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Title: A Secret Inheritance (Volume 3 of 3)
Author: Farjeon, B. L. (Benjamin Leopold)
Language: English
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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.

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Transcriber's Notes:
     1. Page scan source:
        http://books.google.com/books?id=YzMVAAAAQAAJ
        (Oxford University)
     2. The diphthong oe is represented by [oe].



                         A SECRET INHERITANCE



                                  A
                          SECRET INHERITANCE



                                  BY

                            B. L. FARJEON,

         AUTHOR OF "GREAT PORTER SQUARE," "IN A SILVER SEA,"
                  "THE HOUSE OF WHITE SHADOWS," ETC.



                          _IN THREE VOLUMES_
                               VOL. III



                               LONDON
                           WARD AND DOWNEY
                 12, YORK STREET, COVENT GARDEN, W.C.
                                1887



                        Richard Clay and Sons,
                          LONDON AND BUNGAY.



                        A SECRET INHERITANCE.

                             * * * * * *

                    BOOK THE SECOND (_Continued_).

IN WHICH THE SECRET OF THE INHERITANCE TRANSMITTED TO GABRIEL CAREW IS
REVEALED IN A SERIES OF LETTERS FROM ABRAHAM SANDIVAL, ESQ., ENGLAND,
TO HIS FRIEND, MAXIMILIAN GALLENGA, ESQ., CONTRA COSTA CO.,
CALIFORNIA.



VOL. III.



                                 VII.


The investigations in the course of which Emilius related his version
of what had passed between him and his ill-fated brother--I use the
phrase to give expression to my meaning, but indeed it is hard to say
to which of the brothers, the living or the dead, it can be applied
with the greater force--took place in private, only the accused and
the magistrate, with a secretary to write down what was said, being
present. The magistrate in his conversations with Doctor Louis and
Gabriel Carew, did not hesitate to declare his belief in the
prisoner's guilt. He declined altogether to entertain the sentimental
views which Doctor Louis advanced in Emilius's favour--such as the
love which it was well known had existed between the brothers since
their birth, the character for gentleness which Emilius had earned,
the numberless acts of kindness which could be set to his credit, and
the general esteem which was accorded to him by those among whom he
had chiefly lived.

"My experience is," he said, "that all pervious records of a man's
life and character are not only valueless but misleading when the
passions of love and jealousy enter his soul. They dominate him
utterly; they are sufficiently baleful to transform him from an angel
to a demon. He sees things through false light, and justifies himself
for the commission of any monstrous act. Reason becomes warped, the
judgment is distorted, the sense of right-doing vanishes; he is the
victim of delusions."

Doctor Louis caught at the word. "The victim!"

"Will that excuse crime?" asked the magistrate severely.

Doctor Louis did not reply.

"No," said the magistrate, "it aggravates it. Admit such a defence,
and let it serve as a palliation of guilt, and the whole moral fabric
is destroyed. What weighs heavily against the prisoner is his evident
disinclination to reveal all he knows in connection with the hours he
passed in the forest on the night of his brother's death. He is
concealing something, and he seeks refuge in equivocation. When I
accused him of this his confusion increased. I asked him whether his
meeting with his brother was accidental or premeditated, and he was
unable or unwilling to give me a satisfactory reply. He made a remark
to which he evidently wished me to attach importance. 'There are
matters between me and my brother,' he said, 'which it would be
difficult, perhaps impossible, for an unsympathetic person to
understand.' 'I am such a person,' I said. 'Undoubtedly,' was his
reply; 'you are seeking to convict me out of my own mouth of a crime I
did not commit.' 'I am seeking to elicit the truth,' I said. 'Have
these mysterious matters between you and your brother of which you
speak any bearing upon his death?' Observe, that out of regard for the
prisoner's feelings I used the word death instead of murder; but he
corrected me. 'They have,' he said, 'a distinct bearing upon his
murder.' 'And you cannot explain them to me?' I asked. 'I cannot,' he
replied. 'You expect me, however, to place credence in what you say?'
I asked. 'I do not,' he said; 'it is so strange even to me that, if
you were in possession of the particulars, I should scarcely be
justified in expecting you to believe me.' After that there was, of
course, but little more to be said on the point. If a criminal chooses
to intrench himself behind that which he is pleased to call a mystery,
but which is simply an absurd invention for the purpose of putting
justice off the track, he must take the consequences. Before our
interview was ended it occurred to me to ask him whether he intended
to persist in a concealment of his so-called mystery. He considered a
little, and said that he would speak of it to one person, and to one
person only. Upon that I inquired the name of the person, saying that
I would seek him and send him to the prisoner. Emilius refused to
mention the name of the person. Another mystery. As you may imagine,
this did not dispose me more favourably towards him, and I left him to
his meditations."

"Having," said Doctor Louis, "a thorough belief in his guilt."

"There is not a shadow of doubt in my mind," said the magistrate.

"You once entertained an esteem for him."

"True; but it only serves to prove how little we really know of each
other. This mask that we wear, and which even in private we seldom
remove, hides so much!"

"So much that is evil?"

"That is my meaning."

"You are growing pessimistic," said Doctor Louis sadly.

"Late events and a larger experience are driving me in that
direction," replied the magistrate.

"Have you any objection to granting me a private interview with
Emilius?"

"None whatever. You have but to name your own time."

"May Mr. Carew see him also?"

"If he wishes."

In this conversation Gabriel Carew had borne no share. This was due to
an absolute fairness on Carew's part. Prejudiced as he was against
Emilius, he was aware that he could say nothing in favour of the
accused, and he did not wish to pain Doctor Louis by expressing what
he felt. When the magistrate left them, Doctor Louis said, "The one
person to whom Emilius is willing to confide is either you or myself."

To this view Gabriel Carew did not subscribe. In his remarks to Doctor
Louis he touched lightly but firmly upon the instinctive aversion
which, from the first, he and the brothers had felt towards each
other, and said that this aversion, on the part of Emilius, must have
been strengthened rather than modified by the opinions he had felt it
his duty to express with respect to Emilius's dealings with Patricia.

"But he behaved honourably to her," contended Doctor Louis, and
endeavoured to win Carew to a more favourable judgment of the unhappy
man. He was not successful.

"There are sentiments," said Carew, "which it would be folly to
struggle against. Emilius was always my enemy, and is still more so
now. If he wishes to see me I will go to him. Not otherwise."

Shortly afterwards Doctor Louis had an interview with Emilius.

"I thought you might come to me," said the prisoner, but he refused
the hand which Doctor Louis held out to him. "Not till I am free," he
said, "and pronounced innocent of this horrible charge."

"You will be--soon," said Doctor Louis with inward sinking, the
evidence was so black against Emilius.

"I scarcely dare to hope it," said Emilius gloomily. "A fatality dogs
our family. It destroyed my father and his brother; it has destroyed
Eric; it will destroy me."

"Under any circumstances," said Doctor Louis, not pursuing the theme,
"I should have endeavoured to see you, but there is a special reason
for my present visit. The magistrate by whom you have been examined
informed me that there is a certain matter in connection with this
deplorable event which you will disclose to one person only. Am I
he--and should you make the disclosure, is it likely to serve you?"

"I was not quite exact," said Emilius, "when I made that statement to
the magistrate, in answer to a question he put to me. There were,
indeed, two persons in my mind--but you are the first, by right."

"And the other--is it Gabriel Carew?"

"Yes, it is he--though I doubt whether he would come of his own free
will. He bears me no friendship."

"He is an honourable, upright man," said Doctor Louis. "Though you
have not been drawn to each other, as I hoped would be the case, I am
sure he would be willing to serve you if it were in his power."

"Does he believe me to be innocent?" Doctor Louis was silent. "Then
why should he be willing to serve me? You are mistaken. But it is not
of this I wish to speak. What I have to disclose will be received with
sympathy by you, who knew and loved my poor father, and who are
acquainted with all the particulars of his strange story. Related to
any other than yourself it would be regarded as the ravings of a
maniac, or as a wild and impotent invention to help me to freedom. For
this reason I held my tongue in the presence of the magistrate."

"Before hearing it," said Doctor Louis, "I ought to say that, though I
am groping in the dark, I can understand dimly why you would not
confide in an officer of the law. But I cannot understand why you
should be willing to confide in Gabriel Carew. I speak in the light of
your belief that Carew bears you no friendship."

"I cannot explain myself to you," said Emilius, "and should most
likely fail in the attempt with Mr. Carew. But there are promptings
which a man sometimes feels it a duty to obey, and this is one of
them. I perceive that you do not receive these apparent
inconsistencies with favour. It is natural. But reflect. Had you not,
through your close intimacy and almost brotherly friendship with my
father, been made familiar with his story--had it been related to you
as a stranger, would you not have received it with incredulity, would
you not have refused to believe it?" Doctor Louis nodded. "A wild
effort of imagination could alone have invented it--had it not
happened. But it was true, in the teeth of improbabilities and
inconsistencies. For his sake you will bear with me, for his sake you
will be indulgent and merciful to his unhappy son."

Doctor Louis was inexpressibly moved. He again offered Emilius his
hand, who again refused it.

"Circumstantial evidence," he said, "is so strong against me that I
fear I have played out my part in the active world. Should my fears be
confirmed, I shall ask you to render me an inestimable service.
Meanwhile, there is that which should not be concealed from you, my
father's dearest friend, and mine. It relates chiefly to the murder of
my brother. That part of my story which affects my wife, Patricia, may
be briefly passed over. I have known her for nearly five years, and
grew insensibly to love her. It is only lately that my poor Eric made
her acquaintanceship, and surrendered his heart to her. I should have
been frank with him; I should have spoken of my love for Patricia
instead of concealing it. It may be that it would not have averted his
doom and mine, for when men are pursued by an inexorable fate, there
are a thousand roads open for its execution. Why did I not go frankly
to Patricia's father, and ask him for his daughter's hand? It is a
question that may well be asked, but there is some difficulty in
answering it. Chiefly, I think, it was Patricia who guided me here,
and who desired to keep our love locked in our breasts. She feared her
father; he is a man of stern and fixed ideas, and, once resolved, is
difficult to move. His daughter, he declared, should marry in her own
station in life; never would he consent to her marrying a gentleman.
Patricia chose to consider me one, and had a genuine and honest dread
that her father would tear her from me if he discovered our love. I
did not argue with her; I simply agreed to all she said. We were
married in secret, at her wish; and when concealment was no longer
possible, we fled. This flight was not undertaken in haste; it was
discussed and deliberately planned. We hoped for her father's pardon
when he discovered that his intervention would be useless. I was for
an earlier revealment to Martin Hartog of his daughter's union with
me, but I yielded to Patricia's pleadings. She had a deep,
unconquerable fear of her father's curse. 'It would kill me,' she
said; and I believed it would.

"This is the end to which love has led us. I will speak now of my
brother Eric."



                                VIII.


"It was arranged," said Emilius, after a pause, during which he
recalled with clearness the momentful history of the few short hours
which had sealed his brother's fate, "that Patricia should leave her
father's cottage at midnight, when her father was asleep. I was to
wait for her about a quarter of a mile from Mr. Carew's house with a
horse and cart, in which we were to travel to the lodgings I had taken
for her. This portion of our plan was successfully carried out, and
Patricia and I were journeying to our new home. It was midnight by my
watch when we started, and we had ridden for less than an hour when
Patricia was overtaken with a sudden faintness. I was alarmed, and
upon questioning her she said that she felt too weak to bear the
jolting of the cart. The fact is, she was exhausted and worn with
fatigue and anxiety. With her contemplated flight in her mind she had
had but little sleep for two or three nights; her strength was
overtaxed, and I saw that she needed immediate rest. I proposed that
we should stop for three or four hours, so that she could sleep
without disturbance, and upon my assuring her that we were quite safe
she gratefully acceded to my proposal. In a very short time I made
preparations for her repose; some hay I had brought with me furnished
her a tolerably comfortable bed, and I had also provided rugs, with
which I covered her. I took the horse from the cart, and tethered it,
and before this was accomplished Patricia was in a peaceful slumber.

"There was no fear of our being disturbed. We were in a secluded part
of the forest, which even in daylight is seldom traversed. The night
was fine, though dark. All being secure, I sat me down on some dry
moss by the side of the cart, and in a few moments was myself asleep.
I awoke suddenly and in terrible agitation. In outward aspect nothing
was changed. All was as I had left it but fifteen minutes ago; for,
upon consulting my watch by means of a lighted match, I found that I
had been asleep but a quarter of an hour. The horse was grazing
quietly and contentedly; Patricia was sleeping peacefully, and I
judged that she would continue to do so for many hours unless she were
aroused. Nature's demands upon her exhausted frame were imperative.

"Everything being so secure, what cause was there for agitation?

"The cause lay in myself, and had been created during the last few
minutes when I was in a state of unconsciousness. It seems incredible
that so much should have passed through my brain in so short a time,
but I have heard that a dream of years may take place in a moment's
sleep.

"I dreamt of my father and his brother, and I was living a dual
existence as it were, my father's and my own; and as I was associated
with him, so was my brother Eric with our uncle Kristel. There was a
strange similarity in the positions; as my father had flown, unknown
to his brother, with the woman he loved, so was I flying, unknown to
_my_ brother, with the woman to whom I was bound in strongest bonds of
love, and who had inspired in _his_ heart feelings akin to my own. The
tragic end of my father and uncle seemed to be woven into my life and
the life of my brother. It was a phantasmagoria of shadow, belonging
both to the past and the present; and it was succeeded by another,
which was the chief cause of my violent awaking.

"Eric was walking in the forest at some distance from the spot upon
which I was sleeping. I saw him distinctly, though he was walking
through darkness, and although I do not remember in my conscious
moments to have ever taken note of the particular conformation of the
ground and the arrangement of the trees, the scene, with all its
details of natural growth, was strangely familiar to me. And behind
him, unknown to himself, stalked a threatening Shadow, with Death in
its aspect. Then came a whisper, 'Your brother is in danger. Seek, and
warn him!'

"This spiritual whisper was in my ears when I awoke.

"'Seek, and warn him!' It was clearly my duty. Such visitations had
come to my father, and were fatally realised. Dare I neglect the
warning?

"But what was to be done must be done instantly and without delay.
Could I leave Patricia? I leant over her, and gently called her name.
She did not reply. I softly shook her, but did not succeed in arousing
her. And while I was thus engaged I continued to hear the whisper,
'Your brother is in danger. Seek, and warn him!'

"I decided. Patricia could be safely left for a little while. If I
awoke her she would probably prevail upon me to remain with her, and I
might have cause in all my after life to reproach myself for having
neglected the spiritual warning. To be lightly regarded perhaps by
other men, but not by me. I was Silvain's son.

"I wrote on a leaf torn from my pocketbook, 'Do not be alarmed at my
absence; I shall be back at sunrise. There is something I have
forgotten, which must be done immediately. Sleep in peace. All is
well.--Your lover and husband, EMILIUS.' I pinned this paper at her
breast, arranged the rugs securely about her, and left her.

"I cannot describe to you how I was directed, but I plunged without
hesitation and in perfect confidence into the labyrinths of the
forest, and my steps were directed aright. I walked swiftly, and
recognised certain natural aspects made familiar to me in my dreams.
And in little more than an hour I saw Eric a few yards ahead of me,
strolling aimlessly and in a disturbed mood. I called to him.

"'Eric!'

"'Emilius!'

"But there was no friendliness in his tone.

"'It is you who have been dogging me!' he cried.

"'I have but this moment arrived,' I replied.

"'In search of me?'

"'Yes, my dear brother,' I said, passing my arm around him. 'We must
speak together, in love and confidence, as we have ever done.'

"Already he was softened, and I breathed a grateful sigh.

"'Have you been followed, Eric?' I asked.

"'I do not know,' he replied. 'I cannot say. I have been racked and
tormented by torturing fancies. Trees have taken ominous shapes;
shadows have haunted me; my mind is distraught; my heart is bleeding!'

"It would occupy me for too long a time to narrate circumstantially
all that passed between me and Eric on that our last interview.
Suffice it that I succeeded to some extent in calming him, that I
succeeded in making him understand that I had done him no conscious
wrong; that Patricia was my wife and loved me.

"'Had it been your lot, Eric,' I said, 'to have won her love, I should
have suffered as you are suffering; but believe me, my dear brother,
that I should have endeavoured to bear my sufferings like a man. It
lay not with us that this should have occurred; it lay with Patricia.
It is not so much our happiness, but hers, that is at stake.'

"It is a consolation to me in my present peril to know that I
succeeded in wooing him back to our old relations, in which we were
guided wholly and solely by brotherly love. You are not to believe
that this was accomplished without difficulty. There were, on his
side, paroxysms of rebellion and despair, in one of which--after he
had learned that I and Patricia were man and wife--he cried, 'Well,
kill me, for I do not care to live!' These were the words heard by the
witness who has testified against me. They bear, I well know, an
injurious construction, but my conscience is not disturbed. My heart
is--and I am racked by a torture which threatens to undermine my
reason when I think of my wife and unborn child.

"At length peace was established between me and my dear brother. And
then it was that I told him of my dream, and of the uncontrollable
impulse which had urged me to seek for him in the forest. I asked him
to accompany me back to Patricia, but he said that was impossible, and
that he could not endure the agony of it. I put myself in his place,
and recognised that his refusal was natural. But I could not entirely
dismiss my fears for his safety. Eric, however, refused to share them.
'What is to be will be,' he said; 'otherwise it would not have been
fated that our father and his brother--twins, as we are--should have
loved the same woman, and that we should have done the same.'

"I was anxious to get back to Patricia, and I left him in the forest.
I knew nothing further until I was arrested and thrown into prison."

"An innocent man?" said Doctor Louis.

"As innocent as yourself," was Emilius's reply.



                                 IX.


Throughout this narration Doctor Louis was impressed by the suspicion
that something was hidden from him. He pressed Emilius upon the point,
and his suspicion was strengthened by the evasive replies he received.

"Enough, for the present, of myself," said Emilius; "let me hear
something of the outside world--of the world that is dead to me."

"What do you wish to know?" asked Doctor Louis sadly.

"Of yourselves," replied Emilius. "Of your good wife, whom I used to
look upon as a second mother. She is well?"

"She is well," said Doctor Louis, "but in deep unhappiness because of
these terrible events."

"How does she regard me--as innocent or guilty?"

"She has the firmest belief in your innocence. When I told her I was
about to visit you, she desired me to give you her love and sympathy."

"It is like her. And Lauretta?"

"I did not inform her that I was coming. She is in great distress. You
and Eric were as brothers to her."

"And now," said Emilius, with a certain recklessness of manner which
puzzled Doctor Louis, "one is dead and the other disgraced. But she
will live through it. She has a happy future before her?"

He put this somewhat in the form of a question, to which Doctor Louis
replied without hesitation: "We have the best of reasons for hoping
so. But our conversation, Emilius, appears to have taken a heartless
turn. Let us rather consider the chances of establishing your
innocence and setting you free."

"No, let us continue to speak of your family. There may not be another
opportunity--who knows? My judges may take it into their heads to keep
me in solitary confinement, and to deprive me entirely of the solace
of friendly intercourse, until they have got rid of me altogether. The
chances of establishing my innocence are scarcely worth considering;
they are so slender. Slender! They are not even that. I see no
loophole, nor do you. What is wanted is fact--hard, solid fact, such
as an actual witness, or a frank confession from the murderer.
Everything tangible and intangible is against me. Eric and I were
rivals in a woman's love; we had a meeting, in which we reconciled our
differences, and in which the horror of brotherly hatred was scotched
clean dead. Who were present at this meeting? My dear brother, who is
gone and cannot testify; and I, whose interest it is to say whatever
my tongue can utter in my defence. To prove my innocence I can bring
forward--what? Shadows. I could forgive my judges for laughing at me
were I to set up such a defence. Easier to believe that I killed my
brother in a dream. Could that be proved, there would be some hope for
me, for it might be argued that I was not accountable. Let us dismiss
it. I have told you all I know positively; for the rest, I am strong
enough to keep it to myself, being aware of the manner in which it
would be received."

"Surely you are not wearied of life!" said Doctor Louis, shocked at
this reckless mood.

"That is not to the point. Wearied or not, it is not in my power to
choose. Were I free, were my fate in my own hands, it would be worth
my while to consider how to act in order that the crime might be fixed
upon the guilty one. And hearken, Doctor, I am not swayed by impulse;
there is something of inward direction which holds me up. I hear
voices, I see visions--not to be heard or seen or taken into account
in a court of justice; of value only in a prison. They assure me that,
though I may suffer and be disgraced, I shall not die until my
innocence is proved."

"Heaven grant it!" exclaimed Doctor Louis.

"Meanwhile, I wait and take the strokes which fate deals out to me. A
crushed manhood, a ruined life, a blasted happiness! And there is a
happy future, you say, before Lauretta? You have every confidence in
Mr. Carew? Lauretta loves him?"

"With her whole heart."

"And you and your good wife approve--are content to intrust her
happiness into his keeping?"

"We are content--we approve."

"May all be as you hope! Say nothing to them of me. The best mercy
that can be accorded to me is the mercy of forgetfulness. I have a
favour to beg of you."

