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Title: Monica, Volume 2 (of 3) - A Novel
Author: Everett-Green, Evelyn
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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MONICA.



MONICA

A Novel.


BY

EVELYN EVERETT-GREEN.

Author of

“Torwood’s Trust,” “The Last of the Dacres,”
“Ruthven of Ruthven,” Etc.


_IN THREE VOLUMES._


VOL. II.


LONDON:
WARD AND DOWNEY,
12, YORK STREET, COVENT GARDEN, W.C.
1889.



PRINTED BY
KELLY AND CO., GATE STREET, LINCOLN’S INN FIELDS,
AND KINGSTON-ON-THAMES.



CONTENTS.


CHAPTER THE TWELFTH.
                         PAGE

Mrs. Bellamy      1


CHAPTER THE THIRTEENTH.

Randolph’s Story      23


CHAPTER THE FOURTEENTH.

Storm and Calm      40


CHAPTER THE FIFTEENTH.

A Summons to Trevlyn      61


CHAPTER THE SIXTEENTH.

Changes      77


CHAPTER THE SEVENTEENTH.

United      101


CHAPTER THE EIGHTEENTH.

A Shadow      125


CHAPTER THE NINETEENTH.

In Scotland      143


CHAPTER THE TWENTIETH.

A Visit to Arthur      160


CHAPTER THE TWENTY-FIRST.

Back at Trevlyn      180


CHAPTER THE TWENTY-SECOND.

An Enigma      199



MONICA



CHAPTER THE TWELFTH.

MRS. BELLAMY.


Randolph was gone; and Monica, left alone in her luxurious London
house, felt strangely lost and desolate. Her husband had expressed a
wish that she should go out as much as possible, and not shut herself
up in solitude during his brief absence, and to do his will was now her
great desire. She would have preferred to remain quietly at home. She
liked best to sit by her fire upstairs, and make Wilberforce tell her
of Randolph’s childhood and boyish days; his devotion to his widowed
mother, his kindness to herself, all the deeds of youthful prowess,
which an old nurse treasures up respecting her youthful charges
and delights to repeat in after years. Wilberforce would talk of
Randolph by the hour together if she were not checked, and Monica felt
singularly little disposition to check her.

However she obeyed her husband in everything, and took her morning’s
ride as usual next day, and was met by Cecilia Bellamy, who rode beside
her, with her train of cavaliers in attendance, and pitied the poor
darling child who had been deserted by her husband.

“I am just in the same sad predicament myself, Monica,” she said,
plaintively. “My husband has had to go to Paris, all of a sudden, and I
am left alone too. We must console ourselves together. You must drive
with me to-day and come to tea, and I will come to you to-morrow.”

Monica tried in vain to beg off; Cecilia only laughed at her. Monica
had not _savoir faire_ enough to parry skilful thrusts, nor insincerity
enough to plead engagements that did not exist. So she was monopolised
by Mrs. Bellamy in her morning’s ride, was driven out in her carriage
that same afternoon, and taken to several houses where her friend had
“just a few words” to say to the hostess. She was taken back to tea,
and had to meet Conrad, who received her with great warmth, and had the
bad taste to address her by her Christian name before a whole roomful
of company, and who ended by insisting on walking home with her. Yet
his manner was so quiet and courteous, and he seemed so utterly
unconscious of her disfavour, that she was half ashamed of it, despite
her very real annoyance.

And the worst of it was that there seemed no end to the attentions
pressed upon her by the indefatigable Cecilia. Monica did not know
how to escape from the manifold invitations and visits that were
showered upon her. She seemed fated to be for ever in the society of
Mrs. Bellamy and her friends. Beatrice Wentworth and her brother were
themselves out of town; Randolph was detained longer than he had at
first anticipated, and Monica found herself drawn in an imperceptible
way—against which she rebelled in vain—into quite a new set of people
and places.

Monica was a mere baby in Cecilia’s hands. She had not the faintest
idea of any malice on the part of her friend. She felt her attentions
oppressive; she disliked the constant encounters with Conrad; but she
tried in vain to free herself from the hospitable tyranny of the gay
little woman. She was caught in some inexplicable way, and without
downright rudeness she could not escape.

As a rule, Conrad was very guarded and discreet, especially when alone
with her. He often annoyed her by his assumption of familiarity in
presence of others, but he was humble enough for the most part, and
took no umbrage at her rather pointed avoidance of him. She did not
know what he was trying to do: how he was planning a subtle revenge
upon his enemy her husband—the husband she was beginning unconsciously
yet very truly to love. She shrank from him without knowing why, but
the day was rapidly approaching when her eyes were to be opened.

Her instincts were so true that it was not easy to deceive her for
long. Ignorance of the world and reluctance to suspect evil blinded
her for a time; but she was to learn the true nature of her so-called
friends before long.

There had been a small picnic party at Richmond one day. Monica had
tried hard to excuse herself from attending, but had been laughed and
coaxed into consent. It mattered the less what she did now, for her
husband was to be at home the following day, and in the gladness of
that thought she could almost enjoy the sunshine, the fresh air, the
sight of green grass and waving trees, the country sights and sounds
to which she had so long been a stranger.

The party, too, was small, and though Conrad was of the number, he
held aloof from Monica, for which she was glad, for she had felt an
increasing distrust of him of late. It was an equestrian party, and the
long ride was a pleasure to Monica, who could have spent a whole day in
the saddle without fatigue.

And then her husband was coming. He would set all right. She would tell
him everything—she had not felt able to do so in the little brief notes
she had written to him—and she would take his advice for the future,
and decline friendship with all who could not be his friends too.
Everything would be right when Randolph came back.

Then Monica was glad of an opportunity of a little quiet talk with
Cecilia Bellamy. The wish for a private interview with her had been
one of the reasons which had led her to consent to be one of to-day’s
party. She had something on her mind she wished to say to her in
private, and as yet she had found no opportunity of doing so.

Yet it was not until quite late in the afternoon that Monica’s
opportunity came; when it did, she availed herself of it at once. She
and her friend were alone in a quiet part of the park; nobody was very
near to them.

“Cecilia,” said Monica, “there is something I wish to say to you now
that we are alone together. I am very much obliged to you for being so
friendly during my husband’s absence—but—but—it is difficult to say
what I mean—but I think you ought not to have had your brother so much
with you when you were asking me; or rather I think, as he is your
brother, whilst I am only a friend, the best plan would be for us to
agree not to attempt to be very intimate. We have drifted apart with
the lapse of years, and there are reasons, as you know, why it is not
advisable for me to see much of your brother. I am sure you understand
me without any more words.”

“Oh, perfectly!” said Mrs. Bellamy with a light laugh. “Poor child,
what an ogre he is! Well, at least, we have made the best of the little
time he allowed us.”

Monica drew herself up very straight.

“I do not understand you, Cecilia. Please to remember that you are
speaking of my husband.”

Mrs. Bellamy laughed again.

“I am in no danger of forgetting, my dear. Please do not trouble
yourself to put on such old-fashioned airs with me; as if every one did
not know your secret by this time.”

Monica turned upon her with flashing eyes.

“What secret?”

“The secret of your unhappy marriage, my love. It was obviously a
_mariage de convenance_ from the first, and you take no pains to
disguise the fact that it will never be anything else. As Randolph
Trevlyn is rather a fascinating man, there is only one rational
interpretation to be put upon your persistent indifference.”

Monica stood as if turned to stone.

“What?”

“Why, that your heart was given away before he appeared on the scene.
People like little pathetic romances, and there is something in the
style of your beauty, my dear, that makes you an object of interest
wherever you go. You are universally credited with a ‘history’ and a
slowly breaking heart—an equally heart-broken lover in the background.
You can’t think how interested we all are in you—and——”

But the sentence was not finished. Mrs. Bellamy’s perceptions were not
fine, but something in Monica’s face deterred her from permitting her
brother’s name to pass her lips. It was easy to see that no suspicion
of his connection with the “romance” concocted for her by gossiping
tongues had ever crossed her mind. But she was sternly indignant, and
wounded to the quick by what she had heard.

She spoke not a word, but turned haughtily away and sought for solitude
in the loneliest part of the park. She was terribly humiliated. She
knew nothing of the inevitable chatter and gossip, half good-humoured,
half mischievous, with which idle people indulge themselves about their
neighbours, especially if that neighbour happens to be a beautiful
woman, with an unknown past and an apparent trouble upon her. She did
not know that spite on Conrad’s part, and flighty foolishness on that
of his sister, had started rumours concerning her. She only felt that
she had by her ingratitude and coolness towards the husband who had
sacrificed so much for her, and whom she sincerely respected, and
almost loved, had been the means of bringing his name and hers within
the reach of malicious tongues, had given rise to cruel false rumours
she hated ever to think of. If only her husband were with her!—at least
he would soon be with her, and if for very shame she could not repeat
the cruel words she had heard, at least she could show to all the world
how false and base they were.

Monica woke up at last to the fact that it was getting late, and that
she was in a totally strange place, far away from the rest of the
party. She turned quickly and retraced her steps. She seldom lost her
bearings, and was able to find her way back without difficulty, but
she had strayed farther than she knew; it took her some time to reach
the glade in which they had lunched, and when she arrived there she
found it quite deserted. There was nothing for it but to go back to the
hotel, whither she supposed the others had preceded her, but when she
reached the courtyard no one was to be seen but Conrad, who held her
horse and his own.

“Ah, Monica! here you are. We missed you just at starting. Did you lose
yourself in the park? Nobody seemed to know what had become of you.”

“I suppose I walked rather too far. Where are the rest?”

“Just started five minutes ago. We only missed you then. I said I’d
wait. We shall catch them up in two minutes.”

As this was Mrs. Bellamy’s party, and Conrad was her brother, this
mark of courtesy could not be called excessive, yet somehow it
displeased Monica a good deal.

“Where is my groom?”

Conrad looked round innocently enough. “I suppose he joined the
cavalcade, stupid fellow! Stablemen are so very gregarious. Never mind;
we shall be up with them directly.”

And Monica was forced to mount and ride after the party with Conrad.

But they did not come up with the others, despite his assurances, and
the fact that they rode very fast for a considerable time. He professed
himself very much astonished, and declared that they must have made a
stupid blunder, and have gone by some other road.

“In that case, Sir Conrad,” said Monica, “I will dispense with your
escort. I am perfectly well able to take care of myself alone.”

He read her displeasure in her face and voice. She had an instinct that
she had been tricked, but it was not a suspicion she could put into
words.

“_Sir_ Conrad!” he repeated, with gentle reproach. “Have I offended
you, Monica?”

“Sir Conrad, it is time we should understand one another,” said Monica,
turning her head towards him. “I made you a sort of promise once—a
promise of friendship I believe it was. I am not certain that I ever
ought to have given it; but after my marriage with a man you hold as
an enemy, it is impossible that I can look upon you as a true friend.
I do not judge or condemn you, but I do say that we had better meet
as infrequently as possible, and then as mere acquaintances. You have
strained your right of friendship, as it is, by the unwarrantable and
persistent use of my Christian name, which you must have known was not
for you to employ now. We were playfellows in childhood, I know, but
circumstances alter cases, and our circumstances have greatly changed.
It must be Sir Conrad and Lady Monica now between you and me, if ever
we meet in future.”

His eyes gleamed with that wild beast ferocity that lay latent in his
nature, but his voice was well under command.

“Your will is law, Lady Monica. It is hard on me, but you know best. I
will accept any place that you assign me.”

She was not disarmed by his humility.

“I assign you no place; and you know that what I say is not hard. We
are not at Trevlyn now. You know your own world well; I am only just
beginning to know it. You had no right ever to take liberties that
could give occasion for criticism or remark.”

He looked keenly at her, but she was evidently quite unconscious of the
game he had tried to play for the amusement of his little circle. She
only spoke in general terms.

“There was a time, Monica,” he said gently, “when you cared less what
the world would say.”

“There was a time, Sir Conrad,” she answered, with quiet dignity, “when
I knew less what the world might say.”

Had Monica had the least suspicion of what her companion had tried
to make it say, she would not now have been riding with him along the
darkening streets, just as carriages were rolling by carrying people to
dinner or to the theatres.

Twice she had imperatively dismissed him, but he had absolutely
declined to leave her.

“I will not address another word to you if my presence is distasteful
to you,” he said; “but you are my sister’s guest, and in the absence
of her husband I stand in the place of your host. I will not leave you
to ride home at this late hour alone. At the risk of incurring your
displeasure I attend you to your own door.”

Monica did not protest after that, but she hardly addressed a single
word to her silent companion.

As she rode up to her own house she saw that the door stood open. The
groom was there, with his horse. He was in earnest converse with a
tall, broad-shouldered man, who held a hunting-whip in his hand, and
appeared about to spring into the saddle.

Monica’s heart gave a sudden leap. Who was that other man standing with
his back to her on the pavement? He turned quickly at the sound of her
approach—it was her husband.

He looked at her and her companion in perfect silence. Conrad took
off his hat, murmured a few incoherent words, and rode quickly away.
Randolph’s hand closed like a vice upon his whip, but he only gave one
glance at the retreating figure, and then turned quietly to his wife
and helped her to dismount. The groom took the horse, and without a
word from anyone, husband and wife passed together into the house. And
this was the meeting to which Monica had looked forward with so much
trembling joy.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER THE THIRTEENTH.

RANDOLPH’S STORY.


Randolph led his wife upstairs to the drawing-room, and closed the
door behind them. It was nine o’clock, and the room was brightly
illuminated. Randolph was in dinner dress, as though he had been some
time at home. His face was pale, and wore an expression of stern
repression more intense than anything Monica had ever seen there
before. She was profoundly agitated—agitated most of all by the feeling
that he was near her again; the husband that she had pined for without
knowing that she pined. Her agitation was due to a kind of tumultuous
joy more than to any other feeling, but she hardly knew this herself,
and no one else would have credited it, from the whiteness of her face,
and the strained look it wore. As a matter of fact, she was physically
and mentally exhausted. She had gone through a great deal that day;
she had eaten little, and that many hours ago; she was a good deal
prostrated, though hardly aware of it—a state in which nervous tension
made her unusually susceptible of impression; and she trembled and
shrank before the displeasure in her husband’s proud face. Would he
look like that if he really loved her? Ah, no! no! She shrank a little
more into herself.

Randolph did not hurry her. He took off his overcoat leisurely, and
laid his whip down upon the table. He looked once or twice at her as
she sat pale and wan in the arm-chair whither he had led her. Then he
came and stood before her.

“Monica, what have you to say to me?”

She looked up at him with an expression in her dark eyes that moved and
touched him. Something of the severity passed from his face; he sat
down, too, and laid his hand upon hers.

“You poor innocent child,” he said quietly, “I do not even believe you
know that you have done wrong.”

“I do, Randolph,” she answered. “I do know, but not as you think—I
could not help that. I hated it—I hate him; but to-night I could
not help myself. Where I was wrong was in not doing as you
asked—persisting in judging for myself. But how could I know that
people could be so cruel, so unworthy, so false? Randolph, I should
like to-night to know that I should never see one of them again!”

She spoke with a passionate energy that startled him. He had never seen
her excited like this before.

“What have they been saying to you?” he asked in surprise.

“Ah! don’t ask me. It is too hateful! It was Cecilia. She seemed
to think it was amusing—a capital joke. Ah! how can people be so
unwomanly, so debased!”

She put her hands before her eyes, as if to shut out some hideous
image. “Yes, I will tell you, Randolph—I will. I owe it to you,
because—because—oh, because there is just enough truth to make it so
terribly bitter. She said that people knew it was not an ordinary
marriage, ours—she called it a _mariage de convenance_. She said
everybody knew we had not fallen in love with one another.” Monica’s
hand was still pressed over her eyes; she could not look at her
husband. “She said I showed it plainly, that I let every one see.
I never meant to, Randolph, but perhaps I did. I don’t know how to
pretend. But oh, she said people thought it was because I cared—for
some one else—that I had married you whilst I loved some one else—and
that is all a wicked, wicked lie! You believe that, Randolph, do you
not?”

