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Title: Guy Deverell, v. 2 of 2
Author: Le Fanu, Joseph Sheridan, 1814-1873
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 "Guy Deverell, v. 2 of 2" ***

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



                         COLLECTION OF BRITISH AUTHORS.

                                   VOL. 803.


                         GUY DEVERELL BY J. S. LE FANU.

                                IN TWO VOLUMES.

                                    VOL. II.

                        *       *       *       *       *

                                 GUY DEVERELL.

                               BY J. S. LE FANU,

                         AUTHOR OF "UNCLE SILAS," ETC.


    _COPYRIGHT EDITION._

    IN TWO VOLUMES.

    VOL. II.

    LEIPZIG BERNHARD TAUCHNITZ

    1865.

    _The Right of Translation is reserved._



CONTENTS OF VOLUME II.


        I. Lady Alice and Varbarriere tête-à-tête in the
           Library                                                   1

       II. M. Varbarriere orders his Wings                           8

      III. Monsieur Varbarriere talks with Donica Gwynn             16

       IV. A Story of a Magician and a Vampire                      26

        V. Farewell                                                 37

       VI. At the Bell and Horns                                    44

      VII. M. Varbarriere's Plans                                   51

     VIII. Tempest                                                  58

       IX. Guy Deverell at Slowton                                  66

        X. Uncle and Nephew                                         73

       XI. In Lady Mary's Boudoir                                   81

      XII. The Guests together                                      88

     XIII. A Visitor in the Library                                 97

      XIV. Pelter opens his Mind                                   106

       XV. The Pipe of Peace                                       112

      XVI. A Rencontre in the Gallery                              120

     XVII. Old Donnie and Lady Jane                                127

    XVIII. Alone--Yet not alone                                    135

      XIX. Varbarriere the Tyrant debates with the weaker
           Varbarrieres                                            142

       XX. M. Varbarriere decides                                  150

      XXI. At the Green Chamber                                    158

     XXII. In the Green Chamber                                    167

    XXIII. The Morning                                             174

     XXIV. The Doctor's Visit                                      180

      XXV. The Patient interrogated                                188

     XXVI. General Lennox appears                                  196

    XXVII. Lady Alice Redcliffe makes General Lennox's
           Acquaintance                                            203

   XXVIII. The Bishop sees the Patient                             211

     XXIX. In the Yard of the Marlowe Arms                         219

      XXX. About Lady Jane                                         227

     XXXI. Lady Jane's Toilet                                      234

    XXXII. The two Doctors consult                                 239

   XXXIII. Varbarriere in the Sick-room                            246

    XXXIV. Guy Deverell arrives                                    253

     XXXV. I am Thine and Thou art Mine, Body and Soul, for
           ever                                                    261

    XXXVI. In the Chaise                                           269

   XXXVII. Old Lady Alice talks with Guy                           278

  XXXVIII. Something more of Lady Jane Lennox                      285

    XXXIX. The Last                                                291



GUY DEVERELL.



CHAPTER I.

Lady Alice and Varbarriere tête-à-tête in the Library.


"Well, he told you something, did not he?" persisted Lady Alice.

"In the sense of a distinct disclosure, nothing," said the Bishop,
looking demurely over his horizontal leg on the neatly-shorn grass. "He
did speak to me upon subjects--his wishes, and I have no doubt he
intended to have been much more explicit. In fact, he intimated as much;
but he was overtaken by death--unable to speak when I saw him next
morning."

"He spoke to you, I know, about pulling down or blowing up that green
chamber," said Lady Alice, whose recollections grew a little violent in
proportion to the Bishop's reserve and her own impatience.

"He did not suggest quite such strong measures, but he did regret that
it had ever been built, and made me promise to urge upon his son, as you
once before mentioned you were aware, so soon as he should come of age,
to shut it up."

"And you did urge him?"

"Certainly, Lady Alice," said the Bishop, with dignity. "I viewed it in
the light of a duty, and a very sacred one, to do so."

"He told you the reason, then?" inquired Lady Alice.

"He gave me no reason on earth for his wish; perhaps, had he been spared
for another day, he would have done so; but he expressed himself
strongly indeed, with a kind of horror, and spoke of the Italian who
built, and his father who ordered it, in terms of strong disapprobation,
and wished frequently it had never been erected. Perhaps you would like
to take a little turn. How very pretty the flowers still are!"

"Very. No, thank you, I'll sit a little. And there was something more. I
know perfectly there was, my lord; what was it, pray?" answered the old
lady.

"It was merely something that I took charge of," said the Bishop,
cautiously.

"You need not be so reserved with me, my lord; I'm not, as you very well
know, a talking old woman, by any means. I know something of the matter
already, and have never talked about it; and as the late Lady Marlowe
was my poor daughter by marriage, you may talk to me, I should hope, a
little more freely than to a total stranger."

The Bishop, I fancy, thought there was something in this appeal, and
was, perhaps, amused at the persistency of women, for he smiled sadly
for a second or two on his gaiter, and he said, looking before him with
his head a little on one side--

"You give me credit, my dear Lady Alice, for a great deal more reserve
than I have, at least on this occasion, exercised. I have very little to
disclose, and I am not forbidden by any promise, implied or direct, to
tell you the very little I know."

He paused.

"Well, my lord, _pray_ go on," insisted Lady Alice.

"Yes, on the whole," said the Bishop, thoughtfully, "I prefer telling
you. In the room in which he died, in this house, there is, or was, a
sort of lock-up place."

"That was the room in which Jekyl now sleeps," interrupted Lady Alice.

"I am not aware."

"The room at the extreme back of the house. You go through a long
passage on the same level as the hall, and then, at the head of the far
back-stair, into a small room on your left, and through that into the
bed-room, I mean. It was there, I know, his coffin lay, for I saw him in
it."

"As well as I recollect, that must have been the room. I know it lay as
you describe. He gave me some keys that were placed with his purse under
his pillow, and directed me to open the press, and take out a box,
resembling a small oak plate-chest, which I did, and, by his direction,
having unlocked it, I took out a very little trunk-shaped box, covered
with stamped red leather, and he took it from me, and the keys, and that
time said no more."

"Well?"

"In the evening, when I returned, he said he had been thinking about
it, and wished to place it and the key in my care, as his boy was not of
age, and it contained something, the value of which, as I understood,
might be overlooked, and the box mislaid. His direction to me was to
give it to his son, the present Sir Jekyl, on his coming of age, and to
tell him from him that he was to do what was right with it. I know those
were his words, for he was exhausted, and not speaking very distinctly;
and I repeated them carefully after him, and as he said, 'correctly;'
after a short time he added, 'I think I shall tell you more about it
to-morrow;' but, as I told you, he was unable to speak next morning."

"And what did that red box contain?" asked Lady Alice.

"I can't tell. I never unlocked it. I tied it round with a tape and
sealed it, and so it remained."

"Then, Jekyl got it when he came of age?"

"I had him, about that time, at my house. He examined the box, and, when
he had satisfied himself as to its contents, he secured it again with
his own seal, and requested me to keep it for him for some short time
longer."

"Have you got it still in your possession?"

"No. I thought it best to insist at last on his taking it into his own
keeping. I've brought it with me here--and I gave it to him on the day
of my arrival."

"Very heavy, was it?"

"On the contrary, very light."

"H'm! Thank you, my lord; it is very good of you to converse so long
with an old woman such as I."

"On the contrary, Lady Alice, I am much obliged to you. The fact is, I
believe it is better to have mentioned these circumstances. It may,
perhaps, prove important that some member of the family should know
exactly what took place between me and the late Sir Harry Marlowe during
his last illness. You now know everything. I have reminded him, as I
thought it right, of the earnest injunction of his father, first with
respect to that room, the green chamber; and he tells me that he means
to comply with it when his party shall have broken up. And about the
other matter, the small box, I mentioned that he should do what is right
with it. He asked me if I had seen what the box contained; and on my
saying no, he added that he could not tell what his father meant by
telling him to do what was right with it--in fact, that he could do
nothing with it."

"Quite an Italian evening!" exclaimed the Bishop, after a pause, rising,
and offering his arm to Lady Alice.

And so their conference ended.

Next day, contrary to her secluded custom, and for the first time, Lady
Alice glided feebly into the new library of Marlowe, of which all the
guests were free.

Quite empty, except of that silent company in Russia leather and gold,
in vellum, and other fine suits; all so unobtrusive and quiet; all so
obsequiously at her service; all ready to speak their best, their
brightest, and wisest thoughts, or to be silent and neglected, and yet
never affronted; always alert to serve and speak, or lie quiet.

Quite deserted! No, not quite. There, more than half hidden by that
projection and carved oak pilaster, sate Monsieur Varbarriere, in an
easy-chair and a pair of gold spectacles, reading easily his vellum
quarto.

"Pretty room!" exclaimed Lady Alice in soliloquy, so soon as she had
detected the corpulent and grave student.

Monsieur Varbarriere laid down his book with a look of weariness, and
seeing Lady Alice, smiled benignly, and rose and bowed, and his sonorous
bass tones greeted her courteously from the nook in which he stood
framed in oak, like a portrait of a rich and mysterious burgomaster.

"What a pretty room!" repeated the old lady; "I believe we are
_tête-à-tête_."

"Quite so; I have been totally alone; a most agreeable surprise, Lady
Alice. Books are very good company; but even the best won't do always;
and I was beginning to weary of mine."

M. Varbarriere spoke French, so did Lady Alice; in fact, for that
gentleman's convenience, all conversations with him in that house were
conducted in the same courtly language.

Lady Alice looked round the room to satisfy herself that they were
really alone; and having made her commendatory criticisms on the
apartment once more,

"Very pretty," echoed Monsieur Varbarriere; "I admire the oak,
especially in a library, it is so solemn and contemplative. The Bishop
was here to-day, and admired the room very much. An agreeable and good
man the Bishop appears to be."

"Yes; a good man; an excellent man. I had a very interesting
conversation with him yesterday. I may as well tell you, Monsieur
Varbarriere--I know I may rely upon you--I have not come to my time of
life without knowing pretty well, by a kind of instinct, whom I may
trust; and I well know how you sympathise with me about my lost son."

"Profoundly, madame;" and Monsieur Varbarriere, with his broad and brown
hand on his breast, bowed slowly and very deep.



CHAPTER II.

M. Varbarriere orders his Wings.


In her own way, with interjections, and commentary and occasional pauses
for the sake of respiration, old Lady Alice related the substance of
what the Bishop had communicated to her.

"And what do you suppose, Monsieur Varbarriere, to have been the
contents of that red leather box?" asked Lady Alice.

Monsieur Varbarriere smiled mysteriously and nodded.

"I fancy, Lady Alice, I have the honour to have arrived at precisely the
same conclusion with yourself," said he.

"Well, I dare say. You see now what is involved. You understand now why
I should be, for his own sake, more than ever grieved that my boy is
gone," she said, trembling very much.

Monsieur Varbarriere bowed profoundly.

"And why it is, sir, that I do insist on your explaining your broken
phrase of the other evening."

Monsieur Varbarriere in his deep oak frame stood up tall, portly, and
erect. A narrow window, with stained heraldic emblazonry, was partly
behind him, and the light from above fell askance on one side of his
massive countenance, throwing such dark downward bars of shadow on his
face, that Lady Alice could not tell whether he was scowling or smiling,
or whether the effect was an illusion.

"What phrase, pray, does your ladyship allude to?" he inquired.

"You spoke of my boy--my poor Guy--as if you knew more of him than you
cared to speak--as if you were on the point of disclosing, and suddenly
recollected yourself," replied Lady Alice.

"You mean when I had the honour to converse with you the night before
last in the drawing-room," said he, a little brusquely, observing that
the old lady was becoming vehemently excited.

"Yes; when you left me under the impression that you thought my son
still living," half screamed Lady Alice, like a woman in a fury.

"Bah!" thundered the sneering diapason of Monsieur Varbarriere, whose
good manners totally forsook him in his angry impatience, and his broad
foot on the floor enforced his emphasis with a stamp.

"What do you mean, you foreign masquerader, whom nobody knows? What
_can_ it be? Sir, you have half distracted me. I've heard of people
getting into houses--I've heard of magicians--I've heard of the devil--I
have heard of charlatans, sir. I'd like to know what right, if you know
nothing of my dear son, you have to torture me with doubts--"

"Doubts!" repeated Varbarriere, if less angrily, even more
contemptuously. "Pish!"

"You may say _pish_, sir, or any rudeness you please; but depend upon
this, if you do know _anything_ of any kind, about my darling son, I'll
have it from you if there be either laws or men in England," shrieked
Lady Alice.

Varbarriere all at once subsided, and looked hesitatingly. In tones
comparatively quiet, but still a little ruffled, he said--

"I've been, I fear, very rude; everyone that's angry is. I think you are
right. I ought never to have approached the subject of your domestic
sorrow. It was not my doing, madame; it was _you_ who insisted on
drawing me to it."

"You told me that you had seen my son, and knew Mr. Strangways
intimately."

"I did _not_!" cried Varbarriere sternly, with his head thrown back; and
he and Lady Alice for a second or two were silent. "That is, I beg
pardon, you _misapprehended_ me. I'm sure I never could have said I had
seen your son, Mr. Guy Deverell, or that I had a particularly intimate
acquaintance with Mr. Strangways."

"It won't do," burst forth Lady Alice again; "I'll not be fooled--I
won't be fooled, sir."

"Pray, then, pause for one moment before you have excited an alarm in
the house, and possibly decide me on taking my leave for ever," said
Varbarriere, in a low but very stern tone. "Whatever I may
be--charlatan, conjurer, devil--if you but knew the truth, you would
acknowledge yourself profoundly and everlastingly indebted to me. It
_is_ quite true that I am in possession of facts of which you had not
even a suspicion; it is true that the affairs of those nearest to you in
blood have occupied my profoundest thoughts and most affectionate care.
I believe, if you will but exercise the self-command of which I have no
doubt you are perfectly capable, for a very few days, I shall have so
matured my plans as to render their defeat impracticable. On the other
hand, if you give me any trouble, or induce the slightest suspicion
anywhere that I have taken an interest of the kind I describe, I shall
quit England, and you shall go down to your grave in _darkness_, and
with the conviction, moreover, that you have blasted the hopes for which
you ought to have sacrificed not your momentary curiosity only, but your
unhappy life."

Lady Alice was awed by the countenance and tones of this strange man,
who assumed an authority over her, on this occasion, which neither of
her deceased lords had ever ventured to assert in their lifetimes.

Her fearless spirit would not, however, succumb, but looked out through
the cold windows of her deep-set eyes into the fiery gaze of her
_master_, as she felt him, daringly as before.

After a short pause, she said--

"You would have acted more wisely, Monsieur Varbarriere, had you spoken
to me on other occasions as frankly as you have just now done."

"Possibly, madame."

"Certainly, monsieur."

M. Varbarriere bowed.

"Certainly, sir. But having at length heard so much, I am willing to
concede what you say. I trust the delay may not be long.--I think you
ought to tell me soon. I suppose we had better talk no more in the
interim," she added, suddenly turning as she approached the threshold of
the room, and recovering something of her lofty tone--"upon that, to me,
terrible subject."

"_Much_ better, madame," acquiesced M. Varbarriere.

"And we meet otherwise as before," said the old lady, with a disdainful
condescension and a slight bow.

"I thank you, madame, for that favour," replied M. Varbarriere,
reverentially, approaching the door, which, as she drew near to
withdraw, he opened for her with a bow, and they parted.

"I hope she'll be quiet, that old grey wildcat. I must get a note from
her to Madame Gwynn. The case grows stronger; a little more and it will
be irresistible, if only that stupid and ill-tempered old woman can be
got to govern herself for a few days."

That evening, in the drawing-room, Monsieur Varbarriere was many degrees
more respectful than ever to that old grey wildcat, at whom that morning
he had roared in a way so utterly ungentlemanlike and ferocious.

People at a distance might have almost fancied a sexagenarian caricature
of a love-scene. There had plainly been the lovers' quarrel. The lady
carried her head a little high, threw sidelong glances on the carpet,
had a little pink flush in her cheeks, and spoke little; listened, but
smiled not; while the gentleman sat as close as he dare, and spoke
earnestly and low.

Monsieur Varbarriere was, in fact, making the most of his time, and
recovering all he could of his milder influence over Lady Alice, and did
persuade and soften; and at length he secured a promise of the note he
wanted to Mrs. Gwynn, pledging his honour that she would thoroughly
approve the object of it, so soon as he was at liberty to disclose it.

That night, taking leave of Sir Jekyl, Monsieur Varbarriere said--

"You've been so good as to wish me to prolong my visit, which has been
to me so charming and so interesting. I have ventured, therefore, to
enable myself to do so, by arranging an absence of two days, which I
mean to devote to business which will not bear postponement."

"Very sorry to lose you, even for the time you say; but you must leave
your nephew, Mr. Strangways, as a hostage in our hands to secure your
return."

"He shall remain, as you are so good as to desire it, to enjoy himself.
As for me, I need no tie to hold me to my engagement, and only regret
every minute stolen for other objects from my visit."

There was some truth in these complimentary speeches. Sir Jekyl was now
quite at ease as to the character of his guests, whom he had at first
connected with an often threatened attack, which he profoundly dreaded,
however lightly he might talk of its chances of success. The host, on
the whole, liked his guests, and really wished their stay prolonged; and
Monsieur Varbarriere, who silently observed many things of which he did
not speak, was, perhaps, just now particularly interested in his
private perusal of that little romance which was to be read only at
Marlowe Manor.

"I see, Guy, you have turned over a new leaf--no fooling now--you must
not relapse, mind. I shall be away for two days. If longer, address me
at Slowton. May I rely on your good sense and resolution--knowing what
are our probable relations with this family--to continue to exercise the
same caution as I have observed in your conduct, with much satisfaction,
for the last two evenings? Well, I suppose I may. If you cannot trust
yourself--fly. Get away--pack. You may follow me to Slowton, make what
excuse you please; but don't loiter here. Good-night."

Such was the farewell spoken by Varbarriere to his nephew, as he nodded
his good-night on the threshold of their dressing-room.

In the morning Monsieur Varbarriere's place knew him no more at the
breakfast-table. With his valise, despatch-box, and desk, he had glided
away, in the frosty sunlight, in a Marlowe post-chaise, to the "Plough
Inn," on the Old London Road, where, as we know, he had once sojourned
before. It made a slight roundabout to the point to which his business
really invited his route; and as he dismissed his vehicle here, I
presume it was done with a view to mystify possible inquirers.

At the "Plough Inn" he was received with an awful bustle and reverence.
The fame of the consideration with which he was entertained at Marlowe
had reached that modest hostelry, and Monsieur Varbarriere looked
larger, grander, more solemn in its modest hall, than ever; his valise
was handled with respect, and lifted in like an invalid, not hauled and
trundled like a prisoner; and the desk and despatch-box, as the more
immediate attendants on his person, were eyed with the respect which
such a confidence could not fail to inspire.

So Monsieur Varbarriere, having had his appetising drive through a
bright country and keen air, ate his breakfast very comfortably; and
when that meal was over, ordered a "fly," in which he proceeded to
Wardlock, and pulled up at the hall-door of Lady Alice's
reserved-looking, but comfortable old redbrick mansion.



CHAPTER III.

Monsieur Varbarriere talks with Donica Gwynn.


The footman opened the door in deshabille and unshorn, with a
countenance that implied his sense of the impertinence of this
disturbance of his gentlemanlike retirement. There was, however, that in
the countenance of Monsieur Varbarriere, as well as the intangible but
potent "aura" emitted by wealth, which surrounded him--an influence
which everybody feels and no one can well define, which circumambiates a
rich person and makes it felt, nobody knows how, that he _is_
wealthy--that brought the flunky to himself; and adjusting his soiled
necktie hastily with one hand, he ran down to the heavy but commanding
countenance that loomed on his from the window of the vehicle.

"This is Wardlock?" demanded the visitor.

"Wardlock Manor?--yes, sir," answered the servant.

"I've a note from Lady Alice Redcliffe, and a few words to Mrs. Gwynn
the housekeeper. She's at home?"

"Mrs. Gwynn?--yes, sir."

"Open the door, please," said Monsieur Varbarriere, who was now speaking
good frank English with wonderful fluency, considering his marked
preference for the French tongue elsewhere.

The door flew open at the touch of the footman; and Monsieur Varbarriere
entered the staid mansion, and was shown by the servant into the
wainscoted parlour in which Lady Alice had taken leave of the ancient
retainer whom he was about to confer with.

When Mrs. Gwynn, with that mixture of curiosity and apprehension which
an unexpected visit is calculated to inspire, entered the room, very
erect and natty, she saw a large round-shouldered stranger, standing
with his back toward her, arrayed in black, at the window, with his
grotesque high-crowned hat on.

Turning about he removed this with a slight bow and a grave smile, and
with his sonorous foreign accent inquired--

"Mrs. Gwynn, I suppose?"

"Yes, sir, that is my name, if you please."

"A note, Mrs. Gwynn, from Lady Alice Redcliffe."

And as he placed it in the thin and rather ladylike fingers of the
housekeeper, his eyes rested steadily on her features, as might those of
a process-server, whose business it might be hereafter to identify her.

Mrs. Gwynn read the note, which was simply an expression of her
mistress's wish that she should answer explicitly whatever questions the
gentleman, M. Varbarriere, who would hand it to her, and who was,
moreover, a warm friend of the family, might put to her.

When Mrs. Gwynn, with the help of her spectacles, had spelled through
this letter, she in turn looked searchingly at Monsieur Varbarriere, and
began to wonder unpleasantly what line his examination might take.

"Will you, Mrs. Gwynn, allow me the right to sit down, by yourself
taking a chair?" said Monsieur Varbarriere, very politely, smiling
darkly, and waving his hand toward a seat.

"I'm very well as I am, I thank you, sir," replied Gwynn, who did not
very much like the gentleman's looks, and thought him rather like a
great roguish Jew pedlar whom she had seen long ago at the fair of
Marlowe.

"Nay, but pray sit down--I can't while you stand--and our conversation
may last some time--pray do."

"I can talk as well, sir, one way as t'other," replied she, while at the
same time, with a sort of fidgeted impatience, she did sit down and fold
her hands in her lap.

"We have all, Mrs. Gwynn, a very high opinion of you; I mean Lady Alice
and the friends of her family, among whom I reckon myself."

"It's only of late as I came to my present misses, you're aware, sir,
'aving been, from, I may say, my childhood in the Marlowe family."

"I know--the Marlowe family--it's all one, in fact; but I may say, Mrs.
Gwynn, that short, comparatively, as has been your time with Lady Alice,
you are spoken of with more respect and liking by that branch of the
family than by Sir Jekyl."

"I've done nothing to disoblege Sir Jekyl, as Lady Alice knows. Will you
be so kind, sir, as to say what you want of me, having business to
attend to up-stairs?"

"Certainly, it is only a trifle or two."

Monsieur Varbarriere cleared his voice.

"Having ascertained all about that _secret door_ that opens into the
green chamber at Marlowe, we would be obliged to you to let us know at
what time, to your knowledge, it was first used."

His large full eyes, from under his projecting brows, stared full upon
her shrinking gaze as he asked this question in tones deep and firm, but
otherwise as civil as he could employ.

It was vain for Mrs. Gwynn to attempt to conceal her extreme agitation.
Her countenance showed it--she tried to speak, and failed; and cleared
her throat, and broke down again.

"Perhaps you'd like some water," said Varbarriere, rising and
approaching the bell.

"No," said Donica Gwynn, rising suddenly and getting before him. "Let
be."

He saw that she wished to escape observation.

"As you please, Mrs. Gwynn--sit down again--I shan't without your
leave--and recover a little."

"There's nothing wrong with me, sir," replied Donica, now in possession
of her voice, very angrily; "there's nothing to cause it."

"Well, Mrs. Gwynn, it's quite excusable; I know all about it."

"What _are_ you, a builder or a hartist?"

"Nothing of the kind; I'm a gentleman without a profession, Mrs. Gwynn,
and one who will not permit you to be compromised; one who will protect
you from the slightest suspicion of anything unpleasant."

"I don't know what you're a-driving at," said Mrs. Gwynn, still as white
as death, and glancing furiously.

"Come, Mrs. Gwynn, you're a sensible woman. You _do_ know _perfectly_.
You have maintained a respectable character."

"Yes, sir!" said Donica Gwynn, and suddenly burst into a paroxysm of
hysterical tears.

"Listen to me: you have maintained a respectable character, I know it:
nothing whatever to injure that character shall ever fall from my lips;
no human being--but two or three just as much interested in concealing
all about it as you or I--shall ever know anything about it; and Sir
Jekyl Marlowe has consented to take it down, so soon as the party at
present at Marlowe shall have dispersed."

"Lady Alice--I'll never like to see her again," sobbed Donica.

"Lady Alice has no more suspicion of the existence of that door than the
Pope of Rome has; and what is more, never shall. You may rely upon me to
observe the most absolute silence and secrecy--nay, more, if necessary
for the object of concealment--so to mislead and mystify people, that
they can never so much as surmise the truth, _provided_--pray observe
me--_provided_ you treat me with the most _absolute candour_. You must
not practise the least reserve or concealment. On tracing the slightest
shadow of either in your communication with me, I hold myself free to
deal with the facts in my possession, precisely as may seem best to
myself. You understand?"

"Not Lady Alice, nor none of the servants, nor--nor a creature living,
please."

"_Depend_ on me," said Varbarriere.

"Well, sure I may; a gentleman would not break his word with such as
me," said Donica, imploringly.

"We can't spend the whole day repeating the same thing over and over,"
said Varbarriere, rather grimly; "I've said my say--I know everything
that concerns _you_ about it, without your opening your lips upon the
subject. You occupied that room for two years and a half during Sir
Harry's lifetime--you see I know it all. _There!_ you are perfectly
safe. I need not have made you any promise, but I do--perfectly safe
with me--and the room shall vanish this winter, and no one but ourselves
know anything of that door--do you understand?--_provided_--"

"Yes, sir, please--and what do you wish to know more from me? I don't
know, I'm sure, why I should be such a fool as to take on so about it,
as if _I_ could help it, or was ever a bit the worse of it myself.
There's been many a one has slep' in that room and never so much as
knowd there was a door but that they came in by."

"To be sure; so tell me, do you recollect Mr. Deverell's losing a paper
in that room?"

"Well, I do mind the time he said he lost it there, but I know no more
than the child unborn."

"Did Sir Harry never tell you?"

"They said a deal o' bad o' Sir Harry, and them that should a' stood up
for him never said a good word for him. Poor old creature!--I doubt if
he had pluck to do it. I don't think he had, poor fellow!"

"Did he ever _tell_ you he had done it? Come, remember your promise."

"No, upon my soul--never."

"Do you _think_ he took it?"

Their eyes met steadily.

"Yes, I do," said she, with a slight defiant frown.

"And _why_ do you think so?"

"Because, shortly after the row began about that paper, he talked with
me, and said there was something a-troubling of him, and he wished me to
go and live in a farm-house at Applehythe, and keep summat he wanted kep
safe, as there was no one in all England so true as me--poor old fellow!
He never told me, and I never asked. But I laid it down in my own mind
it was the paper Mr. Deverell lost, that's all."

"Did he ever show you that paper?"

"No."

"Did he tell you where it was?"

"He never said he had it."

"Did he show you where that thing was which he wanted you to take charge
of?"

"Yes, in the press nigh his bed's head."

"Did he open the press?"

"Ay."

"Well?"

"He showed me a sort of a box, and he said that was all."

"A little trunk of stamped red leather--was that like it?"

"That was just it."

"Did he afterwards give it into anybody's charge?"

"I know no more about it. I saw it there, that's all. I saw it once, and
never before nor since."

"Is there more than one secret door into that room?" pursued
Varbarriere.

"More than one; no, never as I heard or thought."

"Where is the door placed with which _you_ are acquainted?"

"Why? Don't you know?"

"Suppose I know of two. We have discovered a second. Which is the one
you saw used? _Come!_"

Parenthetically it is to be observed that no such discovery had been
made, and Varbarriere was merely fishing for information without
disclosing his ignorance.

"In the recess at the right of the bed's head."

"Yes; and how do you open it? I mean from the green chamber?"

"I never knowd any way how to open it--it's from t'other side. There's a
way to bolt it, though."

"Ay? How's that?"

"There's an ornament of scrowl-work, they calls it, bronze-like, as runs
down the casing of the recess, shaped like letter esses. Well, the
fourteenth of them, reckoning up from the bottom, next the wall, turns
round with your finger and thumb; so if anyone be in the green chamber,
and knows the secret, they can stop the door being opened."

"I see--thank you. You've been through the passage leading from Sir
Harry's room that was--Sir Jekyl Marlowe's room, at the back of the
house, to the secret door of the green chamber?"

"No, never. I know nothink o' that, no more nor a child."

"No?"

"No, nothink at all."

Varbarriere had here been trying to establish another conjecture.

There was a pause. Varbarriere, ruminating darkly, looked on Donica
Gwynn. He then closed his pocket-book, in which he had inscribed a few
notes, and said--

"Thank you, Mrs. Gwynn. Should I want anything more I'll call again; and
you had better not mention the subject of my visit. Let me see the
pictures--that will be the excuse--and do _you_ keep _your_ secret, and
I'll keep mine."

"No, I thank you, sir," said Donica, drily, almost fiercely, drawing
back from his proffered douceur.

"Tut, tut--pray do."

"No, I thank you."

So he looked at the pictures in the different rooms, and at some old
china and snuff-boxes, to give a colour to his visit; and with polite
speeches and dark smiles, and a general courtesy that was unctuous, he
took his leave of Donica Gwynn, whom he left standing in the hall with a
flushed face and a sore heart.



CHAPTER IV.

A Story of a Magician and a Vampire.


The pleasant autumn sun touched the steep roofs and mullioned windows of
Marlowe Manor pleasantly that morning, turning the thinning foliage of
its noble timber into gold, and bringing all the slopes and undulations
of its grounds into relief in its subdued glory. The influence of the
weather was felt by the guests assembled in the spacious
breakfast-parlour, and gay and animated was the conversation.

Lady Jane Lennox, that "superbly handsome creature," as old Doocey used
to term her, had relapsed very much into her old ways. Beatrix had been
pleased when, even in her impetuous and uncertain way, that proud spirit
had seemed to be drawn toward her again. But that was past, and that
unruly nature had broken away once more upon her own solitary and
wayward courses. She cared no more for Beatrix, or, if at all, it was
plainly not kindly.

In Lady Jane's bold and mournful isolation there was something that
interested Beatrix, ungracious as her ways often were, and she felt sore
at the unjust repulse she had experienced. But Beatrix was proud, and
so, though wounded, she did not show her pain--not that pain, nor
another far deeper.

Between her and Guy Strangways had come a coldness unintelligible to
her, an estrangement which she would have felt like an insult, had it
not been for his melancholy looks and evident loss of spirits.

There is a very pretty room at Marlowe; it is called (_why_, I forget)
Lady Mary's boudoir; its door opens from the first landing on the great
stair. An oak floor, partly covered with a Turkey carpet, one tall
window with stone shafts, a high old-fashioned stone chimneypiece, and
furniture perhaps a little incongruous, but pleasant in its incongruity.
Tapestry in the Teniers style--Dutch village festivals, with no end of
figures, about half life-size, dancing, drinking, making music; old
boors, and young and fair-haired maidens, and wrinkled vraus, and here
and there gentlemen in doublets and plumed hats, and ladies, smiling and
bare-headed, and fair and plump, in great stomachers. These pleasant
subjects, so lifelike, with children, cocks and hens, and dogs
interspersed, helped, with a Louis Quatorze suit of pale green, and gold
chairs cushioned with Utrecht velvet, to give to this room its character
so mixed, of gaiety and solemnity, something very quaint and cheery.

This room had old Lady Alice Redcliffe selected for her sitting-room,
when she found herself unequal to the exertion of meeting the other
ladies in the drawing-room, and hither she had been wont to invite Guy
Strangways, who would occasionally pass an hour here wonderfully
pleasantly and happily--in fact, as many hours as the old lady would
have permitted, so long as Beatrix had been her companion.

But with those self-denying resolutions we have mentioned came a
change. When Beatrix was there the young gentleman was grave and rather
silent, and generally had other engagements which at least shortened his
visit. This was retorted by Beatrix, who, a few minutes after the
arrival of the visitor whom old Lady Alice had begun to call her
secretary, would, on one pretence or another, disappear, and leave the
old princess and her secretary to the uninterrupted enjoyment of each
other's society.

Now since the night on which Varbarriere in talking with Lady Alice had,
as we have heard, suddenly arrested his speech respecting her
son--leaving her in uncertainty how it was to have been finished--an
uncertainty on which her morbid brain reflected a thousand horrid and
impossible shapes, the old lady had once more conceived something of her
early dread of Guy Strangways. It was now again subsiding, although last
night, under the influence of laudanum, in her medicated sleep her son
had been sitting at her bedside, talking incessantly, she could not
remember what.

Guy Strangways had just returned from the Park for his fishing-rod and
angler's gear, when he was met in the hall by the grave and courteous
butler, who presented a tiny pencilled note from Lady Alice, begging him
to spare her half an hour in Lady Mary's boudoir.

Perhaps it was a bore. But habitual courtesy is something more than
"mouth honour, breath." Language and thought react upon one another
marvellously. To restrain its expression is in part to restrain the
feeling; and thus a well-bred man is not only in words and demeanour,
but inwardly and sincerely, more gracious and noble than others.

How oddly things happen sometimes!

Exactly as Guy Strangways arrived on the lobby, a little gloved hand--it
was Beatrix's--was on the door-handle of Lady Mary's boudoir. It was
withdrawn, and she stood looking for a second or two at the young
gentleman, who had evidently been going in the same direction. He, too,
paused; then, with a very low bow, advanced to open the door for Miss
Marlowe.

"No, thank you--I--I think I had better postpone my visit to grandmamma
till I return. I'm going to the garden, and should like to bring her
some flowers."

"I'm afraid I have arrived unluckily--she would, I know, have been so
glad to see you," said Guy Strangways.

"Oh, I've seen her twice before to-day. You were going to make her a
little visit now."

"I--if you wish it, Miss Marlowe, I'll defer it."

"She would be very little obliged to me, I'm sure; but I must really
go," said Beatrix, recollecting on a sudden that there was no need of so
long a parley.

"It would very much relieve the poor secretary's labours, and make his
little period of duty so much happier," said Guy, forgetting his wise
resolutions strangely.

"I am sure grandmamma would prefer seeing her visitors singly--it makes
a great deal more of them, you know."

And with a little smile and such a pretty glow in her cheeks, she passed
him by. He bowed and smiled faintly too, and for a moment stood gazing
after her into the now vacant shadow of the old oak wainscoting, as
young Numa might after his vanished Egeria, with an unspoken, burning
grief and a longing at his heart.

"I'm sure she can't like me--I'm sure she _dis_likes me. So much the
better--Heaven knows I'm glad of it."

And with an aching heart he knocked, turned the handle, and entered the
pretty apartment in which Lady Alice, her thin shoulders curved, as she
held her hands over the fire, was sitting alone.

She looked at him over her shoulder strangely from her hollow eyes,
without moving or speaking for a time. He bowed gravely, and said--

"I have this moment received your little note, Lady Alice, and have
hastened to obey."

She sat up straight and sighed.

"Thanks--I have not been very well--so nervous--so very nervous," she
repeated, without removing her sad and clouded gaze from his face.

"We all heard with regret that you had not been so well," said he.

"Well, we'll not talk of it--you're very good--I'm glad you've
come--very nervous, and almost wishing myself back at Wardlock--where
indeed I should have returned, only that I should have been wishing
myself back again before an hour--miserably nervous."

And Lady Alice sniffed at her smelling-salts, and added--

"And Monsieur Varbarriere gone away on business for some days--is not
he?"

"Yes--quite uncertain--possibly for two, or perhaps three, he said,"
answered Guy.

"And he's very--he knows--he knows a great deal--I forget what I was
going to say--I'm half asleep to-day--no sleep--a very bad night."

And old Lady Alice yawned drearily into the fire.

"Beatrix said she'd look in; but everyone forgets--you young people are
so selfish."

"Mademoiselle Marlowe was at the door as I came in, and said she would
go on instead to the garden first, and gather some flowers for you."

"Oh! h'm!--very good--well, I can't talk to-day; suppose you choose a
book, Mr. Strangways, and read a few pages--that is, if you are quite at
leisure?"

"Perfectly--that is, for an hour--unfortunately I have then an
appointment. What kind of book shall I take?" he asked, approaching one
of the two tall bookstands that flanked an oval mirror opposite the
fireplace.

"Anything, provided it is old."

Nearly half an hour passed in discussing what to read--the old lady not
being in the mood that day to pursue the verse readings which had
employed Guy Strangways hitherto.

"This seems a curious old book," he said, after a few minutes. "Very
old French--I think upon witchcraft, and full of odd narratives."

"That will do very well."

"I had better try to translate it--the language is so antiquated."

He leaned the folio on the edge of the chimneypiece, and his elbow
beside it, supporting his head on his hand, and so read aloud to the
_exigeante_ old lady, who liked to see people employed about her, even
though little of comfort, amusement, or edification resulted from it.

The narrative which Lady Alice had selected was entitled thus:--

    "CONCERNING A REMARKABLE REVENGE AFTER SEPULTURE.

    "In the Province of Normandy, in the year of grace 1405, there lived
    a young gentleman of Styrian descent, possessing estates in Hungary,
    but a still more opulent fortune in France. His park abutted on that
    of the Chevalier de St. Aubrache, who was a man also young, of
    ancient lineage, proud to excess, and though wealthy, by no means so
    wealthy as his Styrian neighbour.

    "This disparity in riches excited the wrath of the jealous nobleman,
    who having once admitted the passions of envy and hatred to his
    heart, omitted no opportunity to injure him.

    "The Chevalier de St. Aubrache, in fact, succeeded so well--"

    Just at this point in the tale, Beatrix, with her flowers, not
    expecting to find Guy Strangways still in attendance, entered the
    room.

    "You need not go; come in, dear--you've brought me some
    flowers--come in, I say; thank you, Beatrix, dear--they are very
    pretty, and very sweet too. Here is Mr. Strangways--sit by me,
    dear--reading a curious old tale of witchcraft. Tell her the
    beginning, pray."

So Strangways told the story over again in his best way, and then
proceeded to read as follows:--

    "The Chevalier de St. Aubrache, in fact, succeeded so well, that on
    a point of law, aided by a corrupt judge in the Parliament of Rouen,
    he took from him a considerable portion of his estate, and
    subsequently so managed matters without committing himself, that he
    lost his life unfairly in a duel, which the Chevalier secretly
    contrived.

    "Now there was in the household of the gentleman so made away with,
    a certain Hungarian, older than he, a grave and politic man, and
    reputed to have studied the art of magic deeply. By this man was the
    corpse of the deceased gentleman duly coffined, had away to Styria,
    and, it is said, there buried according to certain conditions, with
    which the Hungarian magician, who had vowed a terrible revenge, was
    well acquainted.

    "In the meantime the Chevalier de St. Aubrache had espoused a very
    beautiful demoiselle of the noble family of D'Ayenterre, by whom he
    had one daughter, so beautiful that she was the subject of universal
    admiration, which increased in the heart of her proud father that
    affection which it was only natural that he should cherish for her.

    "It was about the time of Candlemas, a full score of years after the
    death of his master, that the Hungarian magician returned to
    Normandy, accompanied by a young gentleman, very pale indeed, but
    otherwise so exactly like the gentleman now so long dead, that no
    one who had been familiar with his features could avoid being
    struck, and indeed, affrighted with the likeness.

    "The Chevalier de St. Aubrache was at first filled with horror, like
    the rest; but well knowing that the young man whom he, the stranger,
    so resembled, had been actually killed as aforesaid, in combat, and
    having never heard of vampires, which are among the most malignant
    and awful of the manifestations of the Evil One, and not recognising
    at all the Hungarian magician, who had been careful to disguise
    himself effectually; and, above all, relying on letters from the
    King of Hungary, with which, under a feigned name, as well as with
    others from the Archbishop of Toledo in Spain, he had come provided,
    he received him into his house; when the grave magician, who
    resembled a doctor of a university, and the fair-seeming vampire,
    being established in the house of their enemy, began to practise, by
    stealth, their infernal arts."

The old lady saw that in the reader's countenance, as he read this odd
story, which riveted her gaze. Perhaps conscious of her steady and
uncomfortable stare, as well as of a real parallel, he grew obviously
disconcerted, and at last, as it seemed, even agitated as he proceeded.

"Young man, for Heaven's sake, will you tell me who you are?" said Lady
Alice, her dark old eyes fixed fearfully on his face, as she rose
unconsciously from her chair.

The young man, very pale, turned a despairing and almost savage look
from her to Beatrix, and back to her again.

"You are not a Strangways," she continued.

He looked steadily at her, as if he were going to speak, then dropped
his glance suddenly and remained silent.

"I say, I know your name is not Strangways," said the old lady, in
increasing agitation.

"I can tell you nothing about myself," said he again, fixing his great
dark eyes, that looked almost wild in his pallid face, full upon her,
with a strange expression of anguish.

"In the Almighty's name, are you Guy Deverell?" she screamed, lifting up
her thin hands between him and her in her terror.

The young man returned her gaze oddly, with, she fancied, a look of
baffled horror in his face. It seemed to her like an evil spirit
detected.

He recovered, however, for a few seconds, something of his usual manner.
Instead of speaking, he bowed twice very low, and, on the point of
leaving the room, he suddenly arrested his departure, turning about
with a stamp on the floor; and walking back to her, he said, very
gently--

"Yes, yes, why should I deny it? My name _is_ Guy Deverell."

And was gone.



CHAPTER V.

Farewell.


"Oh! grandmamma, _what_ is it?" said Beatrix, clasping her thin wrist.

The old lady, stooping over the chair on which she leaned, stared darkly
after the vanished image, trembling very much.

"_What_ is Deverell--why should the name be so dreadful--is there
anything--oh! grandmamma, _is_ there anything very bad?"

"I don't know--I am confused--did you ever see such a face? My gracious
Heaven!" muttered Lady Alice.

"Oh! grandmamma, darling, tell me what it is, I implore of you."

"Yes, dear, everything; another time. I can't now. I might do a
mischief. I might prevent--you must promise me, darling, to tell no one.
You must not say his name is Deverell. _You_ say nothing about it. That
dreadful, dreadful story!"

The folio was lying with crumpled leaves, back upward, on the floor,
where it had fallen.

"There is something plainly fearful in it. _You_ think so, grandmamma;
something discovered; something going to happen. Send after him,
grandmamma; call him back. If it is anything you can prevent, I'll
ring."

"Don't _touch_ the bell," cried granny, sharply, clutching at her hand,
"don't _do_ it. See, Beatrix, you promise me you say nothing to anyone
of what you've witnessed--_promise_. I'll tell you all I know when I'm
better. He'll come again. I _wish_ he'd come again. I'm sure he will,
though I hardly think I could bear to see him. I don't know what to
think."

