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´╗┐Title: Jenifer's Prayer
Author: Crane, Oliver
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 "Jenifer's Prayer" ***

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[Transcriber's notes]
  This text is derived from THE CATHOLIC WORLD,
  http://www.archive.org/details/catholicworld02pauluoft

  It is the collection of serialized chapters for the convenience
  of the reader who wishes to read the whole work.
[End Transcriber's notes]



From The Literary Workman.

JENIFER'S PRAYER.

BY OLIVER CRANE.

IN THREE PARTS.



PART I.


He and she stood in a room in an inn in the town of Hull--and how she
wept! Crying as a child cries, with a woman's feelings joining
exquisite pain to those tears; which tears, in a way wonderful and
peculiar to beautiful women, scarcely disordered her face, or gave
anything worse to her countenance than an indescribably pathetic
tenderness.

He was older than she was by full ten years. He only watched her. And
if the most acute of my readers had watched _him_, they would have
been no wiser for their scrutiny.

At last she left the room; he had opened the door and offered his hand
to her. It was night; and she changed her chamber-candle from her
right hand to her left, and gave that right hand to him. He held it,
while he said: "I spoke because I dread the influence of the house we
are going to, and of those whom you will meet there."

"Thank you. Good night" And so she got to a great dark bed-room, and
knelt down, like a good girl as she was, and cried no more, but was in
bed and asleep before he had left the place he had taken by the side
of the sitting-room fire, leaning thoughtfully against the
mantel-shelf, when her absence had made the room lonely.

Then he ran down stairs and rushed out into the streets of the kingly
Hull--Kingston of the day of Edward I. The man we speak of was no
antiquary, and he troubled himself neither with the Kingston of the
royal Edward nor the _Vaccaria_ of the abbot from whom the place was
bought; he walked at a quick pace through streets dim and streets
lighted, toward the ships, or among the houses; to where he could see
the great headland of Holderness, or behold nothing at all but the
brick wall that prevented his going further, and told him by strong
facts that he had lost his way. So he wandered, walking fast
often--again, walking slowly; his head bowed down, his features
working, and his eyes flashing--clenched hands, or hands clasped on
his breast, as if to keep down the surging waves of memory, which
carried on their crests many things which now he could only gnash his
teeth at in withering vexation.

He and she had come from Scotland. I have said that she was
beautiful--she was English, too; but he was Scotch born and bred, and
not dark and stem, or really wild or poetic, as a Scotchman in a story
ought to be. He was simply a strong, well-formed man, of dark, ruddy
complexion, and fine, thick, waving brown hair. He might have been a
nobleman, or a royal descendant of Hull's own king. He looked it all,
without being downright handsome. But he was, in fact, only one of the
many men who have come into a thousand a year too soon for the
preservation of prudence. Between sixteen, when he succeeded to it,
and twenty-one, when he could spend it, he had committed many follies,
and found friends who turned out worse than declared enemies--since
twenty-one he had fallen in love more than once. He had been
praised, blamed, accused, acquitted. But whether or not this man was
good or bad, no living soul could tell. He was well off, well looking,
well read, and in good company. He re-entered the inn at Hull that
April night, stood by the fire smoking, asked for a cup of strong
coffee, went to bed.

The next morning the two met at breakfast They were going south. No
matter where. Whether to the dreamy vales of Devonshire, to verdant
Somersetshire, or the gardens of Hampshire--no matter. They were going
to what the north Britons call the south. And it did not mean Algeria.
Railways were not everywhere then as railways are now. They had to
travel nearly all day, then to "coach it" to a great town, in whose
history coaches have now long been of the past. Then to get on a
second day by the old "fast four-horse," and to arrive about five
o'clock at a little quiet country town, where a carriage would take
them to the friends and the house whose influence he dreaded.

In fact, that night, in the inn sitting-room, he had offered marriage
to the girl whom he had in charge for safe guardianship on so long a
journey to her far-off home where he was to be a guest. She had felt
that he had abused his trust and taken an unfair advantage of her;
also, she was in that peculiarly feminine state of mind which is
neither expressed by _no_ nor by _yes_. She had upbraided him. He,
pleading guilty in his soul, was in a horror at the thought of losing
her; losing her in that way too, because he had done wrong. Being
miserable, he had shown his misery as a strong man may. He spoke, and
self-reproachfully; but, as he pleaded, he betrayed all he felt. The
girl saw his clasped hands, his bent form, as he leaned down from the
chair on which he sat in the straggling attitude which expressed a
disordered mind. He spoke, looking at the carpet, not loud nor long,
but with a terrible earnestness that frightened the girl, and then she
cried all the more, and seemed to shrink away as if in alarm, and yet
almost angrily. Why would he speak so fiercely--why had he taken this
advantage of her?

Then he had risen up quickly, and said, "Well, you know all now. We
will talk of something else." But she only shook her head and moved
away, and, as we have seen, went to bed.

The next morning they met calmly enough. On his side it was done with
an effort; on hers without effort, yet with a little trembling fear,
which went when she saw his calm, and she poured out tea, and he drank
it, and only a rather extraordinary silence told of too much having
being said the night before.

Now, why was all this? Why were this man and this young English girl
travelling thus to the sweet south coast, and to expecting friends?

While they are travelling on their way, we, you and I, dear reader,
will not only get on before them, but also turn back the pages of
life's story, and read its secrets.

They were going to a great house in a fine park, where fern waved its
tall, mounted feathers of green, and hid the dappled deer from sight--
where great ancestral oaks spread protecting branches; where hawthorn
trees, that it had taken three generations of men to make, stood,
large, thick, knotted, twisted--strange, dark, stunted looking trees
they looked, till spring came, and no green was like their green, and
the glory of their flower-wreaths people made pilgrimages to see. The
place was called Beremouth.

A mile and a half off was a town; one of those odd little old places
which tell of days and fashions past away. A very respectable place.
There had lived in Marston the dowager ladies of old country families,
in houses which had no pretensions to grandeur as you passed them in
the extremely quiet street, but which on the other side broke out into
bay windows, garden fronts, charming conservatories, and a good
many other things which help to make life pleasant. So the inhabitants
of Marston were not all mere country-town's people. They knew
themselves to be _somebodies_ and they never forgot it.

Now, in this town dwelt a certain widow lady; poor she was, but she
had a pedigree and two beautiful daughters. Mary and Lucia Morier were
not two commonly, or even uncommonly, pretty girls; they were
wonderfully beautiful, people said, and nothing less. So lovers came a
courting. One married a Scotchman, a Mr. Erskine. They liked each
other quite well enough, Lucia thought, when she made her promises,
and received his; and so they did. They lived happily; did good;
wished for children but never had any, and so adopted Mr. Erskine's
orphan nephew--namely, the very man who behaved with such strange
imprudence in the inn at Hull. Mr. Erskine the uncle was twenty years
older than Mrs. Erskine the aunt. Mr. Erskine the younger was but a
child when they adopted him. But he was their heir, as well as the
inheritor of his father's' fortune, and they loved and cared for him.

Mary Morier did differently. She married at twenty, her younger sister
having married the month before at eighteen. Mary did differently, for
she did imprudently. They had had a brother who was an agent for
certain mines thirty miles off; and there he lived; but he came home
often enough, and made the house in the old town gay. A year before
the sister married, in fact while that sister was away on a visit to
friends in Scotland, the brother came home ill. He was ill for six
months. It is wonderful how much expense is incurred by a mother in
six months for a son who is sick. It made life very difficult. The
money to pay for Lucia's journey home had to be thought of. To be
sure, she was not there to eat and drink, but then her extra finery
had cost something. George had only earned one hundred a year. It had
not been more than enough to keep him. He came home ill with ten
pounds in his pocket, beside his half-year's rent, which would be due
the next month--certainly money at this time was wanted, for our
friends were sadly pinched. But the one most exemplary friend and
servant Jenifer was paid her wages, and tea and sugar money to the
day; and the doctor got so many guineas that he grew desperate and
suddenly refused to come--then repented, and made a Christian-like
bargain, that he would go on coming on condition that he never saw
another piece of any kind of money.

Mary and her mother looked each other in the face one day, and that
look told all. There was some plate, and they had watches, and a
little fine old-fashioned jewelry--yes, they must go. They were
reduced to poverty at last--this was more than "limited means"--hard
penury had them with a desperate grasp.

Fortune comes in many shapes, and not often openly, and with a
flourish of trumpets--neither did she come in that way now; but
shamefacedly, sneakingly, and ringing the door-bell with a meek, not
to say tremulous pull; and her shape was that of a broad-built, short,
wide-jawed, lanky-haired, pig-eyed, elderly man, with a curious
quantity of waistcoat showing, yet, generally, well dressed. "Your
mistress at home?" "Yes, Mr. Brewer." "Mr. George better?" "No. Never
will be, sir." "Bless me! I beg your pardon!" "Granted before 'tis
asked, sir." "Ah! yes; I have a little business to transact with your
mistress. Can I see her alone?" Mr. Brewer was shown by Jenifer into
the little right-hand parlor. He gravely took out a huge pocket-book,
and then a small parchment-covered account-book appeared. I believe he
had persuaded himself that he was really going to transact business,
and not to perform the neatest piece of deception that a
respectable gentleman ever attempted. A lady entered the room. "Madam,
jour son has been my agent for mines three years--my mine _and land_
agent since Christmas. He takes the additional work at seventy-five
pounds a year extra. The half of that is now due to him. I pay _that_
myself. I have brought it" And thirty-seven pounds ten shillings Mr.
Brewer put on the table, saying, "I will take your receipt, madam.
Don't trouble Georges's head about business; for when you _do_ speak
of that you will have, I am sorry to say, to inform him that in _both_
his places I have had to put another man. I have to give George three
months' payment at the rate of one hundred and seventy pounds a year,
as I gave him no quarter's warning. That is business, do you
understand?" asked Mr. Brewer. "It is for my son to discharge himself,
sir--since he cannot"--the mother's voice faltered. "Ah--only he
didn't, and I did," said Mr. Brewer. "Your receipt? When your son
recovers, let him apply to me. I am sorry to end our connexion so
abruptly. But it is business. Business, you know"--and there Mr.
Brewer stopped, for Mary Morier was in the room, and her beauty filled
it, or seemed to do so. And Mr. Brewer departed muttering, as he had
muttered before often, "the most beautiful girl in the world." Still,
he had an uncomfortable sensation, for he felt he was an underhand
sneak, and that Mary had found him out; and so she had. She knew that
her brother had been "discharged" only to afford a pretext for giving
the quarter's money; and she was sure that his being land agent, at an
additional seventy-five pounds a year, was a pure unadulterated
fiction.

Mr. Brewer was an extraordinary man. He had a turn for the
supernatural. He would have liked above all things to have worked
miracles. He did do odd things, such as we have seen, which he made,
by means of the poetic quality that characterized him, a purely
natural act. He was praising George for a saving, prudent, industrious
young man, who had never drawn the whole of his last year's salary,
before an hour was over. And his story looked so like truth that he
believed it himself.

Mr. Brewer was what people call "a risen man." But then his father had
been rising--and, for the matter of that, his grandfather too. All
their fortunes had flowed into the life of the man who has got into
this story; and he, having had a tide of prosperity exceeding all
others, in height, and strength, and riches, had found himself
stranded on the great shore of society, at forty years of age, with
more thousands a year than he liked to be generally known. Could he
have transformed himself into a benignant fairy he would have been
very happy, and acts of mercy would have abounded on the earth. But
no--Mr. Brewer was Mr. Brewer, and anything less poetic to look
at--more impossible as to wands, and wings, and good fairy appendages,
it is difficult to imagine. Mr. Brewer was a middle-aged man, with
hands in his pockets; plain truth is always respectable. There it is.

But there was a Mrs. Brewer. Now Mrs. Brewer was an excellent woman,
but not excellent after the manner of her husband. She was three years
older. They had not been in love. They had married at an epoch in Mr.
Brewer's life when public affairs occupied his time so entirely as to
make it desirable to have what people call a "missus;" we are afraid
that Mr. Brewer himself so called the article, a "missus, at home."
Mrs. Brewer had been "a widow lady--young--of a sociable and domestic
disposition" who "desired to be housekeeper--to be treated
confidentially, and as one of the family--to a widower--with or
without children." On inquiry, it was found that young Mrs. Smith had
not irrevocably determined that the owner of the house that she was to
keep should have been the husband of one wife, undoubtedly dead;
the widower was an expression only, a sort of modest way of putting
the plain fact of a single man, or a man capable of matrimony--the
expression meant all that; and when Mrs. Smith entered on the
housekeeping, she acted up to the meaning of the advertisement, and
married Mr. Brewer. Neither had ever repented. Let that be understood.
Only, Mr. Brewer, when he knew he could live in a great house, dine
off silver, keep a four-in-hand, or a pack of hounds, or enter on any
other legitimate mode of spending money, did none of them; but eased
his mind and his pocket by such contrivances as we have seen resorted
to in the presence of the beautiful Mary Morier. He tried curious
experiments of what a man would do with ten pounds. He had dangerous
notions as to people addicted to certain villanies being cured of
their moral diseases by the administration of a hundred a year. In
some round-about ways he had put the idea to the proof, and not always
with satisfactory results. He held as an article of faith--nobody
could guess where he found it--that there were people in the world who
could go straighter in prosperity than in adversity. He never would
believe that adversity was a thing to be suffered. He had replied to a
Protestant divine on that subject, illustrated in the case of a
starving family, that that might be, only it was no concern of his,
and he would not act upon the theory. And the result was a thriving,
thankful family in Australia, to whom Mr. Brewer was always, ever
after, sending valuable commodities, and receiving flower-seeds and
skins of gaudy feathered birds in return.

Mr. Brewer had a daughter, Claudia was her name. "A Bible name," said
Mr. Brewer, and bowed his head, and felt he had done his duty by the
girl. What more could he do? She went to school, and was at school
when he was paying money in Mrs. Morier's parlor. She was then ten
years old; and being a clever child, she had, in the holidays just
over, chosen to talk French, and nothing else, to a friend whom she
had been allowed to bring with her. A thing that had caused great
perturbation in the soul of her honest father, who prayed in a
wordless, but real anxiety, that the Bible name might not be thrown
away on the glib-tongued little gipsy. It will be perceived that
Claudia was a difficulty.

Now, when Mr. Brewer was gone out of Mrs. Morier's house, the mother
took up the money, wiped her eyes, and said, "What a good boy George
was." And Mary said "_Yes;_" and knew in her heart that if there had
been any chance of George living, Mr. Brewer would never have done
_that_.

George died. There was money, just enough for all wants. Lucia came
home engaged to the married to Mr. Erskine. And when she was gone
there went with her a certain seven hundred pounds, her fortune,
settled--what a silly mockery Mr. Erskine thought it--on her children.
The loss made the two who were left very poor. Lucia sent her mother
gifts, but the regular and to be reckoned on eight-and-twenty pounds a
year were gone. She who had eaten, drank, and dressed was gone
too--but still it was a loss; and Mary and her mother were poor. Also,
Mary had long been engaged to be married to the son of a younger
branch of a great county family house, Lansdowne Lorimer by name. He
was in an attorney's office in Marston. In that old-world place, the
attorney, himself of a county family, was a great man. It was hard to
see Lucia marry a man of money and land, young Lorimer thought, so he
advised Mary to assert their independence of all earthly
considerations, and marry too. And they did so.

The young man had no father or mother. He had angry uncles and
insolent aunts, and family friends, all to be respected, and prophets
of evil, every one of them. He had, also, a place in the office, a
clear head, a determined will, a handsome person, a good
pedigree, and a beautiful wife. She, also, had her eight-and-twenty
pounds a year. But they gave it back regularly to Mrs. Morier; for,
you know, they, the young people, _were_ young, and they could work.
Mrs. Morier never spent this money. She and Jenifer, the prime
minister of that court of loyal love, put it by, against the evil day,
and they had just enough for themselves and the cat to live upon
without it.

The county families asked their imprudent kinsman to visit them with
his bride. How they flouted her. How they advised her. How they
congratulated her that she had always been poor. How they assured her
that she would be poor for ever. How, too, they feared that Lansdowne
would never bear hard work, nor anxiety, nor any other of those
troubles which were so very sure to happen. How surprised they were at
the three pretty silk dresses, the one plain white muslin, and the
smart best white net. How they scorned when they heard that she and
Jenifer, and her mother, and a girl at eightpence a day, had made them
all. And, then, how they sunned themselves in her wonderful beauty,
and accepted the world's praises of it, and kept the triumph
themselves, and handed over to her the gravest warnings of its being a
dangerous gift.