She rose up suddenly and he rose too, and they stood looking into each
other’s eyes.

“You believe that at least, Randolph?” she asked, and wondered at the
stern sorrow visible in every line of his face.

“Yes, Monica, I believe that,” he answered, very quietly; yet, in spite
of all his yearning tenderness there was still some sternness in his
manner, for he was deeply moved, and knew that the time had come when
at all costs he must speak out. “I, too, have heard that false rumour,
and have heard—which I hope you have not—the name of the man to whom
your heart is supposed to be given. Shall I tell it you? His name is
Conrad Fitzgerald.”

Monica recoiled as if he had struck her, and put both her hands before
her face. Randolph continued speaking in the same concise way.

“Let me tell you my tale now, Monica. I left Scotland early this
morning, finishing business twelve hours earlier than I expected. I
wired from Durham to you; but you had left the house before my telegram
reached. In the train, during the last hour of the journey, some
young fellows got in, who were amusing themselves by idle repetition
of current gossip. I heard my wife’s name mentioned more than once,
coupled with that of Sir Conrad Fitzgerald, in whose company she had
evidently been frequently seen of late. I reached home—Lady Monica was
out for the day with Mrs. Bellamy—presumably with Sir Conrad also. I
dined at my club, to hear from more than one source that the world was
gossiping about my handsome wife and Sir Conrad Fitzgerald. I came home
at dusk to find the groom just returned, with the news that Sir Conrad
was bringing my lady home, that he was dismissed from attendance; and
in effect the man whose acquaintance I repudiate, whose presence in my
house is an insult, rides up to my door in attendance upon my wife.
Before I say any more, tell me your story. Monica, let me hear what you
have been doing whilst I have been away.”

Monica, roused to a passionate indignation by what she heard—an
indignation that for the moment seemed to include the husband, who had
uttered such cruel, wounding words, told her story with graphic energy.
She was grateful to Randolph for listening so calmly and so patiently.
She was vaguely aware that not all men would show such forbearance
and self-control. She knew she had wounded him to the quick by her
indiscretion and self-will, but he gave her every chance to exculpate
herself. When she had told her story, she stood up very straight before
him. Let him pronounce sentence upon her; she would bear it patiently
if she could.

“I see, Monica,” he answered, very quietly, “I understand. It is not
all your fault. You have only been unguarded. You have been an innocent
victim. It is Fitzgerald’s own false tongue that has set on foot these
idle, baseless rumours. It is just like him.”

Monica recoiled again.

“Just like him! but, Randolph, he is my friend!”

A stern look settled upon Randolph’s face.

“Oblige me, Monica, by withdrawing that word. He is _not_ your friend;
and he is my enemy.”

“Your enemy?”

“Yes; and _this_ is how he tries to obtain his revenge.”

Monica was trembling in every limb.

“I do not understand,” she said.

“Sit down, then, and I will tell you.”

She obeyed, but he did not sit down. He stood with his back against
the chimney-piece, the light from the chandelier falling full upon his
stern resolute face, with its handsome features and luminous dark eyes.

“You say you know the story of Fitzgerald’s past?”

“Yes; he forged a cheque. His sister told me.”

Randolph looked at her intently.

“Was that _all_ she told you?”

“Yes; she said it was all. He deceived a friend and benefactor, and
committed a crime. Was not that enough?”

“Not enough for Fitzgerald, it seemed,” answered Randolph,
significantly. “Monica, I am glad you did not know more, since you
have met that man as a friend. Forgiveness is beautiful and noble—but
there are limits. I will tell you the whole story, but in brief. The
Colonel Hamilton of whom you heard in connection with the forgery was
Fitzgerald’s best and kindest friend. He was a friend of my mother’s
and of mine. I knew him intimately, and saw a good deal of his
_protégé_ at his house and at Oxford. I did not trust him at any time.
It was no very great surprise when, after a carefully concealed course
of vulgar dissipation, he ended by disgracing himself in the way you
have heard described. It cut Hamilton to the quick. ‘Why did not the
lad come to me if he was in trouble? I would have helped him,’ he said.
He let me into the secret, for I happened to be staying with him at the
time; but it was all hushed up. Fitzgerald was forgiven, and vowed an
eternal gratitude, as well as a complete reformation in his life.”

“Did he keep his promise?” asked Monica in a whisper.

“You shall hear how,” answered Randolph, with a gathering sternness
in his tone not lost upon Monica. “From that moment it seemed as if a
demon possessed him. I believe—it is the only excuse or explanation to
be offered—that there is a taint of insanity in his blood, and that
with him it takes, or took, the form of an inexplicable hatred towards
the man to whom he owed so much. About this time, Colonel Hamilton,
till then a bachelor, married a friendless, beautiful young wife,
to whom in his very quiet and undemonstrative way he was deeply and
passionately attached, as she was to him. But she was very young and
very inexperienced, and when that man, with his smooth false tongue,
set himself to poison her life by filling her mind with doubts of her
husband’s love, he succeeded but too well. She spoke no word of what
she suffered, but withdrew herself in her morbid jealous distress.
She broke the faithful heart that loved her, and she broke her own
too. It sounds a wild and foolish tale, perhaps, to one who does not
understand the mysteries of a passionate love such as that; but it is
all too true. I had been absent from England for some time, but came
home, all unconscious of what had happened, to find my friend Hamilton
in terrible grief. His young wife lay dying—dying of a rapid decline,
brought on, it was said, by mental distress; and worse than all, she
could not endure her husband’s presence in the room, but shrank from
him with inconceivable terror and excitement. He was utterly broken
down by distress. He begged me to see her, and to learn if I could,
the cause of this miserable alteration. I did see her. I did get her
to tell her story. I heard what Conrad Fitzgerald had done; and I
was able, I am thankful to say, to relieve her mind of its terrible
fear, and to bring her husband to her before the end had come. She
died in his arms, happy at the last; but she died; and he, in his
broken-hearted misery for her loss, and for the treachery of one he had
loved almost as a son, did not survive her for long. Within six months,
my true, brave friend followed her to the grave.

“I was with him to the end. I need hardly say that Fitzgerald did
not attempt to come near him. He was plunged in a round of riotous
dissipation. Upon the day following the funeral, I chanced to come upon
him, surrounded by a select following of his boon companions. Can I
bring myself to tell you what he was saying before he knew that I was
within earshot? I need not repeat his words, Monica: they are not fit
for your ears. Suffice it to say that he was passing brutal jests upon
the man who had just been laid in his grave, and upon the young wife
whose heart had been broken by his own base and cruel slanders. Coupled
with these jests were disgraceful boastings, as unmanly and false as
the lips that uttered them.

“I had in my hand a heavy riding-whip. I took him by the collar, and I
made him recant each one of those cruel slanders he had uttered, and
confess himself a liar and a villain. I administered, then and there,
such a chastisement as I hope never to have to administer to any man
again. No one interposed between us. I think even his chosen companions
felt that he was receiving no more than his due. I thrashed him like
the miserable hound he was. If it had been possible, I would have
called him out and shot him like a dog.”

Randolph’s voice had not risen whilst he was speaking. He was very
calm and composed as he told his story; there was no excitement in his
manner, and yet his quiet, quivering wrath thrilled Monica more than
the fiercest invective could have done.

“My whip broke at last. I flung him from me, and he lay writhing on
the floor. But he was not past speech, and he had energy left still
to curse me to my face, and to vow upon me a terrible vengeance,
which should follow me all my life. He is trying now to keep this
vow. History repeats itself you know. He ruined the happiness of one
life, and brought about this tragedy, by poisoning the mind of a wife,
and setting her against her husband; and I presume he thinks that
experiment was successful enough to be worth repeating. There, Monica,
I have said my say. You have now before you a circumstantial history of
the past life of Sir Conrad Fitzgerald—your friend.”

[Illustration]



CHAPTER THE FOURTEENTH.

STORM AND CALM.


Monica sat with her face buried in her hands, her whole frame quivering
with emotion. Those last words of her husband’s smote her almost like
a blow. She deserved them, no doubt; yet they were cruel, coming like
that. He could not have spoken so if he loved her. He would not stand
coldly aloof whilst she suffered, if he held her really dear. And yet,
once he had almost seemed to love her, till she had alienated him by
her pride and self-will. It was just, she admitted, yet, oh! it was
very hard!

She sat, crushed and confounded, for a time, and it was only by a great
effort that she spoke at all.

“I did not know, Randolph; I did not know. You should have told me
before.”

“I believed you did know. You told me that you did.”

“Not that. Did you think I could know _that_ and treat him as a friend?
Oh, Randolph! how could you? You ought to have told me before.”

“Perhaps I ought,” he said. “But remember, Monica, I spoke out very
plainly, and still you insisted that he was, and should continue to be,
your friend—your repentant friend.”

Monica raised her eyes to her husband’s face, full of a sort of mute
reproach. She felt that she merited the rebuke—that he might have
said much more without being really harsh—and yet it was very hard, in
this hour of their re-union, to have to hear, from lips that had never
uttered till then anything but words of gentleness and love, these
reproofs and strictures on her conduct. She saw that he was moved: that
there was a repressed agitation and excitement in his whole manner;
but she could not guess how deeply he had been roused and stirred
by the careless jests he had heard passed that day, nor how burning
an indignation he felt towards the man who had plotted to ruin his
happiness.

“You should not have left me, Randolph,” said Monica, “if you could not
trust me.”

He went up to her quietly, and took her hands. She stood up, looking
straight into his eyes.

“I did trust you—I do trust you,” he answered, with subdued
impetuosity. “Can I look into your face and harbour one doubt of your
goodness and truth? I trust _you_ implicitly; it is your judgment, not
your heart, that has been at fault.”

She looked up gratefully, and drew one step nearer.

“And now that you have come back, all will be right again,” she said.
“Randolph, I will never speak to that man again.”

His face was stern; it wore a look she did not understand.

“I am not sure of that,” he answered, speaking with peculiar
incisiveness. “It may be best that you _should_ speak to him again.”

She looked up, bewildered.

“Randolph, why do you say that? Do you think that, after all, he has
repented?”

Randolph’s face expressed an unutterable scorn. She read the meaning of
that glance, and answered it as if it had been expressed in words.

“Randolph, do you believe for a moment that I would permit any one to
speak ill of you to me? Am I not your wife?”

His face softened as he looked at her, but there was a good deal of
sadness there, too.

“I do not believe you would deliberately listen to such words from him;
but are not poisoned shafts launched sometimes that strike home and
rankle? Has no one ever come between you and me, since the day you
gave yourself to me in marriage?”

He saw her hesitation, and a great sadness came into his eyes. How near
she was and yet how far! His heart ached for her in her loneliness and
isolation, and it ached for himself too.

Monica broke the silence first.

“Randolph,” she said timidly; “no harm has been done to you, really? He
cannot hurt you; can he?”

His face was stern as he answered her.

“He will hurt me if he can—through my wife. His threat is still
unfulfilled; but he knows where to plant a blow, how to strike in the
dark. Yes, Monica, he has hurt me.”

She drew back a pace.

“How?”

“It hurts me to know that idle gossip connects my wife’s name with
his—that he has the credit of being a lover, discarded only from
motives of policy. I know that there is not a syllable of truth in
these reports—that they have been set afloat by his malicious tongue.
Nevertheless, they hurt me. They hurt me the more because my wife has
given some countenance to such rumours, by permitting a certain amount
of intimacy with a man whom her husband will not receive.”

Monica was white to the lips. She understood now, as she had never
done before, what Cecilia Bellamy had meant by her flighty speeches a
few hours before. They had disgusted and offended her then, now they
appeared like absolute insults. Randolph saw the stricken look upon her
face, and knew that she was cut to the quick.

“Monica,” he said, more gently, “what has been done can be undone by a
little patience and self-control. We need not be afraid of a man like
Sir Conrad. I have known him and his ways long. He has tried before to
injure me without success. He has tried in a more subtle way this time;
yet again I say, most emphatically, that he has failed.”

But Monica hardly heard. She was torn by the tumult of her shame and
distress.

“Randolph!” she exclaimed, stretching out her hands towards him:
“Randolph, take me home! oh! take me home, out of this cruel, cruel,
wicked world! I cannot live here. It kills me; it stifles the very life
out of me! I am so miserable, so desolate here! It is all so hard, and
so terrible! Take me home! Ah! I was happy once!”

“I will take you to Trevlyn, Monica, believe me, as soon as ever I can;
but it cannot be just yet. Shall I tell you why?”

She recoiled from him once more, putting up her hand with that
instinctive gesture of distress.

“You are very cruel to me Randolph,” she said, with the sharpness of
keen misery in her voice.

He stood quite still, looking at her, and then continued in the same
quiet way:

“Shall I tell you why? I cannot take you away until we have been seen
together as before. I shall go with you to some of those houses you
have visited without me. We must be seen riding and driving, and going
about as if nothing whatever had occurred during my absence. If we meet
Fitzgerald, there must be nothing in your manner or in mine to indicate
that he is otherwise than absolutely indifferent to us. I dare say he
will put himself in your way. He would like to force upon me the part
of the jealous, distrustful husband, but it is a _rôle_ I decline to
play at his bidding. I am not jealous, nor am I distrustful, and he
and all the world shall see that this is so. If I take you away now,
Monica, I shall give occasion for people to say that I am afraid to
trust my wife in any place where she may meet Fitzgerald. Let us stay
where we are, and ignore the foolish rumours he has circulated, and we
shall soon see them drop into deserved oblivion.”

“Randolph, I cannot! I cannot!” cried Monica, who was now overwrought
and agitated to the verge of exhaustion; “I _cannot_ stay here. I
cannot go amongst those who have dared to say such things, to believe
such things of me. What does it matter what they think, when we are far
away? Take me back to Trevlyn, and let us forget it all. Let me go, if
only for a week. I have never asked you anything before. Oh! Randolph,
do not be so hard! Say that you will take me home!”

“If I loved you less, Monica,” he answered, in a very low, gentle tone,
“I should say yes. As it is, I say no. I cannot take you to Trevlyn
yet.”

She turned away then, and left him without a word, passing slowly
through the brilliantly-lighted room, and up the wide staircase.
Randolph sat down and rested his head upon his hand, and a long-drawn
sigh rose up from the very depths of his heart. This interview had
tried him quite as much as it had done Monica—possibly even more.

“Perhaps, after all, Fitzgerald _has_ revenged himself,” he muttered,
“though not in a way he anticipated. Ah, Monica! my fair young wife,
why cannot you trust me a little more?”

Monica trusted him far more than he knew. It was not in anger that
she had left him. In the depth of her heart she believed that he had
judged wisely and well; it was only the wave of home-sickness sweeping
over her that had urged her to such passionate pleading. And then
his strong, inflexible firmness gave her a curious sense of rest and
confidence. She herself was so torn and rent by conflicting emotions,
by bewilderment and uncertainty, that his resolute determination
and singleness of purpose were as a rock and tower of defence. She
had called him cruel in the keen disappointment of the moment, but
she knew he was not really so. Home-sick, aching for Trevlyn as she
was—irrepressibly as she shrank from the idea of facing those to whom
she had given cause to say that she did not love her husband, she felt
that his decision was right. It might be hard, but it was necessary,
and she would go through her part unflinchingly for his sake. It was
the least that she could do to make amends for the unconscious wrong
she had done him.

She felt humbled to the very dust, utterly distrustful of herself, and
quite unworthy of the gentleness and forbearance her husband showed
towards her. How much he must be disappointed in her! How hard he must
feel it to have married her out of kindness, and to be treated thus!

