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´╗┐Title: Love Works Wonders - A Novel
Author: Brame, Charlotte M., 1836-1884
Language: English
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LOVE WORKS WONDERS.

A Novel.

by

BERTHA M. CLAY,

Author of

"Thrown on the World," Etc.


          "O you, that have the charge of Love,
             Keep him in rosy bondage bound,
           As in the Fields of Bliss above
             He sits with flowerets fetter'd round;
           Loose not a tie that round him clings,
           Nor ever let him use his wings;
           For even an hour, a minute's flight
           Will rob the plumes of half their light."
                                          MOORE.



New York:
G. W. Carleton & Co., Publishers,
Street & Smith, New York Weekly.
MDCCCLXXVIII.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1877,
By Street & Smith,
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.

Francis S. Street,} _Proprietors and Publishers_
Francis S. Smith, }
Of the
New York Weekly,
The Leading Story and Sketch Paper of the Age.



          TO

          THE READERS OF THE

          NEW YORK WEEKLY,

          WHO FOR NEARLY TWENTY YEARS, HAVE
          STOOD FAITHFULLY BY US, CHEERING
          US IN OUR LABORS,
          AND BIDDING US
          GOD-SPEED;
          TO WHOM OUR
          PET JOURNAL HAS BECOME
          A HOUSEHOLD WORD, AND WITHOUT
          WHOSE AID WE COULD HAVE ACCOMPLISHED
          NOTHING, THIS VOLUME IS RESPECTFULLY

          DEDICATED

          BY THE PUBLISHERS,

          STREET & SMITH.



CONTENTS:


          CHAPTER.                                     PAGE.
                I.--A GIRL WITH A CHARACTER              9
               II.--"DARRELL COURT IS A PRISON TO ME!"  16
              III.--"YOUR GOOD SOCIETY IS ALL DECEIT"   28
               IV.--"YOU ARE GOING TO SPOIL MY LIFE"    35
                V.--PAULINE'S GOOD POINTS               42
               VI.--THE PROGRESS MADE BY THE PUPIL      47
              VII.--CAPTAIN LANGTON                     54
             VIII.--THE INTRODUCTION                    61
               IX.--THE BROKEN LILY                     67
                X.--PAULINE STILL INCORRIGIBLE          74
               XI.--HOW WILL IT END?                    81
              XII.--ELINOR ROCHEFORD                    87
             XIII.--SIR OSWALD THINKS OF MARRIAGE       94
              XIV.--PAULINE'S LOVE FOR DARRELL COURT   103
               XV.--BREACH BETWEEN UNCLE AND NIECE     108
              XVI.--THE QUEEN OF THE BALL              115
             XVII.--PAULINE'S BRIGHT FANCIES           122
            XVIII.--REJECTED                           128
              XIX.--PAULINE THREATENS VENGEANCE        142
               XX.--CAPTAIN LANGTON DESPERATE          148
              XXI.--MYSTERIOUS ROBBERY                 156
             XXII.--FULFILLING THE CONTRACT            163
            XXIII.--NO COMPROMISE WITH PAULINE         169
             XXIV.--A RICH GIFT DECLINED               176
              XXV.--A TRUE DARRELL                     183
             XXVI.--A PUZZLING QUESTION                189
            XXVII.--SIR OSWALD'S DOUBTS                196
           XXVIII.--READING OF THE WILL                203
             XXIX.--WAITING FOR REVENGE                209
              XXX.--WILL FATE AID PAULINE?             217
             XXXI.--FATE FAVORS PAULINE                225
            XXXII.--CAPTAIN LANGTON ACCEPTED           231
           XXXIII.--"I HAVE HAD MY REVENGE!"           239
            XXXIV.--THE STRANGER ON THE SANDS          247
             XXXV.--THE STORY OF ELAINE                253
            XXXVI.--REDEEMED BY LOVE                   260
           XXXVII.--PRIDE BROUGHT LOW                  267
          XXXVIII.--PAULINE AND LADY DARRELL           287
            XXXIX.--FACE TO FACE                       294
               XL.--DYING IN SIN                       303
              XLI.--THE WORK OF ATONEMENT              308
             XLII.--LOVE AND SORROW                    314
            XLIII.--LADY DARRELL'S WILL                321
             XLIV.--SHADOW OF ABSENT LOVE              328



LOVE WORKS WONDERS.



CHAPTER I.

A GIRL WITH A CHARACTER.


It was a strange place for an intelligence office, yet Madame Selini
evidently knew what she was doing when she established her office in an
aristocratic neighborhood, and actually next door to the family mansion
of the Countess Dowager of Barewood. The worthy countess was shocked,
and, taking counsel of her hopes, predicted that Madame Selini's
institution would soon prove a failure. Notwithstanding this prediction,
the agency prospered, and among its patrons were many of the nobility.

One fine morning in May a carriage stopped before Madame Selini's door,
and from it descended a handsome, aristocratic gentleman, evidently of
the old school. There was some little commotion in the interior of the
building, and then a foot-page appeared to whom Sir Oswald Darrell--for
that was the gentleman's name--gave his card.

"I am here by appointment," he said, "to see Madame Selini."

He was ushered into a handsomely furnished room, where, in a few
minutes, he was joined by Madame Selini herself--a quick, bright
Frenchwoman, whose dark eyes seemed to embrace everything in their
comprehensive glance. Sir Oswald bowed with stately courtesy and quaint,
old-fashioned grace.

"Have you been so fortunate, madame, as to find that which I am in
search of?" he inquired.

"I think you will be pleased, Sir Oswald--nay, I am sure you will,"
answered the lady. "I have a lady waiting to see you now, who will
prove, I should say, a treasure."

Sir Oswald bowed, and madame continued:

"Miss Hastings--Miss Agnes Hastings--has been for the last six years
finishing governess at Lady Castledine's, and her two pupils make their
debut this year; so that there is no longer any occasion for her
services."

"And you think she would be fitted, madame, to occupy the position for
which I require a lady of talent and refinement?"

"I am quite sure of it," replied madame. "Miss Hastings is thirty years
of age. She is highly accomplished, and her manners are exceedingly
lady-like. She is a person of great refinement; moreover, she has had
great experience with young girls. I do not think, Sir Oswald, that you
could do better."

"Is the lady here? Can I see her?"

Madame Selini rang, and desired the little page to ask Miss Hastings to
come to her. In a few minutes an elegant, well-dressed lady entered the
room. She advanced with a quiet grace and dignity that seemed natural to
her; there was not the slightest trace of awkwardness or _mauvaise
honte_ in her manner.

Madame Selini introduced her to Sir Oswald Darrell.

"I will leave you," she said, "to discuss your private arrangements."

Madame quitted the room with gliding, subtle grace, and then Sir Oswald,
in his courtly fashion, placed a chair for Miss Hastings. He looked at
the pale, clear-cut face for a few minutes in silence, as though he were
at a loss what to say, and then he commenced suddenly:

"I suppose Madame Selini has told you what I want, Miss Hastings?"

"Yes," was the quiet reply; "your niece has been neglected--you want
some one to take the entire superintendence of her."

"Neglected!" exclaimed Sir Oswald. "My dear madame, that is a mild word,
which does not express the dreadful reality. I wish to disguise nothing
from you, I assure you--she literally horrifies me."

Miss Hastings smiled.

"Neglected!" he repeated--"the girl is a savage--a splendid
savage--nothing more nor less."

"Has she not received any kind of training, then, Sir Oswald?"

"Training! My dear madame, can you imagine what a wild vine is--a vine
that has never been cultivated or pruned, but allowed to grow wild in
all its natural beauty and strength, to cling where it would, to trail
on the ground and to twine round forest trees? Such a vine is a fit type
of my niece."

Miss Hastings looked slightly bewildered. Here was a very different
pupil from the elegant, graceful daughters of Lady Castledine.

"I should, perhaps," continued Sir Oswald, "explain to you the peculiar
position that my niece, Miss Pauline Darrell, has occupied."

His grand old face flushed, and his stately head was bowed, as though
some of the memories that swept over him were not free from shame; and
then, with a little gesture of his white hand, on which shone a large
diamond ring, he said:

"There is no need for me to tell you, Miss Hastings, that the Darrells
are one of the oldest families in England--ancient, honorable, and, I
must confess, proud--very proud. My father, the late Sir Hildebert
Darrell, was, I should say, one of the proudest and most reserved of
men. He had but two children, myself and a daughter twelve years
younger--my sister Felicia. I was educated abroad. It was one of my
father's fancies that I should see many lands, that I should study men
and women before settling down to my right position in the world; so
that I knew but little of my sister Felicia. She was a child when I left
home--the tragedy of her life had happened before I returned."

Again a great rush of color came over the pale, aristocratic face.

"I must apologize, Miss Hastings, for troubling you with these details,
but unless you understand them you will not understand my niece. I
cannot tell you how it happened, but it did so happen that while I was
away my sister disgraced herself; she left home with a French artist,
whom Sir Hildebert had engaged to renovate some choice and costly
pictures at Darrell Court. How it came about I cannot say--perhaps there
were excuses for her. She may have found home very dull--my father was
harsh and cold, and her mother was dead. It may be that when the young
artist told her of warm love in sunny lands she was tempted, poor child,
to leave the paternal roof.

"My father's wrath was terrible; he pursued Julian L'Estrange with
unrelenting fury. I believe the man would have been a successful artist
but for my father, who had vowed to ruin him, and who never rested until
he had done so--until he had reduced him to direst poverty--and then my
sister appealed for help, and my father refused to grant it. He would
not allow her name to be mentioned among us; her portrait was destroyed;
everything belonging to her was sent away from Darrell Court.

"When I returned--in an interview that I shall never forget--my father
threatened me not only with disinheritance, but with his curse, if I
made any attempt to hold the least communication with my sister. I do
not know that I should have obeyed him if I could have found her, but I
did not even know what part of the world she was in. She died, poor
girl, and I have no doubt that her death was greatly hastened by
privation. My father told me of her death, also that she had left one
daughter; he did more--he wrote to Julian L'Estrange, and offered to
adopt his daughter on the one condition that he would consent never to
see her or hold the least communication with her.

"The reply was, as you may imagine, a firm refusal and a fierce
denunciation. In the same letter came a note, written in a large,
childish hand:

"'I love my papa, and I do not love you. I will not come to live with
you. You are a cruel man, and you helped to kill my dear mamma.'

"It was a characteristic little note, and was signed 'Pauline
L'Estrange.' My father's anger on receiving it was very great. I confess
that I was more amused than angry.

"My father, Miss Hastings, lived to a good old age. I was not a young
man when I succeeded him. He left me all his property. You must
understand the Darrell and Audleigh Royal estates are not entailed. He
made no mention in his will of the only grandchild he had; but, after I
had arranged all my affairs, I resolved to find her. For ten years I
have been doing all I could--sending to France, Italy, Spain, and every
country where I thought it possible the artist might have sought refuge.

"Three months since I received a letter from him, written on his
death-bed, asking me to do something for Pauline, who had grown up into
a beautiful girl of seventeen. I found then that he had been living for
some years in the Rue d'Orme, Paris. I buried him, brought his daughter
to England, and made arrangements whereby she should assume the name of
Darrell. But I little knew what a task I had undertaken. Pauline ought
to be my heiress, Miss Hastings. She ought to succeed me at Darrell
Court. I have no other relatives. But--well, I will not despair; you
will see what can be done with her."

"What are her deficiencies?" asked Miss Hastings.

Sir Oswald raised his white hands with a gesture of despair.

"I will tell you briefly. She has lived among artists. She does not seem
to have ever known any of her own sex. She is--I am sorry to use the
word--a perfect Bohemian. Whether she can be transformed into anything
faintly resembling a lady, I cannot tell. Will you undertake the task,
Miss Hastings?"

She looked very thoughtful for some minutes, and then answered:

"I will do my best, Sir Oswald."

"I thank you very much. You must permit me to name liberal terms, for
your task will be no light one."

And the interview ended, to their mutual satisfaction.



CHAPTER II.

"DARRELL COURT IS A PRISON TO ME!"


It was a beautiful May day, bright with fresh spring loveliness. The
leaves were springing fresh and green from the trees; the hedges were
all abloom with pink hawthorn; the chestnut trees were all in flower;
the gold of the laburnum, the purple of the lilac, the white of the fair
acacia trees, and the delicate green of the stately elms and limes gave
a beautiful variety of color. The grass was dotted with a hundred
wild-flowers; great clusters of yellow buttercups looked in the distance
like the upspreading of a sea of gold; the violets perfumed the air, the
bluebells stirred in the sweet spring breeze, and the birds sang out
loudly and jubilantly.

If one spot looked more lovely than another on this bright May day, it
was Darrell Court, for it stood where the sun shone brightest, in one of
the most romantic and picturesque nooks of England--the part of
Woodshire bordering on the sea.

The mansion and estates stood on gently rising ground; a chain of purple
hills stretched away into the far distance; then came the pretty town of
Audleigh Royal, the Audleigh Woods, and the broad, deep river Darte.
The bank of the river formed the boundary of the Darrell estates, a rich
and magnificent heritage, wherein every beauty of meadow and wood seemed
to meet. The park was rich in its stately trees and herds of deer; and
not far from the house was a fir-wood--an aromatic, odorous fir-wood,
which led to the very shores of the smiling southern sea.

By night and by day the grand music of nature was heard in perfection at
Darrell Court. Sometimes it was the roll of the wind across the hills,
or the beat of angry waves on the shore, or the wild melody of the storm
among the pine trees, or the full chorus of a thousand feathered
songsters. The court itself was one of the most picturesque of mansions.
It did not belong to any one order or style of architecture--there was
nothing stiff or formal about it--but it looked in that bright May
sunshine a noble edifice, with its square towers covered with clinging
ivy, gray turrets, and large arched windows.

Did the sun ever shine upon such a combination of colors? The spray of
the fountains glittered in the air, the numerous balconies were filled
with flowers; wherever it was possible for a flower to take root, one
had been placed to grow--purple wistarias, sad, solemn passion-flowers,
roses of every hue. The star-like jessamine and scarlet creepers gave to
the walls of the old mansion a vivid glow of color; gold and purple
enriched the gardens, heavy white lilies breathed faintest perfume. The
spot looked a very Eden.

The grand front entrance consisted of a large gothic porch, which was
reached by a broad flight of steps, adorned with white marble vases
filled with flowers; the first terrace was immediately below, and
terrace led from terrace down to the grand old gardens, where sweetest
blossoms grew.

There was an old-world air about the place--something patrician, quiet,
reserved. It was no vulgar haunt for vulgar crowds; it was not a show
place; and the master of it, Sir Oswald Darrell, as he stood upon the
terrace, looked in keeping with the surroundings.

There was a _distingue_ air about Sir Oswald, an old-fashioned courtly
dignity, which never for one moment left him. He was thoroughly well
bred; he had not two sets of manners--one for the world, and one for
private life; he was always the same, measured in speech, noble in his
grave condescension. No man ever more thoroughly deserved the name of
aristocrat; he was delicate and fastidious, with profound and
deeply-rooted dislike for all that was ill-bred, vulgar, or mean.

Even in his dress Sir Oswald was remarkable; the superfine white linen,
the diamond studs and sleeve links, the rare jewels that gleamed on his
fingers--all struck the attention; and, as he took from his pocket a
richly engraved golden snuff-box and tapped it with the ends of his
delicate white fingers, there stood revealed a thorough aristocrat--the
ideal of an English patrician gentleman.

Sir Oswald walked round the stately terraces and gardens.

"I do not see her," he said to himself; "yet most certainly Frampton
told me she was here."

Then, with his gold-headed cane in hand, Sir Oswald descended to the
gardens. He was evidently in search of some one. Meeting one of the
gardeners, who stood, hat in hand, as he passed by, Sir Oswald asked:

"Have you seen Miss Darrell in the gardens?"

"I saw Miss Darrell in the fernery some five minutes since, Sir Oswald,"
was the reply.

Sir Oswald drew from his pocket a very fine white handkerchief and
diffused an agreeable odor of millefleurs around him; the gardener had
been near the stables, and Sir Oswald was fastidious.

A short walk brought him to the fernery, an exquisite combination of
rock and rustic work, arched by a dainty green roof, and made musical by
the ripple of a little waterfall. Sir Oswald looked in cautiously,
evidently rather in dread of what he might find there; then his eyes
fell upon something, and he said:

"Pauline, are you there?"

A rich, clear, musical voice answered:

"Yes, I am here, uncle."

"My dear," continued Sir Oswald, half timidly, not advancing a step
farther into the grotto, "may I ask what you are doing?"

"Certainly, uncle," was the cheerful reply; "you may ask by all means.
The difficulty is to answer; for I am really doing nothing, and I do not
know how to describe 'nothing.'"

"Why did you come hither?" he asked.

"To dream," replied the musical voice. "I think the sound of falling
water is the sweetest music in the world. I came here to enjoy it, and
to dream over it."

Sir Oswald looked very uncomfortable.

"Considering, Pauline, how much you have been neglected, do you not
think you might spend your time more profitably--in educating yourself,
for example?"

"This is educating myself. I am teaching myself beautiful thoughts, and
nature just now is my singing mistress." And then the speaker's voice
suddenly changed, and a ring of passion came into it. "Who says that I
have been neglected? When you say that, you speak ill of my dear dead
father, and no one shall do that in my presence. You speak slander, and
slander ill becomes an English gentleman. If I was neglected when my
father was alive, I wish to goodness such neglect were my portion now!"

Sir Oswald shrugged his shoulders.

"Each one to his or her taste, Pauline. With very little more of such
neglect you would have been a----"

He paused; perhaps some instinct of prudence warned him.

"A what?" she demanded, scornfully. "Pray finish the sentence, Sir
Oswald."

"My dear, you are too impulsive, too hasty. You want more quietness of
manner, more dignity."

Her voice deepened in its tones as she asked:

"I should have been a what, Sir Oswald? I never begin a sentence and
leave it half finished. You surely are not afraid to finish it?"

"No, my dear," was the calm reply; "there never yet was a Darrell afraid
of anything on earth. If you particularly wish me to do so, I will
finish what I was about to say. You would have been a confirmed
Bohemian, and nothing could have made you a lady."

"I love what you call Bohemians, and I detest what you call ladies, Sir
Oswald," was the angry retort.

"Most probably; but then, you see, Pauline, the ladies of the house of
Darrell have always been ladies--high-bred, elegant women. I doubt if
any of them ever knew what the word 'Bohemian' meant."

She laughed a little scornful laugh, which yet was sweet and clear as
the sound of silver bells.

"I had almost forgotten," said Sir Oswald. "I came to speak to you about
something, Pauline; will you come into the house with me?"

They walked on together in silence for some minutes, and then Sir Oswald
began:

"I went to London, as you know, last week, Pauline, and my errand was on
your behalf."

She raised her eyebrows, but did not deign to ask any questions.

"I have engaged a lady to live with us here at Darrell Court, whose
duties will be to finish your education, or, rather, I may truthfully
say, to begin it, to train you in the habits of refined society,
to--to--make you presentable, in fact, Pauline, which I am sorry, really
sorry to say, you are not at present."

She made him a low bow--a bow full of defiance and rebellion.

"I am indeed indebted to you, Sir Oswald."

"No trifling," said the stately baronet, "no sarcasm, Pauline, but
listen to me! You are not without sense or reason--pray attend. Look
around you," he continued; "remember that the broad fair lands of
Darrell Court form one of the grandest domains in England. It is an
inheritance almost royal in its extent and magnificence. Whoso reigns
here is king or queen of half a county, is looked up to, respected,
honored, admired, and imitated. The owner of Darrell Court is a power
even in this powerful land of ours; men and women look up to such a one
for guidance and example. Judge then what the owner of the inheritance
should be."

The baronet's grand old face was flushed with emotion.

"He must be pure, or he would make immorality the fashion; honorable,
because men will take their notions of honor from him; just, that
justice may abound; upright, stainless. You see all that, Pauline?"

"Yes," she assented, quickly.

"No men have so much to answer for," continued Sir Oswald, "as the great
ones of the land--men in whose hands power is vested--men to whom others
look for example, on whose lives other lives are modeled--men who, as it
were, carry the minds, if not the souls, of their fellow men in the
hollows of their hands."

Pauline looked more impressed, and insensibly drew nearer to him.

"Such men, I thank Heaven," he said, standing bareheaded as he uttered
the words, "have the Darrells been--loyal, upright, honest, honorable,
of stainless repute, of stainless life, fitted to rule their fellow
men--grand men, sprung from a grand old race. And at times women have
reigned here--women whose names have lived in the annals of the
land--who have been as shining lights from the purity, the refinement,
the grandeur of their lives."

He spoke with a passion of eloquence not lost on the girl by his side.

"I," he continued, humbly, "am one of the least worthy of my race. I
have done nothing for its advancement; but at the same time I have done
nothing to disgrace it. I have carried on the honors passively. The time
is coming when Darrell Court must pass into other hands. Now, Pauline,
you have heard, you know what the ruler of Darrell Court should be. Tell
me, are you fitted to take your place here?"

"I am very young," she murmured.

"It is not a question of youth. Dame Sibella Darrell reigned here when
she was only eighteen; and the sons she trained to succeed her were
among the greatest statesmen England has ever known. She improved and
enlarged the property; she died, after living here sixty years, beloved,
honored, and revered. It is not a question of age."

"I am a Darrell!" said the girl, proudly.

"Yes, you have the face and figure of a Darrell; you bear the name, too;
but you have not the grace and manner of a Darrell."

"Those are mere outward matters of polish and veneer," she said,
impatiently.

"Nay, not so. You would not think it right to see an unformed,
untrained, uneducated, ignorant girl at the head of such a house as
this. What did you do yesterday? A maid displeased you. You boxed her
ears. Just imagine it. Such a proceeding on the part of the mistress of
Darrell Court would fill one with horror."

A slight smile rippled over the full crimson lips.

"Queen Elizabeth boxed her courtiers' ears," said the girl, "and it
seemed right to her."

"A queen, Pauline, is hedged in by her own royalty; she may do what she
will. The very fact that you are capable of defending an action so
violent, so unlady-like, so opposed to all one's ideas of feminine
delicacy, proves that you are unfit for the position you ought to
occupy."

"I am honest, at least. I make no pretensions to be what I am not."

"So is my butler honest, but that does not fit him to be master of
Darrell Court. Honesty is but one quality--a good one, sturdy and
strong; it requires not one, but many qualities to hold such a position
as I would fain have you occupy."

Miss Darrell's patience was evidently at an end.

"And the upshot of all this, Sir Oswald, is----"

"Exactly so--that I am anxious to give you every chance in my
power--that I have found an estimable, refined, elegant woman, who will
devote her time and talents to train you and fit you for society."

A low, musical laugh broke from the perfect lips.

"Have you any idea," she asked, "what I shall be like when I am
trained?"

"Like a lady, I trust--a well-bred lady. I can imagine nothing more
beautiful than that."

"When is she coming, this model of yours, Sir Oswald?"

"Nay, your model, niece, not mine. She is here now, and I wish to
introduce her to you. I should like you, if possible," he concluded,
meekly, "to make a favorable impression on her."

There was another impatient murmur.

"I wish you to understand, Pauline," he resumed, after a short pause,
"that I shall expect you to render the most implicit obedience to Miss
Hastings--to follow whatever rules she may lay down for you, to attend
to your studies as she directs them, to pay the greatest heed to all her
corrections, to copy her style, to imitate her manners, to----"

"I hate her!" was the impetuous outburst. "I would sooner be a beggar
all my life than submit to such restraint."

"Very well," returned Sir Oswald, calmly. "I know that arguing with you
is time lost. The choice lies with yourself. If you decide to do as I
wish--to study to become a lady in the truest sense of the word--if you
will fit yourself for the position, you shall be heiress of Darrell
Court; if not--if you persist in your present unlady-like, unrefined,
Bohemian manner, I shall leave the whole property to some one else. I
tell you the plain truth without any disguise."

"I do not want Darrell Court!" she cried, passionately; "it is a prison
to me!"

"I excuse you," rejoined Sir Oswald, coldly; "you are excited, and so
not answerable for what you say."

"Uncle," said the girl, "do you see that beautiful singing bird there,
giving voice to such glorious melody? Do you think you could catch it
and put it in a cage?"

"I have no doubt that I could," replied Sir Oswald.

"But, if you did," she persisted; "even suppose you could make it forget
its own wild melodies, could you teach it to sing formally by note and
at your will?"

"I have never supposed anything of the kind," said Sir Oswald. "You are
possessed of far too much of that kind of nonsense. The young ladies of
the present day--properly educated girls--do not talk in that way."

"I can easily believe it," she returned, bitterly.

"Miss Hastings is in the library," said Sir Oswald, as they entered the
house. "I hope to see you receive her kindly. Put away that frown,
Pauline, and smile if you can. Remember, it is characteristic of the
Darrells to be gracious to strangers."

With these words Sir Oswald opened the library door, and holding his
niece's hand, entered the room. Miss Hastings rose to receive them. He
led Pauline to her, and in the kindest manner possible introduced them
to each other.

"I will leave you together," he said. "Pauline will show you your rooms,
Miss Hastings; and I hope that you will soon feel happy, and quite at
home with us."

Sir Oswald quitted the library, leaving the two ladies looking in
silence at each other.



CHAPTER III.

"YOUR GOOD SOCIETY IS ALL DECEIT."


Miss Hastings had been prepared to see a hoiden, an awkward, unfledged
schoolgirl, one who, never having seen much of good society, had none of
the little graces and charms that distinguish young ladies. She had
expected to see a tall, gaunt girl, with red hands, and a general air of
not knowing what to do with herself--that was the idea she had formed.
She gazed in wonder at the reality--a magnificent figure--a girl whose
grand, pale, statuesque beauty was something that could never be
forgotten. There was nothing of the boarding-school young lady about
her; no acquired graces. She was simply magnificent--no other word could
describe her. Miss Hastings, as she looked at her, thought involuntarily
of the graceful lines, the beautiful curves, the grand, free grace of
the world-renowned Diana of the Louvre; there was the same arched,
graceful neck, the same royal symmetry, the same harmony of outline.

In one of the most celebrated art galleries of Rome Miss Hastings
remembered to have seen a superb bust of Juno; as she looked at her new
pupil, she could almost fancy that its head had been modeled from hers.
Pauline's head was royal in its queenly contour; the brow low, white,
and rounded at the temples; the hair, waving in lines of inexpressible
beauty, was loosely gathered together and fastened behind with a
gleaming silver arrow. The eyes were perhaps the most wonderful feature
in that wonderful face; they were dark as night itself, somewhat in hue
like a purple heartsease, rich, soft, dreamy, yet at times all fire, all
brightness, filled with passion more intense than any words, and shining
then with a strange half-golden light. The brows were straight, dark,
and beautiful; the lips crimson, full, and exquisitely shaped; the mouth
looked like one that could persuade or contemn--that could express
tenderness or scorn, love or pride, with the slightest play of the lips.

Every attitude the girl assumed was full of unconscious grace. She did
not appear to be in the least conscious of her wonderful beauty. She had
walked to the window, and stood leaning carelessly against the frame,
one beautiful arm thrown above her head, as though she were weary, and
would fain rest--an attitude that could not have been surpassed had she
studied it for years.

"You are not at all what I expected to see," said Miss Hastings, at
last. "You are, indeed, so different that I am taken by surprise."

"Am I better or worse than you had imagined me?" she asked, with
careless scorn.

"You are different--better, perhaps, in some things. You are taller.
You are so tall that it will be difficult to remember you are a pupil."

"The Darrells are a tall race," she said, quietly. "Miss Hastings, what
have you come here to teach me?"

The elder lady rose from her seat and looked lovingly into the face of
the girl; she placed her hand caressingly on the slender shoulders.

"I know what I should like to teach you, Miss Darrell, if you will let
me. I should like to teach you your duty to Heaven, your
fellow-creatures, and yourself."

"That would be dry learning, I fear," she returned. "What does my uncle
wish me to learn?"

"To be in all respects a perfectly refined, graceful lady."

Her face flushed with a great crimson wave that rose to the white brow
and the delicate shell-like ears.

"I shall never be that," she cried, passionately. "I may just as well
give up all hopes of Darrell Court. I have seen some ladies since I have
been here. I could not be like them. They seem to speak by rule; they
all say the same kind of things, with the same smiles, in the same tone
of voice; they follow each other like sheep; they seem frightened to
advance an opinion of their own, or even give utterance to an original
thought. They look upon me as something horrible, because I dare to say
what I think, and have read every book I could find."

"It is not always best to put our thoughts in speech; and the chances
are, Miss Darrell, that, if you have read every book you could find,
you have read many that would have been better left alone. You are
giving a very one-sided, prejudiced view after all."

She raised her beautiful head with a gesture of superb disdain.

"There is the same difference between them and myself as between a
mechanical singing bird made to sing three tunes and a wild, sweet bird
of the woods. I like my own self best."

"There is not the least doubt of that," observed Miss Hastings, with a
smile; "but the question is not so much what we like ourselves as what
others like in us. However, we will discuss that at another time, Miss
Darrell."

"Has my uncle told you that if I please him--if I can be molded into the
right form--I am to be heiress of Darrell Court?" she asked, quickly.

"Yes; and now that I have seen you I am persuaded that you can be
anything you wish."

"Do you think, then, that I am clever?" she asked, eagerly.

"I should imagine so," replied Miss Hastings. "Pauline--I need not call
you Miss Darrell--I hope we shall be friends; I trust we shall be happy
together."

"It is not very likely," she said, slowly, "that I can like you, Miss
Hastings."

"Why not?" asked the governess, astonished at her frankness.

"Because you are to correct me; continual correction will be a great
annoyance, and will prevent my really liking you."

Miss Hastings looked astounded.

"That may be, Pauline," she said; "but do you know that it is not
polite of you to say so? In good society one does not tell such
unpleasant truths."

"That is just it," was the eager retort; "that is why I do not like good
society, and shall never be fit for it. I am truthful by nature. In my
father's house and among his friends there was never any need to conceal
the truth; we always spoke it frankly. If we did not like each other, we
said so. But here, it seems to me, the first lesson learned to fit one
for society is to speak falsely."

"Not so, Pauline; but, when the truth is likely to hurt another's
feelings, to wound susceptibility or pride, why speak it, unless it is
called for?"

Pauline moved her white arms with a superb gesture of scorn.

"I would rather any day hear the truth and have my mind hurt," she said,
energetically, "than feel that people were smiling at me and deceiving
me. Lady Hampton visits Sir Oswald. I do not like her, and she does not
like me; but she always asks Sir Oswald how his 'dear niece' is, and she
calls me a 'sweet creature--original, but very sweet' You can see for
yourself, Miss Hastings, that I am not that."

"Indeed, you are not sweet," returned the governess, smiling; "but,
Pauline, you are a mimic, and mimicry is a dangerous gift."

She had imitated Lady Hampton's languid tones and affected accent to
perfection.

"Sir Oswald bows and smiles all the time Lady Hampton is talking to him;
he stands first upon one foot, and then upon the other. You would
think, to listen to him, that he was so charmed with her ladyship that
he could not exist out of her presence. Yet I have seen him quite
delighted at her departure, and twice I heard him say 'Thank Heaven'--it
was for the relief. Your good society is all deceit, Miss Hastings."

"I will not have you say that, Pauline. Amiability, and the desire
always to be kind and considerate, may carry one to extremes at times;
but I am inclined to prefer the amiability that spares to the truth that
wounds."

"I am not," was the blunt rejoinder. "Will you come to your rooms, Miss
Hastings? Sir Oswald has ordered a suite to be prepared entirely for our
use. I have three rooms, you have four; and there is a study that we can
use together."

They went through the broad stately corridors, where the warm sun shone
in at the windows, and the flowers breathed sweetest perfume. The rooms
that had been prepared for them were bright and pleasant with a
beautiful view from the windows, well furnished, and supplied with every
comfort. A sigh came from Miss Hastings as she gazed--it was all so
pleasant. But it seemed very doubtful to her whether she would remain or
not--very doubtful whether she would be able to make what Sir Oswald
desired out of that frank, free-spoken girl, who had not one
conventional idea.

"Sir Oswald is very kind," she said, at length, looking around her;
"these rooms are exceedingly nice."

"They are nice," said Pauline; "but I was happier with my father in the
Rue d'Orme. Ah me, what liberty we had there! In this stately life I
feel as though I were bound with cords, or shackled with chains--as
though I longed to stretch out my arms and fly away."

Again Miss Hastings sighed, for it seemed to her that the time of her
residence at Darrell Court would in all probability be very short.



CHAPTER IV.

"YOU ARE GOING TO SPOIL MY LIFE."


Two days had passed since Miss Hastings' arrival. On a beautiful
morning, when the sun was shining and the birds were singing in the
trees, she sat in the study, with an expression of deepest anxiety, of
deepest thought on her face. Pauline, with a smile on her lips, sat
opposite to her, and there was profound silence. Miss Darrell was the
first to break it.

"Well," she asked, laughingly, "what is your verdict, Miss Hastings?"

The elder lady looked up with a long, deep-drawn sigh.

"I have never been so completely puzzled in all my life," she replied.
"My dear Pauline, you are the strangest mixture of ignorance and
knowledge that I have ever met. You know a great deal, but it is all of
the wrong kind; you ought to unlearn all that you have learned."

"You admit then that I know something."

"Yes; but it would be almost better, perhaps, if you did not. I will
tell you how I feel, Pauline. I know nothing of building, but I feel as
though I had been placed before a heap of marble, porphyry, and
granite, of wood, glass, and iron, and then told from those materials to
shape a magnificent palace. I am at a loss what to do."

Miss Darrell laughed with the glee of a child. Her governess, repressing
her surprise, continued:

"You know more in some respects than most educated women; in other and
equally essential matters you know less than a child. You speak French
fluently, perfectly; you have read a large number of books in the French
language--good, bad, and indifferent, it appears to me; yet you have no
more idea of French grammar or of the idiom or construction of the
language than a child."

"That, indeed, I have not; I consider grammar the most stupid of all
human inventions."

Miss Hastings offered no comment.

"Again," she continued, "you speak good English, but your spelling is
bad, and your writing worse. You are better acquainted with English
literature than I am--that is, you have read more. You have read
indiscriminately; even the titles of some of the books you have read are
not admissible."

The dark eyes flashed, and the pale, grand face was stirred as though by
some sudden emotion.

"There was a large library in the house where we lived," she explained,
hurriedly, "and I read every book in it. I read from early morning until
late at night, and sometimes from night until morning; there was no one
to tell me what was right and what was wrong, Miss Hastings."

"Then," continued the governess, "you have written a spirited poem on
Anne Boleyn, but you know nothing of English history--neither the dates
nor the incidents of a single reign. You have written the half of a
story, the scene of which is laid in the tropics, yet of geography you
have not the faintest notion. Of matters such as every girl has some
idea of--of biography, of botany, of astronomy--you have not even a
glimmer. The chances are, that if you engaged in conversation with any
sensible person, you would equally astonish, first by the clever things
you would utter, and then by the utter ignorance you would display."

"I cannot be flattered, Miss Hastings," Pauline put in, "because you
humiliate me; nor can I be humiliated, because you flatter me."

But Miss Hastings pursued her criticisms steadily.

"You have not the slightest knowledge of arithmetic. As for knowledge of
a higher class, you have none. You are dreadfully deficient. You say
that you have read Auguste Comte, but you do not know the answer to the
first question in your church catechism. Your education requires
beginning all over again. You have never had any settled plan of study,
I should imagine."

"No. I learned drawing from Jules Lacroix. Talk of talent, Miss
Hastings. You should have known him--he was the handsomest artist I ever
saw. There was something so picturesque about him."

"Doubtless," was the dry response; "but I think 'picturesque' is not
the word to use in such a case. Music, I presume, you taught yourself?"

The girl's whole face brightened--her manner changed.

"Yes, I taught myself; poor papa could not afford to pay for my lessons.
Shall I play to you, Miss Hastings?"

There was a piano in the study, a beautiful and valuable instrument,
which Sir Oswald had ordered for his niece.

"I shall be much pleased to hear you," said Miss Hastings.

Pauline Darrell rose and went to the piano. Her face then was as the
face of one inspired. She sat down and played a few chords, full,
beautiful, and harmonious.

"I will sing to you," she said. "We often went to the opera--papa,
Jules, Louis, and myself. I used to sing everything I heard. This is
from 'Il Puritani.'"

And she sang one of the most beautiful solos in the opera.

Her voice was magnificent, full, ringing, vibrating with passion--a
voice that, like her face, could hardly be forgotten; but she played and
sang entirely after a fashion of her own.

"Now, Miss Hastings," she said, "I will imitate Adelina Patti."

Face, voice, manner, all changed; she began one of the far-famed
prima-donna's most admired songs, and Miss Hastings owned to herself
that if she had closed her eyes she might have believed Madame Patti
present.

"This is _a la_ Christine Nilsson," continued Pauline; and again the
imitation was brilliant and perfect.

The magnificent voice did not seem to tire, though she sang song after
song, and imitated in the most marvelous manner some of the grandest
singers of the day. Miss Hasting left her seat and went up to her.

"You have a splendid voice, my dear, and great musical genius. Now tell
me, do you know a single note of music?"

"Not one," was the quick reply.

"You know nothing of the keys, time, or anything else?"

"Why should I trouble myself when I could play without learning anything
of the kind?"

"But that kind of playing, Pauline, although it is very clever, would
not do for educated people."

"Is it not good enough for them?" she asked, serenely.

"No; one cannot help admiring it, but any educated person hearing you
would detect directly that you did not know your notes."

"Would they think much less of me on that account?" she asked, with the
same serenity.

"Yes; every one would think it sad to see so much talent wasted. You
must begin to study hard; you must learn to play by note, not by ear,
and then all will be well. You love music, Pauline?"

How the beautiful face glowed and the dark eyes shone.

"I love it," she said, "because I can put my whole soul into it--there
is room for one's soul in it. You will be shocked, I know, but that is
why I liked Comte's theories--because they filled my mind, and gave me
so much to think of."

"Were I in your place I should try to forget them, Pauline."

"You should have seen Sir Oswald's face when I told him I had read Comte
and Darwin. He positively groaned aloud."

And she laughed as she remembered his misery.

"I feel very much inclined to groan myself," said Miss Hastings. "You
shall have theories, or facts, higher, more beautiful, nobler, grander
far than any Comte ever dreamed. And now we must begin to work in real
earnest."

But Pauline Darrell did not move; her dark eyes were shadowed, her
beautiful face grew sullen and determined.

"You are going to spoil my life," she said. "Hitherto it has been a
glorious life--free, gladsome, and bright; now you are going to parcel
it out. There will be no more sunshiny hours; you are going to reduce me
to a kind of machine, to cut off all my beautiful dreams, my lofty
thoughts. You want to make me a formal, precise young lady, who will
laugh, speak, and think by rule."

"I want to make you a sensible woman, my dear Pauline," corrected Miss
Hastings, gravely.

"Who is the better or the happier for being so sensible?" demanded
Pauline.

She paused for a few minutes, and then she added, suddenly:

"Darrell Court and all the wealth of the Darrells are not worth it, Miss
Hastings."

"Not worth what, Pauline?"

"Not worth the price I must pay."

"What is the price?" asked Miss Hastings, calmly.

"My independence, my freedom of action and thought, my liberty of
speech."

"Do you seriously value these more highly than all that Sir Oswald could
leave you?"

"I do--a thousand times more highly," she replied.

Miss Hastings was silent for some few minutes, and then said:

"We must do our best; suppose we make a compromise? I will give you all
the liberty that I honestly can, in every way, and you shall give your
attention to the studies I propose. I will make your task as easy as I
can for you. Darrell Court is worth a struggle."

"Yes," was the half-reluctant reply, "it is worth a struggle, and I will
make it."

But there was not much hope in the heart of the governess when she
commenced her task.



CHAPTER V.

PAULINE'S GOOD POINTS.


How often Sir Oswald's simile of the untrained, unpruned, uncultivated
vine returned to the mind of Miss Hastings! Pauline Darrell was by
nature a genius, a girl of magnificent intellect, a grand, noble,
generous being all untrained. She had in her capabilities of the
greatest kind--she could be either the very empress of wickedness or
angelic. She was gloriously endowed, but it was impossible to tell how
she would develop; there was no moderation in her, she acted always from
impulse, and her impulses were quick, warm, and irresistible. If she had
been an actress, she would surely have been the very queen of the stage.
Her faults were like her virtues, all grand ones. There was nothing
trivial, nothing mean, nothing ungenerous about her. She was of a nature
likely to be led to the highest criminality or the highest virtue; there
could be no medium of mediocre virtue for her. She was full of
character, charming even in her willfulness, but utterly devoid of all
small affectations. There was in her the making of a magnificent woman,
a great heroine; but nothing could have brought her to the level of
commonplace people. Her character was almost a terrible one in view of
the responsibilities attached to it.

Grand, daring, original, Pauline was all force, all fire, all passion.
Whatever she loved, she loved with an intensity almost terrible to
witness. There was also no "middle way" in her dislikes--she hated with
a fury of hate. She had little patience, little toleration; one of her
greatest delights consisted in ruthlessly tearing away the social vail
which most people loved to wear. There were times when her grand, pale,
passionate beauty seemed to darken and to deepen, and one felt
instinctively that it was in her to be cruel even to fierceness; and
again, when her heart was touched and her face softened, one imagined
that she might be somewhat akin to the angels.

What was to become of such a nature? What was to develop it--what was to
train it? If from her infancy Pauline had been under wise and tender
guidance, if some mind that she felt to be superior to her own had
influenced her, the certainty is that she would have grown up into a
thoughtful, intellectual, talented woman, one whose influence would have
been paramount for good, one to whom men would have looked for guidance
almost unconsciously to themselves.

But her training had been terribly defective. No one had ever controlled
her. She had been mistress of her father's house and queen of his little
coterie; with her quiet, unerring judgment, she had made her own
estimate of the strength, the mind, the intellect of each one with whom
she came in contact, and the result was always favorable to herself--she
saw no one superior to herself. Then the society in which her father
had delighted was the worst possible for her; she reigned supreme over
them all--clever, gifted artists, good-natured Bohemians, who admired
and applauded her, who praised every word that fell from her lips, who
honestly believed her to be one of the marvels of the world, who told
her continually that she was one of the most beautiful, most talented,
most charming of mortals, who applauded every daring sentiment instead
of telling her plainly that what was not orthodox was seldom
right--honest Bohemians, who looked upon the child as a wonder, and
puzzled themselves to think what destiny was high enough for her--men
whose artistic tastes were gratified by the sight of her magnificent
loveliness, who had for her the deepest, truest, and highest respect,
who never in her presence uttered a syllable that they would not have
uttered in the presence of a child--good-natured Bohemians, who
sometimes had money and sometimes had none, who were always willing to
share their last _sou_ with others more needy than themselves, who wore
shabby, threadbare coats, but who knew how to respect the pure presence
of a pure girl.

Pauline had received a kind of education. Her father's friends discussed
everything--art, science, politics, and literature--in her presence;
they discussed the wildest stories, they indulged in unbounded fun and
satire, they were of the wittiest even as they were of the cleverest of
men. They ridiculed unmercifully what they were pleased to call the
"regulations of polite society;" they enjoyed unvarnished truth--as a
rule, the more disagreeable the truth the more they delighted in
telling it. They scorned all etiquette, they pursued all dandies and
belles with terrible sarcasm; they believed in every wild or impossible
theory that had ever been started; in fact, though honest as the day,
honorable, and true, they were about the worst associates a young girl
could have had to fit her for the world. The life she led among them had
been one long romance, of which she had been queen.

The house in the Rue d'Orme had once been a grand mansion; it was filled
with quaint carvings, old tapestry, and the relics of a by-gone
generation. The rooms were large--most of them had been turned into
studios. Some of the finest of modern pictures came from the house in
the Rue d'Orme, although, as a rule, the students who worked there were
not wealthy.

