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Title: Irene Iddesleigh
Author: Ros, Amanda McKittrick, 1860-1939
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Irene Iddesleigh" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

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       *       *       *       *       *

               IRENE IDDESLEIGH.

       *       *       *       *       *





  PRINTED BY W. & G. BAIRD, Limited,
  124 Royal Avenue;
  and at London and Dublin.

       *       *       *       *       *



  CHAPTER I.                                   9

  CHAPTER II.                                 13

  CHAPTER III.                                20

  CHAPTER IV.                                 25

  CHAPTER V.                                  32

  CHAPTER VI.                                 40

  CHAPTER VII.                                49

  CHAPTER VIII.                               60

  CHAPTER IX.                                 73

  CHAPTER X.                                  79

  CHAPTER XI.                                 92

  CHAPTER XII.                               102

  CHAPTER XIII.                              116

  CHAPTER XIV.                               126

  CHAPTER XV.                                138

  CHAPTER XVI.                               150

  CHAPTER XVII.                              163

  CHAPTER XVIII.                             174

  CHAPTER XIX.                               186


Sympathise with me, indeed! Ah, no! Cast your sympathy on the chill
waves of troubled waters; fling it on the oases of futurity; dash it
against the rock of gossip; or, better still, allow it to remain within
the false and faithless bosom of buried scorn.

Such were a few remarks of Irene as she paced the beach of limited
freedom, alone and unprotected. Sympathy can wound the breast of trodden
patience,--it hath no rival to insure the feelings we possess, save that
of sorrow.

The gloomy mansion stands firmly within the ivy-covered, stoutly-built
walls of Dunfern, vast in proportion and magnificent in display. It has
been built over three hundred years, and its structure stands
respectably distant from modern advancement, and in some degrees it
could boast of architectural designs rarely, if ever, attempted since
its construction.

The entrance to this beautiful home of Sir Hugh Dunfern, the present
owner, is planned on most antique principles; nothing save an enormous
iron gate meets the gaze of the visitor, who at first is inclined to
think that all public rumours relative to its magnificence are only the
utterances of the boastful and idle; nor until within its winding paths
of finest pebble, studded here and there with huge stones of unpolished
granite, could the mind for a moment conceive or entertain the faintest
idea of its quaint grandeur.

Beautiful, however, as Dunfern mansion may seem to the anxious eye of
the beholder, yet it is not altogether free from mystery. Whilst many of
its rooms, with walls of crystal, are gorgeously and profusely
furnished, others are locked incessantly against the foot of the
cautious intruder, having in them only a few traditional relics of no
material consequence whatever, or even interest, to any outside the
ancestral line of its occupants.

It has often been the chief subject of comment amongst the few
distinguished visitors welcomed within its spacious apartments, why
seemingly the finest rooms the mansion owned were always shut against
their eager and scrutinizing gaze; or why, when referred to by any of
them, the matter was always treated with silence.

All that can now be done is merely to allow the thought to dwindle into
bleak oblivion, until aroused to that standard of disclosure which
defies hindrance.

Within the venerable walls surrounding this erection of amazement and
wonder may be seen species of trees rarely, if ever, met with; yea,
within the beaded borders of this grand old mansion the eye of the
privileged beholds the magnificent lake, studded on every side with
stone of costliest cut and finish; the richest vineries, the most
elegant ferns, the daintiest conservatories, the flowers and plants of
almost every clime in abundance, the most fashionable walks, the most
intricate windings that imagination could possibly conceive or genius
contrive. In fact, it has well been named "The Eden of Luxury."

Dunfern mansion was handed down as an heirloom since its purchase by
Walter, third Earl of Dunfern, in 1674; and since then has been tenderly
cared for internally, and carefully guarded externally, by the skilful
hands of noted artisans. The present owner is only son of Sir John
Dunfern, by Irene, adopted daughter of Lord and Lady Dilworth, of
Dilworth Castle, County Kent.


The December sun had hidden its dull rays behind the huge rocks that
rose monstrously high west of Dunfern mansion, and ceased to gladden the
superb apartment Sir John occupied most part of the day. They had
withdrawn their faint reflection from within the mirrored walls of this
solitary chamber to brighten other homes with their never-dying sheen.

As the dull, grey evening advanced to such a degree as to render a look
of brightness imperative to the surroundings of its sole occupant, Sir
John requested that his favourite apartment should be made bright as
possible by adding more fuel to the smouldering ashes within the
glistening bars which guarded their remains. This being done, three huge
lamps were lighted, and placed at respectable distances from each other,
when Sir John, with his accustomed grace, began to peruse some of his
evening papers.

Though a man of forty summers, he never yet had entertained the thought
of yielding up his bacheloric ideas to supplace them with others which
eventually should coincide with those of a different sex; in fact,
he never had bestowed a thought on changing his habits and manner of
living, nor until fully realising his position of birthright, that had
been treasured by his ancestors for such a lengthened period, and which,
sooner or later, must pass into strangers' hands, did the thought ever
occur to him of entering into the league of the blessed.

The clock had just chimed nine when a maid entered with a note, neatly
laid on a trim little tray, which she placed on the table close beside
her master, and then retired. It was rather unusual for him to receive
letters so late in the evening, nor until he was in full possession of
its contents he could not form the faintest imagination of its worth.

Not far from Dunfern Mansion may be seen situated on a rising hill the
beautiful Castle of Lord and Lady Dilworth, a prominent building
commanding the finest view in the county. It had been remodelled by the
present owner, after inheriting it from his late maternal uncle--Lord
Leyburn; and, although equipped with all modern improvements and
inventions necessary, yet there dwelt a lack of design and beauty about
it possessed by Dunfern Mansion.

The bountiful owner of Dilworth Castle differed much in many respects
from Sir John Dunfern. He was a nobleman of rare tact and capacities;
a keen sportsman; a Turf frequenter; an ardent politician; and, in fact,
a lover of everything which served to promote the interests of his
extended and varied social circle in particular, and entire community in

Lady Dilworth, it may here be mentioned, was never of a very robust
nature, and often had she felt the great strain of society press rather
heavily on her weak frame, so much so, as to render the adoption of the
subject of this book indispensable. Drawing his chair closer to the
table, on which one of the great lamps stood, Sir John proceeded to
peruse the contents of the note. It was an invitation from Lord and Lady
Dilworth to attend a ball at Dilworth Castle on 22nd prox., given by
them in honour of the marriage of Henry, fifth Marquis of Hill-Hall,
with Ethel, Countess of Maidstone.

Lord Dilworth and the Marquis were personal friends of Sir John, and to
accept this kind and courteous invitation would mean a step towards the
summit of the matrimonial ladder, by meeting the majority of the
fully-fledged belles in and around Canterbury, and especially Irene
Iddesleigh, Lord Dilworth's adopted daughter, more generally known as
"The Southern Beauty." He slept over the matter that night, with the
result that next morning he wrote accepting the kind invitation, more
through curiosity than desire.

Although he led a quiet and retired life, generally speaking, still he
did not absent himself totally from a few social meetings occasionally,
and if imagination painted his future in the manner so artfully designed
by Lady Dilworth, no doubt this visit to Dilworth Castle might convert
it into reality.

Arriving at the elegant castle, with its tower of modern fame, and
spires of Gothic structure, Sir John was met in its great hall by the
genial hostess, who conducted him to the brilliant reception-room,
superbly laid out for the comfort of its guests; and being the first to
arrive, was thus afforded a good opportunity of inspecting the many
valuable relics and works of art that adorned its huge and velvety

On the centre wall right opposite where he sat hung a painted portrait,
life-size, an admirable production of the well-known artist, "Peto," and
not knowing where such an original of perfection and beauty could be
found, he resolved to inquire, when opportunity offered, whose portrait
it might be.

At this stage the numerous guests began to assemble, including the
majority of the leading gentry in and around Canterbury, as it was
looked upon as the chief social event of the season. Mothers were most
fidgetty that their daughters should don their costliest gowns and
brilliants, as rumour had it that the noble heir to Dunfern estate
should honour the assembly with his august presence.

Report gained ground that Sir John, having quietly crept out of boyhood
for a lengthened period, would end his days harnessed singly, but idle
gossip, flying at all times kite-high, soon gave place in the wavering
minds of society belles to that of more serious consideration and
welcome expectancy.

On being introduced to all those outside his present circle of
acquaintance on this evening, and viewing the dazzling glow of splendour
which shone, through spectacles of wonder, in all its glory, Sir John
felt his past life but a dismal dream, brightened here and there with a
crystal speck of sunshine that had partly hidden its gladdening rays of
bright futurity until compelled to glitter with the daring effect they
soon should produce. But there awaited his view another beam of life's
bright rays, who, on entering, last of all, commanded the minute
attention of every one present--this was the beautiful Irene Iddesleigh.

How the look of jealousy, combined with sarcasm, substituted those of
love and bashfulness! How the titter of tainted mockery rang throughout
the entire apartment, and could hardly fail to catch the ear of her
whose queenly appearance occasioned it! These looks and taunts serving
to convince Sir John of Nature's fragile cloak which covers too often
the image of indignation and false show, and seals within the breasts of
honour and equality resolutions of an iron mould. On being introduced to
Irene, Sir John concluded instantly, without instituting further
inquiry, that this must be the original of the portrait so warmly
admired by him. There she stood, an image of perfection and divine
beauty, attired in a robe of richest snowy tint, relieved here and there
by a few tiny sprigs of the most dainty maidenhair fern, without any
ornaments whatever, save a diamond necklet of famous sparkling lustre
and priceless value.

As the evening rolled into the small hours of the morning, the numerous
guests began to repair to their respective homes, none of the weaker sex
having had the slightest advancement in the direction of their coveted
intentions, save Irene, who was fortunate in securing the attention of
Sir John Dunfern during the happy hours that fled so quickly.

Immediately before taking his departure he pressed firmly her snowy
hand, and left the pretty-gilded area which surrounded his first hopes
of matrimony to enter what he was beginning to believe the weary
apartments of Dunfern Mansion, that previously had held him bound to
them in hermit-like fashion.


Arouse the seeming deadly creature to that standard of joy and gladness
which should mark his noble path! Endow him with the dewdrops of
affection; cast from him the pangs of the dull past, and stamp them for
ever beneath the waves of troubled waters; brighten his life as thou
wouldst that of a faded flower; and when the hottest ray of that
heavenly orb shall shoot its cheerful charge against the window panes of
Dunfern Mansion, the worthy owner can receive it with true and profound
thankfulness. Three weeks had scarcely passed ere Sir John was made the
recipient of another invitation to Dilworth Castle. This second effusion
of cordiality required neither anxious thought nor prolonged decision
how to act, knowing as he did that it would again serve to bring his
present thoughts into practice by affording him another opportunity of
sharing in the loving looks of one for whom he feared there dwelt a
strong inclination on his part to advance his affection.

Irene stood looking out on the lake beyond the richly draped window,
ruminating on the days of her childhood, which lent a look of dullness
to the beautiful face that beamed with delight as Sir John Dunfern
entered. The evening was very pleasantly and quietly spent, Irene
commanding the greater part of his time and attention, on account of
Lady Dilworth being slightly ailing, whose health, generally speaking,
at this period was not so robust as formerly, and consequently failed to
warrant too many callers. As the clock struck eleven Sir John began to
think of returning home, feeling quite happy, fancying his great
affection was returned in full by Irene.

Being very domesticated, and having the stiff ideas of a bachelor of
long standing so firmly imprinted in his nature, he felt very diffident
in asking the object of his visit when next they should meet. But Lady
Dilworth entering before taking his departure, saved him putting the shy
question by placing herself in his position and demanding the required
reply. Sir John promised without further ceremony to visit them more
frequently in future, and left their midst with hasty step, lingering in
the hall to cast another look at the lovely form which stood not far
distant. Leisurely leaning back in his carriage, and burying himself in
his great and costly cloak demanded by the night's icy aspect, he rolled
along towards his home drowned in sweet thought of the beautiful girl
whom he only recently knew, but whose regard for her raged with such
rambling anxiety as to convince him of the propriety of making her aware
how he meant to play the part of lover.

Until now he was inclined to be prejudiced against the snares and
allurements of women, but he strongly resolved to try gradually and
abandon every unkind thought harboured in his mind against them, fearing
lest all his conjured imaginations were both unjust and selfish; and
determined to drown them for ever in the clashing gulf of fate, felt a
prouder and happier mortal than before.

But time would solve the problem and heal the wound which penetrated so
deeply his bosom. Yea, a short time he hoped would bring his creeping
fever of endearment under the binding stay of appointed authority, and
heal its weakening effects with the sacred salve of truth.

Not until the horses dashed up the winding avenue with increased
alacrity was he shaken from his meditating attitude, to be ushered once
more into his home of boundless wealth. The lonely stare of grave
bewilderment took the place of happiness that formerly seemed built in
abundance for him within its walls, as he entered the palatial and
gorgeously equipped abode he principally inhabited, feeling the tinge of
the dull past filling him with entire despair, whilst meditating on the
happy future which presented itself to him. How in a trivial period this
lonely spot, he thought, should prove the beacon of never-dying bliss,
when once furnished with the most precious treasure on earth--a virtuous
woman! Ah! the very thought of his embosomed and anticipated alliance
made him nervously happy; and believing a bright and noble future lay in
store for the lonely owner of Dunfern Estate, he resolved to indulge
nature in a few hours of calm repose.

The days moved along more quickly Sir John believed than formerly; and
possibly he may have imagined this was so, as he felt no longer fettered
with fear of fighting with his inward friend--obstinacy, whose hand of
drowsy bachelorism seemed for ever closed to his changing charity; he
had at last thrown aside the garb of female dislike, and patronised that
of a warm-hearted lover.

Irene did not lead Lady Dilworth to believe that she really cared for
Sir John, and, when his name cropped up occasionally, she allowed
herself always to keep the coast of conversation clear that would likely
convict her views most, and managed cleverly thereby to deceive the
friend who came not a day too soon to her rescue. Perhaps had Lady
Dilworth proved less concerned about the orphan charge she freed from a
life of toil, apparently, and instructed her more on the branches of
integrity, then the lovely youthful Irene could have decided more
honorably in all cases of questioning, and would have done justice, not
alone to herself, but to all concerned; but, like many others similarly
surrounded with lovers, battling in the war of extremes, and encompassed
on all sides with apparent luxuries, she was confident she would some
day come off victorious by acting the clever Corinthian.


When on the eve of glory, whilst brooding over the prospects of a bright
and happy future, whilst meditating upon the risky right of justice,
there we remain, wanderers on the cloudy surface of mental woe,
disappointment and danger, inhabitants of the grim sphere of anticipated
imagery, partakers of the poisonous dregs of concocted injustice. Yet
such is life.

Sir John's visits began now to be numerous at Dilworth Castle, each
visit serving further to strengthen the link of relationship, and bury,
in the heaving breast of seeking solace, the dull delight of the weary
past. As the weeks wore on, he reckoned them only as days, when
comparing their loving length with those of the bleak years he tried to
enjoy alone, before taking such steps--yes, serious steps--as those
fancied by the would-be bachelor.

At first he was careless and indifferent to the flowery harangues of
mothers who paid him periodical visits, with their daughters, of
apology, and firmly retained the obstinate qualities of an autocratic
ruler, until softened in the presence of one he found he was learning to
steadily love. He believed now that the chief stripes,
viz.--observation, inclination, advancement and accomplishment, in the
well-spun web of matrimony, must harmonise with the groundwork of
happiness, without which our lives are not worth an unstamped coin.

Love's path, on which Sir John was known now to tread with the step of
intensity, seemed smooth as the ice of Inglewood. There were no
obstacles in his way of which he was yet aware, save imagination; this,
also, was chased from his mind by the evident and ample return of
Irene's polished affection, the foul gloss of which he failed to notice,
and whose pretentions were so cleverly carried out as to defy detection.

Irene was an accomplished and clever girl, and well able to sustain her
hidden regard throughout for one who for years previous had been
endeavouring to remove the great barrier of position which blocked his
path of approach towards her affection. As yet her parentage was totally
unknown to Sir John; still, he felt it must not have belonged to the
rude and ridiculous, since she possessed all the qualities, outwardly,
and features, of a highly refined race. And when only a girl of eleven
summers, when the worthy hand of benevolence, friendship, and love
clutched the tiny fingers of absolute want, there visibly seemed nothing
lacking in appearance, manner, or education to solicit the pity or
suspicion of her charitable guardian and protector.

Sir John Dunfern's many visits of late to Dilworth Castle had been
creating quite a sensation throughout the quiet corners of costly
curiosity, until an announcement appeared in _Mack's Society Journal_ to
the following effect:--

"A marriage is arranged to take place in August between Sir John
Dunfern, of Dunfern Mansion, County Kent, and Irene Iddesleigh, adopted
daughter of Lord and Lady Dilworth, of Dilworth Castle, in same county."

This notice, no doubt, caused the partakers in drawing-room
_tetè-a-tetès_ to share in the pangs of jealousy, with silent
resentment. Perplexity, a little, would find refuge within the homes of
many who led Society by the string of superficial show and pompous
importance; and during the interval that elapsed between such an
announcement and its important celebration, many and infamous were the
charges poured forth against Irene Iddesleigh.

The month preceding Irene's wedding was one of merriment at Dilworth
Castle, Lord and Lady Dilworth extending the social hand of fashionable
folly on four different occasions. They seemed drunk with delight that
Irene, whom they looked upon as their own daughter, should carry off the
palm of purity, whilst affluence, position, and title were for years
waiting with restless pride to triumph at its grasp.

It was at the second of these social gatherings that the first seed of
jealousy was sown within the breast of Sir John Dunfern, and which had a
tendency to remain until it gradually grew to such a rapid state of
maturity as to be rooted, if possible, for ever from its dusty bed of

Yes, when the merriment was at its height, and the heat too oppressive
to allow much comfort to the corpulent, the espoused of Irene dropped
unexpectedly out of the midst of the aristocratic throng, and being
passionately an ardent admirer of the fairy-like fruits of the efforts
of the horticulturist, directed his footsteps towards the well-filled
conservatory at the south wing of the building.

The different-shaded lights which dangled from its roof bestowed a look
of Indian exquisiteness on the many quaint and delicate productions of
nature that rested daintily in their beds of terra-cotta tint.

But before leaving the room he vaguely scanned the throng to catch a
glimpse of Irene, and failed to notice her amongst the many who danced
so gaily to the well-timed tunes of the celebrated pianist, Charles
Wohden, whose musical touch was always capable of melting the most
hardened sinner into moods of mellow softness, or cheering the most
downcast and raising their drooping look of sadness to that of
high-strung hilarity.

Sir John wandered in and out through the numerous windings of sweetest
fragrance, until arriving at the farthest corner, of rather darkened
shade, and on a wire couch beheld the object of his pursuit, in closest
conversation with her tutor, whose name he had altogether failed to
remember, only having had the pleasure of his acquaintance a few hours

"Can it be possible?" exclaimed Sir John, in profound astonishment.
"Why, I have been searching for you for some time past, and have
accidentally found you at last!" Irene, rising to her feet in a second,
was utterly dazed, and had the dim lights shewed her proud face to
advantage, the ruddy glow of deepest crimson guilt would have manifested
itself to a much greater degree. Making multitudinous apologies, etc.,
she at once joined Sir John, who led her back, in apparent triumph, to
share the next waltz.

How the true heart beat with growing passion during the remainder of the
merry festivity, and as the final announcement of separation was
whispered from ear to ear, the gradual wane of Love's lofty right would
fain have dwindled into pompous nothing as the thought kept tickling his
warm enthusiasm with the nimble fingers of jealousy. That she whom he
had ardently hoped should share his future with sheer and loving
caresses of constant companionship and wife-like wisdom should be
trapped in probably vowing to another her great devotion for him!

But better allow the sickening thought to die on the eve of insult
rather than live in the breast of him who, at no distant date, would
hear the merry peals of wedding bells ring with gladness, and naturally
rejoice at the object of their origin.


Our hopes when elevated to that standard of ambition which demands
unison may fall asunder like an ancient ruin. They are no longer fit for
construction unless on an approved principle. They smoulder away like
the ashes of burnt embers, and are cast outwardly from their confined
abode, never more to be found where once they existed only as
smouldering serpents of scorned pride.