Dangerous, indeed! it was the pride of Lorimer's life. And Mary was
accomplished, far more really accomplished than the lazy, half-taught
creatures who had never said to themselves that they might have to
play and sing, and speak French and Italian, for their or their
children's bread. Mary had said it to herself many a time since her
heart had been given to the man who was her husband. A true, brave,
loving heart it was, and that which her common sense had whispered to
it that heart was strong to do, and would be found doing if the day of
necessity ever came. So, at that Castle Dangerous where the bride and
bridegroom were staying, Mary outshone others, and was not the
better loved for that; and one old Lady Caroline crowned the triumph
by ordering a piano-forte for the new home at Marston, with a savage
"Keep up what you know, child; you may be glad of it one day." Old
Lady Caroline was generally considered as a high-bred privileged
savage. But that was the only savage thing she ever said to Mary. She
told Lorimer that he was a selfish, unprincipled brute for marrying
anybody so perfect and so pretty. And Lorimer bore her
misrepresentations with remarkable patience, only making her a
ceremonious bow, and saying in a low voice, "You know better." "I know
you will starve," and she walked off without an answer.

They did not starve. In fact, they prospered, till one sad day when
Lorimer caught cold--and again and again caught cold--cough, pain,
symptoms of consumption--a short, sad story; and then the great end,
death. Mary was a widow three years after her wedding day, with a
child of two years of age at her side, and an income from a life
insurance made by her husband of one hundred a year. We have seen the
child--grown to a beautiful girl of seventeen--we have seen her in the
room with Mr. Erskine, at the inn at Hull.

Mrs. Lorimer went back to live with her mother, Jenifer, and the great
white cat.

The year after this great change, Mrs. Brewer died, and Claudia at
thirteen was a greater difficulty than ever. The first holidays after
the departure of the good mother, the puzzled father had written to
the two Miss Gainsboroughs to bring the child to Marston and stay at
his house during the holidays. He entertained them for a week, and
then went off on a tour through Holland. The next holidays he proposed
that they should take a house at Brighton, and that he should pay all
expenses. This, too, was done, and Mr. Brewer went to a hotel and
there made friends with his precocious daughter in a way that
surprised and pleased him. He visited the young lady, and she
entertained him. He hired horses, and they rode together. He took
boxes at the theatre, and they made parties and went together. He gave
the girl jewelry and fine clothes, and they really got to know each
other, and to enjoy life together as could never have been the case
had they not been thus left to their own way. The child no longer felt
herself of a different world from that of her parents--the father had
a companion in the child who could grace his position, and keep her
own. They parted with love and anxious lookings forward to the summer
meeting. They were both in possession of a new happiness. When Mr.
Brewer got back to Marston, he led a dull, dreamy life--a year and a
half of widowhood passed--then he went to Mrs. Morier's, saw Mary, and
asked her to be his wife. It is not easy to declare why Mary Lorimer
said--after some weeks of wondering-mindedness--why she said "Yes."
She knew all Mr. Brewer's goodness. She preferred, no doubt, not to
wound a heart that had so often sympathized with the wounded. She
never, in her life, could have borne to see him vexed without great
vexation herself. She liked that he should be rewarded. She was
interested in Claudia. She liked the thought of two hundred a year
settled on her mother. She liked to feel that her own little Mary
might be brought up as grandly as any of those little saucy "county
family" damsels, her cousins, who already looked down on her, and
scorned her pink spotted calico frock.

Mary and Mr. Brewer walked quietly to church; Mrs. Morier still in
astonishment, and Jenifer "dazed;" bat all the working people loved
Mr. Brewer. And they walked back, man and wife, to her mother's house,
and had a quiet substantial breakfast before they started for London.
And when there Mr. Brewer told her that they were not to return to the
respectable stone-fronted house facing the market-place in Marston,
but that he had bought Lord Byland's property--and that Beremouth was
theirs. Beremouth, with its spreading park, and river, and lake, its
miles of old pasture-land, its waving ferns, and dappled deer;
Beremouth, with its forest and gardens, royal oaks and twisted
hawthorn trees; Beremouth, the finest place in the county. And all
that Mary felt was, that he who had kept this secret, had had a true
hero's delicacy, and had never thought to bribe her, or to get her by
purchase into his home. I think she almost loved him then.

In due time, after perhaps six months of wandering, and of
preparation, Mr. and Mrs. Brewer arrived at their new home, made
glorious by all that taste and art could do, with London energy
working with the power of gold. With them came Claudia. The child
loved her new mother with an abandonment of heart and a perfect
approval. She was still too young to argue, but she was not too young
to feel. The mother she had now got, though not much more than ten
years older than herself, was the mother to love, admire, delight
in--is the mother who could understand her.

Then Beremouth just suited this young lady's idea of what was worth
having in this world; and without any evil thought of the homely
mother who had gone, there was a thought that "Mother-Mary," as Mrs.
Brewer was called by her step-daughter, looked right at Beremouth, and
that another class of person would have looked wrong there--so wrong
that her father under such circumstances would never have put himself
in the position of trying the experiment.

Minnie Lorimer was very happy in her great play-ground; for all the
world, and all life, was play to little Minnie. She loved her new
sister; and the new sister patronized and petted her, so all seemed
right. It was, indeed, a great happiness for Claudia that her father
had chosen Mary Lorimer. Claudia was a vixenish, little handsome
gipsy; very clever, very high-spirited, full of life, health, and
fun--a girl who could have yielded to very few, and who brought the
homage of heart and mind to "Mother-Mary," and rejoiced in doing it.
These two grew to be great friends, and when after three years Claudia
came home and came out, all parties were happy.

In the meantime Mr. Brewer's way in the world had been straight,
plain, and rapidly travelled. The county was at his feet. Mary was no
longer congratulated on having been brought up to poverty. Behind her
back there were plenty of people to say that Mr. Brewer was happy in
having for his wife a well connected gentlewoman. Her pedigree was
told, her poverty forgotten. Her singing and playing, dancing and
drawing, were none the worse for unknown thousands a year. And people
wondered less openly at the splendor of velvets and diamonds than they
had at the new muslin gown. To Mary herself life was very different in
every way. Daily, more and more, she admired her husband, and approved
of him. It was the awakening into life of a new set of feelings. She
knew none of the love and devotion she had felt for her first husband.
Mr. Brewer never expected any of it. But he intended that she should,
in some other indescribable manner, fall in love with him, and she was
doing it every day--which thing her husband saw, and welcomed life
with great satisfaction in consequence.

It was when Claudia came out that the man we have seen, Horace
Erskine, first came to them. He was just of age. Mary did not like
him. She could give no reason for it. Her sister had always praised
him--but Mary _could_ not like him. He came to them for a series of
gay doings, and Mr. Brewer admired him, and Claudia--poor little
Claudia! She gave him that strong heart of hers; that spirit that
could break sooner than bend was quite enslaved--she loved him, and he
had asked for her love, and vowed a hundred times that he could never
be happy without it. He asked her of her father, and Mr. Brewer
consented. It was not for Mary to say no; but her heart went cold in
its fear, and she was very sorry.

The Erskines in Scotland were delighted--all deemed doing well. But
when Horace Erskine talked to Mr. Brewer about money, he was told that
Claudia would have on her marriage five thousand pounds; and ten
thousand more if she survived him would be forthcoming on his death--
that was all. "Enough for a woman," said Mr. Brewer; and Erskine was
silent. It went on for a few weeks, Horace, being flighty and odd,
Claudia, for the first time in her life, humble and endearing. Then he
told her that to him money was necessary; then he asked her to appeal
to her father for more; then she treated the request lightly, and, at
last, positively refused. If she had not enough, he could leave her.
If he left her, would she take the blame on herself? It would injure
him in his future hopes and prospects to have it supposed to be _his_
doing if they parted? Yes, she said. It was the easiest thing in the
world. Who cared?--not he of course--and, certainly, not Claudia
Brewer. It broke her heart to find him vile. But she was too
discerning not to see the truth; her great thought now was to hide it.
To hide too from every one, even from "Mother-Mary," that her heart
felt death-struck--that the whole place was poisoned to her--that life
at Beremouth was loathsome.

She took a strange way of hiding it.

A county election was going on. The man whom Mr. Brewer hoped to see
elected was a guest at Beremouth. An old, grey-haired, worldly,
statesmanlike man. A man who petted Claudia, and admired her; and who
suddenly woke up one day to a thought--a question--a species of
amusing suggestion, which grew into a profound wonder, and then
even warmed into a hope--surely that pretty bright young heiress liked
him, had a fancy to be the second Lady Greystock. It was a droll
thought at first, and he played with it; a flattering fancy, and he
encouraged it. He was an honest man. He knew that he was great,
clever, learned. Was there anything so wonderful in a woman loving
him? He settled the question by asking Claudia. And she promised to be
his wife with a real and undisguised gladness. Her spirit and her
determination were treading the life out of her heart. She was sincere
in her gladness. She thought she could welcome any duties that took
her away from life at Beremouth, and gave her place and position
elsewhere.

Mary suspected much, and feared everything. But Claudia felt and knew
too much to speak one word of the world of hope and joy and love that
had gone away from her. She declared that she liked her old love, and
gloried in his grey hairs, and in the great heart that had stooped to
ask for hers.

Now what are we to say of Horace Erskine? Was he wholly bad? First, he
had never loved Claudia with a real devotion. He had admired her; she
had loved him. He had gambled--green turf and green cloth--gambled
and recklessly indulged himself till he had got upon the way to ruin,
and had begun the downward path, and was glad to be stopped in that
slippery descent by a marriage with an heiress. There was a sparkle,
an originality, about Claudia. It was impossible not to be taken with
her. But Claudia with only _that_ fortune was of no use to him. He
knew she was brave and true-hearted; so he boldly asked her to guard
his name--in fact, to give him up, and not injure his next chance with
a better heiress by telling the truth. _He_ told _her_ the truth; that
he wanted money, and money he must have. She would not tell him that
the worst part of her trial was the loss of her idol. It was despising
him that broke her heart. But because he had been her idol she would
never injure him--never tell.

So the day came, and at Marston church she married Sir Geoffrey
Greystock, "Mother-Mary" wondering; Mr. Brewer believing, in the
innocence of his heart, that the fancy for Horace Erskine had been a
bit of the old wilfulness. "The last bit--the last," he said, as he
spoke of it to her that very day, making her chilled heart knock
against her side as he spoke, and kissed her, and sent her with
blessings from the Beremouth that she had married to get away from.

_To get away_--it had more to do with her marrying than any other
thought. To get away from the house, the spreading pastures, the
bright garden, and above all from the _old deer pond_ in the park--the
most beautiful of all the many lovely spots that nature and art, and
time and taste, had joined to create and adorn Beremouth. The old deer
pond in the park! Sheltered by ancient oak; backed by interlacing
boughs of old hawthorn trees; shadowed by tall, shining, dark dense
holly, that glowed through the winter with its red berries, and
contrasted with the long fair wreaths of hawthorn flowers in the sweet
smiling spring. There, in this now dreaded place, Horace Erskine had
first spoken of love; and there how often had he promised her the
happiness that had gone out of her life--for ever. In the terrible
nights, when her broken-hearted pains were strongest, this deer pond
in the park had been before her closed eyes like a vision. In its
waters she saw in her sleep her face and his, so happy, so loving, so
trusting, so true. Then the picture in that water changed, and she
watched it in her feverish dreams with horror, but yet was obliged to
gaze, and the truth went out of his face, and the terror came into
hers. And, worse and worse, he grew threatening--he was cold--he had
never loved--he was killing her; and she fell, fell from her height of
happiness; no protecting arm stayed her, and the dark waters
opened, and she heard the rushing sound of their deadly waves closing
over her, as she sunk--sunk--again and again, night after night Oh, to
get away, to get away! And she blessed Sir Geoffrey, and when he said
he was too old to wait for a wife she was glad, for she had no wish to
wait. Change, absence, another home, another life, another
world--these things she wanted, and they had come. Is it any wonder
that she took them as the man who is dying of thirst takes the
longed-for draught, and drains the cup of mercy to the dregs?

It was a happy day to marry. Mr. Brewer had not only an excuse, but a
positively undeniable reason for being bountiful and kind. For once he
could openly, and as a matter of duty, make the sad hearts in
Marston--and elsewhere--sing for joy. His blessings flowed so
liberally that he had to apologize. It was only for once--he begged
everybody's pardon, but it could never happen again; he had but this
one child, and she was a bride, and so if they would forgive
everything this once! And many a new life of gladness was begun that
day; many a burden then lost its weight; many a record went up to the
Eternal memory to meet that man at the inevitable hour.

Little Mary was the loveliest bridesmaid the world ever saw; standing
alone like an angel by her dark sister's side. She was the only thing
that Claudia grieved to leave. She was glad to flee away from
"Mother-Mary." She dreaded lest those sweet wistful eyes should read
her heart one day; and she could not help rejoicing to get away from
that honest, open-hearted father's sight. Her poor, wrecked, shrunken
heart--her withered life, could not bear the contrast with his free,
kind, bounteous spirit that gave such measure of love, pressed down
and running over, to all who wanted it. Her old husband, Sir Geoffrey,
resembled that great good heart in whose love she had learnt to think
all men true, more than did her young lover Horace Erskine--she could
be humble and thankful to Sir Geoffrey; a well-placed approval was a
better thing than an ill-placed love. So with that little vision of
beauty, Minnie Lorimer, by her side, Claudia became Sir Geoffrey's
wife.

Four months past, the bride and bridegroom were entertaining a grand
party at their fine ancestral home, and Mr. Brewer was the father of a
son and heir. Horace Erskine read both announcements in the paper one
morning, and ground his teeth with vexation. He went to his desk and
took out three letters, a long lock of silky hair, a small
miniature--these things he had begged to keep. Laughing, he had argued
that he was almost a relation. His uncle had married "Mother-Mary's"
sister. She had had no strength to debate with him. She had chosen to
wear the mask of indifference, too, to him. He now made these things
into a parcel and sent them to Sir Geoffrey Greystock without one word
of explanation. When they were gone he wrote to his uncle, begged for
some money, got it, and started for Vienna. The money met him in
London, and he crossed to France the same day.

In the midst of great happiness the strong heart of good Sir Geoffrey
stood still. His wife sought him. She found him in his chair in a fit.
On a little table by his side was the parcel just received. Claudia
knew all. She took the parcel into the room close by, called her
dressing room, rung for help, but in an hour Sir Geoffrey was dead;
and Claudia had burnt the letters and the lock of silky hair.

The business of parliament, the excitement attendant on his marriage
with that beautiful girl, the entertainment of that great house full
of company--these reasons the world reckoned up, and found sufficient
to answer the questions and the wonderings on Sir Geoffrey's death.
But when those solemn walls no longer knew their master, Claudia, into
whose new life the new things held but an unsteady place, grew
ill. First of all, sleepless nights: how could she sleep with the
sound of those waters by the deer pond in her ears? How could she help
gazing perpetually at the picture on the pond's still surface: Horace
and Sir Geoffrey, and herself not able to turn aside the death-stroke,
but standing, fettered by she knew not what, in powerless misery, only
obliged to see the changing face of her husband till the dead seemed
to be again before her, and Horace melted out of sight, and she woke,
dreading fever and praying against delirium? She was overcome at last.
Terrible hours came, and "Mother-Mary's" sweet face mingling with some
strong, subduing, life-endangering dream, was the first thing that
seemed to bring her back to better things, and to restore her to
herself.

In fact, Claudia had had brain fever, and whether or not she was ever
to know real health again was a problem to be worked out by time.
Would she come back to her father's house? No! The very name of
Beremouth was to be avoided. Would she go abroad? Oh, no; there was a
dread of separation upon her. "Somewhere where you can easily hear of
me, and I of you; where you can come and see me, for I shall never see
Beremouth again." It was her own thought, and so, about five miles
from Beremouth, in the house of a Doctor Rankin, who took ladies out
of health into his family, Claudia determined to go. It was every way
the best thing that could be done, for every day showed more strongly
than the last that Claudia would never be what is emphatically called
"herself" again. So people said.

Dr. Rankin was kind, learned, and wise; Mrs. Rankin warm-hearted and
friendly. Other patients beside Lady Greystock were there. It was not
a private asylum, and Claudia was not mad; it was really what it
called itself, a home which the sick might share, with medical
attendance, cheerful company, and out-door recreations in a well-kept
garden and extensive grounds of considerable beauty. Claudia had known
Dr. and Mrs. Rankin, and had called with her father at Blagden, where
they lived. And there her father and "Mother-Mary" took her three
months after her husband's death, looking really aged, feeble, and
strangely sad.

After a time--it was a long time--Claudia was said to be well.
"Perfectly recovered," said Dr. Rankin, "and in really satisfactory
health." So she was when Minnie Lorimer stood in the room at the inn
in Hull, talking to that very Horace Erskine, who was bringing her
home from her aunt's in Scotland to her mother at Beremouth.

"Sweet seventeen!" Very sweet and beautiful, pleasing the eye,
gratifying the mind, filling the heart with hope, and setting
imagination at play--Minnie Lorimer was beautiful, and with all that
peculiar beauty about her that belongs to "a spoilt child" who has not
been spoilt after all.

