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Title: Half Brothers
Author: Stretton, Hesba
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Half Brothers" ***

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  HALF BROTHERS


  BY

  HESBA STRETTON

  AUTHOR OF "COBWEBS AND CABLES," "CAROLA," "JESSICA'S
  FIRST PRAYER," ETC.



  NEW YORK
  CASSELL PUBLISHING COMPANY
  104 & 106 FOURTH AVENUE



  COPYRIGHT, 1892, BY
  CASSELL PUBLISHING COMPANY.

  _All rights reserved._

  THE MERSHON COMPANY PRESS,
  RAHWAY, N. J.



  CONTENTS.

  CHAPTER

  I.  In a Strange Land
  II.  At Innsbruck
  III.  A Forsaken Child
  IV.  A Reprieve
  V.  Winning the World
  VI.  Colonel Cleveland
  VII.  Margaret
  VIII.  Friends Not Lovers
  IX.  Is Sophy Alive?
  X.  Chiara
  XI.  At Cortina
  XII.  A Half Confession
  XIII.  Rachel Goldsmith
  XIV.  Apley Hall
  XV.  Life and Death
  XVI.  Andrew Goldsmith Saddler
  XVII.  Andrew's Friend
  XVIII.  Laura's Scheme
  XIX.  The Son and Heir
  XX.  Brackenburn
  XXI.  Sidney's Ward
  XXII.  Dorothy's New Home
  XXIII.  A Wife for Philip
  XXIV.  The Rector's Trouble
  XXV.  Coming Of Age
  XXVI.  At Cross Purposes
  XXVII.  Who Will Give Way?
  XXVIII.  Homesickness
  XXIX.  In Venice
  XXX.  A Mystery
  XXXI.  Martino
  XXXII.  An Old Letter
  XXXIII.  A Village "Festa"
  XXXIV.  A Forced Confession
  XXXV.  Beginning to Reap
  XXXVI.  In the Pine Woods
  XXXVII.  Remorse
  XXXVIII.  Chiara's Hut
  XXXIX.  At Bay
  XL.  Phyllis and Dorothy
  XLI.  Margaret's Conflict
  XLII.  Captured
  XLIII.  A Poor Man
  XLIV.  Sophy's Son
  XLV.  Bitter Disappointment
  XLVI.  Public Opinion
  XLVII.  Andrew's Prayer
  XLVIII.  A Lost Love
  XLIX.  Winter Gloom
  L.  Father and Son
  LI.  The Growth of a Soul
  LII.  Laura's Doubts
  LIII.  Andrew's Hope
  LIV.  Failures
  LV.  A New Plan
  LVI.  On the Moors
  LVII.  Expiation
  LVIII.  Night and Morning
  LIX.  Found
  LX.  Martin's Fate



HALF BROTHERS.



CHAPTER I.

IN A STRANGE LAND.

It will be a terrible thing to be ill here, among strangers, to have my
little child born, and no one with me, if Sidney does not come back.  I
have been looking for him every day for the last three weeks.  Every
morning I feel sure he will come, and every night I lie listening for
any sound out of doors which might mean he is come.  Out on the clock
tower the watchmen strike the time on the bell every quarter of an
hour, and I know how the night is slipping away.  Sometimes I get up
and look through the window at the stars sparkling brighter than they
ever sparkle on frosty nights in England, and the keen, keen air makes
me shiver; but I never see him in the village street, never hear him
calling softly, so as not to wake other people, "Sophy!"

And I wonder what Aunt Rachel is thinking of me in England.  I know she
is troubled about me; yes, and father will be half crazy about me.  How
dreadful it must be for those you love to disappear!  I did not think
of that when I stole away, and left them.  And now, O God! what would I
give to have Aunt Rachel with me!--especially if he does not come back
in time.

It is so lonely here, and I am growing frightened and homesick.  I wish
I was at home in my little room, in the bed with white curtains round
it, and the window darkened to keep the sun out, as it used to be when
Aunt Rachel nursed me through the fever.  But this room! why, it is as
large as a house almost, and my little oil lamp is no better than a
glowworm in it.  The far corners of the room are as black as a pit, and
there are four doors into it, and I cannot fasten any of them.  I did
not care much when he was with me; but now I am frightened.  I never
knew before what it was to be afraid.  Then there is no landlady in
this inn--only Chiara, the old servant, whom I do not like.  The
landlord is a widower, a rough, good man, I dare say; but I wish there
had been a good mistress.  Surely, surely, he will come back to me
to-morrow.

And now, because I have nothing else to do, and because I want to keep
my mind off from worrying about his return, which is certain to be in
time, I will write quite fairly and honestly how we came to quarrel,
and why he left me, disappearing from me almost as I disappeared from
Aunt Rachel and father, only I left them in their own home, and he has
left me all alone in a rough inn, in a strange country; and if he does
not come back, what will become of me?

Aunt Rachel and father, I am writing all this for you.

We were married quite secretly, for fear of his rich uncle, who would
never, never have consented to him marrying a poor saddler's daughter
like me.  And we left England directly under another name, and went
down into Italy and wandered about; I shall have strange things to tell
of when I reach home again.  And he was so kind, so fond of me; only I
vexed him often, because I did not care about the pictures and the
music, and the old ruins, and all the things he delighted in.  I wish I
had pretended to care for them; but he only laughed at first, and
called me an odd name--a "pretty Philistine," and took me to look in at
the shop windows.  So I did not guess that he cared so much, till he
got tired, and used to leave me by myself while he went to picture
galleries and concerts, and exploring ancient buildings.  In Venice he
left me all day, time after time, and I used to wander about the
Piazza, and in and out of the little narrow streets, until I lost
myself; and I knew nothing of Italian, and very little French, and
often and often I walked up and down for hours before I found the
Piazza again, and then I knew where to go.  From Venice we came up
here, among the mountains, and now I am in Austria.  When I was a girl
at school I never thought I should go to Austria.  It is a very narrow
valley, just wide enough to hold a village with one street, and all
that is on the slope.  There are fields all along the valley--fields
without any hedgerows, and only rough cart tracks through them, and
wherever the tracks cross one another there is a crucifix.  Yes, there
are crucifixes everywhere, and most of them are so ugly I cannot bear
to look at them.  I like better the little shrines, where Mary sits
with the child Jesus in her arms.

It is strange when I look out of the window to see the great high rocks
rising up like walls far into the sky; thousands of feet, Sidney said
they are.  They are so steep that snow cannot rest on them, and it only
lies in the niches and on the ledges and the sharp points, which shine
like silver in the sun.  The sky looks almost like a flat roof lying
over the valley on the tops of these rocky walls.  There is not a tree,
or a shrub, or a blade of grass growing on them; and how bleak it looks!

I do not like to begin about our quarrel.  We had fallen into a way of
quarreling, and I did not think much of it.  You know, Aunt Rachel, I
am always ready to kiss and be friends again, and it will be so again.
When he comes back I will do everything he wishes, and I'll pretend to
like what he likes.  I'll not be the foolish, silly girl I was again.

Nearly a mile from the village there is an old ruin, not a pretty
place, only a fortress, built to guard the valley from the Italians, if
they sent their soldiers this way.  An ugly old place.  There is a
church built out of the stone, and a long flight of stone steps up to
it.  I felt very ill and wretched and out of spirits that day; three
weeks to-morrow it will be, and Sidney was worrying me about the ruins.

"I wish you would learn to take some interest in anything besides
yourself," he said at last.

I was sitting on the church steps, and he stood over me, with a gloomy
face, and looked at me as if he despised me.

"I wish I'd never seen you!" I cried out suddenly, as if I was beside
myself.  "I hate the day I ever saw you.  I wish I'd been struck blind
or dead that day.  We're going to be miserable for ever and ever, and I
was happy enough till I knew you."

Those were bitter words; how could I say them to Sidney?

"If you say that again," he answered, "I'll leave you.  I've borne your
temper as long as I can bear it.  Do you think you are the only one to
be miserable?  I curse the day when I met you.  It has spoiled all my
future life, fool that I was!"

"Fool! yes, that's true," I said in my passion, "and I'm married to a
fool!  And they used to think me so clever at home, poor Aunt Rachel
and father did.  Me!  I'm married to a fool, you know," and I looked
up, and looked round, as if there were people to hear me beside him.
But there was nobody.  He ground the pebbles under his foot, and raised
himself up and stood as if he were going away the next moment.

"Go on one minute longer, Sophy," he said, "and I'm off.  You may
follow me if you please, and be the ruin of my life, as you're likely
to be the plague of it.  Oh, fool, fool that I was!  But I'll get a few
days' peace.  Another word from you, and I go."

"Go! go! go!" I cried, quite beside myself; "I shall only be too glad
to see you go.  Only I wish Aunt Rachel was here."

"Sophy, will you be reasonable?" he asked, and I thought he was going
to give way again, as he always did before.

"No, I won't be reasonable; I can't be reasonable," I said; "how can I
be reasonable when I'm married to a fool?  If you're going, go; and if
you're staying, stay.  I'm so miserable, I don't care which."

I covered my face with my hands and rocked myself to and fro, hearing
nothing but my own sobs.  I expected to feel his hand on my head every
moment, and to hear him say how he adored me.  For we had quarreled
many a time before, and he had even gone away, and sulked all day with
me.  But he never failed to beg me to forgive him and be friends again.
I did not want to look up into his face, lest I should give way, and be
friends before he said he was sorry.  But he did not touch me, nor
speak, though I sobbed louder and louder.

"Sidney!" I said at last, with my face still hidden from him.

But even then he did not speak; and by and by I lifted up my head, and
could not see him anywhere.  There seemed to be no one near me; but
there were plenty of corners in the ruins where he could hide himself
and watch me.  I sat still for a long time to tire him out.  Then I got
up, and strolled very slowly down toward the village.  There is a
crucifix by the side of the narrow fort-road, larger than most of the
others, and there on the cross hangs a wooden figure of Jesus Christ,
so worn and weather-beaten that it looks almost a skeleton, and all
bleached and pale as if it had been hanging there through thousands of
years.  It seemed very desolate and sad that evening, and I stood
looking at it, with the tears in my eyes, making it all dim and misty.
The sun was going down, and just then it passed behind the peak of one
of the precipices, and a long stream of light fell across a pine forest
more than a mile away, and into that forest a lonely man was passing,
and he looked like Sidney.  My heart sank suddenly; it is a strange
thing to feel one's heart sinking, and I felt all at once as desolate
and forsaken as the image on the cross above me.

"Sidney!" I called in as clear and loud a tone as I could.  "Sidney!"

But if that man, lost now in the pine forest, was Sidney, he was too
far off to hear me, wasn't he?  Still I could not give up the hope that
he was hiding among the ruins, and I called and called again, louder
and louder, for I began to be terrified.  It was all in vain.  The sun
set, and the air grew chilly, and they rang the Angelus in the
clock-tower.  The long twilight began, and the flowers shut up their
pretty leaves.  The cold was very sharp and biting, and made me shiver.
So I called him once again in a despairing voice.

"Oh!" I said, looking up to the worn, white face of the Christ upon the
cross, as if the wooden image could hear me, "I'm so miserable, and I
am so wicked."

That really made me feel better, and my passion went away in a moment.
Yes, I would be good, I said to myself, and never vex him again.  I
knew I ought to be good to him, for he was so much above me, and ran
such risks to marry me.  Perhaps I ought to be more obedient to him
than if I had married a man who kept a shop, like father.  Sometimes I
think I should have been happier if I had; but that is nonsense, you
know.  And Sidney has never been rough or rude to me, as many men would
be, if I went into such tempers with them.  He is always a gentleman;
always.

"I told him I was passionate," I said, half-aloud, I think; "and he
ought to have believed me.  And oh! to think how anxious Aunt Rachel is
about me, never knowing where I am or what has happened to me for
nearly nine months!  It is that makes me so miserable and cross; I
can't help flying out at him; but he says I must not tell or write for
his sake.  Oh!  I will be better, I will be good.  And he's so fond of
me; I know he can't be gone far away.  I expect he's gone back to the
inn, and will be waiting for his supper, and I'd better make haste."

But I could not walk quickly, for I felt faint and giddy.  Once or
twice I stumbled against a stone, and Sidney was not there to help me.
When I reached the inn I looked into the room where we had our meals;
but he was not there.  And he was nowhere in our great barn of a
bedroom.  His portmanteau was there, and all his things, so I knew he
could not stay long away.  I made signs to Chiara, the maid, for I
cannot speak Italian or German; but she did not understand me.  So I
went to bed and cried myself to sleep.

Now I have told exactly how it happened.  It is nearly three weeks ago;
and every hour I have expected to see Sidney come back.  He has left
most of his money behind in my care; there are nearly eighty pounds in
foreign money that I do not understand.  Quite plenty; I'm not vexed
about that.  But I want him to be here taking care of me.  What am I to
do if he is not here in time?  Chiara is kind enough; only we cannot
understand one another, and what will become of me?  Oh! if Aunt Rachel
could only be here!

It is a very rough place, this inn.  My bedroom is paved with red tiles
like our kitchen at home; and there is no fire-place, only an immense
white stove in one corner, which looks like a ghost at night, when
there is any moonlight.  There is a big deal table, and a kind of sofa,
as large as a bed, placed on one side of it.  The bed itself is so high
I have to climb into it by a chair.  There are four windows; and when I
look out at them there is little else to be seen but the great high,
awful rocks, shutting out the sky from my sight; they frighten me.
Downstairs, the room below mine is the kitchen.  It is like a barn,
too; paved with rough slabs of stone.  There is an enormous table, with
benches on each side.  At one end of the kitchen is a sort of little
room, with six sides, almost round; and in the middle of it is a kind
of platform, built of brick, about two feet high; and this is their
fire-place, where all the cooking is done.  There is always a huge fire
of logs burning, and there are tall chairs standing round it, tall
enough for people to put their feet on the high hearth.  I've sat there
myself, with my cold feet on the hot bricks, and very comfortable it is
on a frosty night.  And above it hangs an enormous, enormous
extinguisher, which serves as a chimney, but which can be lowered by
chains.  At nights all the rough men in the village come and sit round
this queer fire-place; and oh! the noises there are make me shiver with
terror.

Chiara is very careful of me; too careful.  She makes me go out a
little every day, when I would rather stay in, and watch for Sidney.  I
always go as far as the old crucifix, for it seems to comfort me.  I
always say to it, "Oh, he must come back to-day, I can't bear it any
longer.  And oh!  I'll never, never vex him any more."  And the sad
face seems to understand, and the head bows down lower as if to listen
to me.  It seems to heed me, and to be very sorry for me.  I wonder if
it can be wicked to feel in this way.  But in England I should not want
any crucifix, I should have Aunt Rachel.

I am afraid Sidney forgot that I should want him near me.  Suppose he
does not come back till I am well and strong again, and can put my baby
into his arms myself.  There is a pretty shrine on the other road to
the village, not the road where he left me, and in it is Mary with a
sweet little child lying across her knees asleep.  Suppose he should
come and find us like that, and I could not wake the baby, and he knelt
down before us, and put his arms round us both.  Oh, I should never be
in a passion again.

I have not written all this at once.  Oh, no!  Chiara takes the pen and
ink away, and shakes her funny old head at me.  She makes me laugh
sometimes, even now.  Whenever I hear the tramp, tramp of her wooden
shoes, I fancy she is coming to say Sidney is here, and afraid to
startle me; but it would not startle me, for I expect him all the time.

Some day he will drive me in a carriage and pair, along the streets at
home, and all the neighbors will see, and say, "Why, there's Sophy
Goldsmith come back, riding in her own carriage!"  And I shall take my
baby, and show him to my aunts and father, and ask them if it was not
worth while to be sorry and anxious for a time to have an ending like
this.

This moment I have made up my mind that they shall not be sorry nor
anxious any longer.  I will send this long story I have written to Aunt
Rachel; and I will send our portraits which Sidney had taken in
Florence.  Oh, how handsome he is!  And I, don't you think I am very
pretty?  I did not know I looked like that.  Good-by, Sidney and
myself.  I must make Chiara buy me ever so many postage stamps
to-morrow morning.

Dearest father and Aunt Rachel, come and take care of me and my little
baby.  Forgive me, forgive me, for being a grief to you!

SOPHY.



CHAPTER II.

AT INNSBRUCK.

When Sidney Martin turned away from his petulant young wife, and strode
with long hasty strides up the mountain track which lay nearest to him,
he did so simply from the impulse of passion.  He was little more than
a boy himself; just as she was little more than a wayward girl.  It was
scarcely a year since he left Oxford; and he was now spending a few
months in traveling abroad as a holiday, before settling down to the
serious business of life.  His uncle was the head of the great firm of
Martin, Swansea & Co., shipping agents, whose business lay like a vast
net over the whole commercial world, bringing in golden gains from the
farthest and least known of foreign markets.  Sir John Martin, for he
had already been knighted, and looked forward to a baronetcy, was a
born Londoner, at home only in the streets of London, and unable to
find pleasure or recreation elsewhere.  But he was desirous that his
nephew and heir should be a man of the world, finding himself
unembarrassed and at home in any sphere of society; especially those
above the original position of his family.  To this end he had sent
Sidney to Eton and Oxford; and had now given him a year's holiday to
see those foreign sights presumed to be necessary to the full
completion of his education.

The misfortune was, as Sidney had long since owned to himself, that he
had not been content to take this holiday alone.  He was in love, with
a boy's passion, with Sophy Goldsmith; and he knew his uncle would
rather follow him to the grave than see him married to a girl so far
beneath him in position.  It was impossible to leave Sophy behind; he
had no difficulty in persuading her to consent to a secret marriage.
She was a girl of the same age as himself, whose sole literary
education had consisted in the reading of third-rate novels, where none
of the heroines would have hesitated for a moment from stealing away,
as she did, from her very commonplace home; to which she expected some
day to return in great state and glory.

But the stolen happiness had been very brief.  Sidney, boy as he was,
found out too soon how ignorant and empty-headed his pretty, uneducated
wife was.  She was in no sense a companion for him.  Traveling about
from place to place, with all the somewhat pedantic book-learning of
his university career fresh upon him, and with enthusiastic
associations for many of the spots they visited, especially in Italy
and Greece, he was appalled to find that what interested him beyond
words was inexpressibly wearisome to her.  What was the Palace of the
Cæsars to one who knew only as much of Roman history as she had learned
in Mangnall's Questions at the poor day-school she had gone to?  Or
Horace's farm; who was Horace?  Or Pliny's villa; she knew nothing of
Pliny.  Why did he want to go to Tusculum?  And why did he care about
the Etruscan tombs?  She did not want to learn.  She had not married to
go to school again, she declared one day, with a burst of tears; and if
he had not loved her as she was he ought to have left her.  There were
those who would have loved her if she had not known a great A from a
chest of drawers.  She would not bother herself with any such things.

Sidney discovered, too, that she cared equally little for painting or
music.  A brass band playing dance-music in the streets and a strongly
tinted oleograph was as far as her native taste in music and art would
carry her; and she resented the most delicately hinted instruction on
these points also.  The wild and magnificent scenery which delighted
him immeasurably, was dreary and unintelligible to her.  She loved
streets and shops, and driving amid throngs of other carriages, and
going to theaters, though even there she yawned and moped because she
could not understand a word the actors spoke.  It was in vain he urged
her to try and acquire a knowledge of the language.  She was going to
live in England, she argued; and it was not worth while to spend her
time in learning Italian or French.

Before six months had passed, the inward conviction had eaten into
Sidney's mind that his marriage was a fatal mistake.  He brooded
silently over this thought until it affected strongly his temper, kind
and sanguine when untried, but now falling into a somber despair.  He
had been guilty of a folly which his uncle would never overlook.  If
Sophy had been as intellectual as she was beautiful, he could have
educated her, and so made a companion of her; and possibly his uncle
might in time be won over to forgiveness.  A brilliant, beautiful
woman, able to hold her own in society, one of whom Sir John could be
proud, might have conquered him; but never an ignorant, empty-headed,
low-born dunce, like Sophy.  A dunce and a fool, the young husband
called her in the bitter intolerance of youth; for youth demands
perfection in every person save self.

This inward disgust and weariness of his silly little wife had been
smouldering and increasing for months.  Once before he had given way to
it so far as to leave her for a few days, and to wander about in what
seemed a blissful and restful solitude.  But he had written to her, and
kept her informed of his movements, and had returned after a short
absence.  Now he felt he could not take up the heavy burden again; not
voluntarily.

He made his way through the darkening shadows of great pine forests and
narrow valleys, to Toblach, a village about twenty miles distant, at
the entrance of the Ampezzo valley, through which Sophy must pass, if
she continued her journey without retracing alone the route by which
they had come.  And there he remained for three or four days, expecting
to see her arrival hour after hour.  Then he grew nettled.  She was
waiting for him to go back penitent, like the prodigal son.  Not he!
She was quite able to manage a journey alone; and he had left her
plenty of money--indeed, nearly all he possessed.  It was not as if she
was some high-born young lady, who had never ventured out of doors
unattended.  Sophy had the hardy independence of a girl who had earned
her own living, and had expected to manage for herself all her life.
This had become one of her offenses in his eyes.  She was as sharp as a
needle in avoiding imposition, and taking care of money; and her
generalship at the many hotels they had stayed in had at first amused,
and then enraged him.  She could take very good care of herself.

Still, when he went on his way, he left word with the landlord of the
hotel that he was gone to the Kaiserkrone at Botzen; and at Botzen he
stayed another three days, and left the same instructions as to her
following him to the Goldne Sonne, at Innsbruck.  Each journey made the
distance between them greater, and gave to him a feeling of stronger
relief at being free from her presence.  There was no return of his
boyish passion for her; not a spark revived in the ashes of the old
flame.

He was sauntering through the Hofkirche at Innsbruck, gazing somewhat
wearily at the grotesque bronze figures surrounding the tomb of
Maximilian, and thinking how Sophy would have screamed with laughter,
and talked in the shrill key that had so often made him look round
ashamed, in other famous churches; for he was at an age when shame is
an overpowering vexation.

"Thank Heaven, she is not here," he said half aloud, when suddenly a
hand was laid on his shoulder, and a familiar voice exclaimed:

"What, Sidney! you are here--and alone!"

"Alone!" he repeated; "who did you expect to find with me, George?" he
asked irritably.

It was the last word that struck him, and over-balanced the
astonishment he felt at hearing his cousin's voice.  George Martin
shrugged his shoulders.

"Come out of this church," he said, in a voice toned down to quietness,
"and I'll tell you straight.  I never could manage anything, you know;
there's no diplomacy in me, and so I told Uncle John.  Come; I can't
talk about it here."

They went out into the open air, and strolled down to the river in
silence.  George Martin was in no hurry to tell his message, and Sidney
shrank from receiving it.  He had often dreaded that some rumor might
reach his uncle; for Sophy had not been prudent enough in effacing
herself on their travels.  So the two young men stood on the bridge,
gazing down at the rapid rushing of the waters below them, and for some
time neither of them spoke a word.

"Old fellow," said George at last, laying his hand affectionately on
Sidney's shoulder, "I'm so glad to see you alone.  There isn't anybody
at the hotel, is there?"

"What do you mean?" asked Sidney with a parched throat.

"Anyone you would be ashamed of, you know," he continued.  "Uncle John
heard somehow there was a girl traveling about with you--I don't like
to say it, Sid--and he sent me off at a moment's notice after you.
There, now the murder's out!  Uncle John said, 'Don't be bluff and
outspoken; but find out quietly.'  But I never could be diplomatic.
You are alone, Sidney, aren't you?"

"Quite alone," answered Sidney, looking frankly and steadily into his
cousin's face.  There was always a winning straightforwardness and
clearness in his gray eyes, as if the soul of honor dwelt behind them,
which went right to the hearts of those who met their gaze; and George
Martin's clouded face brightened at once.

"I'm so glad, so thankful, old fellow!" he exclaimed.  "I don't mind
now telling you, uncle was in an awful rage, swore he would disinherit
you, and cut you off without even a shilling, you know; and sent me to
find you out, because I was to be the heir in your place, if it was
true.  Perhaps he thought that would make me keen to find it true.  But
oh, how thankful I am to find it false?  We are more like brothers than
cousins, Sidney; and I'd rather lose a dozen fortunes that lose you."

Sidney grasped his hand with a firm, strong clasp, but said nothing.
For the moment he was dumb; his pulses beat too strongly for him to
speak in a natural tone.  Disinherited!  He who had not a penny of his
own.  George Martin attributed his silence and agitation to the
indignation he must be feeling.

"Come home at once with me," he said, "and make it all right with Uncle
John.  It was a vile scandal, and just the thing to exasperate him.
It's only giving up a few weeks of your holiday; and it's worth while,
I tell you, Sid.  He said he had it on good authority; but if you go
back with me, he'll be satisfied."

"I don't know," answered Sidney, with some hesitation; "it's like
owning I am afraid of being disinherited.  Leave me to think it over;
it is not a thing to be decided in a moment."

Yet he knew at the bottom of his heart that he had already decided.  It
seemed to him as if he had been saved from a fatal exposure by the
drift of circumstances.  But for Sophy's violent temper she would
either have been with him when his cousin met him at Innsbruck, or
George would have pursued his journey to the Ampezzo valley, and found
them there.  Then it would have been impossible to conceal the
truth--the hateful truth--any longer.  That would have been utter ruin
for them both.  He could do nothing to maintain a wife or, indeed,
himself, if his uncle disinherited him.  So far he had never earned a
six-pence in his life.  If he acknowledged Sophy just now, it would
only be to bring her to destitution; or to make himself dependent upon
her exertions.

He went back to his hotel, and wrote a long letter to his young wife,
carefully worded, lest it should fall into wrong hands.  He told her to
make her way as directly as possible to England to her father's house;
and to let him know immediately of her return there.  She could reach
it by tolerably easy railway journeys in about a week; and he carefully
traced out her route, entering the moment of departure for each train
she must take, and telling her at what hotels she must stay.  It was
now a week since he had left her, and he had no doubt she was on her
way after him.  It seemed to him as though he was taking an almost
tender care for her safety and comfort, more than she deserved; and
thought she ought to be very grateful to him for it.  He urged the
utmost prudence upon her in regard to their secret.

He left this letter with the landlord of the Goldne Sonne, doing so
with considerable caution, very well concealed.  It was addressed to S.
Martin only, and might have been either for a man or a woman.  If no
person claimed it, it was to be forwarded to him intact at the end of
three months, when he would send a handsome acknowledgment for it.  But
it would probably be asked for in the course of a few days; for Sidney
reminded himself, with self-gratulation, that at both of the hotels he
had quitted lately he had left instructions for Sophy; with a careful
description of her appearance, that no wrong person should receive them.

These steps set his conscience at rest; and he returned to England with
no heavier burden on his spirits than the dread of discovery, which
must be borne as long as he was absolutely dependent upon his uncle's
favor.



CHAPTER III.

A FORSAKEN CHILD.

Sophy finished her letter, the letter which was to be posted the next
day.  But before the morning came her child was born, and the young
mother lay speechless and motionless, unconsciously floating down the
silent sea of death.  There was no one with her but Chiara, the working
housekeeper of the inn; but there was no sign that the girl felt
troubled or lonely.  Chiara laid the baby across her chilling, heaving
breast, and for a moment there flickered a smile about her pale lips,
as she made a feeble effort to clasp her new-born babe in her arms.
But these signs of life were gone in a moment like the passing of a
fitful breeze; and her rough nurse, stooping down to look more closely
at her white face, saw that the young foreigner was dead.

For some minutes Chiara stood gazing at the dead girl, and the living
child on her bosom, without moving.  She had dispatched a boy to fetch
the nearest doctor, but he was gone to a patient some miles away, and
it would be two or three hours before he could reach the inn.  All the
house and all the village were asleep, except the watchman in the
bell-tower, who struck the deep-toned bell every quarter.  It had not
occurred to her to summon any helper; she had known what was coming,
and had made all necessary preparations.  But she had not counted on
any risk to the life of the young mother; and this made all the
difference in the world.

Chiara believed she perfectly understood the position of affairs.  The
young Englishman who had disappeared three weeks ago had grown weary of
his whim, pretty as the girl was; and would not care if he never heard
of her again.  That was as plain as the day.

Was there nothing to Chiara's advantage in the turn affairs had taken?
The pretty Englishwoman had left boxes enough and goods enough of many
kinds, and Chiara was well acquainted with their value, for Sophy was
careless with her keys, excepting the key of a strong jewel-case, which
the inn servant had never seen open.  It was not difficult now to find
the key.  In a little while she opened the case, and her eyes glistened
as they fell upon a roll of bank-notes and a quantity of ducats and
gulden, how many she had not time to count.  There were a few jewels,
too; and the jewel-case was an easy thing to take away and hide.
Chiara was a woman of prompt measures.  Yes, she could adopt the child,
and take care of this fortune for him herself.  If it fell into the
hands of the landlord, or the _padre_, or the mayor, there would be
nothing left by the time the boy grew up.  It was the best thing she
could do for him; and the Englishman would be glad enough to be rid of
the burden of the child, even if he ever returned to make inquiries
after the girl he had deserted.  He had left all this money behind him
to make amends to her for his desertion, and was sure not to come back.
That was as clear as day.

She left the baby lying across its dead mother, and stole away softly
to her own garret to hide her treasure securely.  The dawn was breaking
in a soft twilight which would strengthen into the full day long before
the sun could climb the high barrier of the rocks.  Very soon the cocks
began to crow, and the few birds under the eaves to twitter.  The
doctor was not yet come when Chiara thundered at her master's door, and
called out in a loud voice:

"Signore, a boy is born, and the little signora is dead."

The landlord was a man who cared for nothing if his dinner was to his
liking and his wines good.  Chiara had managed all domestic affairs so
well for so many years that he was willing she should manage this
little difficulty.  The trusty woman produced enough money to defray
all the expenses incurred by the English people, who had honored his
hotel with their custom.  No one questioned the claim of Chiara to the
clothes and the few jewels left by the English lady, especially as she
took upon herself the entire charge of the child.  The dead mother was
buried without rite or ceremony in a solitary corner of the village
cemetery, for everybody knew she was not entitled to a Christian
burial, being an accursed heretic; but the child was baptized into the
Catholic Church.

It was not possible for Chiara to keep the baby herself in the bustling
life of the village inn; and she had no wish to do so.  She had a
sister, with children of her own, living up on the mountains, in a
small group of huts where a few shepherds and goatherds lived near one
another for safety and companionship during the bitter winter months,
when the wolves prowled around the hovels, under whose roofs the goats
and sheep were folded, as well as the men, women, and children.  The
children received almost less care and attention than the sheep and
goats, which were worth money.  The whole community led a savage and
uncivilized life.  Behind their little hamlet rose the huge escarpment
of gray rocks, which hid the sun from them until it was high in the
heavens, and in whose clefts the snow and ice lay unmelted ten months
in the year.  Far below them was the valley, with its church and
clock-tower, from which the chiming of bells came up to their ears
plainly enough; but the distance was too great for any but the
strongest among them to go down, unless it was a great festival of the
church, when their eternal salvation depended upon assisting at it.
Now and then a priest made his way up to this far-off corner of his
parish, but it was only when one of its few inhabitants was dying.  No
one had the courage to undertake the task of civilizing this little
plot of almost savage barbarism.

The name of the young Englishman, the father of the little waif thrust
back in this manner to a state of original savagery, had been entered
in the register of the village inn as S. Martin.  The child was
christened Martino.  Chiara agreed to pay 150 kreutzers a month for his
maintenance, an enormous sum it seemed, but her sister knew how to
drive a good bargain, and had a shrewd suspicion that Chiara could very
well afford to pay more.



CHAPTER IV.

A REPRIEVE.

Three months passed by, and found Sidney Martin fairly at work in his
uncle's office.  It had been a busy and exciting time with him, and he
had had little leisure to brood over his private difficulties.  It was
impossible that he could forget Sophy, but he felt more willing to
forget her than to rack his brains over the silence and mystery that
surrounded her absence.  Inherited instinct awoke within him a love of
finance and commerce.  The world-wide business carried on in the busy
offices of his uncle's shipping agency firm in the City of London had
taken possession of his mind, appealing curiously enough to his
imagination, and he was throwing himself into its affairs with an ardor
very satisfactory to Sir John Martin.

There was something fascinating to Sidney in the piles of letters
coming in day after day bearing the postmarks of every country under
the sun, and the foreign letters were generally allotted to him.  But
one morning, as they passed through his hands, a letter bearing the
name of the Groldne Sonne, Innsbruck, lay among them, bringing his
heart to his mouth as his eye fell upon it.  He glanced around at his
uncle, as if he could not fail to observe it and suspect him of some
secret, but Sir John was absorbed with his own share of the
correspondence.  The Innsbruck letter was slipped away into Sidney's
pocket, and he went on opening the rest; but his brain was in a whirl,
and refused to take in the import of any of them.  "I've a miserable
headache to-day," he said at last, with a half groan; "I cannot make
anything out of these."

"Go home, my boy," answered his uncle, "and take a holiday.  We can do
very well without you."

Sidney was glad to get away.  This unopened letter--which he had not
dared to open in his uncle's presence--seemed of burning importance.
Yet he felt sure it was nothing but the letter of directions he had
left for Sophy when he quitted Innsbruck.  All these months her fate
had been a mystery to him.  She had disappeared so completely out of
his life, that sometimes it seemed to him positively that his marriage
had been only a dream.  From the moment of his return to England, he
had been incessantly worried by the dread of her arrival, either at his
uncle's house or at the offices in the City.  More than once he had
been on the point of telling his uncle all about his fatal mistake, but
his courage always failed him at the right moment.  Sometimes he felt
angry at Sophy's obstinate silence, but more often he was glad of it.
He felt so free without her.  His understanding and intellect, his very
soul, seemed to have thrown off some stifling incubus.  He could enjoy
art and music again.  There was no silly girl to be jealous of his
books.  The brief, boyish passion he had felt was dead, and there could
be no resurrection of it.  It appeared monstrous to him that his whole
life should be blighted for one foolish and mad act.  If he only knew
once for all what had become of her, and that she would never trouble
him again, no regret would burden his emancipated spirit.

Instead of going home this morning, he took the train for Apley, a
small town lying between London and Oxford, where he had first seen
Sophy.  On the way down he read his own letter to her, giving her
minute directions for her journey.  Yes, he had been very thoughtful,
very considerate for her; if she had obeyed him, she would now have
been awaiting his visit to Apley.  He felt a great throb of gladness,
however, that it was not so; and then the thought crossed his mind,
like a thunderbolt, that possibly she had acted in the very manner he
had suggested in the letter he held in his hand, all but his final
instruction of letting him know of her safe arrival.  If so, his wife
and his child were now dwelling in the country town which he had just
entered.

This idea opened up to him a great gulf, in which all his future life
would be swallowed up.  He did not feel any yearning toward his unknown
child; it seemed but yesterday since he was a child himself--and yet
what ages since!  He walked slowly down the almost deserted High
Street, and past the shop where he had first seen her.  It was a small
saddler's shop, with a man at work in the bow-window, and a show of
bridles and reins festooned about the panes of glass.  There were three
steps up to the door; and he recollected well how Sophy looked as she
stood, smiling and blushing, to receive his orders about the saddle he
wanted repaired.  He was staying then with Colonel Cleveland at Apley
Hall, his uncle's oldest friend.  How long ago it seemed--yet it was
not three years!  Oh! what a fool he had been!

He opened the closed door, and set a little bell tinkling loudly.  The
workman in the window took no notice of him, but a woman came forward
from a back room.  She was of middle age, and her face bore a strong
resemblance to Sophy's.  She looked at him with a faint, pleasant
smile, though her eyes were sad, and her face pale.  There was a
gentleness and sweetness about her manner that made him feel
uncomfortable and guilty.

"Can you tell me if any of the Clevelands are at home?" he inquired.
He knew they were not, or he would not have ventured down to Apley.

"No, sir," answered Rachel Goldsmith, in a clear though low voice;
"Colonel Cleveland is in Germany, I believe, with Miss Cleveland."

"I almost fancy," continued Sidney, "that I owe you a few shillings.  I
ought to pay interest if I do, for the debt has run on for three years
or so.  I was staying at Apley Hall, and had my saddle mended here.  Do
you know if it was paid for?"

"What date was it, sir?" she asked, opening a ledger that lay on a desk
on the counter.

"Nearly three years ago," he replied, "as near as I can guess.  A young
lady took my orders; perhaps she may remember the date."

His voice trembled somewhat, but Rachel Goldsmith did not notice it.
Her hands were shaking so much she could hardly turn over the leaves.

"Is she at home?  Cannot you ask her?" he inquired; and his pulse
seemed to stand still as he waited for her reply.

"Sir," she said, closing the ledger, "we have lost my niece."

"Lost her!" he repeated, and the blood bounded through his veins again,
and the color came back to his pallid face.  Sophy, then, was not here!

"Yes," she said, with quivering lips, "but not by death.  I could bear
that and be thankful.  But when those you love disappear, oh! nobody
knows what the misery is.  We do not know if she is dead or alive.  I
loved her as if she had been my own child; but she did not feel as if
she owed me the duty of a child; and, when I thwarted her, she went
away, and left a letter saying she was gone to London.  We have never,
never heard of her since, and it is now over a year ago.  She is lost
in London."

Rachel Goldsmith's voice was broken with sobs.  But before Sidney spoke
again, for he was slow in answering, she went on, with a glimmer of a
smile at herself.

"You'll excuse me, sir," she said.  "I tell everybody, for when you
have lost anything no one knows who may come across it, or hear of it.
Not that a young gentleman like you could have any chance; and my
trouble cannot interest you."

"Oh!  I am more interested than you think," he answered; "I cannot say
how much."

"I have her photo here," she continued, "and it might chance that you
should see her in London some day.  And whatever she has been doing,
oh! we'll welcome her home like a lost lamb.  She's only a young, giddy
girl, sir, and she'll make a good woman by and by.  Not that I'm
certain she's in London.  For I've got a little scrap of writing from
her three months after she went away, and it was posted in Rome.  But
she said she was only traveling, and when she came back she would live
in London.  I'm sorely afraid she has been deceived and led astray.
But here is her likeness, sir, if you'd please to see it, and the note
she wrote."

With a hand that shook visibly, she drew from her pocket a worn and
soiled envelope and handed it to Sidney.  He turned his back upon her,
and went to the half-glass door to look at the contents.  There was a
fading photograph of Sophy, her pretty features set in a simper, and
her slight figure posed in an affected attitude.  But it was Sophy's
face; and a pang of remorse, and almost of a love not quite dead, shot
through his heart.  He would have given half the fortune he was heir to
never to have seen that face.

"Please read the note, sir," persisted Rachel Goldsmith.

It was an untidy scrawl, and there was a mistake or two in spelling;
but Sidney felt the tears smart under his eyelids as he read the words.

"Dear father," wrote Sophy, "don't go to be fretting after me.  I'm as
happy as a queen all day, and living grander than you could ever think
of.  It has been a strange time since I saw you, but I shall come and
tell you all about it as soon as ever I can.  We are going to live in
London when we come back; and my husband is a gentleman you never saw,
nor never knew.  You'll be as glad as I am when you know all.--Your
loving Sophy."

"And that is all you know about her?" he asked, after a long pause,
when he could control himself enough to speak with no more sympathy
than should be shown by a kind-hearted stranger.

"All, sir, every word."  she answered, wiping the tears from her eyes.
"Of course, I shall never give up hope; and if prayers will bring her
back, my prayers shall.  Her father is my brother, and has his name
over the shop, 'James Goldsmith'; and sometimes he's nearly mad about
it, and sometimes he says she's married to surprise us all, and will
come back a grand lady.  Well! thank you kindly, sir, for listening to
me: but I tell everybody, for who knows who may come across her some
day?"

Sidney bade her good-by, and went his way.  There was no trace here of
Sophy; and as he traveled back to town he came to the conclusion that
it was best to let the matter rest, and wait for any chance that time
might bring.  He had ruined his life; but, until the fatal moment of
discovery came, he might still act as if he were not a married man.  A
reprieve had been granted to him, and he would live as if he were not a
criminal.



CHAPTER V.

WINNING THE WORLD.

Sidney Martin kept his resolve.  He blotted out that fatal mistake he
had made.  Above it he built a fair edifice of energy, integrity, and
honor.  His uncle's heart delighted in him, and he won golden opinions
from all his uncle's old friends.  When John Martin died, he left
Sidney not only his share as head of the firm, but landed estates in
Yorkshire bringing in some thousands a year--all entailed upon his next
heir male.

It was a brilliant position for a man under thirty, but no one could
have stepped into it with more dignity and grace than did Sidney
Martin.  His co-executor was his uncle's old friend, Colonel Cleveland,
who had lived chiefly abroad for the last ten years, and who naturally
left everything in his hands.  There were a few complimentary legacies,
and some pensions left to old servants.  Sidney was munificent in his
payment of these bequests, adding gifts of his own to them as he paid
them to his uncle's poorer legatees.  On his cousin, George Martin, he
settled at once the sum of £10,000, and gave £5000 each to George's
married sisters.  Their gratitude was very moderately expressed, but
George's feeling of obligation to his cousin was sincere and deep.
This provision would enable him to marry without longer waiting for a
living.  At present he was a curate in the East of London, with the
modest stipend of £100 a year.

By this time Sophy, and that boyish error of his, had almost slipped
out of his memory.  His life had been very full since then, and he had
passed from boyhood into manhood.  He had devoted himself with keen
interest to his uncle's business; and, in the close emulation of a
vast-reaching commerce, stretching out its hands to the farthest region
of the habitable globe, he had ceased to be conscious of the peril ever
hanging over his head as long as his uncle lived.  Now his uncle's
death altered his position, and it would no longer be ruin to him for
his disastrous marriage to be discovered.  But he was in no way
inclined to confess his early blunder.

Sidney possessed an unusual degree of energy and ardor, and these had
found ample scope in the affairs of his firm.  He had traveled almost
all over the known world, except in the interior of the great
continents, and he had greatly enjoyed his travels.  He was not merely
a fortune-hunter; he was a close and interested observer both of man
and nature.  He lived very much outside of himself, filling his mind
with impressions from without, rather than seeking to understand and
deepen the principles of his own nature.  There had been a
consciousness of a hidden sin waiting to be dragged out and repented
of, which prevented him from looking too closely at himself.  At eight
and twenty he was a very different being from the boy, fresh from
college, who had flung away his future in a rash marriage.  Yet, with
an instinct working almost unconsciously within him, he avoided all
intimacy and close acquaintance with the women with whom he came in
contact.  His uncle had never married, and the establishment had been a
bachelor one, but there were families and houses enough where Sidney
was made effusively welcome.  He gained the reputation of being a
cynical woman-hater.  In fact, their society was too full of peril for
him to enjoy it with an ordinary degree of pleasure.  That buried
secret of his, over which the grass was growing, must be dug up and
brought to light if he thought of marrying; and with an intuitive dread
of the necessary investigations, he shrank from forming any fresh
attachment.  At the same time, his life hitherto had been too full of
other interests for him to feel the loss of home ties.

"All the world tells me you are not a marrying man, Sidney," said
Colonel Cleveland, one evening, when they stood for a minute on the
steps for their club, before parting for the night.  Colonel Cleveland
had come back to England soon after hearing of his old friend's death,
and several interviews had taken place between him and Sidney, but he
had never invited Sidney to his home.

"Yes; I shall remain a bachelor, like my uncle," said Sidney, with a
pleasant smile, "and adopt one of George Martin's boys, as Sir John
adopted me.  There's less responsibility than with sons of one's own."

"If that's true, you may come and see my daughter Margaret," replied
Colonel Cleveland, "and I put you on your honor.  She is all I have, is
Margaret, and I want to keep her to myself as long as I can.  The child
knows hardly anybody but me, and she is as happy as the day.  All the
women I know pester me to let her come out, as they call it.  But I say
women are best at home, and I'm not going to have my one girl made into
a fashionable fool."

"Is there any risk of that?" asked Sidney, laughing.

"Not at present," he answered; "but there's no knowing what a girl of
twenty might become.  Leave her in my hands till she's thirty, and I'll
turn her out a sensible woman.  She was fond of your uncle, Sidney, and
he was very fond of her.  I declare, we might have done you an ill turn
if we have been more worldly wise.  But they had not met for years when
he died."

"You have kept her too much at home," said Sidney.

"No woman can be kept too much at home," he continued.  "I would have
more Eastern customs in England if I could, and not suffer women to go
gadding about in public, blocking up the streets, and hindering
business in the shops, and sowing seeds of mischief wherever they go.
Busy bodies, gossips, tattlers!  'Speaking things which they ought
not,' as Paul says, in his wisdom.  Margaret is none of them, I can
tell you.  I should keep women back--back.  That is their place, well
in the background, you know.  Kindly treated, of course, and their
rights secured, only secured by men.  Come and see how my plan has
worked with Margaret."

"Certainly, with pleasure," replied Sidney.

But he was in no hurry to go.  There were many things to be done a
hundredfold more interesting to him than an interview with an eccentric
man's childish daughter.  He scarcely gave Colonel Cleveland's
invitation a second thought.  Day after day slipped by, and the idea of
going did not cross his preoccupied mind.  Nor did Colonel Cleveland
recur to the subject of his daughter when they met in the city to
transact necessary business.  Possibly he had been alarmed at his own
rashness.

But one afternoon a note reached Sidney by post.  It was written in a
hand as clear and legible as a clerk's and was quite as brief, and to
the point.  He read it with a smile.


SIR: My father, Colonel Cleveland, has met with an accident.  He bids
me ask you if you can come to-night and see him at his house?  MARGARET
CLEVELAND.


"No superfluous words here," he thought; "no empty compliments; no
conventional forms.  If every woman wrote notes like this, a good deal
of time would be saved.  It is like a telegram."



CHAPTER VI.

COLONEL CLEVELAND.

The house where Colonel Cleveland was for the present living stood
alone on Wimbledon Common, surrounded by a large garden, which was
completely walled in on every side.  Sidney rode toward it in the
twilight of an autumn evening.  A yellow light in the western sky shone
through the delicate net-work of silver beech trees, where a few leaves
were still clinging to the slender branches.  All around him there were
the forewarnings of the coming winter, and the lingering traces of the
dead summer.  The pale gray of the low sky overhead was sad; and sad
was the fluttering of the brown leaves as they floated to the ground.
A robin was singing its mournful little song, as if all the other birds
had forsaken the land, and left it to bear alone the burden of song
through the winter.  A few solitary ramblers, looking as if they had
lost their way in the gathering mist, were passing to and fro along the
sodden paths.  The scent of dying fern filled the air.

Sidney was the more open to all the impressions of nature because of
his busy life in the city.  This almost deserted, open common, looking
like a stretch of distant moorland, was all the more touching and
pathetic to him because an hour ago he had been threading his way
through the crowded labyrinths of London.  The yellow light shining
through the beech stems was more lovely, because for half the day his
eyes had seen nothing but gaslights burning amid the fog.

He let his horse's pace fall into a slow walk, and lingered to watch
the evening star grow brighter as the golden glow died out in the west.
There was little anxiety in his mind about Colonel Cleveland's
accident.  At any rate, for this moment he would enjoy the calm and
silence of nature after the noise and hurry of the day.  It was a
wonderful thing, this stillness of the broad heath, and of the quiet
heavens above him, throbbing with life and appealing to his inmost soul
with a strange and delicate appeal.  It seemed to him as if a voice
were speaking, and speaking to him from the sky, and the blue mists,
and the vague shadows, and the silent stars overhead; but what the
voice said he did not know.

"A little more, and I should be as fanciful as a poet," he said to
himself, with a laugh.  There had been a time when he had thought
himself a poet, or at least a lover of poetry.  But that was when he
was a boy, before the spell of the world had been cast over him; and
before he had yielded to a selfish passion which he could not
altogether forget.

It was in a very softened mood that he turned from the Common into
Colonel Cleveland's grounds.  He felt almost like a boy again.  The
life led in the city, the keen competition and cruel strife for
fortune, seemed to him, as it had once seemed, to be ignoble, sordid,
and barbarous.  There were better things than money; things which money
could never buy.  There was something almost pleasant to him in this
vague disdain he felt for the cares and trammels of business.  He was
inwardly glad that he was not a slave to Mammon.  "Not yet," said
conscience, entering an unheeded protest.

He was shown into a library, where a lamp, with a shade over it, filled
the room with strong lights and deep shadows.  It was unoccupied; but
in a minute or two the door opened, and a girl entered with a quiet
step.  She approached him with her hand stretched out, as if he were a
well-known friend, and spoke eagerly with a frank, sweet voice, the
sweetest voice, he thought at the first sound of it, that he had ever
heard.

"My father wants you so much," she said.  "Oh! he is so dreadfully
hurt."

Her face was in shadow, but he could see that it was pale and troubled;
her eyelids were a little red with weeping, and her mouth quivered.  It
was a lovely face, he felt; and the eyes she lifted up to him seemed,
like her voice, to be more beautiful than any he had ever known.  She
was a tall, slender girl; and the soft white dress she wore hung about
her in long and graceful folds.  He held her hand for a moment or two
in a firm grasp.

"Tell me what I can do for you," he said in a low tone, as if afraid of
startling her.

She met his gaze with an expression on her face full of relief and
trust.

"I am so glad you are come," she said frankly, "my father has been
asking for you so often.  He was thrown on the Common this morning, and
his back is injured, and he suffers, oh! so much pain.  Will you come
upstairs and see him at once?"

She led the way, running on before him with light and eager footsteps,
and, when she had reached the last step on the staircase, looking back
upon him with the simplicity of a child, she opened the door of her
father's room softly, and beckoned to him to follow her.

"He is longing to see you," she said in a low voice.

It seemed to Sidney, when he thought of it afterward, that he had been
so occupied in watching Margaret's movements, and listening to her
voice, that he had hardly seen her father.  He had an indistinct
impression of seeing the gray head lying on a pillow, and the face
drawn with pain as the injured man tried to stretch out his hand to
welcome him.  It was not till Margaret had gone away, after kissing her
father's cheek fondly, that he came to himself, and could attend
intelligently to what Colonel Cleveland was saying.

"The doctors are gone now, but they've a poor opinion of me, Sidney, a
very poor opinion.  Time, they say, may work wonders.  'How much time?'
I asked.  'Three or four years, perhaps,' they said.  And I'm to lie
like a log for years!  Good Heavens! is life worth living when it is
like that?"

"But they do not always know," answered Sidney, in a voice full of
sympathy.  "How can they know in so short a time?  This morning you
were as strong as I am; and in a few weeks you may be nearly as strong
as ever, in spite of the doctors."

"To lie like a log for years," repeated Colonel Cleveland, with a
groan, "and to chain Margaret to me!  Though she would not mind it,
poor child.  She'd nurse me, without a murmur or a sigh, till she was
worn out and gray herself.  I know what sort of a daughter she would
be, and I am as sorry for her as I am for myself.  I'd have let her
have some pleasure in her life if I'd known it was coming to this."

"You must not begin to despair so soon," said Sidney; "it is not
possible that anyone can judge so quickly of your state.  Wait a few
days, or weeks even, before you give up hope."

"But I cannot move," he answered, with a hopeless expression on his
face, "I cannot stir myself by a hair's breadth.  I feel as if I had
been turned into stone; only there's such dreadful pain.  Sidney, what
shall I do? what can I do?"

He broke down into a passionate burst of tears, turning his head from
side to side, as if seeking to hide his face from sight, but unable to
lift his hand or to move.  Sidney knelt down by the side of the bed,
and with; as gentle a touch as a woman's wiped the tears away,
whispering comforting words into his ear.

"It is too soon to despair," he repeated, "much too soon.  And if it
should be partly true, I will do all I can for you, as if I were your
son.  But it cannot be true.  It is only for a little while.  You are
bruised and stiff now, but that will wear off by degrees.  Hold fast to
the hope of getting over it, for your own sake and Margaret's."

He lingered over Margaret's name as if it were a pleasure to utter it.
But he was thinking chiefly of her father at this moment.  It was a
pitiful thing to witness a strong man suddenly stretched as helpless as
a child.  Sidney's heart was wrung for him, as he listened to his
deep-drawn sobs, which gradually ceased, yet left heavy sighs, which
were as disturbing as the sobs.  Margaret came in noiselessly and stood
by the fire at the other end of the room, her face turned wistfully
toward her father.  But she did not come nearer to him, and she neither
spoke nor stirred until he opened his eyes and saw her.

"Come here, Margaret," he said.

She was beside him in a moment, gazing down at him with eyes full of
tenderness and devotion, as if she were ready to give her life for his.
He looked up at her with something like a smile upon his face.

"Margaret," he said, "I love you more than anything else in the world."

"Yes, father," she answered with clasped hands and fervent voice, "and
I love you more than anything in the world."

"This is my old friend's adopted son," he went on, glancing from her to
Sidney.  "John Martin trusted him; so we can trust him.  I wish you to
look upon him as a friend, a trustworthy, straightforward, honorable
friend.  If you should ever want advice or help, go to him for it.
There's no telling what may happen to me, Margaret, and I want you to
know what to do.  I shan't die any sooner for saying this to you, and I
shall feel more content."

"If it will make you any happier," said Sidney, "I swear solemnly
before Almighty God to help your daughter at all times, and to shield
her from all possible harm, with my own life, if needful."

To himself, even more than to his listeners, there sounded an unusual
solemnity in the oath he had so involuntarily taken.  It seemed a
pledge to enter upon some high and chivalrous vocation for the sake of
this unknown girl.  It imposed upon him an obligation, a bounden duty,
from which he could never free himself.  He felt glad of it.  A glow of
self-approbation suffused itself through his soul.  He thought of the
strong vows of allegiance and devotion taken by the knights of
chivalry, at which it was the modern fashion to smile, and he felt
astonished at his own earnestness and warmth.  Would Margaret and her
father see anything absurd in this conduct of his?

No; they were as grave as himself.  They were in deep trouble, and
Sidney's words did not sound too serious.  They looked at him
steadfastly; Margaret's dark eyes turning from her father to him with
unaffected and unconscious earnestness.  She held out her hand to him,
and he took it reverentially.

"Yes, father," she said, "I will go to him whenever I want advice or
help; I will think of him always as my friend."

"Go away now, Margaret," he said.  She obeyed simply, and without
appeal, turning round with a half smile upon her wistful face as Sidney
opened the door for her.  "I have brought her up on military
discipline," said Colonel Cleveland; "I've taught her to do as she's
told, and she will obey me even in my grave.  It's happier for women
so; they cannot guide themselves in this wilderness of a world.  She'll
look to you in the same way now, if anything happens to me.  I thought
I was dying six hours ago; and the bitterest thought was leaving my
little girl with no counselor.  She has got female cousins enough, but
no trustworthy man belonging to her.  Now that's all right, and you'll
see to her as if you were her brother."

"As long as I live," answered Sidney with fervor.

It was after midnight when he rode away over the now dark and deserted
Common.  He was conscious that during the last few hours a crisis had
come into his life; a difficulty which he had long foreseen and
carefully avoided.  He already loved this girl.  But had he any right
to love her?  Was he free to win her heart?  It was more than six years
since he had last seen Sophy, and not a syllable of news from her had
reached him.  He shrank from letting down a sounding-line into the
depths of these past years; it had been better to let them lie
undisturbed.  But why had he been such a fool as to marry Sophy
Goldsmith?

The night was dark, but the sky was full of stars.  Along the high
roads crossing the Common lamps glimmered here and there, just tracing
out the route, but leaving the open stretch of moorland as dark as if
it had been hundreds of miles from any artificial light.  The bushes
and brushwood were black; and here and there lay small sinister-looking
pools, lurking in treacherous hollows, and catching some gleam of light
on their surface, which alone revealed them to the passers-by.  A red
gloom hung over London, throbbing as if it beat with the pulsations of
the life underneath it.  There were but few country sounds breaking the
stillness, as there would have been on distant moorlands: but now and
then the shriek of an engine and the rattling of a train jarred upon
the silence; and to Sidney, when he reined in his horse and listened to
it, a low roar, unlike any other sound, came from the busy and crowded
streets stretching for many miles eastward.  It was past midnight; and
yet London was not asleep.