It was almost amusing to see how this delicate young girl ruled over
such society. By one word she commanded these great, generous, unworldly
men--with one little white finger upraised she could beckon them at her
will; they had a hundred pet names for her--they thought no queen or
empress fit to be compared with their old comrade's daughter. She was to
be excused if constant flattery and homage had made her believe that she
was in some way superior to the rest of the world.

When the great change came--when she left the Rue d'Orme for Darrell
Court--it was a terrible blow to Pauline to find all this superiority
vanish into thin air. In place of admiration and flattery, she heard
nothing but reproach and correction. She was given to understand that
she was hardly presentable in polite society--she, who had ruled like a
queen over scholars and artists! Instead of laughter and applause, grim
silence followed her remarks. She read in the faces of those around her
that she was not as they were--not of their world. Her whole soul turned
longingly to the beautiful free Bohemian world she had left. The
crowning blow of all was when, after studying her carefully for some
time, Sir Oswald told her that he feared her manners were against
her--that neither in style nor in education was she fitted to be
mistress of Darrell Court. She had submitted passively to the change in
her name; she was proud of being a Darrell--she was proud of the grand
old race from which she had sprung. But, when Sir Oswald had uttered
that last speech, she flamed out in fierce, violent passion, which
showed him she had at least the true Darrell spirit.

There were points in her favor, he admitted. She was magnificently
handsome--she had more courage and a higher spirit than fall even to the
lot of most men. She was a fearless horse-woman; indeed it was only
necessary for any pursuit to be dangerous and to require unlimited
courage for her instantly to undertake it.

Would the balance at last turn in her favor? Would her beauty, her
spirits, her daring, her courage, outweigh defective education,
defective manner, and want of worldly knowledge?



CHAPTER VI.

THE PROGRESS MADE BY THE PUPIL.


It was a beautiful afternoon in June. May, with its lilac and hawthorn,
had passed away; the roses were in fairest bloom, lilies looked like
great white stars; the fullness and beauty, the warmth and fragrance of
summer were on the face of the land, and everything living rejoiced in
it.

Pauline had begged that the daily readings might take place under the
great cedar tree on the lawn.

"If I must be bored by dry historical facts," she said, "let me at least
have the lights and shadows on the lawn to look at. The shadow of the
trees on the grass is beautiful beyond everything else. Oh, Miss
Hastings, why will people write dull histories? I like to fancy all
kings heroes, and all queens heroines. History leaves us no illusions."

"Still," replied the governess, "it teaches us plenty of what you love
so much--truth."

The beautiful face grew very serious and thoughtful.

"Why are so many truths disagreeable and sad? If I could rule, I would
have the world so bright, so fair and glad, every one so happy. I
cannot understand all this under-current of sorrow."

"Comte did not explain it, then, to your satisfaction?" said Miss
Hastings.

"Comte!" cried the girl, impatiently. "I am not obliged to believe all I
read! Once and for all, Miss Hastings, I do not believe in Comte or his
fellows. I only read what he wrote because people seemed to think it
clever to have done so. You know--you must know--that I believe in our
great Father. Who could look round on this lovely world and not do so?"

Miss Hastings felt more hopeful of the girl then than she had ever felt
before. Such strange, wild theories had fallen at times from her lips
that it was some consolation to know she had still a child's faith.

Then came an interruption in the shape of a footman, with Sir Oswald's
compliments, and would the ladies go to the drawing-room? There were
visitors.

"Who are they?" asked Miss Darrell, abruptly.

The man replied:

"Sir George and Lady Hampton."

"I shall not go," said Pauline, decidedly; "that woman sickens me with
her false airs and silly, false graces. I have not patience to talk to
her."

"Sir Oswald will not be pleased," remonstrated Miss Hastings.

"That I cannot help--it is not my fault. I shall not make myself a
hypocrite to please Sir Oswald."

"Society has duties which must be discharged, and which do not depend
upon our liking; we must do our duty whether we like it or not."

"I detest society," was the abrupt reply--"it is all a sham!"

"Then why not do your best to improve it? That would surely be better
than to abuse it."

"There is something in that," confessed Miss Darrell, slowly.

"If we each do our little best toward making the world even ever so
little better than we found it," said Miss Hastings, "we shall not have
lived in vain."

There was a singular grandeur of generosity about the girl. If she saw
that she was wrong in an argument or an opinion, she admitted it with
the most charming candor. That admission she made now by rising at once
to accompany Miss Hastings.

The drawing-room at Darrell Court was a magnificent apartment; it had
been furnished under the superintendence of the late Lady Darrell, a
lady of exquisite taste. It was all white and gold, the white hangings
with bullion fringe and gold braids, the white damask with a delicate
border of gold; the pictures, the costly statues gleamed in the midst of
rich and rare flowers; graceful ornaments, tall, slender vases were
filled with choicest blossoms; the large mirrors, with their golden
frames, were each and all perfect in their way. There was nothing gaudy,
brilliant, or dazzling; all was subdued, in perfect good taste and
harmony.

In this superb room the beauty of Pauline Darrell always showed to
great advantage; she was in perfect keeping with its splendor. As she
entered now, with her usual half-haughty, half-listless grace, Sir
Oswald looked up with admiration plainly expressed on his face.

"What a queenly mistress she would make for the Court, if she would but
behave like other people!" he thought to himself, and then Lady Hampton
rose to greet the girl.

"My dear Miss Darrell, I was getting quite impatient; it seems an age
since I saw you--really an age."

"It is an exceedingly short one," returned Pauline; "I saw you on
Tuesday, Lady Hampton."

"Did you? Ah, yes; how could I forget? Ah, my dear child, when you reach
my age--when your mind is filled with a hundred different matters--you
will not have such a good memory as you have now."

Lady Hampton was a little, over-dressed woman. She looked all flowers
and furbelows--all ribbons and laces. She was, however, a perfect
mistress of all the arts of polite society; she knew exactly what to say
and how to say it; she knew when to smile, when to look sympathetic,
when to sigh. She was not sincere; she never made the least pretense of
being so. "Society" was her one idea--how to please it, how to win its
admiration, how to secure a high position in it.

The contrast between the two was remarkable--the young girl with her
noble face, her grand soul looking out of her clear dark eyes; Lady
Hampton with her artificial smiles, her shifting glances, and would-be
charming gestures. Sir Oswald stood by with a courtly smile on his face.

"I have some charming news for you," said Lady Hampton. "I am sure you
will be pleased to hear it, Miss Darrell."

"That will quite depend on what it is like," interposed Pauline,
honestly.

"You dear, droll child! You are so original; you have so much character.
I always tell Sir Oswald you are quite different from any one else."

And though her ladyship spoke smilingly, she gave a keen, quiet glance
at Sir Oswald's face, in all probability to watch the effect of her
words.

"Ah, well," she continued, "I suppose that in your position a little
singularity may be permitted," and then she paused, with a bland smile.

"To what position do you allude?" asked Miss Darrell.

Lady Hampton laughed again. She nodded with an air of great penetration.

"You are cautious, Miss Darrell. But I am forgetting my news. It is
this--that my niece, Miss Elinor Rocheford, is coming to visit me."

She waited evidently for Miss Darrell to make some complimentary reply.
Not a word came from the proud lips.

"And when she comes I hope, Miss Darrell, that you and she will be great
friends."

"It is rather probable, if I like her," was the frank reply.

Sir Oswald looked horrified. Lady Hampton smiled still more sweetly.

"You are sure to like her. Elinor is most dearly loved wherever she
goes."

"Is she a sweet creature?" asked Pauline, with such inimitable mimicry
that Miss Hastings shuddered, while Sir Oswald turned pale.

"She is indeed," replied Lady Hampton, who, if she understood the
sarcasm, made no sign. "With Sir Oswald's permission, I shall bring her
to spend a long day with you, Miss Darrell."

"I shall be charmed," said Sir Oswald--"really delighted, Lady Hampton.
You do me great honor indeed."

He looked at his niece for some little confirmation of his words, but
that young lady appeared too haughty for speech; the word "honor" seemed
to her strangely misapplied.

Lady Hampton relaxed none of her graciousness; her bland suavity
continued the same until the end of the visit; and then, in some way,
she contrived to make Miss Hastings understand that she wanted to speak
with her. She asked the governess if she would go with her to the
carriage, as she wished to consult her about some music. When they were
alone, her air and manner changed abruptly. She turned eagerly to her,
her eyes full of sharp, keen curiosity.

"Can you tell me one thing?" she asked. "Is Sir Oswald going to make
that proud, stupid, illiterate girl his heiress--mistress of Darrell
Court?"

"I do not know," replied Miss Hastings. "How should I be able to answer
such a question?"

"Of course I ask in confidence--only in strict confidence; you
understand that, Miss Hastings?"

"I understand," was the grave reply.

"All the county is crying shame on him," said her ladyship. "A French
painter's daughter. He must be mad to think of such a thing. A girl
brought up in the midst of Heaven knows what. He never can intend to
leave Darrell Court to her."

"He must leave it to some one," said Miss Hastings; "and who has a
better right to it than his own sister's child?"

"Let him marry," she suggested, hastily; "let him marry, and leave it to
children of his own. Do you think the county will tolerate such a
mistress for Darrell Court--so blunt, so ignorant? Miss Hastings, he
must marry."

"I can only suppose," replied the governess, "that he will please
himself, Lady Hampton, without any reference to the county."



CHAPTER VII.

CAPTAIN LANGTON.


June, with its roses and lilies, passed on, the laburnums had all
fallen, the lilies had vanished, and still the state of affairs at
Darrell Court remained doubtful. Pauline, in many of those respects in
which her uncle would fain have seen her changed, remained
unaltered--indeed it was not easy to unlearn the teachings of a
life-time.

Miss Hastings, more patient and hopeful than Sir Oswald, persevered,
with infinite tact and discretion. But there were certain peculiarities
of which Pauline could not be broken. One was a habit of calling
everything by its right name. She had no notion of using any of those
polite little fictions society delights in; no matter how harsh, how
ugly the word, she did not hesitate to use it. Another peculiarity was
that of telling the blunt, plain, abrupt truth, no matter what the cost,
no matter who was pained. She tore aside the flimsy vail of society with
zest; she spared no one in her almost ruthless denunciations. Her
intense scorn for all kinds of polite fiction was somewhat annoying.

"You need not say that I am engaged, James," she said, one day, when a
lady called whom she disliked. "I am not engaged, but I do not care to
see Mrs. Camden."

Even that bland functionary looked annoyed. Miss Hastings tried to make
some compromise.

"You cannot send such a message as that, Miss Darrell. Pray listen to
reason."

"Sir Oswald and yourself agreed that she was----"

"Never mind that," hastily interrupted Miss Hastings. "You must not hurt
any one's feelings by such a blunt message as that; it is neither polite
nor well-bred."

"I shall never cultivate either politeness or good breeding at the
expense of truth; therefore you had better send the message yourself,
Miss Hastings."

"I will do so," said the governess, quietly. "I will manage it in such a
way as to show Mrs. Camden that she is not expected to call again, yet
so as not to humiliate her before the servants; but, remember, not at
any sacrifice of truth."

Such contests were of daily, almost hourly, occurrence. Whether the
result would be such a degree of training as to fit the young lady for
taking the position she wished to occupy, remained doubtful.

"This is really very satisfactory," said Sir Oswald, abruptly, one
morning, as he entered the library, where Miss Hastings awaited him.
"But," he continued, "before I explain myself, let me ask you how are
you getting on--what progress are you making with your tiresome pupil?"

The gentle heart of the governess was grieved to think that she could
not give a more satisfactory reply. Little real progress had been made
in study; less in manner.

"There is a mass of splendid material, Sir Oswald," she said; "but the
difficulty lies in putting it into shape."

"I am afraid," he observed, "people will make remarks; and I have heard
more than one doubt expressed as to what kind of hands Darrell Court is
likely to fall into should I make Pauline my heiress. You see she is
capable of almost anything. She would turn the place into an asylum; she
would transform it into a college for philosophers, a home for needy
artists--in fact, anything that might occur to her--without the least
hesitation."

Miss Hastings could not deny it. They were not speaking of a manageable
nineteenth century young lady, but of one to whom no ordinary rules
applied, whom no customary measures fitted.

"I have a letter here," continued Sir Oswald, "from Captain Aubrey
Langton, the son of one of my oldest and dearest friends. He proposes to
pay me a visit, and--pray, Miss Hastings, pardon me for suggesting such
a thing, but I should be so glad if he would fall in love with Pauline.
I have an idea that love might educate and develop her more quickly than
anything else."

Miss Hastings had already thought the same thing; but she knew whoever
won the love of such a girl as Pauline Darrell would be one of the
cleverest of men.

"I am writing to him to tell him that I hope he will remain with us for
a month; and during that time I hope, I fervently hope, he may fall in
love with my niece. She is beautiful enough. Pardon me again, Miss
Hastings, but has she ever spoken to you of love or lovers?"

"No. She is in that respect, as in many others, quite unlike the
generality of girls. I have never heard an allusion to such matters from
her lips--never once."

This fact seemed to Sir Oswald stranger than any other; he had an idea
that girls devoted the greater part of their thoughts to such subjects.

"Do you think," he inquired, "that she cared for any one in Paris--any
of those men, for instance, whom she used to meet at her father's?"

"No," replied Miss Hastings; "I do not think so. She is strangely
backward in all such respects, although she was brought up entirely
among gentlemen."

"Among--pardon me, my dear madame, not gentlemen--members, we will say,
of a gentlemanly profession."

Sir Oswald took from his gold snuff-box a pinch of most
delicately-flavored snuff, and looked as though he thought the very
existence of such people a mistake.

"Any little influence that you may possess over my niece, Miss Hastings,
will you kindly use in Captain Langton's favor? Of course, if anything
should come of my plan--as I fervently hope there may--I shall stipulate
that the engagement lasts two years. During that time I shall trust to
the influence of love to change my niece's character."

It was only a fresh complication--one from which Miss Hastings did not
expect much.

That same day, during dinner, Sir Oswald told his niece of the expected
arrival of Captain Langton.

"I have seen so few English gentlemen," she remarked, "that he will be a
subject of some curiosity to me."

"You will find him--that is, if he resembles his father--a high-bred,
noble gentleman," said Sir Oswald, complacently.

"Is he clever?" she asked. "What does he do?"

"Do!" repeated Sir Oswald. "I do not understand you."

"Does he paint pictures or write books?"

"Heaven forbid!" cried Sir Oswald, proudly. "He is a gentleman."

Her face flushed hotly for some minutes, and then the flush died away,
leaving her paler than ever.

"I consider artists and writers gentlemen," she retorted--"gentlemen of
a far higher stamp than those to whom fortune has given money and nature
has denied brains."

Another time a sharp argument would have resulted from the throwing down
of such a gantlet. Sir Oswald had something else in view, so he allowed
the speech to pass.

"It will be a great pleasure for me to see my old friend's son again,"
he said. "I hope, Pauline, you will help me to make his visit a pleasant
one."

"What can I do?" she asked, brusquely.

"What a question!" laughed Sir Oswald. "Say, rather, what can you not
do? Talk to him, sing to him. Your voice is magnificent, and would give
any one the greatest pleasure. You can ride out with him."

"If he is a clever, sensible man, I can do all that you mention; if not,
I shall not trouble myself about him. I never could endure either
tiresome or stupid people."

"My young friend is not likely to prove either," said Sir Oswald,
angrily; and Miss Hastings wondered in her heart what the result of it
all would be.

That same evening Miss Darrell talked of Captain Langton, weaving many
bright fancies concerning him.

"I suppose," she said, "that it is not always the most favorable
specimens of the English who visit Paris. We used to see such droll
caricatures. I like a good caricature above all things--do you, Miss
Hastings?"

"When it is good, and pains no one," was the sensible reply.

The girl turned away with a little impatient sigh.

"Your ideas are all colorless," she said, sharply. "In England it seems
to me that everybody is alike. You have no individuality, no character."

"If character means, in your sense of the word, ill-nature, so much the
better," rejoined Miss Hastings. "All good-hearted people strive to save
each other from pain."

"I wonder," said Pauline, thoughtfully, "if I shall like Captain
Langton! We have been living here quietly enough; but I feel as though
some great change were coming. You have no doubt experienced that
peculiar sensation which comes over one just before a heavy
thunder-storm? I have that strange, half-nervous, half-restless
sensation now."

"You will try to be amiable, Pauline," put in the governess, quietly.
"You see that Sir Oswald evidently thinks a great deal of this young
friend of his. You will try not to shock your uncle in any way--not to
violate those little conventionalities that he respects so much."

"I will do my best; but I must be myself--always myself. I cannot assume
a false character."

"Then let it be your better self," said the governess, gently; and for
one minute Pauline Darrell was touched.

"That sweet creature, Lady Hampton's niece, will be here next week," she
remarked, after a short pause. "What changes will be brought into our
lives, I wonder?"

Of all the changes possible, least of all she expected the tragedy that
afterward happened.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE INTRODUCTION.


It was a never-to-be-forgotten evening when Captain Langton reached
Darrell Court--an evening fair, bright, and calm. The sweet southern
wind bore the perfume of flowers; the faint ripples of the fountains,
the musical song of the birds, seemed almost to die away on the evening
breeze; the sun appeared unwilling to leave the sapphire sky, the
flowers unwilling to close. Pauline had lingered over her books until
she could remain in-doors no longer; then, by Miss Hastings' desire, she
dressed for dinner--which was delayed for an hour--and afterward went
into the garden.

Most girls would have remembered, as they dressed, that a handsome young
officer was coming; Miss Darrell did not make the least change in her
usual toilet. The thin, fine dress of crape fell in statuesque folds
round the splendid figure; the dark hair was drawn back from the
beautiful brow, and negligently fastened with her favorite silver arrow;
the white neck and fair rounded arms gleamed like white marble through
the thin folds of crape. There was not the least attempt at ornament;
yet no queen arrayed in royal robes ever looked more lovely.

Pauline was a great lover of the picturesque. With a single flower, a
solitary knot of ribbon, she could produce an effect which many women
would give all their jewels to achieve. Whatever she wore took a kind of
royal grace from herself which no other person could impart. Though her
dress might be made of the same material as that of others, it never
looked the same. On her it appeared like the robes of a queen.

As Pauline was passing through the corridor, Miss Hastings met her. The
governess looked scrutinizingly at the plain evening dress; it was the
same that she had worn yesterday. Evidently there was no girlish desire
to attract.

"Pauline, we shall have a visitor this evening," said Miss Hastings;
"you might add a few flowers to your dress."

She passed on, with a smile of assent. Almost the first thing that
caught her attention out of doors was a large and handsome fuchsia. She
gathered a spray of the rich purple and crimson flowers, and placed it
negligently in her hair. Many women would have stood before their mirror
for an hour without producing the same superb effect. Then she placed
another spray of the same gorgeous flowers in the bodice of her dress.
It was all done without effort, and she would have been the last in the
world to suspect how beautiful she looked. Then she went on to the
fountain, for the beautiful, calm evening had awakened all the poet's
soul within her. The grand, sensitive nature thrilled--the beautiful,
poetic mind reveled in this hour of nature's most supreme loveliness. A
thousand bright fancies surged through her heart and brain; a thousand
poetical ideas shaped themselves into words, and rose to her lips.

So time passed, and she was unconscious of it, until a shadow falling
over the great white lilies warned her that some one was near.

Looking up quickly, she saw a tall, fair, handsome young man gazing at
her with mingled admiration and surprise. Beside him stood Sir Oswald,
courtly, gracious, and evidently on the alert.

"Captain Langton," he said, "let me introduce you to my niece, Miss
Darrell."

Not one feature of the girl's proud, beautiful face moved, but there was
some little curiosity in her dark eyes. They rested for a minute on the
captain's face, and then, with a dreamy look, she glanced over the heads
of the white lilies behind him. He was not her ideal, not her hero,
evidently. In that one keen, quick glance, she read not only the face,
but the heart and soul of the man before her.

The captain felt as though he had been subjected to some wonderful
microscopic examination.

"She is one of those dreadfully shrewd girls that pretend to read
faces," he said to himself, while he bowed low before her, and replied
with enthusiasm to the introduction.

"My niece is quite a Darrell," said Sir Oswald, proudly. "You see she
has the Darrell face."

Again the gallant captain offered some flattering remark--a neatly
turned compliment, which he considered ought to have brought her down,
as a skillful shot does a bird--but the dark eyes saw only the lilies,
not him.

"She is proud, like all the Darrells," he thought; "my father always
said they were the proudest race in England."

"I hope," said Sir Oswald, courteously, "that you will enjoy your visit
here, Aubrey. Your father was my dearest friend, and it gives me great
delight to see you here."

"I am sure of it, Sir Oswald. I am equally happy; I cannot see how any
one could be dull for one minute in this grand old place."

Sir Oswald's face flushed with pleasure, and for the first time the dark
eyes slowly left the lilies and looked at the captain.

"I find not only one minute, but many hours in which to be dull," said
Pauline. "Do you like the country so well?"

"I like Darrell Court," he replied, with a bow that seemed to embrace
Sir Oswald, his niece, and all his possessions.

"You like it--in what way?" asked Pauline, in her terribly downright
manner. "It is your first visit, and you have been here only a few
minutes. How can you tell whether you like it?"

For a few moments Captain Langton looked slightly confused, and then he
rallied. Surely a man of the world was not to be defied by a mere girl.

"I have seen that at Darrell Court," he said, deferentially, "which will
make the place dear to me while I live."

She did not understand him. She was far too frank and haughty for a
compliment so broad. But Sir Oswald smiled.

"He is losing no time," thought the stately old baronet; "he is falling
in love with her, just as I guessed he would."

"I will leave you," said Sir Oswald, "to get better acquainted. Pauline,
you will show Captain Langton the aviary."

"Yes," she assented, carelessly. "But will you send Miss Hastings here?
She knows the various birds far better than I do."

Sir Oswald, with a pleased expression on his face, walked away.

"So you have an aviary at the Court, Miss Darrell. It seems to me there
is nothing wanting here. You do not seem interested; you do not like
birds?"

"Not caged ones," she replied. "I love birds almost as though they were
living friends, but not bright-plumaged birds in golden cages. They
should be free and wild in the woods and forests, filling the summer air
with joyous song. I love them well then."

"You like unrestricted freedom?" he observed.

"I do not merely like it, I deem it an absolute necessity. I should not
care for life without it."

The captain looked more attentively at her. It was the Darrell face,
surely enough--features of perfect beauty, with a soul of fire shining
through them.

"Yet," he said, musingly, cautiously feeling his way, "there is but
little freedom--true freedom--for women. They are bound down by a
thousand narrow laws and observances--caged by a thousand restraints."

"There is no power on earth," she returned, hastily, "that can control
thoughts or cage souls; while they are free, it is untrue to say that
there is no freedom."

A breath of fragrant wind came and stirred the great white lilies. The
gallant captain saw at once that he should only lose in arguments with
her.

"Shall we visit the aviary?" he asked.

And she walked slowly down the path, he following.

"She is like an empress," he thought. "It will be all the more glory for
me if I can win such a wife for my own."



CHAPTER IX.

THE BROKEN LILY.


Pauline Darrell was a keen, shrewd observer of character. She judged
more by small actions than by great ones; it was a characteristic of
hers. When women have that gift, it is more to be dreaded than the cool,
calm, matured judgment of men. Men err sometimes in their estimate of
character, but it is very seldom that a woman makes a similar mistake.

The garden path widened where the tall white lilies grew in rich
profusion, and there Pauline and Captain Langton walked side by side.
The rich, sweet perfume seemed to gather round them, and the dainty
flowers, with their shining leaves and golden bracts, looked like great
white stars.

Captain Langton carried a small cane in his hand. He had begun to talk
to Pauline with great animation. Her proud indifference piqued him. He
was accustomed to something more like rapture when he devoted himself to
any fair lady. He vowed to himself that he would vanquish her pride,
that he would make her care for him, that the proud, dark eyes should
soften and brighten for him; and he gave his whole mind to the
conquest. As he walked along, one of the tall, white lilies bent over
the path; with one touch of the cane he beat it down, and Pauline gave a
little cry, as though the blow had pained her. She stopped, and taking
the slender green stem in her hand, straightened it; but the blow had
broken one of the white leaves.

"Why did you do that?" she asked, in a pained voice.

"It is only a flower," he replied, with a laugh.

"Only a flower! You have killed it. You cannot make it live again. Why
need you have cut its sweet life short?"

"It will not be missed from among so many," he said.

"You might say the same thing of yourself," she retorted. "The world is
full of men, and you would hardly be missed from so many; yet you would
not like----"

"There is some little difference between a man and a flower, Miss
Darrell," he interrupted, stiffly.

"There is, indeed; and the flowers have the advantage," she retorted.

The captain solaced himself by twisting his mustache, and relieved his
feelings by some few muttered words, which Miss Darrell did not hear. In
her quick, impulsive way, she judged him at once.

"He is cruel and selfish," she thought; "he would not even stoop to save
the life of the sweetest flower that blows. He shall not forget killing
that lily," she continued, as she gathered the broken chalice, and
placed it in her belt. "Every time he looks at me," she said, "he shall
remember what he has done."

The captain evidently understood her amiable intention, and liked her
accordingly. They walked on for some minutes in perfect silence; then
Pauline turned to him suddenly.

"Have you been long in the army, Captain Langton?"

Flattered by a question that seemed to evince some personal interest, he
hastened to reply:

"More than eight years. I joined when I was twenty."

"Have you seen any service?" she asked.

"No," he replied. "My regiment had been for many years in active service
just before I joined, so that we have been at home since then."

"In inglorious ease," she said.

"We are ready for work," he returned, "when work comes."

"How do you employ your time?" she asked; and again he was flattered by
the interest that the question showed. His face flushed. Here was a
grand opportunity of showing this haughty girl, this "proudest Darrell
of them all," that he was eagerly sought after in society such as she
had not yet seen.

"You have no conception of the immense number of engagements that occupy
our time," he replied; "I am fond of horses--I take a great interest in
all races."

If he had added that he was one of the greatest gamblers on the turf, he
would have spoken truthfully.

"Horse racing," said Miss Darrell--"that is the favorite occupation of
English gentlemen, is it not?"

"I should imagine so. Then I am considered--you must pardon my
boasting--one of the best billiard players in London."

"That is not much of a boast," she remarked, with such quiet contempt
that the captain could only look at her in sheer wonder.

"There are balls, operas, parties, suppers--I cannot tell what; and the
ladies engross a great deal of our time. We soldiers never forget our
devotion and chivalry to the fair sex, Miss Darrell."

"The fair sex should be grateful that they share your attention with
horses and billiards," she returned. "But what else do you do, Captain
Langton? I was not thinking of such trifles as these."

"Trifles!" he repeated. "I do not call horse racing a trifle. I was
within an inch of winning the Derby--I mean to say a horse of mine was.
If you call that a trifle, Miss Darrell, you go near to upsetting
English society altogether."

"But what great things do you do?" she repeated, her dark eyes opening
wider. "You cannot mean seriously that this is all. Do you never write,
paint--have you no ambition at all?"

"I do not know what you call ambition," he replied, sullenly; "as for
writing and painting, in England we pay people to do that kind of thing
for us. You do not think that I would paint a picture, even if I could?"

"I should think you clever if you did that," she returned; "at present I
cannot see that you do anything requiring mind or intellect."

"Miss Darrell," he said, looking at her, "you are a radical, I believe."

"A radical?" she repeated, slowly. "I am not quite sure, Captain
Langton, that I know what that means."

"You believe in aristocracy of intellect, and all that kind of
nonsense," he continued. "Why should a man who paints a picture be any
better than the man who understands the good points of a horse?"

"Why, indeed?" she asked, satirically. "We will not argue the question,
for we should not agree."

"I had her there," thought the captain. "She could not answer me. Some
of these women require a high hand to keep them in order."

"I do not see Miss Hastings," she said at last, "and it is quite useless
going to the aviary without her. I do not remember the name of a single
bird; and I am sure you will not care for them."

"But," he returned, hesitatingly, "Sir Oswald seemed to wish it."

"There is the first dinner-bell," she said, with an air of great relief;
"there will only just be time to return. As you seem solicitous about
Sir Oswald's wishes we had better go in, for he dearly loves
punctuality."

"I believe," thought the captain, "that she is anxious to get away from
me. I must say that I am not accustomed to this kind of thing."

The aspect of the dining-room, with its display of fine old plate, the
brilliantly arranged tables, the mingled odor of rare wines and flowers,
restored him to good humor.

"It would be worth some little trouble," he thought, "to win all this."

He took Pauline in to dinner. The grand, pale, passionate beauty of the
girl had never shown to greater advantage than it did this evening, as
she sat with the purple and crimson fuchsias in her hair and the broken
lily in her belt. Sir Oswald did not notice the latter until dinner was
half over. Then he said:

"Why, Pauline, with gardens and hothouses full of flowers, have you
chosen a broken one?"

"To me it is exquisite," she replied.

The captain's face darkened for a moment, but he would not take offense.
The elegantly appointed table, the seductive dinner, the rare wines, all
made an impression on him. He said to himself that there was a good
thing offered to him, and that a girl's haughty temper should not stand
in his way. He made himself most agreeable, he was all animation,
vivacity, and high spirits with Sir Oswald. He was deferential and
attentive to Miss Hastings, and his manner to Pauline left no doubt in
the minds of the lookers on that he was completely fascinated by her.
She was too proudly indifferent, too haughtily careless, even to resent
it. Sir Oswald Darrell was too true a gentleman to offer his niece to
any one; but he had given the captain to understand that, if he could
woo her and win her, there would be no objection raised on his part.

For once in his life Captain Langton had spoken quite truthfully.

"I have nothing," he said; "my father left me but a very moderate
fortune, and I have lost the greater part of it. I have not been careful
or prudent, Sir Oswald."

"Care and prudence are not the virtues of youth," Sir Oswald returned.
"I may say, honestly, I should be glad if your father's son could win my
niece; as for fortune, she will be richly dowered if I make her my
heiress. Only yesterday I heard that coal had been found on my Scotch
estates, and, if that be true, it will raise my income many thousands
per annum."

"May you long live to enjoy your wealth, Sir Oswald!" said the young
man, so heartily that tears stood in the old baronet's eyes.

But there was one thing the gallant captain did not confess. He did not
tell Sir Oswald Darrell--what was really the truth--that he was over
head and ears in debt, and that this visit to Darrell Court was the last
hope left to him.



CHAPTER X.

PAULINE STILL INCORRIGIBLE.


Sir Oswald lingered over his wine. It was not every day that he found a
companion so entirely to his taste as Captain Langton. The captain had a
collection of anecdotes of the court, the aristocracy, and the
mess-room, that could not be surpassed. He kept his own interest well in
view the whole time, making some modest allusions to the frequency with
which his society was sought, and the number of ladies who were disposed
to regard him favorably. All was narrated with the greatest skill,
without the least boasting, and Sir Oswald, as he listened with delight,
owned to himself that, all things considered, he could not have chosen
more wisely for his niece.

A second bottle of fine old port was discussed, and then Sir Oswald
said:

"You will like to go to the drawing-room; the ladies will be there. I
always enjoy forty winks after dinner."

The prospect of a _tete-a-tete_ with Miss Darrell did not strike the
captain as being a very rapturous one.

"She is," he said to himself, "a magnificently handsome girl, but
almost too haughty to be bearable. I have never, in all my life, felt so
small as I do when she speaks to me or looks at me, and no man likes
that sort of thing."

But Darrell Court was a magnificent estate, the large annual income was
a sum he had never even dreamed of, and all might be his--Sir Oswald had
said so; his, if he could but win the proud heart of the proudest girl
it had ever been his fortune to meet. The stake was well worth going
through something disagreeable for.

"If she were only like other women," he thought, "I should know how to
manage her; but she seems to live in the clouds."

The plunge had to be made, so the captain summoned all his courage, and
went to the drawing-room. The picture there must have struck the least
imaginative of men.

Miss Hastings, calm, elegant, lady-like, in her quiet evening dress of
gray silk, was seated near a small stand on which stood a large lamp, by
the light of which she was reading. The part of the room near her was
brilliantly illuminated. It was a spacious apartment--unusually so even
for a large mansion. It contained four large windows, two of which were
closed, the gorgeous hangings of white and gold shielding them from
view; the other end of the room was in semi-darkness, the brilliant
light from the lamp not reaching it--the windows were thrown wide open,
and the soft, pale moonlight came in. The evening came in, too, bringing
with it the sweet breath of the lilies, the perfume of the roses, the
fragrance of rich clover, carnations, and purple heliotropes. Faint
shadows lay on the flowers, the white silvery light was very peaceful
and sweet; the dewdrops shone on the grass--it was the fairest hour of
nature's fair day.

Pauline had gone to the open window. Something had made her restless and
unquiet; but, standing there, the spell of that beautiful moonlit scene
calmed her, and held her fast. With one look at that wonderful sky and
its myriad stars, one at the soft moonlight and the white lilies, the
fever of life died from her, and a holy calm, sweet fancies, bright
thoughts, swept over her like an angel's wing.

Then she became conscious of a stir in the perfumed air; something less
agreeable mingled with the fragrance of the lilies scent of which she
did not know the name, but which--some she disliked ever afterward
because the captain used it. A low voice that would fain be tender
murmured something in her ear; the spell of the moonlight was gone, the
quickly thronging poetical fancies had all fled away, the beauty seemed
to have left even the sleeping flowers. Turning round to him, she said,
in a clear voice, every word sounding distinctly:

"Have the goodness, Captain Langton, not to startle me again. I do not
like any one to come upon me in that unexpected manner."

"I was so happy to find you alone," he whispered.

"I do not know why that should make you happy. I always behave much
better when I am with Miss Hastings than when I am alone."

"You are always charming," he said. "I want to ask you something, Miss
Darrell. Be kind, be patient, and listen to me."

"I am neither kind nor patient by nature," she returned; "what have you
to say?"

It was very difficult, he felt, to be sentimental with her. She had
turned to the window, and was looking out again at the flowers; one
little white hand played impatiently with a branch of guelder roses that
came peeping in.

"I am jealous of those flowers," said the captain; "will you look at me
instead of them?"

She raised her beautiful eyes, and looked at him so calmly, with so much
conscious superiority in her manner, that the captain felt "smaller"
than ever.

"You are talking nonsense to me," she said, loftily; "and as I do not
like nonsense, will you tell me what you have to say?"

The voice was calm and cold, the tones measured and slightly
contemptuous; it was very difficult under such circumstances to be an
eloquent wooer, but the recollection of Darrell Court and its large
rent-roll came to him and restored his fast expiring courage.

"I want to ask a favor of you," he said; and the pleading expression
that he managed to throw into his face was really creditable to him. "I
want to ask you if you will be a little kinder to me. I admire you so
much that I should be the happiest man in all the world if you would but
give me ever so little of your friendship."

She seemed to consider his words--to ponder them; and from her silence
he took hope.

"I am quite unworthy, I know; but, if you knew how all my life long I
have desired the friendship of a good and noble woman, you would be
kinder to me--you would indeed!"

"Do you think, then, that I am good and noble?" she asked.

"I am sure of it; your face----"

"I wish," she interrupted, "that Sir Oswald were of your opinion. You
have lived in what people call 'the world' all your life, Captain
Langton, I suppose?"

"Yes," he replied, wondering what would follow.

"You have been in society all that time, yet I am the first 'good and
noble woman' you have met! You are hardly complimentary to the sex,
after all."

The captain was slightly taken aback.

"I did not say those exact words, Miss Darrell."

"But you implied them. Tell me why you wish for my friendship more than
any other. Miss Hastings is ten thousand times more estimable than I
am--why not make her your friend?"

"I admire you--I like you. I could say more, but I dare not. You are
hard upon me, Miss Darrell."

"I have no wish to be hard," she returned. "Who am I that I should be
hard upon any one? But, you see, I am unfortunately what people call
very plain-spoken--very truthful."

"So much the better," said Captain Langton.

"Is it? Sir Oswald says not. If he does not make me his heiress, it
will be because I have such an abrupt manner of speaking; he often tells
me so."

"Truth in a beautiful woman," began the captain, sentimentally; but Miss
Darrell again interrupted him--she had little patience with his
platitudes.

"You say you wish for my friendship because you like me. Now, here is
the difficulty--I cannot give it to you, because I do not like you."

"You do not like me?" cried the captain, hardly able to believe the
evidence of his own senses. "You cannot mean it! You are the first
person who ever said such a thing!"

"Perhaps I am not the first who ever thought it; but then, as I tell
you, I am very apt to say what I think."

"Will you tell me why you do not like me?" asked the captain, quietly.
He began to see that nothing could be gained in any other fashion.

Her beautiful face was raised quite calmly to his, her dark eyes were as
proudly serene as ever, she was utterly unconscious that she was saying
anything extraordinary.

"I will tell you with pleasure," she replied. "You seem to me wanting in
truth and earnestness; you think people are to be pleased by flattery.
You flatter Sir Oswald, you flatter Miss Hastings, you flatter me. Being
agreeable is all very well, but an honest man does not need to
flatter--does not think of it, in fact. Then, you are either heedless or
cruel--I do not know which. Why should you kill that beautiful flower
that Heaven made to enjoy the sunshine, just for one idle moment's
wanton sport?"

Captain Langton's face grew perfectly white with anger.

"Upon my word of honor," he said, "I never heard anything like this!"

Miss Darrell turned carelessly away.

"You see," she said, "friendship between us would be rather difficult.
But I will not judge too hastily; I will wait a few days, and then
decide."

She had quitted the room before Captain Langton had sufficiently
recovered from his dismay to answer.



CHAPTER XI.

HOW WILL IT END?


It was some minutes before Captain Langton collected himself
sufficiently to cross the room and speak to Miss Hastings. She looked up
at him with a smile.

"I am afraid you have not had a very pleasant time of it at that end of
the room, Captain Langton," she said; "I was just on the point of
interfering."

"Your pupil is a most extraordinary young lady, Miss Hastings," he
returned; "I have never met with any one more so."

Miss Hastings laughed; there was an expression of great amusement on her
face.

"She is certainly very original, Captain Langton; quite different from
the pattern young lady of the present day."

"She is magnificently handsome," he continued; "but her manners are
simply startling."

"She has very grand qualities," said Miss Hastings; "she has a noble
disposition and a generous heart, but the want of early training, the
mixing entirely with one class of society, has made her very strange."

"Strange!" cried the captain. "I have never met with any one so blunt,
so outspoken, so abrupt, in all my life. She has no notion of repose or
polish; I have never been so surprised. I hear Sir Oswald coming, and
really, Miss Hastings, I feel that I cannot see him; I am not equal to
it--that extraordinary girl has quite unsettled me. You might mention
that I have gone out in the grounds to smoke my cigar; I cannot talk to
any one."

Miss Hastings laughed as he passed out through the open French window
into the grounds. Sir Oswald came in, smiling and contented; he talked
for a few minutes with Miss Hastings, and heard that the captain was
smoking his cigar. He expressed to Miss Hastings his very favorable
opinion of the young man, and then bade her good-night.

"How will it end?" said the governess to herself. "She will never marry
him, I am sure. Those proud, clear, dark eyes of hers look through all
his little airs and graces; her grand soul seems to understand all the
narrowness and selfishness of his. She will never marry him. Oh, if she
would but be civilized! Sir Oswald is quite capable of leaving all he
has to the captain, and then what would become of Pauline?"

By this time the gentle, graceful governess had become warmly attached
to the beautiful, wayward, willful girl who persisted so obstinately in
refusing what she chose to call "polish."

"How will it end?" said the governess. "I would give all I have to see
Pauline mistress of Darrell Court; but I fear the future."

Some of the scenes that took place between Miss Darrell and the captain
were very amusing. She had the utmost contempt for his somewhat
dandified airs, his graces, and affectations.

"I like a grand, rugged, noble man, with the head of a hero, and the
brow of a poet, the heart of a lion, and the smile of a child," she said
to him one day; "I cannot endure a coxcomb."

"I hope you may find such a man, Miss Darrell," he returned, quietly. "I
have been some time in the world, but I have never met with such a
character."

"I think your world has been a very limited one," she replied, and the
captain looked angry.

He had certainly hoped and intended to dazzle her with his worldly
knowledge, if nothing else. Yet how she despised his knowledge, and with
what contempt she heard him speak of his various experiences!

Nothing seemed to jar upon her and to irritate her as did his
affectations. She was looking one morning at a very beautifully veined
leaf, which she passed over to Miss Hastings.

"Is it not wonderful?" she asked; and the captain, with his eye-glass,
came to look at it.

"Are you short-sighted?" she asked him, abruptly.

"Not in the least," he replied.

"Is your sight defective?" she continued.

"No, not in the least degree."

"Then why do you use that eye-glass, Captain Langton?"

"I-ah-why, because everybody uses one," he replied.

"I thought it was only women who did that kind of thing--followed a
fashion for fashion's sake," she said, with some little contempt.

The next morning the captain descended without his eye-glass, and Miss
Hastings smiled as she noticed it.

Another of his affectations was a pretended inability to pronounce his
"t's" and "r's."

"Can you really not speak plainly?" she said to him one day.

"Most decidedly I can," he replied, wondering what was coming next.

"Then, why do you call 'rove' 'wove' in that absurd fashion?"

The captain's face flushed.

"It is a habit I have fallen into, I suppose," he replied. "I must break
myself of it."

"It is about the most effeminate habit a man can fall into," said Miss
Darrell. "I think that, if I were a soldier, I should delight in clear,
plain speaking. I cannot understand why English gentlemen seem to think
it fashionable to mutilate their mother tongue."

There was no chance of their ever agreeing--they never did even for one
single hour.

"What are you thinking about, Pauline?" asked Miss Hastings one day.

Her young pupil had fallen into a reverie over "The History of the
Peninsular War."

"I am thinking," she replied, "that, although France boasts so much of
her military glory, England has a superior army; her soldiers are very
brave; her officers the truest gentlemen."

"I am glad to hear that you think so. I have often wondered if you would
take our guest as a sample."

Her beautiful lips curled with unutterable contempt.

"Certainly not. I often contrast him with a Captain Lafosse, who used to
visit us in the Rue d'Orme, a grand man with a brown, rugged face, and
great brown hands. Captain Langton is a coxcomb--neither more nor less,
Miss Hastings."

"But he is polished, refined, elegant in his manner and address, which,
perhaps, your friend with the brown, rugged face was not."

"We shall not agree, Miss Hastings, we shall not agree. I do not like
Captain Langton."

The governess, remembering all that Sir Oswald wished, tried in vain to
represent their visitor in a more favorable light. Miss Darrell simply
looked haughty and unconvinced.

"I am years younger than you," she said, at last, "and have seen nothing
of what you call 'life'; but the instinct of my own heart tells me that
he is false in heart, in mind, in soul; he has a false, flattering
tongue, false lips, false principles--we will not speak of him."

Miss Hastings looked at her sadly.

"Do you not think that in time, perhaps, you may like him better?"

"No," was the blunt reply, "I do not. I told him that I did not like
him, but that I would take some time to consider whether he was to be a
friend of mine or not; and the conclusion I have arrived at is, that I
could not endure his friendship."

"When did you tell him that you did not like him?" asked Miss Hastings,
gravely.

"I think it was the first night he came," she replied.

Miss Hastings looked relieved.

"Did he say anything else to you, Pauline?" she asked, gently.

"No; what should he say? He seemed very much surprised, I suppose, as he
says most people like him. But I do not, and never shall."

One thing was certain, the captain was falling most passionately in love
with Miss Darrell. Her grand beauty, her pride, her originality, all
seemed to have an irresistible charm for him.



CHAPTER XII.

ELINOR ROCHEFORD.


It was a morning in August, when a gray mist hung over the earth, a mist
that resulted from the intense heat, and through which trees, flowers,
and fountains loomed faintly like shadows. The sun showed his bright
face at intervals, but, though he withheld his gracious presence, the
heat and warmth were great; the air was laden with perfume, and the
birds were all singing as though they knew that the sun would soon
reappear.

One glance at her pupil's face showed Miss Hastings there was not much
to be done in the way of study. Pauline wanted to watch the mist rise
from the hills and trees. She wanted to see the sunbeams grow bright and
golden.