She was very quiet and submissive during the days that followed, doing
everything he suggested, studying in all things to please him, and to
make up for the past. In society she was more bright and less silent
than she had been heretofore. She was determined not to appear unhappy.
No one should in future have cause to say that her present life was not
congenial to her. Certainly, if anyone took the trouble to watch her
now, it would easily be seen that she was no longer indifferent to her
husband. Her eyes often followed him about when he was absent from her
side. She always seemed to know where he was, and to turn to him with a
sort of instinctive welcome when he came back to her. This clinging to
him was quite unconscious, the natural result of her confidence in his
strength and protecting care; but it was visible to one pair of keenly
jealous eyes, and Conrad Fitzgerald, when he occasionally found himself
in company with Randolph and his wife, watched with a sense of baffled
malevolence the failure of his carefully-planned scheme.

People began to talk now of the devotion of Mr. Trevlyn and Lady Monica
with as much readiness and carelessness as they had done about their
visible estrangement. It takes very little to set idle tongues wagging,
and every one admired the bride and liked the bridegroom, so that the
good opinion of the world was not difficult to regain.

But Monica’s peace of mind was less easily recovered. At home she
was grave and sad, and he thought her cold; and the full and entire
reconciliation—of which, indeed, at that time she would have felt quite
unworthy—was not to be yet. Each was conscious of deep love on his or
her own side, but could not read the heart of the other, and feared to
break the existing calm by any attempt to ruffle the surface of the
waters.

They were not very much alone, for Lord Haddon and his sister spent
many evenings with them when they were not otherwise engaged, and the
intimacy between the two houses increased rapidly.

Monica had never again alluded to the prospective return to Trevlyn—the
half-promise made by Randolph to take her back soon. She did not know
what “soon” might mean, and she did not ask. She had grown content now
to leave that question in his hands.

Once, when in the after-dinner twilight, she had been talking to
Beatrice of her old home, the latter said, with eager vehemence:

“How you must long to see it again! How you must ache to be out of this
tumult, and back with your beloved sea and cliffs and pine-woods! Don’t
you hate our noisy, busy London? Don’t you pine to go back?”

Monica was silent, pondering, as it seemed. She was thinking deeply.
When she answered out of the fulness of her heart, her words startled
even herself.

“I don’t think I do. I missed the quiet and rest at first, but, you
see, my husband is here; I do not pine when I have him.”

Beatrice’s eyes grew suddenly wistful. “Ah, no!” she answered. “I can
understand that.”

But after a long silence she rallied herself and asked:

“But is he not going to take you back? Do you not want to see your
father and brother again?”

“Yes, if Randolph is willing to take me; but it must be as he likes.”

“He will like what will please you best.”

Monica smiled a little.

“No; he will like what is best, and I shall like it too.”

Beatrice studied her face intently.

“Do you know, Monica, that you have changed since I saw you first?”

Monica passed her hand across her brow. What a long time it seemed
since that first meeting in the park!

“Have I?”

“Yes. Do you know I used to have a silly fancy that you did not much
care for Randolph? It was absurd and impertinent, I know; but Haddon
had brought such a strange account of your sudden wedding, called you
the ‘snow bride,’ and had somehow got an idea that it had all been
rather cold and sad—forgetting, of course, that the sadness was on
account of your father’s health. I suppose I got a preconceived idea;
and do you know, when first I knew you I used to think of you as
the ‘snow-bride,’ and fancy you very cold to everyone—especially to
Randolph; and now that I see more of you and know you better, it is
just as plain that you love him with all your heart and soul.”

Monica sat quite still in the darkness, turning about the ring upon
her finger—the pledge of his wedded love. She was startled at hearing
put into plain words the secret thought treasured deep down in her
heart, but seldom looked into or analysed. Had it come to that? Did she
indeed love him thus? Was that the reason she yielded up herself and
her future so trustfully and willingly to him?—the reason that she no
longer yearned after Trevlyn as home, so long as he was at her side?
Yes, that was surely it. Beatrice had spoken no more than the truth
in what she said. She did love her husband heart and soul; but did he
love her too? There lay the sting—she had proved unworthy of him: he
must know it and feel it. She had been near to winning his heart; but
alas! she had not won it—and now, now perhaps it was too late. And yet
the full truth was like a ray of sunshine in her heart. Might she not
yet win his love by the depth and tenderness of her own? Something deep
down within her said that the land of promise lay, after all, not so
very far away.



CHAPTER THE FIFTEENTH.

A SUMMONS TO TREVLYN.


“Randolph! Randolph! Why did you not take me home when I begged so hard
to go? It was cruel! cruel! And now it is too late!”

This irrepressible cry of anguish burst from Monica in the first
moments of a terrible, overmastering grief. An open telegram in
Randolph’s hand announced the sudden death of Lord Trevlyn. He had just
broken to his wife, with as much gentleness as he could, the news of
this crushing sorrow. It was hardly unnatural that she should remember,
in such a moment, how eloquently she had pleaded a few weeks back to
be taken home to Trevlyn, yet she repented the words before they had
passed her lips, for she saw they had hurt her husband.

He was deeply grieved for her, his heart yearned over her, but his
words were few.

“Can you be ready to start, Monica, by the noon express?”

She bent her head in a silent assent, and moved away as one who walks
in a dream.

“Poor child!” he said softly, “poor child! If only my love could make
up to you for what you have lost; but alas! that is not what you want.”

It was a strange, sad, silent journey, almost as sad as the one in
which Randolph had brought his bride to London. He was taking her back
at last to her childhood’s home. Was he any nearer to her innermost
self than he had been that day, now nearly three months ago?

He was hopeful that he had made an advance, and yet this sudden recall
to Trevlyn disconcerted him. Apart from the question of the earl’s
death, there was another trouble, he believed, hanging over Monica’s
future. Tom Pendrill had been profiting by her absence to “experiment,”
as she would have called it, upon Arthur, with results that had
surprised even him, though he had always believed the case curable if
properly treated. Randolph had had nothing to do directly with the
matter, but Tom had written lately, asking him to find out the best
authorities on spinal injuries, and get some one or two specialists
to come and have a look at the boy. This Randolph had done at his own
expense, and with the result, as he had heard a few days back, that
Arthur was to be sent abroad for a year, to be under a German doctor,
whose cures of similar cases had been bringing him into marked repute.

Monica had been, by Arthur’s special wish, kept in ignorance of
everything. He was eagerly anxious, even at the cost of considerable
suffering, to submit to the prescribed treatment, feeling how much good
he had already received from Tom’s more severe remedies; but he knew
how Monica shrank from the idea of anything that could give him pain,
how terrible she would consider the idea of parting, how vehemently
she would struggle to thwart the proposed plan. So he had begged that
she might be kept in ignorance till all was finally settled. Indeed,
he had some idea, not entirely discouraged by Tom, of getting himself
quietly removed to Germany in her absence, so that she might be spared
all the anxiety, misery, and suspense.

Randolph could hardly have been acquitted of participation in the
scheme, the whole cost of which was to fall upon him, and he wondered
what Monica might think of his share in it. It had been no doing of his
that she had not been told from the first. He had urged upon the others
the unfairness of keeping her in the dark; but Arthur’s vehement wish
for secrecy had won the day, and he had held his peace until he should
be permitted to speak.

And now, what would happen? What was likely to be the result upon
Monica of the inevitable disclosure? Would it not seem to her as if
the first act of her husband, on succeeding to the family estate, was
to banish from it the one being for whom she had so often bespoken his
protection and brotherly care? Might she not fancy that he was in some
way the originator of the scheme? Might she not be acute enough to see
that but for him it never could have been carried out, owing to lack
of necessary funds? Her father might have approved it, but he could
not have forwarded it as Randolph was able to do. Might it not seem
to her that he was trying to rid himself of an unwelcome burden, and
to isolate his wife from all whom she loved best? He could not forget
some of the words she had spoken not very long after their marriage.
Practically those words had been rescinded by what had followed, but
that could hardly be so in this case. Monica’s heart clung round
Arthur with a passionate, yearning tenderness, that was one of the
main-springs of her existence. What would she say to those who had
banded together to take the boy from her?

Randolph’s pre-occupation and gravity were not lost upon Monica, but
she had no clue to their real cause. She felt that there was something
in it of which she was ignorant, and there was a sort of sadness and
constraint even in the suspicion of such a thing. She was unnerved
and miserable, and, although, she well knew she had not merited her
husband’s full confidence, it hurt her keenly to feel that it was
withheld from her.

Evening came on, a wild, melancholy stormy evening—is there anything
more sad and dreary than a midsummer storm? It does not come with the
wild, resistless might of a winter tempest, sweeping triumphantly
along, carrying all before it in the exuberance of its power. It is a
sad, subdued, moaning creature, full of eerie sounds of wailing and
regret, not wrapped in darkness, but cloaked in misty twilight, grey
and ghostlike—a pale, sorrowful, mysterious thing, that seems to know
itself altogether out of place, and is haunted by its own melancholy
and dreariness.

It was in the fast waning light of such a summer’s evening that the
portals of Trevlyn opened to welcome Monica again.

She was in the old familiar hall that once had been so dear to her—the
place whose stern, grim desolation had held such charms for her. Why
did she now gaze round her with dilated eyes, a sort of horror growing
upon her? Why did she cling to her husband’s arm so closely, as the
frowning suits of mail and black carved faces stared at her out of the
dusky darkness? Why was her first exclamation one of terror and dismay?

“Randolph! Randolph! This is not Trevlyn! It cannot be Trevlyn! Take me
home! ah, take me home!”

There was a catch in her breath; she was shaken with nervous agitation
and exhaustion. It seemed to her that this ghostly place was
altogether strange and terrible. She did not know that the change was
in herself; she thought it was in her surroundings.

“What have they done to it? What have they done to Trevlyn? This is not
my old home!”

Randolph took her in his arms, alarmed by her pale looks and manifest
disquietude.

“Not know your own old home, Monica?” he said, half gravely, half
playfully. “This is the only Trevlyn I have ever known. It is you
that have half forgotten, you have grown used to something so very
different.”

Monica looked timidly about her, half convinced, yet not relieved of
all her haunting fears. What a strange, vast, silent place it was!
Voices echoed strangely in it, resounding as it were from remote
corners. Footsteps sounded hollow and strange as they came and went
along the deserted passages. The staircase stretched upwards into blank
darkness, suggesting lurking horrors. All was intensely desolate. Was
this truly the home she had loved so well?

But Lady Diana appeared from one direction, and Tom Pendrill from
another. Monica dropped her husband’s arm and stood up, her calm, quiet
self again.

Food was awaiting the travellers, and as they partook, or tried to
partake of it, they heard all such particulars of the earl’s sudden
death as there were to hear. He had been as well as usual; indeed,
during the past week he had really appeared to gain in strength and
activity. He had been out of doors on all fine days, and only yesterday
had sat out for quite a long time upon the terrace. He had gone to
bed apparently in his usual health; but when his man had gone to him
in the morning he found him dead and cold. Tom Pendrill had come over
at once, and had remained for the day, relieving Lady Diana from all
trouble in looking after things, and thinking what was to be done. It
was his opinion that the earl had died in his sleep, without a moment’s
premonition. It was syncope of the heart, and was most likely almost
instantaneous. There had been no struggle and no pain, as was evident
from his restful attitude and expression.

The next days passed sadly and heavily, and the earl was laid to rest
amongst his forefathers in the family vault. Lady Diana took her
departure, glad, after the strain and sorrow of the past days, to
escape from surroundings so gloomy, and to solace herself for her long
stay at Trevlyn, by a retreat to an atmosphere more congenial to her.

Monica was glad to see her go. She shrank from her sharp words and
sharper looks. She longed to be alone with her husband, that she might
try to win back his heart by her own deep love that she hid away so
well.

But it was not easy even then to say what was in her heart. Randolph
was busy from morning till night over the necessary business that must
ensue upon the death of a landed proprietor. Tom Pendrill, who had
been much with the earl of late, remained to assist his successor; and
both the men seemed to take it for granted that Monica would gladly be
spared all business discussions, and devote herself to Arthur, from
whom she had so long been separated.

Monica, very gentle and submissive, accepted the office bestowed
upon her, and quietly bided her time. Despite the loss she had just
sustained, she was not unhappy. How could she be unhappy when she had
her husband? when she felt that every day they were drawing nearer and
nearer together? She looked wistfully into his face sometimes, and
saw the old proud, tender look shining upon her, thrilling her with
wonderful gladness. Some little shadow still hung over them, but it
was rolling slowly away—the dawn was breaking in its golden glory—the
time was drawing very near when each was to know the heart of the other
wholly and entirely won.

She never shrank from hearing the new Lord Trevlyn called by his title;
but looked at him proudly and tenderly, feeling how well he bore the
dignity, how nobly he would fulfil the duties now devolving upon him.
She watched him day by day with quiet, loving solicitude. She saw
his care for her in each act or plan, knew that he thought for her
still, made her his first object, although she had disappointed him
so grievously once. Her heart throbbed with joy to feel that this was
so; the sunshine deepened round her path day by day. Just a little
patience—just a little time to show him that the old distrust and
insubordination were over, and he would give to her—she felt sure of it
now—the love she prized above all else on earth.

Monica’s face might be pale and grave in these days, yet it wore an
added sweetness as each passed by, for her heart was full of strange
new joy. She loved her husband—he loved her—their hearts were all but
united.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER THE SIXTEENTH.

CHANGES.


“Arthur!”

“Aha! my lady! you did not expect that, did you? Now look here!”

Arthur, who was sitting up in an arm-chair—a thing Monica had never
seen him do since that terrible fall from the cliffs years ago—now
pulled himself slowly into a standing position, and by the help of a
stout stick, shuffled a few paces to his couch, upon which he sank
breathless, yet triumphant, though his drawn brow betrayed that the
achievement was made at the cost of some physical pain.

“Arthur, don’t! You will kill yourself!”

“On the contrary, I am going to cure myself—or rather, Tom and his
scientific friends are going to cure me,” answered Arthur, panting a
little with the exertion, but very gay and confident. “Do you know,
Monica, that for the last three months I have been at Tom’s tender
mercies, and you see what I can do at the end of that time? Randolph
paid no end of money, I believe, to send down two big swells from
London to overhaul me; and now—now what do you think is going to
happen?”

“What?”

“The day after to-morrow I am going to start for Germany—for a place
where there are mineral springs and things; and I am going to stay
there for a year, with a doctor who has cured people worse than me.
Randolph is going to pay—isn’t he just awfully good? And in a year,
Monica, I shall come back to you well—cured! What do you think of that?
Haven’t we kept our secret well? Why, Monica, don’t look like that!
Aren’t you pleased to think that I shall not be always a cripple?”

But Monica was too utterly astounded to be able to realise all at once
what this meant.

“Arthur, I don’t understand,” she said at length. “You seeing
doctors—you going to Germany! Whose doing is it all?”

“Whose? Randolph’s practically, I suppose, since he finds the money for
it.”

“Why was not I told?”

“That was my doing. I felt that if you knew you would dissuade me. But
you can’t now, for in two days I shall be gone!”

“Was Randolph willing to keep a secret from me—about you?” asked
Monica, slowly.

“No, he didn’t like it. He wanted you to be told; but I wouldn’t have
it, and he gave in. I wanted to tell you myself when everything was
fixed. Can you believe I am really going?”

“No, I can’t. Do you want to go, Arthur—to leave Trevlyn?”

“I want to get well,” he answered, eagerly. “If you had been lying on
your back for years, Monica, you would understand.”

“I do understand,” answered Monica, clasping her hands. “Only—only——”

“Oh! yes, I know all that. It won’t be pleasant. But I’d do more for a
good chance of getting well. So now it’s all settled, and I’m off the
day after to-morrow!”

“You’ve not given me much time for my preparations.”

Arthur laughed outright.

“Oh, you’re not going—did you think you were? Why, you’re Lady Trevlyn
now—a full-blown countess. It would be too absurd, your tying yourself
to me. Besides”—with a touch of manly gravity and purpose—“I wouldn’t
have you, Monica, not at any price. I can stand things myself, but I
can’t stand the look in your eyes. Besides, you know, it would be
absurd now—quite absurd. You’re married, you know, and that changes
everything.”