The little chat that Irene apparently enjoyed in the conservatory would
gladly have become an act of forgetfulness on her part had not Sir John
reminded her of its existence a few days afterwards. The spark of
jealous passion had not fully died out after the incident referred to,
and awaiting silently its decease, Sir John almost had grown a mourner
to its imagined demise, following its undying remains so far as the
village of Opportunity, when it was again to revive and shine as
luminously as before.

It happened about three weeks preceding the day set apart for their holy
union, on Sir John arriving at the castle, he was informed of Irene's
recent exit, and gently turning away, he resolved to have a stroll in
the tastefully laid-out gardens with the sole object of meeting her.

Walking leisurely along, and stooping to pick up some fallen fruit,
he suddenly heard a faint sound issue amongst the trees. Remaining
breathless for a few seconds, lest he might be deceived by the rippling
sounds of the adjacent waves, he again heard the same sweet strain, but
of much longer duration than before, and quietly moving towards the spot
whence it issued, another sound met his ear in the distance, which
seemed to be the hasty tread of some one making good an escape, before
he got time to view the object he would eagerly have pursued, but
checking his desire somewhat, he allowed the matter to sink into
silence. Boldly moving towards the spot whence the sound of music
issued, how delightfully surprised was he to find a
magnificently-constructed little summer-house, a charming pyramidal
Gothic structure, robed internally with mossy mantles of nature, and
brightened beyond conception with the instrument of humanity which gave
origin to such pathetic and sweetened strains.

Politely offering an apology for intruding on the private little palace
of Irene, who failed completely to hide her gross confusion from the
keen gaze of her espoused, who never seemed to notice in the least the
sudden change that swept so swiftly over her pallid cheeks at his
unexpected visit, Sir John sat down.

Irene held in her snowy palms a roll of Italian music, which she
earnestly endeavoured to conceal from his penetrating stare, probably on
account of the words contained therein, which for ever would be unknown
to his varied sphere of knowledge, and which would undoubtedly have
betrayed her feelings, never dreaming that they should strike other ears
than those for whom they practically were intended.

Perceiving her great excitement at the unexpected appearance of him,
who ever afterwards kept his jealous thoughts in silent motion, he
absolutely evaded making any inquiry whatever, or slightest allusion to
the name and nature of the parchment she so firmly retained. Sir John
chatted gaily until he gained good ground for delivering to her the
message that instinct had so prompted him to utter.

"Irene, my beloved one," he began; "it is now only about a score of days
until I hoped for ever to call you mine; a hope which unmercifully has
haunted me since I fortunately gazed on your lovely face; a hope which I
trusted should be fully appreciated by both you and me, and which, I now
must own, can never be realised until the clearance of the barrier that
since our engagement has been but too apparent.

"The sole object of my visit, my dear Irene"--here Sir John clasped her
tender hand in his--"tonight is to elicit from you a matter that lately
has cast a shadowy gloom over my anticipated bright and cheerful future.
I am not one of those mortals who takes offence at trifles, neither am I
a man of hasty temper or words--quite the contrary, I assure you; but it
has, fortunately or unfortunately, been probably a failing amongst my
ancestors to court sensitiveness in its minutest detail, and, I must
acknowledge, I stray not from any of them in this particular point.

"I must acquaint you, though it pains me deeply to do so, that lately
you have not treated me with such respect or attention as you certainly
lavished upon me before the announcement of our engagement, and for what
reason or reasons I now wish to be apprised. You seem when in company
with others to ignore my remarks to you entirely, and treat them with
proud disdain, as if shame took the place of pride at my wordy approach!
I felt and do feel quite hurt, and am resolved that no such repetition
shall take place in future. I promised to be at the castle last night,
but unfortunately I felt indisposed, and only that I wished to have a
thorough understanding relative to your recent conduct, and which has
pained me acutely, I should not have ventured out of doors this evening
either. I was, in consequence, obliged to write you last night, asking a
written reply, which you failed to give! And this evening, instead of
being doubly rejoiced at my presence, you, on the contrary, seem doubly
annoyed! I therefore pray, my dearest Irene, that you will, and I am
persuaded honestly, not hesitate to satisfy me regarding this
unpleasantness, that should anything of which you are now aware cause
your conduct to be changed towards me, do not allow it a lair within
your breast, but confide in me as thou wouldst in a dearly-trusted and
faithful lover."

At this stage Irene began to consider seriously the earnestness that
accompanied the words of Sir John, knowing well she had been guilty,
grossly guilty, of the charges with which he impeached her, and which
were mixed with child-like simplicity, descriptive only of a world-famed
bachelor. She pondered whether or not honesty should take the place of
deceit--too often practised in women--and concluded to adopt the latter
weapon of defence. Raising her hazel eyes to his, and clearing the weft
of truth that had been mixing with the warp of falsehood to form an
answer of plausible texture, fringed with different shades of love,
she thus began:

"My dearest and much beloved, I assure you your remarks have astounded
me not a little! Your words sting like a wasp, though, I am quite
convinced, unintentionally. You are well aware that within a short
period I will be marked out publicly as mistress of Dunfern mansion--an
honour revered in every respect by me; an honour to which I at one time
dare never aspire; an honour coveted by many much more worthy than I,
whose parentage is as yet bathed in the ocean of oblivious ostentation,
until some future day, when I trust it shall stand out boldly upon the
brink of disclosure to dry its saturated form and watery wear with the
heat of equality. You are about to place me in a position which cannot
fail to wring from jealousy and covetousness their flaming torch of
abuse. Yes, Sir John, on me you have not ceased to lavish every
available treasure and token of your unbounded love. You have been to me
not only a loyal admirer, but a thoroughly upright and estimable example
of life's purest treasures. You have resolved to place me by your side
as your equal, whilst wealth in boundless store is thirsting for your
touch. You have elevated my unknown position to such a pitch as to defy
taunt or jeer, and at any time if I may have, seemingly, ignored your
advances, it was purely want of thought, and not through any underhand
motive or scheme whatever.

"I assure you your allusion to my verbal answer last night is very
pronounced, and may be overlooked on the ground of pure disappointment.
Our time of singleness is now short, and begging your forgiveness for my
seeming neglect or indifference, I hope the tide, which until now has
flown so gently, may not be stayed on the eve of entering the harbour of
harmony, peace, and love."

At the commencement of Irene's answer of lavishing praises and flimsy
apologies, her affianced moved to the opposite corner of the rustic
building to scan the features of her he wholly worshipped and
reluctantly doubted. Every sentence the able and beautiful girl uttered
caused Sir John to shift his apparently uncomfortable person nearer and
nearer, watching at the same time minutely the divine picture of
innocence, until at last, when her reply was ended, he found himself,
altogether unconsciously, clasping her to his bosom, whilst the ruby
rims which so recently proclaimed accusations and innocence met with
unearthly sweetness, chasing every fault over the hills of doubt, until
hidden in the hollow of immediate hate.


The silvery touch of fortune is too often gilt with betrayal: the
meddling mouth of extravagance swallows every desire, and eats the heart
of honesty with pickled pride: the impostury of position is petty, and
ends, as it should commence, with stirring strife. But conversion of
feminine opinions tries the touchy temper of opposition, and too seldom
terminates victoriously.

"Great mercy! Only another week and I shall almost cease to be a free
thinker! Just seven days more and what!--I shall openly have to confess
to the world an untruth! Would there be any means of flight from the
dangerous dragon that haunts me night and day? Could anything possible
be done to save myself from false alliance? Too late!--too late!

"Only seven days and this beautiful boudoir shall own me no more, with
its walls of purest white and gilded borders!

"Just seven days and I shall be fettered with chains of dragging dislike
and disappointment! Only seven days and thus shall end my cherished
hopes, my girlish pride, my most ardent wish, but, alas! not my love!
Seven days more shall see my own darling Os"---- Suddenly Irene was
aroused by the ringing of the breakfast bell, before she got time to
finish the sentence that troubled her weary brain for months before.
Dressing herself with frantic expertness, she dashed down the winding
staircase with an alacrity better imagined than described, and rushing
into the breakfast room where Lord and Lady Dilworth eagerly awaited
her, presented the outward mocking appearance of being the happiest of
mortals. Her beloved benefactors, who had been the prime movers in the
matter of matrimony, saw plainly a saddened look about the lovely face,
which Irene tried hard to suppress, and asking why it appeared at this
gay time, was answered evasively. Indeed, Lord and Lady Dilworth were
wholly ignorant of the present state of affairs, nor did Irene reveal at
any time to Lady Dilworth her great hatred for Sir John, or her maddened
desire to become the wife of a poor tutor.

Had she only taken into her confidence her whose wise counsel and
motherly example were at all times a prompt step to decision; or had she
only hinted to Lady Dilworth her manifest inability to return Sir John's
great affection, matters would probably have reached another climax. But
owing to the present precarious position in which Lord and Lady Dilworth
stood, and as yet unknown to both Irene and other most intimate
acquaintances, great was Lady Dilworth's desire to see Irene permanently
settled, knowing as she did that ere the sun of another August day would
flash its shimmering rays against the crystal stays of Dilworth Castle
she would be beyond easy access to Irene either in time of rejoicing or

Preparations were at last almost completed for such an auspicious event.
Invitations were issued numerously for the reception to be held at
Dilworth Castle after Irene's marriage, but sparingly during the
ceremony; all of which were mostly accepted. Costly, multiplying, and
varied were the gifts received by Irene; enough to make a princess stare
with startling bewilderment.

Amongst the many, none came from Irene's tutor, Oscar Otwell! And
although he was the first to whom Lady Dilworth addressed an invitation,
still there was no reply, much to the annoyance and astonishment of
hostess on the one hand and knowledge of Irene on the other; as, verily,
it was not unknown to Irene that absolute indifference to facts,
seemingly of domestic importance, was a positive point in Oscar, and
never better exemplified than in the present existing state of affairs,
which, sickly as it proved to Irene, was deadly so to Oscar.

But future facts had to be solved, which undoubtedly would be treated
with more comparative reverence than heretofore, by him who suffered
severely--yea, acutely--from the blow struck him on the eve of
aspiration and achievement. Love, alas! when smitten with the sword of
indifference, dieth soon, but once struck on the tunnelled cheek of
secrecy with the hand of pity there leaves a scar of indelible
intolerance, until wiped out for ever with the curative balsam of
battled freedom.

Sir John and Irene met in Dilworth Castle for the last time on the
morning of the third day of August, being the day set apart for the
celebration of their marriage. It commenced with the ringing of the
village bells; the sun shone forth in all his universal glory; emblems
of the approaching festivity did not fail to appear on the housetops of
the humblest village peasant; gladness reigned throughout the household,
and all hearts, save two, rejoiced with unabated activity.

It was a morning never to be forgotten by Lord and Lady Dilworth, who,
on that day, would be robbed of the treasure held firm and fast by them
for the lengthened period of nine years, and which they yielded up with
hearts of sorrow, not because of the change in which Irene should have
taken deep interest, but on account of the burthen of trouble which
loaded them with leaden weights of which they could not possibly free
themselves. The intense excitement that for weeks before had found such
refuge within their cherished and much-loved home had not long now to
live: it would die on the doorstep of apparent bereavement never more to
appear within Dilworth Castle under similar circumstances. They knew
well that the gnawing jaws of poverty, which for years had failed to
expose their grinding power, had reached the last and only bite of
sudden termination, and thereby stamped their marks of melancholy so
impressively upon the noble brows of the worthy owners of Dilworth
Castle, that time could never blot them from observation. As before
stated few were those invited to be present at the wedding ceremony,
which was to take place about twelve o'clock noon.

Sir John arrived at the Castle shortly before that time, looking
charming indeed, whilst Irene, though departing from the rules laid down
by Lady Dilworth, demanded from all present remarks bordering on
similarity. She looked nervously pale, but queenly, and mastered
thoroughly the exposure of the painful agony through which she was
passing, knowing as she did and fully believed that "all is not gold
that glitters."

It may interest some to know that Irene silently and secretly resolved
not to array herself in white; she was reconciled that neither the
marriage robe of purity nor the too beaming wedding face was to appear
before such devout and reverential Church dignitaries as the Bishop of
Barelegs and Canon Foot, with highly impressed and open falsehood, as
that practised by her in the absence of labouring under such a solemn

What must have been the breathless surprise of Lady Dilworth chiefly,
and those present also, who, only the evening previous, had been pouring
such praises over the magnificent duchesse satin gown, which eligible
Parisian dressmakers pronounced their chief production of the season,
when Irene appeared arrayed in an Irish poplin of the darkest visible
shade of green, without either train or flower of distinction, not even
a speck of ribbon or border of lace, and no ornament only the valued
necklet which graced her pearly throat when first Sir John was tempted
with her enhancing beauty to bestow upon her his choice collection of
love's purest fragrance, which should cast the sweetest scent of mutual
relationship throughout the dazzling apartments of the mansion she was
about to grace.

So thunderstruck and grievously horrified did Lady Dilworth seem at the
vague departure of Irene from her orders, that she dare not trust
herself to offer her the first motherly embrace! Irene, perceiving the
great embarrassment of her beloved Lady Dilworth, glided across the
room, and sitting down to the right of her upon whom she had that day
flung, in the face of devotion, the last dregs of defiance, "begged to
offer an apology for such unruly conduct," and added "that all would be
revealed at a future date when least expected."

In the very room where Sir John was first puzzled concerning the
beautiful portrait, was he now made the recipient of the original. After
the important ceremony was performed, and the register signed, Sir John
and Lady Dunfern, when the usual congratulations were ended, left by the
one o'clock train _en route_ for the Continent. Thus were joined two
hearts of widely different beat--one of intense love, which hearsay
never could shake; the other of dire dislike, which reason could never

"Born under a lucky star," was the whispered echo throughout the
distinguished guests who sat down to breakfast after the junction of
opposites. Yea, this was a remark of truth visibly, and might have kept
good during the remainder of their lives had not the tuitional click of
bygone attachment kept moving with measured pace, until stopped after
months, or it may be, small years of constant swinging.

Did Lady Dunfern ever dream that her apology for disobedience to Lady
Dilworth's orders, in not arraying herself in the garb of glistening
glory, could ever be accepted, even by the kind and loving Lady

Did she imagine for a moment that she, to whom she owed anything but
disobedience, even in its simplest form, should be wrested from her arms
of companionship ere her return to Dunfern Mansion? Did the thought ever
flash through her mind that never again would she be able to pour into
the ear of her trusted helper the secrets of the heart of deception,
which, for the past seven months, had raged so furiously within her?

Better leave her to the freedom of a will that ere long would sink the
ship of opulence in the sea of penury, and wring from her the
words:--"Leave me now, deceptive demon of deluded mockery; lurk no more
around the vale of vanity, like a vindictive viper; strike the lyre of
living deception to the strains of dull deadness, despair and doubt; and
bury on the brink of benevolence every false vow, every unkind thought,
every trifle of selfishness and scathing dislike, occasioned by
treachery in its mildest form!"


Distant shores have great attractions and large expectations. They
harbour around their beaches the exile and patriot, the king and
peasant, the lawyer and artisan, the rising swindler and ruined prince.
Spotted throughout the unclaimed area of bared soil may be seen the
roughly-constructed huts and lofty homes of honest industry. Yes, and
concealed therein are hearts yearning for the land of nativity and
national freedom; hearts which sorrow after bygone days, and sink low
when brooding over the future tide of fortune which already has stopped
its gentle flow.

The reception on the evening of Irene's marriage was glorious and
brilliant, as were all those given by Lord and Lady Dilworth, and,
although attended by society's cream alone, there appeared a visible and
unhidden vacancy in the absence of her who so often lent a glow of
gaiety to the high-toned throng.

There seemed to be no rival now of buried lineage to mar their desire,
or incur the jealousy of would-be opponents; no one to share
sympathetically with the afflicted sister of equality and worth; nor was
there any one present of such knightly and commanding dignity as he,
who, not many hours previous, had taken upon him the sad duty of
delivering up the keys of devotion to her who kept the door of ardent
adoration locked against his approach.

It would probably be a long time ere such a scene of silly jealousy and
ire would take place as that witnessed, in which the greater majority of
those present were then partakers! And, further, it would surely be a
much longer period before these guests would again share alike in the
generosity so often extended them by Lord and Lady Dilworth.

Next day after Irene's marriage was a busy one at Dilworth Castle; hasty
and numerous were the preparations for desolation and departure. Weeks
preceding the joyful event, or what should have been, were leisurely
devoted to the artistic arrangements in every room within the lordly
manor. But, alas! so sudden now was joy's termination, that hours alone
were the boundary of command.

It may be stated that Lord Dilworth owned three very extensive estates,
namely--Dilworth, Ayrtown, and Howden. The first-mentioned extended
around the castle of that name, encompassing a spacious tract of soil
indeed, and might have done justice to moderation in its most expensive
form. The Ayrtown Estate, which entirely covers the southern portion of
Cheshire, owns a magnificent Hall, the residence of the Earl of
Tukesham, and, although not considered so lucrative as Dilworth, may be
estimated a handsome dowry for the son of any rising nobleman in the
realm. The Howden Estate, on which are elegantly formed two buildings of
note--namely, Blandford Castle and Lauderdale Lodge, both exquisite
constructions of architecture and skilled workmanship, and occupied
respectively by Sir Sydney Hector and Admiral Charles Depew--lies
chiefly around the south-west of Yorkshire, and is not quite so
desirable or adapted for agriculture as the two first mentioned, being
mostly rented for grazing purposes by the numerous and varied owners of
its rugged plots. These estates became so heavily mortgaged that prompt
sale was indispensable, and, the matter being quietly arranged six
months beforehand, the sixth day of August was the day set apart for the
disposal of same.

Bidders were numerous and offers low. Eventually the purchasers were as
follow:--The Marquis of Orland bought Dilworth Estate; Lord Henry Headen
purchased Ayrtown Estate, whilst the lot of Howden fell upon Sir Rowland
Joyce, the famous historian and national bard.

Thus were wrested from Lord and Lady Dilworth their luxurious living.
They were driven from their nursery of rich and complicated comforts,
their castle of indolence and ease. They were now thrown upon the
shivering waters of want, without a word of sympathy in the dreadful
hour of their great affliction, without home or friend to extend shelter
or sustenance, and cast afloat upon the ocean of oscillating chance to
speed across it as best they could.

Was Lord Dilworth therefore to be pitied? Were the torrents of gold
which were bound to trickle from these enormous lands and dwellings,
manufactories and villages, too trifling for his use? Not a morsel of
pity was offered either him or Lady Dilworth as their circumstances
became known in the homes of their associates, who so often fed on the
fat of their folly and graced their well-lined tables always covered
with dainties of deserving censure.

Could human mind contemplate that she who reigned supreme amongst
society, she who gave the ball in honor of Irene Iddesleigh's marriage,
should ere four days be a penniless pauper? Yet such was fact, not

The seventh day of August saw Lord and Lady Dilworth titled beggars,
steering their course along the blue and slippery waves of the Atlantic,
to be participators in the loathing poverty which always exists in homes
sought after destruction, degradation, and reckless extravagance.

So soon may the house of gladness and mirth be turned into deepest
grief! How the wealthiest, through sheer folly, are made to drink the
very essence of poverty and affliction in its purest form! How the
golden dust of luxury can be blown about with the wind of events, and is
afterwards found buried in the fields of industry and thrift! Their
names, which were as a household word, would now be heard no more, and
should sink into abject silence and drowned renown, leaving them to
battle against the raging war of ruin and hunger, and retire into
secluded remorse.

On the return of Sir John and Lady Dunfern from their honeymoon, after
four weeks sojourn, what was her ladyship's consternation on perceiving
Dilworth Castle in darkness as she and Sir John swept past its avenue on
their way to their own brilliantly-lighted mansion? She was rather more
taciturn on the night of her return than even during her stay in
Florence, and it was only on her approaching her former place of
temporary retreat and touchy remembrances that words began to fall from
her ruby lips in torrents.

"Tell me, I implore of you, Sir John and husband, why the once blithe
and cheerful spot of peace is now apparently a dismal dungeon on the
night of our home-coming, when all should have been a mass of dazzling
glow and splendour?

"Can it be that she who proffered such ecstacy for months before, on the
eve of our return, is now no more? or can it be possible that we have
crossed each other on the wide waters of tossing triumph or wanton woe?