"Let us read under the lime trees, Miss Hastings," she said, and Captain
Langton smiled approval. For the time was come when he followed her like
her shadow; when he could not exist out of her presence; when his
passionate love mastered him, and brought him, a very slave, to her
feet; when the hope of winning her was dearer to him than life itself;
when he would have sacrificed even Darrell Court for the hope of
calling her his wife.

If she knew of his passion, she made no sign; she never relaxed from her
haughty, careless indifference; she never tried in the least to make
herself agreeable to him.

Sir Oswald watched her with keen eyes, and Miss Hastings trembled lest
misfortune should come upon the girl she was learning to love so dearly.
She saw and understood that the baronet was slowly but surely making up
his mind; if Pauline married the captain, he would make her his heiress;
if not, she would never inherit Darrell Court.

On this August morning they formed a pretty group under the shadowy,
graceful limes. Miss Hastings held in her hands some of the fine fancy
work which delights ladies; the captain reclined on a tiger-skin rug on
the grass, looking very handsome, for, whatever might be his faults of
mind, he was one of the handsomest men in England. Pauline, as usual,
was beautiful, graceful, and piquant, wearing a plain morning dress of
some gray material--a dress which on any one else would have looked
plain, but which she had made picturesque and artistic by a dash of
scarlet--and a pomegranate blossom in her hair. Her lovely face looked
more than usually noble under the influence of the words she was
reading.

"Tennyson again!" said the captain, as she opened the book. "It is to be
regretted that the poet cannot see you, Miss Darrell, and know how
highly you appreciate his works."

She never smiled nor blushed at his compliments, as she had seen other
girls do. She had a fashion of fixing her bright eyes on him, and after
one glance he generally was overcome with confusion before his
compliment was ended. .

"I should not imagine that anything I could say would flatter a poet,"
she replied, thoughtfully. "Indeed he is, I should say, as far above
blame as praise."

Then, without noticing him further, she went on reading. Captain
Langton's eyes never left her face; its pale, grand beauty glowed and
changed, the dark eyes grew radiant, the beautiful lips quivered with
emotion. He thought to himself that a man might lay down his life and
every hope in it to win such love as hers.

Suddenly she heard the sound of voices, and looking up saw Sir Oswald
escorting two ladies.

"What a tiresome thing!" grumbled the captain. "We can never be alone a
single hour."

"I thought you enjoyed society so much!" she said.

"I am beginning to care for no society on earth but yours," he
whispered, his face flushing, while she turned haughtily away.

"You are proud," murmured the captain to himself--"you are as haughty as
you are beautiful; but I will win you yet."

Then Sir Oswald, with his visitors, advanced. It was Pauline's aversion,
Lady Hampton, with her niece, Miss Rocheford.

Lady Hampton advanced in her usual grave, artificial manner.

"Sir Oswald wanted to send for you, but I said 'no.' What can be more
charming than such a group under the trees? I am so anxious to
introduce my niece to you, Miss Darrell--she arrived only yesterday.
Elinor, let me introduce you to Miss Darrell, Miss Hastings, and Captain
Langton."

Pauline's dark eyes glanced at the blushing, sweet face, and the
shrinking graceful figure. Miss Hastings made her welcome; and the
captain, stroking his mustache, thought himself in luck for knowing two
such pretty girls.

There could not have been a greater contrast than Pauline Darrell and
Elinor Rocheford. Pauline was dark, proud, beautiful, passionate,
haughty, and willful, yet with a poet's soul and a grand mind above all
worldliness, all meanness, all artifice. Elinor was timid, shrinking,
graceful, lovely, with a delicate, fairy-like beauty, yet withal keenly
alive to the main chance, and never forgetting her aunt's great
maxim--to make the best of everything for herself.

On this warm August morning Miss Rocheford wore a charming gossamer
costume of lilac and white, with the daintiest of Parisian hats on her
golden head. Her gloves, shoes, laces, parasol, were perfection--not a
fold was out of place, not a ribbon awry--contrasting most forcibly with
the grand, picturesque girl near her.

Lady Hampton seated herself, and Miss Rocheford did the same. Sir Oswald
suggesting how very refreshing grapes and peaches would be on so warm a
morning, Captain Langton volunteered to go and order some. Lady Hampton
watched him as he walked away.

"What a magnificent man, Sir Oswald! What a fine clever face! It is
easy to see that he is a military man--he is so upright, so easy; there
is nothing like a military training for giving a man an easy, dignified
carriage. I think I understood that he was the son of a very old friend
of yours?"

"The son of the dearest friend I ever had in the world," was the reply;
"and I love him as though he were my own--indeed I wish he were."

Lady Hampton sighed and looked sympathetic.

"Langton," she continued, in a musing tone--"is he one of the Langtons
of Orde?"

"No," replied Sir Oswald; "my dear old friend was of a good family, but
not greatly blessed by fortune."

It was wonderful to see how Lady Hampton's interest in the captain at
once died out; there was no more praise, no more admiration for him. If
she had discovered that he was heir to an earldom, how different it
would have been! Before long the captain returned, and then a rustic
table was spread under the lime trees, with purple grapes, peaches,
crimson and gold apricots, and ruby plums.

"It's quite picturesque," Lady Hampton declared, with a smile; "and
Elinor, dear child, enjoys fruit so much."

In spite of Lady Hampton's wish, there did not appear to be much
cordiality between the two girls. Occasionally Elinor would look at the
captain, who was not slow to return her glances with interest. His eyes
said plainly that he thought her very lovely.

Miss Rocheford was in every respect the model of a well brought up
young lady. She knew that the grand end and aim of her existence was to
marry well--she never forgot that. She was well-born, well-bred,
beautiful, accomplished, but without fortune. From her earliest girlhood
Lady Hampton had impressed upon her the duty of marrying money.

"You have everything else, Elinor," she was accustomed to say. "You must
marry for title and money."

Miss Rocheford knew it. She had no objection to her fate--she was quite
passive over it--but she did hope at times that the man who had the
title and money would be young, handsome, and agreeable. If he were not,
she could not help it, but she hoped he would be.

Lady Hampton had recently become a widow. In her youth she had felt some
little hope of being mistress of Darrell Court; but that hope had soon
died. Now, however, that a niece was thrown upon her hands, she took
heart of grace in another respect; for Sir Oswald was not an old man. It
was true his hair was white, but he was erect, dignified, and, in Lady
Hampton's opinion, more interesting than a handsome young man, who would
think of nothing but himself. If he would be but sensible, and, instead
of adopting that proud, unformed girl, marry, how much better it would
be!

She knew that her niece was precisely the style that he
admired--elegant, delicate, utterly incapable of any originality, ready
at any moment to yield her opinions and ideas, ready to do implicitly as
she was told, to believe in the superiority of her husband--a model
woman, in short, after Sir Oswald's own heart. She saw that the baronet
was much struck with Elinor; she knew that in his own mind he was
contrasting the two girls--the graceful timidity of the one, her perfect
polish of manner, with the brusque independence and terribly
plain-spoken fashion of the other.

"It would be ten thousand pities," said Lady Hampton to herself, "to see
that girl mistress of Darrell Court. She would make a good queen for the
Sandwich Islands. Before I go, I must open Sir Oswald's eyes, and give
him a few useful hints."



CHAPTER XIII.

SIR OSWALD THINKS OF MARRIAGE.


Fortune favored Lady Hampton. Sir Oswald was so delighted with his
visitors that he insisted upon their remaining for luncheon.

"The young ladies will have time to become friends," he said; but it was
well that he did not see how contemptuously Pauline turned away at the
words. "Pauline," he continued, "Miss Rocheford will like to see the
grounds. This is her first visit to Darrell Court. Show her the
fountains and the flower-gardens."

Elinor looked up with a well-assumed expression of rapture; Pauline's
look of annoyance indicated that she obeyed greatly against her will.

Sir Oswald saw the captain looking wistfully after the two girlish
figures.

"Go," he said, with a courtly smile. "Young people like to be together.
I will entertain Lady Hampton."

Greatly relieved, the captain followed. He was so deeply and so
desperately in love that he could not endure to see Pauline Darrell
talking even to the girl by her side. He would fain have engrossed every
word, every glance of hers himself; he was madly jealous when such were
bestowed upon others.

The three walked down the broad cedar path together, the captain all
gallant attention, Miss Rocheford all sweetness, Pauline haughty as a
young barbaric queen bound by a conqueror's chains. She did not like her
companions, and did not even make a feint of being civil to them.

Meanwhile the opportunity so longed for by Lady Hampton had arrived; and
the lady seized it with alacrity. She turned to Sir Oswald with a smile.

"You amuse me," she said, "by giving yourself such an air of age. Why do
you consider yourself so old, Sir Oswald? If it were not that I feared
to flatter you, I should say that there were few young men to compare
with you."

"My dear Lady Hampton," returned the baronet, in a voice that was not
without pathos, "look at this."

He placed his thin white hand upon his white hair. Lady Hampton laughed
again.

"What does that matter? Why, many men are gray even in their youth. I
have always wondered why you seek to appear so old, Sir Oswald. I feel
sure, judging from many indications, that you cannot be sixty."

"No; but I am over fifty--and my idea is that, at fifty, one is really
old."

"Nothing of the kind!" she said, with great energy. "Some of the finest
men I have known were only in the prime of life then. If you were
seventy, you might think of speaking as you do. Sir Oswald," she asked,
abruptly, looking keenly at his face, "why have you never married?"

He smiled, but a flush darkened the fine old face.

"I was in love once," he replied, simply, "and only once. The lady was
young and fair. She loved me in return. But a few weeks before our
marriage she was suddenly taken ill and died. I have never even thought
of replacing her."

"How sad! What sort of a lady was she, Sir Oswald--this fair young love
of yours?"

"Strange to say, in face, figure, and manner she somewhat resembled your
lovely young niece, Lady Hampton. She had the same quiet, graceful
manner, the same polished grace--so different from----"

"From Miss Darrell," supplied the lady, promptly. "How that unfortunate
girl must jar upon you!"

"She does; but there are times when I have hopes of her. We are talking
like old friends now, Lady Hampton. I may tell you that I think there is
one and only one thing that can redeem my niece, and that is love. Love
works wonders sometimes, and I have hopes that it may do so in her case.
A grand master-passion such as controls the Darrells when they love at
all--that would redeem her. It would soften that fierce pride and
hauteur, it would bring her to the ordinary level of womanhood; it would
cure her of many of the fantastic ideas that seem to have taken
possession of her; it would make her--what she certainly is not now--a
gentlewoman."

"Do you think so?" queried Lady Hampton, doubtfully.

"I am sure of it. When I look at that grand face of hers, often so
defiant, I think to myself that she may be redeemed by love."

"And if this grand master-passion does not come to her--if she cares for
some one only after the ordinary fashion of women--what then?"

He threw up his hands with a gesture indicative of despair.

"Or," continued Lady Hampton--"pray pardon me for suggesting such a
thing, Sir Oswald, but people of the world, like you and myself, know
what odd things are likely at any time to happen--supposing that she
should marry some commonplace lover, after a commonplace fashion, and
that then the master-passion should find her out, what would be the fate
of Darrell Court?"

"I cannot tell," replied Sir Oswald, despairingly.

"With a person, especially a young girl, of her self-willed, original,
independent nature, one is never safe. How thankful I am that my niece
is so sweet and so womanly!"

Sir Oswald sat for some little time in silence. He looked on this fair
ancestral home of his, with its noble woods and magnificent gardens.
What indeed would become of it if it fell into the ill-disciplined hands
of an ill-disciplined girl--unless, indeed, she were subject to the
control of a wise husband?

Would Pauline ever submit to such control? Her pale, grand face rose
before him, the haughty lips, the proud, calm eyes--the man who mastered
her, who brought her mind into subjection, would indeed be a superior
being. For the first time a doubt crossed Sir Oswald's mind as to
whether she would ever recognize that superior being in Captain Langton.
He knew that there were depths in the girl's nature beyond his own
reach. It was not all pride, all defiance--there were genius, poetry,
originality, grandeur of intellect, and greatness of heart before which
the baronet knew that he stood in hopeless, helpless awe.

Lady Hampton laid her hand on his arm.

"Do not despond, old friend," she said. "I understand you. I should feel
like you. I should dread to leave the inheritance of my fathers in such
dangerous hands. But, Sir Oswald, why despond? Why not marry?"

The baronet started.

"Marry!" he repeated. "Why, I have never thought of such a thing."

"Think of it now," counseled the lady, laughingly; "you will find the
advice most excellent. Instead of tormenting yourself about an
ill-conditioned girl, who delights in defying you, you can have an
amiable, accomplished, elegant, and gentle wife to rule your household
and attend to your comfort--you might have a son of your own to succeed
you, and Darrell Court might yet remain in the hands of the Darrells."

"But, my dear Lady Hampton, where should I find such a wife? I am no
longer young--who would marry me?"

"Any sensible girl in England. Take my advice, Sir Oswald. Let us have a
Lady Darrell, and not an ill-trained girl who will delight in setting
the world at defiance. Indeed, I consider that marriage is a duty which
you owe to society and to your race."

"I have never thought of it. I have always considered myself as having,
so to speak, finished with life."

"You have made a great mistake, but it is one that fortunately can be
remedied."

Lady Hampton rose from her seat, and walked a few steps forward.

"I have put his thoughts in the right groove," she mused; "but I ought
to say a word about Elinor."

She turned to him again.

"You ask me who would marry you. Why, Sir Oswald, in England there are
hundreds of girls, well-bred, elegant, graceful, gentle, like my niece,
who would ask nothing better from fortune than a husband like yourself."

She saw her words take effect. She had turned his thoughts and ideas in
the right direction at last.

"Shall we go and look after our truants?" she asked, suavely.

And they walked together down the path where Pauline had so indignantly
gathered the broken lily. As though unconsciously, Lady Hampton began to
speak of her niece.

"I have adopted Elinor entirely," she said--"indeed there was no other
course for me to pursue. Her mother was my youngest sister; she has
been dead many years. Elinor has been living with her father, but he has
just secured a government appointment abroad, and I asked him to give
his daughter to me."

"It was very kind of you," observed Sir Oswald.

"Nay, the kindness is on her part, not on mine. She is like a sunbeam in
my house. Fair, gentle, a perfect lady, she has not one idea that is not
in itself innately refined and delicate. I knew that if she went into
society at all she would soon marry."

"Is there any probability of that?" asked Sir Oswald.

"No, for by her own desire we shall live very quietly this year. She
wished to see Darrell Court and its owner--we have spoken so much of
you--but with that exception we shall go nowhere."

"I hope she is pleased with Darrell Court," said Sir Oswald.

"How could she fail to be, as well as delighted with its hospitable
master? I could read that much in her pretty face. Here they are, Sir
Oswald--Miss Darrell alone, looking very dignified--Elinor, with your
friend. Ah, she knows how to choose friends!"

They joined the group, but Miss Darrell was in one of her most dignified
moods. She had been forced to listen to a fashionable conversation
between Captain Langton and Miss Rocheford, and her indignation and
contempt had got the better of her politeness.

They all partook of luncheon together, and then the visitors departed;
not, however, until Lady Hampton had accepted from Sir Oswald an
invitation to spend a week at Darrell Court. Sir Francis and Lady Allroy
were coming--the party would be a very pleasant one; and Sir Oswald said
he would give a grand ball in the course of the week--a piece of
intelligence which delighted the captain and Miss Rocheford greatly.

Then Lady Hampton and her niece set out. Sir Oswald held Elinor's hand
rather longer than strict etiquette required.

"How like she is to my dead love!" he thought, and his adieu was more
than cordial.

As they drove home, Lady Hampton gazed at her niece with a look of
triumph.

"You have a splendid chance, Elinor," she said; "no girl ever had a
better. What do you think of Darrell Court?"

"It is a palace, aunt--a magnificent, stately palace. I have never seen
anything like it before."

"It may be yours if you play your cards well, my dear."

"How?" cried the girl. "I thought it was to be Miss Darrell's. Every one
says she is her uncle's heiress."

"People need not make too sure of it. I do not think so. With a little
management, Sir Oswald will propose to you, I am convinced."

The girl's face fell.

"But, aunt, he is so old."

"He is only just fifty, Elinor. No girl in her senses would ever call
that old. It is just the prime of life."

"I like Captain Langton so much the better," she murmured.

"I have no doubt that you do, my dear; but there must be no nonsense
about liking or disliking. Sir Oswald's income must be quite twenty
thousand per annum, and if you manage well, all that may be yours. But
you must place yourself under my directions, and do implicitly what I
tell you, if so desirable a result is to be achieved."



CHAPTER XIV.

PAULINE'S LOVE FOR DARRELL COURT.


Miss Darrell preserved a dignified silence during dinner; but when the
servants had withdrawn, Sir Oswald, who had been charmed with his
visitors, said:

"I am delighted, Pauline, that you have secured a young lady friend. You
will be pleased with Miss Rocheford."

Pauline made no reply; and Sir Oswald, never thinking that it was
possible for one so gentle and lovely as Miss Rocheford to meet with
anything but the warmest praise, continued:

"I consider that Lady Hampton has done us all a great favor in bringing
her charming niece with her. Were you not delighted with her, Pauline?"

Miss Darrell made no haste to reply; but Sir Oswald evidently awaited an
answer.

"I do not like Miss Rocheford," she said at length; "it would be quite
useless to pretend that I do."

Miss Hastings looked up in alarm. Captain Langton leaned back in his
chair, with a smile on his lips--he always enjoyed Pauline's "scenes"
when her anger was directed against any one but himself; Sir Oswald's
brow darkened.

"Pray, Miss Darrell, may I ask why you do not like her?"

"Certainly. I do not like her for the same reason that I should not like
a diet of sugar. Miss Rocheford is very elegant and gentle, but she has
no opinions of her own; every wind sways her; she has no ideas, no force
of character. It is not possible for me to really like such a person."

"But, my dear Pauline," interposed Miss Hastings, "you should not
express such very decided opinions; you should be more reticent, more
tolerant."

"If I am not to give my opinion," said Pauline, serenely, "I should not
be asked for it."

"Pray, Miss Hastings, do not check such delightful frankness," cried Sir
Oswald, angrily, his hands trembling, his face darkening with an angry
frown.

He said no more; but the captain, who thought he saw a chance of
recommending himself to Miss Darrell's favor, observed, later on in the
evening:

"I knew you would not like our visitor, Miss Darrell. She was not of the
kind to attract you."

"Sir Oswald forced my opinion from me," she said; "but I shall not
listen to one word of disparagement of Miss Rocheford from you, Captain
Langton. You gave her great attention, you flattered her, you paid her
many compliments; and now, if you say that you dislike her, it will
simply be deceitful, and I abominate deceit."

It was plain that Pauline had greatly annoyed Sir Oswald. He liked Miss
Rocheford very much; the sweet, yielding, gentle disposition, which
Pauline had thought so monotonous, delighted him. Miss Rocheford was so
like that lost, dead love of his--so like! And for this girl, who tried
his patience every hour of the day, to find fault with her! It was too
irritating; he could not endure it. He was very cold and distant to
Pauline for some time, but the young girl was serenely unconscious of
it.

In one respect she was changing rapidly. The time had been when she had
been indifferent to Darrell Court, when she had thought with regret of
the free, happy life in the Rue d'Orme, where she could speak lightly of
the antiquity and grandeurs of the race from which she had sprung; but
all that was altered now. It could not be otherwise, considering how
romantic, how poetical, how impressionable she was, how keenly alive to
everything beautiful and noble. She was living here in the very cradle
of the race, where every tree had its legend, every stone its story; how
could she be indifferent while the annals of her house were filled with
noble retrospects? The Darrells had numbered great warriors and
statesmen among their number. Some of the noblest women in England had
been Darrells; and Pauline had learned to glory in the old stories, and
to feel her heart beat with pride as she remembered that she, too, was a
Darrell.

So, likewise, she had grown to love the Court for its picturesque
beauty, its stately magnificence, and the time came soon when almost
every tree and shrub was dear to her.

It was Pauline's nature to love deeply and passionately if she loved at
all; there was no lukewarmness about her. She was incapable of those
gentle, womanly likings that save all wear and tear of passion. She
could not love in moderation; and very soon the love of Darrell Court
became a passion with her. She sketched the mansion from twenty
different points of view, she wrote verses about it; she lavished upon
it the love which some girls lavish upon parents, brothers, sisters, and
friends.

She stood one day looking at it as the western sunbeams lighted it up
until it looked as though it were bathed in gold. The stately towers and
turrets, the flower-wreathed balconies, the grand arched windows, the
Gothic porch, all made up a magnificent picture; the fountains were
playing in the sunlit air, the birds singing in the stately trees. She
turned to Miss Hastings, and the governess saw tears standing warm and
bright in the girl's eyes.

"How beautiful it is!" she said. "I cannot tell you--I have no words to
tell you--how I love my home."

The heart of the gentle lady contracted with sudden fear.

"It is very beautiful," she said; "but, Pauline, do not love it too
much; remember how very uncertain everything is."

"There can be nothing uncertain about my inheritance," returned the
girl. "I am a Darrell--the only Darrell left to inherit it. And, oh!
Miss Hastings, how I love it! But it is not for its wealth that I love
it; it is my heart that is bound to it. I love it as I can fancy a
husband loves his wife, a mother her child. It is everything to me."

"Still," said Miss Hastings, "I would not love it too well; everything
is so uncertain."

"But not that," replied Pauline, quickly. "My uncle would never dare to
be so unjust as to leave Darrell Court to any one but a Darrell. I am
not in the least afraid--not in the least."



CHAPTER XV.

BREACH BETWEEN UNCLE AND NIECE.


A few days later the tranquillity of Darrell Court was at an end. The
invited guests were expected, and Sir Oswald had determined to do them
all honor. The state-apartments, which had not been used during his
tenure, were all thrown open; the superb ball-room, once the pride of
the county, was redecorated; the long, empty corridors and suites of
apartments reserved for visitors, were once more full of life. Miss
Hastings was the presiding genius; Pauline Darrell took far less
interest in the preparations.

"I am glad," she said, one morning, "that I am to see your 'world,' Sir
Oswald. You despise mine; I shall be anxious to see what yours is like."

The baronet answered her testily:

"I do not quite understand your remarks about 'worlds.' Surely we live
under the same conditions."

"Not in the same world of people," she opposed; "and I am anxious to see
what yours is like."

"What do you expect to find in what you are pleased to call my world,
Pauline?" he asked, angrily.

"Little truth, and plenty of affectation; little honor, and plenty of
polish; little honesty, and very high-sounding words; little sincerity,
and plenty of deceit."

"By what right do you sit in judgment?" he demanded.

"None at all," replied Pauline; "but as people are always speaking ill
of the dear, honest world in which I have lived, I may surely be
permitted to criticise the world that is outside it."

Sir Oswald turned away angrily; and Miss Hastings sighed over the girl's
willfulness.

"Why do you talk to Sir Oswald in a fashion that always irritates him?"
she remonstrated.

"We live in a free country, and have each of us freedom of speech."

"I am afraid the day will come when you will pay a sad price for yours."

But Pauline Darrell only laughed. Such fears never affected her; she
would sooner have expected to see the heavens fall at her feet than that
Sir Oswald should not leave Darrell Court to her--his niece, a Darrell,
with the Darrell face and the Darrell figure, the true, proud features
of the race. He would never dare to do otherwise, she thought, and she
would not condescend to change either her thought or speech to please
him.

"The Darrells do not know fear," she would say; "there never yet was an
example of a Darrell being frightened into anything."

So the breach between the uncle and the niece grew wider every day. He
could not understand her; the grand, untrained, undisciplined, poetical
nature was beyond him--he could neither reach its heights nor fathom its
depths. There were times when he thought that, despite her outward
coldness and pride, there was within a soul of fire, when he dimly
understood the magnificence of the character he could not read, when he
suspected there might be some souls that could not be narrowed or forced
into a common groove. Nevertheless he feared her; he was afraid to
trust, not the honor, but the fame of his race to her.

"She is capable of anything," he would repeat to himself again and
again. "She would fling the Darrell revenues to the wind; she would
transform Darrell Court into one huge observatory, if astronomy pleased
her--into one huge laboratory, if she gave herself to chemistry. One
thing is perfectly clear to me--she can never be my heiress until she is
safely married."

And, after great deliberation--after listening to all his heart's
pleading in favor of her grace, her beauty, her royal generosity of
character, the claim of her name and her truth--he came to the decision
that if she would marry Captain Langton, whom he loved perhaps better
than any one else in the world, he would at once make his will, adopt
her, and leave her heiress of all that he had in the world.

One morning the captain confided in him, telling him how dearly he loved
his beautiful niece, and then Sir Oswald revealed his intentions.

"You understand, Aubrey," he said--"the girl is magnificently
beautiful--she is a true Darrell; but I am frightened about her. She is
not like other girls; she is wanting in tact, in knowledge of the world,
and both are essential. I hope you will win her. I shall die content if
I leave Darrell Court in your hands, and if you are her husband. I could
not pass her over to make you my heir; but if you can persuade her to
marry you, you can take the name of Darrell, and you can guide and
direct her. What do you say, Aubrey?"

"What do I say?" stammered the captain. "I say this--that I love her so
dearly that I would marry her if she had not a farthing. I love her so
that language cannot express the depth of my affection for her."

The captain was for a few minutes quite overcome--he had been so long
dunned for money, so hardly pressed, so desperate, that the chance of
twenty thousand a year and Darrell Court was almost too much for him.
His brow grew damp, and his lips pale. All this might be his own if he
could but win the consent of this girl. Yet he feared her; the proud,
noble face, the grand, dark eyes rose before him, and seemed to rebuke
him for his presumptuous hope. How was he to win her? Flattery, sweet,
soft words would never do it. One scornful look from her sent his ideas
"flying right and left."

"If she were only like other girls," he thought, "I could make her my
wife in a few weeks."

Then he took heart of grace. Had he not been celebrated for his good
fortune among the fair sex? Had he not always found his handsome
person, his low, tender voice, his pleasing manner irresistible? Who was
this proud, dark-eyed girl that she should measure the depths of his
heart and soul, and find them wanting? Surely he must be superior to the
artists in shabby coats by whom she had been surrounded. And yet he
feared as much as he hoped.

"She has such a way of making me feel small," he said to himself; "and
if that kind of feeling comes over me when I am making her an offer, it
will be of no use to plead my suit."

But what a prospect--master of Darrell Court and twenty thousand per
annum! He would endure almost any humiliation to obtain that position.

"She must have me," he said to himself--"she shall have me! I will force
her to be my wife!"

Why, if he could but announce his engagement to Miss Darrell, he could
borrow as much money as would clear off all his liabilities! And how
much he needed money no one knew better than himself. He had paid this
visit to the Court because there were two writs out against him in
London, and, unless he could come to some settlement of them, he knew
what awaited him.

And all--fortune, happiness, wealth, freedom, prosperity--depended on
one word from the proud lips that had hardly ever spoken kindly to him.
He loved her, too--loved her with a fierce, desperate love that at times
frightened himself.

"I should like you," said Sir Oswald, at the conclusion of their
interview, "to have the matter settled as soon as you can; because, I
tell you, frankly, if my niece does not consent to marry you, I shall
marry myself. All my friends are eagerly solicitous for me to do so;
they do not like the prospect of seeing a grand old inheritance like
this fall into the hands of a willful, capricious girl. But I tell you
in confidence, Aubrey, I do not wish to marry. I am a confirmed old
bachelor now, and it would be a sad trouble to me to have my life
changed by marriage. Still I would rather marry than that harm should
come to Darrell Court."

"Certainly," agreed the captain.

"I do not mind telling you still further that I have seen a lady whom,
if I marry at all, I should like to make my wife--in fact, she resembles
some one I used to know long years ago. I have every reason to believe
she is much admired and sought after; so that I want you to settle your
affairs as speedily as possible. Mind, Aubrey, they must be
settled--there must be no deferring, no putting off; you must have an
answer--yes or no--very shortly; and you must not lose an hour in
communicating that answer to me."

"I hope it will be a favorable one," said Aubrey Langton; but his mind
misgave him. He had an idea that the girl had found him wanting; he
could not forget her first frank declaration that she did not like him.

"If she refuses me, have I your permission to tell Miss Darrell the
alternative?" he asked of Sir Oswald.

The baronet thought deeply for some minutes, and then said:

"Yes; it is only fair and just that she should know it--that she should
learn that if she refuses you she loses all chance of being my heiress.
But do not say anything of the lady I have mentioned."

The visitors were coming on Tuesday, and Thursday was the day settled
for the ball.

"All girls like balls," thought Captain Langton. "Pauline is sure to be
in a good temper then, and I will ask her on Thursday night."

But he owned to himself that he would rather a thousand times have faced
a whole battalion of enemies than ask Pauline Darrell to be his wife.



CHAPTER XVI.

THE QUEEN OF THE BALL.


It was many years since Darrell Court had been so gay. Sir Oswald had
resolved that the ball should be one that should reflect credit on the
giver and the guests. He had ordered a fine band of music and a
magnificent banquet. The grounds were to be illuminated, colored lamps
being placed among the trees; the ball-room was a gorgeous mass of
brilliant bloom--tier after tier of magnificent flowers was ranged along
the walls, white statues gleaming from the bright foliage, and little
fountains here and there sending up their fragrant spray.

Sir Oswald had sent to London for some one to superintend the
decorations; but they were not perfected until Miss Darrell, passing
through, suggested first one alteration, and then another, until the
originators, recognizing her superior artistic judgment and picturesque
taste, deferred to her, and then the decorations became a magnificent
work of art.

Sir Oswald declared himself delighted, and the captain's praises were
unmeasured. Then, and then only, Miss Darrell began to feel some
interest in the ball; her love of beauty was awakened and
pleased--there was something more in the event than the mere
gratification of seeing people dance.

The expected visitors had arrived on the Tuesday--Lady Hampton, radiant
with expected victory; Elinor, silent, thoughtful, and more gentle than
ever, and consequently more pleasing.

Lady Hampton was delighted with the idea of the ball.

"You must make a bold stroke for a husband on that evening, Elinor," she
said. "You shall have a superb dress, and I shall quite expect you to
receive and accept an offer from Sir Oswald."

Elinor Rocheford raised her eyes. There was something wistful in their
expression.

"Oh, aunt," she said, "I like the captain so much better!"

Lady Hampton did not lose her good humor--Elinor was not the first
refractory girl she had brought to her senses.

"Never mind about liking the captain, my dear; that is only natural. He
is not in love with you. I can see through the whole business. If
Darrell Court goes to Miss Darrell, he will marry her. He can marry no
girl without money, because he is, I know, over head and ears in debt.
Major Penryn was speaking of him to-day. The only way to prevent his
marriage with Miss Darrell is for you to take Sir Oswald yourself."

Elinor's face flushed.

Lady Hampton certainly understood the art of evoking the worst feelings.
Jealousy, envy, and dislike stirred faintly in the gentle heart of her
niece.

"I hope you will do your very best to win Sir Oswald's affections,"
continued Lady Hampton, "for I should not like to see Darrell Court fall
into the hands of that proud girl."

"Nor should I," assented Miss Rocheford.

The evening of the ball arrived at last, and Lady Hampton stood like a
fairy godmother in Elinor's dressing-room, superintending the toilet
that was to work such wonders. Lady Hampton herself looked very imposing
in her handsome dress of black velvet and point lace, with diamond
ornaments. Elinor's dress was a triumph of art. Her fresh, fair, gentle
loveliness shone to perfection, aided by her elaborate costume of white
silk and white lace, trimmed with green and silver leaves. The ornaments
were all of silver--both fringe and leaves; the headdress was a green
wreath with silver flowers. Nothing could have been more elegant and
effective. There was a gentle flush on the fair face and a light in the
blue eyes.

"That will do, Elinor," said Lady Hampton, complacently. "Your dress is
perfection. I have no fear now--you will have no rival."

Perhaps Lady Hampton had never disliked Pauline Darrell more than on
that night, for the magnificent beauty of the girl had never been so
apparent. Sir Oswald had given his niece _carte blanche_ in respect to
preparation for the ball, but she had not at first taken sufficient
interest in the matter to send to London, as he wished, for a dress.
Later on she had gone to the large wardrobe, where the treasures
accumulated by the Ladies Darrell lay. Such shining treasures of satin,
velvet, silk, cashmere, and such profusion of laces and ornaments were
there! She selected a superb costume--a magnificent amber brocade,
embroidered with white flowers, gorgeous, beautiful, artistic. It was a
dress that had been made for some former Lady Darrell.

How well it became her! The amber set off her dark beauty as a golden
frame does a rich picture. The dress required but little alteration; it
was cut square, showing the white, stately, graceful neck, and the
sleeves hung after the Grecian fashion, leaving the round, white arms
bare. The light shining upon the dress changed with every movement; it
was as though the girl was enveloped in sunbeams. Every lady present
envied that dress, and pronounced it to be gorgeous beyond comparison.

Pauline's rich curls of dark hair were studded with diamond stars, and a
diamond necklace clasped her white throat--this was Sir Oswald's
present. Her artistic taste had found yet further scope; for she had
enhanced the beauty of her dress by the addition of white daphnes
shrouded in green leaves.

Sir Oswald looked at her in admiration--her magnificent beauty, her
queenly figure, her royal grace and ease of movement, her splendid
costume, all impressed him. From every fold of her shining dress came a
rich, sweet, subtle perfume; her usually pale face had on it an unwonted
flush of delicate rose-leaf color.

"If she would but be like that sweet Elinor!" thought Sir Oswald. "I
could not wish for a more beautiful mistress for Darrell Court."

She stood by his side while he received his guests, and her dignified
ease delighted him.

"Had she been some Eastern queen," he thought, "her eccentricities would
have hurt no one. As it is----" and Sir Oswald concluded his sentence by
a grave shake of the head.

The captain, pleased with Miss Rocheford's graceful loveliness, had been
amusing himself by paying her some very choice compliments, and she was
delighted with them.

"If Sir Oswald were only like him!" she thought; and Aubrey Langton,
meeting the timid, gentle glance, said to himself that he must be
careful--he had no wish to win the girl's heart--he should be quite at a
loss to know what to do with it.

When he saw Pauline his courage almost failed him.

"How am I to ask that magnificent girl to marry me?" he said.

Sir Oswald had expressed a wish that Aubrey and Pauline would open the
ball; it would give people an idea of what he wished, he thought, and
prevent other gentlemen from "turning her head" by paying her any marked
attention. Yet he knew how difficult it would be for any one to win
Pauline's regard. She made no objection when he expressed his wish to
her, but she did not look particularly pleased.

Captain Langton understood the art of dancing better perhaps than the
art of war; he was perfect in it--even Pauline avowed it. With him
dancing was the very poetry of motion. The flowers, the lights, the
sweet, soft music, the fragrance, the silvery sound of laughter, the
fair faces and shining jewels of the ladies, all stirred and warmed
Pauline's imagination; they brought bright and vivid fancies to her, and
touched the poetical beauty-loving soul. A glow came over her face, a
light into her proud, dark eyes, her lips were wreathed in smiles--no
one had ever seen Pauline so beautiful before.

"You enjoy this, do you not?" said Aubrey Langton, as he watched her
beautiful face.

"I shall do so," she replied, "very much indeed;" and at what those
words implied the captain's courage fell to zero.

He saw how many admiring eyes followed her; he knew that all the
gentlemen in the room were envying him his position with Miss Darrell.
He knew that, pretty as some of the girls were, Pauline outshone them as
the sun outshines the stars; and he knew that she was queen of the
_fete_--queen of the ball.

"This is the first time you have met many of the county people, is it
not?" he asked.

She looked round indifferently.

"Yes, it is the first time," she replied.

"Do you admire any of the men? I know how different your taste is from
that of most girls. Is there any one here who has pleased you?"

She laughed.

"I cannot tell," she answered; "you forget this is the first dance. I
have had no opportunity of judging."

"I believe that I am jealous already," he observed.

She looked at him; her dark eyes made his heart beat, they seemed to
look through him.

"You are what?" she asked. "Captain Langton, I do not understand."

He dared not repeat the words.

"I wish," he said, with a deep sigh, "that I had all the talent and all
the wealth in the world."

"For what reason?" she inquired.

"Because you would care for me then."

"Because of your talent and wealth!" she exclaimed. "No, that I should
not."

"But I thought you admired talent so much," he said, in surprise.

"So I do; but mere talent would never command my respect, nor mere
wealth."

"The two together might," he suggested.

"No. You would not understand me, Captain Langton, were I to explain.
Now this dance is over, and I heard you engage Miss Rocheford for the
next."

"And you," he said, gloomily--"what are you going to do?"

"To enjoy myself," she replied; and, from the manner in which her face
brightened when he left her, the captain feared she was pleased to be
quit of him.



CHAPTER XVII.

PAULINE'S BRIGHT FANCIES.


The ball at Darrell Court was a brilliant success. Sir Oswald was
delighted, Lady Hampton complimented him so highly.

"This is just as it ought to be, Sir Oswald," she said. "One who can
give such entertainments as this should not think of retiring from a
world he is so well qualified to adorn. Confess, now, that under the
influence of that music you could dance yourself."

Sir Oswald laughed.

"I must plead guilty," he said. "How beautiful Miss Rocheford looks
to-night!"

"It is well for you, Sir Oswald, that you have not heard all the
compliments that the dear child has lavished on you; they would have
made you vain."

Sir Oswald's face brightened with pleasure.

"Is your niece pleased? I am very glad indeed. It was more to give her
pleasure than from any other motive that I gave the ball."

"Then you have succeeded perfectly. Now, Sir Oswald, do you not see
that what I said was true--that an establishment like this requires a
mistress? Darrell Court always led the hospitalities of the county. It
is only since no lady has lived here that it has fallen into the
background."

"It shall be in the background no longer," said Sir Oswald. "I think my
first ball is a very successful one. How happy everybody looks!"

But of all that brilliant company, Pauline Darrell was queen. There were
men present who would have given anything for one smile from her lips.
They admired her, they thought her beautiful beyond comparison, but they
did not feel quite at ease with her. She was somewhat beyond them; they
did not understand her. She did not blush, and glow, and smile when they
said pretty things to her. When they gave her their most brilliant
small-talk, she had nothing to give them in return. A soul quite
different from theirs looked at them out of her dark, proud eyes. They
said to themselves that she was very beautiful, but that she required
softening, and that something lovable and tender was wanting in her. She
was a queen to be worshiped, an empress to receive all homage, but not a
woman to be loved. So they thought who were not even capable of judging
such capacity for love as hers.

She was also not popular with the ladies. They thought her very superb;
they admired her magnificent dress; but they pronounced her proud and
reserved. They said she gave herself airs, that she took no pains to
make friends; and they did not anticipate any very great rejoicings when
Darrell Court should belong to her. The elder ladies pronounced that
judgment on her; the younger ones shrank abashed, and were slightly
timid in her presence.

Sir Oswald, it was noticed, led Miss Rocheford in to supper, and seemed
to pay her very great attention. Some of the ladies made observations,
but others said it was all nonsense; if Sir Oswald had ever intended to
marry, he would have married years ago, and his choice would have fallen
on a lady of mature age, not on a slight, slender girl. Besides--and who
could find an answer to such an argument?--was it not settled that Miss
Darrell was to be his heiress? There was no doubt about that.

The baronet's great affection for Aubrey Langton was also known. More
than one of the guests present guessed at the arrangement made, and said
that in all probability Miss Darrell would marry the captain, and that
they would have the Court after Sir Oswald's death.

The banquet was certainly a magnificent one. The guests did full justice
to the costly wines, the rare and beautiful fruits, the _recherche_
dishes prepared with so much skill and labor. When supper was ended, the
dancers returned to the ball-room, but Miss Darrell was already rather
weary of it all.

She stole away during the first dance after supper. The lamps were
lighted in the conservatory, and shed a soft, pearly light over the
fragrant flowers; the great glass doors at the end were open, and beyond
lay the moonlight, soft, sweet, and silvery, steeping the flowers, the
trees, and the long grass in its mild light. Without, all was so calm,
so still; there was the evening sky with its myriad stars, so calm and
so serene; close to the doors stood great sheaves of white lilies, and
just inside was a nest of fragrant daphnes and jessamines.

Pauline stood lost in delight; the perfume seemed to float in from the
moonlight and infold her. This quiet, holy, tranquil beauty touched her
heart as the splendor of the ball-room could not; her soul grew calm and
still; she seemed nearer happiness than she had ever been before.

"How beautiful the world is!" she thought. She raised her face, so
serenely placid and fair in the moonlight; the silver radiance fell upon
it, adding all that was needed to make it perfect, a blended softness
and tenderness. The gorgeous, golden-hued dress falling around her,
glistened, gleamed, and glowed; her diamonds shone like flames. No
artist ever dreamed of a fairer picture than this girl in the midst of
the moonlight and the flowers.

Bright fancies thronged her mind. She thought of the time when she
should be mistress of that rich domain. No mercenary delight made her
heart thrill; it was not the prospect of being rich that delighted her;
it was a nobler pride--delight in the grand old home where heroes had
lived and died, earnest thoughts of how she would care for it, how she
would love it as some living thing when it should be her own.

Her own! Verily her lines were cast in pleasant places! She dreamed
great things--of the worthy deeds she would do, of the noble charities
she would carry out, the magnificent designs she would bring to
maturity when Darrell Court should be hers.

It was not that she wished for it at once. She did not love Sir
Oswald--their natures were too antagonistic for that; but she did not
wish--indeed, she was incapable of wishing--that his life should be
shortened even for one hour. She only remembered that in the course of
time this grand inheritance must be hers. How she would help those
artist-friends of her father's! What orders she would give them, what
pictures she would buy, what encouragement she would give to art and
literature! How she would foster genius! How she would befriend the
clever and gifted poor ones of the earth!

The beautiful moonlight seemed to grow fairer, the blue, starry heavens
nearer, as the grand and gracious possibilities of her life revealed
themselves to her. Her heart grew warm, her soul trembled with delight.

And then--then there would be something dearer and fairer than all
this--something that comes to every woman--her birthright--something
that would complete her life, that would change it, that would make
music of every word, and harmony of every action. The time would come
when love would find her out, when the fairy prince would wake her from
her magic sleep. She was pure and spotless as the white lilies standing
near her; the breath of love had never passed over her. There had been
no long, idle conversations with young girls on the subject of love and
lovers; her heart was a blank page. But there came to her that night, as
she stood dreaming her maiden dreams among the flowers, an idea of how
she could love, and of what manner of man he would be who should win her
love.

Was she like Undine? Were there depths in her heart and soul which could
not be reached until love had brought them to light? She felt in herself
great capabilities that had never yet been exercised or called into
action. Love would complete her life; it would be the sun endowing the
flowers with life, warmth, and fragrance.

What manner of man must he be who would wake this soul of hers to
perfect life? She had seen no one yet capable of doing so. The mind that
mastered hers must be a master-mind; the soul that could bring her soul
into subjection must be a grand soul, a just soul, noble and generous.

Ah, well, the moonlight was fair, and the flowers were fair. Soon,
perhaps, this fair dream of hers might be realized, and then----



CHAPTER XVIII.

REJECTED.


A shadow came between Pauline and the moonlight, and a quiet voice said:

"Miss Darrell, I am so glad to find you here, and alone!"

Looking up, she saw Aubrey Langton standing by her side. Aubrey's fair,
handsome face was flushed, and there was the fragrance of the wine-cup
about him, for the gallant captain's courage had failed him, and he had
to fortify himself.

He had seen Miss Darrell go into the conservatory, and he understood her
well enough to be sure that she had gone thither in search of quiet.
Here was his opportunity. He had been saying to himself all day that he
must watch for his opportunity. Here it was; yet his courage failed him,
and his heart sank; he would have given anything to any one who would
have undertaken the task that lay before him. There was so much at
stake--not only love, but wealth, fortune, even freedom--there was so
much to be won or lost, that he was frightened.

However, as he said to himself, it had to be done. He went back to the
dining-room and poured out for himself a tumbler of the baronet's
generous old wine, which made his heart glow, and diffused warmth
through his whole frame, and then he went on his difficult errand. He
walked quietly through the conservatory, and saw Pauline standing at the
doors.