Monica’s face was hard to read.

“I should have thought that, even married, I might have been allowed
to see you placed safely in the hands of this new doctor, after having
been almost your only nurse all these years.”

He stretched out his hand and drew her towards him, making her kneel
down beside him, so that he could gaze right into her face.

“You must not look like that, you sweet, sensitive, silly sister,” said
Arthur, caressingly. “You must not think I have changed, because I wish
to go away, and because I will not have you with me. I love you the
same as ever. I know that you love me, and if you want a proof of this
you shall have it, for I am going to ask a favour of you—a very great
favour.”

Monica smoothed his hair with her hand.

“A favour, Arthur?—Something that I can grant? You know you have only
to ask.”

“I want you to lend me Randolph,” he said, with a little laugh, as
if amused at the form of words he had chosen. “I want to know if you
can spare him for the journey. Tom is going to take me, but somehow,
Tom—well, he is very clever and kind, but he does hurt me, there’s no
denying, and I don’t feel quite resigned to be entirely at his mercy.
But Randolph is different. He is so very strong, he moves me twice as
easily, and he is so awfully kind and gentle: he stops in a moment if
he thinks it hurts. He has been here a good bit with Tom since he got
back, and you can’t think how different his handling is. I don’t like
to take him away from you. You must miss him so awfully: he is such a
splendid fellow!”

“Have you said anything to Randolph about it?”

“Oh, no. I couldn’t till I’d asked you. I do feel horrid to suggest
such a thing; but you’ve made me selfish, you know, by spoiling me. It
will take us three days to go; but he could come back much quicker. Tom
is going to stop on for a bit, to study cures with this old fogey; so I
shall have somebody with me. I’ll not keep Randolph a day after I get
landed there, but I should like him for the journey uncommonly.”

Monica stooped and kissed him. “I will arrange that for you,” she said,
quietly, and went away without another word.

She went slowly downstairs to the study, where her husband was
generally to be found. She was dazed and confused by the astounding
piece of news she had heard: hurt, pleased, hopeful, grieved, anxious,
and half indignant all in one. Her indignation was all for Tom
Pendrill, whom she had always regarded, where Arthur was concerned,
something in the light of a natural foe. For her husband’s quiet
generosity and goodness she had nothing but the warmest gratitude. He
would not be led away by professional enthusiasm, or wish to inflict
suffering upon Arthur just for the sake of scientific inquiry. He would
not wish to send him from Trevlyn unless he believed that some great
benefit would result from that banishment.

She smiled proudly as she thought of Conrad’s old prediction fulfilling
itself so exactly now. Once she would have felt this deed of his as a
crushing blow, aimed at the very foundation of her love and happiness;
now she only saw in it a new proof of her husband’s single-minded love
and strength. He would do even that which he knew would cause present
pain, if he felt assured it were best to do so. He had proved his
strength like this before, and she knew that he had been in the right.
Should she distrust him now? Never again! never again! She had done
with distrust now. She loved him too truly to feel a shadow of doubt.
Whatever he did must be true and right. She would find him now, and
thank him for his goodness towards her boy.

She went straight to the study, full of this idea. Her eyes were
shining strangely; her face showed that her feelings had been deeply
stirred. But when she opened the door, she paused with a start
expressive of slight discomfiture, for her husband was not alone—Tom
Pendrill was with him. They had guide-books and a Continental Bradshaw
open before them, and were deep in discussions and plans.

They looked up quickly as Monica appeared, and Randolph, seeing by
her face that she knew all, nerved himself to meet displeasure and
misunderstanding. Monica could not say now what she had rehearsed on
the way. Tom was there, and she was not sure that she quite forgave
him, although she believed he acted from motives of kindness; but
certainly she could not speak out before him. The words she had come
prepared to utter died away on her lips, and her silence and whole
attitude looked significant of deep-lying distress and displeasure.

“You have heard the news, Monica?” said Tom, easily.

“Yes, I have heard the news,” she answered, very quietly. “Is it true
that you take him away the day after to-morrow?”

“Quite true,” answered Tom, looking very steadily at her. “Do you
forgive us, Monica?”

She was silent for a moment; sort of quiver passed over her face.

“I am not quite sure if I forgive _you_,” she answered in a low even
tone.

She had not looked at her husband all this time, nor attempted to speak
to him. She was labouring visibly under the stress of subdued emotion.
Randolph believed he knew only too well the struggle that was going on
within her.

“Monica,” he said—and his voice sounded almost cold in his effort to
keep it thoroughly under control—“I am afraid this has been a shock to
you. I am sure you will feel it very much. Will you try to believe that
we are acting as we believe for the best as regards Arthur’s future,
and pardon the mystery that has surrounded our proceedings?”

Monica gave him one quick look—so quick and transient that he could not
catch the secret it revealed. She spoke very quietly.

“Everything has been settled, and I must accept the judgment of others.
Results alone can quite reconcile me to the idea; but at least I have
learned to know that I do not always judge best in difficult questions.
Arthur wishes to go, and I will not stand in his way. There is only one
thing that I want to ask,” and she looked straight at her husband.

“What is that, Monica?”

“I want you to go with him, Randolph.”

“You want me to go with him?”

“Yes, to settle him in his new quarters, and to come and tell me all
about it, and how he has borne the journey. Tom will not be back for
weeks—and I don’t know if I quite trust Tom’s truthfulness. Will you go
too, Randolph? I shall be happier if I know he is in your keeping as
well.”

He looked at her earnestly. Did she wish to get rid of him for a time?
Was his presence distasteful to her after this last act of his? He
could not tell, but his heart was heavy as he gave the required assent.

“I will do as you wish, Monica. If you do not mind being a few days
alone at Trevlyn, I will go with Arthur. It is the least I can do, I
suppose, after taking him away from you.”

“Thank you, Randolph,” she said, with one more of those inexplicable
glances. “I need not be alone at Trevlyn. Aunt Elizabeth will come, I
am sure, and stay with me;” and she went quietly away without another
word.

“I say, Trevlyn, you have tamed my lady pretty considerably,” remarked
Tom, when the men were alone together. “I expected no end of a shine
when she found out, and she yields the point like a lamb. Seems to me
you’ve cast a pretty good spell over her during the short time you’ve
had her in hand.”

Randolph pulled thoughtfully at his moustache as he turned again to
the papers on the table. He did not reply directly to Tom’s remark,
but presently observed, rather as if it were the outcome of his own
thoughts:

“All the same, I would give a good deal if one of my first acts after
coming into the property were not to banish Arthur from Trevlyn for a
considerable and indeterminate time.”

“Oh, bosh!” ejaculated Tom, taking up Bradshaw again. “Why, even Monica
would never put a construction like that upon this business.”

This day and the next flew by as if on wings. There was so much to
think of, so much to do, and Monica had Arthur so much upon her mind,
that she found no opportunity to say to Randolph what she had purposed
doing in the heat of the moment. Speech was still an effort to her; her
reserve was too deep to be easily overcome. She was busy and he was
pre-occupied. When he returned she would tell him all, and thank him
for his generous goodness towards her boy.

“Monica,” said Arthur, as she came to bid him good-night upon the eve
of his journey—he had had a soothing draught administered, and was no
longer excited, but quiet and drowsy—“Monica, you will be quite happy,
will you not, with only Randolph now? You love him very much, don’t
you?”

She bent her head and kissed him.

“Yes, Arthur,” she answered, softly. “I love him with all my heart.”

“Just as he loves you,” murmured Arthur. “I can see it in his face,
in every tone of his voice, especially when he talks of you—which is
pretty nearly always—we both like it so much. I am so glad you feel
just the same. I thought you did. I shall like to think about you
so—how happy you will be!”

The next day after Arthur had been placed in the carriage that was to
take him away from Trevlyn, and Monica had said her last adieu to him,
and had turned away with pale face and quivering lips, she felt her
hands taken in her husband’s strong warm clasp.

“Monica,” he said tenderly, “good-bye. I will take every care of him.
You shall hear everything, and shall not regret, if I can help it,
trusting him to me.”

Monica looked up suddenly into his face, and put her arms about his
neck. She did not care at that moment for the presence of Tom or of the
servants. Her husband was leaving her—she had only thoughts for him.

“Take care of yourself, Randolph,” she said, her voice quivering, and
almost breaking. “Take care of yourself, and come back to me as quickly
as you can. I shall miss you, oh! so much, till I have you safe home
again. Good-bye, dear husband, good-bye!”

He held her for a moment in his arms. His heart beat tumultuously; for
an instant everything seemed to recede, and leave him and his wife
alone in the world together; but it was no time now to indulge in
raptures. He kissed her brow and lips, and gently unloosed her clasp.

“Good-bye, my wife,” he said gently. “God bless and keep you always.”

The next moment the carriage was rolling rapidly away along the road,
Monica gazing after it, her soul in her eyes.

“Ah; my darling,” said Mrs. Pendrill, coming and taking her by the
hand, “it is very hard to part with him; but it was kind to Arthur to
spare him, and it is only for a few days.”

“I know, I know,” answered Monica passing her hand across her eyes.
“I would not have kept him here. Arthur wanted him so much—I can
understand so well what he felt—it would have been selfish to hold him
back. But it feels so lonely and desolate without him; as if everything
were changed and different. I can’t express it; but oh! I do feel it
all so keenly.”

Mrs. Pendrill pressed the hand she held.

“You love him, then, so very much?”

“Ah, yes,” she answered; “how could I help it?”

“It makes me very happy to hear you say that. For I was sometimes
rather afraid that you were hurried into marriage before you had
learned to know your own heart, I thought.”

Monica passed her hand across her brow.

“Was I hurried?” she asked dreamily. “It is so hard to remember all
that now. It seems as if I had always loved Randolph—as if he had
always been the centre of my life.”

And Mrs. Pendrill was content. She said no more, asked no more
questions.

“You know, Randolph,” said Arthur to his kindest of nurses and
attendants, as he lay in bed at night, after rather a hard day’s
travelling, “I don’t wonder now that you’ve so completely cut me out.
I shouldn’t have believed it possible once, but it seems not only
possible, but natural enough, now that I know what kind of a fellow you
are.”

“What do you mean, my boy?” asked Randolph.

“Mean? Why, what I say to be sure. I understand now why you’ve so
completely cut me out with Monica. I only hold quite a subordinate
place in her affections now. It is quite right, and I shall never be
jealous of you, old fellow; only mind you always let me be her brother.
I can’t give up that. You may have all the rest, though. You deserve
it, and you’ve got it too, by her own showing.”

Randolph started a little involuntarily.

“What do you mean?”

“Mean? why, that she loves you heart and soul, of course. You must know
it as well as I, and I had it from her own lips.”

       *       *       *       *       *

“My wife, my wife!” said Randolph, as he paced beneath the starry
heavens that night. “Then I was not deceived or mistaken—my wife—my
Monica—my very own—God bless you, my darling, and bring me safe home to
you and to your love!”



CHAPTER THE SEVENTEENTH.

UNITED.


During the days that followed Monica lived as in one long, happy dream.
The clouds all seemed to have rolled away, letting in the sunshine to
the innermost recesses of her heart.

Why was she so calmly and serenely happy, despite the real sorrow
hanging over her in the recent death of a tenderly-loved father? Why
did even the loss of the brother, to whom she had vowed such changeless
devotion, give her no special pang? She had felt his going much, yet
it did not weigh her down with any load of sorrow. She well knew why
these changes were. The old love had not changed nor waned, but it
had been eclipsed in the light of the deep wonderful happiness that
had grown up in her heart, since she had come to know how well and
faithfully she loved Randolph, and to believe at last in his love for
her.

Yes, she no longer doubted that now. Something in the very perfectness
of her own love drove away the haunting doubts and fears that had
troubled her for so long. He had her heart, and she had his, and when
once she had him home again the last shadow would have vanished away.
How her heart beat as she pictured that meeting! How she counted the
hours till she had him back!

Only once was she disturbed in her quiet, dreamy time of waiting.

Once, as she was riding through the loneliest part of the lonely pine
wood, Conrad Fitzgerald suddenly stood in her path, gazing earnestly at
her with a look she could not fathom.

Her face flushed and paled. She regarded him with a glance of haughty
displeasure.

“Let me pass, Sir Conrad.”

He did not move; he was still fixedly regarding her.

“I told you how it would be, Monica,” he said. “I told you Arthur would
be sent away.”

She smiled a smile he did not understand.

“Let me pass,” she said again.

His eyes began to glow dangerously. Her beauty and her scorn drove him
to a sort of fury.

“Is this the way you keep your promise? Is this how you treat a man you
have promised to call your friend?”

“My friend!” Monica repeated the words very slowly, with an inflection
the meaning of which could not be misunderstood; nor did he affect to
misunderstand her.

“Lady Monica,” he said, “you have heard some lying story, I perceive,
trumped up by that scoundrel you call your husband.”

He was forced to spring on one side then, for Monica had urged her
horse forward, regardless of his presence, and the flash in her eye
made him recoil for a moment; but he was wild with rage, and sprang at
her horse, catching him by the bridle.

“You shall hear me!” he cried. “You shall, I say! You have heard his
story, now hear mine. He has brought false reports. I know him of old.
He is my enemy. He has poisoned others against me before now. Lady
Monica, upon my word of honour——”

“_Your honour!_”

That was all. Indeed, there was no more to be said. Even Conrad felt
that, and his grasp upon the reins relaxed. Monica was not in the
least afraid of him. She looked him steadily over as she moved quietly
onward, without the least haste or flurry. Her quiet courage, her lofty
scorn of him, stung him to madness.

“Very good, Lady Monica—I beg your pardon—Lady Trevlyn, I should say
now. Very good. We understand each other excellently well. You have
made a promise, only to break it—I will show you how a vow _can_ be
kept. I, too, have made a vow in my time. I make another now. I have
vowed to ruin the happiness and prosperity of Randolph Trevlyn’s life;
now I will do more. I will destroy your peace and happiness also!”

He was following Monica as he spoke, and there was a deep, steady
malevolence in every tone of his voice, and in each word that he
uttered, which gave something of sinister significance to threats that
might well have been mere idle bravado. Monica paid not the slightest
heed. She rode on as if she did not even hear; but she wished she had
her husband beside her. She was not afraid for herself, only for him;
and in his absence it was easy to be haunted by vague, yet terrible,
fears.

But days sped by; news from Germany was good. Randolph’s task was
accomplished, and he was on his way home; nay, he would be there almost
as soon as the letter which announced him. He did not specify exactly
how he would come, but he bid her look for him about dusk that very day.

How her heart throbbed with joy! She could not strenuously combat Mrs.
Pendrill’s determination to return home at once, so that husband and
wife should be alone on his return. She wanted Randolph all to herself.
She hungered for him; she hardly knew how to wait for the slowly
crawling hours to pass.

She drove Mrs. Pendrill to St. Maws, and on her return wandered
aimlessly about the great lonely house, saying to herself, in a sort of
ceaseless cadence:

“He is coming. He is coming. He is coming.”

Dusk was falling in the dim house. The shadows were growing black in
the gloomy hall, where Monica was restlessly pacing. The last pale
gleam of sunlight flickered and faded as she watched and waited with
intense expectancy.

A man’s firm step upon the terrace without—a man’s tall shadow across
the threshold. Monica sprang forward with a low cry.

“Randolph!”

“Not exactly that, Lady Trevlyn!”

She stopped short, and threw up her head like some beautiful wild
creature at bay.

“Sir Conrad, how _dare_ you! Leave my husband’s house this instant! Do
you wish him to find you here? Do you wish a second chastisement at his
hands?”

Conrad’s face flushed crimson, darkening with the intensity of his
rage, as he heard those last words.