"Speak at once, for pity's sake! and do not hide from me the answer of
truth and honest knowledge? Oh, merciful heavens!"

Here Lady Dunfern drooped her head before Sir John got time to even
answer a word, and drawing from his pocket a silver flask, proceeded to
open its contents, when the horses suddenly stopped, and a gentle hand
politely opened the carriage door to eagerly await the exit of his
master and future mistress from its cushioned corners of costly comfort
and ease.

"Tom," cried Sir John, in great and rending agony, "kindly wait for a
few minutes, as her ladyship has been frightfully overcome only a short
time ago by the blank appearance in and around Dilworth Castle. She
fears something dreadful must surely have happened Lady Dilworth in her
absence, since she has failed to make the occasion of our home-coming a
merry torchlight of rejoicing." Tom, who had been in Sir John's service
for the past twenty years, was about to testify to the truth of his
remarks, when he was joined by other members of the household, who
rushed to welcome their beloved master home once more, accompanied by
his beautiful bride, of whom they all had heard so much.

Sir John saw that delay was dangerous, and helping to remove his darling
Irene from the seat on which she unconsciously reclined, succeeded in
placing her on a low couch in the very room he so often silently prayed
for her presence. Bathing her highly-heated temples with a sprinkling of
cooling liquid concealed in his flask, Sir John lost no time in
summoning the village doctor, who, on arrival, pronounced Lady Dunfern
to have slightly recovered, and giving the necessary orders left the

It was fully two hours ere she partly recovered from her ghastly swoon,
to find herself the object of numerous onlookers of the household of
which she was now future mistress.

Pale and death-like did she appear in the eyes of her husband, who was
utterly overcome with grief at the sudden collapse of his wife under
such a stroke of anticipated sorrow; and more grieved was he still when
he found on inquiry that the removal of Lord and Lady Dilworth from
their heightened haunt of highborn socialism must sooner or later be
revealed to her, who, as yet, had only tasted partly of the bitter cup
of divided intercourse and separated companionship.

Many, many were the questions asked by Lady Dunfern relative to Lady
Dilworth when Dr. Corbett arrived next morning to pronounce her almost
recovered, and, strange, yet true, that no one could possibly have
humoured her in such a manner to warrant recovery as the village doctor,
until she felt really strong enough to battle against the sorrowful tale
of woe with which Sir John should shortly make her cognisant.

On learning from his lips, so soon as her ability occasioned, the real
state of affairs concerning the emigrants who were now compelled to
wander on the track of trouble, she received the truth with awe and
smothered distress. The new sphere in which Lady Dunfern was about to
move seemed to her strange; the binding duty which tied her firmly to
honour and obedience was kept prominently in vague view; the staff of
menials would probably find the rules of her husband more in accordance
with their wishes than those which she was beginning to already arrange.
She commenced her married life with falsehood, and she was fully
determined to prove this feature more and more as the weeks and months
rolled along. She was not now afraid of the censure of one whose face
she may never more behold, and who was the sole instigation of plunging
her into a union she inwardly abhorred. Perhaps, had she never been
trained under the loving guidance of Oscar Otwell, her revered tutor,
she would only have been too eager to proclaim her ecstacy at her
present position more vigorously. But all fetters of power were visibly
broken which she wished should remain united, leaving her mother of her
future premeditated movements.

As time moved on, Sir John and Lady Dunfern seemed to differ daily in
many respects, which occasioned dislike in the breasts of both, and
caused the once handsome, cheerful face of the much-respected owner of
Dunfern to assume a look of seriousness.

These differences arose chiefly through his great disinclination to
attend the numerous social gatherings which awaited them after their
marriage. Sir John, finding it almost impossible to stare socialism in
the face, seemed inclined rather to stick to the old rule of domestic
enjoyment, never forgetting to share fully his cheerful conversation
with his wife, when so desired, which, sorrowful to relate, was too

Now that Lady Dunfern was an acknowledged branch of society, her elegant
presence would have been courted by all those who so often favoured Lady
Dilworth with their distinguished patronage, but her social hopes being
nipped in the bud by her retiring husband, she dare not resent, and
determined, in consequence, to make herself an object of dislike in her
home, and cherish her imprisoned thoughts until released, for good or


A word of warning tends to great advantage when issued reverently from
the lips of the estimable. It serves to allay the danger pending on
reticence, and substantiates in a measure the confidence which has
hitherto existed between the parties concerned. Again, a judicious
advice, extended to the stubborn and self-willed, proves futile, and
incurs the further malice and fiery indignation of the regardless, the
reckless, and the uncharitable.

Lady Dunfern began now to grow both cross and careless, and seemed not
to interest herself so much (since her propositions were so emphatically
denounced by her husband) concerning the management of the household
staff. She grew daily more retired, and often has her conduct been so
preposterously strange as to cause alarm both to Sir John and all over
whom he had immediate control.

Indeed, three months of married life scarcely elapsed until she cast a
glow of despair within the breast which too often heaved for her with
true piety and love. And what was meant by such strange conduct on her
part, her husband often wondered. Only the mighty cessation of
friendship caused by the flight of her beloved guardians, never
attributing such silence and stubbornness to any fault he justly

Yes, the duped husband, when being fished for with the rod of seeming
simplicity and concealed character, and quickly caught on the hook of
ingenuity, with deception for a bait, was altogether unable to fathom
its shallowest meaning. Was he not, therefore, to be sympathised with,
who so charitably extended the hand of honour and adoration to the
offspring of unknown parents, and placed her in position equal to any
lady of title and boasted parentage within the boundary of County Kent?
Should Sir John Dunfern not have been almost worshipped by a wife whose
binding duty it was to reverence her husband in all things pertaining to
good? No doubt this would have been so had he gained the affections he
imagined he possessed, but later on he would inevitably be made aware of
matters which as yet only bordered on supposition.

Day after day Lady Dunfern pined like a prisoner in her boudoir, and
scarcely ever shared a word with the great and good Sir John, who many
times wished in former days that she had occupied his home and all its
joys. She formed an inward resolution that if prohibited from enjoying
life, to which she was accustomed at Dilworth Castle, she would make her
husband, whom she knew too well made her his idol, feel the smart, by
keeping herself aloof from his caresses as much as possible.

Often would he be found half asleep in deep thought, not having any
friend of immediate intimacy in whom he could confide or trust, or to
whom he could unbosom the conduct of his wife, whose actions now he was
beginning to detest.

The thoughts of disappointment and shame were building for themselves a
home of shelter within him--disappointment on account of cherished hopes
which unmistakably were crushed to atoms beneath the feet of her who was
the sole instigation of their origin; shame, in all probability, lest
the love he sought and bought with the price of self might not be his
after all! and may still be reserved against his right and kept for
another much less worthy! The little jealous spark again revived and
prompted him to renew its lustre, which had been hidden for a length of
time behind the cloud of dread so silently awaiting the liberty of
covering the hill of happiness.

Quietly ruminating over his wife's manner before marriage, about which
he was compelled, through observation, to demand an explanation, and
pondering carefully her strange and silent habits since it, he became
resolved to probe the wound that had swollen so enormously as to demand
immediate relief. Ringing furiously for a maid, he handed her a note, to
be delivered without delay to Lady Dunfern, the nature of which might
well be suspected. Be that as it may, its contents were instrumental in
demanding immediate attention.

Soon after its delivery a slight tap was heard at the door of Sir John's
study, this room being always his favourite haunt, where he sat beside a
bright and glowing fire, engaged in sullen thought; and with an
imperious "Come in!" he still remained in the same thinking posture;
nor was he aware, for fully five minutes or so, that his intruder was no
other than she whom he so recently ordered into his presence!

Gazing up in a manner which startled the cold-hearted woman not a
little, he requested her "to have a seat right opposite his," to which
she instantly complied. At this moment the snow was wafting its flaky
handfuls thickly against the barred enclosures of Dunfern Mansion, and
chilly as nature appeared outside, it was similarly so indoors for the
fond and far-famed husband of Lord Dilworth's charge.

Matters had appeared so unpleasant and altogether bewildering of late
that Sir John formed a resolution to bring them to a crisis. Looking
fully into the face that seemed so lovely just now, with the dainty
spots of blazing ire enlivening the pale cheeks of creeping sin, Sir
John began--

"Irene, if I may use such familiarity, I have summoned you hither, it
may be to undergo a stricter examination than your present condition
probably permits; but knowing, as you should, my life must be miserable
under this growing cloud of unfathomed dislike, I became resolved to
end, if within my power, such contentious and unladylike conduct as that
practised by you towards me of late. It is now quite six months--yea,
weary months--since I shielded you from open penury and insult, which
were bound to follow you, as well as your much-loved protectors, who
sheltered you from the pangs of penniless orphanage; and during these
six months, which naturally should have been the pet period of nuptial
harmony, it has proved the hideous period of howling dislike!

"I, as you see, am tinged with slightly snowy tufts, the result of
stifled sorrow and care concerning you alone; and on the memorable day
of our alliance, as you are well aware, the black and glossy locks of
glistening glory crowned my brow. There dwelt then, just six months this
day, no trace of sorrow or smothered woe--no variety of colour where it
is and shall be so long as I exist--no furrows of grief could then be
traced upon my visage. But, alas! now I feel so changed! And why?

"Because I have dastardly and doggedly been made a tool of treason in
the hands of the traitoress and unworthy! I was enticed to believe that
an angel was always hovering around my footsteps, when moodily engaged
in resolving to acquaint you of my great love, and undying desire to
place you upon the highest pinnacle possible of praise and purity within
my power to bestow!

"I was led to believe that your unbounded joy and happiness were never
at such a par as when sharing them with me. Was I falsely informed of
your ways and worth? Was I duped to ascend the ladder of liberty, the
hill of harmony, the tree of triumph, and the rock of regard, and when
wildly manifesting my act of ascension, was I to be informed of treading
still in the valley of defeat?

"Am I, who for nearly forty years was idolised by a mother of untainted
and great Christian bearing, to be treated now like a slave? Why and for
what am I thus dealt with?

"Am I to foster the opinion that you treat me thus on account of not
sharing so fully in your confidence as it may be, another?

"Or is it, can it be, imaginative that you have reluctantly shared, only
shared, with me that which I have bought and paid for fully?

"Can it be that your attention has ever been, or is still, attracted by
another, who, by some artifice or other, had the audacity to steal your
desire for me and hide it beneath his pillaged pillow of poverty, there
to conceal it until demanded with my ransom?

"Speak! Irene! Wife! Woman! Do not sit in silence and allow the blood
that now boils in my veins to ooze through cavities of unrestrained
passion and trickle down to drench me with its crimson hue!

"Speak, I implore you, for my sake, and act no more the deceitful
Duchess of Nanté, who, when taken to task by the great Napoleon for
refusing to dance with him at a State ball, replied, 'You honoured me
too highly'--acting the hypocrite to his very face. Are you doing
likewise?" Here Sir John, whose flushed face, swollen temples, and fiery
looks were the image of indignation, restlessly awaited her reply.

Lady Dunfern began now to stare her position fully in the face. On this
interview, she thought, largely depended her future welfare, if viewed
properly. Should she make her husband cognisant of her inward feelings,
matters were sure to end very unsatisfactorily. These she kept barred
against his entrance in the past, and she was fully determined should
remain so now, until forced from their home of refuge by spirited

Let it be thoroughly understood that Lady Dunfern was forced into a
union she never honestly countenanced. She was almost compelled, through
the glittering polish Lady Dilworth put on matters, to silently resign
the hand of one whose adoration was amply returned, and enter into a
contract which she could never properly complete. All she could now do
was to plunge herself into the lake of evasion and answer him as best
she could.

"Sir and husband," she said, with great nervousness at first, "you have
summoned me hither to lash your rebuke unmercifully upon me, provoked,
it may be, by underhand intercourse. You accordingly, in the course of
your remarks, fail not to tamper with a character which as yet defies
your scathing criticism. Only this week have I been made the recipient
of news concerning my deceased parents, of whom I never before obtained
the slightest clue, and armed with equality, I am in a position fit to
treat some of your stingy remarks with the scorn they merit.

"You may not already be aware of the fact that I, whom you insinuate you
wrested from beggary, am the only child of the late Colonel Iddesleigh,
who fell a victim to a gunshot wound inflicted by the hand of his wife,
who had fallen into the pit of intemperance. Yes, Earl Peden's daughter
was his wife and my mother, and only that this vice so actuated her
movements, I might still have lent to Society the object it dare not now
claim, and thereby would have shunned the iron rule of being bound down
to exist for months at a time within such a small space of the world's
great bed.

"If my manner have changed in any way since our union, of it I am not
aware, and fail to be persuaded of any existing difference, only what
might be attributed to Lady Dilworth's sudden and unexpected removal
from our midst, which occasioned me grief indeed.

"It behoves elderly men like you to rule their wives with jealous
supervision, especially if the latter tread on the fields of youth. Such
is often fictitious and unfounded altogether, and should be treated with
marked silence.

"I may here say I was mistress, in a measure, of my movements whilst
under the meek rule of Lady Dilworth; nor was I ever thwarted in any way
from acting throughout her entire household as I best thought fit, and
since I have taken upon me to hold the reins of similarity within these
walls, I find they are much more difficult to manage. I, more than once,
have given orders which were completely prohibited from being executed.
By whom, might I ask, and why? Taking everything into consideration,
I am quite justified in acquainting you that, instead of being the
oppressor, I feel I am the oppressed.

"Relative to my affections, pray have those courted by me in the past
aught to do with the present existing state of affairs? I am fully
persuaded to answer, 'Nothing whatever.'

"You speak of your snowy tufts appearing where once there dwelt locks of
glossy jet. Well, I am convinced they never originated through me, and
must surely have been threatening to appear before taking the step which
links me with their origin.

"I now wish to retire, feeling greatly fatigued, and trusting our
relations shall remain friendly and mutual, I bid thee good-night."

Lady Dunfern swept out of the room, and hurrying to her own apartment,
burst into an uncontrollable fit of grief.

She had surely been awaked from her reverie by Sir John, and felt
sharply the sting of his remarks, which were truly applied, indeed.
She now resolved to let matters move along as quietly as possible until
after she should pass the most critical period of her existence. She was
prepared to manifest her innocence throughout, without detection if
possible. But amongst the household there moved a matron under whose
hawk-like eye Lady Dunfern was almost inclined to shrink. She felt when
in her presence to be facing an enemy of unbounded experience. She
abhorred her stealing tread, but not without cause. It was to this dame
she so often issued orders that never were carried out; and when
intimating to Sir John the necessity of instantly dismissing such a
tyrant, he quietly "rebelled," adding "that she had been almost twenty
years in his service, and presently could not think of parting with such
a valued and much-trusted friend."

This woman's name was Rachel Hyde, and proved the secret channel of
intercourse between Sir John and Lady Dunfern, evidently paving the way
for her ladyship's downfall; as Rachel, being mistress for such a period
over Dunfern Mansion, could never step the fence leading to abolition of
power, which she so unwillingly tried to mount since Sir John's
marriage, and failing totally in her attempt, was lifted and thrown over
by her mistress, an act she could never forget, and consequently carried
all news, trivial or serious, concerning Lady Dunfern to her master, and
delivered it in such an exaggerated form as to incur his wrath, which
already had been slightly heated.

A few months elapsed again, during which time matters went on much as
usual, until an event happened that should have chased the darkest cloud
of doubt and infidelity from the noble brow of the mighty and revered
master of Dunfern Mansion.


The thickest stroke of sadness can be effaced in an instant, and
substituted with deeper traces of joy. The heart of honest ages, though
blackened at times with domestic troubles, rejoices when those troubles
are surmounted with blessings which proclaim future happiness.

On the tenth day of June, following Lady Dunfern's interview with her
husband, she gave birth to a son and heir. This great event brought with
it entire forgiveness on the part of Sir John of his wife's recent
conduct. It served for a short time only, a trivial portion too, to
stifle the alienation which existed between them, and to heal the sore
of evident separation that marred their happiness for months before.

The glad and happy father was only too eager now to snatch a smile from
his wife's face, and anxious was he to bury any little obstacle that may
have existed in the past, and expel it for ever from its lurking corner
of tempting repose. He saw that Lady Dunfern's life was hanging by a
flimsy hair, and who could, for an instant, depict the great despair of
her husband when told that all hope must be abandoned!

The frantic father wrung his hands in a frenzy of momentary madness, and
in spite of authoritative advice he timidly moved in the direction of
the bed on which his beloved lay, and knelt beside it to fervently offer
up a prayer "for the speedy recovery of her who was the chief object of
his existence." Raising himself up and clasping his darling in his arms,
he whispered in her ear a word of encouragement, and gently laying her
highly-heated head on the silken pillow he again prayed, in deepest and
gravest earnestness, "that she might be spared only a little longer."

No doubt his prayer was no sooner offered than answered, as she at this
stage slightly rallied, and appeared somewhat strengthened. Day by day
the still fond and loving husband sat by the bedside of the invalid
until strong enough to battle fully against the weakening hand of her
malady; and at the very time Sir John sat beside the bed of sickness,
inwardly "showering blame upon himself for hindering his wife's social
enjoyment, and for which he believed he acted wrongly;" she, on the
contrary, was outwardly pouring rebuke on her own head "for ever
entering into a league of life-long punishment by marrying a man she
simply abhorred, and leaving her noble and well-learned tutor, Oscar
Otwell, whom she yet loved, to wander in a world of blighted bliss!"

Ah! to be sure! It was during these days of unremitting attention that
he was afforded an opportunity of storing up a multitude of touchy
remarks uttered by his wife when the relapse of raging fever reached its
defiant height! She never ceased to talk in a most gentle manner of
"Oscar Otwell," "her darling and much-loved tutor." She even expressed
sorrow, in the course of her broken remarks, "at the false step she had
taken to satisfy, not herself by any means, but Lady Dilworth!" She
strongly protested her "hatred for him" who sat listening, with grave
intensity, to every word that escaped her lips! She even spoke of
"a cavity in her jewel-case in which was safely deposited a ring, given
her by Oscar during her happy period of instruction under his guidance,"
adding, in her painful discourse, that "she loved it as well as
himself," etc., etc.

These rambling statements when ended, in an instant caused Sir John's
resolutions, made by him so recently, to become worthless remarks; and
if partly charged with jealousy before, he was doubly so now.

No onlooker could fail in the least to pity the sneered husband, whose
livid countenance during the course of her remarks, rambling though they
were, was a sight never to be forgotten. How he gazed with astonished
indifference at the invalid so charged with deceit! She who acted the
emblem of innocence at all times, and attempted to attach entire blame
to her husband! She who partly promised peace in future to him who never
again could enjoy it!

How his manner became so abrupt and his speech so scanty within such a
short period was verily a proof of the belief he fostered relative to
his wife's statements, which were yet to her unknown.

The doctors in attendance endeavoured strongly to imprint upon Sir John
the fact that "such remarks as those uttered by his wife should be
treated with silence and downright indifference," adding that "patients
smitten with fever, of what kind soever, were no more responsible for
their sayings than the most outrageous victim to insanity."

Sir John listened attentively to their statements, but failed to be
altogether convinced as to their truth. Wondering what sin could be
attached to an act he felt was his duty to perform, he moved softly to
the bedside of his wife, and being in a sleepy mood, he resolved to sift
some of her remarks to the very bottom.

Entering the room she so often occupied, and taking from a chink in her
dressing-table a key of admittance to the jewel-case she spoke of, he
lost no time in viewing its valuable contents; and, in the very spot in
which she vowed dwelt her tutor's gift, there it lay! A golden band with
pearl centre, and immediately underneath it there rested a note. At
first he felt rather diffident about perusing its contents, but instinct
so prompted his curiosity that he yielded to its tempting touch. It ran

              July 3rd.

  "Ever beloved Irene,

  "I am after reading your gentle yet sorrowful epistle. You cannot
  possibly retract the step you so publicly have taken without
  incurring the malice of Lord and Lady Dilworth, who have sheltered
  you from every sorrow and care with which you otherwise were bound
  to come in contact.

  "They received you into their elegant home, and shielded you,
  by so doing, from the tyrannical rule of Miss Lamont of 'The
  Orphanage,' in which you were placed for a period of eight years.
  They failed not to give you a thorough and practical education,
  which in itself would enable you to achieve independence, if
  necessary, or so desired.

