within itb walls lay hidden one infallible clue to 
the secret for which he had sought so long and so vainly. 

The new occnpant of River Yiew Cottage was acquainted with 
Joyce Harker, and held the solitary old man in some esteem. 
Captain Joe Dnncombe and the protege of the Jemams had 
nothing whatever in common in character, disposition, or man- 
ners, and the distance in the social scale which divided the 
prosperous merchant-captain from the poor, though clever, de- 
pendent, was considerable, even according to the not very strict 
standard of manners observed by persons of their respective 
classes. But Joe Duncombe knew and heartily liked George 
Jemam. He had been in England at the time of Valentine's 
murder, and he had then learned the faithful and active part 
played by Harker. He had lost sight of the man for some time, 
but when he had bought the cottage, and during the progress of 
the changes and improvements he had made in that unprepos- 
sessing dwelling, accident had thrown Harker in his way, and 
they had found much to discuss in George Jemam's prosperity, 
in his generous treatment of Harker, in the general condition of 
the merchant service, which the two men declared to be going to 
the dogs, after the manner of all professions, trades, and institu- 
tions of every age and every clime, when contemplated from a 
conversational point of view ; and in the honest captain's plana, 
hopes, and prospects concerning his daughter. 

Joyce Harker had seen Rosamond Duncombe occasionally, but 
had not taken much notice of her. Nor had Miss Duncombe 
been much impressed by that gentleman. Joyce was not a lady's 
man, and Rosamond, who entertained a rather disrespectful 
notion of her father's acquaintances in general, classing them 
collectively as " old fogies," contented herself with distinguish- 
ing Mr. Harker as the ugKest and grimmest of the lot. Joyce 
came and went, not very often indeed, but very freely to River 
Yiew Cottage, and there was much confidence and good-fellow- 
ship between the bluff old seaman and the more acute, but not 
lees honest, adventurer. 

There was, however, one circumstance which Captain Dun- 
combe never mentioned to Harker. That circumstance was the 
apparition of old Screwton's ghost. Joe Duncombe was, to tell 
the truth, a little ashamed of his credulity on that occasion. He 
entertained no doubt that he had been victimized by a clever 
practical joke, and while he chuckled over the recollection that 
it had been an expensive jest to the perpetrator, who had lost a 
valuable gold coin by the transaction, he had no fancy for ex- 
posing himself to any further ridicule on the occasion. So th» 
bluff, imperious, soft-hearted captain issued an nkase command- 
jQg silence on the subject ; and silence was observed, not in th« 



JTottJ^ Soeie^. 187 

laast l)ecan£8 Eosamond Dnncombe or Snean Trott were afraid 
of him, but because Rosamond loved her fatber, and Susan Trott 
respected ber master too much to disobey his lightest wish. 

There was also one circumstance which Joyce Harker never 
mentioned to Captain Buncombe. This circumstance was the 
identity of the former occupant of the cottage with the man whom 
he beheved to be the murderer of Valentine Jeraam. 

" It is bad enough to live in a place that's said to be haunted," 
said Harker to himself, when he visited the cottage for the first 
time ; " without my telling him that he comes after a man who 
is certainly a convict, and probably a murderer." 



CHAPTER XYII. 

DOUBTFUL SOCIETY. 

Victor Carrtngton still lived in the little cottage on the out- 
skirts of London. Here, with his mother for his only companion, 
he led a simple, studious life, which, to any one ignorant of his 
character, would have seemed the life of a good and honourable 
man. 

The few neighbours who passed to and fro beneath the wall 
which surrounded the cottage, knew nothing of the inner life of 
its occupants. They knew only that of all the houses in the 
neighbourhood this was the quietest. Yet those who happened 
to pass the house late at night always saw a glimmer of Hght in 
an upper chamber, and the blue vapour of smoke rising from one 
particular chimney. 

Those who had occasion to pass the house frequently after 
dark perceived that the smoke from this chimney was difierent 
from the common smoke of common chimneys. Sometimes vivid 
sparks glittered and flashed upon the darkness. At other times 
a semi-luminous, green vapour was seen to issue from the mouth 
of the chimney. 

These facts were spoken about by the neighbours ; and by and 
by people discovered that the smoke issued from the chimney of 
Victor Carrington's laboratory, where the surgeon was frequently 
employed, long after midnight, making experiments in the science 
of chemistry. 

The nature of these experiments was known to no one. The 
few neighbours who had ever conversed with the French surgeon 
had heard him declare that he was a student of the mysteries of 
electricity. It was, therefore, supposed that all his experiments 
were in some manner connected with that wondrous science. 

No one for a moment suspected evil of a young man whose 
life was sober, respectable, and laborious, and who went to the 
little Catholic chapel every Sunday, with his mother leaning on 
liii arm 



188 Bim to Farth 

Those who really knew Victor C airing ton knew that he was 
without one ray of belief in a Divine Ruler, and that he laughed 
to scorn those terrors of heavenly vengeance which will sometimes 
restrain the hand of the most hardened criminal. He was a 
wretch who seemed to have been created without those natural 
qualities which, in some degree, redeem the worst of humanity. 
He was a creature without a conscience — without a heart. 

And yet he seemed the niost dutiful and devoted of sons. 

Is it possible that filial love could hold any place in a soul bo 
lost as his ? It is difficult to solve this enigma.^ 

Victor Carrington was ambitious ; and to gain the object of 
his ambition he was willing to steep his soul in guilt. But he 
was also cautious and calculating, and he knew that to commit 
crime with impunity he must so shape his hfe as to escape sus- 
picion. 

He knew that a devoted and affectionate son is always re- 
spected by good men and women ; and he had studied human 
nature too closely not to be aware that there is more goodness 
than wickedness in the world, base though some of earth's in- 
habitants may be. 

The world is easily hoodwinked ; and those who watched the 
life of the young surgeon were ready to declare that he was a 
most deserving young man. 

He had his reward for this apparent excellence. Patients came 
to him without his seeking ; and at the time of Honoria Evers- 
leigh's arrival in London he had obtained a small but remunera- 
tive practice. The money earned thus enabled him to hve. The 
money he won by his pen in the medical journals he was able to 
save. 

He knew how necessary money was in all the turning-points 
of hfe, and he denied himself every pleasure and every luxury in 
order to save a sum which should serve him in time of need. 

Matilda Carrington was one of those quiet women who seem 
to take no interest in the world around them, and to be happy 
without the pleasures which deli^^ht other women. She hved 
quite alone, without one female friend or acquaintance, and she 
saw little of her son, whose midnight studies and medical prac- 
tice absorbed almost every hour of his existence. 

Her life, therefore, was one long soHtude, and but for the com- 
panionship of her birds and two Angora cats, she would have been 
almost as much alone as a prisoner in a condemned cell. 

There was but one visitor who came often to the cottage, and 
that was Sir Reginald Eversleigh. The young baronet contrived 
to exist, somehow or other, upon his income of five hundred a 
year; but, as he had neither abandoned his old haunts, nor put 
aside his old vices, the income, which to a good man would have 
geemed a handsome competence, barely enabled him to stave off 



Doubtful Sodeiy. l89 

the demands of his most pressing creditors by occasional pay- 
ments on acconnt. 

He lived a dark and strange existence, occupying a set of 
sbabby-genteel apartments in a street leading ont of tbe Strand; 
but spending a great part of his life in a bouse on tbe banks of 
the Thames — a bouse that stood amidst grounds of some extent, 
situated midway between Chelsea and Fulham. 

Tbe mistress of this bouse was a lady who called herself a 
widow, but of whose real position tbe world knew very little. 

She was said to be of Austrian extraction, and tbe widow of 
an Austrian officer. Her name was PauHna Durski. She bad 
bade farewell to tbe fresh bloom of early youth ; for at her best 
she looked thirty years of age. But her beauty was of that bril- 
Hant order which does not need the charm of girlhood. She was 
a woman — a grand, queen-like creature. Those who admired her 
most compared her to a tall white lily, alike stately and graceful. 

She was fair, with that snowy purity of complexion which is 
so rare a charm. Her hair was of the palest gold — darker than 
flaxen, lighter than auburn — hair that waved in sunny undula- 
tions on the broad white forehead, and imparted an unspeakable 
innocence to the beautiful face. 

Such was Paulina Durski. Ona charm alone was wanting to 
render this woman as lovable as she was lovely, and that waa 
the charm of expression. 

There was a lack of warmth in that perfect face. The bright 
blue eyes were hard ; the rosy lips had been trained to smile on 
friend or foe, on stranger or kinsman, with the same artificial 
smile. 

Hilton House was the name of the villa by the river-bank. It 
had belonged originally to a nobleman; but, on the decay of his 
fortunes, had fallen into the hands of a speculator, who intended 
to occupy it, but who failed almost immediately after becoming 
its owner. After this man's bankruptcy, the house had for a 
long time been tenantless. It was too expensive for some, too 
lonely for others ; and when ]\Iadame Durski saw and took a 
fancy to the place, she was able to secure it for a moderate rent. 
The grounds and the house had been neglected. The rare and 
costly shrubs in the gardens were rank and overgrown ; the ex- 
quisite decorations of the interior were spoiled by damp. 

Madame Durski was a person who Hved in a certain style ; 
but it speedily became evident that she was very often at a loss 
for ready money. Her furniture arrived from Paris, and her 
household came also from that brilliant city. It was the house- 
hold of a princess ; but of a princess not unfamiliar with poverty. 

There was a Spanish courier, one Carlo Toas — a strange, silent 
creature, whose stately and solemn movements seemed fitted fof 
A courtly assembly, rather tl.an for the nnceremonions g?ither- 



190 B«n to ^arth, 

ings of modem society. The next person in importance in tlia 
household of Madame Durski was an elderly woman, who at- 
tended on the fair Austrian widow. She was a native of Paris, 
and her name was Sophie Elser. There were three other ser- 
vants, all foreigners, and apparently devoted to their mistress. 

The furniture was of a bygone fashion, costly and beautiful 
of its kind ; but it was furniture which had seen better days. 
The draperies in every chamber were of satin or velvet ; but the 
satin was worn and faded, the velvet threadbare. The pictures, 
china, plate, the bronzes and knick-knacks which adorned the 
rooms, all bore evidence of a refined and artistic taste. But much 
of the china was imperfect, and the plate was of very small 
extent. 

The existence of Paulina Durski was one which might well 
excite curiosity in the minds of tlie few neighbours who had tlie 
opportunity of observing her mode of life. 

This beautiful widow had no female acquaintances, save a 
liumble friend who lived with her, an Englishwoman, who sub- 
bisted upon the charity of the lovely Pauhna. 

This person never quitted her benefactress. She was constant 
QS her shadow; a faithful watch-dog, always at hand, yet never 
obtrusive. She was a creature who seemed to have been born 
Nvithout eyes and without ears ; so careless was the widow of 
her presence, so reckless what secrets were disclosed in her 
hearing. 

By daylight the life of Madame Durski and her companion. 
Miss Brewer, seemed the dullest existence ever endured by 
womankind. Paulina rarely left her own apartment until six in 
the evening; at which hour, she and Miss Brewer dined together 
in her boudoir. 

They always dined alone. After dinner Paulina returned to 
her apartment to dress for the evening, while j!*Iiss Brewer retired 
to her own bedroom on the upper story, where she arrayed her- 
self invariably in black velvet. 

She had never been seen by the visitors at Hilton House in 
any other costume than this lustreless velvet. Her age was 
between thirty and forty. She might once have had some pre- 
tensions to beauty ; but her face was pinched and careworn, and 
there was a sharp, greedy look in the small eyes, whose colour 
was that neutral, undecided tint, that seems sometimes a pale 
yellowish brown, anon a blueish green. 

All day long the two women at Hilton House lived alone. 
No carriage approached the gates ; no foot-passenger was seen 
to enter the grounds. Within and without all was silent and 
hfeless. 

But with nightfall came a change. Lights shone in all tR« 
lower windows, music sounded on 3ie etill night air, many car- 



Doubtful Society. 191 

riages rolled throngh the open gateway — broughams with flash- 
ing lamps dashed np to the marble portico, and hack cabs 
mingled with the more stylish equipages. 

There were very few nights on which Paulina Durski's saloons 
were not enlivened by the presence of many guests. Her visi- 
tors were all gentlemen ; but they treated the mistress of the 
house with as much respect as if she had been surrounded by 
women of the highest rank. Night after night the same men 
assembled in those faded saloons ; night after night the carriages 
rolled along the avenue — the flashing lamps illuminated the 
darkness. Those who watched the proceedings of the Austrian 
widow had good reason to wonder what the attraction was which 
brought those visitors so constantly to Hilton House. Many 
speculations were formed, and the fair widow's reputation suffered 
much at the hands of her neighbours ; but none guessed the 
real charm of those nightly receptions. 

That secret was known only to those within the meuision ; and 
from those it could not be hidden. 

The charm which drew so many visitors to the saloons of 
Madame Durski was the fatal spell of the gaming-table. The 
beautiful Paulina opened a suite of three spacious chambers for 
the reception of her guests. In the outer apartment there was 
a piano ; and it was here Paulina sat — with her constant com- 
panion, Matilda Brewer. In the second apartment were small 
green velvet-covered tables, devoted to whist and ecarte. The 
third, and inner, apartment was much larger than either of the 
others, and in this room there was a table for rouge et noir. 

The door of this inner apartment was papered so as to appear 
when closed hke a portion of the wall. A heavy picture was 
securely fastened upon this papered surface, and the door was 
lined with iron. Once closed, this door was not easily to be dis- 
covered by the eye of a stranger ; and, even when discovered, it 
was not easily to be opened. 

It was secured with a spring lock, which fastened of itself as 
the door swung to. 

This inner apartment had no windows. It was never used in 
the day-time. It was a secret chamber, hidden in the very 
centre of the house ; and only an architect or a detective oflficer 
would have been likely to have discovered its existence. The 
walls were hung with red cloth, and Madame Durski always 
spoke of this apartment as the Red Drawing-room. _ Her ser- 
vants were forbidden to mention the chamber in their conver- 
sation with the neighbours, and the members of the Austrian 
widow'shouseholdwere too well trained to disobey any such orders. 

By the laws of England, the existence of a table for rouge ei 
noir is forbidden. All these precautions were therefore necessary 
io insure safety for the guests of Madame Durski. 



19^ Bun id Sarth. 

Paulina, herself, nerer played. Sometimes she sat mth Miss 
Brewer in the onter chamber, silent and abstracted, while her 
visitors amnsed themselves in the two other rooms ; ^ sometimes 
she seated herself at the piano, and played soft, plaintive German 
sonatas, or Leider ohne Worte, for an honr at a time; sometimes 
she moved slowly to and fro amongst the gamblers— now linger- 
ing for a few moments behind the chair of one, now glancing at 
the cards of another. 

One of her most constant visitors was Eeginald EversleigK 
Every night he drove down to Hilton House in a hack cab. He 
was generally the first to arrive and the last to depart. 

It was also to be observed that almost all the men who assem- 
bled in the drawing-rooms of Hilton House were friends and 
acquaintances of Sir Eeginald. 

It was he who introduced them to the lovely widow. It was 
he who tempted them to come night after night, when prudence 
should have induced them to stay away. 

The association between Eeginald Eversleigh and Paulina 
Durski was no new alliance. 

Immediately after the death of Sir Oswald Eversleigh, Eegi- 
nald turned his back upon London, disgusted with the scene of 
his poverty and humihation, eager to find forgetfulness of his 
bitter disappointments in the fever and excitement of a more 
brilliant city than any to be found in Great Britain. He went 
to Paris, that capital which he had shunned since the death of 
Mary Goodwin, but whither he returned eagerly now, thirsting 
for riot and excitement — any opiate by which he might lull to 
rest the bitter memories of the past month. 

He was familiar with the wildest haunts of that city of dissi- 
pation, and he was speedily engulphed in the vortex of vice and 
folly. If he had been a rich man, this life might have gone on 
for ever ; but without money a man counts for very little in such 
a circle as that wherein Eeginald alone could find delight, and 
to the inhabitants of that region five hundred a year would 
seem a kind of pauperism* , , 

Sir Eeginald contrived to keep the actual amount of his m- 
come a secret locked in his own breast. His acquaintances and 
associates knew that he was not rich ; but they knew no more. 

At the French opera-house he saw Paulina Durski for the first 
time. She was seated in one of the smaller boxes, dressed in 
pure white, with white camellias in her hair. Her faithful com- 
panion, Matilda Brewer, was seated in the shadow of the curtains, 
and formed a foU for the beautiful Austrian. 

Eeginald Eversleigh entered the house with a dissipated and 
fashionable Tonng Parisan — a man who, like his companion, had 
wasted yoTiui# character, and fortnne in the tainted atmosphert 



Doubtful Society. 193 

•f disreputable haants and midnight assemblies. The two yoxmg 
men took their places in the stalls, and amused themselves be- 
tween the acts by a scrutiny of the occupants of the house. 

Hector Leonce, the Parisian, was familiar with the inmates of 
every box. 

♦* Do you see that beautiful, fair-haired woman, with the white 
camellias in her hair ?" he said, after he had drawn the attention 
of the Englishman to several distinguished people. *' That is 
Madame Durski, the young and wealthy widow of an Austrian 
officer, and one of the most celebrated beauties in Paris." 

•* She is very handsome," answered Keginald, carelessly ; "but 
hers is a cold style of loveHness — too much like a face moulded 
out of wax." 

" \yait till you aee her animated," replied Hector Leonce. 
*' We will go to her box presently." 

When the curtain fell on the close of the following act the two 
men left the stalls, and made their way to Madame Durski's box. 

She received them courteously, and Reginald Eversleigli speedily 
perceived that her beauty, fair and wax-like as it was, did not 
lack intellectual grace. She talked well, and her manner had the 
tone of good society. Reginald was surprised to see her attended 
only by the little "^Enghshwoman, in her dress of threadbare 
black velvet. 

After the opera Sir Reginald and Hector Leonce accompanied 
Madame Durski to her apartments in the Rue du Faubourg, St. 
Honore ; and there the baronet beheld higher play than he had 
ever seen before in a private house presided over by a woman. 
On this occasion the beautiful widow herself occupied a place at 
the rouge et noir table, and Reginald beheld enough to enlighten 
him as to her real character. He saw that with this woman the 
love of play was a passion : a profound and soul-absorbing de- 
light. He saw the eyes which, in repose, seemed of so cold a 
brightness, emit vivid flashes of feverish light; he saw the fair 
blush-rose tinted cheek glow with a hectic crimson — he beheld 
the woman with her mask thrown aside, abandoned to the influ- 
ence of her master passion. 

After this night Reginald Eversleigh was a frequent visitor at 
the apartments of the Austrian widow. For him, as for her, the 
fierce excitement of the gaming-table was an irresistible tempta- 
tion. In her elegantly- appointed drawing-rooms he met rich 
men who were desperate players ; but he met few men who were 
likely to be dupes. Here neither skill nor bribery availed him, 
and he was dependent on the caprices of chance. The balance 
was tolerably even, and he left Paris neither richer nor poorer 
for his acquaintance with Paulina Darski. 

But that acquaintance exercised a very powerful influence over 
his destiny, nevertheless. There was a strange fascination in 



194 Bm to Eartlu 

khe society of the Anstrian widow — a nameless, indefinatle 

charm, whicli few were able to resist. A bitter experience of vice 
and folly had robbed Keginald Eversleigh's heart and mind of 
all youth's freshness and confidence, and for him this woman, 
seemed only what she was, an adventuress, dangerons to all who 
approached her. 

He knew this, and yet he yielded to the fascination of her 
presence. Night after night he haunted the rooms in the Eiie 
du Faubourg, St. Honore. He went there even when he was too 
poor to play, and could only stand behind Paulina's chair, a 
patient and devoted cavalier. 

For a long time she seemed to be scarcely aware of his devo- 
tion. She received him as she received her other guests. She 
met him always with the same cold smile ; the same studied 
courtesy. But one evening, when he went to her apartments 
earher than usual, he found her alone, and in a melancholy mood. 

Then, for the first time, he became aware that the life she led 
was odious to her ; that she loathed the hateful vice of which 
she was the slave. She was wont to be very silent about herself 
and her own feehngs ; but that night she cast aside all reserve, 
and spoke with a passionate earnestness, which made her seem 
doubly charming to Keginald Eversleigh. 

" I am so degraded a creature that, perhaDg, yon have never 
troubled yourself to wonder how I became the thing I am," she 
said ; " and yet you must surely have marvelled to see a woman 
of high birth fallen to the depths in which you find me ; fallen 
so low as to be the companion of gamesters, a gamester myself. 
I will tell you the secret of my Hfe." 

Eeginald Eversleigh lifted lus hand with a deprecating gesture. 

" Dear madame, tell me nothing, I implore you. I admire and 
respect you," he said. " To me, you must always appear the 
most beautiful of women, whatever may be the nature of your 
surroundings." 

"Yes, the most beautiful !" echoed Paniin^ with passionate 
Bcom. " You men think that to praise a woman's beauty is to 
console her for every humiliation. I have io>>s held that which 
you call my beauty as the poorest thing on earth, so little happi- 
ness has its possession won for me. I will tell you the story of 
my life. It is the only justification I have." 

" I am ready to Hsten. So long as yon speak of yourself, 
your words must have the deepest interest for me." 

" I was reared amongst gamesters, Reginald Eversleigh," con- 
tinued Paulina Durski, with the same passionate intensity of 
manner. " My father was an incorrigible gambler ; and before 
I had emerged from childhood to girlhood, the handsome fortune 
which should have been mine had been squandered. As c girl 
the rattle of the dice, the clamour of the roiige et noir table 



Doubtful Society. 195 

were tlie most familiar sounds to my ears. Niglit after niglit, 
night after night, I have kept watch at my own window, and 
have seen the lighted windows of my father's rooms, and have 
known that grim poverty was drawing nearer and nearer as the 
long hours of those sleepless nights went by." 

" My poor Paulina !" 

" My mother died young, exhausted by the perpetual fever of 
anxiety which the gambler's wife is doomed to suffer. She 
died, and I was left alone — a woman; beautiful if you will, and, 
as the world supposed, heiress to a large fortune ; for none knew 
how entirely the wealth which should have been mine had 
melted away in those nights of dissipation and folly. People 
knew that my father played, and played desperately; but few knew 
the extent of his losses. After my mother's death, my father in- 
sisted on my doing the honours of his house. I received his 
friends ; I stood by his chair as he played ecarte, or sat by his sida 
and noted the progress of the game at the rovge et noir table. 
Then first I felt the fatal passion which I can but believe to be 
a taint in my very blood. Slowly and gradually the fascinating 
vice assumed its horrible mastery. I watched the progress of 
the play. I learned to understand that science which was the 
one all-absorbing pursuit of those around me. Then I played 
myself, first taking a hand at ecarte with some of the youns^er 
guests, half in sport, and then venturing a small golden coin at 
the rouge et noir table, while my admirers praised my daring, as 
if I had been some capricious child. In those assemblies I was 
always the only woman, except Matilda Brewer, who was then 
my governess. My father would have no female guests at these 
nightly orgies. The presence of women would have been a hin- 
drance to the delights of the gaming-table. At first I felt all 
the bitterness of my position. I looked forward with unspeak- 
able dread, to the dreary future in which I should find destitution 
staring me in the face. But when once the gamester's madness 
had seized upon me, I thought no more of that dreary future ; I 
became as reckless as my father and his guests ; I forgot every- 
thing in the excitement of the moment. To be lucky at the 
gaming-table was to be happy ; to lose was despair. Thus my 
youth went by, till the day when my father told me that Colonel 
Durski had offered me his hand and fortune, and that I had no 
alternative but to accept him." 

"Oh, then, your first marriage wzls no love-match P ** cried 
Keginald, eagerly. 

" A love-match ! " exclaimed Paulina, contemptuously. "iN'o; 
it was a marriage of convenience, dictated by a father who set 
less value on his daughter's happiness than on a good hand of 
cards. My father told me I must choose between Leopold Durski 
and ruin. 'This house cannot shelter you much longer,' he 



196 Run to Earth, 

Bai(L * For mysell there is flight. I can go to America, and 
lose my identity in strange cities. I cannot remain in Vienna* 
to be pointed at as the beggared Connt Veschi. But with yon 
for my companion I should be tied hand and foot. As a wan- 
derer and an adventurer, I may prosper alone ; but as a wan- 
derer, burdened with a helpless woman, failure would be certain. 
It is not a question of choice, Paulina,' he said, resolutely ; 'there 
is no alternative. You must become the wife of Leopold Durski"* 

"And you consented ? " 

" I ask you, Eeginald Eversleigh, could I refuse ? For me, 
love was a word which had no meaning. Leopold Durski was 
more than double my age ; but in outward seeming he was a 
gentleman. He was reported to be wealthy; he had a high 
position at the Austrian Court. I was so utterly helpless, so 
desolate, so despairing, that it is scarcely strange if I accepted the 
fate my father pressed upon me, careless as to a future which 
held no joy for me, beyond the pleasure of the gaming-table. I 
left the house of one gambler to ally myself to the fortunes of 
another, for Leopold D urski was my father's companion and friend, 
and the same master-passion swayed both. It was strange that my 
father, himself a ruined gamester, should have become the dupe of 
a man whose reported wealth was as great a sham as his own. 
But so it was. I exchanged poverty with one master for poverty 
vrith. another master. My new Hfe was an existence of perpetual 
falsehood and trickery. I occupied a splendid house in the most 
fashionable quarter of Vienna ; but that house was maintained 
by my husband's winnings at the gaming-table ; and it was my 
task to draw together the dupes whose money was to support 
the false semblance of grandeur which surrounded me. The 
dupes came. I had my Httle court of flatterers ; but the courtiers 
paid dearly for their allegiance to their queen. I was the snare 
which was set to entrap the birds whose feathers my husband 
was to pluck. If I had been like other women, my position 
would have been utterly intolerable to me. I should have found 
some means of escape from a life so hateful — a degradation so 
shameful." 

" And you made no attempt to escape P " 

"None. I was a gambler ; the vice which had degraded my 
husband had degraded me. We had both sunk to the same level, 
and I had no right to reproach him for infamy which I shared. 
AVe had little afiection for each other. Colonel Durski had 
sought me only because I was fitted to adorn his reception-rooms, 
and attract the dupes who were to suffer by their acquaint- 
ance with him. But if there was little love between us, we at 
least never quarrelled. He treated me always with studied cour- 
tesy, and I never upbraided him for the deception by which he 
had obt^flined my hand. My father disappeared suddenly froia 



Douhtful Society. 197 

Vienna, and only after hia departure was it disco veied that his 
fortune had long vanished, and that he had for several years 
been completely insolvent. His creditors uttered a cry of exe- 
cration; but in great cities the cries of such victims are scarcely 
heard. My reception-rooms were still thronged by aristocratic 
guests, and no one cared to remember my father's infamy. This 
life had lasted three years, when my husband died and left me 
penniless. I sold my jewels, and came to this city, where for a 
year and a half I have lived, as my husband Hved in Vienna, on 
the fortune of the gaming-table. I am growing weary of Paris, 
and it may be that Paris is growing weary of me. I suppose I 
shall go to London next. And next? "Who knows ? Ah, ICegiuoJ.i 
Eversleigh, beheve me there are many moments of my life in 
which I think that the little walk from here to the river would 
cut the knot of all my difficulties. To-night I am surrounded 
with anxieties, steeped in degradation, hemmed in by obstacles 
that shut me out of all peaceful resting-places. To-morrow I 
might be lying very quietly in the Morgue." 

" Paulina, for pity's sake " 

" Ah, me ! these are idle words, are they not ? " said Madame 
Durski, with a weary sigh. " And now I have told you my his- 
tory, Reginald Eversleigh, and it is for you to judge whetker 
there is any excuse for such a creature as I am." 

Sir Reginald pitied this hopeless, friendless, woman as much 
as it was in him to pity any one except himself, and tried to 
utter some words of consolation. 

She looked up at him, as he spoke to her, with a glance in 
which he saw a deeper feeling than gratitude. 

Then it was that Reginald declared himself the devoted lover 
of the woman who had revealed to him the strange story of her 
life. He told her of the influence which she exercised over him, 
the fascination which he had sought in vain to resist. He de- 
clared himself attached to her by an affection which would know 
no change, come what might. But he did not offer this friend- 
less woman the shelter of his name, the ostensible position which 
would have been hers had she become his wife. 

Even when beneath the sway of a woman's fascination Regi* 
nald Eversleigh was cold and calculating. Paulina Durski was 
poor, and doubtless deeply in debt. She was a gambler, and 
the companion of gamblers. She was, therefore, no fitting wife 
for a man who looked upon marriage as a stepping-stone by 
which he might yet redeem his fallen fortunes. 

Paulina received his declaration with an air of simulated 
coldness ; but Reginald Eversleigh could perceive that it was 
only simulated, and that he had awakened a real affection in the 
heart of this desolate woman. 

''Dp not speak to nie of love," she said; " to me gnch worda 



198 Euii to Earth. 

can promise no happiness. My love could only bring ghame and 
misery on tiie man to whom it was given. Let me tread my dreary 
pathway alone, Reginald — alone to the very end." 

Much was said after this by Reginald and the woman who 
loved him, and who was yet too proud to confess her love. Pau- 
lina Durski was not an inexperienced girl, to be persuaded by 
romantic speeches. She had acquired knowledge of the world 
in a hard and bitter school. She could fully fathom the base 
selfishness of the man who pretended to love her, and she under- 
stood why it was that he shrank from offering her the only real 
pledge of his truth. 

" I will speak frankly to you, Paulina," he said. " I am too 
poor to marry." 

" Yes," she answered, bitterly ; " I comprehend. You are too 
poor to marry a penniless wife." 

" And I am not likely to find a rich one. But, beheve me, 
that my love is none the less sincere because I shrink from asking 
you to ally yourself to misery." 

" So be it. Sir Reginald. I am willing to accept your love for 
what it is — a wise and prudent affection — such as a man of the 
world may freely indulge in without fear that his folly may cost 
him too dearly. You will come to my house ; I shall see you 
night after night amongst the reckless idlers who gather round 
me; you will pay me compliments all the year round, and bring 
me bon-bons on X ew Year's Day ; and some day, when I have 
grown old and haggard, you will all at once forget the fact of our 
acquaintance, and I shall see you no more. Let it be so. It is 
pleasant for a woman to fancy herself beloved, however false 
the fancy may be. I will shut my eyes, and dream that you 
love me, Reginald." 

And this was all. No more was ever said of love between these 
two I but from that hour Reginald was more constant than ever 
in his attendance on the beautiful widow. The time came when 
she grew weary of Paris, and when those who had lost money 
began to shun the seductive dehghts of her nightly receptions. 
Reginald Eversleigh was not slow to perceive that the brilHant 
throng grew thin — the most distinguished guesta " conspicuous 
by their absence." He urged Paulina to leave Paris for London; 
and he himself selected the lonely villa on the banks of the 
Thames, in which he found a biUiard-room, lighted from the roof, 
that was easily converted into a secret chamber. 

It was by his advice that Paulina Durski altered her line of 
conduct on taking up her abode in England, and refrained 
altogether from any active share in the ruinous amusements for 
which men frequented her receptions. 

"It was all very well for you to take a hand at ecarie, or to 
lake your place at the rouge et noir table, in Paris," Reginald 



Doubtful Society. 199 

eaid, wHen he discussed this question ; " but here it vrill not do. 
The English are full of childish prejudices, and to see a woman 
at the gaming-table would shock these prejudices. Let me Dlay 
for you. 1 will find the capital, and we will divide the profits 
of each night's speculation. For your part, you v,t11 have only 
to look beautiful, and to lure the golden-feathered birds into the 
net ; and sometimes, perhaps, when I am playing ecarte with 
one of your admirers, behind whose chair you may happen to be 
standing, you may contrive to combine a flattering interest in 
Ms play with a substantial benefit to mine.'" 

Paulina's eyehds fell, and a crimson flush dyed her fac6 : but 
she uttered no exclamation of anger or disgust. And yet she 
understood only too well the meaning of Sir Eeginald's words. 
She knew that he wished her to aid him in a deliberate system 
of cheating. She knew this, and she did not -svithdraw her friend- 
ship from this man. 

Alas, no ! she loved him. Not because she beheved him to be 
good and honourable — not because she was bhnded to the base- 
ness of his nature. She loved him in spite of her knowledge of 
his real character — she yielded to the influence of an infatuation 
which she was so powerless to resist that she might almost be 
pardoned for beHeving herself the victim of a baleful destiny. 

" It is my fate," she murmured to herself, after this last reve- 
lation of her lover's infamy. " It must needs be my fate, since 
women with less claim to be loved than I possess are so happy 
as to win the devotion of good and brave men. It is my fate to 
love a cheat and trickster, on whose constancy I have so poor a 
hold that a breath may sever the miserable bond that unites us." 

Victor Carrington was one of the flrst persons whom Reginald 
Ever sleigh introduced to Madame Durski after her arrival in 
England. She was pleased with the quiet and graceful manners 
of the Frenchman ; but she was at a loss to understand Sir Ptegi- 
nald's intimate association with a man who was at once poor and 
obscure. 

She told Sir Reginald as much the next time she saw him alone 

" I know that in most of your friendships convenience and 
self-interest reign paramount over what you call sentimentaHty; 
and yet you choose for your friend this Carrington, whom no one 
knows ; and who is, you tell me, even poorer than yourself. You 
must have a hidden motive, Reginald; and a strong one." 

A dark shade passed over the face of the baronet. 

" I have my reasons," he said. " Victor Carrington was once 
useful to me — at least he endeavoured to be so. If he failed, the 
obhgatioii is none the less ; and he is a man who will have hij 
bond." 



200 Rim to Earth, 

CHAPTER XVni. 

AT A^'CHOR. 

The current of life flowed on at Biver View Cottage without 00 
much as a ripple in the shape of an event, after the appalling 
midnight visit of Miser Screwton's ghost, until one summer 
evening, when Captain Buncombe came home in very high spirits, 
bringing with him an old friend, of whom Miss Buncombe had 
heard her father talk very often ; but whom she had hitherto 
never seen. 

This was no other than George Jernam, the captain of the "Al- 
batross," and the owner of the "Stormy Petrel" and "Pizarro." 

In London the captain of the " Albatross " found plenty of 
business to occupy him. He had just returned from an African 
cruise, and though he had not forgotten the circumstances which 
had made his last intended visit to England only a memorable 
and melancholy failure, he was in high spirits. 

The first few days hardly sufficed for the talks between George 
Jernam and Joyce Harker, who aided him vigorously in the re- 
fitting of his vessel. He had been in London about a week 
before he fell in with honest Joe Buncombe. The two men had 
been fast friends ever since the day on which George, while stiU 
a Youngster, had served as second-mate under the owner of the 
•'Vixen." 

They met accidentally in one of the streets about Wapping. 
Joseph Buncombe was delighted to encounter a sea-faring friend, 
and insisted on taking George Jernam down to River View Cot- 
tage to eat what he called a homely bit of dinner. 

The homely bit of dinner turned out to be a very excellent re- 
past; for Mrs. Mugby prided herself upon her powers as a cook 
and housekeeper, and to produce a good dinner at a short notice 
was a triumph she much enjoyed. 

Susan Trott waited at table in her prettiest cotton gown and 
emartest cap. 

Ptosamond Buncombe sat by her father's side during the meal; 
and after dinner, when the curtains were drawn, and the lamp 
lighted, the captain of the "Vixen" set himself to brew a jorum 
of punch in a large old Japanese china bowl, the composition of 
which punch was his strong point. 

Altogether that Httle dinner and cheerful evening entertain- 
ment seemed the perfection of home comfort. George Jernam 
had been too long a stranger to home and home pleasures not to 
feel the cheerful influence of that hospitable abode. 

For Joseph Buncombe the companionship of his old friend 
was delightful. The society of the sailor was as invigorating to 
the nostrils of a seaman as the fresh breeze of ocean after a long 
residence inland. 



At Anchor. 201 

" Yon don't know what a treat it is to me to have an old ship- 
mate with me once more, George," he said. " My Httle Eosy 
and I live here pretty comfortably, thongh I keep a tight hand 
over her, I can tell yon," he added, with pretended severity; 
" bnt it's dull work for a man who has hved the best part of his 
life on the sea to find himself amongst a pack of spooney lands- 
men. Never yon marry a landsman, Eosy, if yon don't want me to 
cnt yon off with a shilling," he cried, turning to his daughter. 

Of course Miss Eosamond Duncombe blushed on hearing herself 
thus apostrophized, as young ladies of eighteen have a kna^k of 
blushing when the possibility of their falling in love is mentioned. 

George Jemam saw the blush, and thought that Miss Dun- 
combe was the prettiest girl he had ever seen. 

George Jemam stayed late at the cottage, for its hospitable 
owner was loth to let his friend depart. 

•'How long do yon stay in London, George P" he asked, as the 
young man was going away. 

" A month, at least — perhaps two months." 

*' Then be sure you come down here very often. You can dine 
with us every Sunday, of course, for I know you haven't a crea- 
ture belonging to you in London except Harker ; and you can 
run down of an evening sometimes, and bring him with you, 
and smoke your cigar in my garden, with the bright water rip- 
pHng past you, and all the ships in the Pool spreading their 
rigging against the calm grey sky; and I'U brew you a iorum of 
punch, and Eosy shall sing ns a song while we drink it. ' 

It is not to be supposed that George Jemam, who had a good 
deal of idle time on his hands, could refuse to oblige his old cap- 
tain, or shrink from availing himself of hospitality so cordially 
pressed upon him. 

He went very often in the antnmn dnsk to spend an hour or 
two at Eiver Yiew Cottage, where he always found a hearty 
welcome. He strolled in the garden with Captain Duncombe and 
Kosamond, talking of strange lands and stranger adventures. 

Harker did not always accompany him ; but sometimes he did, 
and on such occasions Eosamond seemed unaccountably glad to 
see him. Harker paid her no more attention than usual, and 
invariably devoted himself to Joe Duncombe, who was frequently 
lazy, and inchned to smoke his cigar in the comfortable parlour. 
On these occasions George Jemam and Eosamond Duncombe 
strolled side by side in the garden ; and the sailor entertained 
his fair companion by the description of all the strangest 8:ene3 
he had beheld, and the most romantic adventures he had heeu 
engaged in. It was like the talk of some sea-faring Othello ; 
and never did Desdemona more " seriously incline " to hear hef 
vahant Moor than did Miss Duncombe to hear her captain. 

One of the windows of Joseph JQuncombe's favourite ntting- 



202 Rwi to Earth. 

room commanded the garden ; and from this window the captain 
of the "Vixen" could see his daughter and the captain of the 
" Albatross " walking side by side upon the smoothly kept lawn. 
He used to look unutterably sly as he watched the two figures ; 
and on one occasion went so far as to tap his nose significantly 
several times with his ponderous fore-finger. 

"It's a match!" he muttered to himself ; " it's a match, or 
my name is not Joe Buncombe." 

Susan Trott was not slow to notice those evening walks in the 
garden. She told the dashing young baker that she thought 
there would be a wedding at the cottage before long. 

" Tours, of course," cried the baker. 

*' For shame, now, you impitent creature ! " exclaimed Susan, 
blushing till she was rosier than the cherry-coloured ribbons in 
her cap ; " you know what I mean well enough." 

Neither Captain Buncombe nor Susan Trott were very far 
wrong. The " Albatross " was not ready for her next cruise till 
three months after George Jernam's first visit to Eiver "View 
Cottage, nor did the captain of the vessel seem particularly 
anxious to hasten the completion of the repairs. 

When the " Albatross " did drop down into the Channel, she 
Bailed on a cruise that was to last less than six months ; and 
when George Jemam touched English ground again, he was to 
return to claim Eosamond Buncombe as his plighted wife. This 
arrangement had Joyce Harker's hearty approbation ; but when 
he, too, had taken leave of George Jernam, he turned away mut- 
tering, " I think he really has forgotten Captain Valentine now ; 
but I have not, I have not. 'No, I remember him better than 
ever now, when there's no one but me." 

The " Albatross " came safely back to the Pool in the early 
spring weather. George Jernam had promised Rosamond that 
she should know of his coming before ever he set foot on shore, 
and he contrived to keep his werd. 

One fine March day she saw a vessel sailing up the river, with 
a white fiag flying from the main-mast. On the white flag 
blazed, in bright red letters, the name, '* Rosamond!" 

"When Miss Buncombe saw this, she knew at once that her 
lover had returned. No other vessel than the *' Albatross " was 
likely to sport such a piece of bunting. 

George Jernam came back braver, truer, handsomer even than 
when he went away, as it seemed to Eosamond. He came back 
more devoted to her than ever, she thought ; and a man must 
have been indeed cold of heart who could be ungrateful for the 
innocent, girlish affection which Eosamond revealed in every 
word and look. 

The wedding took place within a month of the sailor's retnm ; 



At AncTiof, 203 

fcnd, af*€r some discussion, Greorge Jernam consented that lie 
and his wife should continue to live at the cottage. 

" I can't come here to take possession of your house," he had 
said, addressing himself to his future father-in-law; "that 
would be rather too much of a good thing. I know you'd like 
to keep Eosy in the neighbourhood, and so you shall. I'll do as 
you did. I'll find a Httle bit of ground near here, and build 
myself a comfortable crib, with a xiaw of the river." 

"Stuff and nonsense!" replied Captain Duncombe. "If 
that's what you are going to do, you shall not have my Eosy. 
I've no objection to her having a husband on the premises ; bat 
the day she leaves my roof for the sake of any man in Christen- 
dom, I'll cut her off with a shilling — and the shilling shall be a 
bad one." 

The captain of the "Albatross" took his young wife into 
Devonshire for a brief honeymoon; and during this pleasant 
fcipring-time hohday, Eosamond made the acquaintance of her 
husband's aunt. Susan Jernam was pleased with the bright- 
eyed, pure-minded, modest girl, and in the few days they were 
together, learned to regard her with a motherly feehng, which 
was destined to be of priceless value to Eosy at an unforeseen 
crisis of the new life that began so fairly. 

Never did a married couple begin their new life with a fairer 
prospect than that which lay before George Jernam and his 
wife when they returned to Eiver View Cottage. Captain Dun- 
combe received his son-in-law with the hearty welcome of a true 
seaman; but a few days after George Jernam's return, the old 
Bailor took him aside, and made an announcement which filled 
him with surprise. 

"You know how fond I am of Eosy," he said, " and you know 
that if Providence had blessed me with a son of my own, he 
couldn't have been much dearer to me than you are ; so come 
what may, neither you or Eosy must doubt my affection for 
both of you. Come now, George, promise me you won't." 

"I promise, with all my heart," answered Captain Jernam; 
"I should no more think of doubting your goodness or your love 
for us, than I should think of doubting that there's a sun 
shining up aloft yonder. But why do you speak of this ?_" 

" Because, George, the truth of the matter is, I'm going to 
leave you." 

" You are going to leave us P " 

" Yes, old feUow. You see, a lazy, land-lubber's life doesn't 
suit me. I've tried it, and it don't answer. I thought the 
sound of the water washing against the bank at the bottom of 
my garden, and the sight of the ships in the Pool, would be 
consolation enough for me , but they ain't, and I've been sicken- 
ing for the sea for the last sis months. As long as my little 



204 Bun to Earth. 

Rosy had notody in tlie world but me to take care of her, I 
stayed with her, and I should have gone on staying with her till 
I died at my post. But she's got a husband now, and two trust- 
worthy women-servants, who would protect her if you left her — 
as I suppose you mu€t leave her, sooner or later — so there's no 
reason why I should stop on shore any longer, pining for a sight 
of blue water." 

*• And you really mean to leave ns ! " exclaimed George Jer- 
nam. "I am afraid your going will break poor Rosy's heart." 

"No it won't, George," answered Captain Duncombe. " When 
a young woman's married, her heart is uncommonly tough with 
regard to everybody except her husband. I dare say poor little 
Eosy-posy will be sorry to lose her old father; but she'll have 
you to console her, and she won't grieve long. Besides, I'm 
not going away for ever, you know. I'm only just going to take 
a little cruise to the Indies, with a cargo of dry goods, make a 
bit of money for my grandchildren that are to be, and then come 
home again, fresher than ever, and settle down in the bosom of 
my family. I've seen a neat little craft that will suit me to a T ; 
and I shall fit her out, and be off for blue water before the month 
is ended.'* 

It was evident that the old sailor was in earnest, and George 
Jemam did not attempt to overrule his determination. Rosamond 
pleaded against her father's departure, but she pleaded in vain. 
Early in June Captain Duncombe left England on board a neat 
little craft, which he christened the "Young Wife," in compliment 
to his daughter. 

Before he went, George promised that he would himself await 
the return of his father-in-law before he started on a new voyage. 

" I can afford to be idle for twelve months, or so," he said ; 
" and my dear httle wife shall not be left without a protector." 

So the young couple settled down comfortably in the com- 
modious cottage, which was now all their own. 

To Rosamond, her new existence was all unbroken joy. She 
had loved her husband with all the romantic devotion of in- 
experienced girlhood. To her poetic fancy he seemed the noblest 
and bravest of created beings ; and she wondered at her own 
good fortune when she saw him by her side, fond and devoted, 
consent to sacrifice all the delights of his free, roving hfe for 
her sake. 

"I don't think such happiness can last, George," she said to 
him one day. 

That vague foreboding was soon to be too sadly realized ! The 
sunshine and the bright summer peace had promised to last for 
ever ; but a dark cloud arose which in one moment overshadowed 
all that summer sky, and Rosamond Jemam's happiness vanished 
as if it had been indeed a dream. 



A Familiar Token, 805 

CHAPTER XIX 

A PAMILIAE, TOKEN. 

Joseph Dtjncombe had been absent from Rivec View Cottage 
little more tban a month, and the life of its inmates had been 
smooth and changeless as the placid surface of a lake. They 
Bought no society but that of each other. Existence ghded by, 
and the eventless days left little to remember except the sweet 
tranquiUity of a happy home. 

It was on a wet, dull, unsettled July day that Rosamond 
Jernam found her life changed aU at once, while the cause for 
that dark change remamed a mystery to her. 

After idUng away haif the morning, Captain Jernam dis- 
covered that he had an important business letter to write to the 
captain of his trading ship, the " Pizarro." 

On opening his portfoHo, the captain found himself without 
a single sheet of foreign letter-paper. He told this difficulty to 
his wife, as it was his habit to tell her all his difficulties ; and he 
found her, as usual, able to give him assistance. 

"There is always foreign letter-paper in papa's desk," she 
said ; " you can use that." 

" But, my dear Rosy, I could not think of opening your 
father's desk in his absence." 

** And why not ?" cried Rosamond,! aughing. " Do you think 
papa has any secrets hidden there; or that he keeps some 
mysterious packet of old love-letters tied up with a blue ribbon, 
which he would not like your prying eyes to discover ? You 
may open the desk, George. I give you my permission ; and if 
papa should be angry, the blame shall fall upon me alone." 

The desk was a large old-fashioned piece of furniture, whieb 
stood in the comer of Captain Buncombe's favourite sitting-rooffi, 

" But how am I to open this ponderous piece of machinery ? " 
asked George. " It seems to be locked." 

" It is locked," answered his wife. " Luckily I happen to 
have a key which precisely fits it. There, sir, is the key ; and 
now I leave you to devote yourself to business, while I go to see 
about dinner." 

She held up her pretty rosy lips to be kissed, and then tripped 
away, leaving the captain to achieve a duty for which he had no 
particular rehsh. 

He unlocked the desk, and found a quire of letter-paper. He 
dipped a pen in ink, tried it, and then began to write. 

He wrote, "London, July 20th," and " My Dear Boyd; " and 
having written thus much, he came to a stop. The easiest part 
of the letter was finished. 

Captain Jernam sat with his elbows resting on the table. 
loGianfir straight before him, in pure absence of mind. As lia 



206 Bun to Earth. 

did so, bis eyes were caught suddenly by an object lying amongst 
tbe pens and pencils in the tray before him. 

That object was a bent gold coin. 

His face grew pale as he snatched up the coin, and examined i^ 
closely. It was a small Brazilian coin, bent and worn, and on 
one side of it was scratched the initial "G." 

That small battered coin was very famiHar to George Jemam's 
gaze, and it was scarcely strange if the warm Hfe-blood ebbed 
from his cheeks, and left them ashy pale. 

The coin was a keepsake which he had given to his murdered 
brother, Valentine, on the eve of thek last parting. 

And he found it here — here, in Joseph Duncombe's desk ! 

For some moments he sat aghast, motionless, powerless even 
to think. He could not realize the full weight of this strange 
discovery. He could only remember the warm breath of the 
tropical night on which he and his brother had bidden each 
other farewell— the fierce light of the tropical stars beneath 
which they had stood when they parted. 

Then he began to ask himself how that farewell token, the 
golden coin, which he had taken from his pocket in that parting 
hour, and upon which he had idly scratched his own initial, had 
come into the possession of Joseph Duncombe. 

He was not a man of the world, and he was not able to reason 
calmly and logically on the subject of his brother's untimely 
fate. He shared Joyce's rooted idea, that the escape of Valentine's 
murderer was only temporary, and that, sooner or later, accident 
would disclose the criminal. 

It seemed now as if the eventful moment had come. Here, on 
this spot, near the scene of his brothei-'s disappearance, he came 
upon this token — this relic, which told that Valentine had been 
in some manner associated with Joseph Duncombe. 

And yet Joseph Duncombe and George had talked long and 
earnestly on the subject of the murdered sailor's fate, and in all 
their talk Captain Duncombe had never acknowledged any ac- 
quaintance with its details. 

This was strange. 

Still more incomprehensible to George Jemam was the fact 
that Valentin.e should have parted with the farewell token, except 
with his life, for his last words to his brother had been — 

" I'll keep the bit of gold, George, to my dying day, in memory 
of your fidelity and love." 

There had been something more between these two men than a 
common brotherhood : there had been the bond of a joyless child- 
hood spent together, and their affection for each other was more 
than the ordinary love of brothers. 

"I don't believe he would have parted with that piece of gold," 
cried George, "not if he had been without a sixpence in the world. 



A Familiar Tohen. 207 

Ajid he was rich. It was the money lie carried about him which 
tempted his murderer. It was near here that he met his fate — ■ 
on this very spot, perhaps. Joyce told me that before my father- 
in-law built this house, there was a dilapidated building, which 
was a meeting-place for the vilest scoundrels in RatclifF Highway. 
But how came that coin in Joseph Buncombe's desk? — how, 
unless Joseph Dancombe was concerned in my brother's 
murder?" 

This idea, once aroused in the mind of George Jemam, was 
not to be driven away. It seemed too hideous for reality ; but 
it took possession of his mind, nevertheless, and he sat alone, 
trying to shut horiible fancies out of his brain, but trying 
uselessly. 

He remembered Joseph Duncombe's wealth. Had all that 
wealth been honestly won ? 

He remembered the captain's restlessness — his feverish desire 
to run away from a home in which he possessed so much to 
render Hfe happy. 

Might not that eagerness to return to the sailor's wild, roving 
life have its root in the tortures of a guilty conscience ? 

" His very kindness to me may be prompted by a vague wish 
to make some paltry atonement for a dark wrong done my 
brother," thought George. 

He remembered Joseph Duncombe's seeming goodness of 
heart, and wondered if such a man could possibly be concerned 
in the darkest crime of which mankind can be guilty. But he 
remembered also that the worst and vilest of men were often 
Buch accomplished hypocrites as to remain unsuspected of evil 
until the hour when accident revealed their iniquity. 

" It is so, perhaps, with this man," thought George Jemam. 
" That air of truth and goodness may be but a mask. I know 
what a master-passion the greed of gain is ynth. some men. It 
has doubtless been the passion of this man's heart. The 
wretches who lured Valentine Jemam to this house were tools 
of Joseph Duncombe's. How otherwise could this token have 
fallen into his hands«? " 

He tried to find some other answer to this question ; but he 
tried m vain. That httle piece of gold seemed to fasten the 
dark stigma of guilt upon the absent owner of the house. 

"And I have shaken this liidn's hand!" cried George. "I 
am the husband of his daugb ter » I Hve beneath the shelter of 
his roof— in this house, which was bought perhaps with my 
brother's blood. Great heavens ! it is too horrible." 

For two long hours George Jemam sat brooding over the 
gtrange discovery which had changed the whole current of hii 
life. Rosamond came and peeped in at the door. 

" Still busy, George?" she asked. 



208 Bun to EaHh. 

" Yes," he wiswered, in a strange, harsh tone, " I am yery 

busy." 

Xijat altered voice alarmed the loving wife. She crept into tha 
room, and stood behind her husband's chair. 

"George," she said, "your voice sounded so strange jwst 
now; you are not ill, are you, darling P " 

*' No, no; I only want to be alone. Go, Rosamond." 

The wife could not fail to be just a little offended by her 
husband's manner. The pretty rosy lips pouted, and then tears 
came into the bright blue eyes. 

George Jernam's head was bent upon his clasped hands, and 
he took no heed of his wife's sorrow. She could not leave him 
without one more anxious question. 

" Is there anything amiss with yon, George P " she asked. 

" Nothing that you can cure." 

The harshness of his tone, the coldness of his manner, 
wounded her heart. She said no more, but went quietly from 
the room. 

Never before had her beloved George spoken unkindly to her 
— never before had the smallest cloud obscured the calm horizon 
of her married life. 

After tliis, the dark cloud hung black and heavy over that 
once happy household ; the sun never shone again upon the 
young wife's home. 

She tried to penetrate the secret of this sudden change, but 
she could not do so. She could complain of no unkindness 
from her husband — he never spoke harshly to her after that 
first day. His manner was gentle and indulgent; but it seemed 
as if his love had died, leaving in its place only a pitiful tender- 
ness, strangely blended with sadness and gloom. 

He asked Rosamond several questions about her father's past 
life ; but on that subject she could tell him very little. She 
had never lived with her father until after the building of River 
/lew Cottage, and she knew nothing of his existence before 
that time, except that he had only been in Eui^rland during 
brief intervals, and that he had always come to see her at school 
when he had an opportuuity of doing so. 

" He is the best and dearest of fathers," she said, affection* 
ately. 

George Jernam asked if Captain Duncombe had been in 
England during that spring iu which Valentine met his 
death. 

After a moment's reflection, Rosamond repHed in the affirma- 
tive. 

" I remember his coming to see me that spring," she said* 
" He came early in March, and again in April, and it wfts then 
hti Usgan first to talk of settUng in England." 



A Familiar Tolcen. 209 

" And vrith that assiirance my last hope vanishes," thought 

He had asked tlie question in the faint hope of hearln:^ that 
Joseph Duncombe was far away from England at the tune of 
the murder. 

A fortnight after the discovery of the Brazilian coin, George 
Jernam announced to his wife that he was about to leave her. 
He was going to the coast of Africa, he said. He had tried to 
reconcile himself to a landsman's Hfe, and had found it unen- 
durable. 

The blow fell very heavily on poor Rosamond's loving heart. 

" We seemed so happy, George, only two short weeks ago," 
she pleaded. 

" Yes," he answered, " I tried to be happy; but yon see, the 
life doesn't suit me. Yoar father couldn't rest in this hou^e, 
though he had made himself such a comfortable home. Xo more 
can I rest here. There is a curse upon the house, perhaps," ht 
added, with a bitter laugh. 

Eosamond burst into tears. 

"Oh, George, you will break my heart," slie cried. "I thought 
our lives were to be so happy ; and now our happiness ends all 
at once like a broken dream. It is because you are weary of 
m^, and of my love, that you are going away. You promised 
my father that you would remain with me till his return." 

"I did, Rosamond," answered her husband, gravely, "and, 
as I am an honest man, I meant to keep that promise ! I ain 
not weary of your love — that is as precious to me as ever it was. 
But you must not continue to reside beneath this roof I tell 
you there is a curse upon this house, Rosamond, and neither 
peace nor happiness can be the lot of those who dwell within 
its fatal walls. You must go down to Allanbay, where you may 
find kind friends, where you may be happy, dear, while 1 am 
awav." 

•' But, George, what is all this mystery ? *' 

" Ask me no questions, Rosamond, for I can answer none. 
Believe me when I tell you that you have no bhure m tiie change 
tliat has come upon me. My feelings towards you remain un- 
altered; but within the last few weeks I have made a discovery 
which has struck a death-blow to my happiness. I go out once 
more a homeless wanderer, because the quiet of domestic life 
has become unbearable to me. I want bustle, danger, hard 
work. I want to get away from my own thoughts." 

Rosamond in vain implored her husband to tell her more than 
this. He, so yielding of old, was on this point inflexible. 

Before the leaves had begun to fall in the dreary autumn days 
the "Albatross" was ready for a new voyage. The first mate took 
aer down to Plymonth Harbour, thart to wait the coming of 



2iO Bun to ilariL 

her captain, wlio travelled into Devonshire by mail-coacli, taking 
Kosamond to her future abode. 

At any other time Rosamond would have been delighted with 
the romantic beauty of that Devonian village, where her husband 
had selected a pleasant cottage for her, near his aunt's abode; 
but a settled melancholy had taken possession of the once joyous 
girl. She had brooded continually over her husband's altered 
conduct, and she had at last arrived at a terrible conclusion. ^ 

She believed that he was mad. What but sudden insanity 
could have produced so great a change ? — a change for which 
it was impossible to imagine a cause. 

" If he had been absent from me for some time, and had re- 
turned an altered creature, I should not be so much bewildered 
by the change," Rosamond said to herself. *' But the transfor- 
mation occurred in an hour. He saw no strange visitor ; he re- 
ceived no letter. No tidings of any kind could possibly have 
reached him. He entered my fathei-'s sitting-room a light-hearted, 
happy man; he came out of it gloomy and miserable. Can I 
doubt that the change is something more than any ordinary 
alteration of feeling or character Y " 

Poor Rosamond remembered having heard of the fatal effects 
of sunstrokes— effects which have sometimes revealed them- 
selves long after the occiirrence of the calamity that caused 
them ; and she told herself that the change in George Jernam'a 
nature must needs be the resnlt of such a calamity. 

She entreated her husband to consult an eminent physician 
as to the state of his health; but she dared not press her request, 
60 coldly was it received. 

" Who told you that I was ill P " he asked ; " I am not ill. 
All the physicians in Christendom could do nothing for me." 

After this, Rosamond could say no more. For worlds she 
would not have revealed to a stranger her sad saspicion of 
George Jemam's insanity. She could only pray that Providence 
would protect and guide him in his roving life._ 

"The excitement and hard work of his existence on board 
ship may work a cure," she thought, trying to be hopeful. 
'• It is very possible that the calm monotony of a landsman's 
life may have produced a bad effect upon his brain. I can only 
trust in Providence — I can only pray night and day for the 
welfare of him I love so fondly." 

And 80 they parted. George Jernam left his wife with sad- 
ness in his heart ; but it was a kind of sadness in which love 
had little share. 

•' I have thought too much of my own happiness," he said 
to liimself, "and I have left my brother's death unavenged. 
Have I forgotten the time when he carried me along the lonely 
sea-shore in Ina loving arms ? Have I forgotten the years ia 



On Guard. 211 

which he was father, mother — all the world to me ? Ko ; by 
heaven ! I have not. The time has come when the one thought 
of my Hfe must be revenge — revenge upon the murderer of my 
brother, whosoever he may be." 



CHAPTER XX. 

ON GUiiED. 

Mr. Andrew Larkspur, the poHce-offic«-, took up his abode in 
Percy Street a week after his interview with Lady Eversleigh. 

For a fortnight after he became an occupant of the house in 
which she lived, Honoria received no tidings from him. She 
knew that he went out early every morning, and that he re- 
turned late every night, and this was all that she knew respect- 
ing his movements. 

^t the end of the fortnight, he came to her late one evening, 
ani begged to be favoured with an audience. 

"I shall want at least two hours of your time, ma'am," he 
said; " and, perhaps, you may find it fatiguing to Hsten to me 
so late at night. If you'd rather defer the business till to-morrow 
morning " 

"I would rather not defer it," answered Lady Eversleigh; 
*' I am ready to listen to you for as long a time as you choose. I 
have been anxiously expecting some tidings of your movements." 