He had been drinking deeply; his usual caution and cowardice were
merged in a passionate desire for revenge at all costs. And what better
revenge could he enjoy at that moment than to be surprised by the
master of the house upon his return in company with his wife? Monica
had asked him if he wished Randolph to find him there—it was just that
wish which had brought him.

“Monica!” he cried passionately, “you shall hear me. I will be heard!
You shall not judge me till I can plead my own cause. The veriest
criminal is heard in his defence.”

He advanced a step nearer, but she recoiled before him, and pointed to
the door.

“Go, Sir Conrad, unless you wish to be expelled by my servants. I will
listen to nothing.”

She moved as if to summon assistance, but he sprang forward and seized
her hand, holding her wrist in so fierce a grasp that she could neither
free herself nor reach the bell. She was a prisoner at his mercy.

But Monica was a true Trevlyn, and a stranger to mere physical fear.
The madness in his gleaming eyes, the ferocity of his whole aspect,
were sufficiently alarming. She knew in this vast place that it would
be in vain to call for help, no one would hear her voice; but she faced
her enemy with cool, inflexible courage, trusting to her own strong
will, and the inherent cowardice of a man who could thus insult a woman
alone in her husband’s house.

“Loose me, Sir Conrad!” she said.

“Not until you have heard me.”

“I will not hear you. I know as much of your story as there is any need
I should. Loose me, I say! Do you know that my husband will be here
immediately? Do you wish _him_ to expel you from his house?”

Conrad laughed wildly, a sort of demoniac laugh, that made her shudder
in spite of herself. Was he mad? Yes, mad with drink and with fury—not
irresponsible, yet so blind, so crazed, so possessed with thoughts of
vengeance, that he was almost more dangerous than a raving maniac would
have been. His eyes glowed with sullen fire. His voice was hoarse and
strained.

“Do I wish him to find me here? Yes, I do—I do!” he laughed wildly.
“Kiss me, Monica—call me your friend again! There is yet time—show him
you are not his slave—show him how you assert yourself in his absence.”

Monica recoiled with a cry of horror; but the strength of madness was
upon him. He held her fast by the wrist. It was unspeakably hideous to
be alone in that dim place with this terrible madman.

“Monica, I love you—you shall—you must be mine!”

Was that another step without? It was—it was! Thank Heaven he had come!

“Randolph! Randolph! Randolph!”

Monica’s voice rang out with that sudden piercing clearness that
bespeaks terror and distress.

The next moment Conrad was hurled backwards, with a force that sent him
staggering against the wall, breathless and powerless. Before he could
recover himself he was lifted bodily off his feet, shaken like a rat,
and literally thrown down the terrace steps, rolling over and over in
the descent, till he lay at the foot stunned, bruised and shaken. He
picked himself slowly up, muttering curses as he limped away. Little
were his curses heeded by the two he had left behind.

Monica, white, trembling, unnerved by all she had gone through during
the past minutes, held out her arms to her husband.

“Randolph! Oh, Randolph!”

He clasped her close to his heart, and held her there as if he never
meant to let her go. He bent his head over her, and she felt his kisses
on her cheek. He did not doubt—he did not distrust her! His strong arms
pressed her even closer and closer. She lay against his breast, feeling
no wish ever to leave that shelter. Oh, he was so true and noble—her
own loving, faithful husband! How she loved him she had never known
until that supreme moment.

At last she stirred in his arms and lifted her face to his.

“Randolph, you must never leave me again,” she said. “I cannot bear
it—I cannot.”

“I will not, my dear wife,” he answered. “Never again shall aught but
death part thee and me.”

She clung to him, half shuddering.

“Ah! do not talk of death, Randolph. I cannot bear it—I cannot listen.”

He pressed a kiss upon her trembling lips.

“Does my wife love me now?” he asked, very gravely and tenderly. “Let
me hear it from your own sweet lips, my Monica.”

“Ah, Randolph, I love, I love you;” she lifted her eyes to his as she
spoke. There was something almost solemn in their deep, earnest gaze.
“Randolph, I do not think any one but your wife could know such a love
as mine.”

“Not your husband?” he asked, returning her look with one equally full
of meaning. “Monica, you may love as well, but I think you cannot love
more than I do.”

She laid her head down again. It was unspeakably sweet to hear him say
so, to feel his arms about her, to know that they were united at last,
and that nothing could part them now.

“Not even death,” said Monica to herself; “for love like ours is
stronger than death.”

“How came that scoundrel here?” asked Randolph, somewhat later as they
stood together on the terrace, watching the moonlight on the sea.

“I think he came to frighten me—perhaps to try and hurt us once more by
his wicked words and deeds. Randolph, is he mad? He looked so dreadful
to-day. He was not the old Conrad I once knew. It was terrible—till you
came.”

“I believe at times he is mad,” answered Randolph, “with a sort of
madness that is not actual insanity, though somewhat akin to it. It
is the madness of ungovernable passion and hatred that rises up in
him from time to time against certain individuals, and becomes, as it
seems, a sort of monomania with him. It was so with his friend and
benefactor Colonel Hamilton, when once he felt himself found out. Ever
since the horsewhipping I administered to him, I believe he has felt
vindictively towards me. Our paths led us wide apart for several years,
but as soon as we met again the old enmity rose up once more. He tried
to hurt me through my wife.” Randolph looked down at her with a proud
smile upon his handsome face. “I need not say how utterly and miserably
he has failed.”

Monica glanced up at him, a world of loving confidence in her eyes; yet
the clinging clasp of her hands tightened upon his arm. He fancied she
trembled a little.

“What is it, my Monica?”

She pressed a little more closely towards him.

“Randolph, do you think he will try to hurt you now—try to do you some
injury?”

The husband smiled re-assuringly at her.

“Hurt me? How, Monica?”

“Oh, I don’t know; but he has spoken such cruel, wicked words. He said
he had vowed to ruin our happiness—he looked as if he meant it—so
vindictive, so terrible!” she shivered a little.

He took her hands, and held them in his warm, strong clasp.

“Are you afraid of what that bad man says, Monica—a man who is a coward
and a scoundrel of the deepest dye? Are you afraid of idle threats from
his lips? How could he ruin our happiness now?”

She looked up at him, still with a sort of undefined trouble in her
eyes.

“He might hurt you, Randolph,” she half whispered. “What hurts you,
hurts me. If—if—he were to take you away from me——”

Randolph laid his hand smilingly upon her lips.

“My darling, you are unnerved by the fright he gave you. When was
Monica troubled by idle fears before?”

“I don’t know what I fear, Randolph; but I have feelings
sometimes—premonitions, presentiments, and I cannot shake them off.
Ever since Conrad came, I felt a kind of horror of him, even though I
tried to call him friend. Sometimes I think it must mean something.”

“No doubt it does,” answered Randolph. “It is the natural shrinking of
your pure soul from his evil, vicious nature. I can well understand it.
It could hardly be otherwise. He could not deceive you long.”

She looked gravely out before her.

“No, I do not think he really deceived me long—not my innermost self
of all. But I was very self-willed. I wanted to judge for myself, and
I could not judge him rightly. I believed him. I did not want to be
unjust—and he deceived me.”

Randolph smiled and laid his hand caressingly upon her shoulder. She
looked up with a smile.

“That is right, Monica. You must put away these sad, wistful looks.
We must not let this evening’s happiness be marred by any doubts and
fears. You have your husband again. Is not that enough?”

She turned and laid her head against his shoulder. His arm was fast
about her in a moment. She drew a long breath, almost like a sigh.

“Randolph, I think that moments like this must be a foretaste of
heaven.”

He kissed her, and she added, low and dreamily:

“Only there, there will be no fear of parting. Death could not part us
there.”

“Death could not sunder our hearts even here, my Monica,” said
Randolph. “Some love is for eternity.”

“Yes,” she answered, looking out over the wide sea with a deep smile,
that seemed as if it were reading the future in the vast, heaving
expanse of moon-lit water. “Our love is like that—not for time alone,
but for eternity.”

He caught the gravity of her mood. Some subtle sympathy drew them ever
closer and more close together.

“And so,” he added gravely and tenderly, “we need fear nothing; for
nothing can alter that one great thing. Nothing can change our love. We
belong to one another always—always.”

She stood very still and quiet.

“Yes,” she said, “for ever and ever. Randolph, if we could both die
to-night I think it would be a happy thing for us.”

“Why?”

“Because then there would be no parting to fear.”

“And now?”

“Now I do fear it. I fear it without knowing why. _He_ will part us if
he can.”

Randolph strained his wife close to his heart.

“_If_ he can! Monica, look up; put away these idle fears, my love. Can
I not take care of you and of myself? Let us put him for ever out of
our lives.”

“Ah! if only we could!” breathed Monica.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER THE EIGHTEENTH.

A SHADOW.


The days that followed were very full of happiness and peace for Monica
and her husband. They were alone together in the dim old castle, far
away from the busy whirl of life they had so gladly left behind, free
to be with each other every moment of the flying hours, learning to
know and to love one another with a more perfect comprehending love
with each succeeding day.

Not one tiny cloud of reserve or distrust clouded the sunshine of
their horizon. Monica had laid before Randolph that unlucky letter
of Lady Diana’s, had listened with a sort of mingling of delight and
indignation to his comments on the composition—delight to hear that he
had always loved her from the first, that in gratifying her father’s
desire he had but been gratifying the dearest desire of his own
heart—indignation towards the mischief-making relative, who had tried
to deceive and humiliate her, who had told her one half of the story
and concealed the other.

But indignation was only a momentary feeling. Monica was too happy to
cherish resentment. Her anger was but a passing spark.

“I should like to speak my mind to Lady Diana,” remarked Randolph, as
he tore the paper into small fragments and tossed them over the cliff.
“I always distrusted her wisdom, but I did not look for deliberate
malice like that. Why did you not show me that letter when it came,
Monica, and let me see what I had to say to it?”

She looked up with a smile.

“Because I was so foolish and distrustful in those days. I did long to
once, but then came the thought—Suppose it should be true?”

And then they both smiled. There was a charm and sweetness in thus
discussing the past, with the light of the happy present shining upon
it.

“But she meant to be your friend, Randolph. We must not forget that.
I suppose she thought that you would tell me of your love, but that
she ought to inform me of your generosity. Poor Aunt Diana! we
should get on better now. In those days, Randolph, I think I was very
_difficile_—very wilful and unapproachable. I used to think it would
kill me ever to leave Trevlyn. I think now that it would have been the
ruin of me to stay. It is not good to grow up in one narrow groove, and
to gain no knowledge of anything beyond.”

“That is quite true, Monica. Does that mean that you will be willing to
leave Trevlyn, by and-bye?”

“I shall be willing to do anything that you wish, Randolph. You know I
would go anywhere with you. Do you want to take me away again?”

“Presently I think I do. I should like to take you to Scotland in
August, to stay a month or two at my little shooting-box there. You
would like the free, roving life you could lead there, amongst that
world of heather. And then there are things to be done at Trevlyn.
Monica, will you be able to reconcile yourself to changes here?”

“Changes?”

“Yes. I should like to see Trevlyn restored to what it must have been
a century ago. The glory has departed of late years, but you have only
to look round to see what the place must have been once. I want to
restore that faded glory—not to introduce glaring changes, but to make
it something like what it must have been when our ancestors lived there
long years ago. Would you like that, Monica? It would not go against
you, would it, to see Trevlyn look so? I want it to be worthy of the
mistress who will preside there. It is a wish that has haunted me ever
since I entered its precincts and met you there.”

Monica was glad to enter into any plan proposed by her husband. She was
willing he should restore Trevlyn in any way that he wished; but she
preferred that he should make his own arrangements about it, and let
her only judge by the result. She could not yet enter with any sense of
realisation into projects for making Trevlyn other than she had known
it all her life; but she trusted Randolph’s taste and judgment, and let
him plan and settle everything as he would.

She was ready to leave home whenever he wished it, the more so that
Conrad Fitzgerald still occupied a suite of rooms in his half
dismantled house, and hung about the neighbourhood in an odd, aimless
sort of fashion.

How he spent his time no one seemed to know, but he must have developed
roving tendencies, for Monica was constantly seeing him in unexpected
places, down by the rocky shore, wandering over the trackless downs,
or crouching in the heather or behind a tree, as she and her husband
passed along in their daily walks or rides.

He never met them face to face. He appeared to endeavour always to
keep out of sight. Randolph, as a matter of fact, seldom saw him,
and paid no heed, when he did, to the vindictive scowl upon the yet
beautiful face. But Monica seemed haunted by this persistent watching
and waiting. She was ever on the look-out for the crouching figure in
some place of concealment, for the glitter of the fierce blue eyes, and
the cruel sneer of the pale lips. She felt intensely nervous and timid
beneath that sense of _espionage_; and she was glad when August came,
and she was to leave Trevlyn and its spectre behind.

Accounts from Germany were very good. Arthur wrote little pencil notes
every week, informing Monica that he was getting on “like a house on
fire,” and singing the praises of Tom, who had stayed so long with him,
“like the good fellow he was,” and would have remained longer only it
really wasn’t worth while.

“I’m afraid I’ve been very unjust to Tom,” said Monica. “I want to
tell him so when he comes back. May we wait till he does? I want to
hear all about Arthur at first hand, as I may not go to see him yet.”

So they waited for the return of the traveller.

Monica did sincerely wish to hear about Arthur, but she had something
else to report to Tom as well. She had the greatest confidence in his
acuteness and penetration, and could sometimes say to him what she
would have despaired of communicating intelligibly to any one else.

There was no difficulty in securing a private interview when once he
had come back. Every one knew how anxious Monica would be to hear every
detail of Arthur’s present life, and Tom resigned himself, and told
his tale with all possible fulness and accuracy.

Monica listened with an absorbed look upon her face. When he had told
all, she said simply:

“Thank you, Tom, for all your goodness to him. I am very sorry I ever
misunderstood you, and said such hard things of and to you. You have
got the best of it in the end, by heaping coals of fire upon me.”

He smiled slightly.

“My dear Monica, you don’t suppose I troubled my head over your
ladyship’s righteous wrath. I found it very amusing, I assure you.”

“I believe you did,” assented Monica, smiling in turn; “which made
things a little trying for me. Tom, I believe you have always been my
friend, even when we have seemed most bitterly opposed.”

The sudden earnestness of her manner made him look at her keenly, and
he spoke without his usual half-mocking intonation.

“I hope so, Monica. I wish to have the right to call myself your
friend.”

He looked steadily at her, knowing there was more to follow. She was
silent for a time, and then came a sudden and most unexpected question,
and one apparently most irrelevant.

“Do you know Sir Conrad Fitzgerald?”

“I used to know him when he was a child. I knew him slightly at Oxford.
He has made no attempt to renew the acquaintance since he has been down
here; and, judging by what I have heard, I should not be inclined to
encourage him if he did.”

“But there would be nothing extraordinary in your visiting him?”

“Possibly not; but I cannot say I have any wish to try the experiment.”

“You know his history, perhaps?—the dark stain.”

“I heard of it at the time it happened—not from Trevlyn, though. It’s
a sort of story that doesn’t make one yearn to renew acquaintance with
the hero.”

For a few moments Monica sat very still and silent. Then she asked
quietly:

“Do you think he is the kind of man to be dangerous?”

“Dangerous?”

“Yes—if he had taken a vow of vengeance. Do you think——?”

“Well, what?”

“Think he would try very hard to accomplish such a vow? Do people never
in these days try to do an injury to a man they hate?”

Tom began to understand her now.

“Well, one cannot lay down hard and fast lines; but it is not now
customary for a man to attempt the sort of vengeance that he would have
done a century or so back. He tries in these days to hurt an enemy
morally by injuring his reputation; and I think no one need stand in
much awe of Fitzgerald, least of all a man like your husband. It is
necessary to possess a reputation of one’s own to undermine that of
another with much success. Fitzgerald certainly has a reputation, but
not the kind that makes him dangerous as an enemy.”

Monica heard this dictum in silence. She did not appear much relieved,
and he saw it.