  "This you received under one whose heart now beats with raging
  jealousy and vehement hatred towards the object of Lady Dilworth's
  choice, being well convinced, through your numerous letters to me
  lately, it never was yours.

  "Dearest Irene, the thought of parting from you for ever is partly
  sustained with the hope of yet calling you mine! Through time you
  suggest an elopement, which as yet can only be viewed in the hazy
  distance; but it seems quite clear to me, dearest, and surely
  evident, that you abhor the very name of him who a month hence
  shall place you in a position considerably more elevated and
  lucrative than that which I now could bestow. But Irene, my
  beloved, my all! reluctantly I yield my precious treasure to him
  who, it may be this moment, is rejoicing at his capture.

  "I shall ever remain forlorn, dejected, and ruined until such time
  as we suitably can accomplish the clearance of the cloud of
  dissatisfaction under which you are about to live. Please write by

            "Ever your own


  "Miss Iddesleigh,

        Dilworth Castle."


When dreading the light of day contentment hath fled; imagination
oftentimes proves a forerunner to reality; corners of horror shelter
themselves within the castles of the queenly, the palaces of the
powerful, the monuments of the mighty, and the cottages of the
caretaker; but sunshine brings universal joy wherever its beams are wont
to dazzle, and often allays the anxiety which precedes its appearance.

"Great heaven!" murmured Sir John, as the tutor's note fell from his
nervous grasp, "Am I blind to touch or truth? Am I at last to labour
under the fact that my wife loves another! she who only some months
since protested her innocence in such strains as to cause the most
doubtful to stay alarm. Here is the ring, and there lies the note--the
note of him who claims to be not only her tutor but suitor. Why did she
accept the former or cause the latter to be written?"

"Then, the date! Just one month exactly before our marriage; and how I
pined for it to elapse whilst another would eagerly have prolonged it.
Oh, Irene!--false and low woman! Think you that any longer I can own you
as wife or treat you with the respect a wife deserves!" Sir John, ever
open to forgiveness, tried hard to master the dreadful spirit of
jealousy which arrived at last at its highest point, if he could feel
convinced that his wife's correspondence with her tutor ceased after her
marriage, believing if still it continued that other proofs of their
dastardly plots would be forthcoming. Thrusting his hand again into the
aperture from which he took the two tributes of his wife's tutor, there
appeared nothing to arouse further suspicion, save a Christmas card,
written with the same bold hand. The lines were these:--

    "Accept my warmest greeting, friendship, love,
    Thou art my charming Irene, pet and dove;
    Although another claims thee for a time,
    I trust to call you some day ever mine.
    Oh! pray for parting soon with fettered chains,
    To live and move regardless of those reins
    That bind your Christmas sprigs of worldly woe
    To him, whom you have hated long ago."

This was a second effusion of Otwell's, and must have been received by
Lady Dunfern since her marriage; and, thought he who held it clutched in
his trembling hand, Why did she deposit this card amongst her
valuables--had she not held it as a treasure of priceless worth?

Nothing more was wanting now to convince the distracted husband of his
wife's infidelity. Depositing the note, card, and ring in the drawer
whence he had taken them, Sir John at once proceeded to Lady Dunfern's
bedroom, and found her awake. Being a nobleman of sterling worth, and
one on whose word the greatest dependence was always manifested, he
could scarcely fail to inform her of the great and trying scene he had
just come through. Struggling, however, manfully from mentioning
anything that would serve to retard her recovery, he moved towards the
bed on which she lay, and before a word was uttered by him he suddenly
staggered and fell.

Who could then perceive the wan and haggard appearance of him who
apparently lay lifeless without being totally terror-stricken--could
she, whom he bathed in golden comfort, behold this outstretched form
with calm silence? Surely not!

Instantly ordering a maid to send for Doctor Doherty, the false invalid
lay back on her pillow, appearing not much concerned. On the doctor's
arrival he applied restoratives, but without the desired effect. Then he
ordered his instant removal to his bed-chamber, where every care and
watchfulness was extended him by Rachel Hyde.

It was nearly two hours ere he manifested the remotest symptoms of
animation, and on inquiry the doctor pronounced the sudden shock he had
nervously sustained to be grave indeed. Sir John lay in an unconscious
condition until next morning, when his first inquiry was relative to his

Gradually regaining strength, and venturing in the doctor's absence out
of bed, he walked slowly into his wife's room to make personal his
recovery. He looked pale, and much annoyed, and could only with
difficulty refrain from acquainting her of what he had in store to
communicate. Each day found both invalids, just and unjust, rapidly
recovering, and a few weeks found both completely restored to health and

Lady Dunfern could not help noticing the strange and frozen manner of
her husband since the eve of his illness. At first she was inclined to
fear his approach, but gradually she felt convinced he was slightly
affected with a mild form of insanity; and making minute inquiries from
the oldest inhabitants in the neighbourhood and adjoining village as to
the accuracy of her fears, she was informed that "such never existed
amongst his ancestors, so far as they knew or heard."

Was it strange that Sir John felt a changed man towards her who was so
fully charged with deceit? Would it have been acting in accordance with
his conscience to overlook her wily artifice? Could the once fond and
loving husband, the brave and gallant knight, still trust in her whom he
felt convinced would bring a world of disgrace, not alone upon himself,
but upon one who in after years, he trusted, would proudly sustain the
honourable reputation of his race?

Ah! no matter in what light he viewed her conduct now he was brought to
loathe her very look, and was fully determined to shut her in from the
gaze of an outside world, or the cunning tricks of a trifling tutor. He
was resolved, so far as lay in his power, to treat her with the conduct
she merited, and never again allow himself to be persuaded to postpone
the visitation of his anger by her villainous pitiful appeals.

After serious thought, Sir John began to act; he was inclined to think
delay would be dangerous, and on approaching his breakfast table one
morning soon after his recovery, he hinted to his housekeeper that he
"wished a private interview with her after his morning repast." This
Rachel punctually obeyed.

Seeing her master's trembling hand twitch the tips of his beard, she
feared something dreadful must surely be disturbing his peace of mind,
and commanding her to "lock the door" lest they should be interrupted,
he informed her of all that had happened.

Rachel, ever ready to sow doubt in the mind of her master regarding his
wife, manifested her want of surprise by relating some incidents which
occurred under her notice. Nothing, however monstrous, could astonish
Sir John at this time regarding his wife's movements, and informing
Rachel of his intention he ordered the key of one of the rooms that yet
had been shut against the entrance of Lady Dunfern.

Hastening to fulfil her master's order, Rachel returned with the mighty
key, and handed it to Sir John, who moved to the door, and thrusting the
rusty key into its aperture, succeeded with great difficulty in
effecting an entrance. Rachel followed, and both entered, locking the
heavy-panelled oak door from within. "This," said Sir John, "is the room
of correction, the room of death. It defies escape or secretion. It has
been so long as I remember held in abhorrence by my late lamented
parents, and, so far as I can understand, by many of my ancestors.

"First of all, the lady who shared its midst was a born imbecile, the
eldest daughter of my great great grandfather--Sir Sydney Dunfern. She
was nursed and tenderly cared for within these walls for a period of
thirty-six years, and through the instantaneous insanity of her ward,
was marked a victim for his murderous hand. Yes, it has been related
that during midnight, when she was fast asleep, he drew from that
drawer" here Sir John pointed to the wardrobe, "a weapon of warlike
design, and severed her head almost from her body, causing instant

"It was not known until next day about noon that anything extraordinary
had happened. It was first detected by Sir Sydney himself, who became
alarmed at not having seen Wade--the ward's name was Hector Wade--as
usual at ten o'clock, and tapping at the door, was surprised to hear
some noise issue from within. Being of a hasty temper, he became
indignant at the ward's indifference, and calling loudly, finally gained

"The murderer had her stretched on this floor, and every article capable
of being removed piled upon her corpse. Horrified at such a sight, Sir
Sydney became wild with grief, and at once handed the pitiful lunatic
over to those in authority.

"The next inhabitant doomed to share in its dull delight was Kathleen,
wife of my beloved grandfather, a beautiful woman, whose portrait you
now see. She, I am sorry to relate, proved more an accomplice than the
honoured wife of him who added so much to the welfare of those who now
benefit by his great economy. The hand of death visited her here
likewise with its separating touch.

"The last person inhabiting its cheerless enclosure was a distant
relative of my mother, a gentleman named Rodney Rupert, who fell from
the path of virtue and trod the field of vice, until confined within
this prison of pathetic account, and who, in a moment of passion, ended
his days with that pistol which hangs on yonder hook, and on that bed
all these lay, and which shall again be made use of by a traitoress of
no mean account either."

Sir John then proceeded to give orders to "have the room made as
comfortable as its scanty furniture permitted," which consisted only of
one small table, one chair, and an old-fashioned wardrobe, with several
small drawers attached, one dressing-table and wash-stand, all of which
were magnificently carved oak and richly panelled.

There was only one large window, made up of iron bars and a multitude of
small panes of glass not larger than three inches square, all of equal
dimensions, and inside this window were strong bars of iron looped on
every side and firmly fastened.

The cocoa matting which served as a carpet, parts of which were grim
with gore, was almost worn past recognition. These were all the articles
this badly-lighted room contained, save several oil-paintings of
enormous size. On the whole, it presented the appearance of a private

An icy atmosphere pervaded throughout the room, damped with an odour of
something inert, which Sir John believed would be rendered extinct in
the presence of a fire.

Rachel, after receiving orders in confidence from her master, set
matters to right by lighting a fire, dusting the old and much-worn
furniture, airing the bed-clothes, etc., being strictly charged to
admit, on no pretence whatever, now or at any time, any member of the
household or visitor to the mansion.

When everything was in perfect readiness for the reception of its guest,
Sir John directed Rachel to "bring her Ladyship into his presence." What
could have astonished Lady Dunfern more on being ushered into a room
which never before was open for her inspection? Nothing save the
information her husband eagerly awaited her to receive. On being
informed of her vast deception, which was proved beyond doubt, and to
which she felt wholly incompetent to reply, she was absolutely

It required no further questioning now concerning her husband's recent
strangeness of manner and rigid coolness with which he was forced to
treat her whom he scorned to call wife.

"You, madam," said he, "have by your conduct, both before and after
marriage, forced me to keep you a prisoner within these walls so long as
you live or I exist.

"You have not failed to act the infamous by kissing me with the lips of
a Judas! You have at last plunged me into deepest disgrace, not alone
me, but him whom you should have been liberated to succour and chastise.
Mocking wretch! your foul deeds shall have plenty of scope here for
improvement, and a prisoner you shall be during the remainder of your

Sir John, without another word, glided from before the presence of her
who once was treated as a goddess by him, and turning the great key that
locked her for ever from his view, handed it to Rachel, who was to have
sole admittance to, and full charge of, his wife.

When left to herself in the ghostly and spacious closet of crippled
right, which until now she never dare approach, Lady Dunfern, instead of
shewing signs of grief, which Sir John felt assured must burst from its
midst, gloried in being aloof from the occasional rebukes to which she
was subject whilst occupying the rooms free to her access. She would now
have full opportunity of guiding her thoughts to self-advantage or
disadvantage. She felt free to try and act as she in any case would have
done, regarding very little the shame brought on her husband by her
intrigue with the tutor, whom she simply idolized, never once casting a
thought on her infant, knowing well it would be passionately cared for.

Oceans of thought took hold on her as she vacantly viewed the damp and
darkened walls of her monstrous cell, now and then moving forward to
inspect the many paintings of great and historic worth which hung from
their lofty support, mostly all more or less resembling him who probably
should ere long add to their number.

Lady Dunfern allowed the weeks and months to pass unheeded until
afforded ample opportunity of resorting to some means that might not
alone free her from such death-like surroundings, but snap the chain of
obligation in two which presently connected her with a husband she cared
not for.

She longed for the hour of flight from the dismal shelter under which
she was doomed to dwell. She yearned for the days that had fled, and
more so for her who had shared in their pleasure. She pined for him whom
she so long lived to adore, and hesitated not to do so still.

Could she only acquaint him of her husband's cruelty, how he might
assist her in effecting her release. What could be done, she frequently
asked herself, to brighten her future only a little?

Could she possibly escape? She feared not.

Every two hours that villainous woman entered during the day since first
she was snared in the net of revenge and compelled to remain within its
enclosures of shivering fear. Still, she never lost hope of flight, and
cheered with the thought of future stratagem, she tried to remain
somewhat consoled.


The trickling tide of fortune sometimes ebbs slowly. It meets with
occasional barriers of boisterous worth, and reaches its haven of intent
too often with obstruction. Its waters drip on the proud and humble, the
mighty and pitiful, the meek and unholy, and refuse to overlook even the
weary and careworn confined in the cell. It ceases not to store within
its waters of wonder intricate windings of wealth and poverty, triumph
and torture, joy and misery, and does not hesitate at any time to safely
deposit its various burthens on the numerous beaches along which it must

When almost a year of Lady Dunfern's private imprisonment was about
drawing to a close, she was beginning to partly believe the truth of her
husband's dogmatic remarks. She had strongly been endeavouring during
this time to arrive at some possible means of communication with Marjory
Mason, her much-loved maid, whose services Sir John still retained; but
every endeavour she yet formed proved absolutely vain. She often thought
had she been attended by any of the household staff, only her on whom
she never could dream to rely, she might have made good her escape long
since; but being watched and visited so regularly by Rachel Hyde, she
felt her task much more difficult of performance than at first imagined.
Sometimes she would bring her table close to the window and mount on its
shaky leaf, then step into the great window-sill, pull out her
handkerchief and rub the puny panes to try and catch a glimpse of nature
and probably chance to see some of the servants pass.

This heavily-barred window stood considerably high, and if viewed from a
distance, or even from the ground adjacent, seemed small in consequence.
It was, therefore, very difficult for her to recognise one menial from
another, yet she often imagined she could not be mistaken in perceiving
a form in the garden, right opposite, that surely strongly resembled her
favourite maid.

What course was she, then, to adopt in order to discover the accuracy of
her thoughts? How could she manage to be positive regarding Marjory's
appearance? She felt it almost miraculous to identify her who trod so
far beneath her heightened gaze. Each day she resolved to mount the
window at the same hour, believing her constant watching might through
time convince her who the object of her anxiety might be.

But the distance between them still remained the same, and ended with
the same disappointing result. A thought at last crowned her precious
efforts. She fancied if she could succeed in breaking one of the small
window panes she could, with the aid of a telescope found in one of the
drawers, define exactly who the maid might chance to be.

The same hour each day found the eager mistress and anxious maid in
their respective places, the former mounted on the window-sill, the
latter gazing pitifully towards the window of her mistress's hateful
cell. But discernment was altogether impossible for Lady Dunfern, who
was resolved not to be baffled much longer in ascertaining who the
constant visitor was. Snapping from her finger an exquisite diamond
ring, and studying which pane of glass would be least noticed, she
arrived at the wise conclusion of extracting the lowest corner pane,
which she cleverly and effectually succeeded in doing. Wondering, first
of all, how she would hide the opening from the cute eye of her who
proved her only visitor, she placed her fleecy wrap carelessly against
it, and resuming her seat, was persuaded fully to believe she had
successfully accomplished the first step to her freedom.

Rachel, arriving now with luncheon, failed to notice, or if noticed, to
mention the article in the window. Next day, with great confidence, Lady
Dunfern was found in her usual recess, and drawing forth the telescope,
viewed keenly the object of her constant search, and to her wild delight
she at once beheld Marjory Mason with grave face staring, she fancied,
at her. At last, her Ladyship had achieved a mighty work, indeed, which
she hoped would yet prove of more practical importance.

It may be mentioned that Marjory Mason visited the same plot of ground
at the same hour every available morning since she was robbed of the
pleasure of waiting on her mistress, merely to get a glimpse of the
window she knew must belong to her Ladyship's haunt of hardship; and
could honest Marjory have only seen the handkerchief that every day was
pointed to its little transparent enclosures, how she would so gladly
have waved hers in return. But other means had to be resorted to,
through Lady Dunfern's great perspicacity, to try and establish a line
of communication with one she could trust. This being now arrived at
cast a world of grief from the mind of her who, under such a roof of
suspense as that beneath which she existed, felt if aid were not
forthcoming, she would shortly have to yield to the imperative command
of the King of Conquering Divines.

Who could now recognise the "Southern Beauty" of Dilworth Castle?
Who could visit the once beautiful bride of Dunfern Mansion without
naturally betraying signs of heartfelt sorrow? She who so often graced
the assemblies of the proud and famous; she who adorned society with her
majestic presence; she who, by her charming manner and elegant bearing,
failed not to steal the affection of him who treated her so, was an
object of abject commiseration where her conduct wasn't questioned. She
was no longer the cheerful associate, the bright converser, the lively,
robust Irene Iddesleigh. She, the pride of her guardians, the once
adored of her husband, the envied object of socialism, must bear to
exist, though by any means within her power, not where she existed
presently. The next part to be enacted was to attract Marjory's
attention. This could easily be tried, and tying her cambric square
firmly round the top of a small poker, she timidly sent it through the
cavity, at the same time viewing Marjory by means of her telescope.
At first Marjory was seen to shade her eyes with her hand, and move a
little forward, then suddenly stop. She would again move slightly nearer
to the wafting emblem of despair, and quickly advancing, until she
neared the spot where best the snowy sign could be seen, instantly
concluded that she must be observed by her ladyship.

When Lady Dunfern perceived that Marjory could by no means be closer to
her, she pulled the flag of victory back, leaving her maid in breathless
confusion, never for an instant flinching until she might again have an
opportunity of rendering her assistance whom she worshipped.

In less than five minutes another signal appeared through the open space
in the form of a small piece of paper, the meaning of which Marjory knew
well. It appeared to be making its way with wonderful alacrity towards
her, who now was in nervous despair lest she should be detected by her
master, or some of the other members of his staff. At last the missive
reached its destination, and, wildly grasping it, Marjory loosed the
cord, that was swiftly drawn back, and plainly written by her mistress's
hand were the words, "To Marjory, my trusted maid." Shrieking with
delight, she pushed the note into her pocket, and, speedily hastening to
the mansion, entered her own room. Securing the door from within, she
instantly tore asunder the cover, and read with tearful eyes as

          "Room No. 10.

  "Dearest Marjory and Friend,

  "You at last have proof of the confidence reposed in you by me.
  How I have thought of you since I was severed from you no one
  knows. That you have been aware of my imprisonment I can no longer
  doubt. However, I shall not presently give you any particulars,
  but beg to say that if you could by any means you thought safe let
  me hear if you have ever received any letters for me from Oscar,
  I should ever feel grateful and reward you accordingly. My reason
  for such inquiry I shall explain further on. Dear Marjory, keep
  this dark. Might I suggest that you slip a note under my door this
  evening at five o'clock precisely. This you can do I believe at
  this hour with safety. Trusting you are keeping strong, and hoping
  soon to thank you personally for such secret kindness,

            "Believe me,

                "Sincerely yours,


  "To Marjory."

This note was ample explanation of the confidence Lady Dunfern had in
her maid. She well knew from previous experience how she could trust
her, and felt assured she was not a victim to misplaced confidence.
Marjory would sooner have suffered death than betray her whom she had
served so long at Dilworth Castle, and so short a time at Dunfern
Mansion, and, carefully folding the note she held in her hand, proceeded
to reply.

Lady Dunfern, at the hour appointed, stood in agony behind the massive
door, underneath which she soon felt sure of receiving news that would
either increase or diminish her varied stock of fears. Nor was she
disappointed. At the very hour referred to, the note appeared. Who could
picture the ecstatic relief of Lady Dunfern as she paced her prison
floor, whilst carefully scanning the contents of Marjory's note. In it
she stated that her husband received all letters direct, not alone for
himself, but for all his servants, and delivered them personally to
each, this only happening since she was subject to his cruel treatment.

Lady Dunfern was a little surprised at not receiving through Marjory
some news of Oscar. But when informed of her husband being the recipient
of all letters, she felt confident his were amongst the many for his
inspection, and would not therefore aid his aspect of matters much.
Safely depositing the prayed-for epistle of Marjory in her drawer, she
seemed to suddenly grow quite cheerful and animated, so much so that
Rachel, on entering some short time afterwards, was so struck with the
change as to acknowledge that her ladyship must surely appreciate the
book she held in her hand to an extraordinary extent, since it had
altered her demeanour so.