" Very hkely, ma'am," replied Mr. Larkspur, coolly; "I know 
you ladies are given to impatience, as well as Berlin wool work, 
and steel beads, and the pianoforte, and such like. But you see, 
ma'am, there's not a Hving creature more unHke a race-horse 
than a police-ofB.cer, And it's just hke you ladies to expect 
police-officers to be Flying Dutchmen, in a manner of speaking. 
I've been a hard worker in my time, ma'am ; but I never worked 
harder, or stuck to my work better, than I have these last two 
weeks ; and all I can say is, if I ain't dead-beat, it's only because 
it isn't in circumstances to dead-beat me." 

Lady Eversleigh Hstened very quietly to this exordium ; but 
a shght, nervous "Iw itching of her lips every now and then be- 
trayed her impatience. 

*' I am waiting to hear your news," she said, presently. 

" And I'm a-going to tell it, ma'am, in due course," returned 
the poHce-officer, drawing a bloated leather book from his pocket, 
und opening it. " I've got all down here in regular order. First 
and foremost, the baronet — he's a bad lot, is the baronet." 

'• I do not need to hear that from your lips." 

" Yery likely not, ma'am. But if you set me to watch a gen- 
tleman, you must expect I shall form an opinion about him. 
The baronet has lodgings in Villiers Street, uncommon shabby 
ones. I went in and took a good survey of him and hislodginga 



gl2 ^un to Earth, 

together, in the character o a bootmaker, taking home a paif o 

boots, which was intended for a Mr. Everfield in the next street, 
says I, and, of course, Everfield and Eversleigh being a'mo?t the 
same names, was calculated to lead to inconvenient mistakes. 
In the character of the bootmaker, Sir Eeginald Eversleigh t^lls 
me to get out of his room, and be — something uncommonly un- 
pleasant, and unfit for the ears of ladies. In the character of the 
tx)otmaker, I scrapes acquaintance with a young person employed 
as housemaid, and very willing to answer questions, and be 
drawed out. From the young person employed as housemaid, 
I gets what I take the liberty to call my ground-plan of the 
baronet's habits ; beginning with his late breakfast, consisting 
chiefiy of gunpowder tea and ca3^enne pepper, and ending with 
the scroop of his latch-key, to be heard any time from two in the 
morning to day-break. From the young person employed as 
housemaid, I discover that my baronet always spends his evenings 
out of doors, and is known to \^sit a lady at Fulham very con- 
stant, whereby the young person employed as housemaid sup- 
poses he is keeping company with her. From the same young 
person I obtain the lady's address — which piece of information 
the young person has acquired in the course of taking letters to 
the post. The lady's address is Hilton House, Fulham. Tlie 
lady's name has slipped my young person's memory, but is war- 
ranted to begin with a D." 

Mr. Larkspur paused to take breath, and to consult the me- 
moranda in the bloated leather book. 

"Having ascertained this much, I had done with the young 
person, for the time being," he continued, glibly ; " and I felt 
that my next business would be at Hilton House. Here I pre- 
sented myself in the character of a twopenny postman; but 
here I found the servants foreign, and so uncommonly close that 
they might as well have been so many marble monuments, for 
any good that was to be got out of them. Failing the servants, 
I fell back upon the neighbours and the tradespeople; and from 
the neighbours and the tradespeople I find out that my foreign 
lady's name is Durski, and that my foreign lady gives a party 
every night, which party is made up of gentlemen. Tliat is 
queer, to say the least of it, thinks I. A lady who gives a party 
every night, and whose visitors are all gentlemen, is an uncom- 
monly queer customer. Having found out this much, my mouth 
watered to find out more; for a man who has his soul in his pro- 
fession takes a pleasure in his work, ma'am; and if you were to 
ofier to pay such a man double to waste his time, he couldn't do 
it. I tried the neighbours, and I tried the tradespeople, every 
way ; and work 'em how I would, I couldn't get much out of 'em. 
You see, ma'am, there's scarcely a human habitation within a 
quarter of a mile of Hilton House, so, when I say neighbours, i 



0/j (hian^. 

clon*t mean neighbours in the common sense of the word. There 
might be assassination going on every night in Hilton House 
nndiscovered, for there's no one lives near enough to hear the vic- 
tims' groans ; and if there was anything as good for our trade aa 
pork-pie making: out of murdered human victims going nowadays, 
ma'am, Hilton House would be the place where I should look for 
pork-pies. Well, I was almost beginning to lose patience, when 
I sat down in a fancy-stationer's shop to rest myself. I sat down 
in this shop because I was really tired, not with any hope of 
making use of my time, for I was too far away from Hilton 
House to expect any luck in the way of information from the 
gentleman behind the counter. However, when a man has de- 
voted his hfe to ferreting out information, the habit of ferreting 
is apt to be very strong upon him ; so I pass the time of day to 
my fancy-stationer, and then begins to ferret. * Madame Durski, 
at Hilton House yonder, is an uncommonly handsome woman,* 
I throw out, by way of an opening. ' Uncommonly,' replies my 
fancy-stationer, by which I perceive he knows her. * A cus- 
tomer of yours, perhaps ? ' I throw out, promiscuous. ' Yes,* 
answers my fancy-stationer. 'A good one, too, I'll be bound,' 
I throw ont, in a lively, conversational way. My fancy-stationer 
gmiles, and being accustomed to study smiles, I see significance 
in his smile. ' A very good one in some things,' replies my 
fancy- stationer, laying a tremendous stress upon the word some. 
* Oh,' says I, 'gilt-edged note-paper and cream-coloured sealing- 
wax, for instance.' ' I don't sell her a quire of paper in a 
month,' answers my stationer. *If she was as fond of writing 
letters as she is of playing cards, I think it would be better for 
her.' * Oh, she's fond of card-playing is she ? ' I ask. * Yes,' 
replies my fancy-stationer, ' I rather think she is. Your hair 
would stand on end if I were to tell you how many packs of 
playing-cards I've sold her lady-companion v,uthin the last three 
months. The lady-companion comes here at dusk with a thick 
black veil over her face, and she thinks I don't know who she 
is ; but I do know her, and know where she lives, and whom she 
lives with.' After this I buy myself a quire of writing-paper, 
which I don't want, and I wish my fancy- stationer good after- 
noon. ' Oh, oh,' I say to myself when I get outside, ' I know the 
meaning of Madame Durski's parties now. Madame Durski's 
house is a flash gambling crib, and all those fine gentlemen in 
cabs and broughams go there to play cards.' " 

" The mistress of a gaming-house ! " exclaimed Honoria. ** A 
fitting companion for Reginald Eversleigh ! " 

•' Just 80, ma'am ; and a fitting companion for Mr. YictoT 
Carrington likewise." 

•'Have you found out anything about Mm?** cried Lady 
Eversleigh, eagerly. 



214 Bwn to Earth 

" No, ma'am, I haven't. At least, notKing in my way. IV* 
tried his neighbours, and his tradespeople also, in the character 
of a postman, which is respectable, and calculated to inspire 
confidence. But out of his tradespeople I can get nothing 
more than the fact that he is a remarkably praiseworthy young 
man, who pays his debts regular, and is the very best of sons 
to a highly -respectable mother. There's nothing much in that, 
you know, ma'am." 

"Hypocrite!" murmured Lady Eversleigh. "A hypocrite 
so skilled in the vile arts of hypocrisy that he will contrive to 
have the world always on his side. And this is all your utmost 
address has been able to achieve ? '' 

" All at present, ma'am ; but I live in hopes. And now I've 
got a bit of news about the baronet, which I think will astonish 
you. I've been improving my acquaintance with the young 
person employed as housemaid in Yilliers Street for the last 
fortnight, and I find from her that my baronet is on very friendly 
terms with his first cousin, Mr. Dale, of the Temple," 

"Indeed!" exclaimed Honoria. "These two men are the 
last s:etween whom I should have imagined a friendship im- 
|/>8sib^e.'* 

'Yes, ma'am; but so it is, notwithstanding. Mr, Douglas 
Dale, hamster- at-law, dined with his cousin, Sir Keginald, twice 
last week ; and on each occasion the two gentlemen left VilHers 
Street together in a hack cab, between eight and nine o'clock. 
My friend, the housemaid, happened to hear the address given 
to the cabmen on both occasions ; and on both occasions the 
address was Hilton House, Fulham." 

"Douglas Dale a gambler!" cried Honoria; "the companion 
of his infamous cousin! That is indeed ruin." 

"Well, certainly, ma'am, it does not seem a very lively prospect 
for my friend, D, D.," answered Mr. Larkspur, with irrepressible 
flippancy. 

" Do you know any more respecting this acquaintance P ** 
asked Honoria. 

" Not yet, ma'am ; but I mean to know more." 

" Watch then," she cried ; "watch those two men. There is 
danger for Mr. Dale in any association with his cousin, Sir Ke- 
ginald Eversleigh. Do not forget that. There is peril for him 
— the deadhest it may be. Watch them, Mr. Larkspur; watch 
them by day and night." 

" I'll do my duty, ma'am, depend upon it," replied the police 
officer; " and I'll do it well. I take a pride in my profession, 
and to me duty is a pleasure." 

" I will trust you." 

" You may, ma'am. Oh, by-the-bye, I must tell you that in 
this house mj name is Andrews. Please remember that, ma'am. 



On Quard. 215 

Mr. Andrews, lawyer's clerk. The name of Lartspm smells 
tx)o strong of Bow Street." 

• • • • * 

The information acquired by Andrew Larkspur was perfectly 
correct. An intimacy and companionship had arisen between 
Douglas Dale and his cousin, Keginald Eversleigh, and the two 
men spent much of their time together. 

Douglas Dale was still the same simple-minded, true-hearted 
young man that he had been before his uncle Oswald's death 
endowed him with an income of five thousand a year ; but with 
the accession of wealth the necessity for industry ceased; and 
instead of a hard-working student, Douglas became one of the 
upper million, who have nothing to think of but the humour of 
the moment— now Alpine tourist, now Norwegian angler; anon 
idler in clubs and drawing-rooms ; anon book collector, or ama- 
teur htterateur. 

He still occupied chambers in the Temple ; he still called him- 
self a barrister ; but he had no longer any desire to succeed at 
the bar. 

His brother Lionel had become rector of Hallgrove, a village 
»n Dorsetshire, where there was a very fine old church and a 
very small congregation. It was one of those fat hvings which 
seem only to fall to the lot of rich men. 

Lionel had the tastes of a typical coTintry gentleman, and he 
found ample leisure to indulge in his favourite amusement of 
hunting, after having conscientiously discharged his duties. 

The poor of Hallgrove had good reason to congratulate them- 
selves on the fact that their rector was a rich man. _ Mr. Dale's 
charities seemed almost boundless to his happy parishioners. 

The rectory was a fine old house, situated in one of those 
romantic spots which one scarcely hopes to see out of a picture. 
Hill, wood, and water combined to make the beauty of the land- 
scape; and amid verdant woods and fields the old red-briok 
mansion looked the perfection of an Enghsh homestead. It had 
been originally a manor-house, and some portions of it were 
verv old. 

Douglas Dale called Hallgrove the Happy Valley. Neither 
of the brothers had yet married, and the barrister paid frequent 
visits to the rector. He was glad to find repose after the 
fatigue and excitement of London Hfe. Like his brother, he 
delighted in the adventures and perils of the hunting field, and 
he was rarely absent from Hallgrove during the hunting season. 

In London he had his clubs, and the houses of friends. The 
manoeuvring mammas of the West End were very glad to wel- 
come Mr. Dale at their parties. He might have^ danced with 
the prettiest giris in London every night of his hfe had he 
pleaded. 



216 Ev/n to EaHh. 

To an unmarried man, with unlimited means and no particnlat 
occupation, the pleasures of a life of fashionable amusement are 
apt to grow " weary, flat, stale, and unprofitable," after a certain 
time. Douglas Dale was beginning to be very tired of balls and 
dinner parties, flower-shows and mornincr concerts, when he hap- 
pened to meet his cousin, Reginald Eversleigh, at a club to 
which both men belonged. 

Eversleigh could make himself very agreeable when he chose; 
and on this occasion he exerted himself ibo the utmost to produce 
a good impression upon the mind of Douglas Dale. Hitherto 
Douglas had not liked his cousin, Reginald ; but he now began 
to fancy that he had been prejudiced against his kinsman. lie 
felt that Reginald had some reason to consider himself ill-used; 
and with the impulsive kindness of a generous nature, he was 
ready to extend the hand of friendship to a man who had been 
beaten in the battle of life. 

The two men dined together at their club ; they met again 
and again; sometimes by accident — sometimes by appointment. 
The club was one at which there was a good deal of quiet gam- 
bling amongst scientific whist-players ; but until, his meeting 
with Reginald Eversleigh, Douglas Dale had never been tempted 
to take part in a rubber. 

His habits changed gradually under the influence of his cousin 
and Victor Carrington. He consented to take a hand at ecarte 
after dinner on one day ; on another day to join at a whist-party. 
Three months after his first meeting ^vith Reginald, he accom- 
panied the baronet to Hilton House, where he was introduced to 
the beautiful Austrian widow. 

Sir Reginald Eversleigh played his cards very cautiously. It 
was only after he had instilled a taste for gambling into his 
kinsman's breast that he ventured to introduce him to the 
fashionable gaming-house presided over by Paulina Durski. 

The introduction had a sinister efi'ect upon his destiny. He 
had passed unscathed through the furnace of London Hfe ; many 
women had sought to obtain power over him ; but his heart wa;? 
still in his own keeping when he first crossed the threshold of 
Hilton House. 

He saw Paulina Durski, and loved her. He loved her from 
the very first with a deep and faithful affection, as far above the 
selfish fancy of Reginald Eversleigh as the heaven is above the 
earth. 

But she was no longer mistress of her heart. That was given 
to the man whose baseness she knew, and whom she loved de- 
spite her better reason. 

Sir Reginald speedily discovered the state of his cousin's feel- 
ings. He had laid his plans for this result. Douglas Dale, as 
the adoring slave of Madame Durski, would bo an easy dupe, 



On Guard. 217 

and mncli of Sir Oswald's wealth might yet enrich his disin- 
herited nephew. Victor Carrington looked on, and shared his 
spoils; but he watched Eversleigh's schemes with a half-con- 
temptuous air. 

" You think yon are doing wonders, my dear Eeginald," he 
said ; " and certainly, by means of !Mr. Dale's losses, you and I 
contrive to Uve — to say nothing of our dear Madame Durski, 
who comes in for her share of the plunder. But after all, what 
igit? a few hundreds more or less, at the best. I think you 
may by-and-by play a better and a deeper game than that, Re- 
gmald, audi think I can show you how to play it." 

" I do not want to be mixed up in any more of your schemes," 
answered Sir Reginald, " I have had enough of them. What 
have they done for me ?" 

The two men were seated in Sir Reginald's dingy sitting- 
room in y iUiers Street when this conversation took place. 

They were sitting opposite to each other, with a Httle table 
between them. Victor Carrington rested his folded arms upon 
the table, and leaned across them, looking full in the face of his 
companion. 

" Look you, Reginald Eversleigh," he said, " because I have 
failed once, there is no reason that I am to fail always. The 
devil himself conspired against me last time ; but the day will 
come when I shall have the devil on my side. It is yet on the 
cards for you to become owner of ten thousand a-year; and it 
shall be my business to make you owner of that income." 

" Stay, Carrington, do you think I would permit ? " 

" I ask your permission for nothing : I know you to be a weak 
and wavering coward, who of your own vohtion would never rise 
from the level of a ruined spendthrift and penniless vagabond. 
You forget, perhaps, that I hold a bond which gives me an in- 
terest in your fortunes. I do not forget. When my own wisdom 
counsels action, I shall act, without asking your advice. If I 
am successfu], you wiU thank me. If I fail, you will reproach 
me for my folly. That is the way of the world. And now let 
us change the subject. When do you go do^vn to Dorsetshire 
with your cousin, Douglas Dale P" 

" Why do you ask me that question ?" _ 

" My curiosity is only prompted by a friendly interest in your 
welfare, and that of your relations. You are going to hunt 
with Lionel Dale, are you not?" 

•* Yes ; he has invited me to spend the remainder of the hunt- 
ing season with him?" 

" At his brother's request, I believe P " 

" Precisely. I have not met Lionel since — since my uncle's 
funeral — as you know." Sir Reginald pronounced these last 
worda with eoasiderdble hesitation, " Douglas spenda Christ* 



218 Bun to Earth. 

mas with his brother, and Douglas wishes me to join the party. 
In order to gratify this wish, Lionel has written me a very 
friendly letter, inviting me down to Hallgrove Eectory, and I 
have accepted the invitation." 

" Nothing could be more natural There is some talk of your 
buying a hunter for Lionel, is there not, by-the-bye ?" 

" Yes. They know I am a tolerable judge of horseflesh, and 
Doudas wishes me to get his brother a good mount for the wiuter." 

" When is the animal to be chosen ?"" asked Victor, carelessly. 

•* Immediately. We go down to Hallgrove next week, I shall 
select the horse whenever I can get Douglas to go with me to 
the dealer's, and send him down to get used to his new quarters 
before his hard work begins." 

" Good. Let me know when you are going to the horse-dealer's: 
but if you see me there, take no notice of me beyond a nod, and 
be careful not to attract Douglas Dale's attention to me or intro- 
duce me to him." 

" What do you mean by that?" asked Eeginald, looking sus- 
piciously at his companion. 

*' "What should I mean except what I say ? I do not see how 
even your imagination can fancy any dark meaning lurking be- 
neath the common-place desire to waste an afternoon in a visit 
to a horse-dealer's yard." 

" My dear Carrington, forgive me," exclaimed Eeginald. " I 
am irritable and impatient. I cannot forget the misery of those 
last days at Eaynham." 

*' Yes," answered Victor Carrington : " the misery of failure." 

No more was said between the two men. The sway which the 
powerful intellect of the surgeon exercised over the weaker 
nature of his friend was omnipotent. Eeginald Eversleigh feared 
Victor Carrington. And there was something more than this 
ever-present fear in his mind ; there was the lurking hope that, 
by means of Carrington's scheming, he should yet obtain the 
wealth he had forfeited. 

The conversation above recorded took place on the day after 
Mr. Larkspur's interview with Honoria. 

Three days afterwards, Eeginald Eversleigh and his cousin met 
at the club, for the purpose of going together to inspect the 
hunters on sale at Mr. Spavin's repository, in the Brompton 
Eoad. 

Dale's mail-phaeton was waiting before the door of the club, 
and he drove his cousin down to the repository. 

Mr. Spavin was one of the most fashionable horse-dealers of 
that day. A man who could not afford to give a handsome price 
had but a small chance of finding himself suited at Mr. Spavin's 
repository. For a poor cuatuaier the horse-dealer felt nothing 
but coulempt. 



On Guard. 219 

Half a dozen horsey -looking men came out of ststbles, loose 
boxes, and harness-rooms to attend upon the gentlemen, whoso 
dashing mail-phaeton and stylish groom commanded the respect 
of the whole yard. The great Mr. Spavin himself emerged from 
his counting-house to ask the pleasure of his customers. 

"Carriage-horses, sir, or 'acks?" he asked. "That's a very 
fine pair in the break yonder, if you want anything showy for a 
mail-phaeton. They've been exercising in the park. All blocd, 
sir, and not an ounce too much bone. A pair of bosses that 
would do credit to a dook." 

Reginald asked to see Mr. Spavin's hunters, and the grooms 
and keepers were soon busy trotting out noble-looking creatures 
for the inspection of the three gentlemen. There was a tan- 
gallop at the bottom of the yard, and up and down this the 
animals were paraded. 

Douglas Dale was much interested in the choice of the horse 
which he intended to present to his brother; and he discussed 
the merits of the diflferent hunters vnih Sir Reginald Eversleigh, 
whose eye had lighted, within a minute of their entrance, upon 
Victor Carrington. The surgeon stood at a little distance from 
them, absorbed by the scene before him ; but it was to be ob- 
served that his attention was given less to the horses than the 
men who brought them out of their boxes. 

At one of these men he looked with peculiar intensity ; and 
this man was certainly not calculated to attract the observation 
of a stranger by any personal advantages of his own. He was 
a wizened Httle man, with red hair, a bullet-shaped head, and 
imall, rat-like eyes. 

This man had very little to do with the display of the horses ; 
but once, when there was a pause in the business, he opened 
the door of a loose-box, went in, and presently emerged, leading 
a handsome bay, whose splendid head was reared in a defiant 
attitude, as the fiery eye-balls surveyed the yard, 

" Isn't that * Wild Buffalo P ' " asked Mr. Spavin. 

*' Yes, sir." . 

*• Then yon ought to know better than to bring him out, ex- 
claimed the horse-dealer, angrily. "These gentlemen want a 
horse that a Christian can ride, and the * Buffalo ' isn't fit to be 
ridden by a Christian; not yet awhile at any rate. I mean to 
take the devil out of him before I've done %vith him, though," 
added Mr. Spavin, casting a vindictive glance at the horse. 

" He is rather a handsome animal," said Sir Reginald Ever- 

"Oh, yes, lie's handsome enough," answered the dealer. 
'His looks are no discredit to him ; but handsome is as hand- 
some does — that's my motter ; and if I'd known the temper ot 
that boast when Captain Chesterly offered him to me, I'd hay« 



220 JSdm to Earth. 

seen the captain farther before I consented to Tjny him. How. 
ever, there he is ; I've got him, and I must make the best of 
him. But Jack Spavin is not the man to sell snch a beast to a 
customer until the wickedness is taken out of him. ^\1ien the 
wickedness is taken out of him, he'll be at your service, gentle- 
men, with Jack Spavin's best wishes." 

The horse was taken back to his box. Victor watched the 
animal and the groom with an intensely earnest gaze as they 
disappeared from his sight. 

"That's a curious-looking fellow, that groom of yours," Sir ■ 
Reginald said to the horse-dealer. 

" What, Hawkins — Jim Hawkins P Yes ; his looks won't 
make his fortune. He's a hard-working fellow enough in hia 
way ; but he's something like the horse in the matter of temper. 
But I think I've taken the devil out of him," said Mr. Spavin, 
with an ominous crack of his heavy riding-whip. 

More horses were brought out, examined, discussed, and taken 
back to their boxes. Mr. Spavin knew he had to deal with a 
good customer, and he wished to show off the resources of hia 
Htable. 

" Bring out * Niagara,* " he said, presently, and in a few mi- 
nutes a groom emerged from one of the stables, leading a magni- 
ficent bay. " Now, oreutlemen," said Mr. Spavin, " that animal 
is own brother to * Wild Buffalo,' and if it had not been for my 
knowledsfe of that animal's merits I should never have bought 
the 'Buffalo.' Now, there's apt to be a good deal of difference 
between human beings of the same family; but perhaps you'd 
hardly believe the difference there can be between horses of the 
sara3 blood. That animal is as sweet a temper as you'd wish to 
have in a horse — and 'Buffalo' is a devil; yet, if you were to 
see the two horses side by side, you'd scarcely know which waa 
which." 

"Indeed!" exclaimed Sir Reginald; "I should like, for the 
curiosity of the thing, to see the two animals together." 

Mr. Spavin gave his orders, and presently Jim Hawkins, the 
queer-looking groom, brought out " Wild Buffalo." 

The two horses were indeed exactly alike in all physical attri- 
butes, and the man who could have distinguished one from the 
other must have had a very keen eye. 

" There they are, gents, as hke as two peas, and if it weren't 
for a small splash of white on the inner side of ' Buffalo's ' left 
hock, there's very few men in my stable could tell one from the 
other." 

Victor Carrington, observing that Dale was talking to the 
horse-dealer, drew near the animal, with the air of an interested 
stranger, and stooped to examine the white mark. It was a 
^toh ubuut as large as a crown-piece. 



On Ghmrd. §21 

•* ' Kiagara* seems a fine creature," lie said: 

" Yes," replied a groom ; "I don't think there § many better 
horses in the place than ' Niagara.' " 

When Douglas Dale returned to the examination of tlie two 
horses, Victor Carrington drew Sir Reginald aside, unperceivcd 
by Dale. 

•' I want you to choose the horse * Niagara ' for Lionel Dale," 
he said, when they were beyond the hearing of Douglas. 

"Why that horse in particular?" 

" Never mind why," returned Carrington, impatiently. " Yon 
can surel;^ do as much as that to oblige me." 

" Be it so," answered Sir Reginald, with assumed carelessness; 
** the horse seems a good one." 

There was a little more talk and consultation, and then Douglas 
Dale asked his cousin which hor-se he Hked best among those 
they had seen. 

" Well, upon my word, if you ask my opinion, I think there ia 
no better horse than that bay they call 'Niacrara;' an^l if \oii 
and Spavin can agree as to price, you may settle the busine.-^s 
v/ithout further hesitation." 

Douglas Dale acted immediately upon the baronet's advice. 
lie went into Mr. Spavin's little counting-house, and wrote a 
cheque for the price of the horse on the spot, much to that gen- 
tleman's satisfaction. While Douglas Dale was writing thi:^ 
cheque, Victor Carrington waited in the yard outside the count- 
ing-house. 

lie took this opportunity of addressing Hawkins, the groom. 

" I want a job done in 3'our line." he said, "and I think youM 
be just the man to manage it for me. Have you any s[>are 
timeP" 

" I've an hour or two, now and then, of a night, after my 
work's over," answered the man. 

"At what time, and where, are you to be met with after your 
work ?" 

" Well, sir, my own home is too poor a place for a gentleman 
like you to come to ; but if you don't object to a public — and a 
very respectable public, too, in its way — there's the ' Goat and 
Compa.«?ses,' three doors down the httle street as you'll see on 
your left, as you leave this here yard, walking towards London." 

"Yes, yes," interrupted Victor, impatiently; "you axe to be 
found at the ' Goat and Compasses ' ? " 

" I mostly am, sir, after nine o'clock of an evening — summer 
and \vinter " 

"That will do," exclaimed Victor, with a quick glance at the 
door of the counting-house. "I will see you at the * Goat and 
Compasses ' to-night, at nine. Hush I" 

Eversleigh and his cousin were just emerging from the cotintr 



':l*22 Bun to Earth. 

ing-liouse, as Victor Carrington gave the grootn a wajnind 
gesture. 

*' Mum's the -word," muttered the man. 

Sir Eeginald Eversleigh and Douglas Dale took their places 
in the phaeton, and drove away. 

Victor Carrington arrived at half-past eight at the " Goat and 
Compasses" — a shabby little public-house in a shabby little 
street. Here he found Mr. Hawkins lounging in the bar, wait- 
ing for him, and beguihng the time by the consumption of a 
glass of gin. 

" There's no one in the parlour, sir," said Hawkins, as he re- 
cognized Mr. Carrington ; " and if you'll step in there, we shall 
be quite private. I suppose there ain't no objection to this gent 
and me stepping into the parlour, is there, Mariar ?" Mr Haw- 
kins asked of a young lady, in a very smart cap, who officiated 
as barmaid. 

" Well, you ain't a parlour customer in general, Mr. Hawkins ; 
but I suppose if the gent wants to speak to you, there'll be no 
objectioQ to your making free with the parlour, promiscuous," 
answered the damsel, with supreme condescension. " And if the 
gent has any orders to give, I'm ready to take 'em," she added, 
pertly. 

Victor Carrington ordered a pint of brandy. 

The parlour was a dingy Httle apartment, very much the worso 
for stale tobacco smoke, and adorned with gaudy racing-prints. 
Here Mr. Carrington seated himself, and told his companion to 
take the place opposite him. 

" Eill yourself a glass of brandy," he said. And Mr. Hawkins 
was not slow to avail himself of the permission. " jSTow, I'm a 
man who does not care to beat about the bush, my friend Haw- 
kins," said Victor, " so I'll come to business at once. I've taken 
a fancy to that bay horse, ' Wild Buffalo,' and I should like to 
have him; but I'm not a rich man, and I can't afford a high 
price for my fancy. What I've been thinking, Hawkins, is that, 
wath your help, I might get ' Wild Buffalo ' a bargain ?" 

" Well, I should rather flatter myself you might, guv'nor," 
answered the groom, coolly, " an uncommon good bargain, or an 
nncommon bad one, according to the working out of circum- 
stances. But between friends, supposing that you was me, and 
supposing that I was you, you know, I wouldn't have him at no 
price — no, not if Spavin sold him to you for nothing, and threw 
you in a handsome pair of tops and a bit of pink gratis like- 
wise." 

Mr. Hawkins had taken a second glass of brandy by this time ; 
and the brandy provided by Victor Carrington, taken in con- 
junction with the gin purchased b}'- himself, waa beginning la 
produce a lively effect upon hid spirits. 



On Guard. 22i^ 

*'Tne torse is a dangerous animal to liandle, then?" asked 
Victor. 

" When yon can ride & flash of lightning, and hold that well 
in hand, yon may be able to ride 'Wild Buffalo,' guv'nor," 
answered the groom, sententiously ; "but till you have got your 
hand in with a flash of lightning, I wouldn't recommend you to 
throw your leg across the ' Buflalo.' " 

*'Come, come." remonstrated Victor, "a good rider could 
manage the brute, surely?" 

*' Not the cove as drove a mail-phaeton and pair in the skies, 
and was chucked out of it, which served him right — not even 
that sky-larking cove could hold in the ' Buffalo.' He's got a 
mouth made of cast-iron, and there ain't a curb made, work 'em 
how you will, that's any more to him than a lady's bonnet-ribbon. 
He got a good name for his jumping as a steeple-chaser; but 
when he'd been the death of three jocks and two gentlemen 
riders, folks began to get rather shy of him and his jumping; 
and then Captain Chesterly come and planted him on my guv'- 
nor, which more fool my governor to take him at any price, says 
I. And now, sir, I've stood your friend, and give you a honest 
warning; and perhaps it ain't goin^ too far to say that I've 
saved your life, in a manner of speaking. So I hope you'll bear 
in mind that I'm a poor man with a fambly, and that I can't 
afford to waste my time in giving good, advice to strange gents 
for nothing." 

Victor Carrington took out his purse, and handed Mr. Haw- 
kins a sovereign. A look of positive rapture mingled with the 
habitual cunning of the groom's countenance as he received this 
donation. 

" I call that handsome, gnv'nor," he esclaimed, " and I ain't 
above saying so." 

" Take another glass of brandy, Hawkins." 

"Thank you kindly, sir; I don't care if I do," answered the 
groom ; and again he replenished his glass with the coarse and 
fiery spirit. 

" I've given you that sovereign because I believe yon are an 
honest fellow," said the surgeon. " But in spite of the bad 
character yon have given the 'Buffalo' I should Uke to get 
nim." 

" Well, I'm blest," exclaimed Mr. Hawkins ; " and yon don't 
look like a hossey gent either, guv'nor." 

"I am not a 'horsey gent.' I don't want the 'Buffalo' for 
myself. I want him for a hunting-friend. If you can get mo 
the brute a dead bargain, say for twenty pounds, and can get a 
week's holiday to bring him down to my friend's place in thf^ 
country, I'll giv3 you a five-pound note for your trouble." 

The eyes of Mr. Hawkins glittered with the greed of gold a# 



224 Bun to EaHh. 

Victor Carrington said this ; but, eager as be was to eecnre tlie 
tempting prize, he did not reply very quickly. 

" Well, you see, guv'nor, I don't think Mr. Spavin would con- 
sent to sell the ' Buffalo ' yet awhile. He'd be afraid of mischief, 
you know. He's a very stiff 'un, is Spavin, and he comes it un- 
common bumptious about his character, and so on. I really 
don't think he'd sell the ' Buffalo ' till he's broke, and the deuce 
knows how long it may take to break him." 

*' Oh, nonsense ; Spavin would be glad to get rid of the beast, 
depend upon it. You've only got to say you want him for a 
friend of yours, a jockey, who'll break him. in better than any of 
Spavin's people could do it." 

James Hawkins rubbed his chin thoughtfully. 

" Well, perhaps if I put it in that way it might answer," he 
said, after a meditative pause. " I think Spavin might sell him 
to a jock, where he would not part with him to a gentleman, I 
know he'd be uncommon glad to get rid of the brute." 

*' Very well, then," returned Victor Carrington ; " you manage 
matters well, and you'll be able to earn your fiver. Be sure you 
don't let Spavin think it's a gentleman who's sweet upon the 
horse. Do you think you are able to manage the business?" 

The groom laid his finger on his nose, and winked signifi- 
cantly. 

"I've managed more difficult businesses than that, guv'nor," 
he said. " When do you want the animal ?" 

" Immediately." 

" Could you make it convenient to slip down here to-morrow 
night, or shall I wait ujDon you at your house, guv'nor?" 

" I will come here to-morrow night, at nine." 

** Very good, guv'nor ; in which case you shall hear news of 
* Wild Buffalo.' But all I hope is, when you do present him to 
your friend, you'll present the address-card of a respectable 
undertaker at the same time." 

*' I am not afraid." 

" As you please, sir. You are the individual what comes down 
with the dibbs ; and you are the individual what's entitled to 
make your choice." 

Victor Carrington saw that the brandy had by this time exer- 
cised a potent influence over Mr. Spavin's groom ; but he had 
full confidence in the man's power to do what he wanted done. 
James Hawkins was gifted with that low cunning which pecu- 
liarly adapts a small villain for the service of a greater villain. 

At nine o'clock on the following evening, the two met again 
at the " Goat and Compasses." This time their interview was 
very brief and business-like. 

"Have you succeeded ?" asked Victor. 

•* I have, guv'noi:. like one o'clock. Mr. Spavin will take fiv«k 



Down in Dorsetshire, 225 

and-twenty gnineas from my friend the jock; but wouldn't sell 

the ' Buffalo * to a gentleman on no account." 

"Here is the money," answered Victor, handing the groom 
five bank-notes for fire pounds each, and twenty-five shillings in 
gold and silver. " Have you asked for a holiday ?" 

" No, guv'nor; because, between you and me, I don't suppose 
I should get it if I did ask. I shall make so bold as to take it 
without asking. Sham ill, and send my wife to say as I'm laid 
up in bed at home, and can't come to work." 

" Hawkins, you are a diplomatist," exclaimed Victor ; "and 
now I'll make short work of my instnictions. There's a bit of 
paper, with the name of the place to which you're to take the 
animal — Frimley Common, Dorsetshire. You'll start to-morrow 
at daybreak, and travel as quickly as you can without taking the 
spirit out of the horse. I want him to be fresh when he reaches 
my friend.'* 

Mr. Hawkins gave a sinister laugh. 

" Don't yon he afraid of that, sir. ' "Wild Buffalo* will be 
fresh enough, you may depend," he said. 

" I hope he may," replied Carrington, calmly. " TVTien you 
reach Frimley Common — it's little more than a village — go to 
the best inn you find there, and wait till you either see me, or 
hear from me. You understand ?" 

" Yes, guv'nor." 

" Good ; and now, good-night." 

With this Carrington left the " Goat and Compasses." As 
he went out of the public-house, an elderly man, in the dress of 
a mechanic, who had been lounging in the bar, followed him into 
the street, and kept behind him until he entered Hyde Park, to 
cross to the Edgware Koad ; tliere the man fell back and left 
him. 

" He's going home, I suppose," muttered the man ; ** and 
there's nothing more for me to do to-night." 



CHAPTER XXI. 

DOWS IN DORSEISHIRE. 

There were two inns in the High Street of Frimley. The daya 
of mail-coaches were not yet over, and the glory of country inns 
had not entirely departed. Several coaches passed through 
Frimley in the course of the day, and many passengers stopped 
to eat and drink and refresh themselves at the quaint old hos- 
telries ; but it was not often that the old-fasliioned bed-chambers 
were occupied, even for one night, by any one but a commercial 
traveller ; audit was a still rarer occurrence for a visitor to Hnger 
for any time at Frimley. 
There was nothing to sea in tlie place ; and any one travelling 



225 B^n to Earth. 

for pleasure would have chosen rather to stay in the more pic- 
turesque village of Hallgrove. 

It was therefore a matter of considerable surprise to the land- 
lady of the " Kose and Crown," when a lady and her maid 
alighted from the " Highflyer" coach and demanded apartments, 
which they would be likely to occupy for a week or more. 

The lady was so plainly attired, in a dress and cloak of dark 
woollen stuff, and the simplest of black velvet bonnets, that it 
was only by her distinguished manner, and especially graceful 
bearing, that Mrs. Tippets, the landlady, was able to perceive 
any difference between the mistress and the maid. 

"I am travelling in Dorsetshire for my health," said the lady, 
who was no other than Honoria Eversleigh, " and the quiet of 
this place suits me. You will be good enough to prepare rooms 
for myself and my maid." 

" You would like your maid's bed-room to be adjoining your 
own, no doubt, madam ? " haznrded the landlady. 

"No," answered Honoria; "I do not wish that; I prefer entire 
privacy in my own apartment." 

*' As you please, madam — we have plenty of bedrooms." 

The landlady of the " Rose and Crown " ushered her visitors 
into the best sitting-room the house afforded — an old-fashiontd 
apartment, with a wide fire-place, high wooden mantel-piece, 
and heavily-timbered ceiling — a room which seemed to belong to 
the past rather than the present. 

Lady Eversleigh sat by the table in a thoughtful attitude, 
while the fire was being lighted and a tray of tea-things ar- 
ranged for that refreshment which is most welcome of all others 
to an Englishwoman. Jane Payland stood by the opposite angle 
of the mantel-piece, watching her mistress with a countenance 
almost as thoughtful as that of Honoria herself. 

It was in the -gantry dusk that these two travellers arrived at 
Frimley. Jane Payland walked to one of the narrow, old-fash- 
ioned windows, and looked out into the street, where lights were 
burning dimly here and there. 

" WTiat a strange old place, ma'am," she said. 

Honoria had forbidden her to say " my lady " since their de- 
parture from Raynham. 

"Yes," her mistress answered, absently; "it is a world-for- 
gotten old place." 

" But the rest and change will, no doubt, be beneficial, ma'am," 
iaid Miss Payland, in her most insinuating tone ; " and I am 
sure you must require change and fresh country air after being 
pent up in a London street." 

Lady Eversleigh shook off her abstraction of manner, and 
turned towards her servant, with a calm, serious gaze. 

*' I want change of scene, ftnd the fresh breath cf country ojr, 



Bovm in Dorsetshire. 227 

Jane," siie sal J, gravely ; "but it is not for those I came to 
Frimley, and yon know that it is not. Why should we try to 
deceive each other ? The purpose of my life is a very grave one ; 
the secret of my coming and going is a very bitter secret, and if 
I do not choose to share it with yon, I withhold nothing that 
you need care to know. Let me play my part unwatched and 
unquestioned. You will find yourself well rewarded by and by 
for your forbearance and devotion. Be faithful to me, my good 
girl; but do not try to discover the motive of my actions, and 
believe, even when they seem most strange to you, that they are 
justified by one great purpose." 

Jane Payland's eyelids drooped before the serious and pene- 
trating gaze of her mistress. 

"You may feel sure of my being faithful, ma'am," she an- 
swered, promptly ; " and as to curiosity, I should be the very last 
creature upon this earth to try to pry into your secrets." 

Honoria made no reply to this protestation. She took her 
tea in silence, and seemed as if weighed down by grave and 
anxious thoughts. After tea she dismissed Jane, who retired to 
the bed-room allotted to her, which had been made very com- 
fortable, and enlivened by a wood fire, that blazed cheerily in the 
wide grate. 

Jane Payland's bedroom opened out of a corridor, at the end 
of which was the door of the sitting-room occupied by Honoria. 
Jane was, therefore, able to keep watch upon all who went to 
and fro from the sitting-room to the other part of the house. 
She sat with her door a little way open for this purpose. 

" My lady expects some one to-night, I know," she thought 
to herself, as she seated herself at a little table, and began 
some piece of fancy-work. 

She had observed that during tea Lady Eversleigh had twice 
looked at her watch. Why should she be so anxious about tne 
time, if she were not awaiting some visitor, or message, or 
letter? 

For a long time Jane Payland waited, and watched, and lis- 
tened, without avail. No one went along the corridor to the 
blue parlour, except the chambermaid who removed the tea- 
things. 

Jane looked at her own watch, and found that it was past 
nine o'clock. "Surely my lady can have no visitor to-night ? " 
she thought. 

A quarter of an hour after this, she was startled by the 
creaking sound of a footstep on the uncarpeted floor of the cor- 
ridor. She rose hastily and softly from her chair, crept to the 
door, and peeped out into the passage. As she did so, she saw 
a man approachingr, dressed like a countryman, in a clumsy 
Cjfi§?e coat, and with his chin so muiHed in a woQilen scarf, an4 



228 Bun to Earth. 

his felt hat drawn so low over his eyes, that there was nothing 
visible of him but the end of a long nose. 

That long, beak-like nose seemed strangely familiar to !Mis8 
Pay land; and yet she could not tell where she had seen it before. 

The countryman went straight to the blue parlour, opened 
the door, and went in. The door closed behind him, and then 
Jane Payland heard the faint sound of voices within the apart- 
ment. 

It was evident that this countryman was Lady Eversleigli's 
expected guest. 

Jane's wonderment was redoubled by this extraordinary pro- 
ceeding. 

" What does it all mean ? " she asked herself. " Is this man 
gome humble relation of my lady's ? Everyone knows that her 
birth was obscure ; but no one can tell where she came from. 
Perhaps this is her native place, and it is to see her own people 
she comes here." 

Jane was obliged to be satisfied with this erplanation, for no 
other was within her reach; but it did not altogether allay her 
curiosity. The interview between Lady Eversleit^h and her 
visitor was a long one. It was half-past ten o'clock before the 
straiige-looking countryman quitted the blue parlour. 

This occurred three days before Christmas-day. On the fol- 
lowing evening another stranger arrived at Frimley by the 
rnail-coach, which passed through the quiet town at about seven 
o'clock. 

This traveller did not patronise the "Rose and Crown " inn, 
though the coach changed horses at that hostelry. He alighted 
from the outside of the coach while it stood before the door of 
the "Rose and Crown," waited until his small valise had been 
lished out of the boot, and then departed through the falling 
snow, carrying this valise, which was his only Inggage. 

He walked at a rapid pace to the other end of the long, strag- 
gling street, where there was a humbler inn, called the " Cross 
Iveys." Here he entered, and asked for a bed-room, with a good 
lire, and something or other in the way of supper. 

It was not till he had entered the room that the traveller took 
off the rough outer coat, the collar of which had almost entirely 
concealed his face. When he did so, he revealed the sallow 
countenance of Victor Carrington, and the Hashing black eyes, 
which to-night shone with a peculiar brightness. 

After he had eaten a hasty meal, he went out into the inn- 
yard, despite the fast-falling snow, to smoke a cigar, he said, tc 
one of the servants whom he encountered on his way. 

He had not been long in the yard, when a man emerged from 
one of the adjacent buildings, and approached him in a sbi? 
aud stealtiiy nmniier, 



Down m DorsefsJnre 229 

" All riglit, guv'nor," said the man, in a low voice* 
on the look-out for you for the last two days." 

The man was Jim Hawkins, Mr. Spavin's groom. 

" Is ' Wild Buffalo ' here ?" asked Victor. 

*' Yes, sir ; as safe and as comfortable as if he'd been foale» 
here." 

" And none the worse for his journey ? " 

" Not a bit of it, sir. I brought him down by easy stages, 
knowing you wanted him kept fresh. And fresh he is — oncom- 
mon. P'raps you'd like to have a look at him." 

"I should." 

The groom led Mr. Carrington to a loose box, and the surgeon 
had the pleasure of beholding the bay horse by the uncertain 
light of a stable lantern. 

The animal was, indeed, a noble specimen of his race. 

It was only in the projecting eye-ball, the dilated nostril, the 
defiant carriage of the head, that his evil temper exhibited it- 
self. Victor Carrington stood at a little distance from him, 
contemplating him in silence for some minutes. 

" Have you ever noticed that spot ?" asked Victor, presently, 
pointing tothe white patch inside the animal's hock. 

" Well, sir, one can't help noticing it when one knows where 
to look for it, though p'raps a stranger mightn't see it. That 
there spot's a kind of a blemish, you see, to my mind ; for, if it 
wasn't for that, the brute wouldn't have a white hair about him." 

"That's just what I've been thinking," answered Victor. 
"'Now, my friend is just the sort of man to turn up his nose at 
a horse with anything in the way of a blemish about him, especi- 
ally if he sees it before he has tried the animal, and found out 
his merits. But I've hit upon a plan for getting the better of 
him, and I want you to carry it out for me." 

" I'm your man, guv^nor, whatever it is." 

The surgeon produced a phial from his pocket, and with the 
phial a small painters' brush. 

" In this bottle there's a brown dye," he said; "and I want 
you to paint the white spot with that brown dye after you've 
groomed the ' Buffalo,' so that whenever my friend comes to claim 
the horse the brute may be ready for him. You must apply the 
dye three or four times, at short intervals. It's a pretty fas> 
one, and it'll take a good many pails of water to wash it out." 

Jim Hawkins laughed heartily at the idea of this manoeuvre. 

" Why you are a rare deep one, guv'nor," he exclaimed; "that 
there game is just like the canary dodge, what they do so well 
down Seven Dials way. You ketches yer sparrer, and you paints 
him a lively yeller, and then you sells him to your innocent cus- 
tomer for the finest canary as ever wabbled in the grove — alittle 
*pt to be mopish at first, but warranted to sing beautifuJ 0^9 



230 Bu7i to Earth. 

Boon as ever he gets used to his new master and missus. And, 
oh ! don't he just sing beautiful — not at all neither." 

" There's the bottle, Hawkins, and there's the brush. You 
know what you've got to do." 

" All right, guv'nor." 

" Good night, then," said Victor, as he left the stable. 

He did not stay to finish his cigar under the fast-falling snow ; 
but walked back to his own room, where he slept soundly. 

He was astir very early the next morning. He went down 
Btairs, after breakfasting in his own room, saw the landlord, and 
hired a good strong horse, commonly used by the proprietor of 
the " Cross Keys " on all his journeys to and from the market- 
town and outlying villages. 

Victor Carriugton mounted this horse, and rode across the 
Common to the village of Hallgrove. 

He stopped to give his horse a drink of water before a village 
inn. and while stopj^ing to do this he asked a few questions of 
the ostler. 

" Whereabouts is Hallgrove Eectory ?" he asked. 

"About a quarter of a mile farther on, sir," answered the 
man; " you can't miss it if you keep along that road. A big 
red house, by the side of a river." 

"Thanks. This is a great place for hunting, isn't it ?" 

"Yes, that it be, sir. The Horsley foxhounds are a'most 
alius meeting somewheres about here." 

" When do they meet next ?" 

" The day arter to-morrow — Boxing-day, sir. They're to meet 
in the field by Hallgrove Ferry, a mile and a quarter beyond the 
rectory, at ten o'clock in the morning. It's to be a reg'lar grand 
day's sport, I've heard say. Our rector is to ride a new horse, 
wot's been given to him by his brother." 

"Indeed!" 

"Yes, sir; I war down at the rectory stables yesterday arter- 
noon, and see the animal — a splendid bay, rising sixteen hands." 

Carrington turned his horse's head in the direction of Hall- 
grove Rectoiy. He knew enough of the character of Lionel 
l)ale to be aware that no opposition would be made to his loiter- 
ing about the premises. He rode boldly up to the door, and 
ai^ked for the rector. He was out, the servant said, but would 
the gentleman walk in and wait, or would he leave his name. 
Mr. Dale would be in soon ; he had gone out with Captain and 
Miss Graham. Victor Carrington smiled involuntarily as he 
heard mention made of Lydia. " So you are here, too," he 
thought; "it is just as well you should not see me on this occa- 
sion, as I am not helping your game now, as I did in the case of 
Sir Oswald, but sj;oilin<r it." 

J^o, the stranger gentleman thanked the man ; he would x^o\ 



Dovm in Borsefsh'rs* 231 

vrait to see Mr. Dale (he had carefully ascertained that he waa 
out before riding up to the house) ; but if the servant would 
Bhow him the way, he would be glad, to get out on the lower 
road ; he understood the rectory grounds opened iipon it, at a 
little distance from the house. Certainly the man could show 
him — nothing easier, if the gentleman would take the path to 
the left, and the turn by the shrubbery, he would pass by the 
Btables, and the lower road lay straight before him. Victor 
Carrington complied with these directions, but his after-conduct 
did not bear out the impression of his being in a hurry, which 
his words and manner had conveyed to the footman. It was at 
least an hour after he had held the above-mentioned colloquy, 
when Victor Carrington, having made himself thoroughly ac- 
quainted with the topography of the rector's premises, issued 
from a side-gate, and took the lower road, leading back to Frimley. 

Then he went straight to the stable-yard, saw Mr. Spavin's 
groom, and dismissed him. 

" I shall take the ' Buffalo ' down to my friend's place this 
afternoon," he said to Hawkins. " Here's your money, and you 
can get back to London as soon as you like. I think my friend 
will be very well pleased with his bargain." 

"Ay, ay," said Mr. Hawkins, whose repeated potations of 
execrable brandy had rendered him tolerably indifferent to all 
that passed around him, and who was actuated by no other feel- 
ing than a Hvely desire to obtain the future favours of a liberal 
employer; "he's got to take care of hisself, and we've got to 
take care of ourselves, and that's all about it." 

And then Mr. Hawkins, with something additional to the stipu- 
lated reward in his pocket, and a pint bottle of his favourite 
stimulant to refresh him on the way, took himself off, and Car- 
rington saw no more of him. The people about the inn saw 
very Httle of Carrington, but it was with some surprise that the 
ostler received his directions to saddle the horse which stood 
in the stable, just when the last gleam of the short winter's day- 
light was dying out on Christmas-day. Carrington had not 
stirred beyond the precincts of the inn all the morning and 
afternoon. The strange visitor was all uninfluenced either by 
the devotional or the festive aspects of the season. He was 
quite alone, and as he sat in his cheerless httle bedroom at the 
small country inn, and brooded, now over a pocket volume, 
thickly noted in his small, neat handwriting, now over the plans 
which were so near their accomplishment, he exulted in that soli- 
tude — he gave loose to the cynicism which was the chief charac- 
teristic of his mind. He cursed the folly of the idiots for whom 
Christmas-time had any special meaning, and secretly worshipped 
his own idols — momey and power. 

Tb^ horse was brought to him, and Oarringtoii moimted niiD 



232 Bun to EartK 

without any difficulty, and rode away in the gathering glooitL 
"Wild Buffalo " gave him no trouble, and he began to feel some 
misgivings as to the truth of the exceedingly bad character he 
had received with the animal. " Supposing he should not l)e 
the unmanageable devil he was represented, — supposing all his 
schemes came to grief, what then ? Why, then, there were other 
ways of getting rid of Lionel Dale, and he should only be the 
poorer by the purchase of a horse. On the other hand, " Wild 
Buffalo," plodding along a heavy country road, almost in the 
dark, and after the probably not too honestly dispensed feeding 
of a village inn, which Carrincrton had not personally superin- 
tended, was no doubt a very different animal to what he might 
be expected to prove himself in the hunting-fiekl. Pondering 
upon these probabilities, Victor Carrington rode slowly on 
towards Hallgrove. He had taken accurate observations ; he 
had nicely calculated time and place. All the servants, tenants, 
and villagers were gathered together under Lionel Dale's hospit- 
able roof. To the feasting had succeeded games and story-tell- 
ing, and the absorbing gossip of such a reunion. That which 
Victor Carrington had come to do, he did successfully ; and 
wlien he returned to his inn, and gave over his horse to the care 
of the ostler, no one but he, not even the man who was there 
listening to every word spoken among the servants at the rec- 
tory, and eagerly scanning every face there, knew that "Niagara" 
was in the inn-stable, and " Wild Buffalo " in the stall at Hall- 
grove. 

CHAPTER XXn. 

ARCH-THAITOa WITHIN, ARCil-PLOTTER "WITHOUT. 

The guests at Hallgrove Rectory this Christmas-time were 
Douglas Dale, Sir Reginald Eversleigh, a lady and gentleman 
called Mordaunt, and their two pretty, fair-faced daughters, and 
two other old friends of the rector's, one of whom is very fa- 
miliar to us. 

Those two were Gordon Graham and his sister Lydia — the 
woman whose envious hatred had aided in that vile scheme by 
which Sir Oswald Eversleigh's happiness had been suddenly 
blighted. The Dales and Gordon Graham had been intimate 
from boyhood, when they had been school-fellows at Eton. 
Since Sir Oswald's death had enriched the two brothers, Gordon 
Graham had taken care that his acquaintance with them should 
not be allowed to lapse, but should rather be strengthened. It 
was by means of his manoeuvring that the invitation for Christ- 
mas had been given, and that he and his sister were comfortable 
domiciled for the winter season beneath the rector's hospitably 



Arch-Traitor and Arch-Plotter. 

Gordon Graham liad been very anxious to secure this invita- 
tion. Every day that passed made him more and more anxious 
that his sister should make a good marriage. Her thirtieth 
birthday was alarmingly near at hand. Careful as she was of 
her good looks, the day must soon come when her beauty would 
fade, and she would find herself among the ranks of confirmed 
old maids. 

If Gordon Graham found her a burden now, how much greater 
burden would she be to him then! As the cruel years stole by, 
and brought her no triumph, no success, her temper grew more 
imperious, while the quarrels which marred the harmony of the 
brother and sister's atiection became more frequent and more 
violent. 

Beyond this one all-sufficient reason, Gordon Graham had his 
own selfish motives for seeking to secure his sister a rich hus- 
band. The purse of a wealthy brother-in-law must, of course, 
be always more or less open to himself; and he was not the 
man to refrain from obtaining all he could from such a source. 

In Lionel Dale he saw a man who would be the easy victim of a 
woman's fascinations, the generous dupe of an adventurer. Lio- 
nel Dale was, therefore, the prize which Lydia should try to win. 

The brother and sister were in the habit of talking to each 
other very plainly. 

"Now, Lydia," said the captain, after he had read Lionel 
Dale's letter for the young lady's benefit, " it will be your fault 
if you do not come back from Hallgrove the affianced wife of 
this man. There was a time when you might have tried for 
heavier stakes ; but at thirty, a husband with five thousand a 
year is not to be sneezed at." 

" You need not be so fond of reminding me of my age," Lydia 
returned with a look of anger. " You seem to forget that you 
are five years my senior." 

"I forget nothing, my dear girl. But there is no parallel 
between your case and mine. For a man, age is nothing — for a 
woman, ever}'thing ; and I regret to be obliged to remember 
that you are approaching your thirtieth birthday. Fortunately, 
you don't look more than seven-and-twenty ; and I really think, 
if you play 3'-our cards well, you may secure this country rector. 
A country rector is not much for a woman who has set her cap 
at a duke, but he is better than nothing; and as the case is 
reall}' growing rather desperate, you must play your cards with 
unusual discrimination this time, Lydia, Yoa must, upon my 
word." 

'• I am tired of playing my cards," answered Miss Graham, 
contemptuously. " It seems as if life was always to be a losing 
game for me, let me play my cards how I will. I begin to thiu'k 
there in a curse ^pon mo, and that no act of mine will ever 



2B4 Hun to Earth. 

prosper. Who was that man, in your Greek play, who guessed 
some inane conundrum, and was always getting into trouble 
aftei-wards ? I begin to think there really is a fatality in these 
things." 

She turned away from her brother impatiently, and seated 
Herself at her piano. She played a few bars of a waltz with a 
listless air, while the captain Ughted a cigar, and stepped out 
upon the httle balcony, overhanging the dull, foggy street. 

The brother and sister occupied lodgings in one of the narrow 
streets of Mayfair. The apartments were small, shabbily fur- 
nished, inconvenient, and expensive; but the situation _ was 
irreproachable, and the haughty Lydia conld only exist in an 
irreproachable situation. 

Captain Graham finished his cigar, and went out to his club, 
leaving his sister alone, discontented, gloomy, sullen, to get 
through the day as best she might. 

The time had been when the prospect of a visit to Hall grove 
Rectory would have seemed very pleasant to her. But that 
time was gone. The haughty spirit was soured by disappoint- 
ment, the selfish nature embittered by defeat. 

There was a glass over the mantel-piece. Lydia leaned hei 
arms upon the marble slab, and contemplated the dark face in 
the mirror. 

It was a handsome face : but a cloud of sullen pride obscured 
its beauty. 

"I shall never prosper," she said, as she looked at herself. 
•* There is some mysterious ban upon me, and on my beauty. 
All my life I haye been passed by for the sake of women in 
every attribute my inferiors. If I was unloved in the freshness 
of my youth and beauty, how can I expect to be loved now, 
when youth is past and beauty is on the wane ? And yet my 
brother expects me to go through the old stage-play, in the fu- 
tile hope of winning a rich husband!" 

She shrugged her shoulders with a contemptuous gesture, and 
turned away from the glass. But, although she affected to de- 
spise her brother's schemes, she was not slow to lend herself to 
them. She went out that morning, and walked to her milhner'a 
house. There was a long and r;itl>er an unpleasant interview 
between the milliner and her customer, for Lydia Graham had 
■unk deeper in the mire of debt with every passing year, and it 
was only by the payment of occasional sums of money on ac- 
count that she contrived to keep her creditors tolerably quiet. 

The result of to-day's interview was the same as usual. Ma- 
dame Sasanne, the milHner, agreed to find some pretty dresses 
for Miss Graham's Christmas visit— and Miss Graham undertook 
to pay a large instalment of an unreasonable bill without inspoo^ 
tion or objection. 



Arch-Traitor and ArchmPloUer . 235 

On this snowy Christmas morning ]\Iiss Graham stood by 
the side of her host, dressed in the styhsh walking costume of 
dark gray popHn, and with her glowing face set off by a bonnet 
of blue velvet, with soft gray plumes. Those were the days in 
which a bonnet was at once the aegis and the sanctuary of beauty. 
If you offended her, she took refuge in her bonnet. The police- 
courts have only become odious by the clamour of feminine 
complainants since the disappearance of the bonnet. It was awful 
as the helmet of Minerva, inviolable as the cestus of Diaua. 
K'or was the bonnet of thirty- years ago an unbecoming head- 
gear — a pretty face never looked prettier than when dimly seen 
in the shadowy depths of a coal-scuttie bonnet. 

Miss Graham looked her best in one of those forgotten head- 
dresses ; the rich velvet, the drooping feathers, set off her showy 
face, and Laura and Ellen Mordaunt, in their fresh young 
beauty and simple costume, lost by contrast with the aristocratic 
belle. 

The poor of Hallgrove parish looked fonvard eagerly to the 
coming of Christmas. 

Lionel Dale's parishioners knew that they would receive ample 
bounty from the handj of their wealthy and generous rector. 

He loved to welcome old and young to the noble hall of hi"^ 
mansion, a spacious and lofty chamber, which had formed part 
of the ancient manor-house, and had been of late years con- 
verted into a rectory. He loved to see them clad in the com- 
fortable garments which his purse had provided — the old women 
in their gray woollen gowns and scarlet cloaks, the little children 
brightly arrayed, like so many Ked Riding hoods. 

It was a pleasant sight truly, and there was a dimness in the 
rector's eyes, as he stood at the head of a long table, at two 
o'clock on Christmas-day, to say grace before the dinner spread 
for those humble Christmas guests. 

All the poor of tte parish had been invited to dine with their 
pastor on Christmas-day, and this two o'clock dinner was a 
greater pleasure to the rector of Hallgrove than the repast 
which was to be served at seven o'clock for himself and the 
guests of his own rank. 

There were some people in Hallgrove and its neighbourhood 
who said that Lionel Dale took more pleasure in this life than a 
clergyman and a good Christian should take ; but surely those 
who had seen him seated by the bed of sickness, or ministering 
to the needs of affliction, could scarcely have grudged him the 
innocent happiness of his hours of relaxation. The one thing 
in which he himself felt that he was perhaps open to blame, waa 
in his passion for the sports of the field. 

No one who had stood amongst the little group at the top of 
the long table in Hallgrove Manor-house on tbij snowy Christ* 



236 Htm to SarTh. 

mas morning could have doubted that the heart of Lionel Dala 
was true to the very core. 