The old lady threw herself back in her chair, not affectedly at all, but
looking so awfully haggard and agitated that Beatrix was frightened.

"Call nobody, there's a darling; just open the window; I shall be
better."

And she heaved some of those long and heavy sighs which relieve
hysterical oppression; and, after a long silence, she said--

"It is a long time since I have felt so ill, Beatrix. Remember this,
darling, my papers are in the black cabinet in my bed-room at home--I
mean Wardlock. There is not a great deal. My jointure stops, you know;
but whatever little there is, is for you, darling."

"You're not to talk of it, granny, darling, you'll be quite well in a
minute; the air is doing you good. May I give you a little wine?--Well,
a little water?"

"Thanks, dear; I _am_ better. Remember what I told you, and particularly
your promise to mention what you heard to no one. I mean
the--the--strange scene with that young man. I think I will take a glass
of wine. I'll tell you all when I'm better--when Monsieur Varbarriere
comes back. It is important for a time, especially having heard what I
have, that I should wait a little."

Granny sipped a little sherry slowly, and the tint of life, such as
visits the cheek of the aged, returned to hers, and she was better.

"I'd rather not see him any more. It's all like a dream. I don't know
what to make of it," muttered granny; and she began audibly to repeat
passages, tremblingly and with upturned eyes, from her prayer-book.

Perplexed, anxious, excited, Beatrix looked down on the collapsed and
haggard face of the old lady, and listened to the moaned petition,
"Lord, have mercy upon us!" which trembled from her lips as it might
from those of a fainting sinner on a death-bed.

Guy Deverell, as I shall henceforward call him, thinking of nothing but
escape into solitude, was soon a good way from the house. He was too
much agitated, and his thoughts too confused at first, to estimate all
the possible consequences of the sudden disclosure he had just made.

What would Varbarriere, who could be stern and violent, say or do, when
he learned it? Here was the one injunction on which he had been ever
harping violated. He felt how much he owed to the unceasing care of that
able and disinterested friend through all his life, and how had he
repaid it all!

"Anything but deception--anything but that. I could not endure the agony
of my position longer--yes, agony."

He was now wandering by the bank of the solitary river, and looked back
at the picturesque gables of Marlowe Manor through the trees; and he
felt that he was leaving all that could possibly interest him in
existence in leaving Marlowe. Always was rising in his mind the one
thought, "What does she think of my deception and my agitation--what can
she think of _me_?"

It is not easy, even in silence and alone, when the feelings are at all
ruffled, to follow out a train of thought. Guy thought of his
approaching farewell to his uncle: he sometimes heard his great voice
thundering in despair and fury over his ruined schemes--schemes, be they
what they might, at least unselfish. Then he thought of the effect of
the discovery on Sir Jekyl, who, no doubt, had special reasons for alarm
connected with this name--a secret so jealously guarded by Varbarriere.
Then he thought of his future. His commission in the French army awaited
him. A life of drudgery or listlessness? No such thing! a career of
adventure and glory--ending in a baton or death! Death is so romantic in
the field! There are always some beautiful eyes to drop in secret those
tears which are worth dying for. It is not a crowded trench, where fifty
corpses pig together in the last noisome sleep--but an apotheosis!

He was sure he had done well in yielding to the impulse that put an end
to the tedious treachery he had been doomed to practise; and if well,
then _wisely_--so, no more retrospection.

All this rose and appeared in fragments like a wreck in the eddies of
his mind.

One thing was clear--he must leave Marlowe forthwith. He could not meet
his host again. He stood up. It is well to have hit upon anything to be
done--anything quite certain.

With rapid steps he now returned to Marlowe, wondering how far he had
walked, as it seemed to him, in so mere a moment of time.

The house was deserted; so fine a day had tempted all its inmates but
old Lady Alice abroad. He sent to the village of Marlowe for a chaise,
while Jacques, who was to await where he was the return of his master,
Monsieur Varbarriere, got his luggage into readiness, and he himself
wrote, having tried and torn up half a dozen, a note to Sir Jekyl,
thanking him for his hospitality, and regretting that an unexpected
occurrence made his departure on so short notice unavoidable. He did not
sign it. He would not write his assumed name. Sir Jekyl could have no
difficulty in knowing from which of his guests it came, perhaps would
not even miss the signature.

The chaise stood at the door-steps, his luggage stowed away, his dark
short travelling cloak about his shoulders, and his note to Sir Jekyl in
his fingers.

He entered the great hall, meaning to place it on the marble table where
Sir Jekyl's notes and newspapers usually awaited him, and there he
encountered Beatrix.

There was no one else. She was crossing to the outer door, and they
almost met before they came to a stop.

"Oh! Mr. Strangways."

"Pray call me by my real name, Deverell. Strangways was my mother's; and
in obedience to those who are wiser than I, during my journey I adopted
it, although the reasons were not told me."

There was a little pause here.

"I am very glad I was so fortunate as to meet you, Miss Marlowe, before
I left. I'm just going, and it would be such a privilege to know that
you had not judged me very hardly."

"I'm sure papa will be very sorry you are going--a break-up is always a
sad event--we miss our guests so much," she said, smiling, but a little
pale.

"If you knew my story, Miss Marlowe, you would acquit me," he said,
bursting forth all at once. "Misfortune overtook me in my early
childhood, before I can remember. I have no right to trouble you with
the recital; and in my folly I superadded this--the worst--that madly I
gave my love to one who could not return it--who, perhaps, ought not to
have returned it. Pardon me, Miss Marlowe, for talking of these things;
but as I am going away, and wished you to understand me, I thought,
perhaps, you would hear me. Seeing how hopeless was my love, I never
told it, but resolved to see her no more, and so to the end of my days
will keep my vow; but this is added, that for her sake my life becomes a
sacrifice--a real one--to guard her from sorrows and dangers, which I
believe _did_ threaten her, and to save her from which I devote myself,
as perhaps she will one day understand. I thought I would just tell you
so much before I went, and--and--that _you_ are that lady. Farewell,
dear Miss Marlowe, most beautiful--beloved."

He pressed her hand, he kissed it passionately, and was gone.

It was not until she had heard the vehicle drive rapidly away that she
quite recovered herself. She went into the front hall, and, through the
window, standing far back, watched the receding chaise. When it was out
of sight, humming a gay air, she ran up-stairs, and into her bed-room,
when, locking the door, she wept the bitterest tears, perhaps, she had
ever shed, since the days of her childhood.



CHAPTER VI.

At the Bell and Horns.


With the reader's permission, I must tell here how Monsieur Varbarriere
proceeded on his route to Slowton.

As he mounted his vehicle from the steps of Wardlock, the flunky, who
was tantalised by the very unsatisfactory result of his listening at the
parlour-door, considered him curiously.

"Go on towards the village," said M. Varbarriere to the driver, in his
deep foreign accents.

And so soon as they were quite out of sight of the Wardlock flunky, he
opened the front window of his nondescript vehicle, and called--

"Drive to Slowton."

Which, accordingly, was done. M. Varbarriere, in profound good-humour, a
flood of light and certainty having come upon him, sat back luxuriously
in a halo of sardonic glory, and was smiling to himself, as men
sometimes will over the chess-board when the rest of their game is
secure.

At the Bell and Horns he was received with a reverential welcome.

"A gentleman been inquiring for Monsieur Varbarriere?" asked the foreign
gentleman in black, descending.

"A gentleman, sir, as has took number seven, and expects a gentleman to
call, but did not say who, which his name is Mr. Rumsey?"

"Very good," said Monsieur Varbarriere.

Suddenly he recollected that General Lennox's letter might have reached
the post-office, and, plucking a card from his case, wrote an order on
it for his letters, which he handed to Boots, who trudged away to the
post-office close by.

Varbarriere was half sorry now that he had opened his correspondence
with old General Lennox so soon. He had no hope that Donica Gwynn's
reserves would have melted and given way so rapidly in the interview
which had taken place. He was a man who cared nothing about penal
justice, who had embraced the world's ethics early, and looked
indulgently on escapades of human nature, and had no natural turn for
cruelty, although he could be cruel enough when an object was to be
accomplished.

"I don't think I'd have done it, though he deserves it richly, and has
little right to look for quarter at my hands."

And whichever of the gentlemen interested he may have alluded to, he
cursed him under his breath ardently.

In number seven there awaited him a tall and thin man of business, of a
sad countenance and bilious, with a pale drab-coloured and barred muslin
cravat, tied with as much precision as a curate's; a little bald at the
very top of his head; a little stooped at his shoulders. He did not
smile as Monsieur Varbarriere entered the room. He bowed in a meek and
suffering way, and looked as if he had spent the morning in reading
Doctor Blewish's pamphlet "On the Ubiquity of Disguised Cholera Morbus,"
or our good Bishop's well-known tract on "Self-Mortification." There
was a smell of cigars in the room, which should not have been had he
known that Monsieur Varbarriere was to be here so early. His chest was
weak, and the doctors ordered that sort of fumigation.

Monsieur Varbarriere set his mind at ease by preparing himself to smoke
one of the notable large cigars, of which he carried always a dozen
rounds or so in his case.

"You have brought the cases and opinions with you?" inquired
Varbarriere.

The melancholy solicitor replied by opening a tin box, from which he
drew several sheafs of neatly labelled papers tied up in red tape; the
most methodical and quiet of attorneys, and one of the most efficient to
be found.

"Smoke away; you like it, so do I; we can talk too, and look at these,"
said Varbarriere, lighting his cigar.

Mr. Rumsey bowed, and meekly lighted his also.

Then began the conference on business.

"Where are Gamford's letters?--these?--ho!"

And as Monsieur Varbarriere read them, puffing away as fast as a
furnace, and threw each down as he would play a card, in turn, he would
cry "Bah!"--"Booh!"--or, "Did you ever read such Galamathias?"--and, at
last--

"Who was right about that _benet_--you or I? I told you what he was."

"You will perceive just now, I think, sir, that there are some things of
value there notwithstanding. You can't see their importance until you
shall have looked into the enlarged statement we have been enabled by
the result of some fresh discoveries to submit to counsel."

"Give me that case. Fresh discoveries, have you? I venture to say, when
you've heard my notes, you'll open your eyes. No, I mean the cigar-case;
well, you may give me that too."

So he took the paper, with its bluish briefing post pages, and broad
margin, and the opinions of Mr. Serjeant Edgeways and Mr. Whaulbane,
Q.C., copied in the same large, round hand at the conclusion.

"Well, these opinions are stronger than I expected. There is a bit here
in Whaulbane's I don't like so well--what you call fishy, you know. But
you shall hear just now what I can add to our proofs, and you will see
what becomes of good Mr. Whaulbane's doubts and queries. You said always
you did not think they had destroyed the deed?"

"If well advised, they did not. I go that length. Because the deed,
although it told against them while a claimant in the Deverell line
appeared, would yet be an essential part of their case in the event of
their title being attacked from the Bracton quarter; and therefore the
fact is, they could not destroy it."

"They are both quite clear upon the question of secondary evidence of
the contents of a lost deed, I see," said Varbarriere, musingly, "and
think our proof satisfactory. Those advocates, however--_why_ do
they?--always say their say with so many reserves and misgivings, that
you begin to think they know very little more of the likelihoods of the
matter, with all their pedantry, than you do yourself."

"The glorious uncertainty of the law!" ejaculated Mr. Rumsey, employing
a phrase which I have heard before, and with the nearest approach to a
macerated smile which his face had yet worn.

"Ay," said Varbarriere, in his metallic tones of banter, "the glorious
uncertainty of the law. That must be true, for you're always saying it;
and it must be pleasant too, if one could only see it; for, my faith!
you look almost cheerful while you say it."

"It makes counsel cautious, though it does not cool clients when they're
once fairly blooded," said Mr. Rumsey. "A client is a wonderful thing
sometimes. There would not be half the money made of our profession if
men kept their senses when they go into law; but they seldom do. Lots of
cool gamblers at every other game, but no one ever keeps his head at
law."

"That's encouraging; thank you. Suppose I take your advice, and draw
stakes?" said Varbarriere.

"You have no notion," said Mr. Rumsey, resignedly.

"Well, I believe you're right, monsieur; and I believe _I_ am right too;
and if you have any faith in your favourite oracles, so must you; but,
have you done your cigar? Well, take your pen for a moment and listen to
me, and note what I say. When Deverell came down with his title-deeds to
Marlowe, they gave him the Window dressing-room for his bed-room, and
the green chamber, with the bed taken down, for his dressing-room; and
there he placed his papers, with the key turned in the door. In the
morning his attorney came. It was a meeting about a settlement of the
mortgage; and when the papers were overhauled it was found that that
deed had been abstracted. Very good. Now listen to what I have to relate
concerning the peculiar construction of that room."

So Monsieur Varbarriere proceeded to relate minutely all he had
ascertained that day, much to the quiet edification of Mr. Rumsey, whose
eyes brightened, and whose frontal wrinkles deepened as he listened.

"I told you I suspected some legerdemain about that room long ago; the
idea came to me oddly. When on a visit to the Marquis de Mirault he told
me that in making alterations in the chateau they had discovered a false
door into one of the bed-rooms. The tradition of this contrivance, which
was singularly artful, was lost. It is possible that the secret of it
perished with its first possessor. By means of this door the apartment
in question was placed in almost immediate conjunction with another,
which, except through this admirably concealed door, could not be
reached from it without a long circuit. The proximity of the rooms, in
fact, had been, by reason of the craft with which they were apparently
separated, entirely overlooked."

The attorney observed, sadly--

"The French are an ingenious people."

"The curiosity of my friend was excited," continued Varbarriere, "and
with some little search among family records he found that this room,
which was constructed in the way of an addition to the chateau, had been
built about the beginning of the eighteenth century, during the
marquisate of one of the line, who was celebrated as _un homme à bonnes
fortunes_, you understand, and its object was now quite palpable."

"A man, no doubt, of ability--a long-headed gentleman," mused the
melancholy attorney.

"Well, at Marlowe I saw a collection of elevations of the green chamber,
as it is called, built only two or three years later--and, mind this, by
the same architect, an Italian, called Paulo Abruzzi, a remarkable name,
which I perfectly remembered as having been mentioned by my friend the
Marquis as the architect of his ancestral relic of Cupid's legerdemain.
But here is the most remarkable circumstance, and to which my friend Sir
Jekyl quite innocently gave its proper point. The room under this
chamber, and, of course, in the same building, was decorated with
portraits painted in the panel, and one of them was this identical
Marquis de Mirault, with the date 1711, and the Baronet was good enough
to tell me that he had been a very intimate friend, and had visited his
grandfather, at Marlowe."



CHAPTER VII.

M. Varbarriere's Plans.


Varbarriere solemnly lighted a cigar, and squinted at its glowing point
with his great dark eyes, in which the mild attorney saw the lurid
reflection. When it was well lighted he went on--

"You may suppose how this confirmed my theory. I set about my inquiries
quietly, and was convinced that Sir Jekyl knew all about it, by his
disquietude whenever I evinced an interest in that portion of the
building. But I managed matters very slyly, and collected proof very
nearly demonstrative; and at this moment he has not a notion who I am."

"No. It will be a surprise when he does learn," answered the attorney,
sadly.

"A fine natural hair-dye is the air of the East Indies: first it turns
light to black, and then black to grey. Then, my faith!--a bronzed face
with plenty of furrows, a double chin, and a great beard to cover it,
and eleven stone weight expanded to seventeen stone--_Corpo di
Bacco!_--and six pounds!"

And Monsieur Varbarriere laughed like the clang and roar of a chime of
cathedral bells.

"It will be a smart blow," said the attorney, almost dreamily.

"Smash him," said Varbarriere. "The Deverell estate is something over
five thousand a-year; and the mesne rates, with four per cent. interest,
amount to 213,000_l._"

"He'll defend it," said the knight of the sorrowful countenance, who was
now gathering in his papers.

"I hope he will," growled Varbarriere, with a chuckle. "He has not a leg
to stand on--all the better for _you_, at all events; and then I'll
bring down that other hammer on his head."

"The criminal proceedings?" murmured the sad attorney.

"Ay. I can prove that case myself--he fired before his time, and killed
him, I'm certain simply to get the estate. I was the only person
present--poor Guy! Jekyl had me in his pocket then. The rascal wanted to
thrust me down and destroy me afterwards. He employed that Jew house,
Röbenzahl and Isaacs--the villain! Luck turned, and I am a rich fellow
now, and his turn is coming. Vive la justice éternelle! Vive la
bagatelle! Bravo! Bah!"

Monsieur Varbarriere had another pleasant roar of laughter here, and
threw his hat at the solemn attorney's head.

"You'll lunch with me," said Varbarriere.

"Thanks," murmured the attorney.

"And now the war--the campaign--what next?"

"You'll make an exact note," the attorney musingly replied, "of what
that woman Wynn or Gwynn can prove; also what the Lord Bishop of
what's-his-name can prove; and it strikes me we shall have to serve
some notice to intimidate Sir Jekyl about that red-leather box, to
prevent his making away with the deed, and show him we know it is there;
or perhaps apply for an order to make him lodge the deed in court; but
Tom Weavel--he's always in town--will advise us. You don't think that
woman will leave us in the lurch?"

"No," said Varbarriere, as if he was thinking of something else. "That
Donica Gwynn, you mean. She had that green chamber to herself, you see,
for a matter of three years."

"Yes."

"And she's one of those old domestic Dianas who are sensitive about
scandal--you understand--and she knows what ill-natured people would
say; so I quieted her all I could, and I don't think she'll venture to
recede. No; she certainly won't."

"How soon can you let me have the notes, sir?"

"To-morrow, when I return. I've an appointment to keep by rail to-night,
and I'll make a full memorandum from my notes as I go along."

"Thanks--and what are your instructions?"

"Send back the cases with copies of the new evidence."

"And assuming a favourable opinion, sir, are my instructions to
proceed?"

"Certainly, my son, forthwith--the grass it must not grow under our
feet."

"Of course subject to counsel's opinion?" said the attorney, sadly.

"To be sure."

"And which first--the action or the indictment? or both together?" asked
Mr. Rumsey.

"_That_ for counsel too. Only my general direction is, let the onset be
as sudden, violent, and determined as possible. You see?"

The attorney nodded gently, tying up his last bundle of papers as softly
as a lady might knot her ribbon round the neck of her lap-dog.

"You see?"

"Yes, sir; your object is destruction. Delenda est Carthago--that's the
word," murmured Mr. Rumsey, plaintively.

"Yes--ha, ha!--what you call double him up!" clanged out Varbarriere,
with an exulting oath and a chuckle.

The attorney had locked up his despatch-box now, and putting the little
bunch of keys deep into his trowsers pocket, he said, "Yes, that's the
word; but I suppose you have considered--"

"_What?_ I'm tired considering."

"I was going to say whether some more certain result might not be
obtainable by negotiation; that is, if you thought it a case for
negotiation."

"_What_ negotiation? What do you mean?"

"Well, you see there are materials--there's something to yield at both
sides," said the attorney, very slowly, in a diplomatic reverie.

"But why should you think of a compromise?--the worst thing I fancy
could happen to _you_."

There was a general truth in this. It is not the ferryman's interest to
build a bridge, nor was it Mr. Rumsey's that his client should walk
high and dry over those troubled waters through which it was his
privilege and profit to pilot him. But he had not quite so much faith in
this case as Monsieur Varbarriere had, and he knew that his wealthy and
resolute client could grow savage enough in defeat, and had once or
twice had stormy interviews with him after failures.

"If the young gentleman and young lady liked one another, for instance,
the conflicting claims might be reconciled, and a marriage would in that
case arrange the difference."

"There's nothing very deep in that," snarled Varbarriere, "but there is
everything impracticable. Do you think Guy Deverell, whose father that
_lache_ murdered before my eyes, could ever endure to call _him_ father?
Bah! If I thought so I would drive him from my presence and never behold
him more. No, no, no! There is more than an estate in all this--there is
justice, there is _punishment_."

Monsieur Varbarriere, with his hands in his pockets, took a turn up and
down the room, and his solemn steps shook the floor, and his countenance
was agitated by violence and hatred.

The pale, thin attorney eyed him with a gentle and careworn observation.
His respected client was heaving with a great toppling swagger as he
to-ed and fro-ed in his thunderstorm, looking as black as the Spirit of
Evil.

This old-maidish attorney was meek and wise, but by no means timid. He
was accustomed to hear strong language, and sometimes even oaths,
without any strange emotion. He looked on this sort of volcanic
demonstration scientifically, as a policeman does on drunkenness--knew
its stages, and when it was best left to itself.

Mr. Rumsey, therefore, poked the fire a little, and then looked out of
the window.

"You don't go to town to-night?"

"Not if you require me here, sir."

"Yes, I shall have those memoranda to give you--and tell me now, I think
you know your business. Do you think, as we now stand, success is
_certain_?"

"Well, sir, it certainly is very strong--very; but I need not tell you a
case will sometimes take a queer turn, and I never like to tell a client
that anything is absolutely certain--a case is sometimes carried out of
its legitimate course, you see; the judges may go wrong, or the jury
bolt, or a witness may break down, or else a bit of evidence may start
up--it's a responsibility we never take on ourselves to say that of any
case; and you know there has been a good deal of time--and that
sometimes raises a feeling with a jury."

"Ay, a quarter of a century, but it can't be helped. For ten years of
that time I could not show, I owed money to everybody. Then, when _I_
was for striking on the criminal charge for _murder_, or _manslaughter_,
or whatever you agreed it was to be, you all said I must begin with the
civil action, and first oust him from Guy Deverell's estate. Well,
_there_ you told me I could not move till he was twenty-five, and now
you talk of the good deal of time--_ma foi!_--as if it was I who
delayed, and not _you_, messieurs. But enough, past is past. We have the
present, and I'll use it."

"We are to go on, then?"

"Yes, we've had to wait too long. Stop for nothing, drive right on, you
see, at the fastest pace counsel can manage. If I saw the Deverell
estate where it should be, and a judgment for the mesne rates, and Sir
Jekyl Marlowe in the dock for his crime, I don't say I should sing _nunc
dimittis_; but, _parbleu_, sir, it would be very agreeable--ha! ha!
ha!"



CHAPTER VIII.

Tempest.


"Does Mr. Guy Deverell know anything of the measures you contemplate in
his behalf?" inquired the attorney.

"Nothing. Do you think me a fool? Young men _are_ such asses!"

"You know, however, of course, that he will act. The proceedings, you
know, must be in his name."

"Leave that to me."

Varbarriere rang the bell and ordered luncheon. There were grouse and
trout--he was in luck--and some cream cheese, for which rural delicacy
he had a fancy. They brew very great ale at Slowton, like the Welsh, and
it was a novelty to the gentleman of foreign habits, who eat as
fastidiously as a Frenchman, and as largely as a German. On the whole it
was satisfactory, and the high-shouldered, Jewish-looking sybarite shook
hands in a very friendly way with his attorney in the afternoon, on the
platform at Slowton, and glided off toward Chester, into which ancient
town he thundered, screaming like a monster rushing on its prey; and a
victim awaited him in the old commercial hotel; a tall, white-headed
military-looking man, with a white moustache twirled up fiercely at the
corners; whose short pinkish face and grey eyes, as evening deepened,
were pretty constantly presented at the window of the coffee-room next
the street door of the inn. From that post he saw all the shops and
gas-lamps, up and down the street, gradually lighted. The gaselier in
the centre of the coffee-room, with its six muffed glass globes, flared
up over the rumpled and coffee-stained morning newspapers and the
almanac, and the battered and dissipated-looking railway guide, with
corners curled and back coming to pieces, which he consulted every ten
minutes through his glasses.

How many consultations he had had with the waiter upon the arrival of
trains due at various hours, and how often the injunction had been
repeated to see that no mistake occurred about the private room he had
ordered; and how reiterated the order that any gentleman inquiring for
General Lennox should be shown at once into his presence, the patient
waiter with the bilious complexion could tell.

As the time drew near, the General having again conferred with the
waiter, conversed with the porter, and even talked a little with
Boots--withdrew to his small square sitting-room and pair of candles
up-stairs, and awaited the arrival of Monsieur Varbarriere, with his
back to the fire, in a state of extreme fidget.

That gentleman's voice he soon heard upon the passage, and the creaking
of his heavy tread; and he felt as he used, when a young soldier, on
going into action.

The General stepped forward. The waiter announced a gentleman who wished
to see him; and Varbarriere's dark visage and mufflers, and sable mantle
loomed behind; his felt hat in his hand, and his wavy cone of grizzled
hair was bowing solemnly.

"Glad you're come--how d'ye do?" and Varbarriere's fat brown hand was
seized by the General's pink and knotted fingers in a very cold and damp
grasp. "Come in and sit down, sir. What will you take?--tea, or dinner,
or what?"

"Very much obliged. I have ordered something, by-and-by, to my
room--thank you very much. I thought, however, that you might possibly
wish to see me immediately, and so I am here, at all events, as you
soldiers say, to report myself," said Varbarriere, with his unctuous
politeness.

"Yes, it _is_ better, I'd rather have it now," answered the General in a
less polite and more literal way. "A chair, sir;" and he placed one
before the fire, which he poked into a blaze. "I--I hope you are not
fatigued,"--here the door shut, and the waiter was gone; "and I want to
hear, sir, if you please, the--the meaning of the letter you favoured me
with."

The General by this time had it in his hand open, and tendered it, I
suppose for identification, to M. Varbarriere, who, however, politely
waved it back.

"I quite felt the responsibility I took upon myself when I wrote as I
did. That responsibility of course I accept; and I have come all this
way, sir, for no other purpose than to justify my expressions, and to
invite you to bring them to the test."

"Of _course_, sir. Thank you," said the General.

Varbarriere had felt a momentary qualm about this particular branch of
the business which he had cut out for himself. When he wrote to General
Lennox he was morally _certain_ of the existence of a secret passage
into that green room, and also of the relations which he had for some
time suspected between Sir Jekyl and his fair guest. On the whole it was
not a bad _coup_ to provide, by means of the old General's jealousy,
such literal proof as he still required of the concealed entrance,
through which so much villany had been accomplished--and so his
letter--and now its consequences--about which it was too late to think.

General Lennox, standing by the table, with one candle on the
chimneypiece and his glasses to his eyes, read aloud, with some little
stumbling, these words from the letter of Monsieur Varbarriere:--

"The reason of my so doing will be obvious when I say that I have
certain circumstances to lay before you which nearly affect your honour.
I decline making any detailed statement by letter; nor will I explain my
meaning at Marlowe Manor. But if, without _fracas_, you will give me a
private meeting, at any place between this and London, I will make it my
business to see you, when I shall satisfy you that I have not made this
request without the gravest reasons."

"Those are the passages, sir, on which you are so good as to offer me an
explanation; and first, there's the phrase, you know, 'certain
circumstances to lay before you which nearly affect your _honour_;'
that's a word, you know, sir, that a fellow _feels_ in a way--in a way
that can't be triffled with."

"Certainly. Put your question, General Lennox, how you please," answered
Varbarriere, with a grave bow.

"Well, how--how--exactly--I'll--I will put my question. I'd like to
know, sir, in what relation--in--yes--in what relation, as a soldier,
sir, or as a gentleman, sir, or as--_what_?"

"I am very much concerned to say, sir, that it is in the very nearest
and most sacred interest, sir--as a _husband_."

General Lennox had sat down by this time, and was gazing with a frank
stern stare full into the dark countenance of his visitor; and in reply
he made two short little nods, clearing his voice, and lowering his eyes
to the table.

It was a very trifling way of taking it. But Varbarriere saw his face
flush fiercely up to the very roots of his silver hair, and he fancied
he could see the vessels throbbing in his temples.

"I--very good, sir--thank you," said the General, looking up fiercely
and shaking his ears, but speaking in a calm tone.

"Go on, pray--let me know--I say--in God's name, don't keep me."

"Now, sir, I'll tell it to you briefly--I'll afterwards go into whatever
proof you desire. I have reason, I deeply regret it, to believe--in fact
to know--that an immoral intimacy exists between Sir Jekyl Marlowe and
Lady Jane Lennox."

"It's a lie, sir!" screamed the General--"a damned lie, sir--a damned
lie, sir--a _damned_ lie, sir."

His gouty claw was advanced trembling as if to clutch the muffler that
was folded about Monsieur Varbarriere's throat, but he dropped back in
his seat again shaking, and ran his fingers through his white hair
several times. There was a silence which even M. Varbarriere did not
like.

Varbarriere was not the least offended at his violence. He knew quite
well that the General did not understand what he said, or mean, or
remember it--that it was only the wild protest of agony. For the first
time he felt a compunction about that old foozle, who had hitherto
somehow counted for nothing in the game he was playing, and he saw him,
years after, as he had shrieked at him that night, with his claw
stretched towards his throat, ludicrous, and also terrible.

"My God! sir," cried the old man, with a quaver that sounded like a
laugh, "do you tell me so?"

"It's true, sir," said Varbarriere.

"Now, sir, I'll not interrupt you--tell all, pray--hide nothing," said
the General.

"I was, sir, accidentally witness to a conversation which is capable of
no other interpretation; and I have legal proof of the existence of a
secret door, connecting the apartment which has been assigned to you, at
Marlowe, with Sir Jekyl's room."

"The damned villain! What a fool," and then very fiercely he suddenly
added, "You can prove all this, sir? I hope you can."

"All this, and more, sir. I suspect, sir, there will hardly be an
attempt to deny it."

"Oh, sir, it's terrible; but I was such a fool. I had no business--I
deserve it all. Who'd have imagined such villains? But, d---- me, sir, I
can't believe it."

There was a tone of anguish in the old man's voice which made even his
grotesque and feeble talk terrible.

"I say there can't be such devils on earth;" and then he broke into an
incoherent story of all his trust and love, and all that Jane owed him,
and of her nature which was frank and generous, and how she never hid a
thought from him--open as heaven, sir. What business was it of his,
d---- him! What did he mean by trying to set a man against his wife? No
one but a scoundrel ever did it.

Varbarriere stood erect.

"You may submit how you like, sir, to your fate; but you shan't insult
me, sir, without answering it. My note left it optional to you to exact
my information or to remain in the darkness, which it seems you prefer.
If you wish it, I'll make my bow--it's nothing to me, but two can play
at that game. I've fought perhaps oftener than you, and you shan't bully
_me_."

"I suppose you're right, sir--don't go, pray--I think I'm half _mad_,
sir," said General Lennox, despairingly.

"Sir, I make allowance--I forgive your language, but if you want to talk
to me, it must be with proper respect. I'm as good a gentleman as you;
my statement is, of course, strictly true, and if you please you can
test it."



CHAPTER IX.

Guy Deverell at Slowton.


"Come, sir, I have a right to know it--have you not an object in fooling
me?" said General Lennox, relapsing all on a sudden into his ferocious
vein.

"In telling you the truth, sir, I _have_ an object, perhaps--but seeing
that it _is_ the truth, and concerns you so nearly, you need not trouble
yourself about _my_ object," answered Varbarriere, with more
self-command than was to have been expected.

"I _will_ test it, sir. I will try you," said the General, sternly.
"By -- -- I'll sift it to the bottom."

"So you ought, sir; that's what I mean to help you to," said
Varbarriere.

"How, sir?--say _how_, and by Heaven, sir, I'll shoot him like a dog."

"The way to do it I've considered. I shall place you _probably_ in
possession of such proof as will thoroughly convince you."

"Thank you, sir, go on."

"I shall be at Marlowe to-morrow--you must arrive late--on no account
earlier than half-past twelve. I will arrange to have you admitted by
the glass door--through the conservatory. Don't bring your vehicle
beyond the bridge, and leave your luggage at the Marlowe Arms. The
object, sir, is this," said Varbarriere, with deliberate emphasis,
observing that the General's grim countenance did not look as
apprehensive as he wished, "that your arrival shall be unsuspected. No
one must know anything of it except myself and another, until you shall
have reached your room. Do you see?"

"Thanks, sir--yes," answered the General, looking as unsatisfactorily as
before.

"There are two recesses with shelves--one to the right, the other to the
left of the bed's head as you look from the door. The secret entrance I
have mentioned lies through that at the right. You must not permit any
alarm which may be intended to reach Sir Jekyl. Secure the door, and do
you sit up and watch. There's a way of securing the secret door from the
inside--which I'll explain--that would _prevent_ his entrance--don't
allow it. The whole--pardon me, sir--_intrigue_ will in that case be
disclosed without the possibility of a prevarication. You have followed
me, I hope, distinctly."

"I--I'm a little flurried, I believe, sir; I have to apologise. I'll ask
you, by-and-by, to repeat it. I think I should like to be alone, sir.
She wrote me a letter, sir--I wish I had died when I got it."

When Varbarriere looked at him, he saw that the old East Indian was
crying.

"Sir, I grieve with you," said Varbarriere, funereally. "You can command
my presence whenever you please to send for me. I shall remain in this
house. It will be absolutely necessary, of course, that you should see
me again."

"Thank you, sir. I know--I'm sure you mean kindly--but God only knows
all it is."

He had shaken his hand very affectionately, without any meaning--without
knowing that he had done so.

Varbarriere said--

"Don't give way, sir, too much. If there is this sort of misfortune, it
is much better discovered--_much_ better. You'll think so just now.
You'll view it quite differently in the morning. Call for me the moment
you want me--farewell, sir."

So Varbarriere was conducted to his bed-room, and made, beside his
toilet, conscientious inquiries about his late dinner, which was in an
advanced state of preparation; and when he went down to partake of it,
he had wonderfully recovered the interview with General Lennox.
Notwithstanding, however, he drank two glasses of sherry, contrary to
gastronomic laws, before beginning. Then, however, he made, even for
him, a very good dinner.

He could not help wondering what a prodigious fuss the poor old fogey
made about this little affair. He could not enter the least into his
state of mind. She was a fine woman, no doubt; but there were others--no
stint--and he had been married quite long enough to sober and acquire an
appetite for liberty.

What was the matter with the old fellow? But that it was insufferably
comical, he could almost find it in his heart to pity him.

Once or twice as he smoked his cigar he could not forbear shaking with
laughter, the old Philander's pathetics struck him so sardonically.

I really think the state of that old gentleman, who certainly had
attained to years of philosophy, was rather serious. That is, I dare say
that a competent medical man with his case under observation at that
moment would have pronounced him on the verge either of a fit or of
insanity.

When Varbarriere had left the room, General Lennox threw himself on the
red damask sofa, which smelled powerfully of yesterday's swell bagman's
tobacco, never perceiving that stale fragrance, nor the thinness of the
cushion which made the ribs and vertebræ of the couch unpleasantly
perceptible beneath. Then, with his knees doubled up, and the "Times"
newspaper over his face, he wept, and moaned, and uttered such plaintive
and hideous maunderings as would do nobody good to hear of.

A variety of wise impulses visited him. One was to start instantaneously
for Marlowe and fight Sir Jekyl that night by candlelight; another, to
write to his wife for the last time as his wife--an eternal
farewell--which perhaps would have been highly absurd, and affecting at
the same time.

About two hours after Varbarriere's departure for dinner, he sent for
that gentleman, and they had another, a longer, and a more collected
interview--if not a happier one.

The result was, that Varbarriere's advice prevailed, as one might easily
foresee, having a patient so utterly incompetent to advise himself.

The attorney, having shaken hands with Monsieur Varbarriere, and watched
from the platform the gradual disappearance of the train that carried
him from the purlieus of Slowton, with an expression of face plaintive
as that with which Dido on the wild sea banks beheld the receding
galleys of Æneas, loitered back again dolorously to the hostelry.

He arrived at the door exactly in time to witness the descent of Guy
Deverell from his chaise. I think he would have preferred not meeting
him, it would have saved him a few boring questions; but it was by no
means a case for concealing himself. He therefore met him with a
melancholy frankness on the steps.

The young man recognised him.

"Mr. Rumsey?--How do you do? Is my uncle here?"

"He left by the last train. I hope I see you well, sir."

"Gone? and where to?"

"He did not tell me." That was true, but the attorney had seen his
valise labelled "Chester" by his direction. "He went by the London
train, but he said he would be back to-morrow. Can _I_ do anything? Your
arrival was not expected."

"Thank you. I think not. It was just a word with my uncle I wished. You
say he will be here again in the morning?"

"Yes, so he said. I'm waiting to see him."

"Then I can't fail to meet him if I remain." The attorney perceived,
with his weatherwise experience, the traces of recent storm, both in the
countenance and the manner of this young man, whose restiveness just now
might be troublesome.

"Unless your business is urgent, I think--if you'll excuse me--you had
better return to Marlowe," remarked the attorney. "You'll find it more
comfortable quarters, a good deal, and your uncle will be very much
hurried while here, and means to return to Marlowe to-morrow evening."

"But I shan't. I don't mean to return; in fact, I wish to speak to him
here. I've delayed you on the steps, sir, very rudely; the wind is
cold."

So he bowed, and they entered together, and the attorney, whose
curiosity was now a little piqued, found he could make nothing of him,
and rather disliked him; his reserve was hardly fair in so very young a
person, and practised by one who had not yet won his spurs against so
redoubted a champion as the knight of the rueful countenance.

Next morning, as M. Varbarriere had predicted, General Lennox, although
sleep had certainly had little to do with the change, was quite a
different man in some respects--in no wise happier, but much more
collected; and now he promptly apprehended and retained Monsieur
Varbarriere's plan, which it was agreed was to be executed that night.

More than once Varbarriere's compunctions revisited him as he sped
onwards that morning from Chester to Slowton. But as men will, he
bullied these misgivings and upbraidings into submission. He had been
once or twice on the point of disclosing this portion of the
complication to his attorney, but an odd sort of shyness prevented. He
fancied that possibly the picture and his part in it were not altogether
pretty, and somehow he did not care to expose himself to the secret
action of the attorney's thoughts.

Even in his own mind it needed the strong motive which had first
prompted it. Now it was no longer necessary to explore the mystery of
that secret door through which the missing deed, and indeed the Deverell
estate, had been carried into old Sir Harry's cupboard. But what was to
be done? He had committed himself to the statement. General Lennox had a
right to demand--in fact, _he_ had promised--a distinct explanation.

Yes, a distinct explanation, and, further, a due corroboration by proof
of that explanation. It was all due to Monsieur Varbarriere, who had
paid that debt to his credit and conscience, and behold what a picture!
Three familiar figures, irrevocably transformed, and placed in what a
halo of infernal light.

"The thing could not be helped, and, whether or no, it was only right.
Why the devil should I help Jekyl Marlowe to deceive and disgrace that
withered old gentleman? I don't think it would have been a pleasant
position for me."

And all the respectabilities hovering near cried "hear, hear, hear!" and
Varbarriere shook up his head, and looked magisterial over the havoc of
the last livid scene of the tragedy he had prepared; and the porter
crying "Slowton!" opened the door, and released him.



CHAPTER X.

Uncle and Nephew.


When he reached his room, having breakfasted handsomely in the
coffee-room, and learned that early Mr. Rumsey had accomplished a
similar meal in his own sitting-room, he repaired thither, and entered
forthwith upon their talk.

It was a bright and pleasant morning; the poplar trees in front of the
hotel were all glittering in the mellow early sunlight, and the birds
twittering as pleasantly as if there was not a sorrow or danger on
earth.

"Well, sir, true to my hour," said Monsieur Varbarriere, in his deep
brazen tones, as smiling and wondrously he entered the attorney's
apartment.

"Good morning, sir--how d'ye do? Have you got those notes prepared you
mentioned?"

"That I have, sir, as you shall see, pencil though; but that doesn't
matter--no?"

The vowel sounded grandly in the upward slide of Varbarriere's titanic
double bass.

The attorney took possession of the pocket-book containing these
memoranda, and answered--

"No, I can read it very nicely. Your nephew is here, by-the-bye; he came
last night."

"Guy? What's brought him here?"

M. Varbarriere's countenance was overcast. What had gone wrong? Some
chamber in his mine had exploded, he feared, prematurely.

Varbarriere opened the door, intending to roar for Guy, but remembering
where he was, and the dimensions of the place, he tugged instead at the
bell-rope, and made his summons jangle wildly through the lower regions.

"Hollo!" cried Varbarriere from his threshold, anticipating the
approaching waiter; "a young gentleman--a Mr. Guy Strangways, arrived
last evening?"

"Strangways, please, sir? Strangways? No, sir, I don't think we 'av got
no gentleman of that name in the 'ouse, sir."

"But I know you _have_. Go, make out where he is, and let him know that
his uncle, Monsieur Varbarriere, has just arrived, and wants to see
him--_here_, may I?" with a glance at the attorney.

"Certainly."

"There's some mischief," said Varbarriere, with a lowering glance at the
attorney.

"It looks uncommon like it," mused that gentleman, sadly.

"Why doesn't he come?" growled Varbarriere, with a motion of his heel
like a stamp. "What do you think he has done? Some cursed sottise."

"Possibly he has proposed marriage to the young lady, and been refused."

"Refused! I hope he has."

At this juncture the waiter returned.

"Well?"

"No, sir, please. No one hin the 'ouse, sir. No such name."

"Are you sure?" asked Varbarriere of the attorney, in an under diapason.

"Perfectly--said he'd wait here for you. I told him you'd be here this
morning," answered he, dolorously.

"Go down, sir, and get me a list of the gentlemen in the house. I'll pay
for it," said Varbarriere, with an imperious jerk of his hand.

The ponderous gentleman in black was very uneasy, and well he might. So
he looked silently out of the window which commands a view of the inn
yard, and his eyes wandered over a handsome manure-heap to the
chicken-coop and paddling ducks, and he saw three horses' tails in
perspective in the chiaro-oscuro of the stable, in the open door of
which a groom was rubbing a curb chain. He thought how wisely he had
done in letting Guy know so little of his designs. And as he gloomily
congratulated himself on his wise reserve, the waiter returned with a
slate, and a double column of names scratched on it.

Varbarriere having cast his eye over it, suddenly uttered an oath.

"Number 10--that's the gentleman. Go to number 10, and tell him his
uncle wants him here," roared Varbarriere, as if on the point of
knocking the harmless waiter down. "Read there!" he thundered, placing
the slate, with a clang, before the meek attorney, who read opposite to
number 10, "Mr. G. Deverell."

He pursed his mouth and looked up lackadaisically at his glowering
client, saying only "Ha!"

A minute after and Guy Deverell in person entered the room. He extended
his hand deferentially to M. Varbarriere, who on his part drew himself
up black as night, and thrust his hands half way to the elbows in his
trowsers pockets, glaring thunderbolts in the face of the contumacious
young man.

"You see _that_?" jerking the slate with another clang before Guy. "Did
_you_ give that name? Look at number _ten_, sir." Varbarriere was now
again speaking French.

"Yes, sir, Guy Deverell--my own name. I shall never again consent to go
by any other. I had no idea what it might involve--never."

The young man was pale, but quite firm.