"It is granted."

"You will be kind to my wife; you will not desert her--you will, if
necessary, protect her from her father, who, I fear, will never
forgive her?"

"I will do all that lies in my power to further your wishes--though I
still hope for a favourable turn in your affairs."

"Your hope is vain," said Emilius. "I thank you for your promise."



                                  X.


There were no further discoveries. Doctor Louis engaged eminent
lawyers to defend Emilius when his trial took place, but their case
was so weak that they held out no hope of a successful issue. They
pleaded hard and brilliantly, and took advantage of every vulnerable
point. A great number of witnesses testified to the good character of
the accused, to his consistent kindness of heart, to his humanity, to
acts of heroism now for the first time made public. These efforts were
not entirely without effect. Emilius was pronounced guilty, but a
chord of sympathy had been touched, and he received the benefit of it.
A strong recommendation to mercy accompanied the verdict, and he was
condemned to imprisonment for twenty-five years. Thus he passed away,
and was as one dead to those who had loved and honoured him; but it
was long before they forgot him.

These events retarded for a little while the marriage of Gabriel Carew
and Lauretta, and even the ardent lover himself had the grace to
submit patiently to the delay. During that time he endeared himself
more than ever to Doctor Louis and his family, by his tenderness to
Lauretta, and by his charities to the poor. His mind recovered its
healthy tone; his habits became more regular; he paid attention to
religious duties; and when the wedding-day arrived it was a day of
rejoicing in the whole village. He and Lauretta departed on their
honeymoon tour amidst general demonstrations of love and esteem. The
sun was shining on their present and their future, and it may be truly
said that never did bride and bridegroom go forth under more joyful
auspices. For weal or woe the lives of Lauretta and Gabriel were
henceforth one.

They were absent from Nerac for between two and three months,
travelling through delightful scenes and climes, and their letters
home betokened that they were perfectly happy.

"For the first time," wrote Gabriel Carew, "I recognise the sweetness
and beauty of life. I have hitherto been wandering in darkness.
Association with Lauretta has opened windows of light in my soul;
heaven is nearer to me. How can I sufficiently thank you for the
precious gift of a nature so pure?"

Their honeymoon over, they journeyed homewards to Nerac. Carew had
given all necessary instructions with respect to his house, and it was
ready for occupation upon their return. Martin Hartog had left the
village, and was never again seen in it. No one knew whither he had
gone; he left no sign behind, and, having few friends, was but little
missed, and was soon forgotten. Other changes had also occurred, of
infinitely more importance to Gabriel Carew and his wife. The first
which arrested their attention and brought fear to their hearts was
the health of Lauretta's mother, and Carew observed in Doctor Louis's
grave and anxious face that the fear which smote himself and Lauretta
had found a lodgment in the doctor's soul. She had grown thin and wan
during their absence; her limbs were oppressed with langour, her eyes
were dim, there was a wistful trembling of her lips. This was not
immediately observable, so profound was her joy in embracing once more
her beloved child, but Gabriel Carew was struck by it within a few
minutes of their being together. He did not, however, speak of it of
his own accord to Doctor Louis. So deep was the love between those
faithful souls, that Carew was fearful of referring to what might
prove to be not only a separation, but a destruction of happiness.
Doctor Louis was the first to mention it. He and Carew were sitting
apart from the mother and the daughter, who, embracing, were at the
other end of the room.

"You have had a happy time, Gabriel?"

"Very, very happy."

"Our dear Lauretta is the same as ever."

"Yes. I would wish that she should never change."

"But changes come," said Doctor Louis with a sigh.

"Yes, unhappily."

"I am not so sure," said the doctor, with a trembling lip. "Yet when
they do come, sooner than we expected in one we love, they are hard to
bear. Faith in God alone sustains us in such a trial. To live a good
life, a life without reproach, upon which lies no shame, a life in
which we have endeavoured to fulfil our human duties--surely that must
count!"

"Otherwise," said Carew, "the sinner would rank with the just."

"The sinner is the more to be pitied," said Doctor Louis; and then,
after a pause, "Gabriel, you have been away from us for nearly three
months, and are more likely to detect changes in persons and things
than those who are hourly familiar with them. Do you observe
anything?"

"In what--in whom?" asked Carew, in a hesitating tone.

"In the dear mother," said Doctor Louis. "Is she thinner, paler, than
when you saw her last?"

"Yes," replied Carew, deeming frankness the best course; "she looks as
if she had passed through a sickness."

"She has not been really ill--that is, she has attended regularly to
her duties and has not complained. But she is drooping; I am filled
with fears for her."

"She looks better within these few minutes," said Carew. "Her eyes are
brighter, her cheeks have more colour in them."

"She has her dear Lauretta by her side," said Doctor Louis, his eyes
fixed upon her beloved face. "It is the delight of the reunion that
has excited her."

"It may be," said Carew, "that Lauretta's absence has affected her.
They have never been separated before. How often has Lauretta said
during her travels, 'There is only one thing wanting--the presence of
my dear mother and father!' Now that they are together again, the dear
mother will grow stronger."

It was not so, however; the good woman drooped daily, and daily grew
weaker. The remembrance of that brief time at the end of which
Lauretta'a mother passed from earth to heaven, never faded from the
minds of those nearest and dearest to her. Her illness lasted for not
longer than two weeks after Lauretta's return.

"She was only waiting for her child," sighed Doctor Louis.

It needed all his strength of mind and all the resources of his wise
nature to enable him to bear up against the impending blow; and these
would not have availed but for the sweet and tender words whispered by
his wife as he sat by her bedside, holding her hand in his. Lauretta
did not leave her mother. The young girl-wife suffered deeply. Even
the love of her husband, it seemed, could not compensate for the loss
of the dear one, whose unselfish course through life had been strewn
with flowers, planted and tended by her own hands to gladden the
hearts of those around her. The whole village mourned. Grateful men
and women clustered outside the gates of Doctor Louis's house from
morn till night, anxiously inquiring how the invalid was progressing,
and whether there was any hope. Simple offerings of love were hourly
left at the house, and were received with gratitude. Her eyes
brightened when she was told of this.

"The dear people!" she murmured. "God guard them and keep them free
from temptation and sin!"

These words were uttered in the presence of her husband and Gabriel
Carew, and they learned from them how her heart had been racked by the
terrible events which had occurred lately in Nerac, staining the once
innocent village with blood and crime.

"She loved Eric and Emilius," said Doctor Louis to Carew, "as though
they were her own sons. To this moment she has a firm belief in
Emilius's innocence."

"Her nature," was Gabriel Carew's comment, "is too gentle for justice.
Fitly is she called 'The Angel Mother.'"

It was a title by which she had been occasionally spoken of in the
village, and now that she was lying on her death-bed it was generally
applied to her.

"For the Angel Mother," said the villagers, as they left their humble
offerings at her door.

In his goings in and out of the house the good priest, Father Daniel,
was besieged by eager sympathisers, asking him to convey loving
messages from this one and that one to the Angel Mother, and--the wish
being father to the thought--inquiring whether she was not, after all,
a little better than she was yesterday, and whether there was hope
that she might still be spared to them. He took advantage of the sad
occasion to impress moral lessons upon his flock, bidding them purify
their hearts and live good lives. It was remarked by a few that a
feeling of restraint had grown up between Father Daniel and Gabriel
Carew since the latter's return from his honeymoon tour. Indeed, on
Father Daniel's part, this new feeling must have been generated before
Carew's return, and it very quickly impressed itself upon Carew. He
was not slow in paying coldness for coldness; his nature was not of
that conciliatory order to beg for explanations of altered conduct.
Proud, self-contained, and to some extent imperious and exacting in
his dealings with men, Carew met Father Daniel in the spirit in which
he was received. No words passed between them; it was simply that the
priest evinced a disposition to hold aloof from Gabriel Carew, and
that, the moment this was clear to Carew, he also fell back, and did
not attempt to bridge the chasm which separated these two men who had
once been friends.

So the days wore on till the end came. With each member of her family
the Angel Mother held converse within a few hours of her death.

"Be good to my dear child," she said to Carew.

There was no one else but these two in the chamber, and it was at her
request that they were alone.

"My heart, my life, are devoted to her," said Carew. "So may I be
dealt by as I deal by her!"

"She loves you as women do not always love," said the mother. "You
have by your side one who will sweeten and purify your days. No
thought but what is tender and sweet has ever crossed her mind. She is
the emblem of innocence. In giving her to you I believed I was doing
what was right. Do not question me--my moments are numbered. I have
been much shaken by the fate of Eric and Emilius. You believe Emilius
to be guilty. Be more merciful in your judgments. With my dying breath
I declare my belief in his innocence. It would be disloyal to one I
loved as my son if I did not say this to you."

"But why," asked Carew gently, "especially to me?"

"I would say it to all," she replied, "and I would have all believe as
I believe. His poor wife--his poor wife! Ah, how I pity her! Help her,
if you can. Promise me."

"I will do so," said Carew, "if it is in my power, and if she will
receive help from me."

"Lauretta and you are one," said the dying woman; "if not from you,
she will receive it from my daughter. Before you leave me, answer one
question, as you would answer before God. Have you anything hidden in
your heart for which you have cause to reproach yourself?"

"Nothing," he replied, wondering that such a question should be put to
him at such a moment.

"Absolutely nothing?"

"Absolutely nothing."

"Pardon me for asking you. May no shadow of sin or wrong-doing ever
darken your door! Lift your heart in prayer. If you have children,
teach them to pray. Nothing is more powerful to the young as the
example of parents. Farewell, Gabriel. Send my husband and my daughter
to me, and let my last moments with them be undisturbed." She gazed at
him kindly and pityingly. "Kiss me, Gabriel."

He left the room with eyes overflowing, and delivered the message to
Doctor Louis and Lauretta, who went immediately to the chamber of
death.

Father Daniel was in the apartment, praying on his knees. He raised
his head as Gabriel Carew stepped to his side. The time was too solemn
for resentment or coldness.

"Pray with me," said the priest.

Gabriel Carew sank upon his knees, and prayed, by the priest's
direction, for mercy, for light, for pardon to sinners.

Half an hour afterwards the door was opened, and Doctor Louis beckoned
to his son-in-law and the priest. They followed him to the bedside of
the Angel Mother. All was over; her soul had passed away tranquilly
and peacefully. Carew knelt by Lauretta, and passed his arm tenderly
around her.

When the news was made known, the village was plunged in grief. The
shops were closed, and the villagers went about quietly and softly,
and spoke in gentle tones of the Angel Mother, whose spirit was
looking down upon them from heavenly heights. Early on the morning of
the funeral the children went into the woods and gathered quantities
of simple wild flowers, with which they strewed the road from Doctor
Louis's house to the grave. The sun was shining, the birds were
singing, soft breezes floated over the churchyard.

"It is as the dear mother would have wished," said Doctor Louis to
Lauretta. "I remember her saying long ago in the past that she would
like to be buried on a bright summer day--such as this. Ah, how the
years have flown! But we must not repine. Let us rather be grateful
for the happiness we have enjoyed in the association of a saintly
woman, an angel now--waiting for us when our time comes."

And in his heart there breathed the hope, "May it come soon, to me!"

The people lingered about the grave over which to this day the flowers
are growing.



                                 XI.


So numerous had been the concourse of people, and so engrossed were
they in their demonstrations of sorrow and affection for their
departed friend, that the presence of a stranger among them had not
been observed. He was a man whose appearance would not have won their
favour. Apart from the fact that he was unknown--which in itself,
because of late events, would have predisposed them against him--his
face and clothes would not have recommended him. He had the air of one
who was familiar with prisons; he was common and coarse-looking; his
clothes were a conglomeration of patches and odds and ends; he gazed
about him furtively, as though seeking for some particular person or
for some special information, and at the same time wishful, for
private and not creditable reasons, not to draw upon himself a too
close observation. Had he done so, it would have been noted that he
entered the village early in the day, and, addressing himself to
children--his evident desire being to avoid intercourse with men and
women--learnt from them the direction of Gabriel Carew's house.
Thither he wended his way, and loitered about the house, looking up at
the windows and watching the doors for the appearance of some person
from whom he could elicit further information. There was only one
servant in the house, the other domestics having gone to the funeral,
and this servant, an elderly woman, was at length attracted by the
sight of a stranger strolling this way and that, without any definite
purpose--and, therefore, for a bad one. She stood in the doorway,
gazing at him. He approached and addressed her.

"I am looking for Gabriel Carew's house," he said.

"This is it," the servant replied.

"So I was directed, but was not sure, being a stranger in these parts.
Is the master at home?"

"No."

"He lives here, doesn't he?"

"He will presently; but it is only lately he came back with his wife,
and has not yet taken up his residence."

"His wife! Do you mean Doctor Louis's daughter?"

"Yes.

"Ah, they're married, then?"

"Yes, they are married. You seem to know names, though you are a
stranger."

"Yes, I know names well enough. If Gabriel Carew is not here, where is
he?"

"It would be more respectful to say Mr. Carew," said the servant,
resenting this familiar utterance of her master's name.

"Mr. Carew, then. I'm not particular. Where is he?"

"You will find him in the village."

"That's a wide address."

"He is stopping at Doctor Louis's house. Anybody will tell you where
that is."

"Thank you; I will go there." He was about to depart, but turned and
said, "Where is the gardener, Martin Hartog?"

"He left months ago."

"Left, has he? Where for?"

"I can't tell you."

"Because you won't?"

"Because I can't. You are a saucy fellow."

"No, mistress, you're mistaken. It's my manner, that's all; I was
brought up rough. And where I've come from, a man might as well be out
of the world as in it." He accompanied this remark with a dare-devil
shake of his head.

"You're so free at asking questions," said the woman, "that there can
be no harm in my asking where _have_ you come from--being, as you say,
a stranger in these parts?"

"Ah, mistress," said the man, "questions are easily asked. It's a
different thing answering them. Where I've come from is nothing to
anybody who's not been there. To them it means a lot. Thank you for
your information."

He swung off without another word towards the village. He had no
difficulty in finding Doctor Louis's house, and observing that
something unusual was taking place, held his purpose in and took
mental notes. He followed the procession to the churchyard, and was
witness to the sympathy and sorrow shown for the lady whose body was
taken to its last resting-place. He did not know at the time whether
it was man or woman, and he took no pains to ascertain till the
religious ceremony was over. Then he addressed himself to a little
girl.

"Who is dead?"

"Our Angel Mother," replied the girl.

"She had a name, little one." His voice was not unkindly. The answer
to his question--"Angel Mother"--had touched him. He once had a
mother, the memory of whom still remained with him as a softening if
not a purifying influence. It is the one word in all the languages
which ranks nearest to God. "What was hers?"

"Don't you know? Everybody knows. Doctor Louis's wife."

"Doctor Louis's wife!" he muttered. "And I had a message for her!"
Then he said aloud, "Dead, eh?"

"Dead," said the little girl mournfully.

"And you are sorry?"

"Everybody is sorry."

"Ah," thought the man, "it bears out what _he_ said." Again, aloud:
"That gentleman yonder, is he Doctor Louis?"

"Yes."

"The priest--his name is Father Daniel, isn't it?"

"Yes."

"The young lady by Doctor Louis's side, is she his daughter?"

"Yes."

"Is her husband there--Gabriel Carew?"

"Yes; there he is." And the girl pointed him out.

The man nodded, and moved apart. But he did not remain so; he mingled
with the throng, and coming close to the persons he had asked about,
gazed at them, as though in the endeavour to fix their faces in his
memory. Especially did he gaze, long and earnestly, at Gabriel Carew.
None noticed him; they were too deeply preoccupied in their special
sorrow. When the principal mourners moved away, he followed them at a
little distance, and saw them enter Doctor Louis's house. Being gone
from his sight, he waited patiently. Patience was required, because
for three or four hours none who entered the house emerged from it.
Nature, however, is a stern mistress, and in her exactions is not to
be denied. The man took from his pocket some bread and cheese, which
he cut with a stout clasp knife, and devoured. At four o'clock in the
afternoon Father Daniel came out of the house. The man accosted him.

"You are Father Daniel?"

"I am." And the priest, with his earnest eyes upon the stranger, said,
"I do not know you."

"No," replied the man, "I have never seen you before to-day. We are
strangers to each other. But I have heard much of you."

"From whom?"

"From Emilius," said the man.

"Emilius!" cried Father Daniel, and signs of agitation were visible on
his face. "Are you acquainted with him? Have you seen him lately?

"I am acquainted with him. I saw him three days ago."

Father Daniel fell back with a sudden impulse of revulsion, and with
as sudden an impulse of contrition said humbly, "Forgive me--forgive
me!"

"It is I who should ask that," said the man, with a curious and not
discreditable assumption of manliness, in the humbleness of which a
certain remorseful abasement was conspicuous. He bowed his head.
"Bless me, Father!"

"Do you deserve it?"

"I need it," said the man; and the good priest blessed him.

"It is, up to now," said the man presently, raising his head, "as
Emilius told me. But he could not lie."

"You are his friend?" said Father Daniel.

"I am not worthy to be called so," said the man. "I am a sinner. He is
a martyr."

"Ah," said Father Daniel, "give me your hand. Nay, I will have it. We
are brothers. No temptation has been mine. I have not sinned because
sin has not presented itself to me in alluring colours. I have never
known want. My parents were good, and set me a good example. They
taught me what is right; they taught me to pray. And you?"

"And I, Father?" said the man in softened accents. "I! Great God, what
am I?" It was as though a revelation had fallen upon him. It held him
fast for a few moments, and then he recovered his natural self. "I
have never been as yourself, Father. My lot was otherwise. I don't
complain. But it was not my fault that I was born of thieves--though,
mind you, Father, I loved my mother."

"My son," said Father Daniel, bowing his head, "give _me_ your
blessing."

"Father!"

"Give _me_ your blessing!"

Awed and compelled, the man raised his trembling hands above Father
Daniel's head. When the priest looked again at the man he saw that his
eyes were filled with tears.

"You come from Emilius."

"Yes, with messages which I promised to deliver. I have been in prison
for fifteen years. Emilius joined us; we hardened ones were at first
surprised, afterwards we were shocked. It was not long before we grew
to love him. Father, is there justice in the world?"

"Yes," said Father Daniel, with a false sternness in his voice. "That
it sometimes errs is human. Your messages! To whom?"

"To one who is dead--a good woman." He lowered his head a moment. "I
will keep it here," touching his breast; "it will do me no harm. To
you."

"Deliver it."

"Emilius desired me to seek you out, and to tell you he is innocent."

"I know it."

"That is the second. The third is but one word to a man you
know--Gabriel Carew."

"He is here," said Father Daniel.

With head bowed down to his breast, Gabriel Carew came from Doctor
Louis's house. His face was very pale. The loss which had fallen upon
him and Lauretta had deeply affected him. Never had he felt so humble,
so purified, so animated by sincere desire to live a worthy life.

"This man has a message to deliver to you," said Father Daniel to him.

Gabriel Carew looked at the man.

"I come from Emilius," said the man, "and am just released from
prison. I promised him to deliver to you a message of a single word in
the presence of Father Daniel."

In a cold voice and with a stern look Gabriel Carew said, "All is
prepared. What is your message?"

"Understand that it is Emilius, not I, who is speaking."

"I understand."

"Murderer!"



                                 XII.


In pursuance of the plan I decided upon before I commenced this
recital--one of the principal features of which is not to anticipate
events, in order that the interest of the story should not be
weakened--a gap is necessary here, which before the end is reached
will be properly bridged over. All that I deem it requisite to state
at this point is that within two years of the death of Lauretta's
mother Gabriel Carew left Nerac, never again to set foot in the
village. He came to England, bringing with him his wife and one child,
named Mildred, after Lauretta's mother. As you will understand, I have
only lately gathered my materials, and had no acquaintanceship
whatever with Gabriel Carew and his family at the time of his return
to his native country; and it may be as well to state now that there
were sufficient grounds for Carew's abandonment of his design to
settle permanently in Nerac. The place became more than lightly
distasteful to him by reason of his falling into disfavour with the
inhabitants of the village. Some kind of feeling grew silently against
him, which found forcible expression in a general avoidance of his
company. He strove in vain to overcome this strange antipathy, for
which he could not account. Even Father Daniel took sides with his
flock against Carew. What galled him most was that when he challenged
those who were once his friends to state their reasons for withdrawing
their friendship from him, he could elicit no satisfactory replies.
Then befel an event which decided his course of action. Doctor Louis
died. The loss of the good doctor's wife had suddenly aged him; the
break in the happy life weighed him down, and he went to his rest
contentedly, almost joyfully, to rejoin his beloved mate. Within a few
weeks after his burial, Gabriel Carew shook the dust of Nerac from his
feet, and departed from the pretty village with a bitter feeling in
his heart towards the inhabitants. They would have been glad to
demonstrate to Lauretta their affection and sorrow, but she stood by
her husband, whom she devotedly loved, and with a sad and indignant
persistence rejected their advances. Thus were the old ties broken,
and her new life commenced in a foreign land.