CHAPTER VII.

MARGARET.

Margaret Cleveland watched Sidney ride away until the darkness hid him
from sight.  He was to be her friend.  But what perils were there in a
country like England which could so fill her father's heart with
dismay, and induce him to commit her welfare so solemnly to a man who
was an absolute stranger to her?  She was glad to have Sidney Martin as
a friend; there was an attraction to her in his frank, steadfast face,
which gave her great pleasure, and inspired a perfect confidence in
him, the confidence of a child.  But what was her father afraid of for
her?  To-day had been the most eventful day of her life; a crowd of
emotions, mostly painful ones, had invaded the calm of her girlhood.
This morning she had still been a child; to-night she was a woman.

Now that trouble had come she felt how utterly imperfect her training
had been to prepare her to meet it.  She knew nothing of the world.
Her father had stood between her and it so completely, that when he had
been brought home apparently dying, she had been unable to do anything,
or to summon anyone to his aid.  She did not know the name of any of
his friends whom he was in the habit of meeting at his club; and if he
had not recovered sufficiently to give her Sidney Martin's name and
address, she would have known no one to whom she could have looked for
help in any contingency.

True, they had been living abroad for some years since her mother's
death, and she had felt no wish to oppose her father's plan of keeping
her aloof from his somewhat distant relations, and of excluding her
from all companionship except his own.  She had been quite satisfied
with his companionship; and her faithful and loyal nature had accorded
a willing obedience to his slightest wish.  He chose to treat her as a
child, and she was glad to remain a child.

But to-night she did not feel sure that this mode of life had been a
wise one, either for herself or him.  Suddenly there had come upon her
a demand for prompt decision and action, which she was unable to meet.
She had been obliged to stand by and let the servants act for her.  It
was painful to her to feel how helpless she must have been if her
father had not gained consciousness enough to whisper to her, "Write at
once to Sidney Martin and ask him to come."

The doctors assured her there was no immediate danger for her father's
life.  Her mind, therefore, was at rest upon that point; and these
other thoughts crowded irresistibly upon her serious consideration.  It
did not occur to her that her father purposely guarded her from making
any outer use of her life; reserving all her sweetness, freshness, and
girlish charm for his own pleasure merely.  She had never felt herself
a prisoner.  Yet she knew well she did not live as other girls did; and
the balls, concerts, and pleasure parties, of which her father spoke
with so much scorn, probably would have had no attraction for her.  But
there were duties undertaken by other girls in which she had longed to
share.  There were children to teach, the poor to visit.  "Doing good,"
Margaret called it, simply and vaguely.  "He went about doing good,"
she murmured, turning away from the window, where she had lingered long
after Sidney was out of sight, and looking up at a picture of our Lord,
surrounded by the sick and poor.  "He went about doing good," she
repeated.

Her own loneliness and the immense claims of human brotherhood suddenly
presented themselves to her aroused mind.  Her face lit up with a
strange enthusiasm.  She could not be alone while there were so many
millions of fellow-creatures close by, with natures like her own, whom
she could help, and who could help her.  She remembered how her mother
had spent her life in manifold ministrations to those who were in
sorrow or trouble of any kind; and now she was herself twenty years of
age, and knew nobody to help or comfort--except her father.

She stole softly downstairs to his room, and crept across the floor to
his bedside.  He was sleeping, fitfully, the slumber due to a narcotic.
The trained nurse sent in by the doctor sat by watching him, and lifted
up her hand to enjoin silence.  Margaret was not one to break down in a
useless display of grief, though her heart sank heavily as she looked
on his beloved face, already pallid with pain, and drawn into lines
that spoke of intense suffering.  How old he looked compared with this
morning, when they had started off for their morning's ride across the
Common!  He was not really old, she thought, not yet fifty; many, many
years younger than his friend, Sir John Martin, who had died only a few
months ago.  Her father had neither the gray hair nor failing strength
of an old man.  Only a few hours ago he had been as full of health and
vigor as herself.  And now he looked utterly prostrate and shattered.
He moaned in his sleep, and the moan went to her very soul.  A great
rush of tenderness to him, almost as if he were a child, overflowed her
heart.  She did not dare to touch him lest she should arouse him, but
she bent down and kissed the pillow on which his head lay.  Margaret
did not sleep that night, literally; though girls of her age rarely
pass a whole night sleeplessly.  Her soul was too wide awake.  It had
been slumbering hitherto, in the calm uneventfulness of monotonous
days, and in her isolation from companions.  She lay in motionless
tranquillity on her little white bed, not tossing to and fro as if
seeking sleep, but more vividly awake than she had ever felt before.
She found herself suddenly called upon to live her own life, to take
upon herself the burden of her own duties.  The careless unconcern of
childhood was over for her, she must learn the duties of a woman.



CHAPTER VIII.

FRIENDS, NOT LOVERS.

Colonel Cleveland had the best surgical aid and counsel that could be
had in London.  A consultation was held over his case by the most
eminent surgeons; his recovery pronounced absolutely hopeless.  The
injury to the spine was fatal; and life could be sustained by the
utmost care and for only a few years.

The house on Wimbledon Common, which he had rented for a few months,
was taken for a term of years, as it was thought impossible to remove
Colonel Cleveland to his house in the country, even if he had wished
it.  But he did not wish to banish himself from the near neighborhood
of London, and of his friends who were able to visit him when only a
few miles distant.  Sidney Martin, who transacted all his business, was
obliged to see him almost daily.  Never before had Sidney come so near
the feeling of having a home.  When he saw the lights shining through
the uncurtained windows of Colonel Cleveland's suite of rooms on the
first floor, his pace always quickened, and his heart beat faster.
Margaret would be sure to start up at the first sound of his horse's
hoofs on the gravel, and run downstairs to open the hall-door to him.
The pleasant picture of her face looking out through the half-open door
often flashed vividly across his brain as he sat in his dark office,
with the myriad threads of business passing swiftly through his
skillful hands.  Margaret's little hand stretched out to be enfolded in
his own; Margaret's voice bidding him welcome; he would think of these
as his eye mechanically read his business letters, till they brought a
glow and a brightness into his heart which he had never known before.

They were friendly only; so he said.  He ought not to wish for more
than her friendship, as matters stood.  "That woman," as he called
Sophy in his hours of unwelcome reminiscence, had never shown any sign
of existence.  He could only hope, with all the strength of a great
desire, that she was dead; though to attempt to prove it might bring an
avalanche of troubles on his head.  But there was no need to take any
step, so long as he had no thought of marrying.  He would ask for
nothing from Margaret but friendship.

His manner to her was that of an elder brother toward a favorite
sister.  He never sought to see her alone, or to have any private
intercourse with her.  The frank cordiality of his behavior at once won
her confidence and made her altogether at home with him.  She knew no
other young man; and had no idea that it was the fashion of the world
to sneer at any simple friendship existing between a young man and a
young woman.  Her intercourse with him was as simple and as open as
with her father.

Margaret soon confided to Sidney her wish to know more of her
fellow-men, especially those who were unfortunate and unhappy.  She
knew she could not herself neglect her father, now wholly dependent
upon her, for any of the work she might once have undertaken.  But to
please her Sidney placed his name on the committees of sundry
charities, and brought reports of them that were both interesting and
entertaining to her in her seclusion.  He was astonished himself to
find how full of interest these philanthropic missions were; and he
threw himself into them with a great deal of energy.  This new phase of
his life brought him into closer contact with his cousin, George
Martin, who was an East End curate, and was working diligently among
the lowest classes of the London poor.  Sidney brought George to visit
Margaret and her father, and a warm friendship sprang up among them.
When Sidney was out of the way, George could not extol him too highly.

"He is better to me than most brothers are to each other," he said one
evening, his eyes growing bright and his voice more animated than
usual.  "The best fellow in the world, is Sidney.  He does not make any
profession of religion, and I'm sorry for it, for his life is a
Christian life.  You know his immense business might well make him a
little careless of the poor; but it does not.  He is one of our best
workers and helpers.  Do you know, Colonel Cleveland, he spends one
night a week with me, seeking outcasts sleeping in the streets?  And he
has such wonderful tact with them; he speaks to them really like a
brother.  He has the soul of a missionary; and yet he is as shrewd a
man of business as anyone in the City.  So I hear."

When Margaret was alone with him, George added still further praises.

"I am engaged to one of the dearest girls," he said, "but there was no
chance of our marrying for years; not till I got a living.  But as soon
as our uncle died, Sidney settled £10,000 upon me; settled it, you
know, for fear of my dropping it into the gulf at the East End; and
Laura's parents have consented to our being married as soon as I get my
holiday.  There never was anyone like Sidney."

Margaret listened with shining eyes and a smiling face.  It seemed
wonderful to her that such a man as Sidney should have been brought to
her to be her friend.  He looked to her like one who went about being
good and doing good, lifting into a higher region every pursuit in
which he was engaged; even the details of his business assumed an
aspect of romance and dignity when he spoke of them.  It was a full
life, this one of Sidney's; fuller than that of George, who was only a
curate, and could never be more than the rector of a parish.  And as
far as a girl could share the fullness of his life, he was making her
share his.  She could hardly realize now how her days had passed away
before she knew him.

Now and then Colonel Cleveland spared Margaret to accompany Sidney to
some gathering of the poor in George Martin's parish in the East End.
She could sing well; and she sang for them simple English songs, which
the most ignorant could understand, and which went home to the saddest
hearts.  There was an inexpressible charm to Sidney in the unaffected,
single-hearted, almost childish grace of the girl, as she stood facing
these poor brothers and sisters of hers, and singing with her clear,
pure voice words that she would have found it difficult to speak.  She
was accustomed to dress plainly, and after a fashion of her own; and
there was nothing incongruous about her, nothing to excite the envy of
the poorest.  She might have been one of themselves, but for the simple
refinement and unconscious dignity of her bearing.

Sidney was a good speaker, and could hit upon the exact words with
which to address any kind of audience, without offending the most
critical taste.  His speeches were naturally less religious, and more
secular, than George Martin's; but there was a kindly, almost
brotherly, tone running through them which never failed to tell.  He
loved to hear the plaudits that interrupted and followed his short
addresses; and to watch the color mounting in Margaret's face, and the
light kindling in her eyes.  There were moments of supreme pleasure to
him in those dingy and crowded lecture-halls and school-rooms.

"How fond they are of you!" she exclaimed one evening, "and how good
you are to them!"

He had been offering a number of small prizes for competition, the sum
total of which was less than what he would have spent in one evening's
entertainment in society; and a tumult of applause had followed.  He
felt himself that he was walking in a good path.  He enjoyed seeing the
strange sights that were to be found in unexplored London as much as he
had enjoyed the strange scenes in foreign lands.  How the poor lived
presented to him an interesting problem, to which the usual gatherings
of ordinary society were flat and dull.  George and he went to and fro
in the slums, doing their utmost to lift here and there one victim out
of the miry depths.  It was a pleasure to him to give aid liberally; a
pleasure to feel that these poor people were fond of him; but a far
greater pleasure yet to stand in Margaret's eyes as the champion of the
sorrowful and neglected.



CHAPTER IX.

IS SOPHY ALIVE?

"Leave Sidney alone with me to-night, Margaret; I have business to talk
about," said Colonel Cleveland one evening, about a year after his
accident.  He had never been able to set his foot upon the ground since
his fatal fall; and when Martin entered his room, and looked at the
wasted frame and pallid face of the man who had once been so strong and
full of life, tears of sympathy and pity stood in his eyes; and he
grasped his thin and meager hand in silence.

"I want a long talk with you alone," said Colonel Cleveland in a
mournful voice.  "Sit down, Sidney.  Good Heavens! to think what a
wreck I am!  And not yet fifty!  I was just your age when my Margaret
was born; and I never guessed what she would grow to be for me.
Margaret will be one-and-twenty next month.  She is all the world to
me."

"And to me!" said Sidney to himself.

"There must be some kind of settlement of affairs when she comes of
age," continued her father, "and I'm afraid to let her know them.  I've
been a bad manager for her.  What we are living on now is the interest
of her mother's money, and the rent of Apley Hall, which I let six
years ago for seven years.  I could not afford to live in it any
longer.  My speculations always turned out badly, and Apley is heavily
mortgaged.  Margaret is not the great heiress the world thinks her.  Do
you think she will care, Sidney?"

"Not a straw," he answered; "you need not be afraid of Margaret."

"God bless her!" said Colonel Cleveland sadly.  "I fancied I could
double her fortune; but Margaret doesn't care about money, or what
money brings; and she'll never think she has anything to forgive me.
Ought I to tell her all, Sidney?"

"Why?" he asked.  "Women do not understand about money; and you could
make a general statement that would satisfy her."

"I might," said Colonel Cleveland, sighing and falling into a silence
which lasted some minutes.  "Sidney!" he exclaimed at last, sharply and
hotly, "is it possible you don't see what a treasure my Margaret is?  I
know you have the reputation of not being a marrying man; and that was
why I first ventured to ask you to come to see us.  But I did not want
to lose my girl then.  Now I want to find somebody to take care of my
darling when I'm gone.  For I'm going, going; every day brings the end
nearer.  In another year I shall be lying in the vault at Apley beside
her mother, and Margaret will be very lonely.  Sidney, I thought you
were in love with my girl."

Sidney shaded his eyes with his hands, and little of his face could be
seen.  In love with her!  The phrase seemed poor and commonplace.  Why!
she was dearer to him than all the world besides; he counted all he had
as nothing in comparison with her love, if he could win it.  But the
memory of his great mistake stood between her and him.  The mention of
Apley, where he had first seen Sophy, brought vividly to his mind the
narrow street, and the little shop, and Sophy's pretty face as it was
when he first looked upon it.  Oh, what a fool he had been!

"I fancied you loved her," said Colonel Cleveland in an accent of
bitter disappointment as Sidney remained silent; "and she is fit to be
the wife of a prince.  It is not the money you care about, Sidney?  And
such a marriage would have pleased your uncle; he spoke of it more than
once, for he was very fond of Margaret; only I could not bear to think
of such a thing then.  Surely I can see what she is, though I am her
father."

"She is more than all you think her," answered Sidney vehemently.  "You
cannot value her more than I do.  It is I who am unworthy.  God knows I
could not put my life beside her life--so pure and good and noble."

"Is that all?" asked her father.  "Of course a man's life cannot be as
unsullied as a girl's.  One must sow one's wild oats.  Margaret will
not think you unworthy; not she.  She knows nothing of the world,
absolutely nothing.  It is a pure heart and a true one; and it is
yours, if I'm not an old blunderhead.  She loves you, and she has never
given a thought to any other man.  Think of that, Sidney!  If you marry
her I shall die happy."

But once more a silence fell between them like a cloud.  For a minute
or two Sidney felt an unutterable joy in the thought that Margaret
loved him.  All at once the utter loneliness of all his future years,
if he must give her up, flashed across him.  For when Colonel Cleveland
died this friendly and intimate intercourse between them must cease;
and Margaret would in time become the wife of some other man.  The
mingled sweetness and bitterness of this moment were almost more than
he could bear.  Margaret loved him, and it was an exquisite happiness
to know it; but behind her beloved image stood another forbidding his
happiness.  It was more than seven years since he had deserted Sophy;
and he had been content to let the time slip away, uncertain of her
fate, and dreading to learn that she was still alive.  Why had he been
such a coward?  What could he now say to Margaret's father?  To have
that which he most longed for pressed upon him, and yet be unable to
accept it, was torture to him.  No path seemed open to him; it seemed
impossible to confess the truth.  For in the clear light shining upon
his conduct at this moment he saw how dastardly and selfish it had
been.  He had forsaken a young and friendless girl in a moment of
passion, and had left her in a strange land, far from her own people,
when the hour of woman's sharpest peril was at hand.  It was a horrible
thing to have done; one which no true woman could forgive.  And how
would Margaret look upon him if she ever knew the truth?

"I love Margaret," he said at last in a faltering voice, "but I cannot
speak of it yet; and I cannot think of marriage for a while.  Trust me,
Colonel Cleveland.  Margaret shall always find a friend in me; and if
ever I can ask her to be my wife, it will be the happiest day in my
life to me."

"I regret I mentioned it to you," answered Colonel Cleveland stiffly.

Sidney left him sooner than usual, and rode slowly back over the
Common, as he had done last autumn, on the night when he first saw
Margaret.  But it was a month earlier in the year; and the leaves still
hung thick upon the trees, which looked black and dense against the
sky.  The birds had not yet forsaken the Common in search after winter
quarters, and a drowsy twitter from the low bushes answered the sound
of his horse's hoofs as he rode along.  A soft, westerly wind was
blowing, and bringing with it the fresh air from all the open lands
lying west of London.  As he looked round at the house he saw Margaret
standing on the balcony belonging to her window, a tall, slim, graceful
figure, dressed in white, with the pale moonlight falling on her.  His
heart ached with a deep and heavy pain.

"God bless her and keep her from sorrow," he said to himself.

If it was true that Margaret loved him, a bitter sorrow lay before her,
one of his making.  He had done wrong in going so frequently to see
her, and in making so much of her friendship.  It had been an
unconfessed pleasure to them both; but he ought to have foreseen for
her, as well as for himself, what danger lay in its indulgence.
Margaret was not brought into contact with any other men, excepting
George, who was just married; and Sidney was obliged to own to himself
that he had done all he could to win her affection.  But he repented it
now.  Margaret's love could only bring her sorrow.

He could have gone back and confessed to her his boyish folly, if it
had been mere folly.  Had Sophy died, he could have told Margaret all
about it.  But what he could not own was that for seven years he had
left himself in absolute ignorance of her fate.  No true woman could
forgive a crime like that.  It was a dastardly crime, he said to
himself.  He repented of it bitterly; but for some sins there seems no
place of repentance, though it is sought carefully, with tears.

Sidney passed the night in close and troubled thought.  At last the
time had come when he must turn back to the moment when he abandoned
his young wife to her fate; and he must trace out what that fate had
been.  He must at least ascertain whether she was living or dead.  What
he would do if she was living he need not yet decide.  It was
impossible for him to undertake this search himself; a search which
ought to have been made years before, and without which it was hopeless
to think of Margaret as his wife.  But he had an agent at hand to whom
he could intrust this difficult and delicate mission.  There was a
clerk in his office who had been in his uncle's employ for over
thirty-five years, to whom had been intrusted several important
investigations, and who had given many proofs of his ability and
probity.  He would send Trevor to the Ampezzo Valley, where he had left
Sophy seven years ago; giving to him such directions and indications as
were in his power for tracing her movements after his desertion of her.

He arranged and wrote some notes for Trevor's guidance, with shrewd and
clear-sighted skill, careful not to incriminate himself more than was
absolutely necessary; and yet finding himself compelled to admit more
than it was wise for any man save himself to know.  He was conscious
that he was placing too close a confidence in his clerk's hands, and
might have to pay heavily for it in years to come.  But he must run the
risk; there was no alternative.  He could not carry through these
investigations in person; and the time had come when he must learn the
fate of his young wife.

"Take the next train to Paris, Trevor," he said, the following morning,
giving to him a sealed letter; "those are your instructions, and you
can study them on your way."



CHAPTER X.

CHIARA.

Trevor was thirteen years of age when he entered the office of Martin,
Swansea & Co., and occupied one of the lowest places in the house.  But
luckily for him Sir John Martin had taken a fancy to the sharp-looking
lad, and had given him a good commercial education.  He had a special
faculty for learning languages; and from time to time had been sent to
most of the foreign branches of the shipping agency, thus acquiring a
practical knowledge of many of the European dialects; an acquirement
exceedingly useful to him.  He had risen to the position almost of a
confidential clerk, and received a good salary, but he had not been
promoted to any post of authority in the house.  His ambition had
always been to be at the head of one of the branches of the business;
but the attainment of this end seemed farther away from him now Sir
John Martin was dead, and Sidney had succeeded him.  Trevor was not
attached to Sidney as he had been to his early patron.  He had a son
about the same age as Sidney; and from their earliest years he had
compared his boy's lot with that of his master's nephew, always
grudging the brilliant and successful career of the latter, and
secretly hoping that his uncle might marry and have an heir of his own.
There was something painfully dazzling to him in Sidney's present
position; while his son was nothing more than the underpaid usher of a
boys' school.  Almost unconsciously to himself a deep jealousy and
hatred of his young master filled his heart; though he never
contemplated the idea of quitting his employment, the salary he drew
being higher than he could have obtained elsewhere.

Trevor studied his instructions with profound interest and a growing
suspicion.  He remembered with perfect distinctness the time that
Sidney was away for a year's sojourn on the Continent before settling
down to business.  It was the year that his boy had entered upon his
very different walk in life.  He recollected, too, that Sidney had come
back unexpectedly a month or two before his time had expired.  It was
seven years ago; and these instructions bade him take up an event that
had occurred seven years ago in this remote region, and to follow any
clew he could find whereby to trace the movements of an English girl
left alone there.  Who was it that had left her alone?

Trevor was in no wise inclined to be unfaithful to the trust reposed in
him; he would not betray his master.  But he was quite ready to take
advantage of any circumstance that would tend to promote his own
interest.  Commercial life in the City does not usually foster the
highest principles of honor.  Here was plainly a secret, which had been
lying dormant for some years, and which he was commissioned to take up
from its long slumber.  Where there is a secret there is generally a
profit to be made by the discoverer of it.  He pushed on toward the
Ampezzo Valley, and drove through the wondrous beauty and grandeur of
it with no thought beyond that of getting as quickly as possible to
Cortina, and setting to work on Sidney's instructions.  He was, if
possible, to ascertain what had become of Sophy without referring to
any of the authorities of the village, such as the parish priest or
mayor, who might be inclined to ask some inconvenient questions.  All
that he had to discover was to what place Sophy had gone after leaving
Cortina, and then to trace her steps from town to town as far as
possible, without bringing too much notice to bear upon his search.

The little one-horse carriage that he had hired at Toblach set him down
at the hotel to which Sidney's note had directed him; and he turned at
once into the rough and comfortless kitchen on the ground floor, glad
to seat himself on one of the high chairs, with his feet on the raised
hearth.  For the cold was keen at this time of the year after the sun
was down, and it had been lost to sight for some hours behind the high
rocks which hem in the valley on each side.  The great logs lying on
the hearth burnt brightly, and the copper pans resting in front of them
emitted an appetizing fragrance to those who had been long in the sharp
and frosty air.  Trevor would not hear of going upstairs to the
solitary dining room, where there was neither fire nor company.  A few
peasants were sitting patiently at a huge oak table; and a brisk,
elderly woman, in a short petticoat, and with white sleeves rolled up
above the elbows, was bustling to and fro, looking into the copper
cooking-pans, and from time to time exchanging a word or two with the
foreigner who made himself so much at home.

At length the landlord came in, and unlocking an old fashioned desk
elaborately carved, produced a large volume, strongly bound in leather.
It was the Register, in which all travelers were required to enter
their names and nationalities, the places from whence they came and
those to which they were going, with sundry other particulars possibly
interesting to the Austrian police.  Trevor in a leisurely manner
entered the necessary records, and then turned over the past leaves of
the great book.  At that time there were not many foreigners passing
through the Ampezzo Valley; and he had no difficulty in finding the
entries of seven years ago.  There lay before him, in Sidney's own
handwriting, the words in Italian, "Sidney Martin, with his wife."

"With his wife!" muttered Trevor, half aloud.

Chiara was an unlearned woman, and could not read; but she watched
every movement of the stranger with sharp and suspicious eyes.  She
knew the page on which the young English signore had inscribed his name
seven years ago; and now she saw the flash of mingled surprise and
triumph which crossed the face of Trevor as he uttered the words, "With
his wife."  It was necessary to do something; but it behooved her to
act cautiously.  She drew near to him as he bent over the Register, and
laid her hand on his shoulders, with a touch of homely familiarity in
no way displeasing.

"You are English?" she asked.

"Yes," he answered.

"We have not many English here," she said.  "Germans, yes, and
Italians, yes; but few, few English; two or three in the summer, but
not every summer."

"English ladies?" he inquired.

"Sometimes," she answered cautiously.

"Do you remember a young English gentleman staying here with his wife
seven years ago last June?" he asked.

Chiara paused.  Very swiftly she calculated the chances of this
Englishman, who could speak Italian easily enough to enter into
conversation with anyone he came across, making more inquiries than
from herself alone; and she came to the rapid conclusion that it was
necessary to tell him everything that her neighbors knew.  Other
English foreigners had passed through Cortina, but no question had ever
been asked about these young people before.  She must tell her tale
cautiously, and with reserve.

"Ah," she said, with a sigh of recollection, "the young English
gentleman, Signore Martino!  He was a fine, handsome gentleman; and the
young lady was as pretty as a butterfly.  Did they belong to you,
Signore?  Perhaps she was your daughter?"

"No," he answered, "the young lady was no daughter of mine."

"Is it not possible that the young signore was your son?" she said,
looking doubtfully at Trevor, who did not seem to her grand enough to
be the father of the rich young Englishman.

"No," he replied curtly.

It was a perplexing moment for Chiara.  Upstairs, in her box secured
with two locks, lay the ducats and gulden, stamped with the Austrian
eagle, which she had found in Sophy's jewel-case.  She had not parted
with one of them, and she was adding more gulden to them every month
from her wages.  There was scarcely a richer woman than herself in all
the Ampezzo Valley, and the thought of it was an ever springing
fountain of satisfaction.  But if this foreigner had come to claim her
treasure!  Her heart sank at the mere suspicion of such a calamity; she
could not believe that the Englishman had traveled all the way from
England for anything less than to demand the inheritance of the dead
woman.  It would not be possible to pretend that she had spent much of
the money upon the child; for every person in the village could reckon
up how much his maintenance had cost her, ever since his birth.  There
was no reason why she should not be made to restore every one of those
beloved coins, which from time to time she counted over with such
fervent affection and delight.  It was a very bitter moment to Chiara.

"Come," said Trevor, with a smile, showing to her a Napoleon lying in
the palm of his hand, "I see you know all about them.  Sit down, and
tell me simply what you know, and this is yours.  I am not come here to
give you trouble."

She sat down with her feet on the raised hearth, and in a low tone told
him the story exactly as he would have heard it from any other person
in the village.  It was short and simple.  Signore Martino had traveled
hither with a girl whom he called his wife; but had deserted her about
three weeks before the birth of their child, leaving no trace behind
him, and never returning to inquire after those whom he had forsaken.
The unhappy girl had died in giving birth to her infant, and was buried
in the village cemetery.  He might see the grave in the morning, and
the priest or the mayor would answer any questions he might choose to
ask.

"And what became of the child?" Trevor inquired.

Then Chiara put her apron to her eyes, and replied that she herself had
taken charge of the poor child, and put him out to nurse with her
sister, who lived on the mountain, and had children of her own.  He was
growing a big boy now; but she did not complain of the expense, for
after the costs of the funeral were paid, the mayor had permitted her
to keep the clothing of the young lady, which she had sold to
advantage.  There was still a small sum left; but only a few florins.
But now an inquiry was being made, would the boy be taken off her hands?

"I can make no promises," answered Trevor, "for neither the father nor
the mother is related to me.  But were there no papers left by the
young lady?  They are of the utmost importance to me; and if you give
them up you shall be no loser."

"There were no papers," replied Chiara promptly.  "The night before the
Signora died she made a great fire in the stove and burned bundles of
papers.  That made me think that she was no married wife, poor thing!
There was only just money enough to pay the bill of the house here and
the doctor's fees and the grave in the cemetery.  I don't know what
would have become of her if she had not died."

"Have you nothing that belonged to her?" he asked.

"Just a few little things left," she answered; "I will bring them to
you--not down here, where everybody can see, but in your
bedroom--presently."

She went away, up to her own attic, as soon as supper was laid on the
table.  There she opened her strong box, and, kneeling beside it, held
for some time in her hand the thick packet which Sophy had sealed up
and directed the night before she died.  Which would profit her most?
To give up these concealed papers, which most likely contained an
account of all the money and goods the Signora had had in her
possession, or to keep them secret still, and retain this wealth in her
own hands?  Unless the stranger gave her very much more than she was
already sure of, it was not worth while to expose herself to the
indignation and contumely of her neighbors, if ever they should come to
know that she had laid hands upon wealth that ought by rights to have
been placed in the custody of the mayor.  No, it was safer to keep
quiet; it would be safer to destroy these papers, as she had often
thought of doing.  But there was no fire in her room, and it was
difficult to make away with them unobserved.  She put it off again, as
she had done many times, and dropped the packet back into the box,
fastening it securely.  Then she went down to the great back bedchamber
of the inn, where Sophy had died, and laid her handful of ornaments on
the table before Trevor.  He picked them up one by one, and looked at
them with careful curiosity.  They were not valuable trinkets--a cameo
or two from Rome, and some small mosaics from Florence and glass beads
from Venice.  Chiara had known their value years ago, and had
considered it worth-while to keep them for her own adornment when she
went to a _festa_.  The back of one of the cameo brooches opened, and
Trevor found an inscription written on a slip of paper: "For my dear
little wife, from Sidney."  Chiara looked at it almost in a panic; but
Trevor translated it to her.

"Is it possible that he was married?" said Trevor to himself, when
Chiara carried away all the other trinkets, leaving this brooch in his
hands, after having received double its value in money.  He sat long
beside the heated stove, weighing the probabilities.  It was not an
unheard-of thing for a youth of one-and-twenty, with plenty of money
and no one to look after him, to travel about these remote and
unfrequented regions with a girl who was not by law his wife.  He did
not know enough of Sidney's college career to decide whether or not he
would be likely to fall into such a crime.  But the fact that he had
deserted this girl, a base and cowardly action, implied that she had no
legal claim upon his protection.  On the other hand, there crossed his
mind Sidney's constant avoidance of ordinary social intercourse and
avowed disinclination to marriage, which might be accounted for by this
girl being already his wedded wife.  Moreover, his anxiety now to learn
her fate was greater than it would have been if no binding tie was
involved in it.  He was no longer dependent upon his uncle, and ran no
risk of disinheritance by the discovery of any illicit attachment.  If
Sidney wished to marry now, the necessity of ascertaining what had
become of the woman he had forsaken and lost sight of had become of
primary importance, supposing her to be legally his wife, and the
mother of his heir.  But who could this girl have been?



CHAPTER XI.

AT CORTINA.

Early in the morning Trevor found his way to the cemetery, and the
gravedigger, who was digging a grave in the dreary and neglected
quadrangle, pointed out to him a desolate corner, where the young
Englishwoman lay alone.  It was strewn over with broken pots and sherds
among which a few nettles were growing, and only a little mound, hardly
visible, marked the spot where she had been laid in the earth.  Even
Trevor felt his heart stirred a little at the thought of this unnamed
and uncared-for grave.  The sexton told him precisely the same story as
Chiara had done, and was more than satisfied with the few kreutzers the
foreigner gave to him.

Following the gravedigger's directions, Trevor took a narrow, winding
path, plentifully bestrewn with stones, which led up the mountain.  His
brain was too busy with his absorbing discovery to allow him to see the
magnificent views opening up to him at almost every turn.  He might as
well have been threading his way through the crooked streets of the
city, so blind and intent was he.  The great peaks hanging over the
valley were still burning with the bright colors painted on them by the
summer sun, before the rains and snows of winter washed them away, and
the pine woods through which he passed were full of the pungent scent
of the resinous cones hanging in rich clusters on every branch.  The
channels of the mountain torrents were almost dry, and the huge
bowlders in them were bleached nearly as white as ivory.  Higher up the
air grew very keen; but the sun was hot, until he passed under the
shadow of a precipitous wall of rock, into a long, lateral valley, or
hollow, in the slope of the mountains, which the sun had ceased to
visit, and would shine upon no more that year.  Then he shivered, and
looked about him curiously for any human habitation.

He walked for about half a mile in the depressing chill of this
unbroken shadow before he came suddenly upon a group of hovels, with
neither windows nor chimneys, which were hardly to be discerned as not
forming part of the barren scene about them.  The low wooden roofs were
loaded with heavy stones, telling of the tempestuous winds which swept
the mountain slopes up here.  But amid the rocks were little patches of
sward, where a few sheep were browsing, and some goats were climbing
the higher points to nibble any tuft of grass found growing there.  A
dozen children or so were loitering about listlessly until they caught
sight of the extraordinary apparition of a visitor, and then they ran
toward him with a savage howl that brought some half-clad, red-eyed
women to the doors of the huts.  He made haste to fight his way through
the clamorous crew of children, and to address the nearest of them.

"I come from Cortina," he cried in a loud voice, "from Chiara Lello,
who says her sister lives up here."

"That's Chiara's sister," answered the woman, pointing to another who
stood in a doorway amid a cloud of wood smoke.

Trevor approached her, catching a glimpse of the dark and filthy
interior of the hut, in which a goat and a kid were lying beside the
wood fire.  But he shrank from putting his foot inside it, and beckoned
to the woman to come forward to him.

"Send these howling children away," he said.

She caught up a thong of leather and lashed it about them as if there
was no other mode of dispersing them, and they scattered out of the
way, yelping like dogs.  Trevor looked on, wondering if any one of
these almost naked and wholly filthy brood could be Sidney Martin's son.

"Tell me," he said, "which is the English boy."

Without a word the woman turned into the hut, and dragged out a child,
with no clothing on but a ragged shirt scarcely reaching to his knees.
The child's eyes were dazzled with the light, but they were red and
weak; his skin was grimy with thick dirt, and his uncombed hair hung in
matted tufts about his face and neck.  No sooner did the other children
see him than they began to howl and yell again; and the boy, tearing
himself away from the woman's grasp, sprang like a monkey up the rocks,
and having reached a safe height, looked down with a savage, uncouth
grin upon those below him.  The other children tried in vain to
dislodge him by throwing stones at him; he had them at an advantage,
and hit so many of them with the larger stones he hurled from above
that they gave up the attack and went back to their sheep and goats.

"Good Heavens!" cried Trevor, with a sudden emotion of pity flooding
his cold nature, "is it possible that this can be Sidney Martin's son?"

He sat down on a rock and looked around him.  Here almost all traces of
civilization were absent.  These hovels were not fit for human
habitation--hardly fit for pigs, he said to himself.  Certainly there
was a hideous crucifix erected in a conspicuous spot; but it was only a
brutal and distorted representation of the central fact of
Christianity, and appeared to partake of the savagery of its
surroundings.  There was nothing to be seen from this point but a
gloomy circle of rocks, barren and hard and cold, upon which neither
tree nor flower grew, and as his eye glanced round them it fell upon
the nearly naked but vigorous form of Sidney's child, standing erect on
a peak, and jabbering in some unknown and barbarous dialect.  Chiara's
sister shook her clenched fist at him, and screamed out some rough
menace.

"What do you call the boy?" he asked.

"Martino," she said; "that was his father's name."

"Does he know anything?  Does he learn anything?" Trevor inquired.

"He knows as much as the rest," she answered sullenly; "there's no
schoolmaster up here.  Besides, he is the child of heathen parents,
though our good _padre_ did baptize him.  His mother was buried like a
dog in the cemetery; only Chiara and the gravedigger went to her
funeral, and no masses were said for her.  Martino isn't like the child
of Christian people.  His mother is in hell, and his father will go
there when he dies.  It was very good of our _padre_ to have him
baptized."

"What does he do all day?" he asked.

"He lies by the fire or sits up there out of the way on the rock," she
replied; "the other children will not play with him, and they are
right.  He's not a little true Christian like them."

"Poor little fellow!" cried Trevor passionately.  He had had children
of his own, whom he loved, and to whom he was a beloved father.  It
appeared monstrous to him that Sidney Martin's son should be here,
among these barbarians, the object of their tyranny and persecution.
If he had been any other boy Trevor would have borne him away at once,
resolved not to leave an English-born child to such a fate.  But if
Sidney had actually been married this was his son and heir; heir to the
large estates entailed by Sir John Martin on Sidney's eldest son.  It
was a secret of incalculable value to him.  What was he to do?

This was a question not to be decided in a hurry.  He must first see
clearly how to turn it most fully to his own advantage.  He was not
altogether a bad man; but he had had a city training.  Such an avenue
to prosperity and power had never been open to him before, and he must
be careful how he took his first step along it.

"Be kind to the little lad," he said, giving a gulden to the woman,
"and when I come back you shall have ten of them before I take him
away."

Ten gulden!  The thought of so magnificent a sum had never entered into
the head of Chiara's sister.  She thought a good deal of the hundred
and fifty kreutzers paid every month by Chiara; but ten gulden all at
once!  These English, heathen as they were, must be made of money.

She watched the foreigner as he retraced his way along the rocky path
until he was quite lost to sight.  She would indeed be kind to the
child of people so rich and generous.

So for a few weeks Martino had the richest draught of goat's milk and
the sweetest morsels of black bread, and the warmest corner by the
fire.  But she grew weary of indulgence as the months passed by, and
the Englishman failed to return and redeem his promise.



CHAPTER XII.

A HALF CONFESSION.

Sidney Martin was suffering greatly under his fresh burden of anxiety.
It seemed to him that all his future happiness or misery depended
absolutely upon the result of Trevor's mission.  He kept away from the
house on Wimbledon Common, for he dared not trust himself in
conversation with Margaret.  That he loved her, and loved her with the
profound, mature passion of manhood--how different from his boyish
fancy!--made it impossible for him to approach her with calm
friendliness, as he had done before her father's private talk with him,
and his avowal that Margaret herself was far from being indifferent to
him.

But now he had placed his secret in the hands of another, and must be
prepared to acknowledge his boyish error.  He must lose Margaret, if
Sophy was alive.  His imagination was busy in painting to him two
lives, either of which might be his in the immediate future.

If Sophy was found he must own her as his wife, and make her the
mistress of his house.  He pictured her to himself as his wife, with
her silly, affected, low-bred manners.  His inward disgust at his own
conduct exaggerated her faults, and painted her in the most repulsive
colors.  Her relations and friends would certainly flock about her;
and, though he did not know them, he could not think of them as
anything but ignorant and vulgar; for they were nothing but poor
shopkeepers in a little market-town.  He knew himself too well to
resolve upon carrying on a continual conflict with the woman he had
made his wife.  He would leave her to follow her own way, while he took
his; but her way could not fail to intersect his at some points; and he
must be brought into contact with a vulgarity and folly which he
loathed.  His lot must be that bitter one of being linked indissolubly
to a companion always at variance with him.

But possibly Sophy's long, persistent silence meant the silence of
death.  If so, his future promised to be bright and happy far beyond
his deserts; for he frankly acknowledged to his own heart that he was
unworthy of the prosperous happiness Sophy's death would insure for
him.  With Margaret as his wife, he might push his ambition to its
farthest goal, and meet with no check or shock from her.  If she had a
fault, it was the transparent simplicity which made her almost too good
for this work-a-day world.  She had a charm which no other woman he
knew possessed--a charm altogether apart from her personal loveliness.
He could fancy her an old woman with white hair, and dim eyes, and
faded-face, and yet retaining an indescribable attraction.  She would
be as beautiful in his eyes when she was seventy as she was now.  He
felt he could be a good man indeed if she was always at his side.

Day after day he went up to the City and transacted his business,
keeping the threads of his world-wide enterprises in his own hand, and
directing them with a clear, shrewd head.  But he was waiting through
all the long hours for the letter which would contain his doom.  Trevor
was to write to him the first certain information he gathered, and to
keep him acquainted with his progress from day to day.  At last the
letter with the Austrian postmark came, and he fastened the door of his
office, giving orders that he was to be interrupted for no one.

It was but a few lines, but it told him that Trevor had seen the grave
where Sophy had lain for more than seven years.  Sidney had prepared
himself, as he believed, for any news that might reach him, and yet it
came upon him like a thunderbolt.  Poor Sophy!  Still, what a relief it
was to know she would never trouble him again!  And she had been dead
all these years, during which he had lived in deadly suspense and
terror, as of one over whom a sword was hanging.  How foolish he had
been!  If he had only had the courage to make this simple investigation
before how free and joyous the years he had lost would have been.  But
he had lost these seven years of his youth as a penalty for his early
error, and now the punishment was over.

He had intended at first to spend this evening alone, in memory of
Sophy and her sad fate.  But, before an hour had passed he grew
accustomed to the knowledge that she was dead, and felt as if he had
known it all these years.  It had the dimness of an old sorrow.  Seven
years in the grave!  He did not feel that it would be any shock to
himself, or slight to Sophy's memory, if he yielded to his passionate
longing to hurry away to Margaret.

It was already evening when he rode swiftly across Wimbledon Common,
but it was an hour or two before his usual time, and Margaret was not
waiting for him at the open door.  He was shown into the library, where
he had awaited her first appearance to him, now nearly a year ago.  He
had loved her from the first moment he saw her, he said to himself; and
every day had increased his love.  Would to God he was more worthy of
her!  From the height of his love to her he looked down on the low and
foolish infatuation he had felt for Sophy.  How could it be possible
that, even as a boy, he could have wasted his affections in such a way?
When Margaret opened the door, and came in softly, with a pale face,
and eyelids a little red with weeping, looking as she did when he first
saw her, he felt that she was even dearer to him than he had been
fancying.

"Sidney!" she said, meeting him with both hands outstretched, "we have
missed you more than I can tell.  Why have you stayed away so long?  My
father is so ill!"

"Margaret!" he cried stammering.  He could not utter a word of all that
was in his heart, for he had resolved that, if possible, she should
never know of Sophy's existence.  There would be no need for the world
to know, and he could make it worth while to Trevor to keep the secret.
For, after all, it was not a secret involving any important issues; and
if the worst came to the worst, he could tell Margaret when she was his
wife, and it did not signify to any other person, excepting Margaret's
father.  He held her hands fast in a strong grasp as he looked at her;
and the color came and went on her face, and her eyes fell before his
gaze.

"I love you," he said, at length, with parched lips.  He had always
thought it would be a moment of too great happiness when he could say
these words to Margaret, but it was one of heaviness and confusion of
soul.  He wished now that he had waited a little longer, until he could
get rid of the haunting memory of Sophy.

"Yes," answered Margaret, in a very low, sweet tone, "and I love you,
Sidney!"

She spoke with the open simplicity of a child, but her lips quivered,
and the tears stood in her eyes.  He folded her in his arms, and for a
minute or two they were both silent.  The heaviness and bewilderment of
his soul passed away in the sense of present gladness.  All the trouble
of his old folly was over; there was no harvest of bitterness to reap.
He was as free as if he had never fallen into any unworthy
entanglement.  And the pure, sweet, true heart of this girl was as much
his own as if he had never known any other love.  He declared to
himself he never had.

"I have never loved any woman but you," he exclaimed aloud, as if he
challenged his dead wife to contradict him.

"And I," she said, looking up into his face with a smile, "never
thought of loving any man but you."

He stooped down and kissed her.  It was impossible to echo her words.

"Let us go and tell my father," she said, after a few minutes had
passed by; "he is ill, and we must not leave him too long alone.  He is
very fond of you, Sidney."

He followed Margaret to the door of her father's room, but she passed
on, beckoning to him to go in alone.  Colonel Cleveland lay on his
invalid couch, looking more worn than he had done the week before.

"Welcome back again, Sidney," he cried out, with a faint smile.  "I was
afraid I had scared you away by my imprudence.  And I cannot get along
without you, my friend."

"No, no," he answered; "I stayed away because I could not trust myself
with Margaret, after what you said."

"Not trust yourself with Margaret!" repeated Colonel Cleveland.

"You told me she loved me," he replied joyously, "and I love her as my
own soul.  But I could not feel worthy of her.  I will confess all to
you, but I do not wish her to know.  While I was yet a mere lad, I
contracted a secret and most unsuitable marriage; but the girl died
seven years ago.  I could not all at once ask Margaret to become my
wife after that."

"Are there any children?" inquired Colonel Cleveland.

"No; oh, no!" he answered.  "How could such a matter be kept secret if
there had been any child?"

But, as he spoke, a dread flashed across his mind.  Was it not possible
that Sophy had died in giving birth to her child, and the child be
still alive?  But, if so, Trevor must have heard of it when he heard of
her death, and he would have added this most important item of
information in his letter.  No, Sophy and her child lay together in the
lonely grave of the Ampezzo cemetery.  He felt a strange, confused
sense of sadness in the thought, mingling with the gladness of being
sure that Margaret loved him.

"And you have lived with this secret all these years," said Colonel
Cleveland with a grave face.  "It would have made a difference with my
old friend if he had known it."

"Yes," said Sidney frankly; "he would probably have disinherited me."

Colonel Cleveland looked keenly into the grave, but ingenuous face of
the young man, and Sidney bore his gaze with an air of honest regret.
He felt penitent, and his penitence sat well upon him.  If a past wrong
could be blotted out forever, Sidney was ready to perform any penance
that would free himself from its consequences.  He looked imploringly
at Colonel Cleveland.

"Don't let Margaret know," he entreated.  "I want her to be happier
with me than any woman ever was with any husband.  Only one man knows
it, and he will keep the secret faithfully.  What good would it do for
her to be told of my boyish infatuation?  If it was an important
matter, I would not keep it from her.  But, just now, she looked into
my face and said: 'I never thought of loving any man but you.'  I would
have given half my worldly goods to be able to say the same."

"Then you have spoken to Margaret?" said her father.

"The moment before I came to you," he answered.

"And she loves you?" he continued.

"Yes," said Sidney.

"God bless my Margaret!" cried Colonel Cleveland, in tremulous tones.

"Amen!" said Sidney.  "God make me worthy of her love!"

There was a slight pause before Colonel Cleveland spoke again.

"I think it may be as you wish," he said.  "Most young men have some
folly to confess; and this, though it seems more serious, was only a
folly, not a crime.  The worst part of it is keeping it a secret all
these years.  Seven years, did you say?  But it is all over now, and
Margaret, dear child, need never know."



CHAPTER XIII.

RACHEL GOLDSMITH.

It was still with some anxiety and a lurking dread that Trevor might
bring ill news to mar his happiness, that Sidney awaited his return,
and could not account for the delay, as one day passed after another,
and he did not come with further details of Sophy's unhappy end.  There
was a morbid curiosity in his mind to hear all the particulars Trevor
had gained about the fate of his young wife and first-born child; and,
until this curiosity was satisfied, Margaret's love was not enough to
content him.  But, by and by there came news of an accident to a
diligence crossing the Arlberg Pass, which, meeting with an early fall
of snow, had missed the road and been upset over a low precipice.  Only
one passenger was killed: his luggage and the papers found upon him
were forwarded, according to an address inside his portmanteau, to the
offices of Sidney Martin, Swansea, & Co.  They came direct into
Sidney's own hands.

The papers conveyed no further information to Sidney than Trevor's
letter had done.  There were only a few lines in a cipher which he did
not understand, and which he considered it prudent to burn before
passing on the papers, which had nothing to do with his business, to
Trevor's family.  There was a disappointment to his curiosity in not
learning more particulars; but there was a curious sense of deliverance
in the fact of poor Trevor's death, which more than counterbalanced
this disappointment.  The whole affair was ended now; completely ended.
He had no one to fear.  The only man who could have made use of his
secret was gone, and out of the way.  There could be neither an
imprudent speech, nor a threat of disclosure, uttered by Trevor.
Sidney acted with his usual liberality to the widow and children of his
unfortunate clerk, but he could not grieve over an unforeseen death so
convenient for his own peace of mind.

There was nothing now to hinder his marriage with Margaret.  There were
settlements to make, of course--Apley being settled on Margaret and her
second son.  The eldest son would inherit the estates and the large
fortune entailed by Sir John Martin's will.  On Colonel Cleveland's
death Margaret herself would become possessor of her mother's dowry.

The feeling of freedom with which Sidney could now live was too new and
too unfamiliar to be altogether a happy one.  He had scarcely realized
how oppressive had been the burden of Sophy's possible claim upon him.
It had weighed down his spirit with a constant, yet almost unconscious,
repression.  He was like a man who had worn fetters until he drags his
foot along the ground, unable to believe that he can walk like other
men.

But he was free now; and he resolved to live such a life as would atone
for all his early delinquencies.  There should be nothing underhand or
contemptible in all his future.  His ambition could have free course,
and he would prove himself worthy of high fortune.  With a wife and
companion like Margaret there would be nothing to hinder him from
making his way into the foremost ranks of the men of his time.

On the eve of his marriage he brought Margaret a splendid set of
diamonds, expecting to see her delight in ornaments so magnificent.
She took the case from him with a pleased and happy smile, and looked
at them closely for a few minutes, but she shut the case and laid it
aside, almost indifferently, he thought.

"You do not care for them?" he said, in some disappointment.

"I care for anything you give to me," she answered softly, "but I do
not much value ornaments for themselves.  I never can care for them."

"That is because you do not see other girls who wear them," he replied.
"When you go out into society as my wife you will see women sparkling
with jewelry, and then you will learn to care for it."

"Shall I?" she asked doubtfully; "but it seems to me childish.  You men
do not adorn yourselves with jewels, and we should despise you if you
did.  It seems like a relic of barbarism, akin to the love of savages
for glass beads.  What man could strut about in diamonds and not look
ridiculous?"

"But you are a woman," he said, laughing.

"Though surely not more childish than a man," she answered, rising from
her low seat, and standing beside him with her serious eyes shining
into his.  "O Sidney, I wish we were poorer people.  I should like to
work for you, as Laura does for George, because they are not rich.  I
shall never have any real work to do for you; that would be my idea of
happiness.  I will wear your diamonds.  Oh, yes!  But you must not make
a child of me."

"You are not a child, but an angel," he said.

"Ah! if you think me an angel," she replied gayly, "it will be very
bitter to find out your mistake.  But still angels are ministering
spirits.  Don't you think I would rather use my hands in sewing for you
than have you load them with rings?  And my feet would be less weary
moving up and down on errands for you, than dancing through tedious
dances with some other man.  I am sure poor people have ways of
happiness that we know nothing of."

"Margaret," he said, "you have grown up too much alone.  You have
missed the wholesome companionship of girls of your own rank."

"Ah!" she cried, "I'm no longer an angel."

She turned away from him rather shyly and sadly, he thought, and
touched the bell.

"If you had been a poorer man," she said, "you would have bought me a
beautiful flower, and I should have worn it now, at once; and perhaps,
I might have kissed it when it was faded, and put it away as something
sacred.  But now my maid must take charge of these costly things, and I
cannot keep them for no one else to see."

"Margaret," he cried, "I would have brought you the loveliest flower in
England, if I had known!"

As she stood a little way apart from him, with downcast eyes, he
noticed for the first time that she was wearing no flowers.  Was it for
this reason?  Had she waited for him to bring one that she might carry
in her bosom this memorable evening, and put it away as something
sacred, which no one should see but herself?  And it would have been so
if he had been a poor man.  For a moment he caught a glimpse, through
Margaret's eyes, of a happiness simpler, more natural, and nobler in
the married life than that which lay before him and her.  He could
almost have wished himself as poor a man as his cousin George, for the
sake of it.

But the door opened in answer to Margaret's ring, and a middle-aged
woman entered, whom he fancied he knew by sight.  Her face was
pleasant, with traces of prettiness, which had become refined by
thought and by some sadness.  Margaret put her hand affectionately on
her arm.

"I can never tell you how much I owe to this dear friend of mine," she
said, looking up into Sidney's face, "and I want you to be a friend to
Rachel Goldsmith."

Rachel Goldsmith!  The shock was utterly unexpected; but his nature
possessed an instinctive kindly consideration for his inferiors which
impelled him to stretch out his hand and shake hands with Margaret's
favorite maid.

"Since my mother died she has been almost a mother to me," said
Margaret.

"I love my young lady as much as I could love a child of my own, sir,"
said Rachel, looking at him with eyes so much like Sophy's he felt that
she must read the secret so jealously guarded in his heart.  There was
a keen reproach to him in her gaze, and in the air of sadness which
rested on her face.  She took up the case of diamonds and left them
again alone.

"I must tell you something about Rachel," said Margaret, as soon as she
was gone.  "Her people live at Apley; and her brother is my father's
saddler.  He had one daughter, about six years older than me; a very
pretty girl; quite a lovely face she had.  But you may some time have
seen her when you were a boy, and came to Apley."

"No," he answered, hardly knowing what he said.

"Everybody admired her," Margaret went on, "and her two aunts doted on
her.  They sent her to a boarding-school; and then she went out as a
nursery governess.  But just after she was twenty she disappeared."

Margaret paused, but Sidney said nothing.

"They never found her; they have not found her yet," she continued.  "O
Sidney! think how dreadful it is to lose anyone you love in such a way!
A thousand times worse than dying, for then we lay the body in the
quiet grave, and the soul is in the hands of God; but what misery and
degradation she may be suffering."

"It is a sad history for you to know, my darling," said Sidney.

"Sad for me to know!" she repeated.  "I suppose so; it has often made
me sad.  But what must it be to those who love her as much as my father
loves me?  Since we came to London, Rachel has spent many hours in the
streets, with a faint, very faint hope of coming across her.  And
Rachel is such a good woman; so wise and upright.  She could not be a
better woman if she was a queen."

"Do you take her with us to-morrow?" he asked; for he felt as if her
presence would cloud all his happiness, and become an insupportable
burden to him.  Yet it was too late to make any change in the
arrangements for their journey.

"No," she answered, "I could not leave my father without Rachel.  Since
his accident she has been his nurse; and I do not want a maid.  Rachel
has taught me to be independent of her in almost every way.  Didn't I
say she was a wise woman?"

"Very wise!" he agreed absently.



CHAPTER XIV.

APLEY HALL.

At first it seemed almost impossible to Sidney that he could bear the
constant presence of Rachel Goldsmith, and the intimate relationship
that existed between her and his wife.  There were tones in her voice
which startled him by recalling Sophy's; and now and then she used
local terms and provincialisms which he had never heard anyone utter
but Sophy.  There was a strong resemblance, too, between them; for
Rachel's face was what Sophy's might have grown to be in middle life.
It shocked him afresh when he caught sight of it unexpectedly.  But it
had been agreed before their marriage that Margaret must not be
separated from her father; and for the present they were all living
together in the house Colonel Cleveland rented on Wimbledon Common.
Rachel Goldsmith was even more essential to the comfort and
tranquillity of Colonel Cleveland as his nurse, than she was to
Margaret's happiness as her maid.  It would be impossible to displace
her; it might be easier to remove Margaret to a dwelling place of their
own.

But as time passed by he grew more accustomed to her presence, and it
ceased to chafe him.

Rachel opened her heart to her young lady's husband, and her manner
toward him was one of admiration and deference.  Her somewhat sad face
brightened when he spoke to her; and her smile was a sweet one, more in
the eyes than on the lips.  Now and then the thought occurred to
him--that if Sophy had lived this woman would have come under his roof
as a near relation.  But Sidney possessed an affectionate nature,
capable of taking a very real interest in many persons; even if
insignificant persons.  This woman, Margaret's maid and Sophy's aunt,
had a claim upon him which he could not ignore.  Besides, he had
resolved before his second marriage that his future life should be a
noble one; worthy of Margaret's love and faith in him.  It would be a
most unworthy act to add to the unknown injury he had inflicted on
Rachel Goldsmith--the further sorrow of separating her from Margaret,
whom she loved as her own child.

It was part of the penance he had to pay for his boyish fault; that
fault of which he had repented, he told himself, so bitterly.  It was
not a heavy penance.  There was nothing else to mar his happiness.