Claudia--how old she looked! Claudia, with that one only shadow on her
once bright face, was still living with Dr. and Mrs. Rankin. It was
Lady Greystock's pleasure to live with them. She said she had grown
out of the position of a patient, and into their hearts as a friend.
"Was it not so?" she asked. It was impossible to deny that which
really brought happiness to everybody. "Well, then, I shall build on a
few rooms to the house, and I shall call them mine, and I shall add to
the coach-house, and hire a cottage for my groom and his wife--I shall
live here. Why not? You will take care of me, and feed me, and scold
me, and find me a good guidable creature. You know I shall be ill if
you refuse."

It all happened as she chose. Hers was the prettiest carriage in the
county, the best horses, the most perfectly appointed little
household--for she had her own servants. Among her most devoted
friends were the good doctor and his wife. Lady Greystock was as
positive and as much given to govern as the clever little Claudia
in school-girl days. But the arrangement was a success, and
"Mother-Mary," who saw her constantly, was very glad. Only one trouble
survived; Claudia would never go and stay at Beremouth. She would
drive her ponies merrily to the door, and even spend an hour or two
within the house, but never would she stay there--never! She used to
say to herself that she dared not trust herself with the things that
had witnessed her love, her sorrow, her marriage--with the things that
told her of him who had ruined everything like a murderer--as he was.

And so, to save appearances, she used to say that she never stayed
away from Blagden for a single night, and she never left off black. It
was not that she wore a widow's dress, or covered up the glories of
her beautiful hair. She was but twenty-nine at the moment recorded in
the first page of this story. She was very thin and pale, but she was
a strong woman, and one who required no more care than any other
person; but she had determined never again to see Horace Erskine. What
he had done had become known to her, as we have seen. She only
bargained with life, as it were, in this way, that _that_ man should
be out of it for ever. And for this it was that she made her
resolution and kept it.

Horace Erskine had been abroad for some years; but though she had felt
safe in that fact, she had looked into the future and kept her
resolution. And so she lived on at Blagden, doing good, blessing the
poor, comforting the afflicted, visiting the sick, and beautifying all
things, and adorning all places that came within her reach. Certain
things she was young enough to enjoy greatly; the chief of these was
the contemplation of Frederick Brewer, her half-brother, a fine boy of
nine years old, for nine years of widowhood had been passed, and
through all that time this boy, her dear father's son, had been Lady
Greystock's delight. She loved "Mother-Mary" all the better for having
given him to her father, and she felt a strong, unutterable
thanksgiving that, his birth having been expected, the test of whether
or not Horace Erskine loved her for herself had been applied before
she had become chained to so terrible a destiny as that of being wife
to a thankless, disappointed man. Terrible as her great trial had
been, she might have suffered that which, to one of her temper, would
have been far worse. So Fred Brewer would ride over to see his sister.
Day after day the boy's bright face would be laid beside her own, and
to him, and only to him, would she talk of Sir Geoffrey. Then they
would ride together down to Marston to see Mrs. Morier and Jenifer,
who was a true friend, and lived on those terms with the lady who
loved her well; then to the market-place where the old home stood, now
turned into an almshouse of an eccentric sort, with all rules included
under one head, that the dear old souls were to have just whatever
they wanted. Did Martha Gannet keep three parrots, and did they eat as
much as a young heifer? and scream, too? ah, that was their
nature--never go against a dumb creature's nature, Mr. Brewer said
there was always cruelty in that--and did they smell, and give
trouble, and would they be mischievous, and tear Mrs. Betty's cap?
Indeed. Mr. Brewer was delighted. An excellent excuse for giving new
caps to all the inmates, and to look up all troubles, and mend
everybody's griefs--such an excellent thing it was that the fact of
three parrots should lead to the discovery of so many disgraceful
neglects that Mr. Brewer begged leave to apologize very heartily and
sincerely while he diligently repaired them. It was a very odd school
to bring up young Freddy in. But we are obliged to say that he was not
at all the worse for it.

And here we must say what we have not said before. Mr. Brewer was a
Catholic. He and Jenifer were Catholics; Mrs. Brewer had not been
a Catholic; and Claudia had been left to her mother's teaching. When
Freddy was born, Mr. Brewer considered his ways. And what he saw in
his life we may see shortly. He had been born of a Catholic mother who
had died, and made his Protestant father promise to send him to a
Catholic school. He had stood alone in the world, he had always stood
alone in the world. He seemed to see nothing else. Three miles from
Marston was a little dirty sea-port, also a sort of fishing place. A
place that bore a bad character in a good many ways. Some people would
have finished that character by saying that there were Papists there.
To that place every Sunday Mr. Brewer went to mass. Many and many a
lift he had given to Jenifer on those days. How much Jenifer's talk
assisted his choice of Mary for his wife, we may guess. When Freddy
was born Jenifer said her first words on the subject of religion to
Mr. Brewer: "You will have him properly baptized:" "Of course." "Order
me the pony cart, and I'll go to Father Daniels." "I must tell Mrs.
Brewer." "Leave that to me--just send for the cart." It _was_ left to
Jenifer. By night the priest had come and gone. It had not been his
first visit. He had been there many times, and had known that he was
welcome. The Clayton mission had felt the blessing of Mr. Brewer's
gold. He had seldom been at the house in the market-place in Marston,
but at Beremouth Mary had plucked her finest flowers, and sent them
back in the old gentleman's gig, and he had been always made welcome
in her husband's house with a pretty grace and many pleasant
attentions. Now, when Freddy was baptized, Mr. Brewer went to his wife
and bent over her, and said solemnly, "Mary--my dear wife; Mary--I
thank thee, darling. I thank thee, my love." And the single tear that
fell on her cheek she never forgot.

Then Mr. Brewer met Jenifer at his wife's door. "It's like a new life,
Jenifer." And the steady-mannered woman looked in his bright eyes and
saw how true his words were.

"It's a steady life of doing good to everybody that you have ever led,
sir. It was a lonely life once, no doubt. I was dazed when she married
you. But, eh, master; I have _that_ to think about, and _that_ to pray
for, that a'most makes me believe in anything happening to _you_ for
good, when so much is asked for, day and night, in my own prayer."

"Put _us_ into it; let me and mine be in Jenifer's prayer," he said,
and passed on.



PART II.


Mary Lorimer returned in safety to Beremouth under Horace Erskine's
care, welcomed as may be supposed by the adopted father and her
mother. Not that "Mother Mary," as Lady Greystock in the old Claudia
Brewer days used to call her, could ever welcome Horace. She had never
liked him; she had always felt that there was some unknown wrong about
his seeking and his leaving Claudia; she had been glad that a long
absence abroad had kept him from them while her darling Mary had been
growing up; and it was with a spasm of fear that she heard of his
spending that autumn at her sister's. And yet she had consented to his
bringing Mary home. Yes, she had consented, for Mr. Brewer in his
overflowing hospitality had asked him to come to them--had regretted
that they had seen so little of him of late years--and had himself
suggested that he should come when Mary returned.

Nine years does a great deal; it may even pay people's debts
sometimes. But it had not paid Horace Erskine's debts: on the
contrary, it had added to them with all the bewildering peculiarities
that belong to calculations of interests and compound interests. He
had got to waiting for another man's death. How many have had to
become in heart death-dealers in this way! It was known that he would
be his uncle's heir, and his uncle added to what he supposed Horace
possessed a good sum yearly; making the man rich as he thought, and
causing occasionally a slight passing regret that Horace was so
saving. "He might do so much more if he liked on his good income," the
elder Mr. Erskine would say. But he did not know of the many sums for
ever paying to keep things quiet till death, the great paymaster,
should walk in and demand stern rights of himself, the elder, and pass
on the gold that we all must leave behind to the nephew, the younger
one.

But in the nine years that had passed since the coward took his
revenge on a brave woman by doing that which killed her husband, great
things had happened to pretty Minnie Lorimer. The "county people" had
been after her--those same old families who had flouted her mother,
and prophesied eternal poverty to her poor pet baby--fatherless, too!
a fact that finished the story of their faults with a note of peculiar
infamy.

That a man of good family should marry without money, become the
father of a lovely child, and _die_--that the mother should go back to
that old poverty-stricken home where that stiff-looking maid-servant
looked so steadily into the faces of all who stood and asked
admittance--that they should pretend to be happy!--altogether, it was
really too bad.

Why did not Mrs. Lorimer, widow, go out as a governess? Who was to
bring up that unfortunate child on a paltry one hundred a year? Of
course she begged for help. Of course they were supported by Mr.
Erskines's charity. A pretty humiliation of Lorimer's friends and
relations!

Altogether, the whole of the great Lansdowne Lorimer connection had
pronounced that to have that young widow and her daughter belonging to
them was a trial very hard to bear. They had not done talking when
Mary made that quiet walk to church--no one but her mother and Jenifer
being in the secret--and reappeared in the county after a few months'
absence as mistress of Beremouth. Mr. Brewer had counted his money,
and had told the world what it amounted to. And this time he never
apologized, he only confessed himself a person scarcely deserving of
respect, because he had done so little good with the mammon of
unrighteousness. But Mary now would tell him how to manage. He did
perhaps take a little to the humble line. He hoped the world would
forget and forgive his former shortcomings; such conduct would
assuredly not now be persevered in; and that resolution was fulfilled
without any doubt. The splendors of Beremouth were something to talk
about, and the range of duties involved in a large hospitality were
admirably performed.

Old Lady Caroline, whose pianoforte survived in Mrs. Morier's house at
Marston, considered the matter without using quite as many words as
her neighbors. "That man will be giving money to Lorimer's child." She
was quite right. He had already invested five thousand pounds for
Minnie. Lady Caroline (what an odd pride hers was!) went to Beremouth,
and got upon business matter with "Mother Mary."

She would give that child five thousand pounds in her will if Mr.
Brewer would not give her anything. Alas! it was already given. Mr.
Brewer used to count among his faults that, with him, it was too much
a word and a blow, especially when a good action was in question, and
this curious unusual fault he had decidedly committed in the case of
Minnie Lorimer. The money was hers safe enough, invested in the hands
of trustees. "Safe enough," said Mr. Brewer exultingly; and then,
looking with a saddened air on Lady Caroline, he added, gravely, that
it couldn't be helped! "The man's a saint or a fool, I can't tell
which," was Lady Caroline's very cute remark. "The most unselfish
idiot that ever lived. Does Mary like him, or laugh at him, I wonder?"

But Lady Caroline cultivated Mr. Brewer's acquaintance. Not in an evil
way, but because she had been brought up to _use_ the world, and to
slave all mankind who would consent to such persecution. Not wickedly,
I repeat, but with a fixed intention she cultivated Mr. Brewer, and
she got money out of him.

Mr. Brewer still made experiments with ten pounds. He helped Lady
Caroline in her many charities, as long as her charities were confined
to food and clothing, so much a week to the poor, and getting good
nursing for the sick. But once Lady Caroline used that charity purse
for purposes of "souping"--it has become an English word, so I do not
stop to explain it--and then Mr. Brewer scolded her. Nobody had ever
disputed any point with Lady Caroline. But Mr. Brewer explained, with
a most unexpected lucidity, how it would be _right_ for him to make
her a Catholic, and yet _wrong_ for her to try her notions of
conversion on him.

Lady Caroline kept up the quarrel for two years. She upbraided him for
his neglect, on his own principles, of Claudia. She abused him for the
different conduct pursued about his son. Mr. Brewer confessed his
faults and stood by his rights at the same time. Two whole years Lady
Caroline quarrelled, and Mr. Brewer never left the field. And
afterward, some time after, when Lady Caroline was in her last
illness, she said: "I believe that man Brewer may be right after all."
When she was dead young Mary Lorimer had double the sum that had
been originally offered, and Freddy her largest diamond ring.

But another thing had to come out of all this. Mrs. Brewer became a
Catholic; and that fact had made her recall her daughter to her
side--that fact had made Horace Erskine say, at the inn at Hull, that
he dreaded for the girl he, spoke to the influence of the home and the
people she was going to--that fact had brought that passion of tears
to Mary Lorimer's eyes, and had made her feel so angrily that he had
taken an advantage of her.

Here, then, we are back again to the time at which we began the story.
Mary got home and was welcomed.

The day after their arrival, if we leave Beremouth and its people, and
go into Marston to Mrs. Morier, "old Mrs. Morier" they called her now,
we shall see Jenifer walk into the pleasant upstairs drawing-room,
where the china glittered on comer-shelves, and large jars stood under
the long inlaid table, and say to her mistress: "Eleanor is come, if
you please, ma'am."

Mrs. Morier looked up from her knitting. She had been sitting by the
window, and the beautiful old lady looked like a picture, as Jenifer
often declared, as she turned the face shadowed by fine lace toward
her servant with a sweet, gentle air, and smiling said, "And so you
want to go to Clayton--and Eleanor is to stay till you come back?"
"Yes, ma'am--it's the anniversary." "Go, then," said the gentle lady.
"And you must not leave me out of your prayers, my good Jenifer; for
you may be sure that I respect and value them." "I'll be back in good
time," said Jenifer; and the door closed, and Mrs. Morier continued
her knitting.

Soon she saw from the window that incomparable Jenifer. Her brown
light stuff gown, the black velvet trimming looking what Jenifer
called _rich_ upon the same. Buttons as big as pennies all the way
down the front--the good black shawl with the handsome border that
had been Mr. Brewer's own present to her on the occasion of his
wedding; the fine straw bonnet and spotless white ribbon--the crowning
glory of the black lace veil--oh, Jenifer was _somebody_, I can tell
you, at Marston; and Jenifer looked it.

It was with nothing short of a loving smile that Mrs. Morier watched
her servant. Servant indeed, but true, tried, and trusty friend also;
and when the woman was out of sight, and Mrs. Morier turned her
thoughts to Jenifer's prayer, and what little she knew of it, she
sighed--the sigh came from deep down, and the sigh was lengthened, and
her whole thoughts seemed to rest upon it--it was breathed out, at
last, and when it died away Mrs. Morier sat doing nothing in peaceful
contemplation till the door opened, and she whom we have heard called
Eleanor came in with inquiries as to the proper time for tea.

I think that this Eleanor was perhaps about eight-and-twenty years of
age. She was strikingly beautiful. Perhaps few people have ever seen
anything more faultlessly handsome than this young woman's form and
face. She looked younger than she was. The perfectly smooth brow and
the extraordinary fair complexion made her look young. No one would
have thought, when looking at Eleanor, that she had ever _worked_.  If
the finest and loveliest gentlewoman in the world had chosen to put on
a lilac cotton gown, and a white checked muslin apron, and bring up
Mrs. Morier's early tea, she would perhaps have looked a little like
Eleanor; provided her new employment had not endowed her with a
momentary awkwardness. But admiration, when looking at this woman, was
a little checked by a sort of atmosphere of pain--or perhaps it was
only patience--that surrounded the beautiful face, and showed in every
gesture and movement, and rested on the whole being, as it were.

Eleanor suffered. And it was the pain of the mind and heart, not of
the body--no one who had sufficient sensibility to see what I have
described could ever doubt that the inner woman, not the outer fleshly
form of beauty, suffered; and that the woe, whatever it was, had
written _patience_ on that too placid brow.

"And are they all well at Dr. Rankin's?" "Very well, ma'am, I believe.
I saw Lady Greystock in her own rooms an hour before I came away. I
said that I was coming here, and she said"--Eleanor smiled--"Lady
Greystock said, ma'am, 'My duty to grandmamma Morier--mind you give
the message right.'"

"Ah," said Mrs. Morier, "Lady Greystock is wonderfully well." "There
is nothing the matter with her, ma'am." "Except that she never goes to
Beremouth." What made the faint carnation mount to Eleanor's
face?--what made the woman pause to collect herself before she
spoke?--"Oh, ma'am, she is right not to try herself. She'll go there
one day." "I suppose you like being at Dr. Rankin's?" "Very much. My
place of wardrobe-woman is not hard, but it is responsible. It suits
me well. And Mrs. Rankin is very good to me. And I am near Lady
Greystock." "How fond you are of her!" "There is not anything I would
not do for her," said the woman with animation. "I hope, indeed Dr.
Rankin tells me to believe, that I have had a great deal to do with
Lady Greystock's cure. She has treated me like a sister; and I can
never feel for any one what I feel for her." "Lady Greystock always
speaks of you in a truly affectionate way. She says you have known
better days." "_Different_ days; I don't say _better_.  I have nothing
to wish for. Ever since the time that Lady Greystock determined on
staying at Blagden, I have been quite happy." "You came just as she
came." "Only two months after." "And did you like her from the first?"
"Oh, Mrs. Morier, you know she was very ill when she came. I never
thought of love, but of every care and every attention that one woman
could show to another. Had it been life for life, I am sure she might
have had _my_ life--that was all that I _then_ thought. But when she
recovered and loved me for what I had done for her, then it was love
for love. Lady Greystock gave me a new life, and I will serve her as
long as I may for gratitude, and as a thanksgiving."

When Eleanor was gone, her pleasant manner, her beauty, the music of
her voice, and the indescribable grace that belonged to her remained
with Mrs. Morier as a pleasant memory, and dwelling on it, she
lingered over her early tea, and ate of hashed mutton, making
meditation on how Eleanor had got to be Jenifer's great friend; and
whether their both being Catholics was enough to account for it.