He was not an artist, he had nothing of the poet about him, but the
solemn beauty of that picture did touch him--the soft, sweet moonlight,
the sheaves of white lilies, the nest of daphnes, and that most
beautiful face raised to the starry sky.

He stood for some minutes in silence; a dim perception of his own
unworthiness came over him. Pauline looked as though she stood in a
charmed circle, which he almost feared to enter.

Then he went up to her and spoke. She was startled; she had been so
completely absorbed in her dreams, and he was the last person on earth
with whom she could identify them.

"I hope I have not startled you," he said. "I am so glad to find you
here, Miss Darrell. There is something I wish to say to you."

Perhaps that beautiful, calm night-scene had softened her; she turned to
him with a smile more gentle than he had ever seen on her face before.

"You want to tell me something--I am ready to listen, Captain Langton.
What is it?"

He came nearer to her. The sweet, subtle perfume from the flowers at her
breast reached him, the proud face that had always looked proudly on
him, was near his own.

He came one step nearer still, and then Pauline drew back with a haughty
gesture that seemed to scatter the light in her jewels.

"I can hear perfectly well," she said, coldly. "What is it you have to
tell me?"

"Pauline, do not be unkind to me. Let me come nearer, where I may kneel
at your feet and pray my prayer."

His face flushed, his heart warmed with his words; all the passionate
love that he really felt for her woke within him. There was no feigning,
no pretense--it was all reality. It was not Darrell Court he was
thinking of, but Pauline, peerless, queenly Pauline; and in that moment
he felt that he could give his whole life to win her.

"Let me pray my prayer," he repeated; "let me tell you how dearly I love
you, Pauline--so dearly and so well that if you send me from you my life
will be a burden to me, and I shall be the most wretched of men."

She did not look proud of angry, but merely sorry. Her dark eyes
drooped, her lips even quivered.

"You love me," she rejoined--"really love me, Captain Langton?"

He interrupted her.

"I loved you the first moment that I saw you. I have admired others, but
I have seen none like you. All the deep, passionate love of my heart has
gone out to you; and, if you throw it from you, Pauline, I shall die."

"I am very sorry," she murmured, gently.

"Nay, not sorry. Why should you be sorry? You would not take a man's
life, and hold it in the hollow of your hand, only to fling it away. You
may have richer lovers, you may have titles and wealth offered to you,
but you will never have a love truer or deeper than mine."

There was a ring of truth about his words, and they haunted her.

"I know I am unworthy of you. If I were a crowned king, and you, my
peerless Pauline, the humblest peasant, I should choose you from the
whole world to be my wife. But I am only a soldier--a poor soldier. I
have but one treasure, and that I offer to you--the deepest, truest love
of my heart. I would that I were a king, and could woo you more
worthily."

She looked up quickly--his eyes were drinking in the beauty of her face;
but there was something in them from which she shrank without knowing
why. She would have spoken, but he went on, quickly:

"Only grant my prayer, Pauline--promise to be my wife--promise to love
me--and I will live only for you. I will give you my heart, my thoughts,
my life. I will take you to bright sunny lands, and will show you all
that the earth holds beautiful and fair. You shall be my queen, and I
will be your humblest slave."

His voice died away in a great tearless sob--he loved her so dearly, and
there was so much at stake. She looked at him with infinite pity in her
dark eyes. He had said all that he could think of; he had wooed her as
eloquently as he was able; he had done his best, and now he waited for
some word from her.

There were tenderness, pity, and surprise in her musical voice as she
spoke to him.

"I am so sorry, Captain Langton. I never thought you loved me so well. I
never dreamed that you had placed all your heart in your love."

"I have," he affirmed. "I have been reckless; I have thrown heart, love,
manhood, life, all at your feet together. If you trample ruthlessly on
them, Pauline, you will drive me to desperation and despair."

"I do not trample on them," she said, gently; "I would not wrong you so.
I take them up in my hands and restore them to you, thanking you for the
gift."

"What do you mean, Pauline?" he asked, while the flush died from his
face.

"I mean," she replied, softly, "that I thank you for the gift you have
offered me, but that I cannot accept it. I cannot be your wife, for I do
not love you."

He stood for some minutes dazed by the heavy blow; he had taken hope
from her gentle manner, and the disappointment was almost greater than
he could bear.

"It gives me as much pain to say this," she continued, "as it gives you
to hear it; pray believe that."

"I cannot bear it!" he cried. "I will not bear it! I will not believe
it! It is my life I ask from you, Pauline--my life! You cannot send me
from you to die in despair!"

His anguish was real, not feigned. Love, life, liberty, all were at
stake. He knelt at her feet; he covered her white, jeweled hands with
kisses and with hot, passionate tears. Her keen womanly instinct told
her there was no feigning in the deep, broken sob that rose to his lips.

"It is my life!" he repeated. "If you send me from you, Pauline, I shall
be a desperate, wicked man."

"You should not be so," she remarked, gently; "a great love, even if it
be unfortunate, should ennoble a man, not make him wicked."

"Pauline," he entreated, "you must unsay those words. Think that you
might learn to love me in time. I will be patient--I will wait long
years for you--I will do anything to win you; only give me some hope
that in time to come you will be mine."

"I cannot," she said; "it would be so false. I could never love you,
Captain Langton."

He raised his face to hers.

"Will you tell me why? You do not reject me because I am poor--you are
too noble to care for wealth. It is not because I am a soldier, with
nothing to offer you but a loving heart. It is not for these things. Why
do you reject me, Pauline?"

"No, you are right; it is not for any of those reasons; they would never
prevent my being your wife if I loved you."

"Then why can you not love me?" he persisted.

"For many reasons. You are not at all the style of man I could love.
How can you doubt me? Here you are wooing me, asking me to be your wife,
offering me your love, and my hand does not tremble, my heart does not
beat; your words give me no pleasure, only pain; I am conscious of
nothing but a wish to end the interview. This is not love, is it,
Captain Langton?"

"But in time," he pleaded--"could you not learn to care for me in time?"

"No, I am quite sure. You must not think I speak to pain you, but indeed
you are the last man living with whom I could fall in love, or whom I
could marry. If you were, as you say, a king, and came to me with a
crown to offer, it would make no difference. It is better, as I am sure
you will agree, to speak plainly."

Even in the moonlight she saw how white his face had grown, and what a
sudden shadow of despair had come into his eyes. He stood silent for
some minutes.

"You have unmanned me," he said, slowly, "but, Pauline, there is
something else for you to hear. You must listen to me for your own
sake," he added; and then Aubrey Langton's face flushed, his lips grew
dry and hot, his breath came in short quick gasps--he had played a manly
part, but now he felt that what he had to say would sound like a threat.

He did not know how to begin, and she was looking at him with those
dark, calm eyes of hers, with that new light of pity on her face.

"Pauline," he said, hoarsely, "Sir Oswald wishes for this marriage. Oh,
spare me--love me--be mine, because of the great love I bear you!"

"I cannot," she returned; "in my eyes it is a crime to marry without
love. What you have to say of Sir Oswald say quickly."

"But you will hate me for it," he said.

"No, I will not be so unjust as to blame you for Sir Oswald's fault."

"He wishes us to marry; he is not only willing, but it would give him
more pleasure than anything else on earth; and he says--do not blame me,
Pauline--that if you consent he will make you mistress of Darrell Court
and all his rich revenues."

She laughed--the pity died from her face, the proud, hard expression
came back.

"He must do that in any case," she said, haughtily. "I am a Darrell; he
would not dare to pass me by."

"Let me speak frankly to you, Pauline, for your own sake--your own sake,
dear, as well as mine. You err--he is not so bound. Although the Darrell
property has always descended from father to son, the entail was
destroyed fifty years ago, and Sir Oswald is free to leave his property
to whom he likes. There is only one imperative condition--whoever takes
it must take with it the name of Darrell. Sir Oswald told me that much
himself."

"But he would not dare to pass me--a Darrell--by, and leave it to a
stranger."

"Perhaps not; but, honestly, Pauline, he told me that you were
eccentric--I know that you are adorable--and that he would not dare to
leave Darrell Court to you unless you were married to some one in whom
he felt confidence--and that some one, Pauline, is your humble slave
here, who adores you. Listen, dear--I have not finished. He said nothing
about leaving the Court to a stranger; but he did say that unless we
were married he himself should marry."

She laughed mockingly.

"I do not believe it," she said. "If he had intended to marry, he would
have done so years ago. That is merely a threat to frighten me; but I am
not to be frightened. No Darrell was ever a coward--I will not be
coerced. Even if I liked you, Captain Langton, I would not marry you
after that threat."

He was growing desperate now. Great drops stood on his brow--his lips
were so hot and tremulous that he could hardly move them.

"Be reasonable, Pauline. Sir Oswald meant what he said. He will most
certainly marry, and, when you see yourself deprived of this rich
inheritance, you will hate your folly--hate and detest it."

"I would not purchase twenty Darrell Courts at the price of marrying a
man I do not like," she said, proudly.

"You think it an idle threat--it is not so. Sir Oswald meant it in all
truth. Oh, Pauline, love, riches, position, wealth, honor--all lie
before you; will you willfully reject them?"

"I should consider it dishonor to marry you for the sake of winning
Darrell Court, and I will not do it. It will be mine without that; and,
if not, I would rather a thousand times go without it than pay the price
named, and you may tell Sir Oswald so."

There was no more pity--no more tenderness in the beautiful face. It was
all aglow with scorn, lighted with pride, flushed with contempt. The
spell of the sweet moonlight was broken--the Darrell spirit was
aroused--the fiery Darrell pride was all ablaze.

He felt angry enough to leave her at that moment and never look upon her
again; but his position was so terrible, and he had so much at stake. He
humbled himself again and again--he entreated her in such wild,
passionate tones as must have touched one less proud.

"I am a desperate man, Pauline," he cried, at last; "and I pray you, for
Heaven's sake, do not drive me to despair."

But no words of his had power to move her; there was nothing but scorn
in the beautiful face, nothing but scorn in the willful, passionate
heart.

"Sir Oswald should have known better than to use threats to a Darrell!"
she said, with a flash of her dark eyes; and not the least impression
could Aubrey Langton make upon her.

He was silent at last in sheer despair. It was all over; he had no more
hope. Life had never held such a brilliant chance for any man, and now
it was utterly lost. Instead of wealth, luxury, happiness, there was
nothing before him but disgrace. He could almost have cursed her as she
stood there in the moonlight before him. A deep groan, one of utter,
uncontrollable anguish escaped his lips. She went nearer to him and
started back in wonder at the white, settled despair on his face.

"Captain Langton," she said, quietly, "I am sorry--I am sorry--I am
indeed sorry--that you feel this so keenly. Let me comfort you."

He appealed to her again more passionately than ever, but she
interrupted him.

"You mistake me," she said; "I am grieved to see you suffer, but I have
no thought of altering my mind. Let me tell you, once and for all, I
would rather die than marry you, because I have neither liking nor
respect for you; but your sorrow I cannot but feel for."

"You have ruined me," he said, bitterly, "and the curse of a
broken-hearted man will rest upon you!"

"I do not think the Darrells are much frightened at curses," she
retorted; and then, in all the magnificence of her shining gems and
golden-hued dress, she swept from the spot.

Yes, he was ruined, desperate. Half an hour since, entering that
conservatory, he had wondered whether he should leave it a happy,
prosperous man. He knew now that there was nothing but blank, awful
despair, ruin and shame, before him. He had lost her, too, and love and
hate fought fiercely in his heart. He buried his face in his hands and
sobbed aloud.

A ruined man! Was ever so splendid a chance lost? It drove him mad to
think of it! All was due to the willful caprice of a willful girl.

Then he remembered that time was passing, and that he must tell Sir
Oswald that he had failed--utterly, ignominiously failed. He went back
to the ball-room and saw the baronet standing in the center of a group
of gentlemen. He looked anxiously at the captain, and at his approach
the little group fell back, leaving them alone.

"What news, Aubrey?" asked Sir Oswald.

"The worst that I can possibly bring. She would not even hear of it."

"And you think there is no hope either now or at any future time?"

"I am, unfortunately, sure of it. She told me in plain words that she
would rather die than marry me, and she laughed at your threats."

Sir Oswald's face flushed; he turned away haughtily.

"The consequence be on her own head!" he said, as he moved away. "I
shall make Elinor Rocheford an offer to-night," he added to himself.

The captain was in no mood for dancing; the music and light had lost all
their charms. The strains of a beautiful German waltz filled the
ball-room. Looking round, he saw Pauline Darrell, in all the sheen of
her jewels and the splendor of her golden-hued dress, waltzing with Lord
Lorrimer. Her beautiful face was radiant; she had evidently forgotten
all about him and the threat that was to disinherit her.

Sir Oswald saw her too as he was searching for Elinor--saw her radiant,
triumphant, and queenly--and almost hated her for the grand dower of
loveliness that would never now enhance the grandeur of the Darrells. He
found Elinor Rocheford with Lady Hampton. She had been hoping that the
captain would ask her to dance again. She looked toward him with a feint
smile, but was recalled to order by a gesture from Lady Hampton.

Sir Oswald, with a low bow, asked if Miss Rocheford would like a
promenade through the rooms. She would fain have said "No," but one look
from her aunt was sufficient. She rose in her quiet, graceful way, and
accompanied him.

They walked to what was called the white drawing-room, and there,
standing before a magnificent Murillo, the gem of the Darrell
collection, Sir Oswald Darrell made Elinor Rocheford a quiet offer of
his hand and fortune.

Just as quietly she accepted it; there was no blushing, no trembling, no
shrinking. He asked her to be Lady Darrell, and she consented. There was
very little said of love, although his wooing was chivalrous and
deferential. He had secured his object--won a fair young wife for
himself, and punished the proud, defiant, willful girl who had laughed
at his threats. After some little time he led his fair companion back to
Lady Hampton.

"Miss Rocheford has done me very great honor," he said; "she has
consented to be my wife. I will give myself the pleasure of waiting upon
you to-morrow, Lady Hampton, when I shall venture to ask for a happy and
speedy conclusion to my suit."

Lady Hampton, with a gentle movement of her fan, intended to express
emotion, murmured a few words, and the interview was ended.

"I congratulate you, Elinor," she said. "You have secured a splendid
position; no girl in England could have done better."

"Yes," returned Elinor Rocheford, "I ought to be ticketed, 'Sold to
advantage;'" and that was the only bitter thing the young girl ever said
of her brilliant marriage.

Of course Lady Hampton told the delightful news to a few of her dearest
friends; and these, watching Pauline Darrell that night in the splendor
of her grand young beauty, the sheen of her jewels, and the glitter of
her rich amber dress, knew that her reign was ended, her chance of the
inheritance gone.



CHAPTER XIX.

PAULINE THREATENS VENGEANCE.


"Pray do not leave us, Miss Hastings; I wish you to hear what I have to
say to my niece, if you will consent to remain;" and Sir Oswald placed a
chair for the gentle, amiable lady, who was so fearful of coming harm to
her willful pupil.

Miss Hastings took it, and looked apprehensively at the baronet. It was
the morning after the ball, and Sir Oswald had sent to request the
presence of both ladies in the library.

Pauline looked fresh and brilliant; fatigue had not affected her. She
had taken more pains than usual with her toilet; her dress was a plain
yet handsome morning costume. There was no trace of fear on her
countenance; the threats of the previous night had made no impression
upon her. She looked calmly at Sir Oswald's flushed, agitated face.

"Pray be seated, Miss Darrell," he said; "it is you especially whom I
wish to see."

Pauline took a chair and looked at him with an air of great attention.
Sir Oswald turned the diamond ring on his finger.

"Am I to understand, Miss Darrell," he asked, "that you refused Captain
Langton last evening?"

"Yes," she replied, distinctly.

"Will you permit me to ask why?" he continued.

"Because I do not love him, Sir Oswald. I may even go further, and say I
do not respect him."

"Yet he is a gentleman by birth and education, handsome, most agreeable
in manner, devoted to you, and my friend."

"I do not love him," she said again; "and the Darrells are too true a
race to marry without love."

The allusion to his race pleased the baronet, in spite of his anger.

"Did Captain Langton give you to understand the alternative?" asked Sir
Oswald. "Did he tell you my resolve in case you should refuse him?"

She laughed a clear, ringing laugh, in which there was a slight tinge of
mockery. Slight though it was, Sir Oswald's face flushed hotly as he
heard it.

"He told me that you would disinherit me if I did not marry him; but I
told him you would never ignore the claim of the last living
Darrell--you would not pass me over and make a stranger your heir."

"But did he tell you my intentions if you refused him?"

Again came the musical laugh that seemed to irritate Sir Oswald so
greatly.

"He talked some nonsense about your marrying," said Pauline: "but that
of course I did not believe."

"And why did you not believe it, Miss Darrell?"

"Because I thought if you had wished to marry you would have married
before this," she replied.

"And you think," he said, his face pale with passion, "that you may do
as you like--that your contempt for all proper laws, your willful
caprice, your unendurable pride, are to rule every one? You are
mistaken, Miss Darrell. If you had consented to marry Aubrey Langton, I
would have made you my heiress, because I should have known that you
were in safe hands, under proper guidance; as it is--as you have refused
in every instance to obey me, as you have persisted in ignoring every
wish of mine--it is time we came to a proper understanding. I beg to
announce to you the fact that I am engaged to be married--that I have
offered my hand and heart to a lady who is as gentle as you are the
reverse."

A dread silence followed the words; Pauline bore the blow like a true
Darrell, never flinching, never showing the least dismay. After a time
she raised her dark, proud eyes to his face.

"If your marriage is for your happiness, I wish you joy," she said,
simply.

"There is no doubt but that it will add greatly to my happiness," he put
in, shortly.

"At the same time," resumed Pauline, "I must tell you frankly that I do
not think you have used me well. You told me when I came here that I was
to be heiress of Darrell Court. I have grown to love it, I have shaped
my life in accordance with what you said to me, and I do not think it
fair that you should change your intentions."

"You have persistently defied me," returned the baronet; "you have
preferred your least caprice to my wish; and now you must reap your
reward. Had you been dutiful, obedient, submissive, you might have made
yourself very dear to me. Pray, listen." He raised his fine white hand
with a gesture that demanded silence. "My marriage need not make any
difference as regards your residence here. As you say, you are a
Darrell, and my niece, so your home is here; and, unless you make
yourself intolerable, you shall always have a home suitable to your
position. But, as I can never hope that you will prove an agreeable
companion to the lady who honors me by becoming my wife, I should be
grateful to Miss Hastings if she would remain with you."

Miss Hastings bowed her head; she was too deeply grieved for words.

"It is my wish that you retain your present suite of rooms," continued
Sir Oswald; "and Lady Darrell, when she comes, will, I am sure, try to
make everything pleasant for you. I have no more to say. As for
expressing any regret for the part you have acted toward my young
friend, Aubrey Langton, it is useless--we will let the matter drop."

All the Darrell pride and passion had been slowly gathering in Pauline's
heart; a torrent of burning words rose to her lips.

"If you wish to marry, Sir Oswald," she said, "you have a perfect right
to do so--no one can gainsay that; but I say you have acted neither
justly nor fairly to me. As for the stranger you would bring to rule
over me, I shall hate her, and I will be revenged on her. I shall tell
her that she is taking my place; I shall speak my mind openly to her;
and, if she chooses to marry you, to help you to punish me, she shall
take the consequences."

Sir Oswald laughed.

"I might be alarmed by such a melodramatic outburst," he said, "but that
I know you are quite powerless;" and with a profound bow to Miss
Hastings, Sir Oswald quitted the library.

Then Pauline's anger burst forth; she grew white with rage.

"I have not been fairly used," she cried. "He told me Darrell Court was
to be mine. My heart has grown to love it; I love it better than I love
anything living."

Miss Hastings, like a sensible woman, refrained from saying anything on
the subject--from reminding her that she had been warned time after
time, and had only laughed at the warning. She tried to offer some
soothing words, but the girl would not listen to them. Her heart and
soul were in angry revolt.

"I might have been a useful woman," she said, suddenly, "if I had had
this chance in life; I might have been happy myself, and have made
others happy. As it is, I swear that I will live only for vengeance."

She raised her beautiful white arm and jeweled hand.

"Listen to me," she said; "I will live for vengeance--not on Sir
Oswald--if he chooses to marry, let him--but I will first warn the woman
he marries, and then, if she likes to come here as Lady Darrell,
despite my warning, let her. I will take such vengeance on her as suits
a Darrell--nothing commonplace--nothing in the way of poisoning--but
such revenge as shall satisfy even me."

In vain Miss Hastings tried to soothe her, to calm her, the torrent of
angry words had their way.

Then she came over to Miss Hastings, and, placing her hand on her
shoulder, asked:

"Tell me, whom do you think Sir Oswald is going to marry?"

"I cannot imagine--unless it is Miss Rocheford."

"Elinor Rocheford--that mere child! Let her beware!"



CHAPTER XX.

CAPTAIN LANGTON DESPERATE.


A short period of calm fell upon Darrell Court. Miss Darrell's passion
seemed to have exhausted itself.

"I will never believe," she said one day to Miss Hastings, "that Sir
Oswald meant what he said. I am beginning to think it was merely a
threat--the Darrells are all hot-tempered."

But Miss Hastings had heard more than she liked to tell her pupil, and
she knew that what the baronet had said was not only quite true, but
that preparations for the marriage had actually commenced.

"I am afraid it was no threat, Pauline," she said, sadly.

"Then let the new-comer beware," said the girl, her face darkening.
"Whoever she may be, let her beware. I might have been a good woman, but
this will make me a wicked one. I shall live only for revenge."

A change came over her. The improvement that Miss Hastings had so fondly
noticed, and of which she had been so proud, died away. Pauline seemed
no longer to take any interest in reading or study. She would sit for
hours in gloomy, sullen silence, with an abstracted look on her face.
What was passing in her mind no one knew. Miss Hastings would go to her,
and try to rouse her; but Pauline grew impatient.

"Do leave me in peace," she would say. "Leave me to my own thoughts. I
am framing my plans."

And the smile that came with the words filled poor Miss Hastings with
terrible apprehensions as to the future of her strange, willful pupil.

The captain was still at the Court. He had had some vague idea of
rushing off to London; but a letter from one of his most intimate
friends warned him to keep out of the way until some arrangement could
be made about his affairs. More than one angry creditor was waiting for
him; indeed, the gallant captain had brought his affairs to such a pass
that his appearance in London without either money or the hope of it
would have been highly dangerous.

He was desperate. Sir Oswald had hinted to him, since the failure of
their plan, that he should not be forgotten in his will. He would have
borrowed money from him but for that hint; but he did not care to risk
the loss of many thousand pounds for the sake of fifteen hundred.

Fifteen hundred--that was all he wanted. If he could have gone back to
London the betrothed husband of Pauline Darrell, he could have borrowed
as many thousands; but that chance was gone; and he could have cursed
the girlish caprice that deprived him of so splendid a fortune. In his
heart fierce love and fierce hate warred together; there were times when
he felt that he loved Pauline with a passion words could not describe;
and at other times he hated her with something passing common hate. They
spoke but little; Miss Darrell spent as much time as possible in her own
rooms. Altogether the domestic atmosphere at Darrell Court had in it no
sunshine; it was rather the brooding, sullen calm that comes before a
storm.

The day came when the Court was invaded by an army of workmen, when a
suit of rooms was fitted up in the most superb style, and people began
to talk of the coming change. Pauline Darrell kept so entirely aloof
from all gossip, from all friends and visitors, that she was the last to
hear on whom Sir Oswald's choice had fallen. But one day the baronet
gave a dinner-party at which the ladies of the house were present, and
there was no mistaking the allusions made.

Pauline Darrell's face grew dark as she listened. So, then, the threat
was to be carried out, and the grand old place that she had learned to
love with the deepest love of her heart was never to be hers! She gave
no sign; the proud face was very pale, and the dark eyes had in them a
scornful gleam, but no word passed her lips.

Sir Oswald was radiant, he had never been seen in such high spirits; his
friends had congratulated him, every one seemed to approve so highly of
his resolution; a fair and gentle wife was ready for him--one so fair
and gentle that it seemed to the old man as though the lost love of his
youth had returned to him. Who remembered the bitter, gnawing
disappointment of the girl who had cared so little about making herself
friends?

The baronet was so delighted, and everything seemed so bright and
smiling, that he resolved upon an act of unusual generosity. His guests
went away early, and he retired to the library for a few minutes. The
captain followed the ladies to the drawing-room, and, while pretending
to read, sat watching Pauline's face, and wondering how he was to pay
his debts.

To ask for the loan of fifteen hundred pounds would be to expose his
affairs to Sir Oswald. He must confess then that he had gambled on the
turf and at play. If once the stately old baronet even suspected such a
thing, there was no further hope of a legacy--the captain was quite sure
of that. His anxiety was terrible, and it was all occasioned by that
proud, willful girl whose beautiful face was turned resolutely from him.

Sir Oswald entered the room with a smile on his face, and, going up to
Aubrey Langton, slipped a folded paper into his hands.

"Not a word of thanks," he said; "if you thank me, I shall be offended."

And Aubrey, opening the paper, found that it was a check for five
hundred pounds.

"I know what life in London costs," said Sir Oswald; "and you are my old
friend's son."

Five hundred pounds! He was compelled to look exceedingly grateful, but
it was difficult. The gift was very welcome, but there was this great
drawback attending it--it was not half sufficient to relieve him from
his embarrassments, and it would quite prevent his asking Sir Oswald for
a loan. He sighed deeply in his dire perplexity.

Still smiling, the baronet went to the table where Pauline and Miss
Hastings sat. He stood for some minutes looking at them.

"I must not let you hear the news of my good fortune from strangers," he
said; "it is only due to you that I should inform you that in one month
from to-day I hope to have the honor and happiness of making Miss Elinor
Rocheford my wife."

Miss Hastings in a few cautious words wished him joy; Pauline's white
lips opened, but no sound escaped them. Sir Oswald remained for some
minutes talking to Miss Hastings, and then he crossed the room and rang
the bell.

"Pauline, my dearest child!" whispered the anxious governess.

Miss Darrell looked at her with a terrible smile.

"It would have been better for her," she said, slowly, "that she had
never been born."

"Pauline!" cried the governess. But she said no more.

A footman entered the room, to whom Sir Oswald spoke.

"Go to my study," he said, "and bring me a black ebony box that you will
find locked in my writing-table. Here are the keys."

The man returned in a few minutes, bearing the box in his hands. Sir
Oswald took it to the table where the lamps shone brightly.

"Aubrey," he said, "will you come here? I have a commission for you."

Captain Langton followed him to the table, and some remark about the
fashion of the box drew the attention of all present to it. Sir Oswald
raised the lid, and produced a diamond ring.

"You are going over to Audleigh Royal to-morrow, Aubrey," he said; "will
you leave this with Stamford, the jeweler? I have chosen a new setting
for the stone. I wish to present it to Miss Hastings as a mark of my
deep gratitude to her."

Miss Hastings looked up in grateful wonder. Sir Oswald went on talking
about the contents of the ebony box. He showed them many quaint
treasures that it contained; among other things he took out a roll of
bank-notes.

"That is not a very safe method of keeping money, Sir Oswald," said Miss
Hastings.

"No, you are right," he agreed. "Simpson's clerk paid it to me the other
day; I was busy, and I put it there until I had time to take the numbers
of the notes."

"Do you keep notes without preserving a memorandum of their numbers, Sir
Oswald?" inquired Aubrey Langton. "That seems to me a great risk."

"I know it is not prudent; but there is no fear. I have none but honest
and faithful servants about me. I will take the numbers and send the
notes to the bank to-morrow."

"Yes," said Miss Hastings, quietly, "it is better to keep temptation
from servants."

"There is no fear," he returned. "I always put the box away, and I sleep
with my keys under my pillow."

Sir Oswald gave Captain Langton a few directions about the diamond, and
then the ladies withdrew.

"Sir Oswald," said Captain Langton, "let me have a cigar with you
to-night. I must not thank you, but if you knew how grateful I feel----"

"I will put away the box first, and then we will have a glass of wine,
Aubrey."

The baronet went to his study, and the captain to his room; but in a few
minutes they met again, and Sir Oswald ordered a bottle of his choicest
Madeira. They sat talking for some time, and Sir Oswald told Aubrey all
his plans--all that he intended to do. The young man listened, with envy
and dissatisfaction burning in his heart. All these plans, these hopes,
these prospects, might have been his but for that girl's cruel caprice.

They talked for more than an hour; and then Sir Oswald complained of
feeling sleepy.

"The wine does not seem to have its usual flavor to-night," he said;
"there is _something wrong_ with this bottle."

"I thought the same thing," observed Aubrey Langton; "but I did not like
to say so. I will bid you good-night, as you are tired. I shall ride
over to Audleigh Royal early in the morning, so I may not be here for
breakfast."

They shook hands and parted, Sir Oswald murmuring something about his
Madeira, and the captain feeling more desperate than ever.



CHAPTER XXI.

MYSTERIOUS ROBBERY.


The sun shone on Darrell Court; the warmth and brightness of the day
were more than pleasant. The sunbeams fell on the stately trees, the
brilliant flowers. There was deep silence in the mansion. Captain
Langton had been gone some hours. Sir Oswald was in his study. Pauline
sat with Miss Hastings under the shade of the cedar on the lawn. She had
a book in her hands, but she had not turned a page. Miss Hastings would
fain have said something to her about inattention, but there was a look
in the girl's face that frightened her--a proud, hard, cold look that
she had never seen there before.

Pauline Darrell was not herself that morning. Miss Hastings had told her
so several times. She had asked her again and again if she was ill--if
she was tired--and she had answered drearily, "No." Partly to cheer her,
the governess had suggested that they should take their books under the
shade of the cedar tree. She had assented wearily, without one gleam of
animation.

Out there in the sunlight Miss Hastings noticed how cold and white
Pauline's face was, with its hard, set look--there was a shadow in the
dark eyes, and, unlike herself, she started at every sound. Miss
Hastings watched her keenly. She evinced no displeasure at being so
watched; but when the elder lady went up to her and said, gently:

"Pauline, you are surely either ill or unhappy?"

"I am neither--I am only thinking," she returned, impatiently.

"Then your thoughts must be very unpleasant ones--tell them to me.
Nothing sends away unpleasant ideas so soon as communicating them to
others."

But Miss Darrell had evidently not heard the words; she had relapsed
into deep meditation, and Miss Hastings thought it better to leave her
alone. Suddenly Pauline looked up.

"Miss Hastings," she said, "I suppose a solemn promise, solemnly given,
can never be broken?"

"It never should be broken," replied the governess. "Instances have been
known where people have preferred death to breaking such a promise."

"Yes, such deaths have been known. I should imagine," commented Pauline,
with a gleam of light on her face, "that no Darrell ever broke his or
her word when it had been solemnly given."

"I should imagine not," said Miss Hastings.

But she had no clew to her pupil's musings or to the reason of her
question.

So the noon-day shadows crept on. Purple-winged butterflies coquetted
with the flowers, resting on the golden breasts of the white lilies, and
on the crimson leaves of the rose; busy bees murmured over the rich
clove carnations; the birds sang sweet, jubilant songs, and a gentle
breeze stirred faintly the leaves on the trees. For once Pauline Darrell
seemed blind to the warm, sweet summer beauty; it lay unheeded before
her.

Miss Hastings saw Sir Oswald coming toward them; a murmur of surprise
came from her lips.

"Pauline," she said, "look at Sir Oswald--how ill he seems. I am afraid
something is wrong."

He drew near to them, evidently deeply agitated.

"I am glad to find you here, Miss Hastings," he said; "I am in trouble.
Nay, Pauline, do not go; my troubles should be yours."

For the girl had risen with an air of proud weariness, intending to
leave them together. At his words--the kindest he had spoken to her for
some time--she took her seat again; but the haughty, listless manner did
not change.

"I am nearly sixty years of age," said Sir Oswald, "and this is the
first time such a trouble has come to me. Miss Hastings, do you remember
that conversation of ours last night, over that roll of notes in the
ebony box?"

"I remember it perfectly, Sir Oswald."

"I went this morning to take them from the box, to take their numbers
and send them to the bank, and I could not find them--they were gone."

"Gone!" repeated Miss Hastings. "It is impossible! You must be mistaken;
you must have overlooked them. What did they amount to?"

"Exactly one thousand pounds," he replied. "I cannot understand it. You
saw me replace the notes in the box?"

"I did; I watched you. You placed them in one corner. I could put my
finger on the place," said Miss Hastings.

"I locked the box and carried it with my own hands to my study. I placed
it in the drawer of my writing-table, and locked that. I never parted
with my keys to any one; as is my invariable rule, I placed them under
my pillow. I slept soundly all night, and when I woke I found them
there. As I tell you I have been to the box, and the notes are gone. I
cannot understand it, for I do not see any indication of a theft, and
yet I have been robbed."

Miss Hastings looked very thoughtful.

"You have certainly been robbed," she said. "Are you sure the keys have
never left your possession?"

"Never for one single moment," he replied.

"Has any one in the house duplicate keys?" she asked.

"No. I bought the box years ago in Venice; it has a peculiar lock--there
is not one in England like it."

"It is very strange," said Miss Hastings. "A thousand pounds is no
trifle to lose."

Pauline Darrell, her face turned to the flowers, uttered no word.

"You might show some little interest, Pauline," said her uncle, sharply;
"you might have the grace to affect it, even if you do not feel it."

"I am very sorry indeed," she returned, coldly. "I am grieved that you
have had such a loss."

Sir Oswald looked pacified.

"It is not so much the actual loss of the money that has grieved me," he
said; "I shall not feel it. But I am distressed to think that there
should be a thief among the people I have loved and trusted."

"What a solemn council!" interrupted the cheery voice of Aubrey Langton.
"What gloomy conspirators!"

Sir Oswald looked up with an air of great relief.

"I am so glad you are come, Aubrey; you can advise me what to do."

And the baronet told the story of his loss.

Captain Langton was shocked, amazed; he asked a hundred questions, and
then suggested that they should drive over to Audleigh Royal and place
the affair in the hands of the chief inspector of police.

"You said you had not taken the numbers of the notes; I fear it will be
difficult to trace them," he said, regretfully. "What a strange,
mysterious robbery. Is there any one you suspect, Sir Oswald?"

No; in all the wide world there was not one that the loyal old man
suspected of robbing him.

"My servants have always been to me like faithful old friends," he said,
sadly; "there is not one among them who would hold out his hand to steal
from me."

Captain Langton suggested that, before going to Audleigh Royal, they
should search the library.

"You may have made some mistake, sir," he said. "You were tired last
night, and it is just possible that you may have put the money somewhere
else, and do not remember it."

"We will go at once," decided Sir Oswald.

Miss Hastings wished them success; but the proud face directed toward
the flowers was never turned to them. The pale lips were never unclosed
to utter one word.

After the gentlemen had left them, when Miss Hastings began to speak
eagerly of the loss, Pauline raised her hand with a proud gesture.

"I have heard enough," she said. "I do not wish to hear one word more."

The robbery created a great sensation; inspectors came from Audleigh
Royal, and a detective from Scotland Yard, but no one could throw the
least light upon the subject. The notes could not be traced; they had
been paid in from different sources, and no one had kept a list of the
numbers.

Even the detective seemed puzzled. Sir Oswald had locked up the notes in
the box at night, he had kept the keys in his own possession, and he had
found in the morning that the box was still locked and the notes were
gone. It was a nine days' wonder. Captain Langton gave all the help he
could, but as all search seemed useless and hopeless, it was abandoned
after a time, and at the end of the week Captain Langton was summoned to
London, and all hope of solving the mystery was relinquished.



CHAPTER XXII.

FULFILLING THE CONTRACT.


The preparations for the wedding went on with great activity; the rooms
prepared for the bride were a marvel of luxury and beauty. There was a
boudoir with rose-silk and white-lace hangings, adorned with most
exquisite pictures and statues, with rarest flowers and most beautiful
ornaments--a little fairy nook, over which every one went into raptures
except Pauline; she never even looked at the alterations, she never
mentioned them nor showed the least interest in them. She went on in her
cold, proud, self-contained manner, hiding many thoughts in her heart.

"Miss Hastings," she said, one morning, "you can do me a favor. Sir
Oswald has been saying that we must call at the Elms to see Lady Hampton
and Miss Rocheford. I should refuse, but that the request exactly suits
my plans. I wish to see Miss Rocheford; we will drive over this
afternoon. Will you engage Lady Hampton in conversation while I talk to
her niece?"

"I will do anything you wish, Pauline," returned Miss Hastings; "but,
my dear child, be prudent. I am frightened for you--be prudent. It will
be worse than useless for you to make an enemy of the future Lady
Darrell. I would do anything to help you, anything to shield you from
sorrow or harm, but I am frightened on your account."

Caresses and demonstrations of affection were very rare with Pauline;
but now she bent down with a softened face and kissed the anxious brow.

"You are very good to me," she said. "You are the only one in the wide
world who cares for me."

And with the words there came to her such a sense of loneliness and
desolation as no language could describe. Of what use had been her
beauty, of which her poor father had been so proud--of what avail the
genius with which she was so richly dowered?

No one loved her. The only creature living who seemed to enter into
either her joys or her sorrows was the kind-hearted, gentle governess.

"You must let me have my own way this time, Miss Hastings. One
peculiarity of the Darrells is that they must say what is on their
minds. I intend to do so now; it rests with you whether I do it in peace
or not."

After that Miss Hastings knew all further remonstrance was useless. She
made such arrangements as Pauline wished, and that afternoon they drove
over to the Elms. Lady Hampton received them very kindly; the great end
and aim of her life was accomplished--her niece was to be Lady Darrell,
of Darrell Court. There was no need for any more envy or jealousy of
Pauline. The girl who had so lately been a dangerous rival and an enemy
to be dreaded had suddenly sunk into complete insignificance. Lady
Hampton even thought it better to be gracious, conciliatory, and kind;
as Elinor had to live with Miss Darrell, it was useless to make things
disagreeable.

So Lady Hampton received them kindly. Fruit from the Court hothouses and
flowers from the Court conservatories were on the table. Lady Hampton
insisted that Miss Hastings should join her in her afternoon tea, while
Pauline, speaking with haughty grace, expressed a desire to see the Elms
garden.

Lady Hampton was not sorry to have an hour's gossip with Miss Hastings,
and she desired Elinor to show Miss Darrell all their choicest flowers.

Elinor looked half-frightened at the task. It was wonderful to see the
contrast that the two girls presented--Pauline tall, slender, queenly,
in her sweeping black dress, all passion and magnificence; Miss
Rocheford, fair, dainty, golden-haired, and gentle.

They walked in silence down one of the garden-paths, and then Miss
Rocheford said, in her low, sweet voice:

"If you like roses, Miss Darrell, I can show you a beautiful
collection."

Then for the first time Pauline's dark eyes were directed toward her
companion's face.

"I am a bad dissembler, Miss Rocheford," she said, proudly. "I have no
wish to see your flowers. I came here to see you. There is a seat under
yonder tree. Come with me, and hear what I have to say."

Elinor followed, looking and feeling terribly frightened. What had this
grand, imperious Miss Darrell to say to her? They sat down side by side
under the shade of a large magnolia tree, the white blossoms of which
filled the air with sweetest perfume; the smiling summer beauty rested
on the landscape. They sat in silence for some minutes, and then Pauline
turned to Elinor.

"Miss Rocheford," she said, "I am come to give you a warning--the most
solemn warning you have ever received--one that if you have any common
sense you will not refuse to heed. I hear that you are going to marry my
uncle, Sir Oswald. Is it true?"

"Sir Oswald has asked me to be his wife," Elinor replied, with downcast
eyes and a faint blush.

Pauline's face gleamed with scorn.

"There is no need for any of those pretty airs and graces with me," she
said. "I am going to speak stern truths to you. You, a young girl,
barely twenty, with all your life before you--surely you cannot be so
shamelessly untrue as even to pretend that you are marrying an old man
like my uncle for love? You know it is not so--you dare not even pretend
it."

Elinor's face flushed crimson.

"Why do you speak so to me, Miss Darrell?" she gasped.

"Because I want to warn you. Are you not ashamed--yes, I repeat the
word, ashamed--to sell your youth, your hope of love, your life itself,
for money and title? That is what you are doing. You do not love Sir
Oswald. How should you? He is more than old enough to be your father. If
he were a poor man, you would laugh his offer to scorn; but he is old
and rich, and you are willing to marry him to become Lady Darrell, of
Darrell Court. Can you, Elinor Rocheford, look me frankly in the face,
and say it is not so?"

No, she could not. Every word fell like a sledge-hammer on her heart,
and she knew it was all true. She bent her crimson face, and hid it from
Pauline's clear gaze.

"Are you not ashamed to sell yourself? If no truth, no honor, no loyalty
impels you to end this barter, let fear step in. You do not love my
uncle. It can give you no pain to give him up. Pursue your present
course, and I warn you. Darrell Court ought to be mine. I am a Darrell,
and when my uncle took me home it was as his heiress. For a long period
I have learned to consider Darrell Court as mine. It is mine," she
continued--"mine by right, for I am a Darrell--mine by right of the
great love I bear it--mine by every law that is just and right! Elinor
Rocheford, I warn you, beware how you step in between me and my
birthright--beware! My uncle is only marrying you to punish me; he has
no other motive. Beware how you lend yourself to such punishment! I am
not asking you to give up any love. If you loved him, I would not say
one word; but it is not a matter of love--only of sale and barter. Give
it up!"

"How can you talk so strangely to me, Miss Darrell? I cannot give it up;
everything is arranged."

"You can if you will. Tell my uncle you repent of the unnatural compact
you have made. Be a true woman--true to the instinct Heaven has placed
in your heart. Marry for love, nothing else--pure, honest love--and then
you will live and die happy. Answer me--will you give it up?"

"I cannot," murmured the girl.

"You will not, rather. Listen to me. I am a true Darrell, and a Darrell
never breaks a word once pledged. If you marry my uncle, I pledge my
word that I will take a terrible vengeance on you--not a commonplace
one, but one that shall be terrible. I will be revenged upon you if you
dare to step in between me and my just inheritance! Do you hear me?"

"I hear. You are very cruel, Miss Darrell. You know that I cannot help
myself. I must fulfill my contract."

"Very well," said Pauline, rising; "then I have no more to say. But
remember, I have given you full, fair, honest warning. I will be
revenged upon you."

And Miss Darrell returned to the house, with haughty head proudly
raised, while Elinor remained in the garden, bewildered and aghast.

Two things happened. Elinor never revealed a word of what had
transpired, and three weeks from that day Sir Oswald Darrell married her
in the old parish church of Audleigh Royal.



CHAPTER XXIII.

NO COMPROMISE WITH PAULINE.


It was evident to Miss Hastings that Sir Oswald felt some little
trepidation in bringing his bride home. He had, in spite of himself,
been somewhat impressed by his niece's behavior. She gave no sign of
disappointed greed or ambition, but she bore herself like one who has
been unjustly deprived of her rights.

On the night of the arrival every possible preparation had been made for
receiving the baronet and his wife. The servants, under the direction of
Mr. Frampton, the butler, were drawn up in stately array. The bells from
the old Norman church of Audleigh Royal pealed out a triumphant welcome;
flags and triumphal arches adorned the roadway. The Court was looking
its brightest and best; the grand old service of golden plate, from
which in olden times, kings and queens had dined, was displayed. The
rooms were made bright with flowers and warm with fires. It was a proud
coming home for Lady Darrell, who had never known what a home was
before. Her delicate face flushed as her eyes lingered on the splendor
around her. She could not repress the slight feeling of triumph which
made her heart beat and her pulse thrill as she remembered that this was
all her own.

She bowed right and left, with the calm, suave smile that never deserted
her. As she passed through the long file of servants she tried her best
to be most gracious and winning; but, despite her delicate, grave, and
youthful loveliness, they looked from her to the tall, queenly girl
whose proud head was never bent, and whose dark eyes had in them no
light of welcome. It might be better to bow to the rising sun, but many
of them preferred the sun that was setting.