“Now you anticipate,” he continued, quite quietly and unemotionally,
“that he will make a regular attack upon Trevlyn one of these days?”

“I am afraid so sometimes,” answered Monica. “It may be very foolish;
but I am afraid. He always seems watching us. Hardly a day goes by but
I see him, with such an evil look in his eye. Tom, I sometimes think
that he is going mad.”

The young man’s face changed slightly.

“That, of course, would put a new colour on the matter. Have you any
reasons upon which to base your suspicions?”

“Nothing that you would perhaps call reasons, but they make me
suspicious. Randolph, spoke of a touch of insanity that he had fancied
lurked in his brain. At least, when he hates he seems to hate with a
ferocity that suggests the idea of madness. Tom, if you were to see
him, should you know?”

Tom mused a little.

“I might be able to hazard a shrewd guess, perhaps. Why do you want so
much to know?”

Without answering, Monica propounded another question. “If he were mad,
he would be much more dangerous, would he not?”

“Yes; and if really dangerous, could be placed under proper control.”

A look of relief crossed Monica’s face.

“Could that be done?”

“Certainly, if absolute madness could be proved. But you know in
many cases this is most difficult to demonstrate; and in Fitzgerald’s
independent position it might be exceedingly hard to get the needful
evidence.”

Her face clouded again.

“But you will see him, Tom? You will try to find out?”

He hesitated a little. To tell the truth he did not care about the
job. He had a hearty contempt for the man himself, did not attach much
weight to Monica’s suspicions, and thought her fears far-fetched. But
her pleading face prevailed.

“Well, Monica, if you particularly wish it, I will endeavour to meet
him, and enter into a sort of speaking acquaintance. I don’t promise to
force myself upon him if he avoids me pointedly, but I will do what
I can in a casual sort of way to find out something about him. But
it is not at all likely he will prove mad enough to be placed under
restraint.”

“I believe he drinks,” said Monica, softly. “He used not to, but I
believe he does now.”

“Well, if he has a screw loose and drinks as well, he may make an end
of himself in time. At any rate, if it will relieve your mind, I will
find out what I can about him.”

“Thank you, Tom; I am very much obliged to you; and if you cannot do
much, at least you can keep your eye upon him, and let me know how long
he stays here. I—I—it may be very foolish; but I don’t want Randolph to
come back till he has gone.”

Tom’s eyebrows went up.

“Then you really are afraid?”

She smiled faintly.

“I believe I am.”

“Well, it sounds very absurd; but I have a sort of a faith in your
premonitions. Anyway, I will keep your words in mind, and do what I
can; and we will try and get him off the field before you are ready to
return to it. I should not think the attractions of the place will hold
him long.”

So Monica went off to Scotland with a lightened heart; and yet the
shadow of the haunting fear did not vanish entirely even in the
sunshine of her great happiness.



CHAPTER THE NINETEENTH.

IN SCOTLAND.


“An empty sky and a world of heather.”

Such was the scene that met Monica’s eye as she stepped out into the
clear morning sunshine, and gazed out over the wide expanse of moorland
that lay in a kind of purple glory all around her.

Randolph’s shooting-box was situated in a very lonely, yet wonderfully
picturesque spot. It seemed as if it had just been dropped down upon
its little craggy eminence amid this rolling sea of billowy heather,
and had anchored itself there without more ado. There was no attempt
at park or garden, or enclosed ground of any kind. The moor itself was
park and garden in one, and the heather and gorse grew right up to the
wide terrace walk upon which the south windows of the little house
opened. A plantation of pine and fir behind gave protection from the
winter winds, and shade from the summer sun; but save for this little
wood—an oasis in a blooming desert—the moor stretched away in its wild
freedom on every hand, the white road alone, glimpses of which could be
seen here and there, seeming to connect it with the great world beyond.

Trevlyn was lonely and isolated enough, but it almost seemed to Monica,
as she gazed over the sunny moorland that glorious summer morning, as
if she had never been so utterly remote from the abode of man as she
was to-day.

There was a step behind her, and a hand was laid upon her shoulder.

“Well, Monica?”

She turned to him with lips that quivered as they smiled.

“It is all so exquisite, Randolph—so perfect. You did not tell me half.”

“You like it, my Monica?”

“Like it! It seems as if you and I were just alone in the world
together.” He bent his head and touched her brow with his lips.

“And that contents you, Monica?”

She looked up with eloquent eyes.

“Need you ask that question now?”

His smile expressed an unspeakable happiness; he put his arm about her
saying softly:

“There are some questions one never tires of hearing answered, sweet
wife. Ah, Monica! when I think of the past, I feel as if it were almost
necessary to have lived through that, to know what such happiness as
ours can be. It is the former doubt that makes the present certainty so
unutterably sweet. Do you ever feel that yourself, my darling?”

He spoke gravely and gently, as they stood together in the golden
sunshine. She looked up into his face with deep love and reverence, yet
he felt her slight form quiver in his clasp. He looked at her smilingly.

“What is it, Monica?”

“Nothing—only a strange feeling I have sometimes. I know what you
mean, Randolph. You are quite, quite right—only do not let us to-day
think of the sorrow that went before. Let us be happy with one another.”

“We will, my Monica. You are quite right. This is our bridal holiday,
of which circumstances cheated us at the outset, and as such we will
enjoy it. Come in to breakfast now; and then we will have the horses
out, and you and I will explore our new world together, and forget
there is any other before or behind us.”

The shadow fled from Monica’s brow, the happy light came back to her
eyes, came back and took up its abode there as if never to depart
again. What happy, happy days were those that followed! No one invaded
the solitude which was such bliss to the two who had sought it; no
foot crossed the threshold of the peaceful home that Randolph had made
ready with such care for the reception of his bride.

And yet, as everything must end at last, pleasure as well as pain, joy
as well as sorrow, a day came at last when it was needful to leave this
happy seclusion, and mingle once again with the busier stream of life
that flowed onwards, ever onwards, outside the walls of their retreat.

Engagements had been made before, pledges given to various friends that
visits should be paid during that period so dear to the heart of man,
“the shooting season.” Little enough did Randolph care for sport in his
present mood; far rather would he have spent longer time alone with
his wife in happy isolation; but his friends became urgent, letters
persecuted them with increased vehemence, and Monica, casting away her
first reluctance, roused herself to say at last that she thought they
ought to go.

“We shall be together still, Randolph,” she said, with a little laugh.
“It is not as if we should not have one another. No one can separate us
now, and we ought to be able to be happy anywhere together.”

And yet, when the time came, it was very hard to go. Randolph came upon
Monica the last evening at sunset, watching the glorious pageantry of
the sky, with something of the old wistfulness upon her face.

“You are sorry to be leaving then, Monica?”

She started, and turned to him, almost as if for protection.

“Yes, I am sorry. We have been so very, very happy here. Randolph, is
it very foolish? Sometimes I feel as if such happiness were too great
for this world—as if it _could_ not go on always so. It seems almost
too beautiful, too perfect. Do you ever feel the same?”

“I know what you mean, sweet wife. Yet I am not afraid of our happiness
or of the future. It is love that brings the brightness with it, and I
think nothing now can change our love.”

“Ah, no, no!” she cried impetuously; “nothing can change that. You
always understand. Randolph, you are so strong, so good, so patient.
Ah! what should I do without you now?”

“You have not got to do without me, Monica. A husband cannot be set
aside by anyone or anything. You must not let nervous fears get the
better of you. Tell me, is anything troubling you to-night?”

“No, no; only that the old feeling will sometimes come back. It is
foolish, I know; but I cannot quite rid myself of it.”

“The old feeling?”

“Yes, that some trouble is coming upon me—upon us. I cannot explain;
but I feel it sometimes—I feel as if it were coming nearer.”

He did not laugh at her fears. He only said very gently and tenderly:

“I pray God, my sweet wife, that trouble may be very far away from you;
yet if it comes, I know it will be bravely, nobly borne, and that the
furnace of sorrow will only bring out the gold more bright and pure
than ever.”

She glanced at him, and then over the purple moorlands and into the
glorious western sky. A look of deep, settled purpose shone out of
her eyes, and her face grew calm and resolute. She thought of that
moment often in days to come, and of her husband’s words. It was a
recollection always fraught with much of strengthening comfort.

The round of inevitable visits to be paid proved less irksome than
Monica had anticipated.

Randolph’s friends were pleasant, well-bred people, with whom it was
easy to get on, and to make things more easy for Monica, Beatrice
Wentworth and her brother were not unfrequently numbered among the
house party they were invited to meet.

Both the young earl and his sister were devoted to Monica, and their
presence added much to her enjoyment of the different visits that
they paid together. Lord Haddon was her constant attendant whenever
her husband could not be with her, and his frank, boyish homage was
accepted in the spirit in which it was offered. Monica, though much
admired and liked, was not “popular” in the ordinary sense of the term.
She did not attract round her a crowd of amused admirers, as Beatrice
did, and most young men, however much they might admire her stately
beauty, found her somewhat difficult to get on with. With elderly
people she was more at ease, and a great favourite from her gentleness
and peculiar refinement of thought and manner; but for the most part,
during the gay doings of the day, she was left to the attendance of
Randolph or Haddon, and no arrangement could have been more to her own
liking.

Yet one trifling incident occurred to disturb her peace of mind,
although she thought she possibly dwelt upon it more than the
circumstance warranted.

She was at a large luncheon party, to which her hostess and guests had
alike been invited to meet many other parties from surrounding houses.

A grand battue in the park had drawn away most of the sportsmen, and
the ladies were lunching almost by themselves. Monica’s surprise was
somewhat great to find in her right-hand neighbour none other than
Cecilia Bellamy, with whom her last interview had been anything but
agreeable.

Mrs. Bellamy, however, seemed to have forgotten all about that.

“It is really you, Monica. I hoped I should meet you somewhere; I
heard you were staying about; I know I’ve behaved badly. I ought to
have written to you when your father died. I was awfully sorry, I was
indeed. We were always fond of the earl, Conrad and I. He was so good
to us when we were children. It was horrid of me not to write, but I
never do know how to write a letter of condolence. I hope you’re not
very angry with me.”

“Indeed, no,” answered Monica. “Indeed, I never thought about it.”

“I knew you wouldn’t care to hear from me,” pursued the lively little
woman. “I didn’t behave nicely to you, Monica, and I’m sorry now I
listened to Conrad’s persuasions; but I’m so easy-going, and thought
it all fun. I’m sorry now. I really am, for I’ve got shaken in my
confidence in Master Conrad. I believe he’ll go to the dogs still, for
all his professions. By-the-bye, did you ever see him after you got
back to Trevlyn?”

“Once or twice. I believe he was living in his house down there.”

“That dreadful old barn! I can’t think how he can exist there. He will
take to drink, and go mad, I do believe, if he stays six months in such
a place. Monica, I don’t want to frighten you—I may be silly to think
such a thing, but I can’t believe he’s after any good there.”

Monica shivered a little instinctively.

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t quite know what I do mean. If you weren’t such an old friend,
of course I couldn’t say a word; but you know perhaps that there’s
something rather odd sometimes about Conrad.”

“Odd?”

“Yes—I know he’s bad enough; but it’s when he has his odd fits on that
he’s worse. I don’t believe he is always altogether responsible. He’s
given way, and now he can’t always help himself, I do think. He isn’t
mad, of course, but he can be very wild at times,” and she glanced at
her companion with something of significance.

“Why do you say all this to me?” asked Monica, with a sort of
apprehension.

Mrs. Bellamy laughed a little.

“Why, can’t you see? Don’t you know how he hates your husband?”

Monica’s face blanched a little.

“But you don’t mean——”

“No, no, of course not,” with a short laugh that had little of mirth
in it. “I don’t mean anything—only I think, if ever Conrad is lurking
about in his wild moods, that Lord Trevlyn had better keep a sharp look
out. Your woods and cliffs are nasty lonely places, and it’s always
well to be on the safe side.”

Monica sat pale and silent; Mrs. Bellamy laughed again in that half
uneasy way.

“Now, don’t look like that, and keep your own counsel. I’m a silly
woman, as you know, and nobody minds what I say, but I can’t be quite
comfortable without just warning you. For mischief is sometimes done in
a moment between two angry men that never can be undone so long as the
world lasts. Now don’t go and get frightened, Monica—it may be all a
ridiculous fancy; but just keep your eyes open.”

“Thank you, Cecilia,” said Monica quietly. “I will.”

[Illustration]



CHAPTER THE TWENTIETH.

A VISIT TO ARTHUR.


“Are you getting tired of this sort of thing, Monica?” asked Randolph,
about three days later.

He had fancied he detected traces of weariness at times—weariness or
anxiety: he could hardly have told which—in the lines of her face; and
he thought that possibly some trouble was resting upon her. He was very
quick to note the least change in one he loved so well.

Her smile, however, was very reassuring.

“I think I should never be really tired of any life you shared,
Randolph; but I like being alone together best.”

“I, too,” he responded, with great sincerity. “Monica, as we have done
our duty by society now, shall we indulge ourselves once more, and
leave the world to wag on its own way, and forget it again for a few
more happy weeks?”

Her face was bright and eager.

“Go back to the moorland shooting-box, Randolph?” she questioned.

“No; not that quite. The season is getting a little late for remaining
up in the north. I have a better plan in my head for you.”

“Are we going back to Trevlyn, then?”

“Trevlyn is not ready for us; it will be some time before it is. Can
you think of nothing else you would like to do?—of nobody you want to
see?”

A flush rose suddenly into Monica’s face: her eyes shone with happiness.

“Oh, Randolph! are you going to take me to see Arthur?”

“You would like to go?”

“Above everything.”

“Then the thing is done. We will start next week. I talked about it to
the doctor when I saw him, and he advised three months of entire quiet
and seclusion whilst he settled down to the new life. After that, he
believed there would be no reason at all against his seeing friends
from home. I wrote again last week to put the question definitely, and
the answer is entirely satisfactory. If you want to go, Monica, the
whole question is settled.”

She came close up to him, clasping her hands upon his shoulder, and
looking up with loving gratitude and delight.

“You think of everything, Randolph. You are so good to me. It is just
the one thing to make my happiness complete: to see my boy again, and
make sure with my own eyes that he is well cared for and content with
his life. I want to be able to picture him where he is. I want to hear
him say that he is happy: that he does not pine after Trevlyn.”

“I think you will have your wish, then, Monica, for, from what I can
gather, he is very well pleased with his quarters, and improved health
makes life pleasant and full of zest. He has the natural love of change
that you never knew, and your inherited love for your old home is not
really shared by him to any great extent now that he has tried another
life. Trevlyn is not woven into the very fibres of his heart as into
yours. I think the home-sickness passed off quickly with him.”

“Yes, I daresay. I believe I was foolish myself about Trevlyn, and
taught him to be foolish too. Why is it that the younger we are, and
the less we know, the more we are convinced we are always right? I
have made so many, many mistakes. Once I thought you did not love me,
Randolph.”

It was sweet to him still to hear her speak thus, with the intonation
that always thrilled him through—with the look upon her face so
much more eloquent than any words. It was sweet to feel her loving
confidence and dependence. Again and again he vowed deep down in his
heart that she should never know a trouble from which he could save her.

The journey was approved by both. It would take them away once again
from the round of social duties and pleasures—of which for the time
being they had had enough—and leave them practically alone together, to
be all in all to one another, as was now their greatest happiness.

“It is too bad of you to run away, Monica,” Beatrice grumbled, when she
heard the news. “Your brother can’t want you more than we do here. And
if you go, you’ll vanish no one knows for how long, as you did before,
and then you will go and bury yourselves in your enchanted castle right
away by the sea, and nobody will hear of you any more. I call it too
bad: just as we were getting to be friends and learning to know you.”

Monica smiled at the imputation of vanishing so entirely.