Of the doings of Gabriel Carew for some years after his arrival in
England I have but an imperfect record, but that is of no importance,
as it has no immediate bearing upon my story. Sufficient to say that
five years ago he and his wife and Mildred Carew took possession of
Rosemullion, which had been long without a tenant. Great preparations
were made for their taking up their residence in Rosemullion. The
grounds and house were in sad dilapidation, no care having been taken
of them for many years past, and a number of workmen were employed to
set things in order. In an English neighbourhood such doings always
excite curiosity, and when it became known that Gabriel Carew, the
master of the property, was coming to reside amongst us, there was a
fruitful wagging of tongues. I heard a great many things which not
only surprised me, but created within me a lively interest in the
gentleman who would soon be my near neighbour, my house being scarcely
more than half a mile from the little estate of Rosemullion. It was
some time, however, before I made the personal acquaintance of Gabriel
Carew. Before that took place I found myself, vicariously, in
association with him through my son, and your favourite, Reginald. I
can see you in fancy, my dear Max, rubbing your hands and saying, "Ah,
we are coming to the kernel at last!" Wait. You have the nut before
you, but your imagination must be of a miraculous order to enable you
to pronounce upon the exact nature of the fruit when the shell is
removed.

Among our friends and acquaintances is a lady whose name it is not
necessary to mention, who has a pleasant craze for bringing young
people together through the medium of "small and early" dances.
Reginald went to her hospitable house frequently on these occasions.
For my own part, I am not given to these vanities, being, indeed, too
old for them. Old fogeys like myself are in the way of boys and girls
who are called together for an enjoyment which is their special
privilege. Therefore I was content that Reginald should go alone to
this lady's house.

From one of these visits he returned in an unusually excited mood. He
had met and danced with a young lady who, I plainly saw, had taken his
heart captive. I inquired her name. Miss Carew. To be exact, he told
me her Christian name. Miss Mildred Carew. Of Rosemullion? Yes. Was
she alone? No; her mother was with her--a most lovely lady, but of
course not the equal of her daughter in beauty. An only child? Yes.

These were some of the questions put by me and answered by Reginald.
In a very short time he had acquired an amazing amount of information
respecting this young lady. He had seen nothing of her father.

He went again to the house of our hospitable friend, and again met and
danced with Miss Carew, and came away more deeply than ever in love
with her. My affection and my duty caused me to take quiet note of my
son, whose welfare is very dear to me. With a thorough knowledge of
his character, I knew that he was not in the habit of contracting
light fancies. He has a very serious and earnest nature.

For the third time he visited our friend, and for the third time met
Miss Carew. From what passed between us I resolved to see the young
lady and her mother. I made the opportunity by going uninvited to the
house of my kind-hearted friend upon the occasion of her next dance
party. I could take that liberty; we had been friends for twenty
years. I enlightened her confidentially as to my motive for visiting
her, and she received my confidence in the frankest spirit, firing at
me first, however, a gun of a very heavy weight.

"It would be an excellent match," she said.

"What!" I exclaimed. "Has it gone as far as that?"

She smiled, and replied, "Well, only in imagination."

I gave a sigh of relief. I had no wish that Reginald should seriously
compromise himself with a young lady who was a total stranger to me.
She renewed my uneasiness, however, by saying,

"Yes, only in imagination so far as an actual declaration is
concerned. But, my dear sir, the young people have settled it for
themselves, without consulting wiser and older heads than their own.
It is the way of young people."

She spoke rather quizzically, as though playing with me for an idle
gratification, and I told her as much. She instantly became serious,
and assured me that had she not approved of the more than liking that
Reginald and Miss Carew had for each other, she would have taken steps
to keep them apart.

"Then the mischief is done," I said.

"If you deem it mischief," was her reply. "Yes, it is done. The pair
are passionately in love with each other. But I am mistaken in my
opinion of them if they are not to be trusted. They will do nothing in
secret; when the affair becomes so serious as to render an open
declaration inevitable, they will consult those nearest to them, to
whom they owe a duty. In that respect I will answer for Mildred. You
should be able to answer for Reginald. Now that your eyes are opened,
invite his confidence. Speak to him frankly and lovingly, and he will
conceal nothing from you. I repeat, it would be an excellent match.
She is in every way worthy of him, and he is worthy of her. She is a
lady; her mother is a lady, and the personification of sweetness,
though I fancy sometimes she has a sorrow. But what human being is
perfectly happy? And Mildred's father is a gentleman."

"Are you well acquainted with him?" I asked.

"No, not well acquainted. There are few who can say that of him. He is
a man whose absolute friendship it would be hard to gain. All the more
precious, therefore, to him who wins the prize. It might be worth your
while to try, for Reginald's sake. Should his suit be accepted, an
intimacy between you and Mr. Carew is inevitable. You will find him a
man of rare acquirements. You have a leaning towards men and women who
think for themselves, and who have a vein of originality. Mr. Carew
being of this order, you will be naturally drawn to him. A not
inconsequential item in the programme is that he is wealthy, and that
Mildred is his only child. Mrs. Carew and Mildred have just entered
the room. I must go to them; follow me in a moment or two, and I will
introduce you."

I obeyed her instructions, and in a short time was made known to them.



                                XIII.


I did not agree with Reginald's estimate of their beauty. He placed
Mildred first, and her mother second. My judgment reversed this order.
Mildred was truly a most beautiful girl, but Mrs. Carew's beauty was
of a quality which, the moment I set eyes on her, impressed me more
deeply than I had ever been in my life by the sight of a woman's face.
It is not only that it is physically perfect, but that there is in it
a spirituality which took my heart and my mind captive. It is as
though the soul of a pure woman is there reflected--of a woman who, if
she ruled the world, would banish from it suffering and injustice. She
is the incarnation of sweetness and gentleness; and yet I could not
avoid observing in her features the traces of a secret sorrow to which
the lady of the house had referred. This indication of a grief nobly
and patiently borne added to her beauty, and deepened the impression
it produced upon me. I am not exaggerating when I say that, standing
before her, I felt as if I were in the presence of an angel. Were I a
painter, my ambition would be to fix upon canvas a faithful portrait
of one so pure and lovely. I should call my picture Peace.

Her daughter differs from her in appearance. Her beauty is of another
type--milder, more full of expression and variety; she has opposite
moods which, as occasion serves, are brought into play in
contradiction of each other. This may render her more captivating to a
young man like Reginald, and were I as young as he I might also find a
greater attraction in the daughter than in the mother. A sweet and
beautiful girl, modest and graceful in all her movements, I was
satisfied that Reginald had chosen well, and at the same time I was
convinced that all the earnestness of his soul was engaged in the
enterprise.

"I am happy," said Mrs. Carew to me, "to know Reginald's father."

"No less happy am I," was my rejoinder, "in making the acquaintance of
a lady of whom I have heard so much."

"Reginald has spoken of me?"

"Of you and your daughter--continually, from the first evening on
which he had the happiness of meeting you. It was for the purpose of
obtaining an introduction to you that I came here to-night, an
uninvited guest."

I felt that there must be no concealment in my intercourse with Mrs.
Carew. To be honest and outspoken was the surest way of winning her
friendship. Reginald and Mildred had wandered away, her hand upon his
arm. Mrs. Carew's eyes followed them, tenderly and wistfully.

"We shall be very happy to see you at Rosemullion," she said; and I
promised to pay her an early visit.

"Well?" said my hostess, when I left Mrs. Carew's side.

"I cannot but approve," I answered. "I have never met a sweeter lady.
If the daughter's nature resembles her mother's, and Reginald is
fortunate enough to win her, he will be a happy man."

My hostess smiled and nodded in satisfaction. An inveterate
match-maker, she was always delighted at the success of her
good-natured schemes.

On the following day I visited Mrs. Carew, and made the acquaintance
of her husband, Gabriel Carew. I will not waste time by giving a
description of him. What you have already read will have prepared you
for his introduction _in propria persona_. Sufficient to say that I
was favourably impressed, and that I had not been in his company five
minutes before I discovered that the gentleman I was conversing with
was a man of extraordinary erudition and mental compass. I was
fortunate enough to win his favour; he showed me over his library--a
collection made by himself, and which could only have been gathered by
one of superior attainments. That my society was agreeable to her
husband was a manifest pleasure to Mrs. Carew, and once during his
temporary absence to obtain a book of which we had been conversing she
expressed a hope that we should be often together.

"He is too much of a recluse," she said. "I have wished that he should
mix in society more than he does--indeed, he sees very little of
life--but he has a distaste for it."

I replied that the distaste of a man like Gabriel Carew to share in
the frivolities of the age was to be easily understood. She answered
wisely, "Surely a little innocent frivolity is not to be condemned.
One may become too serious."

"Mr. Carew is a student?" I said.

"From his early youth," she replied, "he has been devoted to
book-lore. His young life was lived here in seclusion, and it was not
till after the death of his parents that he saw anything of the
world."

Mr. Carew returned, and looked at us smilingly. He touched his wife's
hand lightly, but slight as was the action, there was affection in it.

"I possess the gift of divination," he said. "You have been speaking
of me?"

"Yes," said Mrs. Carew.

"And of my love of solitude," he continued. "But what is bred in the
bone--you understand. There are inherited virtues and inherited vices.
The question is, at what point does actual responsibility become a
burden for which we can be justly called to account, and until that
moment, to define its precise relation to committed acts? Is it your
opinion that crime can be justified?"

"No," I said.

"Under no circumstances?"

"Under no circumstances."

"Early teaching, early habits, transmitted vices of the blood--are
they not factors? A man is an entity--complete possessor of his own
body and soul, which may be pure or hideous according to
circumstances. But you make him arbitrarily accountable. Do not
misunderstand me--I am simply theorising. Nothing of the argument
applies to me except my love of solitude, which is harmless, and hurts
no man. I have had experiences of the world, and have been misjudged.
There was a time when I was angry, when I inwardly rebelled. I do so
no longer. I am content. My wife, my child, my home, my lonely habits,
make up the sum of a fairly happy life. Are you fond of tea?"

The light question, addressed to me in the midst of serious words,
somewhat startled me. I answered, "Yes;" and upon a motion from her
husband Mrs. Carew left the room to prepare the tea. Gabriel Carew
explained.

"It is not ordered in this room because of a whim of mine. My wife has
an apartment which is to me a sanctuary of rest, and there it is that
we often sit and read and converse as we drink our tea. She is anxious
about me, but there is really no cause for anxiety. She has an idea
that solitude is affecting my health; she is mistaken; I was never
stronger, never better." He broke off suddenly with the remark, "You
are a physician?"

"It will be correct to say I was," I replied. "Many years ago I
relinquished practice."

"So I have heard; and I have also learnt that you held a distinguished
position. I have in my library your book treating of diseases of the
mind, in which you avoid the common ground of demonstrable insanity.
You speak there, if I remember aright, of inherited mental disease."

"I have devoted two chapters to the theme."

"And clearly confute," he pursued, "the statement you made just now
that under no circumstances can crime be justified."

"I made that statement," I said, a little confused by this just
challenge, "from a general standpoint."

"I speak from an individual standpoint," he remarked. "Which of the
two is the more human? However, this is diverging somewhat. Can you
tell me why, as twilight approaches, a change in my mood works
mysteriously within me? I was gay--I become morose. I was cheerful--I
am sad."

"Nerves," I said, "affected by external forces. That is the only
answer I can at present give, knowing so little of you."

Twilight was upon us as we conversed, and I observed that his face was
growing dark. With a strong, healthy, and decided motion he shook off
the influence, and held out his hand to me.

"Know more of me," he said. "I have been informed of the mutual liking
which has sprung up between my daughter Mildred and your son. We will
speak of this seriously at a future time. Meanwhile, let your son
visit us; my home is open to him and you. I have a horror of
secrecies. We will shape our course in the light. Shall we strive to
be friends?"

Apart from my inclination to be upon friendly terms with him--in the
first instance born of my anxiety for Reginald's happiness--there was
in Gabriel Carew's manner an irresistible charm, and I now desired his
friendship for my own sake as well as for Reginald's. I met his
advances cordially, and we spent a pleasant hour with Mrs. Carew and
Mildred in the room which Carew had likened to a sanctuary. Its
influence upon him was an influence for good. The gloom which had
gathered on his face with the approach of night faded away, and was
replaced by a cheerfulness which found vent in his speech. I was more
than ever surprised at the vast stores of knowledge which he had
acquired. There was not a subject started of which he was not master,
and upon which he was not able to throw a new light, and when we
parted it was with mutual expressions of esteem, and with a mutual
wish that the intimacy thus auspiciously commenced should be allowed
to ripen into a close and genuine friendship. What particularly struck
me was the almost worshipping love Carew entertained for his wife. We
were standing in the garden, when, with a tender, personal application
of a theme we had broached, Carew said:

"You know the old legend of every human being being accompanied
through life by two angels, one good and one bad each striving to
obtain mastery over him. My good angel is a visible one, and it is
ever by my side."

He placed his hand upon his wife's shoulder, and she raised her eyes
to his. They gazed upon each other like lovers, and at that moment
there was not upon either face a trace of gloom or sorrow.

"True love exists between those two," I thought, as I wended my way
home. "The shadows that hover round them are but idle fancies. I
rejoice that a daughter of these noble people has won my son's heart."



                                 XIV.


A general survey of the few months that followed will suffice. There
are many small details which it would be pleasant to dwell upon, but
these may be safely left to the imagination. They consist for the most
part of the episodes which marked the progress of the love affair
between Mildred and Reginald--who, without any distinct declaration
from us, conducted themselves toward each other as an engaged couple.
We elder people tacitly held back from entering into an express
engagement, Mrs. Carew waiting, as it were, upon my movements and
those of her husband. I am in a position to explain the reasons of my
own backwardness in this important matter. Gabriel Carew's reasons
must, for the present, be left to explain themselves. I need scarcely
say that Reginald and Mildred were perfectly happy, being satisfied
that they possessed our sanction to their love. No fault was theirs in
this respect. If blame was due anywhere, we, their parents, were the
persons upon whom it justly fell.

The hope of a binding friendship between myself and Mr. and Mrs. Carew
was more than fulfilled. Not only did we become firm friends, but the
closest confidential relations were established between us. So much so
that I became acquainted with the history of the inner and outer lives
of Gabriel Carew and his sweet wife. There was little to learn of Mrs.
Carew's life which I had not already imagined; it was a record of
innocence and sweetness. But what I learnt of Gabriel Carew afforded
me food for grave reflection. So intimate were our relations, so
perfect was the confidence he reposed in me, that he concealed nothing
from me. His frankness won my admiration and greatly disturbed me. The
recital of his youthful life, of his midnight wanderings, of his
solitary musings, and afterwards of the death of his parents, of his
entrance into Nerac, of his intimacy with the family of Doctor Louis,
and of the tragic events that occurred in the peaceful village, made
up the sum of the strangest record which had ever been imparted to me.
I confess to being much affected by the fate of Eric and Emilius, and
I asked Carew whether he had heard anything of Emilius of late years.
His reply was that he had heard nothing, and that the unhappy man was
probably dead.

"You have no doubt that he was guilty?" I asked.

"Not the slightest doubt," said Carew.

I was not so sure; the story had excited within me a singular sympathy
for Emilius.

Now, in what I am about to say with respect to Gabriel Carew, I had,
at that time, I admit, the slightest of grounds; and the powerful
effect a certain suspicion had upon me was all the more singular
because of the absence of reliable evidence. The study I had made for
many years of the different forms in which insanity presents itself
was very captivating to me, and in the course of my researches I
unearthed some weird particulars, of which, were I a writer of
fiction, I could make effective use. Gabriel Carew was an affectionate
husband and father, a faithful mate to his wife, a wise counsellor to
his daughter. He had not a vice which I could discover. He was neither
a spendthrift nor a libertine. He drank in moderation, and he never
gambled; indeed, he detested all games of chance. His views of men and
manners were singularly correct, and denoted a well-balanced brain. It
was only where his affections were concerned that he could be called
in any way extravagant; but this would be accounted rather a virtue
than a vice. His recreations were intellectual, and he sought pleasure
and happiness only in his home and in association with books and his
wife and child. What judgment would you, from a distance, pass upon
such a man? What but that of entire approval? But I was in daily
contact with him, and signs were visible to me which greatly disturbed
me. To speak plainly, I doubted Gabriel Carew's perfect sanity!

This was a matter of most serious moment. If Carew were not sane, his
disease, so far as I could judge, was of a harmless form. The proof of
this lay in his affection for those of his blood, and--which, in
evidence is, in my opinion, quite as strong--in his tenderness to
animals and birds. But I have to a certainty established not only that
insanity is hereditary, but that what is harmless in the parent may
become destructive in the child. Mildred was Carew's daughter, and to
all appearance as free from any touch of insanity as the most
healthful of human beings. But the germ must be in her, to be
transmitted to her children--to Reginald's children if he married her.

This consideration impelled me to secret action in the way of inquiry.
It would have been, useless to appeal to Reginald, and to set before
him the probable consequences of such an union. My counsel would have
fallen upon idle ears. My duty, however, was clear. It was for me to
protect him.

Instead of listening uninterruptedly to the confidences imparted to me
by Carew, I prompted, probed and asked questions, and thus learnt much
which might otherwise not have come to my knowledge. Considering the
motive by which I was impelled, the investigation I was pursuing was
of an exceedingly delicate nature, but to my surprise, Carew met--nay,
anticipated--me with a most surprising frankness. He made no attempt
to avoid the subject, and the interest he evinced in it seemed to
exceed my own. He spoke much of himself--not in direct connection with
hereditary insanity, but as though there was that in his life before
the death of his parents which it would be a relief to him to clear
up. He gave me a circumstantial account of all the incidents of those
early years, taking pains to recall the most trifling detail bearing
upon his youth.

"It is a strange pleasure to me," he said, "to be able to unbosom
myself so freely. My wife is acquainted with much I have imparted to
you. There was never any need to distress her by a relation of the
morbid fancies which afflicted me when I was a boy, and which,
perhaps, were the foundation of the profound melancholy which, after
sunset, has lately crept upon me. Perhaps I am paying the penalty of
old age."

I combated this view, pointing out that he was in the prime of life,
with perhaps its most useful years before him. Throughout these
discussions and confidences the names of Mildred and Reginald were not
mentioned--I purposely avoided reference to them, but Carew did not
appear to have any thought of them while we conversed. The one person
who seemed to me able to furnish information from which I could weave
a rational theory was Mrs. Fortress, the nurse who for a number of
years attended Gabriel Carew's mother. I asked him if any
correspondence had passed between them since she left Rosemullion, and
he answered, "No," and that he had not seen or heard of her from that
time. I then asked him if he had any idea where she was to be found,
supposing her to be still living.

"In the last interview I had with her," he replied, "she gave me an
address in Cornwall." He paused here, and I saw that he was weighing
some matter in his mind. "I can find this address for you," he said
presently, "if you desire it. Have you any curiosity to see her?"

"Yes," I said boldly, "if you have no objection."

Again he paused in thought. "I have no objection," he said. "She may
reveal to you what she declined to reveal to me, and it may assist you
in your inquiry."

I looked at him, startled by his last words. They were the first he
had uttered which denoted that he suspected my motive in wooing and
encouraging these conversations. The expression on his face was gentle
and sad, and I thought it best to make no comment on his remark. The
next day he gave me an address in Cornwall at which Mrs. Fortress had
told him she was certain to be found during her lifetime. He gave me
also a short note to her, in which he stated that I was his most
intimate friend and adviser, and that he would be glad if she would
communicate to me any information respecting his parents it was in her
power to impart--intimating, at the same time, that I was prepared to
pay handsomely for it. At Carew's request, I read this note in his
presence, and at its conclusion he empowered me to pay for the
information if I could not otherwise obtain it, naming as a limit a
sum which I considered extravagantly liberal. I had already made
preparations for a temporary absence from home, and before the end of
the week I was in Cornwall, and face to face with Mrs. Fortress.



                                 XV.


A fine, stately, stalwart old woman, between sixty and seventy years
of age, with gray hair, bright eyes, and an air of masculine vigour
about her which could not fail to impress an observer. But what most
strongly impressed me was the quality of power which distinguished
her--the power of a firm will, which, in a lofty grade of life, would
have made her a leader. I introduced myself to her, and informed her
that I had obtained her address from Gabriel Carew, and had journeyed
to Cornwall for the express purpose of seeing her. She evinced no
surprise, and inquired how could she be sure that I came from Mr.
Carew.

"I have a letter from him," I said; and I gave it to her.

She read it quietly, and put it into her pocket.

"Is Mr. Carew well?" she asked.

"He is well," I replied.

"I have heard nothing of him since I left him in Rosemullion," she
said. "He told me then, it was his intention to quit it for ever, and
never again to set foot in it. I said that there was no saying what
might happen in the course of life. He lives now in Rosemullion?"

"Yes."

"Then he has not carried out his intention?"

There was no triumph in her voice, indicating that she had been right
and he wrong. It was a simple statement of fact simply made.

"We often commit ourselves unguardedly," I observed.

She nodded assent.

"As you have heard nothing of Mr. Carew, you are not aware that he is
married?"