Could this attendant only have known the true nature of Lady Dunfern's
much-changed manner, how, with a conquering air, she would so soon have
conveyed the tidings to Sir John. This, however, was not to be. Lady
Dunfern believed that such a line of intercourse as that which she had
so artfully managed with one on whom she could ever place implicit
confidence, must surely yet be the means of freeing her from the fetters
of a fierce and prejudiced race.

Every morning, at the same hour, mistress and maid were at their
respective posts, the former, with brightened eye, mounted on her
favourite pedestal of triumphant account and gazing intently on the
object of rescue; the latter, casting that grave and careworn look in
the direction of the niched signboard of distress, stood firmly and
faithfully until she received the watchword of action and warning.


Torture trifleth not. It manifests in many instances the deserving
censure imposed upon its stinging touch. It acts like the poisonous
fangs of the serpent, unless extracted from its burning crypt of
chastisement by hands of wily witchcraft. So frightened did Lady Dunfern
become lest the eye of the straggler might chance more than once to
catch the meaning of Marjory's loitering about the grounds immediately
below her window, that she deemed it imperative to alter her
arrangements, and, acquainting Marjory in the usual way, appointed an
hour that would almost defy matters to be made conspicuous. This change
made both of them more free to act, and proved a decided success.

Only some weeks elapsed since Lady Dunfern's first missive reached
Marjory until word was forthcoming from Oscar Otwell. Her heart beat
wildly with joy on reading the following, slipped to her in the usual



  "Dearest Lady Dunfern,

  "You may well guess my gross astonishment on receipt of your long
  looked-for note, and the dire news it contained. My heart bleeds
  for you, and believe me, no stone shall be left unturned until
  your release from that heathenish cell of woe shall be proclaimed.
  Often have I looked for an answer to my letters from you, but,
  alas! in vain. I began to be convinced that something must have
  driven your love for me into hate. I am further surprised that my
  uncle, who purchased Dilworth Estate, and who permanently resides
  at the castle with his wife and daughters, never alluded in any
  way in his letters to me to your retirement as it were from public
  life. His answers to my many questions concerning you he entirely
  evaded, and never having had an opportunity of a personal
  interview with him since I entered Chitworth College,
  I unfortunately have been debarred from rendering long since the
  aid you now seek.

  "Your suggestion shall undoubtedly have my prompt attention, and
  I'll now say no more, until I rejoice in your freedom.

          "Ever your loving


The mind of him who was in full possession of the facts regarding Lady
Dunfern's present position became perfectly distracted, and on entering
College next morning, after receiving her note, was so overcome with
grief as to cause grave alarm amongst the many students who benefitted
so much by his strenuous efforts to insure success. Doctor O'Sullivan,
the eminent President of the College, on seeing Oscar, whom he lately
observed was labouring under some weight of sorrow, in such a state of
despair, strongly advised a change of air, at the same time kindly
offering him a substitute for four weeks, at the end of which time, if
he still found himself unable to resume his tuitions, he would prolong
his vacation by two weeks. This was the very thing Oscar wanted--absence
from duty--and he gladly availed himself of the worthy president's
generous offer.

How Oscar quitted the college on receiving the news which liberated him,
not only for four weeks, but for ever!--how he sped along to his room in
Upper Joy Street, and there wrote a few words to her who longed for his
presence and aid, wondering how the clever trick, so ably concocted by
Lady Dunfern, would be accomplished, or if attempted, would
succeed!--better leave it to her who had so well managed to even reach
the length of liberty which marked her heroism already.

Lady Dunfern was busily engaged, during her hours of uninterruption, in
marking notes, with great caution and clearness, on paper for Marjory's
use; and well guarded and guided must the steps be that should again
lead her into the open field of freedom and health.

The heavy rain beat furiously against the darkened window of Lady
Dunfern's confined and much-detested abode as Rachel approached her with
supper on the night of 24th December.

As the next day brought many touching remembrances with it, Rachel, this
iron-willed attendant, spoke in rather soothing strains to her whom more
than once she tried to betray. Lady Dunfern, being so fully charged with
thoughts edging on her flight, remained in perfect indifference to all
her cunning remarks, never betraying the least outward symptom of the
excitement that then raged so terribly within her; she was resolved that
no word of any description whatever should be conveyed to him who so
eagerly awaited Rachel's retracing footsteps outside the cell.

Prompted strongly by Sir John before entering, Rachel carried with her
messages of a rather condoling character, to be delivered to her
ladyship in such pitiful phrases as to twist from her remarks for the
use of him who feared that something dreadful was about to happen owing
to a miserable dream he had only a couple of nights before.

But Lady Dunfern was too watchful to allow even one word to escape her
lips that might innocently convict her; and steadfastly guarding against
the tongue of the treacherous maiden, remained in silence. The
evil-intended Rachel lingered around the room fully fifteen minutes,
thus affording Lady Dunfern every opportunity of saying something, but
all of no avail; and angrily snatching up the large silver tray, bounced
out of the room, banging the great door after her, probably in order to
frighten her mistress, but not a nerve did the rude and audacious act

Turning the light very low, the confined woman slipped on tip-toe behind
the defiant door, and heard faint sounds proceed from the adjoining
corridor, the voices she well knew to be those of both her husband and
Rachel. Her heart sank somewhat at the discourse that followed Rachel's
recent visit, lest it might be concerning either herself or Marjory; or,
worse still, she thought, relative to her intended flight within five
hours, which she earnestly implored should not be prevented.

The voices, however, after a lengthy conversation, suddenly ceased, and
gently moving to the fire, she sat quietly down to heat her icy limbs,
that were almost benumbed with cold.

The thoughts which she allowed to disturb her anxious mind she found
were very numerous, the principal one being that of flight, which she
trusted strenuously should be fully accomplished within the time
specified. The first hour slipped in, the second moved round too,
likewise the third; and, gazing in wild despair in the direction of her
dainty-jewelled watch, which she kept suspended from a trivial hook
above the mantelpiece of richly carved oak, could scarcely refrain from

The smallest hand of her little timekeeper could not fail to show that
the hour of eleven had just been reached; this was precisely the time
all the household retired, including Sir John, on whose part it was not
a case of command, but option.

On this particular night the staff of servants was not so fully
represented as usual. Marjory Mason had not been amongst the number who
sought sleep, neither was it known by any one whether or not she was in
her own room.

Immediately adjoining Marjory's room was Rachel Hyde's, both of which it
was Marjory's duty always to keep in perfect order, thus affording the
great friend of Lady Dunfern a daily opportunity of viewing the drawer
in which the great key of her ladyship's room was at rest.

It was a habit with Rachel to sleep with her bedroom door ajar, by order
of her master, lest a fire might originate during the hours of repose,
or burglars enter and carry with them some valuables of no slight worth
or interest.

About ten o'clock, an hour before Marjory's usual time to retire, she
ably feigned a very severe attack of indigestion, and, trying to look as
dejected and sick as she could in consequence, requested that she might
be permitted to go to her own room for the night; a request which Rachel
readily granted, as Marjory and she always travelled by the express
train of friendship. Rachel added that she would act in her stead by
clearing her master's supper table herself.

No sooner had Rachel granted Marjory's request than she dashed up the
many and winding steps of ascent until she reached the object of her
premeditated scheme by boldly entering the housekeeper's room and taking
therefrom the choicest treasure it contained--namely, the key which was
so soon to prove the nature of the severe illness she so capitally

Rachel, on entering the room in which Sir John sat, was quickly asked
where Marjory was; and after satisfying him as to her illness, she
hastily removed the articles used at supper, and repaired to rest. When
passing Marjory's door, Rachel tapped lightly, and failing to gain
admission, called on her to admit her with a cup of hot milk. Still no
reply came from within. Then, slowly turning the handle, she tried to
admit herself without awaking Marjory, feeling sure that she must be
sound asleep.

It was only during her third attempt to seek entrance that she found the
door locked. Moving into her own room, she muttered something that did
not distinctly reach the ear of her who was safely secreted underneath
the housekeeper's bed. Divesting herself of her clothing, Rachel soon
put herself in a position to guarantee slumber. She wrapped herself well
within the fleecy folds of nature, and in less than ten minutes was
safely sailing in the boat of dreamland.

Marjory, for it was she who lay stretched under the bed of her who never
at any time doubted her word or actions, when fully convinced of
Rachel's safe retirement, crept along the carpeted floor on hands and
knees, carrying with her the key to victory. Proudly and much agitated
did Marjory steal her way along the many winding corridors of carpeted
comfort, until at last she came to the bottom of the ghost-like marble
steps which led to her mistress; and swiftly running up the icy heights,
until reaching the door of danger and blood-thirsty revenge, she, with
the caution of a murderess, thrust with great and exceptional care the
key into its much-used opening, and heroically succeeded in gaining

Behind the door lay Lady Dunfern, as if dead. With great presence of
mind Marjory locked the door from within, struck a match, and tried to
light the lamp, which had been extinguished not long before; this with
difficulty she nervously did. Then, turning to her mistress, whose
changed countenance was a sight Marjory never forgot until her dying
day, she tried every effort to arouse her who so soon was likely to
track the path of powerful pursuit. It was fully some minutes until she
saw the faintest glimpse of animation, and gently raising the shadowy
form in her strong arms, used every means in her power to quickly
prepare her for the most trying part of all.

At last Marjory's efforts were completely baffled; and knowing it was
approaching the time at which Oscar was to be in readiness at the gate
farthest away from the mansion, that was seldom or never used, the poor
trembling girl had now enough to bear. She believed the cup of sorrow
had been drained to its last dregs; still she hoped on, never giving
place to the remotest trace of doubt, being fully assured of achieving
the topmost tier of triumph.

Lady Dunfern had, through pure fear of being caught in her adventure,
stood an hour or so behind the door before Marjory's welcome steps were
heard, and momentarily on hearing her trusted maid's nimble tread make
such rapid strides towards her release was with overjoy so quickly
stricken down, at a time when two-fold energy was most required, that
she utterly failed to regain the slightest strength; and in this sad
state her helper found her!

The moments were passing more quickly now than Marjory wished, and
bestowing one final look at her ladyship's watch so firmly clutched in
her fingers, was about to break down in despair, when she was suddenly
aroused by a dash of sandy pebble thrown against the window, which
unmistakably announced the arrival of him who so soon was to shield the
shaken form of her once lovely mistress from the snares of jealousy and

Oscar, who stood at the gate appointed, was very uneasy, no doubt, as
the hour slowly approached that should make him the recipient of the
treasure he at first should have honestly secured, and fearing lest the
escape might be detected in time for rescue, he was unable to remain any
longer where he was. Mounting the iron gate, he soon flung himself over
its speary top, and hurriedly making his way towards Lady Dunfern's
window, where he perceived the dim light, he announced his arrival in
the manner described.

Wringing her hands in wild despair, Marjory touchingly prayed for speedy
release from such cruel torture, and opening the door for the last time
she carried her mistress into the corridor, and there deposited her
until again locking the giant block of oak, then she lightly tripped
down the ashen steps, along the corridors, until at last she reached the
open door of Rachel's room. Pausing for a moment lest the housekeeper
might be awake, she satisfied herself this was not so. She then
courageously entered and safely deposited the key in the exact spot
whence she took it, retracing in a wonderfully quiet manner her shaking
footsteps until arriving to convey her precious charge to a place of
safety. Clasping Lady Dunfern once more in her arms, she crept down the
chilly steps of fate along the well-padded paths of tapestry, down
numerous flights of wiry-carpeted stairs, until finally reaching the
lofty hall, where she paused for an instant, being a complete example of
exhaustion, and dreading the least delay, approached the door with
safety. She then deposited her ladyship on a lounge that lay right
behind it until she secured the key which from previous observation she
noted, in case of emergency, hung on a silver hook not eight feet

With the air of a duchess, Marjory dashed open the outer door, at the
left wing of the building, and, with her liberated load of love, swept
for ever from its touch. Blowing faintly a whistle she bought for the
purpose, she soon was released of her charge by him who instantly
appeared to shield them both from the breezy blast which bitterly swept
that night o'er hill and dale.

Taking Lady Dunfern in his arms, Oscar paced the broad and pebbled
walks, speedily arriving at the spot where stood a vehicle in readiness
to convey them to their destiny. Not a word was spoken by Oscar, neither
did Lady Dunfern betray the slightest symptoms of recovery until safely
driven to the pretty home Oscar had previously arranged for her rescue,
some twenty miles distant from Dunfern Mansion.

It was situated nearly in the centre of Dilworth Park, and generously
handed over to Oscar as a conditional gift from his uncle, the Marquis
of Orland, who owned its many acres. Marjory's joy at this stage fully
balanced her previous hours of sorrowful and dangerous adventure. She
could hardly refrain from tears as she viewed the weary night before
through the telescope of trickery. She seemed confident of having
performed a great and good work by liberating from the pangs of
emotional imprisonment the weak and forlorn, who so soon would have been
ordered to separate herself from a closet of chastisement to enter the
home of joy everlasting, which ever has its door of gladness open to the
ring of the repentant and contrite.

After leaving Lady Dunfern in the careful charge of Marjory, Oscar
proceeded to handsomely reward his uncle's coachman, who drove them so
quickly from Dunfern Mansion to Audley Hall, requesting him at the same
time to treat the matter with profound silence.

The rescued form now opened her eyes, and suddenly a convulsive twitch
shook her feeble frame. Casting her heavily-laden orbs of blinded
brilliancy around the cosy well-lighted room, had not to be informed by
any one what had happened; she gasped, "Thank Heaven, I'm safe!"

Oscar, tenderly bidding Lady Dunfern "Good night," instructed Marjory to
carefully administer to her wants until daybreak.


It is astounding to view the smallest article through a magnifying
glass; how large and lustrous an atom of silver appears; how fat and
fair the withered finger seems; how monstrously mighty an orange; how
immeasurably great the football of youth; but these are as nought when
the naked eye beholds the boulder of barred strength--a mountain of

The usual hour for arousing the inmates of Dunfern Mansion was
designated by the ringing of a bell, constructed at the back part of the
building, and connected by means of a wire with the room of the footman,
whose duty it was to ring fully three minutes every morning at the hour
of seven o'clock in winter and six in summer.

On Christmas morning, only a short time after Lady Dunfern's escape was
effected, it rang somewhat later, arousing from sleep all the servants,
with the exception of Marjory Mason, who failed entirely to put in an
appearance, even when called thrice by Rachel. However, believing that
she was still fast asleep, Rachel ceased to further call on her until
after serving her ladyship's breakfast.

On this festive day the breakfast served in the servants' spacious hall
was a sumptuous repast, truly, and required longer time to prepare than
was customary. This being so, evidently delayed the housekeeper a
considerable time in attending to the wants of her mistress, whose
breakfast was always punctually served at nine o'clock. This rule was
violated to the extent of about half an hour on the memorable morning of
Lady Dunfern's flight.

Sir John breakfasted at fifteen minutes after nine, and looked both
careworn and sad, intimating to Rachel his inability to sleep the
previous night. Ordering her to prepare a dainty dish for Lady Dunfern,
he proceeded to read the daily paper, that had been so customary for
years. Rachel, hastily executing her master's orders, and having all in
readiness for her mistress, hurried to her room for the key. Sharply
telling the usual maid to follow her with the tray, she wended her way
towards the door that twice had been locked since her last visit.
Unlocking it, turning the handle and pushing it open, she took from the
servant the tray, as was her custom, by strict orders of her master,
never allowing the maid further than the door.

Depositing it upon the table, she swiftly turned to the door, and
locking it from within, began to gaze around for Lady Dunfern, who
sometimes breakfasted in bed. Moving in its direction with tray in hand,
no Lady Dunfern appeared! The bed remained unused since she settled it
the previous day. Wildly shouting with momentary pain, Rachel let fall
the tray, smashing the china, &c., and thickly spotting the matting in
some places with its contents. In deep despair she cast one delirious
stare around the room, but all to no effect. Heaven help me! has she
fled? Oh, what!--what shall I do? Thinking that she might have hidden
under the couch of rest, she threw herself on the floor to try and catch
only a glance of her hidden form, but was disappointed once more.

Running to the door and frantically opening it, she ran to Marjory's
room. Failing to be admitted, she hurried down to acquaint some of the
men, who attempted to open Marjory's door, but all their masculine
efforts to arouse her were futile. What was there left to be done, save
to acquaint Sir John of the matter. Agitated did Rachel enter without
signifying her approach to her master, who sat in silence. "Oh, sir,"
cried she, drowned in tears, and uttered in broken accents the words,
"Your wife has escaped--she is not in her room!" "What!" gasped Sir
John. "It cannot be!"

Following Rachel to the room of terror he found her information too
true. "How on earth has this happened?" asked the horrified husband.
"Had you the key?" he fiercely asked of Rachel. Ever ready to substitute
the truth with a lie, where the former especially would convict her, she
replied, with a stamp of her foot, "that it never was out of her drawer
of safe deposit." Thinking probably she may have trifled with the
window, Sir John moved forward, and the wrap never being removed, he
thought it had not in any way been tampered with until Rachel espied the
corner pane. "Ah!" said she, "this is the clue to her cursed craft. This
must have had something to do with her escape." Then the thought of
Marjory's room being still closed to view she fancied might have
something also to do with the mysterious and marvellous mark of
ingenious intrigue.

Both Sir John and Rachel tottered to Marjory's door, and demanding it to
be broken open, Sir John entered to be further astonished at her
absence, to be sure. On her bed she cannot have lain the previous night,
which was proof positive that she was an announced accomplice. But the
mystery had yet to be solved as to the action of their flight. Guilt
took strong hold on Rachel. She knew the key was always kept in a drawer
in her own room, which drawer was constantly kept locked by her and the
key hidden inside the little clock that ticked so gently on the
mantel-piece in her room; but on second thought, she was so busily
engaged during the Christmas season that actually she forgot to lock the
drawer the whole week. Never dreaming that this overlook on her part was
so cleverly taken notice of by her who not alone committed the
ruffianous act, but caused all the blame to be thrown on the party in
charge. The housekeeper, who felt sadly and very much annoyed about the
affair, grasped the whole thing--first, she thought of Marjory's
professed illness the evening previous, then how she tried her door
before going to bed, and in this attempt to enter was unsuccessful, and
that very morning there was no answer, and, finally, she was missing as
well as Lady Dunfern. The well-arranged plot pictured itself in a most
vivid manner to her who in one respect, regarding the key's safety, was
entirely to blame.

Sir John, summoning all his men, ordered them to go at once and intimate
to the officers of the law the sudden flight of the miscreants, and to
try and find out their whereabouts; but no trace of them was as yet nigh
at hand.

The deceived husband appeared greatly crushed under such a weight of
sorrow, and wondering whether or not they could be found, or if Oscar
Otwell, he who so often wrote to his wife during her period of
imprisonment, had ought to do with her daring adventure, aided by
Marjory Mason! It is no longer an unsolved problem that Oscar Otwell was
from first to last the chief irritating item of Sir John Dunfern's
unhappiness, and whose supposed underhand communications with Lady
Dunfern were the principal features depicted in this escape.

These letters of Otwell's Sir John still retained, never reaching her
for whom they were intended. Opening his large Davenport that stood
close by, he extracted therefrom all the letters of the vaguish tutor,
and coming to the one received lastly, found it bore the address,
"Chitworth College, Hedley, Berks." This was so much information
regarding the rascal who was the sole means of separating Sir John
Dunfern and his wife.

The husband, paralysed with sorrow, instantly wrote to Doctor
O'Sullivan, the President of the College, who in youthful years was his
most intimate acquaintance, and whose name appeared so often in Oscar's
letters, making the necessary inquiries relative to one of the teaching
staff named "Oscar Otwell."

This he sealed in an envelope, and walked to the village to post it
himself. After two days' rending agony and suspense, he received the
following reply:--

          "Chitworth College,


  "Dear Sir John,

  "I am very sorry to inform you that, owing to a grave despondency
  which of late troubled Oscar Otwell, one of my able and talented
  assistants, I was compelled, though reluctantly, to allow him
  either one month's leave of absence or six weeks' if he so
  desired, in order to recruit him somewhat. I strongly advised him
  to seek a change of air, which I believe he did. I myself, on
  receipt of your note, visited his lodgings to ascertain from his
  landlady when he was likely to return. She informs me she has
  never heard from him since he left, and cannot give the least
  clue as to his present quarters. She adds that he took all his
  belongings with him.--Trusting you enjoy good health.