“You shall hear of us sometimes, I promise you,” she answered. “If you
and your brother will not find the ‘enchanted castle’ too dull, I hope
you will come and see us there when we go back in the autumn. There are
not a great many attractions, I am afraid, but there is some shooting
and hunting. I should like to show you Trevlyn some day, Beatrice,
though I believe it will be a good deal changed from the place I have
sometimes described to you.”

“It is sure to be perfect, whatever it is like,” was the quick
response. “I should think we would come—Haddon and I—if ever we get an
invitation. I always did long to see Trevlyn, and I am sure he does the
same, though he is no hand at pretty speeches, poor old boy!”

Haddon smiled, and coloured a little; but answered frankly enough.

“Lady Trevlyn does not want pretty speeches, as you call it, made to
her, Beatrice. She knows quite well what a pleasure it would be to
visit her and Randolph at Trevlyn.”

“I should like my husband’s oldest friends to see the place,” she
answered, smiling. “So we will call that matter settled when we really
do get home; though I do not quite know when that will be.”

Next day Randolph and Monica said good-bye to Scotland, and began their
journey southward. They were in no great haste, and travelled by easy
stages. Arthur was to be told nothing of the prospective visit, which
was to be kept as a surprise till the last moment. Monica was never a
very good correspondent, even where Arthur was concerned, and if she
posted a letter to him, last thing before leaving England, he would
not be surprised at a silence of a fortnight or more, by which time at
latest she would be with him.

So they took their time over their journey, and the strangeness of all
she saw possessed a curious charm for Monica, when viewed beneath her
husband’s protecting care, and in his constant company. He took her to
a few quaint Norman towns, with their fine old churches and picturesque
streets and market-places; then to Paris, where a few days were passed
in seeing the sights, and watching the vivid, hurrying, glittering life
of that gay capital.

Steering an erratic course, turning this way and that to visit any
place of interest, or any romantic spot that Randolph thought would
please his wife, they approached their destination, and presently
reached the pretty, picturesque little town, hardly more than a
village, which was only just rising to importance, on account of the
value of its mineral springs lately discovered.

One good-sized hotel and the doctor’s establishment, both of which
stood at the same end of the village, and a little distance from it,
testified to the rising importance of the place. Randolph had secured
comfortable rooms in the former, where they arrived late one evening.

Monica liked the place; it was not in the least like what she had
pictured, far more pretty, more primitive, and more country-like.
Wooded hills, surrounded the valley in which it lay. A broad rapid
stream ran through it, spanned by more than one grey stone bridge, and
the irregularly-built village was quite a picture in its way, with
its quaint old houses, with their carved gables and little wooden
balconies, and the spire of its church rising above the surrounding
trees. Viewed by moonlight, as she saw it first, it was a charming
little place; and the charm did not vanish with the more prosaic light
of day.

The interview with the doctor was most satisfactory. He was a kindly,
simple-minded man, much interested in his patient from a professional
standpoint, and fond of the lad for his own sake. Monica’s beauty
and sweetness were evidently not lost upon him. He had heard much of
her from the young Herr, he explained, and could understand well the
feelings he had so often heard expressed.

No, the invalid had not been told of the expected arrival. He did not
know but that Lord and Lady Trevlyn were in England. Did the noble lady
wish to go to him? He would honour himself by leading the way.

Monica followed him with a beating heart. They went up a wide
carpetless staircase, and on the first landing her guide paused, and
indicated a certain door.

“He is up; madame can go straight in. A joyful surprise will but do him
good.”

Monica turned the handle, and entered, as quietly and calmly as if this
had been the daily visit to the old room at Trevlyn. Arthur was lying
with his back to the door. He was reading, and did not turn his head,
fancying it was the servant entering, as he heard the rustle of a dress.

Monica came and stood behind him, laying her hand upon his head.

“Arthur!” she said softly.

Then he started as if he had been shot.

He sat up with an energy that showed a decided increase of strength,
holding out his hands in eager welcome.

“Monica! Monica!” he cried, in a sort of rapturous excitement. “It is
Monica herself!”

She bent over him and kissed him again and again, and would have made
him lie down again; but he was too excited to obey.

“Monica! My own Monica! When did you come? What does it all mean? Oh,
this is too splendid! Where’s Randolph?”

“Here,” answered that familiar voice, just within the door. “Well, my
boy, how are you getting on? Like a house on fire, eh? Monica and I
are on our wedding trip, you know. We thought we would finish it off
by coming to have a look at you. Well, you look pretty comfortable up
here, and have made fine progress, I hear, since I saw you last. Like
everything as much as you make out in your letters, eh?”

“Oh! I’m all right enough. Never mind me. Tell me about yourselves.
Whose idea was this? I call it just splendid!”

“Randolph’s idea,” answered Monica. “All the good ideas are his now,
Arthur. We have come to stay a whole fortnight with you; and when I
have seen everything with my own eyes, and am quite convinced that
everybody is treating you well, I shall go home content to Trevlyn, to
wait till you can join us there.”

“I mustn’t think of that just yet,” answered Arthur, cheerfully. “My
old doctor says it will be a year—perhaps two—before I shall really be
on my legs again; but he is quite sure he is going to cure me, which
is all that matters. I am awfully comfortable here, and there are
some jolly little children of his, who come and amuse me by the hour
together. Oh, yes! I have capital times. I couldn’t be more comfortable
anywhere: and if you and Randolph come sometimes to see me, I shall
have nothing left to wish for.”

Certainly Arthur was surrounded by every luxury that wealth could
bestow. There was none of the foreign bareness about his rooms that
characterised its other apartments. Randolph had ordered everything
that could possibly add to his comfort, and make things home-like for
him, even to the open fire-place, with its cheerful fire of logs,
although the stove still retained its place, and in cold weather did
valuable service in keeping an even temperature in the room.

Arthur’s visitors had made him gradually understand how much more
sumptuously he was lodged than other patients, and he well knew to
whom he owed the luxuries he enjoyed. He explained all this to Monica,
and in her own sweet way she thanked her husband for his tenderness
towards her boy.

“I always feel as if Arthur were a sort of link between us, Monica,” he
said. “I am sure he was in those old days, when we were strangers to
each other. I owe him a great deal that he knows nothing about. Were it
only for that, I must always love him, and feel towards him as towards
a brother.”

Quickly and happily the days slipped by and the pleasant visit drew
to its close. It lengthened out into nearly three weeks; but at last
the news came that Trevlyn was ready for its master and mistress, and
Arthur bid a brave farewell to those who had done so much for him,
and settled himself with cheerful readiness to his winter with his new
friends. A visit next spring and summer was confidently promised, and
he saw his guest go with an unselfish brightness that was in no way
assumed.

Monica was quite happy about him now, and, though the parting was a
little hard, she was as brave as he. She turned her face homeward with
a light heart. Only one little cloud of anxiety lay upon her heart.
“What was Conrad Fitzgerald doing? Was he still lurking about Trevlyn?”

Even that question was destined to be answered in a satisfactory manner
before many days had passed.

They travelled rapidly homewards, as the season was advancing, and
they were anxious to be once more at Trevlyn.

They were in a train, which had stopped at some station, when another
train from an opposite direction steamed up and also stopped. Monica,
leaning back in her corner seat, noticed nothing for a time, but was
roused to the consciousness that she was being intently regarded by a
passenger in the opposite train, whose face was pressed close against
the glass.

For some seconds she resisted the impulse to look; but as she felt the
glance withdrawn, she presently turned her eyes in the direction of the
half-seen face, and then she started violently.

Conrad Fitzgerald, his face pale and sharp, wearing a frightfully
malevolent expression, was gazing, or rather glaring, at her husband,
with eyes like those of a wild beast, in their fiery, hungry hate.

Randolph, seated opposite her, reading the paper, was perfectly
unconscious of the proximity of his foe; but Monica recoiled with a
feeling of horror she could hardly have explained.

The next moment the train had moved on. At least, it was some comfort
to know that they were being rapidly carried in opposite directions.
Yet it was long before she could forget the vindictive hatred of the
gaze she had seen directed towards her husband.

Would Conrad Fitzgerald ever do him the deadly injury he had vowed?



CHAPTER THE TWENTY-FIRST.

BACK AT TREVLYN.


“Randolph! Can this really be Trevlyn?”

The young countess stood in all her radiant loveliness upon the
threshold of her old home, and turned her happy face towards the
husband who stood beside her, watching with a smile in his eyes for the
effect to be produced by his labour of love.

“Can this really be Trevlyn?”

“You seemed destined never to know your old home again when you have
been banished from it, Monica,” he answered, smiling. “Well, is it as
much changed as you expected?”

“It is perfect,” said Monica simply; adding, after another long look
round her: “If only my father could have seen this—could have lived to
witness the realisation of his dream!”

But he would not let her indulge one sad thought that should cloud the
brightness of this happy home-coming. He kissed her gently in token of
his sympathy, and then drew her towards the blazing fire, whose dancing
flames were illuminating the great hall.

“Does it realise your dream, too, my Monica?” he asked softly.

She looked up in his face, deep feeling welling up in the glance of her
soft dark eyes.

“To be with you is my dream, Randolph. That is enough for me.”

He saw that she was moved, and knew that the associations of Trevlyn,
the old home, were crowding upon her. Without speaking, he led her
towards a door, which in old days led to a room vast and empty, save
for the odds and ends of lumber that gradually accumulated there.
Monica glanced up in a sort of surprise as he turned the handle. Why
was he taking her there?

She paused on the threshold, and looked about her in mute amaze.

The floor was of polished parquetrie work; the panelled walls, quaintly
and curiously carved, shone with the care that had been bestowed upon
them; the vaulted roof had been carefully restored and was a fine
specimen of mediæval skill and beauty. The mullioned window to the
west had been filled with rich stained glass, that gave back a dusky
glimmer through its tinted panes, though the daylight was failing fast.
Near to the window stood the one great feature of the room, an organ,
which Monica’s eyes saw at once was a particularly fine and perfect
instrument. An organ of her very own! It was just like Randolph to
think of it! She gave him one sweet glance of gratitude, and went up to
it in the dim, dusky twilight.

“How good you are to me!” she said softly.

He heard the little quiver in her voice, and bent his head to kiss her;
but he spoke in a lighter tone.

“Do you like it? I am so glad! I thought your home ought not to be
without its music-room. See, Monica, your organ will be a sort of
friend to whom you can confide all your secrets; for you want nobody
to blow it for you. You can set the bellows at work by just turning
this handle, and nobody need disturb your solitude when you want to be
alone.”

She looked up gratefully. He never forgot anything—not even her old
love for solitude.

“I never want to be alone now, Randolph,” she said. “I always want you.”

“And you generally have me, sweet wife. I think we have hardly been
separated for more than a few hours at a time since that happy, happy
day that made you really mine.”

“I want it always to be like that,” said Monica, dreamily; “always like
that.”

He looked at her, and carried the hand that he held to his lips.

“Will you play, Monica?”

She sat down and struck a few dreamy chords, gradually leading up to
the theme that was in her mind. Randolph leaned against the mullioned
window-frame and watched her. He could see, even in the darkness, the
pure, pale outline of her perfect profile, and the crown of her golden
hair that framed her face like an aureole.

“Another dream realised, Monica,” he said softly, as she turned to him
at length.

“What dream, Randolph?”

“A dream that came to me once, in the little cliff church where we were
married, as I watched you—little as you knew it—sitting at the organ,
and playing to yourself, one sunny afternoon. But this is better than
any dream of pictured saint or spirit—my Monica, my own true wife.”

She looked up at him, and came and put her arms about his neck—an
unusual demonstration, even now, for her, and they stood very close
together in the gathering darkness that was not dark to them.


Monica paid an early visit to St. Maws to see her friends, and to
confide to Mrs. Pendrill a little of the wonderful happiness that had
flooded her life with sunshine. Then, too, she wanted to see Tom, and
to ask him the result of the mission he had half promised to undertake.
So far she had learned nothing save that Fitzgerald had not been seen
near Trevlyn for many weeks, and was supposed to have gone abroad.

“Did you see him, Tom?” she asked, when she had found the opportunity
she desired.

“Yes, once or twice. I had a good look at him. I should not call him
exactly mad, though in a decidedly peculiar mental state. We merely
met, as it were, by chance, and talked on indifferent subjects for the
most part. Once he asked me, in a sort of veiled way, for professional
advice, describing certain unpleasant symptoms and sensations. I
advised him to give up the use of spirits, and to try what travelling
would do for him. He seemed to think he would take my advice, and
shortly afterwards he disappeared from the neighbourhood; but where he
has gone I do not know.”

Monica knew that this advice had been followed. “He may go anywhere he
likes, if he will only keep away from here,” she said. “I am very much
obliged to you, Tom, for doing as I asked.”

“Pray don’t mention it.”

“I must mention it, because it was very good of you. Tom, will you come
and stay at Trevlyn next week? We have one or two people coming for the
pheasants, and we want you to make one of the party, if you will.”

“Oh, very well; anything to please. I have had no shooting worth
speaking of so far. I should like a week’s holiday very well.”

So that matter was speedily and easily arranged.

Tom did not ask who were the guests he was to meet, and Monica did not
think of naming such entire strangers, Lord Haddon and Lady Beatrice
Wentworth. She forgot that Tom and the young earl had met once before
on a different occasion.

Those two were to be the first guests. Perhaps later on they would ask
more, but Monica was too entirely happy in her present life to wish it
in any way disturbed, and Randolph by no means cared to be obliged to
give up to guests those happy hours that heretofore he had always spent
with Monica. But Beatrice and her brother had already been invited.
They were his oldest friends, and were Monica’s friends too. She was
glad to welcome them to her old home, and the rapturous admiration that
its beauties elicited would have satisfied a more exacting nature than
hers.

Beatrice was, as usual, radiant, bewitching, delightful. Monica wished
that Tom had come in time to see her arrival, and listen to her
sparkling flow of talk. Tom professed to be a woman-hater, or next door
to it, but she thought that even he would have to make an exception in
favour of Lady Beatrice Wentworth.

She went upstairs with her guest to her room at length, when Beatrice
suddenly turned towards her, with quite a new expression upon her face.

“Monica,” she said, looking straight into her eyes, “you are
changed—you are different from what you were in London—different even
from what you were in Scotland, though I saw a change then. I don’t
know how to express it, but you are beautified—glorified. What is it?
What has changed you since I first knew you?”

Monica knew right well; but some feelings could not be translated into
words.

“I am very happy,” she said, quietly. “If there is any change, that
must be the cause.”

“Happier than you have ever been before?”

“Yes; I think every week makes me happier. I learn to know my husband
better and better, you see.”

A sudden wistful sadness flashed into the eyes so steadily regarding
her. Monica saw it before it had been blotted out by the arch drollery
of the look that immediately succeeded.

“And it does not wear off, Monica? Sometimes it does, you know—after a
time. Will it ever, in your case, do you think?”

“I think not,” she answered.

“And I think not, too,” answered Beatrice. “Ah me! How happy some
people are!”

She laughed, but there was something of bitterness in the tone. Monica
looked at her seriously.

“Are you not happy, Beatrice?”

The girl’s audacious smile beamed out over her face.

“Don’t I look so?”

“Sometimes—not always.”

“One must have variety before all things, you know,” was the gay
answer. “It would never do to be always in the same style—it lacks
piquancy after a time. Now let me have time to beautify myself in
harmony with this most charming of old places, and come back for me
when you are dressed; I feel as if I should lose my way, or see bogies
in these delightful corridors and staircases.”

And Monica left her guest as desired, coming back, half an hour later,
to find her transformed into the semblance of some pictured dame of
a century or two gone by, in stiff amber brocade, quaintly cut about
the neck and sleeves, and relieved here and there by dazzling scarlet
blossoms. Beatrice never at any time looked like anybody else, but
to-night she was particularly, strikingly original.

“Ah, you black-robed queen, you will just do as a foil for me!” was
the greeting Monica received. “Whenever I see you in any garb, no
matter what it is, I always think it is just one that suits you best of
everything. Are you having a dinner-party to-night?”