"You've broken your word, sir; you have ended your relations with me,"
said Varbarriere, with a horrible coldness.

"I am sorry, sir--I _have_ broken my promise, but when I could not keep
it without a worse deception. To the consequences, be they what they
may, I submit, and I feel, sir, more deeply than you will ever know all
the kindness you have shown me from my earliest childhood until now."

"Infinitely flattered," sneered Varbarriere, with a mock bow. "You have,
I presume, disclosed your name to the people at Marlowe as frankly as to
those at Slowton?"

"Lady Alice Redcliffe called me by my true name, and insisted it was
mine. I could not deny it--I admitted the truth. Mademoiselle Marlowe
was present also, and heard what passed. In little more than an hour
after this scene I left Marlowe Manor. I did not see Sir Jekyl, and
simply addressed a note to him saying that I was called away
unexpectedly. I did not repeat to him the disclosure made to Lady Alice.
I left that to the discretion of those who had heard it."

"Their _discretion_--very good--and now, Monsieur Guy Deverell, I have
_done_ with you. I shan't leave you as I took you up, absolutely
penniless. I shall so place you as to enable you with diligence to earn
your bread without degradation--that is all. You will be so good as to
repair forthwith to London and await me at our quarters in St. James's
Street. I shall send you, by next post, a cheque to meet expenses in
town--no, pray don't thank me; you might have thanked me by your
obedience. I shan't do much more to merit thanks. Your train starts from
hence, I think, in half an hour."

Varbarriere nodded angrily, and moved his hand towards the door.

"Farewell, sir," said Guy, bowing low, but proudly.

"One word more," said Varbarriere, recollecting suddenly; "you have not
arranged a correspondence with any person? answer me on your honour."

"No, sir, on my honour."

"Go, then. Adieu!" and Varbarriere turned from him brusquely, and so
they parted.

"Am I to understand, sir," inquired the attorney, "that what has just
occurred modifies our instructions to proceed in those cases?"

"Not at all, sir," answered Varbarriere, firmly.

"You see the civil proceedings must all be in the name of the young
gentleman--a party who is of age--and you see what I mean."

"I undertake personally the entire responsibility; you are to proceed in
the name of Guy Deverell, and what is more, use the utmost despatch, and
spare no cost. When shall we open the battle?"

"Why, I dare say next term."

"That is less than a month hence?"

"Yes, sir."

"By my faith, his hands will be pretty full by that time," said
Varbarriere, exultingly. "We must have the papers out again. I can give
you all this day, up to half-past five o'clock. We must get the new case
into shape for counsel. You run up to town this evening. I suspect I
shall follow you to-morrow; but I must run over first to Marlowe. I have
left my things there, and my servant; and I suppose I must take a civil
leave of my enemy--there are courtesies, you know--as your
prize-fighters shake hands in the ring."

The sun was pretty far down in the west by the time their sederunt
ended. M. Varbarriere got into his short mantle and mufflers, and donned
his ugly felt hat, talking all the while in his deep metallic tones,
with his sliding cadences and resounding emphases. The polite and
melancholy attorney accompanied his nutritious client to the door, and
after he had taken his seat in his vehicle, they chatted a little
earnestly through the window, agreeing that they had grown very "strong"
indeed--anticipating nothing but victory, and in confidential whispers
breathing slaughter.

As Varbarriere, with his thick arm stuffed through one of the
upholstered leathern loops with which it is the custom to flank the
windows of all sorts of carriages, and his large varnished boot on the
vacant cushion at the other side, leaned back and stared darkly and
dreamily through the plate glass on the amber-tinted landscape, he felt
rather oddly approaching such persons and such scenes--a crisis with a
remoter and more tremendous crisis behind--the thing long predicted in
the whisperings of hope--the real thing long dreamed of, and now greeted
strangely with a mixture of exultation and disgust.

There are few men, I fancy, who so thoroughly enjoy their revenge as
they expected. It is one of those lusts which has its _goût de
revers_--"sweet in the mouth, bitter in the belly;" one of those
appetites which will allow its victim no rest _till_ it is gratified,
and no peace _afterward_. Now, M. Varbarriere was in for it, he was
already coming under the solemn shadow of its responsibilities, and was
chilled. It involved other people, too, besides its proper
object--people who, whatever else some of them might be, were certainly,
as respected him and his, innocent. Did he quail, and seriously think of
retiring _re infectâ_? No such thing! It is wonderful how steadfast of
purpose are the disciples of darkness, and how seldom, having put their
hands to the plough, they look back.

All this while Guy Deverell, in exile, was approaching London with
brain, like every other, teeming with its own phantasmagoria. He knew
not what particular danger threatened Marlowe Manor, which to him was a
temple tenanted by Beatrix alone, the living idol whom he worshipped. He
was assured that somehow his consent, perhaps cooperation, was needed to
render the attack effectual, and here would arise his opportunity, the
self-sacrifice which he contemplated with positive pleasure, though, of
course, with a certain awe, for futurity was a murky vista enough beyond
it.

Varbarriere's low estimate of young men led _him_ at once to conclude
that this was an amorous escapade, a bit of romance about that pretty
wench, Mademoiselle Beatrix. Why not? The fool, fooling according to his
folly, should not arrest wisdom in her march. Varbarriere was resolved
to take all necessary steps in his nephew's name, without troubling the
young man with a word upon the subject. He would have judgment and
execution, and he scoffed at the idea that his nephew, Guy, would take
measures to have him--his kinsman, guardian, and benefactor--punished
for having acted for his advantage without his consent.



CHAPTER XI.

In Lady Mary's Boudoir.


The red sunset had faded into darkness as M. Varbarriere descended from
his carriage at the door-steps of Marlowe. The dressing-bell had not yet
rung. Everyone was quite well, the solemn butler informed him
graciously, as if _he_ had kept them in health expressly to oblige M.
Varbarriere. That gentleman's dark countenance, however, was not
specially illuminated on the occasion. The intelligence he really wanted
referred to old Lady Alice, to whom the inexcusable folly and perfidy of
Guy had betrayed his name.

Upon this point he had grown indescribably uncomfortable as he drew near
to the house. Had the old woman been conjecturing and tattling? Had she
called in Sir Jekyl himself to counsel? How was he, Varbarriere, to meet
Sir Jekyl? He must learn from Lady Alice's lips how the land lay.

"And Lady Alice," he murmured with a lowering countenance, "pretty well,
I hope? Down-stairs to-day, eh?"

The butler had not during his entire visit heard the "foreign chap" talk
so much English before.

"Lady Halice was well in 'ealth."

"In the drawing-room?"

"No, sir, in Lady Mary's boudoir."

"And Sir Jekyl?"

"In 'is hown room, sir."

"Show me to the boudoir, please; I have a word for Lady Alice."

A few moments more and he knocked at the door of that apartment, and was
invited to enter with a querulous drawl that recalled the association of
the wild cat with which in an irreverent moment he had once connected
that august old lady.

So Varbarriere entered and bowed and stood darkly in the door-frame,
reminding her again of the portrait of a fat and cruel burgomaster. "Oh!
it's you? come back again, Monsieur Varbarriere? Oh!--I'm very glad to
see you."

"Very grateful--very much flattered; and your ladyship, how are _you_?"

"Pretty well--ailing--always ailing--delicate health and _cruelly_
tortured in mind. What else can I expect, sir, but sickness?"

"I hope your mind has not been troubled, Lady Alice, since I had the
honour of last seeing you."

"Now, _do_ you really hope that? Is it _possible_ you _can_ hope that my
mind, in the state in which you left it has been one minute at ease
since I saw you? Beside, sir, I have heard something that for reasons
quite inexplicable _you_ have chosen to conceal from me."

"May I ask what it is? I shall be happy to explain."

"Yes, the name of that young man--it is _not_ Strangways, that was a
falsehood; his name, sir, is Guy Deverell!"

And saying this Lady Alice, after her wont, wept passionately.

"That is perfectly true, Lady Alice; but I don't see what value that
information can have, apart from the explanatory particulars I promised
to tell you; but not for a few days. If, however, you desire it, I shall
postpone the disclosure no longer. You will, I am sure, first be so good
as to tell me, though, whether anyone but you knows that the foolish
young man's name is Deverell?"

"No; no one, except Beatrix, not a creature. She was present, but has
been, at my request, perfectly silent," answered Lady Alice, eagerly,
and gaped darkly at Varbarriere, expecting his revelation.

M. Varbarriere thought, under the untoward circumstances, that a
disclosure so imperfect as had been made to Lady Alice was a good deal
more dangerous than one a little fuller. He therefore took that lady's
hand very reverentially, and looking with his full solemn eyes in her
face, said--

"It is not only true, madam, that his name is Guy Deverell, but equally
true that he is the lawful son, as well as the namesake, of that Guy
Deverell, your _son_, who perished by the hand of Sir Jekyl Marlowe in a
duel. Shot down foully, as that Mr. Strangways avers who was his
companion, and who was present when the fatal event took place."

"Gracious Heaven, sir! My son married?"

"Yes, madam, _married_ more than a year before his death. All the proofs
are extant, and at this moment in England."

"Married! my boy married, and never told his mother! Oh, Guy, Guy, _Guy_
is it credible?"

"It is not a question, madam, but an absolute certainty, as I will show
you whenever I get the papers to Wardlock."

"And to whom, sir, pray, was my son married?" demanded Lady Alice, after
a long pause.

"To my sister, madam."

Lady Alice gaped at him in astonishment.

"Was she a person at all his equal in life?--a person of--of any
education, I mean?" inquired Lady Alice, with a gasp, sublimely
unconscious of her impertinence.

"As good a lady as you are," replied Varbarriere, with a swarthy flush
upon his forehead.

"I should like to _know_ she was a _lady_, at all events."

"She was a lady, madam, of pure blood, incapable of a mean thought,
incapable, too, of anything low-bred or impertinent."

His sarcasm sped through and through Lady Alice without producing any
effect, as a bullet passes through a ghost.

"It is a great surprise, sir, but _that_ will be satisfactory. I suppose
you can show it?"

Varbarriere smiled sardonically and answered nothing.

"My son married to a Frenchwoman! Dear, dear, _dear!_ Married! You can
feel for me, monsieur, knowing as I do nothing of the person or family
with whom he connected himself."

Lady Alice pressed her lean fingers over her heart, and swept the wall
opposite, with dismal eyes, sighing at intervals, and gasping
dolorously.

The old woman's egotism and impertinence did not vex him long or much.
But the pretence of being absolutely above irritation from the feminine
gender, in any extant sage, philosopher, or saint, is a despicable
affectation. Man and woman were created with inflexible relations; each
with the power in large measure or in infinitesimal doses, according to
opportunity, to infuse the cup of the other's life with sweet or
bitter--with nectar or with poison. Therefore great men and wise men
have winced and will wince under the insults of small and even of old
women.

"A year, you say, before my poor boy's death?"

"Yes, about that; a little more."

"Mademoiselle Varbarriere! H'm," mused Lady Alice.

"I did not say Varbarriere was the name," sneered he, with a deep-toned
drawl.

"Why, you said, sir, did not you, that the Frenchwoman he married was
your sister?"

"I said the lady who accepted him was my sister. I never said her name
was Varbarriere, or that she was a Frenchwoman."

"Is not your name Varbarriere, sir?" exclaimed Lady Alice, opening her
eyes very wide.

"Certainly, madam. A _nom de guerre_, as we say in France, a name which
I assumed with the purchase of an estate, about six years ago, when I
became what you call a naturalised French subject."

"And pray, sir, what _is_ your name?"

"_Varbarriere_, madam. I did bear an English name, being of English
birth and family. May I presume to inquire particularly whether you have
divulged the name of my nephew to anyone?"

"No, to no one; neither has Beatrix, I am certain."

"You now know, madam, that the young man is your own grandson, and
therefore entitled to at least as much consideration from you as from
me; and I again venture to impress upon you this fact, that if
prematurely his name be disclosed, it may, and indeed _must_ embarrass
my endeavours to reinstate him in his rights."

As he said this Varbarriere made a profound and solemn bow; and before
Lady Alice could resume her catechism, that dark gentleman had left the
room.

As he emerged from the door he glanced down the broad oak stair, at the
foot of which he heard voices. They were those of Sir Jekyl and his
daughter. The Baronet's eye detected the dark form on the first platform
above him.

"Ha! Monsieur Varbarriere--very welcome, monsieur--when did you arrive?"
cried his host in his accustomed French.

"Ten minutes ago."

"Quite well, I hope."

"Perfectly; many thanks--and Mademoiselle Beatrix?"

The large and sombre figure was descending the stairs all this time, and
an awful shadow, as he did so, seemed to overcast the face and form of
the young lady, to whom, with a dark smile, he extended his hand.

"Quite well, Beatrix, too--_all_ quite well--even Lady Alice in her
usual health," said Sir Jekyl.

"_Better_--I'm glad to hear," said Varbarriere.

"Better! Oh dear, no--that would never do. But her temper is just as
lively, and all her ailments flourishing. By-the-bye, your nephew had to
leave us suddenly."

"Yes--business," said Varbarriere, interrupting.

Beatrix, he was glad to observe, had gone away to the drawing-room.

"He'll be back, I hope, immediately?" continued the Baronet. "He's a
fine young fellow. Egad, he's about as good-looking a young fellow as I
know. I should be devilish proud of him if I were you. When does he come
back to us?"

"Immediately, I hope; business, you know; but nothing very long. We are
both, I fear, a very tedious pair of guests; but you have been so
pressing, so hospitable----"

"Say rather, so selfish, monsieur," answered Sir Jekyl, laughing. "Our
whist and cigars have languished ever since you left."

M. Varbarriere laughed a double-bass accompaniment to the Baronet's
chuckle, and the dressing-bell ringing at that moment, Sir Jekyl and he
parted agreeably.



CHAPTER XII.

The Guests Together.


Varbarriere marched slowly up, and entered his dressing-room with a
"glooming" countenance and a heavy heart. Everything looked as if he had
left it but half an hour ago. He poked the fire and sat down.

He felt like a surgeon with an operation before him. There was a
loathing of it, but he did not flinch.

Reader, you think you understand other men. Do you understand yourself?
Did you ever quite succeed in defining your own motives, and arriving at
the moral base of any action you ever did? Here was Varbarriere sailing
with wind and tide full in his favour, right into the haven where he
would be--yet to look in his face you would have said "_there_ is a
sorrowful man," and had you been able to see within, you would have
said, "_there_ is a man divided against himself." Yes, as every man
_is_. Several spirits, quite distinct, not blending, but pleading and
battling very earnestly on opposite sides, all in possession of the
"house"--but one dominant, always with a disputed sway, but always
carrying his point--always the prosperous bully.

Yes, every man is a twist of many strands. Varbarriere was compacted of
several Varbarrieres--one of whom was the stronger and the most
infernal. His feebler associates commented upon him--despised
him--feared him--sought to restrain him but knew they could not. He
tyrannised, and was to the outer world the one and indivisible
Varbarriere.

Monsieur Varbarriere the tyrant was about to bring about a _fracas_ that
night, against which the feebler and better Varbarrieres protested.
Varbarriere the tyrant held the knife over the throat of a faithless
woman--the better Varbarrieres murmured words of pity and of faint
remonstrance. Varbarriere the tyrant scrupled not to play the part of
spy and traitor for his ends; the nobler Varbarrieres upbraided him
sadly, and even despised him. But what were these feeble angelic
Varbarrieres? The ruler is the state, _l'état c'est moi!_ and
Varbarriere the tyrant carried all before him.

As the dark and somewhat corpulent gentleman before the glass adjusted
his necktie and viewed his shirt-studs, he saw in his countenance, along
with the terrible resolution of that tyrant, the sorrows and fears of
the less potent spirits; and he felt, though he would not accept, their
upbraidings and their truth; so with a stern and heavy heart he
descended to the drawing-room.

He found the party pretty nearly assembled, and the usual buzz and
animation prevailing, and he smiled and swayed from group to group, and
from one chair to another.

Doocey was glad, monstrous glad to see him.

"I had no idea how hard it was to find a good player, until you left
us--our whist has been totally ruined. The first night we tried Linnett;
he thinks he plays, you know; well, I do assure you, you never
_witnessed_ such a thing--such a _caricature_, by Jupiter--forgetting
your lead--revoking--_every_thing, by Jove. You may guess what a chance
we had--_my_ partner, I give you my honour, against old Sir Paul
Blunket, as dogged a player as there is in England, egad, and Sir Jekyl
there. We tried Drayton next night--the most conceited fellow on earth,
and _no head_--Sir Paul had him. I never saw an old fellow so savage.
Egad, they were calling one another names across the table--you'd have
_died_ laughing; but we'll have some play now you've come back, and I'm
very glad of it."

Varbarriere, while he listened to all this, smiling his fat dark smile,
and shrugging and bowing slightly as the tale required these evidences,
was quietly making his observations on two or three of the persons who
most interested him. Beatrix, he thought, was looking ill--certainly
much paler, and though very pretty, rather sad--that is, she was ever
and anon falling into little abstractions, and when spoken to, waking up
with a sudden little smile.

Lady Jane Lennox--she did not seem to observe him--was seated like a
sultana on a low cushioned seat, with her rich silks circling grandly
round her. He looked at her a little stealthily and curiously, as men
eye a prisoner who is about to suffer execution. His countenance during
that brief glance was unobserved, but you might have read there
something sinister and cruel.

"I forget--_had_ the Bishop come when you left us?" said Sir Jekyl,
laying his hand lightly from behind on the arm of Varbarriere. The
dark-featured man winced--Sir Jekyl's voice sounded unpleasantly in his
reverie.

"Ah! Oh! The Bishop? Yes--the Bishop was here when I left; he had been
here a day or two," answered Varbarriere, with a kind of effort.

"Then I need not introduce you--you're friends already," said Sir Jekyl.

At which moment the assembled party learned that dinner awaited them,
and the murmured arrangements for the procession commenced, and the
drawing-room was left to the click of the Louis Quatorze clock and the
sadness of solitude.

"We had such a dispute, Monsieur Varbarriere, while you were away," said
Miss Blunket.

"About me, I hope," answered the gentleman addressed, in tolerable
English, and with a gallant jocularity.

"Well, no--not about you," said old Miss Blunket, timidly. "But I so
wished for you to take part in the argument."

"And why wish for me?" answered the sardonic old fellow, amused, maybe
the least bit in the world flattered.

"Well, I think you have the power, Monsieur Varbarriere, of putting a
great deal in very few words--I mean, of making an argument so clear and
short."

Varbarriere laughed indulgently, and began to think Miss Blunket a
rather intelligent person.

"And what was the subject, pray?"

"Whether life was happier in town or country."

"Oh! the old debate--country mouse against town mouse," replied
Varbarriere.

"Ah, just so--so true--I don't think _any_one said that, and--and--I do
wish to know which side you would have taken."

"The condition being that it should be all country or all town, of
course, and that we were to retain our incomes?"

"Yes, certainly," said Miss Blunket, awaiting his verdict with a little
bit of bread suspended between her forefinger and thumb.

"Well, then, I should pronounce at once for the country," said
Varbarriere.

"I'm so glad--that's just what I said. I'm sure, said I, I should have
Monsieur Varbarriere on my side if he were here. I'm so glad I was
right. Did not you hear me say that?" said she, addressing Lady Jane
Lennox, whose steady look, obliquely from across the table a little
higher up, disconcerted her.

Lady Jane was not thinking of the debate, and asked in her quiet haughty
way--

"What is it?"

"Did I not say, yesterday, that Monsieur Varbarriere would vote for the
country, in our town or country argument, if he were here?"

"Oh! did you? Yes, I believe you did. I was not listening."

"And which side, pray, Lady Jane, would you have taken in that ancient
debate?" inquired Varbarriere, who somehow felt constrained to address
her.

"Neither side," answered she.

"What! neither town nor country--and how then?" inquired Varbarriere,
with a shrug and a smile.

"I think there is as much hypocrisy and slander in one as the other, and
I should have a new way--people living like the Chinese, in boats, and
never going on shore."

Varbarriere laughed--twiddled a bit of bread between his finger and
thumb, and leaned back, and looked down, still smiling, by the edge of
his plate; and was there not a little flush under the dark brown tint of
his face?

"That would be simply prison," ejaculated Miss Blunket.

"Yes, prison; and is not anything better than liberty with its
liabilities? Why did Lady Hester Stanhope go into exile in the East, and
why do sane men and women go into monasteries?"

Varbarriere looked at her with an odd kind of interest, and sighed
without knowing it; and he helped himself curiously to sweetbread, a
minute later, and for a time his share in the conversation flagged.

Lady Jane, he thought, was looking decidedly better than when he
left--very well, in fact--very well indeed--not at all like a person
with anything pressing heavily on her mind.

He glanced at her again. She was talking to old Sir Paul Blunket in a
bold careless way, which showed no sign of hidden care or fear.

"Have you been to town since?" inquired Sir Jekyl, who happened to catch
Varbarriere's eye at that moment, and availed himself of a momentary
lull in what we term the conversation, to put his question.

"No; you think I have been pleasuring, but it was good honest business,
I assure you."

"Lady Alice here fancied you might have seen the General, and learned
something about his plans," continued Sir Jekyl.

"What General?--Lennox--eh?" inquired Varbarriere.

"Yes. What's your question, Lady Alice?" said the Baronet, turning to
that lady, and happily not observing an odd expression in Varbarriere's
countenance.

"No question; he has not been to London," answered the old lady, drawing
her shawl which she chose to dine in about her, chillily.

"Is it anything _I_ can answer?" threw in Lady Jane, who, superbly
tranquil as she looked, would have liked to pull and box Lady Alice's
ears at that moment.

"Oh no, I fancy not; it's only the old question, when are we to see the
General; is he coming back at all?"

"I wish anyone could help me to an answer," laughed Lady Jane, with a
slight uneasiness, which might have been referred to the pique which
would not have been unnatural in a handsome wife neglected.

"I begin to fear I shall leave Marlowe without having seen him," said
Lady Alice, peevishly.

"Yes, and it is not complimentary, you know; he disappeared just the day
before you came, and he won't come back till you leave; men are such
mysterious fellows, don't you think?" said Sir Jekyl.

"It doesn't look as if he liked her company. Did he ever meet you, Lady
Alice?" inquired Sir Paul Blunket in his bluff way, without at all
intending to be uncivil.

"_That_, you think, would account for it; much obliged to you, Sir
Paul," said Lady Alice, sharply.

Sir Paul did not see it, or what she was driving at, and looked at her
therefore with a grave curiosity, for he did not perceive that she was
offended.

"Sir Paul has a way of hitting people very hard, has not he, Lady Alice?
and then leaving them to recover of themselves," said Sir Jekyl.

"There's not a great deal of civility wasted among you," observed Lady
Alice.

"I only meant," said Sir Paul, who felt that he should place himself
right, "that I could not see why General Lennox should avoid Lady Alice,
unless he was acquainted with her. There's nothing in that."

"By-the-bye, Lady Alice," said Sir Jekyl, who apprehended a possible
scene from that lady's temper, and like a good shepherd wished to see
his flock pasture peaceably together--"I find I can let you have any
quantity you like of that plant you admired yesterday. I forget its
name, and the Bishop says he has got one at the Palace with a scarlet
blossom; so, perhaps, if you make interest with him--what do you say, my
lord?"

So having engaged the good Bishop in floral conversation with that fiery
spirit, the Baronet asked Sir Paul whether he believed all that was said
about the great American cow; and what he thought of the monster
parsnip: and thus he set him and Lady Alice ambling on different tracts,
so that there was no risk of their breaking lances again.



CHAPTER XIII.

A Visitor in the Library.


The company were now pecking at those fruits over which Sir Jekyl was
wont to chuckle grimly, making pleasant satire on his gardener, vowing
he kept an Aladdin's garden, and that his greengages were emeralds, and
his gooseberries rubies.

In the midst of the talk, the grave and somewhat corpulent butler stood
behind his master's chair, and murmured something mildly in his ear.

"What's his name?" inquired Sir Jekyl.

"Pullet, please, sir."

"Pullet! I never heard of him. If he had come a little earlier with a
knife and fork in his back, we'd have given a good account of him."

His jokes were chuckled to Lady Alice, who received them drowsily.

"Where have you put him?"

"In the library, please, sir."

"What kind of looking person?"

"A middlish sort of a person, rayther respectable, I should say, sir;
but dusty from his journey."

"Well, give him some wine, and let him have dinner, if he has not had it
before, and bring in his card just now."

All this occurred without exciting attention or withdrawing Sir Jekyl
from any sustained conversation, for he and Lady Alice had been left
high and dry on the bank together by the flow and ebb of talk, which at
this moment kept the room in a rattle; and Sir Jekyl only now and then
troubled her with a word.

"Pullet!" thought Sir Jekyl, he knew not why, uneasily. "Who the devil's
Pullet, and what the plague can Pullet want? It can't be Paulett--can
it? There's nothing on earth Paulett can want of me, and he would not
come at this hour. Pullet--Pullet--let us see." But he _could_ not see,
there was not a soul he knew who bore that name.

"He's eating his dinner, sir, the gentleman, sir, in the small parlour,
and says you'll know him quite well, sir, when you see him," murmured
the butler, "and more--"

"Have you got his card?"

"He said, sir, please, it would be time enough when he had heat his
dinner."

"Well, so it will."

And Sir Jekyl drank a glass of claret, and returned to his ruminations.

"So, I shall know Pullet quite well when I see him," mused the Baronet,
"and he'll let me have his card when he has had his dinner--a cool
gentleman, whatever else he may be." About this Pullet, however, Sir
Jekyl experienced a most uncomfortable suspense and curiosity. A bird of
ill omen he seemed to him--an angel of sorrow, he knew not why, in a
mask.

While the Baronet sipped his claret, and walked quite alone in the midst
of his company, picking his anxious steps, and hearing strange sounds
through his valley of the shadow of death, the promiscuous assemblage of
ladies and gentlemen dissolved itself. The fair sex rose, after their
wont, smiled their last on the sable file of gentlemen, who stood
politely, napkin in hand, simpering over the backs of their chairs, and,
some of them majestically alone, others sliding their fair hands
affectionately within the others' arms, glided through the door in
celestial procession.

"I shall leave you to-morrow, Sir Jekyl," began the Bishop, gravely,
changing his seat to one just vacated beside his host, and bringing with
him his principal chattels, his wine-glasses and napkin.

"I do hope, my lord, you'll reconsider that," interrupted Sir Jekyl,
laying his fingers kindly on the prelate's purple sleeve. A dismal cloud
in Sir Jekyl's atmosphere was just then drifting over him, and he clung,
as men do under such shadows, to the contact of good and early
friendship.

"I am, I assure you, very sorry, and have enjoyed your hospitality
much--_very_ much; but we can't rest long, you know: we hold a good many
strings, and matters won't wait our convenience."

"I'm only afraid you are overworked; but, of course, I understand how
you feel, and shan't press," said Sir Jekyl.

"And I was looking for you to-day in the library," resumed the Bishop,
"anxious for a few minutes, on a subject I glanced at when I arrived."

"I--I _know_," said Sir Jekyl, a little hesitatingly.

"Yes, the dying wish of poor Sir Harry Marlowe, your father," murmured
the Bishop, looking into his claret-glass, which he slowly turned about
by the stem; and, to do him justice, there was not a quarter of a
glassful remaining in the bottom.

"I know--to be sure. I quite agree with your lordship's view. I wish to
tell you that--quite, I assure you. I don't--I _really_ don't at all
understand his reasons; but, as you say, it is a case for implicit
submission. I intend, I assure you, actually to take down that room
during the spring. It is of no real use, and rather spoils the house."

"I am happy, my dear Sir Jekyl, to hear you speak with so much decision
on the subject--truly happy;" and the venerable prelate laid his hand
with a gentle dignity on the cuff of Sir Jekyl's dress-coat, after the
manner of a miniature benediction. "I _may_ then discharge _that_ quite
from my mind?"

"Certainly--quite, my lord. I accept your views implicitly."

"And the _box_--the other wish--you know," murmured the Bishop.

"I must honestly say, I can't the least understand what can have been in
my poor father's mind when he told me to--to do what was right with
it--was not that it? For I do assure you, for the life of me, I can't
think of anything to _be_ done with it but let it _alone_. I pledge you
my honour, however, if I ever do get the least inkling of his meaning, I
will respect it as implicitly as the other."

"Now, now, that's exactly what I wish. I'm perfectly satisfied you'll do
what's right."

And as he spoke the Bishop's countenance brightened, and he drank
slowly, looking up toward the ceiling, that quarter of a glass of claret
on which he had gazed for so long in the bottom of the crystal chalice.

Just then the butler once more inclined his head from the back of Sir
Jekyl's chair, and presented a card to his master on the little salver
at his left side. It bore the inscription, "Mr. Pelter, Camelia Villa,"
and across this, perpendicularly, after the manner of a joint
"acceptance" of the firm, was written--"Pelter and Crowe, Chambers,
Lincoln's Inn Fields," in bold black pencilled lines.

"Why did not you tell me that before?" whispered the Baronet, tartly,
half rising, with the card in his hand.

"I was not haware, Sir Jekyl. The gentleman, said his name exactly like
Pullet."

"In the library? Well--tell him I'm coming," said Sir Jekyl; and his
heart sank, he knew not why.

"Beg your pardon, my lord, for a moment--my man of business, all the way
from London, and I fancy in a hurry. I shall get rid of him with a word
or two--you'll excuse me? Dives, will you oblige me--take my place for a
moment, and see that the bottle does not stop; or, Doocey, will
you?--Dives is doing duty at the foot."

Doocey had hopes that the consultation with the butler portended a
bottle of that wonderful Constantia which he had so approved two days
before, and took his temporary seat hopefully.

Sir Jekyl, with a general apology and a smile glided away without fuss,
and the talk went on much as before.

When the parlour-door shut behind Sir Jekyl, his face darkened. "I know
it's some _stupid_ thing," he thought, as he walked down the gallery
with rapid steps, toward the study, the sharp air agitating, as he did
so, his snowy necktie and glossy curls.

"How d'ye do, Mr. Pelter?--very happy to see you. I had not a notion it
was you--the stupid fellow gave me quite another name. Quite well, I
hope?"

"Quite well, Sir Jekyl, I thank you--a--quite well," said the attorney,
a stoutish, short, wealthy-looking man, with a massive gold chain, a
resolute countenance, and a bullet head, with close-cut greyish hair.

Pelter was, indeed, an able, pushing fellow, without Latin or even
English grammar, having risen in the office from a small clerkship, and,
perhaps, was more useful than his gentlemanlike partner.

"Well--a--well, and what has brought you down here? Very glad to see
you, you know; but you would not run down for fun, I'm afraid," said Sir
Jekyl.

"Au--no--au, well, Sir Jekyl, it has turned out, sir--by gad, sir, I
believe them fellows _are_ in England, after all!"

"What do you mean by them fellows?" said Sir Jekyl, with a very dark
look, unconsciously repeating the attorney's faulty grammar.

"Strangways and Deverell, you know--I mean them--Herbert Strangways, and
a young man named Deverell--they're in England, I've been informed, very
private--and Strangways has been with Smith, Rumsey, and Snagg--the
office--you know; and there is something on the stocks there."

As the attorney delivered this piece of intelligence he kept his eye
shrewdly on Sir Jekyl, rather screwed and wrinkled, as a man looks
against a storm.

"Oh!--is that all? There's nothing very alarming, is there, in
that?--though, d---- me, I don't see, Mr. Pelter, how you reconcile
your present statement with what you and your partner wrote to me
twice within the last few weeks."

"Very true, Sir Jekyl; perfectly true, sir. Our information misled us
totally; they have been devilish sharp, sir--devilish sly. We never were
misled before about that fellow's movements--not that they were ever of
any real importance."

"And why do you think them--but maybe you don't--of more consequence
now?"

Pelter looked unpleasantly important, and shook his head.

"What _is_ it--I suppose I may _know_?" said Sir Jekyl.

"It looks queerish, Sir Jekyl, there's no denying that--in fact, very
queerish indeed--both me and my partner think so. You recollect the
deed?"

"No--devil a deed--d---- them all!--I don't remember one of them. Why,
you seem to forget it's nearly ten years ago," interrupted the Baronet.

"Ah!--no--not _ten_--the copy of the deed that we got hold of,
pretending to be a marriage settlement. It was brought us, you know, in
a very odd way, but quite fair."

"Yes, I do remember--yes, to be sure--that thing you thought was a
forgery, and put in our way to frighten us. Well, and do you fancy
that's a genuine thing now?"

"I always thought it might--I think it _may_--in fact, I think it _is_.
We have got a hint they rely on it. And here's a point to be noted: the
deed fixes five-and-twenty as the period of his majority; and just as he
attains that age, his father being nearly that time dead, they put their
shoulders to the wheel."

"Put their d--d numbskulls under it, you mean. How can they move--how
can they stir? I'd like to know how they can touch my title? I don't
care a curse about them. What the plague's frightening you and Crowe
_now_? I'm blest if I don't think you're growing old. Why can't you
stick to your own view?--you say one thing one day and another the next.
Egad, there's no knowing where to have you."

The Baronet was talking bitterly, scornfully, and with all proper
contempt of his adversaries, but there's no denying he looked very pale.

"And there certainly is activity there; cases have been with counsel on
behalf of Guy Deverell, the son and heir of the deceased," pursued Mr.
Pelter, with his hands in his pockets, looking grimly up into the
Baronet's face.

"Won't you sit down?--do sit down, Pelter; and you haven't had wine?"
said Sir Jekyl.

"Thanks--I've had some sherry."

"Well, you must have some claret. I'd like a glass myself."

He had rung the hell, and a servant appeared.

"Get claret and glasses for two."

The servant vanished deferentially.

"I'm not blaming you, mind; but is it not odd we should have known
nothing of this son, and this pretended marriage till now?"

"Odd!--oh dear, no!--you don't often know half so much of the case at
the other side--nothing at all often till it's on the file."

"Precious satisfactory!" sneered Sir Jekyl.

"When we beat old Lord Levesham, in Blount and Levesham, they had not a
notion, no more than the man in the moon, what we were going on, till we
produced the release, and got a direction, egad." And the attorney
laughed over that favourite recollection.



CHAPTER XIV.

Pelter opens his mind.


"Take a glass of claret. This is '34. Maybe you'd like some port
better?"

"No, thanks, this will do very nicely," said the accommodating attorney.
"Thirty-four? So it is, egad! and uncommon fine too."

"I hope you can give me a day or two--not business, of course--I mean by
way of holiday," said Sir Jekyl. "A little country air will do you a
world of good--set you up for the term."

Mr. Pelter smiled, and shook his head shrewdly.

"Quite out of the question, Sir Jekyl, I thank you all the
same--business tumbling in too fast just now--I daren't stay away
another day--no, no--ha, ha, ha! no rest for us, sir--no rest for the
wicked. But this thing, you know, looks rather queerish, we thought--a
little bit urgent: the other party has been so sly; and no want of
money, sir--the sinews of war--lots of tin there."

"Yes, of course; and lots of tin here, too. I fancy fellows don't like
to waste money only to hold their own; but, egad, if it comes to be a
pull at the long purse, all the worse for them," threw in the Baronet.

"And their intending, you know, to set up this marriage," continued the
attorney without minding; "and that Herbert Strangways being over here
with the young pretender, as we call him, under his wing; and Strangways
is a deuced clever fellow, and takes devilish sound view of a case when
he lays his mind to it. It was he that reopened that great bankruptcy
case of Onslow and Grawley, you remember."

Sir Jekyl assented, but did not remember.

"And a devilish able bit of chess-play that was on both sides--no end of
concealed property--brought nearly sixty thousand pounds into the fund,
egad! The creditors passed a vote, you remember--spoke very handsomely
of him. Monstrous able fellow, egad!"

"A monstrous able fellow he'll be if he gets my property, egad! It seems
to me you Pelter and Crowe are half in love with him," said Sir Jekyl,
flushed and peevish.

"We'll hit him a hard knock or two yet, for all that--ha, ha!--or I'm
mistaken," rejoined old Mr. Pelter.

"Do you know him?" inquired Sir Jekyl; and the servant at the same time
appearing in answer to his previous summons, he said--

"Go to the parlour and tell Mr. Doocey--you know _quietly_--that I am
detained by business, but that we'll join them in a little time in the
drawing-room."

So the servant, with a reverence, departed.

"I say, _do_ you?"

"Just a little. Seven years ago, when I was at Havre, he was stopping
there too. A very gentlemanlike man--sat beside him twice at the table
d'hôte. I could see he knew d--d well who I was--wide awake, very
agreeable man, very--wonderful well-informed. Wonderful ups and downs
that fellow's had--clever fellow--ha, ha, ha!--I mentioned you, Sir
Jekyl; I wanted to hear if he'd say anything--fishing, hey? Old file,
you know"--and the attorney winked and grinned agreeably at Sir Jekyl.
"Capital claret this--cap-i-tal, by Jupiter! It came in natural enough.
We were talking of England, you see. He was asking questions; and so,
talking of country gentlemen, and county influence, and parliamentary
life, you know, I brought in _you_, and asked him if he knew Sir Jekyl
Marlowe." Another wink and a grin here. "I asked, a bit suddenly, you
know, to see how he'd take it. Did not show, egad! more than that
decanter--ha, ha, ha!--devilish cool dog--monstrous clever fellow--not a
bit; and he said he did not know you--had not that honour; but he knew a
great deal of you, and he spoke very handsomely--upon my honour--quite
au--au--handsomely of you, he did."

"Vastly obliged to him," said Sir Jekyl; but though he sneered I think
he was pleased. "You don't recollect what he said, I dare say?"

"Well, I can_not_ exactly."

"Did he mention any unpleasantness ever between us?" continued Sir
Jekyl.

"Yes, he said there had, and that he was afraid Sir Jekyl might not
remember his name with satisfaction; but he, for his part, liked to
forget and forgive--that kind of thing, you know, and young fellows
being too hot-headed, you know. I really--I don't think he bears you
personally any ill-will."

"There has certainly been time enough for anger to cool a little, and I
really, for my part, never felt anything of the kind towards him; I can
honestly say _that_, and I dare say he knows it. I merely want to
protect myself against--against madmen, egad!" said Sir Jekyl.

"I think that copy of a marriage settlement you showed me had no names
in it," he resumed.

"No, the case is all put like a moot point, not a name in it. It's all
nonsense, too, because every man in my profession knows a copying clerk
never has a notion of the meaning of anything--letter, deed,
pleading--nothing he copies--not an iota, by Jove!"

"Finish the bottle; you must not send it away," said Sir Jekyl.

"Thanks, I'm doing very nicely; and now as they may open fire suddenly,
I want to know"--here the attorney's eyes glanced at the door, and his
voice dropped a little--"any information of a confidential sort that may
guide us in--in----"

"Why, I fancy it's _all_ confidential, isn't it?" answered Sir Jekyl.

"Certainly--but aw--but--I meant--you know--there was aw--a--there was a
talk, you know, about a deed. Eh?"

"I--I--_yes_, I've heard--I know what you mean," answered Sir Jekyl,
pouring a little claret into his glass. "They--those fellows--they lost
a deed, and they were d--d impertinent about it; they wanted--you know
it's a long time ago--to try and slur my poor father about it--I don't
know exactly how, only, I think, there would have been an action for
slander very likely about it, if it had not stopped of itself."

Sir Jekyl sipped his claret.

"I shan't start till three o'clock train to-morrow, if you have anything
to say to me," said the attorney, looking darkly and expectingly in Sir
Jekyl's face.

"Yes, I'll think over everything. I'd like to have a good talk with you
in the morning. You sleep here, you know, of course."

"Very kind. I hope I shan't be in your way, Sir Jekyl. Very happy."

Sir Jekyl rang the bell.

"I shan't let you off to-morrow, unless you really can't help it," he
said; and, the servant entering, "Tell Mrs. Sinnott that Mr. Pelter
remains here to-night, and would wish--_do_ you?--to run up to your
room. Where's your luggage?"

"Precious light luggage it is. I left it at the hotel in the town--a
small valise, and a----"

"Get it up here, do you mind, and let us know when Mr. Pelter's room is
ready."

"Don't be long about dressing; we must join the ladies, you know, in the
drawing-room. I wish, Pelter, there was no such thing as business; and
that all attorneys, except you and Crowe, of course, were treated in
this and the next world according to their deserts," an ambiguous
compliment at which Pelter nodded slyly, with his hands in his pockets.

"You'll have to get us all the information you can scrape together, Sir
Jekyl. You see they may have evidence of that deed--I mean the lost one,
you know--and proving a marriage and the young gentleman legitimate. It
may be a serious case--upon my word a _very_ serious case--do you see?
And term begins, you know, immediately so there really is no time to
lose, and there's no harm in being ready."

"I'll have a long talk with you about it in the morning, and I am
devilish glad you came--curse the whole thing!"

The servant here came to say that Mr. Pelter's room was ready, and his
luggage sent for to the town.

"Come up, then--we'll look at your room."

So up they went, and Pelter declared himself charmed.

"Come to my room, Mr. Pelter--it's a long way off, and a confoundedly
shabby crib; but I've got some very good cigars there," said Sir Jekyl,
who was restless, and wished to hear the attorney more fully on this
hated business.



CHAPTER XV.

The Pipe of Peace.


Sir Jekyl marched Mr. Pelter down the great stair again, intending to
make the long journey rearward. As they reached the foot of the stairs,
Monsieur Varbarriere, candle in hand, was approaching it on the way to
his room. He was walking leisurely, as large men do after dinner, and
was still some way off.

"By Jove! Why did not you tell me?" exclaimed the attorney, stopping
short. "By the law! you've _got_ him here."

"Monsieur Varbarriere?" said the Baronet.

"Mr. Strangways, sir--_that's_ he."

"_That_ Strangways!" echoed the Baronet.

"Herbert Strangways," whispered Mr. Pelter, and by this time M.
Varbarriere was under the rich oak archway, and stopped, smiling darkly,
and bowing a little to the Baronet, who was for a moment surprised into
silence.

"How do you do, Mr. Strangways, sir?" said the attorney, advancing with
a shrewd resolute smile, and extending his hand.

M. Varbarriere, without the slightest embarrassment, took it, bowing
with a courtly gravity.

"Ah, Monsieur Pelter?--yes, indeed--very happy to meet you again."

"Yes, sir--very happy, Mr. Strangways; so am I. Did not know you were in
this part of the world, Mr. Strangways, sir. You remember Havre, sir?"

"Perfectly--yes. You did not know me by the name of Varbarriere, which
name I adopted on purchasing the Varbarriere estates shortly after I met
you at Havre, on becoming a naturalised subject of France."

"Wonderful little changed, Monsieur Barvarrian--fat, sir--a little
stouter--in good case, Mr. Strangways; but six years, you _know_, sir,
does not _count_ for _nothing_--ha, ha, ha!"

"You have the goodness to flatter me, I fear," answered Varbarriere,
with a smile somewhat contemptuous, and in his deep tones of banter.