He was not alone amongst his poor parishioners. His guests 
had requested permission to see the two o'clock dinner-party in 
the refectory. Lydia affected to be especially anxious for thia 
privilege. 

" I long to see the dear things eating their Christmas plum- 
pudding," she said, with almost girlish enthusiasm. 

Mr. Dale's parishioners did ample justice to the splcndi(3 
Christmas fare provided for them. 

Lydia Graham declared she had never witnessed anything 
that gave her half so much pleasure as this humble gathering. 

"I would give up a whole season of fashionable dinner-parties 
for such a treat as this, Mr. Dale," she exclaimed, with an elo- 
quent glance at the rector. " What a happy life yours must be ! 
and how privileged these people ought to think themselves ! " 

**I don't know that, Miss Graham," answered Lionel Dale. 
•' I think the privilege is all on my side. It is the pleasure of 
the rich to minister to the wants of the poor." 

Lydia Graham made no reply; but her eyes expressed an 
admiration which womanly reserve might have forbidden her lips 
to utter. 

While the pudding was being eaten, Mr. Dale walked round 
amongst his humble guests, to exchange a few kindl}' words here 
and there; to shake hands; to pat little children's flaxen heads; 
to make friendly inquiries for the sick and absent. 

As he paused to talk to one of his parishioners, his attention 
was attracted by a strange face. It was the face of an old man, 
who sat at the opposite side of the table, and seemed entirely 
absorbed by the agreeable task of making his way through a 
noble slice of plum-pudding. 

"Who is that old man opposite ?" asked Lionel of the agri- 
cultural labourer to whom he had been talking. " I don't think 
I know his face." 

*' No, sir," answered the farm-labourer ; *' he don't belong to 
these parts. Gaffer Hayiield brought 'un. I su[)pose as how 
he's a relation of Gaffer's. It seems a bit of a liberty, sir; but 
Gaffer Hayfield always war a cool hand." 

" I don't think it a liberty, AVilliam. If the man is a relation 
of Hayfield's, there is no reason why he should not be here with 
the Gaffer," answered Lionel, good-naturedly. " I am glad to 
Bee that he is enjoying his dinner." 

"Yes, sir," replied the farm-labourer, with a grin; "he seems 
to have an oncommon good twist of his own, wheresoever her 
belongs to." 

No more was said about the strange guest — who was an old 
man, with very white hair, wliich hung low over his eTebrowa; 



Arch-Traiior and Areh-Phtter. 23 <P 

ahd vety white whiskers, which almost covered his cheeks. H« 
had a queer, bird-like aspect, and a nose that was as sharp as 
the beak of any of the rooks cawing hoarsely amongst the elma 
of Hallgrove that snowy Christmas-day. 

After the dinner in the old hall, Lionel Dale and his gnesta 
returned to their own quarters ; Mrs. Mordaunt and the three 
younger ladies walked in the grounds, with Douglas Dale and 
Sir Keginald Eversleigh in attendance upon them. 

Miss Graham was the last woman in the world to forget that 
the income of Douglas Dale was almost as large as that of his 
brother, the rector ; and that in this instance she might have 
two strings to her bow. She contrived to be by the side of 
Douglas as they walked in the shrubberies, and lingered on the 
rustic bridge across the river ; but she had not been with him 
long before she perceived that all her fascinations were thrown 
away upon him ; and that, attentive and polite though he was, 
his heart was far away. 

It was indeed so. In that pleasant garden, where the dark 
evergreens glistened in the red radiance of the winter sunset, 
Douglas Dale's thoughts wandered away from the scene before 
him to the lovely Austrian woman — the fair widow, whose hf© 
was so strange a mystery to him ; the woman whom he could 
neither respect nor trust; but whom, in spite of himself, lie 
loved better than any other creature upon earth. 

" I had rather be by her side than here," he said to himself. 
" How is ^ she spending this season, which should be so happy ? 
Pei'haps in utter loneliness ; or in the midst of that artificial 
gaiety which is more wretched than solitude.'* 

* • * * # 

The rector of Hallgrove and his guests assembled in the old- 
fashioned drawing-room of the manor-house rectoiy at seven 
o'clock on that snowy Christmas-night. The snowflakes fell 
thick and fast as night closed m upon the gardens and shrub- 
beries, the swift-flowing river, and distant hills. 

I'he rectory draw!ng-room, beautified by the soft light of wax- 
candles, and the rich hues of Solvers, was a pleasant picture — a 
picture which was made all the more charming by the female 
figures which filled its foreground. 

Chief among these, and radiant with beauty and high spirits, 
■was Lydia Graham. 

She had contrived to draw Lionel Dale to her side. She was 
eeated by a table scattered with volumes of engravings, and he 
was bending over her as she turned the leaves. 

Her smiles, her flatteries, her cleverly simulated interest in 
the rector's charities and pensioners, had exercised a considerable 
influence upon him — an influence which grew stronger with 
•very hour. There was a sweetness and simphcity in the man- 



S§8 t^n to BariU, 

ners of the two Misses Mordaunt whicli pleased him; fent xht 
country-bred girls lost much by contrast with the brilliant 
Lydia. 

*' I hope you are going to give us a real old-fashioned Christ- 
inas evening, Mr. Dale," said Miss Graham. 

"I don't quite know what you mean by an old-fashioned 
Christmas evening." 

*' Nor am I quite clear as to whether I know what I mean 
myself," answered the young lady, gaily. " I think, after din- 
ner, we ought to sit round that noble old fire-place and tell 
stories, ought we not ? " 

"Yes, I believe that is the sort of thing," replied the rector. 
** For my own part, I am ready to be Miss Graham's slave for 
the whole of the evening ; and in that capacity will hold myself 
bound to perform her behests, however tyrannical she may be." 

When dinner was announced, Lionel Dale was obliged to leave 
the bewitching Lydia in order to offer his arm to Mrs. Mordaunt, 
while that young lady was fain to be satisfied with the escort of 
the disinherited Sir Eeginald Eversleigh. 

At the dinner-table, however, she found herself seated on the 
left hand of her host; and she took care to secure to herself the 
greater share of his attention during the progress of dinner. 

Gordon Graham watched his sister from his place near the 
foot of the table, and was well satisfied with her success. 

" If she plays her cards well she may sit at the head of this 
table next Christmas-day," he said to himself. 

After less than half-an-hour's interval, the gentlemen followed 
the ladies into the drawing-room, and the usual musical evening 
set in. Lydia Graham had nothing to fear from comparison 
with the Misses Mordaunt. They were tolerable performers. 
She was a brilliant proficient in music, and she had the satisfac- 
tion of observing that Lionel Dale perceived and appreciated her 
superiority. She could afibrd, therefore, to be as amiable to the 
girls as she was captivating to the gentlemen. 

The Misses Mordaunt were singing a duet, when a servant 
entered, and approached Lionel Dale. 

"There is a person in the hall who asks to see yon, sir," said 
the man, " on most particular business." 

** What kind of person?" asked the rector. 

*' Well, sir, she looks like an old gipsy woman.** 

** A gipsy woman ! The gipsies about here do not bear the 
best character.** 

" No, sir," replied the man. " I bore that in mind, sir, with a 
view to the plate, and I told John Andrew to keep aneye upon 
her while I came to speak to you ; and John Andrew is keeping 
an eye upon her at this present moment, sir," 

** Very good, Jackson. You can tell the gipsy woman that, il 



Arch-Traitor and Arch-Plotter. 239 

ehe needs immediate help of any kind, she can apply in the vil« 
lage, to Rawlins, but that I cannot see her to-night." 

"Yes, sir." 

The man departed ; and the ^lisses^ Mordannt finished their 
dnet, and rose from the piano, to receive the nsual thanks and 
acknowledcrments from their hearers. 

Again Miss Graham was asked to sing, and again she seated 
herself before the instrument, triumphant in the consciousness 
that she could excel the timid girls who had just left the piano. 

But this time Lionel Dale did not place himself beside the 
instrument. He stood near the door of the apartment, ready 
to receive the servant, if he should return with a second message 
from the gipsy woman. 

The sen-ant did return, and this time he begged his master to 
step outside the room before he delivered his message. Lionel 
complied immediately, and followed the man into the corridor 
without. 

" I was almost afraid to speak in there, sir," said the man, 
in an awe-stricken whisper ; " folks have such ears. The woman 
says she must see you, sir, and this very night. It is a matter 
of life and death, she says." 

" Then in that case I will see this woman. Go into the draw- 
ing-room, Jackson, and tell Mrs. Mordannt, with my compli- 
ments, that I find myself compelled to receive one of my parish- 
ioners ; and that she and the other ladies must be so good as to 
excuse my absence for half an hour." 

" Yes, sir." 

The rector went to the hall, where, cowering by the fire, he 
found an old gipsy womjan. 

She was so muffled from head to foot in her garments of 
woollen stuff, strange and garish in colour, and fantastical in 
form, that it was almost impossible to discover what she 
really was like. Her shoulders were bent and contracted as if 
with extreme age. Loose tresses of gray hair fell low over 
her forehead. Her skin was dark and tawny ; and contrasted 
strangely with the gray hair and the dark lustrous eyes. 

The gipsy woman rose as Lionel Dale entered the hall. 
She bent her head in response to his kindly salutation; but 
ehe did not curtsey as before a superior in rank and station. 

" Come with me, my good woman," said the rector, *' and 
let me hear all about this very important business of yours." 

He led the way to the library — a low-roofed but spacious 
chamber, lined from ceiling to floor with books. A large reading- 
lamp, with a Parian shade, stood on a small writing-table near 
the fire, casting a subdued light on objects near at hand, and 
leaving the rest of the room in shadow. A pile of logs burnt 
•heerily on the hearth. On one side of the tire waa the chaif 



2id Uun to ^ari%. 

in which the rector usnally sat ; on the othef, ft lar^^e, old-fastv 

ioned, easy-chair. 

" Sit down, ray good wornan," said the rector, pointing: to the 
latter ; *' I suppose yon have some long story to tell me." 

He seated himself as he spoke, and leaned npon the writing- 
table, playing idly with a carved ivory paper-knife. 

" I have much to say to you, Lionel Dale," answered the old 
woman, in a voice wliich had o. solemn music, that impressed 
the hearpr in spite of himself; " I have much to say to you, and 
it will be well for you to mark what I say, and be warned by 
what I tell you." 

The rector looked at the speaker earnestly, and yet with a 
half-contemptuous smile upon his face. Slie was seated in shadow, 
and he could only see the glitter of her dark eyes as the fitful 
li'^ht of the fire flashed on them. 

There was something almost supernatural, it seemed to him, 
la the brilliancy of those eyes. 

He laughed at himself for his folly in the next instant. T\"hat 
was this woman but a vulgar impostor, who was doubtless 
trying to trade upon his fears in some manner or other? 

"You have come here to give some kind of warning, then ? " 
he said, after a few moments of consideration. 

" I have — a warning^which may save 3'our life — if yon hear 
me patiently, and obey when you have heard." 

"That is the cant of your class, my good woman; and you 
cfln scarcely expect me to listen to that kind of thing. If you 
come here to me, hoping to delude m.e by the language with 
which you tell the countiy people their fortunes at fairs and 
races, the sooner you go away the better. I am ready to listen 
to you patiently : if you need help, I am ready to give it you; 
but it is time and labour lost to practise gipsy jargon upon me." 

" I need no help from you," cried the gipsy woman, scornfully; 
•* I tell you again, I come here to serve you." 

"In what manner ran you serve me? Speak out, and speak 
quickly!" said Lionel; "I must return to my guests almost 
immediately." 

"Your guests!" cried the gipj'y, "^ith a mocking laugh; 
"pleasant guests to gather round your hearth at this holy 
festival-time. Sir Reginald Eversleigh is amongst them, I sup« 
pose?" 

" He is. Yon know his name very well, it seems." 

"I do." 

" Do yon know him ? " 

" Do you know him, Lionel Dale? " demanded the old womar., 
with sudden intensity. 

" I have good reason to know liim — he is my firat-conjin," 
answered the rector. 



Arch-jPrattor and Arch-Plotter, 241 

**You have j^od reason to know liim — a reason that you are 
ignorant of. Shall I tell you that reason, Mr. Dale ? " 

" I am ready to hear what you have to say ; but I must warn 
you that I shall be but little affected by it." 

•* Beware how ^ou regard my solemn warning as the raving 
of a lunatic. It is your life that is at stake, Lionel Dale — your 
life! The reason you ought to know Keginald Eversleigh is, 
that in him you have a deadly enemy." 

" An enemy ! My cousin Rei^^inald, a man whom I never 
injured by deed or word in my life I HasAe ever tried lo injure 
me? " 

*• He has." 

♦• How V " 

" He schemed and plotted aofainst you and others before your 
uncle Sir Oswald's death. His dearest hope was to bring to 
pass the destruction of the will which left you live thousand a 
year." 

''Indeed! You geem familiar with my family history," ex- 
claimed Lionel. 

" I know the secrets of your family as well as I know those of 
my own." 

"Then you pretend to be a sorceress ? " 

" I pretend to be nothing but 5'-our friend. Sir Reginald Evers- 
leigh has been your foe ever since the day which disinherited 
him and made you rich. Your death would make him master 
of the wealth which you now enjoy; your death would give 
him fortune, position in the world— all which he most covets 
Can you doubt, therefore, that he wishes your death ? " 

" I cannot beheve it! " cried Lionel Dale; " it is too horribla 
What! he, my hrst cousin ! he can profess for me the warmest 
friendship, and yet can wish to profit by my death ! " 

" He can do worse than that," said the gipsy woman, in an 
impressive voice ; "he can try to compass your death ! " 

" No ! no ! no 1 " cried the rector. " It is not [)ossib]e ! " 

"It is true. Sir Reginald Eversleigh is a coward; but he is 
helped by one who knows no human weakness — whose cruel 
heart was never softened by one touch of pity — whose iron 
hand never falters. Sir Reginald Eversleigh is little more thau 
the tool of that man, and between those two there is ruin for 
you." 

" Your words have the accent of truth," said the rector, after 
a long pause ; " and yet their meaning is so terrible that I can 
scarcely bring myself to believe in them. How is it that you, 
a stranger, are so familiar \vith the private details of my life ?" 

" Do not ask me that, Mr. Dale," replied the gipsy woman, 
itemly; "when a stranger comes to you to warn you of a great 
danger, accept the warning, and let your nameless friend de- 



?42 Bim to Earth, 

pail unqnestioned. I liave told you that an nnseen dangei 
menaces you. I know not yet the exact form which that danger 
may take. To-morrow I expect to know more." 
'• I can pledge myself to nothing." 

"As you \vill," answered the gipsy, proudly. "I have done 
my duty. The rest is with Providence. If in your bHnd 
obstinacy you disregard my warning, I cannot help it. Will 
you, for your own sake, not for mine, let me see you to- 
morrow ; or will you promise to see anyone who shall ask to 
Bee you, in the name of the gipsy woman who was here to- 
night ? Promise me this, I entreat you. I have nothing to ask 
of'^you, nothing to gain by my prayer ; but I do entreat you 
most earnestly to do this thing. I am working in the dark 
to a certain extent. I know somethimg, but not all, and I may 
have learned much more by to-morrow. I may bring or send 
you information then, which will convince you I am speaking 
the truth. Stay, will you promise me this, for my sake, for the 
sake of justice ? You will, Mr. Dale, I know j^ou will ; you are 
a just, a good man. You suspect me of practising upon you a 
vulgar imposition. To-morrow I may have the power of con- 
vincing you that 1 have not dems so. You will give me the op- 
portunity, Mr. Dale ? " 

The pleading, earnest voice, the mournful, dark eyes, stined 
Lionel Dale's heart strangely. An impulse moved him towards 
trust in this woman, this outcast, — curiosity even impelled him 
to ask her, in such terms as would ensure her compliance, for a 
full explanation of her mysterious conduct. But he checked 
the impulse, he silenced the promptings of curiosity, sacrificing 
them to his ever-present sense of his professional and personal 
dignity. While the momentary struggle lasted, the gipsy woman 
closely scanned his face. At length he said coldly : 

" I will do as you ask. I place no reliance on your statements, 
but you are right in asking for the means of substantiating 
them. I will see you, or any one you may send to-morrow." 

" You will be at home P" "she asked, anxiously. " The hunt?" 

" The hunt will hardly take place ; the weather is too much 
against us," replied Lionel Dale. " Except there should be a 
very decided change, there will be no hunt, and I shall be at 
home." Having said this, Lionel Dale rose, with a decided aii 
of dismissal. The gipsy rose too, and stood unshrinkingly be- 
fore him, as she said : 

" And now I will leave you. Good night. You think me a 
mad woman, or an im]jostor. This is the second occasion on 
which you have misjudged me, Mr. Dale." 

As the rector met the earnest gaze of her brilliant eyes, a 
strancre feeling took possession of his mind. It seemed to him 
%6 il Uy had before encountered that earnest a,nd profound gazo. 



Arcli-Traitor and ArcTi-Plotter. 243 

" I mnst have seen snch a face in a dream," he thought to 
himself; '' where else but in a dream ?" 

The fancy had a powerful influence over him, and occupied 
his mind as he preceded the gipsy woman to the hall, and opened 
the door for her to pass out. 

The snow had ceased to fall ; the bright wintry moon rode 
high in the heaven, amidst black, hurrving clouds. That cold 
light shone on the white range of hills sleeping beneath a shroud 
of untrodden snow. 

On the threshold of the door the gipsy woman turned and 
addressed Lionel Dale — 

" There will be no hunting while this weather lasts." 

"None." 

" Then your grand meeting of to-morrow will be pnt off P** 

" Yes, unless the weather changes in the night." 

**Once more, good night, Mr. Dale." 

" Good night." 

The rector stood at the door, watching the gipsy woman as she 
walked along the snow-laden pathway. The dark figure moving 
slowly and silently across the broad white expanse of hidden lawn 
and flower-beds looked almost ghost -like to the eyes of the watcher. 

"What doe-s it all mean?" he asked himself, as he watched 
that receding figure. " Is this woman a common impostor, who 
hopes to enrich herself, or her tribe, by playing upon my fears ? 
Sue asked nothing of me to-night ; and yet that may be but a 
trick of her trade, and she may intend to extort all the more 
from me in the future. TVTiat should she be but a cheat and a 
trickster, Hke the rest of her race ? " 

The question was not easy to settle. 

He returned to the drawing-room. His mind had been much 
disturbed by this extraordinary interview, and he was in no 
humour for empty small-talk ; nor was he disposed to meet 
Heginald Eversleigh, against whom he had received so singular, 
so apparently groundless, a warning. 

He tried to shake off the feeling which he iras ashamed to 
acknowledge to himself. 

He re-entered the drawing-room, and he saw Miss Graham's 
face light up with sudden animation as she saw him. He was 
not skilled in tte knowledge of a woman's heart, and he was 
flattered by that bright look of welcome. He was already half- 
enmeshed in the web which she had spread for him, and that 
welcoming smile did much towards his complete subjugation. 

He went to a seat near the fascinating Lydia. Between them 
there was a chess-table. Lydia laid her jewelled hand lightly 
on one of the pieces. 

" Would you think it very wicked to play a game of chesa on 
6 Christmas evening, Mr. Dale? " she asked. 



244 Swn to Earih, 

" Indeed, no, Miss Gratam. I am one of tliose who can see 
no sinfulness in any innocent enjoyment." 

" Shall we play, then ? " asked Lydia, arranging the Dieces. 

" If you please." 

They were both good players, and the game lasted long. But 
ever and anon, while waiting for Lydia to move, Lionel glanced 
towards ths spot where Sir Eeginald Eversleigh stood, engaged 
in conversation with Gordon Graham and Dougla? Dale. 

If the rector himself had known no blot on the character of 
Eeginald Eversleigh, the gipsy's words would not have had a 
feather's weight with him ; but Lionel did know that his coijsin'a 
youth had been wild and extravagant, and that he, the beloved, 
adopted son, the long-acknowledged heir of Eaynham, had been 
disinherited by Sir Oswald — one of the best and most high- 
principled of men. 

Knowing this, it was scarcely strange if Lionel Dale was in 
some degree influenced by the gipsy's warning. He scanned the 
face of his cousin with a searching gaze. 

It was a handsome face — almost a perfect face ; but wa3 it the 
face of a man who might be trusted by his fellow-men ? 

A careworn face — handsome though it was. There was a 
nervous restlessness about the thin lips, a feverish hght in the 
dark blue eyes. 

More than once during the prolonged encounter at chess, 
Reginald Eversleigh had drawn aside one of the window-curtains, 
vo look out upon the night. 

Mr. Mordaunt, a devoted lover of all field-sports, was also 
i^stless and uneasy about the weather, peeping out every now 
and then, and announcing, in a tone of disappointment, the con- 
tinuance of the frost. 

In Mr. Mordaunt this was perfectly natural; but Lionel Dale 
knew that his cousin was not a man who cared for hunting. 
Why, then, was he so anxious about the meet which was to have 
taken place to-morrow ? 

His anxiety evidently was about the meet ; for after looking 
out of the window for the third time, he exclaimed, with an 
accent of triumph — 

"I congratulate you, gentlemen; you may have your run 
to-morrow. It no longer freezes, and there is a drizzlino^ rain 
falling." 

Mr. Mordaunt ran out of the drawing-room, and returned in 
about five minutes with a radiant face. 

"I have been to look at the weathercock in the stable-yard," 
hesaid ; " Sir Reginald Eversleigh is quite right. The windhaa 
shifted to the sou'-west; it is raining fast, and we may have our 
sport to-morrow." 

Xjionel Dale's eyes were fixed on the face of his cousin as th? 



" Answer me, if this he done ? " 245 

country squire made this announcement. To his surprise, he 
gaw that face blanch to a death-like whiteness. 
" To-morrow ! " murmured Sir Eeginald, with a si^h. 



CHAPTER XXin. 

** ANSWER ME, IT THIS BE DONE P " 

All through the night the drizzhng rain fell fast, and on tha 
morning of the 26th, when the gentlemen at the manor-house 
rectory went to their windows to look out upon the weather, 
they were gratified by finding that southerly wind and cloudy 
sky so dear to the heart of a huntsman. 

^ At half-past eight o'clock the whole party assembled in the 
dining-room, where breakfast was prepared. 

Many gentlemen living in the neighbourhood had been invited 
to breakfast at the rectory; and the great quadrangle of the 
stables was crowded by grooms and horses, gigs and pliaetons, 
while the clamour of many voices rang out upon the still air. 

Every one seemed to be thoroughly happy — except Eeginald 
Eversleigh. He was amongst the noisest of the talkers, the 
loudest of the laughers ; but the rector, who watched him closely, 
perceived that his face was pale, his eyes heavy as the eyes of 
one who had passed a sleepless night, and that his laughter was 
loud without mirth, his talk boisterous, without real cheerfulness 
of spirit. 

" There is mischief of some kind in that man's heaic," Lionel 
said to himself. " Can there be any truth in the gipsy's warning 
after all?" ° ^ -^ 

But in the next moment he was ready to fancy himself the 
weak dupe of his own imagination. 

" I dare say my cousin's manner is but what it always is," he 
thought ; " the weary manner of a man who has wasted his 
youth, and sacrificed all the brilHant chances of his life, and who, 
even in the hour of pleasure and excitement, is oppressed by a 
melancholy which he strives in vain to shake ofi"." 

The gathering at the breakfast-table was a brilliant one. 

Lydia Graham was a superb horsewoman; and in no costume 
did she look more attractive than in her exquisitely fitting habit 
of dark blue cloth. The early hour of the meet justified her 
breakfasting in riding-costume ; and gladly availing herself of 
this excuse, she made her appearance in her habit, carrymg her 
pretty little riding-hat and dainty whip in her hand. 

Her cheeks were flushed with a rich bloom — the warm flush 
of excitement and the consciousness of success. Lionel's attea- 
tion on the previous evening had seemed to her unmistakeable; 
and again this morning she saw admiration, if not ^ WiirmeT 
f^.eling, in his gaz€» 



246 Bun to Earth. 

" And so yon leally mean to follow the honnds, Miss Gra» 
ham ? " said Mrs. Mordaunt, with something hke a shudder. 

She had a great horror of fast young ladies, and a lurking 
aversion to Miss Graham, whose dashing manner and mora 
brilliant charms quite eclii3sed the quiet graces of the lady's 
two daughters. Mrs. Mordaunt was by no means a match- 
making mother; but she would have been far from sorry to see 
Lionel Dale devoted to one of her girls. 

** Do I mean to follow the hounds?" cried Lydia. " Certainly 
I do. Mrs. Mordaunt. Do not the Misses Mordaunt rider* " 

•' Never to hounds," answered the matron. " They ride with 
their father constantly, and when they are in London they ride 
in the park; but Mr, Mordaunt would not allow his daughter 
to appear in the hunting-field." 

Lydia's face flushed crimson with anger; but her anger 
changed to delight when Lionel Dale came to the rescue. 

" It is only such aocomi^lished horsewomen as Miss Graham 
who can ride to hounds with safety," he said. " Your daughters 
ride very well, Mrs. Mordaunt ; but they are not Diana Veruons," 

" I never particularly admired the character of Diana Ver- 
non," Mrs. Mordaunt answered, coldly. 

Lydia Graham was by no means displeased by the lady's dis- 
courtesy. She accepted it as a tribute to her success. The 
mother could not bear to see so rich a prize as the rector of 
Hallgrove won by any other than her own daughter. 

Douglas Dale was full of his brother's new horse, "Niagara," 
which had been paraded before the windows. The gentlemen of 
the,party had all examined the animal, and pronounced him a 
beauty. 

" Did you try him last week, Lionel, as I requested you to 
do ? " asked Douglas, when the merits of the horse had been 
duly discussed. 

" I did ; and I found him as fine a temper as any horse I evei 
rode. I rode him twice — he is a magnificent animal." 

" And safe, eh, Lio ? " asked Douglas, anxiously. " Spavin 
assured me the horse was to be relied on, and Spavin is a very 
respectable fellow ; but it's rather a critical matter to choose a 
hunter for a brother, and I shall be glad when to-day's work 
is over." 

" Have no fear, Douglas," answered the rector. " I am gene- 
rally considered a bold rider, but I would not mount a horse I 
couldn't thoroughly depend upon; for I am of opinion that a 
man has no right to tempt Providence." 

As he said this, he happened by chance to look towards Regi- 
nald Eversleigh. The eyes of the cousins met; and Lionel saw 
that those of the baronet had a restless, uneasy look, whicli wril 
Xjtu*-vly unlike their usual ex^r^.ssioQ* 



** Answer me, if this he done?** 247 

"There is some meaning in that old woman's dark hints of 
wrong and treachery," he thought; " there must he. That was 
tio comm on look which I saw jnst now in my cousin's eyes," 

The he rses were brought round to the principal door; a barouche 
iiad been ordered for Mrs. Mordaunt and the two young ladies, 
who had no objection to exhibit their prettiest winter bonnets at 
the crene al meeting-place. 

The s ow had melted, except here and there, where it still lay 
in great patches ; and on the distant hills, which still wore their 
pure wl ite shroud. 

The roads and lanes were fetlock-deep in mud, and th© horses 
went splashing through pools of water, which spurted up into 
th6> faces of the riders. 

There was only one lady besides Lydia Graham who intended 
to accompany the huntsmen, and this lady was the dashing young 
wife of a cavalry officer, who was spending a month's leave of ab- 
sence with his relatives at Hallgrove. 

The hunting-party rode out of the rectoiy gates in twos and 
threes. All had passed out into the high road before the rector 
himself, who was mounted on his new hunter. 

To his extreme surprise he found a difficulty in managing the 
animal. He reared, and jibbed, and shied from side to side 
upon the broad carriage-drive, splashing the melted snow and 
wet gravel upon the rector's dark hunting-coat. 

" So ho, ' Niagara,' " said Lionel, patting the animal's arched 
neck ; " gently, boy, gently," 

His voice, and the caressing touch of his hand seemed to have 
some little effect, for the horse consented to trot quietly into the 
road, after the rest of the party, and Lionel quickly overtook his 
friends. He rode shoulder b}'- shoulder with Squire Mordaunt, 
an acknowledged judge of horseflesh, who watched the rector's 
huj ter with a curious gaze for some minutes, 

** I'll tell you what it is. Dale," he said, " I don't believe that 
hoi se of vours is a good-tempered animal," 

^ You do not?" 

** Ko, there's a dangerous look in his eye that I don't at all 
liVr' See how he puts his ears back every now and then ; and 
hia nostrils have an ugly nervous quiver. I wish you'd let your 
ma 1 bring you another horse. Dale, We're likely to be crossing 
BO le stiffish timber to-day ; and, upon my word, I'm rather sus- 
pi jious of that brute you're riding." 

•* My dear squire, I have tested the horse to the uttermost," 
answered Lionel. " I can positively assure you there is not the 
slightest ground for apprehension. The animal is a present from 
my brother, and Douglas would be annoyed if I rode any other 
horse." 
" 1 le woxild b« mor« winoj ^ Jon came to any harm by a horafl 



248 Bun to Farih. 

of liis choosing," answered the equire. "However Fll say n« 
more. If you know the animal, that's enough. 1 know you t« 
be both a good rider and a good judge of a horse." 

"Thank you heartily for your advice, notwithstanding, squire, 
replied Lionel, cheerily; " and now I think I'll ride on and joi| 
the ladies." 

He broke into a canter, and presently was riding by the side 
of Miss Graham, who did not fail to praise the beauty of 
"Niagara" in a manner calculated to win the heart of Niagara's 
rider. 

In the exhilarating excitement of the start, Lionel Dale had 
forgotten alike the gipsy's warning and those vague doubts of 
his cousin Reginald which had been engendered by that warning. 
He was entirely absorbed by the pleasure of the hour, happy 
to see his friends gathered around him, and excited by the pros- 
pect of a day's sport. 

The meeting-place was crowded with horsemen and carriages, 
country squires and their sons, gentlemen-farmers on sleek hun- 
ters, and humbler tenant-farmers on their stiff cobs, butchers 
and innkeepers, all eager for the chase. All was life, gaiety, ex- 
citement, noise ; the hounds, giving forth occasional howls and 
snappish yelpings, expressive of an impatience that was almost 
beyond endurance ; the huntsman cracking his whip, and re- 
proving his charges in language more forcible than polite ; the 
spirited horses pawing the ground; the geullemen exchangiug 
the compliments of the season with the ladies who had come up 
to see the hounds throw off. 

At last the important moment arrived, the horn sounded, the 
hounds broke away with a rush, and the business of the day had 
begun. 

Again the rector's horse was seized with sudden obstinacy, 
and again the rector found it as much as he could do to manage 
him. An inferior horseman would have been thrown in that 
sharp and short struggle between horse and rider; but Lionel's 
firm hand triumphed over the animal's temper for the time at 
least; and presently he was hurrying onward at a stretching 
gallop, which speedily carried him beyond the ruck of riders. 

As he skimmed like a bird over the low fiat meadows, Lionel 
began to think that the horse was an acquisition, in spite of the 
sudden freaks of temper which had made him so diihcult to 
manage at starting. 

A horseman who had not joined the hunt, who had dexterously 
kept the others in sight, sheltering himself from observation 
under the fringe of the wood which crowned a small hill in the 
neighbourliood of the meet, was watching all the evolutions of 
Lionel Dale's horse closely through a small field-glass, and soon 
{•orcH^ived tlmt thi^ f^aimiil was Ijeypiid the ri«ier'B skill to niaftagti 



" Answer nie, if this he done ? ^* 249 

5liP stretching gallop wHicli had reassured Mr. Dale soon carriea 
the rector beyond the watcher's ken, and then, as the hunt was 
out of sight too, he turned his horse from the shelter he had so 
carefully selected, and rode straight across country in an oppo- 
Bite direction. 

In little more than half an hour after the horseman who had 
watched Lionel Dale so closely left the post of observation, a 
short man, mounted on a stout pony, which had evidently been 
urged along at unusual speed, came along the road, which wound 
around the hill already mentioned. This individual wore a heavy, 
country-made coat, and leather leggings, and had a handkerchief 
tied over his hat. This very unbecoming appendage was stained 
with blood on the side which covered the right cheek and the 
wearer was plentifully daubed and bespattered with mud, his 
sturdy little steed being in a similar condition. As he urged the 
pony on, his sharp, crafty eyes kept up an incessant scrutiny, in 
which his beak-like nose seemed to take an active part. But 
there was nothing to reward the curiosity, amounting to anxiety, 
with which the short man surveyed the wintry scene around. 
All was silent and empty. If the horseman had designed to see 
and speak with any member of the hunting-party, he had come too 
late. He recognized the fact very soon, and very discontentedly. 
"Without being so great a genius, as he believed and represented 
himself, Mr. Andrew Larkspur was really a very clever and a 
very successful detective, and he had seldom been foiled in a 
better-laid plan than that which had induced him to follow Lionel 
Dale to the meet on this occasion. But he had not calculated on 
precisely the exact kind of accident which had befallen him, and 
when he found himself thrown violently from his pony, in the 
mid'ile of a road at once hard, sloppy, and newly-repaired with 
very sharp stones, he was both hurt and angry. It did not take 
him a grreat deal of time to get the pony on its legs, and shake 
himself to rights again ; but the delay, brief as it was, was fatal 
to his hopes of seeing Lionel Dale. The meet had taken place, 
the hunt was in full progress, far away, and Mr. Andrew I^arks- 
pur had nothing for it but to sit forlornly for awhile upon the 
muddy pony, indulging in meditations of no pleasant character, 
and then ride disconsolately back to Frimley. 

In the meantime, Nemesis, who had perversely pleased herself 
by thwarting the designs of Mr. Larkspur, had hurried those oi 
Victor Carrington towards fulfilment with incredible speed. He 
had ridden at a speed, and for some time in a direction which 
^culd, he calculated, bring him within sight of the hunt, and 
had just crossed a bridge which traversed a narrow but deep an(3 
rapid river, about three miles distant from the place where Mt 
Andrew Larkspur had taken sad counsel with himself, when ht 
heard the sound of a horse's approach, at a thundering, ap« 



250 Hun to Eart%. 

parently wholly un governed pace. A wild gleam of triumpKani 
expectation, of deadly murderous hope, lit up his pale features, 
as he turned his horse, rendered restive by the noise of the dis- 
tant galloping, into a field, close by the road, dismounted, and 
tied him firmly to a tree. The hedge, though bare of leaves, wag 
thick and high, and in the nns^le %Yhich it formed with the tree, 
the animal was completely hidden. 

In a moment after Victor Carrington had done this, and while 
he crouched down and looked through the hedge, Lionel Dale 
appeared in sight, borne madly along by his unmanageable horse, 
as he dashed heedlessly down the road, his rider holding the 
bridle indeed, but breathless, powerless, his head uncovered, and 
one of his stirrup-leathers broken. Victor Carrington's heart 
throbbed violently, and a film came over his eyes. Only for a 
moment, however ; in the next his sight cleared, and he saw the 
furious animal, frightened by a sudden plunge made by the 
horse tied to the tree, swerve suddenly from the road, and dash 
at the swollen, tumbling river. The horse plunged in a little 
below the bridge. The rider was thrown out of the saddle head 
foremost. His head struck with a dull thud against the ragged 
trunk of an ash which hung over the water, and he sank below 
the brown, turbid stream. Then Victor Carrington emerged 
from his hiding-place, and rushed to the brink of the water. "No 
sign of the rector was to be seen; and midway across, the horse, 
snorting and terrified, was struggling towards the opposite bank. 
In a moment Carrington, drawing something from his breast as 
he went, had run across the bridge, and reached the spot where 
the animal was now attempting to scramble up the steep bank. 
As Carrington came up, he had got his fore-feet within a couple 
of feet of the top, and was just making good his footing below ; 
but the surgeon, standing close upon the brink, a little to the 
right of the struggling brute, stooped down and shot him through 
the forehead. The huge carcase fell crashing heavily down, and 
was sucked under, and whirled away by the stream. Victor Car- 
rington placed the pistol once more in his breast, and for some 
time stood quite motionless gazing on the river. Then he turned 
avva.y, saying, — 

" They'll hardly look for him helow the bridge — I should say 
the fox ran west;" and he letting loose the horse he had 
ridden, walked along the road until he reached the turn at 
which Lionel Dale had come in sight. There he found the un- 
fortunate rector's hat, as he had hoped he might find it, and 
iia\ang carried it back, he placed it on the brink of the river, and 
then once more mounted him, and rode, not at any remarkable 
speed, in the opposite direction to that in which Hallgrove lay. 

His reflections were of a sati'^factory kind. He had succeeded, 
»**'« lie cart'd for af;thing but success. When he thought of Sil 



^AnsiJcer me, if this he done?** ^51 

Hesrinald Eversleigh, a contemptnons smile crossed his pale lip^ 
" To work for such, a creature as that," he said to himself, "would 
indeed be degrading ; but he is only an accident in the case — I 
work for myself." 

Victor Carrmgton had discharged his score at the inn that 
morning, and sent his valise to London by coach. "When the 
night fell, he took the saddle off his horse, steeped it in the river, 
replaced it, quietly turned the animal loose, and aliandoning him 
to his fate, made his way to a solitary pubhc-house some 
miles from Hallsrrove, where he had given a conditional, uncer- 
tain sort of rendezvous to Sir Reginald Eversleigh. 

• • * « * 

The night had closed in upon the returning huntsmen as they 
rode homewards. Not a star glimmered in the profound dark- 
ness of the sky. The moon had not yet risen, and all was chill 
and dreary in the early winter night. 

^iss Graham, her brother Gordon, and Sir Eeginald Eversleigh 
rode abreast as they approached the manor-house. Lydia had 
been struck by the silence of Sir Eeginald, but she attributed 
that silence to fatigue. Her brother, too, was silent ; nor did 
Lydia herself care to talk. She was thinking of her triumphs 
of the previous evening, and of that morning. She was thin king 
of the tender pressure with which the rector had clasped her 
hand as he bade her goo<i-night ; the soft expression of his eyei 
as they dwelt on her fa-^e, w:th a long, earnest gaze. She was 
thinking of his tender care of her when she mounted her horse, 
the gentle touch of his hand as he placed the reins in hers. Could 
she doubt that she was beloved .^ 

She did not doubt. A thrill of delight ran through her veins 
as she thought of the sweet certainty ; but it was not the pure 
deUght of a simple-hearted girl who loves and finds herself 
beloved. It was the triumph of a hard and worldly woman, 
who has devoted the bright years of her girlhood to ambitious 
dreams ; and who, at last, has reason to beheve that they are 
about to be reaUzed. 

" Five thousand a year," she thought; "it is little, after all, 
compared to the fortune that would have been mine had I beea 
lucky enough to captivate Sir Oswald Eversleigh. It is httle 
compared to the wealth enjoyed by that low-bom and nameless 
creature, Sir Oswald's widow. But it is much for one who hag 
drained poverty's bitter cup to the very dregs as I have. Yes, 
to the dregs; for though I have never known the want of hfe's 
common necessaries, I have known humiliations which are at 
least as hard to bear." 

The many windows of the manor-house were all a-blaze wiih 
light as the hunting-party entered the gates. Fires burned 
brightly in all the rooms, and the interior of that coiciorUibli 



252 Eun io Earth. 

house formed a very pleasant contrast to the cheerless dars!. 
ness of the night, the muddy roads, and damp atmosphere. 

The butler stood in the hall ready to welcome the return- 
ing guests with stately ceremony ; while the under-servants 
bustled about, attending to the wants of the mud-bespattered 
huntsmen. 

" Mr. Dale is at home, I suppose ? " Douglas said, as he 
warmed his hands before the great wood fire. 

•' Athome, sir! " rephed the butler; "hasn't he come home 
with you, sir? " 

*' iSTo ; we never saw him after the meet. I imagine he must 
have been called away on parish business." 

" I don't know, sir," answered the butler; "my master has 
certainly not been home since the morning." 

A feeling of vague alarm took possession of almost everyone 
present. 

" It is very strange," exclaimed Squire Mordaunt. " Did no 
one come here to inquire after j^our master this morning ? " 

'• Xo one, sir," replied the butler. 

" Send to the stables to see if my brother's horse has been 
brought home," cried Douglas, with alarm very evident in hia 
face and manner. " Or, stay, I will go myself" 

He ran out of the hall, and in a few moments returned. 

"The horse has not been brought back," he cried; "there 
must be something wrong." 

" Stop," ci-ied the squire; " pray, my dear Mr. Douglas Dale, 
do not let us give way to unnecessary alarm. There may be 
no cause whatev^^r for fear or agitation. If Mr. Dale was sum- 
moned away from the hunt to attend the bed of a dying parish- 
ioner, he would be the last man to think of sending his horse 
home, or to count the hours which he devoted to his duty." 

" But he would surely send a messenger here to prevent the 
alarm which his absence would be likely to cause amongst us 
all," replied Douglas; "do not let us deceive ourselves, Mr. 
Mordaunt. There is something wrong — an accident of some 
kind has happened to my brother. Andrews, order fresh horses 
to be f^ addled immediately. If you will ride one way, squire, I 
will take another road, first stopping in the village to make 
all possible inquires there. Reginald, you wiU help us, will you 
not?" 

" W.'th all my heart," answered Reginald, with energy, but in 
a voice which was thick and husky. 

Douglas Dale looked at his cousin, startled, even in the mids* 
of his excitement, by the strange tone of Reginald's voice. 

" Great heavens ! how ghastly pale you look, Reginald ! ** 
he cried ; " you apprehend some great misfortune — some dread- 
ful accident P " 



** Answer me, if this he done?** 253 

** I scarcely know," gasped the baronet ; "but I own tbat I 
feel considerable alarm— the— tbe river— tbe current was so 
strong after tbe thaw— the stream so swollen by melted snow. 
If— if Lionel's horse should have tried to swim the river— and 
failed " 

" And we are lingering here ! " cried Douglas, passionately ; 
"lingering here and talking, instead of acting! Are those 
horses ready there ? " he shouted, rushing out to the portico. 

His voice was heard in the darkness without, urging on the 
grooms as they led out fresh horses from the quadrangle. 

" Gordon ! " cried Lydia Graham, " you will go out with the 
others. You will do your uttermost in the search for Mr. Lionel 
Dale!" 

She said this in a loud, ringing voice, with the imperious tone 
of a woman accustomed to command. She was leaning against 
one angle of the great chimney-piece, pale as ashes, breathless, 
but no°t faintincr. To her, the idea that any calamity had 
befallen Lionel Dale was very dreadful— almost as dreadful as it 
could be to the brother who so truly loved him ; for her own 
interest was involved in this man's life, and with her that was 
ever paramount. 

She was well-nigh fainting ; bnt she was too much a woman 
of the world not to know that if she had given way to her 
emotion at that moment, she would have given rise to disgu.st 
and annoyance, rather than interest, in the minds of the gentle- 
men present. She knew this, and she wished to please every 
one; for in pleasing the many lies the secret of a woman's 
success with tiie few. 

Even in that moment of confusion and excitement, the 
scheming woman determined to stand well in the eyes of 
Douglas Dale. 

As he appeared on the threshold of the great hall-Joor, she 
went up to him very quietly, with her head uncovered, and her 
pale, clearly-cut face revealed by the light of the lamp above 
her. She laid her hand gently on the young man's arm. 

" Mr. Dale." she said, *' command my brother Gordon ; he 
will be proud to obey you. I will go out myself to aid in the 
search, if you ■will let me do so." 

Douglas Dale clasped her hand in both hi;, with gnitoful emo- 
tion. 

" You are a noble girl," he cried ; " but you cannot help mo 
in this. Your brother Gordon may, perhaps, and I will call 
upon his friendship without reserve. And now leave us, Miss 
Graham ; this is no fitting scene for a lady. Come, gentlemen !" 
he exclaimed, " the horses are ready. I go by the village, and 
thence to the river; you will each take different roads, and will 
fell meet me on the river-bank, at the spot where we crossed to-day." 

R 



254 Bun to FariK 

In less than five minntes all had mounted, and the trampling 
of hoofs announced their departure. Eeginald was amongst 
them, hardly conscious of the scene or his companions. 

Sijht, hearing, perception of himself, and of the world around 
him,^all seemed anniliilated. He rode on through dense black 
shadows, dark clouds which hemmed him in on every side, aa if 
a gigantic pall had fallen from heaven to cover him. 

How he became separated from his companions he never 
knew; but when his senses awoke from that dreadful stupor, 
he found himself alone, on a common, and in the far distan.-e 
he saw the glimmer of lights — very feeble and wan beneath the 
Btarless sky. 

It seemed as if the horse knew his desolate ground, and was 
going straight towards these lights. The animal belonged to 
the rector, and was, no doubt, familiar -^-ith the country. 

Eeginald Eversleigh had just suf&cient consciousness of sur- 
rounding circumstances to remember this. He made no attempt 
to guide the horse. What did it matter whither he went ? He 
had forgotten his promise to meet the other men on the river- 
brink ; he had forgotten everything, except that the work of a 
demon had prosrressed in silence, and that its fatal issue was 
about to burst like a thunder-clap upon him._ 

" Victor Cai-rincrton has told me that this fortune shall be 
mine ; he has failed once, but will not fail always," he said to 
himself 

The di'^appearance of Lionel Dale had struck hke a thunder- 
bolt on the baronet ; but it was a thunderbolt whose falling he 
had anticipated with shudderincr horror during every day and 
every hour since his arrival at Hallgrove. 

The li„'-hts grew more distinct — feeble lamps in a village street, 
glimmering candles in cottage %vindo\vs scattered here and there. 
The horse reached the edge of the common and turned into a 
high road. Five minutes afterwards Eeginald Eversleigh found 
liimself at the beginning of a little country town. 

Lights were burning cheerily in the windows of an inn. The 
door was open, and from \vithin there came the sound of voices 
that rang out merrily on the night air. 

" Great heaven ! " exclaimed Eeginald, " how happy these 
peasants are — these brutish creatures who have no care beyond 
tlieir daily bread ! " 

He en\"ied them ; and at that moment would have exchanged 
places with the humblest field-labourer carousing in the rustic 
tap-room. But it was only now and then the anguish of a guilty 
conscience took this shape. He was a man who loved the plea- 
sures and luxuries of this world better than he loved peace of 
mind ; better than he loved his own soul. 

He drew rein before the inn-door, and c&lled to the people 



^* Ansi'jer me, if tliis he done?** 255 

within. A man came out, and took tlie bridJe as he dis- 
mounted. 

" What is the name of this place? '' he asked. 

" Frimley, sir — Frimley Common it's called by rights. But 
folks call it Frimley for short." 

" How far am I from the river-bank at the bottom of Thorpe 
HiU?" 

" A good six miles, sir." 

" Take my horse and rub him down. Give him a pail of gmel 
and a quart of oats. I shall want to start again in less than 
an hour." 

•' Sharp work, sir," answered the ostler. " Your horse seems 
to have done plenty already." 

"That is my business," said Sir Eeginald, haughtily. 

He went into the inn. 

"Is there a room in which I can dry my ooat ?" he asked at 
the bar. 

He had only lately become aware of a drizzling rain which 
had been falling, and had soaked through his hunting-coat. 

"Were you with the Horsely hounds to-day, sir ?" asked the 
landlord. 

"Yes." 

" Good sport, sir ? " 

" No," answered Sir Eeginald, curtly. 

" Show the way to the parlour, Jane," said the landlord to a 
chambennaid, or barmaid, or girl-of-all-work, who emerged from 
the tap-room with a tray of earthenware mugs. " There's one 
jjentleman there, sir; but perhaps you won't object to that, 
Christmas being such a particularly busy time," added the land- 
lord, addressing Eeginald. " You'll find a good fire." 

" Send me some brandy," returned Sir Eeginald, vdthout 
deigning to make any further reply to the landlord's apologetic 
speech. 

He followed the girl, who led the way to a door at the end of 
a passage, which she opened, and ushered Sir Eeginald into a 
hght and comfortable room. 

Before a large, old-fashioned fire-place sat a man, with his face 
hidden by the newspaper which he was reading. 

Sir Eeginald Eversleigh did not condescend to look at this 
stranger. " He walked straight to the hearth ; took off his drip- 
ping coat, and hung it on a'chair by the side of the roaring wood 
fire. Then he flung himself into another chair, drew it close to 
the fender, and sat "staring at the fire, with a gloomy face, and 
eyes which seemed to look far away into some dark and terrible 
region beyond those burning logs. 

He sat"^in this attitude for some time, motionless as a statue, 
utterly unconscious that his companion was closely watcliip^ 



256 Bun to Earth. 

him from belilnd the sheltering newspaper. The inn servant 
brought a tray, bearing a small decanter of brandy and a glass. 
But the baronet did not heed her entrance, nor did he touch the 
refreshment for which he had asked. 

Not once did he stir till the sudden crackling of his com- 
panion's newspaper startled him, and he Hfted his head with an 
impatient gesture and an exclamation of surprise. 

"You are nervous to-night, Sir Reginald Eversleigh," said 
the man, whoc-e ..^-^e was still hidden by the newspaper. 

The sound uf ^'.'.e voice in which those common-place words 
were spoken was, at this moment, of all sounds the most haw- 
ful to Reginald Eversleigh. 

"You here 1" he exclaimed. "But I ought to have known 
that." 

The newspaper was lowered for the first time ; and Reginald 
Eversleigh found himself face to face with Victor Carrington. 

" You ought, indeed, considering I told you you should find 
n>e, or hear from me here, at the ' Wheatsheaf,' in case you 
wished to do so, or I wished you should do so either. And I 
presume you have come by accident, not intentionally. I had 
no idea of seemg you, especially at an hour when I should have 
thought you would have been enjoying the hospitafity of your 
kinsman, the rector of Hallgrove." 

" Victor Carrington ! " cried Reginald, " are you the fiend 
himself in human shape? Surely no other creature could 
delight in crime." 

" I do not delight in crime, Reginald Eversleigh ; and it is 
only a man with your nan*ow intellect who could give utterance 
k) such an absurdity. Crime is only another name for danger. 
The criminal stakes his life. I value my life too highly to haz- 
ard it lightly. But if I can mould accident to my profit, I 
should be a fool indeed were I to shrink from doing so. There 
is one thing I delight in, my dear Reginald, and that is success ! 
And now tell me why you are here to-night ? " 

" I cannot tell you that," answered the baronet. " I came 
hither, unconscious where I was coming. There seems a strange 
fatality in this. I let my horse choose his own road, and he 
brought me here to this house — to you, my evil genius." 

" Pray, Sir Reginald, be good enough to drop that high tra- 
gedy tone," said Victor, with supreme coolness. "It is all very 
well to be addressed by you as a fiend and an evil genius once 
in a way ; but upon frequent repetition, that sort of thing be- 
comes tiresome. You have not told me why you are wandering 
about the country instead of eating your dinner in a Christian- 
like manner at the rectory P" 

" Do you not know the reason, Canington f " as^ed the h^rq* 
^pt, ^azin^ fixedly at his coinpain.JGD. 



" Answer *ne, if this he done ? '* 

*' Sow should I know anything ahont it ? " -, -n * 

"Because to-day's work has been yonr doing," answered Kegi 
nald, passionately ; " because you are mixed up in the dark busi- 
ness of this day, as you were mixed up m that still darker 
treachery at Raynham Castle. I know now why you insisted 
upon mv choosing the horse called 'Niagara' for my cousin 
Lionel ; I know now why yon were so interested m the appear- 
ance of that other horse, which had already caused the death oi 
more than one rider; I know why you are here,^and why Lionel 
Dale has disappeared in the course of the day." _ ^ 

" He has disappeared !" exclaimed Victor Carrmgton ; " he is 

not dead?" , ,. i -ixr • j 

" I know nothing but that he has disappeared. We missed 
him in the midst of the hunt. We returned to the rectory m 
the evening, expecting t-o find him there.'* 
" Did you expect that, Eversleigh ?" 
" Others did, at any rate." 

" And did you not find him ? " , /. v • 

" No We left the house, after a brief delay, to seek tor him ; 

I among the others^ We were to ride by different roads ; to 

make inquiries of every kind; to obtain information from 

every source. My brain was dazed. I let my horse take his own 

" Fool ! coward l" exclaimed Victor Carrington, with mingled 
scorn and antrer. " And you have abandoned your work ; you 
have come here to waste your time, when you should seem most 
active in the search— most eager to find the missing man. Kegi- 
nald Eversleicrh, from first to last you have trifled with me. lou 
are a villain; but you are a hypocrite. You would have the 
reward of guilt, and yet wear the guise of innocence, even betore 
me • as if it were possible to deceive one who has read you 
through and through. I am tired of this trifling ; I am weary 
of thil pretended innocence ; and to-night I ask you, for the last 
time, to choose the path which you mean to tread; and, once 
cho==en, to tread it with a firm step, prepared to meet danger— 
to confront destiny. This very hour, this very moment, 1 caU 
upon you to make your decision ; and it shall be a final decision. 
Will you grovel on in poveri-y— the worst of all poverty, the 
gentleman's pittance? or will you make yourself possessor of 
the wealth which your uncle Oswald bequeathed to others ? Look 
me in the face, Reginald, as you are^ a man, and answer me. 
Wliich is it to be— wealth or poverty?" ,. ^ . . .. ^ 

"It is too late to answer poverty," rephed the baronet, in a 
gloomy and sullen tone. " You cannot bring my uncle back to 
life ; you cannot undo your work." . , -n • 

" I do not pretend to bring the dead to hfe. I am not tallTT^i* 
«f the past— I am talking of the future." 



258 H/un to Earth, 

" Suppose I say that I will endure poverty ratlier tlian plungs 
deeper into the pit you have dug — what then ?" 

" In that case, I will bid you good speed, and leave you to 
your poverty and — a clear conscience," answered Yict-or, coolly. 
" I am a poor man myself; but I like my friends to be rich. If 
you do not care to grasp the wealth which might be yours, 
neither do I care to preserve our acquaintance. So we have 
merely to bid each other good night, and part company." 

There was a pause — Keginald Eversleigh sat ^^dth his arms 
folded, his eyes fixed on the fire. Victor watched him with a 
sinister smile upon his face. 

" And if I choose to go on," said Reginald, at last ; " if I 
choose to tread farther on the dark road which I have trodden 
so long — what then? Can you ensure me success, Victor Car- 
ringtcn?" 

" I can," replied the Frenchman. 

*' Then I will go on. Yes ; I will be your slave, your tool, 
your willing coadjutor in crime and treachery ; anything to ob- 
tain at last the heritage out of which I have been cheated." 

"Enough! You have made your decision. Henceforward 
let me hear no repinings, no hypocritical regrets. And now, 
order your horse, gallop back as fast as you can to the neighbour- 
hood of Hallgrove, and show yourself foremost amongst those 
who seek for Lionel Dale." 

" Yes, yes ; I will obey you — I will shake off this miserable 
hesitation. I will make my nature iron, as you have made 
yours." 

Sir Reginald rang, and ordered his horse to be brought round 
to the door of the inn. 

" Where and when shall I see you again ? " he asked Victor, 
as he was putting on the coat which had hung before the fire to 
be dried. 

" In London, when you return there." 

" You leave here soon ? " 

" To-morrow morning. You will write to me by to-morrow 
night's post to tell me all that has occurred in the interval." 

♦• I will do so," answered Reginald. 

"Good, and now go; you have already been too long out of 
the way of those who should have witnessed your affectionate 
anxiety about your cousin." 

CHAPTER XXIV. 

**I AM WEARY OP MT PART.** 

Reginald mounted his horse, questioned the ostler respecting 
the way to the appointed spot on the river-l»ank, and rode awny 
in the direction indicated. He had no difficulty in discovonng 



*^ t am iceary of my part.** 259 

tKe scene of the appointed meeting. The light of the torches 
in th<» hands of the searchers gnided him to the spot. 

Here he fonnd gentlemen and grooms, huntsmen and farmers, 
on horseback, riding np and down the river-bank ; some carrying 
lighted torches, whose lurid glare shone red against the darkness 
of the night ; all busy, all excited. 

Amongst these the baronet found Douglas Dale, who rode up 
to meet his cousin, as the other approached. 

" Anv news. Refjinald ? " he asked, in a voice that was hoarse 
with faligue and excitement. 

"Xone," answered Sir Reginald : " I have ridden miles, and 
made many inquiries, but have been able to discover no traces. 
Have you no tidings ? " 

"^sone but e%-il ones," replied Douglas Dale, in a tone of de- 
spair ; " we have found a battered hat on the edge of the river— 
a hat which my brother's valet identifies as that worn by his 
master. We fear the worst, Eesinald — the very worst. All in- 
quiries have been made in the village, at every farm-house in the 
parish, and far beyond the parish. My brother has been seen 
nowhere. Since we rode down the hill, it seems as if no human 
eye had rested on him. In that moment he vanished as utterly 
as if the earth had opened to swallow him up alive." 

" What is it that you fear ? " 

*• We fear that he'tried to cross the river at some point higher 
up, where the stream is swollen to a perilous extent, and that 
both horse and rider were swept away by the current." 

" In that case both horse and rider must be found — alive or 
dead." 

"Ultimately, perhaps, but not easily," answered Douelas; 
" the bed of the stream is a mass of tangled weeds. I have 
heard Lionel say that men have been drowned in that river whose 
bodies have never been discovered." 

"It is horrible 1" exclaimed Eeginald ; "but let ua still hope 
for the best. All this may be needless misery." 

"I fear not, Eeginald^" answered Douf^jas; "mj brother 
Lionel is not a man to be careless about giving anxiety to those 
who love him." 

"I will ride farther along the bank," said the baronet ; "I may 
hear somethincr." 

"And I wilfwait here," replied Douglas, with the dull apathy 
of despair. "The news of my brother's death will reach me 
soon enough." 

Eeginald Eversleigh rode on by the river brink, following & 
group of horsemen carrying torches. Douglas waited, with his 
ear on the alert to catch even.- sound, his heart beating tumul- 
tuously, in the terrible expectation that each moment wonld 
bring hnn the news he dreaded to hear. 



2^0 lUm to SartK 

Endless as tliat interval of expectation and suspense ap- 
peared to Douglas Dale, in reality it was not of very long dura- 
tion. The cold of the winter's night did not affect him, the 
burning fever of fear devoured him. Soon he lost sight of the 
glimmering of the torches, as the bearers followed the bend of 
the river, and the sound of the men's voices died out of his ears. 
But after a while he heard a shout, then another, and then two 
men came running towards him, as fast as they could in the 
darkness. Douglas Dale knew them both, and called out, 
•' What is it. Freeman ? What is it, Carey ? Bad news, I fetir." 

"Yes, Mr. Douglas, bad news. We've found the rector's 
hunting-whip." 

" Where ? " stammered Douglas. 

" Below the bridge, sir, close by the ash-tree; and the bank is 
broken. I"m afraid it's all up, sir; if he went in there, the horse 
and he are both gone, sir." 

Like a man walking in a dream, Douglas Dale accompanied 
the bearers of the evil tidings to the spot where the group of 
searchers was collected together. In the midst stood Squire 
Mordaunt, holding in his hand a heavy hunting-whip, which all 
present recognized, and many had seen in the rector's hand only 
that morning. They all made way for Douglas Dale ; they were 
very silent now, and hopeless conviction was on every face. 

""^This makes it too plain, Douglas," said Squire Mordaunt, 
aa he handed the whip to the rector's brother; " bear it as well 
as vou can, my dear fellow. There's nothing to be done now till 
daylight." 

" Nothing more ? " said Reginald, while Douglas covered his 
face, and groaned in unrestrained anguish; "the drags can 
surely be used ? the " 

"Wait a minute. Sir ReginaL3," said the squire, holding up 
his hand; "of course your impatience is very natural, but it 
would only defeat itself. To drag the river by torchhght would 
be equally difficult and vain. It shall be done as soon as ever 
there is light. Till then, there is nothing for any of us to do 
but to wait. And first, let us get poor Douglas home." 

Douglas Dale made no resistance; he knew the squire spoke 
truth and common-sense. The melancholy group broke up, the 
members of the rectory returned to its desolate walls, and Doug- 
las at once shut himself up in his room, leaving to Sir Reginald 
Eversleigh and Squire Mordaunt the task of making all tlie ar- 
rangements for the morrow, and communicating to the ladiea 
the dire intelligence which must be imparted. 