She gazed at me thoughtfully, and I fancy I detected a stirring of
interest within her at this intelligence.

"Married!" she echoed calmly. "Lately?"

"No. More than twenty years ago. I do not know the exact year."

"Is his wife living?" she asked.

"Yes. She is with Mr. Carew at Rosemullion. Would you like to see her
portrait?"

"Yes," she replied.

I had brought Mrs. Carew's portrait with me, and other things which I
thought might be likely to help me in my interview with Mrs. Fortress.
I handed her the picture.

"A beautiful lady," she said, handing it back to me.

"Better than beautiful," I said. "An angel of goodness and charity,
beloved by all who have the privilege of knowing her."

"Is she happy?"

"Very happy. She and her husband are united by the firmest links of
love."

"That is good news, and I am glad to hear it. Is Mr. Carew happy?"

Slight as was the pause before I had made up my mind what reply to
give, she took advantage of it.

"Then he is not happy?"

"I should like to speak openly to you," I said. "It is not out of mere
light curiosity that I have sought you."

"It is," she said, "entirely at your discretion how you speak to me.
You are not here at my bidding."

"True," I replied; "and I am entirely at your mercy. You learn from
Mr. Carew's letter that I am on terms of confidential friendship with
him, and that he places no restraint upon you. There is no person
living who is better acquainted than yourself with the particulars of
his young life, with its strange surroundings, its isolation, its lack
of light. Dominated by such dark influences, it would not have been
matter for wonder had Mr. Carew grown into a morose, savage man,
believing only in evil, and capable only of it. The contrary is the
case. He has faith in goodness; he has won the love of a good woman.
His heart is tender, his nature charitable. When, before parting
with you, he asked you to enlighten him as to the mystery which
reigned in his home, there may have been some valid reason for your
refusal--although, even then, as his parents were dead and he was
alone in the world, such refusal was capable of a construction more
hurtful than the truth might have been."

She interrupted me here by saying, "It could not have been."

"But," I urged, "might not the truth, painful though it were, have
contributed to avert evil consequences?"

"To Mr. Carew," she asked, "or to others?"

"To others," I replied.

"I will wait a little," she said composedly, "before I answer that
question. You have more to say."

"There can be no valid reason," I continued, "for silence now. Mr.
Carew is anxious that you should speak candidly to me. An appeal to
your sense of justice would probably weigh with you."

"It is not unlikely," she said. "May I ask if you belong to any
profession?"

"I do not follow any at present," I replied; "but for years I
practised as a physician."

"In a general way, or as a specialist?"

"Chiefly as a specialist. I have written a successful book upon
certain forms of insanity, and I have a copy with me. Perhaps you
would like to read it."

"It would interest me," she said. "If I had been a physician I should
have devoted myself to that branch of the profession."

I gave her the book, which she placed aside. "It is not, however,
solely in that capacity," I said, "that I am here. That certain
indefinite impressions, springing from my professional experiences,
have prompted me, I do not deny; but my strongest reasons are private
ones. Is it your belief that insanity is hereditary and ineradicable?"

"That is my firm belief," she said.

"It is also mine. Mrs. Fortress, are you a married woman?"

"I married a few months after I left Mr. Carew's service. Within two
years of my marriage I lost my husband."

"Have you any children?"

"One--a son."

"Who must be now approaching manhood?"

"Yes."

"That is my case. My wife is dead, and I have an only child--a
son--who is deeply in love with Gabriel Carew's daughter."

This introduction of Miss Carew threw Mrs. Fortress off her guard;
there was a startled flash in her eyes.

"I am sorry to hear," she said, "that Mr. Carew has a daughter. Has he
other children?"

"No. Mildred Carew is, like your son and mine, an only child. I
purposely brought three things with me, in the hope that they would
help me in my purpose. Two you have--my book and the portrait of
Gabriel Carew's wife. Here is the portrait of his daughter."

She examined it with the greatest interest, and remarked that she saw
no resemblance in it to the father.

"That has struck me," I observed; "neither does she resemble her
mother in any marked manner. But that sometimes happens, though it is
not the rule."

"Is there an engagement between your son and Miss Carew?"

"They are courting each other, with a view to marriage."

"With your consent?"

"Yes, but it was given before I became intimate with Mr. Carew."

"And since then you have repented?"

"I have been greatly disturbed."

"Rather," she said slowly, "than my son should marry a daughter of Mr.
Carew's, I would see him in his grave."

This declaration profoundly agitated me, so far did it go to confirm
me in my suspicions. "I asked you a question a few moments since," I
said, "and you said you would wait a little before you answered it.
Will you answer it now?"

"Your question was, 'Had a painful truth been revealed to Mr. Carew
when he was a single gentleman, whether it might have averted evil
consequences to others.'"

"You have stated it correctly."

"It might have done," she said. "But it appeared to me that Mr. Carew
was the last man in the world to attract a woman's heart. I often said
to myself, 'He will never marry.'"

"You were mistaken."

"I was; and I say again I am sorry." She took from her pocket the
letter I had given her from Mr. Carew, and read it carefully and
slowly, in a new light it seemed to me. Even when she had finished the
perusal she did not immediately speak, but sat in silent thought a
while.

"I am not a tender-hearted woman," she said, "and not easy to move
when I pledge myself. Mr. Carew's father behaved well to me, and
fulfilled his promise of providing for me if it was in his power to do
so after the death of his wife. I, on my part, kept the two promises I
made him when I entered his service. The first was not to leave his
service during the lifetime of his wife; the second not to divulge,
without powerful cause, the secret of the unhappy inheritance he
feared his wife had transmitted to their son. When I bade farewell to
Mr. Gabriel Carew in Rosemullion, I saw no such cause for divulging
the secret, and I declined to satisfy my young master. It may be
different now, and I may be tempted to satisfy _you_."

"Out of your sense of justice?" I observed.

"Not entirely. Mr. Carew's letter contains the offer of a reward."

I met her instantly and with eagerness. "I am prepared to pay it."

"It happens that I am in need of a sum of money. An opportunity is
open to my son which will be to his advantage, but I am not rich
enough to purchase it."

"How much is needed?" I asked.

She named a sum which was modest in comparison with the limit which
Gabriel Carew had given me, and I at once consented to pay it to her
for her information. I had money with me, and I counted out the amount
she required, and handed it to her. After ascertaining that it was
correct, she commenced.

"When I accepted the situation Mr. Carew offered me, I did it with my
eyes open. I was at that time employed in a lunatic asylum, and was
dissatisfied with my rate of pay. Mr. Carew offered me higher terms.
His wife was a dangerous woman, and needed constant watching. Properly
speaking, she should have been placed in an asylum, but the thought of
so doing was hateful to her husband, who desired to keep his domestic
affliction from public knowledge. He would have regarded such a
disclosure as an indelible disgrace. There are similar secrets in many
families. At the time he married her, he had no suspicion that her
blood was tainted, and it was only three months before the birth of
Gabriel Carew that he made the discovery. I do not profess to be
thoroughly familiar with all the particulars; I am not a prying woman,
and was contented with what he told me. When he made the dreadful
discovery he and his wife were abroad, and the occasion of it, so far
as I could gather, ran in this fashion. Mr. Carew was occupying a
house in Switzerland--he was rich at the time--and was entertaining
guests. Among them was a false friend who was managing his affairs in
England, where Mr. Carew lived for the greater part of every year.
Ultimately this friend robbed him of his fortune, which Mr. Carew
never recovered, coming, however, into another later on, which enabled
him to purchase the estate of Rosemullion. One evening there was a
large party in Mr. Carew's house, in which his friend was stopping.
Mrs. Carew was passionately fond of music, and there was a Tyrolean
air for which she had an infatuation. She sang and played it again and
again, and became much excited. It is not out of place to say that she
was a very beautiful woman. The evening passed on, and the guests had
departed. All but one--her husband's false friend, who was stopping in
the house. Either his duties as a polite host or some other business
called her husband away, and Mrs. Carew and this friend were left
alone. He asked her to play and sing again, and she did so for him;
and then he made love to her. She repulsed him indignantly, but he was
not to be easily daunted, and a climax arrived when he grossly
insulted her. This roused her to fury, and she caught an ornamental
dagger---but a weapon capable of mischief--from the table, and would
have plunged it into his heart had he not caught her wrist and
disarmed her. He flung the dagger away, and then coolly told her that
her husband had implicit confidence in him, and that he would invent a
story that would ruin her. He told her, too, that he had her husband
in his power, that she and he were at his mercy, and that he could
beggar them at any moment. There occurred then a singular change in
her; her excitement left her, and she became as cool as he. Deceived
by this, he renewed his suit, but she held him back, and she said one
word to him: 'Wait!' To wait meant to hope, and he said he would be
content if she would play and sing to him again. She did so--the same
Tyrolean air she had sang so many times on this evening. Her husband
came in, and the scene ended. In describing it I am drawing from what
Mr. Carew told me afterwards in England. But the incident was not to
end there. Mr. Carew and his wife retired, and he, awakening in the
middle of the night, missed her from his side. He started up, and saw
that her clothes were gone. At the moment of the discovery he heard a
cry, and he ran from the room. He saw his wife approaching him; she
was fully dressed, and she held in her hand the ornamental dagger,
which was stained with blood. There was a smile on her lips, but
although he stood straight in front of her, with a candle in his hand,
she did not appear to see him. She passed by without a word or look of
recognition. He followed her to their bedroom, and there she laid the
dagger aside, undressed, and went to bed. She had been all the time
fast asleep. When she was abed he looked at the blood-stains on the
dagger; there was no wound upon her; from whom came the blood? From
whence the cry? The direction from which his wife had come was that of
the room occupied by his friend. He went there, and found his guest
just reviving from a state of insensibility caused by a stab in his
breast while he was asleep. Mr. Carew could form but one conclusion,
and his sole aim now was that the matter should be kept quiet. In this
he succeeded, having invented a story which his friend professed to
believe, and into which Mrs. Carew's name was not introduced. It
suited Mr. Carew's friend not to dispute the invented story; his wound
was not very serious, and he subsequently repaid the injury by
beggaring the man who had reposed entire confidence in him, and whose
wife he had attempted to lead to her ruin. Mr. Carew could not
immediately question his wife, for the next morning she was
dangerously ill. The ordinary doctors who were called in did not
appear to understand the case, and eventually Mr. Carew consulted a
foreign specialist of renown, who informed him that there was insanity
in his wife's blood, and that it would most likely assume a phase in
which there would be danger to those about her. This alarmed Mr.
Carew, not for his own sake, but for his wife's. There was a law in
that part of the country, which, put in force, would have removed Mrs.
Carew from his care, and he made haste for England, where he would
feel safe. Thus far in his wife's illness no dangerous symptoms were
visible, and he flattered himself into the belief that the foreign
doctor was wrong in the opinion he had given. The most marked
characteristic of the disease manifested itself in a harmless fashion,
being simply a sentimental passion for the Tyrolean air Mrs. Carew had
sung so many times on the night when the hidden seed of insanity began
to grow. Under these conditions Gabriel Carew was born. She insisted
upon nursing the child, which, had I been in their service at the
time, I should not have allowed. When Gabriel was two years of age,
the dangerous symptoms of which the foreign doctor had warned Mr.
Carew began to manifest themselves, and I was engaged as nurse. Mr.
Carew had lost his fortune then, but he was not entirely without
means, the largest portion of which was spent upon his wife. He paid
me liberally, his one desire in life being to keep the skeleton of his
home concealed, not only from the world, but from the knowledge of his
son. He thought that, growing up in ignorance of his mother's
condition, Gabriel might escape the contagion. I thought differently,
but we had no discussions on the subject. He had engaged me to perform
a certain duty, and I performed it--there it ended. I had nothing to
do with consequences. After Mr. Carew took possession of Rosemullion
his wife became worse; there were weeks together when no person but I
could approach her with safety. I had perfect control over her. She
was obedient, through fear, to my lightest word. It was certainly
merciful that the sad secret, having been so long concealed from
Gabriel, should remain so. If mischief were done, it was not now to be
averted. This is the explanation of Gabriel Carew's lonely boyhood
life, and it will possibly help to explain any strange peculiarities
you may have observed in him. I do not consider I have violated the
second promise I gave to his father--that I would not divulge without
powerful cause the secret of Gabriel Carew's unhappy inheritance.
There seems to me here to be cause sufficient for secrecy not to be
any longer observed. My tongue being now unsealed, I am ready to reply
to any questions you may ask."



                                 XVI.


Mrs. Fortress's statement made everything clear to me, and also marked
out for me a clear path of duty. Knowing what I now knew, it would
have been an act of monstrous wickedness to allow Reginald to marry
Mildred. Never could I hope to be forgiven did I not prevent the
union. Better that my son should live a life of unhappiness through
all his days than enter into a contract which would doom the unborn to
madness--perhaps to crime. It was not only an offence against man, it
was an offence against God. The task before me was difficult, I knew;
but I must face it bravely and without flinching. Hearts would be
broken in the struggle--well, better that than the awful consequences
which would follow such a marriage. My own heart bled as I
contemplated what must occur during the next few weeks.

Thus did I excitedly reason with myself in the first heat of the
revelation. When I became cooler I saw more clearly the difficulties
in my way. What evidence had I to produce? That of an old woman who
had given me certain information--which tallied with my own
suspicions--for a large sum of money. A cunning woman, to supply
me with what she saw I wished. Cunning from the first. Paid
liberally--nay, extravagantly--always, according to her own
confession. Her one single motive in the matter from first to
last--money. Was it likely, being in service so temptingly
remunerative, that she should not adopt every cunning means to retain
it? There was not only the immediate pay, but the prospect of a reward
which would make her comfortable for life. She had so man[oe]uvred
that she gained this reward. During the lifetime of Gabriel Carew's
mother Mrs. Fortress held supreme power over her. Her son was only
allowed to see her a few minutes at a time at intervals of weeks. Even
her husband, at the bidding of this clever woman, was denied
admittance to his wife's chamber. What difficulty was there, in those
days and weeks of seclusion, to so oppress, irritate, and torture the
poor patient as to compel her to put on the semblance of madness--to
drive her into it indeed? Such cases were not unknown. Even now, from
time to time, the public heart is stirred by a sudden revelation of
such atrocities.

These were cogent arguments which I raised against myself. With myself
in my son's place I should confidently advance them, and should laugh
to scorn the weak opposition which would bar my way to happiness. I
sighed as I thought. The obstacles in my way were every moment growing
more formidable.

These were not the only arguments against myself which occurred to me.
There was Mrs. Fortress's conduct when she left Rosemullion after the
death of her mistress. Gabriel Carew had made a pitiful appeal to her.
How had she met him? By assuming a mysterious air, indicating that she
had the key to a secret in which he was vitally interested, but that
she did not intend to give it to him. Why had she done this? Who could
doubt the answer to such a question? It was necessary to the _rôle_
she had adopted. Any other course would have led to an exposure of her
vile scheme. There was the legacy which Mr. Carew left her in his
will. Were the real truth known she might be deprived of it.
Therefore, the assumption of mystery in her last interview with
Gabriel Carew. A cunning woman indeed.

Against evidence so flimsy there was a heavy weight of testimony. Was
not Gabriel Carew a loving husband and father? No person could dispute
it. He loved his wife and child, and they loved him. Was he ever known
to commit a cruel act! Never. Was not his purse ever open to the call
of charity? Innumerable instances that such was so could be adduced.
Could even light acts of rudeness and incivility be laid at his door?
What was the worst that could be said of him? That he was not fond of
society, that he was a recluse. Could not this be said of hundreds of
estimable men, and was it ever put forth as a distinct offence? If he
did not himself go into society, did he prevent his wife and child
from doing so? On the contrary. He encouraged them to seek amusement
which he, a grave man and a student, possibly deemed frivolous. Fond
of books, seeking his greatest pleasures in them, was not this
distinctly in his favour, and did it not prove him to be of a superior
nature to the common herd? The heaviest charge was that which, in
conversation with me, he had brought against himself--that on the
approach of night his spirits became gloomy. Slight grounds indeed for
so serious an accusation as insanity. Madmen were proverbially
cunning. Gabriel Carew was the soul of frankness, himself opening up
discussions which would tell against him were he not mentally and
physically sound and healthy. I began to despair.

These reflections did not all pass through my mind in the silence
which followed the conclusion of Mrs. Fortress's statement. They are
the summing-up of my thoughts at that time and during my homeward
journey. Meanwhile, Mrs. Fortress was waiting patiently for me to put
any questions which might occur to me.

"Beyond yourself, Mrs. Fortress," I said, "and your master and
mistress, was there no person cognisant with Mrs. Carew's condition?"

"None, sir, with the exception of the foreign doctor."

"Can you tell me his name?"

"I do not know it, but a doctor of his learning would not have been a
young man when Mr. Carew consulted him, and it is hardly likely he
would be now living."

"True," I said.

"Besides," she added, "his experience of Mrs. Carew could have been
but slight. Almost immediately after he gave Mr. Carew his opinion of
my mistress, they left for England, as I have told you."

"Yes," I remarked, "and he may, after all, have been mistaken."

She shrank a little, I fancied, but she said firmly, "He may have
been, I was not."

"I am not doubting you, Mrs. Fortress," I said.

She interposed here by saying, "It is immaterial whether you are or
not. The facts are as I have stated them."

"I understand, of course, that you have spoken honestly, but is it not
possible you may have judged wrongly?"

"I cannot admit it, sir," she replied with calm dignity. "It is not
possible."

Certainly she maintained her ground. I continued my inquiry.

"Before Mr. Carew came into his second fortune he lived humbly in
London?"

"Yes; in poor lodgings."

"Did the house contain other lodgers?"

"Yes."

"And did not any of them suspect or discover the mystery so close to
them?"

"In my belief not another person in the house had any suspicion."

"You lived for many years in Rosemullion?"

"Yes."

"Did not Mrs. Carew have a medical adviser?"

"A doctor called and saw her from time to time."

"Was he not aware of her condition?"

"He was not. His visits were a mere matter of form, and he frequently
called at the house without seeing my mistress."

"By whose directions was she denied to him?"

"By mine. It was part of my duty to preserve my master's secret."

"I am sure you did your duty, Mrs. Fortress."

Her lip curled. She did not thank me.

"Did this doctor ever see Mrs. Carew alone?"

"Never. I took care always to be present, and I always prepared my
mistress for his visits, warning her to be careful."

"Did she never rebel?"

"With respect to the doctor, never. I had my difficult days with her,
but that was my business, and mine alone."

"He must have been a careful and conscientious man," I said somewhat
sarcastically.

She capped me by replying, "His accounts were regularly paid. Perhaps
that was sufficient for him."

"Perhaps," I said, and I could not avoid a smile, though I was really
indignant. "Can you tell me anything more to guide me? Do you think it
was Mr. Carew's intention to keep his son in complete ignorance of
this misfortune, even after the death of your mistress?"

"I am not positive. My master died during a visit to Wales, while my
mistress was still living. It is probable, had he survived his wife,
that he would have spoken to his son on the subject. I cannot say for
certain, but, from certain words he once used I believe he left some
record behind him."

This suggestion aroused me.

"Some written record?" I asked.

"Yes."

"Where would he have deposited it?"

"In Rosemullion my master had his private room, into which no one was
allowed to enter. There are large safes built in the walls of that
room. If the record I believe my master made is found anywhere, it
will be in that room. I have nothing more to say, sir. I have told you
all I know. Whether you believe me or not does not concern me. When
you see Mr. Gabriel, sir, give him my humble duty."



                                XVII.


I returned to Rosemullion in a very disturbed frame of mind. The
nearer I approached the abode of mystery the stronger grew my doubts
of the truth of Mrs. Fortress's statement. All she had related was in
such complete accordance with a cunningly carried out scheme, whereby
the innocent were made to suffer, and she--the plotter--made
comfortable for life, that I accused myself for my egregious folly in
giving her story credence, and listening to it patiently. It was,
however, impossible to allow the matter to stand as Mrs. Fortress had
left it. Some further inquiry must take place, and my doubts cleared
up before I would give my consent to the union of my son with Gabriel
Carew's daughter. I did not dare to run a risk so great until my mind
was fairly at ease. It was a relief to me when I reached my home that
Reginald was not there to greet me. I knew what the tenor of his
conversation would be, and I wished to avoid it. He had, indeed, but
one theme: Mildred; his heart and soul were meshed in his absorbing
love for the fair girl to whom there was a likelihood of a most
terrible inheritance having been transmitted.

I proceeded without delay to Rosemullion, and the first person who
greeted me on the threshold was Mrs. Carew. She expressed her
satisfaction at my return, and upon my inquiring for her husband, said
that he was in his study, but that before I saw him she wished to have
a few private words with me. It was then that I noted signs of trouble
in her face. She led me to the apartment which Gabriel Carew had
described as a sanctuary of rest, and at her bidding I sat down and
awaited the communication she desired to make to me.

She commenced by saying that her husband had such complete confidence
in me and she such faith in my wisdom, that, having a weight at her
heart which was sorely disturbing her, she had resolved to ask my
advice, as a friend upon whom she could rely. I replied that her faith
and her husband's confidence were not misplaced, and that it was my
earnest wish to assist her if it lay in my power.