Sir Oswald led his young wife proudly through the outer rooms into the
drawing-room.

"Welcome home, my dear Elinor!" he said. "May every moment you spend in
Darrell Court be full of happiness!"

She thanked him. Pauline stood by, not looking at them. After the first
careless glance at Lady Darrell, which seemed to take in every detail of
her costume, and to read every thought of her mind, she turned
carelessly away.

Lady Darrell sat down near the fire, while Sir Oswald, with tender
solicitude, took off her traveling-cloak, his hands trembling with
eagerness.

"You will like to rest for a few minutes before you go to your rooms,
Elinor," he said.

Then Miss Hastings went up to them, and some general conversation about
traveling ensued. That seemed to break the ice. Lady Darrell related one
or two little incidents of their journey, and then Sir Oswald suggested
that she should go to her apartments, as the dinner-bell would ring in
half an hour. Lady Darrell went away, and Sir Oswald soon afterward
followed.

Pauline had turned to one of the large stands of flowers, and was busily
engaged in taking the dying leaves from a beautiful plant bearing
gorgeous crimson flowers.

"Pauline," said the governess, "my dear child!"

She was startled. She expected to find the girl looking sullen, angry,
passionate; but the splendid face was only lighted by a gleam of intense
scorn, the dark eyes flashing fire, the ruby lips curling and quivering
with disdain. Pauline threw back her head with the old significant
movement.

"Miss Hastings," she said, "I would not have sold myself as that girl
has done for all the money and the highest rank in England."

"My dear Pauline, you must not, really, speak in that fashion. Lady
Darrell undoubtedly loves her husband."

The look of scorn deepened.

"You know she does not. She is just twenty, and he is nearly sixty. What
love--what sympathy can there be between them?"

"It is not really our business, my dear; we will not discuss it."

"Certainly not; but as you are always so hard upon what you call my
world--the Bohemian world, where men and women speak the truth--it
amuses me to find flaws in yours."

Miss Hastings looked troubled; but she knew it was better for the
passionate torrent of words to be poured out to her. Pauline looked at
her with that straight, clear, open, honest look before which all
affectation fell.

"You tell me, Miss Hastings, that I am deficient in good-breeding--that
I cannot take my proper place in your world because I do not conform to
its ways and its maxims. You have proposed this lady to me as a model,
and you would fain see me regulate all my thoughts and words by her. I
would rather die than be like her! She may be thoroughly lady-like--I
grant that she is so--but she has sold her youth, her beauty, her love,
her life, for an old man's money and title. I, with all my _brusquerie_,
as you call it, would have scorned such sale and barter."

"But, Pauline----" remonstrated Miss Hastings.

"It is an unpleasant truth," interrupted Pauline, "and you do not like
to hear it. Sir Oswald is Baron of Audleigh Royal and master of Darrell
Court; but if a duke, thirty years older, had made this girl an offer,
she would have accepted him, and have given up Sir Oswald. What a world,
where woman's truth is so bidden for?"

"My dear Pauline, you must not, indeed, say these things; they are most
unlady-like."

"I begin to think that all truth is unlady-like," returned the girl,
with a laugh. "My favorite virtue does not wear court dress very
becomingly."

"I have never heard that it affects russet gowns either," said Miss
Hastings. "Oh, Pauline, if you would but understand social politeness,
social duties! If you would but keep your terrible ideas to yourself! If
you would but remember that the outward bearing of life must be as a
bright, shining, undisturbed surface! Do try to be more amiable to Lady
Darrell!"

"No!" exclaimed the girl, proudly. "I have warned her, and she has
chosen to disregard my warning. I shall never assume any false
appearance of amiability or friendship for her; it will be war to the
knife! I told her so, and she chose to disbelieve me. I am a Darrell,
and the Darrells never break their word."

Looking at her, the unstudied grace of her attitude, the perfect pose,
the grand face with its royal look of scorn, Miss Hastings felt that she
would rather have the girl for a friend than an enemy.

"I do hope, for your own sake, Pauline," she said, "that you will show
every respect to Lady Darrell. All your comfort will depend upon it. You
must really compromise matters."

"Compromise matters!" cried Pauline. "You had better tell the sea to
compromise with the winds which have lashed it into fury. There can be
no compromise with me."

The words had scarcely issued from her lips when the dinner-bell
sounded, and Lady Darrell entered in a beautiful evening dress of white
and silver. Certainly Sir Oswald's choice did him great credit. She was
one of the most delicate, the most graceful of women, fair, caressing,
insinuating--one of those women who would never dream of uttering
barbarous truth when elegant fiction so much better served their
purpose--who loved fine clothes, sweet perfumes, costly jewels--who
preferred their own comfort in a graceful, languid way to anything else
on earth--who expected to be waited upon and to receive all homage--who
deferred to men with a graceful, sweet submission that made them feel
the deference a compliment--who placed entire reliance upon others--whom
men felt a secret delight in ministering to, because they appeared so
weak--one of those who moved cautiously and graciously with subtle
harmonious action, whose hands were always soft and jeweled, whose touch
was light and gentle--a woman born to find her place in the lap of
luxury, who shuddered at poverty or care.

Such was Elinor Darrell; and she entered the drawing-room now with that
soft, gliding movement that seemed always to irritate Pauline. She drew
a costly white lace shawl over her fair shoulders--the rich dress of
silver and white was studded with pearls. She looked like a fairy
vision.

"I think," she said to Miss Hastings, in her quiet, calm way, "that the
evening is cold."

"You have just left a warm country, Lady Darrell," was the gentle reply.
"The South of France is blessed with one of the most beautiful climates
in the world."

"It was very pleasant," said Lady Darrell, with a dreamy little sigh.
"You have been very quiet, I suppose? We must try to create a little
more gayety for you."

She looked anxiously across the room at Pauline; but that young lady's
attention was entirely engrossed by the crimson flowers of the beautiful
plant. Not one line of the superb figure, not one expression of the
proud face, was lost upon Lady Darrell.

"I have been saying to Sir Oswald," she continued, looking intently at
the costly rings shining on her fingers, "that youth likes gayety--we
must have a series of parties and balls."

"Is she beginning to patronize me?" thought Pauline.

She smiled to herself--a peculiar smile which Lady Darrell happened to
catch, and which made her feel very uncomfortable; and then an awkward
silence fell over them, only broken by the entrance of Sir Oswald, and
the announcement that dinner was served.



CHAPTER XXIV.

A RICH GIFT DECLINED.


The bride's first dinner at home was over, and had been a great success.
Lady Darrell had not evinced the least emotion; she had married for her
present social position--for a fine house, troops of servants,
beautiful, warm, fragrant rooms, choice wines, and luxurious living; it
was only part and parcel of what she expected, and intended to have. She
took the chair of state provided for her, and by the perfect ease and
grace of her manner proved that she was well fitted for it.

Sir Oswald watched her with keen delight, only regretting that years ago
he had not taken unto himself a wife. He was most courtly, most
deferential, most attractive. If Lady Darrell did occasionally feel
weary, and the memory of Aubrey Langton's face rose between her and her
husband, she made no sign.

When the three ladies withdrew, she made no further efforts to
conciliate Pauline. She looked at her, but seemed almost afraid to
speak. Then she opened a conversation with Miss Hastings, and the two
persevered in their amiable small talk until Pauline rose and went to
the piano, the scornful glance on her face deepening.

"This is making one's self amiable!" she thought. "What a blessing it
would be if people would speak only when they had something sensible to
say!"

She sat down before the piano, but suddenly remembered that she had not
been asked to do so, and that she was no longer mistress of the house--a
reflection sufficiently galling to make her rise quickly, and go to the
other end of the room.

"Pauline," said Lady Darrell, "pray sing for us. Miss Hastings tells me
you have a magnificent voice."

"Have I? Miss Hastings is not so complimentary when she speaks to me
alone."

Then a sudden resolution came to Lady Darrell. She rose from her seat,
and, with the rich robe of silver and white sweeping around her, she
went to the end of the room where Pauline was standing, tall, stately,
and statuesque, turning over the leaves of a book. The contrast between
the two girls--the delicate beauty of the one, and the grand loveliness
of the other--was never more strongly marked.

Lady Darrell laid her white hand, shining with jewels, on Pauline's arm.
She looked up into her proud face.

"Pauline," she said, gently, "will you not be friends? We have to live
together--will you be friends?"

"No!" replied Miss Darrell, in her clear, frank voice. "I gave you
warning. You paid no heed to it. We shall never be friends."

A faint smile played round Lady Darrell's lips.

"But, Pauline, do you not see how useless all your resentment against me
is now? My marriage with Sir Oswald has taken place, and you and I shall
have to live together perhaps for many years--it would be so much better
for us to live in peace."

The proud face wore its haughtiest look.

"It would be better for you, perhaps, Lady Darrell, but it can make no
difference to me."

"It can, indeed. Now listen to reason--listen to me!" and in her
eagerness Lady Darrell once more laid her hand on the girl's arm. Her
face flushed as Pauline drew back, with a look of aversion, letting the
jeweled hand fall. "Listen, Pauline!" persevered Lady Darrell. "You know
all this is nonsense--sheer nonsense. My position now is established.
You can do nothing to hurt me--Sir Oswald will take good care of that.
Any attempt that you may make to injure me will fall upon yourself;
besides, you know you can do nothing." In spite of her words, Lady
Darrell looked half-fearfully at the girl's proud, defiant face. "You
may have all kinds of tragic plans for vengeance in your mind, but there
are no secrets in my life that you can find out to my discredit--indeed,
you cannot injure me in any possible way." She seemed so sure of it, yet
her eyes sought Pauline's with an anxious, questioning fear. "Now, I, on
the contrary," she went on, "can do much for you--and I will. You are
young, and naturally wish to enjoy your life. You shall. You shall have
balls and parties, dresses--everything that you can wish for, if you
will only be friends with me."

She might as well have thrown drops of oil on an angry ocean to moderate
its wrath.

"Lady Darrell," was the sole reply, "you are only wasting your time and
mine. I warned you. Twenty years may elapse before my vengeance arrives,
but it will come at last."

She walked away, leaving the brilliant figure of the young bride alone
in the bright lamp-light. She did not leave the room, for Sir Oswald
entered at the moment, carrying a small, square parcel in his hand. He
smiled as he came in.

"How pleasant it is to see so many fair faces!" he said. "Why, my home
has indeed been dark until now."

He went up to Lady Darrell, as she stood alone. All the light in the
room seemed to be centered on her golden hair and shining dress. He
said:

"I have brought the little parcel, Elinor, thinking that you would
prefer to give your beautiful present to Pauline herself. But," he
continued, "why are you standing, my love? You will be tired."

She raised her fair, troubled face to his, with a smile.

"Moreover, it seems to me that you are looking anxious," he resumed.
"Miss Hastings, will you come here, please? Is this an anxious look on
Lady Darrell's face?"

"I hope not," said the governess, with a gentle smile.

Then Sir Oswald brought a chair, and placed his wife in it; he next
obtained a footstool and a small table. Lady Darrell, though
half-ashamed of the feeling, could not help being thankful that Pauline
did not notice these lover-like attentions.

"Now, Miss Hastings," spoke Sir Oswald, "I want you to admire Lady
Darrell's taste."

He opened the parcel. It contained a morocco case, the lid of which,
upon a spring being touched, flew back, exposing a beautiful suite of
rubies set in pale gold.

Miss Hastings uttered a little cry of delight.

"How very beautiful!" she said.

"Yes," responded Sir Oswald, holding them up to the light, "they are,
indeed. I am sure we must congratulate Lady Darrell upon her good taste.
I suggested diamonds or pearls, but she thought rubies so much better
suited to Pauline's dark beauty; and she is quite right."

Lady Darrell held up the shining rubies with her white fingers, but she
did not smile; a look of something like apprehension came over the fair
face.

"I hope Pauline will like them," she said, gently.

"She cannot fail to do so," remarked Sir Oswald, with some little
_hauteur_. "I will tell her that you want to speak to her."

He went over to the deep recess of the large window, where Pauline sat
reading. He had felt very sure that she would be flattered by the rich
and splendid gift. There had been some little pride, and some little
pomp in his manner as he went in search of her, but it seemed to die
away as he looked at her face. That was not the face of a girl who could
be tempted, pleased, or coaxed with jewels. Insensibly his manner
changed.

"Pauline," he said, gently, "Lady Darrell wishes to speak to you."

There was evidently a struggle in her mind as to whether she should
comply or not, and then she rose, and without a word walked up to the
little group.

"What do you require, Lady Darrell?" she asked; and Miss Hastings looked
up at her with quick apprehension.

The fair face of Lady Darrell looked more troubled than pleased. Sir
Oswald stood by, a little more stately and proud than usual--proud of
his niece, proud of his wife, and pleased with himself.

"I have brought you a little present, Pauline, from Paris," said Lady
Darrell. "I hope it will give you pleasure."

"You were kind to remember me," observed Pauline.

Sir Oswald thought the acknowledgment far too cool and calm.

"They are the finest rubies I have seen, Pauline; they are superb
stones."

He held them so that the light gleamed in them until they shone like
fire. The proud, dark eyes glanced indifferently at them.

"What have you to say to Lady Darrell, Pauline?" asked Sir Oswald,
growing angry at her silence.

The girl's beautiful lip curled.

"Lady Darrell was good to think of me," she said, coldly; "and the
jewels are very fine; but they are not suitable for me."

Her words, simple as they were, fell like a thunder-cloud upon the
little group.

"And pray why not?" asked Sir Oswald, angrily.

"Your knowledge of the world is greater than mine, and will tell you
better than I can," she replied, calmly. "Three months since they would
have been a suitable present to one in the position I held then; now
they are quite out of place, and I decline them."

"You decline them!" exclaimed Lady Darrell, hardly believing that it was
in human nature to refuse such jewels.

Pauline smiled calmly, repeated the words, and walked away.

Sir Oswald, with an angry murmur, replaced the jewels in the case and
set it aside.

"She has the Darrell spirit," he said to his wife, with an awkward
smile; and she devoutly hoped that her husband would not often exhibit
the same.



CHAPTER XXV.

A TRUE DARRELL.


The way in which the girl supported her disappointment was lofty in the
extreme. She bore her defeat as proudly as some would have borne a
victory. No one could have told from her face or her manner that she had
suffered a grievous defeat. When she alluded to the change in her
position, it was with a certain proud humility that had in it nothing
approaching meanness or envy.

It did not seem that she felt the money-loss; it was not the
disappointment about mere wealth and luxury. It was rather an unbounded
distress that she had been set aside as unworthy to represent the race
of the Darrells--that she, a "real" Darrell, had been forced to make way
for what, in her own mind, she called a "baby-faced stranger"--that her
training and education, on which her dear father had prided himself,
should be cast in her face as unworthy and deserving of reproach. He and
his artist-friends had thought her perfection; that very "perfection" on
which they had prided themselves, and for which they had so praised and
flattered her, was the barrier that had stood between her and her
inheritance.

It was a painful position, but her manner of bearing it was exalted. She
had not been a favorite--the pride, the truth, the independence of her
nature had forbidden that. She had not sought the liking of strangers,
nor courted their esteem; she had not been sweet and womanly, weeping
with those who wept, and rejoicing with those who rejoiced; she had
looked around her with a scorn for conventionalities that had not sat
well upon one so young--and now she was to pay the penalties for all
this. She knew that people talked about her--that they said she was
rightly punished, justly treated--that it was a blessing for the whole
county to have a proper Lady Darrell at Darrell Court She knew that
among all the crowds who came to the Court there was not one who
sympathized with her, or who cared in the least for her disappointment.
No Darrell ever showed greater bravery than she did in her manner of
bearing up under disappointment. Whatever she felt or thought was most
adroitly concealed. The Spartan boy was not braver; she gave no sign. No
humiliation seemed to touch her, she carried herself loftily; nor could
any one humiliate her when she did not humiliate herself. Even Sir
Oswald admired her.

"She is a true Darrell," he said to Miss Hastings; "what a grand spirit
the girl has, to be sure!"

The Court was soon one scene of gayety. Lady Darrell seemed determined
to enjoy her position. There were garden-parties at which she appeared
radiant in the most charming costumes, balls where her elegance and
delicate beauty, her thoroughbred grace, made her the queen; and of all
this gayety she took the lead. Sir Oswald lavished every luxury upon
her--her wishes were gratified almost before they were expressed.

Lady Hampton, calling rather earlier than usual one day, found her in
her luxurious dressing-room, surrounded by such treasures of silk,
velvet, lace, jewels, ornaments of every description of the most costly
and valuable kind, that her ladyship looked round in astonishment.

"My dearest Elinor," she said, "what are you doing? What beautiful
confusion!"

Lady Darrell raised her fair face, with a delicate flush and a half-shy
glance.

"Look, aunt," she said, "I am really overwhelmed."

"What does it mean?" asked Lady Hampton.

"It means that Sir Oswald is too generous. These large boxes have just
arrived from Paris; he told me they were a surprise for me--a present
from him. Look at the contents--dresses of all kinds, lace, ornaments,
fans, slippers, gloves, and such _articles of luxury_ as can be bought
only in Paris. I am really ashamed."

"Sir Oswald is indeed generous," said Lady Hampton; then she looked
round the room to see if they were quite alone.

The maid had disappeared.

"Ah, Elinor," remarked Lady Hampton, "you are indeed a fortunate woman;
your lines have fallen in pleasant places. You might have looked all
England over and not have found such a husband. I am quite sure of one
thing--you have everything a woman's heart can desire."

"I make no complaint," said Lady Darrell.

"My dear child, I should imagine not; there are few women in England
whose position equals yours."

"I know it," was the calm reply.

"And you may really thank me for it; I certainly worked hard for you,
Elinor. I believe that if I had not interfered you would have thrown
yourself away on that Captain Langton."

"Captain Langton never gave me the chance, aunt; so we will not discuss
the question."

"It was a very good thing for you that he never did," remarked her
ladyship. "Mrs. Bretherton was saying to me the other day what a very
fortunate girl you were--how few of us have our heart's desire."

"You forget one thing, aunt. Even if I have everything I want, still my
heart is empty," said the girl, wearily.

Lady Hampton smiled.

"You must have your little bit of sentiment, Elinor, but you are too
sensible to let it interfere with your happiness. How are you getting on
with that terrible Pauline? I do dislike that girl from the very depths
of my heart."

Lady Darrell shrugged her delicate shoulders.

"There is a kind of armed neutrality between us at present," she said.
"Of course, I have nothing to fear from her, but I cannot help feeling a
little in dread of her, aunt."

"How is that?" asked Lady Hampton, contemptuously. "She is a girl I
should really delight to thwart and contradict; but, as for being afraid
of her, I consider Frampton, the butler, a far more formidable person.
Why do you say that, Elinor?"

"She has a way with her--I cannot describe it--of making every one else
feel small. I cannot tell how she does it, but she makes me very
uncomfortable."

"You have more influence over Sir Oswald than any one else in the world;
if she troubles you, why not persuade him to send her away?"

"I dare not," said Lady Darrell; "besides, I do not think he would ever
care to do that."

"Then you should be mistress of her, Elinor--keep her in her place."

Lady Darrell laughed aloud.

"I do not think even your skill could avail here, aunt. She is not one
of those girls you can extinguish with a frown."

"How does she treat you, Elinor? Tell me honestly," said Lady Hampton.

"I can hardly describe it. She is never rude or insolent; if she were,
appeal to Sir Oswald would be very easy. She has a grand, lofty way with
her--an imperious carriage and bearing that I really think he admires.
She ignores me, overlooks me, and there is a scornful gleam in her eyes
at times, when she does look at me, which says more plainly than words,
'You married for money.'"

"And you did a very sensible thing, too, my dear. I wish, I only wish I
had the management of Miss Darrell; I would break her spirit, if it is
to be broken."

"I do not think it is," said Lady Darrell, rising as though she were
weary of the discussion. "There is nothing in her conduct that any one
could find fault with, yet I feel she is my enemy."

"Wait a while," returned Lady Hampton; "her turn will come."

And from that day the worthy lady tried her best to prejudice Sir Oswald
against his proud, beautiful, wayward niece.



CHAPTER XXVI.

A PUZZLING QUESTION.


"Does Miss Darrell show any signs of disappointment?" inquired Lady
Hampton one day of Miss Hastings.

Miss Hastings, although she noticed a hundred faults in the girl which
she would fain have corrected, had nevertheless a true, strong, and warm
affection for her pupil; she was not one therefore to play into the
enemy's hand; and, when Lady Darrell fixed her eyes upon her, full of
eagerness and brightened by curiosity, Miss Hastings quietly resolved
not to gratify her.

"Disappointment about what?" she asked. "I do not understand you, Lady
Hampton."

"About the property," explained Lady Hampton, impatiently. "She made so
very sure of it. I shall never forget her insolent confidence. Do tell
me, is she not greatly annoyed and disappointed?"

"Not in the way you mean, Lady Hampton. She has never spoken of such a
thing."

Her ladyship felt piqued; she would have preferred to hear that Pauline
did feel her loss, and was grieving over it. In that case she would
have been kind to her, would have relented; but the reflection that her
pride was still unbending annoyed her, and she mentally resolved to try
if she could not force the girl into some expression of her feelings. It
was not an amiable resolve, but Lady Hampton was not naturally an
amiable woman.

Fortune favored her. That very day, as she was leaving the Court, she
saw Pauline standing listlessly by the lake side feeding the graceful
white swans. She went up to her with a malicious smile, only half-vailed
by her pretended friendly greeting.

"How do you do, Miss Darrell? You are looking very melancholy. There is
nothing the matter, I hope?"

For any one to attempt to humiliate Pauline was simply a waste of time;
the girl's natural character was so dignified that all attempts of the
kind fell through or told most upon her assailants. She answered Lady
Hampton with quiet politeness, her dark eyes hardly resting for a moment
upon her.

"You do not seem to find much occupation for your leisure hours,"
continued Lady Hampton. "You are making the round of the grounds, I
suppose? They are very beautiful. I am afraid that you must feel keenly
how much my niece has deprived you of."

It was not a lady-like speech; but Lady Hampton felt irresistibly
impelled to make it--the proud, defiant, beautiful face provoked her.
Pauline merely smiled; she had self-control that would have done honor
to one much older and more experienced.

"Your niece has deprived me of nothing, Lady Hampton," she returned,
with a curl of the lip, for which the elder lady could have shaken her.
"I possess one great advantage of which no one living can deprive
me--that is, the Darrell blood runs in my veins."

And, with a bow, she walked away, leaving her ladyship more angry than
she would have cared to own. So Pauline met all her enemies. Whatever
she might suffer, they should not triumph over her. Even Sir Oswald felt
himself compelled to yield to her an admiration that he had never given
before.

He was walking one evening on the terrace. The western sunbeams,
lingering on the grand old building, brightened it into beauty. Flowers,
trees, and shrubs were all in their fullest loveliness. Presently Sir
Oswald, leaning over the balustrade of the terrace, saw Pauline
sketching in the grounds below. He went to her, and looked over her
shoulder. She was just completing a sketch of the great western tower of
the Court; and he was struck with the vivid beauty of the drawing.

"You love Darrell Court, Pauline?" he said, gently.

She raised her face to his for a minute; the feud between them was
forgotten. She only remembered that he was a Darrell, and she his
nearest of kin.

"I do love it, uncle," she said, "as pilgrims love their favorite
shrine. It is the home of beauty, of romance, the cradle of heroes;
every stone is consecrated by a legend. Love is a weak word for what I
feel."

He looked at the glowing face, and for a few moments a doubt assailed
him as to whether he had done right in depriving this true Darrell of
her inheritance.

"But, Pauline," he said, slowly, "you would never have----"

She sprang from her seat with a quickness that almost startled him. She
had forgotten all that had happened; but now it all returned to her with
a bitter pang that could not be controlled.

"Hush, Sir Oswald!" she cried, interrupting him; "it is too late for us
to talk about Darrell Court now. Pray do not misunderstand me; I was
only expressing my belief."

She bent down to take up her drawing materials.

"I do not misunderstand you, child," he said, sadly. "You love it
because it is the home of a race you love, and not for its mere worth in
money."

Her dark eyes seemed to flash with fire; the glorious face had never
softened so before.

"You speak truly," she said; "that is exactly what I mean."

Then she went away, liking Sir Oswald better than she had ever liked him
in her life before. He looked after her half-sadly.

"A glorious girl!" he said to himself; "a true Darrell! I hope I have
not made a mistake."

Lady Darrell made no complaint to her husband of Pauline; the girl gave
her no tangible cause of complaint. She could not complain to Sir Oswald
that Pauline's eyes always rested on her with a scornful glance,
half-humorous, half-mocking. She could not complain of that strange
power Miss Darrell exercised of making her always "feel so small." She
would gladly have made friends with Miss Darrell; she had no idea of
keeping up any species of warfare; but Pauline resisted all her
advances. Lady Darrell had a strange kind of half-fear, which made her
ever anxious to conciliate.

She remarked to herself how firm and steadfast Pauline was; there was no
weakness, no cowardice in her character; she was strong, self-reliant;
and, discerning that, Lady Darrell asked herself often, "What will
Pauline's vengeance be?"

The question puzzled her far more than she would have cared to own. What
shape would her vengeance assume? What could she do to avoid it? When
would it overtake her?

Then she would laugh at herself. What was there to fear in the
wildly-uttered, dramatic threats of a helpless girl? Could she take her
husband from her? No; it was not in any human power to do that. Could
she take her wealth, title, position, from her? No; that was impossible.
Could she make her unhappy? No, again; that did not seem to be in her
power. Lady Darrell would try to laugh, but one look at the beautiful,
proud face, with its dark, proud eyes and firm lips, would bring the
coward fear back again.

She tried her best to conciliate her. She was always putting little
pleasures, little amusements, in her way, of which Pauline never availed
herself. She was always urging Sir Oswald to make her some present or to
grant her some indulgence. She never interfered with her; even when
suggestions from her would have been useful, she never made them. She
was mistress of the house, but she allowed the utmost freedom and
liberty to this girl, who never thanked her, and who never asked her for
a single favor.

Sir Oswald admired this grace and sweetness in his wife more than he had
ever admired anything else. Certainly, contrasted with Pauline's blunt,
abrupt frankness, these pretty, bland, suave ways shone to advantage. He
saw that his wife did her best to conciliate the girl, that she was
always kind and gracious to her. He saw, also, that Pauline never
responded; that nothing ever moved her from the proud, defiant attitude
she had from the first assumed.

He said to himself that he could only hope; in time things must alter;
his wife's caressing ways must win Pauline over, and then they would be
good friends.

So he comforted himself, and the edge of a dark precipice was for a time
covered with flowers.

The autumn and winter passed away, spring-tide opened fair and
beautiful, and Miss Hastings watched her pupil with daily increasing
anxiety. Pauline never spoke of her disappointment; she bore herself as
though it had never happened, her pride never once giving way; but, for
all that, the governess saw that her whole character and disposition was
becoming warped. She watched Pauline in fear. If circumstances had been
propitious to her, if Sir Oswald would but have trusted her, would but
have had more patience with her, would but have awaited the sure result
of a little more knowledge and experience, she would have developed into
a noble and magnificent woman, she would have been one of the grandest
Darrells that ever reigned at the old Court. But Sir Oswald had not
trusted her; he had not been willing to await the result of patient
training; he had been impetuous and hasty, and, though Pauline was too
proud to own it, the disappointment preyed upon her until it completely
changed her. It was all the deeper and more concentrated because she
made no sign.

This girl, noble of soul, grand of nature, sensitive, proud, and
impulsive, gave her whole life to one idea--her disappointment and the
vengeance due to it; the very grandeur of her virtues helped to
intensify her faults; the very strength of her character seemed to
deepen and darken the idea over which she brooded incessantly by night
and by day. She was bent on vengeance.



CHAPTER XXVII.

SIR OSWALD'S DOUBTS.


It was the close of a spring day. Lady Hampton had been spending it at
Darrell Court, and General Deering, an old friend of Sir Oswald's, who
was visiting in the neighborhood, had joined the party at dinner. When
dinner was over, and the golden sunbeams were still brightening the
beautiful rooms, he asked Sir Oswald to show him the picture-gallery.

"You have a fine collection," he said--"every one tells me that; but it
is not only the pictures I want to see, but the Darrell faces. I heard
the other day that the Darrells were generally acknowledged to be the
handsomest race in England."

The baronet's clear-cut, stately face flushed a little.

"I hope England values us for something more useful than merely handsome
faces," he rejoined, with a touch of _hauteur_ that made the general
smile.

"Certainly," he hastened to say; "but in this age, when personal beauty
is said to be on the decrease, it is something to own a handsome face."

The picture-gallery was a very extensive one; it was wide and well
lighted, the floor was covered with rich crimson cloth, white statues
gleamed from amid crimson velvet hangings, the walls were covered with
rare and valuable pictures. But General Deering saw a picture that day
in the gallery which he was never to forget.

Lady Hampton was not enthusiastic about art unless there was something
to be gained by it. There was nothing to excite her cupidity now, her
last niece being married, so her ladyship could afford to take matters
calmly; she reclined at her ease on one of the crimson lounges, and
enjoyed the luxury of a quiet nap.

The general paused for a while before some of Horace Vernet's
battle-pieces; they delighted him. Pauline had walked on to the end of
the gallery, and Lady Darrell, always anxious to conciliate her, had
followed. The picture that struck the general most were the two ladies
as they stood side by side--Lady Darrell with the sheen of gold in her
hair, the soft luster of gleaming pearls on her white neck, the fairness
of her face heightened by its dainty rose-leaf bloom, her evening dress
of sweeping white silk setting off the graceful, supple lines of her
figure, all thrown into such vivid light by the crimson carpet on which
she stood and the background of crimson velvet; Pauline like some royal
lady in her trailing black robes, with the massive coils of her dark
hair wound round the graceful, haughty head, and her grand face with its
dark, glorious eyes and rich ruby lips. The one looked fair, radiant,
and charming as a Parisian coquette; the other like a Grecian goddess,
superb, magnificent, queenly, simple in her exquisite beauty--art or
ornaments could do nothing for her.

"Look," said the general to Sir Oswald, "that picture surpasses anything
you have on your walls."

Sir Oswald bowed.

"What a beautiful girl your niece is!" the old soldier continued. "See
how her face resembles this of Lady Edelgitha Darrell. Pray do not think
me impertinent, but I cannot imagine, old friend, why you married, so
devoted to bachelor life as you were, when you had a niece so beautiful,
so true a Darrell, for your heiress. I am puzzled now that I see her."

"She lacked training," said Sir Oswald.

"Training?" repeated the general, contemptuously. "What do you call
training? Do you mean that she was not experienced in all the little
trifling details of a dinner-table--that she could not smile as she told
graceful little untruths? Training! Why, that girl is a queen among
women; a noble soul shines in her grand face, there is a royal grandeur
of nature about her that training could never give. I have lived long,
but I have never seen such a woman."

"She had such strange, out-of-the-way, unreal notions, I dared not--that
is the truth--I dared not leave Darrell Court to her."

"I hope you have acted wisely," said the general; "but, as an old friend
and a true one, I must say that I doubt it."

"My wife, I am happy to say, has plenty of common sense," observed Sir
Oswald.

"Your wife," returned the general, looking at the sheen of the golden
hair and the shining dress, "is pretty, graceful, and amiable, but that
girl has all the soul; there is as much difference between them as
between a golden buttercup and a dark, stately, queenly rose. The rose
should have been ruler at Darrell Court, old friend."

Then he asked, abruptly:

"What are you going to do for her, Sir Oswald?"

"I have provided for her," he replied.

"Darrell Court, then, and all its rich revenues go to your wife, I
presume?"

"Yes, to my wife," said Sir Oswald.

"Unconditionally?" asked the general.

"Most certainly," was the impatient reply.

"Well, my friend," said the general, "in this world every one does as he
or she likes; but to disinherit that girl, with the face and spirit of a
true Darrell, and to put a fair, amiable blonde stranger in her place,
was, to say the least, eccentric--the world will deem it so, at any
rate. If I were forty years younger I would win Pauline Darrell, and
make her love me. But we must join the ladies--they will think us very
remiss."

"Sweet smiles, no mind, an amiable manner, no intellect, prettiness
after the fashion of a Parisian doll, to be preferred to that noble,
truthful, queenly girl! Verily tastes differ," thought the general, as
he watched the two, contrasted them, and lost himself in wonder over his
friend's folly.

He took his leave soon afterward, gravely musing on what he could not
understand--why his old friend had done what seemed to him a rash,
ill-judged deed.

He left Sir Oswald in a state of great discomfort. Of course he loved
his wife--loved her with a blind infatuation that did more honor to his
heart than his head--but he had always relied so implicitly on the
general's judgment. He found himself half wishing that in this, the
crowning action of his life, he had consulted his old friend.

He never knew how that clever woman of the world, Lady Hampton, had
secretly influenced him. He believed that he had acted entirely on his
own clear judgment; and now, for the first time, he doubted that.

"You look anxious, Oswald," said Lady Darrell, as she bent down and with
her fresh, sweet young lips touched his brow. "Has anything troubled
you?"

"No, my darling," he replied; "I do not feel quite well, though. I have
had a dull, nervous heaviness about me all day--a strange sensation of
pain too. I shall be better to-morrow."

"If not," she said, sweetly, "I shall insist on your seeing Doctor
Helmstone. I am quite uneasy about you."

"You are very kind to me," he responded, gratefully.

But all her uneasiness did not prevent her drawing the white lace round
her graceful shoulders and taking up the third volume of a novel in
which she was deeply interested, while Sir Oswald, looking older and
grayer than he had looked before, went into the garden for a stroll.

The sunbeams were so loth to go; they lingered even now on the tips of
the trees and the flowers; they lingered on the lake and in the rippling
spray of the fountains. Sir Oswald sat down by the lake-side.

Had he done wrong? Was it a foolish mistake--one that he could not undo?
Was Pauline indeed the grand, noble, queenly girl his friend thought
her? Would she have made a mistress suitable for Darrell Court, or had
he done right to bring this fair, blonde stranger into his home--this
dearly-loved young wife? What would she do with Darrell Court if he left
it to her? The great wish of his heart for a son to succeed him had not
been granted to him; but he had made his will, and in it he had left
Darrell Court to his wife.

He looked at the home he had loved so well. Ah, cruel death! If he could
but have taken it with him, or have watched over it from another world!
But when death came he must leave it, and a dull, uneasy foreboding came
over him as to what he should do in favor of this idolized home.

As he looked at it, tears rose to his eyes; and then he saw Pauline
standing a little way from him, the proud, beautiful face softened into
tenderness, the dark eyes full of kindness. She went up to him more
affectionately than she had ever done in her life; she knelt on the
grass by his side.

"Uncle," she said, quietly, "you look very ill; are you in trouble?"

He held out his hands to her; at the sound of her voice all his heart
seemed to go out to this glorious daughter of his race.

"Pauline," he said, in a low, broken voice, "I am thinking about you--I
am wondering about you. Have I done--I wonder, have I done wrong?"

A clear light flashed into her noble face.

"Do you refer to Darrell Court?" she asked. "If you do, you have done
wrong. I think you might have trusted me. I have many faults, but I am a
true Darrell. I would have done full justice to the trust."

"I never thought so," he returned, feebly; "and I did it all for the
best, as I imagined, Pauline."

"I know you did--I am sure you did," she agreed, eagerly; "I never
thought otherwise. It was not you, uncle. I understand all that was
brought to bear upon you. You are a Darrell, honorable, loyal, true; you
do not understand anything that is not straightforward. I do, because my
life has been so different from yours."

He was looking at her with a strange, wavering expression in his face;
the girl's eyes, full of sympathy, were turned on him.

"Pauline," he said, feebly, "if I have done wrong--and, oh, I am so loth
to believe it--you will forgive me, my dear, will you not?"

For the first time he held out his arms to her; for the first time she
went close to him and kissed his face. It was well that Lady Hampton was
not there to see. Pauline heard him murmur something about "a true
Darrell--the last of the Darrells," and when she raised her head she
found that Sir Oswald had fallen into a deep, deadly swoon.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

READING OF THE WILL.


Assistance was soon procured, and Sir Oswald was carried to his room;
Doctor Helmstone was sent for, and when he arrived the whole house was
in confusion. Lady Darrell wrung her hands in the most graceful
distress.

"Now, Elinor," said Lady Hampton, "pray do not give way to anything of
that kind. It is a fortunate thing for you that I am here. Let me beg of
you to remember that, whatever happens, you are magnificently provided
for, Sir Oswald told me as much. There is really no need to excite
yourself in that fashion."

While Lady Darrell, with a few graceful exclamations and a very pretty
show of sorrow, managed to attract all possible sympathy, Pauline moved
about with a still, cold face, which those best understood who knew her
nature. It seemed incredible to the girl that anything unexpected should
happen to her uncle. She had only just begun to love him; that evening
had brought those two proud hearts closer together than they had ever
been; the ice was broken; each had a glimmering perception of the real
character of the other--a perception that in time would have developed
into perfect love. It seemed too hard that after he had just begun to
like her--that as soon as a fresh and genuine sentiment was springing up
between them--he must die.

For it had come to that. Care, skill, talent, watching, were all in
vain; he must die. Grave-faced doctors had consulted about him, and with
professional keenness had seen at once that his case was hopeless. The
ailment was a sudden and dangerous one--violent inflammation of the
lungs. No one could account for the sudden seizure. Sir Oswald had
complained of pain during the day, but no one thought that it was
anything of a serious nature. His manner, certainly, had been strange,
with a sad pathos quite unlike himself; but no one saw in that the
commencement of a mortal illness.

Lady Hampton frequently observed how fortunate it was that she was
there. To all inquiries as to the health of her niece, she replied,
"Poor, dear Lady Darrell is bearing up wonderfully;" and with the help
of pathetic little speeches, the frequent use of a vinaigrette, a few
tears, and some amiable self-condolence, that lady did bear up.

Strange to say, the one who felt the keenest sorrow, the deepest regret,
the truest pain, was the niece with whom Sir Oswald had continually
found fault, and whom he had disinherited. She went about with a sorrow
on her face more eloquent than words. Lady Hampton said it was all
assumed; but Lady Darrell said, more gently, that Pauline was not a
girl to assume a grief which she did not feel.

So the baronet died after a week of severe illness, during which he
never regained the power of speech, nor could make himself intelligible.
The most distressing thing was that there was evidently something which
he wished to say--something which he desired to make them understand.
When Pauline was in the room his eyes followed her with a wistful
glance, pitiful, sad, distressing; he evidently wished to say something,
but had not the power.

With that wish unexpressed he died, and they never knew what it was.
Only Pauline thought that he meant, even at the last, to ask her
forgiveness and to do her justice.

Darrell Court was thrown into deepest mourning; the servants went about
with hushed footsteps and sorrowful faces. He had been kind to them,
this stately old master; and who knew what might happen under the new
_regime_? Lady Hampton was, she assured every one, quite overwhelmed
with business. She had to make all arrangements for the funeral, to
order all the mourning, while Lady Darrell was supposed to be
overwhelmed with sorrow in the retirement of her own room.

One fine spring morning, while the pretty bluebells were swaying in the
wind, and the hawthorn was shining pink and white on the hedges, while
the birds sang and the sun shone, Sir Oswald Darrell was buried, and the
secret of what he had wished to say or have done was buried with him.

At Lady Darrell's suggestion, Captain Langton was sent for to attend
the funeral. It was a grand and stately procession. All the _elite_ of
the county were there, all the tenantry from Audleigh Royal, all the
friends who had known Sir Oswald and respected him.

"Was he the last of the Darrells?" one asked of another; and many looked
at the stately, dark-eyed girl who bore the name, wondering how he had
left his property, whether his niece would succeed him, or his wife take
all. They talked of this in subdued whispers as the funeral _cortege_
wound its way to the church, they talked of it after the coffin had been
lowered into the vault, and they talked of it as the procession made its
way back to Darrell Court.

As Lady Hampton said, it was a positive relief to open the windows and
let the blessed sunshine in, to draw up the heavy blinds, to do away
with the dark, mourning aspect of the place.

Everything had been done according to rule--no peer of the realm could
have had a more magnificent funeral. Lady Hampton felt that in every
respect full honor had been done both to the living and the dead.

"Now," she wisely remarked, "there is nothing to be done, save to bear
up as well as it is possible."

Then, after a solemn and dreary dinner, the friends and invited guests
went away, and the most embarrassing ceremony of all had to be gone
through--the reading of the will.

Mr. Ramsden, the family solicitor, was in attendance. Captain Langton,
Lady Darrell, Lady Hampton, and Miss Darrell took their seats. Once or
twice Lady Hampton looked with a smile of malicious satisfaction at the
proud, calm face of Pauline. There was nothing there to gratify her--no
queen could have assisted at her own dethronement with prouder majesty
or prouder grace. Some of the old retainers, servants who had been in
the family from their earliest youth, said there was not one who did not
wish in his heart that Pauline might have Darrell Court.

Lady Darrell, clad in deepest mourning, was placed in a large easy-chair
in the center of the group, her aunt by her side. She looked extremely
delicate and lovely in her black sweeping robes.

Pauline, who evidently thought the ceremony an empty one, as far as she
was concerned, stood near the table. She declined the chair that Captain
Langton placed for her. Her uncle was dead; she regretted him with true,
unfeigned, sincere sorrow; but the reading of his will had certainly
nothing to do with her. There was not the least shadow on her face, not
the least discomposure in her manner. To look at her one would never
have thought she was there to hear the sentence of disinheritance.

Lady Darrell did not look quite so tranquil; everything was at stake for
her. She held her dainty handkerchief to her face lest the trembling of
her lips should be seen.

Mr. Ramsden read the will, and its contents did not take any one much by
surprise. The most important item was a legacy of ten thousand pounds to
Captain Aubrey Langton. To Pauline Darrell was left an annuity of five
hundred pounds per annum, with the strict injunction that she should
live at Darrell Court until her marriage; if she never married, she was
to reside there until her death. To all his faithful servants Sir Oswald
left legacies and annuities. To his well-beloved wife, Elinor, he
bequeathed all else--Darrell Court, with its rich dependencies and royal
revenues, his estate in Scotland, his house in town, together with all
the valuable furniture, plate, jewelry, pictures, all the moneys that
had accumulated during his life-time--all to her, to hold at her will
and pleasure; there was no restriction, no condition to mar the legacy.

To the foregoing Sir Oswald had added a codicil; he left Miss Hastings
one hundred pounds per annum, and begged of her to remain at Darrell
Court as companion to Lady Darrell and his niece.

Then the lawyer folded up the parchment, and the ceremony was ended.

"A very proper will," said Lady Hampton; "it really does poor dear Sir
Oswald credit."

They hastened to congratulate Lady Darrell; but Captain Langton, it was
noticed, forgot to do so--he was watching Pauline's calm, unconcerned
departure from the room.



CHAPTER XXIX.

WAITING FOR REVENGE.


There was a slight, only a very slight difference of opinion between
Lady Darrell and her aunt after the reading of the will. Lady Hampton
would fain have given up the Elms, and have gone to live at Darrell
Court.

"Sir Oswald's will is a very just one," she said, "admirable in every
respect; but I should never dream, were I in your place, Elinor, of
keeping that proud girl here. Let her go. I will come and live with you.
I shall make a better chaperon than that poor, faded Miss Hastings."

But Lady Darrell was eager to taste the sweets of power, and she knew
how completely her aunt would take every vestige of it from her.

She declared her intention to adhere most strictly to the terms of the
will.

"And, aunt," she continued, with firmness quite new to her, "it would be
so much better, I think, for you to keep at the Elms. People might make
strange remarks if you came here to live with me."

Lady Hampton was shrewd enough to see that she must abide by her niece's
decision.

The captain was to remain only two days at Darrell Court, and Lady
Darrell was anxious to spend some little time with him.

"I like the captain, aunt," she said; "he amuses me."

Lady Hampton remembered how she had spoken of him before, and it was not
her intention that her beautiful niece should fling away herself and her
magnificent fortune on Aubrey Langton.