And Margaret's happiness would have been perfect if her father had not
been slowly but surely treading the path which led only to the grave.
Her marriage had opened the world to her, and she saw the brightest
side of it; for Sidney was careful that she should know only the best
people.  His uncle had made but few friends, and he himself had lived
in a narrow circle.  But now, for Margaret's sake, and the gladdening
sense of deliverance from a damaging secret, he enlarged the number of
his acquaintances, and used his wealth to gain a position in the world
which Margaret could enjoy.

Sir John Martin, though he had made but few personal friends, had
occupied a prominent place in London as a religious and philanthropic
man.  It was not difficult to Sidney to regain this position.  As long
as he had lain under the chance of a discovery that would bring him
pain, if it did not bring him disgrace, he had avoided filling the
position his uncle had held.  But now his past life was buried.
Margaret's wishes all lay in the direction of active, personal service
of her fellow-men; and Sidney's own nature responded to their claims.
It made him feel satisfied that the past was both past and forgotten,
when he found himself recognized as a leader among Christian men.  And
was he not a Christian?  Had any man more bitterly repented of his sin?

As for Margaret, no question existed in her mind about her husband's
right to call himself a Christian.  It had never been her habit to sit
in judgment upon others.  Religion did not consist in the observance of
forms, and the keeping of times and seasons; and she had no ready test
to apply for detection.  She knew her father made no formal profession
of religion; but she could not know how deep and true his love of God
might be.  Sidney went with her regularly to church; but the secret
intercourse of his soul with God was hidden, could not but be hidden
from all other souls.  No spirit can be so near another spirit as God
is to each.  God had given to her that which was his greatest earthly
gift--the love of a good man.

On the Michaelmas-day after their marriage the tenancy of the present
occupier of Apley Hall expired; and a few weeks afterward the rector of
Apley was promoted to a more lucrative benefice, and the living, which
was in Colonel Cleveland's gift, was vacant.  Margaret had this last
piece of news to tell Sidney when he returned from the city.

"My father wishes to offer the living to your cousin George," she
added, "and, Sidney, he wishes more than words can tell--to go home to
Apley before he dies."  Margaret's voice faltered, and the tears
glistened in her eyes.

"And would you like to go?" he asked, laying his hand fondly on her
head.  She drew his hand down and laid her lips upon it before
answering.

"I was born there," she said, "and all our happy days, before my mother
died, were spent there.  But I would not wish to go if it separated me
at all from you."

Margaret expressed so few desires that Sidney could not feel content to
oppose her slightest wish.  Apley Hall was a beautiful old Elizabethan
mansion, and was in every way a desirable and suitable country house
for them.  It was probable that if he adopted this position which
opened to him as a country squire, he might be elected a member for one
of the neighboring boroughs, or even for the county.  To go into
Parliament had always been a part of his scheme for the future.  Yet,
inwardly, he shrank a little from living so near to the home of his
dead wife, and in the midst of her plebeian relations, whom he could
not altogether avoid in so small a country town.  They must remind him
of a past which ought to be not only dead, but buried and forgotten.
He sat silently weighing this question in the balance, unable to come
to a decision.

"It is my birthplace," said Margaret, in a low voice, "and I should
like it to be the birthplace of our child."

"It shall be so," he answered, kissing her with passionate tenderness.



CHAPTER XV.

LIFE AND DEATH.

It was early in November when Apley Hall was ready for their return,
after seven years' absence.  George Martin, with his wife and child,
had already taken possession of the Rectory, which stood beside the
church, just beyond the boundary of the park, and at a short distance
from the Hall.  Both houses were built of stone, and were fine
specimens of Elizabethan architecture.  The walls were toned down to a
soft, low gray, on which the golden and silvery lichen lay in
harmonious coloring.  Here and there some finely trained ivy climbed to
the roof, or twined about the mullioned windows.  The park was richly
wooded, chiefly with beech trees, which at the moment of their return
were almost as thick in foliage as during the summer, but with every
shade of brown and yellow on their leaves.  On one side of the Hall
there stretched a long pool, nearly large enough to be called a lake,
where water lilies grew in profusion; and in whose tranquil surface the
bronzed beech trees were clearly reflected.  Margaret breathed a sigh
of perfect contentment as she found herself once more at home; and her
father lifted up his feeble head and smiled sadly as he gave her a
welcome back to it.

The tenantry had wished to give them a noisy "welcome home," but this
Sidney had decisively negatived, both on Colonel Cleveland's account
and Margaret's.  For in a few weeks after their return a son and heir
was born.  The sight of the child seemed to give new life to Colonel
Cleveland, and the following day he insisted on being carried on his
invalid couch into Margaret's room, to see how well she was for himself.

"My darling!" he said, in a loud, excited voice, "I saw you in the
first hour of your existence, and you have been my treasure ever since;
and this little lad will be your treasure."

"Yes," she answered, "I never thought there was such happiness as this.
I wish every woman in the world were as happy as I am."

"Take me away," he said suddenly, in a low voice, to those who had
carried him to his daughter's side, "I am dying."

We come here upon the most singular part of Margaret's inward life; the
most difficult to narrate; the least likely to be understood.

For the last twenty-four hours she had been passing through a series of
the most agitating emotions, which penetrated the deepest recesses of
her nature.  The birth of her child had touched the very spring and
fountain of love and joy.  There was an overwhelming sense of rapture
to her in the consciousness of being a mother, of feeling the helpless,
breathing, moving baby lying in her arms.  There was a blending of
pitifullness and tenderness, and an exquisite sense of ownership, in
her feelings toward the little creature, such as had never entered into
her heart to dream of.  To die for this child would be nothing; she
felt she could endure long ages of deepest sorrow if it could bring him
any good in the end.  Her own personality was gone; it had entered into
her child.  Henceforth it seemed as if she would live and breathe in
him; and his life would be far nearer and dearer to her than her own.

Upon this extraordinary exaltation and happiness there came the sudden
shock of her father's death.  She recollected too keenly the sense of
loss and separation that had fallen upon her when her mother died; when
all the old, beloved, familiar duties were ended forever; the voice
silent, the eyes closed.  It was so with her father; he was gone from
all the conditions of life known to her.  They told her he was dead.

A curtain fell, thick and impenetrable, between her and the outer
world.  Her senses no longer brought information of what was going on
about her to her brain; but her brain did not feel bewildered, or her
memory failing.  Rather both were preternaturally clear and active.
Her own life, and the lives of others as far as they had been in
contact with hers, lay before her in strange distinctness; and her
judgment, held till now in abeyance, was acting keenly and quickly,
discriminating and condemning or approving, as scene after scene passed
rapidly in review.  The child's little life of twenty-four hours was
clear to her; and all her exquisite joy in having given birth to a son.

Then it seemed to her--but with what words to describe it Margaret
could never tell--that she entered into a light, a glory, a radiance
far beyond the brightest sun; and felt an embrace in which her soul
lay, as her little child had lain upon her bosom; and there was a throb
through all her being, as if she felt the beating of God's heart toward
her, and it was of an infinite pitifulness and tenderness and sense of
ownership in her, as she had felt toward her newborn babe.  And she
knew that she was born into another world; and that this was the first
moment of life in the knowledge of the infinite love of God.  She was
immeasurably dearer to him than her earth-born son was to her; and her
joy over him was but the faintest symbol of God's eternal joy over her.

"Can this be death?" she cried aloud, joyously and wonderingly; and
Sidney, kneeling beside her, felt that the sting of death was in his
own soul.

But Margaret did not know that she had spoken.  The trance, if it was a
trance, continued.  And now the rapture that possessed her soul changed
a little; neither failing nor chilling, but giving her strength to
remember things that were full of sorrow.  She felt herself present at
the crucifixion of our Lord.  She made her way through the crowd to the
very foot of the Cross, and stood leaning against it, her uplifted
hands just touching the chilled and bleeding feet.  She shivered and
wept as she touched them.  Him she could not see; but all about her
were the faces of those who were crucifying Him; malignant, curious,
stupid, careless, and afar off a few mournful ones.  All whom she had
ever known were there; and Sidney stood among the most bitter enemies
of our Lord.  Her heart felt breaking with its burden of grief and
anguish, and she was saying to herself, "Was there ever sorrow like
this sorrow?" when, suddenly, like a flash of lightning, yet as softly
as the dawn of the morning, there came upon her the conviction that He
loved every one of this innumerable crowd with the same love that she
had just felt was the love of God for her.  He was their brother, their
Saviour.  Deeper and stronger than pain and anguish, infinitely deeper
and stronger was His love; and this love was the foundation of that joy
which no man, however great a sinner, could take from him.

But Margaret could never tell all she then knew and felt; for it seemed
to grow dim as she returned to earth.  There were no words by which she
could utter it, only tears and sobs of surpassing gladness, which no
one could understand.  And it was but once or twice in her lifetime
that she tried to tell it; and then it was to those who were afraid of
dying.  She came back at last to this life, as weak and helpless as the
child she had just borne.  Her eyes could hardly bear the light, and
the faintest sounds seemed loud and jarring to her.  But she regained
her former strength day by day, and she was content to take up her old
life.  Only when they spoke cautiously and mournfully to her again of
her father's death a smile came across her thin, white face.

"You do not know what it is," she said, and they thought she was
delirious again.



CHAPTER XVI.

ANDREW GOLDSMITH, SADDLER.

The little town of Apley consisted mainly of one long, narrow,
straggling street of old-fashioned houses, called the High Street,
which was silent and deserted on every day except market-days and
Sundays.  It was out of the direct line of any railway, and there was
not business enough to make a branch line pay.  In the small
old-fashioned shops the tradespeople conducted their own business,
requiring little aid from paid assistants.  There were none rich enough
to live away from their shops, and their intercourse with one another
was primitive and unconventional.  The population of the immediate
neighborhood consisted of the gentry and the townsfolk, with no
connecting links.

About the middle of the High Street stood Andrew Goldsmith's little
shop, which Sidney passed every time he drove to and from the railway
station two miles off.  Three stone steps, hollowed by the tread of
feet through many years, led up to the shop; and a small bow window
hung over the pavement, behind which there sat a paid workman pursuing
his work fitfully at his own pleasure.  Before Sophy's mysterious
disappearance Andrew had always occupied the post himself, seldom
glancing away from the work in hand to notice what was going on in the
street; but he never sat there now.  He had, almost unintentionally,
hidden himself from his neighbors' gossiping curiosity, until his love
of seclusion had grown morbid.

Margaret could not recollect the time when this shop had not been a
favorite haunt of hers.  Andrew had made the first saddle for the first
pony her father gave to her; and her mother's affection for and trust
in Andrew's sister Rachel had brought all the household into close
connection with her.  The romance and mystery of Sophy's fate had been
the deepest interest of Margaret's girlhood, and was still occasionally
the subject of perplexed conjecture.  Rachel's almost hopeless searches
and inquiries, made whenever they were in London, kept this interest
alive, though it naturally lost its intensity.  Still there was no
household in Apley to which she felt so many ties of mutual cares and
memories.

As soon then as she was allowed to take so long a drive, she felt that
Andrew's house was the first to which she must carry her little boy,
for the sad and sorrow-stricken father to see.  She had not seen him
herself yet, since her return to Apley a few weeks ago; she had never
seen him since Sophy was lost.  There would be pain for him in their
meeting; but Rachel said it would be well to get the pain over.

A large kitchen lay behind the shop with a floor of rich, deep-red
tiles, spotlessly clean.  The big grate, with brass knobs about it
shining like gold, was filled with gleeds of burning coal from the
lowest bar to the highest; and the old oak chairs with leathern seats,
standing in the full glow and warmth of the hearth, were polished to an
extraordinary degree of brightness.  Beyond the kitchen was a small,
dark parlor, with all the chairs and the one sofa carefully swathed in
white covers; but there was no fire in it, and Rachel would not let her
sister Mary take Margaret into it.

Margaret leaned back in one of the comfortable old chairs, with a happy
light in her dark eyes, as she listened to the two older women admiring
her child.  It was in this exquisitely clean and pretty kitchen that
she had caught her first glimpse of the happiness of a life far below
the level of her own.  As a child she had sometimes watched Mary
Goldsmith busy herself in getting ready a meal for her brother, giving
thought and affection to her work, while he sat at his saddler's bench
in the shop, humming some tune to himself in great peace of heart.  It
seemed to Margaret as she sat now on the cozy hearth, and glanced round
at the willow-pattern plates shining on the dresser-shelves, and the
polished surface of the copper warming-pan hanging against the wall,
and the tall old Chippendale clock in the corner, and the little
collection of well-read books lying on the broad window-sill, that she
could make life very dear and pleasant to Sidney with no other
materials than those about her.

But under all the chatter of Rachel and Mary Goldsmith her ear caught
the sound of a voice half-hushed, yet lamenting with sobs and muffled
cries of pain, as of one who was passing through some sharp access of
suffering.  It was quite close at hand; not in the little parlor, the
door of which was close to her seat, and for some time she said
nothing.  But as the cries and moans grew more distinct to her ear she
could bear to listen no longer in silence.

"It's my poor brother," answered Rachel sadly, "he's away in his room,
mourning and crying for Sophy.  His heart's broken, if one may say so,
and him alive and strong.  He has never smiled since Sophy went away."

"I'd forgotten," said Margaret, with a rash of compassion in her heart
toward the unhappy father.  "O, Rachel, tell him I am here, and want to
see him so much.  You know I have not seen him since we left Apley
eight years ago."

"Just before Sophy was lost," remarked Mary.

In a few minutes Andrew Goldsmith came slowly down the stairs.  He was
a tall, spare man with a vigorous frame and almost a military bearing;
for he had belonged to the cavalry of the county from his earliest
manhood.  He was not over fifty years of age, but his hair was white,
and his shoulders bowed like those of a man of seventy.  So changed he
was, and wore such expression of intense and bitter suffering, that
Margaret would not have recognized him if he had not been in his own
house.

"Andrew," she said, rising hastily and taking her baby into her arms
with a young mother's instinctive feeling that the child will interest
and comfort everyone, "see, I have brought my boy to make friends with
you, as I did when I was a little girl."

A gleam of light came into the man's dull, sad eyes, as he laid his
fingers gently on the baby's sleeping face.

"He favors you, Miss Margaret," he said, "ay! and your father, the
colonel."

"We call him Philip, after my father," replied Margaret, with a
sorrowful inflection of her sweet voice.

"May God Almighty bless him and keep him from bringing you to sorrow!"
said Andrew.

"I am willing to bear sorrow for him," answered Margaret.

"But not from him," he said.

"Yes; from him if that must be so," she replied, "he will grieve me
sometimes, just as we also grieve God.  But if God bears with us, we
must bear with one another's faults, however hard it may be."

The stern, grave face of Andrew Goldsmith unbent a little and quivered,
and his strong frame trembled as if shaken by some invisible force.  He
sank down on a chair, looking up into the pitying faces of the three
women, whose eyes were so gently bent upon him.

"I haven't seen you since I lost my daughter," he said with a groan,
"and oh! my God, she might have been standing as you are, come home to
show me her baby."

It was true.  If any stranger could have looked in on the little
circle, he would have taken Margaret, in her plain black dress, with
her child in her arms, for a young mother come back to the old fireside
to

  ... tell them all they would have told,
    And bring her babe, and make her boast,
    Till even those that miss'd her most
  Shall count new things as dear as old.


Margaret felt the sadness of it herself, with a profound and keen
sympathy.  She hastened to give the child back to Rachel, and laid her
hand, with a gentle and friendly pressure, on Andrew's shoulder.

"You know I was fond of Sophy," she said, "and how could I help but
grieve over her, when I saw Rachel so often troubled?  But why do you
give up hope?  She may yet come home any day; and perhaps bring a dear
child with her.  God may have given to her a child to be a comfort to
her.  Only God knows."

"Ay!  He knows," answered Andrew, "if He didn't know it otherwise, I
tell Him every day; every hour of every day, for the cry after her is
always in my heart.  But it could never be the same again.  If it was
all right with her, would she have kept silence over eight years?  I
had only one daughter, like your father; and she has brought me to
grief and shame."

"But in one sense it must be right with her," said Margaret, "for God
is with her.  He has not lost sight of her; and though it may possibly
be that she has sinned, and is still sinning, yet that way also leads
to God, when sin is repented of."

"But to think that God sees her in all her degradation!" he cried
passionately.  "Oh, if I could only find her, and hide her away from
all the world! hide her away from God Himself.  No, no, Miss Margaret;
it's no comfort to think that God Almighty sees my daughter in her sin
and shame.  And that man who robbed me of my only child--O Lord, set
Thou a wicked man over him, and let Satan stand at his right hand.
When he shall be judged, let him be condemned; and let his prayer be
turned into sin.  Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.
Let his children be continually vagabonds.  Let the iniquity of his
fathers be remembered by the Lord, and let not the sin of his mother be
blotted out.  As he loved cursing, let it come----"

"Oh, hush, hush!" cried Margaret, breaking in upon his rapid and
vehement utterance with difficulty, while the tears streamed down her
face, "oh, be silent!  It is a terrible thing to utter these words as a
prayer to God.  For God loves us all; even him whom you are cursing.
Some day you will say, 'Father, forgive him; he did not know what he
was doing.'"

"Never!" he exclaimed, lifting up his haggard face, and fastening his
bloodshot eyes upon her; "but I oughtn't to trouble you.  It was only
because the sight of you made me think so keen of her that's lost.  All
the town is glad to have you back again, Miss Margaret, for your own
sake and the colonel's sake.  But it will be different from the old
days."

"You'll be as fond of my boy as you were of me?" she asked.

"Ay, may be," he answered.

"And my husband?" she added.

"Andrew's never seen Mr. Martin," put in Mary Goldsmith; "he's never
crossed the church door since Sophy ran away; and he never sits in the
shop now, where folks can see him at his work.  He spends his time
mostly seeking after her, anywhere that he can find a clew; and he sits
up half his nights with the sick and dying."

"Because my nights are sleepless, or full of terror," he interrupted,
"and my heart is sorer by night than by day.  And poor folks that
cannot pay for nurses are glad to have me near at hand; and the dying
know I'm not afraid of death, but seek it as one seeks after hidden
treasure, so they hold my hand in theirs till they step into the outer
darkness, knowing I would gladly take that step for them.  I tell them
it is better to die than to live; and they half believe me.  They take
messages for me into the next world!"

"Messages!" repeated Margaret.

"Ay," he continued, "to tell Sophy, if she's there, to send me some
sign; but no sign comes.  So she must be living still; and I shall know
what has become of her, and where she is, some day."

Margaret did not feel it possible to combat this notion of Andrew's,
though she looked anxiously from him to his sisters.  George Martin had
recently settled in at the Rectory, and begun his pastoral care of his
country parish; and she wondered if he could not in any way turn the
deep current of this man's grief, which was threatening him, she
feared, with insanity.

"Has our cousin, the new rector, been to see you yet?" she inquired of
Mary.

"Yes," she answered; "and Andrew's promised to go to church again next
Sunday."

"I shall be there," said Margaret gladly, "and I shall look to see you
in your pew, Andrew.  I shall miss you if you are not there."

"I will be there, Miss Margaret," he answered.

The parish church of Apley was a small Norman edifice built near the
park gates.  A square pew in the chancel belonged to the Hall, and a
long narrow aisle with small pews on each side led down to the western
door.  When Sidney took his place, with Margaret, in the Hall pew on
the following Monday, he saw, just beyond the reading desk, a
white-headed man, who was evidently still in the prime of manhood, with
a strong and muscular frame, but with a face expressive of heart-broken
sadness.  It was an ominous face, dark and despondent, with a fire
burning in the deep-set eyes that seemed almost like the glow of
madness.  So striking was this man's appearance that, before the
service began, Sidney whispered to Margaret:

"Who is that man in the pew by the reading-desk?"

"Rachel's brother," she answered, "the father of the girl that is lost."

It was the 22d day of the month; and Sidney, whose thoughts were
wandering, suddenly found himself reading, with mechanical exactness,
the terrible curses of the Psalms for the day, which Andrew Goldsmith
was uttering with intense earnestness, as if the sacredness of the
place added force to their vindictiveness.  Margaret's head was bent,
and the tears were dropping slowly on her open book; but Sidney
scarcely noticed her emotion.  There was an indescribable horror to him
in this sight of the despairing face of Sophy's father; and in the
penetrating distinctness of his deep voice, as he called upon God to
pour down curses upon his enemy.



CHAPTER XVII.

ANDREW'S FRIEND.

The little town soon felt the difference between having the Hall
occupied by its owners and tenanted by persons who had no interest in
the place.  Margaret knew most of the families living in Apley, for
there had not been many changes during her absence; and as a child she
had been allowed free intercourse with the respectable householders of
the town.  Now she had returned among them, she and the rector had many
schemes for their social as well as religious improvement.  Sidney was
liberal, and eager to further any wish of Margaret's.  He was even
willing to take a share in her plans, as far as his business gave him
time to do so; and nobody could make himself more genial and popular
than he did.

The rector's wife, Laura Martin, who had seemed willing to marry George
as a poor curate, had been very well aware that he was one of the two
nephews of the wealthy City man, Sir John Martin, to whom all his
accumulated riches must be left.  Her chagrin at his being left in
poverty by his uncle had been extreme; and she was on the point of
breaking off her engagement with George Martin, when Sidney, who felt
the injustice of his uncle's will, settled £10,000 on his cousin.  It
was a mere pittance, Laura felt; but it was sufficient to decide her to
marry George.  With the living at Apley their yearly income was now
nearly £1200; and as she was a clever woman in household management,
she contrived to make a good appearance, and was generally more
expensively dressed than Margaret.  She made, on the whole, a good
country parson's wife, looking well after the affairs of the parish;
especially in Margaret's absence, when she reigned lady paramount.  It
was a sore and bitter vexation to her to suffer eclipse when Margaret
was at Apley; but the intercourse between the Hall and the Rectory was
too intimate, and too beneficial for herself and her children, for her
to show any sense of mortification.  She always spoke of Margaret as
her dearest friend.

There were already two children at the Rectory, Sidney and Richard; and
soon after Philip's birth a girl was born, who was called Phyllis by
Laura.  Already there was a little scheme in Laura's brain, an organ
scarcely ever used for any other function than scheming.  Why should
not this little girl of hers become the wife of Sidney's son and heir?
It was a pleasant pastime to build castles in the air, on the
foundation of this unspoken wish.

Something of the gloom which was threatening Andrew Goldsmith's reason
was removed by Margaret's return to Apley, and the interest taken in
him and his sorrow by her and the rector.  They frequently called upon
him to render some service; and little by little he regained the
position of importance he had once held among the townspeople, though
his influence was now exercised more on religious than political
subjects.  He was superior to his neighbors in intellect; and he had
the gift of speech, being able to address them with a somewhat
uncultured eloquence, but in a manner that went home to their hearts
and understandings.  His life ran in more healthy currents, and there
were times when Rachel hoped he would overcome the deep depression
which had followed upon Sophy's mysterious disappearance.

The person to whom of all others Andrew Goldsmith attached himself, in
this partial revival of his old life, was Sidney Martin.  Sidney,
unconsciously perhaps, addressed the sorrow-stricken man, who was
bearing the burden of the sin he had been guilty of, in a tone and
manner of the deepest sympathy; as if he knew all his burden, and would
help him to bear it, though he would never speak of it.  The sad secret
lay between them, and both were thinking of it in their deepest hearts.
There was a strange, inexplicable subtlety in this silent sympathy.
The moment their eyes met each man saw, as if standing between them,
Sophy's girlish figure and pretty face; and Andrew Goldsmith felt, with
vague and confused instinct, that Sidney looked at his grief and loss
with different eyes from other onlookers.  Sidney fathomed his woe with
a deeper and truer plummet than that with which other men could sound
it; and there was a dim sense of satisfaction in the feeling that he,
who had all that earth could give, shared the pain that was gnawing his
own heart.

It grew into a habit with Andrew Goldsmith to listen for the sound of
Sidney's horse or carriage, and hasten to his shop door in time to lift
his hat to him as he went by, and to catch the subtle gleam of
melancholy comprehension in Sidney's passing salutation.  There was
such a link between them as did not exist between any other two souls,
among all the souls they were in contact with; and it was a dark day
with Andrew in which he did not see the recognition of it in Sidney's
face.

Sidney would unhesitatingly have called himself the happiest man on
earth but for this singular and ominous devotion toward him of the man
he had so deeply injured.  His life was all that he had ever hoped for;
Margaret a dearer wife and better companion than he had even dreamed
she might be; his child a sweetness and delight to him beyond all
words.  There was no flaw in his prosperity.  His sky was clear of all
but one almost invisible speck.  At his gates dwelt this man whose mere
existence was a perpetual reminder of his early blunder; for Sidney
would not own it to be a sin.  The friendship of this man, he said to
himself, was the bitterest penance that could be inflicted on him.  But
for this he could have forgotten Sophy altogether.  And why should he
not forget her?  He had done her very little wrong; not the wrong
ninety-nine men out of a hundred in his position would have been guilty
of.  If he could but escape the sight of this unfortunate father of
hers, his wrong-doing would soon cease to trouble him.

But Sidney could find no easy way of escape.  He might have insisted on
living in or near London; but Margaret was strongly attached to her old
home, and it happened that all his attempts to buy an estate nearer to
London fell through.  The estate bought by his uncle was in Yorkshire;
and consequently was too far away for him to dwell upon it; and
Margaret's place answered all their requirements perfectly.  It was not
much more than an hour's journey by train from his place of business in
the City; and Margaret's position, as the last descendant of an old
county family, gave them a standing in the county which they could not
have elsewhere.  It had always been a part of his ambition for the
future to become a member of the House of Commons, and he was already
recognized as the most eligible candidate of his party for a place as
member for the county at the next general election.  A number of minute
threads, gathering in number and vigor as each month passed by, wove
themselves into a rope which it needed the strength of a Samson to
break through.

It was not possible, on the other hand, to dislodge Andrew Goldsmith;
nor did Sidney seriously think of it.  He would not add to the harm he
had already done him the cruel injury of turning him out of his old
home, and sending him adrift among strangers.  He was not in any way of
a hard and pitiless nature, and his heart was full of compunction and
kindliness toward Andrew Goldsmith.  More than once he debated with
himself whether it would not be wise to confide the whole story to the
rector, and take his counsel as to the question of telling Andrew, or
of still keeping the fate of Sophy a secret.  But he could not risk the
chance of Margaret knowing it; and he resolved upon keeping silence and
bearing his penalty as best he could.

His eldest boy, Philip, was three years of age; and the second son,
Hugh, his mother's heir and the future owner of Apley, was about twelve
months old, when a vacancy in the representation of the county
occurred, which gave to Sidney a fair chance of being elected, though
not without a close contest.  The influence on both sides was stretched
to the utmost, and party spirit ran high.  It was like the sound of a
trumpet to an old war-horse for Andrew Goldsmith.  For the time being
his heavy burden seemed to slip off his shoulders, and he became again,
as in former times, the active and energetic leader of the voters in
the neighborhood.  His shop and the pleasant kitchen behind it were
filled from morning to night with groups of his neighbors, eagerly
discussing the question of the coming election.  Occasionally Sidney
himself dropped in, with Margaret beside him; and was thus brought into
closer contact than before with her tenants.  For Sidney, busy as he
was with a multiplicity of affairs, left the management of the Apley
estate almost wholly in his wife's hands.

Life was very full to Margaret.  She had her husband, her children, and
her tenants to live for, and her desire to serve them was very ardent,
to minister to their lowest as well as to their highest needs.  She had
the true Christian instinct of help-giving.  There was one incident of
her Lord's life over which her soul brooded, more frequently, perhaps,
than any other.  She saw him sitting at the feast with his disciples,
Judas the traitor being one of them, and all of them being on the point
of forsaking him.  He, who was King of kings and Lord of lords, who,
being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God,
yet took upon himself the form of a servant, and came, not to be
ministered unto, but to minister.  She saw this Jesus rise from the
table, and lay aside the white robe he was wearing for the feast, and
pour water into a basin, and stoop to wash his disciples' feet, soiled
with the dust of the street.  It was a symbol, but it was also a real
action of her Lord's.  What service ought she to shrink from, then, if
Christ washed his disciples' feet?

Margaret was very much in earnest about her husband's election, and
threw herself with all her heart into the efforts made to secure it.
She believed him to be so good and true a man that it must be for the
welfare of the country for him to sit in Parliament.  If he was
returned it would compel them to live more in London; but that was a
sacrifice she could make, and she did not flinch from the sacrifice.
She was in the habit of visiting freely and familiarly among all her
neighbors, the poor as well as the rich; and she had not failed in
winning their esteem and regard.  Her canvassing for her husband was
everywhere successful.

But the chief factor in the election was Andrew Goldsmith, who labored
night and day for Sidney Martin's return.  When the poll was declared
Sidney was elected by a small majority only, and everyone said this
majority was due to Andrew Goldsmith's influence in his own district,
where the voters had given their votes as one man.  Sidney had reached
the goal of his ambition, or rather he had passed one winning-post to
enter upon a new path; and his heart beat high with exaltation.  He was
a young man yet, and he would win such a name as should reflect glory
upon his two boys and lay the foundation of an illustrious family.  He
had no long line of ancestry to boast of; his uncle had been a
self-raised man, and he was still almost unknown.  But Margaret's
lineage was old enough to compensate for the newness of his own, and
his boys should have such a position in the world as few others had.
Hugh, the youngest, would succeed Margaret, and take the name of
Cleveland; but Philip would be his heir and nothing should be lacking
in his career.  He would make his name illustrious for his boy's sake
as well as his own.

These thoughts were flitting through his brain as he drove homeward
with Margaret and his friends, after the declaration of the poll at the
county town.  It was a very bright hour for him.  But within a few
miles of Apley they were met by a procession of his wife's tenants
coming out to congratulate him, with Andrew Goldsmith on horseback at
their head.  There was something very striking in the appearance of the
vigorous, soldierly, white-headed man, as he came up to the side of the
carriage to act as spokesman for the crowd behind.  He sat his horse
well, as a member of the cavalry troop must do; and his deep-set eyes
glowed with pride and affection.  His pale, sad face was transfigured
for the time; for this was the happiest moment he had known for years.
Sidney practically owed his election to him; and it was some return, he
thought, for all the kindness he had received from him and Margaret.

It was a singular and bitter trial to Sidney to stretch out his hand
and clasp the hand of his father-in-law.  If this crowd only knew the
relationship that existed between him and the man they had chosen for
their spokesman, their cheers would turn into execrations.  He had
never shaken hands with him before; for though he had visited Andrew's
house frequently during the last few weeks, the latter knew his place
too well to push himself forward so as to compel Sidney to such a
friendly greeting.  But now, at this juncture, nothing was more natural
than that these two men, forgetting the differences of rank, should
clasp each other's hands in token of a victory won by both.

It was a strong grip that the saddler gave to his friend Sidney Martin,
and spoke of all the subtle, indefinable sympathy that existed between
them.  Margaret's eyes filled with happy tears.  So long had she felt
the gloom of this man's deep sorrow that her heart was filled with
gladness to see him escaping from its chain.

"It's you I have to thank for my election, Goldsmith," said Sidney,
glad to get his hand released from his painful grasp.

"We've all done our best, sir," he answered, "and we are come to meet
you, and say not one of us has known a prouder day than this; a proud
day and a joyful day it is.  And we pray Almighty God, every man among
us, that he will bless you with all the blessings of this life, and
preserve your precious life for many, many years.  And that you may
live to be Prime Minister," he added with a tone of humor in his grave
voice.  There was a tremendous chorus of "Hurrahs!" and a great deal of
laughter.  Prime Minister!  Yes; that was what they would all like.  On
Andrew Goldsmith's face there came a quiver, as if his features so long
set in sad despair were attempting to smile, and might succeed if many
more such joyous occasions came.

Sidney answered shortly and pleasantly, and the procession fell behind
the carriages.  It was only as they passed along the High Street that
Andrew Goldsmith, looking at his little shop, and seeing its doorway
and windows empty, while every other house was filled with women and
children, remembered too vividly the mystery surrounding the fate of
his own daughter.  He dropped behind in the procession as it passed on
to Apley Hall; and when Sidney looked for him in vain, he felt a keen
sense of relief in Andrew's absence.



CHAPTER XVIII.

LAURA'S SCHEME.

The rector and Margaret continued to be fast friends, and the
intercourse between the Hall and the Rectory was of the most intimate
kind.  The children of either house scarcely knew which was their home.
The rector was a high-minded, unworldly man, altogether untouched by
ambition or the love of money; there was perhaps a shade of indolence
in his temperament, which made him less likely to feel the spur of
ambition.  Margaret and he understood one another better than any
others understood them.  Moreover, his genuine admiration, and his
strong affection for her husband, added much to her happiness.  For now
and then, with the persistent recurrence of doubt, a misgiving crossed
Margaret's mind that Sidney was not exactly a Christian in the sense
she was.  Not that he was in any degree negligent in observing the
outward duties of religion.  He was a constant attendant at church
services; and a more regular communicant than she was herself.  Day by
day his life appeared to be one of conscientious continuance in
well-doing.  He was foremost in all philanthropic and religious
schemes, and worked energetically at them.  But now and then, at rare
intervals, a false note jarred upon the harmonious and sensitive chords
of Margaret's inmost soul; and then there was no man's praise of her
husband so precious to her as that of his cousin George, who had been
brought up with him as a brother, and who never doubted that he was one
of the best men living.

As for Sidney, he was well content with himself and his career; and, as
the years passed by, he was no longer troubled by qualms of conscience.
He was spreading himself like a green bay tree; and his "inward thought
was to found a house that should continue forever, a dwelling-place to
all generations."  He was increasing the glory of his house; and men
praised him because he was doing well for himself.  He blessed his own
soul, and fell into the mistake that God was blessing him.

For Sidney almost fully persuaded himself that he was a Christian.  He
accepted what he imagined were the doctrines of Christianity.  He would
have signed the thirty-nine Articles of the Christian faith as readily
as any candidate for orders.  He had no doubts, or rather he had not
time to trouble himself with inconvenient questions, so he believed
that he was a believer.  Often when he was listening with deep
attention to some eloquent or touching sermon, he felt a thrill of
emotion, which he mistook for devotion to Christ as his Master.  The
sins of his youth had been repented of and cast behind him; and if one
repents is he not forgiven?  He gave largely to the cause of religion,
both in time and money.  He was in no open way self-indulgent.  If he
was not a Christian man, as well as a rich man, who then could be
saved?  The camel had gone through the needle's eye.

The training of his sons he left almost entirely to Margaret; and she
had them brought up as simply and hardily as their first cousins at the
Rectory, boys not born to inherit wealth.  No differences were made
between them; no extra indulgences were allowed to her own children
because some day they would be rich men.  They had the same tutor and
the same lessons.  When Philip was old enough to go to Eton, his
cousins, Sidney and Dick, were sent with him; when Hugh went, the two
younger accompanied him.  As they grew up to young manhood they were
sent in the same manner to Oxford.  It was no wonder that the rector
believed, what he was always ready to assert, that Sidney was better
than a brother to him.  But if the rector was more than content with
his lot, and grateful beyond words for Sidney's generous friendship and
munificent liberality in the education of his four sons, Laura was very
far from feeling the same satisfaction.  She had been willing to marry
George for love when he was a poor curate, especially after Sidney had
settled £10,000 upon him; but she could never forget the inequality
existing between her income and position and Margaret's.  Both of them
belonged to better families than the Martins; but Margaret was an only
child, and Laura was one of a family of eleven children, with so small
a dowry that the interest of it only found her in dress.  She could not
help feeling that she and Margaret were in each other's places;
Margaret would have been perfectly happy as a poor rector's wife, and
she would have been perfectly happy as the owner of Apley Hall and the
wife of a wealthy merchant.  She was fond of pre-eminence, but she
always found herself occupying the second place.  Margaret's splendid
generosity, and almost lavish expenditure on objects which she
considered worthy of her time and her money, aroused in Laura merely a
spirit of envious criticism.  The economical management of household
expenses at the Hall, where Margaret would brook no wasteful customs,
however time-honored, Laura pronounced mean.  The bountiful hand, which
gave largely if a gift could be helpful, she called ostentatious.
George Martin's sisters, who paid annual visits to the Rectory, never
failed to fan the smoldering fire of her discontent into a flame.  They
always lamented over the small share they and their brother had
received of their uncle's wealth.

"Every penny was left to Sidney," the rector would say in grieved
remonstrance.

"Then he ought to have halved it," persisted Laura, "at the very least;
half for himself, and half for you and your sisters.  And he only gave
you a paltry £10,000!  It makes one quite mad to think of dividing such
a mean sum among our five children.  Two thousand apiece!  The portion
of a farmer's daughter, or a tradesman's son!  Andrew Goldsmith
possesses as much as that.  And think of what Philip and Hugh will
inherit."

"Oh, hush! hush!" answered the rector, "we are rich; as rich as anyone
need be.  God knows I am ashamed of having all we have, while so many
of his people have scarcely the necessaries of life.  And, my dear
Laura, it seems to me that you have all that Margaret allows herself.
Tell me what indulgence she has that you lack.  If she and Sidney have
money, they are not spending it on themselves; they are making it a
blessing to all about them."

"So should we," replied Laura sulkily.

But Laura took care to keep on excellent terms with Margaret.  Indeed
it would have been difficult for her to quarrel with her.  Margaret's
affection for the rector gathered into its wide embrace all belonging
to him; and his children were only a degree less dear to her than her
own.  Phyllis was scarcely a degree less dear, as she had no daughter;
and this little girl almost filled the place of one.  All of them were
as much at home at the Hall as at the Rectory; and the rector took
hardly less interest in Philip and Hugh than in his own sons.

Laura's scheme with respect to Phyllis grew deeper and stronger as the
years went on.  If she could never be more than Mrs. Martin of the
Rectory, her daughter should be Mrs. Martin of Brackenburn; or if not
that, Mrs. Cleveland of Apley Hall.  One of the two brothers she must
marry.  But Hugh was nearly two years younger than Phyllis; if possible
she must become the wife of Philip.

She began very early to mold the children to her wishes.  She made much
of Philip, lavishing upon him praises and indulgences which he seldom
received from his mother.  She left Phyllis almost constantly at the
Hall, before Philip went to Eton, to share his nursery games and
childish pursuits.  Philip was grave and serious; what the townfolk of
Apley called "an old-fashioned child"; but Phyllis was like a little
bird flattering joyously about the quiet nursery, and filling it with
childish chatter.  She could rouse Philip to play and laughter out of
his gravest moods; and Margaret was thankful to Laura for sparing the
child to her.

"Mother!" said Philip, coming one day into Margaret's sitting room,
holding Phyllis by the hand, while both children looked up to her with
large and solemn eyes, "mother, may I marry Phyllis when I grow up to
be a man?  Cousin Laura says yes.  Will you say yes too?"

"My boy," answered Margaret gravely, yet almost unable to conceal a
smile, "you cannot understand what marriage means.  You are only a
child of seven yet: and marriage is more solemn and more important even
than death is.  You know that death is very solemn?"

"Yes," said the boy, "it is too high for me to understand yet."

"And marriage is still higher," continued Margaret; "you will
understand something of death first.  Some day, when you are years
older, I will talk to you about marriage, but not now.  And, Philip, do
not talk foolishly about a thing that is too high for you to
understand."

"No, mother," he said gravely.

"Phyllis is not your little sister," she said, "but she will be like a
sister to you for many years to come; and she will always be your
friend, if you are good children."

It was in keeping with Philip's thoughtful and steadfast nature never
again to speak of Phyllis as his little wife, or to allow anyone about
him to do so.  But constantly, by a word dropped now and again, Laura
kept alive in his mind the idea that Phyllis would some day be his
wife.  To Phyllis she spoke as if her whole life was to be fitted to
meet Philip's wishes.  It was skillfully and subtly done; never being
so definite as to excite opposition in the nature of either of them.
Year after year Phyllis was taught that the one person in the world
whom she was bound to please was her cousin Philip.

But when Phyllis was fourteen, and Philip, a few months older, was an
Eton schoolboy, Laura thought it wisest to put some little check upon
their intimacy, which was too much like that of brother and sister.
Phyllis was at an age when a country girl is apt to be something of a
hoyden.  She rode after the hounds with as much spirit as her brothers;
could play at cricket as well as any of them; and was an adept at
climbing trees.  She could shoot and fish fairly well, and tramped
about the country with the boys, never owning to fatigue.  But her
mother shrewdly suspected that none of these accomplishments would
retain their charm for Philip, when he entered upon that romantic and
sentimental era of a young man's life during which she hoped to
successfully attach him to Phyllis.  If she was to be the accomplished
and cultivated girl likely to attract him then, she must be sent away
for some years.

So Phyllis was sent away, coming home for her holidays generally when
Philip was absent; only meeting for a few days at Christmas just to
keep them in mind of one another.  So well and wisely did Laura manage
that Margaret did not notice that virtually Phyllis was separated both
from her brothers and her cousins.  She only felt that the girl, whom
she loved very tenderly, was undergoing a change which was distasteful
to her.

The night before Phyllis left home for the first time, her mother went
into the little room opening out of her own bedroom, where the girl had
slept ever since she was a child.  Laura held the shaded lamp up to see
if she was sleeping, and thought with exultation how pretty the face
was on which the light fell.  She put the lamp away into the other
room, and sat down in the dusk by her young daughter.

"Phyllis," she said, with her hand resting fondly on the girl's head,
"there's one thing I must say to you before you go away to school; but
it must be between you and me, a secret.  You must not speak of it to
anybody else; not even to Dick, or your father.  You love Philip, my
darling?"

"Oh, yes, mother!" she answered, "I have always loved him."

"More than anyone else?" suggested her mother.

"I think so," she said, "unless, perhaps, it is Dick."

"Oh! you must love Philip more than Dick," replied her mother; "never
think of loving anybody as much as Philip.  By and by, when he is old
enough, he will ask you to be his wife; and then your father and I
would be happier than words can tell."

"That was settled a long while ago," said Phyllis, "as soon as I was
born, and you called me by a name something like his."

"But it was to be kept a profound secret," urged her mother, "and
nobody has ever spoken of it since, except me, to you.  Of course if
you and Philip did not like it, no one could force you to marry one
another."

"Nobody could do that in England," said Phyllis, with a wise little
laugh, "but don't you be worried, mother; I do love Philip; and I will
marry him."

"Then you must do all you can to fit yourself for him," pursued Laura
anxiously; "he will go to Oxford, and when he has been there he will
not want a romp and a tom-boy about him.  You must make a lady of
yourself.  When you are his wife, you will be very rich, not a simple
country parson's daughter; and by and by you will be Mrs. Martin of
Brackenburn.  You must learn how to fill such a position."

"I must learn to do my duty in that state of life into which it may
please God to call me," said Phyllis, laughing again.  "Oh, mother, you
shall see what a fine lady I can make of myself.  I will say to myself
every morning, 'Remember you are to be Mrs. Martin of Brackenburn!' and
I will act up to it.  I have quite made up my mind to marry Philip."



CHAPTER XIX.

THE SON AND HEIR.

It was four years before Phyllis came to live at home again; and the
transformation was complete.  The tom-boy of fourteen, with her excess
of animal spirits, had developed into a bright and dainty girl of
eighteen, with a grace and bloom about her like that of a flower just
opening to the light.  Her face was prettier, and her figure more
graceful than even her mother had expected them to be.  She could sing
well, with a sweet, clear voice, that suggested the spontaneous
joyousness of a song-bird.  She seemed fond of reading; but she was
still fonder of active pursuits.  Sidney, who had taken little notice
of her as a child, felt the charm of this bright, companionable young
girl, who made Apley so much more lively when he came down from his
busy London life.  Hugh was now at Eton, and Philip was at Oxford with
his cousin Dick.  There was nothing to suggest caution or anxiety; and
Phyllis spent more time at the Hall than she did at the Rectory.  She
owned frankly that she felt more at home there than in her father's
house; and she fell into the position of a daughter quite naturally.
She was introduced to London society under Margaret's wing; and
received there the finishing touches to her education.

When Philip came home, he fancied he saw in his cousin Phyllis
precisely the woman he would choose to make his wife.

She had grown up for him.  The idea that this bright, lovely young girl
had been destined for him from her birth, gave to him a feeling of
perfect, undisturbed possession, precluding the necessity of claiming
her, any more than the necessity of claiming his mother.  Their lives
were so blended and interwoven that it seemed impossible for them to be
separated.  There was no need of speech between them.  They knew they
loved one another; and that when the right hour came they would marry
amid the general satisfaction and gladness of all their friends.  Until
then they lived for one another in the simplest and purest happiness.
So Philip felt; and Laura was quite content that he should say nothing
about his love, while he was still under age.

There was no actual concealment, however.  Phyllis was seldom alone
with him, for Hugh and her own brothers were constantly with them.
When they wished for quiet converse, they sought it usually in
Margaret's presence.  She saw them reading together, singing together,
walking arm in arm about the gardens and park; but then Phyllis read,
and sang, and walked with all of the other young men, when any of them
claimed her companionship.  Margaret saw no difference in her manner or
ways; if there was any difference, she was a shade more serious with
Philip than the rest; but then Philip himself was the most thoughtful
of all the youthful band.

In the training of her sons, Margaret had done her utmost to make them
understand her views of life.  Wealth and position, she pointed out to
them, were among the poorest and smallest of the gifts of God;
sometimes, seeing that wicked men can gain them by evil means, not the
gift of God at all.  Birth was not a much higher thing, though that,
indeed, must be the gift of God, since they had no choice as to the
circumstances, or the family, into which they were born.  Better than
these were the gifts of intellect; and Dick, who had a genius for
mathematics, and Stephen, with an equally strong bent for science,
possessed nobler powers than they did.  Any great talent was better
than silver and gold, or rank.  Good temper alone was worth more than
all the riches they could possess; and Phyllis's brightness and
sweetness placed her higher than a duke's daughter who did not possess
the same qualities.

"You will find the richest men among the poorest," she told them.  "If
a man is brave, true, unselfish, serviceable to his fellow-men, he is
higher in the sight of God, though he may not own a penny, than the
wealthiest man in the world.  God cannot regard gold and land as
riches."

"You pride yourselves on your birth?" she asked them; "you forget that
you did not choose it--God gave it to you.  It is a poor gift in
itself, and perhaps you are the servants to whom the Lord could only
intrust one or two pounds instead of ten.  But do not lay it aside, and
hide it in a napkin; use it worthily, and in the next life, or perhaps
in this life, God will give you more and better gifts."

"The best gifts are those we get directly from God," she taught them,
"and you must ask him for them yourselves--for no man can ask or seek
these blessings for you--no other hand can knock at the gate till it is
opened to you--and, what your spirit asks, the spirit of God gives.
You are nearer to God than to me.  You are dearer to his heart than to
mine."

Sometimes Sidney, sitting by, while Margaret was teaching her boys,
would smile to himself at her want of worldly wisdom.  When she told
them the loss of money was the smallest loss they could suffer, and
asked them whether they would rather lose their sight, and never more
see the faces of those they loved; or their hearing, and never again
listen to dear voices and the glad and solemn sounds of music; or lose
their friends by death, her and their father; and the boys would
declare with eagerness that they would a thousand times rather face the
world penniless than be bereft of any of these great gifts--then Sidney
would say to himself how much greater would be the pity of rich men
toward himself if he lost his large fortune, than if he lost sight, or
hearing, or sons, or even this dear wife of his, with her unworldly
spirit, who was in truth more precious to him than all gold and lands!
It was sweet to hear Margaret talk in this way, but she spoke a
language that had no meaning in the City.

Philip took a fairly good place at Oxford, but Dick far surpassed him.
There had been no emulation between the young men, and Philip felt no
grudge against Dick for his triumph and the distinction he earned.
Dick's success had been very great, and both the Hall and the Rectory
celebrated it with much rejoicing.  Sidney, who had borne all the cost
of the education of George's sons, was greatly pleased.  But he was not
less pleased that Philip had not distinguished himself in the same way.
There was no need for his son and heir to win high honors at the
university; he did not wish to see him a great mathematician or a fine
classical scholar.  That was all very well for Dick and Stephen, and
the other boys, who had to earn their own living by sheer force of
brain.  For Philip it was more essential that he should be an all-round
man.

In this Sidney was satisfied.  Philip could do all things customary to
young men of his station and prospects, but he did not specially excel
in any of them.  In his father's eyes there was in him a slight touch
of listlessness, the listlessness of certainty.  There was a lack of
something to strive for, which had been no characteristic of his own.
Sidney could still recall the strain of anxiety to retain his uncle's
favor, and the sacrifices he had made, and was ready to make, to secure
his vast fortune falling to himself.  It could not be the same with his
son.  The large estate in Yorkshire, which was entailed upon him,
secured his future, and deprived him at the same time of the stimulus
of uncertainty.  It was the same with his younger boy, Hugh.  Their
mother had taught them so to value wealth and position that they had no
ambition to increase either, while their ancestors had taken care they
should not be compelled to work for their living.  It was a knot in the
silken thread of their lives which Sidney could not untie, and was
equally powerless to cut through.



CHAPTER XX.

BRACKENBURN.

The large estate in Yorkshire to which Philip was heir had been seldom
visited by Sidney.  It was much too far from London to be a place of
residence for him while he remained in business, and Margaret's house
at Apley exactly met all their requirements as a country place within a
short distance from town.  The Yorkshire estate had been left to an
agent, and the house had been let for a term of twenty-one years soon
after his settling upon Apley as their home.  Hitherto, therefore, it
had been little more to them than a source of income.  The tenant of
Brackenburn was reported to be an eccentric man, who greatly resented
the occasional visits of the agent, and neither Sidney nor Philip had
cared to intrude upon him.  The house was small, and Sir John Martin
had left the sum of £50,000 for building one more suitable for his
heirs.  Now that Philip was so nearly of age it became a question of
some importance when and how the new hall should be built.  Architects
were consulted and plans drawn up, bringing more forcibly to Philip's
mind that he, too, like Hugh, to whom Apley would come, was heir to a
large property in land.  The love of land awoke within him.  He threw
himself with ardor into the questions of building and planting.  The
tenant's lease would expire shortly after he came of age, and it was
then proposed that Philip should take up his abode in the old Manor
House, and superintend the erection of the new mansion.  When thinking
of it, he always thought of Phyllis as being there beside him.

But some months before Philip's coming of age Sidney received a letter
from a firm of solicitors in York informing him that his tenant, Mr.
Churchill, was dead, and that he was left sole executor of his will,
and the guardian of his only child; "having no friend whom I can trust
in the whole world," was added.  Sidney had seen his tenant only a few
times, and nothing had been said to him of the service thus thrust upon
him by Mr. Churchill's will.  It was a surprise and an annoyance to
him; but the words, "no friend whom I can trust in the whole world,"
appealed to his and to Margaret's sympathy, and, telegraphing that he
was starting immediately, he set out on his northward journey.

"It is odd," he said to Margaret before leaving her, "that we have no
idea whether the only child is a son or daughter, or what the amount of
property left may be.  But in any case we can befriend Mr. Churchill's
only child."

It was early morning when Sidney reached the little road-side station
nearest to Brackenburn, and a walk of four miles lay between it and the
old Manor House.  His temperament was still alive to all the simple
pleasures of a solitary walk like this, at an unwonted hour and in the
very heart of the country.  London lay very far away from him.  His
love of nature had no touch of age upon it, and as he sauntered along
the lanes, with the joyous caroling of little songbirds all around him,
and the bracing air of the dawn caressing his face, he felt almost like
a boy again.  If Margaret had but come with him, his enjoyment would
have been perfect.  The fever of city life always running in his veins
cooled down into an unusual calm and tranquillity, and for once he
asked himself if his satisfied ambition was worth the sacrifice he had
made for it.

The old Manor House of Brackenburn stood at the head of a long dale,
with wide stretches of heather-clad moor rising behind it and lying in
long curves against the distant horizon.  It was an old timber house,
the heavy beams black with age, and the interstices, which had once
been kept white with frequent lime-washing, were now weather-stained
and discolored.  But the front of the old house was hidden under a
thick mantle of ivy, which had never been touched or trained, and which
grew in long, luxuriant sprays that waved to and fro restlessly in the
breeze.  A stone wall, ten feet high, surrounded the house and
concealed the lower story, and Sidney found it difficult to push open
the heavy iron gates, which admitted him to the forecourt.  The windows
were still closed with outer wooden shutters, and the only sign of life
was a thin line of smoke rising from one of the great stacks of
chimneys, and floating softly across the blue of the morning sky.
Sidney rang gently, in order not to disturb the household at so early
an hour, and the door was presently opened by an old woman, who
appeared with a candle in her hand, and led him into a darkened room.
He told her briefly who he was.

"I'll call Dorothy to you," she said as she shut the door upon him.

There was something about being left in this way to wait for some
unknown person which brought back very vividly to his memory his first
meeting with Margaret.  He could see her coming in, and drawing near to
him, with her simple, unconscious grace, and hear her addressing him as
frankly as if she had been a little child.  He had loved her with all
his heart from that moment.  Was it possible that it was more than
twenty-two years ago?  It might have been but yesterday; only she was
dearer to him now, and her love was more necessary and more precious to
him.  How foolish he was to waste so much time in business, which might
be spent in companionship with her.  Well, as soon as Philip, or Hugh,
was ready to take his place, he would himself relax his pursuit of
wealth and power.

He was pacing to and fro in the dark room when the door was opened
timidly, and a young, slight girl entered, and stood just within the
doorway, gazing at him.  The dim light of the single candle hardly
reached her, and he could only see large dark eyes, looking black in
the wan pallor of her face, which were fastened upon him, partly in
terror, and partly in appeal to him, like the pathetic gaze of some
dumb creature doubtful of the reception it will receive.  She seemed
almost to be shrinking away in dread of some unkindness, when he
approached her as she stood trembling just inside the door.

"I'm Dorothy," she said, looking up at him with pale anxiety.

"Dorothy Churchill?" he asked.

"Yes," she answered, nodding, the tears gathering slowly in her eyes.

"And you have no brothers or sisters?" he said.

"No," she whispered.

He took her hand tenderly in his, and led her to a chair, and sat down
beside her, keeping hold of the little brown hand, which trembled in
his clasp.  She looked like a forlorn, neglected child.  The big tears
rolled one by one down her cheeks; but she did not dare to move or wipe
them away.  She seemed as if her spirit was crushed by long and
constant unkindness.  Sidney drew her near to him as he would have done
a little child.  His heart was troubled for her, and he wished Margaret
could be with him to comfort this lonely and sorrow-stricken girl.

"You loved your father!" he said, after a pause.

"Not much," she answered; "he frightened me."

"Didn't he love you?" he asked.

"He loved his dogs most of all," said Dorothy, sobbing.  "Oh, come
upstairs, please.  You are the master now; and oh, I want you to come
to his room.  They said I must not give any orders about anything."

She led the way up the broad old staircase, where the morning sun was
shining in gleams of light through chinks in the shutters, and, pausing
for a moment or two before a door till he was close beside her, she
opened it very cautiously.  The room was low and dark, wainscoted with
almost black oak, which reflected no light from the candles that were
burning in honor of the dead.  A heavy four-post bedstead held the
corpse of the dead man, laid out in the terrible rigidness of death;
eyes closed, lips locked, head and hands motionless for ever.  The head
and face were uncovered, and the weird, indescribable seal of death was
on them.  No light would ever reach those closed eyes again, no sound
would ever enter those deafened ears.

If that had been possible, the uproar that followed Sidney's entrance
into the darkened room would have aroused the dead man.  For to each of
the four posts of the great bed was chained a huge mastiff, which, as
he stepped across the threshold, sprang forward as far as the chain
would allow him, as if to attack the intruder, with a wild chorus of
furious howling and baying.

"Good Heavens!" he exclaimed, starting back in horror, "what is the
meaning of this?"