"This is my friend, Mr. Strangways, if he'll allow me to call him
so--Mr. Herbert Strangways, Sir Jekyl," said the polite attorney,
presenting his own guest to the Baronet.

"And so, Monsieur Varbarriere, I find I have an additional reason to
rejoice in having made your acquaintance, inasmuch as it revives a very
old one, so old that I almost fear you may have forgotten it. You
remember our poor friend, Guy Deverell, and--"

"Perfectly, Sir Jekyl, and I was often tempted to ask you the same
question; but--but you know there's a _melancholy_--and we were so very
happy here, I had not courage to invite the sadness of the retrospect,
though a very remote one. I believe I was right, Sir Jekyl. Life's true
philosophy is to extract from the present all it can yield of
happiness, and to bury our dead out of our sight."

"I dare say--I'm much of that way of thinking myself. And--dear
me!--I--I suppose I'm very much altered." He was looking at Varbarriere,
and trying to recover in the heavy frame and ponderous features before
him the image of that Herbert Strangways whom, in the days of his early
coxcombry, he had treated with a becoming impertinence.

"No--you're wonderfully little changed--I say honestly--quite
wonderfully like what I remember you. And I--I know what a
transformation I am--perfectly," said Varbarriere.

And he stood before Sir Jekyl, as he would display a portrait, full
front--Sir Jekyl held a silver candlestick in his hand, Monsieur
Varbarriere his in his--and they stood face to face--in a dream of the
past.

Varbarriere's mystic smile expanded to a grin, and the grin broke into a
laugh--deep and loud--not insulting--not sneering.

In that explosion of sonorous and enigmatic merriment Sir Jekyl
joined--perhaps a little hesitatingly and coldly, for he was trying, I
think, to read the riddle--wishing to be quite sure that he might be
pleased, and accept these vibrations as sounds of reconciliation.

There was nothing quite to forbid it.

"I see," said Monsieur Varbarriere, in tones still disturbed by
laughter, "in spite of your politeness, Sir Jekyl, what sort of
impression my metamorphosis produces. Where is the raw-boned youth--so
tall and gawky, that, egad! London bucks were ashamed to acknowledge him
in the street, and when they did speak could not forbear breaking his
gawky bones with their jokes?--ha, ha, ha! Now, lo! here he stands--the
grand old black swine, on hind legs--hog-backed--and with mighty paunch
and face all draped in fat. Bah! ha, ha, ha! What a magician is Father
Time! Look and laugh, sir--you cannot laugh more than I."

"I laugh at your fantastic caricature, so utterly unlike what I see.
There's a change, it's true, but no more than years usually bring; and,
by Jove! I'd much rather any day grow a little full, for _my_ part, than
turn, like some fellows, into a scarecrow."

"No, no--no scarecrow, certainly," still laughed Varbarriere.

"Egad, no," laughed the attorney in chorus. "No corners there, sir--ribs
well covered--hey? nothing like it coming on winter;" and grinning
pleasantly, he winked at Sir Jekyl, who somehow neither heard nor saw
him, but said--

"Mr. Pelter, my law adviser here, was good enough to say he'd come to my
room, which you know so well, Monsieur Varbarriere, and smoke a cigar.
You can't do better--pray let me persuade you."

He was in fact tolerably easily persuaded, and the three gentlemen
together--Sir Jekyl feeling as if he was walking in a dream, and leading
the way affably--reached that snuggery which Varbarriere had visited so
often before.

"Just _one_--they _are_ so good," said he. "We are to go to the
drawing-room--aren't we?"

"Oh, certainly. I think you'll like these--they're rather good, Mr.
Pelter. You know them, Monsieur Varbarriere."

"I've hardly ever smoked such tobacco. Once, by a chance, at Lyons, I
lighted on a box very like these--that is, about a third of them--but
hardly so good."

"We've smoked some of these very pleasantly together," said Sir Jekyl,
cultivating genial relations.

Varbarriere, who had already one between his lips, grunted a polite
assent with a nod. You would have thought that his whole soul was in his
tobacco, as his dark eyes dreamily followed the smoke that thinly
streamed from his lips. His mind, however, was busy in conjecturing what
the attorney had come about, and how much he knew of his case and his
plans. So the three gentlemen puffed away in silence for a time.

"Your nephew, Mr. Guy Strangways, I hope we are soon to see him again?"
asked Sir Jekyl, removing his cigar for a moment.

"You are very good. Yes, I hope. In fact, though I call it business, it
is only a folly which displeases me, which he has promised shall end;
and whenever I choose to shake hands, he will come to my side. There is
no real quarrel, mind," and Varbarriere laughed, "only I must cure him
of his nonsense."

"Well, then we may hope very soon to see Mr. Strangways. I _call_ him
Strangways, you know, because he has assumed that name, I suppose,
permanently."

"Well, I think so. His real name is Deverell--a very near relation, and,
in fact, representative of our poor friend Guy. His friends all thought
it best he should drop it, with its sad associations, and assume a name
that may be of some little use to him among more affluent relatives,"
said M. Varbarriere, who had resolved to be frank as day and harmless as
doves, and to disarm suspicion adroitly.

"A particularly handsome fellow--a distinguished-looking young man. How
many things, Monsieur Varbarriere, we wish undone as we get on in life!"

The attorney lay back in his chair, his hands in his pockets, his heels
on the carpet, his cigar pointing up to the ceiling, and his eyes closed
luxuriously. He intended making a note of everything.

"I hope to get him on rapidly in the French service," resumed
Varbarriere, "and I can make him pretty comfortable myself while I live,
and more so after I'm gone; and in the meantime I am glad to put him in
a field where he must exert himself, and see something of labour as well
as of life."

There was a knock at the door, and the intelligence that Mr. Pelter's
luggage was in his room. He would have stayed, perhaps, but Sir Jekyl,
smiling, urged haste, and as his cigar was out, he departed. When he was
quite gone, Sir Jekyl rose smiling, and extended his hand to
Varbarriere, who took it smiling in his own way; also, Sir Jekyl was
looking in the face of the large man who stood before him, and returning
his gaze a little cloudily; and laughing, both shook hands for a good
while, and there was nothing but this low-toned laughter between them.

"At all events, Herbert, I'm glad we have met, very glad--very, very. I
did not think I'd have felt it quite this way. I've your forgiveness to
ask for a great deal. I never mistook a man so much in my life. I
believe you are a devilish good fellow; but--but I fancied, you know,
for a long time, that you had taken a hatred to me, and--and I have done
you great injustice; and I wish very much I could be of any use to--to
that fine young fellow, and show any kindness worth the name towards
you."

Sir Jekyl's eyes were moist, he was smiling, and he was shaking
Varbarriere's powerful hand very kindly. I cannot analyse his thoughts
and feelings in that moment of confusion. It had overcome him
suddenly--it had in some strange way even touched Varbarriere. Was there
dimly seen by each a kindly solution of a life-long hatred--a
possibility of something wise, perhaps self-sacrificing, that led to
reconciliation and serenity in old days?

Varbarriere leaned his great shoulders to the wall, his hand still in
Sir Jekyl's, still smiling, and looked almost sorrowfully, while he
uttered something between a long pant and a sigh.

"Wonderful thing life is--terrible battle, life!" murmured Varbarriere,
leaning against the wall, with his dark eyes raised to the far cornice,
and looking away and through and beyond it into some far star.

There are times when your wide-awake gentlemen dream a little, and Sir
Jekyl laughed a pensive and gentle little laugh, shaking his head and
smiling sadly in reply.

"Did you ever read Vathek?" asked the Baronet, "rather a good
horror--the fire, you know--ah, ha!--that's a fire every fellow has a
spark of in him; I know I have. I've had everything almost a fellow
wants; but this I know, if I were sure that death was only rest and
darkness, there's hardly a day I live I would not choose it." And with
this sentiment came a sincere and odd little laugh.

"My faith! I believe it's true," said Varbarriere with a shrug, and a
faint smile of satiety on his heavy features.

"We must talk lots together, Herbert--talk a great deal. You'll find I'm
not such a bad fellow after all. Egad, I'm _very_ glad you're here!"



CHAPTER XVI.

A Rencontre in the Gallery.


It was time now; however, that they should make their appearance in the
drawing-room; so, for the present, Varbarriere departed. He reached his
dressing-room in an undefined state--a sort of light, not of battle
fires, but of the dawn in his perspective; when, all on a sudden, came
the image of a white-moustached, white-browed, grim old military man,
glancing with a clear, cold eye, that could be cruel, from the
first-class carriage window, up and down the platform of a gas-lit
station, some hour and a half away from Slowton, and then sternly at his
watch.

"The stupid old fogey!" thought Varbarriere, with a pang, as he revised
his toilet hurriedly for the drawing-room. "Could that episode be
evaded?"

There was no time to arrive at a clear opinion on this point, nor,
indeed, to ascertain very clearly what his own wishes pointed at. So, in
a state rather anarchic, he entered the gallery, _en route_ for the
drawing-room.

Monsieur Varbarriere slid forth, fat and black, from his doorway, with
wondrous little noise, his bulk considered, and instantly on his retina,
lighted by the lamp at the cross galleries, appeared the figure of a
tall thin female, attired in a dark cloak and bonnet, seated against
the opposite wall, not many steps away. Its head turned, and he saw
Donica Gwynn. It was an odd sort of surprise; he had just been thinking
of her.

"Oh! I did not think as you were here, sir; I thought you was in
Lunnon."

"Yet here I am, and you too, both unexpectedly." A suspicion had crossed
his mind. "How d'ye do, Mrs. Gwynn?"

"Well, I thank you, sir."

"Want _me_ here?"

"No, sir; I was wrote for by missus please."

"Yes," he said very slowly, looking hard at her. "Very good, Mrs. Gwynn;
have you anything to say to me?"

It would not do, of course, to protract this accidental talk; he did not
care to be seen _tête-à-tête_ with Donica Gwynn in the gallery.

"No, sir, please, I han't nothing to say, sir," and she courtesied.

"Very well, Mrs. Gwynn; we're quite secret, hey?" and with another hard
look, but only momentary, in her face, he proceeded toward the head of
the staircase.

"Beg parding, sir, but I think you dropt something." She was pointing to
a letter, doubled up, and a triangular corner of which stuck up from the
floor, a few yards away.

"Oh! thank you," said Varbarriere, quickly retracing his steps, and
picking it up.

A terrible fact for the world to digest is this, that some of our
gentlemen attorneys are about the most slobbering men of business to be
found within its four corners. They will mislay papers, and even lose
them; they are dilatory and indolent--quite the reverse of our sharp,
lynx-eyed, energetic notions of that priesthood of Themis, and prone to
every sort and description of lay irregularity in matters of order and
pink tape.

Our friend Pelter had a first-rate staff, and a clockwork partner beside
in Crowe, so that the house was a very regular one, and was himself, in
good measure, the fire, bustle, and impetus of the firm. But every
virtue has its peccant correspondent. If Pelter was rapid, decided,
daring, he was also a little hand-over-hand. He has been seen in a hurry
to sweep together and crunch like a snowball a drift of banknotes, and
stuff them so impressed into the bottom of his great-coat pocket! What
more can one say?

This night, fussing out at his bed-room door, he plucked his scented
handkerchief from his pocket, and, as he crossed his threshold, with it
flirted forth a letter, which had undergone considerable attrition in
that receptacle, and was nothing the whiter, I am bound to admit,
especially about the edges, for its long sojourn there.

Varbarriere knew the handwriting and I. M. M. initials in the left-hand
lower angle. So, with a nod and a smile, he popped it into his trowsers
pocket, being that degree more cautious than Pelter.

Sir Jekyl was once more in high spirits. To do him justice, he had not
affected anything. There had been an effervescence--he hardly knew how
it came about. But his dangers seemed to be dispersing; and, at the
worst, were not negotiation and compromise within his reach?

Samuel Pelter, Esq., gentleman attorney and a solicitor of the High
Court of Chancery, like most prosperous men, had a comfortable
confidence in himself; and having heard that Lady Alice Redcliffe was
quarrelling with her lawyer, thought there could be no harm in his
cultivating her acquaintance.

The old lady was sitting in a high-backed chair, very perpendicularly,
with several shawls about and around her, stiff and pale; but her dusky
eyes peered from their sunken sockets, in grim and isolated observation.

Pelter strutted up. He was not, perhaps, a distinguished-looking
man--rather, I fear, the contrary. His face was broad and smirking, with
a short, broad, blue chin, and a close crop of iron-grey on his round
head, and plenty of crafty crow's-feet and other lines well placed
about.

He stood on the hearthrug, within easy earshot of Lady Alice, whom he
eyed with a shrewd glance, "taking her measure," as his phrase was, and
preparing to fascinate his prey.

"Awful smash that, ma'am, on the Smather and Sham Junction," said
Pelter, having fished up a suitable topic. "Frightful thing--fourteen
killed--and they say upwards of seventy badly hurt. I'm no chicken, Lady
Alice, but by Jove, ma'am, I can't remember any such casualty--a regular
ca-tas-trophe, ma'am!"

And Pelter, with much feeling, gently lashed his paunch with his
watch-chain and bunch of seals, an obsolete decoration, which he wore--I
believe still wears.

Lady Alice, who glowered sternly on him during this speech, nodded
abruptly with an inarticulate sound, and then looked to his left, at a
distant picture.

"I trust I see you a great deal better, Lady Alice. I have the pleasure,
I believe, to address Lady Alice Redcliffe--aw, haw, h'm," and the
attorney executed his best bow, a ceremony rather of agility than grace.
"I had the honour of seeing you, Lady Alice Redcliffe, at a
shower-flow--flower-show, I mean--in the year--let me see--egad, ma'am,
twelve--no--no--_thirteen_ years ago. How time does fly! Of course all
them years--_thirteen_, egad!--has not gone for nothing. I dare say you
don't perceive the alterations in yourself--no one does--I wish no one
else did--that was always my wish to Mrs. P. of a morning--_my_ good
lady, Mrs. Pelter--ha, ha, ha! Man can't tether time or tide, as the
Psalm says, and every year scribbles a wrinkle or two. You were
suffering, I heard then, ma'am, chronic cough, ma'am--and all that. I
hope it's abated--I know it will, ma'am--my poor lady is a martyr to
it--troublesome thing--very--awful troublesome! Lady Alice."

There was no reply, Lady Alice was still looking sternly at the picture.

"I remember so well, ma'am, you were walking a little lame then, linked
with Lord Lumdlebury--(we have had the honour to do business
occasionally for his lordship)--and I was informed by a party with me
that you had been with Pincendorf. I don't think much of them jockeys,
ma'am, for my part; but if it was anything of a callosity--"

Without waiting for any more, Lady Alice Redcliffe rose in solemn
silence to her full height, beckoned to Beatrix, and said grimly--

"I'll change my seat, dear, to the sofa--will you help me with these
things?"

Lady Alice glided awfully to the sofa, and the gallant Mr. Pelter
instituted a playful struggle with Beatrix for possession of the shawls.

"I remember the time, miss, I would not have let you carry your share;
but, as I was saying to Lady Alice Redcliffe--"

He was by this time tucking a shawl about her knees, which, so soon as
she perceived, she gasped to Beatrix--

"Where's Jekyl?--I can't have _this_ any longer--call him here."

"As I was saying to you, Lady Alice, ma'am, our joints grow a bit rusty
after sixty; and talking of feet, I passed the Smather and Slam
Junction, ma'am, only two hours after the collision; and, egad! there
were three feet all in a row cut off by the instep, quite smooth, ma'am,
lying in the blood there, a pool as long as the passage up-stairs--awful
sight!"

Lady Alice rose up again, with her eyes very wide, and her mouth very
close, apparently engaged in mental prayer, and her face angry and pink,
and she beckoned with tremulous fingers to Sir Jekyl, who was
approaching with one of his provoking smiles.

"I say, Mr. Pelter, my friend Doocey wants you over there; they're at
logger-heads about a law point, and I can't help them."

"Hey! if it's _practice_ I can give them a wrinkle maybe;" and away
stumped the attorney, his fists in his pockets, smirking, to the group
indicated by his host.

"Hope I haven't interrupted a conversation? What can I do for you?" said
Sir Jekyl, gaily.

"What do you _mean_, Jekyl Marlowe--what _can_ you mean by bringing such
persons here? What pleasure can you _possibly_ find in low and
_dreadful_ society?--none of your family liked it. Where did you find
that man? How on earth did you procure such a person? If I _could_--if I
had been well enough, I'd have rung the bell and ordered your servant to
remove him. I'd have gone to my bed-room, sir, only that even there I
could not have felt safe from his intrusions. It's utterly intolerable
and preposterous!"

"I had no idea my venerable friend, Pelter, could have pursued a lady so
cruelly; but rely upon me, I'll protect you."

"I think you had better cleanse your house of such persons; at all
events, I insist they shan't be allowed to make their horrible sport of
me!" said Lady Alice, darting a fiery glance after the agreeable
attorney.



CHAPTER XVII.

Old Donnie and Lady Jane.


"Can you tell me, child, anything about that horrible fat old Frenchman,
who has begun to speak English since his return?" asked Lady Jane Lennox
of Beatrix, whom she stopped, just touching her arm with the tip of her
finger, as she was passing. Lady Jane was leaning back indolently, and
watching the movements of M. Varbarriere with a disagreeable interest.

"That's Monsieur Varbarriere," answered Beatrix.

"Yes, I know that; but who is he--what is he? I wish he were gone,"
replied she.

"I really know nothing of him," replied Beatrix, with a smile.

"Yes, you do know something about him: for instance, you know he's the
uncle of that handsome young man who accompanied him." This Lady Jane
spoke with a point which caused on a sudden a beautiful scarlet to tinge
the young girl's cheeks.

Lady Jane looked at her, without a smile, without archness, with a
lowering curiosity and something of pain, one might fancy, even of
malignity.

Lady Jane hooked her finger in Beatrix's bracelet, and lowering her eyes
to the carpet, remained silent, it seemed to the girl undecided whether
to speak or not on some doubtful subject. With a vague interest Beatrix
watched her handsome but sombre countenance, till Lady Jane appearing to
escape from her thoughts, with a little toss of her beautiful head and a
frown, said, looking up--

"Beatrix, I have such frightful dreams sometimes. I am ill, I think; I
am horribly nervous to-night."

"Would you like to go to your room? Maybe if you were to lie down, Lady
Jane--"

"By-and-by, perhaps--yes." She was still stealthily watching
Varbarriere.

"I'll go with you--shall I?" said Beatrix.

"No, you shan't," answered Lady Jane, rudely.

"And why, Lady Jane?" asked Beatrix, hurt and surprised.

"You shall never visit my room; you are a good little creature. I could
have loved you, Beatrix, but now I can't."

"Yet I like you, and you meet me so! why is this?" pleaded Beatrix.

"I can't say, little fool; who ever knows why they like or dislike? I
don't. The fault, I suppose, is mine, not yours. I never said it was
yours. If you were ever so little wicked," she added, with a strange
little laugh, "perhaps I could; but it is not worth talking about," and
with a sudden change from this sinister levity to a seriousness which
oscillated strangely between cruelty and sadness, she said--

"Beatrix, you like that young man, Mr. Strangways?" Again poor Beatrix
blushed, and was about to falter an exculpation and a protest; but Lady
Jane silenced it with a grave and resolute "_Yes--you like him_;" and
after a little pause, she added--"Well, if you don't marry _him_, marry
no one else;" and shortly after this, Lady Jane sighed heavily.

This speech of hers was delivered in a way that prevented evasion or
girlish hypocrisy, and Beatrix had no answer but that blush which became
her so; and dropping her eyes to the ground, she fell into a reverie,
from which she was called up by Lady Jane, who said suddenly--

"What can that fat Monsieur Varbarriere be? He looks like Torquemada,
the Inquisitor--mysterious, plausible, truculent--what do you think?
Don't you fancy he could poison you in an ice or a cup of coffee; or put
you into Cardinal Ballue's cage, and smile on you once a year through
the bars?"

Beatrix smiled, and looked on the unctuous old gentleman with an
indulgent eye, comparatively.

"I can't see him so melodramatically, Lady Jane," she laughed. "To me he
seems a much more commonplace individual, a great deal less interesting
and atrocious, and less like the abbot."

"What abbot?" said Lady Jane, sharply, "Now really that's very odd."

"I meant," said Beatrix, laughing, "the Abbot of Quedlinberg, in
Canning's play, who is described, you know, as very corpulent and
cruel."

"Oh, I forgot; I don't think I ever read it; but it chimed in so oddly
with my dreams."

"How, what do you mean?" cried Beatrix, amused.

"I dreamed some one knocked at night at my door, and when I said 'come
in,' that Monsieur Varbarriere put in his great face, with a hood on
like a friar's, smiling like--like an assassin; and somehow I have felt
a disgust of him ever since."

"Well, I really think he would look rather well in a friar's frock and
hood," said Beatrix, glancing at the solemn old man again with a little
laugh. "He would do very well for Mrs. Radcliff's one-handed monk, or
Schedone, or some of those awful ecclesiastics that scare us in books."

"I think him positively odious, and I hate him," said Lady Jane, quietly
rising. "I mean to steal away--will you come with me to the foot of the
stair?"

"Come," whispered Beatrix; and as Lady Jane lighted her candle, in that
arched recess near the foot of the stair, where, in burnished silver,
stand the files of candles, awaiting the fingers which are to bear them
off to witness the confidences of toilet or of dejection, she said--

"Well, as you won't take me with you, we must part here. Good-night,
Lady Jane."

Lady Jane turned as if to kiss her, but only patted her on the cheek,
and said coldly--

"Good-bye, little fool--now run back again."

When Lady Jane reached the gallery at the top of the staircase, she,
too, saw Donica Gwynn seated where Varbarriere had spoken to her.

"Ha! Donica," cried she suddenly, in the accents of early girlhood, "I'm
so glad to see you, Donica. You hardly know me now?"

And Lady Jane, in the light of one transient, happy smile, threw her
jewelled arms round the neck of the old housekeeper, whose visits of
weeks at a time to Wardlock were nearly her happiest remembrances of
that staid old mansion.

"You dear old thing! you were always good to me; and I such a madcap and
such a fury! Dull enough now, Donnie, but not a bit better."

"My poor Miss Jennie!" said old Donica Gwynn, with a tender little
laugh, her head just a little on one side, looking on her old pet and
charge with such a beautiful, soft lighting up of love in her hard old
face as you would not have fancied could have beamed there. Oh! most
pathetic mystery, how in our poor nature, layer over layer, the angelic
and the evil, the mean and the noble, lie alternated. How sometimes, at
long intervals, in the wintriest life and darkest face, the love of
angels will suddenly beam out, and show you, still unwrecked, the
eternal capacity for heaven.

"And grown such a fine 'oman--bless ye--I allays said she would--didn't
I?"

"You always stood up for me, old Donnie Don. Come into my room with me
now, and talk. Yes--come, and talk, and talk, and talk--I have no one,
Bonnie, to talk with now. If I had I might be different--I mean better.
You remember poor mamma, Donnie--don't you?"

"_Dear!_ to be sure--yes, and a nice creature, and a pretty--there's a
look in your face sometimes reminds me on her, Miss Jennie. And I allays
said you'd do well--didn't I?--and see what a great match, they tell me,
you a' made! Well well! and how you _have_ grown!--a fine lady, bless
you," and she laughed so softly over those thin, girlish images of
memory, you'd have said the laugh was as far away and as sad as the
remembrance.

"Sit down, Donnie Don," she said, when they had entered the room. "Sit
down, and tell me everything--how all the old people are, and how the
old place looks--you live there now? _I_ have nothing to tell, only I'm
married, as you know--and--and I think a most good-for-nothing
creature."

"Ah, no, pretty Miss Jane, there was good in you always, only a little
bit hasty, and _that_ anyone as had the patience could see; and I knowed
well you'd be better o' that little folly in time."

"I'm not better, Donnie--I'm worse--I _am_ worse, Donnie. I know I
am--not better."

"Well, dear! and jewels, and riches, and coaches, and a fine gentleman
adoring you--not very young, though. Well, maybe all the better. Did you
never hear say, it's better to be an old man's darling than a young
man's slave?"

"Yes, Donnie, it's very well; but let us talk of Wardlock--and he's
_not_ a fine man, Donnie, who put that in your head--he's old, and ugly,
and"--she was going to say stupid, but the momentary bitterness was
rebuked by an accidental glimpse of the casket in which his splendid
present was secured--"and tell me about Wardlock, and the people--is old
Thomas Jones there still?"

"No, he's living at Glastonhowe now, with his grandson that's
married--very happy; but you would not believe how old he looks, and
they say can't remember nothink as he used to, but very comfortable."

"And Turpin, the gardener?"

"Old Turpin be dead, miss, two years agone; had a fit a few months
before, poor old fellow, and never was strong after. Very deaf he was of
late years, and a bit cross sometimes about the vegetables, they do say;
but he was a good-natured fellow, and decent allays; and though he liked
a mug of ale, poor fellow, now and then, he was very regular at church."

"Poor old Turpin dead! I never heard it--and _old_? he used to wear a
kind of flaxen wig."

"Old! dearie me, that he was, miss, you would not guess how old--there's
eighty-five years on the grave-stone that Lady Alice put over him, from
the parish register, in Wardlock churchyard, bless ye!"

"And--and as I said just now about my husband, General Lennox, that he
was old--well, he _is_ old, but he's a good man, and kind, and such a
gentleman."

"And you love him--and what more is needed to make you both happy?"
added Donica; "and glad I am, miss, to see you so comfortably
married--and such a nice, good, grand gentleman; and don't let them
young chaps be coming about you with their compliments, and fine talk,
and love-making."

"What do you mean, woman? I should hope I know how to behave myself as
well as ever Lady Alice Redcliffe did. It is _she_ who has been talking
to you, and, I suppose, to every one, the stupid, wicked hag."

"Oh, Miss Jennie, dear!"



CHAPTER XVIII.

Alone--Yet not alone.


"Well, Donnie, don't talk about _her_; talk about Wardlock, and the
people, and the garden, and the trees, and old Wardlock church," said
Lady Jane, subsiding almost as suddenly as she flamed up. "Do you
remember the brass tablet about Eleanor Faukes, well-beloved and godly,
who died in her twenty-second year, in the year of grace sixteen hundred
and thirty-four? See how I remember it! Poor Eleanor Faukes! I often
think of her--and do you remember how you used to make me read the two
lines at the end of the epitaph? 'What you are I was; what I am you
shall be.' Do you remember?"

"Ay, miss, that I do. I wish I could think o' them sorts o' things
allays--it's very good, miss."

"Perhaps it is, Donnie. It's very sad and very horrible, at all events,
death and judgment," answered Lady Jane.

"Have you your old Bible yet, miss?"

"Not here," answered Lady Jane, colouring a little; but recollecting,
she said, "I _have_ got a very pretty one, though," and she produced a
beautiful volume bound in velvet and gold.

"A deal handsomer, Miss Jennie, but not so well read, I'm afeared,"
said Donica Gwynn, looking at the fresh binding and shining gilt leaves.

"There it is, Donnie Don; but I feel like you, and I _do_ like the old
one best, blurred and battered; poor old thing, it looked friendly, and
this like a fashionable chaplain. I have not seen it for a long time,
Donnie; perhaps it's lost, and this is only a show one, as you see."

And after a few seconds she added, a little bitterly, almost angrily, "I
never read my Bible now. I never open it," and then came an unnatural
little laugh.

"Oh! Miss Jennie, dear--I mean my Lady Jane--don't say that,
darling--_that_ way, anyhow, don't say it. Why should not you read your
Bible, and love it, better now nor ever, miss--the longer you live the
more you'll want it, and when sorrow comes, what have you but that?"

"It's all denunciation, all hard names, and threats, Donnie. If people
believed themselves what they _say_ every Sunday in church, miserable
sinners, and I dare say they are, they'd sicken and quake at sight of
it. I hope I may come to like it some day, Donnie," she added, with a
short sigh.

"I mind, Miss Jennie--I mean my Lady Jane."

"No, you're to call me Jennie still, or I'll drop Donnie Don, and call
you Mrs. Gwynn," said Lady Jane, with her hands on Donica's thin
shoulders, playfully, but with a very pensive face and tone.

Donica smiled for a moment, and then her face saddened too, and she
said--

"And I mind, Miss Jennie, when it was the same way with me, only with
better reason, for I was older than you, and had lived longer than ever
you did without a thought of God; but I tell you, miss, you'll find your
only comfort there at last; it is not much, maybe, to the like o' me,
that can't lay her mind down to it, but it's _some_think; ay, I mind the
time I durst not open it, thinking I'd only meet summat there to vex me.
But 'tisn't so: there's a deal o' good nature in the Bible, and ye'll be
sure to stumble on somethink kind whenever you open it."

Lady Jane made no answer. She looked down with a careworn gaze on her
white hand, the fleeting tenement of clay; jewelled rings glimmered on
its fingers--the vanities of the world, and under it lay the Bible, the
eternal word. She was patting the volume with a little movement that
made the brilliants flash. You would have thought she was admiring her
rings, but that her eyes were so sad and her gaze so dreamy.

"And I hear the mistress, Lady Alice, a-coming up--yes, 'tis her voice.
Good-night, Miss Jennie, dear."

"Good-night, dear old Donnie."

"And you'll promise me you'll read a bit in it every night."

"Where's the use in promising, Donnie? Don't we promise everything--the
whole Christian religion, at our baptism--and how do we keep it?"

"You must promise you'll read, if 'twas only a verse every night, Miss
Jennie, dear--it may be the makin' o' ye. I hear Lady Alice a-calling."

"You're a good old thing--I like you, Donnie--you'd like to make me
better--happier, that is--and I love you--and I promise for this night,
at all events, I will read a verse, and maybe more, if it turns out
good-natured, as you say. Good-night."

And she shook old Gwynn by both hands, and kissed her; and as she parted
with her, said--

"And, Donnie, you must tell my maid I shan't want her to-night--and I
_will_ read, Donnie--and now, good-night again."

So handsome Lady Jane was alone.

"It seems to me as if I had not time to think--God help me, God help
me," said Lady Jane. "Shall I read it? That odious book, that puts
impossibilities before us, and calls eternal damnation eternal justice!"

"Good-night, Jane," croaked Lady Alice's voice, and the key turned in
the door.

With a pallid glance from the corners of her eyes, of intense
contempt--_hatred_, even, at the moment, she gazed on the door, as she
sate with her fingers under her chin; and if a look could have pierced
the panels, hers would have shot old Lady Alice dead at the other side.
For about a minute she sat so, and then a chilly little laugh rang from
her lips; and she thought no more for a while of Lady Alice, and her
eyes wandered again to her Bible.

"Yes, that odious book! with just power enough to distract us, without
convincing--to embitter our short existence, without directing it; I
_hate_ it."

So she said, and looked as if she would have flung it into the farthest
corner of the room. She was spited with it, as so many others are,
because it won't do for us what we must do for ourselves.

"When sorrow comes, poor Donnie says--_when_ it comes--little she knows
how long it has been here! Life--such a dream--such an agony often.
Surely it pays the penalty of all its follies. Judgment indeed! The
all-wise Creator sitting in judgment upon creatures like us, living but
an hour, and walking in a dream!"

This kind of talk with her, as with many others, was only the expression
of a form of pain. She was perhaps in the very mood to read, that is,
with the keen and anxious interest that accompanies and indicates a
deep-seated grief and fear.

It was quite true what she said to old Donica. These pages had long been
sealed for her. And now, with a mixture of sad antipathy and interest,
as one looks into a coffin, she did open the book, and read here and
there in a desultory way, and then, leaning on her hand, she mused
dismally; then made search for a place she wanted, and read and wept,
wept aloud and long and bitterly.

The woman taken, and "set in the midst," the dreadful Pharisees standing
round. The Lord of life, who will judge us on the last day, hearing and
_saving_! Oh, blessed Prince, whose service is perfect freedom, how wise
are thy statutes! "More to be desired are they than gold--_sweeter_ also
than honey." Standing between thy poor tempted creatures and the worst
sorrow that can befall them--a sorrow that softens, not like others, as
death approaches, but is transformed, and stands like a giant at the
bedside. May they see thy interposing image--may they see thy face now
and for ever.

Rest for the heavy-laden! The broken and the contrite he will not
despise. Read and take comfort, how he dealt with that poor sinner.
Perfect purity, perfect mercy. Oh, noblest vision that ever rose before
contrite frailty! Lift up the downcast head--let the poor heart break no
more--you shall rise from the dust an angel.

Suddenly she lifted up her pale face, with an agony and a light on her
countenance, with hands clasped, and such a look from the abyss, in her
upturned eyes.

Oh! was it possible--could it be true? A _friend_--such a _friend_!

Then came a burst of prayer--wild resolutions--agonised tears. She knew
that in all space, for her, was but one place of safety--to lie at the
wounded feet of her Saviour, to clasp them, to bathe them with her
tears. An hour--more--passed in this agony of stormy hope breaking in
gleams through despair. Prayer--cries for help, as from the drowning,
and vows frantic--holy, for the future.

"Yes, once more, thank God, I can dare with safety--here and now--to see
him for the last time. In the morning I will conjure old Lady Alice to
take me to Wardlock. I will write to London. Arthur will join me there.
I'd like to go abroad--never into the world again--never--never--never.
He will be pleased. I'll try to make amends. He'll never know what a
wretch I've been. But he shall see the change, and be happier. Yes,
yes, yes." Her beautiful long hair was loose, its rich folds clasped in
her strained fingers--her pale upturned face bathed in tears and
quivering--"The Saviour's feet!--No happiness but there--wash them with
my tears--dry them with this hair." And she lifted up her eyes and hands
to heaven.

Poor thing! In the storm, as cloud and rack fly by, the momentary gleam
that comes--what is it? Do not often these agitations subside in
darkness? Was this to be a lasting sunshine, though saddened for her?
Was she indeed safe now and for ever?

But is there any promise that repentance shall arrest the course of the
avenger that follows sin on earth? Are broken health or blighted fame
restored when the wicked man "turneth away from the wickedness that he
hath committed;" and do those consequences that dog iniquity with "feet
of wool and hands of iron," stay their sightless and soundless march so
soon as he begins to do "that which is lawful and right?" It is enough
for him to know that he that does so "shall save his soul alive."



CHAPTER XIX.

Varbarriere the Tyrant debates with the weaker Varbarrieres.


"May I see you, Monsieur Varbarriere, to-morrow, in the room in which I
saw you to-day, at any hour you please after half-past eleven?" inquired
Lady Alice, a few minutes after that gentleman had approached her.

"Certainly, madam; perhaps I can at this moment answer you upon points
which cause you anxiety; pray command me."

And he sate like a corpulent penitent on a low prie-dieu chair beside
her knee, and inclined his ear to listen.

"It is only to learn whether my--my poor boy's son, my grandson, the
young man in whom I must feel so deep an interest, is about to return
here?"

"I can't be quite certain, madam, of that; but I can promise that he
will do himself the honour to present himself before you, whenever you
may please to appoint, at your house of Wardlock."

"Yes, that would be better still. He could come there and see his old
grandmother. I would like to see him soon. I have a great deal to say to
him, a great deal to tell him that would interest him; and the pictures;
I know you will let him come. Do you really mean it, Monsieur
Varbarriere?"

M. Varbarriere smiled a little contemptuously, and bowed most
deferentially.

"Certainly madam, I mean what I say; and if I did _not_ mean it, still I
would say I do."

There was something mazy in this sentence which a little bewildered old
Lady Alice's head, and she gazed on Varbarriere with a lack-lustre
frown.

"Well, then, sir, the upshot of the matter is that _I may_ rely on what
you say, and expect my grandson's visit at Wardlock?"

"Certainly, madam, you _may_ expect it," rejoined Varbarriere,
oracularly.

"And pray, Monsieur Varbarriere, are you married?" inquired the old
lady, with the air of a person who had a right to be informed.

"Alas, madam, may I say Latin?--Infandum, regina, jubes renovare
dolorem; you stir up my deepest grief. I am, indeed, what you call an
old bachelor."

"Well, so I should suppose; I don't see what business you would have had
to marry."

"Nor I either," he replied.

"And you are very rich, I suppose."

"The rich man never says he is rich, and the poor man never says he is
poor. What shall I say? Pretty well! Will that do?"

"H'm, yes; you ought to make a settlement, Monsieur Varbarriere."

"On your grandson, madam?"

"Yes, my grandson, he's nothing the worse of that, sir--and your
nephew."

"Madam, the idea is beneficent, and does honour to your heart. I have,
to say truth, had an idea of doing something for him by my will, though
not by settlement; you are quite in advance of me, madam--I shall
reflect."

Monsieur Varbarriere was, after his wont, gravely amusing himself, so
gravely that old Lady Alice never suspected an irony. Old Lady Alice had
in her turn taken up the idea of a solution of all family variance, by a
union between Guy Deverell and Beatrix, and her old brain was already at
the settlements.

"Lady Alice, you must positively give us up our partner, Monsieur
Varbarriere, our game is arrested; and, egad, Pelter, poor fellow, is
bursting with jealousy!"

Lady Alice turned disdainfully from Sir Jekyl.

"Monsieur Varbarriere, pray don't allow me to detain you now. I should
be very glad to see you, if you had no particular objection, to-morrow."

"Only too happy; you do me, madam, a great deal of honour;" and with a
bow and a smile Monsieur Varbarriere withdrew to the whist-table.

He did not play that night by any means so well as usual. Doocey, who
was his partner, was, to say the least, disappointed, and Sir Jekyl and
Sir Paul made a very nice thing of it, in that small way which makes
domestic whist-players happy and serene. When they wound up, Doocey was
as much irritated as a perfectly well-bred gentleman could be.

"Well, Sir Paul; we earned our winnings, eh? Four times the trick
against honours, not bad play, I think," said Sir Jekyl, as they rose.

"Captain Doocey thinks our play had nothing to do with it," observed Sir
Paul, with a faint radiance of complacent banter over his bluff face, as
he put his adversary's half-crowns into his trowsers pocket.

"I never said _that_, Sir Paul, of course; you mistake me, but _we_
might, don't you think, Monsieur Varbarriere, have played a little
better? for instance, we should have played our queen to the lead of
spades. I'm sure that would have given us the trick, don't you see, and
you would have had the lead, and played diamonds, and forced Sir Jekyl
to ruff with his ace, and made my knave good, and that would have given
us the lead and trick."

"Our play goes for nothing, you see, Sir Paul," said Sir Jekyl.

"No; Captain Doocey thinks play had nothing to do with it," said Sir
Paul Blunket.

"'Gad, I think play had everything to do with it--not _yours_, though,"
said Doocey, a little tartly.

"I must do you _all_ justice," interposed Varbarriere, "you're all
right--everyone played well except me. I do pretty well when I'm in the
vein, but I'm not to-night; it was a very bad performance. I played
execrably, Captain Doocey."

"Oh! no, I won't allow that; but you know once or twice you certainly
did not play according to your own principles, I mean, and I couldn't
therefore see exactly what you meant, and I dare say it was as much my
fault as yours."

And Doocey, with his finger on Varbarriere's sleeve, fell into one of
those _resumés_ which mysteriously interest whist-players, and
Varbarriere listened to his energetic periods with his hands in his
pockets, benignant but bored, and assented with a good grace to his own
condemnation. And smothering a yawn as he moved away, again pleaded
guilty to all the counts, and threw himself on the mercy of the court.

"What shall we do to-morrow?" exclaimed Sir Jekyl, and he heard a voice
repeat "to-morrow," and so did Varbarriere. "I'll turn it over, and at
breakfast I'll lay half a dozen plans before you, and you shall select.
It's a clear frosty night; we shall have a fine day. You don't leave us,
Mr. Pelter, till the afternoon, d'ye see? and mind, Lady Alice Redcliffe
sits in the boudoir, at the first landing on the great stair; the
servant will show you the way; don't fail to pay her a visit, d'ye mind,
Pelter; she's huffed, you left her so suddenly; don't mind her at first;
just amuse her a little, and I think she's going to change her lawyer."

Pelter, with his hands in his pockets, smiled shrewdly and winked on Sir
Jekyl.

"Thanks; I know it, I heard it; you can give us a lift in that quarter,
Sir Jekyl, and I shan't forget to pay my respects."

When the ladies had gone, and the gentlemen stood in groups by the fire,
or sat listless before it, Sir Jekyl, smiling, laid his hand on
Varbarriere's shoulder, and asked him in a low tone--

"Will you join Pelter in my room, and wind up with a cigar?"

"I was going, that is, tempted, only ten minutes ago, to ask leave to
join your party," began Varbarriere.

"It is not a party--we should be only three," said Sir Jekyl, in an
eager whisper.

"All the more inviting," continued Varbarriere, smiling. "But I suddenly
recollected that I shall have rather a busy hour or two--three or four
letters to write. My people of business in France never give me a
moment; they won't pay my rent or cork a bottle, my faith! without a
letter."

"Well, I'm sorry you can't; but you must make it up to me, and see, you
must take two or three of these to your dressing-room," and he presented
his case to M. Varbarriere.

"Ha! you are very good; but, _no_; I like to connect them with your
room, they must not grow too common, they shall remain a treat. No, no,
I won't; ha, ha, ha! Thank you very much," and he waved them off,
laughing and shaking his head.

Somehow he could not brook accepting this trifling present. To be sure,
here he was a guest at free quarters, but at this he stuck; he drew back
and waved away the cigar-case. It was not logical, but he could not help
it.

When Pelter and Sir Jekyl sat in the Baronet's chamber, under their
canopy of tobacco-smoke over their last cigar,

"See, Pelter," said Sir Jekyl, "it won't do to _seem_ anxious; the fact
is I'm _not_ anxious; I believe he has a lot of money to leave that
young fellow. Suppose they marry; the Deverells are a capital old
family, don't you see, and it will make up everything, and stop people
talking about--about old nonsense. I'll settle all, and I don't care a
curse, and I'll not be very long in the way. I can't keep always young,
I'm past fifty."

"Judging by his manner, you know, I should say any proposition you may
have to make he'd be happy to listen to," said Mr. Pelter.

"You're sleepy, Pelter."

"Well, a little bit," said the attorney, blinking, yawning, and grinning
all together.

"And, egad, I think you want to be shaved," said Sir Jekyl, who did not
stand on ceremony with his attorney.

"Should not wonder," said Mr. Pelter, feeling his chin over sleepily
with his finger and thumb. "My shave was at half-past four, and what is
it now?--half-past eleven, egad! I thought it was later. Good-night, Sir
Jekyl--those _are_ cigars, magnificent, by Jove!--and about that
Strangways' business, I would not be in too great a hurry, do you see? I
would not open anything, till I saw whether they were going to move, or
whether there was anything in it. I would not put it in his head, d'ye
see, hey?" and from habit Pelter winked.

And with that salutation, harmless as the kiss apostolic, Mr. Pelter,
aided by a few directions from Sir Jekyl, toddled away to his bedchamber
yawning, and the Baronet, after his wont, locked himself into his room
in very tolerable spirits.