"It is not without my husband's permission," she said, "that I am
speaking to you now. He knows that I am uneasy about him, and he
himself suggested that I should consult you upon your return from
Cornwall."

I was startled at learning that she was not ignorant of my visit to
Mrs. Fortress; I imagined that the affair was entirely between me and
Mr. Carew. I asked her if she was acquainted with the precise object
of my visit.

"No," she replied; "only that you have been on a visit to a nurse who
was in the service of my husband's family before the death of his
parents. I did not seek for further information, and my husband did
not volunteer any. Neither is he acquainted with the details of the
matter I am about to open to you. I thought it best to keep it from
him until I obtained counsel from a near and dear friend."

I inclined my head, and she continued:

"My husband informs me that he has related to you the fullest
particulars of his life, and that he has unbosomed himself to you with
an unreserved confidence, such as no other person in the world has
been able to inspire."

"It is true," I said, "and I hold his confidence sacred, to be used
only for our good."

"And for the good of our children," she said.

"Yes," I said, conscious of a strange note in my voice as I repeated
the words, "and for the good of our children."

She detected the unusual note, gazed steadily at me for a moment, and
proceeded, without commenting upon it.

"Knowing so much, you are familiar with my husband's nightly
wanderings in the woods when he resided here with his parents?"

"Yes."

"He was aware of these nocturnal rambles?" she said. "He undertook
them consciously?"

"Certainly."

"He was always awake when he left the house and returned to it?"

"Always," I replied, surprised at the question.

"He has given me full permission to put any questions to you with
respect to the confidence he has reposed in you. 'If I have kept
anything from you,' he said to me this morning, 'it has been done to
save you from uneasiness;' and he added with a smile that he had
concealed nothing from me for which he had reason to reproach himself.
Certain habits, contracted during a lonely youth, had left their
impress upon him, and unusual as they were, there was no harm in them.
'Of one thing be sure,' he said; 'I have lived a pure and blameless
life.' I did not need his assurance to convince me of that. As
Reginald's father, you should be glad to know it."

"I am glad to know it," I said, and again I was aware of the strange
note in my voice, "as Reginald's father and your husband's friend."

"I will explain," she said, "why I asked you whether my husband had
any reason to believe that occasionally he walked abroad at night when
he was not awake. He has done so for some years past at certain times
and under certain circumstances. He did so last night."

"Is he not now aware of it?" I inquired.

"No, I have never informed him that he is a sleep-walker. My reason
for keeping this knowledge from him is that I am convinced it would
have greatly distressed him; but what occurred last night has so
disturbed me that I can no longer be silent."

My suspicions of the truth of Mrs. Fortress's statement began to fade.
Here was confirmation that the son had inherited one phase, at least,
of his mother's disease.

"You remarked," I said, "that Mr. Carew has walked in his sleep for
some years past at certain times and in certain circumstances. Were
these circumstances of a special nature?"

"Yes--and all of one complexion; when something was known from which
he feared danger."

"To himself?"

"I think not. To me and Mildred. I recall three occasions, which will
supply you with an index to the whole. Once there were reports in the
papers of a number of burglaries being committed in the neighbourhood,
accompanied by deeds of violence. The burglars--there were three, as
was subsequently proved--were at liberty, and the efforts made to
discover and arrest them met with no success for several weeks. During
that period my husband rose regularly every night from bed, dressed
himself, and went out of the house, always returning, dressed as he
left the room. On one of these occasions I followed and watched him,
and discovered that his aim was to guard us from danger. He remained
in the grounds around the house, holding a pistol. His actions were
those of an earnest, watchful guardian, and were guided by the most
singular caution. Sometimes he would hide behind a tree, or crouch
down, concealed from view. When he was satisfied that there was no
longer any danger, he returned to the house, stepping very softly, and
examining the fastenings of the doors and windows."

"Did he rise in the morning with the appearance of a man who had
passed a disturbed night?"

"No; he was always cheerful, and appeared to be quite refreshed by
what he believed to be a good night's rest. At length, when the
burglars were arrested he left the house no more for many months,
until a workman whom he had employed, and whom he had reason to
discharge, uttered threats against us. Then he again commenced his
nightly watch, which did not cease until he received information that
the man had left the country. After that he enjoyed a long period of
repose. The third occasion was when there was a report of the escape
of a dangerous madman from a lunatic asylum three or four miles from
Rosemullion. Until this man was once more in safe custody, my husband
never missed a night's watch during his sleep. You will gather from
this explanation that he was always actuated by a good motive--to
guard and protect those whom he loves."

"That seems clear," I said, "and what you have related is especially
interesting to me as a specialist, apart from my sincere friendship
for you and yours."

"As a specialist!" she exclaimed. "Of what kind?"

Fortunately I arrested myself in time. The words which immediately
suggested themselves to me in reply, remained unspoken. The truth
would have been too great a shock to this sweet lady.

"As one deeply interested," I answered, with an assuring smile, "in
psychological mysteries. What occurred yesterday to excite Mr. Carew?"

"He and I had been out riding. Upon our return one of our gardeners
informed my husband that a man had been seen lurking about the
grounds. The story told by the gardener is this: The stranger, a
foreigner, although he spoke good English, did not wait to be accosted
by the gardener, but himself opened a conversation. He asked if this
was Rosemullion. Yes. Did a family of the name of Carew live here?
Yes. Was Mrs. Carew alive? Yes. Was Mr. Carew alive? Yes. Did they
have any family? Yes, a daughter. What was her name? Miss Mildred.
Could he see Mrs. Carew? Mrs. Carew was out driving. When would I
return, and was there any possibility of the stranger seeing me alone?
The gardener could not say. It was not I, but my husband who put these
questions to the gardener. Then Mr. Carew asked sternly what was the
bribe that induced the gardener to answer the inquiries of a stranger,
and he forced the truth from him. The stranger had given the gardener
a foreign coin, which my husband insisted upon seeing. It was a piece
of French money. This part of the affair is completed by the admission
of the gardener that the stranger was apparently in poverty, as his
poor clothes betokened--and yet he had given the gardener money to
answer his questions! When the gardener was gone my husband said that
the circumstance was very suspicious, and I thought so myself; that
the stranger had some bad motive in thus intruding upon private
property, and that he would go in search of him. I asked to be allowed
to accompany him, and after a slight hesitation he consented, saying
if the stranger came with innocent intent and we met him, that he
could say what he had to say to me in my husband's presence. We
strolled all round the grounds of Rosemullion, but saw no stranger.
Then my husband said he would go into the woods, and that I had better
leave him; but I, fearing I knew not what, begged to be allowed to
remain with him. Together we went into the woods, and for a long while
met no person answering the description given by the gardener; but
after a while we saw a stranger a few yards in front of us. It
happened that I was a little ahead of my husband at that moment, and
the stranger, turning and seeing me, thought that I was alone. He was
about to hasten towards me when my husband stepped to my side. Without
hesitation the stranger abruptly turned from us, and, plunging into
the woods, was immediately lost to view."

Something in Mrs. Carew's manner at this point--which I should find it
difficult to explain--some premonition that this man she called a
stranger was really not so to her--caused me to ask,

"You saw his face?"

"Yes." And at this answer, tremblingly spoken, my premonition became a
certainty.

"You recognised it?"

"Unless I am much mistaken--and with all my heart I pray to heaven I
may be!--it was a face once familiar to me."

It was not now for me to pursue the subject; it was for her to confide
freely in me, if such was her desire. There was a silence of a few
moments before she resumed:

"My husband, having hidden nothing from you, has told you all that
occurred in my dear native village, Nerac, before we were married?"

"He has told me all, I believe," I said.

"Of my beloved parents--of friends once dear to me--Eric, murdered,
and the unhappy Emilius?"

"I am acquainted with all the particulars of that tragic event."

"Sadly changed, worn, haggard, and travel-stained, in the man we met
in the forest I recognised Emilius."



                                XVIII.


This, indeed, was startling news. Emilius alive, his term of
imprisonment over, or he an escaped convict, seeking an interview with
Mrs. Carew, the wife of the man whom he regarded as his bitterest
enemy! To what was this to lead?--in what way was it to end?

"Did Mr. Carew recognise him?" I asked.

"I cannot tell you," replied Mrs. Carew. "Not a word passed between us
respecting him. _I_ did not dare to speak. It would but have been to
reopen old wounds, and after all I may have been mistaken. Not for me
to bring back to my husband the memories of a past in which he was so
cruelly misjudged. Besides, this was the one and only subject upon
which my husband and I were not in harmony. He most firmly believed
and believes in Emilius's guilt; I as firmly believed and believe in
his innocence. The years that have flown have not softened my
husband's judgment nor hardened mine; and until this hour the name of
Emilius has never passed my lips since we settled in Rosemullion. No,
it was not for me to utter it in my husband s presence; it was not for
me to bring pain to his kind heart. I said nothing, nor did my
husband, nor did he attempt to follow the stranger. In silence we
walked back to the house, and the evening passed as usual. Reginald
came, and we had music and conversation. On the part of Mildred and
your son converse was cheerful and unconstrained, and I also strove to
be cheerful. I was so far successful as to deceive the children, but
my husband was not so easily blinded. And yet he made no allusion to
the subject which engrossed my thoughts, and weighed like a dark cloud
upon my heart. The hour grew late, and I sent Reginald home. Young
people in love have always to be reminded. Then my husband and I
retired to rest. Troubled as I was, sleep was long in coming to me,
but at length Nature was merciful, and I sank into slumber. I awoke at
the soft chiming of our silver clock, proclaiming the hour of two.
Never do I remember being awoke by the chiming of this clock, so low
and sweet is it; and that I should awake now as it struck two may have
been simply a coincidence. I sat up in bed. I was alone. My husband
was not in the room; his clothes were gone, and he had doubtless gone
out fully dressed. In great fear I rose and dressed, with the
intention of following him, but when I tried the door I found it had
been locked on the outside. Powerless to do anything but wait, I sat,
trembling, till daylight began to peep in at the windows. Then I heard
my husband's footsteps in the passage, which would not have reached my
ears had not my senses been preternaturally sharpened. He trod softly,
and turned the key in the door very gently in order not to disturb me.
He entered the room, and I almost fainted as I saw in his hand the
bright blade of an ancient dagger which usually lay upon his study
table. His face was turned towards me, his eyes were open, but he did
not see me. He took from his pocket a sheath, in which he placed the
dagger, and then he undressed. Before he lay down to that more
healthful sleep in which his mind would be at rest, he listened two or
three times at the locked door, and going to the window, drew the
blind a little aside and looked from the window. Then he stretched
himself in bed, and his eyes closed. Not by the least sign did he show
any consciousness of the fact that I was standing, dressed, in the
room, and that we were often face to face. I soon retired to bed, but
I slept no more. I lay awake, listening to my husband's breathing,
praying for the hour to arrive at which we generally rose for the
day--praying for that, praying that the night would not come again,
praying for a friend to counsel me. It were vain for me to disguise
from you that I am in dread of what may happen should my husband and
Emilius meet. And there is still something more----"

I waited, but she left the sentence uncompleted. Startled as I was by
what I had heard, I was even more startled to see this good and gentle
woman suddenly cover her face with her hands, and burst into a passion
of tears. I turned from her in commiseration, powerless to relieve or
console her. Even had I words at command, it was better that her grief
should be allowed to spend itself naturally. When she had recovered, I
asked,

"Has Mr. Carew made any reference to what passed in the night?"

"Not any," she replied.

"Did you?"

"I simply asked him if he had slept well, and he answered 'Yes,' and
that his sleep had been dreamless."

"Will you pardon me for the question whether you believe that to be
really so--whether his answer to your solicitous inquiry was not
prompted by his desire not to trouble or distress you?"

"I am certain," said Mrs. Carew, "that my husband said what he
believes to be true. Dear friend, what am I to do?"

She seized my hand, and clung to it as though to me, and to me alone,
could she look for help in her sad position.

"Does Mildred know anything, suspect anything?" I asked.

What was the meaning of the timid, frightened, helpless look in her
eyes at the mention of Mildred's name? No mental efforts of mine could
fathom it.

"Nothing," she replied, and then seemed to drift, against her will as
it were, into distressful thought. I devoted a few moments to
consideration, and when I spoke again had resolved upon a course of
action.

"Would you wish me to become your guest for a few days?" I asked.

"Ah, if you would!" she exclaimed.

"I shall be willing if Mr. Carew has no objection. I will see him
presently and ascertain. But first I have a little scheme to carry out
which I think advisable for all our sakes."

I asked her if I could write a letter in her room, and despatch it at
once to my house, and she opened her desk for me. My letter was to my
son Reginald, and the effect of it was to secure his absence from
Rosemullion during my stay in Mr. Carew's house. There was really a
matter of business which Reginald could attend to, and which rendered
it necessary for him to take his immediate departure for London. When
my letter was written, I explained its purport to Mrs. Carew, and she
acquiesced in the wisdom of my plan. She herself added a few words to
the letter, to the effect that she regretted not being able to see him
before he left, and that Mildred was well and sent her love. She gave
me a flower, and asked me to enclose it in the envelope.

"He will think it comes from Mildred," she said, "and it will send him
away happy. It is an innocent deceit."

The letter was despatched, and with a few assuring words to the sweet
woman, I went to her husband's study.



                                 XIX.


I observed a change in him. Something of his inner life was reflected
in his face, the expression upon which was stern and moody. It
softened a little when he shook me by the hand. I asked him if he was
well, and he answered yes, but troubled by a strange presentiment of
evil. He remarked that he was on the eve of momentous circumstances in
his life which boded ill. I did not encourage him to indulge in this
vein, but proceeded to relate as much of my interview with Mrs.
Fortress as I deemed it wise and necessary to impart. He listened to
me patiently and reflectively, and when I had finished, said:

"You have given me food for reflection. I have in you a confidence so
perfect that I place myself unreservedly in your hands. I will be
guided completely by your counsels; my confidence in myself is much
shaken. What do you advise?"

"This is the study," I said, "which your father used to occupy?"

"It is," he replied; "and no person was allowed to enter it without
his permission."

"After his death you searched in it for his private papers?"

"I did, and found very little to satisfy me. I hoped to discover
something which would throw light upon the strange habits of our life
and home. I was disappointed."

At my request he showed me the method by which the safe was opened,
and the ingenuity of the device caused me to wonder that he had found
nothing of importance within its walls. I was, however, convinced that
there was in the study some clue to the mystery of Carew's boyhood's
home--although I could not help admitting to myself that it needed but
faith in Mrs. Fortress's statement to arrive at a correct solution.
But I required further evidence, and I resolved to search for it.

"As you have placed yourself in my hands," I said, "you will not
object to comply with two or three slight requests."

"There is little you can ask," was his response, "that I am not ready
to accede to."

"Invite me to remain here as your guest for a few days."

"I do."

"Allow me to occupy this room alone until I retire to bed."

"Willingly."

"And promise me that you will not leave the house without first
acquainting me of your intention."

"I promise."

A little while afterwards he left me to myself, saying that if I
wished to see him I should find him with his wife. When he revealed to
me the secret method by which the safe was worked, he did not close
the panel; it remained open for my inspection, and I now made an
examination of the interior without finding so much as a scrap of
paper. This was as I expected; if Gabriel Carew's father left
documents behind him, they must be searched for elsewhere. A careful
study of the room led me to the conclusion that the massive
writing-table was the most likely depository. The working of the safe
was a process much too tedious for a man who wished for easy access to
his papers; the writing-table offered the means of this, and I turned
my attention to it. I do not wish to be prolix, and I therefore omit a
description of the painfully careful examination of every point in
this massive piece of furniture. Suffice it that, after at least an
hour's search, my endeavours were rewarded. In one of the legs of the
table on the inner side, quite undiscoverable without a light, I felt
a depression just large enough to receive the ball of my thumb. I
pressed hard, and although there was no immediate result, I fancied I
detected a slight yielding, such as might occur when pressing upon a
firm spring which had been disused for many years. I pressed harder,
with all my strength, and I suddenly heard a sharp click. I found that
this proceeded from the skirting of oak immediately above the leg I
was manipulating. I had carefully examined the skirting all round the
table without being able to discover any signs of a drawer. Now,
however, one had started forward, and I had no difficulty in pulling
it open. My heart beat more quickly as I drew from it a manuscript
book and a few loose sheets of foolscap paper. The writing was large
and plain; ink of such a quality had been used that the lapse of years
had had but a slight effect upon it. In less than a minute I satisfied
myself that the handwriting was that of Gabriel Carew's father.

The book first. I read it attentively through. It was a record of the
circumstances of the married life of Gabriel Carew's parents, and such
of it as bore upon Mrs. Fortress's statement confirmed its truth in
every particular. Before I came to the end of this record I heard
Gabriel Carew calling to me outside. I hastily concealed the book and
papers, and went to the door.

"I would not come upon you unawares," he said, "but it has occurred to
me that to leave you even partially in the dark would not be
ingenuous, and might frustrate the end we both have in view. Before I
was married I wrote what may be regarded as a history of my life up to
that period. There are in it no reservations or concealments of any
kind whatever. Not alone my outer but my inner life is laid bare
therein; it is an absolutely faithful and truthful record. Since I
wrote the last words of this personal history I have not glanced at
it. I hand it now to you with one stipulation. So long as I am alive
you will not reveal what I have written. Should I die before you I
leave it to your discretion to deal with it as you please. Another
thing. I ought to more frankly explain why I put you in possession of
secrets which no man, unless under unusual and extraordinary
circumstances, would impart to another. I have been all my life
animated by a strong spirit of justice to others as well as to myself.
By this inclusion of myself I mean that I should be as ready to
condemn myself and to mete out to myself a penalty I may consciously
or unconsciously have incurred as I would to any ordinary person. I am
also animated by a sincere and devoted love for my wife and child.
Were I asked to express the dearest wish of my heart I should answer,
the wish for their happiness. But even this must not be purchased at
the expense of a possible wrong to another human being. There exists
between your son and my daughter an affection which has been allowed
to ripen into love. Whether we have been wise time will prove. You
have, equally with myself, the welfare of your child at heart. You
have doubts; let them be fully resolved. I need say no more than that
I am convinced that these feeble words of mine--which to strangers
would be inexplicable--will help us to understand each other."

He left me alone once more, not waiting for me to speak, and I felt
for him as deep a sentiment of pity and admiration as had ever been
excited within me. He had also magnetised me into sharing his belief
that momentous circumstances were about to occur in his life which
would affect mine and my son's. It could not be otherwise in the light
of the love which Reginald bore for Mildred.

I did not resume the perusal of the record made by Carew's father; I
held my curiosity in check both as regards that and what was written
on the two sheets of foolscap paper. Commencing to read the personal
history which Gabriel Carew had composed, I became so fascinated by it
that I could not leave it. Mrs. Carew sent to ask me to join them at
dinner, but I begged to be excused, and wine and food were brought to
me in the study. I remained there undisturbed, engrossed in Gabriel
Carew's narrative, and it was late in the night when I reached the
end. Then with feelings which it is impossible for me to describe, I
turned to the record made by Carew's father, and finished it. No
opinions were therein expressed; there was no indulgence in theory or
speculation; it was a simple statement of fact. The conclusions
arrived at by Carew's father were set down on the sheets of foolscap,
which next claimed my attention. They ran as follows:--



                                 XX.


"It is my intention, as an act of justice, before I die, to make my
son Gabriel acquainted with the mystery of my married life. It is due
to him and to myself that he should not pass his life in ignorance of
the sad events and circumstances which shadowed his home. The journal
which I have written, and in which he will find a record of facts,
will put him in possession of the melancholy circumstances of his
parents' lives. Without additional words from me he would understand
the explanation I have given, but something more is necessary from me
to him.

"When I married his mother I had no knowledge that there was in her
blood an inherited disease. Had I suspected it I should not have
married her. It would have been a transgression against the laws of
God and man. To bring into the world human beings who are not
responsible for their actions, and who are driven to crime by the
promptings of a demoniac force born within them and growing stronger
with their own growth to strong manhood, is to be the creator of a
race of monsters. It matters not how fair and beautiful the outside
may be; simply to think of the evil forces sleeping within, urging to
sin and crime and cruelty, is sufficient to make a just man shudder.
Madness assumes many phases, but not one more dreadful than the phase
in which it presented itself in my wife's nature. Her conscious,
waking life was a life of gentleness and kindness; her unconscious,
sleeping life, but for the restraints I placed upon her, would have
been a life of crime. The fault was not hers, but it fell to her lot
to bear the burden of her curse. I, at least, by rendering her
existence a misery to herself and those around her, kept her free from
crime. One she committed before my eyes were opened, but its
consequences were not fatal. To this hour she does not know that she
attempted the life of a human being, and it is possible, because of my
treatment of her, that she thinks of me as a monster of cruelty. It is
for me to bear this burden, in addition to others which have come to
me unaware. I do not bemoan, but my life might have been bright and
honoured had I not married my wife. The one consolation I have is that
I have endeavoured to perform my duty. My son Gabriel must perform
his, though his heart bleed in its performance. Should the worst
befall, all that I can do is to implore his forgiveness for having
been the cause of his living. There have been times when I have
debated with myself whether it would not be the more merciful course
to put him out of the world, but I have never had the courage to
execute the sentence which my sense of stern justice dictated. There
is, however, one chance in life for him, although I most solemnly
adjure him never to marry, never to link his life with that of an
innocent being. If his heart is moved to love he must pluck the
sentiment out by the roots, must fly from it as from a horror which
blenches the cheek to contemplate. Our race must die with him; not one
must live after him to perpetuate it. I lay this injunction most
solemnly upon him; if he violate it he will be an incredible
monster--as I should have been had I married his mother knowing what
taint was in her blood. For his guidance I may say that I have
consulted the most eminent authorities in Europe, and this is their
verdict. Let him pay careful heed to it, for in my judgment it is
incontrovertible.