This while Jenifer walked on toward Clayton. She stood at last on the
top of a wide table-land, and looked from the short grass where the
wild thyme grew like green velvet, and the chamomile gave forth
fragrance as you trod it under foot, down a rugged precipice into the
little seaport that sheltered in the cove below. The roofs of the
strange, dirty, tumble-down houses were packed thickly below her. The
nature of the precipitous cliff was to lie in terraces, and here and
there goats and donkeys among the branching fern gave a picturesque
variety to the scene, and made the practical Jenifer say to herself
that Clayton Cove was not "that altogether abominable" when seen to
the best advantage on the afternoon of a rich autumn day. A zigzag
path, rather difficult to get upon on account of the steepness of the
broken edge and the rolling stones, led from Jenifer's feet down to
the terraces; short cuts of steps and sliding stones led from terrace
to terrace, and these paths ended, as it appeared to the eye, in a
chimney-top that sent up a volume of white smoke, and a pleasant
scent of wood and burning turf. By the side of the house that owned
the chimney, which was whitewashed carefully, and had white blinds
inside the green painted wood-work of small sash windows, appeared
another roof, long, high, narrow, with a cross on the eastern gable,
and that was the Catholic chapel--the house Father Daniels lived in;
and after a moment's pause down the path went Jenifer with all the
speed that a proper respect for her personal safety permitted. When
the woman got to the last terrace, she opened a wicket gate, and was
in a sunny garden, still among slopes and terraces, and loaded with
flowers. Common flowers no doubt, but who ever saw Father Daniels's
Canterbury bells and forgot them? There, safe in the bottom walk,
wide, and paved with pebbles from the beach, Jenifer turned not to the
right where the trellised back-door invited, but to the left, where
the west door of the chapel stood open--and she walked in. There was
no one there. She knelt down. After a while she rose, and kneeling
before the image of our Lady, said softly: "Mother, she had no mother!
Eleven years this day since that marriage by God's priest, and at his
holy altar--eleven years this day since that marriage which the laws
of the men of this country deny and deride. Mother, she had no mother!
Oh, mighty Mother! forget neither of them. Remember her for her
trouble, and him for his sin." Not for vengeance but for salvation,
she might have added; but Jenifer had never been accustomed to explain
her prayers. Then she knelt before the adorable Presence on the altar,
and her prayer was very brief--"My life, and all that is in it!"--was
it a vain repetition that she said it again and again? Again and
again, as she looked back and thought of what _it had been_; as she
thought of that which _it was_; and knew of the future that, blessed
by our Lady's prayers, she should take it, whatever it might be, as
the will of God. And so she said it; by so doing offering _herself_.
One great thing had colored all her life; had, to her, been _life_--
_her_ life; she, with that great shadow on the past, with the weight
of the cross on the present, with the fear of unknown ill on the
future, gathered together all prayer, all hope, all fear, and gave it
to God in those words of offering that were, on her lips, an earnest
prayer; the prayer of submission, of offering, of faith--"_My life,
and all that is in it_."

Jenifer could tell out her wishes to the Mother of God, and had told
them, in the words she had used, but it was this woman's way to have
no wishes when she knelt before God himself. "My life, and all that is
in it;" that was Jenifer's prayer.

After a time she left the chapel, putting pieces of money, many, into
the church box, and went into the house. She knew Mrs. Moore, the
priest's housekeeper, very well. She was shown into Father Daniels's
sitting-room. He was a venerable man of full seventy years of age, and
as she entered he put down the tools with which he was carving the
ornaments of a wooden altar, and said, "You are later than your note
promised. I have therefore been working by daylight, which I don't
often do." She looked at the work. It seemed to her to be very
beautiful. "It is fine and teak-wood," said Father Daniels; "part of a
wreck. They brought it to me for the church. We hope to get up a
little mariner's chapel on the south side of the church before long,
and I am getting ready the altar as far as I can with my own hands.
'Mary, star of the sea'--that will be our dedication. The faith
spreads here. Mistress Jenifer; and I hope we are a little better than
we used to be." And Father Daniels crossed himself and thanked God for
his grace that had blessed that wild little spot, and made many
Christians there. Jenifer smiled, as the holy man spoke in a
playful tone, and she said, "It is the anniversary, father." "Of
Eleanor's marriage. Yes. I remembered her at mass. Has she heard
anything of him?" "Yes, father; she has heard his real name, she
thinks. She has always suspected, from the time that she first began
to suspect evil, that she had never known him by his real name--she
never believed his name to be Henry Evelyn, as he said when he married
her."

"And what is his real name?"

"Horace Erskine," said Jenifer.

"What!" exclaimed Father Daniels, with an unusual tone of alarm in his
voice. "The man who was talked of for Lady Greystock before she
married--the nephew of Mrs. Brewer's sister's husband!" "Yes, sir."
"Is she sure?" "No. She has not seen him. But she has traced him, she
thinks. Corny Nugent, who is her second cousin, and knew them both
when the marriage took place, went as a servant to the elder Mr.
Erskine, and knew Henry Evelyn, as they called him in Ireland, when he
came back from abroad. He _thought_ he knew him. Then Horace Erskine,
finding he was an Irishman, would joke him about his religion, and how
he was the only Catholic in the house, and how he was obliged to walk
five miles to mass. Time was when Mr. Erskine, the uncle, would not
have kept a Catholic servant. But since Mr. and Mrs. Brewer married,
he has been less bigoted. He took Corny Nugent in London. It was just
a one season's engagement. But when they were to return to Scotland
they proposed to keep him on, and he stayed. After a little Horace
Erskine asked him about Ireland; and even if he knew such and such
places; and then he came by degrees to the very place--the very
people--to his own knowledge of them. Corny gave crafty answers. But
he disliked the sight of the man, and the positions he put him into.
So he left. He left three months ago. And he found out Eleanor's
direction, and told her that surely--surely and certainly--her
husband, Henry Evelyn, was no other than his late master's nephew, who
had been trying to marry more than one, only always some unlooked-for
and unaccountable thing had happened to prevent it. Our Lady be
praised, for her prayers have kept off that last woe--I make no
doubt--thank God!"

"How many years is it since they married?" "Eleven, to-day. I keep the
anniversary. He is older than he looks. He is thirty-two, this year,
if he did not lie about his age, as well as everything else. He told
Father Power he was of age. He said, too--God forgive him--that he was
a Catholic."

"But when I followed Father Power at Rathcoyle," said the priest,
"there was no register of the marriage. I was sent for on the
afternoon of the marriage day. I found Father Power in a dying state.
He was an old man, and had long been infirm. The marriage was not
entered. It was known to have taken place. Your niece and her husband
were gone. I walked out that evening to your brother's farm. He knew
nothing of the marriage. He had received a note to say that Eleanor
was gone with her husband, and that they would hear from them when
they got to England. Why Father Power, who was a saintly man, married
them, I do not know. It was unlawful for him to marry a Catholic and a
Protestant. If your sister went through no other marriage, she has no
claim on her Protestant husband. If she could prove that he passed
himself off as a Catholic, she might have some ground against
him--but, can she?"

"No, sir; on the contrary, she knew that she was marrying a
Protestant; she had hopes of converting him; she learnt from
himself, afterward, that he had deceived the priest. She had said to
him that she would many him if Father Power consented. He came back
and said that the consent had been given. He promised to marry her in
Dublin conformably to the license he had got there--or there he had
lived the proper time for getting one, so he declared. But I have
ceased to believe anything he said. Then my brother wrote the girl a
dreadful letter to the direction in Liverpool that she had sent to
him. Then, after some months, she wrote to me at Marston. She was
deserted, and left in the Isle of Man. She supported herself there for
more than a year. I told Mr. Brewer that I knew a sad story of the
daughter of a friend, and one of her letters, saying her last gold was
changed into silvery and that she was too ill and worn oat to win
more, was so dreadful, that I feared for her mind. So Mr. Brewer went
to Dr. Rankin, and got her taken in as a patient, at first, and when
she got well she was kept on as wardrobe-woman. She had got a tender
heart; when she heard of Lady Greystock's trial, she took to her. Dr.
Rankin says he could never have cured Lady Greystock so perfectly nor
so quickly, but for Eleanor."

"That is curious," said Father Daniels, musingly. "Have you been in
Ireland since the girl left it with her husband?"

"I never was there in my life. My mother was Irish, and she lived as a
servant in England. She married an Englishman, and she had two
daughters, my sister--Eleanor's mother--and myself. My mother went
back to Ireland a year after her husband's death, on a visit, and she
left my sister and me with my father's family. She married in Ireland
almost directly, and married well, a man with a good property, a
farmer. She died, and left one son. My sister and I were four and five
years older than this half-brother of ours. Then time wore on and my
sister Ellen went to Ireland, and she married there, and the fever
came to the place where they lived, and carried them both off, and she
left me a legacy--my niece Eleanor--oh, sir I with such a holy letter
of recommendation from her death-bed. Poor sister! Poor, holy soul!
Our half-brother asked to have Eleanor to stay with him when she knew
enough to be useful on the farm. He was a good Christian, and I let
him take the girl. She was very pretty, people said, and I wished her
to marry soon. Then there came--sent, he said, by a great rich English
nobleman--a man who called himself a gardener, or something of that
sort. He lodged close by; he made friends with my brother. He was
often off after rare bog-plants, and seemed to lead a busy if an easy
life. He would go to mass with them. But they knew he was a
Protestant. Eleanor knew that her uncle would not consent to her
marrying a Protestant. But, poor child, she gave her heart away to the
gentleman in disguise. He had had friends there--a fishing party. Sir,
he never intended honorably; but they were married by the priest, and
he got over the holy man, whom everybody loved and honored, with his
falseness, as he had got over the true-hearted and trusting woman whom
he had planned to desert."

"Well," said Father Daniels, "you know I succeeded this priest for a
short time at Rathcoyle. He died on that wedding day. I never
understood how it all happened. I left a record to save Eleanor's
honor; but she has no legal claim on her husband--it ought not to have
been done." Jenifer shrank beneath the plainness of that truth--"_My
life, and all that is in it,_" her heart said, sinking, as it were, at
the sorrow that had come on the girl whom her sister had left to her
with her dying breath.

"She ought not to have trusted a man who was a Protestant, and not
willing to marry her in the only way that is legal by the Irish
marriage-law." "_My life, and all that is in it._" So hopelessly
fell on her heart every word that the priest spoke, that, but for that
offering of all things to God, poor Jenifer could scarcely have borne
her trial.

"And if this Henry Evelyn should turn out to be Horace Erskine, why,
he will marry some unhappy woman some time, of course, and the law of
the land will give him one wife, and by the law of God another woman
will claim him. Oh, if people would but obey holy church, and not try
to live under laws of their own inventing." "_My life, and all that is
in it!_" Again, only that could have made Jenifer bear the trials that
were presented to her.

"And if gossip spoke truth he was very near marrying Lady Greystock
once--Mr. Brewer, himself, thought it was going to be." One more great
act of submission--"_My life, and all that is in it!_"--came forth
from Jenifer's heart. She loved Mr. Brewer, with a faithful sort of
worship--if such a trial as that had come on him through her
trouble!--_that_ was over; _that_ had been turned aside; but the
thought gave rise to a question, even as she thanked God for the
averted woe.

'"Is it Eleanor's duty to find out if Henry Evelyn and Horace Erskine
are one?" "Yes," said the priest "Yes; it is. It is everybody's duty
to prevent mischief. It is her duty, as far as lies in her power, to
prevent sin."

"And if it proves true--that which Corny Nugent says, what then?"

"Be content for the present. It is a very difficult case to act in."

Poor Jenifer felt the priest to be sadly wanting in sympathy--she
turned again to him who knows all and feels all, and she offered up
the disappointment that _would_ grow up in her heart--"_My life, and
all that is in it!_"

She turned to go; and then Father Daniels spoke so kindly, so
solemnly, with such a depth of sympathy in the tone of his voice--"God
bless you, my child;" and the sign of the cross seemed to bless her
sensibly. "Thank you, father!" And, without lifting her eyes, she left
the room and the house; and still saying that prayer that had grown to
be her strength and her help, she went up the steep rugged path to the
spreading down; and then she turned round and looked on the great sea
heaving, lazily under the sunset rays, that painted it in the far
distance with gold and red, and a silvery light, till it touched the
ruby-colored sky, and received each separate ray of glory on its
breast just where earth and heaven seemed to meet--just where you
could fancy another world looking into the depths of the great sea
that flowed up into its gates. It seemed to do Jenifer good. The whole
scene was so glorious, and the glory was so far-spreading--all the
world seemed to rest around her bathed in warm light and basking in
the smile of heaven. She stood still and said again, in a sweet soft
voice: "_My life, and all that is in it!_"

Her great dread that day when Mr. Brewer had told her to put him and
his into her prayer, had been lest the punishment of sin should come
on the man who had deserted her dear girl, and lest that sin's effect
in a heart-broken disease should fall on the girl herself.

When Mr. Brewer said, "Put me and mine into that prayer, Jenifer," the
thought had risen that she would tell him of Eleanor. She had told
him, and he had helped her. But she had never thought that, by acting
on the impulse, the two women whose hearts Horace Erskine had crushed,
as a wilful child breaks his playthings when he has got tired or out
of temper, had been brought together under one roof, and made to love
each other. Yet so it had been. The woman who could do nothing but
pray _had_ prayed; and a thing had been done which no human
contrivance could have effected. And as Jenifer stood gazing on the
heavens that grew brighter and brighter, and on the water that
reflected every glory, and seemed to bask with a living motion in the
great magnificence that was poured upon it, she recollected how great
a pain had been spared her; she thought how terrible it would
have been if Claudia Brewer had married Horace Erskine--Horace
Erskine, the husband of the deserted Eleanor; and she gave thanks to
God.

Now she drew her shawl tighter round her, and walked briskly on. She
got across the down, and over a stone stile in the fence that was its
boundary from the road. She turned toward Marston, and walked fast--it
was almost getting cold after that glorious sunset, and she increased
her pace and went on rapidly. She soon saw a carriage in the road
before her, driving slowly, and meeting her. When it came near enough
to recognize her, the lady who drove let her ponies go, and then
pulled up at Jenifer's side. "Now, Mistress Jenifer," said Lady
Greystock, looking bright and beautiful in the black hat, and long
streaming black feather, that people wore in those days, "here am I to
drive you home. I knew where you were going. Eleanor tells me her
secrets. Do you know that? This is an anniversary; and you give gifts
and say prayers. Are you comfortable? I am going to drive fast to
please the ponies; they like it, you know." And very true did Lady
Greystock's words seem; for the little creatures given their heads
went off at a pace that had in it every evidence of perfect good will.
"I came to drive you back, and to pick up Eleanor, and drive her to
Blagden after I had delivered you up safely to grandmamma Morier.
Mother Mary came to see me this afternoon. You had better go and see
Minnie soon. Jenifer"--Jenifer looked up surprised at a strange tone
in Lady Greystock's voice---"Jenifer," speaking very low, "if you can
pray for my father and his wife, and all he loves, pray now. It would
be hard for a man to be trapped by the greatness of his own good
heart."

"Is there anything wrong, my dear?" Jenifer spoke softly, and just as
she had been used to speak to the Claudia Brewer of old days.

"I can't say more," Lady Greystock replied; "here we are at Marston."
Then she talked of common things; and told James, the man-servant, to
drive the horses up and down the street while she bade Mrs. Morier
"Good night." And they went into the house, and half an hour after
Lady Greystock and Eleanor had got into the pony carriage, and were
driving away. The quiet street was empty once more. The little
excitement made by Lady Greystock and her ponies subsided. Good-byes
were spoken, and the quiet of night settled down on the streets and
houses of Marston.

Jenifer had wondered over Lady Greystock's words; and comforted
herself, and stilled her fears, and set her guesses all at rest by
those few long-used powerful words--"_My life, and all that is in
it!_" She offered life, and gave up its work and its trials to God;
and Jenifer, too, was at rest then.

But at Clayton things were not quite in the same peaceful state as in
that little old-fashioned inland town. Clayton was very busy; and
among the busy ones, though busy in his own way, was Father Daniels.