There was a sofa in Varbarriere's dressing-room, on which by this time,
in a great shawl dressing-gown, supine lay our friend; like the painted
stone monument of the Chief Justice of Chester in Wardlock church, you
could see on the wall sharply defined in shadow the solemn outline of
his paunch. He was thinking--not as we endeavour to trace thought in
narrative, like a speech, but crossing zigzag from point to point, and
back and forward. A man requires an audience, and pen and paper, to
think in train at all. His ideas whisked and jolted on somewhat in this
fashion:--

"It is to be _avoided_, if possible. My faith! it is now just twelve
o'clock! A dangerous old block-head. I must avoid it, if only for time
to think in. There was nothing this evening to imply such
relations--Parbleu! a pleasant situation if it prove all a mistake.
These atrabilious countrymen and women of mine are so odd, they may
mislead a fellow accustomed like me to a more intriguing race and a
higher _finesse_. Ah! no; it is certainly true. The _fracas_ will end
everything. That old white monkey will be sure to blunder me into it.
Better reconsider things, and wait. What shall I tell him? No excuse, I
must go through with it, or I suppose he will call for pistols--curse
him! I'll give Sir Jekyl a hint or two. He must see her, and make all
ready. The old fool will blaze away at me, of course. Well! I shall
fight him or not, as I may be moved. No one in this country need fight
now who does not wish it. Rather a comfortable place to live in, if it
were not for the climate. I forgot to ask Jacques whether Guy took all
his luggage! What o'clock now? Come, by my faith! it is time to
decide."



CHAPTER XX.

M. Varbarriere decides.


Varbarriere sat up on the side of his sofa.

"Who brought that woman, Gwynn, here? What do they want of her?" It was
only the formula by which interrogatively to express the suspicion that
pointed at Sir Jekyl and his attorney. "Soft words for me while
tampering with my witnesses, then laugh at me. Why did not I ask Lady
Alice whether she really wrote for her?"

Thus were his thoughts various as the ingredients of that soup called
harlequin, which figures at low French taverns, in which are floating
bits of chicken, cheese, potato, fish, sausage, and so forth--the
flavour of the soup itself is consistent, nevertheless. The tone of
Varbarriere's ruminations, on the whole, was decided. He wished to avert
the exposure which his interference alone had invited.

He looked at his watch--he had still a little more than half an hour for
remedial thought and action--and now, what is to be done to prevent _ce
vieux singe blanc_ from walking into the green chamber, and keeping
watch and ward at his wife's bedside until that spectre shall emerge
through the wall, whom with a curse and a stab he was to lay?

Well, what precise measures were to be taken? First he must knock up
Sir Jekyl in his room, and tell him positively that General Lennox was
to be at Marlowe by one o'clock, having heard stories in town, for the
purpose of surprising and punishing the guilty. Sir Jekyl would be sharp
enough to warn Lady Jane; or should he suggest that it would be right to
let her know, in order to prevent her from being alarmed at the temper
and melodramatics of her husband, and to secure that coolness and
preparation which were necessary? It required some delicacy and tact,
but he was not afraid. Next, he must meet General Lennox, and tell him
in substance that he had begun to hope that he had been himself
practised upon. Yes, that would do--and he might be as dark as he
pleased on the subject of his information.

Varbarriere lighted his bed-room candle, intending to march forthwith to
Sir Jekyl's remote chamber.

Great events, as we all know, turn sometimes upon small pivots. Before
he set out, he stood for a moment with his candle in one hand, and in
his reverie he thrust the other into the pocket of his voluminous black
trowsers, and there it encountered, unexpectedly, the letter he had that
evening picked up on the floor of the gallery. It had quite dropped out
of his mind. Monsieur Varbarriere was a Jupiter Scapin. He had not the
smallest scruple about reading it, and afterwards throwing it into the
fire, though it contained other men's secrets, and was another man's
property.

This was a letter from Sir Jekyl Marlowe to Pelter and Crowe, and was
in fact upon the special subject of Herbert Strangways. Unlucky subject!
unlucky composition! Now there was, of course, here a great deal of that
sort of communication which occurs between a clever attorney and his
clever client, which is termed "privileged," and is not always quite fit
to see the light. Did ever beauty read letter of compliment and
adoration with keener absorption?

Varbarriere's face rather whitened as he read, and his fat sneer was not
pleasant to see.

He got through it, and re-commenced. Sometimes he muttered and sometimes
he thought; and the notes of this oration would have read nearly thus:--

"So the question is to be opened whether the _anonymous payment_--he
lies, it was in _my name_!--through the bankers protects me technically
from pursuit; and I'm to be 'run by the old Hebrew pack from cover to
cover,' over the Continent--bravo!--till I vanish for seven years more."
Here Monsieur Varbarriere laughed in lurid contempt.

The letter went on in the same vein--contemptuous, cruel, he fancied.
Everyone _is_ cruel in self-defence; and in its allusions and spirit was
something which bitterly recalled the sufferings which in younger and
weaker days that same Baronet, pursuing the same policy, had inflicted
upon him. Varbarriere remembered when he was driven to the most
ignominious and risky shifts, to ridiculous disguises; he remembered his
image in the cracked shaving-glass in the garret in his lair near Notre
Dame--the red wig and moustache, and the goggles.

How easily an incautious poke will re-awake the dormant neuralgia of
toothache; and tooth, cheek, ear, throat, brain, are all throbbing again
in the re-induced anguish! With these sharp and vivid recollections of
humiliation, fear, and suffering, all stirred into activity by this
unlucky letter, that savage and vindictive feeling which had for so long
ruled the life of Herbert Strangways, and had sunk into an uneasy doze
under the narcotic of this evening's interview, rose up suddenly, wide
awake and energetic.

He looked at his watch. The minute-hand showed him exactly how long he
had been reading this confidence of client to attorney. "You will, will
you?" murmured Varbarriere, with his jaw a little fiercely set, and a
smile. "He will _checkmate_ me, he thinks, in two or three moves. He
does not see, clever fellow, that I will checkmate him in _one_!"

Now, this letter had _preceded_ all that had occurred this evening to
soften old animosities--though, strictly examined, that was not very
much. It did not seem quite logical then, that it should work so sudden
a revolution. I cannot, however, say positively; for in Varbarriere's
mind may have long lain a suspicion that Sir Jekyl was not now
altogether what he used to be, that he did not quite know all he had
inflicted, and that time had made him wiser, and therefore gentler of
heart. If so, the letter had knocked down this hypothesis, and its
phrases, one or two of them, were of that unlucky sort which not only
recalled the thrill of many an old wound, but freshly galled that vanity
which never leaves us, till ear and eye grow cold, and light and sound
are shut out by the coffin-lid.

So Varbarriere, being quite disenchanted, wondered at his own illusions,
and sighed bitterly when he thought what a fool he had been so near
making of himself. And thinking of these things, he stared grimly on his
watch, and by one of those movements that betray one's abstraction, held
it to his ear, as if he had fancied it might have gone down.

There it was, thundering on at a gallop. The tread of unseen fate
approaching. Yes, it was time he should go. Jacques peeped in.

"You've done as I ordered?"

"Yes Monsieur."

"Here, lend me a hand with my cloak--very good. The servants, the
butler, have they retired?"

"So I believe, Monsieur."

"My hat--thanks. The lights all out on the stairs and lobbies?"

"Yes, Monsieur."

"Go before--is that lighted?"

"Yes, sir."

This referred to one of those little black lanterns which belong to
Spanish melodrama, with a semi-cylindrical horn and a black slide. We
have most of us seen such, and handled if not possessed them.

"Leporello! hey, Jacques?" smiled Varbarriere sardonically, as he drew
his short black cloak about him.

"Monsieur is always right," acquiesced the man, who had never heard of
Leporello before.

"Get on, then."

And the valet before, the master following, treading cautiously, they
reached the stair-head, where Varbarriere listened for a moment, then
descended and listened again at the foot, and so through the hall into
the long gallery, near the end of which is a room with a conservatory.

This they entered. The useful Jacques had secured the key of the glass
door into the conservatory, which also opened the outer one; and
Varbarriere, directing him to wait there quietly till his return,
stepped out into the open air and faint moonlight. A moment's survey was
enough to give him the lie of the ground, and recognising the file of
tufted lime-trees, rising dark in the mist, he directed his steps
thither, and speedily got upon the broad avenue, bordered with grass and
guarded at either side by these rows of giant limes.

On reaching the carriage-way, standing upon a slight eminence,
Varbarriere gazed down the misty slope toward the gate-house, and then
toward Marlowe Manor, in search of a carriage or a human figure. Seeing
none, he strolled onward toward the gate, and soon _did_ see, airy and
faint in the haze and distance, a vehicle approaching. It stopped some
two hundred yards nearer the gate than he, a slight figure got out, and
after a few words apparently, the driver turned about, and the slim,
erect figure came gliding stiffly along in his direction. As he
approached Varbarriere stood directly before him.

"Ha! here I am waiting, General," said Varbarriere, advancing. "I--I
suppose we had better get on at once to the house?"

General Lennox met him with a nod.

"Don't care, sir. Whatever you think best," answered the General, as
sternly as if he were going into action.

"Thanks for your confidence, General. I think so;" and side by side they
walked in silence for a while toward the house.

"Lady Alice Redcliffe here?"

"Yes, sir."

"That's well. And, sir," he continued, suddenly stopping short, and
turning full on Varbarriere--"for God's sake, _do_ you think it is
_certainly true_?"

"You had better come, sir, and judge for yourself," pursued Varbarriere.

"D---- you, sir--you think I'll wait over your cursed riddles. I'd as
soon wait in hell, sir. You don't know, sir--it's the tortures of the
damned. Egad, no man has a right--no man could stand it."

"I think it _is_, sir. I think it's _true_, sir. I _think_ it's true.
I'm nearly _sure_ it's true," answered Varbarriere, with a pallid frown,
not minding his anathema. "How _can_ I say more?"

General Lennox looked for a while on the ground, then up and about
dismally, and gave his neck a little military shake, as if his collar
sat uneasily.

"A lonely life for me, sir. I wish to God the villain had shot me
first. I was very fond of her, sir--desperately fond--madness, sir. I
was thinking I would go back to India. Maybe you'll advise with me, sir,
to-morrow? I have no one."



CHAPTER XXI.

At the Green Chamber.


As they approached the house, Jacques, who sat awaiting M. Varbarriere's
return, behind the door facing the conservatory, was disagreeably
surprised by a visit from the butler.

"Here I am!" exclaimed Jacques very cheerfully, feeling that he could
not escape.

"Ow! haw! Mr. Jack, by gad!" exclaimed the butler, actually jumping back
in panic, and nearly extinguishing his candle on his breast.

It was his custom, on hearing a noise or seeing a light, to make a
ceremonious reconnoissance in assertion of his character, not of course
in expectation of finding anything; and here at length he thought he had
lighted on a burglar, and from the crown of his head to his heels froze
thrills of terror. "And what the devil, Mr. Jack, are you doing here,
please, sir?"

"Waiting, my friend, to admit Monsieur, my master," answered Jacques,
who was adroit enough to know that it is sometimes cunning to be frank.

In fact it was the apparition of M. Varbarriere, in his queer hat and
cloak, crossing a window, which had inspired the butler with a
resolution to make his search.

"Haw! dear me! yes, I saw him, Mr. Jack, I did; and what, Mr. Jack, is
the doors opened for at these hours, unbeknown to me?"

"My most dear friend, I am taking every care, as you see; but my master,
he choose to go out, and he choose to come in. Jacques is nothing but
what you call the latch-key."

"And what is he a-doing hout o' doors this time o' night, Mr. Jack? I
never knowd afore sich a think to 'appen. Why it looks like a
stragethim, that's what it does, Mr. Jack--a stragethim."

And the butler nodded with the air of a moral constable.

"It's a folly, Monsieur. My faith! a little _ruse_ of love, I imagine."

"You don't mean to say he's hout a-larkin?"

Jacques, who only conjectured the sense of the sentence, winked and
smiled.

"Well, I don't think it's not the way he should be."

"My master is most generous man. My friend, you shall see he shall know
how kind you have been. Monsieur, my master, he is a _prince_!" murmured
Jacques, eloquently, his fingers on the butler's cuff, and drew back to
read in his countenance how it worked.

"It must not hoccur again, Mr. Jack, wile ere," replied the butler, with
another grave shake of his head.

"Depend yourself on me," whispered Jacques again in his ear, while he
squeezed the prudent hand of the butler affectionately. "But you must go
way."

"I do depend on you, Mr. Jack, but I don't like it, mind--I don't like
it, and I won't say nothink of it till I hear more from you."

So the butler withdrew, and the danger disappeared.

"You will please to remember, sir," said Varbarriere, as they approached
the house, "that this is of the nature of a military movement--a
surprise; there must be no sound--no alarm."

"Quite so," whispered old Lennox, with white lips. He was clutching
something nervously under the wide sleeve of his loose drab overcoat. He
stopped under the shadow of a noble clump of trees about fifty steps
away from the glass door they were approaching.

"I--I almost wish, sir--I'll go back--I don't think I can go on, sir."

Varbarriere looked at his companion with an unconscious sneer, but said
nothing.

"By ----, sir, if I find it true, I'll kill him, sir."

The old man had in his gouty grip one of those foolish daggers once so
much in vogue, but which have now gone out of use, and Varbarriere saw
it glimmer in the faint light.

"Surely, Colonel Lennox, you don't mean--you can't mean--you're not
going to resort to violence, sir?"

"By ----, sir, he had best look to it."

Varbarriere placed his hand on the old man's sleeve, he could feel the
tremor of his thin wrist through it.

"General Lennox, if I had fancied that you could have harboured such a
thought, I never should have brought you here."

The General, with his teeth clenched, made him no reply but a fierce
nod.

"Remember, sir, you have the courts of law, and you have the code of
honour--either or both. One step more I shall not take with you, if you
mean that sort of violence."

"What do you mean, sir?" asked the General, grimly.

"I mean this, sir, you shall learn nothing by this night's procedure,
unless you promise me, upon your honour as a soldier, sir, and a
gentleman, that you will not use that dagger or any other weapon."

General Lennox looked at him with a rather glassy stare.

"You're right, sir, I dare say," said Lennox, suddenly and helplessly.

"You promise?"

"Ay, sir."

"Upon your honour?"

"Upon my honour; ay, sir, my honour."

"I'm satisfied, General. Now observe, you must be silent, and as
noiseless as you can. If Sir Jekyl be apprised of your arrival, of
course the--the experiment fails."

General Lennox nodded. Emerging into the moonlight, Varbarriere saw how
pale and lean his face looked.

Across the grass they pace side by side in silence. The glass door
opened without a creak or a hitch. Jacques politely secured it, and,
obeying his master's gesture, led the way through the gallery to the
hall.

"You'll remember, General, that you arrived late; you understand? and
having been observed by me, were admitted; and--and all the rest
occurred naturally."

"Yes, sir, any d--d lie you like. All the world's lying--why should not
I?"

At the foot of the staircase Jacques was dismissed, having lighted
bed-room candles for the two gentlemen, so that they lost something of
their air of Spanish conspirators, and they mounted the stairs together
in a natural and domestic fashion.

When they had crossed the lobby, and stood at the door of the
dressing-room, Varbarriere laid his hand on General Lennox's arm--

"Stop here a moment; you must knock at Lady Alice's door over there, and
get the key of your room. She locks the door and keeps the key at night.
Make no noise, you know."

They had been fortunate hitherto in having escaped observation; and
Varbarriere's strategy had, up to this point, quite succeeded.

"Very quietly, mind," whispered he, and withdrew behind the angle of the
wall, toward the staircase.

Old Lennox was by this time at the door which he had indicated, and
knocked. There was a little fuss audible within, but no answer. He
knocked again more sharply, and he heard the gabble of female voices;
and at last a rather nervous inquiry, "Who's there, please?"

"General Lennox, who wants the key of his room," answered he, in no mood
to be trifled with. The General was standing, grim as fate, and stark as
Corporal Trim, bed-room candle in hand, outside her door.

"He's _not_ General Lennox--send him about his business," exclaimed an
imperious female voice from the state bed, in which Lady Alice was
sitting, measuring some mysterious drops in a graduated glass.

"My lady says she's sorry she can't find it to-night, sir, being at
present in bed, please, sir."

"Come, child--no nonsense--I want my key, and I'll have it," replied the
General, so awfully that the maid recoiled.

"I think, my lady, he'll be rude if he doesn't get it."

"What's the man like?"

"A nice-spoken gentleman, my lady, and dressed very respectable."

"You never _saw_ General Lennox?"

"No, my lady, please."

Neither had Lady Alice; but she had heard him minutely described.

"A lean ugly old man is he, with white bristly whiskers, you know, and a
white head, and little grey eyes, eh?"

They had no notion that their little confidence was so distinctly
audible to the General without, who stood eyeing the panel fiercely as a
sentry would a suspicious figure near his beat, and with fingers
twitching with impatience to clutch his key.

"What sort of nose?" demanded the unseen speaker--"long or short?"

"Neither, please, my lady; bluish, rayther, I should say."

"But it is either long or short, _decidedly_, and I forget which," said
Lady Alice--"'_Tis_n't he!"

The General ground his teeth with impatience, and knocked so sharp a
signal at the door that Lady Alice bounced in her bed.

"Lord bless us! How dare he do that?--tell him how dare he."

"Lady Alice, sir, would be much obliged if you'd be so good not knock so
loud, sir, please," said the maid at the door, translating the message.

"Tell your mistress I'm General Lennox, and must have my key," glared
the General, and the lady's-maid, who was growing nervous, returned.

"He looks, my lady, like he'd beat us, please, if he does not get the
key, my lady."

"Sha'n't have it, the brute! We don't know he is--a robber, maybe. Bolt
the door, and tell him to bring Monsieur Varbarriere to the lobby, and
if _he_ says he's General Lennox he shall have the key."

With trembling fingers the maid _did_ bolt the door, and once more
accost the soldier, who was chafing on the threshold.

"Please, sir, my lady is not well, having nervous pains, please sir, in
her head to-night, and therefore would be 'appy if you would be so kind
to bring Mister Barvarrian" (the name by which our corpulent friend was
known in the servants' hall) "to her door, please, when she'll try what
she may do to oblige you, sir."

"They don't know me," said the General, accosting Varbarriere, who was
only half a dozen steps removed, and whom he had rejoined. "You must
come to the door, they say, and tell them it's all right."

Perhaps with some inward sense of the comic, Varbarriere presented
himself at the door, when, his voice being recognised, and he himself
reconnoitred through the keyhole and reported upon, the maid presented
herself in an extemporised drapery of cloaks and shawls, like a
traveller in winter, and holding these garments together with one hand,
with the other presented the key, peering anxiously in the General's
face.

"Key, sir, please."

"I thank you," said the General, with a nod, to which she responded with
such a courtesy as her costume permitted. The door shut, and as the
gentlemen withdrew they heard the voices of the inmates again busy with
the subject.

"Good-night," whispered Varbarriere, looking in the General's blue eye
with his own full and steady gaze.

"I know you'll remember your promise," said he.

"Yes--what?"

"No _violence_" replied Varbarriere.

"No, of course, I said so. Good-bye."

"You must appear--your _manner_, mind--just as usual. Nothing to
alarm--you may defeat all else."

"I see."

Varbarriere pressed his hand encouragingly. It felt like death.

"Don't fear me," said General Lennox. "We'll see--we'll see, sir;
good-bye."

He spoke in a low, short, resolute tone, almost defiant; but looked very
ill. Varbarriere had never taken leave of a man on the drop, but thought
that this must be like it.

He beckoned to him as the General moved toward the dressing-room door,
and made an earnest signal of silence. Lennox nodded, applied the key,
and Varbarriere was gone.



CHAPTER XXII.

In the Green Chamber.


General Lennox opened the door suddenly, and stood in the green chamber,
holding his candle above his temple, and staring with a rather wild
countenance and a gathered brow to the further end of the room. A candle
burned on the table, and the Bible lay beside it. No one was there but
the inmate of the bed, who sat up with a scared face. He locked the door
in silence, and put the key in his pocket.

"Who's there?--who is it? O my God! Arthur, is it you?" she cried. It
was not a welcome. It was as if she had seen a ghost--but she smiled.

"You're well? quite well? and happy? no doubt happy?" said Lennox,
setting down his candle on the table near the bed, "and glad to see me?"

"Yes, Arthur; Arthur, what's the matter? You're ill--_are_ you ill?"

"Ho! no, very well, quite well--very well indeed."

There was that in his look and manner that told her she was ruined. She
froze with a horror she had never dreamed of before.

"There's something, Arthur--there is--you won't tell me."

"That's strange, and _you_ tell _me_ everything."

"What do you _mean_, sir? Oh, Arthur, what _do_ you mean?"

"Mean! Nothing!"

"I was afraid you were angry, and I've done nothing to vex you--nothing.
You looked so angry--it's so unreasonable and odd of you. But I am glad
to see you, though you don't seem glad to see me. You've been a long
time away, Arthur, in London, very long. I hope all your business is
settled, I hope. And I'm very glad to hear you're not ill--indeed I am.
Why are you vexed?"

"Vexed! ho! I'm vexed, am I? that's odd."

She was making a desperate effort to seem as usual, and talked on.

"We have had old Lady Alice Redcliffe here, my chaperon, all this while,
if you please, and takes such ridiculous care of me, and locks me into
my room every night. She means kindly, but it is very foolish."

"Yes, it is, d--d foolish."

"We have been employed very much as usual--walking, and driving, and
croquet. Beatrix and I have been very much together, and Sir Paul and
Lady Blunket still here. I don't think we have had any arrival since you
left us. Mr. Guy Strangways has gone away, and Monsieur Varbarriere
returned to-day."

She was gabbling as merrily as she could, feeling all the time on the
point of fainting.

"And the diamonds came?" the General said, suddenly, with a sort of
laugh.

"Oh! yes, the diamonds, so beautiful. I did not thank you in my
letter--not half enough. They are beautiful--so exquisitely
beautiful--brilliants--and so becoming; you have no idea. I hope you got
my letter. Indeed I felt it all, every word, Arthur, only I could not
say half what I wished. Don't you believe me, Arthur?"

"Lie down, woman, and take your sleep; you sleep _well_? you _all_
do--of course you sleep? Lie down."

"You are angry, Arthur; you are excited; something has
happened--something bad--what is it? For God's sake, Arthur, tell me
what it is. Why won't you tell me?"

"Nothing--nothing strange--quite common."

"Oh! Arthur, tell me at once, or kill me. You look as if you hated me."

"_Hate_ you!--There's a hereafter. God sees."

"I can't understand you, Arthur; you wish to distract me. I'd rather
know anything. For mercy's sake speak out."

"Lie you down, and wait."

She did lie down. The hour of judgment had come as a thief in the night.
The blood in her temples seemed to drum on the pillow. There was not a
clear thought in her brain, only the one stunning consciousness.

"He knows all! I am ruined." Yet the feminine instinct of _finesse_ was
not quite overpowered.

Having placed the candle on the chimneypiece, so that the curtain at the
foot of the bed throw its shadow over that recess in which the sorcerer
Varbarriere had almost promised to show the apparition, old Lennox sat
down at the bedside, next this mysterious point of observation.
Suddenly it crossed him, as a break of moonlight will the blackest night
of storm, that he must act more wisely. Had he not alarmed his
wife?--what signal might not be contrived to warn off her guilty
accomplice?

"Jennie," said he, with an effort, in a more natural tone, "I'm tired,
very tired. We'll sleep. I'll tell you all in the morning. Go to sleep."

"Good-night," she murmured.

"That will do; go to sleep," he answered.

Gently, gently, she stole a peep at that pretty watch that stood in its
little slanting stand at her bedside. There was still twenty
minutes--Heaven be praised for its mercy!--and she heard old Lennox at
the far side of this "great bed of Ware," making an ostentation of
undressing. His boots tumbled on the floor. She heard his watchguard
jingle on the stand, and his keys and purse dropped in turn on the
table. She heard him adjust the chair, as usual, on which he was wont to
deposit his clothes as he removed them; she fancied she even heard him
yawn. Her heart was throbbing as though it would choke her, and she was
praying as she never prayed before--for a reprieve. And yet her
respiration was long and deep, as if in the sleep she was
counterfeiting.

Lennox, at the other side, put off his muffler, his outer coat, the
frock-coat he wore, the waistcoat. She dared not look round to observe
his progress. But at last he threw himself on the bed with a groan of
fatigue, and pulled the coverlet over him, and lay without motion, like
a man in need of rest.

Lady Jane listened. She could not hear him breathe. She waited some five
minutes, and then she murmured, "Arthur." No answer. "_Arthur._" Again
no answer; and she raised herself on her elbow, cautiously, and
listened; and after a little pause, quick as light she got out of bed,
glided to the chimneypiece, and lighted a taper at the candle there,
listened again for a moment, and on tiptoe, in bare feet, glided round
the foot of the bed, and approached the recess at the other side of the
bed's head, and instantly her fingers were on one of those little
flowers in the ormolu arabesque that runs along the edge of the wooden
casing.

Before she could turn it a gouty hand over her shoulder took hold of
hers, and, with a low sudden cry, she saw her husband.

"Can't I do that for you? What is it?" said he.

Her lips were white, and she gazed in his face without saying a word.

He was standing there unbooted, in his trowsers, with those crimson
silk suspenders on, with the embroidery of forget-me-nots, which
she had described as "her work"--I am afraid inaccurately--a
love-token--hypocrisy on hypocrisy.

Asmodeus, seated on the bed's head, smirked down sardonically on the
tableau, and clapped his apish hands.

"Get to your bed there. If you make a sign, by ----, I'll kill you."

She made no answer. She gazed at him dumbly. He was not like himself. He
looked like a villain.

He did not lie down again. He sat by the little table, on which his
watch, his keys, and loose shillings lay. The night was chill, but he
did not feel it then.

He sat in his shirt-sleeves, his chin on his breast, eyeing from under
his stern white brows the shadowy arch through which the figure was to
emerge.

Suddenly he heard the swift steps of little, naked feet on the carpet
come round the foot of the bed, and his wife wildly threw herself at his
feet, and clasped them in an agony. He could feel every sinew in her
arms vibrate in the hysterical strain of her entreaty.

"Oh, Arthur! oh, darling, take me away from this, for God's sake. Come
down with me; come to the drawing-room, or to the dressing-room; take me
away; you'll be happier, indeed you will, than ever you were; you'll
never repent it, darling; do what I say. I'll be the best wife, indeed I
will. See, I've been reading my Bible; look at it. I'm quite
changed--quite changed. God only knows how changed. Oh, Arthur, Arthur,
if you ever loved me, take me away; come from this room--come, you'll
never repent it. Oh, Arthur, be wise, be merciful! The more you forgive
the more you'll be loved. It is not I, but God says that. I'm praying to
you as I would to Him, and He forgives us when we implore: take pity on
me; you'll never be sorry. Have mercy, Arthur, have mercy--you are kind,
I know you're kind, you would not ruin your wretched Jennie. Oh, take
pity before it is too late, and take me from this dreadful room. You'll
be glad, indeed you will; there never was such a wife as I'll be to you,
the humblest, the most loving, and you'll be happier than ever you
were. Oh, Arthur, Arthur, I'm praying to you as if you were God, for
mercy; don't say no! Oh, can you; can you; can you?"

General Lennox was moved, but not from his course. He never saw before
such a face of misery. It was like the despairing pleading of the last
day. But alas! in this sort of quarrel there can be no compromise;
reconciliation is dishonour.

"Go and lie down. It's all over between us," said he in a tone that left
her no room for hope. With a low, long cry, and her fingers clasped over
her forehead, she retraced her steps, and lay down, and quietly drew her
icy feet into the bed, awaiting the inevitable. Lennox resumed his
watch.



CHAPTER XXIII.

The Morning.


Monsieur Varbarriere was standing all this while with his shadow to the
door-post of the Window dressing-room, and his dark eyes fixed on the
further door which admits to the green chamber. His bed-room candle,
which was dwindling, stood on the table at his elbow.

He heard a step crossing the lobby softly toward his own room, and
whispered,

"Who's there?"

"Jacques Duval, at Monsieur's service."

Monsieur took his candle, and crossed the floor to meet Jacques, who was
approaching, and he signed to him to stop. He looked at his watch. It
was now twenty minutes past one.

"Jacques," said he, in a whisper, "there's no mistake about those
sounds?"

"No, Monsieur, not at all."

"Three nights running, you say?"

"Monsieur is perfectly right."

"Steps, you say?"

"Yes, sir, footsteps."

"It could not have been the wind, the shaking or creaking of the floor
or windows?"

"Ah no, Monsieur, not at all as that."

"The steps quick, not slow; wasn't it?"

"Quick, sir, as one in haste and treading lightly would walk."

"And this as you sat in the butler's room?"

"Monsieur recollects exactly."

Varbarriere knew that the butler's room exactly underlay that dingy
library that abutted on Sir Jekyl's bedchamber, and on that account had
placed his sentinel to watch there.

"Always about the same time?" he asked.

"Very nearly, Monsieur, a few minutes, sometimes before, sometimes
after; only trifle, in effect _nothing_," answered Jacques.

"Jacques, you must leave my door open, so that, should I want you, you
can hear me call from the door of that dressing-room; take care you keep
awake, but don't move."

So saying, Varbarriere returned to his place of observation. He set down
his candle near the outer door, and listened, glowering as before at the
far one. The crisis was near at hand, so near that, on looking at his
watch again, he softly approached the door of the green chamber, and
there, I am sorry to say, he listened diligently.

But all was disappointingly silent for a while longer. Suddenly he heard
a noise. A piece of furniture shoved aside it seemed, a heavy step or
two, and the old man's voice exclaim "Ha!" with an interrogatory snarl
in it. There was a little laugh, followed by a muffled blow or a fall,
and a woman's cry, sharp and momentary--"Oh, God! oh, God!" and a gush
of smothered sobs, and the General's grim voice calling "silence!" and a
few stern words from him, and fast talking between them, and Lady Jane
calling for light, and then more wild sobbing. There had been no sound
of a struggle.

Varbarriere stood, stooping, scowling, open-mouthed, at the door, with
his fingers on the handle, hardly breathing. At last he gasped--

"That d---- old ape! has he hurt her?" He listened, but all was silent.
Did he still hear smothered sobs? He could not be certain. His eyes were
glaring on the panel of the door; but on his retina was a ghostly image
of beautiful Lady Jane, blood-stained, with glazing eyes, like Cleopatra
dying of her asps.

After a while he heard some words from the General in an odd ironical
tone. Then came silence again--continued silence--half an hour's
silence, and then a sound of some one stirring.

He knew the tread of the General about the room. Whatever was to occur
_had_ occurred. That was his conclusion. Perhaps the General was coming
to _his_ room to look for him. It was time he should withdraw, and so he
did.

"You may get to your bed, Jacques, and come at the usual hour."

So, with his accustomed civilities, Monsieur Jacques disappeared. But
old Lennox did not visit Varbarriere, nor even emerge from his room.

After an hour Varbarriere revisited the dressing-room next the green
chamber. He waited long without hearing anything, and at length he heard
a step--was it the General's again, or Sir Jekyl's?--whoever it was, he
seemed to be fidgeting about the room, collecting and packing his
things, Varbarriere fancied, for a journey; and then he heard him draw
the writing-table a little, and place a chair near it, and as the candle
was shining through the keyhole, he supposed the General had placed
himself to write at it.

Something had happened, he felt sure. Had Lennox despatched Sir Jekyl,
or Sir Jekyl wounded the General? Or had Lady Jane been killed? Or was
all right, and no one of the actors stretched on the green baize carpet
before the floats? He would believe that, and got quickly to his bed,
nursing that comfortable conclusion the while. But when he shut his
eyes, a succession of pale faces smeared with blood came and looked at
him, and would not be ordered away. So he lighted his candle again, and
tried to exorcise these visitors with the pages of a French Review,
until very late sleep overtook him.

Jacques was in his room at the usual hour, eight o'clock; and
Varbarriere started up in his bed at the sound of his voice, with a
confused anticipation of a catastrophe. But the cheerful squire had
nothing to relate except how charming was the morning, and to hand a
letter to Monsieur.

Varbarriere's mind was not upon letters that morning, but on matters
nearer home.

"General Lennox has not been down-stairs yet?"

"No, Monsieur."

"Nor Sir Jekyl?"

"No, Monsieur."

"Where's my watch? there--yes--eight o'clock. H'm. When does Lady Jane's
maid go to her?"

"Not until the General has advanced himself pretty well in his toilet,
the entrance being through his dressing-room."

"The General used to be down early?"

"Yes, Monsieur, half-past eight I remember."

"And Sir Jekyl?"

"About the same hour."

"And Lady Jane is called, I suppose, a little before that hour?"

"Yes, about a quarter past eight, Monsieur. Will Monsieur please to
desire his cup of coffee?"

"Yes, everything--quickly--I wish to dress; and what's this? a letter."

It was from Guy Deverell, as Varbarriere saw at a glance, and not
through the post.

"My nephew hasn't come?" sternly demanded Varbarriere, with a kind of
start, on reading the signature, which he did before reading the letter.

"No, Monsieur, a young man has conveyed it from Slowton."

Whereupon Varbarriere, with a striped silk nightcap of many colours
pending over his corrugated forehead, read the letter through the
divided bed-curtains.

His nephew, it appeared, had arrested his course at Birmingham, and
turned about, and reached Slowton again about the hour at which M.
Varbarriere had met old Lennox in the grounds of Marlowe.

"What a fanfaronnade! These young fellows--what asses they are!" sneered
Varbarriere.

It was not, in truth, very wise. This handsome youth announced his
intention to visit Marlowe that day, to see Monsieur Varbarriere for,
perhaps, the last time before setting forth for Algeria, where he knew a
place would at once be found for him in the ranks of those brave
soldiers whom France had sent there. His gratitude to his uncle years
could never abate, but it was time he should cease to task his
generosity, and he was quite resolved henceforward to fight his way
single-handed in the world, as so many other young fellows did. Before
taking his departure he thought he should present himself to say his
adieux to M. Varbarriere--even to his host, Sir Jekyl Marlowe; and there
was a good deal more of such stuff.

"Sir Jekyl! stuff! His uncle! lanterns! He wants to see that pretty Miss
Beatrix once more! _voila tout!_ He has chosen his time well. Who knows
what confusion may be here to day? No matter."

By this time he had got his great quilted dressing-gown about him, in
the folds of which Varbarriere looked more unwieldy still than in his
drawing-room costume.

"I must read about that Algeria; have they got any diseases there?
plague--yellow fever--ague! By my faith! if the place is tolerably
healthy, it would be no such bad plan to let the young fool take a turn
on that gridiron, and learn thoroughly the meaning of independence."

So Monsieur Varbarriere, with a variety of subjects to think over,
pursued his toilet.



CHAPTER XXIV.

The Doctor's Visit.


Sir Jekyl's hour was eight o'clock, and punctually his man, Tomlinson,
knocked at his door.

"Hollo! Is that Tomlinson?" answered the voice from within.

"Yes, sir, please."

"See, Tomlinson, I say, it's very ridiculous; but I'm hanged if I can
stir, that confounded gout's got hold of my foot again. You'll have to
force the door. Send some one down to the town for Doctor Pratt--d'ye
see?--and get me some handkerchiefs, and don't be all day."

The faithful Tomlinson listening, with a snowy shirt and a pair of socks
on his arm and the tips of his fingers fiddling with the door-handle,
listening at the other side of the panel, with forehead inclined forward
and mouth open, looked, I am sorry to say, a good deal amused, although
he answered in a concerned tone; and departed to execute his orders.

"Guv'nor took in toe again," he murmured, with a solemn leer, as he
paused before the butler's broad Marseilles waistcoat.

"As how?" inquired he.

"The gout; can't stir a peg, and he's locked hisself in, as usual, over
night."

"Lawk!" exclaimed the butler, and I dare say both would have liked to
laugh, but neither cared to compromise himself.

"Chisel and mallet, Mr. Story, we shall want, if you please, and some
one to go at once for the doctor to the town."

"I know--yes--hinstantly," ejaculated the butler.

So things proceeded. Pratt, M. D., the medical practitioner of the
village, whose yellow hall door and broad brass plate, and shop window
round the corner, with the two time-honoured glass jars, one of red the
other of green fluid, representing physic in its most attractive hues,
were not more widely known than his short, solemn, red face, blue chin,
white whiskers, and bald pate, was roused by the messenger's summons, at
his toilet, and peeped over his muslin blind to discover the hand that
was ringing so furiously among his withered hollyhocks; and at the same
time Tomlinson and the butler were working with ripping chisel, mallet,
and even a poker, to effect an entrance.

"Ha! Dives," said the Baronet, as that divine, who had heard the sad
news, presented himself at the now open door. "I sent for you, my dear
fellow. A horrid screw in my left toe this time. Such a spoil-sport!
curse it, but it won't be anything. I've sent for Pratt, and you'll tell
the people at breakfast, you know, that I'm a prisoner; only a trifle
though, I hope--down to dinner maybe. There's the gong--run down, like a
dear fellow."

"Not flying--well fixed in the toe, eh?" said Dives, rather anxiously,
for he did not like Sir Jekyl's constrained voice and sunken look.

"Quite fixed--blazing away--just the thing Pratt likes--confounded pain
though. Now run down, my dear fellow, and make my excuses, but say I
hope to be down to dinner, mind."

So, with another look, Dives went down, not quite comfortable, for on
the whole he liked Jekyl, who had done a great deal for him; he did not
like tragedies, he was very comfortable as he stood, and quite content
to await the course of nature.

"Is that d--d doctor _ever_ coming?" asked Sir Jekyl, dismally.

"He'll be here, sir, please, in five minutes--so he said, sir."

"I know, but there's been _ten_ since, curse him."

"Shall I send again, sir?" asked Tomlinson.

"Do; say I'm in pain, and can't think what the devil's keeping him."

Beatrix in a moment more came running up in consternation.

"How do you feel now, papa? Gout, is it not?" she asked, having obtained
leave to come in; "not very bad, I hope."

The Baronet smiled with an effort.

"Gout's never very pleasant, a hot thumb-screw on one's toe, my dear,
but that's all; it will be nothing. Pratt's coming, and he'll get me
right in a day or two--only the great toe. I beg pardon for naming it so
often--very waspish though, that's all. Don't stay away, or the people
will fancy something serious; and possibly I may be down, in a slipper
though, to dinner. So run down, Trixie, darling."

And Trixie, with the same lingering look that Dives had cast on him,
only more anxious, betook herself to the parlour as he had desired.

In a little while Doctor Pratt had arrived. As he toddled through the
hall he encountered the Rev. Dives on his way to the breakfast-parlour.
Pratt had suffered some rough handling and damage at the hands of Time,
and Dives was nothing the better of the sarcastic manipulations of the
same ancient god, since they had last met. Still they instantly
recognised, and shook hands cordially, and when the salutation was
over--

"Well, and what's wrong with the Baronet?"

"Gout; he drinks two glasses of port, I've observed, at dinner, and it
always disagrees with him. Pray do stop it--the port, I mean."

"Hand or foot?"

"The great toe--the best place, isn't it?"

"No better, sir. There's nothing, nothing of the stomach?--I brought
this in _case_," and he held up a phial.

"No, but I don't like his looks; he looks so haggard and exhausted."

"H'm, I'd like to see him at once; I don't know his room though."

So Dives put him in charge of a guide, and they parted.

"Well, Sir Jekyl, how d'ye do, hey? and how's all this? Old enemy,
hey--all in the foot--fast in the toe--isn't he?" began the Doctor as
he entered the Baronet's room.

"Ay, in the toe. Sit down there, Pratt, beside me."

"Ah, ha! nervous; you think I'll knock him, eh? Ha, ha, ha! No, no, no!
Don't be afraid. Nothing wrong in the stomach--no chill--retching?"

"No."

"_Head_ all right, too; nothing queer there?"

"Nothing."

"Nothing in the knuckles--old acquaintance, you know, when you meet,
sometimes a squeeze by the hand, eh? Ha, ha, ha!"

"No, nothing in the hand," said the Baronet, a little testily.

"Nor any wandering sensations here, you know, and there, hey?" said the
little fellow, sitting down briskly by his patient.

"No; curse it."

"Troublesome to talk, hey?" asked Pratt, observing that he seemed faint,
and talked low and with effort.

"No--yes--that is, _tired_."

"I see, no pain; all nicely fixed in the toe; _that_ could not be
better, and what do you refer it to? By Jove, it's eighteen, _nineteen_
months since your last! When you came down to Dartbroke, for the Easter,
you know, and wrote to me for the thing with the ether, hey? You've been
at that d--d bin, I'm afraid, the forbidden fruit, hey? Egad, sir, I
call it fluid gout, and the crust nothing but chalk-stone."

"_No--I haven't_," croaked the Baronet savagely.

"Ha, ha, ha!" laughed the Doctor, drumming on his fat knee with his
stethoscope. "Won't admit--won't allow, hey?" As he spoke he was
attempting to take him by the wrist.

"Pulse? How are we there, eh?"

"Turn that d--d fellow out of the room, and bolt the door, will you?"
muttered Sir Jekyl, impatiently.

"Hey? I see. How are _you_, Mr. Tomlinson--no return of that bronchial
annoyance, eh? I'll ask you just now--we'll just make Sir Jekyl Marlowe
a little more comfortable first, and I've a question or two--we'd be as
well alone, you see--and do you mind? You'll be in the way, you know; we
may want you, you know."

So the docile Tomlinson withdrew with a noiseless alacrity, and Doctor
Pratt, in deference to his patron, bolted the mangled door.

"See, Pratt, you're tiring me to death, with your beastly questions.
Wait, will you? Sit down. You'll promise me you won't tell this to
anyone."

"What?"

"Do hold your tongue, like a dear fellow, and listen. Upon your honour,
you don't tell, till I give you leave, what's the matter with me.
Come--d---- you; yes or no?"

"Well, you know I must, if you insist; but I'd rayther not."

"You _must_. On your honour you won't tell, and you'll call it gout?"

"Why--why, if it _is_ not gout, eh? don't you see? it would not _do_."

"Well, good morning to you, Doctor Pratt, for I'm hanged if you
prescribe for me on any other terms."

"Well, don't you see, I say I must, if you insist, don't you see; it may
be--it may be--egad! it might be very serious to let you wait."

"You promise?"

"Yes, I _do_. _There!_"

"Gout, mind, and nothing else; all gout, upon your honour."

"Aw, well! _Yes._"

"Upon your _honour_; why the devil can't you speak!"

"Upon my honour, of course."

"You kill me, making me talk. Well, 'tisn't in the toe--it's up here,"
and he uncovered his right shoulder and chest, showing some
handkerchiefs and his night-shirt soaked in blood.

"What the devil's all this?" exclaimed the Doctor, rising suddenly, and
the ruddy tints of his face fading into a lilac hue. "Why--why, you're
_hurt_; egad, you're hurt. We must examine it. What is it with--how the
plague did it all come about?"