"He would have it so," answered Dorothy, as she clung with both hands
to his arm; "he would have them here all the time he was ill, because
he said no one else loved him.  And John and Betsy said they must stay
here till you came, because you are the master now.  But, oh! they were
howling and wailing all night, and the night before, and it is
dreadful.  Oh! be quiet, Juno and Di; he cannot hear you now.  Yes, you
loved him, I know.  But he is gone, and can never come back to you.
Poor dogs! lie down, lie down.  I will be kind to you, and take care of
you; but you must not stay here, now the master is come.  Poor dogs,
poor dogs!"

Her voice fell into tones of pity, and she loosed Sidney's arm, and
ventured up to the mastiff nearest to her, laying her hand gently on
its great rough head and speaking caressing words, until all four
crouched down moaning, as if they understood her.  After the furious
barking it seemed as if a sorrowful silence had fallen into the
death-chamber, though the dogs still whined and whimpered, but quietly,
as if they were growing exhausted with their grief.

"He loved them very much," said Dorothy, looking across to Sidney as he
stood at some distance, afraid of provoking the mastiffs to a fresh
outbreak if he attempted to draw nearer. "Oh, yes! he loved them ever
so much more than he did me.  He always said I should live to be a
sorrow and a curse to him; and it was no use wasting his love upon a
girl.  I am almost grown up now; but I've never been a sorrow and a
curse to him.  And I never would have been, father," she added, turning
and speaking to the corpse, as if it could hear her; "perhaps you know
now that I would always have been a good girl to you."

"Come away, my poor child," said Sidney, with a feeling of deep pity
and tenderness for the desolate girl, "you belong to me now.  Come
away, and these poor dogs shall be taken out of this room.  I cannot
come to you, lest they should begin their fierce uproar again."

She was shivering with excitement when she reached his side; and he put
his arm round her, and almost carried her away from the gloomy room and
terrible assemblage of mourners.  The light was stronger outside the
door, and he could see her small, pale face quivering, and her dark
eyes gleaming with terror and grief.  He stooped down and kissed the
pale face.

"Now, Dorothy," he said, "listen to me.  I have no daughter, and from
this moment I take you as mine; and my wife will be as a mother to you.
It is a new life you are about to begin; quite different from this old
one.  Which is your room, my child?  Go, and rest now till afternoon.
And remember that I am master here, and I will take every care of you."

Though owner of the old house he hardly knew it.  It was twenty years
since he had let it to Mr. Churchill, and he had not seen it since.  He
filled up his time, while waiting for the solicitor from York, in
wandering through the rambling old rooms.  Most of them were low and
dimly lighted, with heavy mullioned windows and wainscoted walls; but
there was a charm about them which no modern mansion can possess.  All
of them were poorly and barely furnished with the mere necessaries of
household life.  There were no curtains to the windows, and no carpets
on the floors, which looked as if they had been seldom cleaned.  His
footsteps echoed loudly through the nearly empty rooms; and he found
nowhere any trace of wealth or refinement, except in the library, which
was well furnished with books.  There were only two servants--an
elderly man and his wife.  The large garden surrounding the house had
become a wilderness, where the old gravel walks were scarcely to be
traced.

"The little girl will be poor," Sidney said to himself, "but Margaret
will care the more for her if she has nothing."

As the morning passed on the solicitor arrived, eager to get through
his business and catch a return train, which would take him back that
evening.  He ran rapidly through the will, which left everything in
Sidney's hands.

"You see you have absolute power," he said; "it is the simplest will in
the world.  His only daughter sole heiress, and you sole executor.  No
relations, no legacies, no conditions."

"He must have been an odd man," remarked Sidney.

"Very odd indeed," he replied, "very odd!  Has not spent £200 a year
over and above his rent since he came to this place.  No, I'm wrong!
since his wife left him, when their child was about two years of age.
Ran away, you understand, and providentially died a few months
afterward.  The girl has grown up quite untaught and uncared for.  She
will be eighteen soon, and looks and acts like a child of twelve.  A
serious thing that, with her fortune."

"Fortune!" repeated Sidney.  "I judged them to be poor."

"About a quarter of a million, more or less," said the solicitor; "and
she has never been trusted to spend a sixpence in her life.  Poor
Churchill professed to hate her, as being like her mother; but you see
he could not disinherit her.  Curious instinct that in human nature to
leave one's possessions to one's own flesh and blood.  We seldom find
it contravened."

"But there is no trace of wealth about the house," suggested Sidney.

"Churchill sold off all his wife's knickknacks when she ran away," he
replied, "and kept nothing but necessaries.  He has lived here with two
servants and a host of dogs.  By the way, the dogs are to attend the
funeral as far as the churchyard gates; the rector will not allow them
inside.  We fixed the funeral for to-morrow, and I will run over to it;
and then we can arrange any further matters of business."



CHAPTER XXI.

SIDNEY'S WARD.

Sidney passed the rest of the day in seeing a few of his tenants
renting the farms in the immediate neighborhood of Brackenburn Manor,
and hearing from them gossiping reports of the oddities of the late
occupier of the Manor House.  By all accounts, the life led by his
young ward had been dreary and lonely indeed.  She had not been
suffered to hold any intercourse with her neighbors, even to the extent
of attending the little parish church, which stood in a village about a
mile and a half away.  The prevalent idea about her was that she was
not quite in her right mind; that she was at the least an "innocent,"
as they called her, and for this reason her father had never sent her
to school or engaged a teacher for her.  That she had spent the greater
part of her time in wandering alone about the moor was told to him
again and again as a proof that she differed from ordinary girls.
Sidney went back to the Manor, after strolling about some hours, and
found Dorothy sitting in the wide old porch, evidently awaiting his
return.  The evening sun shone full into the porch, and fell upon a
white, wistful little face, which was lifted up shyly to him as he drew
near, with a faint flush of color coming to the pale cheeks.  It was a
sad face, yet the face of a child.  He took her hand gently into his
own as he sat down on the bench beside her.

"So you have been sleeping well," he said in his pleasant voice.

"Yes; they've taken the dogs away from his bed," she answered
gratefully, "and the house was very quiet.  His room is the quietest of
all.  When he was ill he let me read to him sometimes; the dogs could
not do that, and he seemed to like it.  So this afternoon I've read to
him all the burial service."

"Aloud!" asked Sidney.

"Yes, aloud," she answered: "it was not wrong, was it?"

"No, no," he replied, looking down pitifully into her anxious, wistful
eyes.  She was a very slight, small creature, he thought, easily hurt,
and very easily neglected, for she would not assert her own claims.
There was a great attraction to him in the simplicity and quaintness of
her ways.

"I know," she said, fastening her dark eyes earnestly upon him and
speaking with a quivering mouth, "I know that his body is dead, and he
could not hear me with those ears, but I felt as if his spirit was near
me; and when I finished I almost heard his voice saying: 'After all, I
did love you a little, Dorothy.'  I wish I could be sure he thought it."

"I feel sure he loved you," said Sidney, "though he would not show it."

"I am glad you say that," she answered in a trembling voice.

They sat in silence for a few minutes; the pleasant country sounds only
falling peacefully on their ears.  Then the girl spoke again in slow
and measured tones.

"I do so wish you would take me away with you," she said.  "I would do
everything you like, and work at any kind of work; and I should want
nothing but food and clothes.  My clothes do not cost much," she added,
looking down on the coarse merino dress she was wearing.  "Betsy buys
my frocks for me, and she says they cost less than her own.  If you
could afford to let me live with you I would try not to be an expense
to you."

"Then you would like to live with me?" asked Sidney with a smile.

"You are more like a father to me than he was," she replied wistfully.
"Oh, yes!  I should love to live with you.  I love you."

"That is well," he said, "because your father has left you to my
care--you and your money."

"Have I any money?" she inquired.

"A great deal," he replied; "you will be very rich."

"Oh!" she cried with a sigh, "I always thought we were poor.  And Jesus
Christ says, 'How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the
kingdom of God.'"

The tone, and the look, and the words were so like Margaret's that they
startled him.  This young girl might have been Margaret's daughter.

"But, perhaps, you want money," she went on, after a pause; "perhaps
you can use it.  I only want a little; and I could not use much.  Take
it; I do not care for it.  It shall all be yours.  It is not impossible
to enter the kingdom of God, even if you are rich."

"I trust not," he answered gravely, "for I, too, am a rich man, and my
wife is a rich woman, yet she is truly in the kingdom of heaven
already.  My wife will teach you how to use your riches well."

"I thought we were very poor," pursued Dorothy.  "My father gave me a
shilling once, the day he let Betsy take me to York with her, to see
the Minster.  If I am to be a rich woman, I ought to have learned how
to spend money.  Will it take me long to learn it?"

"Very likely not," he replied, smiling at her anxious glance; "it is
easy enough to spend money."

"If you leave me here," she went on, "I should like to keep the dogs
with me, for his sake, you know.  They would miss me so, and I should
miss them; and this place is too lonely to live in without plenty of
fierce dogs.  John and Betsy want to get rid of them," she said,
cautiously lowering her voice; "but please let me keep them if I stay
here."

"But you cannot stay here," he answered.  "The day after to-morrow I
must take you away, and you will live in my house, under my wife's
care, until you are of age.  You have a great deal to learn, my child."

"I do not know anything!" she cried clasping her hands.  "Do you think
she will like me?  I never spoke to a lady in my life; and I am so
ignorant.  I can only read, and write, and sew.  Only I can work in a
garden and make flowers grow, and take care of dogs, and walk miles and
miles on the moors.  I know all the birds, and all the wild creatures
that live there, and they will come to me when I am all alone and I
stand quite still and call to them.  After the funeral to-morrow I must
go and bid them good-by.  Because, if I ever come back here, I shall be
different.  Oh! how different I shall be; and perhaps they will not
know me again."

She turned her head away, looking out pensively across the moors, where
the sun was setting behind the low curves of the horizon.  There was a
quaint grace about this girlish outpouring of her full heart which
touched Sidney deeply, accustomed as he was to nothing less
conventional than Phyllis, with her pretty manners and highly
cultivated accomplishments.  He felt sure the girl had never spoken so
freely to anyone before.  What would Margaret think of her?  But he
smiled as he thought how warmly Margaret would welcome this desolate
young girl who had so quickly won her way to his heart.  She was in no
degree imbecile, he told himself as he looked at the low, broad
forehead and the thoughtful eyes, and the firm yet sweet mouth of the
girl who sat so motionless at his side watching the western sky.  This
was a fresh, simple, unfettered nature which had grown up alone, with
its own thoughts and feelings, and Margaret was the very person to mold
it into true womanly strength and sweetness.

They went into the house as soon as the sun was set and the chill air
of the moors swept across the neglected garden.  A supper of oatcakes,
brown bread and cheese, with a large jug of buttermilk, had been laid
on a bare table in the large hall; and Dorothy invited him hospitably
to partake of it.  It was the meal of a workingman.  A fire of peat and
wood was smoldering on the hearth, which, when she stirred it, gave a
fitful blaze, and this, with one candle, was all the light they had
during the evening.  But Dorothy made no comment on the frugal meal or
the dim light; it was evidently all she was used to, and she did not
think her guest would find it strange.

The next morning Sidney and the lawyer alone followed the dead man to
the grave.  Dorothy said nothing about going, and Sidney thought it
best that she should be spared the excitement.  As they drove somewhat
slowly among the lanes, followed by John and the four mastiffs, the
solicitor gave to Sidney all the necessary information concerning the
property of the deceased, and took his instructions as to the
management of Dorothy's inheritance.  He did not return to the Manor
after the funeral, bidding Sidney good-by at the churchyard gate.  So,
with no mourners, they laid Dorothy's father in the grave.

Sidney took care to dine at the village inn, where the fare was better
than at the Manor, and it was late in the afternoon before he returned.
Dorothy had gone out on the moors, and the dogs were yelping and baying
in the stable-yard, making their cries resound far and near, as if they
resented being left behind.  John pointed out the path Dorothy had
taken, and he followed it till it became a scarcely perceptible track
among the heather.  It was an intense enjoyment to him to be up here in
the bracing air, with miles upon miles of uplands stretching on every
hand as far as he could see, with little lonely tarns lying in the
hollows, and gray rocks, half covered with moss, scattered among the
purple heather.  He regretted that he had ever let Brackenburn Manor,
and had not kept it as a summer resort for Margaret and the boys.  How
they would have enjoyed its wildness and solitude! but now their
boyhood was over.  Still he would bring Margaret here next summer, and
they would have long rambles together, such as they had never had
before.

He caught sight of Dorothy at last, her slight girlish figure standing
out clearly against the sky, as she stood on a ridge of rising ground.
As his footsteps drew nearer to her, the dried heather crackling under
his tread, there was a flutter of birds all around her, flying away
hither and thither, and he fancied he heard the scuttering of little
wild creatures through the ling and brushwood.  He saw her face was
bathed in tears as he came up to her.

"I have bid them all good-by," she said, "and I think they understand.
And I'm saying good-by to the moors all the time in my heart.  It can
never be the same again; for they die soon--the poor little birds and
the wild things--and their young ones will not know me if I go away;
and they'll be afraid of me and fancy I mean to hurt them or catch
them.  I'm very glad to go and live with you anywhere, but I love the
moors and the sky, and the living creatures; and I cannot go away from
them without crying."

"But we shall come again," he said; "the Manor is mine; and we are
coming next winter to fix on a site for building a new house for my son
Philip.  You shall help to choose it, Dorothy.  Who could choose it
better?"

As he spoke the thought flashed across his brain, why should not Philip
marry this charming girl with her large fortune?  After three years'
companionship with Margaret she would be all he could wish in his
future daughter-in-law.  She had won his heart already, and she would
make his and Margaret's old age as happy as their middle life had been.
Nothing could be better than that Dorothy should marry Philip and live
here, in the birthplace she loved so much, for the best part of every
year.

"Who is Philip!" asked Dorothy.

"One of my boys," he answered.  "I have two of them, Philip and Hugh."

"I never spoke to any boys," she said in a troubled tone.

"It is time you did," he replied, laughing heartily.  "What sort of a
world have you lived in?  Philip is heir to this estate and will live
for a time in the Manor.  Here are my boys' photographs for you to see,
and my wife's, too."

He put into her hands a morocco case containing the three portraits,
and Dorothy scrutinized them with intent eagerness.  But she had never
seen photographs, and their want of color disappointed her.  She gave
them back to Sidney with a faint smile.

"I shall not like any of them as much as you," she said.



CHAPTER XXII.

DOROTHY'S NEW HOME.

But even with Sidney as her companion and protector the long journey
south was a great trial to Dorothy, who had only once before left her
native place.  She was very pale and nervous; he could see her little
hands trembling when they did not lie clasped tightly together on her
lap.  The tears gathered under her drooping eyelids, and now and then
rolled slowly down her cheeks.  The change in her life had been too
sudden and too great.  Only a week ago she had been still a forlorn and
neglected child, of whom no one took any thought.  She had believed
herself to be the daughter of a very poor man, who could afford her no
advantages of education and training.  Now she was told that she was
heiress to a great fortune; and already the luxuries of wealth were
beginning to surround her.  She was traveling by an express train in a
first-class carriage; and Sidney had bought a heap of newspapers and
books to beguile the hours of her journey.  She did not open one of
them; her brain was too busy for her to read.  Her heart, too, was
beating with fear that had something akin to pleasure in it.

What would Mrs. Martin be like?  She had never seen any man like
Sidney; but she loved him, and felt grateful to him.  She watched him
shyly from under her long eyelashes, and thought how handsome and
distinguished he looked; very different from her father, whose hair had
been white and his face gray and morose as long as she could remember
him.  She admired her guardian with an intense admiration that would
have amused him greatly had he known of it.  But she was afraid of Mrs.
Martin, and still more afraid of the boys of whom Sidney had spoken.

The well kept park, with its fine avenue of elm trees, lying round
Apley Hall, was very different from the neglected wilderness of a
garden surrounding the old Manor House; and the long front of the Hall
itself, with its stone walls and mullioned windows, and the broad
terrace of velvet-like lawn stretching before it, was very imposing to
her eyes, and filled her with a strong feeling of dismay.  She was not
fit to live in such a place as this, and with such people as inhabited
it.  A crimson flush rose painfully to her pale face; the tears
gathered again in her eyes as Sidney almost lifted her out of the
carriage, for her dimmed eyes caught a vision of a beautiful woman
coming down the steps to meet them, with an eager and graceful
movement, as if she was hastening to welcome her.  Dorothy, like a
child, flung her arms round Margaret's neck, and hid her face on her
shoulder, as she burst into a passion of tears.

"My poor girl! my poor little girl!" reiterated Margaret, pressing
Dorothy closer to her, "you will be at home here very soon.  We are
going to make you fond of us, Dorothy."

"Oh!" she said, "I did not mean to be so foolish."

Margaret herself led her to her room, the one which Phyllis had always
occupied when she stayed all night at the Hall.  It was near to
Margaret's own room; and she wished to have Dorothy near to her.
Dorothy had never seen such a room before.  There was a small white bed
in one corner, hidden by an Indian screen; but in all other respects it
was fitted up as a young lady's sitting room.  The window sills were
low and broad, and cushioned as seats; and as soon as Margaret left her
she sat down on one of them, and gazed half frightened about her.
There were books, and pictures, and flowers everywhere.  A small
cottage piano stood against the wall, and a writing table was placed in
a good light, as if the occupant of the room was supposed to spend a
good portion of her time in writing.  How different it all was from the
bare, uncarpeted, uncurtained chamber, in a lonely corner of the old
Manor, where she had slept last night, and all the nights of all the
years she could remember!  She felt almost too shy to walk about this
dainty nest and examine its numerous decorations.  Most of the pictures
were engravings of famous originals; and presently she realized that
they were chiefly sacred subjects in which the central figure was that
of our Lord.  Three of them were photographs of bas-reliefs,
representing his triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, the way to the
Cross, and the procession of sad men and women carrying his dead body
to the sepulcher.  The predominant impression made upon her by the
pleasant room was that produced by these representations of the life of
the Saviour.  The place seemed like a sacred vestibule to another world.

The sound of voices on the terrace below arrested her attention, and
she peeped stealthily through one corner of the window.  The light of
the setting sun lay low upon it, casting long shadows across the close,
smooth turf from some figures pacing to and fro under her windows.
There was Margaret; and leaning on her arm was Phyllis, in some wonder
of a white gown, with soft spots of color here and there, which to
Dorothy's eyes looked the prettiest and daintiest of dresses.  She was
talking to Margaret playfully and lovingly, but glancing back now and
then to smile upon Sidney, who was following them, and by whose side
walked a young man as tall, as handsome, and as distinguished looking
as himself.  This, then, was one of his boys!  Dorothy caught her
breath, in a sob of mingled terror and admiration.

She stole away into a little dressing room, and looked long at herself,
with grave concern and disapprobation, in the mirror, which gave to
her, for the first time in her life, a full-length reflection of her
face and figure.  Her dress was clumsily made, and her dark hair was
drawn tightly back from her face, and fastened up into a prim knot at
the back of her head.  She was smaller and shorter than the beautiful
girl she had just seen.  There was neither grace nor charm about her,
she felt vaguely.  Nothing in her former life had fitted her for the
one she was just entering.  It would have been better for her to have
remained at Brackenburn.

She went back to the sitting room disturbed and unhappy; but a soothing
and comforting presence seemed to be there.  The terrace was deserted
now; and only the long shadows of the trees fell across its soft sward.
The low evening light gave a tranquil brightness to her room, which was
neither hot nor garish; and in it she seemed to see more distinctly the
many pictures, which more or less clearly told the story of the life of
Christ.

"Oh, I must be good!" she said in a half whisper.  "I will try to be
good."

She heard a low knock at her door, and Margaret looked in, dressed for
dinner.

"My dear," she said, "I thought you would be too tired to dine with us
to-day, so you shall have dinner here alone, and Phyllis and I will
come and take tea with you by and by.  Will you like that, Dorothy?"

"Oh!  I could not go down to-night," she answered eagerly.

"And my husband says he will come to see you," continued Margaret; "he
looks upon you as his special charge.  By and by you will be quite at
home among us."



CHAPTER XXIII.

A WIFE FOR PHILIP.

Laura had heard with dismay that Sidney was bringing a rich young ward
to live at Apley.  But when Phyllis brought a report of Dorothy, after
taking tea with her and Margaret alone, accurately describing her
appearance and mimicking her manner, Laura's mind was set very much at
ease.  A timid and awkward country girl was not likely to supplant
Phyllis with Philip or his parents.  Both Sidney and Margaret took
great pleasure in Phyllis's attractiveness; and Laura had made them
feel that it was in a great measure due to her constant intercourse
with themselves.  She only hoped that Dorothy would not be too homely
and unpolished to reconcile one of her own boys to marry her for her
fortune.  A girl with a quarter of a million as her portion set close
to her own doors, almost in her own hands, excited Laura's imagination.
How admirably she would do for Dick!  But it would not do to let Dick
know that he must woo her for her quarter of a million.  This would be
a far more difficult affair than Philip and Phyllis had been, and would
require her most adroit management.  George on her side, and Margaret
on the other side, would not give Dorothy's fortune a thought; it would
not appear any advantage to either of them to secure possession of this
large sum of money.  But Laura was shrewd enough to know that Sidney
would be anxious to retain it in his own hands, and no way could be
surer than making the heiress the wife of one of his sons.  Hugh would
not be too young; he was the same age as Dorothy, and she was as young
and ignorant as a girl of twelve.

But it seemed impossible to get hold of Dorothy.  She was shy, silent,
and diffident, and clung, as Laura thought, very foolishly to Margaret.
There was a speedy and startling transformation in her appearance as
soon as Margaret could procure suitable dresses for her, and have her
abundant, soft, dark hair arranged becomingly.  Margaret saw no
religion in slovenly or peculiar dress; and she took pleasure in seeing
everything and every person appear at their best.  Dorothy hardly
recognized herself in a week's time; and the change in her own
appearance fitting her for her surroundings made her feel more quickly
at home; but she was very shy with Phyllis and her mother.  Neither of
them could become intimate with the quiet, retiring girl.  Dorothy,
like most girls, was more afraid of Phyllis than of anyone else; the
very grace of her manner, conventional rather than natural, made her
shrink within herself, and feel awkward and homely.

But there was no such feeling in Margaret's benign presence.  The
neglected girl's nature opened and unfolded under her influence like a
flower in the sunlight.  There was a strong sympathy between them on
religious points.  Dorothy had had no training except that of a
constant and simple study of the Bible.  Her father had allowed her but
few books out of his large library, but those he had given to her she
knew almost by heart.  She was studying diligently now under Margaret's
direction, with the aid of teachers who came down from London to give
her lessons.  This education of Dorothy had an intense charm for
Margaret; there had been nothing like it in Phyllis's training, which
had naturally been left in her mother's hands.  It was a never flagging
delight to watch the girl growing day by day more intelligent and more
beautiful in her presence; blossoming out into smiles, and caresses,
and half timid merriment.  It sent a thrill of pathetic pleasure to
Margaret's heart when she heard Dorothy's first laugh.

"How much you think of Dorothy!" said Sidney to her one evening some
months later, as they sat together on the terrace with Philip beside
them.

"I cannot tell you how dear she is to me," answered Margaret.

"But not more than Phyllis--not as much as Phyllis?" said Philip
jealously.

"Not more or less," she replied, "but differently.  Dorothy is more
like my own child.  Phyllis has her father and mother; Dorothy has no
one nearer to her than me.  She has never been cared for before, and
she returns my care with the simplest love."

"But Phyllis loves you as much as this child can do," persisted Philip.

"Not much more a child than Phyllis," said his father; "she is not two
years younger."

"But she is only a schoolgirl," put in Philip, "a mere child compared
with Phyllis.  Still if she is in love with you and my mother I can
overlook all her defects."

"Phyllis is not in love with me," replied Margaret, laughing, "and I
admit that makes a difference.  We are blind to the faults of those who
are in love with us.  'It is not granted to man to love and to be
wise,' I suppose.  But don't be afraid, my dear boy.  I shall not love
Phyllis less because I love Dorothy.  We do not carve our hearts into
slices, and give piece after piece away till there is nothing left.
Rather every true love makes all our other love deeper."

"That is true, Margaret," said Sidney.  "I have loved God and man more
and better since I loved you."

He spoke earnestly, and in the agitated tone of deep feeling.  Life was
very full to him just then; and he felt day by day that he was greatly
favored by the God he worshiped.  His heart expanded with a vivid glow
of religious gratitude.  What more was there that he could desire?  His
lot was prosperous and happy beyond that of any man's he knew.  Sidney
was apt to look at himself through other men's eyes.  If he looked at
himself as a rich man it was through the eyes of City men, who spoke to
one another of him as one of the most successful men in the City.  As a
religious man he looked at himself through the eyes of Margaret and the
rector, who seemed satisfied that he was truly a Christian like
themselves.  It would, then, have been a crying ingratitude if he had
not loved God, who was crowning him with blessings, and man, whose
general lot was less prosperous than his own.  There was only one more
success to desire and to achieve, and that Margaret was unconsciously
doing her utmost to attain for him.  He must secure Dorothy and her
large fortune for Philip.

"Philip," he said, "I see Dorothy yonder under the cedars.  Go and tell
her I am come home, and have brought something for her."

Sidney watched her and Philip with pleased eyes as they returned side
by side along the terrace.  She was still a slight, childish-looking
girl; but there was no affectation of childish graces in her.  She
looked up into Philip's face with a shy, half smiling admiration, which
had a peculiar attractiveness in it.  Philip was conscious of this for
the first time, and saw a new beauty, or rather a promise of beauty, in
the dark eyes and the quaint, smiling face lifted up to him.  Her eyes
had a depth in them he had not observed before; and even the nervous
interlacing of her fingers, as she ventured to talk to him, did not
seem so awkward a trick as it did when he first saw her.  Phyllis had
never been shy with him; and the shyness of a pretty girl has a
wonderful charm.  Not that he could compare her with Phyllis for a
moment.  He was carrying the book she had been reading under the
cedars, and looking into it he saw that it was the "Pensées de Pascal"
done into English.

"Do you like this book?" he asked in some surprise.

"Very much," she answered.

"But do you understand it?" he asked again.

"Not all," she said; "you see, I cannot read it in French.  But when I
don't understand I ask Mrs. Martin.  She lets me read with her two
hours every day," she added, with a light in her eyes, and a tone of
gladness in her low voice.

He wished it had been Phyllis who had read with his mother two hours a
day.  But Phyllis was too much of a butterfly to apply herself to
anything for two hours at a time; and solid reading like this would be
impossible to her.  He was afraid that his father and mother both
preferred Dorothy to his destined wife; and a disquieting shadow
crossed his hitherto cloudless future as he saw the pleasure with which
Sidney watched their approach.

Philip felt that there was a sort of disloyalty in thus thinking of
Phyllis in comparison with any other girl; and as soon as he had found
a chair for Dorothy, he strolled away, hastening his steps when he was
out of sight of the terrace as he crossed the park to the Rectory
grounds.  There had been a clerical meeting at the Rectory, which had
kept Phyllis at home with her mother.  But now he caught sight of her
standing on the other side of a sunk fence, which separated the garden
from the park; and it seemed to Philip as if she felt she was being
supplanted in the house which had always been a second home to her.  He
leaped lightly across the barrier and hastened to her side.  As she
looked up to him tears were glittering in her eyes.

"What is it, Phyllis?" he asked tenderly.

"You have not been to see me all day," she said in her most plaintive
tones, "and it makes me sad.  How could I ever bear to lose you,
Philip!  You and I have been more to one another than any of the
others; haven't we?  I was thinking just then how we used to play
together when we were quite little creatures.  Do you remember?"

"I never forget it, Phyllis," he answered; "you have belonged to me as
long as I can recollect.  How can you imagine you could ever lose me?"

"I am afraid of it sometimes," she whispered, with a sob that pierced
him to the heart.

"My darling!" he cried, "that could never be! never!  You used to be my
little wife when we were children, and you will be my real wife as soon
as I am old enough to marry.  I suppose we are very young yet, my
Phyllis; too young.  We must wait at least till I come of age----"

"But I'm afraid of Dorothy," she said, with another sob.  "My mother
says your father is making up his mind you shall marry her, and your
mother is just wrapped up in her.  She cares very little for me now,
and Dorothy is all the world to her."

"No, no!" he exclaimed, "my mother is not changeable; she loves you as
much as ever.  Of course Dorothy takes up a good deal of her time, for
the poor child has been taught nothing.  You cannot be jealous of her,
Phyllis.  Only think of all you are, and all you know, and compare
yourself with a little untrained, awkward girl like Dorothy.  Why,
there is not a maid in our house who has not been taught more."

"But how fond your father is of her!" said Phyllis.

"And how fond she is of him!" replied Philip, laughing; "she has
neither eyes nor ears for anyone else when he is by, except my mother.
And she drinks in all he says upon every topic as if she understood it.
I suppose she does in some measure, for she has some brains in that
little head of hers.  But no man could resist such sweet flattery; and
I believe he loves her next to my mother."

"More than you boys?" suggested Phyllis.

"Neither more nor less," said Philip, quoting his mother's words, "but
differently.  Of course his love for a girl like Dorothy must differ
from his love for young men like Hugh and me."

"But more than me?" she persisted.

"Perhaps," he admitted reluctantly, "perhaps.  But what then?  I have
only to say I love you, and it will be all right.  No, no.  He would
make no objection; he could not, when I say I have always regarded you
as my future wife.  Besides, it will be years before Dorothy will think
of falling in love.  She will grow up for Hugh, perhaps."

"She is not so much younger than me," said Phyllis in a petulant voice.

"Years younger; a child, a baby!" he went on; "not to be compared with
you for a moment.  But why do we talk of her?  You cannot think that
Dorothy could ever take your place with me, Phyllis?  I cannot remember
a time when you were not dearer to me than anyone else--except my
mother."

"I cannot bear any exceptions," she said, pouting.

But Philip kept silence.  Yes; Phyllis was all he could wish for, and
would be a charming wife, with her little capricious ways, and in spite
of slight uncertainties of temper.  She always stirred within him a
sense of life, sometimes of ruffled life, perhaps; but there was no
stagnation of feeling in her companionship.  But would she ever
possess, and, by possessing, diffuse, the sense of great peace which
his mother's presence gave to him?  He knew there were times when if he
could not go to her, and open his heart fully to her wise and tender
scrutiny, his life would be crippled and incomplete, and he would be as
a man who had lost his eyesight, or the use of his right hand.  But it
was not so with Phyllis.  She could walk merrily beside him along
smooth and sunny roads; but when the thorny path came, what would she
do?



CHAPTER XXIV.

THE RECTOR'S TROUBLE.

It was quite true that Sidney loved Dorothy next to Margaret.  From the
first she had been more at ease with him than with anyone else.  He had
liked to have Phyllis about the house, with her pretty girlish ways,
and ready to sparkle with delight if he brought some dress or trinket
for her from town.  But Phyllis had a father of her own; and her
daughter-like smiles and kisses belonged of right to George, not to
himself.  There was no other man to whom Dorothy owed any demonstration
of girlish tenderness and devotion, or who could have felt he was
yielding an indulgence, when she watched for his return home, and ran
to meet him, greeting him with the frank and innocent delight of a
little daughter.  Often she was waiting for him at the lodge, with two
or three of her great mastiffs about her; and he would leave the
carriage to walk up the avenue, listening to her bright and quaint
chatter.  For she was talkative to him, however silent she might be to
Philip.  She was growing prettier every day; Sidney found her as pretty
as Phyllis herself, and far more natural.  He declared to himself that
she was as like Margaret when she was a girl as if she had been
Margaret's own child.  Only one drop was lacking to make his cup of
happiness full, and that was to see Dorothy the wife of his eldest son.
This keen desire made him more clear-sighted with regard to Phyllis.
He could not imagine how he could have been so blind hitherto to the
danger of letting so close an intimacy exist between her and Philip.
When Phyllis was not at the Hall, Philip was sure to be at the Rectory.
Dorothy's shyness with him made Phyllis more his companion.  As Sidney
began to notice them more closely, he detected an air of appropriation
in Phyllis's manner toward Philip which disturbed him greatly.  How
long had this been going on?  It was useless to call Margaret's
attention to the matter, as she would look upon it from quite a
different point of view from his own.  But his son and heir must make a
better match than with a poor clergyman's daughter.  He must put a stop
at once to any such love affair, if it existed.

There was no difficulty in taking a first step in pursuit of this
object.  The rector was accustomed to dine regularly at the Hall on a
Monday night, which he looked upon as his leisure time.  George greatly
enjoyed these occasions, especially when Sidney and he were alone.
They had been brought up by their uncle almost as brothers, and the old
boyish love still lived in his heart.  He had never seen any reason to
dethrone Sidney from the first place he held in his esteem.  George was
one of the few fortunate mortals who had possessed an ideal all his
life, and at fifty could still place faith in it.  Sidney and his
career had been a ceaseless pleasure and pride to him.

"George," said Sidney one Monday evening, as they lingered alone
together in the comfortable dining room, "my boy Philip will be of age
now in a few weeks."

"My boy Dick was of age a few weeks ago," replied George, with a smile.

"Ah, yes!" went on Sidney, "and a very fine fellow he is.  He will
distinguish himself in the world more than Philip will do.  Your boys
have genius, and will make their mark.  It would be hardly fair if
Philip had every advantage."

"Philip has riches," rejoined the rector, "but Margaret and I agree
that money is not one of God's great gifts."

"But he has other gifts besides money," said Sidney.

"Many, many!" replied George warmly; "he has a noble, unselfish nature
like Margaret's, and a steadfast, faithful heart.  He is less worldly
than my boys.  I do not think he could make for himself a brilliant
place in this world, any more than I could.  But he would stand high in
the kingdom of heaven, as his mother's son should do."

Sidney made no immediate answer.  George had spoken the truth, but it
was an unpalatable truth.  Philip was all he could desire in a son,
except that he had no ambition, and was absolutely contented with his
position and prospects in the world.

"I hope," he said after a pause, "that Philip will make my little
Dorothy my real daughter.  He is young yet; too young to know his own
mind.  But under Margaret's training Dorothy is growing all I should
wish in Philip's wife.  And when I think of how happy my life has been
made by Margaret I cannot help coveting the same happiness for my boy.
You spoke of God's gifts, George.  If God will give Philip a wife like
Margaret it would be his best gift."

George leaned back in his chair, staring intently into the fire, with
an expression of perplexity and trouble on his usually placid face.
How it was he did not know, and now he was trying to find out; but
there was a vague impression on his mind that long, long ago it had
been an understood thing that Philip was to marry Phyllis.  True, he
could not recall any conversation on the subject; the children were too
young.  But it seemed to him that he had always been led to expect it.
But who had so led him?  Certainly not Sidney, for he clearly knew
nothing of it, and had no idea of such a thing.  Was it possible he had
been mistaken?  Could he have been merely dreaming a pleasant dream
that his dear child's future welfare was secure?  For nothing could
have given him greater happiness than intrusting her to the care of a
man he knew so well as Philip, who was in fact like one of his own
sons.  Phyllis had her faults, but they were trifles, said the
indulgent father to himself; and she cared more for worldly advantages
and worldly show than she ought; but Philip's unworldliness would check
all that.  He found this hope so firmly rooted in his heart that he
could not believe it was only a dream of his own.

"Yes, Philip must marry Dorothy," pursued Sidney, in a tone of friendly
confidence, "but it will be soon enough in four or five years' time.
Then she will be all he can wish for.  If I am not mistaken, Dorothy is
not indifferent to him.  I can see no brighter future for them both
than to be man and wife.  They are very equally matched in money."

"But if Philip loved someone else?" began the rector gently.

"He does not, he cannot," interrupted Sidney; "surely his mother and I
would be the first to know it.  He has no intimacy with any girl except
Phyllis; and that is the intimacy of brother and sister.  They love
each other as brother and sister; nothing more."

"Phyllis thinks more of Philip than she does of her brothers," said the
rector, with a sigh.  If it was painful to him to be suddenly awakened
from a dream, there was possibly the same pain in store for his little
daughter also.

"Oh, it is nothing but a girl's fancy," answered Sidney lightly, "even
if it is so.  She has seen no other young men; and we must get her out
more, away from this too quiet spot.  Laura can easily manage that.
She and Philip are quite too young to have set their hearts upon one
another; so do not trouble yourself.  And George, old friend, though I
love your girl for her own sake as well as for yours, I could never
receive her as Philip's wife."

"I don't say that Phyllis loves your son," said the rector, "or that he
loves her.  It is enough for me to know that it would displease you to
set me on my guard lest such a misfortune should occur.  I will set
Laura on her guard too."

"No, no! much better not," replied Sidney, with one of the genial
smiles which had never failed to win George's cordial assent to what he
said; "we are two old simpletons to be so near quarreling about
nothing.  I simply confide to you my hopes for Philip as I always talk
to you of my plans.  They are all children yet; and will make up their
minds and change them a dozen times in the next few years.  Let us keep
our gossip to ourselves.  I do not tell Margaret.  Why should you tease
Laura?"

But the rector went home that night with an anxious and a troubled
spirit.  The more he considered it the more certain he felt that Philip
and Phyllis believed that they were destined for one another.  Laura
always spoke, vaguely indeed, but with reiterated persistence, of the
two together, as if there was no question of them ever being separated.
The boys, too, seemed to think of nothing else; and Phyllis was always
left to Philip as his special companion, when he came daily to the
Rectory.  There were small jests and hints, nods and shrugs, all
meaning the same things, among the boys, when Philip made his
appearance.  He had himself never doubted their love for one another.
But how this state of affairs had come about he did not know; it had
grown up so slowly and surely.  It was an inexpressible shock to him to
discover that Sidney and Margaret knew nothing of it.  Was it not
dishonorable toward these, his dearest and oldest friends, to have thus
allowed so close an intimacy to exist between his daughter and their
son?  Had he taken advantage of their noble, generous friendship, which
had embraced his children almost as if they were their own?  How deeply
he was in their debt for all that made life tranquil and free from
cares!  And he was going to repay them by basely entrapping their
eldest son and Sidney's heir into a marriage with his portionless
daughter!

The rector was very miserable, and there was no one to whom he could
confide his misery.  Instinctively he shrank from confessing it to his
wife; and of course he could not tell Margaret.  It was a high delight
to him to speak with Margaret of those spiritual experiences, which she
seemed to comprehend almost without words, but which Laura altogether
failed to understand.  Of this painful and perplexing anxiety he could
not speak.  Once or twice he tried to approach the subject, hoping that
Margaret might utter some word indicating that she, too, was aware of
the attachment between Philip and Phyllis.  But Margaret gave no sign
that she had ever dreamed of such a thing.  Though the idea of it
seemed natural and familiar at the Rectory, it was quite unthought of
at the Hall.

But one plain duty lay before him--to separate his little Phyllis from
Philip as much as possible.  He faintly hoped that he was mistaken, and
that she had not already given her heart to him.



CHAPTER XXV.

COMING OF AGE.

There was great consternation in the tranquil Rectory, when the rector
declared with unwonted decision that neither he, nor his wife, nor
Phyllis would go north to the coming of age festivities of Philip.
These revels had been talked of for years; and since Dorothy had come
from Brackenburn she had been called upon to describe again and again
the old Manor House and its surroundings.  Philip and Phyllis looked
forward to choosing the site of the new mansion together.

"You boys may go," said the rector; "you have been brought up as
brothers with Philip, and if he wishes it, it is only due to him and
his father that you should attend them.  But no one else goes."

"What!" cried Dick in blunt astonishment; "not the future Mrs. Martin?"

"What do you mean?" asked the rector sternly.

"Why, Phyllis, of course!" he answered; and Phyllis laughed merrily,
and blushed a little, but did not show any resentment.

"I will have no such jests made here," said the rector with increased
sternness.  "Philip and Phyllis are not children any longer."

"Children? no!" cried Dick; "and it is no jest either, father.  They've
always been promised to one another.  Of course they are engaged."

"Secretly?" said the rector, unable to utter another word.

"Oh, it's an open secret," pursued Dick.  "You ask Philip.  Ask uncle
or aunt Martin.  Ask Dorothy.  Ask Andrew Goldsmith.  Everybody would
say they knew it, except you, dear old father."

"No, your uncle and aunt do not know," he replied in a tone of deep
depression and sadness.  It seemed an unpardonable treachery that these
two should have entered into an engagement without asking the consent
of their parents.  This base blow had been struck at Sidney in his
home, and by those that were dear to him.  "A man's foes shall be they
of his own household," he said bitterly to himself, as he sat alone in
his study, after leaving all the members of his family in a state of
dismay and amazement.  Philip came to him by and by, having been
summoned by Phyllis, and declared that he had never thought of keeping
his love a secret; that he was only waiting till he was of age to speak
openly of it to his father and mother; and that he did not for a moment
anticipate anything like disapproval from either of them.  The rector
was too unhappy to take courage or comfort.  But he could not be shaken
in his resolution that Phyllis should not join the party going north.

Philip's coming of age was to be celebrated merely by a gathering of
the tenants at Brackenburn Manor, a festivity which could not have
taken place at all but for the death of Mr. Churchill, an event which
had left the old house at Sidney's disposal.  They were strangers on
their own estate, and had, therefore, no friendly neighbors to gather
about them.  Now that the rector so firmly refused all invitations,
except for his sons, there was a small party only going northward.
Oddly enough, Sidney invited Andrew Goldsmith to accompany them.  It
was a sudden impulse and freak for which he could not account to
himself.  Rachel Goldsmith was accompanying Margaret, as she still held
the nominal post of her maid, and it did not seem altogether out of
place to ask her brother Andrew.

"It'll be a rare treat to me," said the old saddler, "for I've loved
Mr. Philip, as if he'd been my own flesh and blood, ever since my lady
brought him to my house as a little babe.  Ah! if he'd been Sophy's boy
I couldn't have loved him more."

It was years since Sidney had heard Sophy's name; for, naturally, as
time went on, the memory of her, and of her strange disappearance and
silence, had withdrawn into the background of life, and only two or
three hearts, that had been stricken sorely by her loss, kept her in
remembrance.  They had no hope now of finding her; but no day passed in
which her father and Rachel did not think of her, and still wonder,
with sad bewilderment, what could have become of her.

It was early in December: the few leaves left in the topmost branches
of the trees were brown and sere.  The wide moors rising behind
Brackenburn were brown too, but there were purple and gray tints on
them--dun, soft tints that looked very beautiful under the low sky and
slowly drifting clouds.  To Dorothy it was an unmingled pleasure to
revisit, in this manner, her birthplace, and to see its empty rooms
peopled by all those she had learned to love.  The old familiar house,
with its latticed windows shining through the luxuriant tendrils of
ivy, which Sidney had left untrained, was quite unchanged; but when she
entered through the broad porch into the large old hall, she uttered a
cry of delight.  It was a transformed and brilliant place; not the
bare, barnlike entrance she remembered.  Soft skins and rugs lay on the
oak floor, and a large fire burned in the wide old chimney, which had
always looked to her, when a child, like the mouth of a black cavern.
On each side of the broad and shallow staircase there stood flowering
plants on every step.  The place was the same; yet, oh, how different!
A rich color came into her face, and her dark eyes glowed with happy
excitement.  Margaret was tired, and Dorothy, feeling almost like
mistress and hostess in her old home, conducted her to her room, where
Rachel was awaiting her lady's arrival.

Margaret was not in her usual health and spirits.  There was always
mingled with her joy in Philip's birth, the memory of her father's
death the day afterward, and the solemn recollection of her own strange
experience of dying, as if she had actually passed out of this world,
and been sent back to it.  Life had never been to her, since that
memorable time, the commonplace existence of her mere physical or
intellectual being.  She had lived more by the soul than by the mind or
the body.  These lower forms of life had possessed their fullness for
her.  She had enjoyed the perfect health of her physical nature, with
all the rich pleasures coming through the senses, and she had in a
greater measure taken delight in intellectual pursuits.  But,
pre-eminently, she had lived in the spirit, and just now her spirit was
overshadowed.  There was a conflict coming near from which it shrank.

She was troubled about Phyllis.  The girl was dear to her from old
associations and the intimacy of a lifetime; but she could not think of
her as Philip's wife.  No word had been spoken to her yet about this
subject; but it had been in the air for the last fortnight, and she
could not be unconscious of it.  She had guessed the reason of the
rector's firm resolution of not coming to Brackenburn, and not letting
Laura and Phyllis come.  Sidney had not spoken of it; but she thought
he was troubled.  But the most disquieting symptom of a coming storm
was that Philip kept silence, even to her.  He never mentioned Phyllis;
but he was absent and low-spirited.  This was the first sorrow, the
first shadow of a cloud, coming over Margaret from her relationship
with her husband and her son.  Until now she had been able to speak as
she thought before them, with quiet, unrestrained freedom.  But there
had sprung up, during the last few days, a novel feeling of restraint
and embarrassment.  Neither Sidney nor Philip uttered the name of
Phyllis.

After Dorothy had seen Margaret comfortably established in her room,
she stole quietly and quickly out of the house, and hastened on to the
moors.  There was yet half an hour of the short December day, and she
could not wait for the morrow.  At the first low knoll she turned round
to look back upon the old Manor House, with its picturesque gables and
large stacks of chimneys.  She knew now better than she used to do how
very beautiful it was.  The sun was setting, and the low light shone
full upon the small diamond panes of the many windows, and cast deep
shadows from the eaves, and brought into stronger relief the antique
carvings on the heavy beams of oak.  She felt proud of the place--as
proud as if it had been her own.

"Why did you never tell us how pretty it was?" asked Philip's voice;
and turning round, she saw him coming up to her over the soundless turf.

"I never knew," she answered, almost stammeringly; "I never thought it
was as lovely as this.  Yet I've seen it from this very spot thousands
of times.  Why did it look so sad to me then, and so beautiful now?"

She looked up into his face as if it was a very knotty question for him
to consider, and his grave expression relaxed a little as he answered
her.

"You were not very happy here then," he suggested.

"I never knew a happy day till I knew your father," she replied; "and
I've never known an unhappy one since.  Is it happiness that makes a
place look lovely?"

If it was so, thought Philip, this place could have no beauty for him.
Phyllis was not there, and his heart was very heavy for her absence.
And not only for her absence, but from a growing dread of meeting with
an opposition he had not anticipated.  It was significant to him of
trouble that his father and mother never spoke of Phyllis in his
presence; he did not know that they were equally silent with one
another.  Though it was the rector who had prevented her from coming
north, he could not help guessing that it was his father who had, in
some way, been the real hinderer.  The rector could have no objection
to himself as Phyllis's suitor, and he felt sure that he at least had
looked upon him as her future husband.  Phyllis, too, was certain of
it, and so were the boys.  He was only waiting till he came of age, and
stepped into his right of free and independent manhood, to tell his
father that he had chosen Phyllis as his wife.

"It is not only happiness that makes a place lovely," pursued Dorothy,
after a pause, "it is being with people one loves.  Do you see that
window just touched by the end of a branch of those Scotch firs?  Your
mother is in that room.  I cannot see her, of course; but that window
is more beautiful to me because I know she is there.  And I know all
the rooms, and how they will be occupied; and the whole house is full
of interest to my mind.  So that even if it was an ugly place, it could
not be altogether ugly to me."

There was a pleasant ring in her voice which was new to Philip's ear,
He looked long and earnestly at the old house, which some day would
belong to him, unless it was pulled down to make room for a finer
mansion.  It already belonged to him because it belonged to his father.
It was a beautiful old place, with the gray stones of the strong wall
surrounding it made warm with golden mosses; and the front of the house
covered with undipped ivy-branches, hanging in glistening festoons from
every point of vantage.  Such a place could not be built or made.  Why
should he be such a Goth as to erect a brand-new mansion, which could
possess no such charm and beauty until he, and generations of his sons,
were moldering in their graves?

"Wouldn't it be a pity to pull it down?" asked Dorothy, as if she read
his thoughts; "but Phyllis would find the rooms too small, and too low
for her.  I described it to her one day, and drew a sort of plan of it;
and she said it was only a big rambling farmhouse, and you must build a
much grander place, because Sir John Martin left a large sum of money
to build it with.  So I thought, was it quite impossible for me to buy
it, and you build a house somewhere near it?  Then we should always be
neighbors; and it is very lonely here in the winter.  Do you think
Phyllis would like to live here in the winter?"

It was sweet to him to hear Phyllis's name spoken in this way; no one
had uttered it in his presence for a fortnight except the boys, and
they spoke it with a sort of jeer, as brothers sometimes do.  Dorothy's
gentle voice lingered shyly over it.  He looked down into her shining
eyes with a smile in his own.

"We must not talk of Phyllis living here yet," he said, "not till the
day after to-morrow."

"Let us go a little higher up the moors," she said, "I know every
little track, and beck, and dingle for miles round.  When I lived here
with my father, I used to sit an hour or two with him every day, on the
other side of the table, reading aloud, and answering the questions he
asked me.  But he never talked to me, or took me on his knee, or kissed
me; and I thought all fathers were the same.  The rest of the day I had
to myself, and I spent my time here, out of doors."

"And in the winter when there was snow or rain?" asked Philip.

"I read all day long," she went on.  "See on the roof there, between
two gables, is a little dormer window.  There my secret room is.  I
really believe nobody knew of it but me; and I used to stay there till
I was nearly starved and famished.  But there was no one to ask me
where I had been, or what I'd been doing."

"Poor child!" said Philip unconsciously.  The color mounted to
Dorothy's face, and she turned away from him a little.

"It is all different now," she continued, after a momentary silence,
"you are all so kind and good to me.  And I think sometimes that when
my father died he too went to a place where everyone is good and kind
to him and tries to make up to him for his life here; for he was more
lonely and unhappy than I was.  I was only a child, and he was a man.
I should not like to feel that his death had made me so happy, if it
has not made him happy too."

"My mother has always told us that death itself comes to us out of the
love of God," said Philip.

He had followed Dorothy along a narrow track, and now they were out of
sight of the house.  A wide, undulating upland, whose limits were
almost lost in the darkening sky, stretched as far as the eye could
see.  The sun was gone down, but a frosty light lingered in the west.
The keen, sweet air played around them; and Dorothy drew in a deep
breath, and stretched out her arms, with a caressing gesture, to the
wide landscape.  She looked more at home here than Phyllis would have
done.  Phyllis would have seen but little beauty in so wild and
solitary a spot.  Perhaps it was better that she had not seen her
future home for the first time in the winter.

Philip retraced his steps, with Dorothy beside him, in a more tranquil
frame of mind.  She did not shun conversation about Phyllis; and though
nothing was acknowledged between them, he was sure she knew of their
love for one another.  What was more likely than that Phyllis had told
her?

They went back to the house slowly through the deepening twilight,
Dorothy pointing out distant objects which neither of them could
distinguish in the darkness, though she fancied she saw them, so
familiar and so dear they were to her.  He looked at the wide, open,
dusky landscape, and the broad sky above them, and the picturesque old
house, with light shining through the many windows, from Dorothy's
point of view.  But what would Phyllis think of it, with her dainty,
fastidious ways, and her love of society?

As they passed through the great gates into the forecourt Andrew
Goldsmith met them.

"Well, Mr. Philip!" he said, "I don't think much of your place.  The
saddle and harness room is almost in ruins; and the stables aren't fit
for anything better than cart horses.  It's not to be compared with
Apley Hall; and the sooner you begin to build yourself a suitable
mansion the better."



CHAPTER XXVI.

AT CROSS PURPOSES.

For the next two days Philip was fully occupied in riding with his
father to call upon the principal tenants, who had been already invited
to commemorate his coming of age.  He was quite a stranger to them, and
Sidney knew but little of them.  They were mostly farmers; a fine,
outspoken, independent race of north-country men, very different in
their ways and manners from the same class on Margaret's estate in the
south.  Sidney made himself exceedingly popular with them; and Philip
was almost surprised at his father's tone of easy friendliness with his
tenants.  But Sidney was, as he told himself, enjoying the happiest
season of his very prosperous life.  Putting aside that little trouble
about Phyllis, which would prove no more than a boy's fancy, he gave
the reins to his feelings of exultation and rejoicing.  He was very
proud of this handsome, athletic, well-bred young Englishman, who was
his eldest son and heir, the apple of his eye through all these
twenty-one years, since he welcomed his first-born into the world.  He
was secretly afraid of yielding to the tender recollections that
crowded into his brain as his son rode beside him, and, therefore, he
flung himself more fully into an open demonstration of his pleasure in
introducing him to his future tenants.  He told them that the Manor
House would not be let again, but that Philip would soon be coming to
dwell among them for a great part of the year, and take his position as
a country squire.  He could never quit the south and the near
neighborhood of London himself, but, with his son living up here, he
would naturally be often among them, and would get better acquainted
with them.

The great dinner given to the tenants and the afternoon merry-making
passed off well, as such festivities usually do.  But Dorothy, not
Philip, was the real center of interest.  She had grown up under their
observation, a neglected, forlorn, uncared-for child, thought little of
by all of them; and suddenly, on her father's death, she had been made
known to them as a great heiress.  She was an astonishment to them all,
especially to the women; the elegance of her dress, the frank and
simple grace of her manner, her daughter-like familiarity with Mr. and
Mrs. Martin amazed them.  When she joined in an easy country dance,
with Philip as her partner, there was only one thought in the mind of
each of them: This poor little Cinderella was destined to marry the
young son and heir.

If Andrew and Rachel Goldsmith had not known better they would have
thought the same.  Even Dick and the other boys, who had come north to
be present at these festivities, said to one another that Phyllis was
not missed.  Dorothy was very much more the daughter of the house than
Phyllis could ever have been.  She was at home, and she felt as if the
success of these rejoicings depended partly upon her.  For the first
time, too, she was free from the depressing influence of Phyllis's
superiority; and Laura was not there, with her chilling, criticising
gaze.  No one could be insensible to the charm of Dorothy's gay spirits
and sweet kindliness.

But as soon as the last guest was gone Philip went off alone up the
moors.  The moon was at the full, and poured a flood of light on the
twinkling surface of the silent little tarns sleeping in the hollows.
The frosty sky was shot with pale red lines in the north, and a thick
bank of clouds, the edge of which was tinged with moonlight, stretched
across the south.  He did not wander out of sight of the black massive
block of the old Manor, but all day he had longed to be alone, and here
he was safely alone.  The day he had been looking forward to, which had
been talked of, in his hearing, for as long as he could remember, was
come, and was almost gone.  He felt distinctly older to-day than he was
yesterday.  No birthday had had a similar effect upon him.  Yesterday
he was a boy, bound to obey his father's will; to-day he was himself a
man.  Not wiser perhaps, not clearer-headed, or stronger in principle
than yesterday; but free, with a more real liberty.  His actions
hereafter would be more definitely his own, for he would be acting more
fully on his own responsibility, and at his own discretion.  He had
always loved his father profoundly, with a depth and distinctness rare
in a boy; and Sidney had missed no opportunity of gaining and
strengthening the affection of his sons.  But of late Philip had
learned to appreciate his mother's peculiar character more than he had
done in his earlier youth; and if he had asked himself whom he now
loved and trusted most implicitly his heart would have said his mother.

For he could not go to his father with the story of his love for
Phyllis, and be sure of a patient hearing.  He shrank from doing the
duty that must at once be done.  Until the last few weeks he had not
felt any doubt of his father's and mother's consent to his marriage
with Phyllis; but he felt now a vague presentiment that his father
would say he had never thought of such a thing, and could not approve
of it.  Phyllis's unexpected absence from these rejoicings had marred
the pleasure of the day to him, and filled him with anxiety.  She ought
to have been at his side, instead of Dorothy, laughing a little
scoffingly at the speeches made; his own among them.  He loved
Phyllis's little sarcasms.