That morning a messenger had brought him a packet from Mrs. Brewer;
for "Mother Mary" since becoming a Catholic had wanted advice, and
wanted strength, and she had sought and found what she wanted, and now
she had sent to the same source for further help. As soon as Jenifer
was gone, Father Daniels put away his teak-wood and his carving tools,
and packed up his drawings and his pencils. He was a man of great
neatness, and his accuracy in all business, and his fruitful
recollection of every living soul's wants, as far as they had ever
been made known to him, were charming points of his character--
points, that is, natural gifts, that the great charity which belonged
to his priesthood adorned and made meritorious. While he
"tidied away his things," as his housekeeper Mrs. Moore used to say,
bethought and he prayed--his mind foresaw great possible woe; he knew,
with the knowledge that is made up of faith and experience united,
that some things seem plainly to know no other master than prayer.
People are prayed out of troubles that no other power can touch. Every
now and then this fact seems to be imprinted in legible characters on
some particular woe, actual or threatened; and though Father Daniels,
like a holy priest, prayed always and habitually, he yet felt, as we
have said, with respect to the peculiar entanglements that the letter
from Mrs. Brewer in the morning and the revelation made by Jenifer in
the afternoon seemed to threaten. So, when he again sat down, it was
with Mrs. Brewer's letter before him on the table, and a lamp lighted,
and "the magnifiers," to quote Mrs. Moore again, put on to make the
deciphering of Mrs. Erskine's handwriting as easy as possible. Mrs.
Brewer's was larger, blacker, plainer--and her note was short. It only
said: "Read my sister's letter, which I have just received. It seems
so hard to give up the child; it would be much harder to see her less
happy than she has always been at home. I don't like Horace Erskine.
It is as if I was kept from liking him. I really have no reason for my
prejudice against him. Come and see me if you can, and send or bring
back the letter." Having put this aside. Father Daniels opened Mrs.
Erskine's letter. It must be given just as it was written to the
reader:


  DEAREST MARY:

  "You must guess how dreadful your becoming a Catholic is to us. I
  cannot conceive why, when you had been happy so long--these thirteen
  years--you should do this unaccountable thing now. There must have
  been some strange influence exercised over you by Mr. Brewer. I
  feared how it might be when, nine years ago, your boy was born, and
  you gave him up so weakly. However, I think you will see plainly
  that you have quite forfeited a mother's rights over Mary. She is
  seventeen, and will not have a happy home with you now. Poor child,
  she would turn Catholic to please you, and for peace sake, perhaps.
  But you cannot _wish_ such a misery for her. She will, I suppose,
  soon be the only Protestant in your house. I can't help blaming old
  Lady Caroline, even after her death; for she certainly brought the
  spirit of controversy into Beremouth, and stirred up Mr. Brewer to
  think of his rights. Now, I write to propose what is simply an act
  of justice on your part, though really, I must say, an act of great
  grace on the part of my husband. Horace is in love with Mary. As to
  the fancy he was supposed to have for Claudia, I _know_ that _that_
  was only a fancy. He was taken with her wilful, spoilt-child
  ways--you certainly did not train her properly--and he wanted her
  money. Of course as you had been married four years without
  children, he did not suspect anything about Freddy. It was an
  entanglement well got rid of; and Claudia wanted no comforting, that
  was plain enough. But it is different now. Horace _is_ in love
  _now_.  And if Mary is not made a Catholic by Mr. Brewer and you and
  old Jenifer, she will say, 'Yes,' like a good child. We are
  _extremely_ fond of her. And Mr. Erskine generously offers to make a
  very handsome settlement on her. I consider a marriage, and a very
  speedy one, with Horace the best thing; now that you have, by your
  own act, made her home so homeless to her. I am sure you ought to be
  very thankful for so obviously good an arrangement of difficulties.
  Let me hear from you as soon as Horace arrives. He is going to speak
  to you directly.
   "Your affectionate sister,
      "Lucia Erskine.

  "P.S.--As Mr. Brewer has always said that, Mary being his adopted
  child, he should pay her on her marriage the full interest of the
  money which will be hers at twenty-one, of course Horace
  expects that, as we do. Lady Caroline's ten thousand, Mr. Brewer's
  five thousand, and the hundred a year for which her father insured
  his life, and which I find that you give to her, will, with Horace's
  means, make a good income; and to this Mr. Erskine will, as Mary is
  my niece, add very liberally. I cannot suppose that you can think of
  objecting. L. E."

Father Daniels read this letter over very carefully. Then he placed
it, with Mrs. Brewer's note, in his pocket-book, and immediately
putting on his hat, and taking his stick, he walked into the kitchen.

"Where's your husband?" to Mrs. Moore.

"Mark is only just outside, sir."

"I shall be back soon. Tell him to saddle the cob." One of Mr.
Brewer's experiments had been to give Father Daniels a horse, and to
endow the horse with fifty pounds a year, for tax, keep, house-rent,
physic, saddles, shoes, clothing, and general attendance. It was, we
May say as we pass on, an experiment which answered to perfection. The
cob's turnpikes alone remained as a grievance in Mr. Brewer's mind. He
rather cherished the grievance. Somehow it did him good. It certainly
deprived him of all feeling of merit. All thought of his own
generosity was extinguished beneath the weight of a truth that could
not be denied--"that cob is a never-ending expense to Father Daniels!"
However, this time, without a thought of the never-ending turnpike's
tax, the cob was ordered; being late, much to Mr. and Mrs. Moore's
surprise; and Father Daniels walked briskly out of the garden, down
the village seaport, past the coal-wharves, where everything looked
black and dismal, and so pursued his way on the top of the low edge of
the cliff, to a few tidy-looking houses half a mile from Clayton,
which were railed in from the turfy cliff-side, and had painted on
their ends, "Good bathing here." The houses were in a row. He knocked
at the centre one, and it was opened by a man of generally a seafaring
cast. "Mr. Dawson in?" "Yes, your reverence. His reverence, Father
Dawson, is in the parlor;" and into the parlor walked Father Daniels.
It was a short visit made to ascertain if his invalid friend could say
mass for him the next morning at a later hour than usual--the hour for
the parish mass, in fact; and to tell him why. They were dear friends
and mutual advisers. They now talked over Mrs. Erskine's letter.

"There can be no reason in the world why Miss Lorimer should not marry
Horace Erskine if she likes him, provided he is not Henry Evelyn. He
stands charged with being Henry Evelyn, and of being the doer of Henry
Evelyn's deeds. You must tell Mrs. Brewer. It is better never to tell
suspicions, if you can, instead, tell facts. In so serious a matter
you may be obliged to tell suspicions, just to keep mischief away at
the beginning. Eleanor must see the man. As to claiming him, that's
useless. She acted the unwise woman's part, and she most bear the
unwise woman's recompense. He'll find somebody to marry him, no doubt;
but no woman ought to do it; no marriage of his can be right in God's
sight. So the course in the present instance is plain enough." Yes, it
was plain enough; so Father Daniels walked back to Clayton and mounted
the cob, and rode away through the soft sweet night air, and got to
Beremouth just after ten o'clock.

"I am come to say mass for you to-morrow," he said to Mr. Brewer, who
met him in the hall. "No, I won't go into the drawing-room. I won't
see any one to-night. I am going straight to the chapel."

"Ring for night prayers then in five minutes, will you?" said Mr.
Brewer. And Father Daniels, saying "Yes," walked on through the hall,
and up the great stair-case to his own room and the chapel, which,
were side by side. In five minutes the chapel bell was rung by the
priest. Mrs. Brewer looked toward her daughter. "Mary must do as she
likes;" said Mr. Brewer, in his open honest way driving his wife
before him out of the room. There stood Horace Erskine. It was as if
all in a moment the time for the great choice had come. They were at
the door--the girl stood still. They were gone, they were crossing the
hall; she could hear Mr. Brewer's shoes on the carpet--not too late
for her to follow. Her light step will catch theirs--they may go a
little further still before the very last moment comes. Her mother or
Horace? How dearly she loved her mother, how her child's heart went
after her, all trust and love--and Horace, _did_ she love him?--love
him well enough to stay _there--there_ and _then_, at a moment that
would weigh so very heavily in the scale of good and evil, right or
wrong? If he had not been there she might have stayed, if she stayed
now that he was there, should she not stay with him--more, leave her
mother and stay with him? Thought is quick. She stood by the table;
she looked toward the door, she listened--Horace held out his
hand--"With me, Mary--with _me_!" And she was gone. Gone even while he
spoke, across the hall, up the stairs and at that chapel door just as
this last of the servants, without knowing, closed it on her. Then
Mary went to her own room just at the head of the great stair-case,
and opened the doors softly, and knelt down, keeping it open, letting
the stair-case lamp stray into the darkness just enough to show her
where she was. There she knelt till the night prayers were over, and
when Mr. Brewer passed her door, she came out, a little glad to show
them that she had not been staying down stairs with Horace. He smiled,
and put his hand inside her arm and stopped her from going down. "My
dear child," he said, "I have had the great blessing of my life given
to me in the conversion of your mother. If God's great grace, for the
sake of his own blessed mother, should fall on you, you will not
quench it, my darling. Meanwhile, I shall never have a better time
than _this_ time to say, that I feel more than ever a father to you.
That if you will go on treating me with the childlike candor and trust
that I have loved to see in you, you will make me happier than you can
ever guess at, dear child." And then he kissed her, and Minnie eased
her heart by a few sobs and tears, and her head rested on his
shoulder, and she thanked him for his love. Then Father Daniels came
out of the chapel, and advanced to where they stood. Mary had long
known the holy man. He saw how it was in an instant. "Welcome home,
Mary; you see I come soon. And now--when I am saying mass to-morrow,
stay quietly in your own room, and pray to be taught to love God. Give
yourself to him. Don't trouble about questions. His you are. Rest on
the thought--and we will wait on what may come of it. I shall remember
you at mass to-morrow. Good-night. God bless you."

"I can't come down again. My eyes are red," said Mary, to Mr. Brewer,
when they were again alone. And he laughed at her. "I'll send mamma
up," he said. And Mary went into her room. But she had taken no part
_against_ her mother; so her heart said, and congratulated itself. She
had not left her, and stayed with Horace. She had had those few words
with her step-father. That was over, and very happily too. She had
seen Father Daniels again. It was getting speedily like the old
things, and the old times, before the long visit to Scotland, where
Horace Erskine was the sun of her new world. Somehow she felt
that he was losing power every moment--also she felt, a little
resentfully, that there had been things said or thought, or
insinuated, about the dear home she was loving so well, which were
unjust, untrue, unkind; nay, more, cruel, shameful!--and so wrong to
unite _her_ to such ideas; to make her a party to such thoughts. In
the midst of her resentment, her mother came in. "Nobody ever was so
charming looking," was the first thought. "How young she looks--how
much younger and handsomer than Aunt Erskine. What a warm loving
atmosphere this house always had, and _has_." The last word with the
emphasis of a perfect conviction. "And so you have made your eyes red
on papa's coat--and I had to wipe the tears off with my
pocket-handkerchief. Oh, you darling, I am sure Horace Erskine thought
we had beaten you!" Then kisses, and laughter; not quite without a tear
or two on both, sides, however. "Now, my darling, Horace has told us
his love story--and so he is very fond of you?" "Mamma, mamma, I love
you better than all the earth." Kisses, laughter, and just one or two
tears, all over again.

"My darling child, you have been some months away from us--do you
think you can quite tell your own mind on a question which is
life-long in its results? I mean, that the thing that is pleasant in
one place may not be so altogether delightful in another. I should
like you to decide so great a question while in the full enjoyment of
your own rights _here_.  This is your _home_.  _This_ is what you will
have to exchange for something else when you marry. You are very young
to marry--not eighteen, remember. Whenever you decide that question, I
should like you to decide it on your own ground, and by your own
mother's side."

"I wonder whether you know how wise you are?" was the question that
came in answer. "Do you know, mother, that I cried like a baby at
Hull, because I felt all you have said, and even a little more, and
thought he was unkind to press me. You know Aunt Erskine had told me;
and Horace, too, in a way--and he said at Hull he dreaded the
influence of this place, and--and--" "But there is nothing for _you_
to dread. This home is yours; and its influence is good; and all the
love you command here is your safety." Mrs. Brewer spoke boldly, and
quite with the spirit of heroism. She was standing up for her rights.
But Mr. Brewer stood at the door. "The lover wants to smoke in the
park in the moonlight. Some information just to direct his thoughts,
you little witch," for his step-child had tried to stop his mouth with
a kiss--

"Papa, I am so happy. I won't, because I can't, plan to leave
everything I love best in the world just as I come back to it." "But
you must give Erskine some kind of an answer. The poor fellow is
really very much in earnest. Come and see him." "No, I won't," said
Mary, very much as the wilful Claudia might have uttered the words.
But Mary was thinking that there was a great contrast between the
genial benevolence she had come to, and the indescribable _something_
which was _not_ benevolence in which she had lived ever since her
mother had become a Catholic. Mr. Brewer almost started. "I mean,
papa, that I must live here unmolested at least one month before I can
find out whether I am not always going to love _you_ best of all
mankind. Don't you think you could send Horace off to Scotland again
immediately?" "Bless the child! Think of the letters that have
passed--you read them, or knew of them?" "_Knew_ of them," said Mary,
nodding her head confidentially, and looking extremely naughty. "Well;
and I asked him here!" "Yes; I know that." "And you now tell me to
send him away! My dear!" exclaimed Mr. Brewer, looking
appealingly at his wife. "Dearest, you must tell Mr. Erskine that Mary
really would like to be left quiet for awhile. Say so now; and
to-morrow you can suggest his going soon, and returning in a few
weeks." "And to-morrow I can have a cold and lie in bed. Can't I?"
said Mary. But now they ceased talking, and heard Horace Erskine go
out of the door to the portico. "There! he's gone. And I am sure I can
smell a cigar--and I could hate smoking, couldn't I?" Mother and
father now scolded the saucy child, and condemned her to solitude and
sleep. And when they were gone the girl put her head out of the open
window, and gazed across the spreading park, so peaceful in its
far-stretching flat, just roughened in places by the fern that had
begun to get brown under the hot sun; and then she listened to the
sound of the wind that came up in earnest whispers from the woody
corners, and the far-off forests of oak. The sound rose and fell like
waves, and the silence between those low outpourings of mysterious
sound was loaded with solemnity.

Do the whispering woods praise him; and are their prayers in the tall
trees? She was full of fancies that night. But the words Father
Daniels had said to her seemed to her to come again on the
night-breeze, and then she was quiet and still. And yet--and
yet--though she _tried_ to forget, and _tried_ to keep her mind at
peace, the spirit within would rise from its rest, and say that she
had left an atmosphere of evil speaking and uncharitableness; that
malice and harsh judgment had been hard at work, and all to poison
_home_, and to win her from it.

And while she was trying to still these troublings of the mind, Mr.
Brewer, by her mother's side, was reading for the first time Mrs.
Erskine's letter, which Father Daniels had returned. "My dear, my
dear," said Mr. Brewer, "a very improper letter. I think Mary is a
very extraordinary girl not to have been prejudiced against me. I
shall always feel grateful to her. And as to this letter, which I call
a very painful letter, don't you think we had better burn it?" And so,
by the assistance of a lighted taper, Mr. Brewer cleared that evil
thing out of his path for ever.

"Eleanor," said Lady Greystock, "how lovely this evening is. The moon
is full, and how glorious! Shall we drive by a roundabout way to
Blagden? James," speaking to the man who occupied the seat behind,
"how far is it out of our way if we go through the drive in Beremouth
Park, and come out by the West Lodge into the Blagden turnpike road?"
"It will be two miles further, my lady. But the road is very good, and
the carriage will run very light over the gravelled road in the park."
"Then we'll go." So on getting to the bottom of the street in which
Mrs. Morier lived, Lady Greystock took the road to Beremouth; and the
ponies seemed to enjoy the change, and the whole world, except those
three who were passing so pleasantly through a portion of it, seemed
to sleep beneath the face of that great moon, wearing, as all full
moons do, a sweet grave look of watching on its face.

"Isn't it glorious? Isn't it grand, this great expanse and this
perfect calm? Ah, there goes a bat; and a droning beetle on the wing
just makes one know what silence we are passing through. How pure the
air feels. Oh, what blessings we have in life--how many more than we
know of. I think of that in the still evenings often. Do you,
Eleanor?"

"Yes, Lady Greystock." But Eleanor spoke in a very calm,
business-like, convinced sort of manner; not the least infected by the
tears of tenderness and the poetical feeling that Lady Greystock had
betrayed.

"Yes, Lady Greystock And when in great moments"--"Great moments! I
like that," said Claudia--"when I have those thoughts I think of
you." "Of me?" "Yes. And I am profoundly struck by the goodness of
God, who endowed the great interest of my life with so powerful an
attraction for me. I must have either liked or disliked you. I am so
glad to love you."

"Eleanor, I wish you would tell me the story of your life." They had
passed through the lodge gates now, and were driving through Beremouth
Park. "You were not always what you are now."

"You will know it one day," said Eleanor, softly. "Oh, see how the
moon comes out from behind that great fleecy cloud; just in time to
light us as we pass through the shadows which these grand oaks cast.
What lines of silver light lie on the road before us. It is a treat to
be out in such a place on such a night as this. Stay, stay, Lady
Greystock. What is that?"

Lady Greystock pulled up suddenly, and standing full in the moonlight,
on the turf at the side of the carriage, was a tall, strong-built man.
He took off his cap with a respectful air, and said, "I beg pardon. I
did not intend to stop you. But if you will allow me I will ask your
servant a question." He addressed Lady Greystock, and did not seem to
look at Eleanor, though she was nearest to him. Eleanor had suddenly
pulled a veil over her face; but Lady Greystock had taken hers from
her hat, and her uncovered face was turned toward the man with the
moonlight full upon it. He said to the servant, "Can you tell me where
a person called Eleanor Evelyn is to be found? Mrs. Evelyn she is
probably called. I want to know where she is." Before James, who had
long known the person by his mistress's side as Mrs. Evelyn, could
speak, or recover from his very natural surprise, Eleanor herself
spoke. "Yes," she said, "Mrs. Evelyn lives not far from Marston. I
should advise you to call on Mrs. Jenifer Stanton, who lives at
Marston with Mrs. Morier. She will tell you about her." "She who lives
with Madam Morier, of course?" said the man. "Yes; the same."
"Goodnight."