"The act of God," answered Sir Jekyl, with a faint irony in his tone.

"The--ah!--well, I don't understand."

"I mean the purest accident."

"Bled a lot, egad! These things seem pretty dry--bleeding away _still_?
You must not keep it so hot--the sheet only."

"I think it's stopped--the things are sticking--I feel them."

"So much the better; but we must not leave it this way--and--and I
daren't disturb it, you know, without help, so we'll have to take
Tomlinson into confidence."

"'Gad, you'll do no such thing."

"But, my dear sir, I _must_ tell you, this thing, whatever it is, looks
very serious. I can _tell_ you, it's not to be trifled with, and this
sort of nonsense may be as much as your life's worth, egad."

"You shan't," said Sir Jekyl.

"You'll allow me to speak with your brother?"

"No, you shan't."

"Ho, now, Sir Jekyl, really now--"

"Promised--your honour."

"'Tisn't a fair position," said the practitioner, shaking his head, with
his hands stuffed in his pockets, and staring dismally at the
blood-stained linen. "I'll tell you what we must do--there are two
supernumeraries I happen to know at the county hospital, and Hicks is a
capital nurse. I'll write a line and they'll send her here. There's a
room in there, eh? yes, well, she can be quartered _there_, and talk
with no one but you and me; in fact, see no one except in your presence,
don't you see? and egad, we _must_ have her, or I'll give up the
_case_."

"Well, yes; send for her."



CHAPTER XXV.

The Patient interrogated.


So Doctor Pratt scribbled a few lines on the back of his card, and
Tomlinson was summoned to the door, and told to expedite its despatch,
and "send one of the men in a dog-cart as hard as he could peg, and to
be sure to see Doctor Hoggins," who had been an apprentice once of
honest Pratt's.

"Tell her not to wait for dressing, or packing, or anything. She'll come
just as she is, and we'll send again for her things, d'ye mind? and let
him drive quick. It's only two miles, he must not be half an hour about
it;" and in a low whisper, with a frown and a nod, he added to Tomlinson
on the lobby, "I _want_ her here."

So he sat down very grave by Sir Jekyl, and took his pulse, very low and
inflammatory, he thought.

"You lost a good deal of blood? It is not all here, eh?"

"No; I lost some beside."

"Mind, now, don't move. You may bring it on again; and you're not in a
condition to spare any. How did it happen?"

"A knife or something."

"A thrust, eh? Not a _cut_; I mean a _stab_?"

"Yes."

"About how long ago? What hour?"

Sir Jekyl hesitated.

"Oh! now come, Sir Jekyl, I beg pardon, but I really must know the
_facts_."

"Remember your promise--awfully tired."

"Certainly. What o'clock?"

"Between one and two."

"You must have some claret;" and he opened the door and issued orders
accordingly. The Doctor had his fingers on his pulse by this time.

"Give me some water; I'm dying of thirst," said the patient.

The Doctor obeyed.

"And there's no gout at all, then?" said he.

"Not a bit," answered Sir Jekyl, pettishly; his temper and his breath
seemed to be failing him a little.

"Did you feel faint when it happened, or after?"

"Just for a moment, when it happened, then pretty well; and when I got
here, in a little time, worse, very faint; I think I did faint, but a
little blood always does that for me. But it's not deep, I know by the
feel--only the muscle."

"H'm. I shan't disturb these things till the nurse comes; glad there's
no gout, no complication."

The claret-jug was soon at the bedside, and the Doctor helped his
patient to a few spoonfuls, and felt his pulse again.

"I must go home for the things, d'ye see? I shan't be long away though.
Here, Tomlinson, you'll give Sir Jekyl a spoonful or a glassful of this
claret, d'ye mind, as often as he requires it. About every ten minutes a
little to wet his lips; and mind, now, Sir Jekyl, drink any quantity
rather than let yourself go down."

As he went from the room he signed to Tomlinson, who followed him
quietly.

"See, now, my good fellow, this is rather a serious case, you understand
me; and he must not be let down. Your master, Sir Jekyl, I say, he must
be kept up. Keep a little claret to his lips, and if you see any pallor
or moisture in his face, give it him by a glassful at a time; and go on,
do you mind, till he begins to look natural again, for he's in a very
critical state; and if he were to faint, d'ye see, or anything, it might
be a very serious thing; and you'd better ring for another bottle or
two; but don't leave him on any account."

They were interrupted here by a tapping in Sir Jekyl's room. Lying on
his back, he was rapping with his penknife on the table.

"Why the plague don't you come?" he muttered, as Tomlinson drew near.
"Where's Pratt? tell him I want him."

"Hey--no--no _pain_?" asked the Doctor.

"No; I want to know--I want to know what the devil you've been saying to
him out there."

"Nothing; only a direction."

"Do you think--do you think I'm in _danger_?" said Sir Jekyl.

"Well, _no_. You needn't be if you mind, but--but don't refuse the
claret, mind, and don't be afraid of it if you feel a--a sinking, you
know, any quantity; and I'll be back before the nurse comes from the
hospital; and--and don't be excited, for you'll do very well if you'll
only do as I tell you."

The Doctor nodded, standing by the bed, but he did not look so
cheerfully as he spoke.

"I'll be back in twenty minutes. Don't be fidgety, you know; don't stir,
and you'll do very nicely, I say."

When the Doctor was gone, Sir Jekyl said--

"Tomlinson."

"Yes, sir, please."

"Tomlinson, come here; let me see you."

"Yes, Sir Jekyl; sir--"

"I say, Tomlinson, you'll tell the truth, mind."

"Yes, sir, please."

"Did that fellow say anything?"

"Yes, sir, please."

"Out with it."

"'Twas claret, Sir Jekyl, please, sir."

"None of your d--d lies, sir. I heard him say 'serious.' What _was_ it?"

"Please, sir, he said as how you were to be kep up, sir, which it might
be serious if otherwise. So he said, sir, please, it might be serious if
you was not properly kep up with claret, please, sir."

"Come, Tomlinson--see I _must_ know. Did he say I was in a bad
way--likely to die?--come." His face was certainly hollow and earthy
enough just then to warrant forebodings.

"No, sir; certainly not, sir. No, sir, please, nothing of the kind."

The Baronet looked immeasurably more like himself.

"Give me some wine--a glass," said he.

The Doctor, stumping away rapidly to his yellow door, and red and green
twin bottles, in the village, was thinking how the deuce this
misadventure of Sir Jekyl's had befallen. The Baronet's unlucky
character was well known wherever he resided or had property.

"Who the devil did it, I wonder?" conjectured the Doctor. "Two o'clock
at night. Some pretty fury with a scissors, maybe. We'll know time
enough; these things always come out--always come out, egad! It's a
shame for him getting into scrapes at his time of life."

In the breakfast-parlour, very merry was the party then assembled,
notwithstanding the absence of some of its muster-roll. Lady Jane
Lennox, an irregular breakfaster, stood excused. Old Lady Alice was no
more expected than the portrait of Lady Mary in her bed-room. General
Lennox had business that morning, and was not particularly inquired
after. Sir Jekyl, indeed, was missed--bustling, good-natured,
lively--his guests asked after him with more than a conventional
solicitude.

"Well, and how is papa now?" inquired Sir Paul, who knew what gout was,
and being likely to know it again, felt a real interest in the Baronet's
case. "No _acute_ pain, I hope?"

"I'm afraid he _is_ in pain, more than he admits," answered Beatrix.

"Tomlinson told me it's all in the--the extremity, though that's well.
Intelligent fellow, Tomlinson. Mine is generally what they call atonic,
not attended with much pain, you know;" and he illustrated his
disquisition by tendering his massive mulberry knuckles for the young
lady's contemplation, and fondling them with the glazed fingers of the
other hand, while his round blue eyes stared, with a slow sort of
wonder, in her face, as if he expected a good deal in the way of remark
from the young lady to mitigate his astonishment.

Lady Blunket, who was beside her, relieved this embarrassment, and
nodding at her ear, said--

"Flannel--_flannel_, chiefly. Sir Paul, there, his medical man, Doctor
Duddle, we have great confidence in _him_--relies very much on warmth.
My poor father used to take Regent's--Regent's--I forget what--a
_bottle_. But Doctor Duddle would not hear of Sir Paul there attempting
to put it to his lips. Regent's--_what_ is it? I shall forget my own
name soon. _Water_ is it? At all events he won't hear of it--diet and
flannel, that's his method. My poor father, you know, died of gout,
quite suddenly, at Brighton. Cucumber, they said."

And Lady Blunket, overcome by the recollection, touched her eyes with
her handkerchief.

"Cucumber and salmon, it was, _I_ recollect," said Sir Paul, with a new
accession of intelligence.

"But he passed away most happily, Miss Marlowe," continued Lady Blunket.
"I have some verses of poor mamma's. _She_ was _very_ religious, you
know; they have been very much admired."

"Ay--yes," said Sir Paul, "he was helped _twice_--very im_pru_dent!"

"I was mentioning dear mamma's verses, you remember."

Sir Paul not being quite so well up in this aspect of the case, simply
grunted and became silent; and indeed I don't think he had been so
loquacious upon any other morning or topic since his arrival at Marlowe.

"They are beautiful," continued Lady Blunket, "and so resigned. I was
most anxious, my dear, to place a tablet under the monument, you know,
at Maisly; a mural tablet, just like the Tuftons', you know; they are
very reasonable, inscribed with dear mamma's verses; but I can't
persuade Sir Paul, he's so poor, you know; but certainly, some day or
other, I'll do it myself."

The irony about Sir Paul's poverty, though accompanied by a glance from
her ladyship's pink eyes, was lost on that excellent man, who was by
this time eating some hot broil.

Their judicious conversation was not without an effect commensurate with
the rarity of the exertion, for between them they had succeeded in
frightening poor Beatrix a good deal.

In other quarters the conversation was proceeding charmingly. Linnett
was describing to Miss Blunket the exploits of a terrier of his, among a
hundred rats let loose together--a narrative to which she listened with
a pretty girlish alternation of terror and interest; while the Rev.
Dives Marlowe and old Doocey conversed earnestly on the virtues of
colchicum, and exchanged confidences touching their gouty symptoms and
affections; and Drayton, assisted by an occasional parenthesis from that
prodigious basso, Varbarriere, was haranguing Beatrix and Mrs. Maberly
on pictures, music, and the way to give agreeable dinners; and now
Beatrix asked old Lady Blunket in what way she would best like to
dispose of the day. What to do, where to drive, an inquiry into which
the other ladies were drawn, and the debate, assisted by the gentlemen,
grew general and animated.



CHAPTER XXVI.

General Lennox appears.


In the midst of this animation the butler whispered in the ear of the
Rev. Dives Marlowe, who, with a grave face, but hardly perceived, slid
away, and met the Doctor in the hall.

"Aw--_see_--this is a--rather nasty case, I am bound to tell you, Mr.
Marlowe; he's in a rather critical state. He'll see you, I dare say,
by-and-by, and I hope he'll get on satisfactorily. I hope he'll _do_;
but I must tell you, it's a--it's a--serious _case_, sir."

"Nothing since?" asked Dives, a good deal shocked.

"Nothing since, sir," answered the Doctor, with a nod, and his eyebrows
raised as he stood ruminating a little, with his fists in his pockets.
"But--but--you'll do _this_, sir, if you please--you'll call in some
physician, in whom you have confidence, for I'll tell you frankly, it's
not a case in which I'd like to be alone."

"It's very sudden, sir; whom do you advise?" said Dives, looking black
and pallid.

"Well, you know, it ought to be _soon_. I'd like him at once--you can't
send very far. There's Ponder, I would not desire better, if you
approve. Send a fellow riding, and don't spare horse-flesh, mind, to
Slowton. He'll find Ponder there if he's quick, and let him bring him
in a chaise and four, and pay the fellows well, and they'll not be long
coming. They'd better be quick, for there's something must be done, and
I can't undertake it alone."

Together they walked out to the stable-yard, Dives feeling stunned and
odd. The Doctor was reserved, and only waited to see things in train.
Almost while Dives pencilled his urgent note on the back of a letter,
the groom had saddled one of the hunters and got into his jacket, and
was mounted and away.

Dives returned to the house. From the steps he looked with a sinking
heart after the man cantering swiftly down the avenue, and saw him in
the distance like a dwindling figure in a dream, and somehow it was to
him an effort to remember what it was all about. He felt the cold air
stirring his dark locks, streaked with silver, and found he had forgot
his hat, and so came in.

"You have seen a great deal of art, Monsieur Varbarriere," said Drayton,
accosting that gentleman admiringly, in the outer hall, where they were
fitting themselves with their "wide-awakes" and "jerries." "It is so
pleasant to meet anyone who really understands it and has a feeling for
it. You seem to me to lean more to painting than to statuary."

"Painting is the more popular art, because the more literal. The
principles of statuary are abstruse. The one, you see, is a
repetition--the other a translation. Colour is more than outline, and
the painter commands it. The man with the chisel has only outline, and
must render nature into white stone, with the _natural_ condition of
being inspected from every point, and the _unnatural_ one, in solid
anatomy, of immobility. It is a greater triumph, but a less effect."

Varbarriere was lecturing this morning, according to his lights, more
copiously and _ex cathedrâ_ than usual. Perhaps his declamations and
antithesis represented the constraint which he placed on himself, like
those mental exercises which sleepless men prescribe to wrest their
minds from anxious and exciting preoccupations.

"Do you paint, sir?" asked Drayton, who was really interested.

"Bah! never. I can make just a little scratching with my pencil, enough
to remind. But paint--oh--ha, ha, ha!--no. 'Tis an art I can admire; but
should no more think to practise than the dance."

And the ponderous M. Varbarriere pointed his toe and made a mimic
pirouette, snapped his fingers, and shrugged his round shoulders.

"Alas! sir, the more I appreciate the dance, the more I despair of
figuring in the ballet, and so with painting. Perhaps, though, _you_
paint?"

"Well, I just draw a little--what you call scratching, and I have tried
a little tinting; but I'm sure it's very bad. I don't care about fools,
of course, but I should be afraid to show it to anyone who knew anything
about it--to you, for instance," said Drayton, who, though conceited,
had sense enough at times to be a little modest.

"What is it?" said Miss Blunket, skipping into the hall, with a pretty
little basket on her arm, and such a coquettish little hat on, looking
so naïve and girlish, and so remarkably tattooed with wrinkles. "Shall
I run away--is it a secret?"

"Oh, no; we have no secrets," said Drayton.

"No secrets," echoed Varbarriere.

"And won't you tell? I'm such a curious, foolish, wretched creature;"
and she dropped her eyes like a flower-girl in a play.

What lessons, if we only could take them, are read us every hour! What a
giant among liars is vanity! Here was this withered witch, with her
baptismal registry and her looking-glass, dressing herself like a
strawberry girl, and fancying herself charming!

"Only about my drawings--nothing."

"Ah, I know. Did Mr. Drayton show them to you?"

"No, Mademoiselle; I've not been so fortunate."

"He showed them to me, though. It's not any harm to tell, is it? and
they really _are_--Well, I won't say all I think of them."

"I was just telling Monsieur Varbarriere, it is not everyone I'd show
those drawings to. Was not I, Monsieur?" said Drayton, with a fine
irony.

"So he was, upon my honour," said Varbarriere, gravely.

"He did not mean it, though," simpered Miss Blunket, "if _you_
can't--_I_'ll try to induce him to show them to you; they are----Oh!
here is Beatrix."

"How is your papa now, Mademoiselle?" asked Varbarriere, anxious to
escape.

"Just as he was, I think, a little low, the Doctor says."

"Ah!" said Varbarriere, and still his dark eyes looked on hers with
grave inquiry.

"He always _is_ low for a day or two; but he says this will be nothing.
He almost hopes to be down this evening."

"Ah! Yes. That's very well," commented Varbarriere, with pauses between,
and his steady, clouded gaze unchanged.

"We are going to the garden; are you ready, darling?" said she to Miss
Blunket.

"Oh, quite," and she skipped to the door, smiling this way and that, as
she stood in the sun on the step. "Sweet day," and she looked back on
Beatrix and the invitation, glanced slightly on Drayton, who looked
loweringly after them unmoved, and thought--

"Why the plague does she spoil her walks with that frightful old humbug?
There's no escaping that creature."

We have only conjecture as to which of the young ladies, now running
down the steps, Mr. Drayton's pronouns referred to.

"You fish to-day?" asked Varbarriere, on whose hands time dragged
strangely.

"We were thinking of going down to that pretty place Gryston. Linnett
was there on Saturday morning. It was Linnett's trout you thought so
good at luncheon."

And with such agreeable conversation they loitered a little at the door,
and suddenly, with quick steps, there approached, and passed them by, an
apparition.

It was old General Lennox. He had been walking in the park--about the
grounds--he knew not where, since daybreak. Awfully stern he looked,
fatigued, draggled he well might be, gloveless, one hand in his pocket,
the other clenched on his thumb like a child's in a convulsion. His
thoughts were set on something remote, for he brushed by the gentlemen,
and not till he had passed did he seem to hear Drayton's cheery
salutation, and stopping and turning towards them suddenly, he said,
very grimly--

"Beg your pardon--"

"Nothing, General, only wishing you good-morning," answered Drayton.

"Yes, charming morning. I've been walking. I've been out--a--thank you,"
and that lead-coloured and white General vanished like a wicked ghost.

"'Gad, he looks as if he'd got a licking. Did you ever see a fellow look
so queer?"

"He's been overworking his mind--business, you know--wants rest, I
suspect," said Varbarriere, with a solemn nod.

"They say fellows make themselves mad that way. I wonder has he had any
breakfast; did you see his trowsers all over mud?"

"I half envy your walk to Gryston," said Varbarriere, glancing up
towards the fleecy clouds and blue sky, and down again to the breezy
landscape. "It's worth looking at, a very pretty bit, that steep bridge
and glen."

"No notion of coming; maybe you will?"

Varbarriere smiled and shook his head.

"No angler, sir, never was," he said.

"A bad day, rather, at all events," said Drayton; "a grey day is the
thing for us."

"Ah, yes, a grey day; so my nephew tells me; a pretty good angler, I
believe."

Varbarriere did not hear Drayton's answer, whatever it was; he was
thinking of quite other things, and more and more feverishly every
minute. The situation was for him all in darkness. But there remained on
his mind the impression that something worse even than a guilty
discovery had occurred last night, and the spectre that had just crossed
them in the hall was not a sight to dissipate those awful shadows.



CHAPTER XXVII.

Lady Alice Redcliffe makes General Lennox's Acquaintance.


Old General Lennox stopped a servant on the stairs, and learned from the
staring domestic where Lady Alice Redcliffe then was.

That sad and somewhat virulent old martyr was at that moment in her
accustomed haunt, Lady Mary's boudoir, and in her wonted attitude over
the fire, pondering in drowsy discontent over her many miseries, when a
sharp knock at the door startled her nerves and awakened her temper.

Her "come in" sounded sharply, and she beheld for the first time in her
life the General, a tall lean old man, with white bristles on brow and
cheek, with his toilet disordered by long and rather rapid exercise, and
grim and livid with no transient agitation.

"Lady Alice Redcliffe?" inquired he, with a stiff bow, remaining still
inclined, his eyes still fixed on her.

"_I_ am Lady Alice Redcliffe," returned that lady, haughtily, having
quite forgotten General Lennox and all about him.

"My name is Lennox," he said.

"Oh, _General_ Lennox? I was told you were here last night," said the
old lady, scrutinising him with a sort of surprised frown; his dress and
appearance were a little wild, and not in accordance with her ideas on
military precision. "I am happy, General Lennox, to make your
acquaintance. You've just arrived, I dare say?"

"I arrived yesterday--last night--last night late. I--I'm much obliged.
May I say a word?"

"Certainly, General Lennox," acquiesced the old lady, looking harder at
him--"certainly, but I must remind you that I have been a sad invalid,
and therefore very little qualified to discuss or advise;" and she
leaned back with a fatigued air, but a curious look nevertheless.

"I--I--it's about my wife, ma'am. We can--we can't live any longer
together." He was twirling his gold eyeglass with trembling fingers as
he spoke.

"You have been quarrelling--h'm?" said Lady Alice, still staring hard at
him, and rising with more agility than one might have expected; and
shutting the door, which the old General had left open, she said, "Sit
down, sir--quarrelling, eh?"

"A quarrel, madam, that can never be made up--by ----, _never_." The
General smote his gouty hand furiously on the chimneypiece as he thus
spake.

"Don't, General Lennox, _don't_, pray. If you can't command yourself,
how can you hope to bear with one another's infirmities? A quarrel?
H'm."

"Madam, we've separated. It's worse, ma'am--all over. I thought,
Lady--Lady--I thought, madam, I might ask you, as the only early
friend--a friend, ma'am, and a kinswoman--to take her with you for a
little while, till some home is settled for her; _here_ she can't stay,
of course, an hour. That villain! May ---- damn him."

"Who?" asked Lady Alice, with a kind of scowl, quite forgetting to
rebuke him this time, her face darkening and turning very pale, for she
saw it was another great family disgrace.

"Sir Jekyl Marlowe, ma'am, of Marlowe, Baronet, Member of Parliament,
Deputy Lieutenant," bawled the old General, with shrill and trembling
voice. "I'll drag him through the law courts, and the divorce court, and
the House of Lords." He held his right fist up with its trembling
knuckles working, as if he had them in Sir Jekyl's cravat, "drag him
through them all, ma'am, till the dogs would not pick his bones; and
I'll shoot him through the head, by ----, I'll shoot him through the
head, and his family ashamed to put his name on his tombstone."

Lady Alice stood up, with a face so dismal it almost looked wicked.

"I see, sir; I see there's something very bad; I'm sorry, sir; I'm very
sorry; I'm _very_ sorry."

She had a hand of the old General's in each of hers, and was shaking
them with a tremulous clasp.

Such as it was, it was the first touch of sympathy he had felt. The old
General's grim face quivered and trembled, and he grasped _her_ hands
too, and then there came those convulsive croupy sobs, so dreadful to
hear, and at last tears, and this dried and bleached old soldier wept
loud and piteously. Outside the door you would not have known what to
make of these cracked, convulsive sounds. You would have stopped in
horror, and fancied some one dying. After a while he said--

"Oh! ma'am, I was very fond of her--I _was_, desperately. If I could
know it was all a dream, I'd be content to die. I wish, ma'am, you'd
advise me. I'll go back to India, I think; I could not stay here. You'll
know best, madam, what she ought to do. I wish everything the best for
her--you'll see, ma'am--you'll know best."

"Quite--quite; yes, these things are best settled by men of business.
There are papers, I believe, drawn up, arranged by lawyers, and things,
and I'm sorry, sir--"

And old Lady Alice suddenly began to sob.

"I'll--I'll do what I can for the poor thing," she said. "I'll take her
to Wardlock--it's quite solitary--no prying people--and then to--perhaps
it's better to go abroad; and you'll not make it public sooner than it
must be; and it's a great blow to me, sir, a terrible blow. I wish she
had placed herself more under direction; but it's vain looking back--she
always refused advice, poor, poor wretched thing! Poor Jennie! We must
be resigned, sir; and--and, sir, for God's sake, no fighting--no
pistoling. That sort of thing is never heard of now; and if you do, the
whole world will be ringing with it, and the unfortunate creature the
gaze of the public before she need be, and perhaps some great crime
added--some one killed. Do you promise?"

"Ma'am, it's hard to promise."

"But you _must_, General Lennox, or I'll take measures to stop it this
moment," cried Lady Alice, drying her eyes and glaring at him fiercely.

"Stop it! _who'll_ stop it?" holloed the General with a stamp.

"_You'll_ stop it, General," exclaimed the old lady; "your own common
sense; your own compassion; your own self-respect; and not the less that
a poor old woman that sympathises with you implores it."

There was here an interval.

"Ma'am, ma'am, it's not easy; but I will--I _will_, ma'am. I'll go this
moment; I will, ma'am; I can't trust myself here. If I met him, ma'am,
by Heaven I _couldn't_."

"Well, thank you, _thank_ you, General Lennox--_do_ go; there's not much
chance of meeting, for he's ill; but go, don't stay a moment, and write
to me to Wardlock, and you shall hear everything. There--go. Good-bye."

So the General was gone, and Lady Alice stood for a while bewildered,
looking at the door through which he had vanished.

It is well when these sudden collapses of the overwrought nerves occur.
More dejected, more broken, perhaps, he looked, but much more like the
General Lennox whom his friends remembered. Something of the panic and
fury of his calamity had subsided, too; and though the grief must,
perhaps, always remain pretty much unchanged, yet he could now estimate
the situation more justly, and take his measures more like a sane man.

In this better, if not happier mood, Varbarriere encountered him in that
overshadowed back avenue which leads more directly than the main one to
the little town of Marlowe.

Varbarriere was approaching the house, and judged, by the General's
slower gait, that he was now more himself.

The large gentleman in the Germanesque felt hat raised that grotesque
head-gear, French fashion, as Lennox drew nigh.

The General, with two fingers, made him a stern, military salute in
reply, and came suddenly to a standstill.

"May I walk a little with you, General Lennox?" inquired Varbarriere.

"Certainly, sir. _Walk?_ By all means; I'm going to London," rejoined
the General, without, however, moving from the spot where he had halted.

"Rather a long stretch for me," thought Varbarriere, with one of those
inward thrills of laughter which sometimes surprise us in the gravest
moods and in the most unsuitable places. He looked sober enough,
however, and merely said--

"You, know, General, there's some one ill up there," and he nodded
mysteriously toward the house.

"Is there? Ay. Well, yes, I dare say," and he laughed with a sudden
quaver. "I was not sure; the old woman said something. I'm glad, sir."

"I--I think I _know_ what it is, sir," said Varbarriere.

"So do I, sir," said the General, with another short laugh.

"You recollect, General Lennox, what you promised me?"

"Ay, sir; how can I help it?" answered he.

"How can you help it! I don't quite see your meaning," replied
Varbarriere, slowly. "I can only observe that it gives me new ideas of a
soldier's estimate of his promise."

"Don't blame me, sir, if I lost my head a little, when I saw that
villain there, in _my_ room, sir, by ----" and the General cursed him
here parenthetically through his clenched teeth; "I felt, sir, as--as if
the sight of him struck me in the face--mad, sir, for a minute--I
suppose, _mad_, sir; and--it occurred. I say, sir, I can't help it--and
I couldn't help it, by ---- I couldn't."

Varbarriere looked down with a peevish sneer on the grass and innocent
daisies at his feet, his heel firmly placed, and tapping the sole of his
boot from that pivot on the sward, like a man beating time to a slow
movement in an overture.

"Very good, sir! It's your own affair. I suppose you've considered
consequences, if anything should go wrong?"

And without awaiting an answer, he turned and slowly pursued his route
toward the house. I don't suppose, in his then frame of mind, the
General saw consequences very clearly, or cared about them, or was
capable, when the image of Sir Jekyl presented itself, of any emotions
but those of hatred and rage. He had gone now, at all events; the future
darkness; the past irrevocable.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

The Bishop sees the Patient.


In the hall Varbarriere met the Reverend Dives Marlowe.

"Well, sir, how is Sir Jekyl?" asked he.

The parson looked bilious and lowering.

"To say truth, Monsieur, I can't very well make out what the Doctor
thinks. I suspect he does not understand very well himself. _Gout_, he
says, but in a very sinking state; and we've sent for the physician at
Slowton; and altogether, sir, I'm very uneasy."

I suppose if the blow had fallen, the reverend gentleman would in a
little while have become quite resigned, as became him. There were the
baronetcy and some land; but on the whole, when Death drew near
smirking, and offered on his tray, with a handsome black pall over it,
these sparkling relics of the late Sir Jekyl Marlowe, Bart., the Rev.
Dives turned away; and though he liked these things well enough, put
them aside honestly, and even with a sort of disgust. For Jekyl, as I
have said, though the brothers could sometimes exchange a sharp sally,
had always been essentially kind to him; and Dives was not married, and,
in fact, was funding money, and in no hurry; and those things were sure
to come to him if he lived, sooner or later.

"And what, may I ask, do you suppose it _is_?" inquired Varbarriere.

"Well, _gout_, you know--he's positive; and, poor fellow, he's got it in
his foot, and a very nasty thing it is, I know, even _there_. We all of
us have it hereditarily--our family." The apostle and martyr did not
want him to suppose he had earned it. "But I am very anxious, sir. Do
_you_ know anything of gout? May it be _there_ and somewhere else at the
same time? Two members of our family died of it in the stomach, and one
in the head. It has been awfully fatal with us."

Varbarriere shook his head. He had never had a declared attack, and had
no light to throw on the sombre prospect. The fact is, if that solemn
gentleman had known for certain exactly how matters stood, and had not
been expecting the arrival of his contumacious nephew, he would have
been many miles on his way to London by this time.

"You know--you know, _sinking_ seems very odd as a symptom of common
gout in the great toe," said Dives, looking in his companion's face, and
speaking rather like a man seeking than communicating information. "We
must not frighten the ladies, you know; but I'm very much afraid of
something in the stomach, eh? and possibly the heart."

"After all, sir," said Varbarriere, with a brisk effort,
"Doctor--a--what's his name?--he's but a rural practitioner--an
apothecary--is not it so?"

"The people here say, however, he's a very clever fellow, though," said
Dives, not much comforted.

"We may hear a different story when the Slowton doctor comes. I venture
to think we shall. I always fancied when gout was well out in the toe,
the internal organs were safe. Oh! there's the Bishop."

"Just talking about poor Jekyl, my lord," said Dives, with a sad smile
of deference, the best he could command.

"And--and how _is_ my poor friend and pupil, Sir Jekyl?--better, I
trust," responded the apostle in gaiters and apron.

"Well, my lord, we hope--I trust everything satisfactory; but the Doctor
has been playing the sphinx with us, and I don't know exactly what to
make of him."

"I saw Doctor Pratt for a moment, and expressed my wish to see his
patient--my poor pupil--before I go, which must be--yes--within an
hour," said the Bishop, consulting his punctual gold watch. "But he
preferred my postponing until Doctor--I forget his name--very much
concerned, _indeed_, that a second should be thought necessary--from
Slowton--should have arrived. It--it gives me--I--I can't deny, a rather
serious idea of it. Has he had many attacks?"

"Yes, my lord, several; never threatened seriously, but once--at
Dartbroke, about two years ago--in the stomach."

"Ah! I forgot it was the stomach. I remember his illness though," said
the Bishop, graciously.

"Not _actually_ the stomach--only threatened," suggested Dives,
deferentially. "I have made acquaintance with it myself, too, slightly;
never so sharply as poor Jekyl. I _wish_ that other doctor would come!
But even at best it's not a pleasant visitor."

"I dare say--I can well suppose it. _I_ have reason to be _very_
thankful. I've _never_ suffered. My poor _father_ knew what it
was--suffered horribly. I remember him at Buxton for it--horribly."

The Bishop was fond of this recollection, people said, and liked it to
be understood that there was gout in the family, though he could not
show that aristocratic gules himself.

At this moment Tomlinson approached, respectfully--I might even say
religiously--and with such a reverence as High-Churchmen make at the
creed, accosted the prelate, in low tones like distant organ-notes,
murmuring Sir Jekyl's compliments to "his lordship, and would be very
'appy to see his lordship whenever it might be his convenience." To
which his lordship assented, with a grave "_Now_, certainly, I shall be
most happy," and turning to Dives--

"This, I hope, looks well. I fancy he must feel better. Let us hope;"
and with slightly uplifted hand and eyes, the good Bishop followed
Tomlinson, feeling so oddly as he threaded the same narrow half-lighted
passages, whose corners and panelling came sharply on his memory as he
passed them, and ascended the steep back stair with the narrow
stained-glass slits, by which he had reached, thirty years ago, the
sick-chamber of the dying Sir Harry Marlowe.

The Bishop sighed, looking round him, as he stood on the lobby outside
the little ante-room. The light fell through the slim coloured orifice
opposite on the oak before him, just as it did on the day he last stood
there. The banisters, above and below, looked on him like yesterday's
acquaintances; and the thoughtful frown of the heavy oak beams overhead
seemed still knit over the same sad problem.

"_Thirty_ years ago!" murmured the Bishop, with a sad smile, nodding his
silvery head slightly, as his saddened eyes wandered over these things.
"What is man that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that thou
so regardest him?"

Tomlinson, who had knocked at the Baronet's door, returned to say he
begged his lordship would step in.

So with another sigh, peeping before him, he passed through the small
room that interposed, and entered Sir Jekyl's, and took his hand very
kindly and gravely, pressing it, and saying in the low tone which
becomes a sick-chamber--

"I trust, my dear Sir Jekyl, you feel better."

"Thank you, pretty well; very good of you, my lord, to come. It's a long
way, from the front of the house--a journey. He told me you were in the
hall."

"Yes, it is a large house; interesting to me, too, from earlier
recollections."

"You were in this room, a great many years ago, with my poor father. He
died here, you know."

"I'm afraid you're distressing yourself speaking. Yes; oddly enough, I
recognised the passages and back stairs; the windows, too, are peculiar.
The _furniture_, though, that's changed--is not it?"

"So it is. I hated it," replied Sir Jekyl. "Balloon-hacked blue silk
things--faded, you know. It's curious you should remember, after such a
devil of a time--such a great number of years, my lord. I hated it. When
I had that fever here in this room--thirteen--fourteen years ago--ay, by
Jove, it's _fifteen_--they were going to write for _you_."

"Excuse me, my dear friend, but it seems to me you _are_ exerting
yourself too much," interposed the prelate again.

"Oh dear no! it does me good to talk. I had all sorts of queer visions.
People fancy, you know, they see things; and I used to think I saw
him--my poor father, I mean--every night. There were six of those
confounded blue-backed chairs in this room, and a nasty idea got into my
head. I had a servant--poor Lewis--then a very trustworthy fellow, and
liked me, I think; and Lewis told me the doctors said there was to be a
crisis on the night week of the first consultation--seven days, you
know."

"I really fear, Sir Jekyl, you are distressing yourself," persisted the
Bishop, who did not like the voluble eagerness and the apparent fatigue,
nevertheless, with which he spoke.

"Oh! it's only a word more--it doesn't, I assure you--and I perceived he
sat on a different chair, d'ye see, every night, and on the fourth
night he had got on the fourth chair; and I liked his face less and less
every night. You know he hated me about Molly--about _nothing_--he
always hated me; and as there were only six chairs, it got into my head
that he'd get up on my bed on the seventh, and that I should die in the
crisis. So I put all the chairs out of the room. They thought I was
raving; but I was quite right, for he did not come again, and here I
am;" and with these words there came the rudiments of his accustomed
chuckle, which died out in a second or two, seeming to give him pain.

"Now, you'll promise me not to talk so much at a time till you're
better. I am glad, sir--very glad, Sir Jekyl, to have enjoyed your
hospitality, and to have even this opportunity of thanking you for it.
It is very delightful to me occasionally to find myself thus beholden to
my old pupils. I have had the pleasure of spending a few days with the
Marquis at Queen's Dykely; in fact, I came direct from him to you. You
recollect him--Lord Elstowe he was then? You remember Elstowe at
school?"

"To be sure; remember him very well. We did not agree, though--always
thought him a cur," acquiesced Sir Jekyl.

The Bishop cleared his voice.

"He was asking for you, I assure you, very kindly--very kindly indeed,
and seems to remember his school-days very affectionately, and--and
pleasantly, and quite surprised me with his minute recollections of all
the boys."

"They all hated him," murmured Sir Jekyl. "I did, I know."

"And--and I think we shall have a fine day. I drive always with two
windows open--a window in front and one at the side," said the Bishop,
whose mild and dignified eyes glanced at the windows, and the pleasant
evidences of sunshine outside, as he spoke, "I was almost afraid I
should have to start without the pleasure of saying good-bye. You
remember the graceful farewell in Lucretius? I venture to say your
brother does. I made your class recite it, do you remember?"

And the Bishop repeated three or four hexameters with a look of
expectation at his old pupil, as if looking to him to take up the
recitation.

"Yes, I am sure of it. I think I remember; but, egad! I've quite forgot
my Latin, any I knew," answered the Baronet, who was totally unable to
meet the invitation; "I--I don't know how it is, but I'm sorry you have
to go to-day, very sorry;--sorry, of course, any time, but particularly
I feel as if I should get well again very soon--that is, if you were to
stay. Do you think you can?"

"Thank you, my dear Marlowe, thank you very much for that feeling," said
the good Bishop, much gratified, and placing his old hand very kindly in
that of the patient, just as Sir Jekyl suddenly remembered his doing
once at his bedside in the sick-house in younger days, long ago, when he
was a school-boy, and the Bishop master; and both paused for a moment in
one of those dreams of the past that make us smile so sadly.



CHAPTER XXIX.

In the Yard of the Marlowe Arms.


The Bishop looked at his watch, and smiled, shaking his head.

"Time flies. I must, I fear, take my leave."

"Before you go," said Sir Jekyl, "I must tell you I've been thinking
over my promise about that odious green chamber, and I'll pledge you my
honour I'll fulfil it. I'll not leave a stone of it standing; I won't, I
assure you. To the letter I'll fulfil it."

"I never doubted it, my dear Sir Jekyl."

"And must you really leave me to-day?"

"No choice, I regret."

"It's very unlucky. You can't think how your going affects me. It seems
so odd and unlucky, so depressing just now. I'd have liked to talk to
you, though I'm in no danger, and know it. I'd like to hear what's to be
said, clergymen are generally so pompous and weak; and to be sure," he
said, suddenly recollecting his brother, "there's Dives, who is
neither--who is a good clergyman, and learned. I say so, of course, my
lord, with submission to you; but still it isn't quite the same--you
know the early association; and it makes me uncomfortable and out of
spirits your going away. You don't think you could possibly postpone?"

"No, my dear friend, quite impossible; but I leave you--tell him I said
so--in excellent hands; and I'm glad to add, that so far as I can learn
you're by no means in a dying state."

The Bishop smiled.

"Oh! I know that," said Sir Jekyl, returning that cheerful expansion; "I
know that very well, my Lord: a fellow always knows pretty well when
he's in anything of a fix--I mean his life at all in question; it is not
the least that, but a sort of feeling or fancy. What does Doctor Pratt
say it _is_?"

"Oh! gout, as _I_ understand."

"Ah! yes, I have had a good deal in my day. Do you think I could tempt
you to return, maybe, when your business--this particular business, I
mean--is over?"

The Bishop smiled and shook his head.

"I find business--mine at least--a very tropical plant; as fast as I
head it down, it throws up a new growth. I was not half so hard worked,
I do assure you, when I was better able to work, at the school, long
ago. You haven't a notion what it is."

"Well, but you'll come back some time, not very far away?"

"Who knows?" smiled the Bishop. "It is always a temptation. I can say
that truly. In the meantime, I shall expect to hear that you are much
better. Young Marlowe--I mean Dives," and the Bishop laughed gently at
the tenacity of his old school habits, "will let me hear; and so for the
present, my dear Sir Jekyl, with many, many thanks for a very pleasant
sojourn, and with all good wishes, I bid you farewell, and may God bless
you."

So having shaken his hand, and kissing his own as he smiled another
farewell at the door, the dignified and good prelate disappeared mildly
from the room, Jekyl following him with his eyes, and sighing as the
door closed on him.

As Sir Jekyl leaned back against his pillows, there arrived a little
note, in a tall hand; some of the slim l's, b's, and so on, were a
little spiral with the tremor of age.

"Lady Halice Redcliffe, Sir Jekyl, please sir, sends her compliments and
hopes you may be able to read it, and will not leave for Warlock earlier
than half-past one o'clock."

"Very well. Get away and wait in the outer room," said Sir Jekyl,
flushing a little, and looking somehow annoyed.

"I hate the sight of her hand. It's sealed, too. I wish that cursed old
woman was where she ought to be; and she chooses _now_ because she knows
I'm ill, and can't bear worry."

Sir Jekyl twirled the little note round in his fingers and thumb with a
pinch. The feverish pain he was suffering did not improve his temper,
and he was intemperately disposed to write across the back of the
unopened note something to this effect:--"Ill and suffering; the
pleasure of your note might be too much for me; pray keep it till
to-morrow."

But curiosity and something of a dread that discovery had occurred
prompted him to open it, and he read--

     "Having had a most painful interview with unhappy General Lennox,
     and endured mental agitation and excitement which are too much for
     my miserable health and nerves, I mean to return to Wardlock as
     early to-day as my strength will permit, taking with me, at his
     earnest request, _your victim_."

"D--n her!" interposed Sir Jekyl through his set teeth.

     "I think you will see," he read on, "that this house is no longer a
     befitting residence for your poor innocent girl. As I am charged
     for a time with the care of the ruined wife of your friend and
     guest, you will equally see that it is quite impossible to offer my
     darling Beatrix an asylum at Wardlock. The Fentons, however, will,
     I am sure, be happy to receive her. She must leave Marlowe, of
     course, before I do. While here, she is under _my care_; but this
     house is no home for her; and you can hardly wish that _she_ should
     be _sacrificed_ in the ruin of the poor wife whom you have made an
     _outcast_."

"Egad! it's the devil sent that fiend to torture me so. It's all about,
I suppose," exclaimed Sir Jekyl, with a gasp. "Unlucky! The stupid old
fribble, to think of his going off with his story to that Pharisaical
old tattler!"

The remainder of the letter was brief.

     "I do not say, Jekyl Marlowe, that I regret your illness. You have
     to thank a merciful Providence that it is unattended with danger;
     and it affords an opportunity for reflection, which may, if
     properly improved, lead to some awakening of conscience--to a
     proper estimate of your past life, and an amendment of the space
     that remains. I need hardly add, that an amended life involves
     reparation, so far as practicable, to _all_ whom you or, in your
     interest, _yours_ may have injured.

     "In deep humiliation and sorrow,

     "Alice Redcliffe."

     "I wish you were in a deep pond, you plaguy old witch. That fellow,
     Herbert Strangways--Varbarriere--he's been talking to her. I know
     what she means by all that cant."

Then he read over again the passages about "your victim," and "General
Lennox," your "friend and guest." And he knocked on the table, and
called as well as he could--"Tomlinson," who entered.

"Where's General Lennox?"

"Can't say, Sir Jekyl, please, sir--'avn't saw him to-day."

"Just see, please, if he's in the house, and let him know that I'm ill,
but very anxious to see him. You may say _very_ ill, do you mind, and
only wish a word or two."

Tomlinson bowed and disappeared.

"Don't care if he strikes me again. I've a word to say, and he _must_
hear it," thought Sir Jekyl.

But Tomlinson returned with the intelligence that General Lennox had
gone down to the town, and was going to Slowton station; and his man,
with some of his things, followed him to the Marlowe Arms, in the town
close by.

In a little while he called for paper, pen, and ink, and with some
trouble wrote an odd note to old General Lennox.