          "Believe me,

                  "Very sincerely yours,

                          "D. O'SULLIVAN,


"Merciful Father!" exclaimed Sir John, as he finished reading the
President's note, which he laid on the table. "God strengthen me to bear
this un-Christian-like calamity. Oh, my son, my son! What disgrace shall
this not bring upon you, my child, my all!"

Pacing the floor in profound agony, Sir John rang for his housekeeper to
convey the tidings he had just received. Rachel suspected this
beforehand, but dare not even hint at such a thing to him, who had
already enough to bear. Speaking in terms which shewed manifest symptoms
of sorrow, combined with rage and perplexity, he ordered her for ever
from his service. "You," said he, "are solely to blame. Of this I am
positively convinced, and through that door march, as I never wish again
to set eyes on such a worthless woman." Here Rachel, who was grievously
affected, passed for ever from the presence of him who dared to be

Next of all, he ordered the footman, Tom Hepworth, into his room. "You,"
said he, "are well aware of my present calamity, and might I ask of you
how my wife and Marjory Mason effected their escape from below? Had you
not the hall doors locked and likewise all the others?" Replying in the
affirmative, the footman shook like a poplar, knowing well that instead
of having in his room during the hours of repose all the keys of the
various doors which led to the outside, he allowed them to remain where
they were during the day. "Had you all those keys in your own room at
night, according to my orders since Lady Dunfern was obliged to be dealt
with in the manner already described?" demanded Sir John angrily. The
honest-hearted footman, being trapped, frankly acknowledged he had not.

"Go, then," said his master "and seek employment elsewhere. You are no
longer fit to be here. You have neglected to carry out my orders,
therefore you must go." So saying, the sturdy footman bowed and retired.

It no doubt caused Sir John a vast amount of pain to part with two such
helps as Rachel Hyde and Tom Hepworth; but once he formed a resolution,
nothing save death itself would break it.

Terror seized every dependent in the mansion lest Sir John would visit
his anger on each and all in like manner. However, this was not so,
as Rachel and Tom, being longer in his service than any of the others,
caused him to intrust them with the chief care of matters of importance
in preference. And when he found out that they had so carelessly
disobeyed his injunctions, they were then compelled to reap the result.

Tom and Rachel, in less than an hour after their master issued his words
of censure and dismissal, left the beautiful home, of such lengthy
shelter, in which they had shared their help so willingly, to plough the
field of adventure on which they now might wander.


The affections of youth never die. They live sometimes to lift the
drooping head, and help to chase sorrow from the heart of the oppressed.
If fostered unduly they generally prove to be more closely interwoven
than if retained through honesty alone, and fight the battle of union
with cannon strength until gained for good or evil.

Awaking from the deep sleep she so much enjoyed after her troublesome
adventures in the past, Christmas Day seemed wreathed with flowers of
heavenly fragrance for the once fair bride of Dunfern Mansion. She now
felt free to act as she thought best without undergoing an examination
which demanded answers of evasive tact--free from the hovering cloud of
dislike under which she so solemnly moved since her marriage day--free
from the wild gaze of that detestable of mortals, Rachel Hyde, who
proved as false as she was foul--free from reposing on the suicidal
couch of distrust and distress--free from the surveillance of a
so-called philanthropist; and free from the traps of tyrannical power.

She had no longer to fear the opening door of creaking custody or
crushed hopes, and well might she now enjoy her Christmas dinner with
rural relish and savoury zest. She found in Audley Hall every simple and
inexpensive comfort, and rejoiced once more to be under the gentle rule
of him whom she would have died to serve. She seemed now to have reached
joy's greatest height, and never hoped that she should again be dashed
into the dam of denounced riches, where love was an absenter to its
silvery depth; since she had aspired to and achieved the greatest aim of
her ambition.

Oscar Otwell's happiness knew no bounds. The trusted tutor had at last
secured the only hope he ever wished realised, although gained with
daring enterprise and false advances. He believed that life at last
possessed some charms for him, viewing matters lightly. But behind the
silvery rock of fortune there lies a hollow filled with darkened traces
of fate.

The love dream of youth had hardly time to be told until the future
dream of wonder and dread was about to be prophesied. A couple of months
or so after Lady Dunfern took up her residence at Audley Hall found her
more a dependent than a patroness. She had recently fled from a dungeon,
still it was not one of either starvation or poverty. Whilst occupying
its darkened midst she never had any cause for complaint regarding food
or attendance, both of which could not possibly have been excelled. It
was only when staring her lover's scanty table fully that thoughts of
any nature, save cruelty, haunted her and caused a sad expression to
appear which before seemed invisible.

Oscar, who had no means whatever of a private nature, soon commenced to
feel the touch of want as well as Lady Dunfern. He had no situation,
neither had he the means to afford the homeliest fare, and although made
owner of his present habitation, yet it was only conditionally he
obtained it from his uncle. Must not the great love they naturally had
for each other have been of very superlative strength, since it bade
adieu to boundless wealth on the one hand and a comfortable allowance on
the other, to face the future with penniless pride!

Advertisements were often seen in the leading journals for a situation,
and once the name "Oscar Otwell" appeared below. It was treated with
muffled silence, so much so that after a month's daily appealing to a
praiseworthy public, the result proved a decided failure.

Did he imagine his conduct in robbing Sir John Dunfern of his youthful
wife would be appreciated by a public band of critics? Did he by his
various attempts to enter the minds of the needy ever think to solicit
their assistance or gain their confidence by tearing asunder the lawful
bond of superficial union and right, casting it upon the sieve of
shattered shelter to separate the corn of crowded comfort from the chaff
of crafty want?

Oscar Otwell, whose literary abilities were proved beyond doubt, and
which were the sole source of his existence, was, by his conduct and
craving desire, driven into the pit of trifling tenure and allowed to
lie dormant until again aroused in a clime to which he soon must wend
his wasted way.

It was now that the heated passion of youth's folly became abated as
Oscar was beginning to near his purse's wrinkled bottom, and failing in
his strenuous efforts to secure a tutorship, was smartly made to feel
that he must visit a land of strangers, where height of ability and
depth of character were alike unquestioned. It was at this stage, too,
that Lady Dunfern was made to taste of the dish of fanciful wish in
which she often dipped her slender fingers to sprinkle her body of
dishonesty. She got time now to brood over her actions of silly
execution and hatch them with heated hunger. The orphan, the pampered,
the honoured was at this period the deluded, the mocked, the hungered.

This was only the beginning of what must follow; and where did the blame
attachable rest? But on the shoulders of her who had edged the road of
unreasonable revenge, and stripped herself of the covering of coveted
cost to array herself in linen of loose lore and lengthy wear, and die,
it may be, on the wayside of want.

The shaft of poverty still kept striking the inmates of Audley Hall,
until forced to withdraw its clumsy blow. There was evidently now plenty
of scope for the talent of the learned Oscar to develop; he must plan
how to arrive at an idea that would bring to the occupants of his
temporary home the necessaries of which they stood immediately in need.
Failing in his efforts to gain one step towards relief, Lady Dunfern
advised the disposal of Audley Hall privately, which, she strongly
hinted to Oscar, was their only path of safety from the door of
starvation. To this suggestion she succeeded in gaining his consent.

He accordingly, acting upon her advice, wrote to Doctor O'Sullivan,
President of Chitworth College, intimating to him his present
circumstances and intention, and begged of him to use his best efforts
in sending him a purchaser, the sale to be kept strictly private for
reasons which, presently, he felt too delicate to explain.

In a week or so after, a gentleman was seen approach the door of Oscar's
home, and making the necessary inquiries regarding the price Oscar meant
to accept for it, offered the sum of one thousand pounds, which,
needless to say, was gladly accepted.

The purchaser was rather an elderly gentleman, with chiselled features,
tall and straight, and seemed to have borne the melting heat of a
far-off clime to a large extent. He informed Oscar that being a retired
army pensioner, named Major Iddesleigh, he chose to leave the foreign
land in which he sojourned for upwards of thirty-five years and reside
in his native county, adding that he was a widower, having had two sons,
both of whom predeceased him, and preferred a home of his own rather
than take up quarters he could not solely claim.

He went on to say he had an only brother, a colonel, who formerly
resided at Flixton, a quaint little town on the east coast of Kent. He
had not heard from him for many years, and was resolved on arriving in
England to lose no time in finding out his whereabouts, and, much to his
grave disappointment and vexation, he was informed, whilst staying for a
few days with President O'Sullivan, that he and his wife had long since
been dead, leaving an only daughter, of whom he was now in earnest
pursuit. Oscar's deadly countenance during the latter part of Major
Iddesleigh's remarks filled the mind of the purchaser of Audley Hall
with thoughts of wonder, and on casting a sharp and penetrating stare at
her who passed as Oscar's wife, he was similarly struck with intense awe
at the sudden change that swept over her handsome face.

Her brain whirled with dire excitement on being at last informed of him
who for years previous she considered had been a member of the missing

"Great and Merciful Forgiver!" thought Lady Dunfern, "am I at last face
to face with Major Iddesleigh, whose name has been so often the subject
of conversation with both Lord and Lady Dilworth?" Gathering her
thoughts and submitting them to subjection, she tried to subdue her
shattered nerves and lock them under proper restraint, until her uncle
should safely be out of sight on his way back to the home of the
kind-hearted President of Chitworth College.

She had not, however, the slightest thought of making him cognisant of
the fact that she was the proud and lovely daughter of his brother, the
late Colonel Iddesleigh--the once-adored wife of the widely respected
and generous owner of Dunfern Estate, and now the tempted tool of

She prayed in her bewilderment that she might escape unknown to him,
rather than make him aware of the disgrace into which her past conduct
had unmistakably plunged her. Bidding Oscar and her "Adieu," Major
Iddesleigh left what was to be his future home, and returned to Doctor
O'Sullivan to acquaint him of his purchase.

Before he had even reached the College on his way from Audley Hall,
Oscar Otwell, Lady Dunfern, and Marjory had booked for New York, on
board the "Delwyn," and when the worthy President was informed of the
purchase, the dashing waves of Atlantic waters were raising themselves
to a considerable height before the eyes of the fugitives, who nervously
paced the deck of danger in despair and deepest thought of their foul
transaction and Major Iddesleigh, lest before they reached their destiny
he would be made possessor of his niece's conduct, and, with the warlike
will of a soldier of strength, follow her, and bring her back to Audley
Hall to administer to his many wants and comforts, and bequeath to her
all he possessed.

Nor did Oscar Otwell, whose nerves were reaching their shaky height,
feel free until safely ensconsed in a trim little cottage on the
outskirts of Dobbs Ferry, some miles distant from the suburbs of New
York. Oscar's first thought, after being quietly settled in his new
home, was to bind himself for life to be the husband of her who had
risked so much to bring him the joy he long sought after; and within one
month after their safe arrival in New York borders, the pretty little
church, situated at the east end of Dobbs Ferry, was the scene of a
charming group of wealthy sight-seers and warm admirers of the handsome
bride of Oscar Otwell, who had lately regained some of her former
spirits, which enlivened her to a pleasing extent, and manifested signs
of joy where lines of sorrow so lately lived.

It was for this celebration that Lady Dunfern arrayed herself in the
gorgeous gown of purest duchesse satin, which bore such a train of past
remembrances. Why its puffs of pearly wealth surrounded her well-formed
figure on the celebration of her marriage with him who long ago should
have claimed its shining folds, may be considered mysterious. But in
this, as well as in many other instances, the busy brain of Marjory
Mason was prime mover.

During Lady Dunfern's confinement in the mansion over which she unjustly
was appointed mistress, Sir John Dunfern, never suspecting the maid of
her on whom he was driven to lavish correction, appointed Marjory
mistress of her ladyship's wardrobe, and it was during her term of
office that she stole from its midst the box containing the beautiful
Parisian outfit which failed to put in an appearance on Lady Dunfern's
previous wedding-day. This Marjory kept, until safe in the shady cot of
comfort which encompassed within its wooden walls the trio of adventure.
Lady Dunfern resolved that this gown should be kept a prisoner until
either worn with a face of happiness and prided ambition or never worn
at all.

On entering the church on the morning of her marriage with Oscar, how
every eye was turned towards the beautiful woman whose radiant smile
gained the hearts of each and all of its occupants. There she stood
before the holy altar with calm resolution and undaunted fear, and her
elegant bearing and manner throughout the trying ceremony were
thoroughly appreciated by the assembly.

Oscar bore slight traces of nervousness throughout the oratorical
ordeal, and was rejoiced indeed as he turned to leave the scene of such
outbursts of praise, taking with him her who was to be his coveted
partner for life; her, whose footsteps he so often worshipped in days
gone by; her, who entered into treaty legally with a man she never could
learn to love; her, whom he now claimed as his own, and for whom he
stumbled over many an awkward and winding stile, until at last his
footsteps had reached the path of level tread, on which he hoped to
travel until his journey would be ended to that distant land where
strife is a stranger.


The wealthy, the haughty, the noble must alike taste of disappointment.
They court ideas whilst surrounded with bountiful store to be fostered
and fed with heaven-bordered hopes which nothing save denial could
thwart. The meek, the humble, the poor share equally in its visitation,
and learn not to frown at its unwelcome intrusion while they bear the
load of blighted hopes with unshrinking modesty.

At Dunfern Mansion matters seemed at a standstill, since that Christmas
Day which began with such sunshine and ended with such misery. Energy
had fled from the able-bodied staff of servants who occupied its rooms
of plentiful repast. Each and all of them seemed as if death had entered
their midst and snapped from amongst them their sole support.

Was it because of Rachel Hyde's hasty departure? No! They had now no
domineering inflicter of petticoat power to check their honest actions
or words; no eyes of dreaded terror viewing through spectacles of sin
their little faults, and submitting them, in exaggerated form, to the
ear of him who now lay so dangerously ill; no false face masked in
brasen mould, nor tongue of touchy cut to divide their friendship.
Rachel Hyde, whose word, nay, look, was law, was driven from the
presence of him who too long was blind to her false approaches, and who
always treated her with more leniency and consideration than she really
deserved, never again to mount a pinnacle of trust and truth, or share
in the confidence of such a just and true specimen of humanity as Sir
John Dunfern. She had been made to reap the crops of cunning falsehood,
sown so oft in the fields of honour and true worth, and pocket the
result of their flimsy income. She, by her long service of artifice,
had scattered the seeds of scepticism so thickly around the corners of
harmony, goodwill, and peace as to almost defy their speedy removal; but
time would swamp their silent growth and supplant in their stead roots
of integrity, justice, and benevolence. She had at last been cast on the
mercy of a world of icy indifference to facts of long standing, and made
to taste of the stagnant waters of pity, which flung their muddy drops
of rancid rascality on the face of dogmatic dread, until crushed beneath
their constant clash she yielded her paltry right to Him Whose order
must never be disobeyed.

Tom Hepworth, whose absence was partly the cause of sorrow within the
breasts of his fellow-workers in Dunfern Mansion, was much to be pitied;
he was the very soul of honour, and was highly respected by all who knew
him. In his presence every care vanished like snow in sunshine; the
pitiful look that shot from the eye of the down-trodden in Rachel Hyde's
presence was thrown aside when Tom appeared. He acted as a father and
friend on all occasions where trouble reigned supreme, and never failed
to hear the light laugh of youth proceed from its hidden bed, where it
too often reposed untouched.

Tom Hepworth, whose race was nearly run, when leaving Dunfern Mansion
took refuge in the home of Mrs. Durand, his sister, who lived only a
short distance from where he had spent more than a third part of his
existence. A few months only elapsed whilst under her roof when he was
seized with a fit of apoplexy, terminating in a few hours a life of
usefulness and blameless bearing. The shock of his sudden demise, when
conveyed to his master, whom he revered, brought on a severe attack of
hemorrhage, under which Sir John Dunfern now lay prostrate.

Not a week passed after Lady Dunfern took up residence at Audley Hall
until Sir John was informed of her whereabouts. Had her escape been
effected unknown to Oscar Otwell, it would scarcely have taken such hold
on the mind of him who, unfortunately, claimed her as his wife; but to
think he had again been duped by a rascally pauper tutor was a pill too
difficult to swallow without being moderately reduced. The troubles that
visit the just are many, and of these Sir John had ample share. He knew,
when too late, that he had jumped the drain of devotion with too much
intensity to gain a worthless reward.

He was tempted to invest in the polluted stocks of magnified extension,
and when their banks seemed swollen with rotten gear, gathered too often
from the winds of wilful wrong, how the misty dust blinded his sense of
sight and drove him through the field of fashion and feeble effeminacy,
which he once never meant to tread, landing him on the slippery rock of
smutty touch, to wander into its hidden cavities of ancient fame, there
to remain a blinded son of injustice and unparallelled wrong! All these
thoughts seized the blighted protector of the late Colonel Iddesleigh's
orphan daughter; and being gradually augmented by many others of private
and public importance, rose, like a tumour of superfluous matter, and
burst asunder on receiving the last blow relative to poor old Tom

Sir John in a few weeks gradually grew stronger, until finally he
baffled his severe illness with Christian bravery, and was again able to
keep the ball of industry moving in the direction indicated during his
years of singleness, on which he now looked back, alas! not with sorrow,
but pride.

During all this trying time, however, it must be admitted there shone
one bright star of filial attraction which seemed to shoot its reflected
lines of loving brightness towards him, whose face always beamed with
delight in return. Yes, his little son Hugh, who had been placed under
the care of Madam Fulham, since Lady Dunfern, by her conduct, could no
longer fill the post of mother, had grown to be a bright child, able to
totter around his nursery toys of cost and variety. He always seemed a
cheerful, intelligent boy, and extremely beautiful, but inclined to be
slightly self-willed, a trait which developed itself more and more as
years rolled on.

At the age of six, Sir John, abhorring the advice of his many friends to
procure for him a tutor, had him sent to Canterbury High School, where
he remained for a period of five years as boarder, under the careful
charge of Professor Smeath, a man of the highest literary attainments,
and whose exemplary training of the many youths placed under his august
rule was so pronounced as to leave no room for doubt in the minds of the
many parents who intrusted their respective charges to him. Each week
during this period found Sir John a visitor at Canterbury; he gave every
instruction necessary to Professor Smeath that would serve to interest
his son in any way, and strictly prohibited him from allowing any
outsider whatever, male or female, an interview with his boy, always
treating with dread the wily ways of her who claimed to be once his
partner, and who had brought a shower of everlasting shame upon himself
and child. This order had only to be issued once to the stern professor
carrying out on all possible occasions any instructions received from
the parents of the pupils under his control with unflinching and
undeniable reliance.

During these five years of Hugh Dunfern's instruction at Canterbury, Sir
John was seen to gradually grow careless and despondent. The healthy
glow of youth disappeared daily since domestic affliction entered his
home, and wrote its living lines of disgust with steady hand on the brow
which was now thickly marked with them. He got too much time to meditate
on the immediate past, which was considerably augmented by the absence
of his son.

He was known to sit for hours at a time in deep and painful thought, and
it was only when aroused by Madam Fulham that he ever cared to stir from
his much-frequented couch of rest; she whom he appointed housekeeper in
Rachel Hyde's stead, and who acted as well mother to his little son
until removed to school--she extended him every attention, of which he
stood in great need, after his severe attack of illness and trial,
bodily and mentally.

Time rolled along until his son's return from Canterbury, whose very
presence should have healed the gaping wounds his absence inflicted, and
chased away all gloomy cavities from the mind of Sir John. On the day of
Hugh's home-coming, after five years' training under Professor Smeath,
which should have been a day of gladness and rejoicing throughout
Dunfern Mansion, it was only one of sadness for the heart-broken father.

Bouncing into the room with boyish pride, Hugh ran and proudly embraced
him, who, in return, stood face to face with the very image of her whom
he could never again own.

There were the rounded forehead, the aquiline nose, the hazel eyes, the
nut-brown hair, the ruby lips, the pearly teeth, the dimpled cheeks and
tiny chin of his mother, who probably was grappling at the crumbs of
pauperism! However, Sir John manfully tried to hide from his boy the
source of his grave looks, until some day of revelation would demand
their blackened origin to be boldly announced to him who as yet was
solely ignorant of his mother being alive.