"Good night," said Lady Greystock in answer, and obeying Eleanor's
whispered "Drive on," she let the ponies, longing for their stable,
break into their own rapid pace, and, soon out of the shadows, they
were in the light--the broad, calm, silent light--once more.



PART III.


Lady Greystock drove on briskly. They were out of the shadow of the
trees and again on the broad, white gleaming gravelled road that led
to the west lodge, and the turnpike road to Blagden. Not a word was
spoken. On went the ponies, who knew the dark shadows of the elms that
stood at intervals, in groups, two or three together, by the side of
the road, and threw their giant outlines across it, making the
moon-light seem brighter and brighter as it silvered the surface of
the broad carriage drive, and made the crushed granite sparkle--on
went the ponies, shaking their heads with mettlesome impatience when
the pulling of the reins offended them, not frightened at the whirling
of the great droning night insects, which flew out from the oak-trees
on the left, nor shying away from the shadows--on they went through
the sweet, still, soft, scented night air, and the broad, peaceful
light of the silent moon--on they went! Not one word mingled with the
sound of their ringing hoofs, not a breath was heard to answer to the
sighing of the leaves; the "good night" that had been spoken between
the stranger and themselves still seemed to live in the hearing of
those to whom he had spoken, and to keep them in a meditative and
painful silence.

At last the lodge was reached. The servant opened the gates; the
carriage was driven through; the high road was gained, and all
romantic mystery was over; the dream that had held those silent ones
was gone; and like one suddenly awoke, Lady Greystock said: "Eleanor!
how wonderful; you knew that man! Eleanor! he knew you; asked about
you; had been seeking you. Why was he there in the Beremouth
woods--appearing at this hour, among the ferns and grass, like a wild
creature risen from its lair? Eleanor! why don't you speak to me? Why,
when he spoke of you by your name, did you not answer for yourself?
Why did you send him to Jenifer? Oh! Eleanor; I feel there is
something terrible and strange in all this. I cannot keep it to
myself. I must tell my father. It can't be right. It cannot be for any
good that we met a man lurking about, and not owned by you, though he
is here to find you. Speak, Eleanor! Now that I am in the great high
road I feel as if I had gone through a terror, or escaped some strange
danger, or met a mystery face to face."

Lady Greystock spoke fast and in a low voice, and Eleanor, bending a
little toward her, heard every word.

"You _have_ met a mystery face to face," she said in a whisper, which,
however, was sufficiently audible. "I _did_ know that man. And I am
not denying that he sought me, and that he had a right to seek
me. But many things have changed since those old days, when, if I had
obeyed him, I should have done better than I did. I know what he
wants; and Jenifer can give it to him. Here we are at Blagden; think
no more of it, Lady Greystock."

No answer was given to Eleanor's words; they met Dr. Blagden on the
steps at the door. "You are later than usual--all right?" "All quite
right," said Eleanor. "The beauty of the night tempted us to come home
through Beremouth," said Lady Greystock. "How lovely it would look on
such a sweet, peaceful night," said Mrs. Blagden, who now joined them;
and then Eleanor took the carriage wraps in her arms up stairs, and
Lady Greystock went into the drawing-room, and soon after the whole
household--all but Eleanor--were in bed.

Not Eleanor. She opened a box where she kept her letters, and many
small objects of value to her, and carefully shutting out the
moonlight, and trimming her lamp into brilliancy, she took out letter
after letter from Henry Evelyn calling her his beloved one, and his
wife; then the letter from Corny Nugent, saying that Henry Evelyn and
Horace Erskine were one; and the one thing that Corny Nugent had sent
to her as evidence--it seemed to be proof sufficient. It was a part of
a letter from Horace to his uncle, Mr. Erskine, which had been flung
into a waste-paper basket, and which, having the writer's signature,
Corny had kept, and sent to Eleanor. Not, as he said, that he knew the
man's handwriting, but that she did; and that, therefore, to her it
would have value as proving or disproving his own convictions.

Eleanor had never brought this evidence to the proof. She had laid by
Corny's letter, and the inclosure. She had put it all aside with the
weight of a great dread on her mind, and "Not yet, not yet," was all
she said as she locked away both the assertion and the proof.

But her husband was at Beremouth now. Yes; and on what errand? She
knew that too.

Mrs. Brewer had called that morning to see Lady Greystock. Mrs. Brewer
had come herself to tell Claudia that Mary would arrive, and that
Horace would bring her. She would not trust any one but herself to
give that information. She never let go the idea of Horace having
behaved in some wrong way to Claudia. She knew Claudia's disposition,
her bravery, her determination; and her guesses were very near the
truth. "Mother Mary" had those womanly instincts which jump at
conclusions; and the truths guessed at through the feelings are
truths, and remain truths for ever, though reason has never proved
them or investigation explained them.

Then, too, there was her sister's letter, which Mrs. Brewer had sent
to Father Daniels. There the passing fancy for Claudia had been spoken
of. In that letter the love of money had peeped out, and supplied the
motive; but Mrs. Brewer knew very well that Claudia's disposition was
not of a sort to have any acquaintance with passing fancies. If she
had loved Horace, she had loved with her whole heart; and if she had
been deceived in him, her whole heart had suffered, and her whole life
been overcast. "Mother Mary" had felt to some purpose; and now, only
herself should say to Lady Greystock that he was coming among them
again.

She had arrived at Blagden and she had told Claudia everything; what
Horace wished as to Mary, and what her sister and Mr. Erskine desired;
and she had not hidden her own unwillingness to lose her child, or her
own wish that Mary might have married, when she did marry, some one
more to her mother's mind, and nearer to her mother's house. And
it was in remembrance of this conversation that Lady Greystock, when
she took Jenifer into the carriage, had said: "If you ever pray for my
father, and all he loves, pray _now_?"

Something of all this had been told by Lady Greystock to Eleanor. And
in the time that the aunt and niece had been together that day,
Eleanor had said to Jenifer, "He is down at the park wanting to marry
Miss Lorimer."

Jenifer's darling--Jenifer's darling's darling; how she loved "Mother
Mary," and Lansdowne Lorimer's child, only her own great and good
heart knew. What could she do but go to God, and his priest? What
human foresight could have prevented this? What human wisdom could set
things right? And after all, they did not _surely_ know that Eleanor's
husband and Claudia's lover were met in one man, and that man winning
the heart of lovely, innocent Mary Lorimer, and pressing marriage on
her. But for her prayer, Jenifer used to say, she should have gone out
of her mind. Oh, the comfort that grew out of the thought that GOD
KNEW! and that her life and all that was in it were given to him. Such
a shifting of responsibility--such a supporting sense of his never
allowing anything to be in that life that was not, in some way, for
his glory--such practical strength, such heart-sustaining power, grew
out of Jenifer's prayer that even Eleanor's numbed heart rested on it,
and she had learnt to be content to live, from hour to hour, a life of
submission and waiting.

But was the waiting to be over now?--was something coming? If so, she
must be prepared. And so, diligently, by the lamp-light, Eleanor
produced her own letters, and opened that torn sheet to compare the
writing. It was different in some things, yet the same. As she gazed,
and examined, and compared terminations, and matched the capital
letters together, she knew it was the same handwriting. Time had done
its work. The writing of the present was firmer, harder, done with a
worse pen, written at greater speed. But that was all the change. She
was convinced; and she put away her sorrow-laden store, locked them
safe from sight, said her night prayers, and went to bed. Not a sigh,
nor a tear. No vain regrets, no heart-easing groans. The time for such
consolations had long been passed with Eleanor. Within the last nine
years her life had as much changed as if she had died and risen again
into another world of intermediate trial. A very great change had been
wrought in her by Lady Greystock's friendship. Eleanor had become
educated. The clever, poetical girl, who had won Horace Erskine's
attention by her natural superiority to everything around her--even
when those surroundings had been of a comparatively high state of
cultivation, had hardened into the industrious and laborious woman.
When it pleased Lady Greystock to hear her sing, in her own sweet,
untaught way, the songs of her own country, she had sung them; and
then, when Lady Greystock had offered to cultivate the talent, she had
worked hard at improvement. She had been brought up by French nuns, at
a convent school, and had spoken their language from childhood; when
Lady Greystock got French books, it was Eleanor's delight to read
aloud; and she had made Mrs. Blagden's two little girls almost as
familiar with French as she was herself. Those things had given rise
to the idea that Mrs. Evelyn, as she was always called, had seen
better days; and no one had ever suspected her relationship to
Jenifer. Mr. Brewer alone knew of it. As to Mr. Brewer ever telling
anything that could be considered, in the telling, as a breach of
confidence, that was, of course, impossible.

That night--that night so important in our story, Jenifer, having done
all her duties by her mistress, which were really not a few, and
having seen that the girl who did the dirty work was safe in the
darkness of a safely put out candle, opened her lattice to look on the
night. Her little room had a back view. That is, it looked over the
flagged kitchen court, and the walled-in flower garden, and beyond
toward the village of Blagden and the majestic woods at the back of
the house at Beremouth.

Jenifer had gone to bed, and had risen again, oppressed by a feeling
that something was, as she expressed it, "going on--something doing
somewhere--'something up,' as folks say, sir. I can't account for it.
I fancied I heard something--that I was wanted. And I thought at first
that some one was in my room. Then I went into mistress's room,
without my shoes, not to wake her. She was all right, sleeping like a
tender babe. Then I went to Peggy's room. The girl was asleep. I
sniffed up and down the passage, just to find if anything wrong in the
way of smoke or fire was about. No; all was pure and pleasant; and
then I went down stairs to make sure of the doors being locked.
Everything was right, sir"--such was Jenifer's account to Mr. Brewer;
who, when she paused at this point, asked: "What next did you do? Did
you go upstairs again to bed?" "I went upstairs," the woman answered,
"but not to bed. I sat at the window, and looked out over the garden,
and over the meadows beyond the old bridge, and on to Beremouth. And
the night was the brightest, fairest, loveliest night I ever beheld.
And so, sir, I said my prayers once more, and went again to bed; and
slept in bits and snatches, for still I was always thinking that
somebody wanted me, till the clock struck six; and then I got up."
"You don't usually get up at six, or before the girl gets up, do you?"
"No, sir; never, I may say. But I got up to ease my mind of its
burthens. And when Peggy had got up, and was down stairs, I started
off for the alms-house; I thought Mr. Dawson might be up to say mass
there, for it was St. Lawrence's Day." "Well?" "But there had been no
message about mass, and no priest was expected. And as I got back to
our door there was Mrs. Fell, the milk-woman. She had brought the milk
herself. I asked how that should be. She said they had had a cow like
to die in the night, and that their man had been up all night, and
that she was sparing him, for he had gone to lie down. Then I said,
'Why, I could never have heard any of you busy about the cattle in the
night'--you see they rent the meadows. But she said they were not in
the meadows; the beasts were all in the shed at the farm. 'But,' she
said, it's odd if you were disturbed, for a man came to our place just
before twelve o'clock, and asked for you.' 'For me!' I cried--'a man
at your place in the middle of the night, asking for me!' She said,
'Yes; and a decent-spoken body, too. But tired, and wet through and
through. He said he had fallen into the Beremouth deer pond, up in the
park. That is, he described the place clear enough, and we knew it was
the deer pond, for it could not be anywhere else!'" "And did you ask
where the man went to?" "No, sir. I lifted my eyes, and I saw him."
"And who was he?" "Oh, Mr. Brewer, it must all be suffered as he gives
it to me to suffer; but I am not clear about telling his name."

Mr. Brewer took out his watch and looked at it. "It is nearly ten
o'clock," he said. "Where's your mistress?"

"Settled to her work, sir."

Mr. Brewer held this long talk with Jenifer in that right-hand parlor
down stairs where he had paid that money to Mrs. Morier, when the
reader first made his acquaintance. He had great confidence in
Jenifer. He knew her goodness, and her patience, and her trust. He
knew something, too, of her trials, and also of her prayer; but he had
come there to investigate a very serious matter, and he was going
steadily through with it.

"Listen, Jenifer."

"Yes, sir."

"Last night, just after our night prayers, Father Daniels being in the
house, my friend, Mr. Erskine, who escorted my step-daughter, Mary
Lorimer, home, went out into the park, just, as was supposed, to have
a cigar before going to bed. Mrs. Brewer and I were in Mary's room
when we heard Mr. Erskine leave the house. He certainly lighted his
cigar. Mary's window was open, and we smelt the tobacco. Jenifer, he
never returned."

They were both standing and looking at each other. "My life, and all
that is in it!" Up went Jenifer's prayer, but voicelessly, to heaven.
"My life, and all that is in it!" But a strong faith that the one
terrible evil that her imagination pictured would not be in it, was
strong within her.

"He never returned. My man-servant woke me in my first sleep by
knocking at the bed-room door, and saying that Mr. Erskine had not
returned. I rose up and dressed myself. I collected the men and went
out into the park. We went to the south lodge, to ask if any one had
seen him. 'No,' they said. 'But the west lodge-keeper had been there
as late as near to ten o'clock, and he had said that a man had been in
their house asking a good many questions about Beremouth, and who we
had staying there, and if a Mr. Erskine was there, or ever had been
there, and inquiring what sort of looking man he was, whether he wore
a beard, or had any peculiarity? how he dressed, and if there had ever
been any report of his going to be married? They had answered his
questions, because they suspected nothing worse than a gossiping
curiosity; and they had given him a rest, and a cup of tea. He said
that a friend, a cousin of his, had lived as servant with Mr. Erskine;
and he also asked if Mr. Erskine would be likely to pass through that
lodge the next day, for that he had a great curiosity to see him. He
said that he had known him well once, and wanted greatly to see him
once more. He, after all this talking, asked the nearest way to
Marston. He was directed through the park, and he left them. Our
inquiries about Horace Erskine having been answered by this history
told by one lodge-keeper to the other, we could not help suspecting
that some one had been on the watch for the young man, and taking
Jones from the lodge, and his elder boy with us, we dispersed
ourselves over the park to seek for him, a good deal troubled by what
we had heard. We got to the deer pond, but we had sought many places
before we got there; it did not seem a likely place for a man to go to
in the summer night. We looked about--we went back to get
lanterns--they were necessary in the darkness made by the thick
foliage; one side was bright enough, and the pool was like a
looking-glass where it was open to the sloping turf, and the short
fern, which the deer trample down when they get there to drink; but
the side where the thorns, hollies, and yew-trees grow was as black as
night; and yet we thought we could see where the wild climbing plants
had been pulled away, and where some sort of struggle might have taken
place. As we searched, when we came back, we found strong evidence of
a desperate encounter; the branches of the great thorn-tree were
hanging split from the stem, and, holding the lantern, we saw the
marks of broken ground by the margin of the pond, as if some one had
been struggling at the very edge of it. Then, all at once, and I shall
never understand why we did not see it before--the moonbeams grew
brighter, I suppose--but there in the pond was the figure of a man;
not altogether in the water, but having struggled so far out as to get
his head against the bank, hid as it was with the grass and low
brush-wood, the ferns and large-leaved water-weeds; we laid bold of
the poor fellow--it was Horace Erskine, Jenifer!"

"_My life, and all that is in it_." But the hope, the faith, rather,
was still alive, that that worst grief should not be in it--so she
prayed--so she felt--for Jenifer! "Master," she gasped, "not dead--not
dead--Mr. Brewer."

"Not dead!" he said gravely; "he would have been dead if we had not
found him when we did. He was bruised and wounded; such a sight of
ill-treatment as no eyes ever before beheld, I think. He must have
been more brutally used than I could have believed possible, if I had
not seen it. His clothes were torn; his face so disfigured that he
will scarcely ever recover the likeness of a man, and one arm is
broken." "But not dead?" "No; but he _may_ die; the doctor is in the
house, and the police are out after the man whom we suspect of this
horrible barbarity. Now, Jenifer, hearing some talk of a stranger who
seemed to know yon, I came here to ask you to tell me, in your own
honest way, your honest story."

But Jenifer seemed to have no desire to make confidences.

"Who told you of a stranger?"

"Have you not told me yourself, in answer to my first questions,
before giving you my reasons for inquiring?"

"No, sir; that won't do. I judge from what you said that you had heard
something of this stranger before you came here."

"I had, Jenifer." And Mr. Brewer looked steadily at her.

"Well, sir?"

"Jenifer, I have really come out of tenderness to you, and to those
who may belong to you."

"No one doubts your tenderness, sir; least of any could I doubt it.
Tell me who mentioned a stranger to you, so as to send you here to
me?"