     "GENERAL LENNOX,

     "You must hear me. By ----," and here followed an oath and an
     imprecation quite unnecessary to transcribe. "Your wife is innocent
     as an angel! I have been the fiend who would, if he could, have
     ruined her peace and yours. From your hand I have met my deserts. I
     lie now, I believe, on my death-bed. I wish you knew the whole
     story. The truth would deify her and make you happy. I am past the
     age of romance, though not of vice. I speak now as a dying man. I
     would not go out of the world with a perjury on my soul; and,
     by ----, I swear your wife is as guiltless as an angel. I am ill
     able to speak, but will see and satisfy you. Bring a Bible and a
     pistol with you--let me swear to every answer I make you; and if I
     have not convinced you before you leave, I promise to shoot myself
     through the head, and save you from all further trouble on account
     of

     "JEKYL MARLOWE."

"Now see, Tomlinson, don't lose a moment. Send a fellow running, do you
mind, and let him tell General Lennox I'm in pain--_very_ ill--mind
and--and all that; and get me an answer; and he'll put this in _his_
hand."

Sir Jekyl was the sort of master who is obeyed. The town was hardly
three-quarters of a mile away. His messenger accomplished the distance
as if for a wager.

The waiter flourished his napkin in the hall of the Marlowe Arms, and
told him--

"No General, _nothing_ was there, as he heerd."

"Who do you want?" said the fat proprietress, with a red face and small
eyes and a cap and satin bow, emerging from a side door, and superseding
the waiter, who said--"A hofficer, isn't it?" as he went aside.

"Oh! from the Manor," continued the proprietress in a conciliatory
strain, recognising the Marlowe button, though she did not know the man.
"Can I do anything?"

And she instinctively dropped a courtesy--a deference to the far-off
Baronet; and then indemnifying herself by a loftier tone to the menial.

"A note for General Lennox, ma'am."

"General Lennox?--I know, I think, a millentery man, white-'aired and
spare?"

"I must give it 'im myself, ma'am, thankee," said he, declining the fat
finger and thumb of the curious hostess, who tossed her false ringlets
with a little fat frown, and whiffled--

"Here, tell him where's the tall, thin gemm'n, with white mistashes,
that's ordered the hosses--that'll be him, I dessay," she said to the
waiter, reinstated, and waddled away with a jingle of keys in her great
pocket. So to the back yard they went, the thin, little, elderly waiter
skipping in front, with a jerk or two of his napkin.

"Thankee, that's him," said the messenger.



CHAPTER XXX.

About Lady Jane.


The General was walking up and down the jolty pavement with a speed that
seemed to have no object but to tire himself, his walking-stick very
tightly grasped, his lips occasionally contracting, and his hat now and
then making a vicious wag as he traversed his beat.

"Hollo!" said the General, drawing up suddenly, as the man stood before
him with the letter, accosting him with his hand to his cap. "Hey!
_well_, sir?"

"Letter, please, sir."

The General took it, stared at the man, I think, without seeing him, for
a while, and then resumed his march, with his cane, sword-fashion, over
his shoulder. The messenger waited, a little perplexed. It was not until
he had made a third turn that the General, again observing the letter in
his hand, looked at it, and again at the messenger, who was touching his
cap, and stopping short, said--

"Well--ay! _This?_--aw--you _brought_ it, didn't you?"

So the General broke it open--he had not his glasses with him--and,
holding it far away, read a few lines with a dreadful glare, and then
bursting all on a sudden into such a storm of oaths and curses as
scared the sober walls of that unmilitary hostelry, he whirled his
walking-stick in the air, with the fluttering letter extended toward the
face of the astounded messenger, as if in another second he would sweep
his head off.

At the sound of this hoarse screech the kitchen-wench looked
open-mouthed out of the scullery-window with a plate dripping in her
hand. "Boots," with his fist in a "Wellington," held his blacking-brush
poised in air, and gazed also; and the hostler held the horse he was
leading into the stable by the halter, and stood at the door gaping over
his shoulder.

"Tell your master I said he may go to _hell_, sir," said the General,
scrunching the letter like a snowball in his fist, and stamping in his
fury.

What more he said I know not. The man withdrew, and, once or twice,
turned about, sulkily, half puzzled and half angered, perhaps not quite
sure whether he ought not to "lick" him.

"What'll be the matter now?" demanded the proprietress, looking from
under her balustrade of brown ringlets from the back door.

"'Drat me if I know; he's a rum un, that he be," replied the man with
the Marlowe button. "When master hears it he'll lay his whip across that
old cove's shouthers, I'm thinking."

"I doubt he's not right in his head; he's bin a-walkin' up an' down the
same way ever since he ordered the chaise, like a man beside himself.
_Will_ ye put _them_ horses to?" she continued, raising her voice; "why,
the 'arniss is on 'em this half-hour. Will ye put 'em to or _no_?" and
so, in something of an angry panic, she urged on the preparations, and
in a few minutes more General Lennox was clattering through the long
street of the town, on his way to Slowton, and the London horrors of
legal consultations, and the torture of the slow processes by which
those whom God hath joined together are sundered.

"Send Donica Gwynn to me," said Lady Alice to the servant whom her bell
had summoned to Lady Mary's boudoir.

When Donica arrived--

"Shut the door, Donica Gwynn," said she, "and listen. Come a little
nearer, please. Sir Jekyl Marlowe is ill, and, of course, we cannot all
stay here." Lady Alice looked at her dubiously.

"Fit o' the gout, my lady, I'm told."

"Yes, an attack of gout."

"It does not hold long with him, not like his poor father, Sir Harry,
that would lie six months at a time in flannel. Sir Jekyl, law bless
you, my lady! He's often 'ad his toe as red as fire overnight, and
before supper to-morrow walking about the house. He says, Tomlinson
tells me, this will be nothink at all; an' it might fret him sore, my
lady, and bring on a worse fit, to see you all go away."

"Yes, very true, Gwynn; but there's something more at present," observed
Lady Alice, demurely.

Donica folded her hands, and with curious eyes awaited her mistress's
pleasure.

Lady Alice continued in a slightly altered tone--

"It's not altogether _that_. In fact, Gwynn, there has been--you're not
to talk, d'ye see,--I know you _don't_ talk; but there has been--there
has been a _something_--a _quarrel_--between Lady Jane and her husband,
the General; and for a time, at least, she will remain with me at
Wardlock, and I may possibly go abroad with her for a little."

Donica Gwynn's pale sharp face grew paler and sharper, as during this
announcement she eyed her mistress askance from her place near the door;
and as Lady Alice concluded, Donica dropped her eyes to the Turkey
carpet, and seemed to read uncomfortable mysteries in its blurred
pattern. Then Donica looked up sharply, and asked--

"And, please, my lady, what is your ladyship's orders?"

"Well, Gwynn, you must get a 'fly' now from the town, and go on before
us to Wardlock. We shall leave this probably in little more than an
hour, in the carriage. Tell Lady Jane, with my compliments, that I hope
she will be ready by that time--or no, you may give her my love--don't
say compliments--and say, I will either go and see her in her room, or
if she prefer, I will see her here, or anywhere else; and you can ask
her what room at Wardlock she would like best--do you mind? Whatever
room she would like best she shall have, except _mine_, of course, and
the moment you get there you'll set about it."

"Yes, ma'am, please, my lady."

Donica looked at her mistress as if expecting something more; and her
mistress looked away darkly, and said nothing.

"I'll return, my lady, I suppose, and tell you what Miss Jane says,
ma'am?"

"Do," answered Lady Alice, and, closing her eyes, she made a sharp nod,
which Donica knew was a signal of dismissal.

Old Gwynn, mounting the stairs, met Mrs. Sinnott with those keys of
office which she had herself borne for so many years.

"Well, Mrs. Sinnott, ma'am, how's the master now?" she inquired.

"Doctor's not bin yet from Slowton, Mrs. Gwynn; we don't know nothink
only just what you heard this morning from Mr. Tomlinson."

"Old Pratt, baint _he_ here neither?"

"No, but the nurse be come."

"Oh! _respeckable_, I hope? But no ways, Mrs. Sinnott, ma'am, take my
advice, and on no account don't you give her her will o' the bottle;
there's none o' them hospital people but likes it--jest what's enough,
and no more, I would say."

"Oh! no! no!" answered Mrs. Sinnott, scornfully. "I knows somethink o'
them sort, too--leave 'em to me."

"Lady Alice going away this afternoon."

"And what for, Mrs. Gwynn?" asked the housekeeper.

"Sir Jekyl's gout."

"Fidgets! Tiresome old lass, baint she? law," said Mrs. Sinnott, who
loved her not.

"She don't know Sir Jekyl's constitution like I does. Them little
attacks o' gout, why he makes nothink o' them, and they goes and comes
quite 'armless. I'm a-going back to Wardlock, Mrs. Sinnott, this
morning, and many thanks for all civilities while 'ere, lest I should
not see you when a-leavin'."

So with the housekeeper's smiles, and conventional courtesies, and
shaking of hands, these ladies parted, and Mrs. Gwynn went on to the
green chamber.

As she passed through the Window dressing-room her heart sank. She knew,
as we are aware, a good deal about that green chamber, more than she had
fancied Lady Jane suspected. She blamed herself for not having talked
frankly of it last night. But Lady Jane's _éclat_ of passion at one
period of their interview had checked her upon any such theme; and after
all, what could the green chamber have to do with it? Had not the
General arrived express very late last night? It was some London story
that sent him down from town in that hurry, and Sir Jekyl laid up in
gout too. Some o' them jealous stories, and a quarrel over it. It will
sure be made up again--ay, ay.

And so thinking, she knocked, and receiving no answer, she opened the
door and peeped in. There was but a narrow strip of one shutter open.

"Miss Jennie, dear," she called. Still no answer. "Miss Jennie,
darling." No answer still. She understood those sulky taciturnities
well, in which feminine tempest sometimes subsides, and was not at all
uneasy. On the floor, near the foot of the bed, lay the General's felt
hat and travelling coat. Standing, there, she drew the curtain and saw
Lady Jane, her face buried in the pillow, and her long hair lying
wildly on the coverlet and hanging over the bedside.

"Miss Jennie, dear--Miss Jennie, darling; it's me--old Donnie, miss.
Won't you speak to me?"

Still no answer, and Donica went round, beginning to feel uneasy, to the
side where she lay.



CHAPTER XXXI.

Lady Jane's Toilet.


"Miss Jennie, _darling_, it's _me_," she repeated, and placed her
fingers on the young lady's shoulder. It was with an odd sense of relief
she saw the young lady turn her face away.

"Miss Jennie, dear; it's me--old Donnie--don't you know me?" cried
Donica once more. "Miss, dear, my lady, what's the matter you should
take on so?--only a few wry words--it will all be made up, dear."

"Who told you--who says it will be made up?" said Lady Jane, raising her
head slowly, very pale, and, it seemed to old Gwynn, grown so thin in
that one night. "Don't mind--it will _never_ be made up--no, Donnie,
never; it oughtn't. Is my--is General Lennox in the house?"

"Gone down to the town, miss, I'm told, in a bit of a tantrum--going off
to Lunnon. It's the way wi' them all--off at a word; and then cools, and
back again same as ever."

Lady Jane's fingers were picking at the bedclothes, and her features
were sunk and peaked as those of a fever-stricken girl.

"The door is shut to--outer darkness. I asked your God for mercy last
night, and see what he has done for me!"

"Come, Miss Jennie, dear, you'll be happy yet. Will ye come with me to
Wardlock?"

"That I will, Donnie," she answered, with a sad alacrity, like a
child's.

"I'll be going, then, in half an hour, and you'll come with me."

Lady Jane's tired wild eyes glanced on the gleam of light in the
half-open shutter with the wavering despair of a captive.

"I wish we were there. I wish we were--you and I, Donnie--just you and
I."

"Well, then, what's to hinder? My missus sends her love by me, to ask
you to go there, till things be smooth again 'twixt you and your old
man, which it won't be long, Miss Jennie, dear."

"I'll go," said Lady Jane, gliding out of her bed toward the toilet,
fluttering along in her bare feet and night-dress. "Donnie, I'll go."

"That water's cold, miss; shall I fetch hot?"

"Don't mind--no; very nice. Oh, Donnie, Donnie, Donnie! my heart, my
heart! what is it?"

"Nothink, my dear--nothink, darlin'."

"I wish it was dark again."

"Time enough, miss."

"That great sun shining! They'll all be staring. Well, _let_ them."

"Won't you get your things on, darling? I'll dress you. You'll take
cold."

"Oh, Donnie! I wish I could cry. My head! I don't know what it is. If I
could cry I think I should be better. I must see him, Donnie."

"But he's gone away, miss."

"_Gone!_ _Is_ he?"

"Ay, sure I told ye so, dear, only this minute. To Lunnon, I hear say."

"Oh! yes, I forgot; yes, I'll dress. Let us make haste. I wish I knew.
Oh! Donnie, Donnie! oh! my heart, Donnie, Donnie--my heart's breaking."

"There, miss, dear, don't take on so; you'll be better when we gets into
the air, you will. What will ye put on?--here's a purple mornin' silk."

"Yes; very nice. Thank you. Oh! Donnie, I wish we were away."

"So we shall, miss, presently, please God. Them's precious bad
pins--Binney and Clew--bends like lead; _there's_ two on 'em. Thompson's
mixed shillin' boxes--them's the best. Miss Trixie allays has 'em. Your
hair's beautiful, miss, allays was; but dearie me! what a lot you've
got! and so beautiful fine! I take it in handfuls--floss silk--and the
weight of it! Beautiful hair, miss. Dearie me, what some 'id give for
that!"

Thus old Gwynn ran on; but fixed, pale, and wild was the face which
would once have kindled in the conscious pride of beauty at the honest
admiration of old Donnie, who did not rise into raptures for everyone
and on all themes, and whose eulogy was therefore valuable.

"I see, Donnie--nothing bad has happened?" said Lady Jane, with a scared
glance at her face.

"Bad? Nonsense! I told you, Miss Jennie, 'twould all be made up, and so
it will, please God, miss."

But Lady Jane seemed in no wise cheered by her promises, and after a
silence of some minutes, she asked suddenly, with the same painful
look--

"Donnie, tell me the truth, for God's sake; how is he?"

Donica looked at her with dark inquiry.

"The General is gone, you know, ma'am."

"_Stop_--you _know_," cried Lady Jane, seizing her fiercely by the arm,
with a wild fixed stare in her face.

"Who?" said Donica.

"Not he. I mean--"

"Who?" repeated Gwynn.

"How is Sir Jekyl?"

It seemed as if old Donica's breath was suspended. Shade after shade her
face darkened, as with wide eyes she stared in the gazing face of Lady
Jane, who cried, with a strange laugh of rage--

"Yes--Sir Jekyl--how _is_ he?"

"Oh, Miss Jane!--oh, Miss Jane!--oh, Miss Jane!--and is _that_ it?"

Lady Jane's face was dark with other fiercer passions.

"Can't you answer, and not talk?" said she.

Donica's eyes wandered to the far end of the room to the fatal recess,
and she was shaking her head, as if over a tale of horror.

"Yes, I see, you know it all, and you'll _hate_ me now, as the others
will, and I don't care."

Suspicions are one thing--faint, phantasmal; certainties quite another.
Donica Gwynn looked appalled.

"Oh! poor Miss Jennie!" she cried at last, and burst into tears. Before
this old domestic Lady Jane was standing--a statue of shame, of
defiance--the fallen angelic.

"You're doing that to make me mad."

"Oh! no, miss; I'm sorry."

There was silence for a good while.

"The curse of God's upon this room," said Donica, fiercely, drying her
eyes. "I wish you had never set foot in it. Come away, my lady. I'll go
and send at once for a carriage to the town, and we'll go together,
ma'am, to Wardlock. Shall I, ma'am?"

"Yes, I'll go," said Lady Jane. "Let us go, you and I. I won't go with
Lady Alice. I won't go with her."

"Good-bye, my lady; good-bye, Miss Jennie dear; I'll be here again
presently."

Dressed for the journey, with her cloak on and bonnet, Lady Jane sat in
an arm-chair, haggard, listless, watching the slow shuffling of her own
foot upon the floor, while Donica departed to complete the arrangements
for their journey.



CHAPTER XXXII.

The two Doctors consult.


The doctor from Slowton had arrived at last. The horses, all smoking
with the break-neck speed at which they had been driven, stood at the
hall-door steps. The doctor himself, with Pratt and the nurse, were
up-stairs in the patient's room. The Rev. Dives Marlowe, looking
uncomfortable and bilious, hovered about the back stairs that led to Sir
Jekyl's apartment, to waylay the doctors on their way down, and listened
for the sound of their voices, to gather from their tones something of
their spirits and opinions respecting his brother, about whose attack he
had instinctive misgivings. The interview was a long one. Before it was
over Dives had gradually ascended to the room outside the Baronet's, and
was looking out of the window on the prospect below with the countenance
with which one might look on a bad balance-sheet.

The door opened, the doctors emerged--the Slowton man first, Pratt
following, both looking grave as men returning from the sacrament.

"Oh! Mr. Dives Marlowe--the Rev. Dives Marlowe," murmured Pratt as the
door was shut.

The lean practitioner from Slowton bowed low, and the ceremony over--

"Well, gentlemen?" inquired the Rev. Dives Marlowe.

"We are about to compare notes, and discuss the case a little--Doctor
Pratt and I--and we shall then, sir, be in a position to say something
a--a--definite, we hope."

So the Rev. Dives withdrew to the stair-head, exchanging bows with the
priests of Æsculapius, and there awaited the opening of the doors. When
that event came, and the Rev. Dives entered--

"Well, Mr. Marlowe," murmured the Slowton doctor, a slight and dismal
man of five-and-fifty--"we think, sir, that your brother, Sir Jekyl
Marlowe, is not in immediate danger; but it would not be right or fair
to conceal the fact that he is in a very critical state--highly so, in
fact; and we think it better on the whole that some member of his family
should advise him, if he has anything to arrange--a--a will, or any
particular business, that he should see to it; and we think that--we are
quite agreed upon this, Doctor Pratt?"

Pratt bowed assent, forgetful that he had not yet heard what they were
agreed on.

"We think he should be kept very quiet; he's very low, and must have
claret. We have told the nurse in what quantities to administer it, and
some other things; she's a very intelligent woman, and your servants can
take their directions from her."

Dives felt very oddly. We talk of Death all our lives, but know nothing
about him until he stands in our safe homesteads suddenly before us,
face to face. He is a much grizzlier object than we had fancied when
busied with a brother or a child. What he is when he comes for
ourselves, the few who have seen him waiting behind the doctor and live
can vaguely remember.

"Good Lord, sir!" said Dives, "is he really in that state? I had no
idea."

"Don't mis_take_ us, sir. We don't say he may not, if everything goes
right, do very well. Only the case is critical, and we should deceive
you if we shrank from telling you so; is not that your view, Doctor--Dr.
Pratt?"

Dr. Pratt was of course quite clear on the point.

"And you are in very able hands here," and the Slowton doctor waved his
yellow fingers and vouchsafed a grave smile and nod of approbation
toward Pratt, who wished to look indifferent under the compliment, but
simpered a little in spite of himself.

The Rev. Dives Marlowe accompanied the two doctors down-stairs, looking
like a man going to execution.

"You need not be afraid, sir," said Dives, laying his hand on the
Slowton leech's sleeve. The grave gentleman stopped and inclined his ear
to listen, and the three stood huddled together on the small landing,
Dives' nervous fingers in the banister.

"I don't quite see, sir," observed the doctor.

"I give him up, sir; you need not be afraid to tell me."

"You are right, perhaps, to give him up; but I always say exactly what I
think. Doctor--a--_Pratt_ and I--we tell you frankly--we think him in a
very critical state; but it's quite on the cards he may recover; and we
have given very full directions to the nurse, who appears to be a very
intelligent person; and don't let him shift his attitude unnecessarily,
it may prejudice him, and be in fact attended with danger--very
_serious_ danger; and Doctor Pratt shall look in at five o'clock--you
were so good as to say, Doctor Pratt, you would look in at five. Doctor
Pratt will look in _then_, and do anything that may be necessary; and if
there should be the slightest symptom of hæmorrhage send for him
instantly, and the nurse knows what to do; and I think--I think I have
said everything now."

"Hæmorrhage, sir! But _what_ hæmorrhage? Why, what hæmorrhage is
apprehended?" asked Dives, amazed.

"Internal or external it may occur," said the doctor; and Pratt,
coughing and shaking his chops, interposed hurriedly and said--

"Yes, there may be a bleeding, it may come to that."

"He has bled a great deal already, you are aware," resumed the Slowton
doctor, "and in his exhausted state a return of that might of course be
very bad."

"But I don't understand," persisted Dives. "I beg pardon, but I really
must. What _is_ this hæmorrhage? it is not connected with gout, is it?"

"Gout, sir! no; who said gout? A bad wound, that seems to run toward the
lung," answered the Slowton man.

"Wound! how's this? I did not hear," and Dives looked frightened, and
inquiringly on Pratt, who said--

"Not hear, didn't you? Why, Sir Jekyl undertook to tell you, and would
not let me. He took me in for a while, poor fellow, quite, and said
'twas gout, that's all. I'm surprised he did not tell you."

"No--_no_--not a word; and--and you think, sir, it may begin bleeding
afresh?"

"That's what we chiefly apprehend. Farewell, sir. I find I have not a
moment. I must be at Todmore in three quarters of an hour. A sad case
that at Todmore; only a question of a few days, I'm afraid; and a very
fine young fellow."

"Yes," said Dives--"I--I--it takes me by surprise. Pray, Dr. Pratt,
don't go for a moment," and he placed his hand on his arm.

"Farewell, sir," said the Slowton doctor, and putting up his large gold
watch, and bowing gravely, he ran at a quiet trot down the stairs, and
jumped into his chaise at the back entrance, and vanished.

"You did not tell me," began Dives.

"No," said Pratt, promptly, "he said he'd tell _himself_, and did not
choose me."

"And you think--you think it's very bad?"

"Very bad, sir."

"And you think he'll not get over it?"

"He may not, sir."

"It's frightful, Doctor, frightful. And how was it, do you know?"

"No more than the man in the moon. You must not tease him with
questions, mind, to-day. In a day or two you may ask him. But he said,
upon his honour, no one was to blame but himself."

"Merciful Heavens! sir. To think of his going this way!"

"Very sad, sir. But we'll do all we can, and possibly may pull him
through."

With slow steps Dives began to ascend the stairs toward his brother's
room. He recollected that he had not bid Pratt good-bye, and gave him
his adieux over the banister; and then, with slow and creaking steps,
mounted, and paused on the lobby, to let his head clear and to think how
he should accost him.

Dives was not a Churchman to pester people impertinently about their
sins; and out of the pulpit, where he lashed the vice but spared the
man, he was a well-bred divine, and could talk of sheep, and even of
horses, and read everything from St. Paul to Paul de Kock; and had
ridden till lately after the hounds, and gave _recherché_ little
dinners, such as the New Testament character whose name, with a
difference in pronunciation, he inherited might have praised, and
well-iced champagne, which, in his present uncomfortable state, that
fallen gentleman would have relished. And now he stood in a sombre mood,
with something of panic at the bottom of it, frightened that the ice
upon which men held Vanity Fair, and roasted oxen, and piped and danced,
and gamed, should prove so thin; and amazed to see his brother drowning
among the fragments in that black pool, and no one minding, and he
unable to help him.

And it came to him like a blow and a spasm. "The special minister of
Christ!--am I what I'm sworn to be? Can I go in and talk to him of those
things that concern eternity with any effect? Will he mind me? Can I
even now feel the hope, and lead the prayer as I ought to do?"

And Dives, in a sort of horror, as from the pit, lifted up his eyes, and
prayed "have mercy on me!" and saw a misspent hollow life behind, and
judgment before him; and blamed himself, too, for poor Jekyl, and felt
something of the anguish of his namesake in the parable, and yearned for
the safety of his brother.

Dives, in fact, was frightened for himself and for Jekyl, and in those
few moments, on the lobby, his sins looked gigantic and the vast future
all dismay; and he felt that, bad as poor Jekyl might be, _he_ was
worse--a false soldier--a Simon Magus--chaff, to be burnt up with
unquenchable fire!

"I wish to God the Bishop had stayed over this night," said Dives, with
clasped hands, and again turning his eyes upward. "We must send after
him. I'll write to implore of him. Oh, yes, he'll come."

Even in this was a sense of relief; and treading more carefully, he
softly turned the handle of the outer door, and listened, and heard
Jekyl's cheerful voice say a few words to the nurse. He sighed with a
sense of relief, and calling up a sunnier look, he knocked at Jekyl's
half-open door, and stepped to his bedside.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

Varbarriere in the Sick-room.


"Well, Jekyl, my dear fellow--and how do you feel now? There, don't; you
must not move, they told me," said Dives, taking his brother's hand, and
looking with very anxious eyes in his face, while he managed his best
smile.

"Pretty well--nothing. Have they been talking? What do they say?" asked
Sir Jekyl.

"Say? Well, not much; those fellows never do; but they expect to have
you all right again, if you'll just do what you're bid, in a week or
two."

"Pratt's coming at five," he said. "What is it now?"

Dives held his watch to Jekyl, who nodded.

"Do you think I'll get over it, Dives?" he asked at length, rather
ruefully.

"Get over? To be sure you will," answered Dives, doing his best. "It
might be better for you, my dear Jekyl, if it _were_ a little more
serious. We all need to be pulled up a little now and then. And there's
nothing like an alarm of--of that kind for making a man think a little;
for, after all, health is only a long day, and a recovery but a
reprieve. The sentence stands against us, and we must, sooner or later,
submit."

"Yes, to be sure. We're all mortal, Dives--is not that your discovery?"
said Sir Jekyl.

"A discovery it is, my dear fellow, smile as we may--a discovery to me,
and to you, and to all--whenever the truth, in its full force, opens on
our minds."

"That's when we're going to die, I suppose," said Sir Jekyl.

"_Then_, of course; but often, in the mercy of God, long before it.
That, in fact, is what we call people's growing serious, or religious;
their perceiving, as a fact, that they _are_ mortal, and resolving to
make the best preparation they can for the journey."

"Come, Dives, haven't those fellows been talking of me--eh?--as if I
were worse than you say?" asked the Baronet, oddly.

"The doctors, you mean? They said exactly what I told you. But it is
not, my dear Jekyl, when we are sick and frightened, and maybe
despairing, that these things are best thought on; but when we are, like
you and me, likely to live and enjoy life--_then_ is the time. I've been
thinking myself, my dear Jekyl, a good deal for some time past. I have
been living too much in the spirit of the world; but I hope to do
better."

"To do better--to be sure. You've always been hoping to do better; and
I've given you a lift or two," said the Baronet, who, in truth, never
much affected his brother's pulpit-talk, as he called it, and was
falling into his old cynical vein.

"But, seriously, my dear fellow, I do. My mind has been troubled
thinking how unworthy I have been of my calling, and how fruitless have
been my opportunities, my dear brother, with you. I've never improved
them; and I'd be so glad--now we are likely to have a few quiet days--if
you'll let me read a little with you."

"Sermons, do you mean?" interposed the Baronet.

"Well, what's better?--a little of the Bible?"

"Come now, Dives, those doctors _have_ been shaking their heads over me.
I say, you must tell me. Do they say I'm in a bad way?"

"They think you'll recover."

"Did they tell you what it is?"

"Yes. A wound."

"They had no business, d---- them," said Sir Jekyl, flushing.

"Don't, don't, my dear Jekyl; they could not help it. I pressed that
doctor--I forget his name--and he really could not help saying."

"Well, well, it doesn't much signify; I'd have told you myself
by-and-by. But you must not tell--I've a reason--you must not tell
anyone, mind. It was my fault, and I'm greatly to blame; and I'll tell
you in a little while--a day or two--all about it."

"Yes, so you can. But, my dear Jekyl, you look much fatigued; you are
exerting yourself."

Here the nurse interposed with the claret-jug, and intimated that the
Rev. Dives was making her patient feverish, and indeed there was an
unpleasantly hot hectic in each cheek. But the Baronet had no notion of
putting himself under the command of the supernumerary, and being a
contumacious and troublesome patient, told her to sit in the study and
leave him alone.

"I've a word to say, Dives. I must see that fellow Herbert Strangways."

"_Who?_" said Dives, a good deal alarmed, for he feared that his
brother's mind was wandering.

"Herbert--that fellow Varbarriere. I forgot I had not told you. Herbert
Strangways, you remember; they're the same. And I want to see him.
Better now than to-morrow. I may be feverish then."

"By Jove! It's very surprising. Do you really mean--"

"Yes; he is. I do; they are the same. You remember Herbert, of
course--Herbert Strangways--the fellow I had that long chase after all
over Europe. He has things to complain of, you know, and we might as
well square the account in a friendlier way, eh?--don't you think?"

"And was it he--was there any altercation?" stammered Dives.

"That did _this_, you mean," said Sir Jekyl, moving his hand toward the
wound. "Not a bit--no. He seems reasonable; and I should like--you know
they are very old blood, and there's nothing against it--that all should
be made up. And if that young fellow and Beatrix--don't you see? Is
Tomlinson there?"

"In the outer room," said Dives.

"Call him. Tomlinson, I say, you take my compliments to Monsieur
Varbarriere, and say, if he has no objection to see me for a few minutes
here, I should be very happy. Try and make him out, and bring me word."

So Tomlinson disappeared.

"And, Dives, it tires me;--so will you--I'm sure you will--see Pelter,
after we've spoken with that fellow Herbert, and consult what we had
best do, you know. I dare say the young people would come to like one
another--he's a fine young fellow; and that, you know, would be the
natural way of settling it--better than law or fighting."

"A great deal--a great deal, certainly."

"And you may tell him I have that thing--the deed, you know--my poor
father--"

"I--I always told you, my dear Jekyl, I'd rather know nothing of all
that--in fact, I _do_ know nothing; and I should not like to speak to
Pelter on that subject. You can, another time, you know," said Dives.

"Well, it's in the red trunk in there."

"Pray, dear Jekyl, don't--I assure you I'd rather know nothing--I--I
can't; and Pelter will understand you better when he sees you. But I'll
talk to him with pleasure about the other thing, and I quite agree with
you that any reasonable arrangement is better than litigation."

"Very well, be it so," said Sir Jekyl, very tired.

"I'm always drinking claret now--give me some--the only quick way of
making blood--I've lost a lot."

"And you must not talk so much, Jekyl," said Dives, as he placed the
glass at his lips; "you'll wear yourself out."

"Yes, I _am_ tired," said the Baronet; "I'll rest till Strangways
comes."

And he closed his eyes, and was quiet for a time. And Dives, leaning
back in his chair at the bedside, felt better assured of Jekyl's
recovery, and his thoughts began to return to their wonted channel, and
he entertained himself with listlessly reading and half understanding a
tedious sculling match in a very old copy of "Bell's Life," which
happened to lie near him.

A tap at the outer door called up Dives from Sandy Dick's sweep round a
corner, and Jekyl said--

"Tell him to come in--and stay--you're not to say I'm hurt--do you
mind?"

"My dear Jekyl, I--I shan't say anything. There he's knocking again."

"Well, tell him--come in!"

"Come in!" echoed Dives, in a louder key.

And Monsieur Varbarriere entered with that mysterious countenance and
cautious shuffle with which men enter a sick-chamber.

"Very sorry to hear you've been suffering," began Varbarriere, in a low
tone.

"Thanks--you're very good, I'm sure," said Sir Jekyl, with a faint
smile. "I--I wished very much to see you. I expect to be better very
soon, and I thought I might have a word, as you are so good, in the
meantime."

"Very happy, indeed--most happy, as long as you please; but you must not
try too much. You know they say you may disturb gout if you try too
much, particularly at first," said Varbarriere, knowing very well how
little gout really had to do with it.

"Oh! no danger--doing very nicely," said Sir Jekyl.

"That's well--that's very good," said Varbarriere, with a leisurely
sympathy, looking on him all the time, and calling to mind how the Comte
de Vigny looked after he received the sword-thrust of which he died in
Varbarriere's house, to which he had been carried after his duel with
young D'Harnois. And he came to the conclusion that Sir Jekyl looked a
great deal better than the Comte had done--and, in fact, that he would
do very well.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

Guy Deverell arrives.


"Sit down, Herbert, I shan't keep you long. _There_, I've just been
saying to Dives I think it's a pity we should quarrel any more--that is,
if we can help it; and I don't see why we should not be friendly--I mean
more friendly than, in fact, we have ever been--I don't; do you?"

"Why, I see no reason--none; that is, of course, with the reservations
that are--that are always assumed--I don't see any."

Varbarriere was answering plausibly, politely, smiling. But it was not
like last night, when for a few transient moments he had seemed moved
from his equilibrium. There was no emotion now. It was diplomatic
benignity. Still it was something. Here was his foe willing to hear
reason.

"It was just in my mind--Dives and I talking--I think I've seen some
signs of liking between the young people--I mean your nephew and
Beatrix."

"Indeed!" interrupted Varbarriere, prolonging the last syllable after
his wont, and raising his thick eyebrows in very naturally acted wonder.

"Well, yes--only a sort of conjecture, you know--haven't you?"

"Well, I--ha, ha! If I ever observed anything, it hasn't remained in my
mind. But she is so lovely--Miss Marlowe--that I should not wonder. And
you think--"

"I think," said Sir Jekyl, supplying the pause, "if it be so, we ought
not to stand in the way; and here's Dives, who thinks so too."

"I--in fact, my brother, Jekyl, mentioned it, of course, to me--it would
be a very happy mode of--of making matters--a--_happy_; and--and that, I
think, was all that passed," said Dives, thus unexpectedly called into
the debate.

"This view comes on me quite by surprise. That the young fellow should
adore at such a shrine is but to suppose him mortal," said Varbarriere,
with something of his French air. "But--but you know the young
lady--that's quite another thing--quite. Young ladies, you know, are not
won all in a moment."

"No, of course. We are so far all in the clouds. But I wished to say so
much to you; and I prefer talking face to face, in a friendly way, to
sending messages through an attorney."

"A thousand thanks. I value the confidence, I assure you--yes, much
better--quite right. And--and I shall be taking my leave to-morrow
morning--business, my dear Sir Jekyl--and _greatly_ regret it; but I've
outstayed my time very considerably."

"Very sorry too--and only too happy if you could prolong it a little.
_Could_ you, do you think?"

Varbarriere shook his head, and thanked him with a grave smile
again--but it was impossible.

"It is a matter--such an arrangement, should it turn out practicable--on
which we should reflect and perhaps consult a little. It sounds not
unpromisingly, however; we can talk again perhaps, if you allow it,
before I go."

"So we can--you won't forget, and I shall expect to see you often and
soon, mind."

And so for the present they parted, Dives politely seeing him to the
head of the stairs.

"I think he entertains it," said Sir Jekyl to his brother.

"Yes, certainly, he does--yes, he entertains it. But I suspect he's a
cunning fellow, and you'll want all the help you can get, Jekyl, if it
comes to settling a bargain."

"I dare say," said Sir Jekyl, very tired.

Meanwhile our friend Varbarriere was passing through the conservatory,
the outer door of which stood open ever so little, tempering the warmth
of its artificial atmosphere. He stopped before a file of late exotics,
looking at them with a grave meaning smile, and smelling at them
abstractedly.

"Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Selfish
rogue! Could it be? A wedding, in which Guy, the son of that murdered
friend, should act bridegroom, and the daughter of his murderer, bride;
while he, the murderer, stood by smiling, and I, the witness, cried
'Amen' to the blessing! _Disgusting!_ Never, _never_--bah! The
proposition shows weakness. Good--_very_ good! A come-down for you,
Master Jekyl, when you sue for an alliance with Herbert Strangways! Oh!
ho! ho! _Never!_"

A little while later, Varbarriere, who was standing at the hall-door
steps, saw a chaise approaching. He felt a presentiment of what was
coming. It pulled up at the door.

"No melodrama--no _fracas_--no foolery. Those young turkeys, my faith!
they will be turkeys still. Here he comes, the hero of the piece! Well,
what does it matter?" This was not articulated, spoken only in thought,
and aloud he said--

"Ha!--Guy?"

And the young man was on the ground in a moment, pale and sad, and
hesitated deferentially, not knowing how his uncle might receive him.

"So, here you are," said Varbarriere, coolly but not ill-humouredly.
"Those rambles of yours are not much to the purpose, my friend, and cost
some money--don't you see?"

Guy bowed sadly, and looked, Varbarriere saw, really distressed.

"Well, never mind--the expense need not trouble us," said Varbarriere,
carelessly extending his hand, which Guy took. "We may be very good
friends in a moderate way; and I'm not sorry you came, on the whole.
Don't mind going in for a few minutes--you're very well--and let us come
this way for a little."

So side by side they turned the corner of the house, and paced up and
down the broad quiet walk under the windows.

"We must leave this immediately, Guy, Sir Jekyl is ill--more seriously I
believe, than they fancy; not dangerously, but still a tedious thing.
They call it gout, but I believe there is something more."

"Indeed! How sudden!" exclaimed Guy. And to do him justice, he seemed
both shocked and sad, although perhaps all his sorrow was not on Sir
Jekyl's account.

"And I'll be frank with you, Guy," continued Varbarriere. "I think I can
see plainly, maybe, what has drawn you here. It is not I--it is not
business--it is not Sir Jekyl. Who or what can it be?"

"I--I thought, sir, my letter had explained."

"And I am going away in the morning--and some of the party probably
to-day; for there's no chance of Sir Jekyl's coming down for some time,"
continued Varbarriere, not seeming to hear Guy's interruptions.

"_Very_ sorry!" said Guy, sincerely, and his eyes glanced along the
empty windows.

"And so, you see, this visit here leads pretty much to nothing,"
continued Varbarriere. "And it might be best to keep that carriage for a
few minutes--eh?--and get into it, and drive back again to Slowton."

"Immediately, sir?"

"Immediately--yes. I'll join you there in the morning, and we can talk
over your plans then. I do not know exactly--we must consider. I don't
want to part in unkindness. I wish to give you a lift, Guy, if you'll
let me." So said Varbarriere in his off-hand way.

Guy bowed deferentially.

"And see, nephew; there's a thing--_attend_, if you please," said
Varbarriere, lowering his voice.

"I attend, sir."

"See--you answer upon your honour--do you hear?"

"I do, sir. You hear nothing but truth from me."

"Well, yes--very good. Is there--have you any correspondence in this
house?" demanded the ponderous uncle, and his full dark eyes turned
suddenly on the young man.

"No, sir, no correspondence."

"No one writes to you?"

"No, sir."

"Nor you to anyone?"

"No, sir."

"There must be no nonsense of that kind, Guy--I've told you so
before--put it quite out of your head. You need not speak--I am merely
discussing a hypothesis--quite out of your head. Nothing could ever come
of it but annoyance. You know, of course, to whom all this relates; and
I tell you it can't be. There are reasons you shall hear elsewhere,
which are final."

What Guy might have answered does not appear, for at that moment old
Doocey joined them.

"Oh! come back--how d'ye do?--going to break up here, I fancy;" this was
to Varbarriere; "Sir Jekyl's in for a regular fit of it evidently. Old
Sir Paul Blunket was talking to Pratt, their doctor here--and old
fellows, you know, go into particulars" (Doocey, of course, was rather a
young fellow), "and generally know more about things of this sort--and
he says Dr. Pratt thinks he'll not be on his legs for a month, egad. So
he says he's going either to-night or to-morrow--and I'm off this
evening; so is Linnett. Can I do anything for you at Llandudno? Going
there first, and I want to see a little of North Wales before the season
grows too late."

Varbarriere was grateful, but had nothing to transmit to Llandudno.

"And--and Drayton--_he's_ going to stay," and he looked very sly. "An
attraction, you know, _there_; besides, I believe he's related--is not
he?--and, of course, old Lady Alice Redcliffe stays for chaperon. A
great chance for Drayton."

There was a young man at his elbow who thought Doocey the greatest
coxcomb and fool on earth, except, perhaps, Drayton, and who suffered
acutely and in silence under his talk.

"Drayton's very spoony on her--eh?--the young lady, Miss
Marlowe--haven't you observed?" murmured old Doocey, with a sly smile,
to Varbarriere.

"Very suitable it would be--fine estate, I'm told," answered
Varbarriere; "and a good-looking young fellow too."

"A--_rather_," acquiesced Doocey. "The kind of fellow that pays very
well in a ball-room; he's got a lot to say for himself."

"And good family," contributed Varbarriere, who was not sorry that old
Doocey should go on lowering his extinguisher on Guy's foolish flame.

"Well--well--_family_, you know--there's nothing very much of
that--they--they--there was--it's not the family name, you know. But no
one minds family now--all money--_we_'re a devilish deal better family,
and so is Mr. Strangways here--all to nothing. I was telling him the
other day who the Draytons are."

Precisely at this moment, through a half-open upper window, there issued
a sudden cry, followed by sobs and women's gabble.

All stopped short--silent, and looking up--

"Some one crying," exclaimed Doocey, in an under-key.

And they listened again.

"Nothing bad, I hope," muttered Varbarriere, anxiously looking up like
the rest.

A maid came to the window to raise the sash higher, but paused, seeing
them.

"Come away, I say--hadn't we better?" whispered Doocey.

"Let's go in and ask how he is," suggested Varbarriere suddenly, and
toward the hall-door they walked.

Was it something in the tone and cadence of this cry that made each in
that party of three feel that a dreadful tragedy was consummated? I
can't say--only they walked faster than usual, and in silence, like men
anticipating evil news and hastening to a revelation.



CHAPTER XXXV.

I am Thine and Thou art Mine, Body and Soul, for ever.


In order to understand the meaning of this cry, it will be necessary to
mention that so soon as the corpulent and sombre visitor had left the
bed-room of Sir Jekyl Marlowe, Dives lent his reverend aid to the nurse
in adjusting his brother more comfortably in his bed; and he, like
Varbarriere, took instinctively a comfortable and confident view of Sir
Jekyl's case, so that when the officious handmaid of Æsculapius assumed
her airs of direction he put aside her interference rather shortly. At
all events, there was abundance of time to grow alarmed in, and
certainly no need for panic just now. So Dives took his leave for the
present, the Baronet having agreed with him that his visitors had better
be allowed to disperse to their own homes, a disposition to do so having
manifested itself here and there among them.

Sir Jekyl, a little more easy in consequence of these manipulations, was
lying back on pillows, with that pleasant confidence in his case at
which a sanguine man so easily arrives, and already beginning to amuse
himself with pictures in the uncertain future. The hospital nurse,
sitting by a fire in that dim and faded study which opened from the
sick-room, now and then rose, and with soundless steps drew near the
half-open door, and sometimes peeped, and sometimes only listened. The
patient was quiet. The woman sat down in that drowsy light, and
ruminated, looking into the fire, with her feet on the fender, and a
good deal of stocking disclosed; when, all on a sudden, she heard a
rustling of a loose dress near her, and looking over her shoulder,
surprised, still more so, saw a pale and handsome lady cross the floor
from near the window to the door of Sir Jekyl's room, which she closed
as she entered it.