Six weeks' holiday passed too quickly, Hugh thought, until he would
another time be compelled to quit his home of unbounded luxury and enter
Chitworth College, Berks, for a further period of instruction, the
length of which events alone would define.

Although the very name of Chitworth College brought reminiscences of
dislike to him who suffered so much from one of its former staff, yet
those days had fled, and with them the footsteps of flaming stratagem.

Being a personal friend of Professor O'Sullivan, Sir John preferred his
son to reside with him, and receive under his able control all the
necessary acquirements devolving upon a son of such a proud and
distinguished race. The morning at last arrived for Hugh to start on his
college career, and, accompanied by his father, was not long in
completing the journey.

The interview between Sir John and his attached friend, Doctor
O'Sullivan, was affecting in the extreme, so much so that Hugh, being an
entire stranger to such outbursts of grief, and not being prepared for
such sudden emotional and silent greeting as that now witnessed by him,
began to feel it impossible to refrain from joining in their sorrow.

Throwing his youthful arms around his father's neck, he sobbed
hysterically, and could only be quieted when his father again appeared

Leaving his son in charge of Doctor O'Sullivan, the latter retired from
duty that day, and begged Sir John to remain over-night, adding that he
would so much like to have a chat with him over matters he had known,
and was persuaded to believe caused heartfelt pity to be secreted where
once there dwelt heartfelt pride. To this proposal Sir John consented
willingly, not caring to leave his gentle and much-loved boy so soon
after such a trying meeting as that which he not alone witnessed between
friends of old standing, but in which he modestly and sympathetically

All the past gravity which marred Sir John Dunfern's mirth and
usefulness, and which he kept attracted to one common centre, crept from
its crazy cell on this evening. So soon as dinner was over the President
and Sir John retired to a room of seclusion, and the intense relief it
gave the trodden and blighted messenger of manhood to at last have a
friend in whom he could confide no one could half imagine!

For fully five hours both sat talking confidentially to each other and
sympathising when necessary, and it was only during this conversation
that Sir John was first made acquaint either of his wife's marriage with
Oscar or her present abode, neither of which, in the President's
estimation, moved the husband of treachery in its most mischievous form

The news of his wife being Mrs. Otwell, instead of the honourable name
her conduct ordered her to bury, only served to cast for ever the gentle
words of practical remembrance Sir John had in his last will and
testament concerning her into an unknown chasm. Until now the forgiving
husband, the meek adviser, the patient sufferer, the wounded knight,
the once attached partner, the loving father, and the son of justice,
gratitude, and chastity was ready to share a little of his ransom with
her whom he thought he may have probably wronged by too rigorous
punishment. But President O'Sullivan, whose well-guided words and
fatherly advice had on this evening so sealed the mind of forgiveness
with the wax of disinterested intent that Sir John, on his arrival home,
at once sent for his solicitors, Messrs. Hutchinson & Harper, and
ordering his will to be produced, demanded there and then that the pen
of persuasion be dipped into the ink of revenge and spread thickly along
the paragraph of blood-related charity to blank the intolerable words
that referred to the woman he was now convinced, beyond doubt, had
braved the bridge of bigamy. Some slight alterations, in consequence,
were necessary to be made, and these being righted, the will of Sir John
Dunfern remained a prisoner until released on the day of execution,
which as yet could not possibly be named.


Hark! The bell tolled its death-like strains, faint as the far-off
fatherland, steady as the starlight, and sweet as the scent of the
blooming woodbine. The hour of departure is sure and settled, the loss
is sharply felt, the gain completed, and vigorous attempts to retain
both are oftentimes multiplying on the exertions of the benefitted.

During all these years of revolution the wheel of action rounded its
roads of revelling, riot, and separation. Shandon Cottage, the little
house of Oscar Otwell, where he took up residence when first a visitor
to the land of laudable ingenuity, was a pretty structure, and would
doubtless have proved a little palace of peace to two such lovers had
the means been forthcoming to keep the glare of poverty within its bed
of stillness, and prohibit its visitation where least desired.

Oscar, who, during his English career, never was possessor of aught but
a slight pittance derived from the sources of his mental labours, and
who courted the vain idea, on being made the recipient of £1,000, which
he pocketed under false pretences by the underhand sale of Audley Hall,
that he was a man of wealth for life, and when safely settled in his
trim little cottage, squandered his trifle in a very short time, leaving
himself and wife on the mercy of strangers' sympathy, which more or less
presents an icy aspect to the eye of the needy.

Marjory Mason, who just spent twelve months under Oscar's roof, was
fortunate in securing a husband, whose calling kept her during her short
lifetime aloof from the imaginative pinches of the uncertain future.

It was only when Oscar was forced to evade starvation that he deemed it
imperative to accept an appointment in a public school, at the yearly
income of one thousand dollars, an office he retained until compelled to
resign through courting too great love for the all-powerful monster of
mangled might--Intemperance. After a number of years the partaker of
maddened love was the imparter of maddened might.

With beastly force did Oscar Otwell enter Shandon Cottage on the night
of his open dismissal from Waketown Public School, and arousing from
sleep his wife, with monster oaths inflicted upon her strokes of abuse
which time could never efface.

Ah! it was now the actions of youthful frivolity stood before her
mountain high and baffled her sickly retort. It was now she pored over
her journal of events, which seemed a burthen unbearable for such a
fragile frame, and begged the credit side to be for ever closed to her
view, whilst she prayed that the debit be left open until she would
enter therein all her past debts to him whom she deceived, deluded,
denounced, and despised.

Next morning mended matters little for Oscar Otwell's wife. Still raging
with drunken horror, he lavished upon her torrents of insinuations,
which she found impossible to overlook, and which forced her to take
refuge in the house of the Reverend Bertram Edgar, near by. This man of
true piety, at whose church she had occasionally worshipped, extended
the refuge she presently implored, and proved instrumental in securing
for her the position of governess in a nobleman's family some miles

Disposing of all the household effects, Oscar pocketed their dainty
worth, and left Shandon Cottage in earnest pursuit of his wife,
intending to again return to their native county in England.

His various inquiries regarding her whereabouts proved vain as the
vanishing shadow of Venus, and finally, when completely overcome with
sober thoughts of his riotous conduct towards the loving and faithful
object of his choice, who had risked so much for him, he cursed his very

A few weeks found him in utter destitution, without either house or
chattels to illegally dispose of in case of emergency, and line his
pockets of pauperism with coin of dishonest stamp and flashing forgery.
Unsuccessful in his worthless attempts to further manifest a standing in
the literary world, and being driven almost crazy in his eager efforts
to ascertain whither his wife had bent her footsteps, he, in a moment of
madness, resolved to resign himself to that ever-anxious defender of
Satanic rights who prowls about in ambush until safely securing his prey
with the crooked claws of callous craft.

Walking along in the moonlight in the direction of Afton Lake, which
sometimes offers its deep waters too freely to victims of sin and
suffering, Oscar Otwell resolved to bathe his body of perilous adventure
in its darkened waters of deepest death, never more to face the troubles
and trials of weak man and share them with weaker woman--never again to
approach the wife of his bosom with language of lowest type or lift to
her the hand which he so often had sworn should extend her the aid she
now must seek.

Arriving at the water's edge, Oscar Otwell divested himself of his
scanty attire, and in another moment was struggling in the freezing
element which soon should shroud his future with robe of blackest doubt.

Dunraven Hall was situated only a mile from Afton Lake, and was
inhabited by the Honourable Eric Eustace, a nobleman of unbounded
wealth, whose extension of charity was both wide and varied. It was in
this family that Mrs. Otwell was fortunate enough in securing the
position before referred to through the instrumentality of her spiritual

On the night that Oscar Otwell resigned his worldly career, there beat
one heart in Dunraven Hall with wild emotion. Mrs. Otwell, retiring to
bed as usual, found sleep had altogether fled, and rising from her
springy structure of restlessness, dressed herself and paced the bedroom
floor enveloped in dread. She was convinced something was about to
happen, and struggling in her great efforts to baffle the fear that
haunted her night and day lately, she resolved, so soon as daybreak
peeped its cheerful face through her window, to take a walk along the
road in order to cast her fears upon the highway of forgetfulness.

Wrapping herself in her warmest cloak, she soon was found walking
rapidly along in silence on the road that swept round Afton Lake. She
had not gone far when people were seen to mount the fence that conducted
them to the nearest point of its watery expanse, which lay about fifty
perches from the main road.

Courting her curiosity with nervous fear, she walked along, wondering
what had happened to attract such crowds. And finding it rather
difficult to refrain from making inquiry from some of the gathering, who
by this time had hurriedly been retracing their flighty footsteps from
the imaginative scene of death, Mrs. Otwell, modestly approaching a
female who swiftly hopped over the fence in tears, asked what had

"Oh, madam," cried the woman, "the clothing of a gentleman was seen
early this morning as David Gillespie, a labourer, was engaged at a
drain hard by. It was neatly folded and deposited on the brink. Surely
some one must have been demented and drowned himself in Afton Lake.
The authorities are now on the spot and refuse to mention who the
gentleman is."

Thanking her for kindly informing her of what she had both seen and
heard, Mrs. Otwell hurried back to Dunraven Hall in nervous
astonishment, and hastily proceeded to her bedroom to prepare herself
for what soon must follow.

The breakfast being shortly afterwards announced, Mrs. Otwell, pale as
death, entered the room, and taking her accustomed seat to partake of
it, as best she could. She had scarcely got properly seated ere two
officers of the law were seen approach Dunraven Hall. Ringing furiously,
they demanded an interview with the Hon. Eric Eustace.

Satisfied as to the name of his present governess, they wished to be
allowed to see her, which request was willingly granted. Being told that
morning by the gardener at Dunraven Hall, who ran to the spot on hearing
the news, that a lady named Mrs. Otwell permanently resided at the Hall
as governess, the authorities immediately grasped the fact that she
might be the unfortunate widow, and on putting the usual questions to
her concerning her husband, they were still further convinced as to her
identity. Drawing from his pocket a parcel containing Oscar's card,
photo, and a letter addressed to Mrs. Oscar Otwell, the officer in
charge asked her to read it aloud, which she did in a rather trembling
voice, without betraying such signs of grief as anticipated. The letter
ran thus:--

          "Dobbs' Ferry,

              Friday Night,

                      11 p.m.

  "Dearest Irene and Wife,--

  "Should ever this reach your length, I trust you will pardon me
  for the rash act I am about to commit.

  "Since the morning you left me at Shandon Cottage my sorrow has
  been greater than my present frame of mind can well support. I,
  therefore, have decided on ending my days of starvation by hiding
  for ever beneath the glassy surface of Alton Lake to shield my
  wicked body from further inflicting upon you the wrongs I have
  perpetrated in the past, and for which I am grievously tormented.

  "Dearest Irene, I hope you, in your past great warmth of devotion
  for me (your poor tutor and husband), will forgive my late
  ungentlemanly conduct in striking you so cowardly on the eve of my
  downfall, and thereby breaking the confidence you reposed in me
  for such a lengthened period of our existence.

  "From what I know of your noble character, I have every faith in
  your forgiveness, and rest assured, I never mean to face death
  without imploring you to rectify, if ever in your power, the wrong
  you accomplished, partly at my request, in breaking the holy cord
  of union which bound you during your natural existence to Sir John
  Dunfern, and again uniting it under foul auspices.

  "Had I been so fortunate as to secure you first of all, my
  conscience, certainly, would at this moment be both clear and
  unclouded. But feeling persuaded I have robbed that nobleman who
  now possibly is pining for separation from a world of shame and
  sorrow underneath the lordly roof of Dunfern Mansion, I am
  positively convinced, under such dangling dishonour, that never
  more can this world of sin extend to me the comfort I in vain have
  tried to seek.

  "Awake, then, my beloved, to whom I attach not the slightest
  blame, to a sense of feeling and justice, and go, I implore of
  you, and cast yourself at the feet of him and beg his forgiveness,
  who loved you with a love unspeakable--who severed nearly all his
  self-indulgence with the instrument of intensity and hesitated not
  to lavish it upon the head of her to whom I offer my last advice.
  Then shall you meet the messenger--death--not with shrinking fear
  (like me), but daring bravery.

  "Of your present position or abode I am totally unaware, but,
  dearest wife, I trust your race of penury is almost run, and that
  your latter years may be crowned with Christian fortitude and
  ease, and freed from the thorny dart of the wicked, in whose grave
  I must soon lie unwept.

          "Good bye, for ever!

                  From your affectionate


  "Mrs. Oscar Otwell

      (Address unknown)."

Folding the letter, and handing it to the officers, together with
Oscar's card and photograph--all of which would prove indispensable for
their future use--Mrs. Otwell quietly moved again to the breakfast room,
and, strange to say, finished her meal in silence.

Then turning to him in whose service she was, intimated her intention to
sail for England when the missing body would be recovered, which she
meant to bury in Greenwood Cemetery. She lingered on in eager
expectation of casting one final look at her husband, but week after
week died away without any sign of it being forthcoming, and all hope
being fled, Mrs. Otwell resolved to lose no further time in returning to
her home of nativity, in order to obey the last instructions from the
hand of Oscar Otwell, from whom she was reluctantly obliged to part in
the manner described.

Another side the picture of futurity presented for the anxious mother,
and that was to try and obtain an interview with her son, who at this
period must be a boy of some fifteen summers. Having everything in
readiness for her journey to her native land, Mrs. Otwell left Dunraven
Hall amidst torrents of sympathy and warm expressions from every member
of the family; and it was when driving past Afton Lake for the last time
on her way to the deck of the "Delwyn" that the crushed widow of Oscar
Otwell and legal wife of Sir John Dunfern was made to taste of the
unlimited sorrow of her sad career.

There she was, a stranger in a foreign land--an outcast to the society
she shone so brilliantly amongst during years that were now no more, the
fostered orphan, the adopted daughter of heiressed nothing, the wife of
devotional distinction, the illegal partner of crutchy poverty, and the
penniless widow of undeniable woe.

She was not even granted the ghostly pleasure of viewing her lover's
lifeless body, that would have ended her thoughts relative to him, at
least for a time, but as matters stood encircled in doubt, there was
nothing left save trouble and anxiety for her whose futurity must ever
be shaded.

On approaching the harbour of New York, her attention was attracted by a
tall gentleman standing not many yards distant, and being so long
familiar with his appearance, she found the object of attraction to be
no other than Lord Dilworth. Ordering the cabman to a standstill, she
popped her head out in utter astonishment, and shouted in such a strain
as to instantly attract his attention. Alighting with ardent enthusiasm
in the very midst of her troubles, she soon found herself in the arms of
Lord Dilworth, who appeared utterly dazed.

"Protector of Powers? can it be Irene? Lady Dunfern, I mean?" gasped he
in bewilderment. To which she bowed, blinded in tears, and in as few
words as possible, he related a short narrative concerning both himself
and Lady Dilworth, who had long since been dead. On hearing of the death
of the once noble mistress of Dilworth Castle, Mrs. Otwell seemed as
lifeless as a marble statue, and trying vigorously to regain strength
after such a sudden shock, she, in a few broken snatches, related her
plotted career; but misery having likewise carpeted Lord Dilworth's
floors of fate so much of late, he consequently did not seem so
astonished as imagined.

Leaving Mrs. Otwell so far as his time permitted, he pathetically took
his final farewell, and shortly after was busy pouring over his books in
Franklin Street, office No. 715, where he was employed as a clerk at
five hundred dollars a year.

On the other hand, the mighty ocean palace was steering firmly against
the clashing breakers with unobstructed speed, acting as protector and
friend to all those who entrusted themselves to its unsettled shelter.


The mighty orb of gladness spreads its divine halo over many a harrowed
home--it encircles the great expanse of foreign adventure and
home-hoarded enterprise, and wields its awakening influence against the
burthened boroughs of bigotry and lightened land of liberty to a sense
of gilded surprise.

The laurels of separation were twining their oily leaves and speedily
constructing a crown for the brow of Sir John Dunfern. After returning
from Chitworth College, and ordering the last few finishing touches to
be made in his will, he grew more drooped and heartless every year, and
seemed almost indifferent to life's ploughing changes.

He felt acutely the information imparted to him by President O'Sullivan
regarding the wife he now for ever despised, and who unlawfully belonged
to Oscar Otwell. He even felt more severely the effect of such on
account of his beloved boy, who was steadily endeavouring to increase
his slight store of knowledge under the watchful eye of the most
scholarly personage of the day.

He knew ere long--owing to his present state of health, brought to such
a low ebb by the mother of his son--that he would be obliged to open to
Hugh the book of nature as it stood past and present, and instruct him
in its disagreeable pages.

The thought of opening up the past, with its stains of dissipation,
perhaps acted on the mind of Sir John more severely than the reality.
Yet he must brave himself for the trial when opportunity offered, lest
it might be too late.

The time for Hugh Dunfern's fourth summer vacation was close at hand.
The boy's genial manner, affability, and frankness, gained for him hosts
of friends at Chitworth College, and equally numerous were the sharers
in his sorrow on receiving a telegram a very short time before his
summer holidays commenced to the effect that his father had taken
suddenly ill, and asking him to delay as little as he possibly could
during his journey to Dunfern Mansion, which must commence immediately.

The poor, sorrow-stricken boy, who was deeply attached to his father,
was quite overcome with grief. Bidding "Good bye" to all his college
companions, and taking affectionate leave of his masters and President
O'Sullivan, he left the much-loved seat of learning, never more to
compete in its classes of clever instruction and high moral
bearing--never again to watch with craving eye the distribution of
letters, and rejoice on observing his father's crested envelope being
gently reached him by the President; and no more to share in the many
innocent games of youth, at some of which he was an unequalled expert.

The dull hum of voices in the hall of his home met his anxious ear on
the eve of his home-coming, and told a tale without further inquiry.
Meeting the three most eminent London physicians--namely, Doctors
Killen, Crombie, and Smiley, in the library, where they held a long
consultation, Hugh was nerved somewhat before entering the chamber of
death with words of truth regarding his father's hopeless condition;
and, on moving quietly to his father's bed, how the lad of tender years
was struck with awe at the bleached resemblance of what used to be a
rosy, healthy father!

Perceiving his son's bent and weeping form hang over him with meekest
resignation, Sir John cast aside the bedclothes, and, extending his
hand, caught firm hold of his son's. Hugh spoke not a word, by order of
the doctors, lest his father, who was now bereft of speech, would feel
the pain of not being able to reply in return.

The suffering patient lingered on in this dumb condition for six weeks,
when suddenly he regained speech partly, but only for some hours--a
great dispensation of the Almighty, no doubt, in answer to the silent
prayers of the invalid. It was first noticed by Madam Fulham, who proved
a mighty help to Sir John since his wife's flight.

On entering the chamber of sickness one morning with a new bottle of
medicine, sent direct from London, Sir John raised himself slightly on
his left elbow and made inquiry about his son.

With hurried and gladdened step was Madam Fulham seen to glide from the
presence of her master, and hasten to find Hugh, who was noticed to pace
the topmost corridor in agony.

On observing his father had regained speech after his paralytic attack
had somewhat abated, how great was his son's delight! Drawing forth a
chair to the bedside of the august patient, Hugh, quite unprepared,
received the awful intelligence of his mother's conduct and life from
the lips of the afflicted, who, in broken accents, related the tale of
trouble which for years had kept him a prisoner to its influence.

Taking his son's hand in his, Sir John Dunfern, after audibly, yet a
little indistinctly, offering up a prayer of thanks to Him Who never
overlooks the words of the just, for His great mercy in again enabling
him to regain his sense of speech, of which he so lately had been
deprived, began:--

"My much-loved and faithful son, I, your father, am now stricken down in
the middle almost of manhood, and am sensitive to the fact that a short
space of time--yea, a short space too--must inevitably elapse until I
shall be ordered from this temporary abode, which now to me seems only a
floating speck of shelter in the great ocean of time. I am more than
thankful that recovery of speech has been granted me for many reasons,
which, I fear, my strength cannot permit to be fully explained. However,
my great wish to acquaint you of my miserable married career shall,
I trust, not be barred from your knowledge by any further visitation of
Kingly Power.