"She is sure to marry again," thought the lady; "and, dowered as she is,
she ought to marry a duke, at least."

She represented to her that it was hardly etiquette for her, a widow so
young, and her loss being so recent, to entertain a handsome young
officer.

"I do not see that the fact of his being handsome makes any difference,
aunt," said Lady Darrell; "still, if you think I must remain shut up in
my room while the captain is here, of course, I will remain so, though
it seems very hard."

"Appearances are everything," observed Lady Hampton, sagely; "and you
cannot be too careful at first."

"Does he seem to pay Pauline any attention?" asked the young widow,
eagerly.

"I have never heard them exchange more than a few words--indeed the
circumstance has puzzled me, Elinor. I have seen him look at her as
though he worshiped her and as though he hated her. As for Miss
Darrell, she seems to treat him with contemptuous indifference."

"I used to think he liked her," said Lady Darrell, musingly.

"He liked the future heiress of Darrell Court," rejoined Lady Hampton.
"All his love has gone with her prospects, you may rely upon it."

Lady Darrell, brought up in a school that would sacrifice even life
itself for the sake of appearances, knew there was no help for her
enforced retirement. She remained in her rooms until the young officer
had left the Court.

Lady Hampton was not the only one who felt puzzled at Pauline's behavior
to the captain. Miss Hastings, who understood her pupil perhaps better
than any one, was puzzled. There was somewhat of a calm, unutterable
contempt in her manner of treating him. He could not provoke her; no
matter what he said, she would not be provoked into retort. She never
appeared to remember his existence; no one could have been more
completely ignored; and Captain Langton himself was but too cognizant of
the fact. If he could have but piqued or aroused her, have stung her
into some exhibition of feeling, he would have been content; but no
statue could have been colder, no queen prouder. If any little attention
was required at her hands she paid it, but there was no denying the fact
that it was rendered in such a manner that the omission would have been
preferable.

On the evening of his departure Lady Hampton went down to wish him
farewell; she conveyed to him Lady Darrell's regret at not being able to
do the same.

"I am very sorry," said the captain; "though, of course, under the
circumstances, I could hardly hope for the pleasure of seeing Lady
Darrell. Perhaps you will tell her that in the autumn, with her
permission, I shall hope to revisit the Court."

Lady Hampton said to herself that she should take no such message. The
dearest wish of her heart was that the gallant captain should never be
seen there again. But she made some gracious reply, and then asked,
suddenly:

"Have you seen Miss Darrell? Have you said good-by to her?"

Aubrey Langton looked slightly confused.

"I have not seen her to-day," he replied.

Lady Hampton smiled very graciously.

"I will send for her," she said; and when, in answer to her summons, a
servant entered, she asked that Miss Darrell might be requested to favor
her with her presence in the library. It did not escape her keen
observation that Captain Langton would rather have avoided the
interview.

Pauline entered with the haughty grace so natural to her; her proud eyes
never once glanced at the captain; he was no more to her than the very
furniture in the room.

"You wished to see me, Lady Hampton," she said, curtly.

"Yes--that is, Captain Langton wishes to say good-by to you; he is
leaving Darrell Court this morning."

There was the least possible curl of the short upper lip. Lady Hampton
happened to catch the glance bestowed upon Pauline by their visitor. For
a moment it startled her--it revealed at once such hopeless passionate
love and such strong passionate hate. Pauline made no reply; the queenly
young figure was drawn up to its full height, the thoughtful face was
full of scorn. The captain concealed his embarrassment as he best could,
and went up to her with outstretched hands.

"Good-by, Miss Darrell," he said; "this has been a very sad time for
you, and I deeply sympathize with you. I hope to see you again in the
autumn, looking better--more like yourself."

Lady Hampton was wont to declare that the scene was one of the finest
she had ever witnessed. Pauline looked at him with that straight, clear,
calm gaze of hers, so terribly searching and direct.

"Good-by," she said, gravely, and then, utterly ignoring the
outstretched hands, she swept haughtily from the room.

Lady Hampton did not attempt to conceal her delight at the captain's
discomfiture.

"Miss Darrell is very proud," he said, laughing to hide his confusion.
"I must have been unfortunate enough to displease her."

But Lady Hampton saw his confusion, and in her own mind she wondered
what there was between these two--why he should appear at the same time
to love and to hate her--above all, why she should treat him with such
sovereign indifference and contempt.

"It is not natural," she argued to herself; "young girls, as a rule,
admire--nay, take an uncommon interest in soldiers. What reason can she
have for such contemptuous indifference?"

How little she dreamed of the storm of rage--of passion--of anger--of
love--of fury, that warred in the captain's soul!

He was ten thousand pounds richer, but it was as a drop in the ocean to
him. If it had been ten thousand per annum he might have been grateful.
Ten thousand pounds would discharge every debt he had in the world, and
set him straight once more; he might even lead the life he had always
meant to lead for two or three years, but then the money would be gone.
On the other hand, if that girl--that proud, willful, defiant
girl--would but have married him, Darrell Court, with all its rich
dependencies, would have been his. The thought almost maddened him.

How he loathed her as he rode away! But for her, all this grand
inheritance would have been his. Instead of riding away, he would now be
taking possession and be lord and master of all. These stables with the
splendid stud of horses would be his--his the magnificent grounds and
gardens--the thousand luxuries that made Darrell Court an earthly
paradise. All these would have been his but for the obstinacy of one
girl. Curses deep and burning rose to his lips; yet, for his punishment,
he loved her with a love that mastered him in spite of his hate--that
made him long to throw himself at her feet, while he could have slain
her for the wrong he considered that she had done him.

Lady Hampton could not refrain from a few remarks on what she had
witnessed.

"Has Captain Langton been so unfortunate as to offend you, Miss
Darrell?" she asked of Pauline. "I thought your adieus were of the
coldest."

"Did you? I never could see the use of expressing regret that is not
really felt."

"Perhaps not; but it is strange that you should not feel some little
regret at losing such a visitor."

To this remark Pauline deigned nothing save an extra look of weariness,
which was not lost upon Lady Hampton.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Pauline," said Miss Hastings, one morning, "I do not think you are
compelled by the terms of Sir Oswald's will to reside at Darrell Court
whether you like it or not. There could be no possible objection to your
going away for a change."

The beautiful, restless face was turned to her.

"I could not leave Darrell Court even if I would," she returned.

"Why not? There is really nothing to detain you here."

"I am waiting," said the girl, her dark eyes lit by a fire that was not
pleasant to see--"I am waiting here for my revenge."

"Oh, Pauline!" cried Miss Hastings, in real distress. "My dear child,
you must forget such things. I do not like to hear such a word from your
lips."

Pauline smiled as she looked at her governess, but there was something
almost terrible in the calm smile.

"What do you think I am living here for--waiting here in patience for? I
tell you, nothing but the vengeance I have promised myself--and it shall
be mine!"



CHAPTER XXX.

WILL FATE AID PAULINE?


Six months had passed since Sir Oswald's death, and his widow had
already put away her cap and heavy weeds. Six months of retirement, she
considered, were a very handsome acknowledgment of all her husband's
love and kindness. She was in a state of serene and perfect
self-content--everything had gone well with her. People had expressed
their admiration of her devotion to his memory. She knew that in the
eyes of the world she was esteemed faultless. And now it seemed to Lady
Darrell that the time was come in which she might really enjoy herself,
and reap the reward of her sacrifice.

The "armed neutrality" between Pauline and herself still continued. Each
went her own way--their interests never clashed. Lady Darrell rather
preferred that Pauline should remain at the Court. She had a vague kind
of fear of her, a vague dread that made her feel safer where Pauline
was, and where she could know something of her. Whole days would pass
without their meeting; but, now that there was to be a little more
gayety at Darrell Court, the two must expect to be brought into daily
communication.

Lady Darrell was an amiable woman. It was true she had a small soul,
capable of maintaining small ideas only. She would have liked to be what
she called "comfortable" with Pauline--to live on sisterly terms with
her--to spend long hours in discussing dress, ornaments, fashionable
gossip--to feel that there was always some one at hand to listen to her
and to amuse her. She, in her turn, would have been most generous. She
would have made ample presents of dresses and jewels to such a friend;
she would have studied her comfort and interests. But to expect or to
hope for a companion of that kind in Pauline was as though some humble
little wood-blossom could hope to train itself round a grand, stately,
sad passion-flower.

Lady Darrell's worldly knowledge and tact were almost perfect; yet they
could never reveal to her the depths of a noble nature like Pauline's.
She could sooner have sounded the depths of the Atlantic than the grand
deep of that young girl's heart and soul; they would always be dead
letters to her--mysteries she could not solve. One morning the impulse
was strong upon her to seek Pauline, to hold a friendly conversation
with her as to half-mourning; but when she reached the door of the study
her courage gave way, and she turned abruptly, feeling rather than
knowing why the discussion of dress and mere personal appearance must
prove distasteful to Miss Darrell.

Little by little Lady Darrell began to take her place in the grand
world; she was too wise and wary to do it all at once. The degrees were
almost imperceptible; even Lady Hampton, one of the most fastidious of
critics, was obliged to own to herself that her niece's conduct was
highly creditable. The gradations in Lady Darrell's spirits were as
carefully regulated as the gradations of color in her dress; with deep
lavender and black ribbons she was mildly sorrowful, the lighter grew
the lavender the lighter grew her heart. On the first day she wore a
silver gray brocade she laughed outright, and the sound of that laugh
was the knell of all mourning.

Visitors began to arrive once more at Darrell Court, but Lady Darrell
still exercised great restraint over herself. Her invitations were at
first confined to matrons of mature age. "She did not feel equal to the
society of gentlemen yet."

There was a grand chorus of admiration for the nice feeling Lady Darrell
displayed. Then elderly gentlemen--husbands of the matrons--were
admitted; and, after a time, "braw wooers began to appear at the hall,"
and then Lady Darrell's reign began in real earnest.

From these admiring matrons, enthusiastic gentlemen, ardent lovers, and
flattering friends Pauline stood aloof. How she despised the whole of
them was to be gathered only from her face; she never expressed it in
words. She did not associate with them, and they repaid her behavior by
the most hearty dislike.

It was another proof of "dear Lady Darrell's sweet temper" that she
could live in peace with this haughty, abrupt, willful girl. No one
guessed that the bland, amiable, suave, graceful mistress of Darrell
Court stood in awe of the girl who had been disinherited to make way for
her.

"Pauline," said Miss Hastings, one day, "I want you to accustom yourself
to the idea of leaving Darrell Court; for I do not think there is any
doubt but that sooner or later Lady Darrell will marry again."

"I expect it," she returned. "Poor Sir Oswald! His home will go to
strangers, his name be extinct. How little he foresaw this when he
married!"

"Let it take place when it may, the Court can be no home for you then,"
continued Miss Hastings.

Pauline raised her hand with a warning gesture.

"Do not say another word, Miss Hastings; I cannot listen. Just as
criminals were fastened to the rack, bound to the wheel, tied to the
stake, I am bound here--awaiting my revenge!"

"Oh, Pauline, if you would but forego such strange speech! This longing
for vengeance is in your heart like a deadly canker in a fair flower. It
will end badly."

The beautiful face with its defiant light was turned toward her.

"Do not attempt to dissuade me," she said. "Your warning is useless, and
I do not like to grieve you. I acquainted Lady Darrell with my
determination before she married my uncle for his money. She persisted
in doing it. Let her take the consequences--bear the penalty. If she had
acted a true womanly part--if she had refused him, as she ought to have
done--he would have had time for reflection, he would not have
disinherited me in his anger, and Darrell Court would have descended to
a Darrell, as it ought to have done."

"If you could but forget the past, Pauline!"

"I cannot--it is part of my life now. I saw two lives before me
once--the one made noble, grand, and gracious by this inheritance, which
I should have known so well how to hold; the other darkened by
disappointment and shadowed by revenge. You know how some men wait for
the fair fruition of a fair hope--for the dawn of success--for the
sunshine of perfect prosperity; so do I wait for my revenge. We Darrells
never do things by halves; we are not even moderate. My heart, my soul,
my life--which might have been, I grant, filled with high impulses--are
concentrated on revenge."

Though the words she spoke were so terrible, so bitter, there was no
mean, vindictive, or malign expression on that beautiful face; rather
was it bright with a strange light. Mistaken though the idea might be,
Pauline evidently deemed herself one chosen to administer justice.

Miss Hastings looked at her.

"But, Pauline," she said, gravely, "who made you Lady Darrell's judge?"

"Myself," she replied. "Miss Hastings, you often speak of justice; let
me ask, was this matter fair? My uncle was irritated against me because
I would not marry a man I detested and loathed; in his anger he formed
the project of marriage to punish me. He proposed to Elinor Rocheford,
and, without any love for him, she agreed to marry him. I went to her,
and warned her not to come between me and my rightful inheritance. I
told her that if she did I would be revenged. She laughed at my threat,
married my uncle, and so disinherited me. Now, was it fair that I should
have nothing, she all--that I, a Darrell, should see the home of my race
go to strangers? It is not just, and I mean to take justice into my
hands."

"But, Pauline," opposed Miss Hastings, "if Lady Darrell had not accepted
Sir Oswald, some one else would."

"Are such women common, then?" she demanded, passionately. "I knew evil
enough of your world, but I did not know this. This woman is
sweet-voiced, her face is fair, her hair is golden, her hands are white
and soft, her manners caressing and gentle; but you see her soul is
sordid--it was not large enough to prevent her marrying an old man for
his money. Something tells me that the vengeance I have promised myself
is not far off."

Miss Hastings wrung her hands in silent dismay.

"Oh, for something to redeem you, Pauline--something to soften your
heart, which is hardening into sin!"

"I do not know of any earthly influence that could, as you say, redeem
me. I know that I am doing wrong. Do not think that I have transformed
vice into virtue and have blinded myself. I know that some people can
rise to a far grander height; they would, instead of seeking vengeance,
pardon injuries. I cannot--I never will. There is no earthly influence
that can redeem me, because there is none stronger than my own will."

The elder lady looked almost hopelessly at the younger one. How was she
to cope with this strong nature--a nature that could own a fault, yet by
strength of will persevere in it? She felt that she might as well try to
check the angry waves of the rising tide as try to control this willful,
undisciplined disposition.

How often in after years these words returned to her mind: "I know of no
earthly influence stronger than my own will."

Miss Hastings sat in silence for some minutes, and then she looked at
the young girl.

"What shape will your vengeance take, Pauline?" she asked, calmly.

"I do not know. Fate will shape it for me; my opportunity will come in
time."

"Vengeance is a very high-sounding word," observed Miss Hastings, "but
the thing itself generally assumes very prosaic forms. You would not
descend to such a vulgar deed as murder, for instance; nor would you
avail yourself of anything so commonplace as poison."

"No," replied Pauline, with contempt; "those are mean revenges. I will
hurt her where she has hurt me--where all the love of her heart is
garnered; there will I wound her as she has wounded me. Where she can
feel most there I mean to strike, and strike home."

"Then you have no definite plan arranged?" questioned Miss Hastings.

"Fate will play into my hands when the time comes," replied Pauline. Nor
could the governess extract aught further from her.



CHAPTER XXXI.

FATE FAVORS PAULINE.


Autumn, with its golden grain, its rich fruits, and its luxuriant
foliage, had come and gone; then Christmas snow lay soft and white on
the ground; and still Captain Langton had not paid his promised visit to
Darrell Court. He sent numerous cards, letters, books, and music, but he
did not appear himself. Once more the spring flowers bloomed; Sir Oswald
had been lying for twelve months in the cold, silent family vault. With
the year of mourning the last of Lady Darrell's gracefully expressed
sorrow vanished--the last vestige of gray and lavender, of jet beads and
black trimmings, disappeared from her dresses; and then she shone forth
upon the world in all the grace and delicate loveliness of her fair
young beauty.

Who could number her lovers or count her admirers? Old and young, peer
and commoner, there was not one who would not have given anything he had
on earth to win the hand of the beautiful and wealthy young widow.

Lady Hampton favored the suit of Lord Aynsley, one of the wealthiest
peers in England. He had met Lady Darrell while on a visit at the Elms,
and was charmed with her. So young, fair, gifted, accomplished, so
perfect a mistress of every art and grace, yet so good and amiable--Lord
Aynsley thought that he had never met with so perfect a woman before.

Lady Hampton was delighted.

"I think, Elinor," she said, "that you are one of the most fortunate of
women. You have a chance now of making a second and most brilliant
marriage. I think you must have been born under a lucky star."

Lady Darrell laughed her soft, graceful little laugh.

"I think, auntie," she returned, "that, as I married the first time to
please you, I may marry now to please myself and my own heart."

"Certainly," said her ladyship, dubiously; "but remember what I have
always told you--sentiment is the ruin of everything."

And, as Lady Hampton spoke, there came before her the handsome face of
Aubrey Langton. She prayed mentally that he might not appear again at
Darrell Court until Lord Aynsley had proposed and had been accepted.

But Fate was not kind to her.

The next morning Lady Darrell received a letter from the captain, saying
that, as the summer was drawing near, he should be very glad to pay his
long-promised visit to Darrell Court. He hoped to be with them on
Thursday evening.

Lady Darrell's fair face flushed as she read. He was coming, then, this
man who above all others had taken her fancy captive--this man whom,
with all her worldly scheming, she would have married without money if
he had but asked her. He was coming, and he would see her in all the
glory of her prosperity. He would be almost sure to fall in love with
her; and she--well, it was not the first time that she whispered to her
own heart how gladly she would love him. She was too excited by her
pleasant news to be quite prudent. She must have a confidante--she must
tell some one that he was coming.

She went to the study, where Miss Hastings and Pauline were busily
engaged with some water-colors. She held the open letter in her hand.

"Miss Hastings, I have news for you," she said. "I know that all that
interested Sir Oswald is full of interest for you. Pauline, you too will
be pleased to hear that Captain Langton is coming. Sir Oswald loved him
very much."

Pauline knew that, and had cause to regret it.

"I should be much pleased," continued Lady Darrell, "if, without
interfering with your arrangements, you could help me to entertain him."

Miss Hastings looked up with a smile of assent.

"Anything that lies in my power," she said, "I shall be only too happy
to do; but I fear I shall be rather at a loss how to amuse a handsome
young officer like Captain Langton."

Lady Darrell laughed, but looked much pleased.

"You are right," she said--"he is handsome. I do not know that I have
ever seen one more handsome."

Then she stopped abruptly, for she caught the gleam of Pauline's
scornful smile--the dark eyes were looking straight at her. Lady Darrell
blushed crimson, and the smile on Pauline's lips deepened.

"I see my way now," she said to herself. "Time, fate, and opportunity
will combine at last."

"And you, Pauline," inquired Lady Darrell, in her most caressing
manner--"you will help me with my visitor--will you not?"

"Pardon me, I must decline," answered Miss Darrell.

"Why, I thought Captain Langton and yourself were great friends!" cried
Lady Darrell.

"I am not answerable for your thoughts, Lady Darrell," said Pauline.

"But you--you sing so beautifully! Oh, Pauline, you must help me!"
persisted Lady Darrell.

She drew nearer to the girl, and was about to lay one white jeweled hand
on her arm, but Pauline drew back with a haughty gesture there was no
mistaking.

"Pray understand me, Lady Darrell," she said--"all arts and persuasions
are, as you know, lost on me. I decline to do anything toward
entertaining your visitor, and shall avoid him as much as possible."

Lady Darrell looked up, her face pale, and with a frightened look upon
it.

"Why do you speak so, Pauline? You must have some reason for it. Tell me
what it is."

No one had ever heard Lady Darrell speak so earnestly before.

"Tell me!" she repeated, and her very heart was in the words.

"Pardon me if I keep my counsel," said Pauline. "There is wisdom in few
words."

Then Miss Hastings, always anxious to make peace, said:

"Do not be anxious, Lady Darrell; Pauline knows that some of the
unpleasantness she had with Sir Oswald was owing to Captain Langton.
Perhaps that fact may affect her view of his character."

Lady Darrell discreetly retired from the contest.

"I am sure you will both do all you can," she said, in her most lively
manner. "We must have some charades, and a ball; we shall have plenty of
time to talk this over when our guests arrive." And, anxious to go
before Pauline said anything more, Lady Darrell quitted the room.

"My dear Pauline," said Miss Hastings, "if you would----"

But she paused suddenly, for Pauline was sitting with a rapt expression
on her face, deaf to every word.

Such a light was in those dark eyes, proud, triumphant, and clear--such
a smile on those curved lips; Pauline looked as though she could see
into futurity, and as though, while the view half frightened, it pleased
her.

Suddenly she rose from her seat, with her hands clasped, evidently
forgetting that she was not alone.

"Nothing could be better," she said. "I could not have asked of fate or
fortune anything better than this."

When Miss Hastings, wondering at her strange, excited manner, asked her
a question, she looked up with the vague manner of one just aroused from
deep sleep.

"What are you thing of, Pauline?" asked Miss Hastings.

"I am thinking," she replied, with a dreamy smile, "what good fortune
always attends those who know how to wait. I have waited, and what I
desired is come."

Thursday came at last. Certainly Lady Darrell had spared neither time
nor expense in preparing for her visitor; it was something like a
warrior's home-coming--the rarest of wines, the fairest of flowers, the
sweetest of smiles awaiting him. Lady Darrell's dress was the perfection
of good taste--plain white silk trimmed with black lace, with a few
flowers in her golden hair. She knew that she was looking her best; it
was the first time that the captain had seen her in her present
position, so she was anxious to make the most favorable impression on
him.

"Welcome once more to Darrell Court!" she said, holding out one white
hand in greeting.

"It seems like a welcome to Paradise," said the captain, profanely; and
then he bowed with the grace of a Chesterfield over the little hand that
he still held clasped in his own.



CHAPTER XXXII.

CAPTAIN LANGTON ACCEPTED.


Lady Darrell was obliged to own herself completely puzzled. All the
girls she had ever known had not only liked admiration, but had even
sought it; she could not understand why Pauline showed such decided
aversion to Captain Langton. He was undeniably handsome, graceful, and
polished in manner; Lady Darrell could imagine no one more pleasant or
entertaining. Why should Pauline show such great distaste for his
society, and such avoidance of him?

There were times, too, when she could not quite understand Aubrey
Langton. She had seen him look at Pauline with an expression not merely
of love, but with something of adoration in his eyes; and then again she
would be startled by a look of something more fierce and more violent
even than hate. She herself was in love with him; nor was she ashamed to
own the fact even to herself. She could let her heart speak now--its
voice had been stifled long enough; still she would have liked to know
the cause of Pauline's avoidance of him.

On the second day of his visit Lady Darrell gave a grand dinner-party.
Lady Hampton, who viewed the captain's arrival with great disfavor, was,
as a matter of course, to be present. All the neighbors near were
invited, and Pauline, despite her dislike, saw that she must be present.

Lady Darrell took this opportunity of appearing, for the first time
since Sir Oswald's death, _en grande toilette_. She wore a dress of blue
brocade, a marvel of color and weaving, embroidered with flowers, the
very delicacy of which seemed to attract notice. She wore the Darrell
diamonds, her golden head being wreathed with a tiara of precious
stones. She looked marvelously bright and radiant; her face was flushed
with the most delicate bloom, her eyes were bright with happiness. The
guests remarked to each other how lovely their young hostess was.

But when Pauline entered the room, Lady Darrell was eclipsed, even as
the light of the stars is eclipsed by that of the sun. Pauline wore no
jewels; the grand beauty of her face and figure required none. The
exquisite head and graceful, arched neck rose from the clouds of gray
tulle like some superb flower from the shade of its leaves; her dress
was low, showing the white neck and statuesque shoulders; the dark,
clustering hair was drawn back from the noble brow, a pomegranate
blossom glowing in the thick coils. Graceful and dignified she looked,
without glitter of jewels or dress--simple, perfect in the grandeur of
her own loveliness.

She was greatly admired; young men gazed at her from a distance with an
expression almost of infatuation, while the ladies whispered about her;
yet no one had the courage to pay her any great attention, from the
simple fact that Lady Hampton had insinuated that the young widow did
not care much about Miss Darrell. Some felt ill at ease in her presence;
her proud, dark eyes seemed to detect every little false grace and
affectation, all paltry little insincerities seemed to be revealed to
her.

Yet Pauline on this occasion did her best. Despite Sir Oswald's false
judgment of her, there was an innate refinement about her, and it showed
itself to-night. She talked principally to old Lady Percival, who had
known her mother, and who professed and really felt the most profound
liking and affection for Pauline; they talked during dinner and after
dinner, and then, seeing that every one was engaged, and that no one was
likely to miss her, Pauline slipped from the room and went out.

She gave a long sigh of relief as she stood under the broad, free sky;
flowers and birds, sunshine and shade, the cool, fragrant gloaming, were
all so much more beautiful, so much more to her taste, than the warm,
glittering rooms. In the woods a nightingale was singing. What music
could be compared to this? The white almond blossoms were falling as she
went down to the lakeside, where her dreams were always fairest.

"I wonder," mused the girl, "why the world of nature is so fair, and the
world of men and women so stupid and so inane."

"Pauline," said a voice near her, "I have followed you; I could not help
doing so."

She turned hastily, and saw Captain Langton, his face flushed, his eyes
flaming with a light that was not pleasant to see.

"How have you dared to do so?" she demanded.

"I dare do anything," he replied, "for you madden me. Do you hear? You
madden me!"

She paid no more heed to his words than she did to the humming of the
insects in the grass.

"You shall hear me!" he cried. "You shall not turn away your haughty
head! Look at me--listen to me, or I will----"

"Or you will murder me," she interrupted. "It will not be the first time
you have used that threat. I shall neither look at you nor listen to
you."

"Pauline, I swear that you are driving me mad. I love you so dearly that
my life is a torment, a torture to me; yet I hate you so that I could
almost trample your life out under my feet. Be merciful to me. I know
that I may woo and win this glittering widow. I know that I may be
master of Darrell Court--she has let me guess that much--but, Pauline, I
would rather marry you and starve than have all the world for my own."

She turned to him, erect and haughty, her proud face flushing, her eyes
so full of scorn that their light seemed to blind him.

"I did not think," she said, "that you would dare to address such words
to me. If I had to choose this instant between death and marrying you,
I would choose death. I know no words in which I can express my scorn,
my contempt, my loathing for you. If you repeat this insult, it will be
at your peril. Be warned."

"You are a beautiful fiend!" he hissed. "You shall suffer for your
pride!"

"Yes," she said, calmly; "go and marry Lady Darrell. I have vowed to be
revenged upon her; sweeter vengeance I could not have than to stand by
quietly while she marries you."

"You are a beautiful fiend!" he hissed again, his face white with rage,
his lips dry and hot.

Pauline turned away, and he stood with deeply muttered imprecations on
his lips.

"I love her and I hate her," he said; "I would take her in my arms and
carry her away where no one in the world could see her beautiful face
but myself. I could spend my whole life in worshiping her--yet I hate
her. She has ruined me--I could trample her life out. 'Go and marry Lady
Darrell,' she said; I will obey her."

He returned to the house. No one noticed that his face was paler than
usual, that his eyes were shadowed and strange; no one knew that his
breath came in hot gasps, and that his heart beat with great irregular
throbs.

"I will woo Lady Darrell and win her," he said, "and then Pauline shall
suffer."

What a contrast that graceful woman, with her fair face and caressing
manner, presented to the girl he had just left, with her passionate
beauty and passionate scorn! Lady Darrell looked up at him with eyes of
sweetest welcome.

"You have been out in the grounds," she said, gently; "the evening is
very pleasant."

"Did you miss me, Lady Darrell--Elinor?" he asked, bending over her
chair.

He saw a warm blush rising in her cheeks, and in his heart he felt some
little contempt for the conquest so easily made.

"Did you miss me, Elinor?" he repeated. "You must let me call you
Elinor--I think it is the sweetest name in all the world."

It was almost cruel to trifle with her, for, although she was
conventional to the last degree, and had but little heart, still what
heart she had was all his. It was so easy to deceive her, too; she was
so ready to believe in him and love him that her misplaced affection was
almost pitiable. She raised her blue eyes to his; there was no secret in
them for him.

"I am very glad my name pleases you," she said; "I never cared much for
it before."

"But you will like it now?" he asked; and then bending over her chair,
he whispered something that sent a warm, rosy flush over her face and
neck.

Every one noticed the attention he paid her; Lady Hampton saw it, and
disliked him more than ever. Lord Aynsley saw it, and knew that all hope
of winning the beautiful widow was over for him. People made their
comments upon it, some saying it would be an excellent match, for Sir
Oswald had been much attached to Captain Langton, others thinking that
Lady Darrell, with her fair face and her large fortune, might have done
better. There was something, too, in the captain's manner which puzzled
simple-hearted people--something of fierce energy, which all the
softness of word and look could not hide.

"There is not much doubt of what will be the next news from Darrell
Court," said one to another.

No one blamed the young widow for marrying again, but there was a
general expression of disappointment that she had not done better.

Those dwelling in the house foresaw what was about to take place. Aubrey
Langton became the widow's shadow. Wherever she went he followed her; he
made love to her with the most persevering assiduity, and it seemed to
be with the energy of a man who had set himself a task and meant to go
through with it.

He also assumed certain airs of mastership. He knew that he had but to
speak one word, and Darrell Court would be his. He spoke in a tone of
authority, and the servants had already begun to look upon him as their
master.

Silent, haughty, and reserved, Pauline Darrell stood aside and
watched--watched with a kind of silent triumph which filled Miss
Hastings with wonder--watched and spoke no word--allowed her contempt
and dislike to be seen in every action, yet never uttered one
word--watched like a beautiful, relentless spirit of fate.

Throughout the bright, long summer months Aubrey Langton staid on at
Darrell Court, and at last did what he intended to do--proposed to Lady
Darrell. He was accepted. It was the end of July then, but, yielding to
her regard for appearances, it was agreed that no further word should be
said of marriage until the spring of the following year.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

"I HAVE HAD MY REVENGE!"


It was a warm, beautiful morning, with a dull haze lying over the fair
summer earth; and Pauline Darrell, finding even the large, airy rooms
too warm, went out to seek her favorite shade--the shelter of the great
cedar tree. As she sat with her book in her hand--of which she never
turned a page--Miss Hastings watched her, wondering at the dark shadow
that had fallen over her beauty, wondering at the concentration of
thought in her face, wondering whether this shadow of disappointment
would darken all her life or if it would pass away, wondering if the
vengeance to which she had vowed herself was planned yet; and to them,
so silent and absorbed, came the pretty, bright vision of Lady Darrell,
wearing a white morning dress with blue ribbons in her golden hair. The
brightness and freshness of the morning seemed to linger on her fair
face, as she drew near them with a smile on her lips, and a look of
half-proud shyness in her eyes.

"I am glad you are both here," she said; "I have something to tell you."
The blush and the smile deepened. "Perhaps you can guess what it is.
Miss Hastings, you are smiling--Pauline, you do not look at me. Captain
Langton has asked me to be his wife, and I have consented."

Then she paused. Miss Hastings congratulated her, and wished her much
happiness. Pauline started at first, clasping her hands while her face
grew white, and then she recovered herself and kept perfect silence.

"Pauline," said Lady Darrell, "I am very happy; do not shadow my
happiness. Will you not wish me joy?"

"I cannot," replied the girl, in a trembling voice; "you will have no
joy."

Then, seeing Lady Darrell's wondering face, she seemed to recover
herself more completely.

"I will wish you," she said, bitterly, "as much happiness as you
deserve."

"That would be but little," returned Lady Darrell, with a faint laugh;
"I do not hold myself a particularly deserving person."

Then Miss Hastings, thinking they might come to a better understanding
alone, went away, leaving them together.

Lady Darrell went up to the girl. She laid her hands on her arm
appealingly, and raised her face with a pleading expression.

"Pauline," she said, her lips trembling with emotion, "after all, I was
your uncle's wife; for his sake you might show me a little kindness.
Marriage is a tie for life, not a bond for one day. Oh, Pauline,
Pauline, if there is any reason why I should not marry Aubrey Langton,
tell it--for Heaven's sake, tell it! Your manner is always so strange
to him; if you know anything against him, tell me now before it is too
late--tell me!"

There fell over them a profound silence, broken only by the sweet,
cheery music of a bird singing in the cedar tree, and the faint sighing
of the wind among the leaves.

"Tell me, for Heaven's sake!" repeated Lady Darrell, her grasp
tightening on Pauline's arm.

"I have nothing to tell," was the curt reply. "Pray do not hold my arm
so tightly, Lady Darrell; I have nothing to tell."

"Do not deceive me--there must be some reason for your strange manner.
Tell it to me now, before it is too late."

There was almost an agony of pleading in her face and voice, but Pauline
turned resolutely away, leaving her beneath the cedar alone.

"I must be mistaken," Lady Darrell thought. "What can she know of him? I
must be wrong to doubt him; surely if I doubt him I shall doubt Heaven
itself. It is her manner--her awkward manner--nothing more."

And she tried her best to dismiss all thoughts of Pauline from her mind,
and give herself to her newly-found happiness.

"Pauline," said Miss Hastings, sorrowfully, when she rejoined the girl,
"I cannot understand you."

"I do not quite understand myself," returned Miss Darrell. "I did not
think I had any weakness or pity in my heart, but I find it is there."

"You frighten me," said Miss Hastings. "What makes you so strange? O,
Pauline, throw it off, this black shadow that envelopes you, and forget
this idea of vengeance which has so completely changed you!"

She looked up with a smile--a hard, bitter smile.

"I shall have had my revenge," she said, gloomily, "when she has married
him."

Nor could any entreaties, any prayers of the kind-hearted woman move her
to say more.

Whether the mysterious and uncertain aspect of things preyed upon Miss
Hastings' mind, whether she grieved over her pupil and allowed that
grief to disturb her, was never revealed, but in the month of August she
became seriously ill--not ill enough to be obliged to keep her room, but
her health and her strength failed her, and day by day she became weaker
and less able to make any exertion.

Lady Darrell sent for Doctor Helmstone, and he advised Miss Hastings to
go to the sea-side at once, and to remain there during the autumn. At
her earnest request Pauline consented to accompany her.

"The change will do you good as well as myself," said the anxious lady;
and Miss Darrell saw that she was thinking how much better it would be
that she should leave Darrell Court.

"I will go," she said. "I know what you are thinking of. My vengeance is
nearly accomplished. There is no reason now why I should remain here."

After many consultations it was agreed that they should go to the pretty
little watering-place called Omberleigh. Many things recommended it; the
coast was sheltered, the scenery beautiful, the little town itself very
quiet, the visitors were few and of the higher class. It was not
possible to find a prettier spot than Omberleigh.

Lady Darrell was generosity itself! In her quiet, amiable way she liked
Miss Hastings as well as she was capable of liking any one. She insisted
upon making all kinds of arrangements for the governess--she was to have
every comfort, every luxury.

"And you must do nothing," she said, in her most caressing manner, "but
try to get well. I shall expect to see you looking quite young and
blooming when you return."

Lady Darrell had already written to Omberleigh, and, through an agent
there, had secured beautiful apartments. When Miss Hastings half
remonstrated with her, she laughed.

"I have nothing to do," she said, "but make every one happy; and it is
my duty to find you always a comfortable home."

Lady Darrell looked, as she was in those days, a most happy woman. She
seemed to have grown younger and fairer. The height of her ambition, the
height of her happiness, was reached at last. She was rich in the
world's goods, and it was in her power to make the man she loved rich
and powerful too. She was, for the first time in her life, pleasing her
own heart; and happiness made her more tender, more amiable, more
considerate and thoughtful for others.

Lady Hampton mourned over the great mistake her niece was making. She
had whispered in confidence to all her dear friends that Elinor was
really going to throw herself away on the captain after all. It was
such a pity, she said, when Lord Aynsley was so deeply in love with her.

"But then," she concluded, with a sigh, "it is a matter in which I
cannot interfere."

Yet, looking at Lady Darrell's bright, happy face, she could not quite
regret the captain's existence.

"You will not be lonely, Lady Darrell," said Miss Hastings, the evening
before her journey.

She never forgot the light that spread over the fair young face--the
intense happiness that shone in the blue eyes.

"No," she returned, with a sigh of unutterable content, "I shall never
be lonely again. I have thoughts and memories that keep my heart
warm--all loneliness or sorrow is over for me."

On the morrow Miss Darrell and the governess were to go to Omberleigh,
but the same night Lady Darrell went to Pauline's room.

"I hope you will excuse me," she said, when the girl looked up in
haughty surprise. "I want to say a few words to you before you go."

The cool, formal terms on which they lived were set aside, and for the
first time Lady Darrell visited Pauline in her room.

"I want to ask you one great favor," continued Lady Darrell. "Will you
promise me that Miss Hastings shall not want for anything? She is far
from strong."

"I shall consider Miss Hastings my own especial charge," said Pauline.

"But you must allow me to help you. I have a very great affection for
her, and desire nothing better than to prove it by kind actions."

"Miss Hastings would be very grateful to you if she knew it," said
Pauline.

"But I do not want her to be grateful. I do not want her to know
anything about it. With all her gentleness, Miss Hastings has an
independence quite her own--an independence that I respect greatly; but
it is quite possible, you know, Pauline, to manage an invalid--to
provide good wine and little delicacies."

"I will do all that myself," observed the young girl.

Lady Darrell went nearer to her.

"Pauline," she said, gently, "you have always repelled every effort of
mine; you would not be friends with me. But now, dear--now that I am so
much happier, that I have no cloud in my sky save the shadow of your
averted face--be a little kinder to me. Say that you forgive me, if I
have wronged you."

"You have wronged me, Lady Darrell, and you know it. For me to talk of
forgiveness is only a farce; it is too late for that. I have had my
revenge!"

Lady Darrell looked up at her with a startled face.

"What is that you say, Pauline?"

"I repeat it," said the girl, huskily--"I have had my revenge!"

"What can you mean? Nothing of moment has happened to me. You are
jesting, Pauline."

"It would be well for you if I were," said the girl; "but I tell you in
all truth I have had my revenge!"

And those words sounded in Lady Darrell's ears long after Pauline had
left Darrell Court.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

THE STRANGER ON THE SANDS.


The tide was coming in, the sun setting over the sea; the crimson and
golden light seemed to be reflected in each drop of water until the
waves were one mass of heaving roseate gold; a sweet western wind laden
with rich, aromatic odors from the pine woods seemed to kiss the waves
as they touched the shore and broke into sheets of beautiful white foam.
It was such a sunset and such a sea--such a calm and holy stillness. The
golden waters stretched out as far and wide as the eye could reach. The
yellow sands were clear and smooth; the cliffs that bounded the coast
were steep and covered with luxuriant green foliage. Pauline Darrell had
gone to the beach, leaving Miss Hastings, who already felt much better,
to the enjoyment of an hour's solitude.

There was a small niche in one of the rocks, and the young girl sat down
in it, with the broad, beautiful expanse of water spread out before her,
and the shining waves breaking at her feet. She had brought a book with
her, but she read little; the story did not please her. The hero of it
was too perfect. With her eyes fixed on the golden, heaving expanse of
water, she was thinking of the difference between men in books and men
in real life. In books they were all either brave or vicious--either
very noble or very base.

She passed in review all the men she had ever known, beginning with her
kind-hearted, genial father, the clever humorist artist, who could
define a man's character in an epigram so skillfully. He was no hero of
romance; he liked his cigar, his "glass," and his jest. She thought of
all his rugged, picturesque artist-comrades, blunt of speech, honest of
heart, open-handed, generous, self-sacrificing men, who never envied a
comrade's prosperity, nor did even their greatest enemy an evil turn;
yet they were not heroes of romance. She thought of Sir Oswald--the
stately gentleman of the old school, who had held his name and race so
dear, yet had made so fatal an error in his marriage and will. She
thought of the captain, handsome and polished in manner, and her face
grew pale as she remembered him. She thought of Lord Aynsley, for whom
she had a friendly liking, not unmixed with wonder that he could so
deeply love the fair, soft-voiced, inane Lady Darrell.

Then she began to reflect how strange it was that she had lived until
now, yet had never seen a man whom she could love. Her beautiful lips
curled in scorn as she thought of it.

"If ever I love any one at all," she said to herself, "it must be some
one whom I feel to be my master. I could not love a man who was weak in
body, soul, heart, or mind. I must feel that he is my master; that my
soul yields to his; that I can look up to him as the real guiding star
of my life, as the guide of my actions. If ever I meet such a man, and
vow to love him, what will my love do for me? I do not think I could
fall in love with a book-hero either; they are too coldly perfect. I
should like a hero with some human faults, with a touch of pride capable
of being roused into passion."

Suddenly, as the thought shaped itself in her mind, she saw a tall
figure crossing the sands--the figure of a man, walking quickly.

He stopped at some little distance from the cliff, and then threw
himself on the sand. His eyes were fixed on the restless, beautiful sea;
and she, attracted by his striking masculine beauty, the statuesque
attitude, the grand, free grace of the strong limbs, the royal carriage
of the kingly head, watched him. In the Louvre she had seen some
marvelous statues, and he reminded her of them. There was one of
Antinous, with a grand, noble face, a royal head covered with clusters
of hair, and the stranger reminded her of it.

She looked at him in wonder. She had seen picturesque-looking
men--dandies, fops--but this was the first time she had ever seen a
noble and magnificent-looking man.

"If his soul is like his face," she thought to herself, "he is a hero."

She watched him quite unconsciously, admiration gradually entering her
heart.

"I should like to hear him speak," she thought. "I know just what kind
of voice ought to go with that face."

It was a dreamy spot, a dreamy hour, and he was all unconscious of her
presence. The face she was watching was like some grand, harmonious poem
to her; and as she so watched there came to her the memory of the story
of Lancelot and Elaine. The restless golden waters, the yellow sands,
the cliffs, all faded from her view, and she, with her vivid
imagination, saw before her the castle court where Elaine first saw him,
lifted her eyes and read his lineaments, and then loved him with a love
that was her doom. The face on which she gazed was marked by no great
and guilty love--it was the face of Lancelot before his fall, when he
shone noblest, purest, and grandest of all King Arthur's knights.

"It was for his face Elaine loved him," thought the girl--"grand and
noble as is the face on which the sun shines now."

Then she went through the whole of that marvelous story; she thought of
the purity, the delicate grace, the fair loveliness of Elaine, as
contrasted with the passionate love which, flung back upon itself, led
her to prefer death to life--of that strange, keen, passionate love that
so suddenly changed the whole world for the maid of Astolat.

"And I would rather be like her," said the girl to herself; "I would
rather die loving the highest and the best than live loving one less
worthy."

It had seized her imagination, this beautiful story of a deathless love.

"I too could have done as Elaine did," she thought; "for love cannot
come to me wearing the guise it wears to others. I could read the true
nobility of a man's soul in his face; I could love him, asking no love
in return. I could die so loving him, and believing him greatest and
best."

Then, as she mused, the sunlight deepened on the sea, the rose became
purple, the waters one beaming mass of bright color, and he who had so
unconsciously aroused her sleeping soul to life rose and walked away
over the sands. She watched him as he passed out of sight.

"I may never see him again," she thought; "but I shall remember his face
until I die."

A great calm seemed to fall over her; the very depths of her heart had
been stirred. She had been wondering so short a time before if she
should ever meet any one at all approaching the ideal standard of
excellence she had set up in her mind. It seemed like an answer to her
thoughts when he crossed the sands.

"I may never see him again," she said; "but I shall always remember that
I have met one whom I could have loved."

She sat there until the sun had set over the waters and the moon had
risen; and all the time she saw before her but one image--the face that
had charmed her as nothing in life had ever done before. Then, startled
to find that it had grown so late, she rose and crossed the sands. Once
she turned to look at the sea, and a curious thought came to her that
there, by the side of the restless, shining waters, she had met her
fate. Then she tried to laugh at the notion.

"To waste one's whole heart in loving a face," she thought, "would be
absurd. Yet the sweetest of all heroines--Elaine--did so."