Early in the morning, Squire Mordaunt went to Douglas 
Dale's room. He found him stretched upon the bed in his 
clothes. He had made no change in his dress, and had evidently 
intended to prolong his vigil until the morning, but nature had 



^t am ioeary of my part** ^61 

hoen exliansted, and m spite of himself Douglas Dale slept. 
His old friend stole softly from the room, and cautioning the 
household not to permit him who must now be regarded as their 
master to be disturbed, he went out, and proceeded to the search. 
Douglas Dale did not awake until nine o'clock, and then, 
startin"^ up with a terrible consciousness of sorrow, and a sense 
of self-reproach because he had slept, he found Squire Mordaunt 
standing by his bed. The good old gentleman took the young 
man's hand in silence, and pressed it with a pressure which 
told all. ^ , . , , , , , 

They laid the disfigured dead body of him who but yesterday 
had been the beloved and honoured master of the house in the 
library, where he had leceived the ineffectual warning of the 
gipsy It was while Douglas Dale was contemplating the pale, 
still features of his brother, ^vith grief unutterable, that a ser- 
vant tapped crently at the door, and called Mr. Mordaunt out. 

"'Niagara' is come home, sir," said the man. "He were 
found, just now, on the lower road, a-grazing, and he ain't cut, 
nor hurt in any way, sir." 

" He's dirtv and wet, I suppose ? " 

"Well, sir,"' he's dirty, certainly; and the saddle is soaking; 
but he's pretty dry, considering." 
" Are the girths broken ?" 
"No, sir, there's nothing amiss with them." 
" Very well. Take care of the horse, but say nothing about 
him to Mr. Dale at present." ^ 

The visitors at Hallgrove Eectory had received the inteUigence 
which Sir Reginald Eversleigh had communicated to theni with 
the deepest concern. An-angements were made for the imme- 
diate departure of the Grahams, and of :\rr3 Mordaunt and her 
dauo-hters. The squire and Sir Reginald were to remain with 
Douglas Dale until the painful formalities of the inquest and the 
funeral should be completed. 

Doucrlas Dale was not a weak man, and no one more dishked 
anv exhibition of sentiment than he. Nevertheless, it waa a 
hard task for him to enter the breakfast-room, and bid lareweil 
to the guests who had been so merry only yesterday. But it 
had to be done, and he did it. A few sad and solemn words 
were spoken between him and the Mordaunts, and the girls lelt 
the room in tears. Then he advanced to Lrdia Graham, who 
was seated in an arm-chair by the fire, still, and pale as a marble 
statue. There were no tears in her eyes, no traces of tears upon 
her cheeks, but in her heart there was angry, bitter, ragmg dia- 
appointment— almost fury, almost despair. ^ 

Doucrlas Dale could not look at her without seeing thatm very 
truth tie event which was so terrible to him was terrible to her 
also, and his manly heart yearned towards the woman whom h« 



262 Itun to Earth 

had thono-lit bnt little of nntil now ; who had perhaps lovod, 
and certainly now was grieving for, his beloved brother. 

" Shall we ever meet again, Mr. Dale ?" she said, wonderingly. 

" Why should we not ? " 

" You will not be able to endnre England, perhaps, after thia 
terrible calamity. You will go abroad. You will seek distrac- 
tion in change of scene. Men are such travellers now-a-days." 

" I shall not leave England, Miss Graham," answered Douglas, 
quietly ; " I am a man of the world — I venture to hope that I 
am also a Christian — and I can nerve myself to endure grief as 
a Christian and a man of the world should endure it. My 
brother's death will make no alteration in the plan of my 
life. I shall return to London almost immediately." 

" And we may hope to see you in London ? " 

" Captain Graham and I are members of the same club. We 
are very likely to meet occasionally." 

"And am I not to see you as well as my brother ?*' asked 
Lydia, in a low voice. 

" Do you really wish to see me ? " 

" Can you wonder that I do so — for the pake of old times. We 
Rre friends of long standing, remember, I\Ir. Dale." 

"Yes," answered Douglas, with marked gravity. "We have 
known each other for a loag time." 

Captain Graham entered the room at this moment. 

" The carriage which is to take us to Frimley is ready, Lydia," 
he said ; " your trunks are all on the roof, and you have only to 
wish Mr. Dale good-bye." 

" A very sad farewell," murmured Miss Graham. " I can 
only trust that we may meet aeain under happier circumstances." 

" I trust we ma}'," replied Douglas, earnestly. 

Miss Graham was bonneted and cloaked for the journey. She 
had dressed herself entirely in black, in respectful regard of 
the melancholy circumstances attending her departure. Nor did 
she forget that the sombre hue was peculiarly becoming to her. 
She wore a dress of black silk, a voluminous cloak of black 
velvet trimmed with sables, and a fashionable bonnet of the same 
material, \Nuth a drooping feather. 

Douglas conducted his guests to the carriage, and saw Miss 
Graham comfortably seated, with her shawls and travelling-bags 
on the seat opposite. 

It was \vith a glance of mournful tenderness that Miss Gra- 
ham uttered her final adieu; but there was no responsive glance 
in the eyes of Douglas Dale. His manner was serious and sub* 
dued; but it was a manner not easy to penetrate. 

Gordon Graham flung himself back in his seat with a de- 
Bpairing groan. 

" Well, Lydia," he said, "this accident in the hunting-field haa 



" / am weary of my part.'** 263 

been t"he ruin of all our hopes. I really think you are the most 
unlucky woman I ever encountered. After angHng for some- 
thing like ten years in the matrimonial fisheries, you were j ast 
on the point of landing a valuable fish, and at the last moment 
your husband that is to be goes and gets drowned during a dav'a 
pleasure." 

" What should yon say if this accident, which you think un- 
lucky, should, after all, be a fortunate event for us?" asked 
Lydia, with significance. 

" What the deuce do you mean ? " 

" How very slow of comprehension you are to-day, Gordon ! ** 
exclaimed the lady, impatiently; "Lionel Dale's income was 
only five thousand a year — very little, after all, for a woman 
with my views of life." 

" And with your genius for running into debt," muttered hex 
brother. 

" Do you happen to remember the terms of Sir Oswald Evers* 
leigh's will 't " 

"I should think I do, indeed," replied the captain; "the 
will was suificiently talked about at the time of the baronet's 
death." 

" That will left five thousand a year to each of the two 
brothers, Lionel and Douglas. If either should die unmarrie^I, 
the fortune left to him was to go to the survivor. Lionel Dale% 
death doubles Douglas Dale's income. A husband with ten 
thousand a year would suit me very well indeed. And why 
should I not win Douglas as easily as I won Lionel ? " 

" Because you are not likely to have the same opportunities." 

" I have asked Douglas to visit us in Loudon." 

" An invitation which must be very flattering to him, but 
which he may or may not accept. However, my dear Lydia, I 
have the most profound respect for your courage and persever- 
ance ; and if you can win a husband with ten thousand a year 
instead of five, so much the better for you, and so much the 
better for me, as I shall have a richer brother-in-law to whom to 
apply when I find myself in difficulties." 

The carriage had reached Frimley by this time. The brother 
and sister took their places in the coach which was to convey 
them to London. 

Lydia drew down her veil, and settled herself comfortably in 
a corner of the vehicle, where she slept through the tedium of 
the journey. 

At thirty years of age a woman of Miss Graham's character 
is apt to be studiously careful of her beauty : and Lydia felt 
that she needed much repose after the fever and excitement of 
her yisit to Hallgrove Rectory. 

• t '^ • • t 



264 ^n to Earth. 

Sir Keglnald Eversleigh played his part well during the few 
days in whicli he remained at the rectory. ^"0 mourner could 
have seemed more sincere than he, and everybody agreed that 
the spendthrift baronet exhibited an unaffected sorrow for his 
cousin's fate, which proved him to be a very noble-hearted 
fellow, in spite of all the dark stories that had been told of his 
youth. 

Before leaving Hallgrove, Eeginald took care to make him- 
self thoroughly acquainted with his cousin's plans for the future. 
Douglas, with ten thousand a year, was, of course, a more valu- 
able^'acquaintance than he had been as the possessor of half 
that income, even if there had been no dark influence ever busy 
weaving its secret and fatal web. 

" You will go back to your old hfe in London, Douglas, I sup- 
pose? " said Sir Reginald. "There you will soonest forget the 
sad afaiction that has befallen you. In the hurrying whirlpool 
of modern life there is no leisure for sorrow." 

"Yes, I shall come to London," answered Douglas. 

" And you will occupy your old quarters ? " 

'• Decidedly." 

"And we shall see as much of each other as ever — eh, 
Douglas ? " said Sir Reginald. " You must not let poor Lionel's 
fate prey upon your mind, you know, my dear fellow ; or your 
health, as well as your spirits, will suffer. You must go down 
to Hilton House, and mix with the old set again. That sort 
of thing will cheer you up a little." 

" Yes," answered Douglas. " I know how far I may rely 
upon your friendship, Reginald. I shall place myself quite in 
your hands." 

"My dear fellow, you will not find me unworthy of your con- 
fidence." 

" I ought not to find you so, Reginald." 

Sir Reginald looked at his kinsman thoughtfully for a mo- 
ment, fancying there was some hidden meaning in Douglas 
Dale's words. But the tone in which he had uttered them was 
perfectly careless; and Reginald's suspicion was dispelled by the 
frank expression of his face. -, ^ , 

Sir Reginald left Hallgrove a few days after the fatal accident 
in the hunting-field, and went back to his London lodging, which 
seemed very shabby and comfortless after the luxury of Hall- 
grove Rectory. He did not care to spend his evenings at Hilton 
House, for he shrank from hearing Paulina's complaints about 
her loneliness and poverty. The London season had not yet 
begun, and there were few dupes whom the gamester could vic- 
timize by those skilful manoeuvres which so often helped him to 
success. It may be that some of the victims had complained of 
their losses, and the villa inhabited by the elegant A-ustrian 



"2 o.m weari/ of my ^mrty 265 

widow liad begun to ue known amongst men of fashion as a place 
to "be avoided. 

Reginald Ever sleigh feared that it must be so, when he found 
the few young men he met at his club rather disinclined to avail 
themselves of ]\Iadame Durski's hospitahty. 

"Have you been to Fulham lately, Caversham ? " he asked of 
a young lordling, who was master of a good many thousands pei 
annum, but not the most talented of mankind. 

"Fulham !" exclaimed Lord Caversham; "what's Fulham P 
Ah, to be sure, I remember — place by the river — very nice-— 
villas — boat-races, and that kind of thing. Let me see, bishops, 
and that kind of church-going people live at Fulham, don't 
they ? " 

" I thought yon would have remembered one person who lives 
at Fulham — a very handsome woman, who made a strong im- 
pression upon you." 

" Did she — did she, by Jove ? " cried the viscount ; " and yet, 
upon my honour, Eversleigh, I can't remember her. You see, I 
know so many splendid women ; and splendid women are perpe- 
tually making an impression upon me — and I am perjDetuaily 
making an impression upon sj^lendid women. It's mutual, by 
Jove, Eversleigh, quite mutual. And pray, who is the lady in 
question?" 

"The beautiful Viennese, PauHna Durski." 

The lordling made a wry face. 

"Paulina Durski! Yes, Paulina is a pretty woman," he 
murmured, languidly ; " a very pretty woman ; and you're ricrht, 
Eversleigh — she did make a profound impression upon me. But, 
you see, I found the impression cost me rather too much. Hil- 
ton House is the nicest place in the world to visit ; but if a 
fellow finds himself losing two or three hundred eveiy time he 
crosses the threshold, you can be scarcely surprised if "he prefers 
epending his evenings where he can enjoy himself a little more 
cheaply. However, perhaps you'll hardly understand my 
feelings on this subject, Eversleigh; for if I remember rightly 
you were always a wmner when I played at Madame Durski's." 
" Was I ? " said Sir Eeginald, with the air of a man who en- 
deavours to recall circumstances that are almost forgotten. 

The lordling was not altogether without knowledge of the 
world and of his fellow-men, and there had been a certain sig- 
nificance in his speech which had made Eversleigh wince. 

"Did I win when you were there?" he asked, carelessly. 
" Upon my word, I have forgotten all about it." 

"I haven't," answered Lord Caversham. "I bled pretty 
freely on several occasions when you and I played ecarte ; and I 
have not forgotten the figures on the cheques I had the pleasure 
ai signing in your favour. No, my dear Eversleigh, although I 



266 Bun to Earth. 

eonslder Madame Durski the most charming of women, I don't 
ieel inclined to go to Hilton House again." 

" Ah!" said Sir Eeginald, with a sneer; "there are so few men 
vho have the art of losing with grace. We have no Stavordalea 
now-a-days. The man who could win eleven thousand at a coity», 
and regret that he was not playing high, since in that case ha 
would have won millions, is an extinct animal." 

" No doubt of it, dear boy ; the gentlemanly art of losing pla- 
cidly is dying out ; and I confess that, for my part, I prefer 
winning," answered Lord Caversham, coolly. 

This brief conversation was a very unpleasant one for Sir 
Reginald Eversleigh. It told him that his career as a gamester 
must soon come to a close, or he would find himself a disgraced 
and branded wretch, avoided and despised by the men he now 
called his friends. 

It was evident that Yiscount Caversham suspected that he 
had been cheated ; nor was it likely that he would keep his sus- 
picions secret from the men of his set. 

The suspicion once whispered would speedily be repeated oj 
others who had lost money in the saloons of Madame Dursku 
Hints and whispers would swell into a general cry, and Sir Regi- 
nald Eversleigh would find himself tabooed. 

The prospect before him looked black as night — a night illu- 
mined by one lurid star, and that %vas the promise of Victor 
Carrington. 

" It is time for me to have done with poverty," he said to him- 
self. "Lord Caversham's insolent innuendoes would be silenced 
if I had ten thousand a year. It is clear that the game is up at 
Hilton House. Paulina may as well go back to Paris or Vienna. 
The pigeons have taken fright, and the hawks must seek a new 
quarry." 

Sir Reginald drove straight from his club to the little cottage 
beyond Maida Hilk He scarcely expected to find the man whom 
he had last seen at an inn in Dorsetshire ; but, to his surprise, 
he was conducted immediately to the laboratory, where he dis- 
covered Victor Carrington bending over an alembic, which was 
placed on the top of a small furnace. 

The surgeon looked up with a start, and Reginald perceived 
that he wore the metal mask which he had noticed on a former 
occasion. 

" Who brought von here ?" asked Victor, impatiently. 

"The servant ^ho admitted me," answered Reginald. "I 
told her I was your intimate friend, and that I wanted to wee 
you immediately. She therefore brought me here." 

" She had no right to do so. However, no matter. Wlieu 
did you return? I scarcely oxpected to see you in town ea 
soon." 



"J am weary of my part.'* 2G7 

"I scarcely expected to find yon here after our meeting at 
Frimley," replied the baronet. 

"There was nothing to detain me in the country. I ca:Ti« 
back some days ago, and have been busy with my old studies in 
chemistry." 

♦* You still dabble with poisons, I perceive," said Sir Rec^inald, 
poiuliug to the mask which Victor had laid aside on a table near 
him. 

" Every chemist must dabble in poisons, since poison forms 
an element of all medicines," replied Victor. " And now tell 
iiie to what new dilemma of yours do I owe the honour of this 
visit. You rarely enter this house except when you find your- 
self desperately in need of my humble services. What is the 
last misfortune ? " 

" I have just come from the Phoenix, where I met Caversham. 
I thought I should be able to get a hundred or so out of him at 
ecarte to-night; but the game is up in that quarter." 

"He suspects that he has been — singularly unfortunate? " 

" He knows it. No man who was not certain of the fact woul 1 
have dared to say what he said to me. He insulted me, Car- 
rington — insulted me grossly ; and I was not able to resent hij 
insolence." 

" Never mind his insolence," answered Victor; " in six months 
your position will be such that no man will presume to insult 
you. So the game is up at Hilton House, is it? _ I thought you 
were going on a Uttle too fast. And pray what is to be the next 
move ? " 

" What can we do ? Paulina's creditors are impatient, and 
she has very little money to give them. ^ly owu debts are t^x) 
pressing to permit of my helping her; and such being the case^ 
the best thing she can do will be to get back to the Continent hs 
Boon as she can." 

" On no account, my dear Reginald !" exclaimed Carringtojs- 
• Madame Durski must not leave Hilton House." 

♦* Why not ? " 

" Never mind the why. I tell you, Reginald, she must stay. 
You and I must find enough money to stave off the demands of 
her sharpest creditors." 

"I have not a sixpence to give her," answered the baronet; 
** I can scarcely afford to pay^tbr the lodging that shelters me, 
and can still less afford to lend money to other people." 

"Not even to the woman who loves you, and whom you pro- 
fess to love ? " said Victor, ^uth a sneer. " What a noble-minded 
creature you are, Sir Reginald Eversleigh— a pattern of chivalry 
and devotion ! However, Madame Durski must remain ; that is 
essential to the carrying out of my plans. If you Nioll not find 
th« money, I know who ^^Xl" 



268 -Ki^ ^ Earth 

** And pray \rTio is this generous kniglit-errant so ready to 
rush to the rescue of beauty in distress ? " , 

*'Dou<Tlas Dale. He is over head and ears in love with the 
Austrian widow, and will lend her the money she wants. I shall 
go at once to Madame Durski and give her a few hints as to her 
hne of conduct." 

There was a pause, during which the baronet seemed to be 
thinking deeply. 

" Do you think that a wise course ? " he asked, at last, 

**Do I think what course wise P " demanded his friend. 

"The line of conduct you propose. You say Douglas is in 

ve with Paulina, and I myself have seen enough to convince 
me that you are right. If he is in love with her, he is just the 
man to sacrifice every other consideration for her sake. What 
if he shoiild marry her? Would not that be a ba<i look-out 
for us ? " 

"You are a fool, Eeginald Eversleigh," cried Victor contemp- 
tuously; " you ought to know me better than to fear my discre- 
tion. Douglas Dale loves Paulina Durski, and is the very man 
to sacrifice all worldly interests for her sake; the man to marry 
her, even were she more unworthy of his love tliau she is. But 
he never will marry her, notwithstanding." 

" How will you prevent such a marriage ? " 

"That is my secret. Depend upon it I will prevent it. You 
remember our compact the night we met at Frimley." 

" I do," answered Eeginald, in a voice that was scarcely above 
a whisper. 

" Very well; I will be true to my part of that compact, depend 
upon it. Before this new-born year is out you shall be a rich 
man." 

" I have need of wealth, Victor," replied the baronet, eagerly; 
«* I have bitter need of it. There are men who can endure po- 
verty ; but I am not one of them. If my position does not 
change speedily I may find myself branded with the stigma of 
dishonour— an outlaw from society. I must be rich at any cost 
— at any cost, Victor." 

" You have told me that before," answered the Frenchman, 
coolly, " and I have promised that you shall be rich. Bat if I 
am to keep my promise, you must submit yourself with unques- 
tioning faith to my guidance. If the path we must tread toge- 
ther is"a dark one, tread it blindly. The end will be success. 
And now tell me when you expect to see Douglas Dale in 
London." , . , 

Sir Reginald explained his cousin's plans, and after a bne' 
conversation left the cottage. He heard Mrs. Carrington's 
birds twittering in the cold January sunshine, and a passing 
jjUmpsethrpugh the ope^ ^oprway of the drawing-room rev^saleo 



^ I am weary of my parC^ 269 

to klm the exquisite neatness and purity of the apartment, 
which even at this season was adorned with a few flowers. 

"Strange!" he thought to himself, as he left the honse; 
•* any stranger entering that abode wonld imagine it the very 
Bhrine of domestic peace and simple happiness, and yet it is in- 
habited by a fiend." 

He went back to town. He dined alone in his dingy lodging, 
Bcarcely daring to show himself at his club — Lord Cavcrsljam 
had spoten so plainly; and had, no doubt, spoken to others still 
more plainly. Reginald Eversleigh's face grew hot with shame 
as he remembered the insults he had been obliged to endure with 
pretended unconsciousness. 

He feared to encounter other men who also had been losers at 
Hilton House, and who might speak as significantly as the vis- 
count had spoken. This man, who violated the laws of heaven 
and earth with little terror of the Divine vengeance, feared above 
all to be cut by the men of his set. 

This is the slavery which the man of fashion creates for himself 
—these are the fetters which such men as Reginald Eversleigh 
forge for their own souls. 

But before we trace the progress of Sir Reginald from step to 
step in this terrible career, we must once more revert to the 
strange visitors at Frimley. 

Jane Payland by no means approved of passing Christmas- 
day in 'the uninteresting seclusion of a country inn, with nothing 
more festive to look forward to than a specially ordered, but 
lonely dinner, and nothing to diverther thoughts but the rural 
spectacle afforded by the inn-yard. As to going out for a walk 
in such weather, she would not have thought of such a thing, 
even if she had any one to walk out with ; and to go alone — no 
— Jane Payland had no fancy for amusement of that order. The 
day had been particularly dreary to the lady's maid, because the 
lady had been busily engaged in affairs of which she had no 
cognizance, and this ignorance, not a little exasperating even in 
town, became well-nigh intolerable to her in the weariness, tho 
idleness, and the duTness of Frimley. When Lady Eversleigh 
went out in the dark evening, accompanied by the mysterious 
personage in whom Jane Payland had recognized their fellow- 
lodger, the amazement which she experienced produced an 
Agreeable variety in her sensations, and the fact that the man 
with the vulture-Hke beak carried ' carpet-bag intensified her 
surprise. 

"Now I'm almost sure she is eomcuhing to him; and she 
has come down here with him to see her people," said Jane Pay- 
land to herself, as she sat desolately by the fire in her mistress's 
room, a well-thumbed novel lying neglected on her knee ; " and 
Bhe's mean enough to be ashamed of them. Well, I don't think 

s 



270 :kun to Earth. 

I elioald be tliat of my own flesli andblooJ, IT i was eVc: Ro gtoat 
and so grand. I .suppose the bag is full of presents —I'm sure 
she might have told me if it was clothes she was going to give 
Bway ; I shouldn't have grudged 'em to the poor things." 

Grumbling a good deal, wondering more, and feasting a little, 
Jane Payland got through the time until her mistress returned, 
li-ut for all her grumbling, and all her suspicion, the girl was 
daily growing more and more attached to her mistress, and her 
respect was increasing with her liking. Lady Eversleigh re- 
turned to the inn alone late on that dismal Chnstmas-night. and 
ehe looked worn, troubled, and weary. After a few kind words 
to Jane Payland, she dismissed the girl, and went to bed, very 
tired and heart-sick. " How am I to prove it ? " she asked her- 
F.elf, as she lay wearily awake. " How am I to prove it ? in my 
borrowed character I am suspected ; in my own, I should not be 
believed, or even listened to for a moment. He is a good man, 
that Lionel Dale, and he is doomed, I fear." 

On the morning of the twenty-sixth Mr. Andrew Larkspnr 
had another long j)rivate conference with Lady Eversleigh, tlie 
immediate result of which was his setting out, mounted on the 
stout ])ony which we have seen in difFiculties in a previous chap- 
ter, and vainly endeavouring to come np with Lionel Dale at 
the hunt. When Mr. Andrew Larkspur arrived at the melan- 
choly conviction that his errand was a useless one, and that he 
must only return to Frlmley, and concert with Lady Eversleigh 
a new plan of action, he also became aware that he was more 
liurt and shaken by his fall than he had at first supposed. 
When he reached Frimley he felt exceedingly sick and weak, 
("queer," he expressed it), and was constrained to tell hia 
anxious and unhappy client that he must go away and rest if he 
lioped to be fit for anything in the evening, or on the next day. 
•* I will see Mr. Dale to-night, if he and I are both alive," said 
Mr, Larkspur; "but if he was there before me I could not say 
a word to him now. I don't mean to say I have not had a hurt 
or two in the course of my Ufe before now, but I never was so 
regularly dead-beat ; and that's the truth." 

'J'hus it happened that the acute Mr. Larkspur was hors ds 
C07rJ>a/ just at the time when his acuteness would have found 
most employment, and thus Lady Eversleigh's project of ven- 
geance received, unconsciously, the first check. The game of ro- 
])risals was, indeed, destined to be played, but not by her ; Pro- 
vidence would do that, in time, in the long run. Meanwhile, she 
Btrove, after her own fashion, to become the executor of its 
decrees. 

The news of Lionel Dale's sudden disappearance, and the 
alarm to which it gave rise, reached the little town of Frimley 
in due course ; but it was slow to reach the lonely lady at thi 



" I am weary of my jpart.'*^ 271 

inn. Lady Eversleigk had talien counsel with Lerscli" after Mr. 
Larkspur had left her, and iiad come to the determination that 
she would tell Lionel IDale the whole truth. She resolved to lay 
before him a full statement of all the circumstances of her life, 
to reveal all she knew, and all she suspected concerning Sir 
Reginald Eversleigh, and to tell him of Carrington's presence 
in her neighbourhood, as well as the designs which she beheved 
him to cherish. She told herself that her dead husband's kins- 
man could scarcely refuse to beUeve her statement, when she re- 
minded him that she had no object to serve in this revelation 
but the object of truth and respect for her husband's memory. 
When he, Lionel Dale, could have rehabihtated her in public 
opinion by taking his place beside her, he had not done so ;_ it 
was too late now, no advance on his part could undo that which 
had been done, and he could not therefore think that in taking 
this step she was trying to curry favour witli him in order to 
further her own interest. After debating the question for some 
time, she resolved to write a letter, which Larkspur could carry 
to the rectory. 

A great deal of time was consumed by Lady Eversleigh in 
writing this letter, and the darkness had fallen long before it 
was finished. When she rang for lights, she took no notice of 
the person who brought them, and she directed that her dinner 
should not be served until she rang for it. Thus no interruption 
of her task occurred, until Mr. Larkspur, looking very little the 
better for his rest and refreshment, presented himself before her. 
Lady Eversleigh was just beginning to tell him what she had 
done, when he interrupted her, by saying, in a tone which would 
have astonished any of his intimates, for there was a touch of 
real feeUng in it, apart from considerations of business — _ 

" I'm afraid we're too late. I'm very much afraid Carrington 
has been one too many for us, and has done the trick.'' 

" What do you mean ? " asked Lady Eversleigh, rising, in ex- 
treme agitation, and turning deadly pale. " Has any harm como 
to Lionel Dale ? " 

Then Mr. Andrew Larkspur told Lady Eversleigh the report 
which had reached the town, and of whose truth a secret instinct 
assured them both, only too completely. They were, indeed, 
powerless now ; the enemy had been too strong, too subtle, and 
too quick for them. Mr. Larkspur did not remain long with 
Lady Eversleigh ; but having counselled her to keep silence on 
the subject, to ask no questions of any one, and to preserve the 
letter she had written, which Mr. Larkspur, for reasons of hia 
own, was anxious to see, he left her, and set off for the rectory. 
He reached his destination before the return of the party who 
had gone to search for the missing man. He mingled freely, 
almost unnoticed, with the servants and the villagers who had 



27S Run to ^ari'k 

crowdod a"bout tlie liouse and lodges, and all he heard confirmed 
him in his belief that the worst had happened, that Lionel Dale 
had, indeed, come by his death, either through the successfal 
contrivance of Carrington, or by an extraordinary accident, 
coincident with his enemy's fell designs. Mr. Larkspur asked 
a great many questions of several persons that night, and as 
talking to a stranger helped the watchers and loiterers over 
some of the time they had to drag through until the genuine 
apprehension of some, and the curiosity of others, should be 
reahzed or satisfied, he met with no rebuffs. But, on the other 
hand, neither did he obtain any information of value. No 
stranger had been seen to join the hunt that day, or noticed 
lurking about Eallgrove that morning, and Mr. Larkspur's own 
reliable eyes had assured him that Carrington was not among 
the recipients of the rector's hospitality on Christmas-day. The 
footman, who had directed the unknown visitor by the way past 
the stables to the lower road, did not remember that circumstance 
and so it did not come to Mr. Larkspur's knowledge. "When the 
party who had led the search for Lionel Dale returned to the 
rectory, and the worst was known, Mr. Larkspur went away, 
after having arranged with a small boy, who did odd jobs for the 
gardener at Hallgrove, that if the body was brought home in the 
morning, he should go over to Frimley, on consideration of half-a- 
crown, and inquire at the inn for Mr. Bennett. 

"It's no good thinking about what's to be done, till the body's 
found, and the inquest settled," thought Mr. Larkspur. "I 
don't think anything can be done then, but it's clear there's no 
use in thinking about it to-night. So I shall just tell my lady 
so, and get to bed. Confound that pony ! " _ 

At a reasonably early hour on the following morning, the 
juvenile messenger arrived from Hallgrove, and, on inquiring for 
Mr. Bennett, was ushered into the presence of Mr. Larkspur. 
The intelligence he brought was brief, but important. The rec- 
tor's body had been found, much disfigured; he had struck 
against a tree, the doctors said, in falling into the river, and been 
killed by the blow, " as well as drownded," added the boy, with 
some appreciation of the additional piquancy of the circumstance. 
He was laid out in the library. The fine folks were gone, cr 
going, except Squire Mordaunt and Sir Eeginald, the rector's 
cousin. Mr. Douglas took on about it dreadfully ; the bay horse 
had come home, with his saddle wet, but he was not hurt or cut 
about, as the boy knew of. This was all the boy had to tell. 

Mr. Larkspur dismissed the messenger, having faithfully paid 
him the stipulated half-crown, and immediately sought the pre- 
sence of Lady Eversleigh. The realization of all her fears 
shocked her deeply, and in the solemnity of the dread event 
which had occurred she almost Jost sight of her own purpose,* it 



"I am weary of my ^ar/." 273 

seemed swallowed up in a calamity so appalling. But Mr. Lark- 
spur was of a ton^her and more practical temperament He 
lost no time in setting before his client the state of the case as 
regarded herself, and the pnrpose with which she had gone to 
Frimley, now rendered futile. Mr. Larkspur entertamed no 
doubt that Carrington had been in some way accessory to the 
death of Lionel Dale, but circumstances had so favoured the 
criminal that it would be impossible to prove his crime. 

" If I told you all I know about the horse and about the man," 
flaid Mr. Larkspur, •* what good would it do ? The man bought 
a horse very like Mr. Dale's, and he rode away from here mounted 
on that horse, on the same day that Mr. Dale was drowned. I 
believe he changed the horses in Mr. Dale's stable ; but there's 
not a tittle of proof of it, and how he contrived the thing I can- 
not undertake to say, for no mortal saw him at the rectory or at 
the meet ; and the horse that every one would be prepared to 
swear was the horse that Mr. Dale rode, is safe at home at the 
rectory now, having evidently been in the river. Seeing we 
can't prove the matter, it's my opinion we'd better not meddle 
with it, more particularly as nothing that we can prove will do 
Sir Eeginald Eversleigh any harm, and, if either of this precious 
pair of rascals is to escape, you don't want it to be him." 

" Oh, no, no l" said Lady Eversleigh, "he is so much worse 
than the other as his added cowardice makes him." 

" Just so. Well, then, if yon want to punish him and_ his 
agent, this is certainly not the opportunity. !N'ert to winning, 
there's nothing like thoroughly understanding and acknowledgH 
ing what you've lost, and we have lost this game, beyond all 
question. Let us see, now, if we cannot win the next. If I 
onderstand the business right, Mr. Douglas Dale is his brother's 
heir?" 

"Yes," said Lady Eversleigh ; "his life only now stands be- 
tween Sir Eeginald and fortune.** 

"Then he will take that life by Carrington's agency, as I 
believe he has taken Lionel Dale's," said Mr. Larkspur ; "and 
my idea is that the proper way to prevent him is to go away 
from this place, where no good is to be done, and where any 
movement will only defeat our purpose, by putting him on his 
guard— letting him know he is watched (forewarned forearmed, 
you know) — and set ourselves to watch Cai-nngton in London." 

" Why in London P How do yon know he's there ? " 

Mr. Larkspur smiled. 

*' Lord bless your innocence !" he replied. " How do I know 
it ? Why, ain't London the natural place for him to be in P 
Ain't London the pJace where every one that has done a success- 
ful trick goes to enjoy it, and every one that has missed his tip 
goes to hide himself? I'll take my davy, though it's a thing J 



274 Bmi to Earth. 

don't like doing in general, tKat Carrington's back in town, 
living witli his mother, as right as a trivet" 

So Lady Eversleigh and Jane Payland travelled np to town 
again, and took np their old quarters. And Mr. Larkspnr re- 
tnmed, and resnmed his room and his accustomed habits. But 
before he had been many hours in London, he had ascertained, 
by the evidence of his own eyes, that Victor Carrington was, as 
he had predicted, in town, living with his mother, and " as right 
as a trivet" «_ 

CHAPTER XXV. 

A DANGEE0T7S ALLIANCE. 

In the afternoon of the day following that on which Sir Regi- 
nald paid a visit to Victor Carrington, the latter gentleman pre- 
sented himself at the door of Hilton House. The frost had 
again set in, and this time with more than usual severity. There 
had been a heavy fall of snow, and the park-like grounds sur- 
rounding Madame Durski's abode had an almost fairy-like ap- 
pearance, the tracery of the leafless trees defined by the snow 
that had lodged on every branch, the undulating lawn one bed 
of pure white. 

He knocked at the door and waited. The woman at the lodge 
had told him that it was very unHkely he would be able to see 
Madame Durski at this hour of the day, but he had walked on 
to the house notwithstanding. 

It was already nearly four o'clock in the afternoon ; but at 
that hour Paulina had rarely left her own apartments. 

Victor Carrington knew this quite as well as the woman at 
the lodge, but he had business to do with another person as well 
as Paulina Durski. That other person was the widow's humble 
companion. 

The door was opened by Carlo Teas, Paulina's confidential 
courier and butler. This man looked rery suspiciously at the 
visitor. 

" My mistress receives no one at this hour," he said. 

" I am aware that she does not usually see visitors so early,** 
replied Carrington ; " but as I come on i)articular business, and 
as I come a long way to see her, she will perhaps make an ex- 
ception in my favour." 

He produced his card-ockse as he spoke, and handed the maa 
a card, on which he had written the following words in pencil : 

" Pray eee me, dear madame. I come on really important 
hu8ine88f which toill hear no delay. If you cannot see me tiU 
yov/r di/rmer-hour, I ioill wait" 

The Spaniard ushered Victor into one of the reception-rooms, 
which looked cold and chill in the winter dayHght. Except the 



A Dangerous Alliance, 275 

^nd piano, there was no trace of feminine occnpatlon in the 
^)om. It looked like an apartmont kept only for the reception 
{.f visitors — an apartment which lacked all the warmth and 
comfort of home. 

Victor waited for some time, and began to think his message 
had not been taken to the mistress of the honse, when the door 
was opened, and !Mis=; Brewer appeared. 

She looked at the visitor with an inqnisitive glance as she 
entered the room, and approached him softly, with her light; 
greenish-grey eyes fixed upon his face. 

" Madame Durski has l^^en suffering from nervous headache 
all day," she said, "and Ikls not yet risen. Her dinner-hour is 
half-past six. If your business is really of importance, and if 
you care to wait, she will be happy to see you then." 

" My business is of real importance ; and I shall be very glad 
to wait," answered Victor. " Since Madame Durski is, un- 
happily, unable to receive me for some time, I shall gladly avail 
myself of the opportunity, in order to enjoy a little conversation 
with you. Miss Brewer," he said, courteously, "always supposing 
that you are not otherwise engafjed." 

" I have no other engagement whatever," answered the lady, 
in a cold, measured voice. 

"I wish to speak to you upon very serious business," con- 
tinued Victor, " and I believe that I can venture to address you 
with perfect candour. The business to which I allude concerns 
the interests of Madame Durski, and I have every reason to 
suppose that you are thoroughly devoted to her interests." 

"_ For whom else should I care ? " returned ]Miss Brewer, with 
a bitter laucrh. " Madame Durski is the only friend I can count 
in this world. I have known her from her childhood — and if I 
can believe anything good of my species, which is not very easy 
for me to do, I can believe that she cares for me — a little — as she 
might care for some piece of furniture which she had been ac- 
customed to see about her from her infancy, and which she 
would miss if it were removed." 

" You wrong your friend," said Victor. " She has every rea- 
son to be sincerely attached to you, and I have little doubt that 
she is so." 

" What right have yon to have little doubt or much doubt 
about it ?" exclaimed Miss Brewer, contemptuously ; " and why 
do you try to palm off upon me the idle nonsense which sense- 
less people consider it incumbent on them to utter ? You do 
not know Pauhna Durski — I do. She is a woman who never 
in her life cared for more than two things." 

"And these two things are — " 

" The excitement of the gaming-table, and the love of jovi 
T7crtMess friend. Sir Reginald Eversleigh," 



276 ^w to Earth. 

" Does she really love my friend ?** 

" She does. She loves him as few men deserve to be loved— 
and least of all that man. She loves him, although she knows 
that her affection is nnreturned, unappreciated. For his sake 
she would sacrifice her own happiness, her own pvosperity. 
Women are foolish creatures, Mr. Carrington, and you men dir 
wisely when you despise them." ^ ^ . ^^ 

" I will not enter into the question of my friend's merits, 
said Victor ; "but I know that Madame Durski has won the love 
of a man who is worthy of any woman's affection— a man who 
is rich, and can elevate her from her present— doubtful— posi- 
tion." 

The Frenchman uttered these last words with a great appear- 
ance of restraint and hesitation. 

" Say, miserable position," exclaimed Miss Brewer ; " for 
Paulina Durski's position is the most degraded that a woman— 
whose life has been comparatively sinless — ever occupied." 

" And every day its degradation will become more profound," 
said Victor. "Unless Madame Durski follows my advice, she 
cannot long remain in England. In her native city she has 
little to hope for. In Paris, her name has acquired an evil odour. 
What, then, Hes before her?" 

"Euin!" exclaimed Miss Brewer, abruptly; "starvation it 
may be. I know that our race is nearly run, Mr. Carrington. 
You need not trouble yourself to remind me of our misery." 

" If I do remind you of it, I only do so in the hope that 1 
may be able to serve you," answered Victor. " I have tasted all 
the bitterness of poverty. Miss Brewer. ^ Forgive me,^if I ask 
whether yon, too, have been acquainted with its sting?" 

" Have I felt its sting ?" cried the poor faded creature. " Who 
has felt the tooth of the serpent. Poverty, more cruelly than I ? 
It has pierced my very heart. From my childhood I have 
known nothing but poverty. Shall I tell you my story, Mr. 
Carrington ? I am not apt to speak of myself, or of my youth ; 
but you have evoked the demon. Memory, and I feel a kind ot 
relief in speaking of that long-departed time." 

" I am deeply interested in all you say, Lliss Brewer. Stranger 
though I am, believe me that my interest is sincere." 

As Victor Carrington said this, Charlotte Brewer looked at 
him with a sharp, penetrating glance. She was not a woman 
to be fooled by shallow hypocrisies. The hght of the winter's 
day was fading; but even in the fading light Victor saw th« 
look of sharp suspicion in her pinched face. 

" Why should you be interested in me P " she asked, abruptly. 

" Because I believe you may be useful to me," answered Victor, 
boldly. "I do not want to deceive j;ou, Miss Brewer. Great 
triumphs have been achieved by the union of two powerful minda. 



A Dangerous Alliance, 277 

I know yon to possess a po-werfol mind; I know yon to be a 
woman above ordinary prejudices ; and I want you to help me, 
as I am ready to help you. But you were about to tell me the 
story of your youth." 

"It shall be told briefly," said Miss Brewer, speaking in a 
rapid, energetic manner that was the very reverse oi' the mea- 
sured tones she was wont to use. *' I am the daughter of a dis- 
graced man, who was a gentleman once ; but I have forgotten 
that time, as he forgot it long before he died. 

"My father passed the last ten years of his life in a 
prison. He died in that prison, and within those dingy smoke- 
blackened walls my childhood was spent — a joyless childhood, 
without a hope, without a dream, haunted perpetually by the 
dark phantom, Poverty. I emerged from that prison to enter a 
new one, in the shape of a West-end boarding-school, where I 
became the drudge and scape-goat of rich citizens' daughters, 
heiresses presumptive ^ to the scrapings of tallow-chandlers 
and coal-merchants, linen-drapers and cheesemongers. For 
six years I endured my fate patiently, uncomplainingly. Not 
one creature amongst that large household loved me, or 
cared for me, or thought whether I was happy or miserable. 

" I worked like a slave. I rose early, and went to bed late, 
giving my youth, my health, my beauty — you will smile, perhaps, 
Sir. Carrington, but in those days I was accounted a handsome 
woman — in exchange for what ? My daily bread, and the edu- 
cation which was to enable me to earn a livelihood hereafter. 
Some distant relations undertook to clothe me; and I was 
dressed in those days about as shabbily as I have been 
dressed ever since. In all my life, I never knew the innocent 
pleasure which every woman feels in the possession of handsome 
clothes. 

" At eighteen, I left the boarding-school to go on the Conti- 
nent, where I was to fill a situation which had been procured 
for me. That situation was in the household of Paulina 
Durski's father. Paulina was ten years of age, audi was ap- 
pointed as her governess and companion. JFrom that day to 
this, I have never left her. As much as I am capable of loving 
any one, I love her. But my mind has been embittered by the 
miseries of my girlhood, and I do not pretend to be capable of 
much womanly feeling." 

*' I thank you for your candour," said Victor. "It is of im- 
portance for me to ujiderstand your position, for,_ by so doing, I 
shall be the better able to assist you. I may believe, then, that 
there is only one person in the world for whom you care, and 
that person is Paulina Durski ? " 

•* You may believe that." 

** Aud I may also believe that you, who have drained to tbs 



278 Rwi^ to Ewrth, 

dregs tlie bitter cup of poverty, would do mucli, and risk much, 
in order to be rich ? " 

*' Yon may." 

** Then, Miss Brewer, let me speak to yon openly, as one sin" 
cerely interested in you, and desirous of serving you and youf 
charming but infatuated friend. May I hope that we shall be 
uninterrupted for some time longer, for I am anxious to 
explain myself at once, and fully, now that the opportunity has 
arisen ?" 

" No one is likely to enter this room, unless summoned by 
xne," said Miss Brewer. " You may speak freely, and at any 
length you please, Mr. Carrington ; but I warn you, you are 
speaking to a person who has no faith in any profession of dis- 
interested regard." 

As she spoke. Miss Brewer leaned back in her chair, folded 
her hands before her, and assumed an utterly^ impassible e:i- 
pression of countenance. No less promising recipient of a cot:- 
tidential scheme could have been seen : but Victor Carrington 
was not in the least discouraged. He replied, in a cheerful, 
deferential, and yet business-like tone: 

" I am quite aware of that, Miss Brewer; and for my part, I 
should not feel the respect I do feel for you if I believed you so 
deficient in sense and experience as to take any other view. I 
don't offer myself to you in the absurd disguise of a prnix 
chevalier, anxious to espouse the unprofitable cause of two un- 
protected women in an equivocal position, and in circumstancea 
rapidly tending to desperation." 

Here Victor Carrington glanced at his companion ; he wanted 
to see if the shot had told. But Miss Brewer cared no more for 
the almost open insult, than she had cared for the implied interest 
conveyed in the exordium of his discourse. She sat silent and 
motionless. He continued : 

" I have an object to gain, which I am resolved to achieve*. 
Two ways to the attainment of this object are open to me; the 
one injurious, in fact destructive, to you and Madame Durski, 
the other eminently beneficial. I am interested in you. I par- 
ticularly like Madame Dnrski, though I am not one of the legion 
of her professed admirers." 

Miss Brewer shook her head sadly. That legion was much 
reduced in its numbers of late. 

"Therefore," continued Carrington, without seeming to observe 
the gesture, " I prefer to adopt the latter course, and further 
your interests in securing my own. I suppose you can at least 
understand and credit such very plain motives, so very plainly 
expressed. Miss Brewer P" 

"Yes," she said, "that may be true; it da<^s not ucero Uft* 
likely; we shall see," 



279 

"Yon certainly stall. My explanation will not, I liope, be 
nnduly tedious, bnt it is indispensable that it shonld be full. 
Yon know, Miss Brewer, that Sir Reginald Eversleigh and I are 
intimate friends P'* 

Miss Brewer smiled— a pale, prolonged, nnpleasant smile, and 
then replied, speaking very deliberately : 

" I know nothing of the kind, Mr. Carrington. I know yon 
are much together, and have an air of familiar acquaintance, 
which is the true interpretation of friendship, I take it, between 
men of the world — of your world in particular." 

The hard and determined expression of her manner would 
have discouraged and deterred most men. It did not discourage 
or deter Victor Carrington. 

" Put what interpretation yon please npon my words," he said, 
•* bnt recognize the facta. There is a strict alliance, if you prefer 
that phrase, between me and Sir Reginald Eversleigh, and his 
present intimacy, with his seeming devotion to Madame Durski, 
prevents him from carrying out the terms of that alliance to my 
satisfaction. I am therefore resolved to break off that intimacy. 
Do yon comprehend me so far ? " 

"Yes, I comprehend yon so far," answered Miss Brorrr, 
"perfectly." . • t-i 

" Considering Madame Dnrski's feelings for Sir Reginald- 
feelings of which, I assure you, I consider him, even according 
io my own unpretending standard, entirely unworthy— this 
intimacy cannot be broken off without pain to her, but it might 
be destroyed without any profit, nay, with ruinous loss. Now, I 
cannot spare her the pain; that is necessary, indispensable, both 
for her good, and— which I don't pretend not to regard more 
urgently— my own. But I can make the pain eminently 
profitable to her, with your assistance — in fact, so profitable as 
to secure the peace and prosperity of her whole future life." 

He paused, and Miss Brewer looked steadily at him, but she 

did not speak. r. -o j t 

•' Reginald Eversleigh owes me money, Miss Brewer, and 1 

cannot°afford to allow him to remain in my debt. I don't mean 
that he has borrowed money from me, for I never had any to 
lend, and, having any, should neyw: have lent it." He saw how 
the tore he was taking suited the woman's perverted mmd, and 
pursued it. " But I have done him certain services for which he 
undertook to pay me money, and I want money. He has none, 
and the only means by which he can procure it is a nch marnage. 
Such a marriage is witHn his reach ; one of the richest heiresses 
in London would have him for the asking— she is an ironmonger a 
daughter, and pines to be My Lady— but he hesitates, and loses 
his time in visits to Madame Durski, whicb are only doing them 
both haniu Doing her hann, because they are deceiving her, 



280 E/m to Earth. 

encouraging a delusion ; and doing him harm, because they ar« 
wasting his time, and incurring the risk of his being * blown 
upon' to the ironmonger. Vulgar people of the kind, you 
know, my dear Miss Brewer, give ugly names, and attach undue 
importance to intimacies of this kind, and — and — in short, it is 
on the cards that Madame Durski may spoil Sir Reginald's 
game. Well, as that game is also mine, you will find no difficulty 
in understanding that I do not intend Madame Durski shall 
spoil it." 

" Yes, I understand that," said Miss Brewer, as plainly as 
before; " but I don't understand how Pauhna is to be served 
in the affair, and I don't understand what my part is to be 
in it." 

"I am coming to that," he said. "You cannot be unaware 
of the impression which Madame Durski has made upon Sir 
Reginald's cousin, Douglas Dale." 

"I know he did admire her," said Miss Brewer, "but he 
has not been here since his brother's death. He is a rich 
man now." 

*' Yes, he is — but that will make no change in him in certain 
respects. Douglas Dale is a fool, and will always remain so. 
Madame Durski has completely captivated him, and I am per- 
fectly certain he would marry her to-morrow, if she could be 
brought to consent." 

" A striking proof that Mr. Douglas Dale deserves the cha« 
racter you have given him, you would say, Mr. Carrington ? " 

" Madam, I am at the mercy of your perspicuity," said Victor, 
with a mock bow; "however, a truce to badinage — Douglas 
Dale is a rich man, and very much in love with Madame Durski; 
but he is the last man in the world to interfere with his cousin, 
by trying to win her affections, if he beheves her attached to 
Sir Reginald. He is a fool in some things, as I have said before, 
and he is much more likely, if he thinks it a case of mutual 
desperation, to contribute a thousand a year or so to set the 
couple up in a modest competence, hke a princely proprietor in a 
play, than to advance his own claims. Now, this modest com- 
l^etence business would not suit Sir Reginald, or Madame Durski, 
or lae, but the other arrangement would be a capital thing for 
us all." 

*•' H — m, you see bhe really loves your friend, Sir Reginald,** 
■aid Miss Brewer. 

"Tush," ejaculated Victor Carrington, contemptuously; "of 
course I know she does, but what does it matter ? She would 
be the most wretched of women if Reginald married her, and he 
won't, — -after all, that's the great point, he won't. Now Dale 
will, and will give her unlimited control of his money — a very 
nice positioD^TW^ 80 elevated nfi to ensure an undesirable raking- 



A Vanqerous AUiamce. 28] 

up of her antecedents, and the means of proving^ her gi-atitude 
to yon, by providing for yon comfortably for life." 

** That is all possible," replied !Miss Brewer, as calmly as be- 
fore; " bnt what am I to do towards bringing about so desirable 
a state of afiairs." 

" Yon have to nse the influence which your position atiprea de 
Madame Durski gives yon. You can keep her situation con- 
stantly before her, you can perpetually harp upon its exigencies 
— they are pressing, are they not ? Yes — then make them more 
pressing. Expose her to the constant worry_ and annoyance of 
poverty, make no effort to hide the inconvenience of ruin. She 
is a bad manager, of course — all women of her sort are bad 
managers. Don't help her— make the very worst of everythin'^. 
Then, you can take every opportunity of pointing out Eeginald's 
neglect, all his defalcations, the cruelty of his conduct to her, 
the evidence of his never intending to marry her, the selfishness 
which makes him indifferent to her troubles, and unwilling to 
help her. Work on pride, on pique, on jealousy, on the love of 
comfort and luxury, and the horror of poverty and privation, 
which are always powerful in the minds of women Hke Madame 
Durski. Don't talk much to her at first about Douglas Dale, 
especially until he has come to to^^^l and has resumed his visit- 
ing here; but take care that her difficulties press heavily upon 
her, and that she is kept in mind that help or hope from Ee^i- 
nald there is none. I have no doubt ^whatever that Dale will 
propose to her, if he does not see her infatuation fer Keginald," 

"But suppose Mr. Dale does not come here at all? " asked 
Miss Brewer ; " he has broken through the habit now, and he 
may have thought it over, and determined to keep away." 

" Suppose a moth flies away from a candle. Miss Brewer," 
returned Carrington, " and makes a refreshing excursion out of 
window into the cool evening air ! May we not calculate with 
tolerable certainty on his return, and his incremation? The 
last thing in all this matter I should think of doubting would 
be the readiness of Douglas Dale to tumble head-foremost into 
any net we please to spread for him." 

A short pause ensaed — interrupted by Miss Brewer, who said, 
" I suppose this must all be done quickly — on account of that 
wealthy Phihstine, the ironmonger ? " 

" On account of my happening to want money very badly, 
Miss Brewer, and Madame Durski finding herself in the same 

fosition. The more quickly the better for all parties. And now, 
have spoken very plainly to yon so far, let me speak still more 
plainljr. It is manifestly for your advantage that Madame 
Durski should be rich and respectable, rather than that she 
ehe should be poor and — under a cloud. It is no less manifestly, 
though not so largely, for your advantage, that I should get my 



232 Bun to EariTi. 

money from ^Reginald Eversleigh, because, wt en I do get It, I 
will hand you five hundred pounds by way of bonus." 

" If there were any means by which you could be legally bound 
to the fulfilment of that promise, Mr. Carrington," said Miss 
Brewer, "I should request you to put it in writing._ But I am 
quite aware that no such means exist. I accept it, therefore, 
with moderate confidence, and mil adopt the course you have 
sketched, not because I look for the punctual payment of tho 
money, but because Paulina's good fortune, if secured, will se- 
cure mine. But I must add," and here Miss Brewer sat upright 
in her chair, and a faint colour came into her sallow cheek, _ " I 
should not have anything to do with your plots and plans, if I 
did not beUeve, and see, that this one is for Paulina's real good." 

Victor Carrington smiled, as he thought, "Here is a rare sap- 

Ele of human nature. Here is this woman, quite pleased with 
erself, and positively looking almost dignified, because she has 
succeeded in persuading herself that she is actuated by a good 
motive." 

The conversation between Miss Brewer and Victor Carrington 
lasted for some time longer, and then he was left alone, while 
Miss Brewer went to attend the levee of Madame Durski. As he 
paced the room, Carrington smiled again, and muttered, " It 
Dale were only here, and she could be persuaded to borrow money 
of him, all would be right. So far, all is going well, and I have 
taken the right course. My motto is the motto of Danton— 
* Ue Vaudace, de Vaudace, et toujours de Vaudace.* " 
« • # * • 

Victor Carrington dined with Madame Durski and her com- 
panion. The meal was served with elegance, but the stamp of 
j)Overty was too plainly impressed upon all things at Hilton 
House. The dinner served with such ceremony was but a scanty 
banquet — the wines were poor — and Victor perceived that,^ in 
place of the old silver which he had seen on a previous occasion, 
Madame Durski's table was furnished with the most worthless 
l)lated ware. 

Paulina herself looked pale and haggard. She had the weary 
c"r of a woman who finds life a burden almost too heavy for en- 
durance. 

" I have consented to see you this evening, Mr. Carrington, in 
accordance with your very pressing message, ' she said, when 
she found herself alone in the drawing-room with Victor Car- 
rington after dinner. Miss Brewer having discreetly retired; "but 
I cannot imagine what business you can have with me." 

" Do not question my motives too closely, Madame Durski," 
said Victor ; " there are some secrets lying deep at the root of 
every man's existence. Believe me, when I assure you that I 
take a r jal interest in your welfare, and that I came here to-night 



A Dangerous Alliance. 2S3 

ia tKe liope of serving you. Will you permit me to epeat as a 
friend?" , , 

•' I have so few friends that I should be the last to reject any 
honest offer of friendship," answered Paulina, with a sigh. 
"And you are the friend of Reginald Eversleigh. That fact alone 
gives you some claim to ray regard." 

The widow had admitted Victor Carrington toa more intimate 
acquaintance than the rest of her visitors ; and it was fully un- 
derstood between them that he knew of the attachment between 
herself and Sir Reginald. 

'• Sir Reginald Eversleigh is my friend," replied Victor ; " but 
do not think me treacherous, Madame Durski, when I tell you 
he IS not worthy of your regard. Were he here at this mpment, 
I would say the same. He is utterly selfish— it is of his own 
interest alone that he thinks ; and were the chance of a wealthy 
maiTiage to offer itself, 1 firmly believe that he would seize it- 
ay ! even if by doing so he knew that he was to break your 
heart. I think you know that I am speaking the truth, Madame 
Durski?" 

"I do," answered Paulina, in a dull, half despairing tone. 
•• Heaven help me ! I know that it is the truth. I have long 
known as miuch. We women are capable of supreme folly. My 
folly is my regard for your friend Reginald Eversleigh." 

"Let your pride work the cure of that wasted devotion, 
madame," said Victor, earnestly. " Do not submit any longer 
to be the dupe, the tool, of this man. Do you know how dearly 
your self-sacrifice has cost you ? I am sure you do not. Yoa 
do not know that this house is beginning to be talked about 
as a place to be shunned. You have obsei-ved, perhaps, that you 
have had few visitors of late. Day by day your visitors will grow 
fewer. This house is marked. It is talked of at tlie clubs ; and 
Reginald Eversleigh will no longer be able to live upon the spoils 
won from his dupes and victims. The game is up, Madame 
Durski ; and now that you can no longer be useful to Reginald 
Eversleigh, you will see how much his love is worth." 

" I believe he lores me," murmured Paulina, *' after his own 
fashion." 

" Yes, madame, after his own fasliion, which is, at the best, a 
strange one. May I ask how yon spent your Christmas ? " 

" I was very lonely ; this house seemed horribly cold and de- 
solate. No one came near me. There were no congratulations ; 
no Christmas gift«. Ah ! Mr. Carrington, it is a sad tiling to bo 
quite alone in the world." 

"And Reginald Eversleigh— the man whom you love— hfi who 
should have been at your side, was at Hallgrove Rectory, among 
6 circle of visitors, flirting with the most notoriona of CoqnettftS 
—Miss Graham, an old friend of hiis boyish days." 



2^4 tUin to Earik 

"Victor looted at Panlina's face, and saw the random sliot lia3 
gone home. She grew even paler than she had been before, and 
there was a nervous working of the lips that betrayed her agi- 
tation. 

" Were there ladies amongst the guests at Hallgrove P " she 
asked. 

" Yes, Madame Durski, there were ladies. Did yon not know 
that it was to be so ? " 

" No," replied Paulina. " Sir Eeginald told me it was to be a 
bachelors' party." 

Victor saw that this petty deception on the part of her lover 
stung Paulina keenly. 

She had been deeply wounded by Eeginald's cold and selfish 
policy ; but until this moment she had never felt the pangs of 
jealousy. 

" So he was flirting with one of your fashionable English 
coquettes, while I was lonely and friendless in a strange country," 
she exclaimed. And then, after a brief pause, she added, passion- 
ately, " You are right, Mr. Carrington ; your friend is unworthy 
of one thought from me, and I will think of him no more." 

" You will do wisely, and you will receive the proof of what 1 
say ere long from the lips of Reginald Eversleigh himself. Tell 
me the truth dear madame, are not your pecuniary difficulties 
becoming daily more pressing ?" 

" They have become so pressing," answered Paulina, " that, 
unless Eeginald lends me money almost immediately, I shall be 
compelled to fly from this country in secret, like a felon, leaving 
all my poor possessions behind me. Already I have parted with 
my plate, as yon no doubt have perceived. My only hope is in 
Eeginald." . 

" A broken reed on which to rely, madame. Sir Eeginald 
Eversleigh will not lend you money. Since this house has 
become a place of evil odour, to be avoided by men who have 
money to lose, you are no longer of any use to Sir Eeginald. 
He will not lend you money. On the contrary he will urge your 
immediate flight from England; and when you have gone——" 
" What then ?" 

* There \vill be an obstacle removed from his pathway ; and 
when the chance of a rich marriage arises, he will be free to 
grasp it." 

•' Oh, what utter baseness I " murmured Paulina; ** what nn- 
gpeakable infamy ! " » v j 

"A selfish man can be very base, very infamous,* rephed 
Victor. " But do not let us speak further of this subject, dear 
Madame Durski. I have spoken with cruel truth ; but my work 
has been that of the surgeon, who uses his knife freely in order 
to cut away the morbid spot which is poisoning the very lii©« 



A Dangerous Alliance. 285 

blood of the sufferer. I have shown you the disease, the fatal 
passion, the wasted devotion, to which yon are sacrificing your 
life ; my next duty is to show yon where your cure lies." 

"Yon may be a very clever surgeon," replied Panhna, scorn- 
fully; " but in this case your skill is unavaiHng. For me there 
is no remedy." . . , 

"Nay, madame, that is the despairing cry of a romantic girl, 
and is unworthy the lips of an accomphshed woman of the 
world. Ton complained just now of your loneHness. You said 
that it was very sad to be without a friend. How if I can sho w 
you that you possess one attached and devoted friend, who would 
be as wilHng to sacrifice himself for your interests as you have 
been willing to devote yourself to Reginald Eversleigh? " 

" Who is that friend ? " 

"Douglas Dale." 

"Douglas Dale!" exclaimed Paulina. "Yes, I know tbat 
Mr. Dale admires me, and that he is a good aaid honourable 
man; but can I take advantage of his admiration? Can I trade 
upon his love ? I — who have no heart to give, no affection to 
offer in return for the honest devotion of a good man ? Do not 
ask me to stoop to such baseness— such degradation." 

"I ask nothmg from you but common sense," answered Victor 
impatiently. "Instead of wasting your love upon Reginald 
Eversleigh, who is not worthy a moment's consideration from 
you, give at least your esteem and respect to the honourable and 
nnselSsh man who truly loves you. Instead of flying from Eng- 
land, a ruined woman, branded with the name of cheat and 
swindler, remain as the affianced wife of Douglas Dale — remain 
to prove to Reginald Eversleigh that there are those in the 
world who know how to value the woman he has despised." 