But why did he feel as if he had been guilty of concealment and
disingenuousness; he, who was so jealous of his honor, and so proud of
speaking to his father with utter singleness of heart?  How was it that
he became conscious, uneasily conscious, for the first time, that his
love for Phyllis was possibly unknown to his parents?  It was no secret
at the Rectory, that he was sure of; unless the rector himself was
ignorant of it.  Why had he never spoken openly of it with his mother
as he had done with Phyllis's mother?  When did he begin to hide this
thing from his parents?  And why?  He could not answer these questions
to himself.  He felt himself caught in a net, a very fine net, of
circumstances; but how it had been woven about him he could not tell.

His mother was gone to her room when he returned to the house, being
overtired; and Dorothy was with her.  There was a dance going on among
the servants in the great kitchen, and his cousins were there amusing
themselves.  All the rest of the house looked deserted and cheerless,
with the disorder that follows upon any festivities.  Philip recalled
with surprise how happy he had felt, in spite of Phyllis's absence,
only an hour or two ago.  The cheers of his future tenants sounded
again in his ears; and the proud gladness of his father, and tender
gladness of his mother, came back to him with a sting of reproach; but
still it was his reticence that troubled him.  He did not fear any
strong opposition to his wishes when they knew that his love for
Phyllis was unchangeable.  They could not have any objection to Phyllis.

Sidney was sitting in the corner of a huge fireplace, where a fire was
burning cheerfully, and Philip sat down opposite to him.  For once his
father was absolutely unoccupied, musing with a smile upon his handsome
face, as if he was reading all the happy past and the brilliant present
in the leaping flames and glowing coals upon the hearth.  There was no
sign of old age upon him.  In fact, he was still in the prime of life;
strong, athletic, vigorous, with an air of intellectual keenness and
power, which set him high above average men.  Philip felt as proud of
him as he did of Philip.  He looked across at his son with a light in
his eyes as undimmed as if he had been himself a boy.

"A man now!" he said, as if he welcomed him across the line that had
lain between him and manhood; "a man like myself!"

"Yes, a man!" said Philip abruptly, "with a man's heart and a man's
love like yours.  Father, I love Phyllis as you love my mother."

Sidney was not prepared to receive the blow so soon and so suddenly; it
was struck at him in the very zenith of his happiness.  But he had
expected it to fall sooner or later, and had laid his plan of action.
He hoped that Philip was not yet involved in an engagement, and that it
would be possible to temporize, to use such tactics as would set him
free from the snare.  His face clouded over a little, but he still
gazed affectionately in his son's face.

"Of course, you have said nothing to her, as you have not spoken of it
to me or your mother," he said.

"There was no need to say anything," answered Philip, stammering.
"Why, father, she and I have been brought up for one another!  I cannot
remember the time when I did not think she would be my wife.  Neither
she nor I have thought of anyone else."

"Does your mother know this?" inquired his father in measured tones.

"I don't know," he replied; "I suppose not."

"Who, then?" asked Sidney.

"Oh! all of them; every one of them," he said, "except my mother and
you.  I thought you knew of it till a few weeks ago."

"Does the rector know?" pursued Sidney.

Philip paused a little.

"I cannot say yes for certain," he answered, "for the rector seems to
live in another world from ours; but I never doubted it till he refused
to let Phyllis come here with us.  And I never meant to conceal it from
my mother and you; it seemed such a settled matter, and you were both
so fond of Phyllis.  I cannot understand how or why this moment is so
painful to me.  I thought I could ask you for Phyllis as I have asked
you for everything else I wanted all my life long."

"Did I ever refuse you anything that was for your good?" asked Sidney,
his voice, which was always pleasant and persuasive, falling into
softer tones.

"Never, father, never!" he answered eagerly.

"But I must refuse you this.  Listen!" he said, as Philip was about to
interrupt him.  "Such an idea never entered your mother's mind or mine.
The children at the Rectory were brought up with you as if you were one
family.  I had utter confidence in the rector and his wife.  If I had
seen anything to make me suspect an attachment between you and Phyllis,
I should have separated you at once.  Brought up for one another!  I
see it clearly at last.  The plot has been artfully contrived, and
cleverly carried out.  You are the dupe of a cunning and worldly woman.
I cast no blame upon Phyllis herself.  But, my boy, Phyllis is born to
be the wife of a rich man; she would make a bad wife for a poor one.
Think for yourself if you could ask Phyllis to share poverty with you."

"But I shall not be a poor man!" exclaimed Philip.  All day long
circumstances had impressed upon him the fact that the career of a very
rich man lay before him, and he was almost shocked by his father's
words.

"You are a poor man until I die," said Sidney, rising and stretching
himself to his full height.  His tall and muscular frame was as
vigorous and powerful as Philip's own, and his life at fifty was
probably as good as his son's at one-and-twenty.  "How soon would you
wish me to die, Philip?" he asked in a mournful tone.

"Oh, father!" he cried; "how can you say such words?  I could not bear
the thought of you dying."

"But till then you are dependent upon me," continued Sidney, "and you
cannot ask me to give you the means of bringing trouble on your mother
and myself.  I shall probably live another twenty-five or thirty years.
Consider how Phyllis would like the life you could offer her.  I do not
say I would let you come to want; but if I allowed you no more than
£800 or £1000 a year, would that satisfy her?"

Philip was silent.  There was reason in what his father said.  Phyllis
would look upon £800 a year as poverty.  As long as he could recollect,
she had chafed and fretted about the narrow income of her father, and
openly expressed her intention of not living as carefully and
economically as her mother was compelled to do.  Certainly Phyllis was
not fit to be a poor man's wife, even if that poor man had an allowance
of £800 or £1000 a year.

"But I have always thought of her as my wife," he broke out
passionately; "and I cannot give her up.  Think how happy you have been
with my mother; and why should you deny me similar happiness?"

"Because Phyllis is nothing like your mother," answered Sidney, his
eyes sparkling with anger.  "Good Heavens! do you compare that
empty-headed butterfly with my Margaret?  Your mother would be happy in
a cottage with her sons and her husband, as happy as she is now in her
own house.  If I thought for a moment that Phyllis would be such a wife
to you as your mother is to me, I would consent willingly, though she
could never be like a daughter to me.  Phyllis would separate you from
me.  We should soon be as strangers to one another."

"No, no!" he said; "you have always seemed to love Phyllis, and so has
my mother.  What can you object to in her?  Her father is your own
nearest relation and friend.  Everybody in Apley knows we have been
always thrown together, as if we were some day to be married.  Let me
know your objections, your reasons.  No one came between you and the
woman you loved.  Why should you not allow me to choose for myself?"

"Because you have not really chosen for yourself," answered his father.
"Your nature has been played upon ever since your childhood.  I can see
it all now, and understand it.  Phyllis is not to blame; but Phyllis's
mother has laid her plot, and carried it out very successfully.
Brought up for one another!  Did your mother and I ever speak of your
being brought up for Phyllis?"

"I cannot give her up now!" exclaimed Philip.

"Ask your mother if Phyllis would make you a true wife," urged his
father.

"But I could not give her up," he reiterated.  "It would break my poor
Phyllis's heart.  Every year of my life binds me to her; every feeling
of honor as well as of love.  No; it would be impossible.  It is of no
use to consult my mother.  I will tell her I must marry Phyllis, and I
will beg of her to look upon her as a daughter.  In the sight of God I
believe Phyllis is my wife, and I should not be free to marry anyone
else.  You will give your consent in time, father."

"Never!" his father answered with mingled anger and sadness.  "You will
be a poor man as long as I live.  Tell Laura Martin she and her
daughter must wait for my money till my death."



CHAPTER XXVII.

WHO WILL GIVE WAY?

The conflict which Laura Martin had foreseen years ago was at last
begun between herself and Sidney, and she was prepared for it.  But she
was not prepared to meet with two firm opponents in her husband and
Margaret.  Her plans had been based on the assumption that these two,
Philip's mother and Phyllis's father, in their complete unworldliness
and contempt for money, would be on her side; and Sidney would be left
practically alone.  But now the rector's eyes were open they saw
matters in a very clear light; and his soul was filled with shame.  He
was invulnerable to all attacks; even to the tears of his precious
child, and to Laura's repeated assurances that Phyllis would break her
heart if she could not marry Philip.  The rector was almost crushed
under this heavy trouble, but he did not yield his position for a
moment.  He could not give his approval or consent to the marriage
until Sidney gave his.  Nor would he have Philip coming to the rectory.
Margaret was equally firm.  She knew Phyllis's nature thoroughly.  The
girl was dear to her; for her wide charity, which strove to love all
that God loved--and did not God love every soul of man?--embraced this
child, whom she had known from her birth, with a special and very close
affection.  But she knew her to be of the world--very emphatically of
the world.  She believed her to be destitute of real spiritual life.
As a clergyman's daughter Phyllis was fairly orthodox, though with her,
as with many clergymen's children, there was a great lack of reverence
for sacred subjects; she made a jest of many things which, to Margaret,
were full of mystery and solemnity.  But Margaret attached little
importance to outer forms and rites, and it was at the spirit of
Phyllis's life she looked.  That spirit was distinctly selfish and
worldly.  Margaret knew that she could not make Philip happy as his
wife, and she refused to sacrifice his future welfare to the
gratification of the moment.  The question of Phyllis's fortune or
station never crossed Margaret's mind.

But Laura was not to be daunted.  Philip and Phyllis were as obstinate
in maintaining their position as she could wish them to be.  There was
no concealment now.  Philip formally announced their engagement to his
personal friends and to the people at Apley.  Sidney was amazed and
angry to discover how it was taken as a matter of course by these
nearest spectators of his domestic drama.  They had witnessed the
side-play distinctly, while his own eyes were hoodwinked.  Andrew
Goldsmith was the first to speak to him about it.

"They've grown up for one another, sir," he said, "and we've seen it
all along; and I trust they will be happy.  But Rachel and me, we've
often thought of late how much better Miss Dorothy would have suited
him, if she'd only been in Miss Phyllis's place.  Rachel says Miss
Dorothy is growing up to be the very copy of my lady, true to the life
of her.  And what could we have wished more for Mr. Philip?"

"Goldsmith," answered Sidney, "I will tell you, and you may tell
others, that I disapprove of my son's engagement, and will never give
my consent to this marriage."

"But it's a hard thing to choose another man his wife, sir," urged
Andrew, who knew perfectly well the conflict now raging between the
Hall and the Rectory.  "I've thought often enough of that when I've
been thinking of my poor girl.  I was an austere father, though I loved
her as my own soul; and she was afraid to tell me who it was she loved.
It would have been better for her, if she'd lived ever so miserably, to
have our love to comfort her.  Now we are lost to one another
altogether.  If Miss Phyllis shouldn't make Mr. Philip very happy, he
would still have you, and his mother, and Mr. Hugh.  Ah!  I'd rather
see my Sophy a miserable wife than know nothing about her.  There's an
aching void here in my heart, and must be forever in this world; and I
pray God you and my lady may never feel the same."

"You have not forgotten her yet," said Sidney in a tone of pain that
went straight to the old man's heart.

"Nor never shall," he answered; "first thing in the morning and last
thing at night, a voice says to me, 'Sophy!'  Ay!  I should have gone
crazy but for you and yours.  It's the kindness and friendship you and
Miss Margaret have shown to me that has kept my reason for me.  And my
reason says, 'Mr. Martin ought not to break with his first-born son
because he has chosen a wife for himself.  No man can know the heart of
another man.  And life is short; and death may cut us off at any
minute.'  I don't say as I would give way so as to let them marry in a
hurry, for they are young and don't know their own minds yet.  But set
them a time to wait, and let him serve for her as Jacob did for Rachel;
and if they love one another truly, and are faithful for the season you
fix upon, then give your consent to their being happy in their own way.
We can't be happy in other people's way."

"I will think of it, Goldsmith," Sidney promised.

He watched the old man going down the road toward the village street,
for they had returned to Apley, and his mind dwelt, almost
involuntarily, on the unknown tie which united them.  Philip was
exactly of the age he himself was when he contracted his foolish and
secret marriage.  He recalled his own hot passion for the pretty
village girl, and how impossible it would have been for any argument to
convince him that such love as his would quickly burn itself out, and
leave behind it only darkness, disgust, and misery.  He had risked all,
when he had all to risk, to gratify his boyish infatuation.  But Philip
would risk only the chance of poverty during his father's lifetime; and
Sidney knew well he could, if he would, raise money on his future
inheritance of an entailed estate.  Moreover, Philip's love was given
to one of his own rank in life, a girl of equal cultivation with
himself.  It was not a brilliant match, but no one would be surprised
at it.  It seemed probable that he might in the end be compelled to
make some terms with his son; and would it not be politic to make them
at once?

He went slowly homeward, haunted by more vivid remembrances of his
early marriage than any that had troubled him for many years.  The dead
past had buried its dead; but there is no stone rolled upon the
sepulcher to make us sure of no resurrection.  Suppose Philip had been
Sophy's son!  How widely different his training and his whole character
must have been!  How different he himself would be at this moment, if
Sophy had been his constant, intimate companion in the place of
Margaret.  He thought of it with a shudder of disgust.  His love for
Margaret had never known decrease or ebb; it had grown stronger and
deeper every year, but there was an element of almost sacred awe
mingled with it.  She was as much above him as Sophy had been below
him.  Not that she felt this herself; there was always in her a
deference to his will which a prouder woman would not have shown.  But
he recognized her as a purer, nobler, truer soul than himself.  His
marriage with her was no more an equal one than his marriage with
Sophy.  To-day he felt more nearly on a level with Sophy than with
Margaret.

She was standing in the pretty oriel window of her sitting room as he
approached the house, and smiled down upon him with something of
sadness in her smile, as he stood below looking up to her.  She had
never seemed more lovely in his eyes, or more distant.  After all their
married life of twenty-two years he knew himself a stranger to her, and
he felt that he could get no nearer to her.  What icy barrier was it
existing between them, growing denser and stronger year after year, and
which could not be melted by the warmth of their love?  For they loved
one another--Sidney did not doubt that; Margaret's first love had been
his.  Yet there was a great gulf between them; and his spirit could not
go to her, nor hers come to him.

He went upstairs and received a fond welcome from her, as he sat down
beside her on a sofa.  She laid her hand on his, and he lifted it to
his lips; and then he felt her kiss upon his forehead, a caressing,
almost maternal touch, such as she might have given to her son Philip.
Both of these beloved ones were wounded, and both came to her for
consolation.  Sidney told her what old Andrew Goldsmith had been saying.

"Perhaps he is right," said Margaret thoughtfully; "we should remember
that Philip is something more than our son.  He is a man and has rights
with which we ought not to interfere.  Dearest, it is a bitter
disappointment to me to think of Phyllis as my boy's wife.  But who can
tell?  If she truly loves him it may be her salvation; and if he truly
loves her, no one else, not an angel from heaven, could be his wife as
she would be, and as I am yours.  We may be striving against God's
will, whose love for Philip is infinitely greater and wiser than ours
can be."

"But, my darling," he remonstrated, "you speak of God's will; and all
this is but the outcome of Laura's machinations.  That is only too
plain.  If I believed it to be a simple, true, enduring love on both
sides, I would not oppose it so strongly.  And it would be an extreme
mortification to let Laura triumph."

"We must not think of that," she said, smiling.  "I have felt it, too,
Sidney; but the mortification has passed over.  It is natural enough
they should love one another; they are both very attractive, and they
have seen no one else.  Let us do as Andrew suggests, fix a time for
them to wait and test their attachment.  And let Philip have a year or
two abroad, as you had when you were his age.  His mind will be
enlarged.  We have kept him too much at home; and home has been too
dear for him to care to wander from it.  But he is not so happy now,
and he will be willing to go away for awhile."

"He shall," assented Sidney; "and I will make him promise not to
correspond with Phyllis during his absence."

But Philip would make no such promise.  He maintained that it was an
unworthy course to adopt toward his future wife.  He was willing to
wait any reasonable number of years that his parents thought right to
ask from him, but in no way would he separate himself from Phyllis.  It
would be easier, he declared, to cut off his right hand, or pluck out
his right eye.  He left home for a long and indefinite absence, and his
letters came to Phyllis as regularly and as frequently as to his
mother.  To his father he did not write.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

HOMESICKNESS.

From this first break in the perfect union of their home Margaret
suffered less than she would have done but for the companionship of
Dorothy.  The girl's nature was one of strong, simple, and pure
impulses; and her mind, though uncultivated in the ordinary acceptation
of the word, was clear and intelligent.  Margaret could speak to her,
more fully than to anyone else, of the exceptional spiritual life she
was living.  There were thoughts and feelings in her soul, inmost
impressions, to which she found it was impossible to give utterance.
It was a life hid with Christ in God.  But Dorothy seemed able to
comprehend something of these workings of her mind, if only she caught
a syllable here and there, which told of Margaret's profound
realization of the love in which all men lived and moved.  Probably
Dorothy's long years of solitary childhood spent on the open moors, in
contact with simple and grand aspects of nature, had kept her spirit
open to such impressions as Margaret's mysticism, if it could be called
mysticism, produced upon her.  These two, like exiles in a strange
land, clung to one another with an intense sympathy and love.

But this attachment to Margaret did not diminish Dorothy's devotion to
Sidney.  There was a touch of romance in this devotion.  He seemed to
her to be the deliverer who had opened her prison doors and brought her
out into a happy freedom.  In these first hours of his disappointment
in Philip, her presence in his home tended to soften the bitterness of
his vexation.  Laura thought that she kept Phyllis out of her proper
place; but it was, in fact, due to Dorothy that Phyllis continued to
visit at the Hall.  She would not let Philip's future wife be banished
from his parents' house.  The girlish acquaintance which had hitherto
existed between them ripened into a girlish intimacy; and Phyllis was
almost as often at the Hall as formerly.  It was a comfort to Margaret
that it should be so; and even Sidney felt it was wiser to maintain a
certain degree of intercourse with his future daughter-in-law.  He
could not blame her as he blamed Laura.

In all this Laura felt that her schemes so far had not miscarried.  She
had never expected Sidney to welcome an engagement between his son and
her daughter; it was too poor a match, and here Laura sympathized with
him.  But his opposition to it was less violent than she might have
anticipated.  All was going well with Phyllis; and now if Dick would
only woo and win the young heiress she would be perfectly content.
Dick was quite willing to fall into her plans.  She spent many really
happy hours in forecasting and arranging for them.  Though Margaret was
younger than herself, and in perfect health, and Sidney no older than
her husband, and more likely than not to outlive all his
contemporaries, she frequently thought of them both as dead, and Philip
possessing the estates, and Phyllis reigning in Margaret's place.  She
expected to behold these things with her own eyes, and share in the
glory of them.  That she herself might grow old and die, while Philip
and her daughter were still in comparative poverty and dependent upon
Sidney, very seldom occurred to her.  It was a contingency she could
not bear to think of.

It was a much quieter winter at Apley than usual.  There was no
political excitement to occupy Sidney, and Hugh was visiting some of
his Oxford friends during the short Christmas vacation.  A few guests,
staying two or three days each, came to Apley Hall.  But there was no
special festivity at which Laura could have made an open display of her
daughter as betrothed to the son and heir.  The few friends who came
were fully aware of the circumstance, and sympathized very cordially
with the disapprobation felt by Sidney and Margaret.  Philip was
wandering about Italy, and wrote frequently to Phyllis.  The opposition
to his love, of which he had never dreamed, naturally deepened it.  He
felt aggrieved and amazed that his father and mother should see any
defect in her; and this made him exaggerate her charms and good
qualities, until she seemed perfect in his eyes.  Yet her letters were
poor and meager, betraying an empty head, and an almost equally empty
heart.

In spite of the novelty of the impressions crowding upon him,
especially in Rome, this winter was, on the whole, a dreary--a very
dreary--time to him.  For the first time he was separated from
everybody whom he loved; even Dick could not spare a year of his life
to travel about with him.  He saw no one but strangers, until he longed
to see some one familiar face.  He began to feel himself banished; and
at times he suffered from genuine homesickness.  His mother wrote long
letters to him; letters as precious in his eyes as Phyllis's; to any
other eyes as gold to tinsel.  But his father did not write; it was the
only sign of his displeasure.  The checks sent out to him were liberal
beyond his requirements; but no message came with them.  There was a
silent strife between his father and himself, a warfare of their wills,
both of them strong and unyielding.  It was as great a grief to Philip
as to Sidney.

The spring came in early, and with unusual heat, in Italy.  Much rain
had fallen in February and March, and with the sudden outburst of heat
there was an unwholesome season and a good deal of fever.  Down in
Sicily, and even in Naples, there were some fatal cases of cholera.  A
few of the English visitors, thronging to Rome for Easter, died of
malaria; probably not a larger number than usual, but they happened to
be persons of some note, whose deaths were reported in the daily
papers, with a few lines of comment.  Sidney read the notes from the
Italian correspondents before looking at any other column of the Times.
Laura and Phyllis grew anxious, and professed their anxiety loudly.
But Philip wrote regularly, though in his now wonted strain of low
spirits; and Sidney could see no reason for shortening his term of
banishment.  He had not been away four months yet; and there was no
sign of any decrease of his infatuation.

Philip sent word he was going north to Venice, where the weather was
reported as cool and fine.  But about the end of April there came a
letter from him complaining of low fever; and after that there was
silence for a few days, a silence which filled them with apprehension.
Then arrived a note from an American doctor, living in Venice, saying
that he was attending Mr. Philip Martin, and that he was suffering from
a combined attack of nostalgia and malaria, which might, not
improbably, take a serious turn, and which could be best counteracted
by the presence of his father or mother, or one equally dear to him.

"I must go to him, at once," cried Margaret.  "I was expecting this.  I
knew it would come sooner or later; and, O Sidney, it is I who must go.
He fancies he loves Phyllis best, but his love for me will be strongest
now, for a time at least.  And Phyllis cannot nurse him as I can; his
own mother!  I can be ready in an hour."

"You shall go," answered Sidney, "and I will take you.  I would give my
life for his.  Is not he my first-born child as well as yours?"

As he made the hurried arrangements--looking out the trains, giving
orders at home, and sending telegrams up to the City--his brain was
full of remembrances of his son.  It seemed but yesterday that he was a
boy at school, idolizing his father; not longer than the day before
yesterday that he was a little child, venturing on its first perilous
journey across the floor from its mother's arms to its father's.  He
felt that the fibers of his heart were all interwoven with his son's
life; and there was a new and terrible pain there.  What if Philip
should cut the knot of their estrangement by dying?

The carriage was ready to take them to the station, and Margaret was
seated in it, when the rector and his wife came breathlessly up to it.
Laura was wringing her hands in excitement and terror.

"Oh! you must wait for Phyllis!" she exclaimed.  "You cannot go without
her; and she went only this morning to Leamington on a short visit.
She will be back to-night, in time to start first thing to-morrow
morning.  It will break her heart if you go without her."

"We cannot wait ten minutes," answered Sidney, "it is impossible.  But
I will telegraph as soon as we reach Venice; and if there is any
danger," and his voice faltered as he uttered the word, "George must
bring her out at once."

"Oh! if she could only go with you!" cried Laura.

At this moment Dorothy appeared in a traveling dress.  For some years
past Rachel Goldsmith had been too old to travel, and Margaret, who was
always independent of a maid, had not engaged anyone in her place.
There was a smile on Dorothy's face as she ran down the steps to the
carriage.

"I am coming to take care of my lady," she said.  "Rachel quite
approves of it.  She was almost beside herself till I said I would go.
You must let me come.  Perhaps Phyllis ought to go instead, but she
could not wait on Mrs. Martin as I can.  Besides, I am ready."

She looked pleadingly into Sidney's face; and he stood aside for her to
enter the carriage where Margaret was sitting.

"Yes, yes," he said, "jump in; there's no time to lose.  Good-by,
George.  I will telegraph if Phyllis is wanted."

Laura watched the carriage rolling out of sight, with a new and
unwelcome misgiving.  She had not been afraid of Dorothy before; but
she could not be blind to the great improvement in her since she had
been under Margaret's care.  And now she was going out to share in
nursing Philip as an invalid, and amusing him as a convalescent.  But
this must not be.  George should start immediately in their wake; and
Phyllis with him.

Here, however, Laura was doomed to disappointment.  The rector would
not listen to reason.  When he had once made up his mind upon any
worldly matter he was an obstinate man; and he was irrevocably resolved
that he would play no part in furthering the marriage of his daughter
to Sidney's son and heir.  When Sidney telegraphed "Bring Phyllis,"
then he would take her; but not till then.

It was well for both Sidney and Margaret that Dorothy was with them.
Unlike her usual self, Margaret was despondent, and convinced that they
could not reach Venice in time to find Philip alive; and Sidney, seeing
her so lost to hope, was stricken with a miserable dread.  They made no
pause for rest on the long journey; and, but for Dorothy, they would
hardly have taken food.  It was an immense relief to her when, after
many hours of traveling, she saw afar off, in the midst of its shallow
sea, the white domes and towers of Venice glistening in the sunlight.
Sidney and Margaret had been there before; and for them there was but
one point of interest, their son lying ill, perhaps dying, under one of
those glittering roofs.  But Dorothy gazed out of the windows at the
lagoons over which the strange railway was carrying her.  She was very
weary, and her eyelids were heavy and swollen with long wakefulness;
but the stretches of silvery water, with its low banks of soft
sea-green weeds, were too beautiful not to arouse her.  There were no
trees or fields in sight: all around her lay a pale, tremulous plain of
water, quivering under a clear vault of sky, and reflecting on its
surface the deep blue, flecked with little clouds, which over-arched it.

They had telegraphed beforehand to Daniele's, where Philip was staying,
and a servant awaited the arrival of the train.  The young English
signore was better; he had begun to recover as soon as he heard that
his father and mother were on their way to come to him.  The message
was delivered in the hurry of passengers descending from the train; but
the relief it brought was instantaneous.  They were led through a
common-place station; but as soon as they had passed through the great
gates and stood on the top of a flight of broad steps, Dorothy could
not restrain a cry of pleasure.  Below them lay a busy crowd of
gondolas, swinging and floating lightly on the water, and passing to
and fro with the swiftness and accuracy of so many carriages, with
neither collision or delay.  There was no noise of wheels or the
trampling of horses' feet, only the cries of the gondoliers and the
shouts of the officials who overlooked them.  As soon as she found
herself seated in one of them it threaded its way out of the throng
with a skill that delighted her.  Margaret sat back in the shelter of
the awning, with tears of thankful gladness stealing now and then down
her cheeks; but Sidney, with the load suddenly rolled off his heart,
took a place beside Dorothy, and pointed out to her the palaces and
churches he knew so well.

Dorothy was left alone when they reached Daniele's, and she stood
leaning on the cushioned window-sill of her room, and looked out on the
gay and busy quay below her, with all sense of weariness gone from her
vigorous young frame.  The air was very fresh and sweet, and the
sparkling water-roads stretched before her, with black gondolas
flitting noiselessly to and fro, bringing to her ears the merry chatter
of voices, in other cities drowned by the noise of wheels.  Opposite to
her a church of white marble delicately veined seemed to float upon the
water, and beyond it stretched a shallow sea, rippling under the
sunshine.  It looked like a city of enchantment to her.

Presently Margaret came in, pale and weary with the long journey, but
with the light of happiness in her eyes.  Philip was better than she
could have hoped; there would be no real danger, the doctor said, now
that she was there to satisfy his longing to look upon some dear,
familiar face.

"He is not even grieved that Phyllis is not come," she said gladly, "he
is just satisfied, with a perfect satisfaction, to see his father and
me.  After all there are seasons when no love contents us save a
father's love.  We are but children, every one of us."

Late in the evening, after a long rest, Margaret sat beside Philip's
bed again, holding his nerveless hand in her own.  She could hardly
believe that this pale, almost wasted face and languid frame was her
strong young son, who had said farewell to her only a few months ago.
He seemed to have grown years older.  He was graver and more
thoughtful.  His manner toward her and his father was at once more
independent and more full of a manly deference.  His smile, as he
looked into her face, was that of one who was more her equal than he
had been when he parted from her.  He had suffered, and suffering had
lifted him nearer to her level.

"I understand you and my father better than I did," he said.  "I see
why you wonder at my love for Phyllis; yes, and I see why I love her.
Possibly I should not love her now, if I saw her for the first time.
But it has grown with my growth, and been secretly fostered and
cherished, unknown to you both.  Still I thought you knew; and I love
her, and she loves me.  We must venture upon life together, and if it
is not as perfect a union as yours and my father's, why, it is the most
perfect I can make.  I could not sacrifice Phyllis now, even to your
reasonable objections."

"You love her enough to make you ill when you are away from her," said
his mother, sighing, "so we must withdraw our objections."

"Yes, I love her," he replied; "but that is not so much the question as
whether she loves me as much as ever.  Think, dear mother.  She has
regarded herself as mine ever since we were little children together;
and with all her vivacity and charming spirits she has never even
thought of attracting anyone else, or of being loved by any other man.
She is all my own.  If I could give up my engagement out of love and
obedience to you, I could not run the risk of breaking Phyllis's high
spirit--perhaps her heart.  I dare not act like a scoundrel, even to
please my father."

"Your father would never wish you to act like a scoundrel," said
Margaret in a pained tone; "but he withdraws his objections, and says
you must come home again.  Only we wish you not to marry for three
years longer.  But oh, my boy! surely you can be happy at home as you
were before, seeing her as you used to see her.  You will yield to us
this much?  You will not force us to consent to an earlier marriage?"

Philip drew his mother's hand to his lips, and kissed it in silence.
This was no moment of triumph to him, because he knew it to be one of
pain to her.  She had not demanded a great concession from him, and she
had asked it doubtingly, almost humbly.  It was amazing that his mother
should petition him for anything, and he not to be able to rejoice in
granting it.

"Yes, we will wait," he said; "we are both young enough to wait, but
three years is a long time."



CHAPTER XXIX.

IN VENICE.

Philip's recovery from the combined effects of low fever and
homesickness progressed so favorably that Sidney soon felt at liberty
to leave him in his mother's care, and return to London, where his
presence was becoming necessary.  Venice was too much haunted by
painful reminiscences for him to care to linger in it, even if he had
the leisure to do so.  He had been there once with Margaret, and had
found it so hateful that he had hurried her away after a day or two,
unable to endure its associations.  There was no dread of this early
marriage coming to light; it was now nearly thirty years ago, and the
past had given no sign yet of rising in judgment against him.  It was
only in a place like this, crowded with associations, and occasionally
when old Andrew Goldsmith spoke of her, that he ever thought of Sophy.
But the streets of Venice, singularly unlike the streets of any other
city--and it was the last city they were in--brought the recollection
of her to his mind with startling and sickening frequency.  As soon as
Philip was pronounced convalescent, he could bear it no longer.

It was still the month of May, and Venice was at its loveliest.  The
air was light, and soft, and warm, without too great heat.  The little
party left behind by Sidney had nothing to do but float about the
border canals and the lagoons leading out to the sea all day long.
More often than anywhere else, they sailed to the Lido, and sat on the
sand-banks to breathe the keener and purer breezes blowing off the
Adriatic.  They could not grow weary of watching for hours the fleet of
fishing boats flitting to and fro on the green waters, most of them
carrying gorgeous yellow sails with brown patterns on them, and stripes
of pale yellow and white along the edges--sails that were heirlooms in
the fishermen's families.  Now and then a sail of the clearest white or
the faintest primrose was seen; and far away on the horizon, where the
sky was bluish gray, the distant sails looked of a deep bronze and
purple.  All of them fluttered hither and thither as if they were large
and gorgeous butterflies hovering over the waves.  It was a sight they
never wearied of.  There was a rapture of delight in it for Dorothy
which caught Margaret and Philip into a keen participation in her
enjoyment; and the days passed by as if there was nothing else for them
to do but to glide slowly about in their gondola and see the churches
and palaces floating on the tranquil water, which so faithfully
reflected them in form and color.

It was but a brief pleasure, for as the month drew to an end a sudden
outburst of heat came on, bringing with it the danger of a return of
Philip's fever.  Margaret called in the American doctor, and he ordered
an immediate retreat to the mountains.

"You will find it bracing enough in the Tyrol," he said, "and you
cannot do better than go for a month or so to the Ampezzo Valley.  In
two days' time you will find yourself at Cortina, where you will obtain
fairly comfortable quarters.  Or you might go to the Italian Lakes, if
you thought better."

"No; let us go to the Austrian Tyrol," said Philip.

"You must go to-morrow morning," continued the doctor.

"It only seems like a day since we came here," said Dorothy
regretfully, "one long beautiful day.  I do not feel as if I had ever
been asleep."

"It is quite time then for you to be off," remarked the doctor; "you
will be falling ill if you stay much longer.  Take my word for it, you
will enjoy the mountains as much as Venice when you get among them.
There is nothing like the Dolomites."

But when the doctor was gone Dorothy entreated for one more sail in a
gondola.  The sun was set, and the heated air was fast growing cool.
The moon was at the full, and as they floated toward the lagoons, the
lights of the city behind them shone like jewels.  The sound of music
reached their ears, softened by distance, from gayly illuminated
gondolas bearing bands of musicians up and down the Grand Canal.  As
soon as they were beyond this sound, and only the faintest ripple of
the water against their gondola could be heard, Dorothy began to sing
snatches of old north-country ballads and simple old-fashioned songs,
in a soft undertone, with now and then a cadence of sadness in it,
which seemed to chime in with the pale light of the moon, and the dim
waters, and the dusky outlines of the city behind them.  Margaret and
Philip listened in silence, for they were afraid she would stop if they
praised her.

"I feel so happy," she exclaimed, suddenly checking herself, as if she
had forgotten she was not alone.

"So am I," said Philip, laughing, with such a boyish laugh as his
mother had not heard for many months.

"And so am I," assented Margaret.  "Oh! how good life is, even in this
world!"

"But why are we so seldom happy?" asked Philip.

"Why are you happy now?" she rejoined.

"I will tell you why I am happy," said Dorothy, leaning toward them, as
they sat opposite to her, and they saw her dark eyes shining in the
moonlight.  "I am thinking of nothing but this one moment, and
everything is very good.  The moon up there, and the little clouds in
the sky, and these waves rippling round us, and the happy air; and you
two whom I love and who love me.  There is nothing here but what is
good."

"Why should we not oftener live in the present moment," said Margaret,
"instead of burdening it with the past and the future?  God would have
us do so, as children do who have a father to care for them.  He gives
us to-day; to-morrow he will give us another day, different, but as
much his gift as this.  If we would only take them as he sends them,
one at a time, we should not be so seldom happy."

"I promise to try to do it," cried Dorothy, stretching out her hands
toward Margaret, but without touching her.  "Philip, let us enter into
an agreement to be happy.  Let us take each day singly as it comes, and
look upon it as a gift straight from God."

Philip did not speak, but Margaret said, as if to herself:

  "My God!  Thou art all love.
  Not one poor minute 'scapes Thy breast
  But brings a favor from above."


"I will try to believe it," said Philip; "but there is so much in life
that is not good.  There are few days and hours like this."

They returned to the quay almost in silence, but not less happy because
their happiness had taken a tinge of solemnity.  As they landed, and
the light of a lamp fell upon Margaret's face, there was a look of
serene gladness on it, such as neither Dorothy nor Philip had seen
before.  It looked to them like the face of an angel, both strong and
happy.



CHAPTER XXX.

A MYSTERY.

They started by the earliest train to Victoria, and were half-way to
Pieve di Cadore before nightfall, taking great delight, each one of
them, in the wonderful beauty of the scenery through which they were
traveling.  Philip was in that delicious state of convalescence, the
last stage of it, when health seems renewed to greater and fresher
vigor than before the illness came.  He was in high spirits, and in his
inmost heart, if he had looked there, he would have discovered no
regret that Phyllis was absent.  Her presence, charming as it was, with
the thousand little attentions she would have demanded from him, would
have interfered with the perfect freedom he enjoyed in the
companionship of his mother and Dorothy.  They exacted nothing from
him, and were good travelers, complaining of no discomfort or
inconvenience.  There was a good deal of discomfort which would have
fretted Phyllis considerably.  But Dorothy was like a pleasant comrade,
whose society added another charm to the picturesque scenery.  When
Margaret was too tired to leave the carriage, Dorothy was always ready
to climb the steep paths with him, by which they escaped the tedious
zigzags of the dusty roads.

To Dorothy, accustomed to a low horizon and wide sweep of upland with a
broad field of sky above it, the lofty peaks of gray rock rising for
thousands of feet into the sky, and hanging over the narrow valleys
with a threatening aspect, were at first oppressive.  But the profusion
of flowers on the nearer slopes, which were in places blue with
forget-me-nots and gentians, and yellow with large buttercups, was
delightful to her, and she soon lost the sense of oppression.

It was the evening of the second day when they reached Cortina, having
crossed the Austrian frontier a few miles from it.  They were the first
tourists of the season, said the custom-house officer, and would be
very welcome.  The snow was not yet melted off the strangely shaped
rocks, towering upward so precipitously that it could lodge only in the
little niches and rough ledges of the surface, tracing with white
network the lines scored upon it by alternate frost and sunshine.  The
valley was more open than those through which they had traveled, and
little groups of cottages were dotted about it, and for some distance
up the lower slopes of the mountains.  The air was sharply cold and
nipping, for the sun was gone down behind the high ridge of rock, and
they were glad to get inside the hotel, and into the small, bare dining
room, which was the only room, except the kitchen, not used as a
bedchamber.  They intended to stay here for some days, and Margaret,
who had written from Venice to Sidney, informing him of their proposed
journey, sent Philip to telegraph to him that they had reached Cortina.

It was a little town, and was quickly traversed.  To Margaret's
telegram he added that they were all well and happy, smiling to himself
as he thought how his father would shake his head at the needless
extravagance of sending these two words.  But Philip felt there was
something special in his sense of well-being which demanded explicit
acknowledgment.  The young woman who copied his telegram looked at him
with an air of curiosity and interest.

"The signore is English?" she inquired.

"Yes, signora," he replied.

"The first English of the year," she continued, "and I must send word
to the padre.  He was here yesterday, and at all the hotels, to say he
must speak with the first of the English who come to Cortina.  Perhaps
the signore has heard so already?"

"No," answered Philip; "but I have not seen my landlord yet; he was out
of the way when we arrived."

He had learned Italian sufficiently to carry on a simple conversation;
but he was not very fluent, and he was obliged to pause and think over
his sentences.

"We are going to stay here some days," he resumed, "or possibly some
weeks.  Is it necessary for me to call upon the priest? or will you
tell him where I am staying?"

"I will call him; it is urgent, I believe," she said, hastening to the
door, and running across a small, open space to a house near the
church.  In a few minutes she returned, accompanied by a young priest
in a shabby cassock and worn-out broad-brimmed hat.

"I have the honor to speak to an English signore," said the priest,
bowing profoundly.

"I shall be most happy to serve the padre," answered Philip.

The young priest bade the telegraph clerk a courteous good-night, and
drew him a little on one side.  A steep lane led down to the brawling
river which ran through the valley, and they descended it until they
were quite beyond any chance of being overheard.  He then addressed
Philip in a low voice, and in tolerably good English.

"It is an affair of the confessional," he said slowly, and with an
evident effort of memory, as if he was repeating a statement he had
carefully composed beforehand; "it is the case of an old woman, a very
respectable old person.  She dies at this moment, and she wills, before
dying, to behold a true Englishman, and to betray to him one great
secret, one important secret.  I desired all the persons in the town to
announce to me the arrival of the first Englishman touring to this
place, and lo, it is the signore!"

It was great luck, thought Philip, to come in so immediately upon a
mystery.  No young man would shrink, as older men might do, from being
intrusted with a secret, which might involve them in much trouble and
worry.

"I am ready to go with you at once," he said, smiling.

"Not to-night," answered the priest, "it is two hours up the mountain,
and it is already night.  She dies not to-night; perhaps not to-morrow.
In the morning, if the signore will condescend his favor."

"What time shall I be with you?" asked Philip.

"At six o'clock; will that do?" replied the priest.  "I take the--what
you call the Sacrament--the Lord's Supper, is it? to the respectable
old person, and I cannot have any food till she receives it from my
hands.  Will the hour of six be too early for the signore?"

"No, no!" he answered; "but I shall breakfast before starting on a two
hours' walk up the mountain."

"That, of course," said the priest, laughing low; "you are not a padre.
Moreover, the Protestants have the good things in this life, mark my
words!"

Margaret had already retired to her room when Philip returned to the
hotel; and when he knocked at her door to bid her good-night, she
called to him to come in.  It was an immense chamber, with a red brick
floor, and several windows; but a fire had been kindled in a large
white-tiled stove in one corner of it, and a pleasant heat was diffused
through the room.  His mother was lying down on a red velvet sofa,
which threw a tinge of rosy color upon her face, yet she looked to him
somewhat pale and sad.

"I may be a little overtired," she said, in answer to his anxious
question, "and I am somehow depressed--oddly depressed.  We have been
so gay and happy these last few days, that I can hardly bear to feel
myself going down to a lower level.  I feel a great longing for your
father to be with me.  Philip, do you ever feel as if you had been in
some place before, even if you knew for certain that you never can have
been there?"

"I have felt it once," he replied.

"I feel it here," she continued, sighing; "I feel it very strongly.  I
feel, too, as if your father had been here; of course that is possible,
though he never mentioned it to me.  It seems almost as if I could see
him passing to and fro, and sitting here by my side, just as you are
sitting.  And I have another sensation--as if for years I had been
traveling unconsciously toward one spot, and it is here, this valley,
this room.  You know I am not superstitious, but if I cannot shake off
this feeling, we must go on somewhere else.  It is foolish of me, but I
cannot stay here.  I am positively afraid of going to bed, for I shall
not sleep.  Look at that great bed in the corner; it frightens me.  Yet
I never am afraid."

"You are overdone, mother," he said tenderly.  "I have not taken care
of you, but left myself to be taken care of.  Let Dorothy come and
sleep with you; you would not be afraid with her sweet, happy face
beside you."

"It is sweet and happy," answered Margaret, with a smile.  "Yes, I will
have a bed made up for her here, and if I lie awake in the night I can
look across at her, sleeping as if she felt herself under the shadow of
God's wings."

"Ah, mother!" he cried, "if you only loved my Phyllis as you love
Dorothy!"

"I may do some day," she replied.  "When she is your wife and my
daughter-in-law, she will be nearer to me even than Dorothy."

He put his arm round her and kissed her gratefully, but in silence.  He
knew that she could never love Phyllis as she loved Dorothy.  Phyllis,
with her little petulancies, her pretty maneuvers, her arch plottings
to get her own way, her love of ornament and display, all her pleasures
and her purposes, was too unlike Margaret ever to become the daughter
of her heart.  But he must make up to Phyllis by a deeper devotion, a
more single attention to her wishes, even when they were opposed to his
own.  Marrying her against the will and judgment of his father and
mother, he must make it evident to her, as well as to them, that he
never regretted acting on his own decision.

"I am going up the mountains to-morrow morning," he said before leaving
her, "with a priest, to hear some great secret from an old woman who is
dying.  Some tale of robbery, I expect.  We start at six, and it is two
hours' up the mountain; but I shall get back for twelve o'clock
breakfast."

The clock in the bell tower struck twelve before Margaret could resolve
upon lying down in the great square bed in the corner, which stood
almost as high as her own head.  Dorothy had been fast asleep for some
time on the little bed that had been moved into the room, and the
girl's sweet, tranquil slumber in some measure dispelled her own
nervous fears.  But the night was sleepless to her.  She heard, every
quarter of an hour, the loud, single boom of the great bell, which
reassured the inhabitants of the valley that their watchman was awake
on his chilly tower, and looking out for any cause of alarm.  Was it
possible that she had never listened to it before, so familiar the
sound was?  Could this be the first night she had lain awake in this
weary chamber, longing for Sidney's presence, and watching with weary
eyes the gray light of the morning stealing through the chinks of the
shutters?  Had she never wept before as she did now, with tears slowly
forcing themselves beneath her heavy eyelids?  It was all a nervous
illusion, she told herself, proceeding from overstrain and fatigue; but
if it continued through the day, she must go on to some other place.
There would be no chance of rest for her here.

She lay as still almost as if she had been stretched out in death, her
arms folded across her breast, and her eyelids closed.  If she could
not take rest in sleep, she would commune with her own heart upon her
bed, and be still.  "Thou, Lord, only makest me to dwell in safety,"
she said.  She reminded herself that nothing could befall her that God
had not willed.  Death she had never feared since the day when she had
all but crossed the threshold of another life.  The death of her
beloved ones would be an unspeakable sorrow to her, but not an
unendurable one.  What else, then, was there to dread?



CHAPTER XXXI.

MARTINO.

The jagged crests of the eastern rocks were fringed with light from the
sun still lingering behind them, when Philip stepped out into the
frosty air of the morning, which made his veins tingle with a pleasant
glow.  He enjoyed the prospect of this novel expedition, and felt glad
that he was the first English tourist of the season.  All the town was
astir already, and the priest, with an acolyte, was awaiting him at the
church door, where mass was just over, and the congregation, chiefly of
women, was dispersing to their labors in the fields.  Very soon the sun
was shining down on the mountain track they were taking, and the whole
valley lay below their eyes, lit up in its beams.  The fields wore the
vivid green of early spring, after the melting of the snows and before
the scorching of the summer skies of brass.  There were no song birds;
but once the harsh cry of a vulture startled Philip as it soared above
them, uttering its scream of anger.  On the fir trees the crimson
flowers were hardening into cones, which would soon be empurpled and
bronzed by the sun, where they hung in great clusters on the boughs
just beyond his reach.  He must bring Dorothy to see them, he thought.
As they mounted higher they came here and there upon broad patches of
gentian, so thickly grown that not a blade of green peeped among the
deep blue of the blossom.  Spring flowers were blooming in profusion,
and their path lay once through a field of forget-me-nots, where the
grass was hidden under a mantle of pale, heavenly blue.  Certainly he
would bring his mother and Dorothy to see such a pretty sight.

Higher up the mountain path, which he could not have found without the
priest as a guide, the road grew rougher and more stony, and presently
they passed under the chill shadow of a long, high wall of rock.  Here
the snow lay unmelted in great masses, as if it had fallen in
avalanches from the steep precipices above.  But a path had been
trodden over them, hard and slippery as frosty roads are on mountain
passes where winter still reigns.  Beyond these, in a valley lying high
up on the mountain side, was a group of miserable hovels.  From every
roof there rose a cloud of smoke, as if they were all smoldering from
fire, and a volume of smoke issued from each open doorway.  There was
neither chimney nor window in any of the rude dwellings.

"Will the signore arrest himself here till I turn again?" asked the
priest courteously.

Philip strolled on a little through a mass of broken rocks, split by
the frost from the precipices, and interspersed with tiny plots of
cultivated ground, wherever a handful of soil could be found.  But in a
few minutes he heard shouts and yells from what might be called the
village street, and he turned back to see what was going on.  The
priest, attended by his acolyte, had entered one of the huts; and now,
stealing away from it, Philip could see the gaunt and wretched figure
of a man, at whom the children were hooting loudly, though they kept at
a safe distance from him.  He came on toward Philip with a shambling
gait, and with round, bowed shoulders, as if he had never stood
upright.  His shaggy hair was long and matted together, and his beard
had been clumsily cut, not shaved, giving to him almost the aspect of a
wild beast.  His clothes were rags of the coarsest texture.  Yet there
was something--what could it be? not altogether strange and unfamiliar
in his face as he drew near.  There was a deep glance in his gray eyes,
which lay sunken under heavy eyebrows, that seemed to speak some
intelligible language to him, as if he knew the same expression in a
well known face.  The peasant passed by, muttering, and stopping
immediately behind him, as if using him as a screen, he picked up an
enormous piece of rock and flung it at the yelping children.

"Martino!  Martino!" they shrieked as they ran for refuge to their
miserable dens; and at the clamorous outcry a crew of dirty, half naked
women, who looked barely human, rushed out into the street, as if to
take vengeance on the irritated man; but at the sight of Philip they
paused for an instant, and then fled back again, banging their doors
behind them, as if fearful of an attack.

At the sound of the cry "Martino," Philip for a moment fancied they
were calling to him; but quickly recalling to his mind where he was, he
felt how impossible it was for any creature here to know his name.
This poor fellow must bear it--an unlucky, pitiable namesake.  He must
be a dangerous madman, he thought; yet when he looked round he saw the
man crouching quietly under a rock at a little distance, his shaggy
head buried in his hands.  Philip's whole heart was stirred.  He
approached him cautiously, saying, "Good-morning," and the peasant
lifted up his head and fixed his deep-set and mournful eyes upon him.

"Here is a _lira_ for you," said Philip, by way of opening up a
friendly feeling between them.  The man turned it about in his rough
hands, with something like a smile on his rugged face.  Then he
crouched down at Philip's feet, with his hands upon the ground--the
attitude of a brute.

"The good signore!" he exclaimed.

The two young men presented a striking contrast.  The one a handsome,
thoroughbred, refined Englishman, whose culture had been pushed to the
highest point, with all his powers of mind and body carefully trained,
full of pity and kindliness toward the almost savage and imbecile
creature, all but prostrate at his feet, who had grown up an outcast
and a thrall among barbarians.  Philip compelled him to rise from his
knees.

"What is your name?" he asked, speaking slowly and clearly.

"Martino," he answered in a mumbling voice.

"That is one of my names too," said Philip, with a light laugh.  He
himself was struck with the utter contrast between them.  The man was
the same height as himself, only his head hung low, and his shoulders
were rounded.  Coarse and brutish as this Austrian peasant was, he felt
a peculiar kindness toward him, and looked at him with the eye of a
future patron and benefactor.  If he had only been cared for sooner,
these large limbs might have made a fine man, and his head was not a
bad shape.  Now he saw him near at hand there were possibilities about
him which would have made him quite another creature if he had been
taken in hand a few years earlier.  It was too late now.

They stood opposite to one another with friendliness in both faces, but
with the accursed barrier of different languages making it impossible
to communicate their kindly feelings.  The peasant kept looking at the
coin in his grimy palm, and back again at Philip's compassionate face,
but he did not try to speak.  Philip was about to make another effort,
when the priest approached and addressed a few sharp words to Martino,
who immediately shambled off, dragging his bare and horny feet along
over the stones and ice, in the direction of Cortina.

"The respectable old person is now ready to receive the signore," said
the priest to Philip.

He conducted him into the dark interior of one of the hovels, into
which no ray of light entered, except through the nick between the
doorpost and the door, which he left purposely ajar.  Coming out of the
strong, clear light of the mountain side, for a minute or two Philip
could discern nothing; but by and by, in the darkness, there appeared
slowly and dimly a haggard, yellow face, wrinkled in a thousand lines,
with cunning eyes grown bleared and red, which wandered restlessly
between him and the priest.  All else was dark and indistinguishable.
The black roof lay low, almost touching his head, and the black walls
hemmed him in closely.  On the hearth a fire of dry dung was
smoldering, but gave no light; and the noisome smoke rose in wreaths
and columns which found a partial escape through the roof and doorway.
Philip took silent note of it all, with the calm interest of an
accidental bystander.

"This person wishes to disclose a strange circumstance to the English
signore," said the priest with grave deliberation; "he understands the
Italian a little, I think so."

"Only a little," answered Philip; "but if you will repeat to me slowly
what she says, I shall make out most of the meaning.  And you can help
me, for you know more English than I do Italian."

The priest bowed with a smile.  There was, indeed, great difficulty to
make out the whole story, as Chiara told it in patois; but her manner
was intensely earnest, and Philip bent all his mind to catch the
meaning of her confession.  It seemed an obscure and painful story of
some young English girl, who had been deserted by her lover at Cortina,
when she was about to become a mother, and who gave birth to the poor
unfortunate creature whom he had just seen.  This man was half an
Englishman, the son of an English mother.  This, then, was the secret
of his strange feeling of being almost akin to him.

"Why did she not try to send him as a child to England?" he asked,
feeling a great rush of compassion toward the man who had been thus
deprived of his birthright.

There was some hesitation about the reply.  Chiara had confessed her
theft to the priest, but she had also left the stolen money to the
church for masses to be said for her soul.  She had derived no benefit
from it during her lifetime, having grown to love it with all a miser's
infatuation, and she was not willing to sacrifice the good it might do
her in the life to which she was hastening.  She could not run the risk
of having to give up her idolized plunder.  The priest, also, was
unwilling for the church to lose any portion of its revenues.

"Chiara took charge of the child," he said, "and sent it up here to be
nursed by her sister.  When her sister died ten years ago she came to
live in this place herself, and Martino worked for her.  It was fair
for Martino to work for her, when she paid for all he had."

"Yes," answered Philip; "but did this woman take no measures to find
the father who deserted his child so basely?"

"Not possible," exclaimed the priest; "there were few English tourists
passing this way thirty years ago.  And Chiara began to love the boy,
and could not part with him."

"But why does she tell the story now--now, when it is too late?" asked
Philip with a tone of passion in his voice.

"She would not tell now," said the priest, "but she dies, as you
behold.  She is poor, and there will be nothing for Martino.  When she
is gone the other people here will stone him, or kill him in some way.
For his mother was a heretic, and they believe she is in hell, and
Martino is not a good Christian, though he was permitted to be
baptized.  He is very savage, like a wild beast, and the women are
frightened of him.  The men will kill him like a wild beast."

"She wants to find a friend and protector for him," responded Philip
pitifully.  "Well, I will take care of the poor fellow.  Did the poor
girl leave nothing behind her which might give me some clew as to who
she belonged to?  Martino may have some relations in England."

"There is this little packet of papers in English," said the priest; "I
have not read them yet, for this person did not give them to me only a
moment ago.  No person has ever read them, for she kept them safe and
secret all these years.  She wishes the English signore to read them,
and say what can be done for Martino."

"I cannot read them here," replied Philip, taking the yellow,
time-stained packet from his hand; "but if you will come to my hotel
this evening I will tell you the contents."

"Very good," said the priest.



CHAPTER XXXII.

AN OLD LETTER.

Philip left the stifling atmosphere of the hovel, and, with a
deep-drawn breath of relief, stepped into the open air.  The wonderful
landscape stretched before him in clear sunlight, dazzling to his eyes.
He was nearly two thousand feet above the valley, and the mountains,
which were foreshortened to the sight there, now seemed to tower into
the cloudless sky with indescribable grandeur and beauty.  It was a
perfect day, and the light was intense.  The colors of these rocks were
exceedingly soft, with a bloom upon them like the bloom upon a peach.
Tender shades of purple and red, with blue and orange, pale yellow and
green, blended together, and formed such delicate tints as would drive
an artist to despair.  Tall pinnacles of these cliffs rose behind the
dun-colored mountains of porphyry, and seemed to look down upon him, as
if their turrets and parapets were filled with spectators of the
trivial affairs of man.  Thin clouds were floating about them, hanging
in mist upon their peaks or slowly gliding across from one snow-veined
crest to another.  Immediately above him, just beyond the hamlet, lay a
vast hollow, in which the snowdrift was melting in the heat of the sun,
which had at last risen behind its rough screen of crags; and a stream
of icy-cold water was falling noisily down a steep and stony channel,
which it had worn out for itself through many centuries of spring
thaws.  The heat was very great; and Philip made his way to some little
distance from the huts, and sat down on the ledge of a rock, which
commanded a splendid view of the groups of mountains, and the valleys
lying between them.  He was not, as yet, so interested in the packet in
his hand as to be indifferent to the romantic scenery surrounding him.
These letters had been written thirty years ago; they could well wait a
few minutes longer.

Yet he was indignant; and he was full of compassion toward his
unfortunate fellow-countryman.  But at that moment he was enjoying the
sensation of an almost perfectly full life.  He felt himself in
faultless health; his mind was on the stretch, with a sense of vigor
and power which was delightful to him after the low spirits of the last
few months; and beneath this strong sensation of mental and physical
life lay a clearer, keener, diviner conviction of the presence of God
than he had ever known before.  It seemed to him as if he could all but
hear a voice calling to him, "This is holy ground!"  In spite of the
miserable homes of men and women close by, and in spite of the degraded
man whose life had been one long wretchedness in this place, Philip
felt that it was a temple of God himself.