"You are aware, my son, that this mansion which soon shall own me no
more has been the scene of my frolicking boyhood, my joyful manhood,
and, I must now tell you, the undying trouble of a blighted married

"Your mother's name was Irene Iddesleigh, the orphan daughter,
I understand, of one Colonel Iddesleigh, of Flixton, in this county. Her
father and mother both died about the same time, leaving their daughter
absolutely unprovided for. She was taken to an orphanage at the early
age of three years, and there remained for a period of eight more, when,
through the kindness of one Lord Dilworth, of Dilworth Castle, of whose
existence I have already acquainted you, she was brought under his
charge, and remained as his adopted daughter until, unfortunately,
I brought her here as my wife.

"I cannot help informing you that she was the most beautiful and
prepossessing young lady I ever met, and, on making her acquaintance at
a ball given by Lord and Lady Dilworth, at Dilworth Castle, not far
distant, as you know, I became so intoxicated with her looks of
refinement and undoubted beauty that I never regained sobriety until she
promised to become my wife!

"The beginning of our married career was bright enough, I dare say, for
some weeks only, when she grew very strange in her manner towards me.
So remarkably strange, that I was reluctantly compelled to demand an
explanation. Being satisfied with her false apologies, used as a way out
of her difficulty, I remained content. She still continued nevertheless
to maintain the same cold indifference towards me until your birth.

"Knowing that a son was born to me, who, if spared, would still keep up
the good old name of Dunfern, I became altogether a foreigner to her
past conduct, and it was only when recovering from her illness, after
your birth, that I caught hold of the trap of deception she had laid
since long before our marriage.

"She was found out to be the idolized of one man named Oscar Otwell, who
occupied the position of tutor to her during her years of adoption; and
not even did her love in return for him cease when I claimed her as my
lawful wife, but continued, so far as I know, until now!

"I was therefore obliged through her mal-practices to shut her in from
the gaze of outsiders, and also from my own. I chose Room No. 10 of this
building as her confined apartment. You were only a child then of some
two months, and, since, I have never beheld her face, which was false as
it was lovely.

"My rage was boundless on the day I ordered her into my presence in that
room, and, labouring under the passion of a jealous husband, I told her
I would confine her within its walls so long as she existed.

"Over a year passed along, every month of which I grew more and more
repentant, until the second Christmas of her seclusion, when I fully
resolved to free her once more; at the same time, never again to share
in my society or companionship.

"But, behold! the mischievous hand of her maid, Marjory Mason, whose
services I retained after her imprisonment, was busy working its way for
her escape, which she nimbly succeeded in effecting, exactly on the
morning of Christmas Day, by stealing from the room of Rachel Hyde,
Madam Fulham's predecessor, the key of her door, and thereby released
your mother. Ah! my son, from that hour my life has been a worthless
coin, the harp of hideous helplessness struck forth its tunes of
turmoil, trouble, and trial, and poured its mixed strains of life and
death so vividly in my ear, that since I have, in a measure, been only a
wanderer between their striking sounds of extremes.

"I shortly afterwards learned she took refuge in Audley Hall,
a residence on the estate of its present owner--the Marquis of Orland,
and situated some twenty miles distant, and, horrifying to relate, had
been living with Oscar Otwell!

"The dreadful news of her conduct irritated me so that I only, in my
last will and testament, bequeathed to her what would grant the ordinary
comforts of life, provided I predeceased her. This reference to her
remained until I accompanied you to Chitworth College, when President
O'Sullivan revealed to me in silent friendship the fact of which I was
wholly unaware, viz.--that she had long since sailed for America, at the
same time handing me a _New York Herald_ sent him by Otwell, and there I
beheld the announcement of her marriage with him who ruined my life, and
who has been the means of driving me into the pit of tearful tremor, out
of which I never more shall climb.

"On returning home from Chitworth College I at once blanked the
reference to her in my will, and never more wished to behold the face
that swore to me such vows of villainy; the face that blasted my
happiness for life; the mother of you, whom I now earnestly implore
never to acknowledge, and who possesses every feature she outwardly

"It may be yours to meet her face to face ere she leave this tabernacle
of torment; but, my child, for my sake avoid her cunning ways and works,
and never allow her shelter underneath this roof she dishonoured and
despised. And I trust God in His great mercy shall forgive her errors,
and grant you the blessing of a Father of Love."

Sir John Dunfern now lay back exhausted on his pillow, and muttered
quietly "Thank God."

Next morning the Angel of Death was seen to spread its snowy wings over
his wasted form, and convey the departed spirit into that region of
bliss where sorrow, sighing, sin, and suffering are cast for ever from
its rooms of glory.

Thus passed away another link of a worthy ancestral chain, who, during
his tender years of training, had been guided by the charitable
Christian example of a mother of devotion, and who was, during the
brighter battle of her son's creeping years of care and caution,
summoned before the Invisible Throne of purity, peace, and praise
everlasting, shrouded in hopes of sunshine concerning his future
happiness, which, never after his marriage, was known to twinkle in
Dunfern Mansion.


Mocking Angel! The trials of a tortured throng are naught when weighed
in the balance of future anticipations. The living sometimes learn the
touchy tricks of the traitor, the tardy, and the tempted; the dead have
evaded the flighty earthly future, and form to swell the retinue of
retired rights, the righteous school of the invisible, and the
rebellious roar of raging nothing.

The night was dark and tempestuous; the hill rather inclined to be
steep; the clouds were bathed in wrinkled furrows of vapoury smoke; the
traffic on the quiet and lonely roads surrounding Dunfern Mansion was
utterly stopped, and nature seemed a block of obstruction to the eye of
the foreigner who drudged so wearily up the slope that led to the home
of Mrs. Durand, who had been confined to bed for the past three years,
a sufferer from rheumatism.

Perceiving the faint flicker of light that occasionally flung its feeble
rays against the dim fanlight of faithful Fanny's home--the aged sister
of the late Tom Hepworth--the two-fold widowed wanderer, with trembling
step, faltered to the door of uncertain refuge, and, tapping against it
with fingers cold and stiff, on such a night of howling wind and beating
rain, asked, in weakened accents, the woman who opened to her the door,
"If she could be allowed to remain for the night?"--a request that was
granted through charity alone. After relieving herself of some outer
garments, and partaking of the slight homely fare kindly ordered by Mrs.
Durand, the widow of Oscar Otwell and Sir John Dunfern warmed herself
and dried her saturated clothing before going to bed. She had just
arrived the day previous, and hastened to take up her abode as near her
former home of exquisiteness as she could, without detection.

On extinguishing the light before retiring, and casting one glance in
the direction of the little window, the innumerable recollections of the
abundant past swept across the mind of the snowy-haired widow, and were
further augmented by the different starlike lights which shone from the
numerous windows in Dunfern Mansion, directly opposite where she lay.

A couple of days found her almost rested after such a trying night as
that on which she arrived, and observing the sharpest reticence lest she
might be known, she nerved herself to appear next day at Dunfern
Mansion, to accomplish the last wish of her late lover and husband, for
whom she ventured so much and gained so little, and particularly to try
and see her son.

The morning was warm and fine; numerous birds kept chirping outside the
little cottage of Mrs. Durand. The widow, with swollen eyes and face of
faded fear, prepared herself for the trying moment, which she was
certain of achieving. Partaking of a very slight breakfast, she told
Mrs. Durand not to expect her for dinner.

Marching down the hill's face, she soon set foot on the main road that
led direct to Dunfern Mansion. Being admitted by Nancy Bennet, a prim
old dame, who had been in charge of the lodge for the last eighteen
years, the forlorn widow, whose heart sank in despair as she slowly
walked up the great and winding avenue she once claimed, reached the
huge door through which she had been unconsciously carried by Marjory
Mason a good many years ago.

Gently ringing the bell, the door was attended by a strange face.
Reverently asking to have an interview with Sir John Dunfern, how the
death-like glare fell over the eyes of the disappointed as the footman
informed her of his demise! "Madam, if you cast your eyes thence--[here
the sturdy footman pointed to the family graveyard, lying quite
adjacent, and in which the offcast of effrontery had oftentimes
trodden]--you can with ease behold the rising symbol of death which the
young nobleman, Sir Hugh Dunfern, has lavishly and unscrupulously
erected to his fond memory."

The crushed hopes of an interview with the man she brought with head of
bowed and battered bruises, of blasted untruths and astounding actions,
to a grave of premature solitude were further crumbled to atoms in an
instant. They were driven beyond retention, never again to be fostered
with feverish fancy. After the deplorable news of her rightful husband's
death had been conveyed to the sly and shameless questioner, who tried
hard to balance her faintish frame unobserved, she asked an interview
with Sir Hugh Dunfern. This also was denied, on the ground of absence
from home.

Heavily laden with the garb of disappointment did the wandering woman of
wayward wrong retrace her footsteps from the door for ever, and
leisurely walked down the artistic avenue of carpeted care, never more
to face the furrowed frowns of friends who, in years gone by, bestowed
on her the praises of poetic powers. Forgetful almost of her present
movements, the dangerous signal of widowhood was seen to float along the
family graveyard of the Dunferns.

Being beforehand acquaint with the numerous and costly tombstones
erected individually, regardless of price, the wearied and sickly woman
of former healthy tread was not long in observing the latest tablet, of
towering height, at the north-east end of the sacred plot.

There seemed a touchy stream of gilded letters carefully cut on its
marble face, and on reading them with watery eye and stooping form, was
it anything remarkable that a flood of tears bathed the verdure that
peeped above the soil?

The lines were these:--


  The hand of death hath once more brought
    The lifeless body here to lie,
  Until aroused with angels' voice,
    Which call it forth, no more to die.


  This man, of health and honest mind,
    Had troubles great to bear whilst here,
  Which cut him off, in manhood's bloom,
    To where there's neither frown nor tear.


  His life was lined with works of good
    For all who sought his affluent aid;
  His life-long acts of charity
    Are sure to never pass unpaid.


  Sir John Dunfern, whose noble name
    Is heard to echo, far and wide,
  In homes of honour, truth, and right,
    With which he here lies side by side.


  The wings of love and lasting strength
    Shall flap above his hollow bed;
  Angelic sounds of sweetest strain
    Have chased away all tears he shed.


  Then, when the glorious morn shall wake
    Each member in this dust of ours,
  To give to each the sentence sure
    Of everlasting Princely Power--


  He shall not fail to gain a seat
    Upon the bench of gloried right,
  To don the crown of golden worth
    Secured whilst braving Nature's fight.

After carefully reading these lines the figure of melting woe sat for a
long time in silence until a footstep came up from behind, which alarmed
her not a little. Looking up she beheld the face of a youth whose
expression was very mournful, and asking after her mission, was informed
she had been casting one last look on the monument of her lamented

"Mighty Heavens!" exclaimed Sir Hugh Dunfern, "are you the vagrant who
ruined the very existence of him whom you now profess to have loved?
You, the wretch of wicked and wilful treachery, and formerly the wife of
him before whose very bones you falsely kneel! Are you the confirmed
traitoress of the trust reposed in you by my late lamented, dearest, and
most noble of fathers? Are you aware that the hypocrisy you manifested
once has been handed down to me as an heirloom of polluted possession,
and stored within this breast of mine, an indelible stain for life, or,
I might say, during your known and hated existence?

"False woman! Wicked wife! Detested mother! Bereft widow!

"How darest thou set foot on the premises your chastity should have
protected and secured! What wind of transparent touch must have blown
its blasts of boldest bravery around your poisoned person and guided you
within miles of the mansion I proudly own?

"What spirit but that of evil used its influence upon you to dare to
bend your footsteps of foreign tread towards the door through which they
once stole unknown? Ah, woman of sin and stray companion of tutorism,
arise, I demand you, and strike across that grassy centre as quickly as
you can, and never more make your hated face appear within these mighty
walls. I can never own you; I can never call you mother; I cannot extend
the assistance your poor, poverty-stricken attire of false don silently
requests; neither can I ever meet you on this side the grave, before
which you so pityingly kneel!"

Speechless and dogged did the dishonoured mother steal for ever from the
presence of her son, but not before bestowing one final look at the
brightened eye and angry countenance of him who loaded on her his lordly
abuse. The bowed form of former stateliness left for ever the grounds
she might have owned without even daring to offer one word of repentance
or explanation to her son.

Walking leisurely along the road that reached Dilworth Castle, how the
trying moments told upon her who shared in pangs of insult and
poverty!--how the thoughts of pleasant days piled themselves with
parched power upon the hilltop of remembrance and died away in the
distance! The whirling brain became more staid as she heard the approach
of horses' feet, and stopping to act the part of Lot's wife, gave such a
haggard stare at the driver of the vehicle as caused him to make a
sudden halt. Asking her to have a seat, the weary woman gladly mounted
upon its cushion with thankfulness, and alighted on reaching its
journey's end, about three miles from Audley Hall. The drive was a long
one, and helped to rest the tired body of temptation.

Returning thanks to the obliging driver, she marched wearily along until
she reached the home of her first refuge after flight.

Perceiving the yellow shutters firmly bolted against the light admitters
of Audley Hall, she feared disappointment was also awaiting her.
Knocking loudly twice before any attempt was made to open the door,
there came at last an aged man with halting step and shaking limb.

"Is Major Iddesleigh at home?" asked the saddened widow. "Oh, madam, he
has been dead almost twelve years, and since then no one has occupied
this Hall save myself, who am caretaker. The Marquis of Orland was
deceived by his nephew, who sold it in an underhand manner to the major,
and he resolved that never again would he allow it to be occupied since
the major's death by any outsider."

"You are rather lonely," said the widow. "Yes, yes," replied he; "but I
have always been accustomed living alone, being an old bachelor, and
wish to remain so. It is better to live a life of singleness than
torture both body and soul by marrying a woman who doesn't love you,
like the good Sir John Dunfern--a nobleman who lived only some miles
from this, and who died lately broken-hearted--who became so infatuated
with an upstart of unknown parentage, who lived in Dilworth Castle, with
one Lord Dilworth, the previous owner, that he married her offhand, and,
what was the result, my good woman?--why she eventually ran off with a
poor tutor! and brought the hairs of hoary whiteness of Sir John Dunfern
to the grave much sooner than in all probability they would have, had he
remained like me."

Facing fumes of insult again, thought the listener. And asking after
Major Iddesleigh's will, eagerly awaited his reply.

Placing one hand upon her shoulder, and pointing with the other,
"Behold," said he, "yonder church? that was his last will--Iddesleigh
Church. It was only when the jaws of death gaped for their prey that the
major was forced to alter his will, having had it previously prepared in
favour of his niece, whose whereabouts could never be traced until after
his death." "Enough--enough, I must go," said the painful listener, and
thanking the old man for his information, which, like her son's, had
screwed its bolts of deadly weight more deeply down on the lid of
abstract need, turned her back on Audley Hall for ever.


Hope sinks a world of imagination. It in almost every instance never
fails to arm the opponents of justice with weapons of friendly defence,
and gains their final fight with peaceful submission. Life is too often
stripped of its pleasantness by the steps of false assumption, marring
the true path of life-long happiness which should be pebbled with
principle, piety, purity, and peace.

Next morning, after the trying adventure of the lonely outcast, was the
scene of wonder at Dilworth Castle. Henry Hawkes, the head gardener
under the Marquis of Orland, on approaching the little summer-house in
which Irene Iddesleigh so often sat in days of youth, was horrified to
find the dead body of a woman, apparently a widow, lying prostrate
inside its mossy walls. "Lord, protect me!" shouted poor Hawkes, half
distractedly, and hurried to Dilworth Castle to inform the inmates of
what he had just seen.

They all rushed towards the little rustic building to verify the
certainty of the gardener's remarks. There she lay, cold, stiff, and
lifeless as Nero, and must have been dead for hours. They advised the
authorities, who were soon on the spot.

What stinging looks of shame the Marquis cast upon her corpse on being
told that it was that of the once beautiful Lady Dunfern--mother of the
present heir to Dunfern estate!

Lying close at hand was an old and soiled card, with the words almost
beyond distinction, "Irene Iddesleigh." In an instant her whole history
flashed before the unforgiving mind of the Marquis, and being a sharer
in her devices, through his nephew Oscar Otwell, ordered her body to be
conveyed to the morgue, at the same time intimating to Sir Hugh Dunfern
her demise.

It transpired at the inquest, held next day, that she was admitted the
previous night to the grounds of Dilworth Castle by the porter at the
lodge, giving her name as "Irene Iddesleigh."

She must have taken refuge in the little construction planned under her
personal supervision whilst inhabiting Dilworth Castle during her
girlhood, and, haunted with the never-dying desire to visit once more
its lovely grounds, wandered there to die of starvation.

No notice whatever was taken of her death by her son, who obeyed to the
last letter his father's instructions, and carried them out with
tearless pride.

The little narrow bed at the lowest corner on the west side of Seaforde
graveyard was the spot chosen for her remains. Thus were laid to rest
the orphan of Colonel Iddesleigh, the adopted daughter and imagined
heiress of Lord and Lady Dilworth, what might have been the proud wife
of Sir John Dunfern, the unlawful wife of Oscar Otwell, the suicidal
outcast, and the despised and rejected mother.

She who might have swayed society's circle with the sceptre of
nobleness--she who might still have shared in the greatness of her
position and defied the crooked stream of poverty in which she so long
sailed--had she only been, first of all, true to self, then the
honourable name of Sir John Dunfern would have maintained its standard
of pure and noble distinction, without being spotted here and there with
heathenish remarks inflicted by a sarcastic public on the administerer
of proper punishment; then the dignified knight of proud and upright
ancestry would have been spared the pains of incessant insult, the
mockery of equals, the haunted diseases of mental trials, the erring eye
of harshness, and the throbbing twitch of constant criticism.

It was only the lapse of a few minutes after the widowed waif left
Dunfern Mansion until the arrival of her son from London, who, after
bidding his mother quit the grounds owned by him, blotted her name for
ever from his book of memory; and being strongly prejudiced by a father
of faultless bearing, resolved that the sharers of beauty, youth, and
false love should never have the slightest catch on his affections.

The End

       *       *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *
       *       *       *       *       *

_Errors and Inconsistencies_

The printed book was typeset and proofread more carefully than most
books of similar literary quality. Changes listed in the author's Errata
slip (inserted at the beginning of the book) have been made in the
e-text. Unusual spellings, and inconsistent use of "American" and
"British" forms, are unchanged. Some words occur both with and without

_Errors Noted by Author_

  82 Read--"was extended him."
  154 "senk" should read "_seek_."
  156 "took" is unnecessary.
  179 Read "which _calls_ it forth."
  184 "ofthand" should be "offhand."

_Additional Errors_

  The present owner is only son
    [_text unchanged: missing "the"?_]
  whose pretentions were so cleverly carried out  [_spelling unchanged_]
  the partakers in drawing-room _tetè-a-tetès_
    [_text unchanged: expected form is "tête-a-têtes" (circumflex
    accent on first "e", no acute on second)_]
  the impostury of position is petty  [imposury]
  "Just seven days and I shall be fettered  [_open quote missing_]
  tempted with her enhancing beauty
    [_text unchanged: error for "entrancing"?_]
  If my manner have changed in any way
    [_text unchanged: "have" may be correct_]
  every care and watchfulness was extended him
    [_corrected by author from "were extended him"; "were" is
    technically correct_]
  This Rachel punctually obeyed.
    [_text reads "Rachael": name occurs more than 50 times with
    consistent spelling_]
  he drew from that drawer" here Sir John pointed to the wardrobe,
  "a weapon of warlike design
    [_missing punctuation before "here"?_]
    [_misplaced open quote: printed as_ wardrobe," a weapon]
  she swiftly turned to the door  [swifty]
  who not alone committed the ruffianous act  [ruffainous]
  It was only when staring her lover's scanty table fully
    [_text unchanged: missing word?_]
  the house of the Reverend Bertram Edgar, near by.  [near by,]
  should extend her the aid she now must seek.
    [_corrected by author from "senk"_]
  entered the room, and taking her accustomed seat to partake of it,
  as best she could.
    [_corrected by author from "partake of it, took as best she could":
    Author may have intended "... taking her accustomed seat,
    partook of it as best she could"._]
  which she did in a rather trembling voice,
  without betraying such signs of grief as anticipated.
    [_text transposes . and , at the end of consecutive lines_]
  Being beforehand acquaint with [_text unchanged_]
  Which calls it forth, no more to die.
    [_corrected by author from "call"_]
  Is heard to echo, far and wide,  [wide;]
  that he married her offhand
    [_corrected by author from "ofthand": may have intended "out of

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