"Reference to my journal will show him that the first visible
manifestation of his mother's disease was exhibited about five months
before he was born. We were then inhabiting a house in Switzerland,
and on the night her fatal inheritance took active shape and form we
had been entertaining a party of friends--one of whom was a foul
villain--and my wife had been singing many times a Tyrolean air of
which she was passionately fond. I copy the music of the air here,
praying to God that my son may not be familiar with it."

(Here followed a few bars of music, which I had no doubt formed the
air to which Mrs. Fortress had referred in her statement, and mention
of which will also be found in the record of his life made by Gabriel
Carew.)

"After the almost tragic events of that night my wife was continually
singing this air; I have heard her hum it in her sleep. When my son
was born she suckled the child--an error I deeply deplore. The
physicians I consulted are of one opinion. If my son Gabriel inherits
in its worst form his mother's disease, the ghost of this air will
haunt him from time to time. It may not be so clear to his senses that
he could sing it aloud, but he would indubitably recognise it if he
heard it by accident. It is for a test that I copy the music; it is
for my son to apply it. Should the air be entirely unfamiliar to him,
should it fail to recall any sensations through which he has passed,
the inheritance transmitted to him by his mother--if it ever assume
practical shape--will exhibit itself in a milder and less ruthless
form. The physicians aver that at some time or other, if Gabriel live
long, some such manifestation will most surely take place, and that if
it occur in its worst phase, the key-note to the occurrence may be
found in the affections.

"This is as much as I can at present find strength to set down. I
shall take an opportunity to confer with my son upon this gloomy
matter, but I have a reluctance to approach the subject personally
with him during the lifetime of his mother. It will need an almost
superhuman courage on my part to speak of such a matter to my own son,
but I must nerve my soul to the task. If he reproach me, if he curse
me, I must bear it humbly. Once more I implore his forgiveness."



                                 XXI.


The papers lay before me, and I was still under the spell of the fatal
revelation when the clock struck two. The chiming of the hour awoke me
as it were, and my mind became busy with thought of my own concerns.
Reginald's doom was pronounced. Never must he and Gabriel Carew's
daughter be allowed to wed. Death were preferable.

The house was very still; for hours I had not heard a sound, even the
chiming of the clock falling dead upon my ears, so engrossed had I
been in the papers I had perused. But now, surely, outside the room I
heard a sound of soft footsteps--very, very soft--as of some one
creeping cautiously along. I do not know why, when I opened the study
door, I should do so quietly and stealthily, in imitation of the
caution displayed by the person in the passage; but I did so. The
moment, if not propitious, was well timed. As I opened the door
Gabriel Carew reached it. He was completely dressed; his eyes were
open; upon his face was an expression of watchfulness so earnest, so
intent, so thorough, that it was clear to me that his mental powers
were on the alert, and were dictating and controlling his movements.
In his hand he held a dagger.

His eyes shone upon me, and had he been awake he could not have failed
to recognise me, and would surely have spoken. But he made no sign. He
paused for scarce an instant, and passed on, brushing my sleeve as he
crossed me. Here before me was the fatal proof of the working of his
unhappy inheritance.

My first impulse was to follow him, for the dagger in his hand boded
danger; and I should have done so had it not been for another
occurrence almost as startling.

With a loose morning gown thrown over her, Mrs. Carew glided to my
side, and put her hand upon my arm. Her feet were bare, there was a
distressful look in her eyes, she was trembling like an aspen. So
pallid was her face and her lips were quivering so convulsively, that
I feared she was about to faint; but an inward strength sustained her.

"You saw him?" she said.

"Yes," I answered, and then said "Hush! Draw aside."

He was returning. The open door of the study, and the lights within,
had produced an impression upon him, and were evidently the cause of
his return. He entered the study, and traversed it, examining every
corner to convince himself that the person upon whom his mind was
intent was not in the room. Satisfied with the result of his search,
he left the room slowly and walked onward to the stairs which led to
the front door of the house.

"I must follow him--I must follow him," murmured Mrs. Carew.

I restrained her. "You are not in a fit state," I said. "Let me do so
in your place."

"Yes," she said, "it will be best, perhaps. You are a man, and have a
man's strength. How can I thank you? Go--quickly, quickly!"

"A moment," I said, my head inclined from her; I was listening to the
sounds of Carew's movements; "he has not yet reached the lower door.
There are bolts to draw aside, locks to unfasten, a chain to set
loose. What do you fear?"

"If he and Emilius meet there will be murder done!" She spoke rapidly
and feverishly; it was no time for evasion or disguise. "Since Mr.
Carew left you in the study," she said, "he has been greatly excited.
The gardener brought us news of Emilius. He has been seen prowling
about the grounds and examining the doors and windows of the house to
discover a means of entering it when we were asleep."

"That is not the conduct of an honest man," I said, shaken by the
information in the opinion I had formed of Emilius.

To my astonishment she cried, wringing her hands, "He is justified, he
is justified! We have been denied to him, and he has come here with a
fixed purpose, which he is bent upon carrying out."

"And you wish me to understand that he is justified in so doing?"

"Yes, I have said it, and it is true. Were you he, you would do as he
is doing. Unhappy woman that I am! Do not ask me to explain. There is
no time now. Hark! I hear the bolts of the door being drawn aside. Go
down quickly, if you are sincere in your wish to serve me. For my
sake, for Mildred's, for Reginald's!"

She was exhausted; she had not strength to utter another word. It may
be that I was not merciful in addressing her after this evidence of
exhaustion and prostration, but I was impelled to speak.

"I shall be down in time to prevent what you dread. You ask me to
serve you for the sake of Mildred and Reginald. My son is all in all
to me; he is my life, my happiness, and knowing what I now know I see
before him nothing but misery. It is this fatherly concern for his
sake that urges me to extract a promise from you that you will explain
at a more fitting moment the meaning of your words. You will do so?"

She nodded, and I left her and went down the stairs. Carew had opened
the door, and was peering out. It was a clear night; there was no
moon, but the stars were shining. I was quite close to Carew, but he
took no notice of me; he was not conscious of my presence. Had he left
the house and closed the front door behind him, he would have been
unable to re-enter it unobserved; the door could not be opened from
the outside. With singular foresight he stooped and selected a stone,
and fixed it at the bottom of the door so that it could not close
itself of its own volition. Having thus secured an entrance, he went
out into the open.

I followed him at a distance of a few yards, neither adopting special
precautions to keep concealed, nor taking steps to obtrude myself on
his notice. Had it not been that I was wound up to a pitch of intense
excitement I might have risked a rude awakening of him, but I was
impressed by a conviction that there was still something for me to
learn which, were he awake, might be hidden from me. Therefore, I
contented myself with watching his movements. It was a wonder to me
that he made no mistakes in the paths he traversed, that he did not
stumble or falter. He walked with absolute confidence and precision,
avoiding low-hanging branches of trees which would have struck him in
the face had he been unaware of their immediate vicinity. Nothing of
the kind occurred; there was not the slightest obstruction that he did
not intelligently avoid; he did not once have occasion to retrace his
steps. And yet he was asleep to all intents and purposes but one--that
upon which his mind was fixed. When I saw him two or three times
pause, with a slight upraising of the dagger, which he clutched firmly
in his hand, I knew what that purpose was--I knew that, had he seen
Emilius, he would have leapt upon him and stabbed him to the heart,
and that then, unconscious of the crime, he would have returned to his
bed with an easy conscience. Strange indeed was the double life of
this man--the life of sweetness, kindness, justice in his waking
moments, of relentless, cruel purpose while he slept. In alliance with
the proceedings of which I was at that time a witness, came to my mind
the pronouncement of the skilled authorities whom Carew's father had
consulted--that should the fatal inheritance transmitted to him take
its worst form, the key-note might be found in the affections. It was
demonstrated now. Emilius, his enemy, had found his way to his home;
the safety and happiness of his wife and child were threatened; and
he, prompted by his love for them, was on the watch to guard them,
animated by a stern resolve to remove, by an unconscious crime, his
enemy from his path. I thought of the tragic occurrences which had
taken place in Nerac while he was courting the pure, the innocent
maiden Lauretta, and I was weighed down by the reflection that justice
had erred, and that the innocent had suffered for the guilty. It was a
terrible thought, and it was strange that it did not inspire me with a
horror of the man whose footsteps I was following. I felt for him
nothing but compassion.

For quite an hour did Carew remain in the grounds searching for his
foe without success. To all outward appearance only Carew and I were
present. He saw no stranger, nor did I. On three occasions, however,
he paused close to a copse where the undergrowth, more than man high,
was thick. On each occasion he stood in a listening attitude, passing
his left hand over his brow as though he were doubtful and perplexed,
and on each occasion he moved away with lingering steps, not entirely
convinced that he was not leaving danger behind him. The bright blade
of his dagger shone in the light as he stood on the watch; there was
something of the tiger in his bearing. Short would have been the
shrift of his enemy had he made his presence known on any one of these
occasions. A fierce, sure leap, a thrust, another and another if
needed, and all would have been over.

At length the search was ended, at length Carew was satisfied of the
safety of his beloved ones. He returned slowly to the house.

Had I been aware of his intention I should have slipped in before him,
but I was not conscious of it until he stood by the door, and I a
dozen yards in his rear. It was too late then for me to attempt to
precede him. He stooped and removed the stone which he had fixed in
the door to keep it free, stood upon the threshold for the briefest
space, confronting me, and, with a sigh of relief, passed in and
closed the door behind him. I heard the key slowly and softly turned,
heard the bolts as slowly and softly pushed into their sockets, heard
the chain put up. Then silence.

What was I to do? There was, within my knowledge, no other way into
the house. To knock and arouse those within would have brought
exposure upon me. There was nothing for me to do but to wait for
daylight. Disconsolately I walked about the grounds, disturbed by the
thought that I had left the study open, and the papers I had read
loose upon the writing-table. I found myself by the copse at which
Carew had three times paused in doubt, and was startled by the sudden
emergence of a man from the undergrowth. By an inspiration I leapt at
the truth.

"You are Emilius," I said.

"I am Emilius," was his reply.



                                     XXII.


Despite his rags and haggard appearance, his manner was defiant. He
had been twenty years in prison, but he had not lost his sense of
self-respect; degraded association had not stamped out his manliness.
He bore about him the signs of great suffering--of unmerited
suffering, as I knew while gazing upon him for the first time, but it
had not turned him into a savage, as has been the case with other men
who have been wrongly judged. Through the rough crust of habits
foreign to his nature which a long term of imprisonment had laid upon
him, I discerned an underlying dignity and nobility which bespoke him
gentleman. I discerned also in him the evidence of a tenacious purpose
from which death alone could turn him. That purpose had brought him to
Rosemullion, and, connected as I was with Gabriel Carew and his
family, it was necessary that I should learn its nature.

"Do you accost me," asked Emilius, "as friend or enemy?"

"As friend," I replied. "I ask you to believe me upon my honour, from
gentleman to gentleman."

His face flushed, and he looked searchingly at me to ascertain if I
was mocking him.

"When I saw you," said Emilius, "standing apart from that fiend in
human form, and saw him watching here by the copse in which I lay
concealed, I supposed you were both in league against me."

"I at least am guiltless of enmity towards you," I said. "It is truly
my wish to serve you if you will show me the way and I deem it right."

"What I have suffered," he said with a pitiful smile, "has not
embittered me against all the world. It would not ill become me to
disbelieve the protestations of a stranger, but I prefer the weaker
course. I have only two things to fear--irredeemable poverty, from
which I could not extricate myself--(I am not far from that pass at
the present, but I have still sufficient for two months' dry
bread)--and death before I achieve my purpose. May God so deal with
you as you deal honestly by me. I have not lost all comprehension of
human signs, and there is that in you which denotes a wish to know me
and perhaps to win my confidence. Sorely do I need a friend, a helping
hand; and like a drowning man I clutch at the first that offers
itself. Yet bitter as is my need, I ask you to turn from me at once if
your intentions are not honest."

"I will stay and prove myself," I said.

"Why have you remained out in the open," asked Emilius, "while that
monster, who for a brief space has put aside his murderous intent, has
re-entered his house?"

"It was an accident, and may be providential. At first I deplored it,
but now am thankful for it. I am thankful, too, that you made no
movement while Mr. Carew was standing on this spot."

"I am no coward," said Emilius with pride, "and yet I was afraid. As I
have told you, I do not want to die--just yet. He was armed; I am
without a weapon. But had it been otherwise I should not have risked a
conflict with him; my life is for a little while too precious to me.
My liberty, also, which he, a gentleman, against me, a vagrant, might
with little difficulty swear away. He has done worse than that without
scruple. Therefore, it behoved me to be wary. Were my errand here an
errand of revenge I should have a score, a terrible score, to settle
with him; but there is something of even greater weight to be
accomplished. I have said that I will trust you; in prison my word was
relied on, and it may be relied on here. It is not in doubt of you I
ask why the fiend who inhabits that house and you came out in concert
at such an hour?"

"We did not come out in concert," I replied. "Mr. Carew did not see
me; he was not aware of my presence."

Emilius gazed upon me in wonder. "I am to believe this?"

"It is the truth, I swear. I have no object in deceiving you. Yet it
would be strange if you did not doubt and wonder. For the present let
the matter bide; you have much to learn which may temper your
judgment."

"A foul wrong can never be righted," responded Emilius. "The dead
cannot be brought to life. If you expect my judgment of that fiend
ever to be softened, you expect a miracle. What is the nature of your
connection with him? Pardon me for asking questions; I will answer
yours freely."

"An angel lives in that house," I said, "and I am bound to her by ties
of affection and devotion, inspired by her sweet nature and spotless
purity."

"Lauretta!" he murmured. "She loved me once as a sister might love a
brother, and I loved her in like manner. She was the incarnation of
innocence and goodness."

"And is so still. She whom you once loved as a sister claims now your
pity. Find room in your heart for something better than revenge."

"You misjudge me," he said softly; "it is love, not revenge, that
brought me here. But you have not completed your explanation."

"I have an only child," I said; "a son, grown to man's estate. Love
grew between him and Mrs. Carew's daughter----"

"Stop!" he cried, in a suffocated voice. "I cannot, cannot bear it!"

He leant against a tree for support; his form was convulsed with heavy
sobs. His profound grief astonished me; I could find no clue for it. I
turned aside until he was master of himself again, and then he resumed
the conversation.

"You seem to know the story of my life."

"I am acquainted with it."

"You know that I was tried for the murder of my brother?"

"Yes."

"There are moments in life when to lie will damn a man's soul and
condemn it to eternal perdition! This in my life is such a moment. I
call Heaven to witness my innocence! Now and hereafter may I be
cursed, now and for ever may the love for which I yearn be torn from
me, may I never meet my wife in heaven, if I do not stand before you
an innocent man! I was condemned for another's crime. The murderer
lives there." He pointed to the house, and continued: "My brother was
not the only one who died by his hand. In the happy village of Nerac,
whither a relentless fate directed that monster's steps, another man
was murdered before my beloved Eric fell. This man's comrade suffered
the penalty--while he, the murderer, looked on and smiled. I do not
question the goodness and mercy of God; for some unknown reason these
atrocities have been allowed, and no thunderbolt has fallen to smite
the guilty. Had I been other than I am I should have turned
blasphemer, and raised my impious voice against my Creator. As it is,
I have suffered and borne my sufferings, not like a beast, but like a
man. You hint at some mystery in connection with that monster which I
cannot fathom. Time is too precious for me to waste it by groping in
the dark. I will wait patiently for enlightenment. Heaven knows I, of
all men living, should lend a ready ear to howsoever strange a tale,
for I am associated, through my father and his brother, with a mystery
which the majority of men would reject as incredible. This extends
even to my statement that I have sure evidence of that monster's
guilt, although I did not see the deed perpetrated. You may enter into
my feelings when I tell you that the first few weeks of my
imprisonment were weeks of the most awful torture to me. I wept. I
could not sleep, my heart was torn with unspeakable anguish. Night
after night in my lonely cell I passed the hours praying to my
murdered brother, and calling upon him to give me a sign. My prayer
was answered on the anniversary of our birthday. Eric and I, as I
assume you know, were twins, as were my father Silvain and his brother
Kristel. Between them existed a mysterious bond of sympathy. So was
it, in a lesser degree, between Eric and me. On that birthday
anniversary, spent in prison, peace for the first time fell upon my
soul, and I slept. In my dreams my brother appeared to me; he did not
speak to me; but I saw the enactment of his murder. I had left him in
the forest to join my wife. He was alone. He paced to and fro in deep
anguish. Tears streamed from his eyes; his heart was wracked with woe.
In this state he continued for a space of time which I judged to be
not less than an hour. Then gradually he became more composed, and he
knelt and prayed, with his face buried in his hands. Stealing towards
him stealthily, holding a knife, as to-night he held a dagger, I
beheld the monster, Gabriel Carew. I saw him plainly; the moon shone
upon his face, and though he walked like a man in sleep, his fell
intent was visible in his eyes. I tried to scream to warn my brother,
but my tongue clove to the roof of my mouth. I could not utter a
sound. Nearer and nearer crept the monster--nearer and nearer,
noiselessly, noiselessly! Not a leaf cracked beneath his feet; all
nature seemed to be suddenly stricken dumb in horror of the deed about
to be done. To my agonised senses seconds were minutes, minutes hours,
until the monster stood above the kneeling form of my beloved Eric. He
raised the knife--the blade was touched with light; for a moment he
paused to make his aim surer, the stroke more certain. With cruel,
devilish force the knife descended, and was plunged through my Eric's
back, straight into his heart. He uttered no cry, but straightway, as
the knife was plucked from him, fell forward on his face. My brother
was dead! Slowly, stealthily, warily, the murderer stole through the
woods, casting no look behind. A darkness rushed upon me, and my dream
was at an end. When I awoke I knew that I had witnessed a faithful
presentment of the scene, and it would need something more powerful
than human arguments to convince me that I was the victim of a
delusion. The natural sentiment which from that night forth might be
supposed to animate me was that I might live to revenge myself upon
the murderer. It was not so with me. I lived, and live, for another
purpose, with another end in view. Not for me to shed blood, and to
stain my soul with sin and crime. I leave my cause to heaven. Having
heard thus much, will you aid me, will you serve me, as you have
promised?"

"I will do my best, if my judgment approves."

"The end is just, and I cannot endure long delay. I must see Mrs.
Carew--_must!_ There is a matter between us which must be cleared up
before another day and night have passed. Tell her that my errand is
not one of revenge. Not a word of reproach shall she hear from my
lips. I am here to claim what is mine--my inalienable right! She will
understand if you represent it to her in my words. Tell her she has
nothing to fear from me, and that the faith I have in her will not
allow me to believe that she will conspire to rob my life of the one
joy it contains for me. Will you do this?"

"I will do what you desire, in the way you desire."

"I thank you," he said, and the courteous grateful motion of his head
bespoke the gentleman.

"How shall I find you," I asked, "if I wish to see you to-morrow?"

"Leave that to me," was his reply. "I shall be on the watch--and on my
guard. Good-night."

"Good-night," I said, and I offered him my hand. He touched it with
his, and saying again, "I thank you," left me to myself.

I remained in the grounds until the servants--who were early risers--
unfastened the front door. Then I entered the house, and made my way
to the study. As I reached the door Mrs. Carew came out of her room to
meet me. She placed her finger to her lips, and whispered,

"My husband is there."

"Your husband!" I exclaimed in consternation, forgetting Emilius,
forgetting everything except the papers I had found in the secret
drawer, and which I had left loose upon the writing-table.

"Yes," said Mrs. Carew. "When he came in alone he had to pass the
study on his way to our room. The door was open, and he went in. I did
not dare to disturb him. All is so still within that I think he is
asleep. Tell me, dear friend--has anything happened outside?"

"Nothing of the nature you dread," I replied.

"Thank you," she murmured.

I opened the study door and entered, and sitting at the writing-table,
with his hand upon the revelation made by his father, was Gabriel
Carew, in a profound slumber.

"He has slept thus frequently," whispered Mrs. Carew, who had followed
me into the room, "until late in the day."

"Leave us together," I said.

She obeyed me, and I stood by Carew's side and gazed at him and the
papers. There was deep suffering on his face, strangely contrasted
with an expression of resolution and content. What this portended I
had yet to learn.