"Lady Greystock's groom, coming to Beremouth early, and finding us in
great trouble, made a declaration as to a stranger who had appeared
and stopped his mistress as she was driving through the park last
night. He says this man asked if they could tell where Mrs. Evelyn
lived, and Mrs. Evelyn, immediately answering, said that she lived
somewhere in the neighborhood, and that he could learn by inquiring
for you. The groom says that the man evidently knew Mrs. Morier's
name, as well as year name; and that after speaking to him, Mrs.
Evelyn asked Lady Greystock to drive on, and that she drove rapidly,
and never spoke till they had almost got back to Blagden."

"It is quite true," said Jenifer. "He told me the same story this
day."

"Can you say where this man is? He will be found first or last; and it
is for the sake of justice that you should speak, Jenifer. The police
are on his track. Let me entreat you to give me every information.
Concealment is the worst thing that can be practised in such a case as
this--have you any idea where he is? I do not ask you who he is; you
will have to tell all, I fear, before a more powerful person than I
am. I only come as a friend, that you may not be induced to conceal
the evil-doer."

"The evil-doer," said Jenifer; "who says he did it?"

"I say he will be tried for doing it; and that a trial is good for the
innocent in such a case of terrible suspicion as this."

"May be," said Jenifer, "may be!"

Then, once more, that prayer, said, from her very heart, though
unspoken by her lips; and then these quiet words--"And as to the man
himself. He is my brother. My mother's child by her second husband."
"Your brother--he with whom Eleanor lived in Ireland?" "Yes, Mr.
Brewer; he of whom I told you when you saved Eleanor so many
years ago. And as to where he is--step into the kitchen, sir, and you
may see him sleeping in a chair by the fire--any way, I left him
there, when I came to open the door to you."

Mr. Brewer had really come to Jenifer in a perfectly friendly way;
exactly as he had said--out of tenderness. He had known enough to send
him there, and to have those within call who would secure this
stranger, whoever he was, and wherever he was found. Now, known, he
walked straight into the kitchen, and there stopped to take a full
view of a man in a leathern easy chair, his arm resting on Jenifer's
tea-table, and sound asleep. A finer man eyes never saw. Strong in
figure, and in face of a remarkable beauty. He was sunburnt; having
pulled his neckcloth off, the skin of his neck showed in fair
contrast, and the chest heaved and fell as the strong breath of the
sleeper was drawn regularly and with healthy ease. It was a picture of
calm rest; it seemed like a pity to disturb it. There stood Mr. Brewer
safely contemplating one who was evidently in a state of blissful
unconsciousness as to danger to others or himself.

"Your brother?" repeated Mr. Brewer to Jenifer, who stood stiff and
upright by his side.

"My half-brother, James O'Keefe."

"There is some one at the front door; will you open it?"

Jenifer guessed at the personage to be found there. But she went
steadily through the front passage, and, opening the door, let the
policeman who had been waiting enter, and then she came back to the
kitchen without uttering a word. As the man entered Mr. Brewer laid
his hand on the sleeper's shoulder, and woke him. He opened his fine
grey eyes, and looked round surprised. "On suspicion of having
committed an assault on Mr. Horace Erskine last night, in the park at
Beremouth," said the policeman, and the stranger stood up a prisoner.
He began to speak; but the policeman stopped him. "It is a serious
case," he said. "It may turn out murder. You are warned that anything
you say will be used against you at your trial." "Are you a
magistrate, sir?" asked O'Keefe as he turned to Mr. Brewer. "Yea; I
am. I hope you will take the man's advice, and say nothing."

"But I may say I am innocent?" "Every word you say is at your own
risk." "I ran no risk in saying that I am innocent--that I never saw
this Horace Erskine last night--though if I had seen him--"

"I entreat you to be silent; you must have a legal adviser"--"I! Who
do I know?"' "You shall be well looked to, and well advised," said
Jenifer. "There are those in this town, in the office where Lansdowne
Lorimer worked, who will work for me."

It was very hard for Mr. Brewer not to promise on the spot that he
would pay all possible expenses. But the recollection of the
disfigured and perhaps dying guest in his own house rose to his mind,
and he had a painful feeling that he was retained on the other side.
However, he said to Jenifer that perfect truth and sober justice
anybody might labor for in any way. And with this sort of broad hint
he left the house, and Jenifer saw the stranger taken off in safe
custody, and, mounting his horse, rode toward Blagden. He asked for
his daughter; and he was instantly admitted, and shown upstairs into
her sitting-room--there he found Claudia, looking well and happy,
engaged in some busy work, in which Eleanor was helping her.

"Oh, my dear father!" and Lady Greystock threw the work aside, and
jumped up, and into the arms that waited for her.

It was always a sort of high holiday when Mr. Brewer come by himself
to visit his daughter. When the sound of the brown-topped boots was
heard on the stairs, like a voice of music to Claudia's heart,
all human things gave way, for that gladness that her father's great
heart brought and gave away, all round him, to everybody,
everywhere--but _there_, there, where his daughter lived--there, among
the friends with whom she had recovered from a great illness and got
the better of a threatened, life-long woe--there Mr. Brewer felt some
strong influence making him _that_, which people excellently expressed
when they said of him--"he was more than ever himself that day."

Now Mr. Brewer's influence was to make those to whom he addressed
himself honest, open, and good. He was loved and trusted. It did not
generally enter into people's minds to deceive Mr. Brewer. Candor grew
and gained strength in his presence. Candor took to herself the
teachings of wisdom; candor listened to the advice of humility; candor
threw aside all vain-glorious garments when Mr. Brewer called for her
company, and candor put on, forthwith, the crown of truth. "My
darling!" said Mr. Brewer, as he kissed Claudia; "my darling!"

"Oh, my dear father--my father, my dear father!" so answered Claudia.

Then she pushed forward a chair; and then Eleanor made ready to leave
the room. "Yes, go; go for half an hour, Mrs. Evelyn. But don't be out
of the way; I have a fancy for a little chat with you, too, to-day." A
grave smile spread itself over Eleanor's placid face as she said she
should come back when Lady Greystock sent for her, and then she went
away. Once more, when she was gone, Mr. Brewer stood up and taking
Claudia's hand, kissed her. "My darling," he said, "I have something
to say, and I can only say it to you--I have some help to ask for, and
only you can help me. But are you strong enough to help me; are you
loving enough to trust me?"

"I will try to be all you want, father; I _am_ strong; I _can_
trust--but if you want to know how much I love you--why, you know I
can't tell you that--it is more than I can measure, I am afraid. Don't
look grave at me. It can't be anything very solemn, if _I_ can help
you; or anything of much importance, if my help is worth your having."

"Your help is absolutely necessary; at least necessary to my own
comfort--now, Claudia. Tell your father why you broke off your
engagement with Horace Erskine."

"_He_ did it"--she trembled. Her father took her little hand into the
grasp of his strong one, and held it with an eloquent pressure.

"He wanted more money, father. It came as a test. He was in debt. I
had loved him, as if--as if he had been what _you_ must have been in
your youth. You were my one idea of man. I had had no heart to study
but yours. I learnt that Horace Erskine was unworthy. He was a coward.
The pressure of his debts had crushed him into meanness. He asked me
to bear the trial, and to save him. I did. I did, father!"

"Yes, my darling."

He never looked at her. Only the strong fingers closed with powerful
love on the little hand within their grasp. "But you were fond of Sir
Geoffrey?"

"Yes; and glad, and grateful. I should have been very happy--but--"

"But he died," said her father, helping her.

"But Horace sent to Sir Geoffrey the miniature I had given
him--letters--and a lock of my poor curling hair--" How tight the
pressure of the strong hand grew. "I found the open packet on the
table"--she could not say another word. Then a grave, deep voice told
the rest for her--"And your honored husband's soul went up to God and
found the truth"--and the head of the poor memory-stricken daughter
found a refuge on her father's breast, and she wept there silently.

"And that made you ill, my darling; my dear darling Claudia--my own
dear daughter! Thank you, my precious one. And you don't like
Beremouth now?"

"I love Beremouth, and everything about it," cried Lady Greystock,
raising her head, and gathering all her strength together for the
effort; "but I dare not see this man--and I would rather never look
again on the deer-pond in the park, because there he spoke: there he
promised--there I thought all life was to be as that still pool,
deep, and overflowing with the waters of happiness and their
never-ceasing music. We used to go there every day. I have not looked
on it since--I could not bear to listen to the rush of the stream
where it falls over the stones between the roots of the old trees,
between whose branches the tame deer would watch us, and where old
Dapple--the dear old beauty whose name I have never mentioned in all
these years---used to take biscuits from our hands. Does old Dapple
live, father? Dapple, who was called _'old'_ nine years ago?" And Lady
Greystock looked up, and took her hand from her father's grasp, and
wiped her eyes, and wetted her fair forehead from a bowl of water, and
tried by this question to get away from the misery that this sudden
return to the long past had brought to mind.

"Dapple lives," said Mr. Brewer. And then he kissed her again, and
thanked her, and said "they should love each other all the better for
the confidence he had asked and she had given."

"But why did you ask?"

"I want to have my luncheon at your early dinner," said Mr. Brewer,
not choosing to answer her. "You do dine early, don't you?"

"Yes, and to-day Eleanor was going to dine with me."

"Quite right. And I want to speak to her. Claudia, something has
happened. You most know all before long. Everybody will know. You had
better be in the room while I speak to Eleanor. Let us get it over.
But you had better take your choice. It is still about Horace that I
want to speak--to speak to Eleanor, I mean."

"I should wish to be present," said Claudia. And she rose and rang the
bell.

"Will you ask Mrs. Evelyn to come to us?" she said, when her servant
appeared. In a very few minutes in walked Eleanor.

"Mrs. Evelyn," said Mr. Brewer, "last night you directed a man to seek
Jenifer at Mrs. Morier's house. That man was James O'Keefe, Jenifer's
half-brother. You knew him?" "Yes, Mr. Brewer, I knew him." "But he
did not know you?" "No." "He asked about you. Why did you send him to
Marston?" "Because he could there learn all he wanted to know. I am
not going to bring the shadow of my troubles into this kind house."
"That was your motive?" "Yes. But I might have had more motives than
one. I think that was uppermost; and on that motive I believe that I
acted."

"That man was in the park. At the lodge-gate he had made inquiries
after my guest, Mr. Erskine. That man was at Mrs. Fell's, the
dairy-woman, at midnight. He was not through; he had, he said, fallen
into the water--he described the place, and they knew it to be the
deer-pond."

As Mr. Brewer went on in his plain, straightforward way, both women
listened to him with the most earnest interest; but as he proceeded
Eleanor Evelyn fixed her eye on him with an anxiety and a mingled
terror that had a visible effect on Mr. Brewer, who hesitated in his
story, and who seemed to be quite distracted by the manner of one
usually so very calm and so unfailingly self-processed.

"Now Mr. Erskine had gone out into the park late. Mr. Erskine, my dear
friends,--Mr. Erskine _never came back._" He paused, and
collected his thoughts once more, in order to go on with his story.

"We went to seek for him. He was found at last, at the deer-pond,
surrounded by the evidences of a hard struggle having taken place
there, a struggle in which he had only just escaped with his life. He
has been ill-treated in a way that it is horrible to contemplate. He
is lying now in danger of death. And this morning I have assisted in
the capture of James O'Keefe, whom I found by Mrs. Morier's kitchen
fire, for this possible murder. I should tell you that Mr. Erskine is
just as likely to die as to live."

"Mr. Brewer," said Eleanor, rising up and taking no notice of Lady
Greystock's deathlike face,--"Mr. Brewer, is there any truth in a
report that has reached me from a man who was in the elder Mr.
Erskine's service in Scotland--a report to the effect that Mr. Horace
Erskine wished to propose marriage, or had proposed marriage, to Miss
Lorimer?"

"There _is_ truth in that report," said Mr. Brewer.

"Then I must see that man," said Mrs. Evelyn. "Before this terrible
affair can proceed, I must see Horace Erskine. If indeed it be true
that he has received this terrible punishment, I can supply a motive
for James O'Keefe's conduct that any jury ought to take into
consideration."

"But O'Keefe denies having ever seen him," said Mr. Brewer. "He does
not deny having inquired about him. He even said words before me that
would make me suppose that he had come into this neighborhood on
purpose to see him, and to take some vengeance upon him. Mr. Erskine
is found with the marks of the severest ill-usage about him, and you
say you can supply a motive for such a deed. O'Keefe, however, denies
all but the will to work evil; he confesses to the will to do the
deed, but denies having done it."

"I must see Mr. Erskine," was all that Eleanor answered. "I must see
Mr. Erskine. Whether he sees me or not, _I_ must see _him_."

The young woman was standing up--her face quite changed by the
expression of anxious earnestness that animated it.

"I must see Mr. Erskine. Mr. Brewer, you must so manage it that I must
see Mr. Erskine without delay."

"But you would do no good," said Mr. Brewer, in a very stern tone and
with an utter absence of all his natural sympathy. "The man is so
injured that his own mother could not identify him."

"Then may God have mercy on us!" cried Eleanor, sinking into a chair.
"If I could only have seen that man before this woe came upon us!"

And then that woman burst into one of those uncontrollable fits of
tears that are the offspring of despair. Lady Greystock looked at her
for a moment, and then rose from her chair. "Victories half won are
neither useful nor honorable," she said. "Wait, Eleanor, I will show
you what that man was."

She opened a large metal-bound desk, curiously inlaid, and with a look
of wondrous workmanship. She said, looking at her father, "I left this
at Beremouth, never intending to see it again, But it got sent here a
few years ago. It has never been opened since I locked it before my
wedding day." She opened it, and took out several packets and small
parcels. Then she opened one--it was a miniature case which matched
that one of herself which had been so cruelly sent to good, kind Sir
Geoffrey--she opened it "Who is that, Eleanor?" It was curious to see
how the eyes, blinded by tears, fastened on it "My husband--my
husband--Henry Evelyn. My husband, Mr. Brewer. Oh, Lady Greystock,
thank God that at any cost he did not run his soul still farther
into sin by bringing on you and on himself the misery of a marriage
unrecognized by God."

"And because your unde, James O'Keefe, heard the report that got about
concerning that man and Miss Lorimer, he ran his own soul into a guilt
that may by this time have deepened into the crime of murder. Oh,
Eleanor! when shall we remember that 'vengeance is mine, saith the
Lord?'"

"_My life, and all that is in it!_" The words came forth softly, and
Mr. Brewer, turning round, saw Jenifer.

"He has been before the magistrates at Marston, Mr. Brewer. He has
denied all knowledge of everything about it. He is remanded on the
charge--waiting for more evidence--waiting to see whether Mr. Erskine
lives or dies. I hired a gig, and came off here to you as fast as I
could be driven. Mr. May, in the old office, says that if Mr. Erskine
dies, it will be hard to save him. But the doctor's man tells me Mr.
Erskine has neither had voice nor sight since he was found--I saw
Father Daniels in the street, and he, too, is evidence against the
poor creature. He knows of Corny Nugent's letter; and Corny wrote to
Jem also, so Jem told me, and he came off here to make sure that
Horace Erskine and Henry Evelyn were the same people. And he walked
from the Northend railway station, and asked his way to Beremouth, and
got a gossip with the gate-keeper, and settled to come on to Marston.
And he met Lady Greys took in the carriage, and asked where Eleanor
lived, and inquired his way. Did you know him, Eleanor?"

"Yes, I knew him directly; and it was partly because I knew him that I
directed him on to you."

"Then he lost his way, and took to getting out of the park by walking
straight away in the direction he knew Marston to be lying in. And he
got by what we call 'the threshetts,' sir--the water for keeping the
fishponds from shallowing--and there he must have fallen in, for he
says he climbed the hedge just after, and walked straight away through
the grass fields and meadows, and seeing the lights where the Fells
were tending the sick cow last night, he got in there, all dripping
wet, as the town-clock struck twelve. He does not deny to the
magistrates that if he had found Horace Erskine and Henry Evelyn to be
one and the same man, that he might have been tempted to evil; he does
not deny that. He says he felt sore tempted to go straight to
Beremouth House and have him out from sleep and bed, if to do so could
have been possible, and to have given him his punishment on the spot.
He says he wished as he wandered through the park that something might
send the man who had injured us all so sorely out to him, to meet him
in the way, that they might have come hand to hand, and face to face.
He says he has had more temptations since Corny Nugent's letter to
him, and more heart-stirrings in the long silent time before it came,
than he can reckon up; and that he has felt as if a dark spirit goaded
him to go round the world after that man, and never cease following
him till he had made his own false tongue declare to all the earth his
own false deeds--but something, he says, kept him back. Always kept
him back till now; till now, when Corny's last letter said that
Erskine was surely gone to Beremouth to be married. Then, he said, it
was as if something sent him--ah yes; and sent him _here_ to see the
man, to make sure who he was. To tell you, as a brother Catholic, the
whole truth--to keep from the dear convert mother the bitter grief of
seeing her child bound to a man whom she could never call that child's
husband. So he came, Mr. Brewer. He came, and he was found
here--but he knows no more of the punishment of that poor man, that
poor girl's husband"--pointing to Eleanor--"than an unborn babe. As I
hear him speak, I trace the power of the prayer that I took up long
ago in my helplessness--when I could not manage my own troubles, my
own life, my own responsibilities, it came into my heart to offer all
to him. '_My life and all that is in it_.' You and yours have been in
it, Mr. Brewer. Your wife has been in it, her life, and her
child's--you, too, my dear," turning to Claudia,--"you whom I have
loved like one belonging to me--you have been in it; and that woman,
my sister's legacy to my poor helplessness. There were so many to care
for, to fear for, to suffer for, and to love--how could I put things
right, or keep off dangers? I could only give up all to the Father of
us all--'_My life, and all that is in it_.' And I tell you this, Mr.
Brewer--I tell it [to] you because my very soul seems to know it, and
my lips must utter it: In that life there will be no red-handed
punishment--no evil vengeance--no vile murder, nor death without
repentance. I cannot tell you, I cannot even guess, how that bad man
got into this trouble--I have no knowledge of whose hands he fell
into--but not into the hands of any one who belongs to me, or to that
life which has been so long given into God's keeping."