“Not exactly. A few men are coming, who have asked Randolph to shoot
since we came back. You and I are the only ladies.”

And then they went down to the empty drawing-room a good half-hour
before any one else was likely to appear.

Beatrice chatted away very brightly. She seemed in gay spirits, and
had a great deal to tell of what had passed since their farewell in
Scotland a month or two ago.

She moved about the drawing-room, examining the various treasures it
contained, and admiring the beauty of the pictures. She was standing
half concealed by the curtains draping a recessed window, when the door
opened, admitting Tom Pendrill. He was in dinner dress, having arrived
about an hour previously.

“You have come then, Tom,” said Monica. “I am glad. I was afraid you
meant to desert us after all.”

“The wish being father to the thought, I presume,” answered Tom,
shaking hands. “By-the-bye, here is a letter from Arthur’s doctor I’ve
brought to show you. He gives a capital account of his patient. Can you
read German writing, or shall I construe? He writes about as crabbedly
as——”

And here Tom stopped short, seeing that Monica was not alone.

“I beg your pardon,” he added, drawing himself up with a
ceremoniousness quite unusual with him.

“Not at all,” answered Monica, quietly. “Let me introduce you to Lady
Beatrice Wentworth—Mr. Tom Pendrill.”

They exchanged bows very distantly. Monica became suddenly aware, in
some subtle, inexplicable fashion, that these two were not strangers
to one another—that this was not their first meeting. Moreover, it
appeared as if their former acquaintance, such as it was, could have
been by no means agreeable to either, for it was easy to see that a
sort of covert antagonism existed between them which neither of them
took over much pains to conceal.

Tom’s face assumed its most sharply cynical expression, as he drew
at once into his hardest shell of distant reserve and sarcastic
politeness.

Beatrice opened her feather fan, and wielded it with a sort of
aggressive negligence. She dropped into a seat beside Monica, and
began to talk to her with an air of studied affectation utterly at
variance with her ordinary manner, ignoring Tom as entirely as if no
introduction had passed between them, and that with an assumption of
hauteur that could only be explained by a deeply-seated antipathy.

Monica tried to include Tom in the conversation; but he declined to be
included, returned an indifferent answer, and withdrew to a distant
corner of the room, where he remained deeply engrossed, as it seemed,
in the study of a photographic album.

Monica was perplexed. She could not imagine what it all meant. She had
never heard the Pendrills speak of Lady Beatrice Wentworth, and she was
sufficiently acquainted with Tom’s history to render this perplexity
the greater. She was certain Mrs. Pendrill had heard the name of her
expected guest, and it had aroused no emotion in her. Yet she would
presumably know the name of a lady towards whom her nephew cherished
so great an antipathy. Monica could not make it out. But one thing was
plain enough: those two were sworn foes, and intended to remain so—and
they were guests beneath the same roof!



CHAPTER THE TWENTY-SECOND.

AN ENIGMA.


It was a relief when the other men came in, and when dinner was
announced. Randolph evidently knew nothing of any disturbing element in
the party as he handed Beatrice in to dinner, and again made a sort of
attempt to introduce her to Tom, who was seated opposite, not knowing
that Monica had already had an opportunity of performing that little
ceremony.

“You are two of my oldest friends, you know,” said their host, in
his pleasant, easy fashion, “and you are both my guests now, so you
will have a capital opportunity of expatiating together upon my many
perfections.”

“No need for that, Randolph,” answered Beatrice, gaily. “They speak too
loud for themselves, and your wife’s eyes tell too many tales of them.
You know I never could bear paragons. If you turn into one, I shall
have no more to say to you.”

“You are very cutting, Beatrice; almost as much so as Tom here. It is
really rather a trying position to be hedged in between a clever woman
and a clever man.”

“If you call me a clever woman again, Randolph, I’ll never forgive you.
I abominate the whole race!” cried Beatrice, hotly; “and as for clever
men—I _detest_ them!”

This was said so heartily as to elicit a guffaw of laughter from a
ruddy-faced young gentleman of sporting tastes, who was her neighbour
on the other side. She turned to him with one of her most sparkling
glances.

“Now you, I am quite certain, agree with me. Your face tells me you
do. Don’t you think that it is the clever people who make the world an
intolerable place?”

“They’re the greatest nuisance out,” assented that young gentleman,
cordially. “I always did say so. I was never clever. I was plucked
three times, I think, for my little-go.”

“Then you and I are sure to be great friends,” said Beatrice, laughing.
“I am quite, quite sure I should _never_ have passed any examination if
I had been a man. I was at Oxford once, long ago; and oh! you know, the
only men that were any good at all were those who had been ‘plucked,’
as they call it, or fully expected to be. The clever, good, precocious
boys were—oh! well, let us not think of them. It takes away one’s
appetite!”

The sporting gentleman laughed, and enjoyed this summary verdict; but
Randolph just glanced across at his wife. He, too, was aware that there
was something odd in Beatrice’s manner. He detected the covert vein of
bitterness in her tone; and he was as much at a loss to understand it
as any one else could be. Tom’s face and impenetrable silence puzzled
him likewise.

Dinner, however, passed smoothly enough. Beatrice was very lively, and
her witticisms kept all the table alive. Her young neighbour lost his
heart to her at once, and she flirted with him in the most frank and
open fashion possible. She could be very fascinating when she chose,
and to-night, after the first edge had been taken off her sallies, she
was, undoubtedly, exceedingly attractive.

If there was something a little forced in her mirth, at least nobody
detected it, save those who knew her very well, and not even all of
those, for Haddon was obviously unconscious that anything was wrong,
and talked to Monica in the most unconcerned fashion possible. What Tom
thought of it all nobody could hazard an opinion.

At length Monica gave the signal to her animated guest, and they two
withdrew together. Beatrice laughed gaily, as she half walked half
waltzed across the hall, humming a dance tune the while.

“What a lovely place this would be for a dance!” she exclaimed,
“a masked, or, better still, a fancy dress ball. Shouldn’t we look
charming in these panelled rooms, flitting about this great baronial
hall, and up and down that delightful staircase? Monica, you and
Randolph mustn’t get lazy; you must live up to your house. It is too
beautiful to be wasted. If you don’t know how to manage matters, I must
come and teach you?”

And so she rattled on, first on one theme, and then on another, in
restless, aimless fashion, as people do who are talking against time,
or talking with a purpose, determined not to let silence fall between
them and their companions. It was easy to see that Beatrice wished to
avoid any confidential conversation—wished to escape from any kind of
questioning, or from quiet talk, of whatever description it might be.
When at length she did let Monica go back to the drawing-room, it was
not with any idea of silence. She went straight to the piano, and began
playing stormily.

Presently, after dashing off fragments vocal and instrumental in a
sort of confused medley, Monica, growing dreamy as she listened to the
succession of changing harmonies, she began once again with more of
purpose and of passion in her voice—indeed, there was so much of pain
and passion, that Monica was aroused to listen.

    “My heart, my heart is like a singing bird
      Whose nest is in a watered shoot;
    My heart, my heart is like an apple-tree,
      Whose boughs are hung with thick-set fruit.
    My heart, my heart is like a rainbow-shell
      That paddles in a halcyon sea;
    My heart, my heart is gladder than all these,
      Because my love, my love has come to me.
    My heart——”

And then the singer’s voice failed utterly; a dismal discordant chord
broke the eager harmonies that had followed one another so rapidly.
Beatrice broke into a sudden storm of tears, and hurried from the room
without a word.

Monica sat aghast and bewildered. What could it all mean? Was she
by chance to come upon the secret sorrow of Beatrice’s life?—the
sorrow she had half suspected sometimes, but had never heard in any
way explained. Was it to be explained to her now? Was Tom Pendrill
connected with that sorrow? If so, what part had he taken? Could
they ever have been lovers? Did she not remember, long ago, hearing
something of a suspicion on Mrs. Pendrill’s part that Tom had been
“jilted” by the woman he loved? Was there not a time, long ago, when
he was not the reserved, cynical man he affected now to be; but was
genial, brilliant, the pleasantest of companions? Yes, Monica was sure
of it—was certain that he had changed, and changed somewhat suddenly,
many years since; but she had paid but little heed to the matter then,
as it was about that time when every faculty was absorbed in watching
over Arthur, who long lay hovering between life and death. Changes
after that passed almost unheeded. Had not her whole life been changed
too?

She did not follow Beatrice, however, to try and comfort her, or
attempt to force her confidence. She treated her as she would wish
herself to be treated in similar case; and shortly after the gentlemen
had joined them, had the satisfaction of seeing Beatrice come back as
brilliant and full of vivacity as ever, and there was no need after
her appearance, to wonder how the evening should be passed, it seemed
quite sufficient entertainment for the company to sit in a circle round
her, and hear Beatrice talk. Tom Pendrill was the one exception. He did
not attempt to join the magic ring. He took Monica a little apart, and
talked over with her the latest news from Germany.

When the guests had departed, and Beatrice, as well as her brother and
Monica, had gone upstairs, Tom turned his face towards Randolph with
its hardest and most cynical look.

“Tell you what, Trevlyn, don’t you ask that poor young fellow Radlet
here again, so long as that arrant flirt is a guest under your roof.”

Randolph simply smiled.

“The ‘arrant flirt,’ as you are polite enough to call my guest, is one
of my oldest friends. Kindly keep that fact in mind in talking of her
to me.”

“I am not talking of her. I am talking of poor young Radlet.”

“It seems to me that poor young Radlet, as you call him, is very well
able to take care of himself.”

“Oh, you think that, do you? Shows how much _you_ know! Can’t you see
she was doing her very best to enslave his fancy, and that he was
falling under the spell as fast as ever he could?”

“Pooh! Nonsense!” answered Randolph; “they were just exchanging a
little of the current coin that is constantly passing in gay society.
Young Radlet is not a green-horn. They understand their game perfectly.”

“She does, of course—no one better; but it’s a question if he does.”

“Well, he’s a greater fool than he looks, if he does not!” answered
Randolph. “Does he expect a girl like Beatrice Wentworth to be enslaved
by his charms in the course of a few hours? The thing’s a manifest
absurdity!”

“Possibly; but that woman can make a man think anything.”

Randolph looked at his friend with some attention.

“You seem to have formed very exhaustive conclusions about Lady
Beatrice Wentworth.”

It almost seemed as if Tom coloured a little as he turned impatiently
away.

Next day Beatrice seemed to have regained her usual even flow of
spirits. She met Tom at breakfast as she would meet any guest under the
same roof, and neither courted nor avoided him in any way. He seemed to
take his cue from her; but his face still wore the thin-lipped cynical
expression that betrayed a certain amount of subdued irritation.
However, sport was the all-prevailing topic of the hour, and as soon as
breakfast was concluded, the men departed, with the dogs and keepers in
their wake.

“What would you like to do, Beatrice?” asked Monica when the sportsmen
had disappeared. “We have the whole day before us.”

“Like to do? Why, everything must be delightful in this lovely
out-of-the-world place. Monica, no wonder you are just yourself—not
one bit like any one else—brought up here with only the sea, and the
clouds, and the sunshine for companions and playmates. I used to look
at you in a sort of wonder, but I understand it all now. You ought
always to live at Trevlyn—never anywhere else. What should I like to
do? Why, anything. Suppose we ride. I should love to gallop along
the cliffs with you. I want to see the queer little church Haddon
described to me, where you were married, and the picturesque little
town where—where Randolph and he put up on the eve of that day. I want
to see everything that belongs to your past life, Monica. It interests
me more than I can express.”

Monica smiled in her tranquil fashion.

“Very well; you shall gratify your wish. I will order the horses at
once. If we go to St. Maws, I ought to go and see Aunt Elizabeth—Mrs.
Pendrill that is, aunt to Arthur, and to Tom Pendrill and his brother.
She is sure to want us to stay to luncheon with her if we do. She will
be all alone; Tom here, and Raymond on his rounds. Would you dislike
that, Beatrice? She is a sweet old lady, and seems more a part of my
past life than anything else I can show you, though I could not perhaps
explain why.”

A curious light shone in Beatrice’s eyes.

“Dislike it! I should like it above everything. I love old ladies. They
are so much more interesting than young ones, I often wish I were old
myself—not middle-aged, you know, but really old, _very_ old, with
lovely white hair, and a waxen face all over tiny wrinkles, like my own
grandmother—the most beautiful woman without exception that I ever saw.
Yes, Monica, let us do that. It will be delightful. Why did you never
mention the Pendrills to me before?”

She put the question with studied carelessness. Yet Monica was certain
it was asked with effort.

“Did I not? I thought I used to tell you so much about my past life.”

“So you did; but I never heard that name.”

“You knew Arthur was a Pendrill.”

“Indeed I did not. He was always Arthur to you. I wonder I never asked
his surname; but somehow I never did. I had a vague idea that some such
people as these Pendrills existed; but I never heard you name them.”

“Perhaps you heard, and forgot it?” suggested Monica tentatively.

“That I am sure I never did,” was the very emphatic answer.

Beatrice was delighted with her morning’s ride. It was a beautiful
autumn day, and everything was looking its best. The sea flashed and
sparkled in the sunlight; the sky was clear and soft above them, the
horses, delighted to feel the soft turf beneath their feet, pranced
and curvetted and galloped, with that easy elastic motion that is so
peculiarly exhilarating.

The girl herself looked peculiarly and vividly beautiful, and Monica
was not surprised at the affectionate interest Mrs. Pendrill evinced in
her from the first moment of introduction.

But she was a little surprised at the peculiar sweetness of Beatrice’s
demeanour towards the old lady. Whilst retaining all her arch
brightness and vivacity, the girl managed to infuse into her manner,
her voice, and her words something gentle and deferential and winning
that was inexplicably fascinating; all the more so from its evident
unconscious sincerity.

Mrs. Pendrill was charmed with the beauty and sweetness of the girl,
and it seemed as if Beatrice on her side was equally fascinated. When
the time came to say good-bye, and the old lady held both her hands,
and gazed into her bright face, as she asked for another visit very
soon, she stooped suddenly, and kissed her with pretty, spontaneous
warmth.

“Come again! Of course I will, as often as Monica will bring me.
Good-bye, Mrs. Pendrill—Aunt Elizabeth I should _like_ to say”—with a
little rippling laugh. “I think you are just fit to be Monica’s ‘Saint
Elizabeth.’ Is it the air of this place that makes you all so perfectly
delightful? I shall have to come and live here too, I think.”

And as she and Monica rode home together over the sweeping downs,
Beatrice turned to her after a long pause of silence and said:

“Monica, it was a dangerous experiment asking me to Trevlyn.”

“Why?”

“Because I don’t feel as if I should ever want to leave it again. And
I’m a dreadful sort of creature when I’m bent on my own way.”

Monica smiled.

“You will have to turn me out neck and crop in the end, I firmly
believe. I feel I should just take root here, and never wish to go.”

Monica shook her head with a look of subdued amusement.

“I am very glad it pleases you so much; but do you know, Beatrice, I
think you will have a different tale to tell in a week or two? You
cannot realise, till you have tried it, how solitary and isolated we
are, especially as the winter draws on. Very soon you will think it is
a dreadfully lonely place—a sort of enchanted castle, as Randolph used
to call it; and you will be pining to get back to the gay, busy whirl
of life, that you have left behind.”

Monica stopped short there struck by the strange look turned upon her
by her companion. Beatrice’s face had grown grave and almost pale. A
curious wistful sadness shone in her eyes; it almost seemed as if tears
glistened on the long lashes.

Her words were almost as enigmatical as her looks.

She gazed at Monica for a moment speechlessly, and then softly murmured:

“Et tu Brute!”


END OF VOLUME II.


PRINTED BY
KELLY AND CO., GATE STREET, LINCOLN’S INN FIELDS,
AND KINGSTON-ON-THAMES.



Transcriber's Notes


Minor punctuation and printer errors repaired.

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