With this strength, and in the consciousness of unusual energy, he
turned away at last from the sublime landscape, to read the faded paper
in his hands.  It bore no name or address; and it was not sealed, only
tied together with a ribbon.  A very, very long letter of several
pages, written in almost undecipherable lines, for the ink was faded,
and the paper stained.  But there was another packet, and opening it he
found a daguerreotype glass.  There were two portraits on it, one of a
girl with a very pretty face, and the other--but whose could this
portrait be?

Philip's healthy pulse ceased to beat for a moment.  Who could it be?
How perfectly he seemed to know it!  There had been an old
daguerreotype lying about in the nursery at Apley, which he had seen
and played with as soon as he was old enough to recognize it in its
morocco case.  Was it possible that this portrait was the same as that?

He shut the case softly, feeling as if dead hands were closing it.  A
terrible foreboding of some dire calamity came all at once into the
sunshine, and the sweet air, and the sound of hurrying waters.  He
unfolded the time-stained letter, and began to read; and as he read,
the dreadful truth, the whole truth, as he thought, broke upon him, and
overwhelmed him with dismay and horror.

One of his earliest remembrances was the story of the lost girl, Rachel
Goldsmith's niece, who had gone away secretly from home and had never
again been heard of.  As a boy he had often thought of how he would go
forth to find her, and bring her home again to his oldest friend,
Andrew Goldsmith.  It had been his boyish vision of knight-errantry.
As a young man he had learned what such a loss meant; not the simple
loss he had fancied it as a boy.  It had become in later years a
subject he could no longer mention to her father, or his own mother.
Philip's ideal of a man's duty toward a woman was of the purest and
most chivalrous devotion.

And now!  Philip could not face the horror of the thought that was
waiting to take possession of his mind.  He roused himself angrily, and
stood up, crushing the letter and the portraits into his pocket.  A
path went beyond the hamlet, leading upward toward the crest of a pass
lying between two ranges of mountains.  He strode hastily along it, as
if he were pursued by an enemy, passing through pine woods, and over
torrents of stones, which many a storm had swept down from the
precipices above him.  Some massive thunderclouds had gathered in the
north, and the snowy peaks gleamed out pale and ghost-like against the
leaden sky.  But his eyes were blinded, and his ears deafened.  Yet he
was not thinking; he dared not think.  A miserable dread was dogging
his footsteps along an unknown path; and presently he must summon
courage to turn round and confront this dread.

He reached at last the top of the pass, where three crosses stood out
strongly and clearly against the sky.  Three crosses!  Not only that on
which the Lord died, but those on which every man must hang, weary and
ashamed, at some moment of his life.  He sat down beneath the central
one, and leaned against the foot of it.  It was his Lord's cross; but
on each side stood the cross of a fellow-man--the man of sorrows, and
the man of sins.  He, too, was come to the hour when he must be lifted
up upon his cross.  He must be crucified upon it, perhaps in the sight
of men, certainly in the sight of God.  He had come to it straight from
the conviction of the presence of God; and looking up to the three
empty crosses, he cried out, "Lord, remember me."

Then, with hands that shook, and with dazed eyes, he read the long
letter, which Sophy had written years before he was born.  And as he
read he found the burden less intolerable than he had dreaded it would
be.  His father had not been as base as his first miserable suspicion
had vaguely pictured him.  Sophy Goldsmith had been his wife; and
Philip, counting how many years were passed, saw his father a young man
like himself, loving her as he loved Phyllis, but with far less hope of
ever gaining the consent of his friends to such a marriage.  He, too,
would have married Phyllis, in spite of all opposition; only not in
secret.

His brain grew clearer with this gleam of comfort.  Then the thought
came that the miserable, half savage peasant whom he had seen that
morning, being Sophy's child, must be his father's first-born son, and
his own brother.  It was his father's eyes he had seen, and partly
recognized, when he first looked into Martin's face.  His brother
Martin!  He thought of his brother Hugh, between whom and himself there
existed the strongest and most loyal brotherhood.  Hugh had stood by
him through all his difficulties about Phyllis, and approved of his
choice of her with the warmest approbation.  But this barbarous,
degraded, forlorn wretch, an outcast among the lowest people--how could
he feel a brother's love for him?

If the eldest son--then the heir!  The estates in Yorkshire were
strictly entailed upon Sir John Martin's male heirs, as his mother's
lands were settled upon Hugh.  This man, scarcely higher than a brute,
must take from him the inheritance which had seemed to be his all his
life.  Why! he, Philip Martin, would be a poor man, a man who must work
for his living.  This was a new aspect of the case, and one which
aroused him from the deeper depths of his dismay.  This discovery
suddenly and completely changed his whole life.

It was not he who would some day be Philip Martin of
Brackenburn--nothing would be his.  Now he could marry Phyllis without
opposition, for he would be as poor as she was.  He was not afraid of
poverty; he had no practical acquaintance with it, and Margaret had
trained her sons into a fine contempt of mere wealth.  There would be a
worthy object in setting to work now, for he would have a wife and
family to maintain.  That was far better than simply making more money
to invest or to speculate with.

But what ought he to do?  This was a secret of momentous importance
concealed by his father for nearly thirty years.  It had come suddenly
to his knowledge; and what must he do with it?  And now, his heart
having shaken off the worst of its burden, his mind was clear enough to
recognize the hideous and insane selfishness of his father's conduct.
Before he knew who it was that had deserted this young girl and her
unborn child, he had felt a strong indignation at his baseness and
cowardice.  What could have made his father, who seemed the soul of
honor, act in such a manner?  He had been guilty of a great crime, and
the man sent to discover it was his own son.

Lifting up his eyes from the ground, on which they had been gloomily
bent, Philip saw the uncouth figure of his elder brother crouching and
half hidden under one of the thieves' crosses.  His bare feet had
brought him noiselessly along the road; and he shrank a little from his
observation, as if he was afraid of some sharp rebuff.  The deep-set
eyes glowered at him much as a dog's will do when he is not sure of
what reception he will get.  There was something wild and desolate
about this solitary figure which touched Philip's inmost heart; and yet
he could give him no welcome to a place there.

Must he tell his mother?  It would be like piercing her to the soul
with a sword.  He knew well what keen and tender sympathy she had felt
for the Goldsmiths, both when Sophy first disappeared and during all
the succeeding years of alternating hope and despair.  It was this
sympathy that had won Rachel Goldsmith's profound devotion to her
beloved mistress.  How his mother must suffer when she learned that the
husband she loved and honored so perfectly had been living a base and
cruel lie at her side, witnessing all the sorrow of the family he had
wronged, and pretending to share in it.  He could imagine her bearing
his father's death, but he could not imagine her bearing his dishonor.
His mother must suffer more than he did.

Philip roused himself at last to go down into the valley; the afternoon
was passing by, and his mother would be getting anxious at his absence.
He said "_Addio_" to his silent companion; but he was conscious,
without looking back, that Martino was following him.  He felt glad
when he reached Cortina, on glancing round, to see that he was at last
alone.  Dorothy was standing on the balcony outside his mother's
bedroom, and she leaned over, with a laughing face, to reproach him for
being away so long.

"The very first day, too!" she said.  "And oh! if you only knew how
vexed I am!  There is a telegram from your father, very pleasant for
you, but most disagreeable to me."

He ran upstairs at hearing this news, no longer afraid of meeting his
mother, and she gave to him the telegram.

"Going to Munich on business," it ran; "proceed immediately--meet
there.  Taking Phyllis."

"But there is a great _festa_ in the village to-morrow," said Dorothy,
"and as it is too late to proceed immediately, we are going to stay for
the morning and go on to Toblach in the afternoon.  We shall reach
Munich before your father and Phyllis can be there.  And oh, Philip!
the bells are ringing carillons as if they were chimes in heaven."



CHAPTER XXXIII.

A VILLAGE "FESTA."

Philip went down to the presbytery and had a short interview with the
padre.  Chiara was dying at last; the sacraments had been administered
to her, and her life could not linger on through many hours.  What did
the English signore propose to do for his penniless countryman?

Philip answered briefly that he would take steps to restore him to his
family.  He then went to the telegraph office and dispatched another
message to his father.  "Received yours.  Urgent reasons for your
presence here."

He would accompany his mother to-morrow to Toblach; but he could not
quit the neighborhood until something could be decided about his
brother.  His brother!  He stood still abruptly in the village street,
with a half laugh of stupefied amazement.  His brother!  It must be
some egregious blunder of his own imagination; his brain had been
weakened by the fever.  He turned away into a by-road and cautiously
took out the letter and the morocco case.  No, that was his father's
portrait; he recognized it too well.  The eyes looking out of the faded
daguerreotype resembled the sad, frank, frightened eyes of the
oppressed and persecuted outcast.

He did not venture indoors again until dinner time, and immediately
after dinner he complained of fatigue.  Margaret went to his room
before going to bed herself, entering very softly through the door
between their two chambers lest he should be sleeping.  He knew she
stood for a minute or two beside him, shading the lamp with her hand;
but he dared not move or speak.  She bent over him and laid her lips on
his hair that she might run no risk of awakening him.  He had never
loved her so much as at this moment, and he longed to throw his arms
round her neck and tell her what was troubling him, as he had done when
he was a boy not so very long ago.  But he could not tell her this
sorrow; would it not crush her to death?  Would to God he could die if
his death would save her!

The morning was wonderfully bright and sunny, and through the
transparent thinness of the air the most distant peaks shone clearly,
with their soft colors and delicate tracery of snow.  The _festa_ began
early with the ringing of bells and the firing of musketry.  Long files
of peasantry came down in troops along the narrow tracks leading from
the valley to the mountains.  Margaret and Dorothy hurried over their
coffee and rolls to hasten down to the church.  But it was already
full, and hundreds of women and children were kneeling outside the
western door, and a similar crowd of men outside the northern door.
Some women sitting on a bench offered a seat to Margaret, whose
beautiful face was lit up with an expression of sympathy with their
devotion.  The women, like the men, were praying with their hats in
their hands, bareheaded under a burning sun.  Margaret shared a prayer
book with the peasant woman beside her, and read the prayers and
meditations in Italian; while here and there the woman marked with her
thumb some special words, and looked up into her face to see if she was
"_sympatica_"; and she and her companions smiled as they saw Margaret's
lips move with the uttering of the same prayers they were themselves
repeating.

Presently, amid the ringing of the bells and to the music of a brass
band, a procession was formed, and all the congregation thronged out of
the church, and those who had been praying without fell into their
places--men, and women, and children.  There were altars erected in the
streets, at which mass was to be celebrated; and the long procession
filed away with many banners fluttering along it.  Last of all, and at
a little distance from the rest, there came a man whom Margaret had
already noticed as standing aloof, half hidden behind a corner of a
wall.  He was an uncouth creature, tall and ungainly, with uncut,
matted hair, and a coarse beard; yet there was something in his whole
appearance that reminded her of somebody she knew.

"Why!" exclaimed Dorothy in accents of surprise.  "Look! look!  How
like that poor fellow is to Andrew Goldsmith!"

Yes, that was it.  This awkward Tyrolean peasant, who hardly knew how
to use his great limbs, was like Andrew--oddly like him; he might have
been Andrew's own son.  She smiled at the oddity of such a resemblance;
but apart from this, the man's solitariness and aloofness interested
her greatly.  She turned to the old woman beside her, who was sitting
still, waiting for the procession to accomplish part of its route
before she joined it.

"Who is that poor man?" she inquired.

"He is English," replied the woman, "an Englishman who was born here in
the very hotel itself where the signora is staying.  Will she wish to
hear all the circumstances?  Because I know; I was a servant there when
Martino was born."

"Is his name Martino?" asked Margaret.

"Yes, signora," she went on eagerly; "I will tell the English lady.  It
is nearly thirty years ago, a little later than this _festa_.  An
English signore and signora came to the hotel, and the name written in
the register by the signore was Martino.  So when the child was born he
was named Martin; and Saint Martin is his patron, but the saint has
done nothing for him, because his parents were heretics, and not
Christians."

"Martin!" repeated Margaret, with growing interest; "but what became of
the parents?"

"The little mother died, poor soul, in giving him birth," said the old
woman, "and lies buried yonder in the cemetery, and Chiara took the boy
for her own.  Chiara was the head servant in the hotel, and folks say
she made money by it in some way; but there was not much money in the
signora's trunks--only enough to bury her; or if there was money, it
never did Chiara any good, poor soul!  They say she lies dying this
morning up yonder in a hut on the hills, and all she will hear of the
_festa_ is the ringing of the bells and the firing of the cannon.
She's no older than I am; and you behold me!"

"But the father of Martino," said Margaret, "what became of him?"

"An old story," she answered; "he had forsaken her three or four weeks
before the boy was born.  He was a fine, handsome signore, and she
worshiped him.  But what then?  Young signori cannot trouble themselves
about girls.  Why should they?  Girls are too plentiful.  He went off
one fine day, and nobody ever saw him again."

"But did no one try to find him on account of his child?" asked
Margaret.

"Once," said the woman, "about six years after, a strange Englishman
came here in the winter, and made inquiries, and saw the boy.  But he
went away again, and no more was heard of him.  Chiara brought the boy
up to be her servant.  Her servant?  Her slave!  His life was worse
than a dog's.  We are poor here, signora, but Martino is the poorest
creature of us all.  He never had as much as he could eat; not once in
his life.  Old Chiara is a skinflint."

The procession was out of sight, but the monotonous chant droned by
thousands of voices came plainly to their ears.  Margaret listened to
the strange sound, with eyes dim with tears for the poor fellow, whose
life was so desolate and hard.

"Will the lady wish to see the grave of the pretty English girl?" asked
the woman, with an eye to a possible gratuity.  "It is not far off in
the cemetery, and we shall be there before the procession passes."

"I will go," said Margaret in a pitying voice.  "Dorothy, stay and
bring Philip to me."

The murmur of the chanted prayers filled the quiet air as they passed
down a side lane toward the cemetery, broken only by the clashing of
the bells and the firing of cannon at the moment when the Host was
elevated.  This triumphal burst of noisy sound came as they passed
through the gates of the neglected burial ground, and Margaret's guide
fell down on her knees and waited until the chant was renewed.  Then
she led the way to the corner, apart from the other graves, and
somewhat more overgrown with weeds and nettles, where Sophy lay buried.

There was a rude cross at the head of the grave, made of two bits of
wood nailed clumsily together; and round it lay an outline of white
pebbles.  To-day, a handful of blue gentians lay upon it.  There was a
pathetic sadness about these awkward efforts to care for the grave, as
if some bungler had done his best to express his grief, and had
scarcely known what to do.  The tears fell fast from Margaret's eyes as
she laid her hand reverently on the rough wood of the cross.

"Has that poor fellow done this?" she asked.

"Yes, signora," was the answer, "it's his mother's grave.  The pretty
English girl is buried here.  I can recollect her well, with blue eyes
and gold hair, and a skin like roses and lilies.  He called her Sophy."

Margaret started.  A sudden pang shot through her heart.  After all
these years was she to discover the fate of the poor girl, whose loss
she had mourned so long, in this remote spot?  Could this be Sophy
Goldsmith's grave?  And oh! how sorrowful beyond all their fears must
her sad lot have been!  Dying, alone, deserted; leaving behind her a
child who had grown into this miserable pariah of the mountains.
Swiftly the thought of Andrew Goldsmith, and his dark, deep grief when
he learnt all, passed through her mind.

The refrain of the chant came nearer, and the long procession had
reached the doors of the church close to the cemetery.  Suddenly the
peasant woman broke the silence with which she had respected Margaret's
tears.

"Will the signora pardon me if I leave her?" she asked.  "They are
going into church now.  God!" she cried in a tone of terror, "here is
the young English signore himself! the signore who forsook the poor
English girl.  Oh, my God!"

Margaret turned round, with a sickening sensation of terror, such as
she had never felt before, as if she would be compelled to see some
dreaded vision.  Coming slowly toward them down the weedy path of the
cemetery was Philip, with Dorothy at his side.  Both looked grave, as
if they felt the desolation of the neglected spot; but there was an air
of moody preoccupation about Philip, as though his thoughts were
dealing with some subject a thousandfold more sad than the uncared-for
dead.

"No, no," continued the woman, "it cannot be!  The signore would be an
old man now; it is thirty years ago.  But just so he looked, and just
so he walked.  Did the signora know the poor girl who is buried here
called Sophy, Martino's mother?"

"Hush! hush!" cried Margaret, in an agony of apprehension; "say nothing
more now.  This is my son.  Go away to church, and I will see you again
some time soon."

A moment afterward Philip was standing opposite to her, looking down on
the rudely outlined grave and the rough cross.  Neither of them spoke.
He did not ask whose grave it was; and her parched lips could have
given him no answer.

"It looks like a God-forsaken spot," said Dorothy, pityingly.  "Oh, how
can people leave their dear ones in such a desolate graveyard?  I
always fancy 'the field to bury strangers in,' which was bought with
the money Judas flung away, must have been such a place as this."

But neither Margaret nor Philip answered her, and she looked up in
surprise.  Margaret's face was like that of one stunned and almost
paralyzed by a sudden shock; her eyes were fixed, and her lips half
open, as if she was gazing on some sight of horror.  It was but for a
brief half minute; then she sighed heavily, and tears fell fast and
thick down her pale cheeks.

"O Philip!" cried his mother, "let us go away quickly from this place.
Let us start at once.  I am not myself here.  Take me away as quickly
as we can go."

"Yes, mother," he answered, drawing her hand tenderly through his arm.
He did not dare to ask her any question.  He guessed whose grave this
was by which she was standing, and felt sure that she knew something of
the dread secret that oppressed himself.  But it was impossible for him
to ask her.  She stood nearer to his father even than he did.  The
close, inseparable, sacred nature of the tie that unites man and wife
struck him as it had never done before.  Any sin of her husband would
be an intolerable burden to her.

He hurried their departure from the hotel, though it was difficult to
get a carriage on a _festa_ day like this.  But at length they started,
and he felt that every step taking them away from Cortina was a gain.
They passed little groups of peasants going homeward; and the sound of
church bells ringing joyous peals pursued them for several miles.  But
they left the valley behind them after a time.  The drive they were
hurrying over was one of the most beautiful in Europe, but only Dorothy
saw it that day.  Once, when she saw a red peak, with clouds rolling
across it, and the spots of crimson gleaming like flames beneath the
vapor, and a pale gray rock close by looking ghostlike beside it, she
turned to Margaret with a low exclamation of delight.  But Margaret's
eyes were closed, and her ears were deaf.  A vague, undefined terror in
her soul had almost absolute rule over her.  She must have been blind
and deaf to the glories of heaven itself, with that fear of an almost
impossible crime in her husband which was haunting her.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

A FORCED CONFESSION.

In fleeing as swiftly as she could from Cortina, Margaret had no
intention of deserting Sophy's son.  But it seemed essential to her to
get away from the spot for a little while, that her brain might be
clear enough for thought.  They stopped, then, at Toblach, at the
entrance of the Ampezzo Valley, and only half a day's journey from
Cortina.  It was a relief to her to hear that Philip had already
telegraphed for his father, and as he must pass through Toblach they
waited for him there.

The tumult in Margaret's mind calmed a little, but still she shrank
from gathering up the threads of what she had heard at Cortina and
weaving them together.  Sophy Goldsmith lay buried there, and her son
was living and bore the name of Martin.  Philip had been recognized as
being like the man who had deserted her and left her to die.  Her mind
constantly recurred to these points.  She reproached herself vehemently
for suffering any doubt of Sidney to invade her love for him.  Her love
was so deep and vital that it seemed impossible for doubt to undermine
it.  If any human being could know another, she felt that she must know
her husband's nature; and treachery and vice were abhorrent to it.  She
did not call him faultless, but she had seen none besides the little
flaws and errors which must always hang about frail humanity--such as
she was herself guilty of.  "Who can understand his errors?  Cleanse
thou me from secret faults," was a prayer often in Margaret's heart;
and she had never been prone to mark little sins, such as men and women
outgrow, if their path be upward.  Sidney's whole life lay before her
in the clear and searching light of their mutual love and close
companionship; and looking at it thus she refused to believe any evil
of him, and tried to shut her eyes to the black cloud dimming her
horizon.

But there could not but be times when doubt and suspicion stole like
traitors into her heart.  There was no doubt in her clear brain that it
was Sophy Goldsmith who was lying in that forsaken grave, and that the
wretched pariah she had seen was Andrew Goldsmith's grandson.  That was
terrible enough; a most mournful discovery to come upon after so many
years of faint hope, and of constant grief.  But if the man who wrought
all this misery, and was guilty of this base treachery, should prove to
be Sidney!  It was incredible; it was madness to believe it.

All this time Margaret did not cease to trust in the love of God, and
in his love toward all men.  Though fierce tempests troubled the very
depths of her soul, below them was a deeper depth, not of her own soul,
but of that Eternal Spirit in whom she lived, and moved, and had her
being.  She was conscious of resting in this love.  But a child resting
in its mother's arms, and on her breast, may suffer agonies of pain.
So Margaret suffered.

Sidney was in London when Philip dispatched his first message from
Cortina.  It was evening when he sent it, and the first thing the next
morning it reached his father's hands.  Margaret had written from
Venice as soon as their departure had been decided upon; but Sidney had
not as yet received the letter.  Philip's telegram, therefore, came
upon him like a thunderbolt falling out of a clear blue sky.  He had
felt no forewarning of this danger.  Their route on their return from
Venice had been settled before he left them, and so accustomed was he
to arrange and direct the movements of all about him, that no
apprehension of any change of plan had crossed his mind.  It was only
of late that the conviction that his son was a man, and one who would
assert and enjoy the freedom of manhood, had been thrust upon him.  It
was evident that Philip had felt himself man enough to change his route
homeward as it pleased him.

They were in Cortina; but if they were merely passing through there was
but little risk of them learning Sophy's fate.  He must get them away
from the dangerous place immediately.  For a few minutes he was at a
loss how to do this.  Then the plan of setting off himself for Munich
on business occurred to him; and to ensure Philip's prompt compliance
he resolved to take Phyllis with him.  He sent a messenger to bring her
hurriedly to London, and they started at night, Phyllis in a whirl of
delight and triumph at Sidney's surrender to her.  They were well on
their way to Munich before Philip's second telegram reached London.

But when they arrived at Munich, instead of his wife and son awaiting
him at his hotel, he found Philip's message repeated in a telegram from
his confidential clerk.  Then his heart sank and was troubled.  This
summons to Cortina indicated too plainly that his sin had found him
out.  His sin!  From one point of view--the lenient judgment of a man
of the world--it did not seem a very grievous one.  It was nothing
worse than the too close concealment of a boyish blunder.  His first
wife had been dead years before he married Margaret; and he had
confessed this secret marriage to her father.  With most women there
would be tears and reproaches, followed by forgiveness.  But Margaret
would have a point of view of her own.  What would she feel about the
ugly fact when she learned that Sophy had died alone and deserted?
Still more, what would she feel about the prolonged concealment as it
affected Andrew Goldsmith and her favorite maid, Rachel?  But for these
things he might have reckoned upon her full pardon.

Phyllis was traveling with him, and demanded a good deal of his
attention.  She was a little exacting as a companion, and could not sit
in silence for an hour together.  Her spirits were high, for she felt
that now indeed Sidney's objections to her marriage with Philip were
overcome, and that he must consent to an early date for it.  When she
kept silence for half an hour she was settling weighty questions about
her trousseau, and wondering if Sidney could not be managed in such a
way as to be persuaded to give her a handsome sum toward the purchase
of it.  She knew her father could not spare her a tenth of the money
she would wish for.  How delicious it was to be rich!  Sidney never
gave a second thought to any of the expenses of their luxurious mode of
traveling; and before long this would be her own experience.
"Sovereigns will be like shillings to me," she said to herself, and the
thought made her very happy.  Every whim of her heart would be
gratified when she was Philip's wife.

In the meanwhile Philip was suffering less than his mother, but with
more certain knowledge of facts.  There was no conflict in his mind
between love and suspicion.  His love for his father, whom until lately
he had loved passionately, seemed to be scorched up in the fierce fire
of his indignation.  He had been guilty of the meanest perfidy, and all
his after life had been one of shameful hypocrisy.  As Philip wandered
solitarily about the beautiful pine woods at Toblach, he wore himself
out with thinking of old Andrew Goldsmith, and his lifelong grief, with
his loyal devotion to the man who was dealing treacherously with him,
who month after month, and year after year, had let him hunger and
thirst for the knowledge of his daughter's fate, and had withheld the
truth from him.  He thought of his mother, too, whose steadfast, tender
affection for his father had been his ideal of a happy married love.
How would these two, who were most closely concerned with it, bear the
discovery?  How would their lives go on after they knew it?

When Sidney and Phyllis arrived at the little station at Toblach they
found Philip and Dorothy there to meet them.  Dorothy welcomed him with
her usual frank delight at seeing him, and she received Phyllis with
shy friendliness.  But Sidney saw in an instant that, as far as Philip
was concerned, his worst fears were realized.  He looked as if years
had passed over him; and not even the coming of Phyllis brought a gleam
of pleasure to his face.

She unwound the long gauze veil in which she had enveloped her head,
and looked up at Philip with a coquettish grace.

"All this way have I traveled to see you," she said archly, "thousands
and thousands of miles, and you look as grim as if I was a horrible
fright."

"No, no, Phyllis," he answered, taking both of her hands in his.  "If I
could feel glad at anything it would be to see you again.  But my
mother is ill----"

"Ill?" interrupted his father.  "Your mother ill?  Take me to her at
once."

"I have something to tell you first," said Philip in a low voice.
"Dorothy will take Phyllis to the hotel; and, if you are not too tired,
will you come with me a little way along the road yonder?"

"I am not tired," answered Sidney.

They walked away from the station toward the entrance of the Ampezzo
Valley.  Every step of the road was familiar to Sidney, for it was at
Toblach he had waited for Sophy, when he had left her in a boyish
passion so many years ago.  The boy walking beside him was the very
image of what he had been then.  He glanced at him again and again, in
the promise of his immature manhood, scarcely a man yet, but full of a
force and vigor, both of mind and body, not yet tempered and solidified
by the experience that later years would bring.  Philip strode along
with the sternness of a youthful judge.  His heart was very hot within
him.  It was his father on whom he sat in judgment, or he would have
poured out his wrath in uncontrolled vehemence.  He did not know how to
begin to speak to his father.

"Well, Philip," said his father, at last, when they were quite out of
sight and hearing of their fellow-men.

They had wandered down to the margin of a little lake, in which the
pale gray peaks were reflected faultlessly.  The wind moaned sadly in
the topmost branches of the fir trees surrounding them, and overhead a
vulture was flying slowly from crest to crest, and uttered a wild,
piercing cry as Sidney's voice broke the silence.

"Philip!" he repeated, looking imploringly into his son's face.

"Father," he said, "I have found out what became of Sophy Goldsmith."

They were simple words, and Sidney expected to hear them, yet they came
like a deathblow from his son's lips.  There was in Philip's voice so
much grief and wonder, such contempt and indignation, that his father
shrank from him as if he had given him physical pain.  If his sin had
but found him out in any other way than this!  For Philip was dearer to
him than all else--except, perhaps, Margaret.  His love, and pride, and
ambition, centered in his son.  He had discovered how precious he was
to him during that long journey to Venice, when the dread of his death
had traveled with him.  And now it was Philip who spoke in those
unmerciful tones, whose stern face was turned away, as if he could not
endure to look at him.  The bitterness of the future would more than
balance the prosperity of the past if his son was alienated from him.

"Philip," he said in hesitating words, "I loved her--just as you love
Phyllis.  I was as old as you.  I could not give her up.  And my uncle
would never have consented.  It was a boyish infatuation.  I did not
love her as I love your mother--my Margaret!" he cried with a sharp of
pain in his voice; "but just as you love Phyllis, I loved Sophy, and I
dared not run the risk of losing her.  I cannot cut you off from your
inheritance, let you marry as you please, but my uncle could have
thrust me upon the world a penniless man."

"Do you think I could ever forsake Phyllis?" asked Philip with scorn.

"Not as you are; probably never," answered his father; "for she could
never be so unfitted to be your daily companion as Sophy was to be
mine.  To be linked with a woman who is immeasurably your inferior is a
worse fate than any words can tell.  She was not like her father, or
Rachel.  She was vain and ignorant, vulgar and passionate.  We had
terrible scenes together before we parted; and I did not intend to
forsake her.  Listen, and I will tell you how it came about."

"I was but a boy, no older than yourself," he said as he finished his
account.

"But when did you know that she was dead?" inquired Philip.

"Not till after I knew your mother and loved her," he answered.  "I let
things drift till then, always dreading that Sophy would make her
appearance and claim a position as my wife.  Then I sent out a
confidential man to make inquiries, and he learned her sad fate.  I
sinned, Philip; but my punishment will be harder than I can bear if I
lose the love of my wife and children."

"But why did you desert your son?" Philip asked.

"My son?" he repeated.

"Yes," continued Philip bitterly, "your first-born son, the child of
Sophy Goldsmith!  How often you have called me your first-born son!
Oh, father, why did you desert my elder brother?"

Sidney stood speechless.  His first-born son, the child of Sophy
Goldsmith!  This beloved boy here, in whom he had taken so deep a
pride; who had been all he could wish for in a son; his heir, for whom
he had worked and striven so hard to make for him a great place and a
great name in the world, was not his first-born.  There was an Ishmael
risen up to dispute his inheritance with him.

"Philip!" he exclaimed, "you are deceived, cheated.  There was no
living child."

"But I have seen him," persisted Philip.  "He is living near Cortina
still.  And I recognize a likeness to you.  All the people know that he
is the son of the English girl who died there thirty years ago.  I have
a letter here from Sophy Goldsmith; and there are no proofs missing to
establish Martin's claims."

He gave the letter into his father's hands, and strolled away along the
margin of the lake, that Sidney might be alone as he read it.  Philip
felt how terrible a moment this must be in his father's life; and a new
and pacifying sense of compassion sprang up amid the fierce fire of his
indignation.  It was no longer a man in the prime of life, with the
shrewdness, and wisdom, and experience of life, who had been guilty of
this base act, but a youth like himself, who had drifted into it
through the adverse current of circumstances.  When he heard his
father's voice calling to him presently, he went back with a feeling of
fellowship toward him.  His father's face was gray and drawn, as if he
could hardly bear his anguish, and his voice was low and broken.

"My boy," he cried, "forgive me!  Have pity upon me!"

"Oh, I do!" said Philip, clasping his hand and holding it in a grasp
like a vise, while the tears came into his eyes.  "I pity you, father;
I pity you with all my heart!"

"Does your mother know all this?" inquired Sidney after a while.

"She knows something," he answered, "but not through me; and she has
not spoken to me.  I made up my mind to see you and tell you all before
you met her."

"That was right," said Sidney.

There was another silence, for their hearts were too full for words,
and their thoughts were busy.  It was Sidney who spoke first.

"It would break your mother's heart to know all," he said, "and we must
not acknowledge this man as my son.  Listen to me before you speak.  He
is a man now; and he would be miserable if we took him away from all
his old surroundings, his home, and his friends.  It would be good for
him to remain as he is.  I will make him a rich man; richer than any of
his neighbors.  But he must not come to England; he cannot take your
place.  Does anyone but you know that he is my son?"

"No," answered Philip.

"Then for the sake of everyone concerned we must keep this secret to
ourselves," continued his father.  "I would not ask you to do it if we
had to sacrifice this man's happiness or welfare; but he would be
tenfold happier and better off here, in his own place, than in England
as my son and heir.  That must not be, Philip.  Do you think he could
be otherwise than wretched in England?"

"He is wretched now," said Philip, as the recollection of the poor,
persecuted outcast of the little hamlet came vividly to his mind.

"I will make him a rich man," said his father, "rich and prosperous.
He shall have all his heart can desire; but I cannot acknowledge him as
my son."

"Oh, father!" exclaimed Philip, "no money can undo the wrong you have
done him.  He has led the life of a brute, and is as ignorant as a
brute.  He has been browbeaten and trampled on all his life.  They have
made a slave of him, and money will do him no good.  It is we who must
lift him out of his misery, and care for him, and teach him all that a
man of thirty can learn.  Don't think of me.  Surely I can bear this
burden; I have no dread of being a poor man.  But I could never forsake
my brother.  If he is your son, he is my brother, and I owe him a
brother's duty."

"Your mother must know, then?" said Sidney in a tone of entreaty.

"Yes," he answered.

"It will break her heart!" exclaimed his father.

"My mother would rather have her heart broken than that any wrong
should be done," replied Philip.



CHAPTER XXXV.

BEGINNING TO REAP.

Sidney found himself too unprepared for an immediate interview with
Margaret to return with Philip to the hotel.  He felt that he must be
alone to realize the full meaning of his position.  It was a matter
almost of life and death to him.  The country round was familiar to
him, though it was thirty years since he had seen it, and he soon found
a path which led him away to such a solitude as he sought.  Busy as his
brain was, he was at the same time intensely alive to all the
impressions of nature.  He felt the scorching heat of the sun, and saw
the shapes of the lofty peaks surrounding him, and heard the humming of
insects, and the trickling of little brooks down the mountain side.  It
was a magnificent day, he said to himself.  Yet all the while his mind
was plotting as to how he could arrest the storm that was beating
against that fair edifice, which he had been building for himself and
for Philip through so many years.  It was a house without a foundation,
built upon the sand, and he, the architect, was discovering too late
that there was no foundation to it.  But it must not be.  If he could
only bend Margaret to his will, convincing her reason--for she was a
reasonable woman--he did not fear failure with Philip.  It was so easy
and so rational a thing to leave this man where he had been brought up,
of course providing amply for him.  It would be so difficult and so
inexpedient to acknowledge him, and to place him in the position of
heir to large estates.  Surely Margaret would see how irrational, how
impossible it was to deprive Philip of that which had been his
birthright for so many years, in favor of one who was ignorant that he
had any birthright at all, and who would be placed in a miserably false
position if it was granted to him.

He argued the question over with himself till he was satisfied of the
ground on which he based it.  It was not for himself, but for their
first-born son, he would plead.  Surely she would keep this secret for
Philip's sake if not for his.

He turned back along the mountain path down into the valley, amazed to
see that it was already the hour of sunset.  Margaret must have been
wondering what had kept him so long away from her.  Was it possible
that she could have been so near to him, after an absence of some weeks
too, and he had not yet seen her?  He thought of the strong, smooth
current of their love for one another, which had known hitherto no
break or interruption, no suspicion or shadow of disappointment.  She
had been more to him than he had ever dreamed that a wife could be.
She was a thousandfold dearer to him now than when she became his wife
twenty-three years ago.  If she was estranged from him, what would his
life be worth?

He saw Dorothy and Phyllis sitting together in their little balcony
overhead, and heard them chattering and laughing together with the
light-hearted laughter of young girls.  This reassured him; for Dorothy
would not be so merry if Margaret was very ill or very sad.  He passed
on to her room and entered it.  She sat in the twilight alone, her
hands grasping the arms of her chair as if for support, and her face,
ashy pale, turned toward him, with no smile or look of gladness upon
it.  He stood still at some distance, looking across at her as if a
great gulf lay between them.

"Margaret!" he cried at last.

Her face quivered and her lips trembled, but she did not speak; only
her dark eyes gazed searchingly on him, as if she longed to understand
him without words.  She shrank from hearing his confession.

"Margaret," he said, "you have discovered the fate of Sophy Goldsmith!"

The color mounted swiftly to her white face, and she bent her head; but
she kept silence.  Sidney felt that he must still remain at a distance
from her.

"My darling!" he said mournfully, "you were only a child when I married
her; I was little more than a boy myself, not older than Philip."

"You married her?" she asked, lifting up her head with a deep sigh of
relief; "oh, how much better it will be for her poor father and my
Rachel!"

"Yes, she was my wife," he replied, "but I never loved her as I have
loved you, Margaret."

"But why did you not tell?" she asked; "why did you not let me have
your boy to bring up with my own?  How could you live with me hiding
such a secret from me?  I let you read the inmost thoughts of my heart.
How could you hide this secret from me?"

"I told your father," he answered, "and he agreed it was better kept
secret."

"How many more secret chambers in your past are there which I must
never enter?" she said.  "And this secret, the most sacred of them all,
that you were a father before I knew you--how could you keep this from
me?"

"But I did not know it," he replied.  "I concealed my marriage out of
fear of being disinherited by my uncle.  Sophy had driven me mad by her
temper, and I left her at Cortina, but I stayed here for some days
expecting her to follow me.  She had plenty of money, and knew very
well how to manage for herself.  Though I went on without her I left at
each place a letter directing her where to go and what to do.
Certainly I ought to have gone back, but I thought she was sulking with
me.  I know she was but a girl; I also was but a boy.  I could not feel
toward her as a man feels toward his wife; she was more like a
playmate, who, if she took offense, made me offended.  Then I let
things drift on, afraid always of my uncle discovering my secret.  But
I never knew till this day that her child had lived."

"But you knew that she was dead?" asked Margaret.

"Good Heavens! yes!" he exclaimed.  "I loved you the first moment I saw
you, but I could never have owned it before learning that she was dead.
The messenger I sent here wrote to me that she was dead, though he said
nothing about a child.  I suppose he intended to tell me on his
arrival, but he was killed in an accident to the diligence crossing the
Arlberg pass.  I knew nothing of this until Philip told me just now."

"But oh! if you had but seen Sophy's son!" cried Margaret with tears,
"the most miserable, the most degraded of all these peasants; a drudge,
a slave to them.  O Sidney! how can we atone to him for all this
misery?  We can never give him back his lost years."

"No," he said in a faltering voice, "nothing could ever fit him now for
an English life; it would be all misery to him.  We must make him happy
in the only way happiness is possible for him.  I will make him a rich
and happy man in his own sphere, here among the people who know him.
They will exalt him into a little king when he is the richest of them
all, instead of the poorest.  Do not speak, Margaret; listen to my
reasons.  He can never fill the place for which we have trained Philip
so carefully.  How could he be a good landlord and magistrate?  How
could he become the husband of such a woman as ought to be our
daughter-in-law, and the mother of my heirs?  It would be for his good
as well as ours to leave him here.  Think of Philip, of me, of the poor
fellow himself.  No one knows this secret except ourselves; let it be
as it has always been.  I cannot think of Sophy as my wife.  I implore
you for my sake, for Philip's sake, our first-born son, let this secret
be kept."

He was still standing where he had first arrested himself, as if a gulf
lay between them; and she was looking across at him with infinite
sadness in her eyes.  There was something miserable in her steadfast
gaze, blended with profound reproach.

"And what of Andrew Goldsmith?" she asked, "the poor old man who will
never cease to mourn and wonder over the fate of his lost child.  Do
you think I could bear for him to go into the next life, and hear for
the first time, perhaps from her own lips, the story of your treachery
and mine?  Would not that tempt him to hatred and revenge even there?
And my dear friend Rachel.  Could I look her in the face and feel my
heart saying, 'I know now all the sad secret that has troubled you,'
and not utter it in words?  O Sidney! how can you lay such a burden
upon me?  God is the judge of our conduct, and we are not more His
children than this poor old father and your deserted son.  No, we
cannot keep such a secret!  We must take the neglected outcast into our
very hearts, and see what atonement we can make."

In all their past life Margaret had yielded her judgment to his; but
Sidney felt that from what she had now said she would never swerve.  It
was useless to appeal to her on the score of the malignant gossip and
painful dishonor he must bear himself; it was equally useless to
represent the loss to Philip of rank and fortune.  These were worldly
considerations, and Margaret would not stoop to notice them.  He must
seize the only weapon of defense which lay at home.

"I cannot bear it," he said, lashing himself into a rage.  "I will
disown the marriage, and defy the Goldsmiths to prove it.  Philip shall
be my heir.  This base-born son of mine shall never take his place!"

"And I," said Margaret, with a tremor in her sweet voice, "will never
live with you again until you own your son.  I will own him; and
Philip, when he knows of his existence, will own him as his elder
brother."

Her face was white with grief as his was with rage.  She rose from her
seat and stood looking at him for a moment, as if they were about to
separate forever.  He had just returned to her after one of the rare
absences which had come but seldom during their married life.  She
could not recognize in him the husband she had loved so perfectly and
trusted so implicitly.  There was baseness and selfishness, treachery
and utter worldliness, in this man; she acknowledged it, though it
broke her heart to do so.  Her grief was too great for words; and with
a silent gesture of farewell she went away into an inner room, leaving
him in a stupor of dismay.



CHAPTER XXXVI.

IN THE PINE WOODS.

After Philip left his father on the shore of the little lake he, too,
wandered about in loneliness for the rest of the day, unable to bear
his anxiety and trouble in Phyllis's presence, and equally unable to
conceal them.  She and Dorothy concluded that he was gone with his
father on some hurried excursion.  But early the next morning he
knocked at the door of the room where the two girls were sleeping, and
begged Phyllis to get up and go out with him into the pine woods lying
behind the hotel.  She grumbled a little, telling Dorothy in a sleepy
tone that she could not bear going out before breakfast; at his urgent
and reiterated entreaties, she relented, and, after keeping him waiting
for nearly an hour, she made her appearance in a very becoming and very
elaborate morning costume.

They were soon out of sight and hearing of the hotel, wandering slowly
along the soft, dewy glades of the beautiful pine woods, with the
morning sunlight streaming in long pencils through the openings of the
green roof far above them.  Here and there, through the rough, tawny
trunks of the trees, they caught a glimpse of the great gray pinnacles
of rock, with their fretwork of snow, rising high into the deep blue of
the sky.  Phyllis was enchanted with everything except the dew, which
was spoiling the hem of her pretty dress, and taking the gloss off her
little shoes.

"It is as beautiful as the scenery in the Midsummer Night's Dream at
the Lyceum," she said.  "Do you remember it, and that delicious music
of Mendelssohn's?  If it was moonlight I should expect to meet _Oberon_
and _Titania_."

Phyllis felt that she was making herself very charming.  Philip was an
ardent admirer of Shakspere, and what could she say more agreeable to
him than this allusion to one of his favorite plays?  But, to her great
surprise, he seemed not to hear what she was saying.

"My Phyllis," he said, "I have something really terrible to tell you."

"Not that they are going to separate us again!" she cried.  "I thought
your father must have taken me into favor once more, or he would not
have brought me all this way with him.  He is not going to be tiresome
again?"

"No, no!" he answered, pressing her hand, and keeping it in his own as
they sauntered on; "we shall have no more trouble on that score.  We
need not fear any more opposition from my father.  That is the one good
thing in this trouble, for if I am not my father's heir, he will not
expect me to marry an heiress."

"What do you mean?" she asked in a tone of excitement.

"I mean that my father has another son older than I am," continued
Philip.  "You know all about poor Sophy Goldsmith as well as I do.
Phyllis, it was my father who ran away with her, when he was no older
than I am; and they had a son, who has been living not far from here,
at Cortina, ever since.  He is eight years older than I am."

"Philip!" she exclaimed, standing still, and fastening her eyes upon
his face with an air of incredulity, ready to break into a laugh as
soon as the joke was repeated.

"I cannot bear to speak of it, even to you," he said gravely.  "I wish
to God it was not true.  But I have read Sophy's last letter to Rachel
Goldsmith, and there is no mistake.  It is undeniably true.  What is
worse, my mother is going away this morning.  She sent for me last
night, and said I must take her away by the first train this morning.
She looked as if it would kill her.  She wishes to go, and I see it is
best.  It is best for her and my father to be separated for a while."

"Separated!" ejaculated Phyllis.  "Your father and mother!"

"For a time only, I trust," said Philip.  "It has been too great a blow
for her.  Don't you understand, my Phyllis?  She has loved the
Goldsmiths so much, and she remembers Sophy quite well, and has always
been deeply interested in the mystery of her disappearance.  And now
the sudden discovery of this secret of my father's is too much for her.
I have telegraphed for Rachel to come to Berne, and I am going to take
my mother there at once, and then come back here to you and Dorothy."

"But are you quite sure there is a son living?" inquired Phyllis.

"I have seen him, and spoken to him," he replied.  "He has some
resemblance to my father, and he is very like old Andrew.  Dorothy saw
the likeness in a moment.  The worst of it is that he has lived among
the lowest of the people, and seems almost imbecile.  He is about
thirty years of age, and is as ignorant as a savage.  Poor fellow! poor
fellow!"

His voice fell, and the tears smarted under his eyelids.  Phyllis's
finely penciled eyebrows were knitted together with a quite new
expression of profound and painful thought.  He said to himself he had
never seen her look so pretty and charming, and he bent his head to
kiss the furrow between her eyebrows.

"You are sure it is all true?" she asked.  "You are not inventing it?"

"How could I invent anything so horrible?" he said in amazement.
"Think of what it means!  Think of what my father has done!  If it were
not for you and my mother, I should wish I had never been born."

"Then you will never be Philip Martin of Brackenburn," she continued,
"and Brackenburn will not be your estate.  It will belong to this other
son?"

"Of course," he answered, "the estate goes to the eldest son.  But I do
not care about being a poor man.  They have christened him Martino.
Martino Martin he will be."

"Gracious Heavens!" she ejaculated.

"So there will be no more opposition to our love for each other," he
went on in a more cheerful manner; "and I must set to work now to earn
a living for you and myself.  It will be very pleasant to work for one
another--I for you, and you for me.  You will wait for me, Phyllis?"

There was no tone of doubt in the half question; it was only asked that
some sweet answer might be given.  He was as sure of her love as of his
own; for had they not grown up for one another?

"But there is Apley," she said, after a short pause.  "If this man
takes your estate, you will take Hugh's.  It is Hugh who must work for
his living."

"Oh, no!" he replied; "Apley is settled on my mother's second son, so
it belongs to Hugh.  My father had no idea that he had a son living,
and it seemed fair for Apley to go to the second son."

"But is it quite certain that they were married?" asked Phyllis, with
all the premature knowledge of a country clergyman's daughter.  "If
they were not legally married, this man could not take your place."

Philip dropped the hand he still held.  She had struck hard upon a
chord in his nature which vibrated under her touch in utter
discordance.  Now and then she had jarred slightly upon him, and he had
hastened to forget it, but here was a discord that would turn all his
life's music into harshness.

"Phyllis, you do not know what you are saying," he cried.

"Oh! yes, I do," she answered, half petulantly and half playfully.  "It
is not likely that your father would marry a girl like Sophy Goldsmith.
And if he did not, you will still be the heir, and some day I shall be
Mrs. Martin of Brackenburn."

Philip walked on beside her in silence, his eyes fixed on the ground.

"That is the first thing to find out," continued Phyllis shrewdly.  "I
don't believe there was a legal marriage, or if there was, the
Goldsmith's must prove it.  Of course, your mother will be very mad
about it for a while, but it will come right in the end; and 'All's
well that ends well,' you know.  But isn't it strange that, after all
these years, we should find out about Sophy Goldsmith?  And your father
knew all along, the naughty, naughty man!"

So smooth hitherto had been the current of their short lives that
Philip had never seen Phyllis in any circumstances of great trouble or
difficulty.  She was still a young girl, and how shame or sorrow would
affect her no one could have foretold.  But at this crisis, with all
his own nature overwrought with shame for his father and sorrow for his
mother, he felt how vast was the distance between them.  They were
dwelling in different worlds.  Was it a premonition of this disparity
between them which had made his mother oppose their marriage?

He turned back abruptly toward the hotel, and they did not talk much on
their way.  Phyllis's brain was busy, too busy for much speaking.  If
this terrible thing could possibly be true--though she rejected such a
supposition--then, indeed, she must bid farewell to all the bright
schemes she had laid for her future life.  Philip would be a poor
nobody, and she really was not fitted to be a poor man's wife.  She
loved him, of course, and it would be intense misery to give him up.
How she could part from him she did not know; her mother must manage it
for her, if the necessity ever arose.  But to be plain Mrs. Martin, of
nowhere in particular, living on a few hundreds a year!  That would be
impossible.  Still, what folly it was to be looking forward to things
which would never happen!  She turned a bright face to Philip as he
left her at the hotel door.

"Take courage, and be comforted," she said.  "It has all got to be
proved first."

He turned away with a feeling of utter discouragement.  All his world
seemed shaken to its very foundations.  His father had been guilty of a
deed of the deepest baseness, and his intended wife was blind to that
baseness.  But he had no time for musing on it.  Dorothy's voice
arrested him, and, looking up, he saw her coming quickly to him,
dressed as for a journey.  Her face was troubled, and she spoke to him
in imploring tones.

"Your mother is leaving here by the first train," she said, "and she
says I must not go with her.  Something has made her very unhappy; her
face grieves me more than I can say.  Persuade her to let me go.  She
ought not to travel alone."

"I shall be with her," he answered, "and Rachel Goldsmith will meet her
in Berne.  No, Dorothy, it would be a greater comfort to my mother if
you stay here with my father.  He is very fond of you, and he, too, is
unhappy.  You must stay with him and comfort him."

"Yes," she said, weeping; "what has happened I do not know, but I will
do what you and Mrs. Martin think best.  I do not know which I love the
most.  Is it anything very dreadful?"

"Yes," he replied.

"Is there nothing I can do besides staying with your father?" she
asked.  "Philip, we all know how very, very rich I shall be--too rich.
If any money is wanted, tell him to recollect how much there is of
mine, more than any girl could use.  But money losses would not make
you miserable."

"No," he said; "no loss of money would break my mother's heart."

"That is how she looks," resumed Dorothy, "as if her heart was broken;
and oh! I cannot bear to lose sight of her.  If I was her own child she
would tell me all about it, and I could comfort her.  But now, at the
very worst moment, I feel what a stranger I am among you all."

"No, dear Dorothy," he answered; "you are as dear as a daughter to her
and my father.  You will know all by and by, and you will see then you
were of more use staying here than going away with my mother."

"And is Phyllis going with you?" she asked.

"Phyllis?  Oh, no!" he said.

"I'm afraid I was feeling a little jealous of Phyllis," she said,
smiling through her tears.  "Of course, I know she is nearer and dearer
to you all, except Mr. Martin, than I am; but I think she could not
bear trouble as I can do."

"Trouble!" he repeated, "yes; but could you bear shame?"

"Willingly," she answered.

"Not shame only, but sin.  Could you help us to bear our sins?" he
asked.

"Yes," she said gravely; "if our Lord came into the world to take away
our sins by bearing them himself, surely we ought to bear the burden of
one another's sins--we, who are all alike sinful.  Have you any such
burden to bear?  But I shall not have to bear either shame or sin for
your father or mother--or for you," she added softly, after a moment's
pause.

"Thank you, Dorothy," he said.



CHAPTER XXXVII.

REMORSE.

Sidney was unaware of Margaret's intention, and was only awaiting some
message from her to see her again, and try once more what persuasion,
backed by authority, could do to break down her resolution.  The
morning train came in and steamed away again, carrying Margaret and
Philip in it, before he returned from a miserable stroll through the
well remembered pine forests.  Dorothy met him on her return from the
station, with traces of tears on her face, and was the first to tell
him that Margaret was gone.

"She need not have done that," he said to himself bitterly.

But when he entered the room where he had seen her the night before, a
great dread seized him.  He felt as he would have done if she had been
dead.  There was the chair she sat in only last night; that was the
book she had laid down; those flowers she had gathered and arranged for
herself; and now she was gone!  There was something of the desolation
of death about the vacant place.

A letter lay upon the table, and he seized it eagerly.  Margaret was
not one who used many words of endearment, or many caresses.  She
thought that love, like religion, should show itself in deeds, not
speeches.  Hitherto she had never begun her letters to him in any other
way than the almost formal one of "My dear Sidney."  This was different.

"My beloved husband," it ran, "it is because you are dearer to me than
any other human being, dearer than my own life a hundredfold, dearer
even than my own soul, that I cannot just now bear your presence.  How
I love you I cannot find words to tell; my love for you is myself, my
life.  There is no bitterness in my heart toward you; only an immense
grief--an abyss of gloom and heaviness, which nothing but God's love
can fill.  All my life, since I first saw you, you have seemed to me
one of Christ's true followers; in the world but not of it; a real
disciple, a faithful soldier of the cross.  I never saw in you the
shadow of a lie.  You were to me truth and faithfulness personified.

"And now it would be difficult, almost impossible, to see clearly what
you have been, as long as I am near to you.  My brain is confused; and
it is necessary for me to get away, lest my feebleness should enfeeble
you in doing what is right.  There can be only one right way; and I
hope to stand beside you in the sorrowful years that are coming.  I
promise to do this--to come back and hold your hand, and walk by your
side, sharing the burden with you.  But do not think to avoid this
burden, and these sad years.  The harvest of a seed sown long ago is
come, and we must reap it, whether we do it humbly or defiantly.  But I
must go away now from you, my dearest one--from whom I never thought to
separate till death should part us.--MARGARET."

Sidney read these lines through again and again; at first in such a
paroxysm of anger as he had never felt since he had deserted Sophy,
when he was in his early manhood.  Was there not a kind of fanaticism
in his wife's religion--that blindness which is said to prevent
devotees from seeing a thing in its own light?  She demanded of him to
encounter the gossip and wonder of the vast circle of his acquaintances
in the City and in society, to bring a slur on his fair fame, and,
worse than all, to place his low born son in the position which her own
boy had hitherto occupied as his heir.  She asked him to doom Philip to
the life of a comparatively poor and obscure man.  And for what?  That
an old man and woman, who for thirty years had lived in suspense about
their child's fate, should at last hear that all this time she had been
lying in her grave.  If he could bring Sophy back to life, it would be
different.  It must make Andrew and Rachel Goldsmith more miserable to
learn the truth since the truth was what it was.

Margaret did not think of the dishonor this discovery would bring upon
religion.  For he was distinguished in the City, and in Parliament,
both as a philanthropist and a religious man.  He had been both since
he had known her, and this sin, committed in his boyish indifference to
all religious matters, must fling the shadow of a total eclipse upon
his career.  Why should he make his fellow-Christians ashamed?  No
scandal has so much charm as a scandal against a prominent Christian.
And how easy it was to avoid it if Margaret would but consent!  No one
would be any the worse, for he would keep his promise of making his
eldest son a rich man in the station now belonging to him.  Nothing but
misery could come of any other course.

Yet as he read again Margaret's letter, with its strong and mournful
expressions of her love, his anger subsided, and the idea of denying
the legality of his first marriage grew slowly more and more repugnant
to him.  He saw, too, quite clearly, that he must lose Margaret if he
pursued this plan.  What measures she would adopt, if he carried out
such a purpose, he could not tell.  But in any case he would lose her;
she would never live with him again if he denied his marriage with
Sophy Goldsmith.  Still he would not decide definitely what he would do
till he had seen Sophy's son.

There was still time to reach Cortina that day, and after a hasty meal
he set out, taking Dorothy and Phyllis with him.  He should see this
eldest son of his in time to telegraph to Margaret, before Rachel
Goldsmith could join her at Berne; and she would not refuse his
entreaty to keep silence, at least for a few days.  He was pondering
over this new step, as they drove through the wonderful valley, where
the clouds resting upon the crests of the mountains caught, in
many-colored hues, the rays of the evening sun.  It was twilight when
they reached the hotel; but the twilight is long there, for the sun
sets early behind the rocky walls which hem in the valley.  The village
lay tranquilly in a soft, gray light.  How well he remembered it!  He
shrank from entering the hotel, for it seemed almost certain that Sophy
herself was awaiting his arrival there.

Yonder lay the broad pathway through the fields, leading to the half
ruined fortress where he had last parted with her.  He turned down the
familiar track as if urged by some irresistible impulse.  It was about
the same season of the year; the same flowers and weeds were in bloom,
and the crops were at nearly the same stage of growth.  It might have
been the same evening.  Was the past blotted out, then?  Would that he
could take up his life again as it was thirty years ago, and sow the
seed of the future--oh, how differently!