Jenifer stopped speaking. She had been listened to with a mute
attention. Her hearers could not help feeling convinced by her
earnestness. She had spoken gently, calmly, sensibly. The infection of
her entire faith in the providence of God seized them. They, too,
believed. Lady Greystock, the only one not a Catholic, said afterward
that she felt quite overpowered by the simple trust that Jenifer
showed, and the calm strength with which it endowed her. And Lady
Greystock was the first to answer her.

"It is no time for self-indulgence," she said. "Father, Eleanor and I
must both go to Beremouth. And we must stay there. We must be there on
the spot, to see how these things are accounted for--to know how
matters end--to help, as far as we may, to bring them right."

And so, before two hours were over, Jenifer was back in Mrs. Morier's
parlor, and Mary Lorimer was with her; sent there to stay; and Lady
Greystock and Mrs. Evelyn were at Beremouth.

There was silence in the house, that sort of woful silence that
belongs to the anxiety of a dreadful suspense. Toward evening there
were whispered hopes--Mr. Erskine was better, people thought. But the
severest injuries were about the neck and throat, the chest and
shoulders. His hair had been cut off in large patches where the head
wounds were--his face was disfigured with the bandages that the
treatment made necessary. He lay alive, and groaning. He was better.
When more was known about the injuries done to the throat and chest,
something less doubtful would be said as to his recovery. "If he can't
swallow, he'll die," said one nurse. "He can live long enough without
swallowing," said another. And still they waited.

At night, Eleanor and Lady Greystock stood in the room, with Mr.
Brewer, far off by the door, looking at him. There was no love in
either heart. The poor wife shrank away, almost wishing that the
period of desertion might last for ever.

A week passed, a terribly long week. He could swallow. He could speak.
He could see out of one eye. He had his senses. He had said something
about his arm. He would be ready in another week to give some account
of all he had gone through. He would be able, perhaps, to
identify the man. In the meantime, James O'Keefe was safe in custody.
And Jenifer was saying her prayer--"_My life, and all that is in it;_"
still quite sure, with a strong, simple, never-failing faith, that the
great evil of a human and remorseless vengeance was not in it. And
yet, as time passed on, and, notwithstanding every effort made by the
police, backed by the influence of all that neighborhood, and by Mr.
Brewer himself, not a mark of suspicion was found against any one
else, it seemed to come home to every one's mind with the force of
certainty that James O'Keefe had tried to murder Horace Erskine--that
James O'Keefe had done this thing, and no one else.

Very slowly did Horace seem to mend--very slowly. When questions were
put to him in his speechless state, he seemed to grow so utterly
confused as to alarm his medical attendants. It was made a law at
Beremouth that he was to be kept in perfect quietness. James O'Keefe
was again brought before the magistrates, and again remanded; and
still this time of trial went on, and still, when it was thought
possible to speak to Horace on the subject of his injuries, he grew so
utterly confused that it was impossible to go on with the matter.

Was there to be no end to this misery? The waiting was almost
intolerable. The knowledge that now existed in that house of Horace
Erskine's life made it very easy to understand his confusion and
incoherency when spoken to of his injuries. But the lingering--the
weight of hope deferred--the long contemplation of the miserable
sufferer--the slowness of the passage of time, was an inexpressible
burthen to the inhabitants of Beremouth.

One sad evening, Lady Greystock and her father, on the terrace, talked
together. "Come with me to the deer-pond, Claudia." She shrank from
the proposal "Nay," he said, "come! You said at Blagden that half
victories were powerless things. You must not be less than your own
words. Come to the deer-pond--now." So she took his arm and they
walked away. It was the beginning of a sweet, soft night--the evening
breezes played about them, and they talked together in love and
confidence, as they crossed the open turf, and were lost in the
thickets that gathered round the gnarled oak and stunted yew that
marked the way to the pond.

It had been many years since Claudia had seen its peaceful waters;
terrible in dreams once; and now saddened by a history that would
belong to it for ever. They reached the spot, and stood there talking.

Suddenly they heard a sound, they started--a tearing aside of the
turning boughs--a sound, strong, positive, angry--then a gentle
rustling of the leaves, a soft movement of the feathery fern--and Lady
Greystock had let go her father's arm, and was standing with her hand
on the head, between the antlers, of a huge old deer--Dapple--"Don
Dapple," as the children had called him--and speaking to him
tenderly--"Oh, Dapple, do you know me? Oh, Dapple--alas! poor
beast--did you do it--that awful thing? Are you so fierce, poor
beast--were you the terrible avenger?" How her tears fell! How her
whole frame trembled! How the truth came on her as she looked into the
large, tearful eyes of the once tame buck, that had grown fanciful and
fierce in its age, and of whom even some of the keepers had declared
themselves afraid. Mr. Brewer took biscuit from his coat-pocket,
chance scraps from lunches, secreted from days before, when he had
been out on long rounds through the farms. These old Dapple nibbled,
and made royal gestures of satisfaction and approval--and there,
viewing his stately head in the water, where his spreading antlers
were mirrored, they left him to walk home, with one wonder out of
their hearts, and another--wondering awe at the thing that had
happened among them--to by their for ever.

They came back, they called the doctors, they examined the torn
clothes. They wondered they had never thought of the truth before.

Time went on. And at last, when Horace could speak, and they asked him
about the old deer at the pond, he said that it was so--it was as they
had thought. It had been an almost deadly struggle between man and
beast; and Horace was to bear the marks upon the face and form that
had been loved so well to his life's end. A broken-featured man, lame,
with a stiff arm, and a sightless eye--and the story of his ruined
life no longer a secret--known to all.

Lady Greystock and Mrs. Evelyn remained at Beremouth. Mary Lorimer was
left at her grandmother's under the care of the trusty Jenifer. James
O'Keefe had returned to Ireland, leaving his niece and her history in
good guardianship with Father Daniels and Mr. Brewer; and Freddy,
being at school, had been happily kept out of the knowledge of all but
the surface facts, which were no secrets from anybody, that a man who
had been seen in the park and was a stranger in the neighborhood had
been suspected of being the perpetrator of the injuries of which the
old deer had been guilty. Poor old deer--poor aged Dapple! It was with
a firm hand and an unflinching determination that the kindest man
living met the beast once more at the deer-pond, and shot him dead.
Mr. Brewer would trust his death to no hand but his own--and there in
the thicket where he loved to hide a grave was dug, and the monarch of
the place was buried in it.

Lady Greystock and Eleanor kept their own rooms, and lived together
much as they had done latterly at Blagden. When Horace Erskine was fit
to leave his bed-room, he used to sit in a room that had been called
"Mr. Brewer's." It was, in fact, a sort of writing-room, fitted up
with a small useful library and opening at the end into a bright
conservatory. He had seen Lady Greystock. He knew of Eleanor being in
the house. He knew also that his former relations with her were known,
and he never denied, or sought to deny, the fact of their Catholic
marriage.

No one ever spoke to him on the subject. The subject that was first in
all hearts was to see him well and strong, and able to act for
himself. One thing it was impossible to keep from him; and that was
the anger of Mr. Erskine, his unde, an anger which Lucia his wife did
not try to modify. Mrs. Brewer wrote to her sister; Mr. Brewer pleaded
with his brother-in-law. Not a thing could they do to pacify them.
Horace was everything that was evil in their eyes; his worst crime in
the past was his having made a Catholic marriage with a beautiful
Irish girl, and their great dread for the future was that he would
make this marriage valid by the English law. They blamed Mr. Brewer
for keeping Eleanor in the house; they were thankless to Mr. Brewer
for still giving to Horace care, kindness, and a home. Finally, the
one great dread that included all other dreads, and represented the
overpowering woe, was that contained in the thought that Horace might
repent, and become a Papist.

Mr. Brewer, when it came to that, set his all-conquering kindness
aside for the time, or, to adopt his wife's words when describing
these seeming changes in her husbands's character, "he clothed his
kindness in temporary armor, and went out to fight." He replied to Mr.
and Mrs. Erskine that for such a grace to fall on Horace would be the
answer of mercy to the prayer of a poor woman's faith--that he and all
his household joined in that prayer; that priests at the altar, and
nuns in their holy homes, were all praying for that great result; and
that for himself he would only say that for such a mercy to fall upon
his house would make him glad for ever.

There was no disputing with a man who could so openly take his stand
on such a broad ground of hope and prayer in  such direct
opposition to the wishes of his neighbors. The Erskines became silent,
and Mr. Brewer had gained all he hoped for; peace, peace at least for
the time.

At last Horace was well enough to move, and Freddy's holidays were
approaching, and there was an unexpressed feeling that Horace was not
to be at Beremouth when the boy came back. Mr. Brewer proposed that
Horace should go for change of air to the same house in which Father
Dawson was lodging, just beyond Clayton, where the sea air might
refresh him, and the changed scene amuse his mind; and where, too, he
could have the benefit of all those baths, and that superior
attendance, described in the great painted advertisement that covered
the end of the lodging-houses in so promising a manner. Horace
accepted the proposal gladly. He grew almost bright under the
expectation of the change, and when the day came he appeared to
revive, even under the fatigue of a drive so much longer than any that
he had been before allowed to venture upon.

Mr. Dawson was to be kind, and to watch over him a little; and Father
Daniels was to visit him, and write letters for him, and be his,
adviser and his friend. Before he left Beremouth he had asked to see
Lady Greystock. She went with her father to his room quite with the
old Claudia Brewer cheerfulness prettily mingling with woman's
strength and woman's experience. He rose up, and said, "I wished to
ask you to forgive me, Lady Greystock--to forgive me my many sins
toward you!" She trembled a little, and said, "Mr. Erskine, may God
forgive _me_ my pride, my anger, my evil thoughts, which have made me
say so often I could never see nor pardon you." It seemed to require
all her strength to carry out the resolution with which she had
entered that room. "Of course," she went on, "the personal trial that
you brought upon me, here, in my young days, I know now to have been a
great blessing in a grief's disguise. Though not--_not yet_--a
Catholic, I know you were then, as now, a married man." Horace Erskine
never moved; he was still standing, holding by the heavy
writing-table, and his eyes were fastened on the carpet. She went on:
"Since then your wife, a beautiful and even an accomplished woman, has
become my own dear friend. We are living together, and until she has a
home of her own, we shall probably go on living together. I have
nothing, therefore, to say more, except--except--" Here her voice
trembled, and changed, and she was only just able to articulate her
last words so as to be understood by her hearers, "Except about my
dear husband's death--better death than life under misapprehension.
That too was a blessing perhaps. Let us leave it to the Almighty
Judge. I forgive you; if you wish to hear those words from my poor
erring lips, you may remember that I have said them honestly,
submitting to the will of _him_ who loves us, and from whom I seek
mercy for myself."

She turned round to leave the room. "Stop, Lady Greystock; stop!"
cried Horace. "In this solemn moment of sincerity, tell me--do you
think Eleanor loves me now?" "I would rather not give any opinion."
"If you have ever formed an opinion, give it. I entreat you to tell me
what is, as far as you know, the truth. Does Eleanor love me?" "Must I
speak, father?" "So solemnly entreated, I should say, _yes_." "Does
Eleanor love me?" groaned Horace. "No," said Lady Greystock; and
turning round quickly, she left her father alone with Horace, and went
out of the room.

Five years passed by. Freddy was growing into manhood, enjoying home
by his bright sister Lady Greystock's side, and paying visits to
his other sister, the happy bride, Mrs. Harrington, of
Harrington-leigh, the master of which place, "a recent convert," as
the newspapers said, "had lately married the convert step-daughter of
Mr. Brewer, of Beremouth." Lady Greystock always lived with her father
now, united to him in faith, and joining him in such a flood of good
works that all criticism, all wonderment, all lamentation and argument
at "such a step!" was simply run down, overpowered, deluged, drowned.
The strong flowing stream of charity was irresistible. The solemn
music of its deep waters swallowed up all the surrounding cackle of
inharmonious talk. Nothing was heard at Beremouth but prayer and
praise--evil tongues passed by that great good house to exercise
themselves elsewhere. Evil people found no fitting habitation for
their wandering spirits in that home of holy peace. And all his life
Mr. Brewer walked humbly, looking at Claudia, and calling her "my
crown!" She knew why. He had repented with a great sorrow of those
early days when he had left her to others' teaching. He had prayed
secretly, with strong resolutions, to be blessed with forgiveness. And
at last the mercy came--"crowned at last. All the mercies of my life
crowned by the great gift of Claudia's soul." So the good man went on
his way a penitent. Always in his own sight a penitent. Always
recommending himself to God in that one character--as a penitent.

Five years were passed, and Lady Greystock had been at Mary's wedding,
and was herself at Beremouth, still in youth and beauty, once more the
petted daughter of the house--but Eleanor was there no longer. Full
three years had passed since Eleanor had gone to London with Lady
Greystock, and elected not to return. They heard from her however,
frequently; and knew where she was. When these letters came Claudia
would drive off to Marston to see Grandmamma Morier, still enjoying
life under Jenifer's care. The letters would be read aloud upstairs in
the pretty drawing-room where the fine old china looked as gay and
bright as ever, and where not a single cup and saucer had changed its
place. Jenifer would listen. Taking careful note of every expression,
and whispering--sometimes in the voice of humble prayer, sometimes in
soft tones of triumphant thanksgiving--"My life, and all that is in
it!"

But now this five years' close had been marked by a great fact; the
death of Horace Erskine's uncle, and his great estate passing to his
nephew, whom he had never seen since their quarrel with him, but whom
he had so far forgiven as not to alter his will.

Horace Erskine was in London; and his Beremouth friends were going up
to town to welcome him home after four years of life on the continent.

London was at its fullest and gayest. Mr. Erskine had been well known
there, making his yearly visits, taking a great house, and attracting
round him all the talent of the day. A very rich man, thoroughly well
educated, with a fine place in Scotland, and his beautiful wife Lucia
by his side, he found himself welcome, and made others in their turn
welcome too. Now all this was past. For two seasons London had missed
Mr. Erskine, and he had been regretted and lamented over, as a
confirmed invalid. Now he was dead. And after a little brief wonder
and sorrow the attention of the world was fixed upon his heir, and
people of fashion, pleasure, and literature got ready their best
smiles for his approval.

Horace had been well enough known once. Never exactly sought
after by heads of homes, for he was too much of a speculation. He was
known to be in debt; and all inquiries as to his uncle's property had
been quenched again and again by those telling words, "no entail." But
Horace had had his own world; and had been only too much of a hero in
it. That world, however, had lost him; and as the wheels of fashion's
chariot fly fast, the dust of the light road rises as a cloud and
hides the past, and the people that belonged to Horace Erskine had
been left behind and forgotten. Now, however, Memory was alive, and
brushing up her recollections; and Memory had found a tongue, and was
hoping and prophesying to the fullest extent of friend Gossip's
requirements, when the news came that Horace Erskine had arrived. "He
has taken that charming house looking on to the park. Mr. Tudor had
seen him. Nobody would know him. Broken nose, my dear! And he was so
handsome. He is lame, too--or if not lame, he has a stiff shoulder. I
forget which it is. He was nearly killed by some mad animal in the
park at Beremouth. He behaved with the most wonderful courage,
actually fought and conquered! But he was gored and trampled
on--nearly trampled to death. I heard all the particulars at the time.
His chest was injured, and he was sent to a warmer climate. And there
he turned Papist. He did, indeed! and his uncle never forgave him. But
I suspect it was a love affair. You know he has brought his wife home.
And she is lovely, everybody who has seen her says. She is so very
still--too quiet--too statuesque--that is her only fault in fact. But
all the world is talking of her, and if you have not yet seen her lose
no time in getting introduced; she is the wonder of the day."

And so ran the talk--and such was Eleanor's welcome as Horace
Erskine's wife. Her husband had really repented, and had sought her,
and won her heart all over again, and married her once more.

To have these great triumphs of joy and justice in her life was
granted to Jenifer's Prayer.



[THE END]





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