                                XXIII.


It was not till at least an hour afterwards that I remembered the
promise I had given to Emilius. Carew still slept, and had not stirred
from the position in which I had found him. Two or three times I made
a gentle effort to remove from beneath his hand the papers I had found
in the secret drawer, but as my design could not be accomplished
without violence, I abandoned it. There was no doubt in my mind that
he had read them, and his tenacious hold upon them denoted that he had
formed some strong resolution with respect to them. With the intention
of fulfilling my promise to Emilius, I softly left the room.

Mrs. Carew, sitting in a room above with Mildred, heard my movements,
and swiftly and noiselessly glided down the stairs. In a low tone I
made her acquainted with what had passed between me and Emilius, and I
perceived that she was not unprepared for Emilius's demand for an
interview. When I repeated to her Emilius's words, "Tell her she has
nothing to fear from me, and that the faith I have in her will not
allow me to believe that she will conspire to rob my life of the one
joy it contains for me," she clasped her hands across her eyes, and
remained so for a little while.

"It is his due," she said, but though she strove to speak calmly she
could not control her trembling voice and quivering lips; "I must see
him."

"When?" I asked.

"I cannot at this moment decide," she replied. "I must have time to
reflect. Meanwhile, there lies our first care."

She pointed to the study in which her husband slept.

"You understand that he is determined to see you before another day
and night have passed?"

"Yes, I understand."

"How is Mildred?"

"Bright and well, with the exception that she is concerned about me.
She suspects nothing."

"It is better so. Trouble comes soon enough."

"Indeed, indeed!" she murmured, with a strangely pathetic note in her
voice--as though she were pitying herself. "If we but knew--if we but
knew! But to do everything for the best--what can one do more? A heavy
punishment is about to fall upon me, and yet I thought I was acting
right. Go to my husband. He may need you when he wakes."

She glided up the stairs to Mildred's room, and I re-entered the
study. Carew still slept, and I remained at my vigil till noon without
observing any change in him. In addition to my position being one of
embarrassment, I found myself labouring under a feeling of exhaustion.
I had had no rest; and had passed a long and anxious day and night.
Insensibly my eyes closed; I struggled against Nature's demand, but it
was too imperative to be successfully resisted, and at length I fell
asleep. So thoroughly worn out was I that it was evening before I
awoke.

Carew, also awake, was gazing at me as I opened my eyes.

"I would not disturb you," he said. "You appeared to be thoroughly
exhausted."

"I am not so young as I was," I observed, with an attempt at
lightness. "Have you been awake long?"

"For some hours," he replied.

I glanced at the table; the papers were still there; his eyes followed
the direction of mine, and he nodded gently.

"Have you remained with me the whole time?" I asked.

"Oh, no. I left the room two or three times. My wife looked in
occasionally to see if you still slept." He motioned with his hand to
a corner of the table, and I saw bread, and meat, and wine there.
"Eat," he said; "you must be hungry."

I was glad of the food, and the wine gave me strength. Carew himself
drank two glasses.

"We are but poor, gross creatures," he said, "dependent upon a crumb
of bread for the life we think so wonderful. Is the scheme which
created it monstrous or beneficent? Is it the work of an angel or a
devil? Have you finished?"

"Yes."

"Something is necessary between you and me, something which must not
remain unspoken. The time for concealments, evasions, self-delusions,
torturing doubts (now cleared up, fatally), is at an end."

"One question first," I said, thinking of Emilius; "has Mrs. Carew
left the house during the time I have slept?"

"No; I forbade her. I have still for some few hours a will of my own."
He touched the papers written by his father. "After I left you here
yesterday, you discovered these?"

"I discovered them before you gave me the record of your life to
read."

"You have read it?"

"Every word."

"Had my father's record been discovered when I was a young man, had he
dealt by me justly instead of mercifully, what evil might have been
averted! I have no intention of wasting time by idle words, by vain
regrets. I have fixed my course. I seek some enlightenment from you.
Tell me all that passed within your knowledge since I spoke to you
last night at the door of this room. Keep nothing from me. Absolute
frankness is due from you to me, and I claim it. Believe me, I am
animated by but one supreme desire--a desire for justice. All lighter
sentiments are dead within me, except pity for the lady who has the
misfortune to be my wife. I loved her with a very pure and complete
love. I dare not wrong her by saying I love her still--and yet, and
yet--You see, I am still human; that is the worst of it. Tell me all."

I did so, concealing nothing, softening nothing. I faithfully,
mercilessly described the events of the night that had passed--his
leaving the house, his wife's entreaties that I should follow him to
prevent the committal of a dreadful deed, my doing so, his movements
in his search through the grounds dagger in hand, the strange
intelligence which, asleep as he was, directed those movements,
fortunately unsuccessful, his return to the house, locking me out, my
discovery and interview with Emilius, and finally my entrance into the
study, where he sat asleep, his hand firmly guarding the papers I had
found in the secret drawer.

He listened quietly and attentively, and did not interrupt me by a
word. It was with a feeling of apprehension that I approached
Emilius's description of his dream, in which had been pictured the
murder of Eric, but no outward sign was visible in Carew to denote
agitation. The only question he asked was with reference to Emilius's
desire for an interview with Mrs. Carew. Could I discover a reason for
it? I answered that I could not, but that there must be some powerful
reason that Emilius, free from prison, should journey to England for
the special purpose of the interview.

"I have no remembrance of leaving the house last night," said Carew,
"and upon other evidence than that which is furnished to me, should
scout the tale as a monstrous invention. But it is not for me to
doubt. I was born into a fatal inheritance, and I must suffer for it."

"How?" I cried. "The past is past; there is no undoing it. If you
think of invoking the law, you may banish the idea; it cannot touch
you."

"From the hour that I read my father's confession," said Carew, "I
became a law unto myself. I will not pain you by asking whether you
believe me guilty or no; you cannot do otherwise than look upon me as
a monster, as I look upon myself. The law cannot touch me, I believe;
and well do I know that not only what has been done cannot be undone,
but that it cannot be atoned for. But the future must be secured. My
father wrote that the one consolation he had was that he endeavoured
to perform his duty. He did not so endeavour. His duty was to
enlighten me, an innocent being while my parents lived, as to the
nature of the inheritance transmitted to me. Then I might have done
what it is incumbent upon me to do now. At least, if I had not the
courage for that, I should not have cast a blight upon the life of a
pure and white-souled lady. You are an authority upon the disease of
insanity, and the different forms in which it presents itself in human
beings; and you must be aware that it would be a difficult task to
find doctors who would declare me to be mad. Setting aside the
sufferings of regret, my mind is as clear and logical as your own or
any man's. My reason--is it crooked, warped? No, it is clear as a
lake, and I can see straight on to the end. In my sleep I am another
being. Granted. But what crime can human evidence bring home to my
door? None. What guilt is mine, others have suffered for, and the law
is satisfied that it did not stumble. Emilius can come forward and
say, 'That monster killed my brother.' They will ask for evidence, and
he will relate a dream. 'You are a madman,' they will declare. You saw
me last night prowling round my house in search of whom? In search of
an enemy who long years ago was my enemy, and who, having endured the
punishment inflicted by the law for a crime which he was proved to
have committed, comes now to England to injure and rob me. So
sensitive am I respecting the safety of my wife and daughter that even
in my sleep I protect them. A subject I for admiration. No hand, no
voice, would be raised in horror against me; I should be lauded,
praised, set up as an example, while Emilius would be regarded with
loathing. Yet he is a martyr, and I am a devil. Who is to punish me?
Are there other men as I am? If so, there should be a law to destroy
them while they are young, before they are ripe for mischief. It would
be a simple safeguard."

As he had sat in silence listening to me, so now I sat in silence
listening to him. There was not a trace of passion in his voice; it
was calm and judicial. Even when he called himself a devil there was
no deviation from this aspect of absolute composure.

"What wrote my father?" he continued. "What wrote he--too late?' I
most solemnly adjure him never to marry, never to link his life with
that of an innocent being. If his heart is moved to love he must pluck
the sentiment out by the roots, must fly from it as from a horror
which blenches the cheek to contemplate. Our race must die with him;
not one must live after him to perpetuate it. I lay this injunction
most solemnly upon him; if he violate it, he will be an incredible
monster.'" In making this quotation he did not refer to the written
pages; word for word, he repeated it by heart. It was a proof how
deeply upon his mind and heart were graven his father's fatal
confession.

"Thus said my father, but he said it not in time. He failed in his
duty, and led me into worse than error. Well do I now understand the
mystery of my early home, of my boyhood's life. Why did he not kill
me? God and man would have applauded the deed."

Had it not been that he paused here, as though he had finished what he
had to say, I doubt whether I should have spoken, so overwhelmed was I
by this merciless self-analysis and self-condemnation. But the silence
enabled me to recover myself, to think of other matters than himself.

"You told me," I said, "that you forbade your wife to leave the house.
Then she has not seen Emilius?"

"No. She will see him to-morrow."

"He says he must see her this day or night. He expects me to acquaint
him with the result of his message to Mrs. Carew."

"Go to him and implore him to leave it till to-morrow. Then there will
be no difficulty. It is but a few hours--and he has waited so many
years. His mission cannot be so urgent."

"He declares it is."

"He is possessed by a just fury. It is his intention, I suppose, to
denounce me to my wife. The one joy in life that remains to him is the
joy of making the woman who loved me shrink from me as from a
pestilence. That joy shall be his--to-morrow; and it then he is not
content, I will submit myself to him as he shall dictate. You can
assure him of my honesty in this."

"You forget," I urged. "He desired me to tell your wife that his
errand was not one of revenge."

"He is justified in using any subterfuge to obtain an interview with
her. If she had reason to believe that he came to injure me she would
not see him. Go to him, and tell him to-morrow. Tell him also that I
have pronounced judgment upon myself."

I had no choice but to comply. He spoke with a force and a decision
there was no gainsaying.



                                XXIV.


I have omitted to mention that a letter was delivered to me from my
son Reginald. It was written in London, almost immediately upon his
arrival there. There were in it about twenty words in relation to the
business I had entrusted to him, for the purpose of securing his
absence; the remaining three and a half pages were filled with
rhapsodies upon Mildred. It was Mildred, Mildred, nothing and nobody
but Mildred. She was the light of his life, the hope, the joy of it;
nothing else but Mildred was worth living for. Not even I, his old
father, who never thought, who never would think, any sacrifice too
great to make for his son's happiness. I did not complain, and I do
not; it is the way of things, and we old ones must stand aside, and be
humbly grateful that we are allowed to witness the happiness which we
have done our utmost to bring about. Not that this was the case with
Reginald and myself. The duty devolving upon me was to prevent, not to
assist in, the accomplishment of his dearest hopes. How would the lad
take it? Would he look upon me as his enemy? Would he thrust me aside,
and rush wildly to a fate I shuddered even to contemplate? Would not
the example before him serve as a warning? I could not say. The more I
thought of the matter the more disturbed I became. Certainly, he could
not marry Mildred without Carew's consent, and that, I knew, would be
withheld. The true story of her husband's life could not be concealed
from the knowledge of Mrs. Carew; and knowing it, she would not allow
Mildred to wed. If necessary, Mildred herself must be told how
impossible it was that she should ever think of marriage, and she
would refuse my son. And Reginald's heart would be broken! Of that I
was convinced. It would be a blow from which he would never recover.

These were my reflections as I went out into the grounds of
Rosemullion to seek Emilius. I had not long or far to seek. Near the
copse in which he was concealed the previous night he suddenly
presented himself.

"I have been looking and waiting for you all day," he said. "Can you
realise the torture I am suffering?"

I did not answer his question, but gave him an account of what I had
done, and then I conveyed Gabriel Carew's message to him.

"To wait till to-morrow!" Emilius exclaimed. "He asks, he implores me
to wait till then?"

"I have told you," I said. "It seems to me not unreasonable."

"It seems to you--it seems to you!" he repeated, in petulant
excitement; and the next moment begged my pardon for speaking so to
me, who had proved myself his friend. "But you do not know this
fiend--you do not know of what he is capable! You believe what I have
told you of the eternal wrong he has inflicted upon me--a wrong for
which he can never hope to be forgiven in this world or the next. You
believe it, and yet you say he is justified in asking me to wait till
he has had time to carry out the secret design he has formed to
prevent me from obtaining justice! You believe it, and yet you justify
him! O God in Heaven! Is there, has there ever been, justice on earth?
And I am to wait, who have waited for twenty years, who have suffered
unjustly for twenty years! And I am to stand aside while he completes
his work and dashes the cup of happiness from my lips! No! Again and
again, no! This night is my limit. Before it passes I will see Mrs.
Carew, and she shall right me. You can tell this to the monster yonder
who has juggled you so successfully."

I endeavoured to argue, to reason with him, but he would not listen to
me. So I left him, his last words being that nothing on earth should
move him from his resolve.



                                 XXV.


The clock struck nine as I re-entered the house. A servant accosted me
with a message from Mrs. Carew, requesting me to go to her in the
little room in which Carew was in the habit of taking tea with
her--the apartment he had described as a sanctuary of rest.

Mrs. Carew was alone.

"My husband is asleep," she said, "and asked me to see that he was not
disturbed. He told me that you had gone out to see Emilius, who was to
come here to-morrow morning. Have you seen him?"

"Yes, but he declares he will not wait. He insists upon seeing you
to-night."

"Poor Emilius! It is but a few hours longer. He must have patience
till tomorrow. Deeply as I pity him, I am grateful for the delay, for
it gives me time to make a confession to you. I do not know whether it
should have been made before--but now it is imperative. I have been
praying for strength. My husband prayed with me. In the days of our
courtship, when he and the good priest of Nerac were friends, Mr.
Carew was in the habit of accompanying me and my dear parents to
church; but for many years he has not entered a place of worship. I do
not ask you to betray his confidence, but was he not more composed
when you left him?"

"It seemed to me that he had made up his mind to a certain course--he
did not explain it to me, nor did I ask him to do so--which might be
the means of atoning for the errors of the past. I am not at liberty
to say more; what passed between us I regard as in sacred confidence."

"I am glad he has you to rely on," said Mrs. Carew. "He came to me
voluntarily an hour ago, and the conversation we had has done me good.
He was wonderfully gentle and humble--but indeed, Mr. Carew was never
arrogant--and I gathered the impression that he had in some way
discovered that he was in the habit of walking abroad during the night
and causing me distress of mind. He spoke kindly, too, of poor
Emilius, and said he hoped to be forgiven for any wrong he had done
that unhappy man in the past. The air is very sweet to-night, is it
not?"

"I have been in some anxiety myself," I said haltingly, scarcely
knowing how to reply to the question, which appeared to me a strange
one at that moment, "and have scarcely noticed; but there is a soft
air blowing, and the night is fine."

"You are anxious about Reginald," she said, "and Mildred?"

"Yes," I said, surprised that she should approach the subject.

She pressed my hand. "Mr. Carew, when he was here with me, said the
air was peculiarly sweet, and I gather the impression from him. It is
always so with one we love. I questioned myself whether I should
impart to him what I am about to impart to you, but he appeared to be
so much in need of rest that I decided not to agitate him. I trust he
will forgive me when I make my confession to him to-morrow. To-night
you will counsel, you will advise me?"

"Command me entirely," I said.

"I thank you. I have wished Mildred good-night also, and we shall be
quite undisturbed. She has received a letter from your Reginald, and
is replying to it. A loving task to a young girl in her position." I
winced, and determined that the night should not pass without my
acquainting Mrs. Carew with my views respecting the impossibility of a
marriage between Mildred and Reginald. A knock at the door here caused
Mrs. Carew to call "Come in."

A servant entered with keys, which he handed to his mistress.

"All the doors are securely fastened?" she asked.

"Yes, madam," replied the servant.

"Come to me," she said, "in the morning for the keys."

When we were alone Mrs. Carew said that before she commenced she
wished to see that her husband was sleeping well, and I accompanied
her to his room. He was lying on his right side, breathing calmly and
peacefully. There was a certain intentness in the expression of his
features, as though even in his sleep his mind was bent upon some
fixed resolve, but otherwise I was surprised, after what he had gone
through, that he should be so quiet and composed. I had never before
realised how powerful was the face I was now gazing on; the firm lips,
the large nose, the broad forehead, were indications of intellectual
power. No sign of weakness was apparent, none of indecision or
wavering. He was a man capable of a great career.

"My dear father used to say," said Mrs. Carew, "that Mr. Carew's mind
was the most comprehensive he had ever met with."

She stooped and kissed him lightly on the forehead, without disturbing
him. We trod gently out of the room.

"He will have a good night," she said. "I must go up to Mildred's
room." The light was shining through the crevices of the door.

"Not asleep, Mildred?" said Mrs. Carew softly.

"No, mamma. I shall be, soon."

"Don't remain up too long, my dear."

"No, mamma."

"Good night, Mildred."

"Good night, dear mamma. Mamma?"

"Yes, child!"

"I have just given Reginald your love."

"That is right, my dear."

"And I have told him not to remain away too long."

"That is right, my dear."

"Good night, dearest mamma."

"Good night, my dearest."

"Alas for Reginald!" I thought, as we descended the stairs. "Alas for
the hopes of that young girl!"

In her own apartment Mrs. Carew informed me that it was by her
husband's wish the lower doors were securely fastened, and the keys
given to her. "In order," she said, "that it might not be in his power
to leave the house in his sleep. He did not say so, but that was his
thought."



                                XXVI.


I relate in my own words the strange story Mrs. Carew imparted to me.
Although she had erred, her confession was like a rift of sweet light
in the dark clouds which hung over Rosemullion. It brought more than
hope and comfort to my old heart--it brought joy. In a very few
moments you will understand the meaning of my words.

Transport yourself back to the village of Nerac, a year after the
marriage of Lauretta and Gabriel Carew. Business of a particular
nature took Carew from Nerac for a space of three months; he was
absent that time, much against his will, for his wife was near her
confinement. This took place safely two weeks after his departure, and
he was duly informed of the event. All was well at home; Lauretta and
her baby girl were thriving. The days and the weeks passed until two
months went by. Carew, in his letters to his wife, expressed the
profoundest joy at this precious home blessing. Smarting as he was
during that period from the growing coldness of the villagers towards
him, and chafing at the injustice of the world, he placed an
extravagant value upon this baby girl, who would be, he said, a charm
against all evil. He longed for the time when he could hold this
blessing in his loving arms; now his happiness was complete; he asked
for no greater treasure. In the growth and development of the new
young life he would find solace and consolation. His wife was enjoined
to take the most tender care of their child. "You and she are one,"
Carew wrote. "Each is incomplete without the other. I cannot think of
you now apart. Were I to lose one my life would be plunged into
darkness." Then befel an event which brought horror and grief to
Lauretta. It happened that her nurse had fallen sick, and was
compelled to go to her own home; there was no other female servant in
the establishment capable of undertaking a nurse's duties, and
Lauretta therefore took them cheerfully on herself. Two months, as I
have said, had passed after the birth of the baby girl. Carew was
expected home in a fortnight.

In the dead of night, when all in the house were asleep, with the
exception of Lauretta, she, watching by the cradle of her baby, heard
a sound of moaning without. She listened intently; it was her own name
that she heard uttered in accents of deepest pain and suffering. It
was a wild night; heavy rain was falling, the wind was raging; and
through the sounds of the storm came the wailing of her name, with
half-choked sobs and entreaties for help and pity.

It was but an hour before that Lauretta, awaking, had heard proceed
from her baby-girl lying in the cradle by her bedside, some light
sounds of difficult breathing which had alarmed her. She got up and
dressed, and tended her baby, who, after a while, seemed a little
easier; but with the natural anxiety of a young mother Lauretta
remained awake watching her child.

The moans for help outside appeared to be especially addressed to her
and to her alone, and she seemed to recognise the voice. She crept
softly down, and unfastened the door.

"Who is there?" she asked, during a lull in the storm.

The answer came--"Patricia! Help me! Oh help me, and let no one know!"

It was Emilius's wife.

Lauretta assisted her indoors. The poor girl was in a pitiable plight.
Famished, ragged, penniless, with a baby in her arms. Both were
wringing wet. The pelting rain had soaked them through and through.

Throbbing with sympathy and compassion Lauretta quickly undressed
Patricia's baby, and put it in her own warm bed. They had by this time
reached Lauretta's bedroom, in which her own child was lying. Lauretta
wished to call the servants, but Patricia sobbed that she would fly
the house if any eyes but Lauretta's rested on her. It appeared,
according to the poor girl's story, that her father was in pursuit of
her, and had vowed to kill her and her baby.

"He will kill me--he will kill me!" moaned Patricia. "No one must know
I have been here but you--no one, no one!"

And then she rocked herself hysterically and cried, "What will become
of my poor baby-girl--what will become of her? I heard that your
husband was not here, and it gave me courage to crawl to you. Not that
it matters much. It isn't for myself I care. My father may kill me--I
have not long to live--but my baby, my baby! Oh, save my darling, save
her for the sake of my innocent Emilius!"