" Yes, he has despised me," murmured Paulina, speaking to 
herself rather than to her companion ; *' he has despised me. 
He left me alone in this dreary house ; in the Christmas festival 
time, when friends and lovers draw nearer together all the world 
over, united by the sweet influences of the season ; he left me to 
sit alone by this desolate hearth, wlule he made merry with hia 
friends — while he sunned himself in the smiles of happier wo- 
men. What truth can he claim from me— he who has been 
falsehood itself?" . 

She remained silent for some minutes after this, with her eyes 
fixed on the fire, her thoughts far away. Victor did not arouse 
her from that reverie. He knew that the work he had to do was 
progressing rapidly. 

He felt that he was moulding this proud and passionate 
woman to his will, as the sculptor moulds the clay wliich is to 
take the form of his statue. 

A.t last she spoke. -, 



286 -EiitJ io Ea/rlfi. 

« I ttant yon for your good advice, Mr. Carrington," sliO 
Baid, calmly; " and I will avail myself of your worldly wisdom. 
What would you have me do ? '* 

"I would have you tell Douglas Dale, when he returns to 
town and comes to see you, the position in which you find your- 
self with regard to money matters, and ask the loan of a few 
hundreds. The truth and depth of his love for you will be proved 
by his response to this appeal." 

" How came you to suspect his love for me ? " asked Paulina. 
"It has never yet shaped itself in words. A woman's own 
instinct generally tells her when she is truly loved; but how 
came you, a bystander, a mere looker-on, to discover Douglas 
Dale's secret ? '* 

" Simply because I am a man of the world, and somewhat of 
an observer, and I will pledge my reputation as both upon the 
issue of your interview with Douglas Dale." 

" So be it," said Paulina ; " I will appeal to him. It is a new 
degradation ; but what has my whole life been except a series of 
humiJiations ? And now, Mr. Carrington, this interview has 
been very painful to me. Pardon me, if I ask you to leave me 
to myself." 

Victor complied immediately, and took leaveof Madame Durski 
•with many apologies for his intrusion. Before leaving the 
iouse he encountered Miss Brewer, who came out of a small 
eitting-room as he entered the hall. 

" Yon are going away, Mr. Carrington ? " she asked. 

" Yes," he answered ; " but I shall call again in a day or t^o. 
Meantime, let me hear from you, if Dale presents himself here. 
I have had some talk with your friend, and am surprised at the 
ease with which the work we have to do may be done. She de- 
spises Reginald now; she won't love him long. Good night, 
Miss Brewer." 

CHAPTER XXYI. 

MOVE THE FIRST. 

Apter the lapse of a few days, during which Victor Carrington 
carefully matured his plans, while apparently only pursuing his 
ordinary business, and leading his ordinary Ufe of dutiful atten- 
tion to his mother and quiet domestic routine, he received a 
letter in a handwriting which was unfamiliar to him. It con- 
tained the following words : 

" In accordance with your desire, and my promise, I write to 
inform you that D D. has notified his return to London and his 
intention to visit P. He did not know uhether she was in town, 
and, therefore, wrote before coming. She seemed much ajjected 
by his letter, (vnd has replied to it, apjpointiny Wednesday after* 



Mote Oie Tlrsi. 287 

ikconfor reeeimng "him, and invitirKj Idn to luncJieon. No com- 
munication has been received from B. E., and she takes the 
fact easily. If you have any advice, or I suppose I should say 
instructions, to givQ me, you had better come here to-mon'ovo 
(Tuesday) t when 1 can see you alone. — C. B." 

Victor Carrington read this note with a smile of satisfaction, 
which faithfully interpreted the feelings it produced. _ There was 
a business-like tone in his correspondent's letter which exactly 
suited his ideas of what it was advisable his agent should be. 

"She is really admirable," he said, as he destroyed Misi^ 
Brewer's note ; "just clever enough to be useful, just shrewd 
enough to understand the precise force and weight of an argument, 
but not clever enough, or shrewd enough, to find out that she is 
used for any purpose but the one for which she has bargained." 

And then Victor Carrington wrote a few lines to Miss Brewer, 
in which he thanked her for her note, and prepared her to receive 
a visit from him on the following day. This written and posted, 
he walked up and down his laboratory, in deep thought for some 
time, and then once more seated himself at his desk. This time 
his communication was addressed to Sir Keginald Eversleigh, 
and m.erely consisted of a request that that gentleman should 
call upon him— Victor Carrington— on a certain day, at a week's 
distance from the present date. 

" I shall have more trouble with this shallow fool than with 
all the rest of them," said Victor to himself, as he sealed his 
letter ; and, as he said it, he permitted his countenance to assume 
a very unusual expression of vexation ; " his vanity will make 
him kick against letting Paulina turn him off; and he will 
run the risk of destroying the game sooner than suffer that mor- 
tification. But I will take care he shall suffer it, and not de- 
stroy the game. 

" No, no. Sir Reginald Eversleigh, you shall not be my stum- 
bling-block in this instance. How horribly afraid he is of me," 
thought Victor Carrington, and a smile of cruel satisfaction, 
which might have become a demon, lighted his pale face at the 
reflection ; " he is dying to know exactly how that business of 
Dale the elder was managed ; he has the haziest notions in con- 
nection with it, and, by Jove, he dare not ask me. And yet, I 
am only his agent,— his to be paid agent,— and he shakes m hia 
shoes before me. Yes, and I will be paid too, richly paid, Sir 
Reginald, not only in money, but in power. In power— the best 
and most enjoyable thing that money has to buy." ^ ^ 

Victor Carrington r^nt his letter to the post, and joined his 
mother in her sitting-room, where her life passed placidly away, 
among her birds and her flowers. Mrs. Carrington had none of 
the vivacity about her which is so general an attribute of French 



^88 Tlun to Earth. 

women. She liked her quiet life, and had little sympathy with 
her son's restless ambition and devouring discontent. A coidj 
silent, self-contained woman, she shut herself up in her own 
occupations, and cared for nothing beyond them. She had the 
French national taste and talent for needlework, and generally 
listened to her son, as he talked or read to her, with a piece of 
elaborate embroidery in her hand. On the present occasion, she 
was engaged as usual, and Victor looked at her work and praised 
it, according to his custom. 

" What is it for, mother ? " he asked. 

" An altar-cloth," she repHed. " I cannot give money, you 
know, Victor, and so I am glad to give my work." 

The young man's dark eyes flashed, as he replied; — 

"True, mother, but the time will come— it is not far off now 
— when you and I shall both be set free from poverty, when we 
shall once more take our place in our own rank — when we shall 
be what the Champfontaines were, and do as the Champfon- 
taines did — when this hateful English name shall be thrown 
aside, and this squalid English home abandoned, and the past 
restored to us, we to the past." He rose as he spoke, and 
walked about the room. A faint flush brightened his sallow 
face, an unwonted light glittered in his deep-set eyes. Hia 
mother continued to ply her needle, with downcast eyes, and a 
face which showed no sign of sympathy with her son's enthu- 
■iasm . 

" Industry and talent are good, my Victor," she said, " and 
they bring comfort, they bring le hienetre in their train ; but I 
do not think all the industry and talent you can display as a 
§urgeon in London will ever enable you to restore the dignity 
and emulate the wealth of the old Champfontaines." 

Victor Carriugton glanced at his mother almost angrily, and 
for an mstaut felt the impulse rise within him which prompted 
him to tell her that it was not only by the employment of means 
so tame and common-place that he designed to realize the 
cherished vision of his ambition. But he checked it instantly, 
and only said, with the reverential inflection which his voice 
never failed to take whea he addressed his mother, "What, then, 
would you advise me to try, in addition ? " 

" Marry a rich woman, luy Victor; marry one '>' '^nese moneyed 
English girls, who are, for the most part, permitted to follow 
their inclinations — inclinations which would surely, if encouraged, 
lead many of them your way." Mrs. Carrington spoke in the 
calmest tone possible. 

" Marry — I marry P " said Victor, in a tone of surprise, in 
which a quick ear would have noticed something also of disap- 
pointment. " I thought you would never like that, mother. It 
would part ns, you know, and then what would you do? " 



" Wccoe iJie Warp, av^ Weave tie TFoo/.'* 289 

** There is always the convent for me, Victor," said his mother, 
** if you no longer needed me." And she composedly threaded 
her needle, and began a very minute leaf in the pattern of her 
embroidery. 

Victor Carrington looked at his mother with surprise, and 
Bome vague sense of pain. She could make up her mind to 
part with him— she had thought of the possibility, and with 
complacence. He muttered something about having something 
to do, and left her, strangely moved, while she calmly worked 
511 at her embroidery. .__— 

CHAPTER XXVn. 

""WEAVE THE WAKP, AND WEAVE THE WOOP.** 

On the following day Victor Carrington presented himself at 
Hilton House, and was received by Miss Brewer alone. She 
was pale, chilly, and ungracious, as usual, and the understand- 
ing which had been arrived at between Carrington and herself 
did not move her to the manifestation of the smallest additional 
cordiality in her reception of him. 

" I have to thank you for your prompt compliance with my 
request, Miss Brewer," said Victor. 

She made no sound nor sign of encouragement, and he con- 
tinued. " Since I saw you, another complication has arisen in 
this matter, which makes our game doubly safe and secure. In 
order to explain this compHcation thoroughly, I must ask you 
to let me put you through a kind of catechism. Have I your 
permission. Miss Brewer ? " 

''You may ask me any questions you please," returned Miss 
Brewer, in a hard, cold, even voice ; " and I will answer them 
as truthfully as I can." 

" Do you know anything of Douglas Dale's family connec- 
tions and antecedents ? " 

" I know that his mother was Sir Oswald Eversleigh's sister, 
and that he and Lionel Dale, who was drowned on St. Stephen's 
day, were left large incomes by their uncle, in addition to some 
inconsiderable family property which they inherited from their 
father, Mr. Melville Dale, who was a lawyer, and, I beHeve, a not 
very successful one." 

" Did you ever hear anything of the family history of this 
Mr. Melville Dale, the father of Lionel and Douglas ? ' 

" I never heard more than his name, and the circumstance I 
have already mentioned." 

" Listen, then. Melville Dale had a sister, towards whom their 
father conceived undue and unjust partiahty (according to the 
popular version) from their earHest childhood. This sister, Hen- 
rietta Dale, married, when very young, % country baronet of 



200 Bun to Earth, 

good fortune, one Sir George Yerner, and thereby still fuiilief 
pleased her father, and secured his favour. Melville Dale, op 
the contrary, opposed the old gentleman in everything, and ulti- 
mately crowned the edihce of his offences by publishing a deisti- 
cal treatise, which made a considerable sensation at the time of 
its appearance, and caused the author's expulsion from Balliol, 
where he had already attained a bad eminence by numerous esca- 
pades of the Shelley order. This proceeding so incensed^ his 
father that he made a will, in the heat of his anger, by which 
he disinheiited Melville Dale, and left the whole of his fortune 
to his daughter. Lady Verner. If he repented this summary 
f^.nd vindictive proceeding, neither I nor any one else can tell 
The disinherited son reformed his life very soon after the breach 
between himself and his father, and was lucky enough to win the 
affections of Sir Oswald Eversleigh's sister. But he was too 
proud to ask for his father's forgiveness, and the father died a 
year after Douglas Dale's birth— never having seen Mrs. Dale or 
Lis grandchildren. At tha time of her father's death. Lady 
Verner had no children, and she was, I believe, disposed to treat 
her brother very generously; but he was an obstinate, headstrong 
man, and persisted in believing that she had purposely done him 
injury with his father. He would not see her. Ho refused to 
accept any favour at her hands, and a complete estrangement 
took place. The brother and sister never met again; and it 
was only through the medium of the newspapers that Lionel and 
Douglas Dale learned, some time after their father's death 
(Melville Dale died young), tlmt severe affliction had be- 
fallen their aunt. Lady Verner. The bitter and deadly breach 
between father and son, and between brother and sister, was des- 
tined never to be healed. Lionel and Douglas grew up knowing 
nothing of their father's family, but treated always with persis- 
tent kindness by their uncle, Sir Oswald Eversleigh, who insisted 
upon their making Eaynham Castle a second home." 

"Their cousin Reginald must have liked iltat, I fancy," re- 
marked Miss Brewer, in her coldest tone. 

"He did,a.s you suppose," said Carrington; "he hated the 
Dales, and I fancy they had but little intimacy with him. He 
was early taken up by Sir Oswald, and acknowledged and treated 
as his heir. You know, of course, how all that came to grief, 
and how Sir Oswald married a nobody, and left her tho bulk of 
his fortune ? " 

" Yes, I have heard all that," said Miss Brewer. " Sir Regi- 
nald did not spare us the details of the injustice Sir Oswald haxi 
done him, or the expression of his feelings ^regarding it. Sir 
Reginald is the most egotistical man I know." 

" Well, then, as you are in possession of the family relations 
■0 far, let me return to Lady Veraer. of whom her nephewa kuew 



" Weave tJie Warp, and Weave {he Woof." 29L 

liotlimg during their father's lifetime. She had lost her husband 
ehortly after the birth of her only child, and continued to live at 
Kaples, whither Sir George had been taken, in the vain hope of 
prolonging his Hfe. A short time after^ Sir George Yemer's 
death, and while his child was almost an infant, Lady Yemer's / 
villa was robbed, and the Httle girl, with her nurse, disappeared. 
The general theory was, that the nurse had connived at the 
robbery, and gone off with the thieves ; and being, after the 
fashion of Italian nurses, extraordinarily fond of the child, had 
refused to be parted from her. Be that as it may, the nurse and 
child were never heard of again, and though the case was put 
into the hands of the cleverest of the police, in Paris and London, 
no discovery has ever been made. Lady Yemer fell into a state of 
hopeless melancholy, in which she continued for many years, 
and during that period, of course, her wealth accumulated, and 
is now very great indeed. I see by your face. Miss Brewer, that 
you are growing impatient, and are disposed to wonder what the 
family history of the Dales, and the troubles of Lady Yemer, 
have to do with Paulina Durski and our designs for her future. 
Bear with my explanation a little longer, and you will perceive 
the importance of the connection between them." 

Miss Brewer gave her shoulders a slight shrug, expressive of 
supreme resignation, and Yictor continued. 

"Lady Yerner has now recovered, under the influence of time 
and medical skill, and has come to London with the avowed \ 
purpose of arranging the affairs of her large property. She has 
heard of Lionel Dale's death, and, therefore, knows that there is 
a candidate the less in the field. Sir Reginald Eversleigh haa 
obtained access to this lady, and he has carefully nipped in the 
bud certain symptoms of interest which she betrayed in the fate 
of Sir Oswald Eversleigh's widow and orphan daughter. Lady 
Yerner is an exceedingly proud woman, and you may suppose 
her maternal instincts are powerful, when the loss of her child 
caused her years of melancholy madness. My gifted friend 
speedily discovered these characteristics, and practised on them. 
Lady Yerner was made aware that the widow of Sir Oswald 
Eversleigh was a person of low origin, and dubious reputation, 
and car^ so little for her child that she had gone abroad, for an 
indefinite time, leaving the little girl at Eaynham, in the care of 
servants. The result of this representation was, that Lady 
Yemer felt and expressed extreme disgust, and considerable 
satisfaction that she had not committed herself to a course from 
which she must have receded, by opening any communication 
with Lady Eversleigh. One danger thus disposed of— and I 
must say I think Reginald did it weU — he was very enthusiastic, 
he tells me, on the virtues of his uncle, and his inextinguishable 
r<-'L'ret for that benefactor of his youth." 



//' 



292 Run to EaHh. 

Mi£s Src-^er's cold smile, and glittering, balefal eye, attracted 
Carrington's attention at this point. 

" That shocks you, does it, Miss Brewer ? " he asked. 

** Shock me ? Oh no ! It rather interests me ; there's an 
eminence of baseness in it." 

" So there is," said Carrington, with pleased assent, " especially 
to one who knows, as I do, how Reginald hated his nncle, living 
—how he hates his memory, dead. However, he did this, and 
did it well ; bnt it was only half his task. Lady Yemer would 
keep herself clear of Lady Eversleigh, but she must be kept 
clear of Douglas Dale." 

" H^ I " said Miss Brewer, with a slight change of attitude 
and expression, "I see now ; she must be turned against him by 
means of Paulina — poor Paulina ! She says she is fatal to 
him ; she says he ought to fly from her. This looks still more 
like her being right." 

"It does, indeed, !Miss Brewer," said Carrington, gravely. 
*' You are right. It was by means of Madame Durski that the 
trick was done ; but neither you nor I — and I assure you I hke 
your friend immensely — can afford to take objection to the man- 
ner of doing it. Lady Yerner was made to understand that by 
ertending her countenance to, or enriching Douglas Dale, she 
would only be giving additional security and eclat to a marriage 
scarcely less disgraceful than that which Sir Oswald Eversleigh 
had contracted. The device has been successful, so far. And 
now comes the third portion of Sir Reginald's game — the substi- 
tution of himself in Lady Yerner's good graces for the nephew 
he has ousted. This is only fair, after all. _ Dale cut him out 
with his uncle — he means to cut Dale out with his aunt. Yon 
understand our programme now. Miss Brewer, don't you ? " 

" Yei," she repHed, slowly, " but I don't see why I should lend 
him any assistance. It would be more to my interest that 
Douglas Dale should inherit this lady's fortune; the richer 
Paulina's husband is, the better for me." 

"Unquestionably, my dear Miss Brewer," said Carrington. 
"' But Dale will not marry Paulina if Sir Reginald Eversleigh 
chooses to prevent it; and Douglas Dale will not give you five 
hundred pounds for any services whatever, because there are 
none which you can render him. I think yon can see that 
pretty plainly, Miss Brewer. And you can also see, I presume, 
that, provided I get my money from Eversleigh, it is a manner 
of total indifference to me whether he gets Lady Vemer's money, 
or whether Dale gets it The only means by which I can get my 
money is by detaching Sir Reginald from PauHna, and making 
him marry the ironmonger's heiress. When that is done, and 
the money is paid, I am perfectly satisfied that Dale should get 
the fortune, and I thi^k it very likely he will ; but you must 



^^ Weave the TTa^^?, a7id Weave the Woo/r 293 

perceive that I cannot play my own game except by appearing 
to play Reginald's." 

" Is Lady Yerner likely to tliink the ironmonger's heiress a 
^ood match for Sir Reginald Eversleigh ? " Miss Brewer asked, 
ID a coldly sarcastic tone. 

"How is she to know anything of her origin P" retnmed Car- 
rington, who was, however, disconcerted by the question. " She 
lives a most retired life ; no one but Reginald has any access to 
her, and he can make her believe anything he Hkes." 

" That's fortunate," said Miss Brewer, drily; "pray proceed." 

" Well, then, you see these points as clearly as I do — the next 
thing: to be done is to secure Paulina's marriage with Doudas 
Dale." 

" I don't think that needs much securing," said Miss Brewer. 
" Judging from his manner before he kft town, and from the 
tone of his letter, I should think very little encouragement from 
her would ensure a proposal of marriage from him." 

" And will she give him that encouragement ? " 

" Undoubtedly — I fully beheve she will marry Douglas Dale. 
She has certainly learned to despise Sir Reginald Eversleigh, 
and I think Mr. Dale has caught her heart in the rebound." 

" Have you attended to my instructions about impressing her 
money di£B.culties on her mind — have you made things as bad 
as possible .''" 

" Certainly," answered Miss Brewer. " Only this morning I 
have sent into her room several pressing and impertinent letters 
from her tradespeople, and I put some accounts of the most 
dispiriting character before her last night. She is in dreadfully 
low spirits." 

"So much the better ! If we can but induce her to borrow 
money from Dale, all will be well ; he will take that as a con- 
vincing proof of regard and confidence, and will propose to her 
at once. I am sure of it. So sure, that I will pass that matter 
by, and take it for granted. And now — if this comes to pass, 
and Douglas Dale is here as the accepted lover of Paulina, I 
must have constant access to the house, and he must not know 
me as Victor Carrington. He has never seen me, though I am 
famihar with his appearance." 

"Why?" asked Miss Brewer, in a tone of suspicious scu- 
prise. 

" I will teU yon, by-and-by. Suffice it for the present that it 
must be so. Then again, it would not do to have a man, who ia 
not a relative, estabhshed Vami de la maison. That it is not the 
sort of thing that an affianced lover could be expected to like. 
You must introduce me to Douglas Dale as your cousin, and by 
the name of Carton. It is sufficiently like my real name to pre- 
vent the servants knowing my name is changed, since they 



294 Bun to Earth. 

always bungle over the ' Carrington.' As Victor CarriiigtoQ 
Dale might refuse to know me, and certainlj would not font 
any intimacy with me, and that he should form an intimacy with 
me is essential to my purpose." 

" Why ?" said Miss Brewer, in exactly the same tone as before, 

" I will tell you by-and-by," eaid Carrington. " You consent, 
do you not?" 

" I am not sure," she answered. " But, even supposing I do 
consent, there is Paulina to be consulted. How is she to be in- 
duced to call you Mr. Carton and my cousin ? " 

" I -will undertake to persuade Madame Darski that it will be 
for her best interests to consent," said Carrington. " And now 
to my explanation. Reginald Eversleigh is a man who is not to 
be trusted for a moment, even where his own interests are closely 
concerned. He cares nothing for Paulina ; he knows the best 
thing that can happen to him would be her marriage with Dale, 
for he calculate** upon his hold over the wife gi^'ing him the 
chance of a good share of the husband's money in some way. 
Yet, such is his vanity, so unmanageable is his temper, that if 
he were not too much afraid of me, too much m my power, he 
would indulge them both at the cost of destroying our plan. If 
he knew me to be absent, or unable to present myself freely 
here, he would persecute Paulina — she would never be free from 
him. He would compromise his own chance with the heiress, 
which is, naturally, my chief consideration, and compromise her 
with Douglas Dale. Again, I do not mind admitting to you, 
Miss Brewer, that I am of a cautious and suspicious temperament; 
and when I pay an agent liberally, as I intend to pay you, I 
always like to see for myself how the work is done." 

" That argument, at least, is unanswerable," she replied. 
"You shall, so far as I can answer for it, pass as my cousin and 
Mr. Carton, and have a free entre here." 

" Good," said Carrington, rising. " And now there is nothing 
more to be said just at present." 

" Pardon me ; you have not told me why an intimacy with 
Mr. Dale is essential to your purpose." 

" Because I must watch his proceedings and intentions — in 
fact, know all about him — in order to discover whetlier it will 
suit my interests best to forward Evtirslei^h's plans with respect 
to Lady Verner, or to betray them to Dale." 

Miss Brewer looked at him with something like admiration. 
She thought she understood him so perfectly now, that she 
need ask nothing farther. So they parted with the understand- 
ing that she was to report fully on Douglas Dale's visit, and 
Carrington was to call on Paulina on the day succeeding it. 
When she was alone. Miss Brewer remembered that Carrington 
bad sot explained why it was he felt certain Dale would noi 



** Weave the ITarp, arid Weave He Woof.** 201 

form any intimacy with him as Victor Carrington. As b« 
walked homewards, Victor muttered to himself — 

" Heavens, what a clever fool that woman is. Once more I 
have won, and by boldness." 

• * • • • 

The feelings with which Douglas Dale prepared for his visit 
to Hilton House on the day following that on which Victor Car- 
rington had made his full and candid explanation to Miss 
Ei'ftVfer, were such as any woman — the purest, the noblest, tho 
test — might have been proud of inspiring. They were full of 
iove, trust, pity, and hope. Douglas Dale had by no means 
ceased to feel his brother's loss. No, the death of Lionel, and, 
even more, the terrible manner of that death, still pursued him 
in every waking hour — still haunted him in his dreams ; but 
sorrow, and especially its isolating tendency, does but quicken 
and intensify feelings of tenderness in true and noble hearts. 

He drove up to Hilton House with glad expectancy, and hia 
eyes were dim as he was ushered into the drawing-room in which 
PauHna sat. 

Madame Durski's emotions on this occasion were unspeakably 
painful. So well had Miss Brewer played her part, that she had 
persuaded Paulina her only chance of escape from immediate 
arrest lay in borrowing money, that very day, from Douglas 
Dale. Paulina's pride revolted ; but the need was pressing, and 
the unhappy woman yielded. 

As she rose to return her visitor's greeting, and stood before 
him in the cold .January sunset, she was indeed, in all outward 
seeming, worthy of any man's admiration. 

Remorse and suffering had paled her cheeks; bnt they had 
left no disfiguring traces on her perfect face. 

The ivory whiteness of her complexion was, perhaps, her 
greatest chann, and her beauty would scarcely have been en- 
hanced by those rosy tints so necessary to some faces. 

To-day she had dressed herself to perfection, fully conscloua 
of the influence which h woman's costume is apt to exercise 
over the heart of the man who loves her. 

Half an hour passed m conversation of a general nature, and 
then luncheon was announced. When Paulina and her visitor 
returned to the dreary room, they were alone ; Miss Brewer had 
discreetly retired. 

" My dear Madame Durskl ! " exclaimed Douglas, when the 
widow had seated herself, and he had placed himself opposite to 
her, " I cannot tell you what intense pleasure it gives me to see 
you again, and most of all because it leads me to believe that I 
can in some manner serve you. I know how secluded your habits 
have been of late, and I fancy you would scarcely so depart from 
them in my favour if you had not some real need of my service.** 



296 Bun to Eartli. 

This Bpe«sh was peculiarly adapted to smootlie away the diffi- 
culties of Paulina's position. Douglas had long guessed the 
secret of her poverty, and had more than half divined the 
motive of her letter. He was eager to save her, as far as possi- 
ble, from the painfulness of the request which he felt almost 
Bure she was about to make to him. 

" Your cordial kindness affects me deeply, Mr. Dale," said 
Paulina, with a blush that was the glow of real shame. " You 
are right ; I should be the last woman in the world to appeal to 
you thus if I had not need of your help — bitter need. I appeal 
to you, because I know the goodness and generosity of your 
nature. I appeal to you as a beggar." 

"Madame Durski, for pity's sake, do not speak thus," cried 
Douglas, interrupting her. " Every penny that I possess in the 
world is at your command. I am ready to begin life again, a 
worker for my daily bread, rather than that you should suffer 
one hour's pain, one moment's humiliation, that money can 
prevent. 

" You are too generous, too noble," exclaimed Paulina, in a 
broken voice. " The only way in which I can prove my gratitude 
for your delicate goodness is by being perfectly candid. My life 
has been a strange one, Mr. Dale — a life of apparent prosperity, 
but of real poverty. Before I was old enough to know the value 
of a fortune, I was robbed of that which should have been mine, 
and robbed by the father who should have protected my interests. 
From that hour I have known httle except trouble. I was mar- 
ried to a man whom I never loved — married at the command ol 
the father who had robbed me. If I have not fallen, as many 
other women so mated have fallen, I take no pride in my supe- 
rior strength of mind. It may be that temptation such as lures 
other women to their ruin never approached me. Since my 
husband died, my life, as you too well know, has been a degraded 
one. I have been the companion and friend of gamesters. It 
is, indeed, only since I came to England that I have myself 
ceased to be a gambler. Can you remember all this, Mr. Dale, 
and yet pity me P " 

" I can remember it all, and yet love you, Paulina," answered 
Douglas, with emotion. " We are not masters of our own afi'ec- 
tions. From the hour in which I first saw you I have loved you — 
loved you in spite of myself. I will admit that your life has not 
been that which I would have chosen for the woman I love; and 
that to remember your past history is pain to me. But, in spite 
of all, I ask you to be my wife; and it shall be the business of 
my future life to banish from your remembrance every sorrow 
and every humiliation that you have suffered in the past. Say 
that you will be my wife, Paulina. I love you as few women 
are loved. I am rich, and have the power to remove yon far 



^* Weave (Tie Warp, and Weave Ihe WoofV 297 

from every association that is painful to you. Tell me that I 
may be the guardian of your future existence." 

Paulina contemplated her lover for a few moments with sin- 
gular earnestness. She was deeply impressed by his generous 
devotion, and she could not but compare this self-sacrificing love 
with the base selfishness of Keginald Eversleigh's conduct. 

"You do not ask me if I can return your affection," she said, 
after that earnest look, " You offer to raise me from degrada- 
tion and poverty, and you demand nothing in return." 

" No, Paulina," replied Douglas ; " I would not make a bar- 
gain with the woman I love. I know that you have not yet 
learned to love me, and yet I do not fear for the future, if you 
consent to l>ecome my wife. True love, such as mine, rarely fails 
to win its reward, sooner or later. I am content to wait. It 
will be sufficient happiness to me to know that I have rescued 
you from a miserable and degrading position." 

"You are only too generous," murmured Paulina, softly; 
"only too generous." 

" And now tell me the immediate object of this most welcome 
summons. I will not press you for a prompt reply to my suit ; 
I will trust that time may be my friend. Tell me how I can 
serve you, and why you sent for me to-day ? " 

" I sent for you that I might ask you for the loan of two 
hundred pounds, to satisfy the claims of my most urgent credi- 
tors, and to prevent the necessity of an ignominious flight." 

" I will write you a cheque immediately for five hundred," 
said Douglas. " You can drive to my banker's, and get it cashed 
there. Or stay ; it would not be so well for my banker to know 
that I lent you money. Let me come again to you this evening, 
and bring the sum in bank-notes. That will give me an excuse 
for coming." 

" How can I «ver thank yon sufficiently ?" 

"Do not thank me at all. Only let me love you, looking for- 
ward hopefully to the day in which you may learn to love me." 

"That day must surely come ere long," replied Paulina, 
thoughtfully. " Gratitude so profound as mine, esteem so sin- 
cere, must needs grow into a warmer feeling." 

"Yes, Paulina," said Douglas, "if your heart is free. Forgive 
me if I approach a subject painful to you and to me. Eeginald 
Eversleigh — my cousin — have you seen him often lately?" 

" I have not seen him since he left London for Hallgrove. I 
am not likely to see him again." 

" I am very glad of that There is but one fear in my mind 
when I think of our future, Paulina." 

"And that is?" 

" The fear that Keginald Eversleigh may come between you 
and me." 



298 Swn to Uartli. 

"Ton need no longer fear tliat," replied Madame Durski, 
*' You have been so noble, so devoted in your condact to me, 
tbat I must be indeed a worthless wretch if I shrink from the 
painful duty of laying my heart bare before you. I have loved 
your cousin Reginald, foolishly, blindly ; but there must come 
an end to all folly ; there must come a day when the bandage 
falls from the eyes that have obstinately shunned the light. 
That day has come for me; and Sir Reginald Eversleigh i» 
henceforward nothing more to me than the veriest stranger." 

''A thousand thanks, dearest, for that assurance," exclaimed 
Douelas; "and now trust in me. Your future shall be so bnght 
and happy that the past will seem to yon no more than a 
troubled djeam." ^«„_ 

CHAPTER XXYIII. 

PREPARING THE GSOUXD. 

Black Milsom made his appearance in the little village of 
Raynham immediately after Lady Ever.sleigh's departure from 
the castle. But on this occasion it would have been very diffi- 
cult for those who had seen him at the date of Sir Oswald 
Eversleigh's funeral to recognize, in the respectable-looking, well- 
dressed citizen of to-day, the ragged tramp of that period. 

While Honoria Eversleigh was living under a false name in 
Percy Street, Tottenham Court Road, the man who called him- 
self her father, established himself in a little river-side public- 
house, under the shadow of Raynham Castle. The house in ques- 
tion had never borne too good a character ; and its reputation was 
in nowise improved when, on the death of its owner, it passed into 
the custody of Mr. Milsom, who came down to Raynham one No- 
vember morning, almost immediately after Lady Eversleigh's 
departure, saw the " Cat and Fiddle " public-house vacant, and 
went straight to the attorney who had the letting of it, to offer 
himself as a tenant, announcing himself to the lawyer as Thomas 
Maunders. 

The attorney at first looked rather suspiciously at the gentle- 
man who had earned for himself the ominous nickname of Black 
Milsom ; but when the would-be tenant ofi'ered to pay a year's 
rent in advance down on the nail, the man of law melted, and 
took the money. 

Thomas Milsom lost no time in taking possession of his new 
abode. It was the haunt of the lower class of agricultural labour- 
ers, and of the bargemen, who moored their barges sometimes 
beneath the shadow of Raynham Bridge, while they dawdled 
away a few lazy hours in the village public-house. 

Any one who had cared to study Mr. Milsom's face and man- 
ners during his residence at Raynham, would have speedily pe> 



preparing tJie Ground. 299 

e^lred tiiat the life did not suit him. He lonnged at the door oi 
the low-gabled cottage, looking out into the village street with a 
moody and sullen countenance. 

He drank a great deal, and swore not a Httle, and led altogether 
as dissolute a life as it was possible to lead in that peaceful vil- 
lage. 

Xo sooner had 'Mr. ^Mjlsom established himself at Raynham, 
than he made it his business to find out the exact state of affairs 
at the castle. He contrired to entice one of the under-servants 
into his bar-parlour, and entertained the man so liberally, with 
a smoking jorum of strong rtim-punch, that a friendly acquain- 
tance was established between the two on the spot. 

" There's nothmg in my place you ain't welcome to, James 
Harwood," he said. " You're uncommonly like a favourite bro- 
ther of mine that died young of the mea-sles ; and I've taken a 
fancy to you on account of that likeness. Come when you like, 
and as often as you like, and call for what you Hke ; and there 
shan't be no talk of scores between you and me. I'm a bitter 
toe, and a firm friend. When I like a man there's nothing I 
couldn't do to prove my Hking; when I hate him " 

Here Mr, Milsom's speech died away into an ominous growl ; 
and James Harwood, who was rather a timid young man, felt a.s 
if drops of cold water had been running down his back. But the 
rum-punch wa^ verj nice ; and he saw no reason why he should 
refuse Mr. Milsom's offer of friendship. 

He did drop in very often, having plenty of leisure evenings 
in which to amuse himself; and through him Thomas Milsom 
was enabled to become familiar with every detail of the houae- 
hold at Raynham Castle. 

" Xo news of your lady, I suppose, Mr. Harwood ? " Milsom 
said to him one Sunday evening in January. "Not coming 
home yet, I suppose ? " 

"No, Mr. Maunders," answered the groom; ** not to my know- 
ledge. And as to news, there ain't anymore news ofher thanif she 
and Mjss Pay land had gone off to the very wildest part of Africa, 
where, if you feel lonesome, and want company, your only choice 
lies between tigers and rattlesnakes." 

" Xever mind Africa ! What was it that yon were going to say 
about your lady h '* 

*' Well, 1 was about to inform yon,** repHed the groom, with 
offended dignity, ** when you took me up so uncommon short as 
to prevent me — I wa^ about to observe that, although we haven't 
received no news whatsoever from my lady direct, we have re- 
ceived a little bit of news promiscaous that is rather pnzzling, 
in Si manner of speaking. 

"What is it*?* 

** Well, yon s'^^, Mr. Maunders,** began Jamas Harwood, v/iti 



800 Bun to Earih. 

extreme solemtilty, " it is given out that Lady Eversleigli Is gond 
abroad to the Continent — wherever that place may be situated — • 
and a very nice place I dare say it is, when you get there; and 
it is likewise given out that Miss Payland have gone with her," 

"WeU, what then?" 

" I really wish you hadn't such a habit of taking people up 
short, Mr. Maunders," remonstrated the groom. " I was on the 
point of telHng you that our head-coachman had a hoHday this 
Christmas ; and where does he go but up to London, to see his 
friends, which hve there; and while in London where does he 
go but to Drury Lane Theatre ; and while coming out of Drury 
Lane Theatre who does he se+ his eyes on but i\Iiss Payland, 
Lady Eversleigh's own maid, as large as life, and hanging on 
the arm of a respectable elderly man, which might be her father 
Our head-coachman warn't near enough to her to speak to her; 
and though he tried to catch her eye he couldn't catch it ; but 
he'll take his Bible oath that the young woman he saw was Jane 
Payland, Lady Eversleigh's own maid. Now, that's rather a 
curious circumstance, is it not, Mr. Maunders ? " 

"It is, rather," answered the landlord; "but it seems to me 
your mistress. Lady Eversleigh, is rather a strange person alto- 
gether. It's a strange thing for a mother to run away to foreign 
parts — if she has gone to foreign parts — and leave her only child 
behind her." 

" Yes ; and a child she was so fond of too ; that's the strangest 
part of the whole business," said the groom. " I'm sure to see 
that mother and child together, you'd have thought there was 
no power on earth would part them ; and yet, all of a sudden, 
my lady goes off, and leaves Miss Gertrude behind her. But if 
Miss Gertrude was a royal princess, she couldn't be more watched 
over, or taken more care of, than she is. To see Mrs. Morden, 
the governess, with her, you'd think as the little girl was made 
of barley- sugar, and would melt away with a drop of rain ; and 
to see Captain Copplestone with her, you'd think as she was the 
crown-jewels of England, and that everybody was on the watch 
to get the chance of stealing her." 

Black Milsom smiled as the groom said this. It was a grim 
emile, not by any means pleasant to see ; but James Harwood 
was not an observer, and he was looking tenderly at his last 
spoonful of rum-punch, and wondering within himself whether 
Mr. Milsom was likely to offer him another glass of that dehcious 
beverage. 

" And pray what sort of a customer is Captain Coppleetone P ** 
asked Milsom, thoughtfully. 

" An uncommonly tough customer," replied James Harwood ; 
" that's what he is. If it wasn't for his rheumatic gout, he's A 
man that would be ready to fight the champion of England p 



Preparing the Ground. 301 

day in tlie week. There's very few things the captain wouldn't 
do in the way of downright plnck ; bnt, yon see, whatever pluck 
a man may have, it can't help him much when he's laid by the 
heels with the rheumatic gont, as the captain is very often." 

" Ha ! and who takes care of little missy then ? " 

"Why, the captain. He's like a watch-dog, and his kennel is 
at little missy's door. That's what he says himself, in his queer 
way. Miss Gertrude and her governess live in three handsome 
rooms in the south wing — my lady's own rooms — and the prin- 
cipal wayto these rooms is along a wide corridor. So what does 
the captain do when my lady goes away, but order a great iron 
door down from London, and has the corridor shut off with thia 
iron door, bolted, and locked, and barred, so that the cleverest 
burglar that ever were couldn't get it open." 

" But how do people get to the little girl's rooms, then ? " 
asked Thomas ]\Iilsom. 

" 'Why, through a small bed-room, intended for Lady Evers- 
leigh's maid; and a little bit of a dressing-room, that poor Sir 
Oswald used to keep his boots, and hat-boxes, and such Hke in. 
These rooms open on to the second staircase ; and what does the 
captain do but have these two small rooms fitted up for hisself 
and his servant, Solomon Grundy, with a thin wooden partition, 
with httle gla-ss spy-holes in il^ put across the two rooms, to 
make a kind of passage to the rooms beyond ; so that night and 
day he can hear every footstep that goes by to Miss Gertrude's 
rooms. Now, what do you think of such whims and fancies ? " 

" I think the captain must be stark staring mad," answered 
Milsom ; bnt it was to be observed that he said this in rather 
an absent manner, and appeared to be thinking deeply. 

"Oh no, he ain't," said James Harwood; "there ain't a 
sharper customer going." 

_ And then, finding that the landlord of the " Cat and Fiddle " 
did not oflfer anything more in the way of refreshment, Mr. 
Harwood departed. 

There was a full moon that January night, and when Mr. 
Milsom had attended to the wants of his customers, seen the 
last of them to the door a little before twelve o'clock, shut his 
shutters, and extinguished the lights, he stole quietly out of his 
house, went forth into the deserted street, and made his way 
towards the summit of the hill on which the castle stood, Uke an 
ancient fortress, frowning darkly upon the humble habitationg 
beneath it, 

iie passed the archway and the noble gothic gates, and crept 
along by the fine old wall that enclosed the park, where the in- 
terlaced branches of giant oaks and beeches were white under 
the snow that had fallen upon them, and formed a picture that 
7as almoit like a 8G«ne in Fairylan(L 

u 



802 Smi to EaH%. 

He climbed tiie wall at a spot where a ttick curtain of ivy 
afforded him a safe footing, and dropped softly npon the ground 
beneath, where the snow had drifted into a heap, and made a 
Boft bed for him to fall on. 

'• There will be more snow before daylight to-morrow," he 
muttered to himself, " if I'm any jndge of the weather ; and 
there'll be no trace of my footsteps to give the hint of mischief." 
He ran across the park, leaped the light, invisible fence divid- 
ing the park from the gardens, and crept cautiously along a 
shrubberied pathway, where the evergreens afforded him an im- 
penetrable screen. 

Thus concealed from the eyes of any chance watcher, he con- 
trived to approach one end of the terraced slope which formed 
the garden front of the castle. Each terrace was adorned with 
stone balustrades, surmounted by large vases, also of stone ; and, 
sheltered by these vases, Milsom ascended to ths southern angle 
of the great pile of building. 

Seven lighted windows at this southern end of the castle 
indicated the apartments occupied by the heiress of Raynham 
and her eccentric guardian. The lights burned but dimly, Hke 
the night-lamps left burning during the hours of rest; and 
Milsora had ascertained from Mr. Harwood that the household 
retired before eleven o'clock, at the latest. 

The apartments occupied by the little girl were on the first 
floor. The massive stone walls here were unadorned with ivy, 
nor were there any of those elaborate decorations in stonework 
•which might have afforded a hold for the foot of the climber. 
The bare stone wall frowned down upon Thomas Milsom, im- 
pregnable as the walls of Newgate itsel£ 

"No," he muttered to him'self, after a long and thoughtful 
scrutiny ; *' no man will ever get at those rooms from the out- 
side ; no, not if he had the power of changing himself into a 
cat or a monkey. Whoever wants to have a peep at the heiress 
of Raynham must go through this valiant captain's chamber. 
Well, well, I've heard of tricks played upon faithful watch-doga 
before to-day. There's very few things a man can't do, if he 
only tries hard enough ; and I mean to be revenged upon my 
Lady Eversleighl" 

He paused for a few moments, standing close against the 
wall of the castle, sheltered by its black shadow, and looking 
down upon the broad domain beneath. 

"And this is aU hers, is it P— lands and houses; horses and 
carriages; powdered footmen to fetch and carry for her; jewels 
to wear ; plates and dishes of solid gold to eat her dinner off, if 
she Hkes! AU hers! And she refuses me a few hundred 
pounds, and defies me, does she P We'll see whether that's a 
safe game. I've sworn to have my revenge, and I'll have it,** 



At Watch 803 

he muttered, staking his brawny fist, at if some phantom 
figure were standing before him in the wintry moonlight. " I can 
afford to wait; I wouldn't mind waiting years to get it; but I'll 
have it, if I grow old and gray while I'm watching and plotting 
for it I'll be patient as Time, but I'll have it. She bus re- 
fused me a few hundreds, has she ? I'll see her there, on the 
ground at my feet, grovelling like a beaten dog, offering me 
half her fortune— all her fortune— her very Hfe itself! I'll 
humble her proud spirit ! I'll bring her grandeur down to the 
the dust. She won't own me for a father, won't she ! Why, if 
I choose, she shall tramp barefoot through the mud after me, 
emging street-ballads in every town in England, and going 
round with my battered old hat to beg for halfpence afterwards. 
I'll humble her I I'll do it— I'll do it— as sure as there's a 
moon in the sky I " 

CHAPTER XXIX. 

AT TTATCH. 

Sanguine as Victor Carrington had been, confidently as he had 
calculated upon the fascination which PauHna had exerted over 
Douglas Dale, he was not prepared for the news contained in 
Miss Brewer's promised letter, which reached him punctually, a 
few hours after Paulina had become the affianced wife of Don- 
glas Dale. This was indeed success beyond his hopes. He had 
not expected this result for some days, at the ver^ earliest, and 
the surprise and pleasure with which he learned it were almost 
equal. Carrington did not believe in good ; he absolutely dis- 
trusted and despised human nature, and he never dreamed of 
imputing Madame Durski's conduct to anything but coquetry 
and fickleness. " She's on with the new love, beyond a doubt," 
said he to himself, as he read Miss Brewer's^ letter; "whether 
she's off with the old is quite another question, and rests with 
him rather than with her, I fancy." 

Victor Carrington's first move was to present himself before 
Madame Durski on the following day, at the hour at which she 
habitually received visitors. He took up the confidential con- 
versation which they had had on the last occasion of their 
meeting, as if it had not been dropped in the interval, and came 
at once to the subject of Douglas Dale. This plan answered 
admirably; Paulina was naturally full of the subject, and the 
ice of formalism had been sufficiently broken between her and 
Victor Carrington, to enable her to refer to the interview which 
had taken place between herself and Douglas Dale without any 
impropriety. When she had done so, Carrington began to play 
his part. He assured Paulina of his warm interest in her, of 
the influence which he possessed over Sir Pweginald Eversloigli, 



S04 Bun to Eurth, 

and tlie fears wliicli he entertained of some treaclieroTis pro 
ceeding on Keginald's part which might place her in a most 
unpleasant position. 

" Keginald has no real love for yon," said Carrington ; " he 
wonld not hesitate to sacrifice yon to the meanest of his interests, 
but his vanity and his temper are such that it is impossible to 
calculate upon what sort of folly he may be guilty.'* 

Paulina Durski was a thorough woman; and, therefore, 
having utterly discarded Keginald from her heart, having learned 
to substitute utter contempt for love, she was not averse to re- 
ceiving any information, to learning any opinion, which tended 
to justify her change of feehng. 

"What harm can he do me with Douglas?" asked Paulina, in 
ttlarm. 

*' Who can tell that, Madame Durski P" replied Carrington. 
•' But this is not to the purpose. I don't pretend to be wholly 
disinterested in this matter. I tell you plainly I am not so ; it 
is very important to me that Sir Keginald should marry a wo- 
man of fortune, and should not marry you." 

" He never had any intention of marrying me," said Paulina, 
hastily and bitterly. 

"No, I don't beHeve he had; but he would have liked very 
well to have compromised you in the eyes of society, so that no 
other man would have married you, to have bragged of relations 
existing between you which never did exist, and to have effec- 
tually ruined your fortunes in any other direction than the 
gaming-table. Now this I am determined he shall not do, and 
as I have more power over him than any one else, it hes with me 
to prevent it. What that power springs from, or how I have 
hitherto exercised it, you need not inquire, Madame Durski ; I 
only wish you to believe that I exercise it in this instance for 
your good, for your protection." 

Pauhna murmured some vague words of acknowledgment. 
He continued — 

" If Keginald Eversleigh knows I am here, constantly cogni- 
zant of the state of affairs, and prepared to act for your advan- 
tage, he will not dare to come here and compromise you by his 
vi^nt and unreasonable jealousy ; he will be forced — it is need- 
less to explain how — to keep his envy and rage to himself, and 
to suppress the enmity with which he regards Douglas Dale. 
Let me tell you, Madame Durski, Keginald's enmity is no trifling 
rock ahead in Hfe, and your engaged lover has that rock to 
dread."^ 

Paulina turned very pale. 

" Save bim from it, Mr. Carrington,'* she said, appeaUngly. 
•* Save >iiTn from it, and let me have a little happiness in thij 
wwjy world, if nuch. a thing there b*." 



Ai WaiGh. 805 

« I will, Madame DursH," replied Victor. " You have already 
done as I have counselled yon, and you have no reason to regret 
the result," 

The soft, dreamy smile of happy love stole over Paulina's face 
as she listened to him. 

" Let me be here with you as much as possible, and you will 
have no reason to fear Reginald. He is capable of anything, 
bat he is afraid of me, and if he knows that I am determined to 
advance the marriage of yourself and Douglas Dale, he will not 
venture to oppose it openly. But there is one condition which I 
rriust append to my frequent presence here" — he spoke as 
ikough he were conferring the greatest favour on her — "Mr 
I)f le must not know me as Victor Carrington." ^ 

With an expression in which there was something of the sus- 
ficious quickness which Miss Brewer had manifested when 
Carrington made a similar statement to her, Paulina asked him 
why. 

Then Victor told her his version of the story of Honona 
Eversleigh, the " unfortunate woman," whom Douglas Dale's 
unhappy and misguided uncle had raised to such undoubted 
rank and fortune, and the wild and absurd accusations the 
wretched woman had made against him. 

"Mr. Dade never saw me," said Victor, "and I know not 
whether he was thoroughly aware of the absurdity, the insanity 
of this woman's accusations. At all events, I don't wish to 
recall any unpleasantness to his mind, and therefore I venture 
to propose that I should visit here, and be introduced to him as 
Mr. Carton. The fraud is a very harmless one; what do you 
say, Madame Durski ?" 

Paulina had her full share of the feminine love of mystery and 
intrigue, and she consented at once. " What can the name 
matter," she thought, " if it is really necessary for this man to 
be here?" . ^ _ 

" And there is another consideration which we must take mto 
account," said Victor; "it is this. Mr. Dale may not like to 
find any man established here, in the degree of intimacy to which 
(in your interests) I aspire ; and therefore I propose, with your 
leave, to pass as a relation of Miss Brewer's— say, her cousm. 
This will thoroughly account for my intimacy here. What do 
you say, Madame Durski ? " 

" As you please," said Paulina, carelessly. " I am sure you 
are right, Mr. Carrington— Carton, I mean, and I am sure you 
mean kindly and well by me. But how odd it will seem to 
Charlotte and me, lonely creatures, waifs and derelicts as we 
have been so long, to have any one with whom we can claim even 
a pretended kinship! " 

She spoke with a mingled bittemese and levity which would 



806 Bu/n to Earth,. 

have been painful to any man of right feelings, bnt which wai 
pleasant to Victor Carrington, because it showed him how help- 
less and ignorant she was, how her mind had been warped, how 
ready a tool he had tound in her. When the interview between 
them came to an end, it had been arranged that Mr. Dale was 
to be introduced on the following day at Hilton House to Miss 
Brewer's consin, Mr. Carton. 

The introduction took place. A very short time, well employed 
in close observation, sufficed to assure Victor that Douglas Dale 
was as much in love as an;^ man need be to be certain of com- 
mitting anv number of folHes, and that Paulina was a changed 
woman under the influence of the same soul-subduing sentiment 
which, though not so strong in her case, was assuming strength 
and intensity as each day taught her more and more of her lover's 
moral and intellectual excellence. Douglas Dale was much 
pleased with Mr. Carton ; and that gentleman did all in his 
power to render himself agreeable, and so far succeeded that, 
before the close of the evening, he had made a considerable ad- 
vance towards establishing a very pleasant intimacy with Sir 
Reginald Eversleigh's cousin. 

V ictor Carrington, always an observant man, had pecuharly 
the air of bein^ on the watch that day during dinner. He 
noticed everything that Paulina ate and drank, and he took 
equal note of Miss Brewer's and Douglas Dale's choice of meats 
and wines. Miss Brewer drank no wine, PauHna very little, and 
Douglas Dale exclusively claret. When the dinner had reached 
its conclusion, a stand of liqueurs was placed upon the table, one 
of the few art-treasures lett to the impoverished adventuress, 
rare and fragile Venetian flacons, and tiny goblets of opal and 
ruby glass. These glasses were the especial admiration of Dou- 
glas Dale, and Paulina filled the ruby goblet with curagoa. She 
touched the edge of the glass playfully with her Hps as she 
handed it to her lover; but Victor observed that she did not 
taste the liqueur. 

♦' You do not affect cura^oa, madame ? " he asked, carelessly. 
"No; I never take that, or indeed, any other liqueur." 
" And yet you drink scarcely any wine ? " 
"No," replied Paulina, indifferently ; "I take very little wine." 
"Indeed!" . . . , 

There was the faintest possible significance in Carrington s 
tone as he said this. He had watched Madame Durski closely 
during dinner, and he had noted an excitement in her manner, a 
nervous vivacity, such as are generally inspired by something 
stronger than water. And yet this woman had taken little else 
than water during the dinner. And it was to be observed that 
the almost febrile gaiety which distinguished her manner thia 
evening had beea a*; api'dieut when she tirbt entered the drawing* 



Foxmd Wanting. 307 

room as it was now. THs was a pliysiological or psychological 
enigma, extremely interesting to Mr. Carrington. He was°not 
Blow to find a solution that was, in liis opinion, sufficiently satis- 
factory. ^ " That woman takes opium in some form or other," he 
said to himself. 

Miss Brewer did not touch the liqueur in question, and her 
cousin took Maraschino. After a very short interval, Douglaa 
Dale and his new friend rose to join the ladies. They crossed 
the hall together, but as they reached the drawing-room door, 
Mr. Carrington discovered that he had dropped a letter in the 
dining-room, and returned to find it, first opening the drawino-- 
foom door that Dale might pass through it. 

All was undisturbed in the dining-ioom ; the table was just 
as they had left it. Victor approached the table, took up the 
carafon containing cura^oa, and, holding it up to the light with 
one hand, poured the contents of a small phial into it with the 
other. He watched the one liquid mingling with the other until 
no further traces of the operation were visible; and then setting 
the carafon softly down where he had found it, went smiling 
across the hall and joined the ladies. 



CHAPTER 

POUND WANTING. 

Reginald Eveesleigh was in complete ignorance of Victor 
Carrington's proceedings, when he received the letter summon- 
ing him to an interview with his friend at a stated time. Car- 
rington's estimate of Reginald's character was quite correct. 
Ail this time his vanity had been chafing under Paulina's silence 
and apparent oblivion of him. 

He had not received any letter from Paulina, fond as she had 
been of writing to him long, half-despairing letters, full of com- 
plaint against destiny, and breathing in every line that hopelesa 
love which the beautiful Austrian woman had so long wasted 
on the egotist and coward, whose baseness she had half suspected 
even while she still clung to him. 

Sir Reginald had been in the habit of receiving these letters 
as coolly as if they had be<»n but the fitting tribute to his tran- 
Bcendant merits. 

" Poor Paulina ! " he murmured sometimes, as he folded the 
perfumed pages, after running his eyes carelessly over their 
contents ; " poor Paulina ! how devotedly she loves me. And 
what a pity she hasn't a penny she can call her own. If she 
were a great heiress, now, what could be more delightful than 
this devotion ? But, under existing circumstances, it is nothing 
but an embarrassment — a bore. Unfortunately, I cannot bo 
bratal enough to tell her this plainly: and so matters go on. 



808 Bun io UartK 

And I fear, in spite of all my tints, she may believe in the po9- 
Bibility of my tdtimately making a sacrifice of my prospects fo/ 
her sake." 

This was how Eeginald Eversleigh felt, while Panlina was 
scattering at his feet the treasures of a disinterested affection. 

He had been vain and selfish from boyhood, and his vices 
grew stronger with increasing years. His nature was hardened, 
and not chastened, by the trials and disappointments which had 
D«fallen him. 

In the hour of his poverty and degradation it had been a 
triumph for him to win the devotion of a woman whom many 
men — men better than himself — had loved in vain. 

It was a rich tribute to the graces of him who had once been 
the irresistible Eeginald Eversleigh, the favourite of fashionable 
drawing-rooms. 

Thus it was that, when Paulina's letters suddenly ceased, Sir 
Eeginald was at onee mortified and indignant. He had made 
up his mind to obey Victor's suggestion, or rather, command, 
by abstaining from either visiting or writing to Paulina ; but he 
had not been prepared for a similar line of proceeding on her 
part, and it hurt his vanity much. She had ceased to write. 
Could she have ceased to care for him ? Could any one else, 
richer — more disinterested — have usurped his place in her 
heart? 

The baronet remembered what Victor Carrington had said 
about Douglas Dale ; but he could not for one moment beheve 
that his cousin — a man whom he considered infinitely beneath 
him — had the power to win Paulina Durski's affection. 

" She may perhaps _ encourage him," he said to himself, 
" especially now that his income is doubled. She might even 
accept him as a husband — women are so mercenary. But her 
heart will never cease to be mine." 

Sir Eeginald waited a week, a fortnight, but there came no 
letter from Paulina. He called on Carrington, according to ap- 
pointment, but his friend had changed his mind, or his tactics, 
and gave him no explanation. 

Victor had been a daily visitor at Hilton House during the 
week which had intervened since the day he had dined there 
and been introduced to Douglas Dale. His observation had en- 
abled him to decide upon accelerating the progress of his designs. 
The hold which Paulina had obtained upon Douglas Dale's 
affection was secure ; he had proposed to her much sooner than 
Victor had anticipated; the perfect understanding and confi- 
dence subsisting between them rendered the cautious game 
which he had intended to play unnecessary, and he did not now 
care how soon a final rupture between Paulina and Eeginald 
thould take place. Indeed, for two of his purposes — the es- 



FouTid Wanting. 809 

tabHsliment of an avowed qnarrel between Donglas Dale and 
his cousin, Sir Keginald, and tlie infliction of ever-growing 
injnry on Panlina's reputation, — the sooner snch a mptnre 
conld be brought about the better. Therefore Victor Carring- 
ton assumed a tone of reserve and mystery, which did not fail 
to exasperate Sir Reginald. 

*' Do not question me, Eeginald," he said. " You are afflicted 
with a lack of moral courage, and your want of nerve would 
only enfeeble my hand. Know nothing — erpect nothing. 
Those who are at work for you know how to do their work 
quietly. Oh, by the way, I want yon to sign a little document 
— very much the style of thing you gave me at Raynham 
Castle.'; 

Nothing could be more careless than the Frenchman's tone 
and manner as he said this ; but the document in question was 
a deed of gift, by which Reginald Eversleigh bestowed upon 
Victor Carrington the clear half of whatever income should 
arise to him, from real or personal property, from the date of 
the first day of June following. 

" I am to give you half my income P " 

" Yes, my dear Reginald, after the first of nert June. You 
know that I am working laboriously to bring about good fortune 
for you. You cannot suppose that I am working for nothing. 
If you do not choose to sign this document, neither do I choose 
to devote myself any longer to your interest." 

" And what if you fail r " 

*' If I fail, the document in question is so much waste paper, 
since you have no income at present, nor are hkely to have any 
income between this and next June, unless by my agency." 

The result was the same as usual. Reginald signed the deed, 
without even taking the trouble to study its full bearing. 

*' Have you seen Paulina lately?" he asked, afterwards. 

" Not very lately." 

"I don't know what's amiss with her," exclaimed Reginald, 
peevishly ; " she has not written to me to ask explanation of my 
absence and silence." 

" Perhaps she grew tired of writing to a person who valued 
iier letters so lightly." 

"I was glad enough to hear from her," answered Reginald; 
*' but I could not be expected to find time to answer all her 
letters. Women have nothing better to do than to scribble long 
epistles." 

" Perhaps Madame Durski has found some one who will take 
the trouble to answer her letters," said Victor. 

After this, the two men parted, and Reginald Eversleigh 
called a cab, in which he drove down to Hilton House. 

He might have stayed away much longer, in self-interested 



810 Bim to Earth. 

obedience to Carrington, had he been snre of Paulina's nnabat«<! 
devotion ; bnt he was piqued by her silence, and he wanted to 
discover whether there was a rival in the field. 

He knew Madame Durski's habits, and that it was not till 
late in the afternoon that she was to be seen. 

It was nearly sir o'clock when he drove np to the door of 
Hilton Honse. Carlo Toas admitted him, and favoured him 
with a searching and somewhat severe scrutiny, as he led the 
way to the drawing-room in which Paulina was wont to receive 
her guests. 

Here Sir Eeginald felt some little surprise, and a touch of 
mortification, on beholding the aspect of things. He had ex- 
pected to find Paulina pensive, unhappj, perhaps ill. He had 
expected to see her agitated at his coming. He had pondered 
much upon the cessation of her letters ; and he had told himself 
that she had ceased to write because she was angry with him— 
with that anger which exists only where there is love. 

To his surprise, he found her brilHant, radiant, dressed in her 
most charming style. 

Never had he seen her looking more beautifol or more happy. 

He pressed the widow's hand tenderly, and contemplated her 
for some moments in silence. 

" My dear Paulina," he said at last, "I never saw yon looking 
more lovely than to-night. And yet to-night I almost feared to 
find you ill." 