But even now he turned with aversion from the idea of a life spent with
Sophy Goldsmith.  He fancied he could see her sitting on the flight of
steps which led up to the church door, and that he could hear her
shrill voice bidding him go away, and never return.  Yet if he had been
a true man, as Philip was, he could not have forsaken her.  If Philip
had found himself caught in such a mistake, a mistake so fatal to all
happiness, he would have accepted the consequences, and done what he
could to make the best of the future.  But he had built all his life on
a blunder and a lie.  "I have pierced myself through with many
sorrows," he said to himself.

He was standing still, pondering over this long forgotten and very
dreary past, and now as he uttered these words he lifted up his head
and saw that he had paused under a wooden crucifix, one which he
remembered distinctly.  The image of the Lord hanging upon it was worn
and weather-beaten, the wood was bleached and pallid as if it had stood
there long centuries; yet still the bowed head, with its crown of
thorns, possessed a pathetic sadness, as if this man also, Christ Jesus
the Lord, had been pierced through with many sorrows--yes, with one
vast sorrow unlike any other sorrow.  He felt, as he had never felt
before, that this grief beyond compare, this crucifixion of the soul as
well as of the body, was his own doing.  They were his sins which the
Lord had borne in his own body on the tree; and what he planned to do
would crucify the Son of God afresh.

"God be merciful to me, a sinner!" he cried.

It was late before he returned to the hotel; but his mind was fully
made up now.  If he had never been a Christian before, he would be so
from this hour, and whatever it might cost him, there should be no more
hypocrisy, no more playing of a part, in his life.  A bitter harvest
was before him, but he would reap it unflinchingly to its last grain.
The sting of his sin was that he could not save others from reaping it
with him.  And how large was the number of reapers!  Directly or
indirectly how many persons must suffer from this early sin of his!



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

CHIARA'S HUT.

Phyllis was gone to bed, but Dorothy was waiting for Sidney in the bare
and comfortless dining room of the hotel.  She looked up wistfully as
he entered, for all day her thoughts had been anxious and troubled by
the mystery which had so suddenly surrounded her; and seeing his pale
and haggard face she ran to meet him, and put her arms round his neck,
kissing him fondly as a daughter might have done.  He kept her hand in
his as he sank down weariedly into the chair next to him, and he bowed
his head upon the small, fond fingers, and she felt his tears falling
on them.  Presently he looked up at her.

"Dorothy," he said, "you will never forsake me!"

"Never!" she exclaimed vehemently, "never! not if all the world forsook
you."

"Even if you heard I was a base scoundrel, a selfish villain?" he asked.

"Oh, but you are not that!" she answered, kissing him again; "there
would be some mistake.  But if it was true, I should never forsake you;
you would want me all the more."

"That is true," he said.

"There has been a priest here," she continued, after a pause, "asking
for Philip, and saying he must see him about some letter, and a man
called Martino."

"I know all about it," said Sidney, "and I will send him a message."

At sunrise the next morning Sidney set out for the hamlet where Chiara
had lived.  It was the fourth day since she died.  Martino had followed
the funeral procession, which he was not allowed to join, and had stood
aloof seeing the coffin laid in the open grave.  This woman had never
been kind to him, she had led him the life of a dog, but she was the
only person to whom he had in any way belonged.  He knew no other home
than the squalid hut, in which all his life had passed.  In a dim sense
it was as dear to him as a den is to a wild creature that inhabits it.
The litter of leaves and straw in the corner where he always slept
seemed the only place where he could sleep.  Chiara's hand had been the
hand that fed him.  There was a void left by her death, a blank that
his dull mind could in no way imagine filled up.  But he was shrewd
enough to know that his enemies would not let him return to the hut if
they could help it, and as soon as he saw Chiara's coffin lowered into
the grave, he stole away from the cemetery, and hastening up the
mountain he secured possession of the wretched hovel, barricading the
door, which was the only means of entrance.  Here he remained deaf and
dumb to the threats of his neighbors and to the entreaties and commands
of the priest.  The long years of persecution and tyranny which he had
undergone had produced the ordinary result of a dull and embruted
nature.  Those among whom he lived were little better than savages,
with the lowest conceptions of duty and religion.  Of humanity either
to man or beast they knew nothing.  Some of them were less cruel and
harsh toward Martino than the rest; there were women who had never
struck him; but he had been the miserable butt of the others until his
bodily strength was great enough for his own defense, excepting from
the brute force of men stronger than himself.

At the bottom of his soul there was a profound sadness, a certain
susceptibility inherited from his educated and civilized parentage,
which had made him less callous under tyranny, than he would have been
if he had been a foundling of their own race.  In his childhood this
susceptibility had displayed itself in bursts of passion and almost
insane excitement; in his manhood it changed to long fits of dumb and
sullen lethargy.  Since Chiara's funeral he had lain motionless on the
litter of straw in the hut, regarding the attacks of his neighbors
outside with as much indifference as he would have felt under one of
the terrific thunderstorms which now and then threatened the little
hamlet with imminent destruction.  His benumbed mind was almost as
lethargic as his body.  But this morning his enemies had exhausted
their small stock of patience, which so far had been eked out by the
presence of the padre, who wished to enter the hut alone and
peacefully, in order to make sure that Chiara had given up the whole of
her penurious savings to the Church.  He had urged upon her in the last
solemn moments before death the duty of withholding no portion of her
beloved booty; but he knew the peasant nature too well to trust
implicitly even to the power of superstition where money was concerned,
and he was anxious to search for himself among the accumulated rubbish
of her last home.  He had been compelled, however, to return to Cortina
the night before, leaving strict commands that Martino should be left
unmolested.

When Sidney entered the high, secluded valley and the hamlet came in
sight, a strange scene lay before him.  Round one of the wretched
hovels the whole population was assembled in a wild circle of yelling
savages, attacking it in every direction.  There were not more than
five or six men, but there was twice the number of women, as muscular
and sinewy as the men, and a host of children.  All of them were
scantily clothed and their sunburnt limbs looked as hard as iron.  A
heap of enormous stones was piled up near the door of the hut, and the
heavy thud as they were flung against it by brawny arms was echoed by
the wall of rock behind.  Sidney was still at a little distance when a
loud shout of triumph reached his ears.  One of the women was coming
out of a neighboring hut with a lighted fagot in her hand, which she
thrust up into the dried thatch of the roof.  In another minute half a
dozen other fagots were fetched from the hearths, and the reek of the
smoke rose up in a column in the pure morning air.

Sidney hurried forward, wondering if he should find his son amid this
maddened crew, when the door of the hovel was flung open suddenly from
within, and a man stood in the low doorway--a man, a wild beast rather!
His long, matted hair hung about his face like a mane, and his bare
limbs, scorched almost black with heat, and frost-bitten into long
furrows by cold, looked hardly human.  He was gasping for air, as if
all but smothered by the suffocating smoke; and as he stood there,
blinded by the sudden light, a sharp stone flung by one of the women
struck him on the temple.  A yell of mingled exultation and abhorrence
followed the successful blow, and the miserable creature would have
been stoned to death like a dangerous wild beast if Sidney had not
cried out in a tone of authority, to the utter surprise of the
assailants.

The lull would have lasted only a moment if Sidney had not bethought
himself of a ready and effective means of diverting the angry mob.  He
thrust his hand into his pocket and flung into the midst of them a
handful of bronze and silver coins.  There was an instant diversion and
scramble for the money, and before any of them gave heed to him Martin
rushed away, and with the speed of a scared and hunted animal fled up
the precipitous rocks near at hand.  When all the coins were picked up
his enemies looked round for him in vain.

"I have no more money with me now," said Sidney in Italian, "but there
is plenty more in Cortina for those who come down for it; and the man
who tells me where Martino is, Martino who was Chiara's adopted son,
shall have a golden-----"

"Martino!" interrupted the most intelligent looking of the men, "that
was Martino we were burning out."

"Oh, my God!" cried Sidney, staggering as if he had been struck by a
blow as heavy as that which had wounded his son.  For a moment or two
he felt faint and stunned, unable to move or speak, and the circle of
faces and figures around him appeared to whirl dizzily about him.  He
was conscious of the stare of their inquisitive and savage eyes, which
were fastened upon him with unfriendly gaze, and he could hear the
muttering of their uncouth voices.  The hovel was blazing behind them,
and the thick smoke was blown down in clouds upon him and them.  He
felt almost suffocated.  Was it possible that he was about to die here
among these terrible men and women?  He made a superhuman effort to
shake off the deadness that was creeping over him.

With his consciousness there returned to him the habit of authority and
command.  He drew himself up and looked round at them all with a keen
gaze, from which they shrank a little, sulkily and abjectly.  His
knowledge of their language came back fluently to his aroused brain,
and made it easy to address them.

"Your padre told me I should find Martino here, in Chiara's house.
What right have you to set that house on fire?  It is not yours."

"He would not come out," answered one of the women, for all the men
were silent.  Certainly they had no right to destroy the hut, and the
law was stern on offenders such as they were.

"And why did you want him to come out?" asked Sidney.

"Because he shall not live among us any longer," replied the man who
had spoken to him before; "he is accursed, and he has the evil eye.
His mother is in hell, and no mass can be said for her soul; and he
does not belong to us.  No man of us will give him a hand, and no woman
will give him a look.  Would any woman here be the wife of Martino?"

There was a roar of contempt and abhorrence, a laugh such as Sidney had
never heard before.

"But where is he gone?" he asked.

"Up yonder," answered the man, pointing to a peak standing high and
clear in the morning sky; "there is a cave up there good enough for a
wolf like him.  Let him stop there."

"I am come here to take him away," said Sidney; "he is my son."

The words sounded in his own ears as if spoken by some other voice.
This poor, hunted, despised and wounded outcast his son!  It seemed as
if before him was unrolled the record of the sad, desolate, neglected,
most unhappy years through which his first-born son had passed, while
every year of them had been crowned with prosperity and happiness to
himself.  The thought of it passed swiftly though vividly through his
brain, as such remembrances do in the hour of death.  A profound and
uneasy silence had fallen upon the crowd around him.  This rich
Englishman had caught them in an unlawful act, and had witnessed their
savage treatment of Martino.  They knew how much influence such wealthy
foreigners had with the mayor in the town below, where such men were
treated with servile respect, and they were in dread of some terrible
vengeance for their treatment of his son.

"I did not know he was living till the day before yesterday," said
Sidney at last, speaking to himself rather than to them.

Was it only so short a time ago?  It appeared to be ages.  He had lived
through a century of troubled emotion since he reached Toblach.

"I will reward any man well who brings him to me," he added, "and now
you had better put out this blazing thatch, if you wish to save your
own huts."



CHAPTER XXXIX.

AT BAY.

When Martino escaped from the burning hovel, he fled like a wild beast
hunted by enemies.  The precipitous rocks had ledges and
stepping-stones familiar to him, and his naked feet took firm hold on
every point of vantage ground.  He was quickly beyond all chance of
being captured.  In his boyhood he had often taken refuge in an almost
inaccessible cavern, which he had found for himself, and where he could
hide like a wolf in its lair.  In later times, when Chiara's hard yoke
grew too galling, he had sometimes established himself in this den, and
stayed in it till famine had driven him back to his miserable home.
There was no means of getting food up there, for on the Dolomite rocks
not even a blade of grass will grow; and Martino knew well that if he
became a marauder on the scanty fields below, so difficult to keep in
cultivation, his neighbors would shoot him down as relentlessly as they
would destroy a wolf or a vulture.  He had carried up there, with much
trouble and at a great risk, a small store of wood and turf, and he had
made for himself a rude litter of dried leaves and straw.  As there was
no vegetation there was no animal life on these barren rocks; there was
no chance of catching a bird or a rabbit.  But he could bear hunger for
a long time, and here he was at least in safety.

He slept the long hours of the day away, and awoke toward night; then
he went to the entrance of his cave and sat down on the ground, his
knees being almost on a level with his shaggy head.  Very far below him
lay the valley and the twinkling lights of Cortina, glistening in the
distance like so many glowworms.  The stars sparkled in the sky above
like little globes of light.  The watchman was already on the clock
tower, striking the quarters of the hour upon the great bell, and its
clear note came up to his listening ear.  A thousand feet beneath him,
so vertically below that he could have cast a stone on any of the
roofs, lay the hamlet where he was so much hated.  Now and then he saw
a figure carrying a lantern flitting uneasily from hut to hut.  All the
day he had heard voices calling, from time to time, "Martino!
Martino!" but he had paid no heed to them in the depths of his cave.
Now once more, before the people settled to their night's rest, he
heard a voice, pitched to a high, piercing note; it was a woman's
voice, a young woman, whom once he had loved in a rough fashion and who
had scouted him as if he was indeed an outcast and a pariah.

"Martino!" she cried, "come down.  We will not hurt you.  Here is a
rich English signore, and he says he is your father."

Martino laughed a low, cunning chuckle.  They meant to snare him, and
put him to death out of their way, and this woman thought she could
betray him to them.  He made no answer, and gave no sign of life.
Presently all the lights were put out, and every sound ceased in the
hamlet, save the bleat of a kid now and then as it pressed nearer its
mother's side for warmth.  Far away he could hear the howling of a wolf
answered by the furious barking of a watchdog.  A moon near the full
was rising over the cliffs, and shed a white light on the sharp,
needle-like peaks.  There was an incessant play of summer lightning on
the northern horizon, throbbing behind the long and jagged outlines of
the mountains.  All about him was solemn, impressive, and mysterious.
If Philip had been there he would have been filled with the most
profound admiration and awe.  But Martino was too savage to feel
either; the aspects of nature had little more effect upon him than upon
a wolf.  When all was at last still and dark, even in Cortina, he rose,
and cautiously descended toward his old home.

The few watchdogs knew him too well to be disturbed by his soundless
footsteps as he passed among the silent huts as if he had been a ghost.
The foundations of the walls alone remained of Chiara's hovel, and
there was still some warmth where the roof had been left smoldering on
the ground.  Martino squatted down in the midst of the ruins.  It had
been nothing but a squalid and dreary home to him, but it was the only
one he had ever known.  This was the one spot on earth that had been
his dwelling-place, and his enemies had destroyed it with an utter
destruction.  There was no roof now to shelter him, no door he could
shut in the face of his foes.  He felt it with a vague bitterness, as
some beast might feel the destruction of its hole, and tears filled his
eyes, and rolled slowly down his rough and furrowed face.

He roused himself after a while, for he knew the nights were short;
and, being fleet of foot, he ran down the steepest paths to Cortina, to
pick up any food he could find for the coming day.  There were roots
growing in the fields there on which life could be sustained for some
time, and his dull brain was untroubled by forebodings of the distant
future.  He prowled round the hotel, where Sidney was sleeping a
troubled sleep, and picked up some fragments of food, which the
wasteful servants had thrown through the window as the easiest way of
getting rid of them.  The dogs would have eaten them in the morning,
but they were a Godsend to Martino, who carried them away in his ragged
clothes.  When he reached his cave at dawn, and the rising sun shot its
earliest beams into it, they fell upon as poor a wretch as the sunlight
would find out during the livelong day.

Once more he slumbered all day, hearing at intervals the attempts made
to reach him in his fastness, and the voices calling to him repeatedly,
all with one accord saying that his father was come and was searching
for him.  He laughed to scorn their attempts.  Not a man among them
would dare to scale the precipice; and he did not believe that there
was anyone on earth who would claim him as a kinsman.  His father!  He
had heard too often of his mother and her accursed fate, but no one had
ever spoken of his father.  His mother's grave he knew; and once, when
there was in his heart a strange, confused springing up of
tenderness--it was when he felt a sort of love for the girl who scorned
and repulsed him so indignantly--he had reared a rude cross at the head
of it and collected white pebbles from the river to mark its outline.
But his father!

At night he stole down to Cortina again, and picked up any fragments
thrown outside the doors for the scavenger dogs.  But he did not go to
the desolate ruins, which were no longer a shelter for him.  And so two
or three days and nights passed by, Martino living as wild a life as
any wild and noxious beast, while Sidney used every means that could be
thought of to capture him.  Not Sidney alone.  All the population of
the Ampezzo Valley knew something of the errand that had brought the
rich English signore to Cortina, and every man was eager to gain the
reward he offered, but no one knew a safe approach to the cave, and, if
Martino was on the watch, it seemed certain death to make any further
attempt to seize him.

At last Sidney himself ascended as far as any man could climb on the
almost sheer face of the peak, and drew as near to his son as was
possible, calling to him in his pleasant and persuasive, but
unfamiliar, voice, so different from the voices he was used to hear
that there was some chance of his paying heed to it.  But Martino was
sleeping soundly at the time, and did not hear his father's voice; and,
possibly, if he had heard it he would have thought it a fresh snare.
Sidney retraced the perilous path, disheartened.

"He will die of famine," said the guide who was with him.  "Perhaps he
is dying now, and cannot move himself to answer."

It was a terrible thought to Sidney; yet it seemed only too likely.
Sophy's son was perishing like a wounded creature that creeps for
shelter into its den and dies a lingering death of famine.

"We must save him," he cried.  "I will give anything you ask if you
will save him."

"If we knew for certain he was dying," said the guide, scanning the
rock carefully, "I would do it; but if Martino is not dying he is as
strong as an ox.  It would be death to any man who climbed up to his
cave.  We will get him when he is dead," he added cheerfully.

Sidney went down into the valley hopeless and heavy-hearted.  Yet
underneath the heaviness of his heart lay a vague and wordless
impression that after all it would, perhaps, be best for Martin to die.
For, if he lived, would it be possible ever to civilize this wild
peasant, and bring him in any degree into harmony with the life of
civilization and luxury to which he by birth belonged?  The position
and career for which Philip had been educated with so much care must be
filled by this incapable, untrained, utterly ignorant savage.  It would
be impossible to fit him, at his age, for the position of an English
farmer; he was below the level of the lowest English laborer.  The sin
of his father had been so visited upon him that nothing could atone to
him for it in this life.  Sidney acknowledged that it was his sin which
fell so heavily on his son; he repented of it in bitter contrition of
heart.  But would it not be best for all if Martin was dead?

He had nearly reached Cortina, disheartened and perplexed beyond
measure, when Dorothy's clear young voice roused him from his sad
thoughts, and he saw her coming up the steep and stony path to meet him.

"Good news!" she cried blithely; "good news!  Philip is come back.
Mrs. Martin has sent Philip back to us.  That is good news to bring
you."

Good news, and yet unwelcome.  For on no one more than Philip,
excepting Martin, would the burden of his early error fall.  If he
could have borne all the penalty himself it would have been easier to
bear; but he must see Philip crushed beneath it.  Philip's speedy
return was a sign that neither his wife nor son entertained any
bitterness of anger against him, and so far it was good news.  But
their unselfish sympathy made his own conduct appear more base.  It
placed them too far apart from him.  It seemed as if he could almost
better have borne their resentment.

"He is coming after me," said Dorothy.  "I only ran on to tell you."

She ran down again, leaving the father and son to meet each other
alone; and she was not out of sight when Philip reached him.  There was
a subtle change about him; Sidney felt that he had lost him as a son,
but gained him as a friend.  He was his comrade, ready to help him in
every difficulty, and loyal to him with an immovable loyalty.  The
grave yet cordial sympathy of his manner went to Sidney's heart; and
yet it chilled him.  This passionately loved boy of his was a man,
looking at him with a man's eyes, and the feeling latent in this clear,
affectionate gaze was pity, not reverence.  The change was a subtle one
hardly to be seen, yet very painful to him.

"Phyllis has told you?" he said.

"All she knows," answered Philip.  "I conclude that my brother has made
his escape to the mountains, and cannot be captured."

He uttered the words "my brother" simply, but Sidney winced on hearing
them.

"I have not spoken of him to Phyllis or Dorothy," he said.  "If they
know anything it must be through the chambermaid.  It was impossible to
speak to them about it, though all the people in Cortina know."

"I told Phyllis I had an elder brother living," replied Philip.  "I
told her at Toblach."

"And what did she say?" he asked.

"She talked like a girl who has read nothing but novels," he replied,
evading a more direct answer.

And now, as Sidney saw his son standing before him, such a son as his
whole heart could take delight in, the thought of disinheriting him in
favor of the untrained and probably untamable savage, who possessed his
birthright, came back to his mind with irresistible force.  It seemed
impossible to do it.  This boy, whom he loved with passionate ardor, to
be displaced by a man whose existence was a shame and a sorrow to him!
He himself was in the prime of life--too old to retrieve the past and
shake off its burden, and too young to escape from its consequences for
many years--years of comparative dishonor and of keen disappointment.
His voice was broken as he spoke again to his son.

"Philip," he said, "must we sacrifice all?  Is there a necessity to own
this man?"

"Yes," he answered unhesitatingly.

"I cannot see it," said his father.  "I am like one walking in
darkness.  My conscience says nothing, except that I have sinned.  If I
do this I act by your mother's conscience."

"And mine," responded Philip.  "My mother and I have but one mind about
it."

"I will yield to you," he said, "but my punishment is greater than I
can bear."

They went on their way down into the valley; and Sidney told him of the
perilous place in which Martin had taken refuge, and the opinion his
guide had given that the poor fellow must be dying of famine.  It was
impossible to attempt anything that evening, but the next morning at
sunrise, Philip said, a scaling party must go to the precipice and
ascend it, under his own directions.  He was a member of the Alpine
Club; and to leave any fellow-creature perishing through hunger and
faintness from wounds would be infamous.  He must hasten to make his
preparations, and learn who were the most courageous and adventurous
guides.



CHAPTER XL.

PHYLLIS AND DOROTHY.

But as they passed the small public garden, lying on the steep slope of
the river banks, Philip caught sight of Phyllis sitting alone on one of
the benches.  He had seen but little of her at Toblach, and that was
after a separation of some months.  It was an opportunity not to be
missed, and his arrangements could very well be made an hour later.
Though the sun was gone down behind the mountains, the air was still
warm and balmy, and the sky was of that deep blue which is caused by
the absence of mist and vapor.  Far away on the highest peaks the
sunlight lingered, making all their soft colors glow with a delicate
bloom and luster.  Phyllis's pretty face, as she looked up at his
approach, was a little sulky.

"Your father is making a tremendous fuss about this man," she said,
looking up into his face with a hard expression in her bright eyes;
"all the world is talking of it here.  Is it prudent?"

"My darling!" he answered fondly, "this man is my elder brother--my
father's son.  How can we make too much fuss, as you call it?  We must
do all we can to compensate him for the past."

"But you can never reclaim him from his savagery--never!" she rejoined.
"A man of thirty!  He must remain a monster all his life.  Is it
certain that your father really married Sophy Goldsmith?"

"My father says so," he answered shortly.

"But they could not prove it," she continued with eagerness, and a
shrewd expression in her face which made it look almost hateful to him,
"and he is not compelled to own it.  Why could he not have left him
here in peace?  It is the only wise thing to do.  I don't say leave him
in such poverty and misery as you find him in; no! that would be cruel
and unjust.  It is not too late yet to act sensibly.  Why do not you
all quietly hush it up?  The Goldsmiths need never know; and you can
provide comfortably for him.  You will only work misery all round by
taking him to England as your father's eldest son and heir.  A monster
like that to become an English gentleman!  Good gracious!"

Philip made no answer.  Such considerations had presented themselves to
his own mind, and he had dismissed them hastily, as hateful temptations
arising from the evil that was in his nature.  Now that Phyllis uttered
them they seemed more hateful from her lips.  He did not know what the
future might bring, but the present brought to him a clear and simple
duty.  Justice must be done to Sophy Goldsmith's son.

"Is it too late, dearest Philip?" asked Phyllis persuasively, both of
her hands clasping his own.  "Will not your father listen to reason?
Don't you see what an enormous, enormous difference it makes to us!  To
me as much as to any of you.  You are sacrificing me.  I have turned it
over and over in my mind till I am sick and weary of it.  Have you
never thought of what such a change must mean for me?"

"I have thought of it, my dear one," he said gently.  "You are always
first in my thoughts.  But I must act according to my conscience."

"I know you cannot say much about it," she urged, "but shall I tell
your father that I know all, and reason with him?  He may be too
excited to act wisely.  Let me speak to him."

"No! no!" he exclaimed, "there is but one course before us; my mother
pointed it out clearly, but I hope I should have taken it of myself.
Martin must come home with us to England, and we must do what we can to
reclaim him, and fit him in some degree for the future.  You must help
us, Phyllis--you and Dorothy."

"You had better go and tell Dorothy of her fine task, then," said
Phyllis peevishly.

Philip was not long in finding Dorothy, who had sauntered away,
following the little tracks that crossed the open fields, to gather the
wild flowers which were blooming in profusion.  She saw him coming
toward her, and retraced her steps to meet him.  She had hardly spoken
to him before, so eager had she been to carry the good news of his
arrival to his father.  Her face was lighted up with a very pleasant
smile.

"How glad I am you are come back!" she exclaimed.  "Your father has
been so wretched and low-spirited.  O Philip! is it true that Andrew
Goldsmith's daughter is found at last?  How did she come here? and is
she dead? and what had Mr. Martin to do with it?  If I might only know
the truth I should be so thankful."

"I will tell you, Dorothy," he said.  "My father married Sophy
Goldsmith when he was a young man about as old as myself.  Secretly,
for fear of his uncle; and they came here, as we did, out of Italy,
thirty years ago.  They quarreled, and he left her, expecting her to
follow him; but she died, leaving a child behind her, and he never knew
it."

"He did not know that she was dead!" exclaimed Dorothy.

"He let things drift," answered Philip with an unconscious accent of
scorn, "because he was afraid of his uncle discarding him.  He made no
inquiries after her till he wanted to marry my mother; and then his
messenger sent him word that Sophy Goldsmith was dead, but said nothing
about the birth of their son.  And my father was satisfied!  But the
child grew up here among these peasants.  He was the man you saw at the
_festa_ who was like Andrew Goldsmith."

Dorothy walked on beside him in silence, and, somewhat surprised by it,
Philip looked down into her half averted face, and saw the tears
streaming down her cheeks.

"Oh, poor Andrew!" she sobbed at last; "poor old man!  And poor Sophy!
How he has mourned for her! and how he has almost worshiped Mr. Martin!
How will Andrew bear it, Philip?  How can your father bear it?"

"He is all but broken-hearted," he replied, "and so is my mother.  They
look already years older, Dorothy.  It is we younger ones who must go
to their help now.  We must make them feel that the future will not be
a failure, even after this blow.  Why cannot we in part reclaim my
brother?  He can never be an educated man, not a civilized man
according to our notions.  But after all, civilization is as much a
fashion as reality.  He need not remain a brute or a savage.  The
grandson of Andrew Goldsmith and my father's son must have something in
him which will make him not altogether irreclaimable.  You will help
us, Dorothy?"

"Do you remember how wild and uneducated I was when your father found
me?" she asked.  "I know I can never have such dainty ways as Phyllis;
and this poor fellow can never be like you.  But he will improve as I
have done."

Philip could not help laughing as he looked at her, and thought of the
rough, uncouth man his brother was.  The tears filled her eyes again.

"I have seen him," she continued, catching her breath, as if she could
not quite control her sobs, "every night since we came back.  Oh, how
dreadful it is I cannot say; and I never thought he was Mr. Martin's
son.  He is just like a wild creature prowling about the houses.  The
first night I heard him I was awake, and I stole quite quietly on to
the balcony, wondering if I should catch sight of a wolf down in the
street, and there, in the moonlight, was a miserable man searching in
the gutters for food.  Ever since I have taken some bread from dinner
and let it down to the ground just under my balcony, and he has come
for it every night."

"Thank God!" cried Philip in an accent of unutterable pity and
amazement; "then he is not dying of famine.  And that is my brother!"

"I just spoke a word to him last night," she went on.  "I spoke very
softly.  'Poor man,' I said in Italian, and he lifted up his head and
threw his hands above it.  Then he ran away very swiftly, without
making a sound."

"Oh, if my father had only known!" he said.

"I did not tell him, he seemed so absent," replied Dorothy; "but the
poor fellow will come again to-night most likely.  We will sit in the
dark watching till he comes, and you can see him from my balcony.  The
moon rises later every night, but there will be light enough."

The vision he had seen the previous night had haunted Martin's dull
brain all the day.  He had stolen under the windows of the hotel, where
he had never failed to find food from the first night he had sought it
in the streets.  Suddenly a white, quiet form, standing in the
moonlight on the balcony above him, like some image of the Blessed
Virgin, such as he had often seen in shrines and churches, spoke to him
in a low, soft, sweet voice, such a voice as the Blessed Virgin might
have.  The vision hardly frightened him, and yet he fled from it, and
hurried back to his place of refuge.  He pondered over it in a confused
way all through the day.  Legends of the apparition of angels, but more
often of demons, had been told to him and the other children in his
earliest days.  It was not strange that such a blessed vision should be
seen, but it was strange that it appeared to him, whose mother was
accursed in hell.  Was it possible that this white angel had come to
tell him better news of his mother?  Why had he fled so swiftly, when
he felt so little fear of it?  Would he see it again if he went down
into the valley?



CHAPTER XLI.

MARGARET'S CONFLICT.

Margaret had sent Philip back to the Ampezzo Valley as soon as she
reached Berne, and before Rachel Goldsmith could join her there.  The
feeling that she had left her husband apparently in anger--though it
was no ordinary anger that had possession of her--made her anxious that
their son should return to him as soon as possible.  Philip was
disinclined to leave her; but they talked together quietly and fully of
this terrible discovery, and of all its consequences, and she pointed
out to him what, in her eyes, his path of duty clearly was.  He must
accept the past, with all its present outgrowth, and not make the
harvest more bitter than it was by ineffectual reproaches and regrets.
What did it really matter, for the brief span of this life, whether he
passed through the world as a poor man or rich, distinguished or
obscure?  He was running the race set before him, and far other eyes
than those of man were witnessing his career.  Margaret, from her lofty
point of view, was nearer Philip in his youthful idealism than Sidney
could be, and his mother's counsels gave to him the courage and
hopefulness which seemed to his father so strange and pathetic.

But Margaret herself was passing through the fiercest and most painful
crisis of her life.  The blow that had fallen had struck at the deepest
roots of her being.  It seemed as if she had linked her whole
existence, down to its innermost fibers, with a nature absolutely at
variance with it.  This husband, whom she loved so perfectly, had been
living all these years beside her a life of base treachery and
dissimulation.  She marveled as she thought of his daily intercourse
with her maid Rachel, Sophy Goldsmith's aunt, and of his constant
friendliness toward Andrew.  How could he bear to see their grief and
suspense, nay, even pretend to share it, and to pursue the search after
their lost child?  Was it possible that human nature contained such
depths of duplicity?  He had kept silence amid all their mourning, and
made his silence seem full of sympathy.  To be guilty of such infamy,
for any reason whatever, seemed inexplicable to her.  But to do it for
the sake of money and position!  If he had not owned it with his own
lips, no force of accumulated evidence could have compelled her into
belief.

Yet her heart was very tender toward him.  His sin seemed to stain her
own soul, so closely was she bound to him; for still she loved him.
Rather she felt as if she loved him with a deeper fullness, because of
her unutterable pity for his misery.  She did not know for certain what
he would do; but she would hope, even against hope, that he would pass
through this gulf that lay between them, and reach her on the clear
heights from which she looked down upon his wrong-doing.  He was fallen
indeed; but she would rather be his wife than fill any other position
in the world.  He could never be less dear to her than he had always
been.

She blamed herself for her too great reticence and silence as to her
own spiritual experience.  It was so sacred, and yet so natural to her,
that she had rarely attempted to put it into words.  If she loved her
husband's soul it must show itself in deeds, not speech.  Her love to
God, her discipleship toward Jesus Christ, must be displayed in the
same way; if those around her could not see it in her daily life, it
would be useless to proclaim it.  What she felt herself she attributed
to others.  God was nearer to every soul than any fellow-creature could
be, and his dealings with each soul was wrapped in a veil impenetrable
to the understanding or comprehension even of those closest and dearest
to it.  What God was saying to her husband's soul she could not know.
And no action of Sidney's life had taught her that they were worlds
apart in their spiritual experience.

Now she saw in a new light that sin which Christ denounced above all
sins--hypocrisy.  In a book she had read a short time before she had
come across these sentences: "Howbeit now I know well that Jesus came
not to prophesy smooth things, but to teach us the truth.  Therefore
was it most needful that he should speak the truth, and nothing less
than the truth, concerning the Pharisees, to the intent that the eyes
of all mankind might be opened, even to the generation of generations,
that they might discern that the sin of sins is hypocrisy.  For other
sins wound, but this sin slayeth, the conscience.  Peradventure, also,
Jesus foresaw that a time might come when certain even among his own
disciples would err as the Pharisees erred, shutting their eyes against
the truth, as being unfit and not convenient.  He, also, that came to
redeem all the children of men from all evil, was it not most necessary
that he should make clear in the sight of all men what was the greatest
evil?  For if men knew it not, how could he redeem them from it?"

This had been Sidney's crowning sin.  He had so acted a part that,
unawares, he had grown to consider it his real nature; it had almost
ceased to be hypocrisy, save in the sight of God, whose eye saw the
false foundation on which the building was raised.  For surely Sidney
had not altogether feigned his enjoyment of the privileges and duties
of Christianity.  He had gone with her to the table of the Lord; he had
given generously, not only of his wealth, but of his time and talents,
to the service of his fellow-men.  He had taken his stand in public
life as a religious man.  "Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous
unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity."  This was
the condemnation of her Lord against the man who was dearer to her than
her own soul.

She felt that she was right in facing this crisis alone, free from the
distracting affection of Sidney.  To have stayed near him would have
taxed her strength too heavily; for all life was under an eclipse!  Was
it not an abiding darkness, which could not pass away on this side of
the grave?  Was he not in an abyss of gloom, into which she must go
down, and dwell with him there?  Gloom and sorrow and remorse she would
share with him, but not the infamy of a new sin.

Even in the deepest abyss God would be with her.  This was the hope she
clung to.  She recalled the vision she once had of the love of God.
There was absolutely no limit, no change, in that Divine love, though
it might take the form of an apparent vengeance.  "Even in hell thou
art there!" she said, and she felt strong enough to go down to the
nethermost depths, if underneath her she were still to feel the
Everlasting Arms.

The nethermost depth to her would be to separate herself from Sidney.
But if he persisted in carrying out his threat, and being guilty of
this new iniquity, even if her heart broke she would no longer live
with him.  She knew what the world would say of it: that it was only a
foolish woman's jealousy and prejudice, a straining at a gnat, if she
could not forgive so boyish a sin as that of which he would seem to
have been guilty.  But she took no account of the world.  If he
persisted in his threatened injustice to Sophy's memory, if he brought
this bitter shame upon the heads of her dear old friends, it would be a
base act of perfidy, showing him absolutely unrepentant toward God and
man.  It would be impossible to her to resume her former wifehood with
him.

Rachel Goldsmith could not be ignorant of the fact that her beloved
mistress was passing through some great sorrow.  But she was a reticent
woman, with great natural refinement, and she said nothing either to
express her own sympathy or to lead Margaret to confide her troubles to
her.  She was older than her mistress by fifteen years, and she cared
for no one in the world so much as for Margaret and her two sons.
Philip and Hugh had grown up under her eyes, and she was almost like a
second mother to them.  To her strong affection was added that loyal
and faithful respect with which an old servant looks upon the future
masters.

Margaret spent most of her time in her own room in the hotel at Berne,
through the windows of which she could see the wonderful range of snowy
Alps, that stretched across the horizon, and, catching the evening
light, looks so unearthly in its marvelous purity and beauty.  It
seemed to her as if beyond those white and rosy peaks lay "the land
that is very far off." That strong yearning to be gone thither, safely
shut in from the vanities and vexations of life, so often expressed in
old Latin hymns, had taken possession of her, and it seemed to her as
if she had only to will, to rise up, and cross over the invisible
threshold of the other life.  Should she go or stay?  The choice was
almost given to her.  Would she depart at this moment, and be forever
with the Lord?  Or would she stay to fight the sore battle her beloved
ones were engaged in?  "Let me stay!" she said half aloud.

At that moment Rachel entered the room quietly with a letter.  It was a
thick packet, addressed to her in her husband's handwriting, and
Margaret opened it with trembling fingers.  A number of yellow,
time-stained pages fell from it as she seized a little note written by
Sidney.

"My Margaret," he said, "I have seen my son, and I will acknowledge
him.  But unless you stand by me my punishment will be greater than I
can bear.  I am like a man walking in darkness amid pitfalls, without
guidance.  I will be guided by you.  Do not forsake me, my wife.  The
letter I enclose was written thirty years ago by Sophy to Rachel.
Would to God it had been sent to her then!  To-night we expect to find
Martin, who has fled from us to the mountains."

Margaret gathered up the scattered leaves, and called to Rachel, who
was just leaving her again alone.

"Rachel!" she cried, "I can tell you my sorrow and my secret now.  It
concerned you more than me, perhaps.  And yet, no; it cannot, it
cannot.  We have found out what has become of Sophy."

"Oh, it is Mr. Martin!" exclaimed Rachel; "God bless him!  I knew he
would find it out some day; and how shall we ever thank him for it,
Andrew and me?"

"Hush! hush!" said Margaret; "it is too dreadful.  Rachel, he sends you
this letter, which Sophy wrote to you before she died, thirty years
ago, and he says, 'Would to God it had been sent to you then!'  Take it
away to read it: I cannot bear to see you reading it."

Rachel carried the faded letter away.  She was an old woman now, with
white hair, and eyes that were failing a little, and needing a brighter
light than when Sophy had written that long letter.  But she remembered
Sophy's handwriting well, and tears blinded her dim eyes.  Oh, what
anguish of heart would have been saved them if this letter had but
reached them thirty years ago!  It was the suspense of the long, long
years that had broken Andrew's spirit, and made an old man of him while
still in the prime of life.  Many fathers lose a beloved child by
death, and they lay them in the grave, and go their way, and presently
the sharp grief is healed.  But he had lost her more cruelly, by that
crudest way, an unaccountable and mysterious disappearance.  It was
well to make the discovery of her fate even now; but if it had only
been made thirty years ago!

Rachel read the letter slowly, gathering in its many new impressions
vaguely, like one puzzled and bewildered.  It seemed a confusion to
her.  Who could this Sidney be of whom Sophy wrote--this young man who
had deserted her in a passion, as it appeared, just the thoughtless
passion of a young man?  Sophy's temper had often been very provoking,
and she freely confessed that she had provoked him out of all patience.
Sidney?  She knew only one man of that name.

And he was Sidney Martin, her master, the husband of her idolized
mistress.  He was the rich man, the magistrate, the member of
Parliament, who belonged to quite another world from that lower world
in which she and Andrew lived, the world to which Sophy had belonged.
To think of him in connection with this young man, Sophy's husband, who
had deserted her, was impossible; it was an unjustifiable liberty--a
crime.

She put the letter down and took up some sewing, as if she could think
more clearly while her fingers were busy.  But her hands trembled too
much, and a crowd of memories came rushing through her brain.  O Sophy!
Sophy! how sad an end to come to with your willful ways and foolish
fancies!  Dying there, alone, among strangers, who did not know what
you were saying with your dying lips!  No hand you knew to hold your
hand as it grew cold, and no voice you could understand to speak words
of comfort as you went down, step by step, into the chill river of
death!  Alone! utterly alone!

Then she read the letter again.  And now the name came clearly to
her--Sidney Martin.  There must be some other man, then, of that name.
It was incredible that Mr. Martin, who had joined them in their search
and inquiry with such friendly sympathy, could have held the knowledge
of her fate in his own heart.  She thought of all his kindness to
Andrew and herself--a kindness that had never failed.  Yet--Sidney
Martin!  And a secret marriage!  It was he, too, who had sent her this
letter, and a strange message with it.  If this could be true, what
would be the end of it?

She made her way to Margaret's room with trembling limbs and a sinking
heart.  Margaret was still sitting where she had left her, with her
face toward the window; but it was dark, and the long range of
mountains, that seemed only a little while ago the glistening boundary
of a brighter world, lay pallid as death against the somber sky.

"Miss Margaret!" cried Rachel in a voice of sorrowful uncertainty.

Margaret stood up and stretched out her arms, and the two women clung
to one another in a passionate embrace, which seemed to knit together
all the joys and sorrows of their lifelong affection.  Rachel knew that
her dreaded surmise was true.



CHAPTER XLII.

CAPTURED.

That night, at Cortina, Sidney was watching in the hope of capturing
his son.  Philip was with him, concealed in a dependance opposite to
the hotel, ready to intercept Martin if he took fright, or to pursue
him if he made his escape.  Phyllis and Dorothy sat in their dark room,
with the window open that they might step noiselessly on to the balcony.

Phyllis had not seen Martin; and no description given of him by Philip
and Dorothy led her to imagine him in any way different from the
peasants who inhabited the cottages near the little town.  That he was
rougher and less civilized did not for a moment enter her brain.  She
noticed these mountain laborers closely, wondering which of them would
be most like her unknown cousin, who so greatly altered her own future
prospects.  It was plain to her that Philip and Margaret were Quixotic
enough to acknowledge the claim of this deserted son of a lowborn
mother to his rights as the eldest son and heir of his father, but she
was not sure of what Sidney meant to do.  He might still listen to
reason and common sense.  But she began to wonder, with a sinking heart
as she thought of marrying a comparatively poor man, how soon and how
much would this usurper acquire a fitness for his distinguished
position.

To Sidney, the cheerful loyalty with which Philip came to aid him to
rescue his son was full of reproach.  He felt, too, that Dorothy and
Philip were taking the affair out of his hands, and that his part was
almost a passive one, that of a spectator.  These young creatures who a
few months ago looked up to him as an infallible oracle and the arbiter
of their lives, now stood beside him, nay, even before him, covering
with the strength of their youthful hopes, and their certainty of
success, the feebleness of his own doubtful and perplexed judgment.
They talked of Martin as though sure of redeeming him from his
ignorance and savagery, and fitting him to fill the position he was
born to; while Sidney could see in him only a man whose habits of mind
and body were unalterably rooted, a monster to whom he had given life,
and who was about to become his master.  They, youthful and idealistic,
with no knowledge of the world, and but little of their own nature,
were ardently pursuing their object, blind to what he saw so clearly,
the long monotony of slowly passing years to come, when Martin, with
his ingrained savagery, would become a daily burden, full of care and
shame to all of them.  If only he could save Margaret and his boys from
that burden!

The long, silent hours of watching passed on, and Phyllis grew fretful
with the tedium of waiting.  Every quarter of an hour sounding from the
clock tower made the time seem longer.  The stars glittered in the
almost frosty sky; and the moon, now waning, threw a sad, white light
upon the sleeping town.  There had been no sound for an hour or more,
when at last a stealthy, creeping footfall reached their straining
ears.  The two girls stole silently to the balcony, and leaned
cautiously over the parapet.  In the dim light Phyllis saw a wild, half
naked creature, bare-headed, with long, rough hair matted about his
face, scraping together the fragments of food thrown out into the
street for the dogs.  It was a horrible sight to her, and she uttered a
low scream as she fled back into the room, which startled his
frightened ears.  He was darting away when Dorothy called to him:
"Martino!"

It was his own name that this white vision of an angel was calling; and
he hesitated in his intended flight, looking up again to see if she was
still there, and did not vanish away.

"Martino!" she said again in her foreign accent, "we are your friends."

"Si, signora," he answered.

"Martino!" repeated a friendly voice beside him, and he felt a hand
laid gently on his bare arm, "we are your friends."

He turned round with a start of terror; but the face he met was that of
the young English gentleman whom he had seen a few days ago, before
Chiara died, and who had given him the silver coin, which he carried
carefully concealed in his rags.  He knelt down again to him, laid his
hands on his feet, muttering and mumbling his recognition and delight.
Philip glanced round to the dark doorway where his father stood unseen.
What must he be suffering in seeing such a sight as this?

"Get up, Martino," he said, trying to raise him from his abject
posture, "we are your friends," he repeated, at a loss for words.
"Father," he continued in a low voice, "come and speak to him.  You
know his language better than I do.  Oh! if I could only make him
understand how much my mother and I pity him!"

Sidney approached his sons cautiously.  For a moment Martin stood as if
about to take a sudden flight; but the sight of an Englishman alone
pacified him; there was no need to be afraid of him.  They were very
rich, these English; Chiara had always said so; they could give him
enough money to buy the right of building a little hut for himself in
some place on the mountains, where he could keep goats and sheep.  He
stood quietly, therefore, watching them from under his shaggy eyebrows,
while Philip still held him by a slight yet firm grasp, of which he was
unconscious, so light his touch was.  They waited, both of them in
silence, for their father to speak.

But Sidney could not speak.  He had seen Martin for only one moment
before, when he fled past him from the infuriated mob that had burnt
Chiara's hut over his head.  Now he stood close beside him: a strongly
built man, with thews and sinews of iron, yet worn looking, with bowed
shoulders and stooping head, as though even his great strength had been
overtaxed with too many labors and hardships.  His squalid face, the
almost brutish dullness of its expression, the untamed savagery of his
whole appearance, were too revolting to Sidney.  Here was his own
folly, his own sin personified.  He could have hated this monster but
for the remembrance of Margaret.

"Mr. Martin," said Dorothy's clear young voice from the balcony
overhead, "take him into the dependance, and tell him he must sleep
there to-night, and you will talk to him in the morning.  See, I have
some food in this satchel.  And Philip will keep watch lest he should
try to escape.  I am so glad we have found the poor fellow."

"The signora says you must stay here to-night," repeated Philip, as he
saw Martin looking up at Dorothy, and listening attentively to her
unknown language, "and to-morrow we will show you we are friends."

"Are the signori rich?" asked Martin.

"Very rich," answered Philip.

"Will the signori give money to me?" he asked again.

"As much as you like," said Sidney, "if you will obey me."

"As much money as Chiara had?" he rejoined.

"More," replied Sidney.

"Then I will obey you," he said, with a rough laugh.



CHAPTER XLIII.

A POOR MAN.

But now that Martin was captured, what was to be done with him?  Sidney
found that the immediate direction of affairs was taken out of his
hands by these young people, who had been but children yesterday.
Martin attached himself to Philip, as a dog attaches itself to some
chosen master, and followed him about, obeying all his commands with a
doglike fidelity.  He squatted in a corner of the room while Philip
took his meals, and the next night he stretched himself on the floor of
Philip's bedroom across the doorway, as if to guard him.  At Dorothy's
sensible suggestion the garb of a peasant of the better class was
procured for him, and he put it on with an air of pride in spite of its
discomfort.

"It would be nonsense to dress him like you, Philip," she said
sagaciously; "he would look ridiculous.  It must all come by degrees,
as it did to me.  I was quite a wild girl when your father found me;
and I know how miserable poor Martin will feel at first, especially
when we go away from here.  It will be like another world to him."

"We cannot go till Phyllis is quite well," said Philip anxiously.

For Phyllis had been overcome by the shock of finding Martin such a
monster, and by the apparent determination of his father to own him as
his heir.  She was keeping to her room, and filling Philip's heart with
dire anxiety and concern.  Only Dorothy saw her, and to her she
maintained an ominous silence.

"I think," said Dorothy, "that if he went to Brackenburn first, not to
Apley, it would be best for him.  There are so few people about, and
the moors lie all around, where he could roam about just as he liked,
and nobody to notice him.  Brackenburn will belong to him some day, and
he will grow accustomed to it.  When he is a little more like an
English gentleman he may go to Apley."

"I will suggest it to my father," replied Philip.

"He will go peaceably with you as your servant," resumed Dorothy, "and
it is better to let him think himself so just at first.  The sooner you
start the better.  But not with us; Sir Sidney will take care of
Phyllis and me."

"I cannot start till Phyllis is well," he said.

But in a day or two Philip saw the necessity of taking Martin away
immediately.  All the valley became acquainted with the strange
circumstance that Chiara's drudge was the son of a wealthy Englishman,
who had come to claim him as soon as he heard of Chiara's death.
Everyone sought an opportunity of seeing Martin, and of speaking to
him.  The richer people addressed him in a half joking manner; but the
peasants, especially his old neighbors, paid him servile attention.
The woman who had scorned and flouted at him as a pariah, when he dared
to love her, haunted his footsteps.  Martin himself strutted to and fro
in the village street, proud of his new garb, and bearing heroically
the pain his strong, high boots gave him; and the third night after
they had captured him Philip found him lying dead drunk in one of the
lowest inns in Cortina.  It was full time to remove him from his old
surroundings.

Sidney accepted the plans proposed by Philip and Dorothy with a sort of
numb pain.  He was no longer worthy to be their guide, and they were
softly yet unconsciously setting him on one side.  The burden was
falling on their shoulders; and how readily, how courageously they were
bearing it!  There was as subtle a change in Dorothy as in Philip,
inasmuch as there was an undertone of pity for him in all she said and
did--a pity that was taking the place of the pride she had hitherto
felt in him.  She was very gentle and tender in her manner, hovering
about him, and volunteering her companionship when he was setting out
on the lonely walks with which he made away his time.  But Sidney felt
that all at once, in the prime of his life, his career was over.  An
ever increasing sense of separation and isolation crept over him: Sophy
and her son stood between him and every other relationship.  Possibly
his public career would not greatly alter; his days in the city would
pass pretty much as they had done.  He would amass more money, and be
thought well of as a rich man.  But at home all was changed.  His
beloved son was no longer his firstborn; and even Margaret must feel
keenly that Sophy had been his wife before she was.

The plan of traveling homeward in two parties was a wise one, for it
would not do to subject two young girls like Phyllis and Dorothy to any
annoyance from Martin's extreme savagery.  Philip, too, acknowledged
the prudence of Dorothy's suggestion, though it parted him from
Phyllis, who gave him permission to see her on the eve of his departure
with Martin.

She was sitting in a large, high-backed chair, covered with crimson
velvet, against which her pale cheeks looked whiter, and her face more
delicate, than they had ever done, and she spoke in a faint and languid
voice, as if the exertion was too much for her.

"You will not be long after me, my darling?" he said anxiously.  "I
would have given all I have to have saved you this sorrow; and yet it
is a comfort to me that you have been here.  Now you know all about it,
just as you have known all my life hitherto.  There were never two
people, not being brother and sister, who knew all about the other as
you and I do."

"But, Philip," she asked languidly, "what do you suppose your future
life will be now?"

"Oh!  I must go into my father's business," he answered, "and set to
work seriously.  Or if my father would give his consent I should like
most of all to walk the hospitals, and become a surgeon.  I should like
to be a famous surgeon."

"Good gracious, Philip!" she exclaimed, roused by such a proposition
out of her listlessness; "and am I to be a doctor's wife?  A doctor's
wife, only having the brougham when you are not visiting your patients!
And you would never be sure of going out with me.  Perhaps I should not
be in society at all!"

"Perhaps not," he replied, "but you will be my own Phyllis always."

"A fine compensation," she said, pouting and shrugging her shoulders.
"I don't know what my mother will say about it all."

"But your father?" suggested Philip, with a smile.

She was silent for a minute, and her face clouded.

"He will say I am less worthy of you than ever," she replied gravely.
"Oh, yes! my father will be on your side; he is as incautious as any of
you.  But I never thought your father would be so rash.  You think you
know me, Philip, but all you are doing proves that you are mistaken;
you do not know me at all.  I could never, never marry a poor man,
however much I loved him.  And you will be poor."

"Poor!" he repeated, "no, no!  I shall not be a rich landowner, but I
shall have ample means for all your wants and my own.  We shall be
poorer than my brothers, of course, but not as poor as yours.  They
have their living to get, and so have I."

"It is not all quite settled yet?" she said plaintively.

"What is not settled?" he inquired.

"Nobody knows yet but ourselves," she continued; "everything is not
lost.  No one can know unless you proclaim it.  I have been thinking
all day long while I have been lying ill, and I see all the ruin and
misery it will bring upon you all.  The monster himself will be
wretched; if you wish to secure his happiness you should leave him
here.  Taking him off to England would be ridiculous."

"There is nothing else to be done," said Philip briefly.

But he left Cortina in charge of Martin with a heavier heart for this
conversation with Phyllis.  The clumsy form and uncouth gestures of
Martin, who refused any other seat than the box of the carriage, struck
him the more forcibly now they were starting on their way to England.
He looked a middle-aged man, scarcely younger than his father.  Would
it be possible to mold him, even by little and little, by the slowest
degrees, into anything like the form of an English gentleman?  It was
too late for that.



CHAPTER XLIV.

SOPHY'S SON.

Rachel Goldsmith heard the full story of Martin from Margaret's lips as
far as she knew it herself.  She listened to Margaret's description of
the poor wretch, standing aloof from all his neighbors, and not daring
to enter the church, or to join the procession in the great _festa_;
and she shed many tears over the fate of Sophy's son.  But it did not
once enter her mind that this unknown nephew of hers would usurp the
place of the young heir, whom she loved with a passionate devotion.
When Margaret began to speak of it she interrupted her hurriedly.

"Oh, no, no!" she cried; "his grandfather and me would not hear a word
of such a thing!  It's a good thing that our Sophy was married rightly,
and that's quite enough.  That will satisfy Andrew and me.  Let him
come to us, poor fellow, and we will provide for him.  Andrew has saved
money, and so have I.  It would never do, my lady, for Sophy's son to
live at the Hall in Mr. Philip's place."

"But we cannot hinder it," said Margaret, smiling somewhat sadly;
"since Martin is my husband's eldest son, he must inherit the estates
entailed upon him.  But, Rachel, it is not his poverty we must deliver
him from, it is his ignorance.  He has never known what love is, and we
must make him know it.  He knows nothing yet of God, and we must teach
him.  We have to reclaim him from heathen darkness, possibly from
heathen sinfulness.  All his past thirty years have to be atoned for,
and no one can do it as we can--his father, and his brothers, and I."

"Couldn't Andrew and me do it?" asked Rachel.

"Do you think you can?" rejoined Margaret.  "My husband was guilty of
the wrong; who else can put it right?"

"Will you wait till I can speak to Andrew?" she asked again.

"It can make no difference," answered Margaret; "Andrew's grandson is
my husband's eldest son."

But all the way homeward Rachel was pondering over the way in which she
should tell Andrew these tidings, and in what manner it could be
managed that Mr. Philip should not be dethroned.  Though Margaret
talked little about it, Rachel saw that her spirits flagged, and that
she was more sorrowful than she had ever seen her before.  Margaret and
her boys filled all Rachel's heart.  In early days Sophy had always
been a trouble and perplexity to her, though the sadness and mystery of
her fate had made her forget all these cares.  Sophy's son was coming
to be a still greater trouble and perplexity to her in her old age.  By
dint of casual questions asked of Margaret at odd times, Rachel drew to
herself a picture of her great-nephew which filled her with dismay.  A
man who could neither read nor write, who went about in rags,
bare-headed and barefooted--above all, a man who, if he prayed at all,
prayed to images; such was the usurper who was about to seize Philip's
birthright.

The evening of the day when Margaret and she arrived at Apley, Rachel
set off to tell her brother of Sophy's fate.  The little street, so
familiar to her all her life, seemed to put on a strange aspect as she
sometimes hurried, and sometimes lingered, along it, in the unusual
tumult of her spirit, which was eager, yet afraid, to tell her news.
At last, the small, low window of the shop, and the three hollowed
stone steps leading to the door, were reached.  The old journeyman,
grown old and infirm in their service, was putting up the shutters, and
the bell tinkled loudly as he went in and out through the half open
door.  She was just in time to enter and pass through the darkened shop
unheard, to the kitchen behind it.