It was then that Lauretta noticed for the first time, signs in
Patricia's face which, interpreted by her fear and the poor girl's
words, seemed to be signs of approaching death. And still Patricia
insisted that she would not remain in the house; no force or
entreaties could make her.

"What, then, can I do for you?" asked Lauretta; she had already given
Patricia food and money.

"Take care of my child," replied Patricia. "Bring her up as your own.
Let her never know her father's disgrace, her mother's shame. It will
be an angel's deed! For pity's sake, do not deny me! You are rich, and
can afford the charity--and if, in your husband's life there has been
guilt, this act of charity will atone for it. See here--look on her
innocent face. Having the power, you have not the heart to deny me.
Ah, if your angel mother were alive, I should appeal to her, and
should not appeal in vain! She loved Emilius, and believed in his
innocence--yes, to the last she believed in it. I know it for a
certainty. You, too, loved my poor martyred husband, and he loved and
honoured you and yours with all the strength of his faithful heart. He
is innocent, innocent, I tell you! God forbid that I should accuse any
one of being guilty--I am too desperate and despairing, and my child's
life, the salvation of her soul, are at stake. When your sainted
mother died, did all goodness die out of the world? Ah, no--it is not
possible; you live again in her. In you she lives again, and all her
mercy and sweet kindness which caused us all, from the highest to the
lowest, to worship her, to look upon her as something holy. For her
sake, if not for my own, you cannot, cannot deny me this charity, you
who have it in your power to grant it!"

All this, and more. To say that Lauretta's heart was touched is
inadequate; it overflowed; it yearned to assist the suffering mother,
so near to her through her young motherhood, through the old ties with
Emilius and Eric. A choking cry from her own baby-girl caused her to
rush to the cradle. Within the hour a fatal circumstance occurred.
Lauretta's baby drew her last breath.

It has nearly all my days been my belief that everything in human life
is to be accounted for by human standards. I am shaken in this belief.
In this death of Lauretta's baby I seem to see the finger of fate.

Vain to attempt to describe the agonising grief of the young mother.
So overpowering was it that she lost consciousness. She recovered her
senses when the storm had passed and the morning's light was shining
on her. When she awoke to reality, what did she see?

Her husband had suddenly and unexpectedly returned home. She was in
bed, and he was sitting by her side.

"Gabriel, Gabriel!" she cried, and, overcome by the terror of her
great loss, she would have lost consciousness again but for an
unaccountable joyousness in his manner, which mingled strangely with
the sympathy he must have felt for her suffering condition.

"It was, doubtless, the storm," he said soothingly. "It raged so
fiercely for an hour and more, that I am told it exceeded in violence
anything of a like kind that has been experienced in these parts for
the last fifty years. No wonder it has had such an effect upon you.
Half the trees in our garden are uprooted. It hastened my steps home,
for I know how these convulsions of nature affect you. But as you see,
the danger has passed; the sun is shining brightly; but not more
brightly in the heavens than it is shining in my heart."

She listened to him in amazement, and raising herself in bed she
looked around for Patricia. She saw no sign of the hapless woman. The
cradle in which her baby-girl had died was by the side of the bed.
Carew bent over it and said in a tone of ecstasy:

"Mildred--Mildred! Our Mildred--our dear ewe lamb! How sweetly and
soundly she sleeps! Oh, my darling wife! What care I for the injustice
of the world now that this treasure is ours? My sweet--my sweet! You
recompense for all. Do you know, Lauretta, as travelling home I neared
the beloved spot which contained you and our treasure, my heart almost
stood still at the fear that I should not find you both well. And
now--how can I be sufficiently grateful? Of no account to me is all
that transpires outside the circle which contains you and my dear one
in the cradle here? I set great store upon our child, Lauretta. She is
to me a guarantee of all that is worth living for in the present and
the future. When I arrived home and found you prostrate I was at first
overwhelmed, but I soon discovered that you had fainted, and I judged
rightly, did I not, dear wife of my heart, that, not being strong, you
kept it from me while we were apart, in order not to distress me? But
now all is well--all shall be well. See, Lauretta, she opens her eyes,
our darling. The question is, can I raise her safely and place her by
your side? Yes, it is done, and I am the happiest father in the
world!"

Was she dreaming? In the clothes in which her child died rested this
child of Patricia's, smiling, blooming, laughing and crowing as
Lauretta drew her to her breast. Carew's delight, his gratitude, his
worship of the babe he believed to be his own, the superstitious store
he set upon her young life, were so unbounded, that Lauretta did not
dare to undeceive him. She feared, if she told him the truth, that it
would unsettle his reason, and produce between her and him a gulf
which could never be bridged over. She accepted the strange
combination of circumstances, and held her tongue. Her own dear babe
was dead, but this new Mildred, whom she grew to love truly as if she
were her own, remained, and grew to what she is, a flower of beauty,
goodness, and sweetness. Nothing more did Lauretta hear of Patricia;
whether she died or lived was not known to her. It is but a
detail--but necessary to complete the story--to state here that
Patricia lived but a few months after the occurrence of this strange
event. More important is it to state that, in some unexplained way,
Emilius learns that his daughter lived, and that the Carews were
bringing her up as if she were a child of their own. His term of
imprisonment over, he had come now to claim her.

It would be impossible for me to give expression to my feelings of
gratitude at this wonderful revelation. The despair into which I had
fallen at the contemplation of the wrecking of my dear son Reginald's
happiness vanished. A fair future lay still before him, and the most
cherished hopes of his heart would be realised. I was sure that
Emilius would not mar them. A nature so noble as his, so strong in
suffering, so heroic in the highest form of human endurance, could not
lend itself to the committal of a petty act of selfishness whereby the
child upon whose memory he had lived during his cruel and unjust
imprisonment would be rendered miserable and unhappy. To this martyred
man I was ready to bow my head, ready to give him my friendship, my
sympathy, my heart's best fruits of confidence and esteem. Thinking of
him, I was awed that a man could live through the anguish that had
been his portion, and still retain the inherent dignity and nobility
of a great and noble nature.



                                XXVII.


"Hark!" whispered Mrs. Carew, her story told, and before we had time
to debate upon the wisest course to pursue. "What sound is that?"

It was the sound of footsteps on the stairs. In this sound there was
no attempt at concealment. The footsteps were those of one who desired
his presence to be known. I divined instantly who it was who, by some
means unknown to me, obtaining an entrance into the house, was now
approaching the room in which Mrs. Carew and I were sitting. I could
not, and did not blame him. In his place I should have acted as he was
acting.

The silver clock chimed the hour of twelve.

"You will see him," I said, rising to my feet and advancing to the
door.

"See whom?" asked Mrs. Carew, with her hand at her heart.

"Emilius. It is he and no other man who is coming here. He has a great
stake in this house. He is justified."

"My husband?" she gasped.

"Is safe, if you will only be guided by me. It is your duty to be
brave and strong. Never was courage more needed than at this moment.
And not only courage, but wisdom. Decide quickly. There is no time to
lose."

"I will be guided by you," she said faintly.

I threw open the door, and saw Emilius standing in the passage,
uncertain which direction to take.

"Enter," I said in a low tone. "Mrs. Carew is here. For the sake of
others be gentle, and do not alarm the house."

He entered, and Mrs. Carew and he stood face to face.

The native dignity of the man instantly asserted itself. He removed
his ragged cap and stood bareheaded before her. But there was no
cringing in his attitude. It was perfectly respectful--something,
indeed, more than that; it was the attitude of a man who once was this
sweet lady's equal, and who, despite the judgment of the world, still
knew himself to be her equal, and worthy of the esteem she once
accorded to him. But as he gazed upon her, and she upon him, in
silence for a few moments--a silence which I did not dare to
break--his stern mood melted. He saw and recognised her, as he had
always seen and recognised her in the time that was gone, when he was
entitled to hold up his head among men--but never more so in truth and
honour than now--a gentle-mannered lady, in whose face shone the
reflex of a sweet and womanly nature. Remembrances of the past rushed
upon him and softened him.

"Forgive me," he said humbly.

And then--tears filled my eyes as I saw it, and knew the suffering she
was bravely enduring--she held out her hand to him. He bowed his head
over it, as for a moment he held it in his.

"I could not wait any longer," he said, softly. "I have entered like a
thief into your house--but I have waited so long!"

"It is I who should ask for forgiveness," she said. "Emilius, be
merciful to me and mine!"

"I have no thought of revenge," he said, in a voice as soft as her
own. "I am a broken-down man, with one sole hope. But I could not
stand before you, the Lauretta I loved with the pure love of a
brother, if I did not know myself unstained by crime or any taint of
dishonour."

"I believe you, Emilius," she said.

"You believe me, Lauretta!" he exclaimed, advancing a step towards
her.

"I believe you, Emilius," she repeated.

Had he come with savage intent she could not more surely have disarmed
him.

"It is more than I dared hope for," he said. "How often, Lauretta, in
the gloom of my prison, have I thought of you and your dear parents,
of the home of innocence and love in which I was ever a welcome guest,
of the once happy village in which I was honoured and respected. Some
crumbs of comfort fell to my lot, some gleam of light shone through
the darkness. Had it not been so, and had I not been animated by
another hope, I might have gone mad. Good Father Daniel visited me
regularly, at permitted intervals, until he died. He had the firmest
faith in my innocence, and he brought me messages which fell like
heavenly balm upon my wounded spirit. Your sainted mother believed in
my innocence, and she bade him tell me so, and that her love for me
was unchanged. And now, you! But your mother's soul shines in your
eyes. It could not have been otherwise." He paused a moment or two,
reflecting what to say. "On one of Father Daniel's visits he brought
me a letter, securely sealed. It was against the prison rules, but
that did not deter him from doing what he deemed to be right. I
hastily concealed it, noting first, however, with a beating heart,
that it was addressed to me in my wife's handwriting. I asked him if
he knew what it contained, and he answered 'No;' and then, with a
grave face, he bade me prepare for solemn news. I felt at once what
was coming. Can you divine my purpose, Lauretta, in telling you this?"

"I think I can," she replied. "Go on."

"It was while the good priest was on a mission of mercy that a
villager came to him and said that in a hut hard by a woman was dying,
and, hearing that he was in the neighbourhood, begged him to come to
her. Father Daniel went, and discovered that the woman was Patricia,
my wife. She was very near to death, and she had only strength to
entreat him to deliver to me, secretly, a letter she had written. He
promised to do so, and in a few minutes after he received it from her
she drew her last breath. Before she died he asked her after her
babe--for Patricia was quite alone--but she did not seem to understand
him. Subsequently, however, he learnt from the villager that Patricia
had said her baby was dead. This was the mournful news which Father
Daniel conveyed to me in prison. Despite his attempts at consolation,
I felt when he left me that I was truly alone in the world. Brother,
wife, child, all dead! I prayed to God to send death to me soon.
What had I to live for? But there was my wife's letter, and before
twenty-four hours had passed I found an opportunity to read it.
Lauretta, that letter informed me what had become of my child, and it
laid upon me an obligation of secrecy for so long a time as I was in
prison. Patricia solemnly adjured me not to breathe to a living soul
that our child lived in your care; but I was to be released from this
obligation when I was a free man. Then I was to act as it seemed to me
right to act. Is there any need, Lauretta, for me to enter more fully
into the particulars of Patricia's letter?"

"There is no need, Emilius."

"Except, perhaps, to say that when you were lying senseless before
her, and your tender blossom lay dead in its cradle, it was only then
that the idea entered Patricia's mind of changing the children's
clothes, and leaving her baby with you. It was done, and Patricia
stole away with your dead child at her breast, herself to die, as she
well knew, before many weeks had passed. I have something to tell you,
Lauretta"--and here Emilius's voice was charged with a new note of
tenderness. "When Father Daniel next visited me I begged him to
discover where the dead babe was buried, and to put a few flowers on
the grave. The good priest did more. He paid a village woman to attend
to it, and he left a small sum of money to be spent in beautifying the
grave of your child. Flowers have grown upon it and around it from
that day to this. I visited the grave before I set forth on my journey
here, and I knelt and prayed there. I prayed a blessing upon you,
Lauretta, and I prayed that I might live to see the hope fulfilled
which shone like a star upon me through the long years of my prison
life. Lauretta," he cried, stretching forth his trembling hands, "my
child--my child"--

"She lives," sobbed Mrs. Carew, "in goodness, health, and beauty--a
flower of sweetness!"

He fell upon his knees before her, and kissed her dress, and it was
then I heard a sound without which, for a moment, transfixed me with
terror. They, overwhelmed by emotion, were deaf to this sound. It was
that of a man creeping stealthily from his chamber--and that man
Gabriel Carew. Quickly recovering myself, and feeling the necessity
for immediate and prompt action, I addressed Emilius and Mrs. Carew.

"Attend to me," I said impressively. "All is well with you. You,
Emilius, have gained a daughter, and will embrace her at sunrise. You,
dear lady, have not lost a daughter, for Mildred will be to you as she
has ever been. I have proved myself your friend. Answer quickly--have
I not?"

"Yes," they both replied.

"Do not, therefore, ask me for the reasons for my present action. I
demand from you both a sacred promise--that you will not leave this
room till I call for you, till I give you permission. It shall be
given at the latest by sunrise. I must have this promise--I must!"

My voice, my manner, Mrs. Carew's fears for her husband, and
confidence in me, compelled assent.

"We give it," she said.

"We give it," said Emilius.

"I accept it, and bind you to it. What I do is for the good of
all--for your future, for Mildred's future--and to avert disaster.
Only I can do this. Whatever you hear, you will not open this door
without my permission, after I leave it. When I am gone, turn the key,
and admit no one unless I desire it. It is understood?"

"Yes," they said, "it is understood."

As I closed the door behind me I heard the key turned in the lock.



                               XXVIII.


The sound of soft footsteps proceeded, as I supposed, from Gabriel
Carew, but to my surprise he was not coming towards the room I had
just left, but was stealthily ascending the stairs which led to
Mildred's room. His eyes were open, and his movements were dictated by
intelligent caution, but he was asleep. In his left hand he carried
the naked dagger.

I ran up the stairs softly and swiftly, heedless of danger to myself,
and walked by his side. He took no notice of me. Standing by the door
of Mildred's room he paused, and was about to put his hand to the
handle when I seized his wrist.

"What are you about to do?" I whispered, my lips close to his ear.
"Speak low, the house must not be disturbed."

To my horror, he replied, in a whisper as low and distinct as my own:
"'Our race must die with him; not one must live after him to
perpetuate it. I lay this injunction most solemnly upon him; if he
violate it he will be an incredible monster.'"

They were the words written by his father which he had already quoted
to me earlier in the day.

"Your daughter is not in that room," I said, not raising my voice,
grateful that we had as yet attracted no notice. "If you enter, your
purpose will be frustrated."

"Who speaks to me?" he asked.

"The spirit of murder," I said. "The Devil who is leading your soul to
perdition. Come with me. I will direct you aright."

He shuddered, but he did not hesitate. With my hand still firmly
grasping his wrist, he allowed me to lead him from the room. We
descended the stairs, slowly, stealthily, until we reached the landing
upon which the study was situated. I led him into the room, and with
lightning motion locked the door and plucked out the key. Then,
uncertain how next to act, I took my hand from his wrist, and
retreated a few steps. He, also, was now uncertain of his movements.
He stood still a while, then tried the door, and finding it fast, took
some halting steps this way and that, and finally fell into the chair
in which he had been accustomed to write.

As I gazed upon him I was sensible of a gradual change in his
appearance. A pallor crept into his face, a film seemed to come across
his eyes. Alarmed, I grasped his shoulder with rough strength, and
shook him violently.

"Mr. Carew!" I called.

He trembled in every limb, closed his eyes, and clasped them with his
hands--in one of which he still held the dagger. Presently he removed
his hands from his face, and looked confusedly at me.

"Are you awake?" I asked.

"Yes," he replied faintly. "Give me a glass of water."

I gave him a full glass, and he drained it. I observed as he did so
that it was only by an effort he prevented it from slipping from his
hand. Then he spoke again.

"How came I here?" he asked. "Skilful as you are in your profession,
you can do nothing for me. How came I here?"

"I conducted you hither," I said, "from the door of Mildred's room.
You have a dagger in your hand."

Until this moment he seemed to be unconscious that he held the weapon,
and now he started and allowed it to drop to the ground.

"Give thanks to God," I said solemnly, "that I stepped forward in time
to save the life of an innocent child."

"Great God!" he murmured. "It is fit that I should die!"

The silver chimes of the clock proclaimed the hour of two. He smiled
piteously and gratefully, and said, "It is almost time."

"There is a hidden meaning in your words," I said. "What have you
done?"

"Doctor, you are wrong. There is no hidden meaning in my words. All is
clear and plain. What should I do to myself? What should be done to
such a man as I? You are not deceiving me. You found me, you say, at
the door of my daughter's room, with the dagger in my hand?"

"It is true."

"Then my purpose was murder. What further confirmation is needed of
the truth of my father's revelation? Be thankful, doctor, that your
son Reginald has escaped from my daughter, my miserable, unhappy
child. Ah, me! Whose fate is the heaviest, hers or mine, or the
innocent flower I married?"

"I can give you some comfort," I said. "In one respect I can set your
heart at ease."

"Impossible, impossible!" he cried.

"Not so. I have that to relate which though at first it may cause you
pain, cannot fail, upon reflection, to make you grateful. If I were to
tell you that you have not transmitted to an innocent girl the fatal
inheritance which has weighed like a curse upon your life, how would
it be with you?"

"It would be heaven--it would be light! Unconscious sinner as I am, it
might mean forgiveness!"

"I have been closeted with your wife, from whose lips I have heard
what you should hear. You will listen to me?"

"Will you be long?" he asked, with a strange smile.

"I will be as brief as possible--and receive it from me, as I received
it from your wife, that every word I utter is true."

I told him the story of Mildred, who until now he had believed to be
his daughter. Perceiving that he was ill, I shortened it as much as
possible. Once or twice I paused in my recital, and asked him if he
was in pain.

"In pain!" he cried. "When you are bringing heaven to me! The
agitation you observe in me proceeds from joy. Do not linger. Finish
quickly, quickly!"

At the chiming of the half-hour my story was done. There was a happy
light in Carew's eyes. White as his face had grown, peace had stolen
into it.

"Oh, God, I thank Thee!" he murmured, raising his arms; and then he
suddenly fell forward on his face.

"I raised his head, and assisted him into a recumbent position.

"Tell me, for heaven's sake, what you have done?" I cried.

"You shall know all," he gasped, with pauses between his words.
"First, though ... about Emilius . . . you went to seek him, did you
not? . . . He was to be here to-morrow ..."

"He is here now," I said, "in this house. It was to recover his
daughter that he came to England."

"Do not leave me.... When I went to bed to-night ... and kissed my
angel wife ... for the last time ... I thought never to wake again....
It is painless.... In my old wanderings I came across a man we talked
of death ... how easy ... I kept it by me ... through all these
years.... It will defy you, doctor ... no trace remains ... the
subtlest poison, the easiest death.... It has served me well. Go
quickly, and bring Emilius.... Not my angel wife.... There is no
pain.... Thank God, my life is ended! Go ... Emilius!"

I flew from the room, and returned with Emilius. Gabriel Carew lay
back in his chair, motionless. The terror of death was not in his
face. But he was dead!

                          *   *   *   *   *

It was popularly supposed that he died from heart disease. There were
in him no indications of having died from other than natural causes.
What I knew I kept to myself. Not alone what I gathered from his own
lips as to the manner of his death, but of the last incident of his
dream-life, and of my providentially saving him from the commission of
an awful crime.

                          *   *   *   *   *

A great number of mourners stood about his grave. Until that time, it
was not known how wide and large had been his charities. Even his wife
had been in ignorance of countless deeds of goodness which he had done
in secret. There were men and women there whom he had snatched from
poverty and despair, and who now brought flowers to drop into the last
resting place of their benefactor. Children, too, were lifted up to
look into the grave of the master of Rosemullion.

Emilius stood bareheaded by my side.

"God forgive him!" said Emilius.

                          *   *   *   *   *

The disclosure of Mildred's real parentage made no difference in the
relations between her and Mrs. Carew. It was mother and daughter with
them, as it had always been, and even some additional and subtle tie
of new tenderness was added to the feelings of love for each other
which will animate their hearts till the last hours of their lives.

No one in the county, with the exception of ourselves, is acquainted
with the story of Emilius. A dignified, gentle-mannered gentleman, he
quickly won the esteem of all who came in contact with him. There
often reigns in his face a strange expression of sadness, and he
sometimes speaks to me of Eric; but there is joy in his life, and he
is grateful for it.

The marriage of Mildred and Reginald was postponed for a decent time,
and then these young people were made happy, and sent upon their
honeymoon, accompanied by blessings and tears and heartfelt wishes for
good.

As I prepare to end my task I see in my mind's eye the form of one
who, in every act of her life, in every gentle word that falls from
her lips, has sanctified for me the name of Woman. Not only in idea,
but in deed. "God bless Mrs. Carew!" is said by many out of her
hearing, and if to live a good pure life will earn God's blessing, she
has earned it, and it is hers.



                               THE END.



                        Richard Clay And Sons
                          London And Bungay.





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