*' Indeed; and why so P" she asked. Her tone was the ordi- 
nary tone of society, from which it was impossible to draw any 
inference. 

" Because it is so long since I heard from yon.' 

"I have grown tired of writing letters that were rarely 
honoured by your notice." 

" So, so," thought the baronet ; "I was right. She is offended." 

" To what do I owe this visit ?" asked Madame Durski. 

" She is desperately angry," thought the baronet. " My dear 
Paulina," he said, aloud, *^ can you imagine that your letters 
were indifferent to me ? I have been busy, and, as you know, I 
have been away from London." 

"Yes," she said; "you spent your Christmas very agreeably, 
I believe." 

" Not at all, I assure you. A bachelors' party m a country 
parsonage is one of the dullest things possible, to say nothing 
of the tragical event which ended my visit," added Reginald, 
his cheek paling as he spoke. 

"A bachelors' party!" repeated Paulina; "there were no 
ladies, then, at your cousin's nous^?" 

"None." 

« Indeed 1" 



Fawid Wanting, 813 

Paulina Dnrski's lip curled contemptnonsly, but she did not 
openly convict Sir Reginald of the deliberate falseliood he had 
uttered. 

" I am very glad you have come to me, she said, presently, 
"because I have urgent need of your help." 

•' My dear Paulina, beheve me " began the baronet 

" Do not make your protest till you have heard what I have 
to ask," said Madame Durski. "You know how troublesome 
my creditors had become before Christmas. The time has 
arrived when they must be paid, or when I '* 

She stopped, and looked searchingly at the face of her 
companion. 

" When yon— what f " he asked. " What is the alternative, 
PauHna?" ^ ., , 

" I think you ought to know as well as I, she answered. 
*' I must either pay those debts or fly from this place, and from 
this country, disgraced. I appeal to you in this bitter hour of 
need. Can you not help me — you, who have professed to loveme ?" 

" Surely, Paulina, you cannot doubt my love," repHed Sir 
Reginald ; " unhappily, there is no magical process by which 
th« truest and purest love can transform itself into money. I 
have not a twenty-pound note in the world." 

"Indeed; and the four hundred and fifty pounds you won 
from Lord Caversham just before Christmas— is that money 
gone?" 

"Every shilling of it," answered Reginald, coolly. 

He had notes to the amount of nearly two hundred pounds m 
his desk ; but he was the last man in Christendom to sacrifice 
money which he himself required, and his luxurious habits kept 
him always deeply in debt. _ o i -^ • 

" You must have disposed of it very speedily. Surely, it 13 
not all gone, Reginald. I think a hundred would satisfy my 
creditors, for a time at least." 

" I tell you it is gone, Paulina, I gave you a considerable 
Bum at the time I won the money— you should remember." 

" Yes, I remember perfectly. You gave me fifty pounds- 
fifty pounds for the support of the house which enabled you to 
entrap your dupes, while I was the bait to lure them to their 
ruin. Oh, you have been very generous, very noble ; and now 
that your dupes are tired of being cheated— now that your 
cat'spaw has become useless to you— I am to leave the country, 
because you will not sacrifice one selfish desire to save me from 

disgrace." . j ^ •• x • jj xi 

" This is absurd, Paulina," exclaimed the baronet, impatiently; 
" you talk the usual nonsense women indulge in when they can't 
have everything their own way. It is not in my power to help 
vou to pay your creditors, and you had much better shp quietly 



S12 Bmn to Earth, 

away while you are free to do so, and before they contrive to get 
yon into prison. You know what Sheridan said about frittering 
away his money in paying his debts. There's no knowing 
where to leave off if you once begin that sort of thing." 

" You would have me steal away in secret, like what you 
English call a swindler !" 

" You needn't dwell upon unpleasant names. Some of the 
best people in England have been obliged to cross the water for 
the same reasons that render your residence here unpleasant. 
There's nothing to be gained by sentimental talk about the 
business, my dear Paulina. My friends at the^clubs have be^un 
to grow suspicious of this house, and I don't think there s a 
chano« of my ever winning another sovereign in these rooms. 
Why, then, should you remain to be tormented by your 
creditors? Ketum to Paris, where you have twice as many 
devoted slaves and admirers as in this detestable straight-laced 
land of ours. I will sHp across as soon as ever I can settle my 
affairs here some way or other, and once more you may be queen 
of a brilliant salon, while I " 

" "While you may find a convenient cat'spaw for getting hold 
of new plunder," cried Paulina, with unmitigated Ecorn._ Then, 
with a sudden burst of passion, she exclaimed, "Oh, Sir Eegi- 
nald Eversleigh, I thank Providence for this interview. At last 
— at last, I understand you completely. I have been testing 
you. Sir Eeginald— I have been sounding your character. I 
have stooped to beg for help from you, in order that I might 
know the broken reed on which I have leaned.^ And now I can 
laugh at you, and despise you. Go, Sir Reginald Eversleigh ; 
this house is mine — my home— no longer a private gambhng- 
house— no longer a snare for the delusion of your rich friends. 
I am no longer friendless. My debts have been paid— j)aid by 
one who, if he had owned but one sixpence, would have given it 
to me, content to be penniless himself for my sake. ^ I have no 
need of your help. I am not obhged to creep away in the night 
like a felon, from the house that has sheltered me. I can now 
dare to call myself mistress of this house, unfettered by debt, 
untrammelled by the shameful secrets that made my Hfe odious 
to me ; and my first act as mistress of this house shall be to 
forbid its doors to you." 

"Indeed, Madame Durski!" cried Eeginald, with a sneer; 
" this is a wonderful change." 

" You thought, perhaps, there were no limits to a woman's 
folly," said Paulina; " but you see you were wrong. There is 
an end even to that. And now, Sir Eeginald Eversleigh, I will 
wish you good evening, and farewell." 

" Is this a farce, Paulina?" asked the baronet, in a voice thj^t 
was almost stifled by rage. 



Tr/und Wanting. 813 

"Ko, Sir Beginald, it is a stern reality," answered Madame 
Durski, laying her liand on the belL 

Her summons was speedily answered by Carlo Toas. 

•' Carlo, the door," she said, quietly. 

The baronet gave her one look— a dark and threatening glance 
—and then left the room, followed by the Spaniard, who con- 
ducted him to his cab with every token of grave respect. 

"Curse her!" muttered Sir Reginald, between his set teeth, 
as he drove away from Hilton House. "It mnat be Douglas 
Dale who has given her the power \o insult mt thus, and he 
shall pay for her insolence. But why did Victor bring those 
two together ? An alhance between them can only result in 
mischief to me. I must and will fathom his motive for conduct 
that seems so incomprehensible." 

* ♦ ♦ * * 

Sir Eeo-inald and his fatal ally, Carrington, met on the fol- 
lowing day, and the former angrily related the scene which had 
been enacted at Hilton House. 

"Your influence has been at work there," he exclaimed, 
" You have brought about an alliance between this woman and 
Douglas Dale." 

" I have," answered Victor, coolly. " ]\Ir. Dale has offered her 
his hand and fortune, as well as his heart, and has been accepted." 

" You are going to play me false, Victor Carrington !" 

"Indeed!" , . , ^ ^, . 

"Yes, or else why take snch pains to bring about this 
marriage?" 

" You are a fool, Reginald Eversleigh, and an obstinate fool, 
or you would not harp upon this subject after what I have said. 
I have told you that the marriage which yon fear will never 
take place." 

•' How wiU yon prevent it ? " 

" As easily as I could bring it about, did I choose to do so. 
Pshaw ! my dear boy, the simple, honest people in this world 
are so many puppets, and it needs bnt the master-mind to puU 
the strings." 

" If this marriage is not intended to take place, why have 
you brought about an engagement between PauHna and^ Dou- 
glas ?" asked the baronet, in nowise conrinced by what his ally 
had said. 

" I have my reasons, and good ones, though yot are too dull 
of brain to perceive them," replied Victor, impatiently. " You 
and your cousin, Douglas Dale, have been fast friends, have you 
not?" 

"We have." , . 

" Listen to me, then. If he were to die without direct heir^ 
yon are the only person who would profit by his death ; and ii 



S14 Eun io Earf^h. 

he, a yonn^ man, powerful of frame, in robust health, no likel;T 
eubiect for disease, were to die, leaving you owner of ten thou- 
Band a year, and were to die while in the habit of holdincr daily 
intercourse with you, known to be your friend and companion, 
is it not just possible that malevolent and suspicious people 
might drop strange hints as to the cause of his death ? They 
might harp upon your motives for wishing him out of the way. 
They might dwell upon the fact that you were so much together, 
and that you had such opportunities— mark me, Eeginald, 
opportunities—^or tampering with the one sohtary hfe which 
stood between you and fortune. They might say all this, might 
they not?" ^ . ^ „ 

" Yes," replied Reginald, in his gloomiest tone, "they might. 
" Very well, then, if you take my adWce, you will cut your 
cousin's acquaintance from this time. You will take care to let 
your friends of the clubs know that he has supplanted you in 
the aflfections of the woman you loved, and that you and he are 
no longer on speaking terms. You %vill cut him publicly at one 
of your clubs ; so that the fact of the coldness between you may 
become sufficiently notorious. And when you have done this, 
you will start for the Continent." 
"Go abroad? But why?" 

" That is my secret. Remember, you have promised to obey 
me blindly," answered Yictor. "You will go abroad ; you will 
let the world know that you and Douglas Dale are divided by 
the ^vidth of the Channel ; you will leave him free to devote 
himself to the woman he has chosen for his wife ; and if, while 
engaged to her, an untimely fate should overtake this young 
man— if he, like his elder brother, should be removed from your 
pathway, the most malicious scandal-monger that ever hved 
could scarcely say that you had any hand in his fate." 

"I understand," murmured Reginald, in a low voice; "L 
understand." 

He said no more. He had grown white to the very lips; and 
those pale lips were dry and feverish. But the conversatiot 
■changed abruptly, and Douglas Dale's name was not agair 
mentioned. 

In the meantime, the betrothed lovers had been very happy 
and this interview, which she had always dreaded but felt sh 
could not avoid, having passed over, Paulina was more at libertjr 
to realize her changed position, and dwell on her future pros- 
pects. She was really happy, but in her happiness there was 
Bome touch of fever, something too much of nervous excitement. 
It was not the calm happiness which makes the crowning joy of 
an untroubled life. A long career of artificial excitement, of al- 
ternate fears and hopes, the mad delight and madder despa'r 
,Vfhich makes the gambler's fevex, had unfitted Paulina for tha 



!: 



Found Wanting. 815 

qmet peace of a epirlt at rest. She yearned for rest, "bnt tlie 
angel of rest had been scared away by the long nights of dissi- 
pation, and wonld not answer to her call. 

Victor Carrington had fathomed the mystery of her feverish 

aiety — her intervals of dull apathy that was almost despair. 

n the depth of her misery she had lulled herself to a false re- 
pose by the use of opium ; and even now, when the old miseries 
were no more, she could not exist without the poisonous anodyne. 
" Douglas Dale must be bhnded by his infatuation, or he would 
have found out the state of the case by this time," Victor said 
to himself. "Circumstances could not be more favourable to 
my plans. A man who is blind and deaf, and utterly idiotic 
under the influence of an absurd infatuation, one woman whose 
brains are intoxicated by opium, and another who would sell her 
Boul for money." 

• • • • • 

These incidents, which have occupied so much space in the 
teUing, in reahty did not fill up much time. Only a month had 
elapsed since Lionel Dale's death, when Keginald Eversleigh 
and Paulina had the interview described above. And now it 
seemed as though Fate itself were conspiring with the conspira- 
tors, for the watch kept upon them by Andrew Larkspur was 
perforce delayed, and Lady Eversleigh's designs of retributive 
punishment were suspended. A few days after the return of 
Mr. Larkspur to town, that gentleman was seized with serious 
illness, and for three weeks was unable to leave his bed. Mr. 
Andrew lay ill with acute bronchitis, in the lodging-house in 
Percy Street, and Mrs. Eden was compelled to wait his conva- 
lescence with what patience she might. 

* « • * • 

Sir Keginald Eversleigh and Douglas Dale met at the Phoenix 
Club soon after Reginald's interview with Madame Durski. 

Douglas met his cousin with a quiet and courteous manner, in 
which there was no trace of unfriendly feeling : a manner that 
expressed so Httle of any feehng whatever as to be almost 
negative. 

It was not so, however, with Sir Reginald. He remembered 
Victor Carrington's advice as to the wisdom of a palpable es- 
trangement between himself and his cousin, and he took good 
care to act upon that counsel. 

This course was, indeed, the only one that would have been at 
all agreeable to him. 

He hated Douglas Dale with all the force of his evil nature, 
as the innocent instrument of Sii Oswald's retribution upon the 
destroyer of Mary Goodwin. 

He envied the young man the advantages which his own h^<i 
conduct had forfeited ; and he now had learned to hat« him with 



816 Bun to Earth. 

redoubled intensity", as the man who had supplanted him in th* 

affections of Paulina Durski, 

The two men met in the smoking-room of the club at the 
most fashionable hour of the day. 

Nothing could have been more conspicuous than the haughty 
insolence of the spendthrift baronet as he saluted his wealthy 
cousin. 

" How is it I have not seen you at my chambers in the Temple, 
Eversleigh ? " asked Douglas, in that calm tone of studied cour- 
tesy which expresses so httle. 

" Because I haa no particular reason for calling on you ; and 
because, if I had wished to see you, I should scarcely have ex- 
pected to find you in your Temple chambers," answered Sir Eegi- 
nald. " If report does not belie you, you spend the greater part 
of your existence at a certain villa at Fulham." 

There was that in Sir Eeginald Eversleigh's tone which at- 
tracted the attention of the men within hearing — almost all of 
whom were well acquainted with the careers of the two cousins, 
and many of whom knew them personally. 

Though the club loungers were too well-bred to listen, it waa 
nevertheless obvious that the attention of all had been more or 
less aroused by the baronet's tone and manner. 

Douglas Dale answered, in accents as audible, and a tone as 
haughty as the accents and tone of his cousin. 

" Keport is not hkely to belie me," he said, " since there is no 
mystery in my life to afford food for gossip. If by a_ certain 
villa at Fulham you mean Hilton House, you are not mistaken. 
I have the honour to be a frequent guest at that house." 

*• It is an honour which many of us have enjoyed," answered 
Reginald, with a sneer. 

*' An honour which I used to find deuced expensive, by Jove ! " 
exclaimed Viscount Caversham, who was standing near Douglas 
Dale. 

" That was at the time when Sir Reginald Eversleigh usurped 
the position of host in Madame Durski's house," replied Douglas. 
" You would find things much changed there now, Caversham, 
were the lady to favour you by an invitation. When Madame 
Durski first came to England she was so unfortunate as to fall 
into the hands of evil counsellors. She has learned since to know 
her friends from her enemies." 

" She is a very charming woman," drawled the viscount, 
laughingly ; *' but if you want to keep a balance at your banker's, 
Dale, I should strongly advise you to refuse her hospitahty." 

" Madame Durski will shortly be my wife,** replied Douglas, 
in a voice loud enough to be heard by the bystanders ; " and the 
amallest word calculated to cast a slur on her fair fame will be 
an insult to me — an insult which I shall know how to resent." 



Fauna Wanting. 317 

This annotmcement fell like a thnnderbolt in the assemoiy of 
fashioD able idlers. All knew the history of the house at Fulham. 
They knew of PauHna Durskionly as abeantiful, but dangerous, 
Bjren, whose fatal smiles lured men to their ruin. That Douglas 
Dale should unite himself to such a woman seemed to them httle 
short of absolute madness. , . • # 

Love must be strong indeed which will face the ridicule of 
mankind unflinchingly. Douglas Dale knew that, in redeeming 
Paulina from her miserable situation, in elevating her to a posi- 
tion that many blameless and well-born Enghshwomen would 
have gladly accepted, he was making a sacrifice which the men 
amongst whom he lived would condemn as the_ act of a fool. 
But he was willing to endure this, painful though it was to him, 
for the sake of the woman he loved. 

*' Better that I should have the scorn of shallow-brained world- 
lings than that the blight on her life should continue," he said 
to himself. " When she is my wife, no man will dare to question 
her honour — no woman will dare to frown upon her when she 
enters society leaning on my arm." 

This is what Douglas Dale repeated to himself very often 
during his courtship of Paulina Durski. This is what he thought 
as he ''stood erect and defiant in the crowded room of the Pall 
Mall club, facing the curious looks of his acquaintances. _ 

After the first shock there was a dead silence; no voice mur- 
mured the common-place phrases of congratulation which might 
naturally have followed such an announcement. If Douglas 
Dale had just announced that some dire misfortune had befallen 
him, the faces of the men around him could not have been more 
serious. No one smiled ; no one applauded his choice ; not one 
voice congratulated him on having won for himself so fair a 
bride. 

That ominous silence told Douglas Dale how terrible was the 
stigma which the world had set upon her he so fondly loved. 
The anguish which rent his heart during those few moments is 
not to be expressed by words. After that most painful silence, 
he walked to the table at which it was his habit to sit, and began 
to read a newspaper. Sir Reginald watched him furtively for a 
few moments in silence, and then left the room. 

After this the two cousins met frequently; but they never 
spoke. They passed each other with the coldest and most cere- 
monious salutation. The idlers of the club perceived this, and 
commented on the fact. . ^^ 

" Douglas Dale and his cousin are not on speaking terms, 
they said : ** they have quarrelled about that beautiful Austrian 
widow, at whose house there used to be such high play." 

In Pauluift's society, Douglaa tried to forget the cruel shadow 
which darkened, and which, ia all likelihood, would for eyci 



S18 Bun to Earth. 

darken, her name ; and while in her society he contrived to 
banish from his rniud all bitter thonght of the world's harsh ver- 
dict and cruel condemnation. 

But away from Panlina he was tortured by the recollection of 
that scene at the Phoenix Club ; tormented by the thought that. 
Jet him make what sacrifice he might, he could never wipe out 
the stain which those midnight assemblies of gamesters had lefb 
on his future wife's reputation. 

" We will leave England for ever after the marriage," he said 
to himself sometimes. " We vdll make our home in some fair 
itahan city, where my Paulina will be respected and admired as 
if she were a queen, as well as the loveliest and sweetest of 
women." 

If he asked Paulina where their future life was to be spent 
she always replied to him in the same manner. 

'* Wherever you take me I shall be content," she said. " I can. 
never be grateful enough for your goodness ; I can never repay 
the debt I owe you. Let our future be your planning, not mine. ' 

"And you have no wish, no fancy, that I can realize, Paulina?" 

" None. From my earliest girlhood I have sighed for only 
one blessing — peace ! You have given me that. What more can 
I ask at your hands ? Ah ! Douglas, I fear my love has already 
cost you too dearly. The world will never forgive you for your 
choice ; you, who might make so brilliant a marriage !" 

Her generous feelings once aroused, Paulina could be almost 
as noble as her lover. Again and again she implojred him to 
withdraw his promise — to leave, and to forget her. 

" Believe me, Douglas, our engagement is a mistake," she 
Baid. " Consider this before it is too late. You are a proud man 
where honour is concerned, and the past life of her whom you 
marry should be without spot or blemish. It is not so with me. 
If I have not sinned as other women have sinned, I have stooped 
to be the companion of gamblers and roues ; I have allowed my 
house to become the haunt of reckless and dissipated men. So- 
ciety revenges itself cruelly upon those who break its laws. 
Society will neither forget nor forgive my offence." 

"I do not live for society, but for you, Paulina," replied Doug- 
las, passionately ; " you are all the world to me. Let me never 
hear these arguments again, unless you would have me think 
that you are weary of me, and that you only want an excuse 
fur getting rid of me." 

" Weary of you!" exclaimed Paulina; " my friend, my bene- 
factor. How can I ever prove my gratitude for your goodness 
—your devotion ? " 

"By learning to love me a little," answered Douglas, ten- 
derly. 

** The lee«on ought not to be difficult," Paulina murmured. 



Found Wanting. 819 

Cotild she do less tlian love this noble friend, this pnre-minded 
and unselfish adorer P 

He came to her one day, accompanied by a solicitor; bnt 
before introducing the man of law, he asked for a private inter- 
view with Paulina, and in this interview gave her a new proof 
of his devotion. 

" In thinking much of our position, dearest, I have been 
struck with a sudden terror of the uncertainty of life. What 
would be your fate, Paulina, if anything were to happen — if— 
well, if 1 were to die suddenly, as men so often die in this high- 
pressure age, before maniage had united our interests ? What 
would be your fate, alone and helpless, assailed once more by all 
the perplexities of poverty, and, perhaps, subject to the mean 
spite of my cousin, Eeginald Eversleigh, who does not forgive 
me for having robbed him of his place in your heart, little as ho 
was worthy of your love ?" 

"Oh, Douglas!" exclaimed Paulina, "why do yon imagine 
Buch things ? Why should death assail you i' " ^ 

"Why, indeed, dearest," returned Douglas, with a smile. 
" Do not think that I anticipate so sad a close to our engage- 
me>nt. But it is the duty of a man to look sharply out for every 
danger in the pathway of the woman he is bound to protect. I 
am a lawyer, remember, Paulina, and I contemplate the future 
with the eye of a lawyer. So far as I can secure you from even 
the possibility of misfortune, I will do it. I have brought a 
solicitor here to-day, in order that he may read yon a will which 
I have this morning executed in your favour." 

•' A will !" repeated Madame Durski ; " yon are only too good 
to me. But there is something horrible to my mind in these 
legal formahties." 

""That is only a woman's prejudice. It is the feminine idea 
that a man must needs be at the point of death when he makes 
his will. And now let me explain the nature of this will," con- 
tinued Douglas. " I have told you that if I should happen to 
die without direct heirs, the estate left me by Sir Oswald Evers- 
leigh will go to my cousin Reginald. That _ estate, from which 
is derived my income, I have no power to aUenate ; I am a ten- 
ant for life only. But my income has been double, and sometimes 
treble, my expenditure, for my habits have been very simple, and 
my Kfe only that of a student in the Temple. _ My sole extra- 
vagance, indeed, has been the collection of a Hbrary. I have, 
therefore, been able to save twelve thousand pounds, and this 
sum is my own to bequeath. I have made a will, leaving this 
amount to yon, Paulina — charged only with a small annuity to 
a faithful old servant— together with my personal property, con- 
sisting only of a few good ItaHan pictures, a library of rare old 
tfoks, «nd tbo (??r^g8 and deooraticas of my rooms— all vain* 



820 Btm to Earth. 

able in their way. This is all the law allows me to give yoa« 
Paulina; but it will, at least, secure you from want." 

Madame Durski tried to speak ; but sbe was too deeply affect- 
ed by this new proof of her lover's generosity. Tears choked 
her utterance ; she took Douglas Dale's hand in both her own, 
and lifted it to her lips ; and this silent expression of gratitude 
touched his heart more than the most eloquent speech could 
have affected it. 

He led her into the room where the attorney awaited her. 

" This gentleman is Mr.Horley," he said, " a friend and adviser 
in whom you may place unbounded confidence. My will is to 
remain in his possession ; and should any untimely fate overtake 
me, he will protect your interests. And now, Mr. Horley, will 
yon be good enough to read the document to Madame Durski, m 
order that she may understand what her position would be in 
case of the worst ? " 

Mr. Horley read the will. It was as simple and concise as the 
law allows any legal document to be; and it made Paulina 
Durski mistress of twelve thousand pounds, and property equal 
to two or three thousand more, in the event of Douglas Dale's 
death. 

CHAPTER XXXL 

" ▲ WORTHLESS W02£AX, MEEE COLD CLAT.** 

Neither Lydia Graham nor her brother were quick to recover 
from the disappointment caused by the untimely fate of Lionel 
Dale. Miss Graham endeavoured to sustain her failing spirits 
with the hope that in Douglas she might find a wealthier prize 
than his brother ; but Douglas was yet to be enslaved by those 
charms which Lydia herself felt were on the wane, and by fas- 
cinations which twelve years of fashionable existence had ren- 
dered somewhat stale even to the fair Lydia's most ardent 
admirers. 

It was very bitter — the cup had been so near her lips, when 
an adverse destiny had dashed it from her. The lady's grief was 
painfully sincere. She did not waste one lamentation on her 
lover's sad fate, but she most bitterly regretted her own loss of a 
rich husband. 

She watched and hoped day after day for the promised visit 
from Douglas Dale, but he did not come. Every day during 
visiting hours she wore her most becoming toilets ; she arranged 
her small drawing-room with the studied carelessness of an ele- 
gant woman ; she seated herself in her most graceful attitudes 
every time the knocker heralded the advent of a caller ; but it 
was all sc much wasted labour. The only guest whom she cared 
to see was not among those morning visitors ; and Lydia's heart 
began to be oppress^ by a senM of despair. 



^A Wori}desi Womxin^ mere Cold Clay,'* 821 

"Well, Gordon, have you heard anytliing of Donglas Dale?" 
ilie asked her brother, day after day. ^ . . 

One day he came home with a very gloomy face, and when she 
uttered the usual question, he answered her in his gloomiest 

"I've heard something you'll scarcely care to learn," he said, 
« as it must sound the death-knell of all your hopes in that quar- 
ter You know, Doufflas Dale is a member of the Phcenix, as well 
as the Forum. I don't belong to the Phoenix, as you also know, 
but I meet Dale occasionally at the Forum. Yesterday I lunched 
with Lord Caversham, a member of the Phoems, and an acquam- . 
tance of Dale's ; and fromhim I learned that Douglas Dale has 
pubhcly annouDcedhis intended marriage with Pauhna Durski. 
" Impossible !" exclaimed Lydia. ., r. •> 

She had heard of Paulina and the villa at Fulham from her 
Drother, and she hated the lovely Austrian for the beauty and the 
fa^'cination which won her a kind of renown amongst the fops and 
lordlincrs— the idlers and spendthrifts of the fashionable clubs. 

'' It cannot be true," cried Miss Graham, flushing cnmson with 
anger "It is one of Lord Caversham's absurd stones; and! 
dafe sav is without the slightest foundation. I cannot and will 
not believe that Douglas Dale would throw himself away upon 
Buch a woman as this Madame DurskL" 
" You have never seen her ? " 

" Of course not." --, rt > - n \. 

" Then don't speak so very confidently," said Captain Graham, 
^vho was malicious enough to take some pleasui-e in his sister s 
discomfiture. " Paulina Durski is one of the handsomest women 
I "ever saw ; not above five-and-twenty years of age— elegant, 
fascinating, patrician— a woman for whose sake a wiser man than 
Doudas Dale mieht be wilHng to sacrifice himself." ^ 

" I wiU see Mr.^Dale," exclaimed Lydia. "I will ascertain trom 
his own lips whether there is any foundation for this report. 
" How wiU you contrive to see him ? " . • •. • x 

« You must arrange that for me. You can invite him to 
dinner." . , ,, , .,, 

*' I can invite him ; but the question is whether he w^ come. 
Perhaps, if you were to write him a note, he^would be more 
flattered than by any verbal invitation from me. 

Lydia was not slow to take this hint. She wrote one ot those 
charming and flattering epistles which an artful and selt-seeking 
^voman of the world so well knows how to pen. She ejcpressed 
her surprise and regret at not having seen Mr. Dale since ner 
return to town— her fear that he might be ill, her hope that he 
would accept an invitation to a friendly dinner with herseil and 
her brother, who was also most anxious about him. ^ 

She was not destined to disappointment. On the following 



322 Bun io Earth 

day she received a brief note from Mr. Dale, acce^ng her invi- 
tation for the next evening. 

The note was very stiffly — nay, almost coldly worded; but Lydia 
attributed the apparent lack of warmth to the reserved nature 
of Douglas Dale, rather than to any failure of her own scheme. 

The fact that he accepted her invitation at all, she considered 
a proof of the falsehood of the report about his intended marriage, 
and a good omen for herself. 

She took care to provide a recherche little dinner for her im- 
portant guest, low as the finances of herself and her brother 
were — and were likely to be for some time to come. _ She invited 
a dashing widow, who was her obliging friend and neighbour, and 
who was quite ready to play propriety for the occasion. Lydia 
Graham looked her handsomest when Douglas Dale was ushered 
into her presence that evening; but she httle knew how indifferent 
were the eyes that contemplated her bold, dark beauty ; and how, 
even as he looked at her, Douglas Dale's thoughts wandered to 
the fair, pale face of Paulina Durski — that face, which for him 
was the lovehest that had ever beamed with light and beauty 
below the stars. 

The dinner was to all appearance a success. I^othing could 
be more cordial or friendly, as it seemed, than that party of four, 
seated at a prettily decorated circular table, attended by a well- 
trained man-servant — the dashing widow's butler and factotum, 
borrowedfor the occasion. 

Mrs. Marmaduke, the dashing widow, made herself very 
agreeable, and took care to engage Captain Graham in conversa- 
tion all the evening, leaving Lydia free to occupy the entire 
attention of Douglas Dale. 

That young lady made excellent use of her time. Day by day 
her chances of a rich, marriage had grown less and less, and day by 
day she had grown more and more anxious to secure a position 
and a home. She had a very poor opinion of Mr. Dale's intel- 
lect, for she beheved only in the cleverness of those bolder and 
more obtrusive men who make themselves prominent in every 
assembly. She thought him a man easily to be beguiled by 
honeyed words and bewitching glances, and she had, therefore, 
determined to play a bold, if not a desperate game. 

While Mrs. Marmaduke and Captain Graham were talking 
in the front drawing-room, Lydia contrived to detain her guest 
in the inner apartment — a tiny chamber, just Jarge enough to 
hold a small cottage piano, a stand of music-books, and a 
couple of chairs. 

Miss Graham seated herself at the piano, and played a few 
bars with an absent and somewhat pensive air. 

" That is a mournful melody," said Douglas. " I don't think 
I ever heard it before." 



"il Worthless Woman, mere Cold Clay," 323 

"Indeed!" murmured Lydia; "and yet I think it is very 
generally known. The air is pretty, is it not? But the vrorJa 
are ultra- sentimental." 

And then she began to sing softly — 

** I do not ask to ofifer thee 
A timid love like mine | 
I lay it, as the rose is laid, 
Chi some immortal shriHa.** 

•* I think the words are rather pretty," said Douglas. 

"Do you.^ " murmured Miss Graham ; and then she stopped 
suddenly, looking downward, with one of those conscious blushes 
which were always at her command. 

There was a pause. Douglas Dale stood by the music-stand, 
listlessly tiv. uing over a volume of songs. 

Lvdia was the first to break the silence. 

*' Why did you not come to see us sooner, Mr. Dale ? " she 
asked. "" You promised me you would come." 

" I have been too much engaged to come," answered Douglas. 

This reply sounded almost rude ; but to Lydia this unpolished 
manner seemed only the result of extreme shyness, and, indeed, 
embarrassment, which to her appeared proof positive of her 
intended victim's enthralment. 

Her eyes grew bright with a glance of triumph. 

" I shall win," she thought to herself; " I shall win.** 

" Have you really wished to see me ? " asked Douglas, after 
another pa^se. 

" I did indeed wish to see you," she murmured, in tremulous 
tones. 

" Indeed ! " said Douglas, in a tone that might mean astonish- 
ment, delight, or anything else. " Well, Miss Graham, that was 
very kind of you. I go out very little, and never except to the 
houses of intimate friends." 

" Surely you number us — my brother, I rnean — among that 
privileged class," said Lydia, once more blushing bewitchingly. 

*' I do, indeed," said Douglas Dale, in a candid, kind, unem- 
barrassed tone, which, if she had been a little less under the 
dominion of that proverbially blinding quality, vanity, would 
have been the most discouraging of all possible tones, to the 
schemes which she had formed; " I never forget how high you 
stood in my poor brother's esteem, !Mis3 Graham ; indeed, if you 
will pardon my saying so, I thought there was a much warmer 
feeling than that, on his part." 

Lydia hardly knew how to take this observation. In one 
eense it was flattering, in another discouraging. If the belief 
brought Douglas Dale into easier relations with her, if it in- 
duced him to feel that a bond of friendship, cemented by the 



324 Btm to Earth. 

memory of the past, subsisted between tbem, so mncb the better 
for her purpose ; but if he believed that this supposed love of 
Lionel's had been returned, and proposed to cultivate her on the 
mutual sympathy, or " weep with thee, tear for tear," principle, 
so much the worse. The position was undeniably embarrassing 
even to a young lady of Miss Lydia Graham's remarkable 
strength of mind, and savoir /aire. But she extricated herself 
from it, without speaking, by some wonderful management of 
her eyes, and a slight deprecatory movement of her shoulders, 
which made even Douglas Dale, a by no means ready man, 
though endowed with deep feelings and strong common sense, 
understand, as well as if she had spoken, that Lionel had indeed 
entertained feelings of a tender nature towards her, but that she 
had not returned them by any warmer sentiment than friend- 
ship. It was admirably well done ; and the next sentence which 
Douglas Dale spoke was certainly calculated to nourish Lydia'e 
hopes. 

•' He might have sustained a terrible grief, then,^ had he lived 
longer," said Douglas ; "but I see this subject pains you. Miss 
Graham ; I will touch upon it no more. But perhaps you will 
allow the recollection of what we must both believe to have 
been his feeHngs and his hopes, to plead with you for me." 

" For you, Mr. Dale ! " and Lydia Graham's breast heaved 
with genuine emotion, and her voice trembled with no artificial 
faltering. 

" Yes, Miss Graham, for me. I need a friend, such a friend 
as you could be, if you would, to counsel and to aid me. But, 
pardon me, I am detaining you, and you have another guest." 
(How ardently Lydia Graham mshed she had not invited the 
accommodating widow to play propriety!) "You will permit 
me to visit you soon again, and we will speak of much which 
cannot now be discussed. Mav I come soon ? " 

As he spoke these hope-inspiring words, there was genuine 
eagerness in the tone of Douglas Dale's voice, there was bright- 
ness in his frank eyes. No wonder Lydia held the story her 
brother had told her in scornful disbelief; no wonder she felt all 
the glow of the fulfilment of long-deferred hope. What would 
have been her sensations had she known that Douglas Dale's 
only actuating motive in the proposed friendly alliance, was to 
secure a female friend for his adored Paulina, to gain for her the 
countenance and protection of a woman whose place in society 
was recognized and unassailable P 

" You will excuse my joining your brother and your friend 
now, will you not, ]\Iiss Graham ? I must, at all events, have 
taken an early leave of you, and this conversation has given me 
much to think of. I shall see you soon again. Good night ! '' 

He moved hastily, passed through the door of the small apart- 



**A Worthless Woman, mere Cold Clay,'* 325 

ment whicli opened on the staircase, and was gone. Lydia Gra- 
ham remained alone for a few moments, in a triumphant reTerie, 
then she joined Gordon Graham and the bewitching widow, who 
had been making the most of the opportunity for indulging in 
her favourite florid style of flirtation. 

" I have won," Lydia said to herself; " and how easily ! Poor 
fellow ; his agitation was really painful. He did not even stop 
to shake hands with me." 

Mrs. Marmaduke took leave of her dearest Lydia, and her 
dearest Lydia's brother, soon after Douglas Dale had departed, 
and Miss Graham and her brother were left tete-d-tete. 

•* Well," said Gordon Graham, with rather a sulky air, " you 
don't seem to have done much execution by your dinner-party, 
my young lady. Dale went off in a great hurry, which does not 
say much for your powers of fascination." 

Lydia gave her head a triumphant little toss as she looked at 
her brother. 

" You are remarkably clever, my dear Gordon, she said ; " but 
you are apt to make mistakes occasionally, in spite of your 
cleverness. What should you say if I were to tell you that 
Mr. Dale has this evening almost made me an offer of his hand ? " 

" You don't mean to say so ? " 

♦• I do mean to say so," answered Lydia, triumphantly. " He 
is one of that eccentric kind of people who have their own man- 
ner of doing things, and do not care to tread the beaten track ; 
or it may be that it is only his reserved nature which renders him 
strange and awkward in his manner of avowing himself." 

"Never mind how awkwardly the offer has been made, pro- 
vided it is genuine," returned the practical Captain Graham. 
" But I don't like * almosts.' Besides, you really must mind 
what you are about, Lydia ; for I assure you there is no doul.)t at 
all about the fact of his engagement. He stated it himself." 

" Well, and suppose he did," said Lydia, "and suppose some 
good-for-nothing woman, in an equivocal position, has trapped 
him into an offer. Is he the first man who has got into a dilem- 
ma of that kind, and got out of it ? He thought I cared for 
Lionel, and that so there was no hope for him. I can quite 
understand his getting himself into an entanglement of the 
kind, under such circumstances." 

Gordon Graham smiled, a certain satirical smile, intensely ir- 
ritating to his sister's temper (which she called her nerves), and 
which it was rather fortunate she didnot see. He was perfectly 
alive to the omnivorous quality of his sister's vanity, and per- 
fectly aware that it had on manjr occasions led her into a fool's 
paradise, whence she had been ejected into the waste regionsof 
disappointment and bitterness of spirit. He had been quite 
willing that she should try the experiment upon Douglas Dale, 



826 ^-^ Bun io Earth. 

to -wliicli that gentleman nad just been subjected ; but he ha<3 
not been sanguine as to its results, and he did not implicitly 
confide in the very exhilarating statement now made to him by 
Lydia. If Douglas Dale's "almost" proposal meant nothing 
more than that he would be glad, or implied that he would be 
glad to be off with Paulina and on with Lydia, he did not think 
very highly of the chances of the latter. A man of the world, 
in the worst sense of that widely significant word, Gordon Gra- 
ham was inclined to think that Douglas Dale was merely trifling 
with his sister, indulging in a " safe" flirtation, under the aegia 
of an avowed engagement. Graham felt very anxious to know 
the particulars of the conversation between Dale and his sister, 
in order to discover how far they bore out his theory ; but he 
knew Lydia. too well to place implicit reliance on any statement 
of them he might elicit from her. 

" Well, but," said he, " supposing you are right in all this, the 
* entanglement,' as you call it, exists. How did he explain, or 
excuse it .P" 

Lydia smiled, a self-satisfied, contemptuous smile. She was 
not jealous of Madame Durski; she despised her. " He did not 
excuse it ; he did not explain ; he knows he has no severity to 
fear from me. All he needs is to induce me to acknowledge my 
affection for him, and then he will soon rid himself of all ob- 
stacles. Don't be afraid, Gordon ; this is a great falling off 
from the ambitions I once cherished, the hopes I once formed ; 
this is a very different kind of thing from Sir Oswald Everslei^h 
and Eaynham Castle, but I have made up my mind to be content 
with it." 

Lydia spoke with a kind of virtuous resignation and resolu- 
tioD, infinitely assuring to her brother. But he was getting tired 
of the discussion, and desirous to end it. Anxious as he was to 
be rid of his sister, and to effect the riddance on the best possible 
terms, he did not mean to be bored by her just then. So he 
spoke to the point at once. 

" That's rather a queer mode of proceeding," he said. " You 
are to avow your affection for this fine gentleman, and then he 
is to throw over another lady in order to reward your devotion. 
There was a day when Miss Graham's pride would have been 
outraged by a proposition which certainly seems rather hu- 
mihating." 

Lydia flushed crimson, and looked at her brother with angry 
eyes. She felt the sting of his malicious speech, and knew thnt 
it was intended to wound her. 

" Pride and I have long parted company," she answered, bit- 
terly. "I have learnt to endure degradation as placidly as yon 
do when you condescend to become the toady and flatterer ol 
richer men than yourselfi** 



**A Wo-dhJess Woman, mere Cold Clay:' 327 

Captain Graliam did not take the tronble to resent this remark. 
He smiled at his sister's anger, with the air of a man who is 
quite indifferent to the opinion of others. 

" "Well, my dear Ljdia," he said, good-hnmonredly, " all I can 
gay is, that if yon liave caught the brother of your late admirer, 
you are very lucky. The merest schoolboy knows enough arith- 
metic to be aware that ten thousand a year is twice as good as 
five. And it certainly is not every woman's fortune to be able 
to recover a chance which seemed so nearly lost as yours when 
we left Hallgrove. By all means nail him to his proposition, 
and let him throw over the lovely Paulina. What a fool the 
man must be not to know his mind a little better !" 

** !Madame Durski entrapped him into the engagement," said 
Lydia, scornfully. 

"Ah, to be sure, women have a way of laying snares of the 
matrimonial kind, as yon and I know, my dear Lydia. And 
now, good night. Go and think about your trousseau in the si- 
lence of your own apartment." 

Lydia Graham fell asleep that night, secure in the certainty 
that the end and aim of her selfish life had been at last attained, 
and disposed to regard the interval as very brief that must 
elapse before Douglas Dale would come to throw himself at her 
feet. 

For a day or two unwonted peace and serenity were observable 
in Lydia Graham's demeanour and countenance. She took even 
more than the ordinary pains with her dress; she arranged her 
little drawinsr-room more than ever effectively and with sedu- 
lous care, and she remained at home every afternoon, in spite of 
fine weather and an unusual number of invitations. l^iX 
Douglas Dale made no sign, He did not come, he did not 
write, and all his enthusiastic declarations seemed to have ended 
in nothing. The truth was that Paulina Durski was ill, and in 
his anxiety and uneasiness, Douglas forgot even the exis- 
tence of Lydia Graham. 

A vagne alarm began to fill Lydia's mind, and she felt as if 
the crood establishment, the liberal allowance of pin-money, the 
equipages, the clever French maid, the diamonds, and all the 
other dehghtful things which she had looked upon almost as al- 
ready her own, were suddenly vanishing away like a dream. 

Miss Graham was in no very amiable humour when, after a 
week's watching and suspense, she descended to the dining-room, 
a small and shabbily furnished apartment, which bore upon it 
the stamp peculiar to London lodging-houses — an aspect which 
is just the reverse of everything we look for in a home. 

Gordon Graham was already seated at the breakfast-table. 

A letter for Miss Graham lay by the side of her breakfast-cup 
«— e bulky document, with four stamps upon the envelope 



Bun to Ea/rth. 

Lydia knew the hand too well. It was that of her French 
lilliner, Mademoiselle Susanne, to whom she owed a sum which 
Bhe knew never could b« paid out of her own finances. The 
thought of this debt had been a perpetual nightmare to her. 
There was no such thing as bankruptcy for a lady of fashion m 
those days ; and it was in the power of Mademoiselle Susanne 
to put her high-bred creditor into a common prison, and detain 
her there until she had passed the ordeal of the Insolvent 
Debtors' Court. 

Lydia opened the packet with a sinking heart. There it was, 
the awful bill, with its records of elegant dresses— every one of 
which had been worn with the hope of conquest, and all of 
which had, so far, failed to attain the hoped-for victory. And 
at the end of that long list came the fearful total— close upon 
three hundred pounds ! 

" I can never pay it ! " murmured Lydia ; " never ! never ! 

Her involuntary exclamation sounded almost Uke a cry of 

despair. •■.•■. 

Gordon Graham looked up from the newspaper m which 
he had been absorbed until this moment, and stared at his 

" What's the matter ? " he exclaimed. " Oh, I see ! it's a bill 
— Susanne's, I suppose? WeU, well, you women will make 
yourselves handsome at any cost, and you must pay for it sooner 
or later. If you can secure Douglas Dale, a cheque from him 
will soon settle Mademoiselle Susanne, and make her your hum- 
ble slave for the future. But what has gone wrong with you, 
my Lydia ? Your brow wears a gloomy shade this morning. 
Have you received no tidings of your lover? " 

" Gordon," said Lydia, passionately, " do not taunt me. I 
don't know what to think. But I have played a desperate game 
—I have risked all upon the hazard of this die— and if I have 
failed I must submit to my fate. I can struggle no longer ; I 
am utterly weary of a life that has brought me nothing but dis- 
appointment and defeat." 

CHAPTER XXXn. 

A MEETING AND AN EXPLANATION. 

For George Jernam's young wife, the days passed sadly enough 
in the pleasant village of Allanbay. Fair as the scene of her 
life was, to poor Rosamond it seemed as if the earth were over- 
shadowed by dark clouds, through which no ray of sunHght 
could penetrate. The affection which had sprung up between 
her and Susan Jernam was deep and strong, and the only gleam 
of happiness which Rosamond experienced in her melancholy 
existence came from the affection of her husband'g aunt. 



A Meeting cund an E^lcmation, 329 

If Rosamond's existence was not happy, it was, at least in all 
outward seeming, peaceful. But the heart of the deserted wife 
knew not peace. She was perpetually brooding over the strange 
circumstances of George's departure — perpetually asking her- 
fself why it was he had left her. 

She could shape no answer to that constantly repeated qnes- 
tion. 

Had he ceased to love her ? No ! surely that could not be, 
for the change which arises in the most inconstant heart is, at 
least, gradual. George Jernam had changed in a day— in an hour. 

Reason upon the subject as she might, the conviction at which 
Rosamond arrived at last was always the same. She believed 
that the mysterious change that had arisen in the husband she 
80 fondly loved was a change in the mind itself— a sudden mono- 
mania, beyond the influence of the outer world— a wild halluci- 
nation of the brain, not to be cured by any ordinary physician. 

BeHeving tliis, the wife's heart was tortured as she thought of 
the perils that surrounded her husband's life— perils that were 
doubly terrible for one whose mind had lost its even balance. 

She watched every alteration in the atmosphere, every cloud 
in the sky, with unspeakable anxiety. As the autumn gave 
place to winter, as the winds blew loud above the broad expanse 
of ocean, as the foam-crests of the dark waves rose high, and 
gleamed white and silvery in the dim twilight, her heart sank 
with an awful fear for the absent wanderer. 

Night and day her prayers arose to heaven — snch prayers 
as only the loving heart of woman breathes for the object of 
all her thoughts. 

While Rosamond occupied the abode which Captain Jernam 
had chosen for her, River View Cottage was abandoned entirely 
to the care of Mrs. Mugby and Susan Trott, and the trim house 
had a desolate look in the dismal autumn days, and the darken- 
ing winter twihghts, carefully as it was kept by Mrs. Mugby, 
who aired the rooms, and dusted and polished the furniture 
every day, as industriously as if she had been certain of the 
ca^Dtain's return before night- fall. ^^ 

"He may come this night, or he may not come for a year, 
she said to Susan very often, when Miss Trott was a little dis- 
posed to neglect some of her duties, in the way of dusting and 
Eolishing; "but mark my words, Susan, when he does come, 
e'U come sudden, without so much as one line of warning, or 
notice enough to get a bit of dinner ready for him." 

The day came at last when the housekeeper was gratified to 
find that aU her dnsting and polishing had not been thrown 
away. Captain Buncombe returned exactly as she had pro- 
phesied he would return, without sending either note or message 
to give warning of his arrival 



830 Eun to BaHh. 

He rang the bell one day, and walL-cd into the garden, an<i 
from the garden into the house, with the air of a man who had 
just come home from a morning's walk, much to the astonish- 
ment of Susan Trott, who admitted him, and who stared at him 
with eyes opened to their widest extent, as he strode hurriedly 
past her. 

He went straight into the parlour he had been accustomed to 
sit in. A fire was burning brightly in the pohshed steel grate, 
and everything bore the appearance of extreme comfort. 

The merchant-captain looked round the room with an air of 
satisfaction. 

" There's nothing Hke a trip to the Indies for making a man 
appreciate the comforts of his own home," he exclaimed. " How 
cheery it all looks ; and a man must be a fool who couldn't 
enjoy himself at home after tossing about in a hurricane off 
Gibraltar for a week at a stretch. But where's your mistress ?^* 
cried Joe Buncombe, suddenly, turning to the astonished Susan. 
" Where's Mrs. Jernam ? — where's my daughter ? Doesn't she 
hear her old father's gruff voice ? Isn't she coming to bid me 
welcome after all I've gone through to earn more money for 
her ? " 

Before Susan could answer, Mrs. Mugby had heard the voice 
of her master, and came hurrying in to greet him. 

" Thank you for your hearty welcome," said the captain, hur- 
riedly ; "but where's my daughter? Is she out of doors this 
cold winter day, gadding about London streets ? — or how the 
deuce is it she doesn't come to give her old father a kiss, and 
bid him welcome home ? " 

"Lor', sir," cried Mrs. Mugby, "you don't mean to say as yon 
haven't heard from Miss Eosa — begging your pardon, Mrs. Jer- 
ham — but the other do come so much more natural ? " 

" Heard from her ! " exclaimed the captain. " Not I, I haven't 
had a line from her. But heaven have mercy on us ! how the 
woman does stare ! There isn't anything wrong with my daugh- 
ter, is there ? She's well — eh ? " 

The captain's honest face grew pale, as a sudden fear arose in 
his mind. 

" Don't teU me my daughter is ill," he gasped; " or worse ** 

"No, no, no, captain," cried Mrs. Mugby. "I heard from 
Mrs. Jernam only a week ago, and she was quite well; but 
she is residing down in Devonshire, where she removed with 
her husband last July ; and I made sure you would have re- 
ceived a letter telling you of the change." 

" What ! " roared Joseph Duncombe ; " did my daughter go 
and turn her back upon the comfortable Httle box her father 
built for her — the place he spent his hard-won earnings upon 
for her sake P So Rosy got tired of the cottage, did she ? It 



A Meeiing and an Explanation. 831 

wasa't good enough for her, I suppose. Well, well, that doea 
Boem rather hard somehow — it does seem hard." ^ 

The captain dropped heavily down into the chair nearest him. 
He was deeply wounded by the idea that his daughter had de* 
eerted the home which he had made for her. 

*' Begging your pardon, sir," interposed Mrs. Mughy, in her 
most insinuating tone, "which I am well aware it's not my 
place to interfere in family matters ; but knowing as devotion 
itself is a word not strong enough to erpress Mrs, Jemam's 
feeUngs for her pa, I cannot stand by and see her misunderstood 
by that very pa. It was no doings of hers as she left Eiver 
View, Captam Buncombe, for the pace was very dear to her; 
but Captain Jernam, he took it into his head all of a sudden 
he'd set off for foreign parts in his ship the * Albert's horse ' ; 
and before he went, he insisted on taking Mrs. Jernam down to 
Devonshire, which burying her alive would be too mild a word 
for such cruelty, I think." 

" What ! he deserted his post, did he? " exclaimed the captain, 
" Ran awav from his pretty young wife, after promising to stop 
vith her till I came back ! Now, I_ don't call that an honest 
man's conduct," added the captain, indignantly. 

"No more would any one, sir," answered the housekeeper. 
•' A wild, roving Hfe is all very well in its way, but if a man who 
is just married to a pretty young wife, that worships the very 
ground he walks on, can't stay at home quiet, I should like to 
know who can ?" 

" So he went to sea himself, and took his wife down to Devon- 
shire before he sailed, eh ? " said the captain. " Very fine goings 
on, upon my word ! And did Miss Rosy consent to leave her 
father's home without a murmur ?" he asked, angrily. 

"Begging your pardon, sir," pleaded Mrs. Mugby, "Miss 
Rosamond was not the one to murmur before servants, whatever 
she miffht feel in her heart. I overheard her crying and sobbing 
dreadful one night, poor dear, when she little thought as there 
was any one to overhear her." 

" Did she say anything to you before she left P" 
" Not till the night before she went away, and then she >anie 
to me in my kitchen, and said, * Mrs. Mugby, it's my husband|8 
wish I should go down to Devonshire and live there, while he'a 
away with his ship. Of course, I am very sorry to leave the 
house that my dear father made such a happy home for me, and 
in which he and I lived so peaceably together; but I am bound 
to obey my hi/sband, let him ask what he will I shall write to 
my dear father, and tell him how sorry I am to leave my home."* 
" Did she say that?" said the captain, evidently touched by 
this proof of his child's affection. " Then I won't behe her so 
much as to doubt her love for me, I never got her letter ; and 



832 l^un to Eari%. 

why George Jernam should kick up his heels dirtctlyl was goiiG^ 
and be off with his ship goodness knows where, is more than I 
can tell. I begin to think the best sailor that ever roamed tha 
seas is a bad bargain for a husband. I'm sorry I ever let my 
girl marry a rover. However, I'll just settle my business in 
London, and be off to Devonshire to see my poor little deserted 
Eosy. I suppose she's gone to live at that sea-coast village 
where Jemam's aunt lives?" 

•*Yes, sir, Allandale — or Allanbay — or some such name, I 
think, they call the place." 

" Yes, Allanbay — I remember," answered the captain. " I'll 
try and get through the business I've got on hand to-night, and 
be off to Devonshire to-morrow." 

Mrs. Mugby exerted herself to the uttermost in her endeavour 
to make the captain's first dinner at home a great culinary tri. 
umph, but the disappointment he had experienced that morniuir 
had quite taken away his appetite. He had anticipated such 
delight from his unannounced return to Kiver View Cottage ; 
he had pictured to himself his daughter's rapturous welcome ; 
he had fancied her rushing to greet him at the first sound of his 
voice ; and had almost felt her soft arm clasped aroandhis neck, 
her kisses on his face. 

Instead of the realization of this bright dream, he had found 
only disappointment. 

Susan Trott placed the materials for the captain's favourite 
punch upon the table after she had removed the cloth; but 
Joseph Duncombe did not appear to see the cherry preparations 
for a comfortable evening. He rose hastily from his chair, put 
on his hat, and went out, much to the discomfiture of the worthy 
Mrs. Mugby. 

" After what I went through with standing over that roaring 
furnace of a kitchen-range, it does seem hard to see my solejust 
turned over and played with, like, and my chicking not so much 
as touched," said the dame. " Oh, Miss Rosamond, Miss Rosa- 
mond, you've a deal to answer for!" 

Captain Duncombe walked along the dark road between the 
cottage and Ratchff Highway at a rapid pace. He soon reached 
the flaring lights of the sailors' quarter, through which he made 
his way as fast as he could to a respectable and comfortable little 
tavern near the Tower, much frequented by officers of the mer. 
chant service. 

He had promised to meet an old shipmate at this house, and 
was very glad of an excuse for spending his evening away from 
home. 

In the little parlour he found the friend he expected to see, 
and the two sailors took their glasses of grog together in a 
very friendly manner, and then parted, the captain's friend going 



A Meeting and an Explanation. 333 

^way first, as he had a long distance to walk, in order to reach 
his suburban home. 

The captain was sitting by the fire meditating, and sipping 
his last glass of grog, when the door was opened, and some one 
came into the room. 

Joseph Doncombe looked np witk a start as the new-comer 
entered, and, to his intense astonishment, recognized George 
Jernam. 

«*Jemam!** he cried; "yon m London? Well, this is the 
greatest surprise of all." 

" Indeed, Captain Duncombe," answered the other, coolly ; 
"the 'Albatross' only entered the port of London this afternoon. 
This is the first place I have come to, and of all men on earth I 
least expected to meet yon here." 

" And from your tone, youngster, it seems as if the surprise 
were by no means a pleasant one," cried Joseph Duncombe. 
"]May I ask how Rosamond Duncombe' s husband comes to 
address his wife's father in the tone you have just used to me ?" 

"Yon are Rosamond's father," answered George; "that is 
sufficient reason that Valentine Jemam's brother should keep 
aloof from you." 

" The man's mad," mnttered Captain Dnncombe ; " nndoubt- 
edly mad." 

'* No," answered George Jemara, " I am not mad — I am only 
too acutely conscious of the misery of my position. I love your 
daughter, Joseph Duncombe; love her as fondly and truly as 
ever a man loved the wife of his choice. And yet here am I 
skulking in London, alone and miserable, at the hour when I 
should be hurrying back to the home of my darling. Dear 
though she is to me — truly as I love her — I dare not go back to 
her; for between her and me there rises the phantom of my 
murdered brother Valentine !" 

" What on earth has my daughter Rosamond to do with the 
wretched fat€ of your brother .''" asked the captain. 

"In her own person, nothing; but it is her misfortune to be 
allied to one who was in league with the assassin, or assassins, 
of my unhappy brother." 

"What, in heaven's name, do yon mean?" a.sked the bewil- 
dered captain of the " Vixen." 

" Do not press me for my meaning. Captain Duncombe,** 
answered George, in a repellant tone; "you are my father-in- 
law. The knowledge which accident revealed to me of one dark 
secret in your life of seeming honesty came too late to prevent 
J that tie between us. When the fatal truth revealed itself to me 
I was already your daughter's husband. That secures my silence. 
Do not force yourself upon me. I shall do my duty to your 
d-iQghter as if vou and your crime had never been ur=on thia 

1 



834 Bun to Earth. 

earth. But yon and I can never meet again except as foes. The 
remembrance of my brother Valentine is part and parcel of my 
life, and a wrong done to him is twice a wrong to myself." 

The captain of the " Vixen " had arisen from his chair. He 
stood before his son-in-law, breathless, crimson with passion. 

"George Jemam," ke cried, "do you want me to knock you 
down ? Egad, my fine gentleman, you may consider yourself 
lucky that I have not done it before this. What do you mean 
by all that balderdash you've been talking ? What does it all 
mean, I say ? Are you drunk, or mad, or both ?" 

" Captain Dnncombe," said George, calmly, " do you really 
wish me to speak plainly ?" 

*' It will be very much the worse for you if yon don't," retorted 
the infuriated captain. 

" First, then, let me tell you that before I left River View 
Cottage last July, your daughter pressed me to avail myself of 
the contents of your desk one day when I was in want of foreign 
letter-paper." 

"Well, what then P" 

" Very much against my own inclination, I consented to open 
that desk with a key in Eosamond's possession. I did not pry 
into the secrets of its contents ; but before me, in the tray in- 
tended for pens, I saw an object which could not fail to attract 
my attention — which riveted my gaze as surely as if I had 
'lighted on a snake." 

" What in the name of all that's bewildering could that object 
have been ? " cried the captain. " I don't keep many curiosities 
in my writing-desk ! " 

" I will show you what I found that day," answered George. 
" The finding of it changed the whole current of my hie, and 
sent me away from that once happy home a restless and miser- 
able wanderer." 

" The man's mad," muttered Captain Buncombe to himself; 
** he must be mad!" 

George Jemam took from his waistcoat pocket a tiny parcel, 
and unfolding the paper covering, revealed a gold coin — the 
bent Brazihan coin — which he placed in the captain's hands. 

" Why ! heaven have mercy on ua ! " cried Joseph Duncombe, 
** if that isn't the ghost's money ! " ^ 

There was astonishment plainly depicted on his countenance ; 
but no look of guilt. George Jemam watched his face as he 
contemplated the token, and saw that it was not the face of a 
guilty man. 

"Oh, captain, captain!" he exclaimed, remorsefully, "if I 
b.ave suspected you all this time for nothing? " 

** Suspected me of what ? " 

* Of being concerned, more or less, in my brother's mordei* 



A "Meeting and an Explisnation. 3C5 

That piece of gold whicli you now hold ij> your hand was a fare- 
well token, given 1^ ^ne to him; you may see my initials 
scratched upon it. I found it in your desk." _ 

" And therefore suspected that I was the aider and abettor of 
thieves and murderers ! " exclaimed the captain of the "Vixen." 
" George Jernam, I am ashamed of you." 

There was a depth of reproach in the words, oommon-place 
though they were. 

George Jernam covered hio face with his hands, and sat with 
bent head before the man he had so cruelly wronged. 

" If I was a proud man," said Joseph Buncombe, " I shouldn't 
stoop to make any explanation to you. But as I am not a proud 
man, and as you are my daughter's husband, I'll tell you how 
that bit of gold came into my keeping ; and when I've told you 
my story, I'll bring witnesses to prove that it's true. Yes, 
George, I'll not ask you to believe my word; for how can you 
take the word of a man you have thought base enough to be the 
accomplice of a murderer ? Oh, George, it was too cruel — too 
cruel!" 

There was a brief silence ; and then Captain Buncombe told 
the story of the appearance of old Screwton's ghost, and the 
coin found in the kitchen at Eiver Yiew Cottage after the de- 
parture of that apparition. 

" I've faced many a danger in my lifetime, George Jernam," 
said Captain Buncombe ; " and I don't think there's any man 
who ever walked the ship's deck beside me that would call me 
coward ; and yet I'll confess to you I was frightened that night. 
Fleeh and blood I'll face anywhere and anyhow ; I'll stand up 
alone, and fight for my hfe, one against six — one against twenty, 
if needs be; but when it comes to a visit from the other world, 
Joseph Buncombe is done. He shuts up, sir, like an oyster." 