A great calm, one that lulled her brooding discontent, that stilled her
angry despair, that seemed to raise her above the earth, that refined
and beautified every thought, was upon her. She reached home, and Miss
Hastings, looking at the beautiful face on which she had never seen so
sweet an expression, so tender a light before, wondered what had come
over her. So, too, like Elaine--

    All night his face before her lived,

and the face was

    Dark, splendid, sparkling in the silence, full
    Of noble things.

All unconsciously, all unknowingly, the love had come to her that was to
work wonders--the love that was to be her redemption.



CHAPTER XXXV.

THE STORY OF ELAINE.


Miss Hastings laid down the newspaper, with a quick glance of pleased
surprise.

"I am glad that I came to Omberleigh," she said. "Imagine, Pauline, who
is here. You have heard me speak of the St. Lawrences. I educated Laura
St. Lawrence, and she married well and went to India. Her husband holds
a very high appointment there. Lady St. Lawrence is here with her son,
Sir Vane. I am so pleased."

"And I am pleased for you," responded Pauline, with the new gentleness
that sat so well upon her.

"I must go and see them," continued Miss Hastings. "They are staying at
Sea View. We can soon find out where Sea View is."

"St. Lawrence!" said Pauline, musingly; "I like the name; it has a
pleasant sound."

"They are noble people who bear it," observed Miss Hastings. "Lady St.
Lawrence was always my ideal of a thoroughbred English gentlewoman. I
never heard how it was, but the greater part of their fortune was lost
when Sir Arthur died. He left but this one son, Vane; and, although he
has the title, he has but little to support it with. I know their family
estates were all sold. Lady St. Lawrence has a small fortune of her own;
but it is not much."

Again Pauline repeated the name to herself--"Vane St.
Lawrence!"--thinking there was a sound as of half-forgotten music in it.
That was a name that would have suited the face she had watched on the
sands.

"Vane St. Lawrence!"

Unconsciously to herself she had said the words aloud. Miss Hastings
looked up quickly.

"Did you speak, my dear?" she asked; and Pauline wondered to find her
face suddenly grow warm with a burning blush.

"I think," said Miss Hastings, presently, "that I should like to visit
them at once. Lady St. Lawrence may not be staying long, and I should
never forgive myself if I were to miss her. Will you come with me,
Pauline?"

"Yes, willingly."

She was ready to go anywhere, to do anything, with that great, wonderful
love, that great, grand calm, filling her heart and soul.

For the first time the sight of her own magnificent loveliness pleased
her.

"I may see him again," she thought to herself with almost child-like
simplicity, "and I should like him to think of me."

She took more pains than she had ever taken before; and the picturesque
taste that was part of her character greatly assisted her. Her dress was
of purple silk, plain, rich, and graceful; her hat, with its drooping
purple plume, looked like a crown on the beautiful head. She could no
more help looking royal and queenly than she could help the color of her
eyes and hair. Miss Hastings looked up with a smile of surprise, the
proud face was so wonderfully beautiful--the light that never yet shone
on land or sea was shining on it.

"Why, Pauline," she said, laughing, "Lady St. Lawrence will think I am
taking the Queen of Sheba in disguise! What strange change is coming
over you, child?"

What indeed? Was it the shadow of the love that was to redeem her--to
work wonders in her character? Was it the light that came from the
half-awakening soul? Wiser women than good, kindly, simple-hearted Miss
Hastings might have been puzzled.

They were not long in finding Sea View--a pretty villa a little way out
of the town, standing at the foot of a cliff, surrounded by trees and
flowers--one of the prettiest spots in Omberleigh. They were shown into
the drawing-room, the windows of which commanded a magnificent view of
the sea.

Before they had been there many minutes there entered a fair, gentle,
gracious lady, whose eyes filled with tears as she greeted Miss Hastings
warmly.

"You are like a spirit from the past," she said. "I can see Laura a
little child again as I look at you. Nothing could have pleased me so
much as seeing you."

Then she looked admiringly at the beautiful girl by her side. Miss
Hastings introduced her.

"Miss Darrell," she said, "it seems strange that I should meet you. My
husband in his youth knew Sir Oswald well."

Lady St. Lawrence was just what Miss Hastings had described her--a
thoroughly high-bred English lady. In figure she was tall and upright;
her face had been beautiful in its youth, and was even now comely and
fair; the luxuriant brown hair was streaked here and there with silver.
She wore a dress of rich brocade, with some becoming arrangement of
flowers and lace on her head; she was charming in her lady-like
simplicity and gentleness.

Pauline, knowing that the two ladies would have much to talk about,
asked permission to amuse herself with some books she saw upon the
table.

"They belong to my son," said Lady St. Lawrence, with a smile.

There were Tennyson, Keats, and Byron, and written inside of each, in a
bold, clear hand, was the name "Vane St. Lawrence." Pauline lost herself
again in the sweet story of Elaine, from which she was aroused at
intervals by the repetition of the words--"My son Vane."

She could not help hearing some part of Lady St. Lawrence's confidential
communication, and it was to the effect how deeply she deplored the
blindness of her son, who might marry his cousin Lillith Davenant, one
of the wealthiest heiresses in England. Miss Hastings was all kindly
sympathy.

"It would be such an excellent thing for him," continued Lady St.
Lawrence; "and Lillith is a very nice girl. But it is useless counseling
him; Vane is like his father. Sir Arthur, you know, always would have
his own way."

Pauline began to feel interested in this Vane St. Lawrence, who refused
to marry the wealthy heiress because he did not love her.

"He must be somewhat like me," she said to herself with a smile.

Then the conversation changed, and Lady St. Lawrence began to speak of
her daughter Laura and her children. Pauline returned to Elaine, and
soon forgot everything else.

She was aroused by a slight stir. She heard Lady St. Lawrence say:

"My dear Vane, how you startled me!"

Looking up, she saw before her the same face that had engrossed her
thoughts and fancy!

She was nearer to it now, and could see more plainly the exquisite
refinement of the beautiful mouth, the clear, ardent expression of the
bold, frank eyes, the gracious lines of the clustering hair. Her heart
seemed almost to stand still--it was as though she had suddenly been
brought face to face with a phantom.

He was bending over Lady St. Lawrence, talking eagerly to her--he was
greeting Miss Hastings with much warmth and cordiality. Pauline had
time to recover herself before Lady St. Lawrence remembered her. She had
time to still the wild beating of her heart--to steady her trembling
lips--but the flush was still on her beautiful face and the light in her
eyes when he came up to her.

Lady St. Lawrence spoke, but the words sounded to Pauline as though they
came from afar off; yet they were very simple.

"Miss Darrell," she said, "let me introduce my son to you."

Then she went back to Miss Hastings, eager to renew the conversation
interrupted by the entrance of her son.

What did Sir Vane see in those dark eyes that held him captive? What was
looking at him through that most beautiful face? What was it that seemed
to draw his heart and soul from him, never to become his own again? To
any other stranger he would have spoken indifferent words of greeting
and welcome; to this dark-eyed girl he could say nothing. When souls
have spoken, lips have not much to say.

They were both silent for some minutes; and then Sir Vane tried to
recover himself. What had happened to him? What strange, magic influence
was upon him? Ten minutes since he had entered that room heart-whole,
fancy-free, with laughter on his lips, and no thought of coming fate.
Ten minutes had worked wonders of change; he was standing now in a kind
of trance, looking into the grand depths of those dark eyes wherein he
had lost himself.

They said but few words; the calm and silence that fell over them during
that first interval was not to be broken; it was more eloquent than
words. He sat down by her side; she still held the book open in her
hands. He glanced at it.

"Elaine," he said, "do you like that story?"

She told him "Yes," and, taking the book from her hands, he read the
noble words wherein Sir Lancelot tells the Lily Maid how he will dower
her when she weds some worthy knight, but that he can do no more for
her.

Was it a dream that she should sit there listening to those words from
his lips--she had fancied him Sir Lancelot without stain, and herself
Elaine? There was a sense of unreality about it; she would not have been
surprised at any moment to awake and find herself in the pretty
drawing-room at Marine Terrace--all this beautiful fairy tale a
dream--only a dream. The musical voice ceased at last; and it was to her
as though some charm had been broken.

"Do you like poetry, Miss Darrell?" inquired Sir Vane.

"Yes," she replied; "it seems to me part of myself. I cannot explain
clearly what I mean, but when I hear such grand thoughts read, or when I
read them for myself, it is to me as though they were my own."

"I understand," he responded--"indeed I believe that I should understand
anything you said. I could almost fancy that I had lived before, and had
known you in another life."

Then Lady St. Lawrence said something about Sea View, and they left
fairy-land for a more commonplace sphere of existence.



CHAPTER XXXVI.

REDEEMED BY LOVE.


"If anything can redeem her, it will be love." So Miss Hastings had said
of Pauline long months ago, when she had first seen her grand nature
warped and soured by disappointment, shadowed by the fierce desire of
revenge. Now she was to see the fulfillment of her words.

With a nature like Pauline's, love was no ordinary passion; all the
romance, the fervor, the poetry of her heart and soul were aroused. Her
love took her out of herself, transformed and transfigured her, softened
and beautified her. She was not of those who could love moderately, and,
if one attachment was not satisfactory, take refuge in another. For such
as her there was but one love, and it would make or mar her life.

Had Sir Vane St. Lawrence been merely a handsome man she would never
have cared for him; but his soul and mind had mastered her. He was a
noble gentleman, princely in his tastes and culture, generous, pure,
gifted with an intellect magnificent in itself, and cultivated to the
highest degree of perfection. The innate nobility of his character at
once influenced her. She acknowledged its superiority; she bowed her
heart and soul before it, proud of the very chains that bound her.

How small and insignificant everything else now appeared! Even the loss
of Darrell Court seemed trifling to her. Life had suddenly assumed
another aspect. She was in an unknown land; she was happy beyond
everything that she had ever conceived or imagined it possible to be. It
was a quiet, subdued happiness, one that was dissolving her pride
rapidly as the sunshine dissolves snow--happiness that was rounding off
the angles of her character, that was taking away scorn and defiance,
and bringing sweet and gracious humility, womanly grace and tenderness
in their stead.

While Sir Vane was studying her as the most difficult problem he had
ever met with, he heard from Miss Hastings the story of her life. He
could understand how the innate strength and truth of the girl's
character had rebelled against polite insincerities and conventional
untruths; he could understand that a soul so gifted, pure, and eager
could find no resting-place and no delight; he could understand, too,
how the stately old baronet, the gentleman of the old school, had been
frightened at his niece's originality, and scared by her uncompromising
love of truth.

Miss Hastings, whose favorite theme in Pauline's absence was praise of
her, had told both mother and son the story of Sir Oswald's project and
its failure--how Pauline would have been mistress of Darrell Court and
all her uncle's immense wealth if she would but have compromised
matters and have married Aubrey Langton.

"Langton?" questioned Sir Vane. "I know him--that is, I have heard of
him; but I cannot remember anything more than that he is a great _roue_,
and a man whose word is never to be believed."

"Then my pupil was right in her estimate of his character," said Miss
Hastings. "She seemed to guess it by instinct. She always treated him
with the utmost contempt and scorn. I have often spoken to her about
it."

"You may rely upon it, Miss Hastings, that the instinct of a good woman,
in the opinion she forms of men, is never wrong," observed Sir Vane,
gravely; and then he turned to Lady St. Lawrence with the sweet smile
his face always wore for her.

"Mother," he said, gently, "after hearing of such heroism as that, you
must not be angry about Lillith Davenant again."

"That is a very different matter," opposed Lady St. Lawrence; but it
seemed to her son very much the same kind of thing.

Before he had known Pauline long he was not ashamed to own to himself
that he loved her far better than all the world beside--that life for
him, unless she would share it, was all blank and hopeless. She was to
him as part of his own soul, the center of his existence; he knew she
was beautiful beyond most women, he believed her nobler and truer than
most women had ever been. His faith in her was implicit; he loved her
as only noble men are capable of loving.

As time passed on his influence over her became unbounded. Quite
unconsciously to herself she worshiped him; unconsciously to herself her
thoughts, her ideas, all took their coloring from his. She who had
delighted in cynicism, whose beautiful lips had uttered such hard and
cruel words, now took from him a broader, clearer, kinder view of
mankind and human nature. If at times the old habit was too strong for
her, and some biting sarcasm would fall from her, some cold cynical
sneer, he would reprove her quite fearlessly.

"You are wrong, Miss Darrell--quite wrong," he would say. "The noblest
men have not been those who sneered at their fellow-men, but those who
have done their best to aid them. There is little nobility in a deriding
spirit."

And then her face would flush, her lips quiver, her eyes take the
grieved expression of a child who has been hurt.

"Can I help it," she would say, "when I hear what is false?"

"Your ridicule will not remedy it," he would reply. "You must take a
broader, more kindly view of matters. You think Mrs. Leigh deceitful,
Mrs. Vernon worldly; but, my dear Miss Darrell, do you remember this,
that in every woman and man there is something good, something to be
admired, some grand or noble quality? It may be half-hidden by faults,
but it is there, and for the sake of the good we must tolerate the bad.
No one is all bad. Men and women are, after all, created by God; and
there is some trace of the Divine image left in every one."

This was a new and startling theory to the girl who had looked down with
contempt not unmixed with scorn on her fellow-creatures--judging them by
a standard to which few ever attain.

"And you really believe there is something good in every one?" she
asked.

"Something not merely good, but noble. My secret conviction is that in
every soul there is the germ of something noble, even though
circumstances may never call it forth. As you grow older and see more of
the world, you will know that I am right."

"I believe you!" she cried, eagerly. "I always believe every word you
say!"

Her face flushed at the warmth of her words.

"You do me justice," he said. "I have faults by the million, but want of
sincerity is not among them."

So, little by little, love redeemed Pauline, took away her faults, and
placed virtues in their stead. It was almost marvelous to note how all
sweet, womanly graces came to her, how the proud face cleared and grew
tender, how pride died from the dark eyes, and a glorious love-light
came in its stead, how she became patient and gentle, considerate and
thoughtful, always anxious to avoid giving pain to others. It would have
been difficult for any one to recognize the brilliant, willful Pauline
Darrell in the loving, quiet, thoughtful girl whom love had transformed
into something unlike herself.

There came a new world to her, a new life. Instead of problems difficult
to solve, life became full of sweet and gracious harmonies, full of the
very warmth and light of Heaven, full of unutterable beauty and
happiness; her soul reveled in it, her heart was filled with it.

All the poetry, the romance, had come true--nay, more than true. Her
girlish dreams had not shown her such happiness as that which dawned
upon her now. She had done what she had always said she should
do--recognized her superior, and yielded full reverence to him. If
anything had happened to disenchant her, if it had been possible for her
to find herself mistaken in him, the sun of the girl's life would have
set forever, would have gone down in utter darkness, leaving her without
hope.

This beautiful love-idyl did not remain a secret long; perhaps those
most interested were the last to see it. Miss Hastings, however, had
watched its progress, thankful that her prophecy about her favorite was
to come true. Later on Lady St. Lawrence saw it, and, though she could
not help mourning over Lillith Davenant's fortune, she owned that
Pauline Darrell was the most beautiful, the most noble, the most
accomplished girl she had ever met. She had a moderate fortune, too; not
much, it was true; yet it was better than nothing.

"And, if dear Vane has made up his mind," said the lady, meekly, "it
will, of course, be quite useless for me to interfere."

Sir Vane and Pauline were always together; but hitherto no word of love
had been spoken between them. Sir Vane always went to Marine Terrace the
first thing in the morning; he liked to see the beautiful face that had
all the bloom and freshness of a flower. He always contrived to make
such arrangements as would insure that Pauline and he spent the morning
together. The afternoon was a privileged time; it was devoted by the
elder ladies, who were both invalids, to rest. During that interval Sir
Vane read to Pauline, or they sat under the shadow of the great cliffs,
talking until the two souls were so firmly knit that they could never be
severed again. In the evening they walked on the sands, and the waves
sang to them of love that was immortal, of hope that would never
die--sang of the sweet story that would never grow old.



CHAPTER XXXVII.

PRIDE BROUGHT LOW.


Pauline could have passed her life in the happy dream that had come to
her; she did not go beyond it--the golden present was enough for her.
The full, happy, glorious life that beat in her heart and thrilled in
her veins could surely never be more gladsome. She loved and was
beloved, and her lover was a king among men--a noble, true-hearted
gentleman, the very ideal of that of which she had always dreamed; she
did not wish for any change. The sunrise was blessed because it brought
him to her; the sunset was as dear, for it gave her time to dream of
him. She had a secret longing that this might go on forever; she had a
shy fear and almost child-like dread of words that must be spoken,
seeing that, let them be said when they would, they must bring a great
change into her life.

In this she was unlike Sir Vane; the prize he hoped to win seemed to him
so beautiful, so valuable, that he was in hourly dread lest others
should step in and try to take it from him--lest by some mischance he
should lose that which his whole soul was bent upon winning.

He understood the girlish shyness and sweet fear that had changed the
queenly woman into a timid girl; he loved her all the more for it, and
he was determined to win her if she was to be won. Perhaps she read that
determination in his manner, for of late she had avoided him. She
remained with Miss Hastings, and, when that refuge was denied her, she
sought Lady St. Lawrence; but nothing could shield her long.

"Miss Darrell," said Sir Vane, one afternoon, "I have a poem that I want
to read to you."

She was seated on a low stool at Lady St. Lawrence's feet, her beautiful
face flushing at his words, her eyes drooping with shy, sweet pleasure
that was almost fear.

"Will you not read it to me now, and here?" she asked.

"No; it must be read by the sea. It is like a song, and the rush of the
waves is the accompaniment. Miss Hastings, if you have brought up your
pupil with any notion of obedience, enforce it now, please. Tell Miss
Darrell to put on her hat and come down to the shore."

Miss Hastings smiled.

"You are too old now, Pauline, to be dictated to in such matters," said
Miss Hastings; "but if Sir Vane wishes you to go out, there is no reason
why you should not oblige him."

Lady St. Lawrence laid her hand on the beautiful head.

"My son has few pleasures," she said; "give him this one."

Pauline complied. Time had been when anything like a command had
instantly raised a spirit of rebellion within her; but in this clearer
light that had fallen upon her she saw things so differently; it was as
though her soul had eyes and they were just opened.

She rose and put on the pretty, plumed hat which Miss Hastings brought
for her; she drew an Indian shawl over her shoulders. She never once
looked at Sir Vane.

"Your goodness is not only an act of charity," he said, "but it is also
a case in which virtue will be its own reward. You have no notion how
beautifully the sun is shining on the sea."

So they went out together, and Lady St. Lawrence looked after them with
a sigh.

"She is a most beautiful girl, certainly, and I admire her. If she only
had Lillith Davenant's money!"

Sir Vane and Pauline walked in silence down to the shore, and then the
former turned to his companion.

"Miss Darrell," he said, "will you tell me why you were not willing to
come out with me--why you have avoided me and turned the light of your
beautiful face from me?"

Her face flushed, and her heart beat, but she made no answer.

"I have borne my impatience well for the last three days," he said; "now
I must speak to you, for I can bear it no longer, Pauline. Oh, do not
turn away from me! I love you, and I want you to be my wife--my wife,
darling; and I will love you--I will cherish you--I will spend my whole
life in working for you. I have no hope so great, so sweet, so dear, as
the hope of winning you."

She made him no answer. Yet her silence was more eloquent than words.

"It seems a strange thing to say, but, Pauline, I loved you the first
moment I saw you. Do you remember, love? You were sitting with one of my
books in your hand, and the instant my eyes fell upon your beautiful
face a great calm came over me. I could not describe it; I felt that in
that minute my life was completed. My whole heart went out to you, and I
knew, whether you ever learned to care for me or not, that you were the
only woman in all the world for me."

She listened with a happy smile playing round her beautiful lips, her
dark eyes drooping, her flower-like face flushed and turned from his.

"You are my fate--my destiny! Ah! if you love me, Pauline--if you will
only love me, I shall not have lived in vain! Your love would incite me
to win name and fame--not for myself, but for you. Your love would crown
a king--what would it not do for me? Turn your face to me, Pauline? You
are not angry? Surely great love wins great love--and there could be no
love greater than mine."

Still the beautiful face was averted. There was the sunlight on the sea;
the western wind sighed around them. A great fear came over him. Surely,
on this most fair and sunny day, his love was not to meet a cruel death.
His voice was so full of this fear when he spoke again that she, in
surprise, turned and looked at him.

"Pauline," he cried, "you cannot mean to be cruel to me. I am no
coward, but I would rather face death than your rejection."

Then it was that their eyes met; and that which he saw in hers was a
revelation to him. The next moment he had clasped her to his heart, and
was pouring out a torrent of passionate words--such words, so tender, so
loving, so full of passion and hope, that her face grew pale as she
listened, and the beautiful figure trembled.

"I have frightened you, my darling," he said, suddenly. "Ah! do forgive
me. I was half mad with joy. You do not know how I have longed to tell
you this, yet feared--I knew not what--you seemed so far above me,
sweet. See, you are trembling now! I am as cruel as a man who catches in
his hands a white dove that he has tamed, and hurts it by his grasp. Sit
down here and rest, while I tell you over and over again, in every
fashion, in every way, how I love you."

The sun never shone upon happier lovers than those. The golden doors of
Love's paradise were open to them.

"I never knew until now," said Vane, "how beautiful life is. Why,
Pauline, love is the very center of it; it is not money or rank--it is
love that makes life. Only to think, my darling, that you and I may
spend every hour of it together."

She raised her eyes to the fair, calm heavens, and infinite happiness
filled her soul to overflowing; a deep, silent prayer ascended unspoken
from her heart.

Suddenly she sprang from his side with a startled cry.

"Oh, Vane!" she said, with outstretched hands, "I had forgotten that I
am unworthy. I can never marry you!"

He saw such wild despair in her face, such sudden, keen anguish, that he
was half startled; and, kneeling by her side, he asked:

"Why, my darling? Tell me why. You, Pauline," he cried--"you not worthy
of me! My darling, what fancy is it--what foolish idea--what freak of
the imagination? You are the noblest, the truest, the dearest woman in
the whole wide world! Pauline, why are you weeping so? My darling, trust
me--tell me."

She had shrunk shuddering from him, and had buried her face in her
hands; deep, bitter sobs came from her lips; there was the very
eloquence of despair in her attitude.

"Pauline," said her lover, "you cannot shake my faith in you; you cannot
make me think you have done wrong; but will you try, sweet, to tell me
what it is?"

He never forgot the despairing face raised to his, the shadow of such
unutterable sorrow in the dark eyes, the quivering of the pale lips, the
tears that rained down her face--it was such a change from the radiant,
happy girl of but a few minutes ago that he could hardly believe it was
the same Pauline.

He bent over her as though he would fain kiss away the fast falling
tears; but she shrank from him.

"Do not touch me, Vane!" she cried; "I am not worthy. I had forgotten;
in the happiness of loving you, and knowing that I was beloved, I had
forgotten it--my own deed has dishonored me! We must part, for I am not
worthy of you."

He took both her hands in his own, and his influence over her was so
great that even in that hour she obeyed him implicitly, as though she
had been a child.

"You must let me judge, Pauline," he said, gently. "You are mine by
right of the promise you gave me a few minutes since--the promise to be
my wife; that makes you mine--no one can release you from it. By virtue
of that promise you must trust me, and tell me what you have done."

He saw that there was a desperate struggle in her mind--a struggle
between the pride that bade her rise in rebellion and leave him with her
secret untold, and the love that, bringing with it sweet and gracious
humility, prompted her to confess all to him. He watched her with loving
eyes; as that struggle ended, so would her life take its shape.

He saw the dark eyes grow soft with good thoughts; he saw the silent,
proud defiance die out of the beautiful face; the lips quivered, sweet
humility seemed to fall over her and infold her.

"I have done a cruel deed, Vane," she said--"an act of vengeance that
cuts me off from the roll of noble women, and dishonors me."

Still keeping his hold of the white hand, he said:

"Tell me what it was--I can judge far better than you."

It seemed to her fevered fancy that the song of the waves died away, as
though they were listening; that the wind fell with a low sigh, and the
birds ceased their song--a silence that was almost terrible fell around
her--the blue sky seemed nearer to her.

"Speak to me, Vane!" she cried; "I am frightened!"

He drew her nearer to him.

"It is only fancy, my darling. When one has anything weighty to say, it
seems as though earth and sky were listening. Look at me, think of me,
and tell me all."

She could never remember how she began her story--how she told him the
whole history of her life--of the happy years spent with her father in
the Rue d'Orme, when she learned to love art and nature, when she
learned to love truth for its own sake, and was brought up amid those
kindly, simple-hearted artist friends, with such bitter scorn, such
utter contempt of all conventionalities--of her keen and passionate
sorrow when her father died, and Sir Oswald took her home to Darrell
Court, telling her that her past life was at an end forever, and that
even the name she had inherited from her father must be changed for the
name of her race--how after a time she had grown to love her home with a
keen, passionate love, born of pride in her race and in her name--of the
fierce battle that raged always between her stern, uncompromising truth
and the worldly polish Sir Oswald would have had her acquire.

She concealed nothing from him, telling him of her faults as well as her
trials. She gave him the whole history of Aubrey Langton's wooing, and
her contemptuous rejection of his suit.

"I was so proud, Vane," she said, humbly. "Heaven was sure to punish me.
I surrounded myself, as it were, with a barrier of pride, scorn, and
contempt, and my pride has been brought low."

She told him of Sir Oswald's anger at her refusal to marry Aubrey, of
her uncle's threat that he would marry and disinherit her, of her
scornful disbelief--there was no incident forgotten; and then she came
to the evening when Sir Oswald had opened the box to take out the
diamond ring, and had spoken before them all of the roll of bank-notes
placed there.

"That night, Vane," she said, "there was a strange unrest upon me. I
could not sleep. I have had the same sensation when the air has been
overcharged with electricity before a storm; I seemed to hear strange
noises, my heart beat, my face was flushed and hot, every nerve seemed
to thrill with pain. I opened the window, thinking that the cool night
air would drive the fever from my brain.

"As I sat there in the profound silence, I heard, as plainly as I hear
myself speaking now, footsteps--quiet, stealthy footsteps--go past my
door.

"Let me explain to you that the library, where my uncle kept his
cash-box and his papers, is on the ground floor; on the floor above that
there are several guest-chambers. Captain Langton slept in one of these.
My uncle slept on the third floor, and, in order to reach his room, was
obliged to go through the corridor where the rooms of Miss Hastings and
myself were.

"I heard those quiet, stealthy footsteps, Vane, and my heart for a few
moments beat painfully.

"But the Darrells were never cowards. I went to my door and opened it
gently. I could see to the very end of the corridor, for at the end
there was a large arched window, and a faint gray light coming from it
showed me a stealthy figure creeping silently from Sir Oswald's room;
the gray light showed me also a glimmer of steel, and I knew, almost by
instinct, that that silent figure carried Sir Oswald's keys in its
hands.

"In a moment I had taken my resolve. I pushed my door to, but did not
close it; I took off my slippers, lest they should make a sound, and
followed the figure down stairs. As I have said before, the Darrells
were never cowards; no dread came to me; I was intent upon one
thing--the detection of the wrongdoer.

"Not more than a minute passed while I was taking off my shoes, but when
I came to the foot of the grand staircase light and figure had both
disappeared. I cannot tell what impulse led me to the library--perhaps
the remembrance of Sir Oswald's money being there came to me. I crossed
the hall and opened the library door.

"Though I had never liked Captain Langton, the scene that was revealed
to me came upon me as a shock--one that I shall never forget. There was
Captain Langton with my uncle's cash-box before him, and the roll of
bank-notes in his hand. He looked up when I entered, and a terrible
curse fell from his lips--a frightful curse. His face was fearful to
see. The room lay in the shadow of dense darkness, save where the light
he carried shone like a faint star. The face it showed me was one I
shall never forget; it was drawn, haggard, livid, with bloodless lips
and wild, glaring eyes.

"He laid the bank-notes down, and, going to the door, closed it softly,
turning the key; and then clutching my arm in a grasp of iron, he hissed
rather than said:

"'What fiend has brought you here?'

"He did not frighten me, Vane; I have never known fear. But his eyes
were full of murderous hate, and I had an idea that he would have few
scruples as to taking my life.

"'So, Captain Aubrey Langton,' I said, slowly, 'you are a thief! You are
robbing the old friend who has been so good to you!'

"He dragged me to the table on which the money lay, and then I saw a
revolver lying there, too.

"'One word,' he hissed, 'one whisper above your breath, and you shall
die!'

"I know my face expressed no fear--nothing but scorn and contempt--for
his grew more livid as he watched me.

"'It is all your fault!' he hissed into my ear; 'it is your accursed
pride that has driven me to this! Why did you not promise to marry me
when my life lay in your hands?'

"I laughed--the idea of a Darrell married to this midnight thief!

"'I told you I was a desperate man,' he went on. 'I pleaded with you, I
prayed to you, I laid my life at your feet, and you trampled on it with
scorn. I told you of my debts, my difficulties, and you laughed at them.
If I could have gone back to London betrothed to you, every city usurer
would have been willing to lend me money. I am driven to this, for I
cannot go back to face ruin. You have driven me to it; you are the
thief, though my hands take the money. Your thrice-accursed pride has
ruined me!'

"'I shall go to Sir Oswald,' I said, 'and wake him. You shall not rob
him!'

"'Yes,' he returned, 'I shall. I defy you, I dare you; you shall tell no
one.'

"He took the revolver from the table and held it to my head; I felt the
cold steel touch my forehead.

"'Now,' he said, 'your life is in your own hands; you must take an oath
not to betray me, or I will fire.'

"'I am not afraid to die; I would rather die than hide such sin as
yours. You cannot frighten me; I shall call for assistance.'

"'Wait a moment,' he said, still keeping that cold steel to my forehead,
and still keeping his murderous eyes on my face; 'listen to what I shall
do. The moment you cry out I shall fire, and you will fall down dead--I
told you I was a desperate man. Before any one has time to come I shall
place the bank-notes in your hand, and afterward I shall tell Sir Oswald
that, hearing a noise in the library, and knowing money was kept there,
I hastened down, and finding a thief, I fired, not knowing who it
was--and you, being dead, cannot contradict me.'

"'You dare not be so wicked!' I cried.

"'I dare anything--I am a desperate man. I will do it, and the whole
world will believe me; they will hold you a thief, but they will believe
me honest.'

"And, Vane, I knew that what he said was true; I knew that if I chose
death I should die in vain--that I should be branded as a thief, who had
been shot in the very act of stealing.

"'I will give you two minutes,' he said, 'and then, unless you take an
oath not to betray me, I will fire.'

"I was willing to lose my life, Vane," she continued, "but I could not
bear that all the world should brand me as a thief--I could not bear
that a Darrell should be reckoned among the lowest of criminals. I vow
to you it was no coward fear for my life, no weak dread of death that
forced the oath from my lips, but it was a shrinking from being found
dead there with Sir Oswald's money in my hand--a shrinking from the
thought that they would come to look upon my face and say to each other,
'Who would have thought, with all her pride, that she was a thief?' It
was that word 'thief,' burning my brain, that conquered.

"'You have one minute more,' said the hissing whisper, 'and then, unless
you take the oath----'

"'I will take it,' I replied; 'I do so, not to save my life, but my fair
name.'

"'It is well for you,' he returned; and then he forced me to kneel,
while he dictated to me the words of an oath so binding and so fast that
I dared not break it.

"Shuddering, sick at heart, wishing I had risked all and cried out for
help, I repeated it, and then he laid the revolver down.

"'You will not break that oath,' he said. 'The Darrells invariably keep
their word.'

"Then, coolly as though I had not been present, he put the bank-notes
into his pocket, and turned to me with a sneer.

"'You will wonder how I managed this,' he said. 'I am a clever man,
although you may not believe it. I drugged Sir Oswald's wine, and while
he slept soundly I took the keys from under his pillow. I will put them
back again. You seem so horrified that you had better accompany me and
see that I do no harm to the old man.'

"He put away the box and extinguished the light. As we stood together in
the dense gloom, I felt his breath hot upon my face.

"'There is no curse a man can invoke upon the woman who has ruined him,'
he said, 'that I do not give to you; but, remember, I do not glory in my
crime--I am ashamed of it.'

"In the darkness I groped my way to the door, and opened it; in the
darkness we passed through the hall where the armor used by warriors of
old hung, and in the darkness we went up the broad staircase. I stood at
the door of Sir Oswald's room while Captain Langton replaced the keys,
and then, without a word, I went to my own chamber.

"Vane, I can never tell you of the storm, the tempest of hate that raged
within me. I could have killed myself for having taken the oath. I could
have killed Captain Langton for having extorted it. But there was no
help for it then. Do you think I did wrong in taking it?"

"No, my darling," he replied, "I do not. Few girls would have been so
brave. You are a heroine, Pauline."

"Hush!" she said, interrupting him. "You have not heard all. I do not
blame myself for acting as I did. I debated for some time whether I
ought to keep the oath or not. Every good impulse of gratitude prompted
me to break it; yet again it seemed to me a cowardly thing to purchase
my life by a lie. Time passed on--the wonder all died away. I said to
myself that, if ever any one were falsely accused, I would speak out;
but such an event never happened; and not very long after, as you know,
Sir Oswald died. I did not like living under the shadow of that
secret--it robbed my life of all brightness. Captain Langton came again.
No words of mine can tell the contempt in which I held him, the contempt
with which I treated him; every one noticed it, but he did not dare to
complain. He did dare, however, to offer me his hateful love again, and,
when I repulsed him in such a fashion as even he could not overlook, he
turned all his attention to Lady Darrell. I am a wicked girl, Vane--now
that the light of your love has revealed so much to me, I can see how
wicked. I have told you that I had sworn to myself to be revenged on
Lady Darrell for coming between me and my inheritance. I have seen more
of the world since then, but at that time it seemed to me an
unparalleled thing that a young girl like her should marry an old man
like Sir Oswald entirely for his money. I told her if she did so I
would be revenged. I know it was wrong," Pauline continued, humbly; "at
the time I thought it brave and heroic, now I know it was wrong, and
weak, and wicked--your love has taught me that."

"It was an error that sprang from pride," he said, gently; "there is
nothing to part us."

"You have not heard all. Vane, I knew Captain Langton to be a thief--to
be a man who would not scruple at murder if need required. I knew that
all the love he could ever give to any one he had given to me, yet
I----"

She paused, and the sad face raised humbly to his grew crimson with a
burning blush.

"Oh, Vane, how can I tell you the shameful truth? Knowing what he was,
knowing that he was going to marry Lady Darrell, I yet withheld the
truth. That was my revenge. I knew he was a thief, a cruel, wicked
slanderer, a thoroughly bad man, yet, when one word from me would have
saved her from accepting his proposal, I, for my vengeance sake, refused
to speak that word."

Her voice died away in a low whisper; the very sound of her words seemed
to frighten her. Vane St. Lawrence's face grew pale and stern.

"It was unworthy of you, Pauline," he said, unhesitatingly. "It was a
cruel revenge."

"I know it," she admitted. "No words can add to the keen sense of my
dishonor."

"Tell me how it was," he said, more gently.

"I think," continued Pauline, "that she had always liked Captain
Langton. I remember that I used to think so before she married my uncle.
But she had noticed my contempt for him. It shook her faith in him, and
made her doubt him. She came to me one day, Vane, with that doubt in her
face and in her words. She asked me to tell her if I knew anything
against him--if there was any reason why she should doubt him. She asked
me then, before she allowed herself to love him; one word from me then
would have saved her, and that word, for my vengeance sake, I would not
speak."

"It should have been spoken," observed Sir Vane, gravely.

"I know it. Captain Langton has no honor, no conscience. He does not
even like Lady Darrell; he will marry her solely that he may have
Darrell Court. He will afterward maltreat her, and hold her life as
nothing; he will squander the Darrell property. Vane, as truly as the
bright heaven shines above me, I believe him to have no redeeming
quality."

There was silence for some minutes, and then Sir Vane asked:

"Tell me, Pauline--do you think that Lady Darrell would marry him if she
knew what you have just told me?"

"I am sure she would not. She is very worldly, and only lives what one
may call a life of appearances; she would not marry him if she knew him
to be a thief--she would shrink from him. Elegant, polished, amiable
women like Lady Darrell are frightened at crime."

"That one word ought to have been spoken, Pauline, out of sheer womanly
pity and sheer womanly grace. How could you refuse to speak when she
came to you with a prayer on her lips?"

"The pride and thirst for vengeance were too strong for me," she
replied.

"And to these you have sacrificed the life and happiness of a woman who
has never really injured you. Lady Darrell and Captain Langton are not
yet married--are they, Pauline?"

"No, they are to be married in the spring," she answered.

"Then listen to me, my darling. This marriage must never take place.
Your silence is wicked--you cannot honorably and conscientiously stand
by and see Lady Darrell throw herself away on a thief. You have done a
grievous wrong, Pauline. You must make a noble atonement."

Something like a gleam of hope came into her eyes.

"Can I atone?" she asked. "I will do so if I know how, even at the price
of my life."

"I tell you, frankly," he said, "that you have done grievously wrong.
When that poor lady came to you in her doubt and perplexity, you ought
to have told her at least as much of the truth as would have prevented
the marriage. But, my darling, this shall not part us. If I teach you
how to atone will you atone?"

She crossed her hands as one praying.

"I will do anything you tell me, Vane."

"You must go to Darrell Court, and you must make to Lady Darrell the
same ample avowal you have made to me; tell her the same story--how you
vowed vengeance against her, and how you carried that vengeance out; and
then see what comes of it."

"But suppose she will not believe me--what then?"

"You will have done your best--you will at least have made atonement for
your secrecy. If, with her eyes open, Lady Darrell marries Captain
Langton after that, you will have nothing to blame yourself for. It will
be hard for you, my darling, but it is the brave, right, true thing to
do."

"And you do not hate me, Vane?"

"No; I love you even better than I did. The woman brave enough to own
her faults and desirous to atone for them deserves all the love a man
can give her. Pauline, when you have done this, my darling, may I ask
you when you will be my wife?"

She sobbed out that she was unworthy--all unworthy; but he would not
even hear the words.

"None the less dear are you for having told me your faults. There is
only one word now, my darling, to keep in view; and that is,
'atonement.'"

She looked up at him with happy, glistening eyes.

"Vane," she said, "I will go to Darrell Court to-morrow. I shall never
rest now until I have done what you wish me to do."

So far had love redeemed her that she was ready to undo all the wrong
she had done, at any cost to her pride.

But love was to work even greater wonders for her yet.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

PAULINE AND LADY DARRELL.


Pauline communicated her resolution of going to Darrell Court to Miss
Hastings, and that lady looked up in surprise almost too great for
words.

"You are going to Darrell Court to-morrow!" she exclaimed. "It cannot
be, Pauline; you must not travel alone. If you go, I must go with you."

But Pauline threw one arm caressingly round her friend's neck.

"Do not try to stop me," she said, pleadingly, "and let me go alone. I
did a great wrong at Darrell Court, and I must return to set it right.
Only alone can I do that."

"Pauline," asked Miss Hastings, gravely, "do you wish to atone for your
revenge?"

"I do," she replied, simply. "You must let me go alone; and when I come
back I shall have something to tell you--something that I know will
please you very much."

Miss Hastings kissed the beautiful face.

"It is as I thought," she said to herself--"in her case love has worked
wonders--it has redeemed her."

       *       *       *       *       *

Lady Darrell sat alone in her dressing-room; the autumn day was drawing
to a close. Greatly to her delight and surprise, Captain Langton had
unexpectedly appeared that morning. He knew that in the absence of Miss
Hastings he could not stop at Darrell Court; but he was paying a visit,
he told Lady Darrell, to Sir Peter Glynn, and hoped to see her every
day. He had declined dining at the Court, but promised to spend some
part of the evening there.

Lady Darrell had ordered an early dinner, and sat in her dressing-room
awaiting her maid. Of course she was going to dress for the captain--to
set off her delicate beauty to the greatest advantage. A superb costume
of pale pink brocade, with rich trimmings of white lace, was ready for
her. A suit of pearls and opals lay in their open cases. The room
presented a picturesque appearance of unbounded and splendid
confusion--lace, jewelry, fans, slippers, all kinds of valuable and
pretty ornaments were there; but nothing in that room was one half so
fair as the beautiful woman who sat with a pleased smile upon her face.

Yet there was something like a sigh on her lips. Did he love her? Of her
own feelings she had no doubt. She loved him with her whole heart--as
she had never imagined herself capable of loving any one. But did he
love her? There was somewhat of coldness and indifference in his
manner--something she could not understand. He had greeted her
carelessly--he had bidden her a careless farewell, she said to herself.
Yet he must love her; for the face reflected in the mirror was a very
fair one.

Then she remembered Pauline, and the old wonder came over her why
Pauline had always such great, such unbounded contempt for him.

Her maid came in, and Lady Darrell put on the pink brocade with its
white lace trimmings. The maid, in ecstasies, cried out that it was
superb--that "my lady" had "never looked so beautiful."

Lady Darrell took up the pearl necklace and held it against the pink
brocade to note the contrast. While she held it in her hands one of the
servants gave a hurried rap at the door. She came to announce that Miss
Darrell had arrived suddenly, and wished to see Lady Darrell at once.

"Miss Darrell! Then something must be the matter with Miss Hastings. Ask
her to come to me at once."

In a few moments Pauline was standing in that brilliant room, looking
pale and anxious.

"No," she said, in answer to Lady Darrell's eager question; "there is
nothing the matter with Miss Hastings. I wanted to see you; I want to
see you alone. Can you spare a few minutes?"

Lady Darrell dismissed her maid, and then turned to Pauline.

"What is it?" she asked. "What has brought you here so suddenly?"

Without one word, Pauline went to the door and locked it, and then she
went back to Lady Darrell, who was watching her in wonder.

"I have done you a great wrong," she said, humbly, "and I have come to
atone for it."

Lady Darrell drew back, trembling with strange, vague fear.

"Oh, Pauline, Pauline, what have you done?"

Pauline threw aside her traveling cloak and took off her hat; and then
she came to Lady Darrell.

"Let me tell you my story, kneeling here," she said; and she knelt down
before Lady Darrell, looking as she spoke straight into her face. "Let
me tell you before I begin it," she added, "that I have no excuse to
offer for myself--none. I can only thank Heaven that I have seen my
fault before--for your sake--it is too late."

Slowly, gravely, sometimes with bitter tears and with sobs that came
from the depths of her heart, Pauline told her story--how the captain
had loved her, how ill he had taken her repulse, how she had discovered
his vile worthlessness, but for the sake of her revenge had said
nothing.

Lady Darrell listened as to her death-knell.

"Is this true, Pauline?" she cried. "You vowed vengeance against me--is
this your vengeance, to try to part me from the man I love, and to take
from me the only chance of happiness that my wretched life holds?"

Her fair face had grown deadly pale; all the light and the happiness had
fled from it; the pearls lay unheeded, the blue eyes grew dim with
tears.

"Is it possible, Pauline?" she cried again. "Have I given my love to one
dishonored? I cannot believe it--I will not believe it! It is part of
your vengeance against me. What have I done that you should hate me so?"

The dark eyes and the beautiful face were raised to hers.

"Dear Lady Darrell," said the girl, "I have never spoken a loving word
to you before; but I tell you now that, if I could give my life to save
you from this sorrow, I would do so."

"Aubrey Langton a thief!" cried Lady Darrell. "It is not true--I will
swear that it is not true! I love him, and you want to take him from me.
How could you dare to invent such a falsehood of him, a soldier and a
gentleman? You are cruel and wicked."

Yet through all her passionate denials, through all her bitter anger,
there ran a shudder of deadly fear--a doubt that chilled her with the
coldness of death--a voice that would be heard, crying out that here was
no wrong, no falsehood, but the bare, unvarnished truth. She cast it
from her--she trampled it under foot; and the girl kneeling at her feet
suffered as much as she did herself while she watched that struggle.

"You say that he would have murdered you--that he held a pistol to your
forehead, and made you take that oath--he, Aubrey Langton, did that?"

"He did!" said Pauline. "Would to Heaven I had told you before."