With her mouth open, the nurse stood up and gazed in the direction in
which she had disappeared. Sir Jekyl, on the other hand, witnessed her
entrance with a silent amazement, scarcely less than the nurse's. A few
hurried steps brought her to his bedside, and looking down upon him with
great agony, and her hands clasped together, she said, with a kind of
sob--

"Thank God, thank God!--alive, alive! Oh, Jekyl, what hours of torture!"

"Alive! to be sure I'm alive, little fool!" said the Baronet, with an
effort, smiling uncomfortably. "They have not been telling you it's
anything serious?"

"They told me nothing. I've heard nothing. I've seen no one but Gwynn.
Oh, Jekyl! tell me the truth; what do they say?--there's so much blood
on the floor."

"Why, my precious child, don't worry yourself about it; they evidently
think it's nothing at all. I know it's nothing, only what they call,
just, the muscles--you know--a little sore. I'll be on my legs again in
a week."

"I'm going to Wardlock, Jekyl; you'll hear news of me from there."

Had the tone or the look something ineffably ominous? I know not.

"Come, Jennie, none of that," he answered. "No folly. I've behaved very
badly. _I_'ve been to blame; altogether _my_ fault. Don't tease yourself
about what can't be helped. We must not do anything foolish, though. I'm
tired of the world; so are you, Jennie; we are both sick of it. If we
choose to live out of it, what the plague do we really lose?"

At this moment the nurse, slowly opening the door a little, said, with a
look of quiet authority--

"Please, sir, the doctor said particular you were not to talk, sir."

"D--n you and the doctor--get out of that, and shut the door!" cried the
Baronet; and the woman vanished, scared.

"Give me your hand, Jennie darling, and don't look as if the sky had
fallen. I'm not going to make my bow yet, I promise you."

"And then, I suppose, a duel," said Lady Jane, wringing her hands in an
agony.

"Duel, you little fool! Why, there's no such thing now, that is, in
these countries. Put fighting quite out of your head, and listen to me.
You're right to keep quiet for a little time, and Wardlock is as good a
place as any. I shall be all right again in a few days."

"I can look no one in the face; no--never again--and Beatrix; and--oh,
Jekyl, how will it be? I am half wild."

"To be sure, everyone's half wild when an accident happens, till they
find it really does not signify two pence. Can't you listen to me, and
not run from one thing to another? and I'll tell you everything."

With a trembling hand he poured some claret into a tumbler and drank it
off, and was stronger.

"He'll take steps, you know, and I'll help all I can; and when you're at
liberty, by--I'll marry you, Jane, if you'll accept me. Upon my honour
and soul, Jennie, I'll do exactly whatever you like. _Don't_ look so.
_What_ frightens you? I tell you we'll be happier than you can think or
imagine."

Lady Jane was crying wildly and bitterly.

"Fifty times happier than ever we could have been if this--this
annoyance had not happened. We'll travel. I'll lay myself out to please
you, every way, and make you happy; upon my soul I will, Jennie. I owe
you everything I can do. We'll travel. We'll not try pharisaical
England, but abroad, where people have common sense. Don't, don't go on
crying, darling, that way; you can't hear me; and there's really nothing
to tease yourself about--quite the contrary, you'll see; you'll like the
people abroad much better than here--more common sense and good nature;
positively better people, and a devilish deal more agreeable and--and
cleverer. And why do you go on crying, Jennie? You must not; hang it!
you'll put me in the dumps. You don't seem to hear me."

"Yes, I do, I do; but it's all over, Jekyl, and I've come to bid you
farewell, and on earth we'll never meet again," said Lady Jane, still
weeping violently.

"Come, little Jennie, you shan't talk like a fool. I've heard you long
enough; you must listen to me--I have more to say."

"Jekyl, Jekyl, I am sorry--oh! I'm sorry, for your sake, and for mine, I
ever saw your face, and sorrier that I am to see you no more; but I've
quite made up my mind--nothing shall change me--nothing--never.
Good-bye, Jekyl. God forgive us. God bless you."

"Come, Jane, I say, don't talk that way. What do you mean?" said the
Baronet, holding her hand fast in his, and with his other hand
encircling her wrist. "If you really do want to make me ill, Jennie,
you'll talk in that strain. I know, of course, I've been very much to
blame. It was all my fault, I said--I _say_--everything; but now you
will be free, Jennie. I wish I had been worthy of you; I wish I had. No,
you must not go. Wait a moment. I say, Jennie, I wish to Heaven I had
made you marry me when you might; but I'll not let you go now; by
Heaven, I'll never run a risk of losing you again."

"No, Jekyl, no, I've made up my mind; it is all no use, I'll go. It is
all over--quite over, for ever. Good-bye, Jekyl. God bless you. You'll
be happier when we have parted--in a few days--a great deal happier; and
as for me, I think I'm broken-hearted."

"By ----, Jennie, you shan't go. I'll make you swear; you shall be my
wife--by Heaven, you shall; we'll live and die together. You'll be
happier than ever you were; we have years of happiness. I'll be whatever
you like. I'll go to church--I'll be a Puseyite, or a Papist, or
anything you like best. I'll--I'll--"

And with these words Sir Jekyl let go her hand suddenly, and with a
groping motion in the air, dropped back on the pillows. Lady Jane cried
wildly for help, and tried to raise him. The nurse was at her side, she
knew not how. In ran Tomlinson, who, without waiting for directions,
dashed water in his face. Sir Jekyl lay still, with waxen face, and a
fixed deepening stare.

"Looks awful bad!" said Tomlinson, gazing down upon him.

"The wine--the claret!" cried the woman, as she propped him under the
head.

"My God! what is it?" said Lady Jane, with white lips.

The woman made no answer, but rather shouldered her, as she herself held
the decanter to his mouth; and they could hear the glass clinking on his
teeth as her hand trembled, and the claret flowed over his still lips
and down upon his throat.

"Lower his head," said the nurse; and she wiped his shining forehead
with his handkerchief; and all three stared in his face, pale and stern.

"Call the doctor," at last exclaimed the nurse. "He's not right."

"Doctor's gone, I think," said Tomlinson, still gaping on his master.

"_Send_ for him, _man_! I tell ye," cried the nurse, scarce taking her
eyes from the Baronet.

Tomlinson disappeared.

"Is he better?" asked Lady Jane, with a gasp.

"He'll never be better; I'm 'feared he's gone, ma'am," answered the
nurse, grimly, looking on his open mouth, and wiping away the claret
from his chin.

"It can't be, my good Lord! it can't--quite well this
minute--talking--why, it can't--it's only weakness, nurse! for God's
sake, he's not--it is not--it can't be," almost screamed Lady Jane.

The nurse only nodded her head sternly, with her eyes still riveted on
the face before her.

"He ought 'a bin let alone--the talkin's done it," said the woman in a
savage undertone.

In fact she had her own notions about this handsome young person who had
intruded herself into Sir Jekyl's sick-room. She knew Beatrix, and that
this was not she, and she did not like or encourage the visitor, and was
disposed to be sharp, rude, and high with her.

Lady Jane sat down, with her fingers to her temple, and the nurse
thought she was on the point of fainting, and did not care.

Donica Gwynn entered, scared by a word and a look from Tomlinson as he
passed her on the stair. She and the nurse, leaning over Sir Jekyl,
whispered for a while, and the latter said--

"Quite easy--off like a child--all in a minute;" and she took Sir
Jekyl's hand, the fingers of which were touching the table, and laid it
gently beside him on the coverlet.

Donica Gwynn began to cry quietly, looking on the familiar face,
thinking of presents of ribbons long ago, and school-boy days, and many
small good-natured remembrances.



CHAPTER XXXVI.

In the Chaise.


Hearing steps approaching, Donica recollected herself, and said, locking
the room door--

"Don't let them in for a minute."

"Who is she?" inquired the nurse, following Donica's glance.

"Lady Jane Lennox."

The woman looked at her with awe and a little involuntary courtesy,
which Lady Jane did not see.

"A relation--a--a sort of a niece like of the poor master--a'most a
daughter like, allays."

"Didn't know," whispered the woman, with another faint courtesy; "but
she's better out o' this, don't you think, ma'am?"

"Drink a little wine, Miss Jennie, dear," said Donica, holding the glass
to her lips. "Won't you, darling?"

She pushed it away gently, and got up, and looked at Sir Jekyl in
silence.

"Come away, Miss Jennie, darling, come away, dear, there's people at the
door. It's no place for you," said Donica, gently placing her hand under
her arm, and drawing her toward the study door. "Come in here, for a
minute, with old Donnie."

Lady Jane did go out unresisting, hurriedly, and weeping bitterly.

Old Donica glanced almost guiltily over her shoulder; the nurse was
hastening to the outer door. "Say nothing of us," she whispered, and
shut the study door.

"Come, Miss Jennie, darling; do as I tell you. They must not know."

They crossed the floor; at her touch the false door with its front of
fraudulent books opened. They were now in a dark passage, lighted only
by the reflection admitted through two or three narrow lights near the
ceiling, concealed effectually on the outside.

The reader will understand that I am here describing the architectural
arrangements, which I myself have seen and examined. At the farther end
of this room, which is about twenty-three feet long, is a niche, in
which stands a sort of cupboard. This swings upon hinges, secretly
contrived, and you enter another chamber of about the same length. This
room is almost as ill-lighted as the first, and was then stored with
dusty old furniture, piled along both sides, the lumber of fifty years
ago. From the side of this room a door opens upon the gallery, which
door has been locked for half a century, and I believe could hardly be
opened from without.

At the other end of this dismal room is a recess, in one side of which
is fixed an open press, with shelves in it; and this unsuspected press
revolves on hinges also, shutting with a concealed bolt, and is, in
fact, a door admitting to the green chamber.

It is about five years since I explored, under the guidance of the
architect employed to remove this part of the building, this mysterious
suite of rooms; and knowing, as I fancied, thoroughly the geography of
the house, I found myself with a shock of incredulity thus suddenly in
the green chamber, which I fancied still far distant. Looking to my
diary, in which I that day entered the figures copied from the ground
plan of the house, I find a little column which explains how the
distance from front to rear, amounting to one hundred and seventy-three
feet, is disposed of.

Measuring from the western front of the house, with which the front of
the Window dressing-room stands upon a level, that of the green chamber
receding about twelve feet:--

                                                  ft. in.
    Window dressing-room or hexagon               12   0
    Green chamber                                 38   0
    Recess                                         2   0
    First dark room                               23   0
    Recess                                         1   6
    Second dark room                              23   0
    Recess                                         1   6
    Study                                         25   0
    Wall                                           1   0
    Sir Jekyl's bed-room                          27   0
    Ante-room                                     10   0
    Stair, bow-window of which forms part of the
      eastern front                                9   0
                                                 -------
                                                 173   0

I never spoke to anyone who had made the same exploration who was not as
much surprised as I at the unexpected solution of a problem which seemed
to have proposed bringing the front and rear of this ancient house, by
a "devilish cantrip slight," a hundred feet at least nearer to one
another than stone mason and foot-rule had ordained.

The rearward march from the Window dressing-room to the foot of the back
stair, which ascends by the eastern wall of the house, hardly spares you
a step of the full distance of one hundred and seventy-three feet, and
thus impresses you with an idea of complete separation, which is
enhanced by the remote ascent and descent. When you enter Sir Jekyl's
room, you quite forget that its great window looking rearward is in
reality nineteen feet nearer the front than the general line of the
rear; and when you stand in that moderately proportioned room, his
study, which appears to have no door but that which opens into his
bed-room, you could not believe without the evidence of these figures,
that there intervened but two rooms of three-and-twenty feet in length
each, between you and that green chamber, whose bow-window ranks with
the front of the house.

Now Lady Jane sat in that hated room once more, a room henceforward
loathed and feared in memory, as if it had been the abode of an evil
spirit. Here, gradually it seemed, opened upon her the direful vista of
the future; and as happens in tales of magic mirrors, when she looked
into it her spirit sank and she fainted.

When she recovered consciousness--the window open--eau de cologne, sal
volatile, and all the rest around her, with cloaks about her knees, and
a shawl over her shoulders, she sat and gazed in dark apathy on the
floor for a time. It was the first time in her life she had experienced
the supernatural panic of death.

Where was Jekyl now? All irrevocable! Nothing in this moment's state
changeable for ever, and ever, and ever!

This gigantic and inflexible terror the human brain can hardly apprehend
or endure; and, oh! when it concerns one for whom you would have almost
died yourself!

"Where is he? How can I reach him, even with the tip of my finger, to
convey that one drop of water for which he moans now and now, and
through all futurity?" Vain your wild entreaties. Can the dumb earth
answer, or the empty air hear you? As the roar of the wild beast dies in
solitude, as the foam beats in vain the blind cold precipice, so
everywhere apathy receives your frantic adjuration--no sign, no answer.

Now, when Donica returned and roused Lady Jane from her panic, she
passed into a frantic state--the wildest self-upbraidings; things that
made old Gwynn beat her lean hand in despair on the cover of her Bible.

As soon as this frenzy a little subsided, Donica laid her hand firmly on
the young lady's arm.

"Come, Lady Jane, you must stop that," she said, sternly. "What _I_ hear
matters nothing, but there's others that must not. The house full o'
servants; _think_, my darling, and don't let yourself _down_. Come away
with me to Wardlock--this is no place any longer for you--and let your
maid follow. Come along, Miss Jennie; come, darling. Come by the glass
door, there is no one there, and the chaise waiting outside. Come, miss,
you must not lower yourself before the like o' them that's about the
house."

It was an accident; but this appeal did touch her pride.

"Well, Donnie, I will. It matters little who now knows everything. Wait
one moment--my face. Give me a towel."

And with feminine precaution she hastily bathed her eyes and face,
looking into the glass, and adjusted her hair.

"A thick veil, Donnie."

Old Gwynn adjusted it, and Lady Jane gathered in its folds in her hand;
and behind this mask, with old Donnie near her, she glided down-stairs
without encountering anyone, and entered the carriage, and lay back in
one of its corners, leaving to Gwynn, who followed, to give the driver
his directions.

When they had driven about a mile, Lady Jane became strangely excited.

"I must see him again--I _must_ see him. Stop it. I _will_. Stop it."
She was tugging at the window, which was stiff. "Stop him, Gwynn. Stop
him, woman, and turn back."

"Don't, Miss Jennie; don't, darling. Ye could not, miss. Ye would not
face all them strangers, ma'am."

"Face them! What do you mean? _Face_ them! How dare they? I despise
them--I _defy_ them! What is their staring and whispering to me? I'll go
back. I'll return. I _will_ see him again."

"Well, Miss Jennie, where's the good? He's cold by this time."

"I must see him again, Donnie--I _must_."

"You'll only see what will frighten you. You never saw a corpse, miss."

"Oh! Donnie, Donnie, Donnie, don't--you mustn't. Oh! Donnie, yes, he's
gone, he is--he's _gone_, Donnie, and _I_'ve been his ruin. I--I--my
wicked, wretched vanity. He's gone, lost for ever, and it's _I_ who've
done it all. It's _I_, Donnie. I've destroyed him."

It was well that they were driving in a lonely place, over a rough way,
and at a noisy pace, for in sheer distraction Lady Jane screamed these
wild words of unavailing remorse.

"Ah! my dear," expostulated Donica Gwynn. "_You_, indeed! Put that
nonsense out of your head. _I_ know all about him, poor master Jekyl; a
wild poor fellow he was always. _You_, indeed! Ah! it's little you
know."

Lady Jane was now crying bitterly into her handkerchief, held up to her
face with both hands, and Donica was glad that her frantic fancy of
returning had passed.

"Donnie," she sobbed at last--"Donnie, you must never leave me. Come
with me everywhere."

"Better for you, ma'am, to stay with Lady Alice," replied old Donnie,
with a slight shake of her head.

"I--I'd rather die. She always hated him, and hated me. I tell you,
Gwynn, I'd swallow poison first," said Lady Jane, glaring and flushing
fiercely.

"Odd ways, Miss Jane, but means kindly. We must a-bear with one
another," said Gwynn.

"I hate her. She has brought this about, the dreadful old woman. Yes,
she always hated me, and now she's happy, for she has ruined me--quite
ruined--for nothing--all for nothing--the cruel, dreadful old woman. Oh,
Gwynn, is it all true? My God! is it true, or am I mad?"

"Come, my lady, you must not take on so," said old Gwynn. "'Tisn't
nothing, arter all, to talk so wild on. Doesn't matter here, shut up wi'
me, where no one 'ears ye but old Gwynn, but ye must not talk at that
gate before others, mind; there's no one talking o' ye yet--not a soul
at Marlowe; no one knows nor guesses nothing, only you be ruled by me;
you _know_ right well they can't guess nothink; and you must not be a
fool and put things in people's heads, d'ye _see_?"

Donica Gwynn spoke this peroration with a low, stern emphasis, holding
the young lady's hand in hers, and looking rather grimly into her eyes.

This lecture of Donica's seemed to awaken her to reflection, and she
looked for a while into her companion's face without speaking, then
lowered her eyes and turned another way, and shook old Gwynn's hand, and
pressed it, and held it still.

So they drove on for a good while in silence.

"Well, then, I don't care for one night--just one--and to-morrow I'll
go, and you with me; we'll go to-morrow."

"But, my lady mistress, _she_ won't like that, mayhap."

"Then _I_'ll go alone, that's all; for another night I'll not stay under
her roof; and I think if I were like myself nothing could bring me there
even for an hour; but I am not. I am quite worn out."

Here was another long silence, and before it was broken they were among
the hedgerows of Wardlock; and the once familiar landscape was around
her, and the old piers by the roadside, and the florid iron gate, and
the quaint and staid old manor-house rose before her like the scenery of
a sick dream.

The journey was over, and in a few minutes more she was sitting in her
temporary room, leaning on her hand, and still cloaked and bonneted,
appearing to look out upon the antique garden, with its overgrown
standard pear and cherry trees, but, in truth, seeing nothing but the
sharp face that had gazed so awfully into space that day from the pillow
in Sir Jekyl's bed-room.



CHAPTER XXXVII.

Old Lady Alice talks with Guy.


As Varbarriere, followed by Doocey and Guy, entered the hall, they saw
Dives cross hurriedly to the library and shut the door. Varbarriere
followed and knocked. Dives, very pallid, opened it, and looked
hesitatingly in his face for a moment, and then said--

"Come in, come in, pray, and shut the door. You'll be--you'll be
shocked, sir. He's gone--gone. Poor Jekyl! It's a terrible thing. He's
gone, sir, quite suddenly."

His puffy, bilious hand was on Varbarriere's arm with a shifting
pressure, and Varbarriere made no answer, but looked in his face sternly
and earnestly.

"There's that poor girl, you know--my niece. And--and all so unexpected.
It's awful, sir."

"I'm very much shocked, sir. I had not an idea there was any danger. I
thought him looking very far from actual danger. I'm _very_ much
shocked."

"And--and things a good deal at sixes and sevens, I'm afraid," said
Dives--"law business, you know."

"Perhaps it would be well to detain Mr. Pelter, who is, I believe, still
here," suggested Varbarriere.

"Yes, certainly; thank you," answered Dives, eagerly ringing the bell.

"And I've a chaise at the door," said Varbarriere, appropriating Guy's
vehicle. "A melancholy parting, sir; but in circumstances so sad, the
only kindness we can show is to withdraw the restraint of our presence,
and to respect the sanctity of affliction."

With which little speech, in the artificial style which he had
contracted in France, he made his solemn bow, and, for the last time for
a good while, shook the Rev. Dives, now Sir Dives Marlowe, by the hand.

When our friend the butler entered, it was a comfort to see one
countenance on which was no trace of flurry. _Nil admirari_--his manner
was a philosophy, and the convivial undertaker had acquired a grave
suavity of demeanour and countenance, which answered all
occasions--imperturbable during the comic stories of an after-dinner
sederunt--imperturbable now on hearing the other sort of story, known
already, which the Rev. Dives Marlowe recounted, and offered, with a
respectful inclination, his deferential but very short condolences.

Varbarriere in the meanwhile looked through the hall vestibule and from
the steps, in vain, for his nephew! He encountered Jacques, however, but
he had not seen Guy, which when Varbarriere, who was in one of his
deep-seated fusses, heard, he made a few _sotto voce_ ejaculations.

"Tell that fellow--he's in the stable-yard, I dare say--who drove Mr.
Guy from Slowton, to bring his chaise round this moment; we shall
return. If his horses want rest, they can have it in the town, Marlowe,
close by; I shall send a carriage up for you; and you follow, with all
our things, immediately for Slowton."

So Jacques departed, and Varbarriere did not care to go up-stairs to his
room. He did not like meeting people; he did not like the chance of
hearing Beatrix cry again; he wished to be away, and his temper was
savage. He could have struck his nephew over the head with his cane for
detaining him.

But Guy had been summoned elsewhere. As he walked listlessly before the
house, a sudden knocking from the great window of Lady Mary's boudoir
caused him to raise his eyes, and he saw the grim apparition of old Lady
Alice beckoning to him. As he raised his hat, she nodded at him, pale,
scowling like an evil genius, and beckoned him fiercely up with her
crooked fingers.

Another bow, and he entered the house, ascended the great stair, and
knocked at the door of the boudoir. Old Lady Alice's thin hand opened
it. She nodded in the same inauspicious way, pointed to a seat, and shut
the door before she spoke.

Then, he still standing, she took his hand, and said, in tones
unexpectedly soft and fond--

"Well, dear, how have you been? It seems a long time, although it's
really nothing. Quite well, I hope?"

Guy answered, and inquired according to usage; and the old lady said--

"Don't ask for me; never ask. I'm _never_ well--always the same, dear,
and I hate to think of myself. You've heard the dreadful
intelligence--the frightful event. What _will_ become of my poor niece?
Everything in distraction. But Heaven's will be done. I shan't last long
if this sort of thing is to continue--quite impossible. There--don't
speak to me for a moment. I wanted to tell you, you must come to me; I
have a great deal to say," she resumed, having smelt a little at her
vinaigrette; "but not just now. I'm not equal to all this. You know how
I've been tried and shattered."

Guy was too well accustomed to be more than politely alarmed by those
preparations for swooning which Lady Alice occasionally saw fit to make;
and in a little while she resumed--

"Sir Jekyl has been taken from us--he's gone--awfully suddenly. I wish
he had had a little time for preparation. Ho, dear! _poor_ Jekyl! Awful!
But we all bow to the will of Providence. I fear there has been some
dreadful mismanagement. I always said and knew that Pratt was a
quack--positive infatuation. But there's no good in looking to secondary
causes, Won't you sit down?"

Guy preferred standing. The hysterical ramblings of this selfish old
woman did not weary or disgust him. Quite the contrary; he would have
prolonged them. Was she not related to Beatrix, and did not this kindred
soften, beautify, glorify that shrivelled relic of another generation,
and make him listen to her in a second-hand fascination?

"You're to come to me--d'ye see?--but not immediately. There's
a--there's some one there at present, and I possibly shan't be at home.
I must remain with poor dear Beatrix a little. She'll probably go to
Dartbroke, you know; yes, _that_ would not be a bad plan, and I of
course must consider her, poor thing. When you grow a little older
you'll find you must often sacrifice yourself, my dear. I've served a
long apprenticeship to that kind of thing. You must come to Wardlock, to
my house; I have a great deal to say and tell you, and you can spend a
week or so there very pleasantly. There are some pictures and books, and
some walks, and everybody looks at the monuments in the church. There
are two of them--the Chief Justice of Chester and Hugo de Redcliffe--in
the "Gentleman's Magazine." I'll show it to you when you come, and you
can have the carriage, provided you don't tire the horses; but you must
come. I'm your kinswoman--I'm your relation--I've found it all out--very
near--your poor dear father."

Here Lady Alice dried her eyes.

"Well, it's time enough. You see how shattered I am, and so pray don't
urge me to talk any more just now. I'll write to you, perhaps, if I find
myself able; and _you_ write to _me_, mind, directly, and address to
Wardlock Manor, Wardlock. Write it in your pocket-book or you'll forget
it, and put "to be forwarded" on it. Old Donica will see to it. She's
very careful, I _think_; and you promise you'll come?"

Guy did promise; so she said--

"Well, dear, till we meet, good-bye; _there_, God bless you, dear."

And she drew his hand toward her, and he felt the loose soft leather of
her old cheek on his as she kissed him, and her dark old eyes looked for
a moment in his, and then she dismissed him with--

"There, dear, I can't talk any more at present; there, farewell. God
bless you."

Down through that changed, mysterious house, through which people now
trod softly, and looked demure, and spoke little on stair or lobby, and
that in whispers, went Guy Deverell, and glanced upward, involuntarily,
as he descended, hoping that he might see the beloved shadow of Beatrix
on the wall, or even the hem of her garment; but all was silent and
empty, and in a few seconds more he was again in the chaise, sitting by
old Varbarriere, who was taciturn and ill-tempered all the way to
Slowton.

By that evening all the visitors but the Rev. Dives Marlowe and old Lady
Alice, who remained with Beatrix, had taken flight. Even Pelter, after a
brief consultation with Dives, had fled Londonwards, and the shadow and
silence of the chamber of death stole out under the door and pervaded
all the mansion.

That evening Lady Alice recovered sufficient strength to write a note to
Lady Jane, telling her that in consequence of the death of Sir Jekyl, it
became her duty to remain with her niece for the present at Marlowe. It
superadded many religious reflections thereupon; and offering to her
visitor at Wardlock the use of that asylum, and the society and
attendance of Donica Gwynn, it concluded with many wholesome wishes for
the spiritual improvement of Lady Jane Lennox.

Strangely enough, these did not produce the soothing and elevating
effect that might have been expected; for when Lady Jane read the letter
she tore it into strips and then into small squares, and stamped upon
the fragments more like her fierce old self than she had appeared for
the previous four-and-twenty hours.

"Come, Donica, you write to say I leave this to-morrow, and that you
come with me. You said you'd wish it--you must not draw back. You would
not desert me?"

I fancy her measures were not quite so precipitate, for some
arrangements were indispensable before starting for a long sojourn on
the Continent. Lady Jane remained at Wardlock, I believe, for more than
a week; and Donica, who took matters more peaceably in her dry way,
obtained, without a row, the permission of Lady Alice to accompany the
forlorn young wife on her journey.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

Something more of Lady Jane Lennox.


"See, Doctor Pratt--how do you do?--you've been up-stairs. I--I was
anxious to see you--most anxious--this shocking, dreadful occurrence,"
said the Reverend Dives Marlowe, who waylaid the Doctor as he came down,
and was now very pale, hurrying him into the library as he spoke, and
shutting the door. "The nurse is gone, you know, and all quiet; and--and
the quieter the better, because, you know, that poor girl Beatrix my
niece, she has not a notion there was any hurt--a wound, you see, and
knows nothing in fact. I'll go over and see that Slowton doctor--a--a
gentleman. I forget his name. There's no need--I've considered it--none
in the world--of a--a--that miserable ceremony, you know."

"I don't quite follow you, sir," observed Doctor Pratt, looking puzzled.

"I mean--I mean a--a coroner--that a----"

"Oh! I see--I--I see," answered Pratt.

"And I went up, poor fellow; there's no blood--nothing. It may have been
apoplexy, or any natural cause, for anything I know."

"Internal hæmorrhage--an abrasion, probably, of one of the great
vessels; and gave way, you see, in consequence of his over-exerting
himself."

"Exactly; a blood-vessel has given way--I see," said the Reverend Dives;
"internal hæmorrhage. I see, exactly; and I--I know that Slowton doctor
won't speak any more than you, my dear Pratt, but I may as well see him,
don't you think? And--and there's really no need for all that terrible
misery of an inquest."

"Well, you know, it's not for me; the--the family would act naturally."

"The family! why, look at that poor girl, my niece, in hysterics! I
would not stake that--that _hat_ there, I protest, on her preserving her
wits, if all that misery were to be gone through."

"Does Lady Alice know anything of it?"

"Lady Alice Redcliffe? Quite right, sir--very natural inquiry;--not a
syllable. She's, you know, not a--a person to conceal things; but she
knows and suspects nothing; and no one--that nurse, you told me, thought
the hurt was an operation--not a soul suspects."

And thus the Reverend Dives agreed with himself that the scandal might
be avoided; and thus it came to pass that the county paper, with a
border of black round the paragraph, announced the death of Sir Jekyl
Marlowe, Baronet, at the family residence of Marlowe Manor, in this
county, the immediate cause of his death being the rupture of a
blood-vessel in the lungs, attended by internal hæmorrhage. By the death
of Sir Jekyl Marlowe, it further stated, "a seat in Parliament and a
deputy lieutenancy for this county become vacant." Then came a graceful
tribute to Sir Jekyl's value as a country gentleman, followed by the
usual summary from the "Peerage," and the fact that, leaving no male
issue, he would be succeeded in his title and the bulk of his estates by
his brother, the Reverend Dives Marlowe.

So in due course this brother figured as the Reverend Sir Dives Marlowe,
and became proprietor of Marlowe Manor, where, however, he does not
reside, preferring his sacred vocation, and the chance of
preferment--for he has grown, they say, very fond of money--to the
worldly life and expensive liabilities of a country gentleman.

The Reverend Sir Dives Marlowe, Bart., is still unmarried. It is said,
however, that he was twice pretty near making the harbour of matrimony.
Lady Bateman, the relict of Sir Thomas, was his first object, and
matters went on satisfactorily until the stage of business was arrived
at; when unexpectedly the lovers on both sides were pulled up and thrown
on their haunches by a clause in Sir Thomas's will, the spirit of which
is contained in the Latin words, _durante viduitate_. Over this they
pondered, recovered their senses, shook hands, and in the name of
prudence parted good friends, which they still are.

The second was the beautiful and accomplished Miss D'Acre. In earlier
days the Reverend Dives would not have dreamed of anything so imprudent.
Time, however, which notoriously does so much for us, if he makes us
sages in some particulars, in others, makes us spoonies. It is hard to
say what might have happened if a more eligible bridegroom had not
turned up in George St. George Lighton, of Seymour Park, Esq. So that
Dives' love passages have led to nothing, and of late years he has
attempted no further explorations in those intricate ways.

I may as well here mention all I know further about Lady Jane Lennox. I
cannot say exactly how soon she left Wardlock, but she did not await
Lady Alice's return, and, I think, has never met her since.

Sir Jekyl Marlowe's death was, I suppose, the cause of the abandonment
of General Lennox's resolution to proceed for a divorce. He remained in
England for fully four months after the Baronet's death, evidently
awaiting any proceedings which the family might institute, in
consequence, against him. Upon this point he was fiercely obstinate, and
his respectable solicitor even fancied him "cracked." With as little
_fracas_ as possible, a separation was arranged--no difficult
matter--for the General was open-handed, and the lady impatient only to
be gone. It was a well-kept secret; the separation, of course, a
scandal, but its exact cause enveloped in doubt. A desperate quarrel, it
was known, had followed the General's return from town, but which of the
younger gentlemen, then guests at Marlowe, was the hero of the
suspicion, was variously conjectured. The evidence of sojourners in the
house only deepened the mystery. Lady Jane had not shown the least
liking for anyone there. It was thought by most to have a reference to
those old London stories which had never been quite proved. A few even
went the length of conjecturing that something had turned up about the
old General, which had caused the explosion.

With an elderly female cousin, Donica Gwynn, and her maid, she went
abroad, where she has continued nearly ever since, living rather
solitarily, but not an outcast--a woman who had been talked about
unpleasantly, but never convicted--perhaps quite blameless, and
therefore by no means excluded.

But a secret sorrow always sat at her heart. The last look of that bad
man, who, she believed, had loved her truly though guiltily--summoned as
he talked with her--irrevocably gone. Where was he now? How was it with
him?

"Oh, Jekyl! Jekyl! If I could only know if we are ever to meet
again--forgiven!"

With fingers clasped together under her cloak, and eyes upturned to the
stars in the beautiful Italian skies, she used, as she walked to and fro
alone on the terrace of her villa, to murmur these agonised invocations.
The heedless air received them; the silent stars shone cold above,
inexorably bright. But Time, who dims the pictures, as well as heals the
wounds of the past, spread his shadows and mildews over these ghastly
images; and as her unselfish sorrow subsided, the sense of her
irrevocable forfeiture threw its everlengthening shadow over her mind.

"I see how people think--some wonder at me, some accept me, some flatter
me--all suspect me."

So thought she, with a sense of sometimes nearly insupportable
loneliness, of resentment she could not express, and of
restlessness--dissatisfied with the present, hopeless of the future. It
was a life without an object, without a retrospect--no technical
compromise, but somehow a fall--a fall in which she bitterly acquiesced,
yet which she fiercely resented.

I don't know that her Bible has yet stood her in stead much. She has
practised vagaries--Tractarian sometimes, and sometimes Methodist. But
there is a yearning, I am sure, which will some day lead her to hope and
serenity.

It is about a year since I saw the death of General Lennox in the
"Times," an event which took place rather suddenly at Vichy. I am told
that his will contains no allusion to Lady Jane. This, however, was to
have been expected, for the deed of separation had amply provided for
her; so now she is free. But I have lately heard from old Lady Alice,
who keeps her memory and activity wonderfully, and maintains a
correspondence with old Donnie Gwynn, that she shows no symptom of a
disposition to avail herself of her liberty. I have lived long enough to
be surprised at nothing, and therefore should not wonder if hereafter
she should do so.



CHAPTER XXXIX.

The Last.


Old Lady Alice, who liked writing and reading letters, kept up an active
correspondence with her grandson, and that dutiful young gentleman
received them with an interest, and answered them with a punctuality
that did him honour.

Shortly after Lady Jane Lennox's departure from Wardlock, Lady Alice
Redcliffe and her fair young charge, Beatrix, arrived at that discreet
old dower house. Old Lady Alice, who, when moved, could do a
good-natured thing, pitying the solitariness of her pretty guest, so
soon as she thought her spirits would bear it, invited first the Miss
Radlowes, and afterwards the Miss Wynkletons--lively young ladies of
Beatrix's time of life--who helped to make Wardlock less depressing.
These hospitalities led to "invites;" and so the time passed over
without the tedium that might have been looked for, until the period
drew near when Beatrix was to make the Italian tour she had arranged
with that respectable and by no means disagreeable family, the Fentons
of Appleby. A rumour reached Guy that Drayton was to be one of the
party. This certainly was not pleasant. He alluded to it in his next
letter, but Lady Alice chose to pass the subject by.

There had been no step actually taken in the threatened lawsuit since
the death of Sir Jekyl. But there were unpleasant rumours, and Pelter
and Crowe were in communication with the Rev. Sir Dives Marlowe on the
subject, and he occasionally communicated his peevish sense of poor
Jekyl's unreasonableness in having died just when everything was at
sixes and sevens, and the unfairness of his having all the trouble and
so little of the estates.

Varbarriere, I suppose, was on good terms once more with his nephew.
There was no more talk of Algeria, and they were now again in London.
That corpulent old gentleman used to smile with an unctuous scorn over
the long letters with which Lady Alice occasionally favoured him.

"My faith! she must suppose I have fine leisure, good eyes also, to read
all that. I wish, Guy, she would distinguish only you with her
correspondence. I suppose if I answer her never, she will cease some
time."

He had a letter from her while in London, on which he discoursed in the
above vein. I doubt that he ever read it through.

Guy received one by the same post, in the conclusion of which she said--

"Beatrix Marlowe goes in a few days, with the Fentons, to Paris, and
thence to Italy. My house will then be a desert, and I miserably
solitary, unless you and your uncle will come to me, as you long since
promised, and as you well know there is nothing to prevent. I have
written to him, naming Wednesday week. I shall then have rooms in which
to place you, and you positively must not refuse."

Under this hospitable pressure, Varbarriere resolved to make the visit
to Wardlock--a flying visit of a day and night--rather to hear what she
might have to say than to enjoy the excellent lady's society. From
Slowton, having there got rid of their railway dust and vapour, the
gentlemen reached Wardlock at the approach of evening. In the hall they
found old Lady Alice, her thin stooping figure cloaked and shawled for a
walk, and her close bonnet shading her hollow and wrinkled face.

Hospitable in her way, and really glad to see her guests, was the crone.
She would have dismantled and unbonneted, and called for luncheon, and
would have led the way into the parlour; but they would not hear of such
things, having refreshed at Slowton, and insisted instead on joining the
old lady in her walk.

There is a tall glass door in the back hall, which opens on the shorn
grass, and through it they passed into the circumscribed but pretty
pleasure-ground, a quadrangle, of which the old house, overgrown with
jessamine and woodbine, formed nearly one side; the opposite garden
wall, overtopped with ancient fruit-trees, another; and screens of
tall-stemmed birch and ash, and an underwood of juniper and evergreens,
the others; beds of brilliant verbena here and there patterned the green
sod; and the whole had an air so quaint and cloister-like, as drew forth
some honest sentences of admiration from old Varbarriere.

They strolled among these flowers in this pleasant seclusion for a time,
until Lady Alice pronounced herself fatigued, and sat down upon a
rustic seat, with due ceremony of adjustment and assistance.

"Sit down by me, Mr. Strangways. Which am I to call you, by-the-bye?"

"Which you please, madam," answered Varbarriere, with the kind of smile
he used with her--deferential, with, nevertheless, a suspicion of the
scornful and amused in it, and as he spoke he was seated.

"As for you, grandson," she continued, "you had better take a walk in
the garden--you'll find the door open;" she pointed with her parasol to
the old-fashioned fluted door-case of Caen stone in the garden wall;
"and I want to talk a little to my friend, M. de Varbarriere--Mr.
Strangways, as I remember him." And turning to that sage, she said--

"You got my letter, and have well considered it, I trust?"

"I never fail to consider well anything that falls from Lady Alice
Redcliffe."

"Well, sir, I must tell you----"

These were the last words that Guy heard as he departed, according to
orders, to visit her ladyship's old-fashioned garden. Could a young
fellow fancy a duller entertainment? Yet to Guy Deverell it was not
dull. Everything he looked on here was beautified and saddened by the
influence that had been there so recently and was gone.

Those same roses, whose leaves were dropping to the earth, she had seen
but a day or two ago in their melancholy clusters; under these tall
trees she had walked, here on this rustic seat she had rested; and Guy,
like a reverent worshipper of relics, sat him down in the same seat,
and, with a strange thrill, fancied he saw a pencilled word or two on
the arm of it. But no, it was nothing, only the veining of the wood. Why
do ladies use their pencils so much less than we men, and so seldom
(those I mean whose relics are precious) trace a line by chance, and
throw this bread upon the waters, where we poor devils pull cheerless
against wind and tide?

Here were flowers, too, tied up on tall sticks. He wondered whether
Beatrix ever tended these with her delicate fingers, and he rose and
looked at the bass-mat with inexpressible feeling.

Then, on a sudden, he stopped by a little circle of annuals, overgrown,
run into pod, all draggled, but in the centre a split stick and a piece
of bleached paper folded and stuck across it. Had she written the name
of the flower, which perhaps she sowed? and he plucked the stick from
the earth, and with tender fingers unfolded the record. In a hideous
scrawl, evidently the seedsman's, "Lupines" sprawled across the
weather-beaten brown paper.

He raised his eyes with a sigh, and perceived that the respectable
gardener, in a blue body-coat with brass buttons, was at hand, and eyed
him with a rather stern inquisitiveness. Guy threw the stick down
carelessly, feeling a little foolish, and walked on with more swagger
than usual.

And now he had entered that distant part of the garden where dark and
stately yew hedges, cut here and there in arches, form a meditative
maze. With the melancholy yearnings of a lover he gazed on these, no
doubt the recent haunts of that beautiful creature who was his
day-dream. With a friendly feeling he looked on the dark wall of yew on
either side; and from this solemn walk he turned into another, and--saw
Beatrix!

More beautiful than ever he thought her--her features a little saddened.
Each gazed on the other, as the old stories truly say in such cases,
with changing colour. Each had imagined the other more than a hundred
miles away. Neither had fancied a meeting likely, perhaps possible. The
matter hung upon the wills of others, who might never consent until too
late. A few days would see Beatrix on her way to Italy with the Fentons;
and yet here were she and Guy Deverell, by the sleight of that not
ill-natured witch, old Lady Alice, face to face.

I don't know exactly what Guy said. I don't know what she answered. The
rhetoric was chiefly his; but he held her hand in his, and from time to
time pleaded, not quite in vain, for a word from the goddess with
glowing cheeks and downcast eyes, by whose side he walked. Low were
those tones, and few those words, that answered his impetuous periods;
yet there was a magic in them that made him prouder and more blessed
than ever his hopes had dared to promise.

Sometimes they stopped, sometimes they walked slowly on, quite
unconscious whether they moved or paused--whether the birds sang or were
silent--of all things but their love--in a beautiful dream.

They had surprised one another, and now in turn both were surprised by
others; for under one of those airy arches cut so sharply in the yew
hedge, on a sudden, stood old Lady Alice and Monsieur Varbarriere--the
Enchanter and the Fairy at the close of a tale.

Indulgently, benevolently, the superior powers looked on. The young
people paused, abashed. A sharp little nod from Lady Alice told them
they were understood. Varbarriere came forward, and took the young
lady's hand very kindly, and held it very long, and at the close of his
salutation, stooping towards her pretty ear, murmured something,
smiling, which made her drop her eyes again.

"I think you both might have waited until I had spoken to you; however,
it does not signify much. I don't expect to be of any great consequence,
or in any great request henceforward."

Her grandson hastened to plead his excuses, which were received, I must
allow, with a good grace.

In matters of true love, I have observed, where not only Cupid applauds,
but Plutus smiles, Hymen seldom makes much pother about his share in the
business. Beatrix did _not_ make that tour with the Fentons. They, on
the contrary, delayed their departure for rather more than a month; and
I find Miss Fenton and Miss Arabella Fenton among the bridesmaids.
Drayton did not attend the wedding, and oddly enough, was married only
about three weeks after to Lady Justina Flynston, who was not pretty,
and had but little money; and they say he has turned out rather cross,
and hates the French and all their products, as "utter rot."

Varbarriere has established two great silk-factories, and lives in
France, where they say gold pours in upon him in streams before which
the last editor of "Aladdin" and Mr. Kightley of the "Ancient Mythology"
hang their heads. His chief "object" is the eldest son of the happy
union which we have seen celebrated a few lines back. They would have
called the boy Herbert, but Varbarriere would not hear of anything but
Guy. They say that he is a prodigy of beauty and cleverness. Of course,
we hear accounts of infant phenomena with allowance. All I can say is,
"If he's not handsome it's very odd, and he has at least as good a right
to be clever as most boys going." And as in these pages we have heard
something of a father, a son, and a grandson, each bearing the same
name, I think I can't do better than call this tale after them--GUY
DEVERELL.


THE END.

PRINTING OFFICE OF THE PUBLISHER.





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