" And do you really believe the man you saw that night was 
a visitant from the other world ? " 

"What else can I beheve? I'd heard the description of old 
Screwton's ghost, and what I saw answered to the description aa 
close as could be." 

" Visitors from the other world do not leave substantial evi- 
dences of their presence behind them," answered George. " The 
man who dropped that gold coin was no ghost We'll see into 
this business. Captain Buncombe; we'll fathom it,_ my sterioua 
as it is. I expect Joyce Harker back from Ceylon in a mouth 
or so. He knows more of my brother's fate than any man living, 
except those who were concerned in the doing of the deed. 
He'll get to the bottom of this business, depend upon it, if any 
man can. And now, friend— father, can you find it in ^^jo^ 
heart to forgive me for the bitter wrong I have done you? " 

" Well, George," answered Joseph Buncombe, gravely, " Fm 



336 Bu/ii to Earth. 

not an unforgiving cliap ; but there are some things try the 
easiest of men rather hard, and this is one of them. However, 
for my little Rosy's sake, and ont of remembrance of the long 
night-watches yon and I have kept together ont npon the 
lonesome sea, I forgive yon. There's my hand and my heart 
with it." 

George's eyes were fall of tears as he grasped his old captain's 
strong hand. 

"God bless yon," he mnrmnred; "and heaven be praised 
that I came into this room to-night I Yon don't know the 
weight yon've lifted off my heart ; yon don't know what I've 
suffered." 

"More fool you," cried Joe Buncombe; "and now say no 
more. We'll start for Devonshire together by the first coach 
that leaves London to-morrow morning." 



CHAPTER XXXin. 

** TREASON HAS DONE HIS TVORST." 

Black Milsom, otherwise Mr. Maunders, kept a close watch on 
Raynham Castle, through the agency of his friend, James Har- 
wood, whose visits he encouraged by the most liberal treatment, 
and for whom he was always ready to brew a steaming jorum of 
punch. 

Mr. Maunders showed a greai deal of curiosity concerning the 
details of Hfe within the castle, and was particularly fond of 
leading Harwood to talk about the excessive care taken of the 
baby -heiress, and the precautions observed by Lady Eversleigh's 
orders. One day, when he had led the conversation in the ac- 
customed direction, he said : 

" One would think they were afraid somebody would try to 
steal the child." 

" So you would, Mr. Maunders. But you see every situation 
in life has its trials, and a child can't be a great heiress for 
nothing. One day, when I was sitting in the rumble of the 
open carriage, I heard Captain Copplestone let drop in his con- 
versation with Mrs. Morden as how the child has enemies — 
bitter enemies, he said, as might try to do her harm, if she wem't 
looked after sharp." 

" I've known you a good long time now, Mr. Harwood, and 
you've partaken of many a glass of rum-punch in my parlour," 
said Black Milsom, otherwise Mr. Maunders, of the " Cat and 
riddle "; " and in all that time you've never once offered to in- 
troduce me to one of your fellow-servants, or asked me to take 
80 much as a cup of tea in your servants'-hall." 

" Begging your pardon, Mr. Maunders," said the groom, m 



" Treason has done his Worst:' 337 

an msinaatingtone; "as to askin* a friend to take a cup of tea, 
or a little bit of snpper, without leave from Mrs. Smithson, the 
housekeeper, is more than my place is worth." 

" But you might get leave I should think, eh, James Har- 
wood?" returned Milsom ; " especially if your friend happened 
to be a respectable householder, and able to offer a comfortable 
glass to any of your fellow-servants." 

" I'm sure if I had thought as you'd accept a invitation to 
the servants'-'all, I'd have asked leave before now," replied 
James Harwood; " but I'm sure I thought as you wouldn't de- 
mean yourself to take your glass of ale, or your cup of tea, any- 
wheres below the housekeeper's room— and she's a rare starched 
one is Mrs. Smithson." 

" I'm not proud," said Mr. Milsom. " I like a convivial even- 
incy, whether it's in the housekeeper's room or the servants'- 
ha°1» 

"Then I'll ask leave to-night," answered James Harwood. 

He sent a little scrawl to Milsom next day, by the hands of 
a stable-boy, inviting that gentleman to a social rubber and a 
friendly supper in the servants'-hallthat evening at seveno'clock. 

To spend a few hours inside Kaynham Castlewas the privi- 
lege which Black Milsom most desired, and a triumphant grin 
broke out upon his face, as he deciphered James Harwood's 
clumsy scrawl. 

" How easy it's done," he muttered to himself; " how easy 
it's done, if a man has only the patience to wait" 

The servants' -hall was a pleasant place to live in, but if Mrs. 
Smithson, the housekeeper, was Hberal in her ideas she was also 
strict, and on some points especially severe ; and the chief of 
these was the precision with which she required, the doors of the 
castle to be locked for the night at half-past ten o'clock. 

On more than one occasion, lately, Mrs. Smithson had a sus- 
picion that there was one offender against this rule. The of- 
fender in question was Matthew Brook, the head-coachman, a 
jovial, burly Briton, with convivial habits and a taste for politics, 
who preferred enjoying his pipe and glass and pohtical discussion 
in the parlour of the " Hen and Chickens " public-house to 
spending his evenings in the servants'-hall at Eaynham Castle. 

He was rarely home before ten ; sometimes not until half- 
past ten ; and one never-to-be-forgotten night, Mrs. Smithson 
had heard him, with her own ears, enter the doors of the castle 
at the unholy hour of twenty minutes to eleven ! 

There was one appalling fact of which Mrs. Smithson was 
entirely ignorant. And that was the fact that Matthew Brook 
had entered the castle by a little half-glass door on several 
occasions, half an hour or more after the great oaken door lead- 
ing into the servants'-hall had been bolted and barred with aU 



838 Bim to EcniJi, 

due solemnity before the approving eyes of tie honsekeepei 
herself. 

Tlie little door in question opened into a small ground-floo* 
bed--room, in whicli one of the footmen slept ; and nothing was 
more easy than for this man to shelter the nightly misdoings of 
his fellow-servant by letting him slip quietly through his bed- 
room, unknown to any member of the household. 

James Harwood, the groom was a confirmed gossip ; and, of 
course, he had not failed to inform his friend, Mr. Maunders, 
otherwise Black Milsom, of Matthew Brook's little delinquen- 
cies. Mr. Maunders listened to the account with interest, as he 
did to everything relating to affairs in the household of which 
Harwood was a member. 

It was some little time after this conversation tbat Mr. Mil- 
som was in\'ited to sup at the castle. 

Several friendly rubbers were played by Mrs. Trimmer, the 
cook; Matthew Brook^ the coachman; James Harwood, and 
Thomas Milsom, known to the company as Mr. Maunders. 
Honest Matthew and he were partners; and it was to be observed, 
by any one who had taken the trouble to watch the party, that 
Milsom paid more attention to his partner than to his cards, 
whereby he lost the opportunity of distinguishing himself as a 
good whist-player. 

The whist-party broke up while the cloth was being laid on a 
large table for supper, and the men adjourned to the noble old 
stone quadrangle, on which the servant' s-hall abutted. James 
Harwood, Brook, Milsom, and two of the footmen strolled up 
and down, smoking under a cold starlit sky. The apai-tments 
occupied by the family were all on the garden front, and the 
smoking of tobacco in the quadrangle was not forbidden. 

Milsom, who had until this time devoted his attention ex- 
clusively to the coachman, now contnved to place himself next 
to James Harwood, as the party paced to and fro before the 
servants' quarters. 

" Which is the little door Brook slips in at when he's past his 
time ? " he asked, carelessly, of Harwood, taking care, however, 
to drop his voice to a whisper. 

"We're just coming to it," answered the groom; "that little 
glass door on my right hand. Steph's a good-natured fellow, 
and always leaves his door unfastened when old Mat is out late. 
The room he sleeps in was once a lobby, and opens into the 
passage ; bo it comes very convenient to Brook. Everybody 
likes old Mat Brook, you see ; and there isn't one amongst ui 
would peach if he got into trouble." 

" And a jolly old chap he is as ever lived," answered Black 
Milsom, who seemed to have taken a wonderful fancy to the 
ocnvivlal coachman. 



*' Treaton lias done his Worst.^^ 

"You come down to my place whenever you like, Mr. Brook," 
he said, presently, putting his arm through that of the coach- 
man, in a very friendly manner. " Tou shall be free and wel- 
come to everything I've got in my house. ^ And I know how 
to brew a decent jorum of punch when I give my mind to it, 
don't I, Jim ? " 

Mr. James Harwood protested that no one else could brew 
Buch punch as that concocted by the landlord of the " Cat and 
Fiddle." 

The supper was a very cheery banquet ; ponderous sHces of 
underdone roast beef disappeared as if by magic,_ and the con 
sumption of pickles, from a physiological or sanitary point of 
view, positively appalling. After the beef and pickles came a 
Titanic cheese and a small stack of celery; while the brown 
beer pitcher went so often to the barrel that it is a matter of 
wonder that it escaped unbroken. 

At a quarter past ten Mr. Maunders bade his new acquain- 
tance good night ; but before departing he begged, as a great 
favour, to be permitted one peep at the grand oak hall. 

" You shall see it," cried good-natured Matthew Brook. " It's 
a siirht worth coming many a mile to see. Step this way." 

He led the way along a dark passage to a door that opened 
into the great entrance-hall. It was indeed a noble charnber. 
Black Milsom stood for some moments contemplating it in 
silence, with a reverential stare. 

" And which may be the back staircase, leading to the little 
lady's rooms ? " he asked, presently. 

'•'That door opens on to the foot of it," rephed the coach- 
man. "Captain Coppletone sleeps in the room you come to 
first, on the first floor ; and the Httle missy's rooms are inside 
his'n." 

Gertrude Eversleigh, the heiress of Eaynham, was one ot 
those lovely and caressing children who win the hearts of all 
around them, and in whose presence there is a charm as sweet 
as that which lurks in the beauty of a flower or the song of a 
bird. Her mother idohzed her, as we know, even thougl. she 
could resign herself to a separation from this loved child, sacri- 
ficing afi'ection to the all-absorbing purpose of her hfe. Before 
leaving Raynham Castle, Honoria had summoned the one only 
friend upon whom she could rely— Captain Copplestone— the 
man whose testimony alone had saved her from the hideous sus- 
jncion of murder— the man who had boldly declared hia behef 
in her innocence. ■, r •>■ n^ 

She wrote to him, telling him that she had need of hie tnend- 
ship for the only child of his dead friend, Sir Oswald ; and he 
came promptly m answer to her summons, pleased at the idea 
of seeing the child of his old comrade. 



S40 ^un to Bartn, 

He had read tlie annonncement of the child's birth in the 
newspapers, and had rejoiced to find that Providence had sent 
a consolation to the widow in her hour of desolation, 

" She is hke her father," he said, softly, after he had taken 
the child in his arms, and pressed his shaggy monstache to her 
pnre yonng brow. " Yes, the child is like my old comrade, Os- 
wald Eversleigh. She has your beauty, too, Lady Eversleigh, 
your dark eyes — those wonderful eyes, which my friend loved to 
praise." 

" I wish to heaven that he had never seen them ! " exclaimed 
Honoria ; " they brought him only evil fortune — anguish— un- 
timely death." 

" Come, come ! " cried the captain, cheerily ; " this won't do. 
If the workings of two villains brought about a breach between 
you and my poor friend, and resulted in his untimely end, the sin 
rests on their guilty heads, not on yours." 

" And the sin shall not go unpunished even upon this earth! " 
exclaimed Honoria, with intensity of feeling. "I only live for 
one purpose, Captain Copplestone, and that is to strip the 
masks from the faces of the two hypocrites and traitors, who, 
between them, compassed my disgrace and my husband's death; 
and I implore you to aid me in the carrying out of my purpose." 

" How can I do that?" cried the captain. ""When I begged 
yon to let me challenge that scoundrel, Carrington, and light 
him — in spite of our cowardly modem fashion, which has ex« 
ploded duelling — you implored me not to hazard my hfe^ I was 
your only friend, yon told me, and if my hfe were sacrificed you 
would be helpless and friendless. I gave way in order to satisfy 
you, though I should have liked to send a bullet through that 
French scoundrel's plotting brains." 

" And I thank you for your goodness," answered Lady Evers- 
leigh. " It is not by the bullet of a brave soldier that Victor 
Carrington should die. I will pursue the two villains silently, 
stealthily, as they pursued me; and when the hour _ of my 
tnumph comes, it" shall be a real triumph, not a defeat like that 
which ended their scheming. But if I stoop to wear a mask, I 
ask no such service from you, Captain Copplestone. I ask you 
only to take up your abode in this house, and to protect my 
child while I am away from home." 

•' Ton are really going to leave home ? " 

" For a considerable time." 

"And yon will tell me nothing about the nature of yotur 
schemes ? ** 

" Nothing. I shall do no wrong ; though I am about to dea\ 
with men so base that the common laws of honour can scarcely 
apply to any dealings with them." 

** And yoni mind ia let upon this strange scheme P** 



" Treason has done his Worst** 841 

" My mind is fixed. Notliing on earth can alter my resolution 
—not even my love for this child." 

Captain Copplestone saw that her determination was not to be 
reasoned away, and he made no further attempt to shake her 
resolve. He promised that, during her absence from the castle, 
he would guard Sir Oswald's daughter, and cherish her as ten- 
derly as if she had been his own child. 

It was by the captain's advice that Mrs. Morden was engaged 
to act as governess to the young heiress during her mother's 
absence. She was the widow of one of his brother-officers — a 
highly accomplished woman, and a woman of conscientioua 
feelings and high principle. 

"Xever had any creature more need of your protection than 
my child has," said Honoria. " This young life and mine are 
the sole obstacles that stand between Sir Reginald Eversleigh 
and fortune. You know what baseness and treachery he and 
his ally are capable of committing. You cannot,^ therefore, 
wonder if I imagine all kinds of dangers for my darhng." 

" No," rephed the captain; " I can only wonder that yon con- 
sent to leave her." 

"Ah, you do not understand. Can you not see that, so long 
as those two men exist, their crimes undiscovered, their real 
nature unsuspected in the world in which they live, there is per- 
petual danger for my child ? The task which I have set myself 
is the task of watching these two men ; and I will do it without 
flinching. When the hour of retribution approaches, I_may need 
your aid ; but till then let me do my work alone, and in secret." 
This was the utmost that Lady Eversleigh told Captain Cop- 
plestone respecting the motive of her absence from the castle. 
She placed her child in his care, trusting in him, under Provi- 
dence, for the guardianship of that innocent life ; and then she 
tore herself away. 

Nothing could exceed the care which the veteran soldier 
Destowed upon his youthful charge. 

It may be imagined, therefore, that nothing short of absolute 
necessity would have induced him to leave the neighbourhood of 
Kaynham during the absence of Lady Eversleigh. ^ 

Unhappily this necessity arose. Within a fortnight after the 
night on which Black Milsom had been invited to supper in the 
servants' -haU, Captain Copplestone quitted Eaynham Castle foi 
an indefinite period, for the first time since Lady Eversleigh' i 
departure. 

He was seated at breakfast in the pretty sitting-room in the 

south wing, which he occupied in common with the heiress and 

her governess, when a letter was brought to him by one of the 

castle servanti. 

** Ben Simmons has just brought this up from the ' Hen and 



S42 l^Un to EaHh. 

Chickens/ sir," said the man. "It came by the mail-coach that 
l^asses through Eaynham at six o'clock in the morning." 

Captain Copplestone gazed at the superscription of the letter 
with considerable surprise. The handwriting was that of Lady 
Eversleigh, and the letter was marked Im/mediate and im- 
portant. 

In those days there was no electric telegraph ; and a letter con- 
veyed thus had pretty much the same effect upon the captain's 
mind that a telegram would now-a-days exercise. It was some- 
thing special — out of the common rule. 

He tore open the missive hastily. It contained only a few 
lines in Honoria's hand ; but the hand was uncertain, and the 
letter scrawled and blotted, as if vrritten in extreme haste and 
agitation of mind. 

" Come to me at once, I entreat. Ihave immediate need of your 
help. Fray come, my dear friend. I shall not detain you lona. 
Lei the child rernaifi in the castle during your absence. She tt^ill 
be safe with Mrs. Morden. 

" Clarendon Hotel, London" 

This, and the date, was all. 

Captain Copplestone sat for some moments staring at this 
document with a look of unmitigated perplexity. 

" I can't make it out," he muttered to himself. 

Presently he said aloud to Mrs. Morden — 

•' What a pity it is you women all write so much alike that it's 
uncommonly difficult to swear to your writing. I'm perplexed 
by this letter, I can't quite understand being summoned away 
from my pet. I think you know Lady Eversleigh' s hand ? " 

" Yes," answered the lady ; " I received two letters from her 
before conadng here. I could scarcely be mistaken in her hand- 
writing." 

" You think not? Very well, then, please tell me if that is 
her hand," said the captain showing Mrs. Morden the addresa 
of the missive he had just received. 

" I should say decidedly, yes, that is her hand." 

" Humph ! " muttered the captain ; " she said something about 
wanting me when the hour of retribution drew near. Perhaps 
she has succeeded in her schemes more rapidly than she expected, 
and the time is come." 

The Httle girl had just quitted the room with her nurse, to be 
dressed for her morning run in the gardens. Mrs. Morden and 
the captain were alone. 

" Lady Eversleigh asks me to go up to London," he said, at 
last ; " and I suppose I must do what she wishes. But, upon my 
word, I've watched over little Gertrude so closely, and I've 
Srown so foohshly fond of her, that I don't like the idea of leav- 



"lVe.7.cc72 has done Ids WorsV 343 

ins iier, even for twenty-four honri, thougli, of cox^^ee, I kno'w 
I leave her in the best possible care." 

••What danger can approach her here ? " 

" Ah ; what danger, indeed ! " relumed the captain, thought- 
fully. " Within these walls she must be secure." 

" The child shall not leave the castle, nor shall she quit my 
Eight during your absence," said Mrs. Morden. " But I hope 
you will not stay away long." 

" Eely upon it that I shall not remain away an hour longer 
than necessary," answered the captain. 

An hour afterwards he departed from Baynham in a post- 
chaise. 

He left without having taken any farewell of Gertrude Evers- 
leigh. He could not trust himself to see her. 

This grim, weather-beaten old soldier had surrendered his heart 
entirely to the child of his dead friend. He travelled London- 
wards as fast as continual relays of post-horses could convey 
him ; and on the morning after he had received the letter from 
Lady Eversleigh, a post-chaise covered with the dust of the 
roads, rattled up to the Clarendon Hotel, and the traveller sprang 
out, after a sleepless night of impatience and anxiety. 

" Show me to Lady Eversleigh's rooms at once," he said to 
one of the servants in the hall. 

*' I beg your pardon, sir," said the man; " what name did you 
say ? " 

"Lady Eversleigh — Eversleigh — a widow-lady, staying in this 
house." 

" There must be some mistake, sir. There is no one of that 
name at present staying in the hotel," answered the man. 

The housekeeper had emerged from a little sitting-room, and 
had overheard this conversation. 

"No, sir," she said, "we have no one here of that name.** 

Captain Copplestone's dark face grew deadly pale. 

"A trap!" he muttered to himself; "a snare! That letter 
was a forgery ! " 

And without a word to the people of the house, he darted back 
to the street, sprang into the chaise, crying to the postilUons, 

" Don't lose a minute in getting a change of horses. I am 
going back to Yorkshire." 

The intimacy with the household of Eaynham Castle, begun 
by Mr. Maunders at the supper in the servants'-hall, strength- 
ened as time went by, and there was no member of the castle 
household for whom Mr. Maunders entertained so warm a friend- 
ship as that which he felt for Matthew Brook, the coachman, 
Matthew began to divide his custom between the rival tavern a 
of Baynham, spending an evening occasionally at the " Cat and 



344 Uun to SaHh. 

Fiddle," and appearing to enjoy himself very much at that in- 
ferior hostelry. 

About a fortnight had elapsed after the comfortable supper 
party at the castle, when Mr. Milsom took it into his head td 
make a formal return for the hospitalities he had received on 
that occasion. 

It happened that the evening chosen for this humble but com- 
fortable entertainment was the evening after Captain Oopple- 
Btone's departure from the castle. 

The supper was well cooked, and neatly placed on the table, 
A foaming tankard of ale flanked the large dish of hissing 
steaks ; and the gentlemen from the castle set to work with a 
good will to do justice to Mr. Maunders' s entertainment. 

When the table had been cleared of all except a bowl of punch 
and a tray of glasses, it is scarcely a matter for wonder if the 
quartette had grown rather noisy, with a tendency to become 
still louder in its mirth with every glass of Mr. Milsom's excel- 
lent compound. 

They were enjoying themselves as much as it is in the power 
of human nature to enjoy itself; they had proposed all manner 
of toasts, and had drunk them with cheers, and the mirth was 
at its loudest when the clock of the village church boomed out 
solemnly upon the stillness of night, and tolled the hour of ten. 

The three men staggered hastily to their feet. 

" We must be off, Maunders, old fellow," said the coachman, 
with a certain thickness of utterance. 

"Eight you are, Mat," answered Stephen. "You've had 
quite enough of that 'ere liquor, and so have we all. Grood night, 
Mr. Maunders, and thank you kindly for a jolly evening. Come, 
Jim. Come, Mat, old boy — off we go I " 

" No, no," cried Mr. Maunders, the hospitable ; ** I'm not 
a-going to let Matthew Brook leave my house at ten o'clock 
when he can stay as long as he hkes. You and he beat me at 
whist, but I mean to be even with him at cribbage. We'll have 
a friendly hand and a friendly glass, and I'll see h im as far as 
the gates afterwards. You'll let him in, Plumpton, come when 
he will, I know. If he can stay over his time at the other house, 
he can stay over his time with me. Come, Brook, you won't say 
no, will you, to a friend ? " asked IMilsom. 

Matthew Brook looked at Mr. Milsom, and at his fellow-ser- 
vants, in a stupid half-drunken manner, and rubbed his big head 
thoughtfully with his big hand. 

" I'm blest if I know what to do," he said ; " I've promised 
Stephen I wouldn't stay out after time again — and " 

"Not as a rule, perhaps," answered llr. Milsom ; "but once 
in a way can't make any difference, I'm sure, and Stephen 
Plumpton is the last to be ill-natured." 



^Treason lias done hvi Worst** 345 

^'"IKst I am," replied the good-tempered footman. " Stay, H 
j'cu Uke to stay, Mat. I'll leave my door nnfastened, and wel. 
oome." 

On this, the two other men took a friendly leave of their hosr 
and departed, walking throngh the village street with legs that 
were not by any means too steady. 

There was a triumphant grin npon Mr. Milsom's face as he 
shnt the door on these two departing guests. 

" Good night, and a good riddance to you," he muttered; "and 
now for Matthew Brook. You'll sleep sound enough to-nigrht, 
Stephen Plumpton, I'll warrant. So sound that if Old Kick 
himself went through your room you'd scarcely be much wiser." 

He went back to the little parlour in which he had left hia 
guest, the coachman. As he went, he slipped his forefinger and 
thumb into his waistcoat pocket, where they closed upon a tiny 
phial. It contained a pennyworth of laudanum, which he had 
purchased a week or so before from the Eaynham chemist, as a 
remedy for the toothache. 

Here he found Matthew Brook seated with his arms folded 
on the table, and his eyes fixed on the cribbage-board with 
that stoHd, unseeing gaze peculiar to drunkenness. 

"He's pretty far gone, as it is," Mr. Milsom thought to him- 
oelf, as he looked at his guest ; "it won't take much to send 
him further. Tike another glass of punch before we begin, eh, 
Brook ?" he a^iktxl, in that tone of jolly good-fellowship which 
had made him so agreeable to the castle servants. 

"So I will," cried Matthew; "'nother glass — punish the 
punch — eh — old boy? We'll punish glass — 'nother punch — 
hand cribbage — glorious evenin' — uproarious — happy — glorious 
— God save — 'nother glass." 

While Mr. Brook attempted to shuffle the cards, dropping 
them half under the table during the process, Black ]\Iilsom 
moved the bowl and glasses to a table behind the coachman's back. 

Here he filled a glass for Mr. Brook, which the coachman 
emptied at a draught ; but after having done so he made a wry 
face, and looked reproachfully at his host. 

" What the deuce was that you gave me ? " he asked, with some 
indignation. 

"What should it be but rum-punch?'* answered ^Milsom; 
" the same as you've been drinking all the evening." 

" I'll be hanged if it is," answered I^Ir. Brook ; " you've been 
playing off some of your publican's tricks upon me, Mr. Maun- 
ders, pouring the dregs of some stale porter into the bowl, or 
something of that kind. Don't you do it again. I'm a 'ver goo'* 
temper' chap, ber th' man tha' takes — hie — hbert' with — hie — 

once don't take — hie— libert' with m' twice. So, don* y' ^c tha, 
• • •• -' 



846 Bun to 'Earth. 

Tlii* v^as said with tipsy solemnity ; and then Mr. Brook 
made another effort to shuffle the cards, and stooped a great 
many times to pick up some of those he had dropped, but seemed 
never to succeed in picking up all of them. 

"I'll tell yon what it is, Maunders," he said, at last; "I'm 
getting an old man ; my sight isn't what it used to be. I'm 
bless' if — oan tell a king from — queen." 

Before he could complete the shuffling of the cards to his own 
satisfaction, Mr. Brook's eyelids began to droop over his watery 
eyes, and all at once his head fell forward on the table, amongsl; 
the scattered cards, his hair flopping against a fallen candlestick 
and smoking tallow candle. 

Mr. Milsom's air of jolly good-fellowship disappeared: ho 
sprang up suddenly, went to his friend, and shook him, rather 
/oughly for such friendship. 

Matthew snored a little louder, but slept on. 

« He's fast as a rock," muttered Black Milsom; "but I must 
wait till it's likely Stephen Plumpton will be as sound asleep as 
this one." 

Mr. Milsom went to his kitchen and ordered his only servant 
— a sturdy young native of the village — to go off to bed at 
once. 

" I've got a friend in the parlour : but I'll see him out myself 
when he goes," said Mr. Milsom. " You pack off to bed as 
soon as you've put out the lights in the bar, and shut the back- 
door." 

Mr. Milsom then returned to the apartment where his sleep- 
ing guest reposed. 

The coachman's capacious overcoat hung on a chair near where 
its owner slept. 

Mr. Milsom deliberately put on this coat, and the hat which 
Mr. Brook had worn with it. There was a thick woollen scarf 
of the coachman's lying on the flo#r near the chair, and this 
Black Milsom also put on, twisting it several times round his 
neck, so as to completely muffle the lower part of his face. 

He was of about the same height as Matthew, and the thick 
coat gave him bulk. 

Thus attired he might, in an uncertain light, have been very 
easily mistaken for the man whose clothes he wore. 

Mr. Milsom gave one last scrutinizing look at the sleeping 
coachman, and then extinguished the candle. 

The fire he had allowed to die out while he sat smoking : the 
room was, therefore, now in perfect darkness. 

He paused by the door to look about him. All was alike still 
and lonely. The village street could have been no more silent 
and empty if the two rows of houses had been so many vaults 
in a cemetery. 



" Trfaxon has done his Worst.''* 3 17 

Black Milsom walked rapidly tip the village street, ar.\l en- 
tered the gardens of the castle by a little iron gate, of which 
Matthew Brook, the reprobate and offender, had a key. ^ This 
key Black Milsom had often heard of, and knew that it wa? 
always carried by Brook in a email breast-pocket of his over- 

From the garden he made his way qnickly, silently, to the 
quadrangle on which Stephen Plumpton's bed-chamber opened. 

Here all was dark and silent. 

Milsom went straight to the little half-glass door which served 
both as door and window for the small sleeping-chamber of Ste- 
phen Plumpton. . -, T 1 . J i-ii 

He opened this door with a cantions hand, and stepped sottly 
into the room. Stephen lay with his head half covered with 
the bed-clothes, and his loud snoring resounded through the 

chamber. /< « j » ^.r 

" The rum-punch has done the trick for yon, my fnend, Mr. 

Milsom said to himself. , ^ ,> j_ . j 

He crossed the room with slow and stealthy footsteps, opened 
the door communicating with the rest of the house, and went 
along the passage leading to the hall. 

With cautious steps he groped his way to the door openmg 
on the secondary staircase, and ascended the thickly carpeted 
staircase within. ^ „ . , ^^ j . i • i 

Here a lamp was left dimly bummg all night, and this lamp 
showed him another cloth-covered door at the top of the first 
fiight of Ptairs. 

Black Milsom tried this door, and found it also unfastened. 

This door, which Black Milsom opened, communicated with 
the little passage that had been made across the room usually 
tenanted bv Captain Copplestone. Within this room there was 
a still smaller chamber— little more, indeed, than a spacious 
closet— in which slept the faithful old servant, Solomon Grundy. 

Both the doors were open, and Black Milsom heard the heavy 
breathing of the old man— the breathing of a sound sleeper. _ 

Beyond the short passage was the door opening into the sit- 
tincT-room used by the voung heiress of Eaynham. 

Black Milsom had only to push it open. The intruder crept 
softly across the room, drew aside a curtain, and opened the 
mi vsive oak door which divided the sitting-room from the bed- 

Mr. Milsom had taken care to make himself familiar wiUi the 
smallest details of the castle household, and he had even heard 
of Mrs. Morden's habit of sleeping within closely drawn cnrtama, 
from his general informant, James Harwood, the groom, who 
had received his information from one of the housemaids, m that 
temple of gossip — the servants' halL 



843 Bun to T!art%, 

Gertrude Eversleigli slept in a wliite-curtained cot, by ttie bide 
of Mrs. Morden's bed. 

Black Milsom lifted the coverlet, tlirew it over tbe face of the 
sleeping child, and with one strong hand lifted her from her cot, 
her face still shronded by the thick down coverlet, which mnst 
efFectnally prevent her cries. With the other hand he snatched 
up a blanket, and threw it round the struggling form, and then, 
bundled in coverlet and blanket, he carried the little girl away. 

Only when his feet were on the turf, and the castle stood up 
black behind him, did he withdraw the coverlet from the month 
of the half-snffocated child. 

CHAPTER XXXIV. 

CAUGHT IN THE TOILS. 

Captain Copplestoxe did not waste half an hour on the road 
between London and Raynham. 

No words can paint his agony of terror, the torture of mind 
which he endured, as he sat in the post-chaise, watching every 
landmark of the journey, counting every minute of the tedious 
hours, and continually patting his head out of the front window, 
and urging the postillions to greater speed. 

He hated himself for having been duped by that forged 
letter. 

" I had no business to leave the child," he kept repeating to 
himself; " not even to obey her mother. My place was by httle 
Gertrude, and I have been a fool to desert my post. If any 
harm has come to her in my absence, by the heaven above me, I 
think I shall be tempted to blow out my brains." 

Once having decided that the letter, purporting to be written 
by Lady Eversleigh, was a forgery, he could not doubt that it 
formed part of some plot against the household of Raynham 
Castle. . 

To Captain Copplestone, who knew that the life of his fnend 
had been sacrificed to the dark plottings of a traitor, this idea 
was terrible. 

"I knew the wretches I had to deal with; I was forewarned 
that treachery and cunning would be on the watch to do that 
child wrong," he said to himself, during those hours of self-re- 
proach ; " and yet I allowed myself to be duped by the first 
trick of those hidden foes. Oh, great heaven ! grant that I 
may reach Raynham before they can have taken any fatal ad- 
vantage of my absence." 

It was daybreak when the captain's post-chaise dashed into 
the viUage street of Raynham. He murmured a thanksgiving 
and a prayer, almost in the same breath, aa he saw the castle* 
trrr^ba dark against the chill gray sky. 



CaiLght in the Toils, 349 

The veHcle ascended tlie kill, and stopped before the arched 
entrance to the castle. An old woman, who acted as portress, 
opened the carved iron gates. He glanced at her, but did not 
Btop to question her. One word from her would have put an 
end to all suspense ; but in this last moment the soldier had not 
courage to utter the question which he so dreaded to have an- 
swered — Was Gertrude safe ? 

In another moment that question was answered for Captain 
Copplestone — answered completely, without the utterance of 
a word- 

The principal door of the castle was open, and in the doorway 
stood two men. 

One was Mr. Ashburne, the magistrate ; the other was Chris- 
topher Dimond, the constable of Raynham. 

The sight of these two men told Captain Copplestone that his 
fears were but too surely realized. Sometliing had happened 
amiss — something of importance — or Gilbert Ashburne, the 
magistrate, would not be there. 

"The child!" gasped the captain; "is she dead—mur- 
dered?" 

" No, no, not dead," answered Mr. Ashburne. 

" Not dead ! Thank God ! " exclaimed the soldier, in a devout 
whisper. "What then? What has happened?" he asked, 
scarcely able to command himself so far as to utter these few 
words with distinctness. " For pita's sake speak plainly. Can't 
you see that you are keeping me in torture ? What has hap- 
pened to the child P " 

" She has disappeared." 

" She has disappeared ! " echoed the captain. " I left strict 
orders that she should not be permitted to stir beyond the castle 
walls. Who dared to disobey those orders ? " 

"No one," answered Mr. Ashburne. "Miss Eyersleigh was 
not allowed to quit her own apartments. She disappeared in 
the night from her own cot, while that cot was in its usual place, 
beside Mrs. Morden's bed." 

" But who could penetrate into that room in the night, when 
the castle doors are secured against every one ? Where is Mrs. 
Morden ? Let m© see her; and let every servant of the house 
be assembled in the great dining-room." 

Captain Copplestone gave this order to the butler, who had 
come out to the hall on hearing the arrival of the post-chaise. 
The man bowed, and departed on his errand._ 

" I fear you will gain nothing by questioning the household,** 
said Mr. Ashburne. " I have already made all possible inquiries, 
assisted by Christopher Dimond here, but can obtain no infor- 
mation that throws the smallest ray of light upon this most 
mysterious business." 



850 Mun to Earlh. 

" I thant you," replied the captain ; " I am sure you hava 
done all that friendship could suggest; but I should like to 
question those people myself. This business is a matter of life 
and death for me/' 

He went into the great dining-room — the room in which the 
inquiry had been held respecting the cause of Sir Oswald's death. 
Mr. Ashburne and Christopher Dimond accompanied him, and 
the servants of the household came in quietly, two and three at 
a time, until the lower end of the room was full. Mrs. Morden 
was the last to come. She made no protestations of her grief — 
her self-reproach — for she never for a moment imagined that 
any one could doubt the intensity of her feelings. She stood 
before the captain, calm, collected, ready to answer his questions 
promptly and conscientiously. 

He questioned the servants one by one, beginning with Mrs. 
Smithson, the housekeeper, who was ready to declare that no 
living creature, except the members of the household, could have 
been within the castle walls on the night of Gertrude Eversleigh's 
disappearance. 

" That anybody could have come into this house and gone out 
of it in a night, unknown to me, is a moral impossibility," said 
the housekeeper ; "the doors were locked at half-past ten, and 
the keys were brought in a basket to my room. So, you see it's 
quite impossible that any one could have come in or gone out 
before the doors were open in the morning." 

" What time was the child's disappearance discovered ? " 

"At a quarter to five in the morning," answered Mrs. Morden; 
•* before any one in the house was a-stir. My darling has always 
been in the habit of waking at that hour, to take a little milk, 
which is left in a glass by her bedside. I woke at the usual time, 
and rose, in order to give her the milk, and when I looked at her 
cot, I saw that it was empty. The child was gone. The silk 
coverlet and one blanket had disappeared with her. I gave the 
alarm immediately, and in a quarter of an hour the whole house« 
hold was a-stir." 

"And did you hear nothing during that night P " asked the 
captain, turning suddenly to address Solomon G-rundy, who had 
entered amongst the rest of the servants. 

" Nothing, captain." 

" Humpl^" muttered the old soldier, " a sorry watch-dog." 

*' There is only one entrance to the castle which is at all weakly 
guarded," said the magistrate, presently ; " and that is a small 
door belonging to the bed-room occupied by one of the footmen. 
But this man tells me that he was in his room that night at hia 
usual hour, and that the door was locked and bolted in the 
usual way." 

As he said this, the magistrate looked towards the end of the 



Caught in ike t'oiU. SSI 

fipartment, where Stephen Plumpton stood amongst liis fellow 
eer\-ants. The jonng man had been weak enough, or gnilty 
enough, to commit himself to a false statement; first, because 
he did not want to betray the misdoings of ^Matthew Brook, and 
pecoudly, because he feared to admit his own culpable careless- , 
ne88. 

** j^ly telling the truth won't bring the child back," he argued 
with himself. " If it would, I'd speak out fast enough." 

" You say that it is impossible that any one can have entered 
this house, and left it, during that night," said Captain Copple- 
stone to the housekeeper; " and yet some one must have left the 
house, even if no one entered it, or Gertrude Eversleigh must be 
hidden within these walls. Has the castle been thoroughly 
searched ? There are stories of children who have hidden them- 
eelves in sport, to find the sport end in terrible earnest." 

" The castle has been searched from garret to cellar," answered 
Mrs. Morden. " 2klrs. Smithson and I have gone together into 
every room, and opened every cupboard." 

The captain dismissed the assembly, after having asked many 
questions without result. "VNTien this was done, he went alone 
to the library, where he shut himself in, and seated himself at 
the writing-table, with pen and ink before him, to meditate 
apon the steps which should be first taken in the work that lay 
before him. 

That work was no less painful a task than the writing of 
a letter to Lady Eversleich, to inform her of the calamity which 
had taken place — of the terrible realization of her worst fears. 
Captain Copplestone's varied and adventurous life had never 
brought him a severer or more painful duty, but he was not the 
man to shirk or defer it, because it involved suuering to him- 
gelf. 

The letter was written, and despatched by the evening post, 
and then the captain shut himself up in his own room, and gave 
way to the bitterest grief he had ever experienced. 

Who shall describe the agrony which Lady Eversleigh suffered 
when Captain Copplestone's letter reached her? For the first 
half-hour after she read it, a blight seemed to fall upon her 
isenses, and she sat still in her chair, stupefied; but when she 
rallied, her first impulse was to send for Andrew Larkspur, who 
was now nearly restored to his usual state of sound health. 

She rang the bell, and summoned Jane Payland. 

" There is a lawyer's clerk hying in this house," she said ; 
•* Mr. Andrews. Go to him immediately, and ask him to favour 
me with an interview. I wish to consult him on a matter of 
business." 

" Yes, ma'am," answered Miss Payland, looking inqnisitively 
ftt the ashen face of her mistress. " There's something fre^ii 



352 Hmh to ^artk 

tliis morning," she muttered to herself, as she tripped liglitly Up 
the stairs to do her bidding. 

Mr. Larkspur — or Mr. Andrews — presented himself before 
Lady Eversleigh a few miniites after he received her message. 
He found her pacing the room in a fever of excitement. 

"Good gracious me, ma'am!" he exclaimed; " ia there any- 
thing amiss ? '* 

" Yes," she answered, handing him the letter. 

Mr. Larkspur read the letter to the end, and then read it again. 

*' This is a bad job," he said, calmly; "what's to be done now ? " 

" You must accompany me to Raynham Castle — you must 
help me to find m^ child ! " cried Honoria, in wild excitement. 
*' You are better now, Mr. Larkspur, you can bear the journey ? 
For Heaven's sake, do not say you cannot aid me. You must 
come with me, Andrew Larkspur. I do not offer to bribe you 
— I say you must come ! Bring me my darling safe to my arms, 
and you may name your own reward for that priceless service." 

"No, no," said Mr. Larkspur; "I don't say that. I am well 
enough, so far as that goes, but how about our Little schemes in 
London ?" 

" Never mind them — never think of them ! What are they 
to me now P " 

" Very well, my lady," answered Mr. Larkspur ; " if it must 
be so, it must be. I must turn my back upon the neatest busi- 
ness that ever a Bow Street officer handled, just as it's getting 
most interesting to a well-regulated mind." 

" And you'll come -vNdth me at once ? " 

" Give me one hour to make my plan-s, ma'am, and I'm your 
man," replied Mr. Larkspur. " I'll pack a carpet-bag, leave it 
down stairs, take a hackney coach to Bow Street, see my deputy, 
and arrange some matters for him, and be ready one hour from 
this time, when you'll be so kind as to call for me in a post-chaise 
— not forgetting to bring my carpet-bag with you in the boot, 
if you please. And now you be so good as to keep up your 
spirits, ma'am, like a Trojan — which I've heard the Trojans had 
an uncommon hard time of it in their day. If the child is to be 
found, Andrew Larkspur is the man to find her; and as to re- 
ward, we won't talk about that, if you please, my lady. I may 
be a hard-fisted one, but I'm not the individual to trade upon 
the feelings of a mother that has lost her only child." 

Having said this, Mr. Larkspur departed, and in less than two 
hours he and Lady Eversleigh were seated in a post-chaise, be- 
hind four horses, tearing along the road between London and 
Barnet. 

AuJ thus additional security all. ended tlie schemes of Victor 
Carrini^ton. 



LarJtspur to (he "Rescue t 853 

CHAPTER XXXV. 

LARKSPUR TO THE RESCUE. 

The journey of Lady Eversleigli and her companion, tte Bow 
Street officer, was as rapid as the journey of Captain Copple- 
Btone. Along the same northern road as that which he had 
travelled a few days before flew the post-chaise containing the 
anguish-stricken mother and her strange ally. In this hour of 
agony and suspense, Honoria Eversleigh looked to the queer, 
wizened little police-officer, Andrew Larkspur, as the best friend 
Bhe had on earth. 

" You'll find my child for meP" she cried many times during 
the course of that long journey, appealing to Mr. Larkspur, 
with clasped hands and streaming eyes. " Oh, teU me that 
you'll find her for me. For pity's sake, give me some comfort — 
Bome hope." 

" I'll give yon plenty of comfort, and plenty of hope, too, 
mum, ii you'll only cheer np and trust in me," answered the 
luminary of Bow Street, with that stolid calmness of manner 
which seemed as if it would scarcely have been disturbed by an 
earthquake. " Yon keep up your spirits, and don't give way. 
If the little lady is alive, I'll bring her back to you safe and 
sound. If — if — so be as she's — contrarywise," added Mr. Lark- 
gpur, alarmed by the wild look in his companion's eyes, as he 
was about to pronounce the terrible word she so much feared to 
hear, " why, m that case I'll find them as have done the deed, 
and they shall pay for it." 

"Oh, give her back to me!" exclaimed Honoria; "give her 
back ! Let me hold her in my arms once more. I abandon all 
thought of revenge upon those who have so basely wronged me. 
Let Providence alone deal with them and their crime. It may 
be this punishment has come to me, because I have sought to 
usurp the office of Providence. Let me have my darling once 
more, and I will banish from my heart every feeling which a 
Christian should abjure."^ 

Bitter remorse was mingled with the agony which rent the 
mother's heart in those terrible hours. All at once her eyea 
were opened to the deep and dreadful guilt involved in those 
vengeiul feehngs she had so long nourished, to the exclusion of 
all tender emotions, all generous instincts. 

Bitterly did the mother upbraid herself as she sat, with her 
hands clasped tightly together, her pale face turned to the win- 
dow, her haggard eyes looking out at every object on the road, 
eager to behold any landmark that would teU ner that she was 
BO many miles nearer the end of her journey. 

She had concluded that, as a matter of course, the disappear- 
ance of the child had been directly or indirectly the work of Sif 



854 Bun to Earth, 

Reginald Eversleigli; and slie said avS mt^li to Mr. Larkspur. 
But, to her surprise, she fouiid that he did not share her opinion 
upon this subject. 

" If you ask me whether Sir Keginald is in it, I'll tell yon 
candidly, no, my lady, I don't think he is. I don't need to tell 
you that I've had a deal of experience in my time ; and, if that 
experience is worth a brass button, Sir Reginald hasn't any hand 
in this business down in Yorkshire." 
" Not directly, perhaps, but indirectly," interrupted Honoria. 
" Neither one nor the other," answered the great _man of Bow 
Street. " I've had my eye npon the baronet ever since you put 
me up to watching him ; and there's precious little he could do 
without my spotting him. I know what letters he has written, 
and I know more or less what has been in those letters. I know 
what people he has seen, and more or less what he has said to 
them; and I don't see that it's possible he could have carried on 
Buch a game as this abduction of Missy without my having an 
inkling of it." 

" But what of his ally— his bosom-friend and confederate- 
Victor Carrin^ton ? May not his treacherous hand have struck 
this blow?" 

♦' I think not, my lady," replied Mr. Larkspur. " I've had 
my eye npon that gentleman likewise, as per agreement ; for 
when Andrew Larkspur guarantees to do a thing, he ain't the 
man to do it by halves. I've kept a close watch upon Mr. ^ Car- 
rington; and with the exception of his pa.rleyvous francais-ing 
with that sharp-nosed, shabby-genteel lady- companion of Ma- 
dame Durski's, there's very few of his goings-on I haven't been 
able to reckon up to a fraction. No, my lady, there's some one 
else in this business ; and who that some one else is, it'll be my 
duty to find out. But I can't do anything till I get on the 
ground. When I get on the ground, and have had time to look 
about me, I shall be able to form an opinion." 

Honoria was fain to be patient, to put her trust in heaven, 
and, beneath heaven, in this pragmatical little police-officer, who 
really felt as much compassion for her sorrow as it was possible 
for a man so steeped in the knowledge of crime and iniquity, 
and so hardened by contact with the worst side of the woiid, to 
feel for any human grief. She was compelled to be patient, or, 
at any rate, to assume that outward aspect of calmness which 
■eems Uke patience, while the heart within her breast throbbed 
tumultuously as storm-driven waves. 

At last the wearisome journey came to an end. She entered 
the arched gateway of Raynham Castle ; and, as she looked out 
of the carriage window, she saw the big black letters, printed 
on a white broadside, offering a reward of three hundred pounds 
(or the early restoration of the missing child. 



LarJcs^ur to iJie Rescue! 355 

Mr. Larkspur gave a scornful sniff as he perceived tins bill. 
" That won't bring her back," he muttered. " Those who've 
taken her away will play a deeper game than to bring her back 
for the first reward that's offered, or the second, or the third. 
She'll have to be found by those that are a match for the scoun- 
drel that stole her from her home ; and perhaps he will find his 
match before long, clever as he is." 

The meeting between Honoria and Captain Copplestone was a 
very quiet one. She was far too noble, far too lust to reproach 
the friend in whom she had trusted, even though he had failed 
in his trust. 

He had heard the approach of the post-chaise, and he awaited 
her on the threshold of the door. He had gone forth to many 
a desperate encounter ; but he had never felt so heart-piercing a 
pang as that which he endured this day when he went to meet 
Lady Eversleigh. 

She held out her hand to him as she crossed the threshold. 
"I have done my duty," he said, in low, earnest tones, " as I 
am a man of honour and a soldier. Lady Eversleigh ; I have 
done my duty, miserable as the result has been." 

" I can beheve that," answered Honoria, gravely. " Your face 
tells me there are no good tidings to greet me here. She is not 
found ? " 

The captain shook his head sadly. 

"And there are no tidings of any kind? — ^no cine, no trace?'* 
" None. The constable of this place, and other men from the 
market-town, are doing their utmost ; but as yet the result ha« 
been only new mystification — new conjecture." 

" No ; nor wouldn't be, if the constables were to have twenty 
years to do their work in, instead of three days," interrupted 
Mr. Larkspur. " Perhaps you don't know what country police- 
officers are ? I do ; and if you expect to find the Httle lady by 
their help, you may just as well look up to the sky yonder,^ and 
wait till she drops down from it, for of the two things that's by 
far the most likely. I can believe in miracles,'' added Mr. Lark- 
spur, piously ; " but I can't beheve in rural poHce-constables." 

The captain looked at the speaker with a bewildered expres- 
oion, and Lady Eversleigh hastened to explain the presence of 
her ally. „ 

" This is Mr. Larkspur, a well-known Bow Street officer, she 
said : " and I rely on his aid to find my precious one. Pray tell 
mt all that has happened in connection with this event. He is 
very clever, and he may strike out some plan of action that Will 
be better than anything which has jei been attempted." 

They had passed into a small sitting-room, half ante-room, 
half study, leading out of the great hall, and here the poUce- 
i>;Hcer seated himself, as much at home as if he had spent hali 



S56 Bun to Eatih. 

his life witliin tlie walls of Eaynham, and listened quietly while 
Captain Copplestone gave a circumstantial account of the child's 
disappearance, taking care not to omit the smallest detail coq- 
nectea with that event. 

Mr. Larkspur made occasional pencil-notes in his memoran- 
dum-book ; but he did not interrupt the captain's narration by 
a single remark. 

When all was finished, Lady Eversleigh looked at him with 
anxiouB, inquiring eyes, as if from his lips she expected to receive 
the sentence of fate itself. 

"Well?" she muttered, breathlessly, "is there any hope? 
Do you see any clue ? " 

" Half a dozen clues," answered the police-officer, " if they're 
properly handled. The first thing we've got to do is to ofi'er a 
reward for that silk coverlet that was taken away with the httle 
girl" 

" Why offer a reward for the coverlet? " asked Captain Cop- 
plestone. 

" Bless your innocent heart ! " answered Mr. Larkspur, con- 
templating the soldier with a pitying smile ; " don't you see that, 
if we find the coverlet, we're pretty sure to find the child ? The 
man who took her away made a mistake when he carried off the 
coverlet with her, unless he was deep enough to destroy it before 
he had taken her far. If he didn't do thaty-if he left that silk 
coverlet behind hJTn anywhere, I consider his game as good as 
up. That is just the kind of thing that a police-officer get? 
his clue from. There's been more murders and burglaries found 
out from an old coat, or a pair of old shoes, or a walking-stick, 
or such like, than you could count in a day. I shan't make any 
stir about the child just yet, my lady : but before forty-eight 
houraare over our heads, I'll have a handbill posted in every town 
in England^ and an advertisement in every newspaper, offering 
five pounds reward for that dark blue edlk coverlet you talk of, 
lined with crimson." 

" There seems considerable wisdom in the idea," said the cap- 
tain, thoughtfolly. " It would never have occurred to me to ad- 
vertise for the coverlet." 

•* I don't suppose it would," answered the great Larkspur, with 
a sHght touch of sarcasm in his tone. " It has took me a matter 
of thirty years to learn my business ; and it ain't to be supposed 
as nay knowledge wUl come to other folks naturaL" 

"You are right, Mr. Larkspur," replied the captain, smihng 
at the police-officer's air of offended dignity; "and since you 
eeem to oe thoroughly equal to the difficulties of the situation, 
I think wo can scarcely do better than trust ourselves entirely 
to your discretion." 

•* I don't think you'll have any occasion to repent your coBi- 



Larkspur io the "Rescue! 357 

fidence," said Mr. Larkspur. " And now, if I may make so bold 
as to mention it, I should be glad to get a morsel of dinner, and 
a glass of brandy-and-water, cold withont ; after which I'll take 
a tnm in the village and look about me. There may be some- 
thing to be picked up in that direction by a man who keeps his 
eyes and ears open." 

Mr. Larkspur was consigned to the care of the butler, who 
conducted him at once to the housekeeper's room, where that 
very important person, Mrs. Smithson, received him with almost 
regal condescension. 

Mrs. Smithson and the butler both would have been very 
glad to converse with Mr. Larkspur, and to find out from that 
gentleman's conversation who he was, and all about him ; but 
Mr. Larkspur himself had no inclination to be communicative. 
He responded courteously, but briefly, to all Mrs. Smithson'a 
civihties ; and after eating the best part of a cold roast chicken, 
and a pound or so of ham, and drmking about half a pint of 
cognac, he left the housekeeper's room, and retired to an apart- 
ment to which the butler ushered him — a very comfortable little 
sitting-room, leading into a small bedchamber, which two rooms 
were to be occupied by Mr. Larkspur during his residence at the 
castle. 

Here he employed himself until dark in writing short notes to 
the chief police-officers of all the principal towns in Sngland, 
ordering the printing and posting of the handbills of which he 
had spoken to Lady Eversleigh and the captain. When this 
was done he put on his hat, and went out at the great arched 
gateway of the castle, whence he made his way to the village 
etreet. Here he spent the rest of the evening, and he made very 
excellent use of his time, though he passed the greater part of 
it in the parlour of the " Hen and Chickens," diinking very 
weak brandy-and-water, and listening to the conversation of the 
gentry who patronized that house of entertainment. 

Among those gentry was the good-tempered, but somewhat 
weak-minded, Matthew Brook, the coachman. 

"I'll tell you what it is. Mat Brook," said a stout, red-faced 
individual, who was butler at one of the mansions in the neigh- 
bourhood of Eaynham, *' you've not been yourself for the last 
week ; not since little Missy was stolen from the castle yonder. 
You must have been uncommonly fond of that child." 

'* I was fond of her, bless her dear little heart," replied Mat- 
thew. 

But though this assertion, so far as it went, was perfectly 
true, there was some shght hesitation in the coachman's man- 
ner of uttering it — a hesitation which Andrew Larkspur was 
not slow to perceive. 

"And you've lost your new friend down at the *Cat and 



358 Bnn to Earth, 

Fiddle,' wtere yon was "beginning to spend more of yonr eveiw 
ings than yon spent here. What's become of that man Mann- 
ders — eh, Brook ? " asked the butler. " That was a rather queer 
thing — his leaving Eaynham so suddenly, leaving his house to 
take care of itself or to be taken care of by a stupid country 
wench, who doesn't know her business any more than a cow. 
Do you know why he went, or where he's gone, Mat ? " 

"Not I," Mr. Brook answered, rather nervously, and redden- 
ing as he spoke. 

The poHce-officer watched and listened even more intently than 
before. The conversation was becoming every moment more in- 
teresting for him. 

" How should I know where Mr. Maunders has gone ? " asked 
Matthew Brook, rather peevishly, as he paused from smoking 
to refill his honest clay pipe. " How should I know where he's 
gone, or how long he means to stay away ? I know nothing of 
him, except that he seems a jolly, good-hearted sort of a chap in 
his own rough-and-ready way. James Harwood brought him 
up to the castle one night for a hand at whist and a bit of sup- 
per, and he seemed to take a regular fancy to some of us, and 
asked us to take a glass now and then down at his place, which 
we did; and that's all about it; and I don't mean to stand any 
more cross-questioning." 

"Why, Brook," cried his friend, the butler, "what's come to 
yon ? It isn't like you to answer any man in that way, least of 
all such on old friend as me." 

^[r. Brook took no notice of this reproach. He went on smok- 
ing silently. 

"I say, Harris," said the butler, presently, when the landlord 
of the " Hen and Chickens " came into the room to attend upon 
his customers, " do you know whether the landlord of the ' Cat 
and Fiddle ' has come back yet ? " 

" Xo, he ain't," answered Mr. Harris ; " and folks complain 
sadly of being served by that awkward lass he's left in charge 
of the house. I've had a many of his old customers come up 
here for what they want." 

" Does anybody know where he's gone ? " 

"That's as may be," answered Mr. Harris. "Anyhow, I 
don't. Some say he's gone to London for a fortnight's plea- 
sure ; but if he has, he's a very queer man of business ; and it 
strikes me, when he comes back he will find his customers all 
left him." 

" Do yon think he's cut and run ? " 

•• Well, you see, he might be in debt, and want to give his 
creditors the slip." 

" ]i at folks down the village say he didn't owe a five-pound 
Qcte," returned the landlord, wbp was a great authority with 



LarUsjpur to the Rescue! 859 

regard to all local gossip. "It's rather a qneer business alto- 
gether, that chap taking himself off without why or where fore, 
and just about the time as the little girl disappeared from the 
castle." 

" ^Yhy, you don't think he had anything to do with that, Jo« 
Harris ? " exclaimed the butler. 

Andrew Larkspur took occasion to look at Matthew Brook at 
this moment; and he saw the coachman's honest face grow 
pallid, as if under the influence of some sudden terror. 

" You don't behave as Maunders had a hand in stealing the 
child, eh, Joe Harris ? " repeated the butler. 

Joe Harris shook his head solemnly. 

" I don't think nothing, and I don't believe nothing," he an- 
swered, with a mysterious air. "It ain't my place to give an 
opinion upon this here subjick. It might be said as I was jea- 
lous of the landlord of the ' Cat and Fiddle,' and owed him a 
grudge. All I says is this: it's a very queer circumstance as 
the landlord of the * Cat and Fiddle' should disappear from the 
village directly after Httle Miss Eversleigh disappeared from the 
castie. You may put two and two together, and you may make 
*em into four, if you like," added Mr. Harris, with profound so- 
lemnity ; " or you may leave it alone. That's your business." 

"I'll tell you what it is," said the butler; "I've had a chat 
with old Mother Smithson since the disappearance of the young 
lady ; and from what I've heard, it's pretty clear to my mind 
that business wasn't managed by any one outside the castle. It 
couldn't be. There was some one inside had a hand in it. I 
wouldn't mindstakincr a twelvemonth's wages on that, Matthew 
and you musn't be offended if I see'" i to go against your fellow- 
Bervants." 

" I ain't offended, and I ain't pleased," answered Matthew, 
testily; "all I can say is, as I don't like so much cross-ques- 
tioning. There's a sort of a lawyer chap has come down to-day 
with my lady, I hear, though I ain't set eyes on him yet ; and I 
suppose he'U find out all about it." 

Ko more was said upon the subject of the lost heiress, or the 
landlord of the " Cat and Fiddle.'*^ 

The subject was evidently, for some reason or other, unplea- 
sant to Mr. Brook, the coachman; and as Matthew Brook wa<3 
a general fi-.vourite, the subject was dropped. 

Mr. Larkspur devoted the next morning to acarefal examina- 
tion of all possible entrances to the castle. When he saw the 
half-glass door opening from the quadrangle into the little bed- 
chamber occupied by Stephen Plumpton, the footman, he gave 
a long, low whistle, and smiled to himself, with the triumphant 
smile of a man who has found a clue to the mystery he wishes 
xo solve. 



360 Rnn to Earfh. 

Mrs. Smitlison, the housekeeper, condncted Andrew Lark* 
epur from room to room during this careful investigation of the 
premises ; and she and Stephen Plumpton alone were present 
when he examined this half-glass door. 

" Do you always bolt your door of a night P " Mr. Larkspur 
asked of the footman. 

"A ways, sir." 

The tone of the man's voice and the man's face combined to 
betray him to the skilled police-officer. 

Andrew Larkspur knew that the man had told him a deli- 
berate falsehood. 

"Are yon certain you bolted this door on that particular 
night?" 

" Oh, quite certain, sir." 

The police-officer examined the bolt. It was a very strong 
one ; but it moved so stiffly as to betray the fact that it was very 
rarely used. 

Mrs. Smithson did not notice this fact ; but Mr. Larkspur 
did. It was his business to take note of small facts. 

" Can you remember what you were doing on that particular 
night ? " he asked, presently, turning again to the embarrassed 
Stephen. 

*' No, sir ; I can't say I do remember exactly," faltered the 
footman. 

" Were you at home that night P * 

" Well, yes, sir, I think I was." 

" You are not certain ? " 

" Well, yes, sir ; perhaps I might venture to say as I'm cer- 
tain," answered the miserable young man, who in his desire to 
screen his fellow-servant, found himself led on from one false- 
hood to another. 

He knew that he could rely on the honourable silence of the 
servants ; and that none ainong them would betray the secret of 
the party at the " Cat and Fiddle." 

After completing the examination of the premises, Mr. Lark- 
spur dined comfortably in the housekeeper's room, and then 
once more salhed forth to the village to finish his afternoon. 
But on this occasion it was to the " Cat and Fiddle," and not 
the " Hen and Chickens," that the police-officer betook himself. 
Here he found only a few bargemen and villagers, carousing 
upon the wooden benches of a tap-room, drinking their beer out 
of yellow earthenware mugs, and enjoying themselves in an 
atmosphere that was almost suffocating from the fumes of strong 
tobacco. 