"Would to Heaven you had!" she cried. "It is too late now. I love him--I
love him, and I cannot lose him. You might have saved me from this, and
you would not. Oh, cruel and false!"

"Dearest Lady Darrell," said the girl, "I would wash out my fault with
my heart's blood if I could. There is no humiliation that I would not
undergo, no pain that I would not suffer, to save you."

"You might have saved me. I had a doubt, and I went to you, Pauline,
humbly, not proudly. I prayed you to reveal the truth, and you treated
me with scorn. Can it be that one woman could be so cruel to another? If
you had but spoken half the truth you have now told me, I should have
believed you, and have gone away; I should have crushed down the love
that was rising in my heart, and in time I should have forgotten it. Now
it is too late. I love him, and I cannot lose him--dear Heaven, I cannot
lose him!"

She flung up her arms with a wild cry of despair. None ever suffered
more than did Pauline Darrell then.

"Oh, my sin," she moaned, "my grievous sin!"

She tried to soothe the unhappy woman, but Lady Darrell turned from her
with all the energy of despair.

"I cannot believe you," she cried; "it is an infamous plot to destroy
my happiness and to destroy me. Hark! There is Aubrey Langton's voice;
come with me and say before him what you have said to me."



CHAPTER XXXIX.

FACE TO FACE.


Captain Langton looked up in surprise not altogether unfounded, the
sight that met his eyes was so unusual.

Before him stood Lady Darrell, her face white as death, her lips
quivering with excitement, her superb dress of pink brocade all
disarranged, her golden hair falling over her beautiful shoulders--a
sight not to be forgotten; she held Pauline by the hand, and in all her
life Lady Darrell had never looked so agitated as now.

"Captain Langton," said Lady Darrell, "will you come here? I want you
most particularly."

It was by pure chance that she opened the library door--it was the one
nearest to her.

"Will you follow me?" she said.

He looked from one to the other with somewhat of confusion in his face.

"Miss Darrell!" he cried. "Why, I thought you were at Omberleigh!"

Pauline made no reply.

Lady Darrell held the library door open while they entered, and then she
closed it, and turned the key.

Captain Langton looked at her in wonder.

"Elinor," he said, "what does this mean? Are you going to play a tragedy
or a farce?"

"That will depend upon you," she answered; "I am glad and thankful to
have brought you and Miss Darrell face to face. Now I shall know the
truth."

The surprise on his face deepened into an angry scowl.

"What do you mean?" he demanded, sharply. "I do not understand."

It was a scene never to be forgotten. The library was dim with the
shadows of the autumn evening, and in the gloom Lady Darrell's pale pink
dress, golden hair, and white arms bare to the shoulder, seemed to
attract all the light; her face was changed from its great
agitation--the calm, fair beauty, the gentle, caressing manner were
gone.

Near her stood Pauline, whose countenance was softened with compassion
and pity unutterable, the dark eyes shining as through a mist of tears.

Before them, as a criminal before his judges, stood Aubrey Langton, with
an angry scowl on his handsome face, and yet something like fear in his
eyes.

"What is it?" he cried, impatiently. "I cannot understand this at all."

Lady Darrell turned her pale face to him.

"Captain Langton," she said, gravely, "Miss Darrell brings a terrible
accusation against you. She tells me that you stole the roll of notes
that Sir Oswald missed, and that at the price of her life you extorted
an oath from her not to betray you; is it true?"

She looked at him bravely, fearlessly.

"It is a lie!" he said.

Lady Darrell continued:

"Here, in this room, where we are standing now, she tells me that the
scene took place, and that, finding she had discovered you in the very
act of theft, you held a loaded pistol to her head until she took the
oath you dictated. Is it true or false?"

"It is a lie!" he repeated; but his lips were growing white, and great
drops stood upon his brow.

"She tells me," resumed Lady Darrell, "that you loved her, and that you
care only for Darrell Court, not for me. Is it true?"

"It is all false," he said, hoarsely--"false from beginning to end! She
hates you, she hates me, and this foul slander has only been invented to
part us!"

Lady Darrell looked from one to the other.

"Now Heaven help me!" she cried. "Which am I to believe?"

Grave and composed, with a certain majesty of truth that could never be
mistaken, Pauline raised her right hand.

"Lady Darrell," she said, "I swear to you, in the presence of Heaven,
that I have spoken nothing but the truth."

"And I swear it is false!" cried Aubrey Langton.

But appearances were against him; Lady Darrell saw that he trembled,
that his lips worked almost convulsively, and that great drops stood
upon his brow.

Pauline looked at him; those dark eyes that had in them no shadow save
of infinite pity and sorrow seemed to penetrate his soul, and he shrank
from the glance.

"Elinor," he cried, "you believe me, surely? Miss Darrell has always
hated you, and this is her revenge."

"Lady Darrell," said the girl, "I am ashamed of my hatred and ashamed of
my desire for vengeance. There is no humiliation to which I would not
submit to atone for my faults, but every word I have said to you is
true."

Once more with troubled eyes Lady Darrell looked from one to the other;
once more she murmured:

"Heaven help me! Which am I to believe?"

Then Captain Langton, with a light laugh, said:

"Is the farce ended, Lady Darrell? You see it is no tragedy after all."

Pauline turned to him, and in the light of that noble face his own grew
mean and weak.

"Captain Langton," she said, "I appeal to whatever there is of good and
just in you. Own to the truth. You need not be afraid of it--Lady
Darrell will not injure you. She will think better of you if you confess
than if you deny. Tell her that you were led into error, and trust to
her kindness for pardon."

"She speaks well," observed Lady Darrell, slowly. "If you are guilty, it
is better to tell me so."

He laughed again, but the laugh was not pleasant to hear. Pauline
continued:

"Let the evil rest where it is, Captain Langton; do not make it any
greater. In your heart you know that you have no love for this lady--it
is her fortune that attracts you. If you marry her, it will only be to
make her unhappy for life. Admit your fault and leave her in peace."

"You are a remarkably free-spoken young lady, Miss Darrell--you have
quite an oratorical flow of words. It is fortunate that Lady Darrell
knows you, or she might be tempted to believe you. Elinor, I rest my
claim on this--since you have known Miss Darrell, have you ever received
one act of kindness from her, one kind word even?"

Lady Darrell was obliged to answer:

"No."

"Then I leave it," he said, "to your sense of justice which of us you
are to believe now--her who, to anger you, swears to my guilt, or me,
who swears to my innocence? Elinor, my love, you cannot doubt me."

Pauline saw her eyes soften with unutterable tenderness--he saw a faint
flush rise on the fair face. Almost involuntarily Lady Darrell drew near
to him.

"I cannot bear to doubt you, Aubrey," she said. "Oh, speak the truth to
me, for my love's sake!"

"I do speak the truth. Come with me; leave Miss Darrell for a while.
Walk with me across the lawn, and I will tell you what respect for Miss
Darrell prevents my saying here."

Lady Darrell turned to Pauline.

"I must hear what he has to say--it is only just."

"I will wait for you," she replied.

The captain was always attentive; he went out into the hall and returned
with a shawl that he found there.

"You cannot go out with those beautiful arms uncovered, Elinor," he
said, gently.

He placed the shawl around her, trying to hide the coward, trembling
fear.

"As though I did not love you," he said, reproachfully. "Show me another
woman only half so fair."

Pauline made one more effort.

"Lady Darrell," she cried, with outstretched hands, "you will not decide
hastily--you will take time to judge?"

But as they passed out together, something in the delicate face told her
that her love for Aubrey Langton was the strongest element in her
nature.

"Lady Darrell," she cried again, "do not listen to him! I swear I have
told you the truth--Heaven will judge between him and me if I have not!"

"You must have studied tragedy at the Porte St. Martin," said Aubrey
Langton, with a forced laugh; "Lady Darrell knows which to believe."

She watched them walk across the lawn, Captain Langton pleading
earnestly, Lady Darrell's face softening as she listened.

"I am too late!" cried the girl, in an agony of self-reproach. "All my
humiliation is in vain; she will believe him and not me. I cannot save
her now, but one word spoken in time might have done so."

Oh, the bitterness of the self-reproach that tortured her--the anguish
of knowing that she could have prevented Lady Darrell's wrecking her
whole life, yet had not done so! It was no wonder that she buried her
face in her hands, weeping and praying as she had never wept and prayed
in her life before.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Elinor, look at me," said Captain Langton; "do I look like a thief and
a would-be murderer?"

Out of Pauline's presence the handsome face had regained its usual
careless, debonair expression.

She raised her eyes, and he saw in them the lingering doubt, the
lingering fear.

"If all the world had turned against me," he said, "and had refused to
believe in me, you, Elinor, my promised wife, ought to have had more
faith."

She made no reply. There had been something in the energy of Pauline's
manner that carried conviction with it; and the weak heart, the weak
nature that had always relied upon others, could form no decision
unaided.

"For argument sake, let us reverse the case. Say that some disappointed
lover of yours came to tell to me that you had been discovered stealing;
should I not have laughed? Why, Elinor, you must be blind not to see the
truth; a child might discern it. The fact is that long ago I was
foolish enough to believe myself in love with Miss Darrell; and
she--well, honestly speaking, she is jealous. A gentleman does not like
to refer to such things, but that is the simple truth. She is jealous,
and would part us if she could; but she shall not. My beautiful Elinor
is all my own, and no half-crazed, jealous girl shall come between us."

"Is it so, Aubrey?" asked Lady Darrell.

"My dearest Elinor, that is the whole secret of Miss Darrell's strange
conduct to me. She is jealous--and you know, I should imagine, what
jealous women are like."

She tried to believe him, but, when she recalled the noble face, with
its pure light of truth and pity, she doubted again. But Captain Langton
pleaded, prayed, invented such ridiculous stories of Pauline, made such
fervent protestations of love, lavished such tender words upon her, that
the weak heart turned to him again, and again its doubtings were cast
aside.

"How we shall laugh over this in the happy after years!" he said. "It is
really like a drama. Oh, Elinor, I am so thankful that I was here to
save you! And now, my darling, you are trembling with cold. My fair,
golden-haired Elinor, what must you think of that cruel girl? How could
she do it? No; I will not go in again to-night--I should not be able to
keep my temper. Your grand tragedy heroine will be gone to-morrow."

They stood together under the shadow of the balcony, and he drew her
nearer to him.

"Elinor," he said, "I shall never rest again until you are my wife.
This plot has failed; Miss Darrell will plot again to part us. I cannot
wait until the spring--you must be my wife before then. To-morrow
morning I shall ride over to talk to you about it."

She clasped her arms round his neck, and raised her sweet face to his.

"Aubrey," she said, wistfully, "you are not deceiving me?"

"No, my darling, I am not."

He bent down and kissed her lips. She looked at him again, pleadingly,
wistfully.

"Heaven will judge between us, Aubrey," she said, solemnly. "I have a
sure conviction that I shall know the truth."

"I hope Heaven will assist you," he returned, lightly; "I am quite sure
the decision will be in my favor."

And those words, so wickedly, so blasphemously false, were the last he
ever spoke to her.



CHAPTER XL.

DYING IN SIN.


Captain Langton left Lady Darrell at the door of the porch, and went
round to the stables. He was a man as utterly devoid of principle as any
man could well be, yet the untruths he had told, the false testimony he
had given, the false oaths he had taken, had shaken his nerves.

"I should not care to go through such a scene as that again," he
said--"to stand before two women as before my judges."

He found his hands unsteady and his limbs trembling; the horse he had to
ride was a spirited one. The captain half staggered as he placed his
hand on the saddle.

"I am not very well," he said to one of the grooms; "go to the house and
tell Frampton, the butler, to bring some brandy here."

In a few minutes the butler appeared with a tray, on which stood bottle
and glass.

"This is some very old brandy, sir," he said, "and very strong."

But Captain Langton did not appear to heed him; he poured out half a
tumblerful and drank it, while the butler looked on in amazement.

"It is very strong, sir," he repeated.

"I know what I am doing," returned the captain, with an oath.

He was dizzy with fear and with his after-success; he shuddered again as
he mounted his horse, and the memory of Pauline's face and Pauline's
words came over him. Then he galloped off, and Frampton, turning to the
groom, with a scared face, said:

"If he gets home safely after taking so much of that brandy, and with
that horse, I will never venture to say what I think again."

       *       *       *       *       *

Lady Darrell returned to the library, where she had left Pauline. They
looked at each other in silence, and then Lady Darrell said:

"I--I believe in him, Pauline; he cannot be what you say."

Miss Darrell rose and went up to her; she placed her in a chair, and
knelt at her feet.

"You do not believe what I have told you?" she questioned, gently.

"I cannot; my love and my faith are all his."

"I have done my best," said Pauline, sorrowfully, "and I can do no more.
While I live I shall never forgive myself that I did not speak sooner,
Lady Darrell. Elinor, I shall kneel here until you promise to forgive
me."

Then Lady Darrell looked at the beautiful face, with its expression of
humility.

"Pauline," she said, suddenly, "I hardly recognize you. What has come to
you? What has changed you?"

Her face crimson with hot blushes, Pauline answered her.

"It is to me," she said, "as though a vail had fallen from before my
eyes. I can see my sin in all its enormity. I can see to what my silence
has led, and, though you may not believe me, I shall never rest until
you say that you have forgiven me."

Lady Darrell was not a woman given to strong emotion of any kind; the
deepest passion of her life was her love for Aubrey Langton; but even
she could give some faint guess as to what it had cost the proud,
willful Pauline to undergo this humiliation.

"I do forgive you," she said. "No matter how deeply you have disliked
me, or in what way you have plotted against me, I cannot refuse you. I
forgive you, Pauline."

Miss Darrell held up her face.

"Will you kiss me?" she asked. "I have never made that request in all my
life before, but I make it now."

Lady Darrell bent down and kissed her, while the gloom of the evening
fell round them and deepened into night.

"If I only knew what to believe!" Lady Darrell remarked. "First my heart
turns to him, Pauline, and then it turns to you. Yet both cannot be
right--one must be most wicked and most false. You have truth in your
face--he had truth on his lips when he was talking to me. Oh, if I
knew--if I only knew!"

And when she had repeated this many times, Pauline said to her:

"Leave it to Heaven; he has agreed that Heaven shall judge between us,
and it will. Whoever has told the lie shall perish in it."

So some hours passed, and the change that had come over Lady Darrell was
almost pitiful to see. Her fair face was all drawn and haggard, the
brightness had all left it. It was as though years of most bitter sorrow
had passed over her. They had spoken to her of taking some refreshment,
but she had sent it away. She could do nothing but pace up and down with
wearied step, moaning that she only wanted to know which was right,
which to believe, while Pauline sat by her in unwearied patience.
Suddenly Lady Darrell turned to her.

"What is the matter with me?" she asked. "I cannot understand myself;
the air seems full of whispers and portents--it is as though I were here
awaiting some great event. What am I waiting for?"

They were terrible words, for the answer to them was a great commotion
in the hall--the sound of hurried footsteps--of many voices. Lady
Darrell stood still in dismay.

"What is it?" she cried. "Oh, Pauline, I am full of fear--I am sorely
full of fear!"

It was Frampton who opened the door suddenly, and stood before them with
a white, scared face.

"Oh, my lady--my lady!" he gasped.

"Tell her quickly," cried Pauline; "do you not see that suspense is
dangerous?"

"One of the Court servants," said the butler, at once, in response,
"returning from Audleigh Royal, has found the body of Captain Langton
lying in the high-road, where his horse had thrown him, dragged him, and
left him--dead!"

"Heaven be merciful to him!" cried Pauline Darrell. "He has died in his
sin."

But Lady Darrell spoke no words. Perhaps she thought to herself that
Heaven had indeed judged between them. She said nothing--she trembled--a
gasping cry came from her, and she fell face forward on the floor.

They raised her and carried her up stairs. Pauline never left her;
through the long night-watches and the long days she kept her place by
her side, while life and death fought fiercely for her. She would awake
from her stupor at times, only to ask about Aubrey--if it could be true
that he was dead--and then seemed thankful that she could understand no
more.

They did not think at first that she could recover. Afterward Doctor
Helmstone told her that she owed her life to Pauline Darrell's
unchanging love and care.



CHAPTER XLI.

THE WORK OF ATONEMENT.


The little town of Audleigh Royal had never been so excited. It was such
a terrible accident. Captain Langton, the guest of Sir Peter Glynn, so
soon to be master of Darrell Court--a man so handsome, so accomplished,
and so universal a favorite--to be killed in the gloom of an autumn
night, on the high-road! Society was grieved and shocked.

"That beautiful young lady at the Hall, who loved him so dearly, was,"
people whispered to each other, "at death's door--so deep was her
grief."

An inquest was held at the "Darrell Arms;" and all the revelations ever
made as to the cause of Captain Langton's death were made then. The
butler and the groom at Darrell Court swore to having felt some little
alarm at seeing the deceased drink more than half a tumblerful of
brandy. The butler's prophecy that he would never reach home in safety
was repeated. One of the men said that the captain looked pale and
scared, as though he had seen a ghost; another told how madly he had
galloped away; so that no other conclusion could be come to but
this--that he had ridden recklessly, lost all control over the horse,
and had been thrown. There was proof that the animal had dragged him
along the road for some little distance; and it was supposed the fatal
wound had been inflicted when his head was dashed against the mile-stone
close to which he had been found.

It was very shocking, very terrible. Society was distressed. The body
lay at the "Darrell Arms" until all arrangements had been made for the
funeral. Such a funeral had never been seen in Audleigh Royal. Rich and
poor, every one attended.

Captain Langton was buried in the pretty little cemetery at Audleigh;
and people, as they stood round the grave, whispered to each other that,
although the horse that killed him had cost over a hundred pounds, Sir
Peter Glynn had ordered it to be shot.

Then, when the autumn had faded into winter, the accident was forgotten.
Something else happened which drove it from people's minds, and the
tragedy of Audleigh Royal became a thing of the past.

Pauline did not return to Omberleigh. Miss Hastings was dreadfully
shocked when she received a letter telling her of Captain Langton's
death and of Lady Darrell's serious illness. No persuasions could induce
her to remain longer away. She returned that same day to the Court, and
insisted upon taking her share in the nursing of Lady Darrell.

Lady Hampton looked upon the captain's accident as the direct
interposition of Providence. Of course such a death was very shocking,
very terrible; but certainly it had never been a match she approved;
and, after all, say what one would, everything had happened for the
best.

Lady Hampton went over to Darrell Court, and assisted in attending to
the invalid; but her thoughts ran more on Lord Aynsley, and the chances
of his renewing his offer, than on anything else. Elinor would soon
recover, there was no fear; the shock to her nerves had been great, but
people never died of nervousness; and, when she did get well, Lady
Hampton intended to propose a season in London.

But Lady Darrell did not get well as soon as Lady Hampton had
anticipated. Indeed, more than one clever doctor, on leaving her
presence, shook his head gravely, and said it was doubtful whether Lady
Darrell would ever recover at all; the shock to her nerves had been
terrible.

But there was something to be said also of a blighted life and a broken
heart.

Autumn had drifted into winter; and one morning Lady Darrell, who had
been sleeping more soundly than usual, suddenly turned to Pauline, who
seldom left her.

"Pauline," she whispered, "you have not told any one, have you?"

"Told what?" she inquired.

"About poor Aubrey's faults. I know now that he was guilty. Strange,
solemn thoughts, strange revelations, come to us, are made to us in
sickness, when we lie, where I have been lying, in the valley of the
shadow of death. I know that he was guilty, and that he died in his
sin. I know it now, Pauline."

Miss Darrell bent over her and kissed the white brow.

"Listen to me, dear," continued the weak voice. "Let this secret die
with us--let there be a bond between us never to reveal it. You will
never tell any one about it, will you, Pauline?"

"No," she replied, "never. I should never have told you but that I hoped
to save you from a dreadful fate--and it would have been a dreadful fate
for you to have married him; he would have broken your heart."

"It is broken now," she said, gently. "Yet it comforts me to know that
no reproach will be heaped on Aubrey's memory."

"You will get better," observed Pauline, hopefully, "and then there will
be happier days in store for you."

"There will be no happy days for me," returned Lady Darrell,
sorrowfully. "You see, Pauline, I loved him very dearly--more dearly
than I knew. I had never loved any one very much until I saw him. I
could more easily have checked a raging fire than have restrained my
love after I had once given it. My life had in some way passed into his,
and now I do not care to live."

"But you have so much to live for," said Pauline.

"Not now. I do not care for aught about me. I have tried to remember
Darrell Court and all my wealth and grandeur, but they give me no
pleasure--the shadow of death lies over all."

And it was all in vain that Pauline tried to rouse her; Lady Darrell,
after her unhappy love, never cared to be roused again. Lady Hampton
would not think seriously of her illness--it would pass away in time,
she said; but Miss Hastings shook her head gravely, and feared the
worst.

The time came when Pauline told some part of her story to the governess.
She did not mention Aubrey's crime--that secret she kept until
death--but she gave a sketch of what had passed between her and Lady
Darrell.

"Did I do right?" she asked, with that sweet humility which had
vanquished all pride in her.

"You acted worthily," replied Miss Hastings, while she marveled at the
transformation which love had wrought in that once proud, willful girl.

Time passed on, and by the wish of Miss Hastings a celebrated physician
was sent for from London, for Lady Darrell grew no better. His opinion
sounded somewhat like a death-warrant.

"She may recover sufficiently to quit her room and to linger on in
life--how long is uncertain; but the shock to her nerves she will never
fully recover from--while she lives she will be a victim to nervousness.
But I do not think she will live long. Let her have as much cheerful
society as possible, without fatigue; nothing more can be done for her."

And with that they were obliged to be content. Lady Hampton would not
admit that the London physician was correct.

"Nerves are all nonsense," she said, brusquely. "How many nervous
shocks have I been through, with husband dead and children dead?
Elinor's only danger is her mother's complaint. She died of consumption
quite young."

It was found, however, despite Lady Hampton's disbelief, that the London
physician had spoken truthfully. Lady Darrell rose from her sick bed,
but she was but the shadow of herself, and a victim to a terrible
nervous disorder.

Miss Hastings watched over her with great anxiety, but Pauline was like
a second self to the unhappy lady. They were speaking of her one day,
and Miss Hastings said:

"An illness like Lady Darrell's is so uncertain, Pauline; you must not
occupy yourself with her so entirely, or you will lose your own health."

But Pauline looked up with a smile--perhaps the gravest, the sweetest
and most tender her face had ever worn.

"I shall never leave her," she returned.

"Never leave her?" questioned Miss Hastings.

"No. I shall stay with her to comfort her while life lasts, and that
will be my atonement."



CHAPTER XLII.

LOVE AND SORROW.


The beautiful golden summer came round, and Darrell Court looked
picturesque and lovely with its richness of foliage and flush of
flowers. The great magnolia trees were all in bloom--the air was full of
their delicate, subtle perfume; the chestnuts were in bloom, the limes
all in blossom. Sweet summer had scattered her treasures with no niggard
hand; and Lady Darrell had lived to see the earth rejoice once more.

Under the limes, where the shadows of the graceful, tremulous, scented
leaves fell on the grass--the limes that were never still, but always
responding to some half-hidden whisper of the wind--stood Pauline
Darrell and her lover, Sir Vane St. Lawrence. They had met but once
since their hurried parting at Omberleigh. Vane had been to Darrell
Court--for their engagement was no secret now. They wrote to each other
constantly.

On this fair June day Sir Vane had come to the Court with news that
stirred the depths of the girl's heart as a fierce wind stirs the
ripples on a lake.

As the sunlight fell through the green leaves and rested on her, the
change in her was wonderful to see. The beautiful, noble face had lost
all its pride, all its defiance; the play of the lips was tremulous,
sensitive, and gentle; the light in the dark eyes was of love and
kindness. Time had added to her loveliness; the grand, statuesque figure
had developed more perfectly; the graceful attitudes, the unconscious
harmony, the indefinable grace and fascination were more apparent than
ever. But she no longer carried her grand beauty as a protest, but made
it rather the crown of a pure and perfect womanhood.

Something dimmed the brightness of her face, for Sir Vane had come to
her with strange news and a strange prayer. His arm was clasped round
her as they walked under the shadow of the limes where lovers' footsteps
had so often strayed.

"Yes, Pauline, it has come so unexpectedly at last," spoke Sir Vane.
"Ever since Graveton has been in office, my dear mother has been
unwearied in asking for an appointment for me. You know the story of our
impoverished fortunes, and how anxious my dear mother is to retrieve
them."

Her hand seemed to tighten its clasp on his, as she answered:

"Yes, I know."

"Now an opportunity has come. Graveton, in answer to my mother's
continued requests, has found for me a most lucrative office; but, alas,
my love, it is in India, and I must shortly set out."

"In India!" repeated Pauline; "and you must set out shortly, Vane? How
soon?"

"In a fortnight from now," he answered. "It is an office that requires
filling up at once, Pauline. I have come to ask if you will accompany
me? Will you pardon the short notice, and let me take my wife with me to
that far-off land? Do not let me go alone into exile--come with me,
darling."

The color and light died out of her beautiful face, her lips quivered,
and her eyes grew dim as with unshed tears.

"I cannot," she replied; and there was a silence between them that
seemed full of pain.

"You cannot, Pauline!" he cried, and the sadness and disappointment in
his voice made her lips quiver again. "Surely you will not allow any
feminine nonsense about dress and preparations, any scruple about the
shortness of time, to come between us? My mother bade me say that if you
will consent she will busy herself night and day to help us to prepare.
She bade me add her prayer to mine. Oh, Pauline, why do you say you
cannot accompany me?"

The first shock had passed for her, and she raised her noble face to
his.

"From no nonsense, Vane," she said. "You should know me better, dear,
than that. Nothing can part us but one thing. Were it not for that, I
would go with you to the very end of the world--I would work for you and
with you."

"But what is it, Pauline?" he asked. "What is it, my darling?"

She clung to him more closely still.

"I cannot leave her, Vane--I cannot leave Lady Darrell. She is dying
slowly--hour by hour, day by day--and I cannot leave her."

"But, my darling Pauline, there are others beside you to attend to the
lady--Lady Hampton and Miss Hastings. Why should you give up your life
thus?"

"Why?" she repeated. "You know why, Vane. It is the only atonement I can
offer her. Heaven knows how gladly, how happily, I would this moment
place my hand in yours and accompany you; my heart longs to do so. You
are all I have in the world, and how I love you you know, Vane. But it
seems to me that I owe Lady Darrell this reparation, and at the price of
my whole life's happiness I must make it."

He drew her nearer to him, and kissed the trembling lips.

"She has suffered so much, Vane, through me--all through me. If I had
but foregone my cruel vengeance, and when she came to me with doubt in
her heart if I had but spoken one word, the chances are that by this
time she would have been Lady Aynsley, and I should have been free to
accompany you, my beloved; but I must suffer for my sin. I ought to
suffer, and I ought to atone to her."

"Your life, my darling," he said, "your beautiful bright life, your
love, your happiness, will all be sacrificed."

"They must be. You see, Vane, she clings to me in her sorrow. His
name--Aubrey Langton's name--never passes her lips to any one else but
me. She talks of him the night and the day through--it is the only
comfort she has; and then she likes me to be with her, to talk to her,
and soothe her, and she tires so soon of any one else. I cannot leave
her, Vane--it would shorten her life, I am sure."

He made no answer. She looked up at him with tearful eyes.

"Speak to me, Vane. It is hard, I know--but tell me that I am right."

"You are cruelly right," he replied. "Oh, my darling, it is very hard!
Yet you make her a noble atonement for the wrong you have done--a noble
reparation. My darling, is this how your vow of vengeance has ended--in
the greatest sacrifice a woman could make."

"Your love has saved me," she said, gently--"has shown me what is right
and what is wrong--has cleared the mist from my eyes. But for that--oh,
Vane, I hate to think what I should have been!"

"I wish it were possible to give up the appointment," he remarked,
musingly.

"I would not have you do it, Vane. Think of Lady St. Lawrence--how she
has worked for it. Remember, it is your only chance of ever being what
she wishes to see you. You must not give it up."

"But how can I leave you, Pauline?"

"If you remain in England, it will make but little difference," she
said. "I can never leave Lady Darrell while she lives."

"But, Pauline, it may be four, five, or six years before I return, and
all that time I shall never see you."

She wrung her hands, but no murmur passed her lips, save that it was her
fault--all her fault--the price of her sin.

"Vane," she said, "you must not tell Lady Darrell what you came to ask
me. She must know that you are here only to say good-by. I would rather
keep her in ignorance; she will be the happier for not knowing."

Was ever anything seen like that love and that sorrow--the love of two
noble souls, two noble hearts, and the sorrow that parting more bitter
than death brought upon them? Even Miss Hastings did not know until long
after Sir Vane was gone of the sacrifice Pauline had made in the brave
endeavor to atone for her sin.

She never forgot the agony of that parting--how Sir Vane stood before
them, pale, worn, and sad, impressing one thing on them all--care for
his darling. Even to Lady Darrell, the frail, delicate invalid, whose
feeble stock of strength seemed to be derived from Pauline, he gave many
charges.

"It will be so long before I see her again," he said; "but you will keep
her safely for me."

"I almost wonder," said Lady Darrell, "why you do not ask Pauline to
accompany you, Sir Vane. For my own sake, I am most selfishly glad that
you have not done so--I should soon die without her."

They looked at each other, the two who were giving up so much for her,
but spoke no word.

Sir Vane was obliged to return to London that same day. He spoke of
seeing Pauline again, but she objected--it would only be a renewal of
most bitter and hopeless sorrow. So they bade each other farewell under
the lime trees. The bitter yet sweet memory of it lasted them for life.

Miss Hastings understood somewhat of the pain it would cause, but with
her gentle consideration, she thought it best to leave Pauline for a
time. Hours afterward she went in search of her, and found her under the
limes, weeping and moaning for the atonement she had made for her sin.



CHAPTER XLIII.

LADY DARRELL'S WILL.


Two years passed away, and Sir Vane St. Lawrence's circumstances were
rapidly improving; his letters were constant and cheerful--he spoke
always of the time when he should come home and claim Pauline for his
wife. She only sighed as she read the hopeful words, for she had
resolved that duty should be her watchword while Lady Darrell
lived--even should that frail, feeble life last for fifty years, she
would never leave her.

There came to her chill doubts and fears, dim, vague forebodings that
she should never see Vane again--that their last parting was for ever;
not that she doubted him, but that it seemed hopeless to think he would
wait until her hair was gray, and the light of her youth had left her.

Never mind--she had done her duty; she had sinned, but she had made the
noblest atonement possible for her sin.

Two years had passed, and the summer was drawing to a close. To those
who loved and tended her it seemed that Lady Darrell's life was closing
with it. Even Lady Hampton had ceased to speak hopefully, and Darrell
Court was gloomy with the shadow of the angel of death.

There came an evening when earth was very lovely--when the gold of the
setting sun, the breath of the western wind, the fragrance of the
flowers, the ripple of the fountains, the song of the birds, were all
beautiful beyond words to tell; and Lady Darrell, who had lain watching
the smiling summer heavens, said:

"I should like once more to see the sun set, Pauline. I should like to
sit at the window, and watch the moon rise."

"So you shall," responded Pauline. "You are a fairy queen. You have but
to wish, and the wish is granted."

Lady Darrell smiled--no one ever made her smile except Pauline; but the
fulfillment of the wish was not so easy after all. Lady Hampton's
foreboding was realized. Lady Darrell might have recovered from her
long, serious illness but that her mother's complaint, the deadly
inheritance of consumption, had seized upon her, and was gradually
destroying her.

It was no easy matter now to dress the wasted figure; but Pauline seemed
to have the strength, the energy of twenty nurses. She was always
willing, always cheerful, always ready; night and day seemed alike to
her; she would look at her hands, and say:

"Oh! Elinor, I wish I could give you one-half my strength--one-half my
life!"

"Do you? Pauline, if you could give me half your life, would you do
so?"

"As willingly as I am now speaking to you," she would answer.

They dressed the poor lady, whose delicate beauty had faded like some
summer flower. She sat at the window in a soft nest of cushions which
Pauline had prepared for her, her wasted hands folded, her worn face
brightened with the summer sunshine. She was very silent and thoughtful
for some time, and then Pauline, fearing that she was dull, knelt in the
fashion that was usual to her at Lady Darrell's feet, and held the
wasted hands in hers.

"What are you thinking about, Elinor?" Pauline asked. "Something as
bright as the sunshine?"

Lady Darrell smiled.

"I was just fancying to myself that every blossom of that white magnolia
seemed like a finger beckoning me away," she said; "and I was thinking
also how full of mistakes life is, and how plainly they can be seen when
we come to die."

Pauline kissed the thin fingers. Lady Darrell went on.

"I can see my own great mistake, Pauline. I should not have married Sir
Oswald. I had no love for him--not the least in the world; I married him
only for position and fortune. I should have taken your warning, and not
have come between your uncle and you. His resentment would have died
away, for I am quite sure that in his heart he loved you; he would have
forgiven you, and I should have had a happier, longer life. That was my
mistake--my one great mistake. Another was that I had a certain kind of
doubt about poor Aubrey. I cannot explain it; but I know that I doubted
him even when I loved him, and I should have waited some time before
placing the whole happiness of my life in his hands. Yet it seems hard
to pay for those mistakes with my life, does it not?"

And Pauline, to whom all sweet and womanly tenderness seemed to come by
instinct, soothed Lady Darrell with loving words until she smiled again.

"Pauline," she said, suddenly, "I wish to communicate something to you.
I wish to tell you that I have made my will, and have left Darrell Court
to you, together with all the fortune Sir Oswald left me. I took your
inheritance from you once, dear; now I restore it to you. I have left my
aunt, Lady Hampton, a thousand a year; you will not mind that--it comes
back to you at her death."

"I do not deserve your kindness," said Pauline, gravely.

"Yes, you do; and you will do better with your uncle's wealth than I
have done. I have only been dead in life. My heart was broken--and I
have had no strength, no energy. I have done literally nothing; but you
will act differently, Pauline--you are a true Darrell, and you will keep
up the true traditions of your race. In my poor, feeble hands they have
all fallen through. If Sir Vane returns, you will marry him; and, oh! my
darling, I wish you a happy life. As for me, I shall never see the sun
set again."

The feeble voice died away in a tempest of tears; and Pauline,
frightened, made haste to speak of something else to change the current
of her thoughts.

But Lady Darrell was right. She never saw the sun set or the moon rise
again--the frail life ended gently as a child falls asleep. She died the
next day, when the sun was shining its brightest at noon; and her death
was so calm that they thought it sleep.

She was buried, not in the Darrell vault, but, by Pauline's desire, in
the pretty cemetery at Audleigh Royal. Her death proved no shock, for
every one had expected it. Universal sympathy and kindness followed her
to her grave. The short life was ended, and its annals were written in
sand.

Lady Hampton had given way; her old dislike of Pauline had changed into
deep admiration of her sweet, womanly virtues, her graceful humility.

"If any one had ever told me," she said, "that Pauline Darrell would
have turned out as she has, I could not have believed it. The way in
which she devoted herself to my niece was wonderful. I can only say that
in my opinion she deserves Darrell Court."

The legacy made Lady Hampton very happy; it increased her income so
handsomely that she resolved to live no longer at the Elms, but to
return to London, where the happiest part of her life had been spent.

"I shall come to Darrell Court occasionally," she said, "so that you may
not quite forget me;" and Pauline was surprised to find that she felt
nothing save regret at parting with one whom she had disliked with all
the injustice of youth.

A few months afterward came a still greater surprise. The lover from
whom Miss Hastings had been parted in her early youth--who had left
England for Russia long years ago, and whom she had believed
dead--returned to England, and never rested until he had found his lost
love.

In vain the gentle, kind-hearted lady protested that she was too old to
marry--that she had given up all thoughts of love. Mr. Bereton would not
hear of it, and Pauline added her entreaties to his.

"But I cannot leave you, my dear," said Miss Hastings. "You cannot live
all by yourself."

"I shall most probably have to spend my life alone," she replied, "and I
will not have your happiness sacrificed to mine."

Between her lover and her pupil Miss Hastings found all resistance
hopeless. Pauline took a positive delight and pleasure in the
preparations for the marriage, and, in spite of all that Miss Hastings
could say to the contrary, she insisted upon settling a very handsome
income upon her.

There was a tone of sadness in all that Pauline said with reference to
her future which struck Miss Hastings with wonder.

"You never speak of your own marriage," she said, "or your own
future--why is it, Pauline?"

The beautiful face was overshadowed for a moment, and then she replied:

"It is because I have no hope. I had a presentiment when Vane went away,
that I should not see him again. There are some strange thoughts always
haunting me. If I reap as I have sowed, what then?"

"My dear child, no one could do more than you have done. You repented of
your fault, and atoned for it in the best way you were able."

But the lovely face only grew more sad.

"I was so willful, so proud, so scornful. I did not deserve a happy
life. I am trying to forget all the romance and the love, all the poetry
of my youth, and to live only for my duty."

"But Sir Vane will come back," said Miss Hastings.

"I do not know--all hope seemed to die in my heart when he went away.
But let us talk of you and your future without reference to mine."

       *       *       *       *       *

Miss Hastings was married, and after she had gone away Pauline Darrell
was left alone with her inheritance at last.



CHAPTER XLIV.

SHADOW OF ABSENT LOVE.


Six years had passed since the marriage of the governess left Miss
Darrell alone. She heard as constantly as ever from Sir Vane; he had
made money rapidly. It was no longer the desire to make a fortune which
kept him away, but the fact that in the part of the country where he was
great danger existed, and that, having been placed there in a situation
of trust, he could not well leave it; so of late a hopeless tone had
crept into his letters. He made no reference to coming home; and
Pauline, so quick, so sensitive, saw in this reticence the shadow of her
own presentiment.

Six years had changed Pauline Darrell from a beautiful girl to a
magnificent woman; her beauty was of that grand and queenly kind that of
itself is a noble dowry. The years had but added to it. They had given a
more statuesque grace to the perfect figure; they had added tenderness,
thought, and spirituality to the face; they had given to her beauty a
charm that it had never worn in her younger days.

Miss Darrell, of Darrell Court, had made for herself a wonderful
reputation. There was no estate in England so well managed as hers. From
one end to the other the Darrell domain was, people said, a garden.
Pauline had done away with the old cottages and ill-drained farm-houses,
and in their stead pretty and commodious buildings had been erected. She
had fought a long and fierce battle with ignorance and prejudice, and
she had won.

She had established schools where children were taught, first to be good
Christians, and then good citizens, and where useful knowledge was made
much of. She had erected almshouses for the poor, and a church where
rich and poor, old and young, could worship God together. The people
about her rose up and called her blessed; tenants, dependents, servants,
all had but one word for her, and that was of highest praise. To do good
seemed the object of her life, and she had succeeded so far.

No young queen was ever more popular or more beloved than this lady with
her sweet, grave smile, her tender, womanly ways, her unconscious
grandeur of life. She made no stir, no demonstration, though she was the
head of a grand old race, the representative of an old honored family,
the holder of a great inheritance; she simply did her duty as nobly as
she knew how to do it. There was no thought of self left in her, her
whole energies were directed for the good of others. If Sir Oswald could
have known how the home he loved was cared for, he would have been proud
of his successor. The hall itself, the park, the grounds, were all in
perfect order. People wondered how it was all arranged by this lady,
who never seemed hurried nor talked of the work she did.

Pauline occupied herself incessantly, for the bright hopes of girlhood,
she felt, were hers no longer; she had admitted that the romance, the
passion, the poetry of her youth were unforgotten, but she tried to
think them dead. People wondered at her gravity. She had many admirers,
but she never showed the least partiality for any of them. There seemed
to be some shadow over her, and only those who knew her story knew what
it was--that it was the shadow of her absent love.

She was standing one day in the library alone, the same library where so
much of what had been eventful in her life had happened. The morning had
been a busy one; tenants, agents, business people of all kinds had been
there, and Pauline felt tired.

Darrell Court, the grand inheritance she had loved and in some measure
longed for, was hers; she was richer than she had ever dreamed of being,
and, as she looked round on the treasures collected in the library, she
thought to herself with a sigh, "Of what avail are they, save to make
others happy?" She would have given them all to be by Vane's side, no
matter how great their poverty, no matter what they had to undergo
together; but now it seemed that this bright young love of hers was to
wither away, to be heard of no more.

So from the beautiful lips came a deep sigh; she was tired, wearied with
the work and incessant care that the management of her estates entailed.
She did not own it even to herself, but she longed for the presence of
the only being whom she loved.

She was bending over some beautiful japonicas--for, no matter how
depressed she might be, she always found solace in flowers--when she
heard the sound of a horse's rapid trot.

"Farmer Bowman back again," she said to herself, with a smile; "but I
must not give way to him."

She was so certain that it was her tiresome tenant that she did not even
turn her head when the door opened and some one entered the room--some
one who did not speak, but who went up to her with a beating heart, laid
one hand on her bowed head, and said:

"Pauline, my darling, you have no word of welcome for me?"

It was Vane. With a glad cry of welcome--a cry such as a lost child
gives when it reaches its mother's arms--the cry of a long-cherished,
trusting love--she turned and was clasped in his arms, her haven of
rest, her safe refuge, her earthly paradise, attained at last.

"At last!" she murmured.

But he spoke no word to her. His eyes were noting her increased beauty.
He kissed the sweet lips, the lovely face.

"My darling," he said, "I left you a beautiful girl, but I find you a
woman beautiful beyond all comparison. It has seemed to me an age since
I left you, and now I am never to go away again. Pauline, you will be
kind to me for the sake of my long, true, deep love? You will be my
wife as soon as I can make arrangements--will you not?"

There was no coquetry, no affectation about her; the light deepened on
her noble face, her lips quivered, and then she told him:

"Yes, whenever you wish."

They conversed that evening until the sun had set. He told her all his
experience since he had left her, and she found that he had passed
through London without even waiting to see Lady St. Lawrence, so great
had been his longing to see her.

But the next day Lady St. Lawrence came down, and by Sir Vane's wish
preparations for the marriage were begun at once. Pauline preferred to
be married at Audleigh Royal and among her own people.

They tell now of that glorious wedding--of the sun that seemed to shine
more brightly than it had ever shone before--of the rejoicings and
festivities such as might have attended the bridal of an empress--of the
tears and blessings of the poor--of the good wishes that would have made
earth Heaven had they been realized. There never was such a wedding
before.

Every other topic failed before the one that seemed inexhaustible--the
wonderful beauty of the bride. She was worthy of the crown of
orange-blossoms, and she wore them with a grace all her own. Then, after
the wedding, Sir Vane and Pauline went to Omberleigh. That was the
latter's fancy, and, standing that evening where she had seen Vane
first, she blessed him and thanked him with grateful tears that he had
redeemed her by his great love.

       *       *       *       *       *

There was a paragraph in a recent issue of the _Times_ announcing that
Oswald St. Lawrence, second son of Sir Vane and Lady St. Lawrence, had,
by letters-patent, assumed the name of Darrell. So that the old
baronet's prayer is granted, and the race of Darrell--honored and
respected, beloved and esteemed--is not to be without a representative.


THE END.



1878. 1878.

[Illustration: G. W. CARLETON & CO.]

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       *       *       *       *       *



Transcriber's note:

Obvious punctuation errors were corrected.

Page 24, "Darrel" changed to "Darrell" (figure of a Darrell)

Page 38, "thought" changed to "taught" (you taught yourself)

Page 43, "somewhut" changed to "somewhat" (somewhat akin to)

Page 47, "is" changed to "its" (with its lilac)

Page 100, "ftiends" changed to "friends" (choose friends)

Page 103, "vou" changed to "you" (Were you not delighted)

Page 108, "She" changed to "The" (The invited guests were)

Page 207, "lest" changed to "least" (the least shadow)

Page 208, "hasten" changed to "hastened" (They hastened to congratulate)

Page 228, "deline" changed to "decline" (I must decline)

Page 257, word "as" added to text (it was as though)

Advertisement, Page 1, the price for "Silent and True" was missing in
the original. Based on the other books in the set, the price of "1 75"
was added.





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