Mr. Larkspur did not trouble himself to listen to the conver- 
sation of these men ; he looked into the room for a few minutes 
and then returned to the bar, where he ordered a glass of brandy 



LarJcspur to the Bsscue f 861 

and-water from the girl wlio served Mr. Maunders's customers 
in the absence of that gentleman. 

" So yonr master is away from home, mv lass," he said, in his 
most insinuating tone, as he slowly stirred his brandy-aud-water. 

" Yes, he be, sir." 

" Do you know when he's coming back P " inquired Larkspur. 

" Lawks, no, sir." 

•* Or where he's gone ? " 

"No, sir, I don't know that neither. My master's a good one 
to hold his tongue, he is. He never tells nobody nothing, in a 
manner of speaking." 

" When did he go away P " 

The girl named the morning on which had been discovered 
the disappearance of Sir Oswald's daughter. 

" He went away pretty earJy, I suppose ? " said Mr. Lark- 
spur, with assumed indifference. 

"I should rather think he did," answered the girl. "I was 
up at six that morning, but my master had gone clean off when 
I came down stairs. There weren't a sign of him." 

" He must have gone very early." 

"That he must; and the strangest part of it is that he 
was up very late the night before," added the girl, who^ was one 
of those people who ask nothing better than the privilege of 
telling all they know about anything or anybody. 

" Oh," said Mr. Larkspur; "he was up late the night before, 
was he ? " -a 

" Yes. It was eleven when he sent me to bed, ordering me on 
as sharp as you please, which is just his way. And he couldn't 
have gone to bed for above an hour after that, for I lay awake, 
on the hsten, as you may say, wondering what he was up to down- 
stairs. But though I lay awake above an hour, I didn't hear 
him come up stairs at all; so goodness knows what time he went 
to bed. You see he had a party that night." 

" Oh, he had a party, had he ? " remarked the pohce-officer, 
who saw that he had no occasion to question this young lady, 
80 well-inclined was she to tell him all she knew. 

" Yes, sir. His friends came to have a hand at cards and a 
hot supper ; and didn't it give me plenty of trouble to get it all 
ready, that's all. You see, master's friends are some of the 
gentlemen up at the castle ; and they live so uncommon well up 
there, that they're very particular what they eat. It must be 
all of the best, and done to a turn, master says to me ; and so it 
was. I'm sure the steak was a perfect picture when I laid it 
on the dish, and the onions were fried a beautiful golden brown, 
as would have done credit to the Queen of England's head-cook, 
though I says it as shouldn't i)erhaps," added the damsel, mo- 
destly. 



362 &7i to JBarih. 

" And wliicli of the gentlemen from the castle came to sQp* 
per with your master that night P " Mr. Larkspur asked, pre- 
aently. 

" Well, sir, yon see there was three of them. Mr. Brook, the 
coachman, a good-natured, civil-spoken man as you'd wish to 
meet, but a little given to drink, folks say ; and there was James 
Harwood, the under-groom ; and Stephen Plumpton, the foot- 
man, a good-looking, fresh-coloured young man, which is, per- 
haps, beknown to you." 

" Oh, yes," answered Mr. Larkspur, " I know Stephen, the 
footman." 

Mr. Larkspur and the damsel conversed a good deal aftei 
this ; but nothing of particular interest transpired in this con- 
versation. The gentleman departed from the " Cat and Fiddle" 
very well satisfied with his evening's work, and returned to the 
castle in time to take a comfortable cup of tea in the house- 
keeper's room. 

He was quite satisfied in his own mind as to the identity of 
the delinquent who had stolen the child. 

The next thing to be discovered was the manner in which the 
landlord of the " Cat and Fiddle " had left Raynham. It mtst 
iiave been almost impossible for him to leave in any public 
vehicle, carrying the stolen child with him, as he must have done, 
without attracting the attention of his fellow-passengers. 
Andrew Larkspur had taken care to ascertain all possible details 
of the man's habits from the communicative barmaid, and knew 
that he had no vehicle or horse of his own. He must, therefore, 
have either gone in a public vehicle, or on foot. 

If he had left the village on foot, under cover of darkness, he 
might have left unseen ; but he must have entered some other 
village at daybreak ; he must sooner or later have procured some 
kind of conveyance ; and wherever he went, carrying with him 
that stolen child, it was more than probable his appearance 
would attract attention. 

After a little trouble, the astute Andrew ascertained that Mr. 
Maunders had certainly not left the village by any pubhc con- 
veyance. 

It was late when Mr. Larkspur returned to the castle, after 
having mastered this fact. He found that Lady Eversleigh had 
been inquiring for him ; and he was told that she had requested 
he might be sent to her apartments at whatever time he returned. 

In obedience to this summons, he followed a servant to the 
room occupied by the mistress of Raynham Castle. 

** Well, Mr. Larkspur," Honoria asked, eagerly, " do yon bring 
ns any hope?" 

"I don't exactly know about tbat, my lady," answered the 
•ver-cautious Andrew ; " but I think I may venture to say that 



On the Trcu^, 863 

tliinga are going on pretty smootlily. I ain't wasting time, de- 
pend upon it ; and I hope in a day or two I may have something 
encouraging to tell yon." 

"But you will tell me nothing yetP" murmured Honoris, 
with a deppairing sigh. 

" Not yet, my lady." 

No more was<«aid. Lady Eversleigh was obliged to be con- 
tent with this small comfort. 

Early the next morning Mr. Larkspur set out on his voyage 
of discovery to the villages within two, three, four, and five 
hours' walk of Raynham. 

CHAPTER XXXVL 

ON THE TRACK. 

The next day Mr. Larkspur spent in the same manner, and re- 
turned to the castle late at night, and very much out of sorts. 
He had of late been spoiled by tolerably easy triumphs, and the 
experience of failure was very disagreeable to him. 

On both evenings he was summoned to Lady Eversleigh'a 
apartments, and on each occasion declined going. He sent a 
respectful message, to the effect that he had nothing to commu- 
nicate to her ladyship, and would not therefore intrude upon her. 

But early on the morning after the second day's wasted labour, 
the post brought Mr. Larkspur a communication which quite 
restored him to his accustomed good-humour. _ 

It was neither more nor less than a brief epistle from one o* 
the officials of the poHce-staff at Murford Haven, informing Mr. 
Larkspur that an old woman had produced the silken coverlet 
advertised for, and claimed the offered reward. 

Mr. Larkspur sent a servant to inquire if Lady Eversleigh 
would be pleased to favour him with a few minutes' conversation 
that morning. The man came liack almost immediately with a 
ready affirmative. 

*' My lady will be very happy to see Mr. Larkspur." _ 

" Oh, Mr. Larkspur I" exclaimed Honoria, as the police-officer 
entered the room, " I am certain you bring me good news ; I can 
see it in your face." . i , . 

" Well, yes, my lady ; certainly I've got a little bit of good 
news this morning." 

" You have found a clue to my child ?" 

"I have found out something about the coverlet, "^ answered 
Andrew; " and that's the next beet thing, to my mind. That 
has turned up at Murford Haven, thirty miles from here ; though 
how the man who stole Miss Eversleigh can have got there 
without leaving a single trace behind him ia more than I can 
understand." 



864 Btm to Sarth. 

" At Murford Haven ! — my darling has been taken to Mnrford 
Haven ! " cried Honoria. 

" So I conclude, my lady, by the coverlet turning up there," 
replied Mr. Larkspur. " I told you tlie bandbHls would do the 
tnck. Murford Haven is a large manufacturing town, and the 
sort of place a man who wanted to keep himself out of sight of 
the police might be likely enough to choose. Now, with your 
leave, my lady, I'll be off to Murford Haven as soon as I can 
have a post-chaise got ready for me." 

** And I will go with you," exclaimed Lady Eversleigh ; " I 
shall feel as if I were nearer my child if I go to the town where 
you hope to find the clue to her hiding-place." 

" I, too, will accompany you," said Captain Copplestone. 

" Begging you pardon, sir," remonstrated Mr. Larkspur, " if 
three of us go, and one of those three a lady, we might attract 
attention, even in such a busy place as Murford Haven. And 
if those that have got Httle missy should hear of it, they'd smell 
a rat. No, my lady, you let me go alone. I'm used to this sort 
of work, and you ain't, and the captain ain't either. I can slip 
about on the quiet anywhere hke an eel ; and I've got the eye to 
see whatever is to be seen, and the ear to pick up every syllable 
that's to be heard. You trust matters to me, and depend upon 
it, I'll do my duty. I've got a clue, and a clue is all I ever want. 
You keep to this spot, my lady, and you, too, captain ; for there 
may come some kind of news in my absence, and you may have 
to act without me. I shan't waste time, you may rely upon it; 
and all you've got to do, my lady, is to trust to me, and hope 
that I shall bring you back good news from Murford Haven." 

Very little more was said, and half an hour after this inter- 
view, the pohce-officer left Raynham in a post-chaise, on the 
first stage of the journey to Murford Haven. 

Words are too weak to describe the sufferings of the mother 
of the lost child, and of the friends to whom she was hardly 
less dear. They waited very quietly, with all outward show of 
calmness, but the pain of suspense was not less keen. They 
sat silent, unoccupied, counting the hours — the minutes even — • 
during the period which must elapse before the return of the 
police-officer. 

He came earlier than Honoria had dared to expect him, and 
he brought with him so much comfort that she could almost 
have fallen on her knees, like Thetis at the feet of Jove, in the 
extremity of her gratitude for his services. 

" I've got the coverlet," said Mr. Larkspur, dragging the little 
Bilk en covering from his carpet-bag, and displaying it before 
those to whom it was uo famihar. " That's about the ticket, I 
think, my lady. Yes, just so. I found a nice old hag waiting 
to claim her five pounds reward; for,^'Ou see, the men at +h« 



On ilie Track 365 

police-office at Murford Haven contrived to keep her dancing 
attendance backward and forwards — call again in an honr, and 
BO on — till I was there to cross-qnestion her. A precious deep 
one she is, too; and a regnlar jail-bird, I'll wager. I soon 
reckoned her np ; and I was pretty snre that whatever she knew 
she'd tell fast enongh, if she was only paid her price. So, after 
a good deal of shilly-shally, and handing her over five-and- 
twenty pounds in sohd cash, and telling her that she'd better 
beware how she trifled with a gentleman belonging to Bow 
Street, she consented to tell me all about the little girl. The 
man that stole little missy had been to her precious hovel, and 
old Mother Brimstone had found a change of clothes for little 
missy, in token of which, and on payment of another sovereign, 
the old harpy gave me little missy's own clothes ; and there 
they are." 

Hereupon Mr. Larkspur dragged from his capacious carpet- 
bag the delicate Httle garments of lawn and lace which had been 
worn by the cherished heiress of Eaynham. Ah ! who can 
describe the anguish of the mother's heart as she gazed upon 
those familiar garments, so associated with the form of the lost 
one? 

•* Well," gasped Honoria, " go on, I entreat ! She told you 
the child had been there. But with whom ? Did she tell you 
that?" 

" She did," returned Andrew Larkspur. " She told me that 
the scoundrel who holds little missy in his keeping is no other 
than the man suspected of a foul murder — a man I have long 
been looking for — a man who is well known amongst the crimi- 
nal classes of London by the name of Black Milsom." 

Black Milsom ! the face of Lady Eversleigh, pale before, grew 
almost ghastly in its pallor, as that hated name sounded in her 
ears, ominous as a death-knelL 

"Black Milsom! " she exclaimed at last. " If my child is in 
the power of that man, she is, indeed, lost." 

" You know him, my lady ? " cried Andrew Larkspur, with 
Burprise. " Ah, I remember, you seemed familiar with the de- 
tails of the Jemam murder. You know this man, Milsom ? " 

" I do know him," answered Honoria, in a tone of utter de- 
spair. " Do not ask me where or when that man and I have met. 
It is enough ihat I know him. My darling could not be in 
■worse hands." 

"He can havgbut on;) motive, and that to extort money," 
eaid Captain Oopplestoue. " No harm will come to our darling's 
precious life. You have reason to rejoice that your child has not 
fallen into the hands of Sir Reginald Eversleigh." 

" Tell mo more," said Honoria to Mr. Larkspur. " Tell me all 
yon have discovered." 



36^^ J2wn U) Earth 

" All I conld discover was that the man Milsoni had taken 
the child to London by a certain coach. I went to the inn froru 
which that particular coach always starts ; and here, after mnch 
trouble and delay, I was luckj^ enough to see the guard. Froi* 
him I derived some valuable information ; or perhaps, I ought 
to say some information that I think may turn up trumps. He 
perfectly remembered the man Milsom by my description of him, 
I having got the description from old Mother Brimstone ; and 
he remembered the child, because of her crying a deal, and the 
passengers pitying her, and being pleased with her pretty looks, 
and trying to comfort her, and so on. The guard himself took 
a deal of notice of the child, and thought the man was not much 
good ; and when they got to London, he felt curious Hke, he 
said, to know where the two would go, and what would become 
of them." 

" And did he find out ? " gasped Lady Eversleigk. 

*• As good luck would have it, he did. The man get into a 
hackney-coach, and the guard heard the driver tell him to go to 
Eatchff Highway— that was all." 

" Then I will find him," exclaimed Honoria, with feverish 
excitement. " I know the place well — too well ! I will go with 
you to London, Mr. Larkspur, and I myself will help you to find 
my treasure." 

Li the extremity of her excitement she was reckless what 
secrets she betrayed. She had but one thought, one considera- 
tion, and that to her was life or death. 

" Don't question me," she said to Captain Copplestone, who 
stared at her in amazement ; " my girlhood was spent in a den 
of thieves — my womanhood has been one long struggle against 
pitiless enemies. I \vill fight bravely to the last. And now, in 
this most bitter trial of my life, the experience of my miserable 
youth shall serve in the cont€st with that villain." 

She would brook no delay ; she would explain nothing. 

•' Do not question me," she repeated. "You have counselled 
me to trust in the experience of Mr. Larkspur, and I will confide 
myself to his wisdom ; but I must and will accompany him in 
his search for my child. Let a post-chaise be ordered immedi- 
ately. Can you dispense with rest, and take a hurried dinner 
before you start, Mr. Larkspur P " she added, turning to her 
a^7. 

*' Dispense with rest P Bless your innocent heart, my lady, I 
don't know the meaning of rest when I'm in business; and aa 
for dinner, a ham sandwich and a glass of brandy out of a pocket- 
pistol is as much as I ask for when my blood's up." 

" You shall be richly rewarded for your exertions." 

** Thank you kindly, ma'am. The promise of a reward is very 
eacouragmg, of course; but, upon my word, my heart's more in 



On the Track SC7 

this business than it ever was before in anything nnder a mur- 
der ; and I feel as if it was in me to do wonders." 

No more was said. Andrew Larkspur hurried away to eat 
as p:ood a dinner as he could get through in ten minutes, «irid 
Honoria went to her dressing-room to prepare herself for her 
journey. 

" Pray for me, kind and faithful friend," she said, earnestly, 
as she bade adieu to the captain. 

In a few minutes more she was once again speeding along the 
familiar road which she had travelled under such different cir- 
cumstances, and with such different feelings. She remembered 
the first time she had driven through those rustic villages, past 
those swelling uplands, those woods and hills. 

Then she had come as a bride, beloved, honoured, seated by 
the side of an adoring husband— a happy future shining before 
her, a bright horizon without one cloud. 

Only one shadow to come between her and the sunshine, and 
that the shadow of a cruel memory — the haunting rocollecticu 
of that foul deed which had been done beneath the shelter of tho 
darkness, by the side of the ever-flowing river. Even to-dav, 
when her heart was full of her child's sweet image, that dark 
memory still haunted her. It seemed to her as if some mystiO 
influence obliged her to recall the horrors of that night. 

"The curse of innocent blood has been upon me," she thought 
to herself. '* I shall never know rest or peace till the murder uf 
Valentine Jemam has been avenged." 

Lady Eversleigh went at once to her rooms in Percy Street, 
and Mr. Andrew Larkspur betook himself to certain haunts, 
in which he expected to glean some information. That he was 
not entirely unsuccessful will appear from his subsequent con- 
versation with Lady Eversleigh. After an absence, in reah^y 
short, but which, to her suspense and impatience appeared 
of endless duration, Mr. Larkspur presented himsell" before 
her. 

" Well, Mr. Larkspur, what news P " she cried, eagerly, as he 
entered the room. 

" Xot much, my lady ; but there's something done, at any 
rate. I've found out one fact." 

" And what is that ? " 

" That the little lady has not been taken out of the country. 
Now, you seem to know something of the man Milsom, my lady. 
Have you any idea whether there is any particular place where 
he'd be likely to take little missy ? " 

For some minutes Lady Eversleigh remained silent, evidently 
lost in thought. 

" Yes," she said, at last, " I do know something of that man's 
Dast career ; so much, that the very mention of his name sencj' 



808 Bu7i to Earfh 

a thrill of horror tlirough my neart. Yes, Mr. Larkspur, it ig 
my misfortune to hare known Black Milsom only too well in the 
bitter past." 

" If your ladyship wouldn't consider it a liberty," said the 
police-officer, with some hesitation, " I should very mucli like to 
put a question." 

'* You are free to ask me what questions you please." 

" What I should like to ask is this," replied Mr. Larkspur, 
"when and where did your ladyship happen to meet Black 
Milsom ? If you would only be so kind as to speak freely, it 
might be a great help to me in the work I've got m hand." 

Honoria did not answer him for some moments. She had 
risen from her chair, and was walking up and down the room in 
deep thought. 

" Will it help you in your search for my child," she said, at 
length, "if I tell you all I know P " 

" It may help me. I cannot venture to say more than that, 
my lady." 

" If there is even a chance, I must speak," replied Honoria. 
" I will tell you, then," she said, throwing herself into a chair, 
and fixing her grave, earnest eyes upon the face of her companion. 
" In order to teU you what I know of Black ^Milsom, I must go 
back to the days of my childhood. My first memories are bright 
ones ; but they are so vague, so shadowy, that it is with difficulty 
I can distinguish realities from dreams ; and yet I believe the 
things which I remember rmtst have been real. I have a faint 
recollection of a darkly beautiful face, that bent over me as I lay 
in some bed or cradle, softer and more luxurious than any bed I 
ever slept in for many years after that time. I remember a soft, 
sweet voice, that sang me to sleep. I remember that in the place 
I called home everything was beautiful." 

" And do you not even know where this home was P " 

'* I know notliing of its locality. I was too young to remember 
the names of persons or places. Bnt I have often fancied it waa 
in Italy." 

"In Italy!" 

•' Yes ; for the first home which I really remember was a 
fisherman's hut, in a little village within a few miles of Naples. 
I was the only cbild in that miserable hovel — lonely, desolate, 
miserable, in the power of two wretches, whose presence filled me 
with loathing." 

" And they were P ** 

"An old woman, called Andrinetta — I know that, though I 
called her 'nurse' when she was with me in the beautiful home 
I so dimly remember — and the man whom you have heard of 
under the name of Black IMilsom." 

" Is he an ItaHan ? " asked Andrew, asicnished, 



On ike Tracro. 369 

**1 don't know,*' replied Honoria. " In England lie calls Kim- 
Belf an Englisliman — in Italy lie is supposed to be an Italian. 
AVhat his real calling was in those days I do not know ; but I 
feel assured that it must been dark and unlawful as all his ac- 
tions have been since that time. He pretended to get his living 
like the other fishermen inthe neighbourhood; but hewas often idle 
for a week at a time, and still more often, absent. 1 have seen 
him count over gold and jewels with old Andrinetta on his re- 
turn from some expedition. To me he was harsh and cruel. I 
hated him, and he knew that I hated him. He ordered me to 
call him father, and I was more than once savagely beaten by 
him because I refused to do so. Under such treatment, in such 
a wretched home, deprived of all natural companionship, I grew 
wild and strange. My will was indomitable as the will of my 
tyrant; and on many occasions I resisted him boldly. Some- 
times I ran away, and wandered for days together among the 
neighbouring hills and woods; but I returned always sooner 
or later to my miserable shelter, for I knew not where else to 
go. My lonely Hfe had made me shrink from all human crea- 
tures, except the two wretches with whom I lived ; and when the 
few neighbours would have shown me some kindness, I ran from 
them in wild,unreasoning terror." 

" Strange ! " muttered the police-officer. 

*' Yes ; a strange history, is it not ? " returned Lady Evers- 
leigh. " And you wonder, no doubt, to hear of such a childhoo.l 
from the lips of Sir Oswald Eversleigh's widow. One day I 
heard a neighbour reproacliing the man with his cruel treatment 
of me. • It is bad enough to have stolen the child,' he said ; 
' you shouldn't beat her as well.' From that hour I knew that 
I was a stolen child. I told him as much one night, and the 
next morning he took me to Naples, where, in the most obscure 
and yet most crowded part of the city, I hved for some years. 
* Nobody will trouble himself about you here, my young prin- 
cess,* my tyrant said to me. * Children swarm by hundreds in 
all the alleys ; you will only be one more drop of water in the 
ocean.' '* 

There was a pause, during which Honoria sat in a medita- 
tive attitude, with her eyes fixed upon vacancy. It seemed as if 
she was looking back into the shadowy past. 

" I cannot tell yon how wretched my life was for some time. 
Andrinetta had accompanied us to Naples ; and eoun I saw she 
was verv ill, and she had fits of violence that approached in- 
sanity. \Vithin doors she was my sole companion. The man only 
slept in the house, and at times was absent for months. How 
he earned his livelihood I knew no more than I had known in the 
little sea-side village. I now rarely saw jewels or gold in his 
pos*?ssion ; but at night, al^ter he had gone to his chamber, I 



370 r^nn to Earth. 

often lieard tlie chink of golden coin throngli the thin partition 
which divided my room from his. I think in these days I must 
have perished body and soul if Providence had not sent me a 
friend in the person of a good Catholic priest — a noble and 
saintly old man — who visited the wretched dens of poverty and 
crime, and who discovered my desolate state. I need not dwell 
on that man's goodness to me ; it is, doubtless, remembered in 
heaven, whither he may have gone before this time. He taught 
me, he comforted me, he rescued me from the abyss of wretched- 
ness into which I had fallen. I took care to conceal his visits 
from my tyrant, for I knew how that wicked heart would revolt 
against my redemption from ignorance and misery. When I 
\va.s fifteen years of age, Andrinetta died. One day, soon after 
her death — for me a most sorrowful day — Tomaso (as they called 
him there) told me that he was going to bring me to England, 
I came with him, and for two years I remained his companion. 
I will not speak of that time. I have told you now all that I 
can tell." 

" But the murder of Valentine Jernam ! " exclaimed Andrew. 
" Suspicion pointed to tliis man ; and you — you know something 
of that ? " 

" I will not speak of that now," replied Honoria. " I have 
said enough. The day may come when I may speak more freely; 
but it has not yet arrived. Trust me that I will not impede the 
course of justice where this man is concerned. And now tell me, 
does my revelation afford one ray of light which may help to 
dispel the darkness that surrounds my Gertrude's fate ? " ^ 

*' No, I cannot say it does. I cannot find out anything to 
indicate that she has been taken far away. I am sure she is 
in England, and that one of Milsom's pals, a man named Way- 
man " 

Lady Everslelgli started, and exclaimed, "I know him! I 
know him ! Go on ! go on ! " 

Larkspur directed a glance of keen and eager curiosity to- 
wards Lady Eversleigh. " You know Way man ? " he said. 

" Well, well," she repeated. '* I know him to be an unscrupu- 
lous ruffian. If he knows where my child is, he will sell the 
secret for money, and we will give him money — any sum ; do 
you think I shall count the cost of her safety ? " 

"No, no." said Andrew Larkspur, "but you must not get so 
excited ; keep quiet— tell me all yon know of Wayman, and then 
vre shall see our way." 

At this point of the conversation Jane Payland knocked at 
the door of her mistress's sitting-room, and the interview betxreea 
Honoria and the police-officer ^n\s interrupted. 



"0, above Measure False!** 371 

CHAPTER XXXVn. 

•* 0, ABOTE MEASUEE FALSE ! ** 

TCTOS CAKKiyGTON vras very well content with the state of 
ffairs at Hilton House in all but one respect. The fulfilment 
of his purpose was not approaching with sufficient rapidity. 
The rich marriage which he had talked about for Reginald was 
a pure figment; the virtuous ironmonger, with the richly dow- 
ered daughter, existed only in his prolific brain — the need of 
money was growing pressing. He had done much, but there 
was still much to do, and he must make haate to do it. He had 
also been mistaken on one point of much importance to his suc- 
cess; he had not calculated on the strength of Douglas Dale's 
constitution. Each day that he dined with Paulina — and 
the days on which he did not were exceedingly few — Dale drank 
a small quantity of curagoa, into which Carrington had poured 
poison of a slow but sure nature. As the small carafon in which 
the hquor was placed upon the table was emptied, the poisoner 
never found any difficulty in gaining access to the fresh supply. 

The antique liquor-chest, with its fittings of Venetian glass 
was always kept on the side-board in the dining-room, and waa 
never locked. Paulina had a habit of losing anything that came 
into her hands, and the key of the Hquor-chest had long been 
missing. 

But the time was passing, and the poison was not'telling, as far 
ashe,the poisoner, conld judge from appearances, onDouglas Dale. 
He never complained of illness, and beyond a sHght lassitude, 
he did not seem to have anything the matter with him. This 
would not do. It behoved Carrington to expedite matters. 
His project was to accomplish the death of Douglas Daleby 
poison, throwing the burthen of suspicion — should suspicion 
arise — upon Paulina. To advance this purpose, he had indus- 
triously circulated reports of the most injurious character re- 
specting her ; so that Douglas Dale, if he had not been blinded 
and engrossed by his love, must have seen that he was regarded 
by the men whom he was in the habit of meeting even more 
coldly and curiously than when he had first boldly announced his 
engacrement to Madame Durski. He made it known _ that 
Do^uglas Dale had made a will, by which the whole of his dispos- 
able property was bequeathed to Paulina, and circulated a ru- 
mour that the Austrian widow was utterly averse^ to the in- 
tended marriage, in feeling, and was only contracting it from 
interested motives. 

" If Dale was only out of the way, and his heir had eome into 
the money, she would rather have Reginald," was a spiteful 
eaying current among those who knew the lady and her suitor, 
and which had its unsuspected origin with Carringtoxi, Sup- 



S^^ ^un to :Eartli. 

posing Dale to come to bis death by poison, and that fact to be 
ascertained, who would be suspected but the woman who had 
everything to gain by his death, whose acknowledged lover was 
his next heir, and who succeeded by his will to all the property 
which did not go immediately into the possession of that ac- 
knowledged lover ? The plan was admii-ably laid, and there was 
no apparent hitch in it, and it only remained now for Car ring- 
ton to accelerate his proceedings. He still maintained resei-ve 
with Eeginald Eversleigh, who would go to his house, and lounge 
purposelessly about, sullen and gloomy, but afraid to question 
the master-mind which had so completely subjugated his weak 
and craven nature. 

The engagement between Paulina and Douglas had lasted 
nearly two months, when a cloud overshadowed the horizon which 
had seemed so bright. 

Madame Durski became somewhat alarmed by a change in 
her lover's appearance, which struck her suddenly on one of his 
visits to the villa. For some weeks past she had seen him only 
by lamplight — that hght which gives a delusive brightness to 
the countenance. 

To-day she saw him with the cold northern sunlight shining 
full upon his face ; and for the first time she perceived that he 
had altered much of late. 

" Douglas," she said, earnestly, " how ill you are looking ! " 

"Indeed!" 

" Yes ; I see it to-day for the first time, and I can only wonder 
that I never noticed it before. You have grown so much paler, 
so much thinner, within the last few weeks. I am sure you 
cannot be welL" 

" My dearest Paulina, pray do not look at me with such 
alarm," said Douglas, gently. " Believe me, there is nothing 
particular the matter. I have not been quite myself for the last 
few weeks, I admit — a touch of low fever, I think ; but there is 
not the slightest occasion for fear on your part." 

" Oh, Douglas," exclaimed Paulina, *' how can you speak so 
carelessly of a subject so vital to me ? I implore you to consult 
a physician immediately." 

*' I assure you, my dearest, it is not necessary. There 18 
nothing really the matter." 

" Douglas, I beg and entreat yon to see a physician directly. 
I entreat it as a favour to me." 

"My dear Pauhna, I am ready to do anything you wish." 

" Yon will promise me, then, to see a doctor you can trust, 
without an hour's unnecessary delay P ** 

" I promise, with all my heart," replied Douglas. " Ah, Pau- 
lina, what happiness to think that my life is of some shght 
value to her I love so fondly 1 " 



« 0, al(yve Measure Fahe /" S73 

Ko more was said npon the subject; but during dirmer, and 
throughout the evening, Paulina's eyes fixed themselves every 
now and then with an anxions, scrutinizing gaze upon her 
lover's face. 

When he had left her, she mentioned her fears to her con- 
fldanfe and shadow, !Miss Brewer. 

" Do you not see a change in Mr. Dale P " she asked. 

" A change ! "Wliat kind of change P " 

" Do you not perceive an alteration in his appearance ? In 
plainer words, do you not think him looking very ill ? " 

Miss Brewer, generally so impassive, started, and looked 
at her patroness with a gaze in which alarm was plainly visi- 
ble. 

She had hazarded so much in order to bring about a mar- 
riage between Douglas and her patroness; and what if mor- 
taHtv's dread enemy. Death, should forbid the banns? 

" ill ! " she exclaimed; "do you think Mr. Dale is ill ? " 

" I do, indeed ; and he confesses as much himself, though 
he makes Hght of the matter. He talks of low fever. I can- 
not tell you how much he has alarmed me." 

" There may be nothing serious in it," answered Miss Brewer, 
with some hesitation. " One is so apt to take alarm about trifles 
which a doctor would laugh at. I dare say Mr. Dale only re- 
quires change of air. A London life is not calculated to im- 
prove any one's health." 

"Perhaps that is the cause of his altered appearance," replied 
Paulina, only too glad to be reassured as to her lover's safety. 
" I will beg him to take change of air. But he has promised 
to see a doctor to-morrow : when he comes to me in the after- 
noon I shall hear what the doctor has said." 

Douglas Dale was very much inclined to make light of the 
slight symptoms of ill-health which had oppressed him for some 
time — a languor, a sense of thirst and fever, which were very 
wearing in their effect, but which he attributed to the alterna- 
tions of excitement and agitation that he had undergone of late. 

He was, however, too much a man of honour to break the 
promise made to Paulina. 

He went early on the following morning to Savile Bow, where 
he called upon Dr. Harley "VVestbrook, a physician of some emi- 
nence, to whom he carefully described the symptoms of which 
he had complained to Paulina. 

"I do not consider myself really ill," he said, in conclusion; 
** but I have come to you in obedience to the wish of a friend." 

" I am very glad that yon have come to me," answered Dr. 
Westbrook, gravely. 

" Indeed ! do you, then, consider the symptoms alarming ? " 

" Well, no, not at present ; but I may go bo far as to say that 



374 Snm to Earth, 

yon have done very wisely in placingyonraelf under medical treat- 
ment. It is a most interesting case," added the doctor with an 
air of satisfaction that was almost enjoyment. 

He then asked his patient a great many questions, some of 
<vhich Douglas Dale considered frivolous, or, indeed, absurd ; 
questions about his diet, his habits : questions even about the 
people with whom he associated, the servants who waited upon 
mm. 

These latter inquiries might have seemed almost impertinent, 
if Dr. Westbrook's elevated position had not precluded such an 
idea. 

"You dine at your club, orinyonr chambers, eh, Mr. Dale?" 
he asked. 

"Neither at my club, nor my chambers; I dine every day 
with a friend." 

" Indeed ; always with the same irieiid P ** 

" Always the same." 

•* And you breakfast ? " 

" At my chambers." 

Here followed several questions as to the nature of the break- 
fast, 

" These sort of ailments depend so much on diet," said the 
physician, as if to justify the closeness of his questioning. 
" Your servant prepares your breakfast, of course — is he a per- 
son whom you can trust ? " 

" Yes ; he is an old servant of my father's. I could trust him 
imvlicitly in far more important matters than the preparation 
of my breakfast." 

" Indeed ! Will you pardon me if I ask rather a strange 
question ? " 

" Certainly, if it is a necessary one." 

" Answered like a lawyer, Mr. Dale," replied Dr. Westbrook, 
with a smile. " I want to know whether this old and trusted 
servant of yours has any beneficial interest in your death ? " 

" Interest in my death " 

"In plainer words, has he reason to think that you have 
put him down in your will — supposing that you have made a 
will; which is far from probable ? " 

'* Well, yes," replied Douglas, thoughtfully ; "I have made a 
will within the last few months, and Jarvis, my old servant knows 
that he is provided for, in the event of surviving me — not a very 
likely event, according to the ordinary hazards ; but a man is 
bound to prepare for every contingency." 

" You told your servant that you had provided for him P " 

"I did. He has been such an excellent creature, that it 
vras only natural I should leave him comfortably situated in 
the event of my deatk" 



"0, above Measv/re False!** 375 

« No ; to be sure," answered the phvsician, with rather an ab- 
eent manner. " And sow I need trouble you with no further 
questions this morning. Come to me in a few days, and m the 
meantime take the medicine I prescribe for you." 

Dr. Westbrook wrote a prescription, and Mr. Dale departed, 
very much perplexed by his interview mth the celebrated phy- 

Doii^las went to Fulham that evening as usual, and the first 

questio^n PauHna asked related to his interview with the doctor. 

"You have seen a medical man ? " she asked. 

"I have; and you may set your mind at rest, dearest. He 
assures me that there is nothing serious the matter." 

Paulina was entirely reassured, and throughout that evening 
she was brighter and happier than usual in the society of her 
lover— more lovely, more bewitching than ever, as it seemed to 

Douglas. . ,1 -1 • • J 

He waited a week before calling again on the physician; anl 
he might, perhaps, have delayed his visit even longer, had he 
not felt that the fever and languor from which he suffered in- 
creased rather than abated. 

This time Dr. Westbrook's manner seemed graver and more 
perplexed than on the former visit. He asked even more ques- 
tions, and at last, after a thoughtful examination of the patient, 
he said, very seriously — 

" Mr. Dale, I must tell you frankly that I do not like yonr 
symptoms." 

" You consider them alarming ? " • a j 

" I consider them perplexing, rather than alarming. And as 
you are not a nervous subject I think I may venture to trust you 

«' You may trust in the strength of my nerve, if that is what 
you mean." , 

'•I believe I may, and I shall have to test your moral courage 
and general force of character." 

"Pray be brief, then," said Douglas with a faint smile. i 
can almost guess what you have to say. You are gomg to tell 
me that I carry the seeds of a mortal disease ;_ that the shadowy 
hand of death already holds me in its fatal gnp." 

" I am cToing to tell you nothing of the kind, answered Dr. 
Westbrook. ** I can find no symptoms of disease. You have a 
very fair lease of fife, Mr. Dale, and may enjoy a green old age, 
if other people would allow you to enjoy it." 

" How do you mean ? " . , ^ . i-x 

« I mean that if I can trust my own judgment in a matter 
which is sometimes almost bevond the reach of science, the 
symptoms from wHch you suffer are those of slow poisoning. 

♦* Slow poisoning ! " replied Douglas, in almost inaudible ao- 



876 Run to EaHh. 

cents. "It is impossible! " lie exclaimed, after a pause, during 
which the physician waited quietly until his patient should have 
in some manner recovered his calmness of mind. " It is quite 
impossible. ^ I have every confidence in your skill, your science ; 
but in this instance, Dr. Westbrook, I feel assured that you are 
mistaken." 

"I would gladly think so, Mr. Dale," replied the doctor, 
gravely ; *' but I cannot. I have given my best thought to your 
case. 1 can only form one conclusion — namely, that you are 
labouring under the effects of poison." 

" Do you know what the poison is ? " 

"I do not ; but I do know that it must have been administered 
with a caution that is almost diabolical in its ingenuity — so 
slowly, by such imperceptible degrees, that you have scarcely 
been aware of the change which it has worked in your system. 
It was a most providential circumstance that you came to me 
when you did, as I have been able to discover the treachery to 
which you are subject while there is yet ample time for you to act 
against it. Forewarned is forearmed, you know, Mr. Dale. The 
hidden hand of the secret poisoner is about its fatal work ; it 13 
for you and me to discover to whom the hand belongs. Is there 
any one about you whom you can suspect of such hideous 
guilt?" 

" jSTo one — no one. I repeat that such a thing is impossible." 

" "Who is the person most interested in your death ? " asked 
Dr. Westbrook, calmly. 

" My first cousin, Sir Eeginald Eversleigh, who would succeed 
to a very handsome income in *^hat event. But I have not met 
him, or, at any rate, broke-- oread with him, for the last two 
months. Kor can I for a moment beheve him capable of such 
infamy." 

" If you have not been in intimate association with him for 
the last two months, you may absolve him from all suspicion," 
answered Dr. Westbrook.^ "You spoke to me the other day of 
dining very frequently with one particular friend ; forgive me if 
I ask an unpleasant question. Is that friend a person whom 
you can trust ? " 

"That friend I could trust with a hundred lives, if I had 
them to lose," Douglas replied, warmly. 

The doctor looked at his patient thoughtfully. He was a man 
of the world, and the warmth of Mr. Dale's manner told him 
that the friend in question was a woman. 

" Has the person whom you trust so implicitly any beneficial 
interest in your death ? " he asked. 

" To some amount ; but that person would gain much more 
by my continuing to live." 

"Indeed; then we must needs fall back upon my original 



" 0, above Measure Fahe /'* 377 

idea, and painful as it may be to you, the old servant must 
become the object of your suspicion. ' 

" I cannot believe mm capable " 

" Come, come, Mr. Dale," interrupted the physician. " We 
must look at things as men of the world. It is your duty to 
ascertain by whom this poison has been administered, in order 
to protect yourself from the attacks of your insidious destroyer. 
If you -wiU. follow my advice, you will do this ; if, on the other 
hand, you elect to shut your eyes to the danger that assails you, 
I can only tell you that you'will most assuredly pay for your 
follv by the forfeit of your life." 

""What am I to do?" asked Douglas. 

" You say that your habits of Hfe are almost rigid in their 
regularity. You always breakfast in your own chambers ; yon 
always dine and take your after-dinner coffee in the house oi 
one particular friend. With the exception of a biscuit and a 
glass of sherry taken sometimes at your club, these two meals 
are all you take during the day. It is, therefore, an indisputable 
fact, that poison has beeu administered at one or other of these 
two meals. Your old butler serves one — the servants of your 
friend prepare the other. Either in your own chambers, or in 
your friend's house, you have a hidden foe. It is for you to 
idnd out where that foe lurks." 

"Xot in her house," gasped Douglas, unconsciously betraying 
the depth of his feehng and the sex of his friend ; " not in hers. 
It must be Jarvis whom I have to fear — and yet, no, I cannot 
believe it. My father's old servant— a man who used to carry 
me in his arms when I was a boy !" 

" You may easily set the question of his guilt or innocence at 
rest, Mr. Dale," answered Dr. Westbrook. " Contrive to separ- 
ate yourself from him for a time. If during that time you find 
your symptoms cease, you will have the strongest evidence of 
nis sruilt ; if they still continue, you must look elsewhere." 

"I will take your advice," replied Douglas, with aweary sigh; 
•' anything is better than suspense." 

Little more was said. 

As Douglas walked slowly from the physician's house to the 
Phoenix Club, he meditated profoundly on the subject of his 
interview with Dr. Westbrook. 

"^Vho is the traitor?" he asked himself. "Who? Un- 
happily there can be no doubt about it, Jarvis is the guilty 
wretch." 

It was with unspeakable pain that Douglas Dale contemplated 
the idea of his old servant's guilt : his old servant, who had 
seemed a model of fidelity and devotion ! 

This very man had attended the deathbed of the rector — 
Douglas Dale's father— had been recommended by that fathei' 



878 Bun to Earth. 

to the care of Ms two sons, had exhibited erery appearance 
intense grief at the loss of his master. 

What could he think, except that Jarvis was guilty P There 
was but one other direction in which he could look for guilt, and 
there surely it could not be found. 

"Who in Hilton House had any interest in his death, except 
that one person who was above the possibility of suspicion ? 

He sat by his solitary breakfast-table on the morning after 
his interview with the physician, and watched Jarvis as he moved 
to and fro, waiting on his master with what seemed affectionate 
attention, 

Douglas ate little. A failing appetite had been ore of the 
symptoms that accompanied the low fever from which he had 
lately suffered. 

This morning, depression of spirits rendered him still less 
inclined to eat. 

He was thinking of Jarvis and of the past — those careless, 
happy, childish days, in which this man had been second only to 
his own kindred in his bo3'ish affection. 

While he meditated gravely upon this most painful subje.^t;, 
deliberating as to the manner in which he should commence a 
conversation that was likely to be a very serious one, he hRp- 
pened to look up, and perceived that he was watched by tlie 
man he had been lately watching. His eyes met the gaze of his 
old servant, and he beheld a strange earnestness in that gaze. 

The old man did not flinch on meeting his master's glance. 

" I beg your pardon for looking at you so hard, Mr. Douglas," 
he said ; " but I was thinking about you very serious, sir, when 
you looked up." 

"Indeed, Jarvis, and whyP" 

" Why you see, sir, it was about your appetite as I was think- 
ing. It's fallen off dreadful within the last few weeks. The 
poor breakfastes as you eats is enough to break a man's heart. 
And you don't know the pains as I take, sir, to tempt you in 
the way of breakfastes. That fish, sir, I fetched from Grove's 
this morning with my own hands. They comes up in a salt- 
"sp-ater tank in the bottom of their own boat, sir, as lively as if 
they was still in their natural eleming. Grove's fish do. But 
they might be red herrings for any notice as you take of 'em. 
You're not yourself, Mr. Douglas, that's what it is. You're ill, 
Mr. Douglas, and you ought to see a doctor. Excuse my pre- 
sumption, sir, in making these remarks; but if an old family 
servant that has nursed you on his knees can't speak free, who 
can?" 

"True," Douglas answered with a sigh; "I was a very smaU 
boy when you cabled me on your shoulders to many a countrj 
^cir, and you were very good to me, Jarvis." 



"0, ahove Measure False!" 379 

** Only my dooty, sir," nmttered the old man. 

" Yon are right, Jarvis, as to my health — I am ill." 

•* Then yon'll send for a doctor, snrely, Mr. Douglas.** 

** I have already seen a doctor.'* 

•* And what do he say, sir?" 

"He says my case is very serious.** 

" Oh, Mr. Douglas, don't 'ee say that, don't 'ee say that,'* 
r-ried the old man, in extreme distress. 

•' I can only tell you the truth, Jarvis," answered Douglas : 
" but there is no occasion for despair. The physician tells me that 
my case is a grave one, but he does not say that it is hopeless." 

""\Yhy don't 'ee consult another doctor, Mr. Douglas," said 
Jarvis; "perhaps that one ain't up to his work. If it's such a 
difficult case, you ought to go to all the best doctors in London, 
till you find the one that can cure you. A fine, well-grown 
young gentleman like you oughtn't to have much the matter 
with him, I don't see as it can be very serious.'* 

" I don't know about that, Jarvis ; but in any case I have 
resolved upon doing something for you." 

" For me, sir ! Lor' bless your generous heart, I don't want 
nothing in this mortal world." 

" But you may, Jarvis," replied Douglas. " You have already 
been told that I have provided for you in case of my death." 

" Yes, sir, you was so good as to say you had left me an an- 
nuity, and it was very kind of you to think of such a thing, 
and I'm duly thankful. But still you see, sir, I can't help look- 
ing at it in the light of a kind of joke, sir; for it ain't in human 
nature that an old chap Kke me is going to outlive a young 
gentleman nke you ; and Lord forbid that it should be in human 
nature for such a thing to happen." 

" We never know what may happen, Jarvis. At any rate, I 
have provided against the worst. But as you are getting old, 
and have worked hard all your Hfe, I think you must want rest; 
so, instead of putting you ofi" till my death, I shall give you 
your annuity at once, and you may retire into a comfortable 
little house of your own, and live the life of an elderly gentle- 
man, with a decent little income5 as soon as you please." 

To the surprise of Douglas Dale, the old man's countenanc€ 
expressed only grief and mortification on hearing an announce- 
ment which his master had supposed would have been dehght- 
ful to him. 

" Begging your pardon, sir," he faltered ; " but have you seen 
a younger servant as you Hke better and as could serve you 
oetter, than poor old Jarvis P" 

" N-*, indeed," answered Douglas, " I have seen no such person. 
Nor do I believe that any one in the world could serve kj^* -"^ 
well as you." 



980 Emi to Ewrth, 

" Then why do yon want to change, sir P" 

" I don't want to change. I only want to make yon happy^ 
Jarvis." 

" Then make me happy by letting me stay with yon," pleaded 
the old servant. " Let me stay, sir. Don't talk ahont annuities • 
I want nothing from yon but the pleasure of waiting on my 
dear old master's son. It's as much delight to me to wait upon 
you now as it was to me twenty years ago to carry you to the 
country fairs on my shoulder. Ah, we did have rare times of it 
then, didn't we, sir ? Let me stay, and when I die give me a 
grave somewhere hard by where you live ; and if, once in a way, 
when you pass the churchyard where I lay, you should give a 
Bigh, and say, * Poor old Jarvis ! ' that will be a full re- 
ward to me for having loved yon so dear ever since you was a 



Was this acting ? Was this the perfect simulation of an ac- 
complished hypocrite? No, no, no; Douglas Dale could not 
believe it. 

The tears came into his eyes ; he extended ms hand, and 
grasped that of his old servant. 

" You shall stay with me, Jarvis," he said ; " and I will trust 
you with all my heart." 

Douglas Dale left his chambers soon after that conversation, 
and went straight to Dr. Westbrook, to whom he gave a full ac- 
count of the interview. 

*' I have tested the old man thoroughly," he said, in conclusion ; 
"a^id I believe him to be fidelity itself." 

"You have tested him, Mr. Dale! stuff and nonsense ! " ex- 
claimed the practical physician. " You surely don't call that 
sentimental conversation a test ? If the man is capable of being 
a slow poisoner, he is, of course, capable of acting a jDart, and 
shedding crocodile's tears in evidence of his devoted affection 
for the master whose biliary organs he is deranging by the ad- 
ministration of antimony, or aconite If you want to test the 
man thoroughly, test him in my way. Contrive to eat your 
breakfast elsewhere for a week or two ; touch nothing, not so 
much as a glass of water, in your own chambers ; and if at the 
end of that time the symptoms have ceased, you will know what 
to think of that pattern of fidelity — Mr. Jarvis." 

Douglas promised to take the doctor's advice. He was con- 
vinced of his servant's innocence; but he wanted to put that 
question beyond doubt. 

But if Jarvis was indeed innocent, where was the guilty wretch 
to be found P 

_ Douglas Dale dined at Hilton House upon the evening after 
his interview with Dr. Westbrook, as he had done without inte 
m.:ssioa for several weeks. He found Paulina tender and 



*• 0, ahove Measure Palse!^^ SSl 

donate, as she had ever been of late, since respect and esteem 
for her lover's goodness had developed into a warmer feeling. 

" Donglas," she said, on this particnlar evening, when they 
were alone together for a few minutes after dinner, " yonr health 
has not improved as much as I had hoped it would under the 
treatment oi your doctor. I wish you would consult some one 
else." 

She spoke hghtly, for she feared to alarm the patient by any 
appearance of fear on her part. She knew how physical disease 
may be augmented by mental agitation. Her tone, therefore, 
was one of assumed carelessness. 

To-night Douglas Dale's mind was pecuharly sensitive to 
every impression. Something in that assumed tone struck 
strangely upon his ear. For the first time since he had kno^vn 
her, the voice of the woman he loved, seemed to him to have a 
false sound in its clear, ringing tones. 

An icy terror suddenly took possession of his mind. 

What if this woman — this woman, whom he loved with such 
intense affection — what if she were sometliing other than she 
seemed ! What if her heart had never been his — her love never 
withdrawn from the reprobate upon whom she had once bestowed 
it ! Whsit if her tender glances, her affectionate words, her 
gracefal, caressing manner, were all a comedy, of which he was 
the dupe ! What if 

" I am the vii^tim of treacher\',' he thought to himself; " but 
the traitor cr.nr.ot be here. Oh, no, no I let me find the traitor 
anywhere rather than here.'* 

Paulina watched her lover as he sat with his eyes fixed on the 
ground, absorbed in gloomy meditation. 

Presently he looked up suddenly, and addressed her. 

"I am going on a journey, PauHna, on business," he said; 
"business, which I can only transact myself. I shall, therefore, 
be compelled to be absent from you for a week ; it may be even 
more. Perhaps we shall never meet again. Will that be very 
distressing to you ? " 

"Douglas," exclaimed Paulina, " how strangely yon speak to 
me to-night ! If this is a jest, it is a very cruel one." 

" It is no jest, Paulina, answered her lover. " Life is very 
precarious, and within the last week I have learnt to consider 
my existence in imminent periL" 

"You are ill, Douglas," said Paulina; " and illness has un- 
nerved yoiL Pray do not give way to these depressing thoughts. 
Consult some other physician toan the man who is now your 
adviser." 

" Yes, yes ; I will do so," answered Douglas, with a sudden 
change of tone ; " you are right, Paulina. I will not be so weak 
as to become the prej of these distressing fancies, these dark 

B B 



gS2 2un to JBarth, 

forebodings. What have I to fear ? Death is no terrible ovil. 
It is but the commou fate of all. I can face that common doom aa 
calmly as a Christian should face it. But deceit, treachery, 
falsehood from those we love — those are evils far more terrible 
than death. Oh, Paulina 1 tell me that I have no need to fear 
those P " 

*' From whom should you fear them, Douglas ! " 

"Aye, from whom, that is the question! Not from jou, 
Paulina P " 

" From me 1 " she echoed, with a look of wonder. " Are you 
mad?" 

" Swear — swear to me that there is no falsehood in your heart, 
Panlina; that you love me as truly as you have taught me 
V) believe ; that you have not beguiled me with false words, aa 
false as they are sweet ! " cried the 'oung man, in wild excite- 
ment. 

" My dear Douglas, this is madness ! " exclaimed Madame 
Durski; " foUy too wild for reproof. This passionate excitement 
must be surely the effect of fever. What can I say to you ex- 
cept that I love you truly and dearly ; that my heart has been 
purified, my mind elevat^^d by your influence ; that I have now 
no thought which is not known to you — no hope that does not 
rest itself upon your love. You ought to beUeve this, Douglas, 
for my every word, my every look, should speak the truth, which 
1 do not care to reiterate in protestations such as these. It is 
too painful to me to be doubted by you." 

" And if I have wronged you, I am a base wretch," said Doug- 
las, in a low voice. 

Early the following morning he paid another visit to Dr. 
Westbrook. 

"I will not trespass on your time this morning," he said, after 
shaking hands with the physician. " I have only come here in 
order to ask one question. If the poison were discontinued for 
a week, would there be any cessation of the symptoms .'*" 

" There would," replied the doctor. " Nature is quick to re- 
assert herself. But if you are about to test your butler, I 
should recommend you to remain away longer than a week — say 
a fortnight." 

B ut it was not to test his old servant that Douglas Dale ab- 
sented himself from London, though he had allowed the phy- 
Hician to beheve that such was his intention. He started for 
I'aris that night ; but he took Jarvis with him. 

His health improved day by day, hour by hour, from the day 
of his parting from Pauhna Durski. The low fever had leit 
him before he had been ten days in Paris ; the perpetual thirst, 
the wearisome debility, left him also. He began to be his old 
ielf again J and to him thi3 recovery was far more terrible thaa 



" 0, alove Measure False!** 8^3 

the worst possible symptoms of disease could have been, for it 
told him that the hidden foe who had robbed him of health d.t^ 
strength was to be found at Hilton House. 

In that house there was but one person who would profit by 
Douglas Dale's death, and she would profit largely. 

" She has never loved me," he thought to himself. " She still 
loves Reginald E versleigh. My death will give her both fortune 
and liberty; it will leave her free to wed the man she really loves." 

He no longer trusted his own love. He beheved that he had 
been made the dupe of a woman's treachery ; and that the hand 
which had so often been pressed passionately to hi^ lips, was the 
hand which, day by day, had mingled poison with his cup, sap- 
ping his life by slow degrees. Against the worldly wisdom of 
his friends he had opposed the blind instinct of his love ; and 
now that events conspired to condemn this woman, he wondered 
that he could ever have trus''"ed her. 

At the end of a fortnight Douglas Dale returned from Paris, 
and went immediately to Paulina. He beheved that he had 
been the dupe of an accompUshed actress — the vilest and most 
heartless of women — and he was now acting a part, in order to 
fathom the depth of her iniquity. 

** Let me know her — let me know her in all her baseness," he 
said to himself. " Let me tax the murderess with her crime ! 
and then, surely, this mad love will be plucked for ever from my 
heart, and I shall find peace far from uie false syren whose sor- 
cery has embittered my hfe." 

Douglas had received several letters from Paulina during hia 
visit to Paris — letters breathing the most devoted aad disinter- 
ested love ; but to him every word seemed studied, every expres- 
sion false. Those very letters would, a few short weeks ago, 
have seemed to Douglas the perfection of truth and artlessness. 

He returned to England wondrously restored to health. Jar- 
vis had been his constant attendant in Paris, and had brought 
him every morning a cup of coffee made by his own hands. 

At the Temple, he found a note from Paulina, telling him that 
he was expected hourly at Hilton House. 

He lost no time in presenting himself. He endeavoured to 
stifle all emotion — to conquer the impatience that possessed him; 
but he could not. 

Madame Durski was seated by one of the windows in the 
drawing-room when Mr. Dale wa« announced. 

She received her lover with every appearance of afiection, 
end with an emotion which she seemed only anxious to conceal. 

But to the jaundiced mind of Douglas Dale this suppressed 
emotion appeared only a superior piece of acting; and yet, aa 
he looked at his betrothed, while she stood before him, perfect, 
peerless, in her refined lovelinese. his heart was divided by lcv« 



S84 Bm to EaHTi. 

and hate. He hated the gnilt which he believed was hers. TTo 
loved her even yet, despite that gnilt, 

" Yon are very pale, Douglae," she said after the first greet- 
ings were over. " But, thank heaven, there is a wonderful im 
provement. I can see restored health in your face. The fever 
has gone — the nnnatnral brightness has left your eyes. Oh, 
dearest, how happy it makes me to see this change ! Yon can 
never know what I snffered when I saw yon drooping, day by 
day." 

" Yes, day by day, Panhna," answered the young man, gravely. 
** It was a gradual decay of health and strength — my life ebbing 
slowly — almost imperceptibly — but not the less surely." 

" And yon are better, Douglas ? Yon feel and know yourself 
that there is a change ? " 

" Yes, Paulina. My recovery began in the hour in which 1 
left London. My health has improved from that time." 

" Yon required change of air, no doubt. How foolish your 
doctor must have been not to recommend that in the first in- 
stance ! And now that you have returned, may I hope to see 
you as often as of old ? Shall we renew all our old habits, and 
go back to our delightful evenings ? " 

" Were those evenings really pleasant to yon, Paulina P " 
asked Mr. Dale, earnestly. 

" Ah, Douglas, you must know they were ! " 

" I cannot know the secrets of your heart, Paulina," he 
replied, with unspeakable sadness in his tone. "You have 
Beemed to me all that is bright, and pure, aaid true. But how 
do I know that it is not ail seeming ? How do I know that 
Reginald Eversleigh's image may not still hold a place in your 
heart?" 

" Yon insult me, Douglas 1 " exclaimed Madame Durski, vnth 
dignity. " But I will not suffer myself to be angry with you 
on the day of your return. I see your health is not entirely 
restored, since you still harbour these gloomy thoughts and un- 
just suspicions." 

His most searching scrutiny could perceive no traces of guilt 
in the lovely face he looked at so anxiously. For awhile his sus- 
picions were almost lulled to rest. That soft white hand, which 
glittered with gems that had been his gift, could not be the hand 
of an assassin. 

He began to feel the soothing influence of hope. Night and 
day he prayed that he might discover the innocence of her he so 
fondly loved. But just as he had begun to abandon himself to 
that sweet influence, despair again took possession of him. All 
the old symptoms — the fever, the weakness, the unnatural thirst, 
the dry, burning sensation in his throat — returned; and this 
time Jarvis was far away. His master had sent him to pay a 



"0, above Measure False T 385 

visit to a married daughter, comfortably settled in the depths of 

Devonsliire. 

Douglas Dale went to one of the most distinguised physicians 
in London. He was determined to consult a new adviser, in 
order to discover whether the opinion of that other adviser would 
agree with the opinion of Dr. H^ley Westbrook. 

Dr. Chippendale, the new physician, asked all the questions 
previously asked by Dr. Westbrook, and, after much delibera- 
tion, he informed his patient, with all proper delicacy and cau- 
tion, that he was suffering from the influence of slow poison. 

•' Is my life in danger. Dr. Chippendale ? " he asked. 

" Not in immediate danger. The poison has evidently been 
administered in infinitesimal doses. But you cannot too soon 
withdraw yourself from all those who now surround jou. Life 
is not to be tampered with. The poisoner may take it into his 
head to increase the doses." 

Douglas Dale left his adviser after a long conversation. H« 
then went to take his farewell of Paulina Durski.^ 

There was no longer the shadow of doubt in his mind. The 
horrible certainty seemed painfully clear to him. Love must be 
plucked for ever from his breast, and only contempt and loath- 
mg must remain where that divine sentiment had been en- 
throned. 

Since his interview with the physician, he had carefully re- 
called to memory all the details of his life in Paulina's society. 

She had given him day by day an allotted portion of poison. 

How had she administered it ? 

This was the question which he now sought to solve, for he no 
longer asked himself whether she was guilty or innocent. He 
remembered that every evening after dinner he had, in Con- 
tinental fashion, taken a single glass of liqueur ; and this he had 
received from Paulina's own hand. It had pleased him to take 
the tiny, fragile glass from those taper fingers. The delicate 
liqueur had seemed sweeter to him because it was given by 
Paulina. 

He now felt convinced that it was in this glass of liqueur the 
poison had been administeied to him. 

On more than one occasion he had at first declined taking it; 
but Paulina had always persuaded him, with some pretty speech, 
some half coquettish, half caressing action. 

He found her waiting lum as usual : her toilet perfection it- 
self; her beauty enhanced by the care with which she always 
strove to render herself charming in his eyes. She said play- 
fully that it was a tribute which she offered to her benefactor. 

They dined together, with Miss Brewer for their sole com- 
panion. She seemed self-contained and emotionless as ever; 
but if Douglas had not been so entirely absorbed by his thoughti 



S86 Bun to Earth. 

of Paulina, he might have perceived tiiat she looked at him evei 
and anon with furtive, bnt searching glances. 

There was little conversation, httle gaiety at that dinner. 
Donglas was absent-minded and gloomy. He scarcely ate any- 
thing; bnt the constant thirst from which he suffered obliged 
him to drink long draughts of water. 

After dinner, Miss Brewer brought the glasses and the liqueur 
to Madame Durski, after her customary manner. 

Paulina filled the ruby-stemmed glass with cura9oa. and 
handed it to her lover. 

" No, Paulina, I shall take no liqueur to-night" 

"Why not, Douglas P" 

" I am not well," he replied, " and I am growing rather tired 
of cura9oa." 

" As you please,** said Paulina, as she replaced the delicate 
glass in the stand from which she had just taken it. 

Miss Brewer had left the room, and the lovers were alone to- 
gether. They were seated face to face at the prettily decorated 
table — one with utter despair in his heart. 

" Shall I tell you why I would not take that glass from your 
hands just now, Paulina Durski ? " asked Douglas, after a brief 
pause, rising to leave the table as he spoke. " Or will you spare 
me the anguish of speaking words that must cover you with 
shame ? " 

" I do not understand you," murmured Paulina, looking at 
her lover with a gaze of mingled terror and bewilderment. 

" Oh, Paulina ! " cried Douglas ; " why still endeavour to sus- 
tain a deception which I have unmasked ? I know all." 

" All what ? " gasped the bewildered woman. 

*' All your guilt— all your baseness. Oh, Paul