It looked very homelike and cozy to her, much more so than the grand
rooms at the Hall.  Though it was summer a clear fire was burning in
the grate, and its dancing light flickered pleasantly on the polished
oak of the dresser and the old clock, and on the brass candlesticks and
pewter dishes, shining like silver, ranged on the dresser shelves.
Andrew sat in a three-cornered chair inside the chimney nook, resting
himself with an air of tranquil comfort now the shop was closed and the
day's business done.  He was a hale looking old man, with a good deal
of strength in him still, though his hair, which had turned gray thirty
years ago, was now of a silvery whiteness.  In Rachel's eyes he looked
little older, and far happier, than he had done thirty years ago.

"So you've come back again from foreign parts," said Andrew, greeting
her cordially, after her sister Mary had kissed her again and again.
"You're welcome back, Rachel; but it's been only a flying visit, not
more than a week or so.  I wonder the quality don't get worn out with
flying about like that."

"It was business this time," she answered gravely, "not pleasure.
You're quite well, Brother Andrew?  You've got no rheumatism such
weather as this?"

"Not a twinge of it," he said.  "I never reckoned on being a strong old
man like this.  Thanks to the folks at the Hall, Mr. Martin, and Mr.
Philip, and Mr. Hugh, and Miss Margaret most of all.  If ever folks
mended a broken heart, they've mended mine, God bless them!"

"Ay!  God bless them," she echoed in a tremulous voice.  "Brother
Andrew, do you often think of Sophy now?"

"Often think of Sophy now!" he repeated; "ay! every day, every hour!
When you came through the shop, I thought, 'Suppose that is my girl!'
She may come home yet, Rachel.  Some night, when all the shops are
shut, and the neighbors safe indoors, she'll steal in and ask if she
may come home again.  If it wasn't for thinking she might do that, I'd
have quitted the old house years ago; but I've stayed on for fear she
might come back and find no home, and be ashamed of inquiring where
we've gone to.  I think of Sophy!" he murmured in a tone of wonder and
reproach.

"She would be a gray-haired woman now, fifty years old," said Mary; "we
should hardly know her."

"Then you don't give up the hopes of finding her?" asked Rachel.

"Never!" he answered.  "I've asked Almighty God thousands and thousands
of times to let me live till I knew what had become of her.  And I've
pleaded his promises with him, and I cannot think he'll disappoint me.
I am sure I shall know before I die."

"But it might be best for you not to know," she suggested.

"But I chose to know it," he said, a gleam of almost insane excitement
burning in his deep-set eyes, "I chose to know it.  I did not leave it
with God.  I said, 'Let me know even if it kills me.  Let me know if I
go down to hell to find her.'  I say so now.  Rachel," he cried in a
loud and agitated voice, "have you come to tell me something?  Have you
found her?  Do you know anything about my girl?"

He sprang up and seized her hands in his own.  They were both old
people, with but few years to live, yet at this moment they felt as if
they were thirty years younger, and in the early prime of their days,
when Sophy had disappeared, and the trouble first crushed them.  If she
had opened the door and entered among them with her pretty face and
saucy manner, they would have seen her without a shadow or touch of
surprise.

"Yes, I have heard of her," said Rachel breathlessly.

Andrew fell back in his chair, and his withered face went ashy pale.
He only cried, as if to himself, "My God! my God!"

"But, Brother Andrew," continued Rachel in a forced, monotonous manner,
"she is dead.  Sophy died thirty years ago."

"Sophy died thirty years ago!" he repeated, gazing at her with dim
eyes, from which all the light had faded.

"Very far away, in foreign parts," went on Rachel; "and before she
died--the very day before she died--she wrote a letter to me, a long
letter, that was never sent."

"Died thirty years ago," murmured Andrew, as if his brain could
understand nothing more.

"Rachel," said Mary eagerly, "just sit down and tell us all about it.
Have you brought the letter?  Was she married?  Who did she run away
with?  Be quiet, and tell."

"First," answered Rachel, "I want to know if you can forgive the man
who persuaded her to run away, Brother Andrew?"

"No! no!" he exclaimed.

"Not if he were a mere boy, like our Mr. Philip, who did not know the
harm he did?" urged Rachel.

"If he married her," he said hesitatingly.

"Oh, he married her," replied Rachel.

Andrew's white head sank into his hands, and the tears trickled slowly
down his face.  Sophy had been married.  For the sting of his sorrow
had been the dread that his child had lost her innocence.  The tears he
shed were tears of gladness and thankfulness.  True, she was dead; but
he, too, would soon die, and he would meet her with no shame upon her
head.  He was not afraid of dying now, for the secret he dreaded had
been revealed to him.  Rachel drew out of her pocket Sophy's letter,
and laid it on the little round table, where a candle was lighted.

"But who did she run away with?" asked Mary.  "If you know she was
married, you know who she was married to."

"Yes," she answered, sighing heavily; "he was no older than Mr. Philip,
a mere boy, with no thought of the harm he did.  He'd been visiting at
the Hall, and saw our Sophy, and he ran away with her and married her.
It was Mr. Martin himself."

"Mr. Martin!" exclaimed both Andrew and Mary at the same moment.

Across Andrew's mind came the recollections of the last twenty-three
years.  Sidney had seen and known all their sorrow and bewilderment; he
had seemed to share it; he had diligently aided them in their
inquiries, and all the time he knew!  At any moment he could have
rolled the burden off their hearts.  He, who had seemed their friend
and benefactor, had been the very enemy they were seeking.  The gloomy
and fierce light blazed again in Andrew's sunken eyes, and he raised
his arm, trembling with excitement, and looked mournfully at it, as if
he was stricken with palsy.

"Would to God my right arm was what it used to be!" he cried.  "But I'm
an old, worn-out, broken-down man, with no strength left.  I've only
strength to cry night and day upon God to avenge me.  And he will
avenge me."

"Hush! hush!" exclaimed Rachel.  "In cursing him you curse those who
are dear to us as Sophy was.  You curse Philip and Hugh, and our own
Miss Margaret.  And you love them."

"Yes, I love them," he replied fiercely; "but not like my own girl.
You don't know what it is to have given life to a child, and see her
life destroyed by another man.  It tugs at my very heartstrings.  Oh,
my Sophy!"

He dropped his head again so that they could not see his face.  But his
shrunk and trembling hands were clenched till the sinews stood out
white and rigid, and his bent shoulders heaved with deep and bitter
sobs.  It was the treachery of his idolized master which was burning
his wrongs into his very soul.

"But he is punished more than you could punish him," said Rachel, "for
Sophy left a child behind her, a son, and my lady says he is heir in
place of Mr. Philip."

"How can that be?" he asked, looking up with a puzzled gaze.

"Because Sophy was Mr. Martin's first wife," she continued, "before our
Miss Margaret; and Sir John Martin's estates in Yorkshire are settled
on his eldest son.  Sophy's child is a man of thirty now, and my lady
says he must be the squire when Mr. Martin dies."

"Sophy's son is my grandson," said Andrew, after a long pause.

"Yes," answered Mary.

"Then where is he?" he asked impatiently.  "I want to see Sophy's son.
I must see that he gets his rights.  My grandson will be the squire
some day.  But I shall not live to see it, and then Mr. Martin will
cheat him, as he has cheated me."

"No," said Rachel, "Mr. Martin owns him, and they are bringing him home
from the far-off place where Mr. Philip found him.  But, Brother
Andrew, it would be best for him not to take Philip's place.  Think of
it!  You and me aren't fit to be the grandfather and the aunt of Mr.
Martin's heir.  We shall have nothing to do with him; he cannot come
and visit us here in this little house, and we couldn't go and visit
him at the Hall.  We shall all be upset, and he will be no more than a
stranger to us, though he is Sophy's son."

"But I shall be proud of him," answered Andrew.  "I shall like to see
him ride past the shop window, like Mr. Philip does.  And when he lifts
his hat and smiles at me, as Mr. Philip does, I shall say, 'That's
Sophy's son, my grandson.'  Ah! and Mr. Martin will be finely punished.
What is his name, Rachel?"

"They christened him Martino," she replied; "he will be Martino Martin."

"Martino Martin," he repeated; "that is my grandson!  He will be squire
of Brackenburn, but _I_ shall never see it.  I shall be dead before
then; we shall all be gone.  But he will be a rich man--richer than Mr.
Philip."

"You always said you loved Mr. Philip as if he was your own," said
Rachel sadly.

"Ay! but this is different," he answered; "this one is really my own
flesh and blood.  He belongs to me, and I belong to him.  I shall see
Sophy again in him.  Mr. Philip calls me 'Goldsmith,' but he will call
me 'grandfather.'  As soon as he comes home, and has a horse to suit
him, I will make him such a saddle as the highest gentleman in the land
might covet.  I long to see him--as fine a gentleman as them all."

"But you forgive Mr. Martin?" asked Rachel.

"Forgive him!" he exclaimed.  "Forgive a traitor like him!  A man who
pretends to be your friend, and comforts you for the sorrow he is
making!  Forgive him for stealing away my only child, and hiding my
grandson away in foreign parts!  Forgive him all these years of grief
which almost broke my heart!  Why should I forgive him?"

"Because you pray to God to forgive you as you forgive others," she
said.

"But I've never trespassed against God," he answered, "as this man has
trespassed against me, God Himself being the judge.  Let me be for a
while.  Perhaps some day, when I see my grandson riding by with
gentlemen like himself, rich, and prosperous, and happy, and, maybe, a
member of Parliament, then I may by chance forgive his father.  But I
cannot do it now--not now.  I've a great deal to sum up and get over
before I can forgive him."

Late on in the night Andrew Goldsmith was poring and brooding over
every word in Sophy's letter.  He lived over again the years of
distraction, bordering upon insanity, which had intervened between
Sophy's disappearance and the return of Colonel Cleveland to the Hall
with his daughter Margaret and her husband Sidney Martin.  He called
back the memory of the singular fascination Mr. Martin had exercised
over him; and his old, troubled heart was very sore as he thought of
all his loyal friendship to the man who had so deeply wronged him.
"And he was my son-in-law all the time," he said to himself.  If he had
owned his marriage, and brought his son to his own house to be educated
as his heir, Andrew would gladly have kept in the background, content
with an occasional sight of his grandson.  But now he would spread the
story far and wide.  Mr. Martin, who had been ashamed of his lowly
marriage, should be more bitterly ashamed of his treacherous secrecy.
His love for Margaret and her sons was swallowed up in his hatred of
her husband, his own son-in-law.



CHAPTER XLV.

BITTER DISAPPOINTMENT.

Nothing could exceed the rage of Andrew Goldsmith when he heard that
his grandson was about to be taken to Yorkshire, instead of being
brought to Apley.  What measures he had expected Sidney Martin to take
in order publicly to acknowledge Sophy's son he hardly knew.  But to
send him to so distant a spot, without any open recognition of his
rights, was a step that filled the old man with suspicion.  Sidney came
back to Apley, but Andrew refused to see him, feeling that it was
impossible to forgive his enemy, and equally impossible to control his
impotent wrath.  Sidney passed up and down the village street daily,
but Andrew sat no longer in his shop, for fear of catching a passing
sight of the prosperous traitor, whom he could not punish.  He would
not even see Margaret or Dorothy.  He held himself altogether aloof
even from his sister Rachel, who was so completely on his enemies' side.

In a few days after Sidney's return Mary told him that his grandson had
reached Brackenburn, and that Philip was staying with him.  His
indignation and suspicion made him restless to see Sophy's son with his
own eyes, and to confer with him as to the claiming of his rights.  An
attorney in the neighborhood, whose opinion he asked, advised him to go
down into Yorkshire without letting the family know of his purpose.  He
told Mary that he was going away on business for a few days, and she
and Rachel rejoiced that he could give his mind to business at such a
time.  They, too, were anxious and overcurious to see their
great-nephew, but it did not occur to either of them that their brother
should undertake any secret enterprise.  By and by, when Martin was
getting a little used to the change in his surroundings, Margaret
intended to go to Brackenburn herself, taking Dorothy and Rachel with
her.  But for the present all agreed that it was best to leave Martin
to free and unrestrained wanderings about the moors.

Andrew traveled northward with excited and extravagant visions of his
grandson.  He could think of Mr. Martin's eldest son and heir only as
being like Philip and Hugh--young men whom he had always regarded with
mingled deference, admiration, and affection.  He had been proud of
"the two young gentlemen from the Hall."  This elder brother of theirs
no doubt resembled them, though he was his grandson.

His heart was full of tenderness toward his lost Sophy's child, as
passionate as the bitter resentment he felt against Sidney.  It would
be impossible to say which was the stronger.  His whole nature was in a
tumult.  The keen and profound anger he felt against Sidney when his
mind brooded over his treacherous friendship to himself, alternated
with a still keener exultation as the thought flashed across him that
he was Sidney's father-in-law, and the grandfather of his heir.  He,
the old saddler of Apley, insignificant and poor, was still the
grandfather of the future squire.  He wished that Sophy's son had been
the heir to Apley, which was a finer place than Brackenburn.  What a
glory and a joy it would have been to pace down the village street and
up the broad avenue to his grandson's Hall!  Though this glory could
never be his, his spirit was greatly exalted within him at the thought
of his grandson being the owner of Brackenburn in the future.

He walked the few miles between the station and Brackenburn, for he was
a vigorous old man, and not accustomed to hiring conveyances.  But he
was tired by the time he reached the point in the road from which the
black and white, half timber house was first visible.  It disappointed
him more now than it had done before, when he visited it on Philip's
coming of age.  This old, irregular pile of buildings, with its many
gables and the old golden-gray stone wall shutting it in, which so
delighted Dorothy and Philip, contrasted unfavorably in Andrew's eyes
with the massive frontage and mullioned windows of Apley Hall.  It
seemed more than ever a studied and suspicious injustice to hide his
grandson out of the way in this solitary farmhouse.

From the point where he stood the great moors, putting on their robes
of purple heather and golden gorse, could be seen stretching behind the
house up to the horizon.  It was early in July, and the midsummer sun
lighted up the undulating ground, displaying every patch of bracken and
of gorse, with the rough, jagged teeth of rock thrusting themselves
upward everywhere in their midst.  To Andrew's eyes, accustomed to
southern cultivation, the moors seemed a dreary and wild desert, fit
only for tramps and gypsies to squat in.  He could see no path across
them; the road on which he stood ran down to the house in the dingle,
but stopped there.  All the deserted region beyond was bare and
trackless moorland.  It seemed to check his exalted visions of his
grandson's glory.  This place was the inheritance of Sophy's son.

But he would see him righted, if Sidney meant to wrong him.  This
deserted child should not be cheated of his birthright.  He strode down
the long road in the hot afternoon sunshine, weary and sore at heart.
But he was about to see his grandson, and to tell him, if no one had
yet told him, of the prosperous future that lay before him, of the
riches that had been accumulating for him, of the place he would take
in England.  All his suspicions and bitterness did not prevent his
troubled heart from beating with high hopes, or his aged frame from
trembling with eagerness to embrace his daughter's son.

He approached the house with some caution, for in spite of his love for
Philip he could not shake off the misgiving that he would be willing to
supplant his unwelcome elder brother.  The high, gray wall which
surrounded the house hid him from sight until he reached the double
gates hung upon massive stone pillars.  Beyond them lay the forecourt,
paved with broad slabs of stone, and opposite to the gates stood the
wide, hospitable wooden porch, which protected the heavy house door,
studded with nails.  Andrew paused for a minute or two, gazing through
the iron gates.  On the steps of the porch lay a man basking in the
sunshine like a dog.  He had kicked off his boots, which lay at a
little distance from him, and his bare feet were stretched out on the
heated pavement.  They were bruised and scarred, as if they had never
been protected against winter frosts, or the piercing of sharp rocks.
This man's hands were even worse than his feet: misshapen, clumsy,
frost-bitten, covered with warts and corns, one finger altogether gone,
and his nails worn down into the hard skin.  His face wore the same
disfiguring marks of constant exposure to extreme changes of heat and
frost.  His front teeth were gone, and his skin furrowed with coarse
wrinkles.  His hair was cut short, but it was scanty, tangled, and
matted.  Many an English tramp would have looked a gentleman beside
him.  Andrew gazed at this strange figure with curiosity.  Probably
this man, if he belonged to the place, as he seemed to do, for he was
comfortably smoking a pipe, was one of his grandson's foreign servants.
Yet he looked too uncivilized, too savage to be even a servant.  He
ought not to be lying there in front of the house--the stables were too
good for him.  Down south, nearer London, no gentleman would put up
with such a scarecrow about his place.  But his clothes were good,
though he had divested himself of most of them, and laid them under his
head as a pillow.  Martin must learn that such a rough fellow must not
lie on his front doorstep.

Passing through the gates, Andrew approached this wild figure with
somewhat slow and hesitating steps.  No one else was in sight to whom
he could speak, and all the sunny house seemed asleep, except this
strange, uncouth man.  But there was something in the sad, marred face
which appealed to his very heart; a dumb, pathetic appealing gaze, such
as looks out of the eyes of a dog, and that seems yearning to express
in words the feelings that lie forever imprisoned in his almost human
nature.  The eyes of the stranger, gleaming from under his shaggy
eyebrows, looked into his own with a gaze that was familiar to him.  It
shook Andrew to his inmost soul.

"Who are you?" he asked hurriedly.  "You cannot be anybody I ever saw
before.  I am come to see Mr. Martin, Sidney Martin's eldest son.
Where is he?"

The man rose to his feet and lifted up his hand in salutation, standing
before him in an almost abject attitude.  The skin on his bare arms and
breast was tanned to a deep brown and covered with short hair.  He
mumbled some indistinct syllables in reply, but not a word that Andrew
could comprehend.

"Who are you? what's your name?" asked Andrew, raising his voice as if
he fancied the foreigner was deaf.  In another minute footsteps were
heard in the silent house, and Philip himself stepped out of the hall
into the porch.

"Andrew Goldsmith!" he exclaimed.

"Yes, me, Mr. Philip," said Andrew excitedly, "I'm come to claim my
grandson, the child of my only daughter, my poor lost girl Sophy.  I
know all about it, Mr. Philip, and my lady herself told Rachel.  Why
didn't he come straight home with them to Apley Hall?  What is he
hidden away here for?  What are you going to do with him?  I am his
grandfather, and have a right to know.  Next to his father, he belongs
to me, and his interests are mine.  Why did you bring him here?"

"Look at him, Andrew," said Philip.

Martin was standing a little way off, intently watching his brother,
with such a look of faithful love on his face as an intelligent dog
might have.  Philip smiled at him, a sad smile enough, but it made
Martin laugh with delight.  So dreary and insane was this sound, as if
Martin's lips had never been taught to laugh, that it always made
Philip's heart ache to hear it.

"No, no!" cried Andrew, retreating from the two brothers with an
expression of terror, "that cannot be my Sophy's son!  No, Mr. Philip,
it is impossible.  He's a savage, a Hottentot! he isn't my grandson.
Why! the poor fellow is almost an idiot.  He can't be my Sophy's boy.
Tell me you're only playing a joke upon me."

"He is my brother," said Philip.  "See!  I will tell him so."

He said a few words in a language strange to Andrew, and Martin seized
his hand and held it to his lips, covering it with kisses.  Then he
fell back into his customary attitude of abject submission.

"Sit down, Andrew," said Philip in a tone of authority.  The old man's
face was pallid, and he was swaying to and fro as though unable to
stand; but he caught the sense of Philip's words, and stretched out his
hands like one groping in the dark.  He felt it seized in Philip's
strong grasp.

"Sit here," he said, drawing him into the porch, "and when you are
yourself again I will explain it all."

It seemed to Andrew as if the hour of death was come.  He had lived to
have the desire of his heart, had lived to know his girl's fate and to
see her child with his own eyes.  Now let him die.  Not as Simeon died
when he said, "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace."  He
was about to depart in bitterness and desolation of soul, having seen
that which he had longed for; and behold! the sight was a horror and a
curse to him.  There was a thick darkness gathering around him.  Why,
then, did he not die?  Philip's strong young hand was grasping his, and
his clear voice was speaking to him.

"O Andrew!" he said, "I was coming down to Apley to tell you, and
prepare you for seeing Martin, and then to bring you back here with me.
He is neither a savage nor an idiot.  He is improving rapidly, and by
and by we shall bring him to Apley.  But you would not have him there
at present, would you?"

Andrew felt his heart beat again, and the darkness began to give place
to the familiar light of day.  He opened his eyes, and the ashy
paleness passed from his aged face.  Now he looked up into Philip's
face, that face which had been so dear to him for many years.

"I will tell Martin who you are," he said.

But Martin seemed incapable of understanding it.  He knew well that he
had had a mother, for had not everyone about him, from his earliest
childhood, given him an extra kick because she was lost in hell?  But
that this unhappy mother should have had a father, who was still alive,
was more than he could comprehend.  He stood looking vacantly at the
old man for a minute or two, and then crept away bareheaded and
barefooted to the gates.  As soon as he was through them he set off at
a run, and they watched his tall, bent figure scudding over the
moorland till they could see him no longer.

"Yes, Mr. Philip," cried Andrew, with a groan, "yes, you're doing the
best for him and me.  But I shall never lift up my head again, never
more."



CHAPTER XLVI.

PUBLIC OPINION.

Andrew would not stay at Brackenburn even for the night.  He could not
endure the sight of his grandson again, until he had readjusted his
ideas and schemes, and had reconciled himself to his terrible
disappointment.  Philip drove him to the station, doing his best to
comfort and cheer him, but he reached Apley the next day, after a long
night's journey, a broken-spirited and embittered old man.

Though this grandson of his could never be the fine English gentleman
he had been dreaming about, still Andrew was resolved there should be
no infringement of his birthright.  Though he could never attain to
even a faint resemblance of Philip and Hugh, yet he was the eldest son,
the firstborn; and if the law of entail meant anything in England, it
must secure the inheritance to Martin.  He laid the whole case, as far
as he knew the circumstances, before a firm of respectable solicitors
in the nearest large town, and was assured that if the next heir was of
sound mind, there was no doubt that he must succeed to Mr. Martin's
entailed estates.  But was he sure that he was of sound mind?  That was
the question.  The description he gave of his grandson favored an
opposite conclusion.

It was a question that Andrew could not answer satisfactorily, even to
himself.  Possibly the mind was there, but it was altogether
undeveloped.  The life Martin had passed through was that of a cruelly
treated brute, cowering under cold and hunger, neglect, and oppression,
and hatred.  He possessed scarcely more intelligence than an
intelligent dog.  This, then, would be the loophole through which
Sidney would escape from the net he had woven for himself.  He would
evade doing justice to Sophy's son by treating him as an idiot or a
madman.

Day after day Andrew went about the neighborhood, for a circle of ten
or twelve miles, telling the story of Sophy's wrongs with a publicity
strangely at variance with his dignified and melancholy reticence in
former days.  He became a garrulous old man, ready to pour the history
of his troubles into every ear that would listen to it.  And the story
was an interesting one.  Many an old resident within some miles of
Apley recollected the incidents connected with the mysterious
disappearance of the saddler's pretty daughter, and the morose distress
of her father.  Now that the almost forgotten mystery was solved the
solution proved to be more interesting than the secret.  Andrew found
no difficulty in gaining listeners.

In these days public confession and public penance are impossible.
Sidney had no intention to act unjustly by his unfortunate firstborn
son, but he could take no steps to make his intentions known.  He had
made his confession, with secret shame and grief, to his own
solicitors, and to one or two of his most intimate friends.  The
rector, of course, had been acquainted with every detail, and had
looked more deeply into his heart of hearts than any other eye, except
Margaret's.  But he could not defend himself from aspersions.  A
general election was at hand; and Andrew, maddened by the remembrance
of the eager aid he had given to Sidney in former times, redoubled his
efforts to prejudice his constituents against him.  But on the eve of
the dissolution Sidney addressed a letter to them, resigning his office
as their representative, and recommending as his successor the son of a
neighboring landlord.  No reason was given for his resignation.

This omission Andrew seized upon.  Garbled statements of the recent
events in the life of their late member of Parliament appeared in the
county papers taking the opposite side in politics--statements full of
venom and rancor.  These were among the many penalties which Sidney
could not bear alone, but which fell heavily on Margaret and his sons.
The romance of Sophy's life and death contained so much truth that it
was not wise to enter into any contradictory or explanatory statements.
The son of Sidney's first wife was described as a helpless imbecile,
rendered so by the untold miseries which he had suffered with his
father's knowledge.  A demand was made that the guardianship of this
unhappy heir should be taken out of his father's hands, and placed in
those of the Lord Chancellor, as the legal protector of idiots.  A
commission should be immediately appointed to inquire into the present
condition, both physical and mental, of Sidney Martin's heir.

This blow struck home.  Not only did Sidney suffer from it, but Philip
and Hugh, who were now together at Brackenburn, whither Hugh had gone
for the long vacation.  Rachel Goldsmith was filled with indignant
anger.  Andrew himself was dismayed at the storm he had raised, and the
use made of his bitter complaints by the "other side," as he called
those opposed to his own political views.  He had not wished to play
into their hands.  Besides, he knew that whatever concealment Sidney
might have been guilty of, or whatever subterfuges he might have been
tempted to, his grandson's welfare was safe in Margaret's hands.  That
Margaret should swerve from the right path, however strait and narrow,
was incredible to him.

There was one person, however, so deeply interested in these malicious
suggestions, that she hoped they might be carried into effect, at least
so far as the appointment of a commission to inquire into the physical
and mental condition of Martin.  Laura was filled with anxiety about
Phyllis; it would never do for her to marry Philip if he was to be an
almost penniless man, coming between two rich brothers.  Margaret's
estate went to Hugh, and if Martin was sound in mind and body, there
was no chance for Philip.  But in case he was really an imbecile, of
course Philip would succeed.  She must find out the truth.

She seized an opportunity when they were dining at the Hall with no
other guests present.  It was a summer's evening, and after dinner they
sat out of doors on the terrace.  Phyllis, in obedience to previous
orders, carried Dorothy out of the way.  Laura began with a little
trepidation.

"We saw old Andrew this morning," she said, "and he could talk of
nothing but his grandson."

Laura knew there were times when the fewest words were best, and she
spoke these with an air of innocent frankness.

"Yes, Sidney," said George, "the old man is angry with himself at
giving rise to these vexatious reports.  Would it not be best to bring
Martin here for people to see him for themselves?"

"No, no; it is impossible," answered Sidney.

"But why?" pursued George.  "It is always best to face a difficulty as
soon as possible.  You cannot keep him out of sight forever.  Is it
true, then, that the poor fellow is imbecile?"

"Not at all," replied Sidney.  "The simple truth is that he is a
savage.  He has no more idea of our modes of life and thought than a
savage has.  His vocabulary is that of a savage; at the most he knows
less than three hundred words, and he cannot learn the English
equivalents of those.  His brain is almost utterly undeveloped, and his
mind is almost as much closed against us as if he was only a dog.  But
there is no reason to suppose him imbecile, and, in time, he may yet
learn a good deal."

"Is he strong in body?" asked Laura.

"As strong as a giant in some ways," said Sidney.  "His hard life has
made his muscles like iron.  He can sleep out of doors amid snow and
frost that would kill any one of us, and he can eat food that would
sicken us.  Yes," he added, in a tone of unfathomable regret, "my
eldest son is a savage and a heathen, but he is not an idiot."

"And must he really be your heir?" asked Laura with a trembling voice.

"Certainly," he replied; "he is old enough to cut off the entail, but
until he can understand what that means it cannot be done, and that is
a very complex idea for a savage brain.  There is no ground for
dispossessing Martin.  Two of our most eminent mental specialists have
been to Brackenburn, and they discover no mental incapacity excepting
that of an altogether undeveloped brain.  They found him more dull and
ignorant than the lowest type of English laborer, but they attribute it
solely to neglect, not to brain weakness.  He may be unfit for his
position, but there is no reason why his son should be."

"Goodness!" exclaimed Laura, aghast.  "You think, then, he will marry."

"Why not?" asked Margaret.  "Nothing would tend to civilize him so much
as a wife and children, if only we can find some good and nice village
girl whom he could love, and who would consent to marry him.  But no
lady would become his wife."

"Of course not," assented Laura; "but what, then, is to become of poor
Philip?"

"Philip wants to become a surgeon," said Margaret, smiling, "and I am
willing, even glad; but Sidney hesitates.  I do not want my boy drowned
in commercial cares, and dealing chiefly with money all his life, as
Sidney has been.  I do not think money worth the sacrifice.  I cannot
help believing that our Lord meant what He said: 'How hardly shall they
that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!'  It is true.  Tell me,
Sidney, is it not true?  I shall be glad to have Philip out of the race
for wealth.  They will not be poor--Laura; my boy and your girl.  They
will have enough to secure everything worth having--everything that
tends to health and culture and rational pleasure.  They will only have
to do without superfluities."

"Philip a surgeon!" exclaimed Laura; "not even a clergyman to take the
family living!"

"That would be impossible," replied Margaret; "he feels no call for it,
and he could not go into the Church for the sake of the family living."

"That would be a sin against God," said George; "next to the
unpardonable sin, if it be not that sin itself.  Let Philip become a
surgeon; my Phyllis will love him as much as if he was the owner of
Brackenburn."

But there were at least two persons there who doubted it, and with good
reasons.  A smile that had grown rare on Sidney's face lit it up for a
moment, as the thought flashed across him that Philip would soon see
the real nature of the wife he had chosen, and that Dorothy would also
appear to him in her true light.  Laura inwardly vowed that neither
persuasion nor authority on her husband's part should keep Phyllis
bound to a man who entered the insignificant career of a surgeon.  It
would have been a knotty question whether Phyllis could have married
him, even if he had entered into partnership with his successful
father; but she should never become the wife of a professional man.

And Martin?  It was possible that Sidney and Margaret were exaggerating
his deficiencies.  Laura felt no doubt that they painted him worse than
he was; it was Margaret's habit to overstate any opinion she formed.
If he was only a boor, why could not Phyllis civilize him?  She might,
in any case, keep her boorish husband in the background and still enjoy
the distinction of being Mrs. Martin of Brackenburn.  Before she bade
them good-night she had constructed for herself a tolerable image of
Martin, which might be quite easily tolerated by a girl like Phyllis.
She might still live to see her the wife of Sidney's eldest son.



CHAPTER XLVII.

ANDREW'S PRAYER.

Philip and Hugh, with their cousin Dick, passed the long vacation at
Brackenburn.  These young men did their best to make a companion of
Martin; but he could not understand their friendly efforts.  He was
willing to accept Philip as his master, and to obey his commands; but
he could not, even for his sake, accept the shackles of a civilized
life.  To bask all day long in the sunshine, with as little clothing on
as possible, to have a large plateful of food served to him out of
doors two or three times a day, and at nightfall to steal quietly into
some dark outbuilding and sleep all night upon sweet-scented hay, was
his ideal of well-being.  Anything more was irksome to him.

Sometimes, in obedience to Philip's call, he went with them when they
were shooting on the moors, shambling behind them with his awkward
gait, and seeing and hearing nothing, unless a far-off speck in the
sky, all but invisible to them, caught his eye, and filled him with
excitement in the fancy that it was a vulture.  If they came upon the
track of any wild creature, a track altogether imperceptible to them,
he could follow it with unerring skill till they traced it to its lair;
then Martin laughed with an uncouth and cruel laugh, and with savage
eagerness and incredible rapidity the animal was caught, and killed,
and skinned before their eyes.  At all other times his face bore an
expression of deep melancholy.  He was content only in Philip's close
vicinity.  As long as Philip was in the Hall he lounged at his ease in
the sunny forecourt; but when Philip was absent, as he was occasionally
for a day for two, Martin grew restless and anxious, and moped about
the empty rooms vainly seeking for his master.

But this could not go on much longer.  Philip's life must not be
sacrificed to Martin; and it was not practicable for him to take Martin
to London.

Sidney had not yet felt courage enough to see his eldest son again, and
Margaret shrank from urging him to it.  He was greatly changed these
last few months.  The air of prosperity that had been wont to sit so
lightly and so becomingly upon him, the happy graciousness of his
manner, his felicitous speeches, his confidence in himself, and his
successful career--all these had passed away.  He grew silent, and
cared little for his life in town, seeking more and more, though he
felt her farther from him, the constant companionship of his wife.

It was late one evening, after all the shops were closed, when Sidney
and Margaret together knocked at Andrew Goldsmith's door.  It was
opened softly by Mary, and they stepped inside the dark shop, standing
there while she stole back and knelt down at a chair just within the
kitchen door.  Old Andrew was at prayer, and as soon as Mary re-entered
his quavering voice resumed its solemn petition.

"We beseech Thee, O Lord," he said, "to take under the shadow of Thy
wings that poor child of mine, my lost girl's son, who is now in sore
straits and great trouble.  He has no friend save Thee; there is
nothing in him to make folks love him.  But nothing has been done for
him, Thou knowest.  The man that deserted my girl deserted his own
flesh and blood.  And he is no better than a heathen, worshiping stocks
and stones.  Let us see Thine arm stretched out to save him, and to
punish that man, his father, who left him to perish, body and soul.
Vengeance, O Lord; let us see Thy vengeance on him."

Sidney heard nothing more.  It was a terrible thing to hear a
fellow-man appealing to God against him.  Margaret's heart was melted
with pity toward them both.  If only either of them knew the infinite
love of God; if they could but realize how small a moment in their
endless life the brief passage through this world was to every soul of
man; if they could only understand how much closer God is to every soul
he creates than we are to one another--what need would there be to pray
in this manner, even for Martin?

"We are come to answer your prayer, Andrew," she said, stepping forward
as soon as he had finished; "not your prayer for vengeance, but for
your grandson.  He is my husband's son, and mine.  We all care for him.
My dear boy Philip is doing all he can for him; and now we want you and
Mary to help us."

"What can we do, my lady?" he asked, despondently; "the past is past.
He can never be like Mr. Philip and Mr. Hugh."

"Not like them," she answered; "but do you suppose he is less precious
to God than they are?  God makes no difference between them.  Christ
died for him as truly as for them.  You are too much troubled about
small things, Andrew.  But you can help Martin.  Listen to our plans
for him.  It is best for him to live at Brackenburn, because that place
will always be his own; and we want you and Mary to go and live there
with him as master and mistress of his household.  You will naturally
care for him more than anyone else can do; and you know it is not
possible for us to go to live at Brackenburn; it is too far from
London.  We think, too, of getting somebody who will be a sort of tutor
to him, who will teach him all he is able to learn."

She paused a moment, but Andrew did not speak.

"You will make this sacrifice for Sophy's sake," she resumed.  "Your
grandson has suffered a great wrong, not altogether from my husband's
fault, and we must all do what we can to set it right.  My husband did
not know of the existence of this son."

"Not know of him!" repeated Andrew.

"He knew only that Sophy was dead," said Margaret.

"But you knew she was dead!" he cried, turning fiercely upon Sidney;
"you knew it while you were pretending to comfort me, you scoundrel!
you hypocrite!  You made promises to me of searching for her, and
making inquiries, and all the time you knew she was in her grave.  God
grant I may see you punished!"

The impotent anger of the old man was painful to witness.  His white
head shook as if with palsy, and his trembling hands clutched the back
of a chair for support.  Mary ran to his side as if afraid of his
falling to the floor.

"I am punished, Goldsmith," said Sidney.  "Do you think it is nothing
to be branded, as you have branded me, with infamy?  But I have come to
ask your forgiveness, and your aid in saving Martin from further
consequences of my sin."

"Forgive you!" he answered.  "I cannot, neither in this life nor the
life to come.  But I'll do what Miss Margaret asks.  I'll quit my old
house, and go away, and die among strangers, as my poor Sophy did; and
every time you go up and down the street you'll see how desolate you've
made my house.  I've got a long lease of it, and it shan't be let to
anybody else.  We'll put up the shutters and leave it empty, and every
time you see it you'll remember Sophy and my curse on you."

"Andrew!" said Margaret, "you are casting yourself away, out of the
light of God's love, and all your path will be dark to you.  You will
cease to know him as he is; and you will find how terrible he can be in
his anger."

"I repent bitterly of my sins against you," urged Sidney, "and I own
how treacherous they were.  But, Goldsmith, believe me when I say that
I am changed, that I could not sin against you now as I did then."

"Changed!" said the old man scornfully, "changed!  How can you show it
to me?  You've been found out; and we are changed toward you.  But I
can see no difference in you.  You've not lost your riches and your
lands.  You're not punished in any way that I can see.  Yes, you are a
grand son-in-law for an old saddler like me."

"Let us go away," said Margaret sadly.

She took her husband's arm, and walked silently along the streets and
up the long avenue, so familiar to them through many happy years.  But
now their hearts were heavy and cast down.  The difficulty had come to
Sidney which comes upon men whose outward life has been at variance
with the inner.  There was no mode by which he could prove to his
fellow-men the reality of the change within him.  He had seemed to be a
Christian so long that there was no way of manifestly throwing off the
cloak of hypocrisy.  He must wear the livery of Judas to the end.



CHAPTER XLVIII.

A LOST LOVE.

Philip rejoiced at being set free from an irksome and almost hopeless
task.  He had been absent from home for many months; and though he had
written often to Phyllis from Brackenburn, her replies had been growing
more and more meager and unsatisfactory.  Her brother Dick drew his
attention to the fact that half of Phyllis's missives were written on
post cards, and might be read by all the world.  They came very near a
quarrel; Dick's depreciatory tone in speaking of his only sister always
amazed Philip.

As soon as possible after his arrival at the Hall he hurried down to
the Rectory.  It was usual for Phyllis to be awaiting him at the Hall;
but after his long absence she probably preferred to welcome him alone.
He had not seen Phyllis's father and mother since he lost his
inheritance, but he did not anticipate any change in them because his
circumstances were so greatly altered.  The rector received him with
more than usual cordiality and tenderness.  He put his arm
affectionately about Philip's shoulders.

"I'm pleased with you, my boy," he said; "you are fighting a good
fight, and coming out the victor."

Philip grasped the rector's hand tightly.  His mother had never seemed
to recognize the real hardship of his position; and his father made
worse of it than it actually was.  The rector spoke of it as a fight in
which he would win the victory, and yet suffer some loss in doing so.

"You are a man now," resumed the rector, "a man I approve of and honor
with all my heart.  It will be a glad day to me when I give you my
richest gift--Phyllis."

"A richer gift than anything I can lose," said Philip.

Philip left the rector's study one of the happiest men in the world,
and went away to the drawing room, where Phyllis and her mother were
sure to be found at this hour of the night.  He heard the voices of the
boys in their smoke room, and congratulated himself on the chance of
Phyllis being alone with her mother.  It was just what he had hoped for.

But Phyllis was so entangled and encumbered with some fancywork when he
opened the door, that she could not spring forward delightedly to meet
him.  She sat still; and he stooped over her and pressed his lips to
her soft cheek, and then turned to kiss her mother, who also did not
greet him with her accustomed rapture.

"How could you run away from your mother so soon after getting home?"
she inquired reproachfully.

"Did you think I could keep away till to-morrow?" he rejoined.  "My
mother knew I was coming here, and she is not jealous of Phyllis.  She
knows I love Phyllis as much as herself, though differently.  I do not
love my mother less because Phyllis is so dear to me."

He lingered on the name Phyllis, slightly emphasizing it, with a
delicate caress in the tone of his voice.  The color flushed her pale
and grave face, and her sight grew a little misty; but she went on with
her embroidery as if she did not hear him.

"Now, Philip," said Laura, "sit down, and let us talk sensibly.
Everything is so changed, so shockingly changed by this sad discovery.
Your father made a false step, and cannot retrace it; but it alters all
your position and your prospects."

"Yes," he assented.

"I want you to look at it as the world looks at it," pursued Laura.
"After all, we are living in this world, not in the next, as your
mother fancies.  You are now comparatively a poor man; you are, in
fact, a penniless man, for you are altogether dependent upon your
father.  Formerly you were the heir, and no caprice of your father's,
or any failure in his business, could deprive you of the inheritance.
You were quite secure of the future.  But now you have not a penny,
either in possession or prospect, which does not depend upon your
father.  And city businesses are so uncertain; you may be rolling in
wealth one day and a bankrupt the next.  Suppose your father failed, he
would be all right for his life, and Martin would be all right, and so
would Hugh.  But where would you be?"

Philip made no answer.  His eyes were fastened upon Phyllis, whose
fingers went on busily with their work as if she had heard her mother's
words over and over again.

"So far as I can see," continued Laura, "you are in a dreadfully
precarious position--in such a position as would make an older man
reflect seriously before he thought of marriage.  What can you offer to
a wife?  A most uncertain prospect; possibly, even probably, absolute
penury.  Penury!  You come to Phyllis, and say, 'Give me your love,
which is most precious to me, and, in return, I will share with you my
poverty and troubles.'  It seems to me a strange way of showing
affection."

"But am I in a different position to your sons, who have to make their
own way in the world?" asked Philip in a slightly faltering voice.

He moved his seat to the sofa on which Phyllis was sitting, and took
possession of her hand, which lay in his, limp and listless, making no
return to its warm clasp.

"No," answered Laura; "but they know they must marry girls with money.
If Phyllis had a fortune I should not say a word.  But your father
refused his consent to your marrying a girl without a fortune; you know
that only too well, Philip.  I am not quite so worldly as that.  But
Phyllis, poor girl, cannot marry a poor man; she is not fit to cope
with poverty, as I have done.  I know the rector will not be wise
enough, or firm enough, to refuse you as your father rejected Phyllis.
But I am her mother, and I have an equal right to a voice in the
matter.  I cannot see her throw herself into life long difficulties
through a foolish fancy that you love one another.  You are both far
too young to know your own minds."

"I was wrong in saying I was in the same position as my cousins," said
Philip, in growing agitation; "you know that both my father and mother
are rich.  It is true I am not the heir of either of them, but they
have a large income; and I feel sure that if I desire it they will make
me such an allowance as will provide all rational comforts and
enjoyments to my wife."

"An allowance that must cease with their lives," replied Laura, "and
nothing is more uncertain than life.  I do not wish to alarm you, my
dear Philip, but your father is much, very much shaken by this
unfortunate discovery of yours.  You must not count upon him living to
old age.  I have talked all this over with Phyllis, and she agrees with
me."

"No, no," he said vehemently; "you may make her say so, but I will
never believe it!  Phyllis, who has been my little wife as long as I
can remember; Phyllis, who has grown up for me--whom I loved as soon as
I loved anyone!  No; she will never forsake me.  She would become my
wife if I had only the poorest cottage to give to her as a home."

He clasped her hand between his own with a grasp from which she could
not free it, though she made a feeble effort to do so.  Then she lifted
up her tear-filled eyes, and looked very sadly into his eager face.

"I never could marry a poor man," she said.  "O Philip! why did your
father own he was married to Sophy Goldsmith?  Nobody could have proved
it, and nobody would have believed it; and then, you know, there would
not have been all this fuss."

"Phyllis!" he cried, "you don't know what you are saying."

He dropped her hand and turned away from her.  These few words of hers
were horrible to him.  All that her mother said passed by him almost as
if it had no meaning.  Some time ago he had begun to doubt the
disinterested nature of her affection for him; but he had no more
doubted Phyllis than he did the rector.  But at this moment her
worldliness was more frank and outspoken than her mother's.  There was
an unabashed openness about it that staggered him, if she knew what she
was saying.  But she could not know; it was incredible that she could
comprehend the baseness of her speech.  He turned back to her again.

"Phyllis," he said earnestly, "tell me truly, do you agree to what your
mother says?"

"Quite," she answered.  "We have talked it over again and again, and I
agree with her.  We should have been very happy together, but now I can
only be sorry for you."

He went away without another word, stunned and bewildered.  The boys
were still laughing and talking in the smoke room, and the rector was
reading in his study.  It seemed to Philip as if he was dreaming some
vexatious and incredible dream.  This was his other home, as familiar
to him as his father's house.  He had scarcely known any difference
between Hugh and the other boys, whose merry racket was in his ears.
But now a sentence of banishment had been pronounced against him.  He
could never come in and out again with the free, happy fellowship of
former times.  It was many months since he had crossed the old
threshold; it would be many months before he crossed it again.

He went home and told his mother briefly, in as few words as possible;
and she said little to him, for she saw his grief was too fresh for
consolation.  Moreover, she was not herself grieved, and she knew it
would be vain to touch his sorrow with an unsympathetic hand.  Sidney
was more pleased than by anything which had happened since Philip's
engagement to Phyllis.  It was a good thing for him to discover his
mistake in time.

"Let us go to London," said Margaret, "and make a home for Philip for
the next three months.  If we stay here either he will not come down,
or he must meet Phyllis and her mother; for we could not break off all
our intercourse with the rector.  Dorothy has never been in London for
more than a day or two, and we can find plenty to do during the winter.
And, Sidney, let us go and keep Christmas at Brackenburn."



CHAPTER XLIX.

WINTER GLOOM.

Andrew and Mary Goldsmith left their old home in Apley, and went north
to take charge of Sophy's son.  It was a great change in the lives of
people so old.  Instead of their small, snug kitchen, and their shop,
with its outlook on the familiar street, they dwelt in large,
wainscoted rooms, separated by long, wandering passages and galleries,
through which the autumn winds moaned incessantly, and from the windows
they saw only the deserted moorland.  The caretakers, who had been
accustomed to have entire charge of the place, remained in it as
gardener and cook; and a groom and housemaid had been hired for the
extra work, caused, not by Martin, but by the tutor who had undertaken
to teach him the bare elements of learning and the simplest customs of
civilized society.  Mary Goldsmith found herself at the head of this
little establishment, not without some feelings of pride in the
importance of her position; and Andrew was installed as master and
guardian of his grandson.  It was a great change from their homely life
at Apley.  Yet, with all the discomfort of the change, there was a
lurking sense of pleasure in being the nearest of kin to the heir of
the estate.

On the other hand, Martin was a source of constant anxiety and
mortification to them both; but Andrew took the mortification most to
heart.  He loved his uncouth barbarian, who was Sophy's son, with a
very deep though troubled love.  There could be no interchange of ideas
between them, except by gesture: for Andrew was too old to learn
Martin's stammering patois, and Martin appeared quite unable to
recollect the few English words his tutor tried to fix upon his memory.
The tutor, who knew Italian well, though he was not versed in the
patois of the frontier between Italy and Austria, soon learned Martin's
very limited vocabulary, and also his narrow range of mental
sensations.  But between Andrew and his grandson there was no means
whatever of communication by speech.  The old man would sit patiently
for hours watching the dull, coarse face of the clumsy peasant, whose
favorite postures were lying huddled up on the ground, or squatting on
his heels with his knees almost on a level with his ears.  Sometimes he
fancied his grandson responded to his wistful gaze with a gleam of
intelligent affection in his eyes; and now and then Martin would offer
him a pipe if he was not provided with one.  There was a certain amount
of friendliness in this act.

Martin's tutor conscientiously spent a regular number of hours in
attempting to teach him; and he did his best to make him sit down to
the table at meals and take his food like other people.  But Martin was
both obstinate and obtuse.  In his childhood he had not been permitted
to imitate the children about him; and the imitative faculties
continued dormant in his manhood.

Occasionally, to please Philip, he had consented to sit down with him
and Hugh to a meal, and tried to do what they told him, but for nobody
else was it worth while to take so much trouble.  He was learning, with
the slow and weary progress of an adult, the difficult accomplishment
of writing, his crooked and frost-bitten fingers traveling laboriously
over the paper, forming characters he did not understand.  He was
learning, a little more easily, how to read; but here again his
progress was hindered by his want of comprehension.  For, wisely or
not, he was being taught in English, and, as yet, English was a tongue
without meaning to him.

The best time for Andrew was when Martin accompanied him on the moors.
The old man was still hale and strong, and could pass all the hours of
the day out of doors, provided he was not always in movement.  Martin,
too, was only happy in the open air, and he liked lounging about,
sitting for long spells under some moss-grown rock, as he had been
accustomed to do when he was tending Chiara's herds.  Like savages, he
was capable of prolonged and extreme muscular exertion when necessary;
but necessity alone could drive him to make any effort, excepting when
a wild impulse possessed him to try his great physical strength.
Usually he was content to loiter about, with a pipe in his mouth and
his hands in his pockets, the impersonation of sluggish laziness.  For
hours together these strange kinsmen--the vigorous old man, with his
hot heart of indignant love beating in his time-worn frame, and his
grandson, with all his faculties and affections undeveloped--strolled
about the wide moorland, unable to exchange a word, and communicating
with one another only by looks and gestures.

To Martin, all that had happened to him had the incoherence and marvel
of a dream.  Chiara's death had first broken the melancholy monotony of
his life, and immediately followed this extraordinary change in his
circumstances.  He accepted it, but he could not comprehend it.  He
found himself supplied with all he wanted, without any effort of his
own; he no longer worked for many long hours for coarse food in scanty
quantities, nor was he roughly roused from his sleep at the first dawn
of the morning.  No voice spoke in angry tones to him, and no face
scowled upon him.  Yet he did not enjoy the dainty meals set before him
at regular and stated intervals, instead of being snatched and devoured
with a watchful, and anxious, and savage glee.  He was called upon to
submit to incomprehensible restraints upon all his actions.  Moreover,
he was sensible that there was a vast difference between himself and
these strange people who surrounded him; a far greater difference than
he had felt when living among the petty tyrants, whom he hated, but who
were familiar to him.  There had been a certain zest and enjoyment in
hatred, which was missing in this new life, where there were no enemies
or oppressors.  Besides this, though he had never consciously felt the
spell of the mountain peaks among which he dwelt, the broad, wide sweep
of the moorland, rising gradually up to a softly undulating line
against the sky, was irksome and painful to him; why, he knew not.  A
deep, passive dejection fell upon his spirit, and drove every thought
of his slowly awakening mind inward.  There was nothing in him of the
child's spontaneous action of the mind outward.  He had suffered from
tyranny and persecution; he was now suffering from nostalgia, and utter
weariness of his uncongenial life.

The first day the snow began to fall Andrew's vigilant eye detected the
tears falling down the rugged cheeks of his grandson.  He ran out into
the forecourt and stood still for the soft flakes to fall upon his bare
head, and hands stretched out as if to give them a welcome--the welcome
we give to messengers from a beloved land.  He looked down at the print
of his feet on the white carpet, and immediately took off his boots,
and trod upon it barefooted, as if with reverence of its purity.  All
day long he wandered about the moors, his face lit up with an
expression that was almost a smile.  Andrew, who did not care to
accompany him into the frosty air and bitter north wind, watched him
from a garret window, now taking long and rapid strides across the
snow-clad uplands, and now standing motionless for many minutes, his
bare head bowed down and his arms hanging listlessly by his sides,
until the snowflakes had covered him from head to foot.  What was he
thinking of, this poor son of Sophy's?  What did he remember?  Was he
really of sound mind; or was it true, as all the country folks were
saying, that he was a poor, witless innocent?  Could nothing be done to
arouse him, mind and soul?  Was there no way of undoing the wrong that
had been done?

So the dark months of November and part of December passed by, and
Rachel wrote that Mr. Martin and all the family were coming to keep
Christmas at Brackenburn instead of Apley.  To meet Sidney again, and
stay under his roof almost like a guest, was more than Andrew could
brook; so he took himself away to Apley to spend a lonely Christmas in
his old home.



CHAPTER L.

FATHER AND SON.

Sidney had not seen his son since his arrival in England.  There had
been no necessity for doing so; and he shrank from the great pain of
coming again into close contact with him.  But this meeting could not
be avoided forever, and Margaret, who felt a keen sympathy with her
husband while recognizing his duty toward his eldest son and heir,
urged her plan of spending Christmas in Yorkshire.  Nearly six months
had elapsed, and she hoped that Martin would be in some degree
reclaimed from his almost brute condition.

For days before the arrival of the family the old Manor House was
undergoing a process of cleaning and beautifying which was bewildering
and irritating to Martin.  Carpets were laid down on all the floors,
and large fires were kept burning in every room.  Flowers were blooming
everywhere, and ingenious decorations of holly and ivy and mistletoe
hung upon all the walls.  His tutor was gone away for the holidays, and
Andrew had disappeared.  The small, stagnant pool of his existence was
being stirred to its depths, and this fretted him.  He did not know at
all what it meant; and on the day when the family were expected, when
everybody was ten-fold busier than before, he wandered off early in the
morning, and his absence was not noticed by the occupied household.

It had been dark for an hour or two, when Martin shambled across the
forecourt and into the porch on his return.  The large glass doors
which separated the porch from the hall were uncurtained, and he crept
in without noise to look through them cautiously.  The place was
altogether transformed.  There was a huge fire of logs and coal burning
brightly on the hearth, with a many-colored square of carpet laid
before it, and chairs drawn up into the light and heat.  Great bunches
of red holly and pots of scarlet geranium gave bright color to the
hall.  A woman, grander and more beautiful than he had ever seen,
richly clad in purple velvet, sat in one of the high-backed chairs, and
standing near to her was the English signore, who called himself his
father.  It seemed to his dull and troubled mind, as he stood outside
in the dark, that this must be the other world, where the saints dwelt,
of which the padre had sometimes spoken.  Could this be the Paradiso to
which Christians went after masses had been said to get them out of the
Purgatorio?  There was the Inferno, where his mother was, and the
Purgatorio, and the Paradiso.  But this place was too beautiful to be
anything but the Paradiso; and these grand and beautiful beings were
the inhabitants of it.  He was gazing, with a vague sense of it being
impossible for him to enter in, when he saw other figures descending
the broad, shallow staircase slowly, side by side.  The one was the
gracious and radiant vision he had seen in Cortina, the other was his
lost friend, his brother, his master, Philippo.

His joy was the joy of a dumb animal on seeing a beloved master
suddenly reappear after a mysterious, inexplicable absence.  He burst
open the door impetuously, and rushed in, covered with the snowflakes
that had been lodging half frozen in his hair and beard for the last
hour or two.  He flung himself before Philip clasping his knees with
his arms, and uttering uncouth cries of delight and welcome.  For the
moment he had relapsed into the savage again; the heavy, clumsy frame,
the ragged face, down which the melting snow was running, the bare feet
and head, inarticulate cries, all seemed to show that no training, no
process of civilizing, could make him other than the confirmed savage
that he was.

"Margaret, I cannot bear it!" exclaimed Sidney, as if appealing to her
for strength.

"It is only for the moment," she said softly; "he is excited now.  And
see how fond he is of Philip.  That is a good thing for him.  Remember
how short a time six months is to undo the work of thirty years.  And
Mary Goldsmith tells me he has no great faults, such as he might have
had.  She thinks he is learning every day to be something more like
other people.  He is your son, Sidney--our son; speak to him."

She had not seen him since the festa at Cortina, and she regarded him
now with intense interest.  His face was certainly more intelligent
than it was then; the scared look upon it was gone, and it bore a
stronger likeness to Andrew Goldsmith.  There was even a slight
resemblance to Philip, by whom he was now standing, and on whose face
his eyes were riveted with an expression of contentment.  His hair and
beard were cut short and trimmed, not hanging in matted locks, as when
she saw him first.  He wore a rough shooting suit, not unsuitable for
Philip; and the chief points of oddity in his appearance were his bare
head and feet.  But Mary was right, thought Margaret; in time he would
look like other people.

"Martin!" said his father in a raised voice, louder than he was himself
aware of.  Martin started and turned away from Philip, approaching
Sidney with a cowed yet dogged air.  He did not take his outstretched
hand.

"Do you know who I am?" asked Sidney in Italian.

"Yes, signore," he answered, "my father."

They stood looking at one another.  The one man was twenty-two years
older than the other, yet they seemed almost of the same age.  Martin
was prematurely aged, broken down by persecution, and weatherworn by
exposure and want; his father was unbent, strong, and vigorous in mind
and body, still in his prime, and only during the last six months
showing any sign of his fifty-two years being a burden to him.  There
was something so pitiful in the contrast, that Philip walked away out
into the porch; and Margaret and Dorothy clasped each other's hands and
looked on with tear-filled eyes.

"Oh, my father!" said Martin, speaking as if his soul had at length
found an outlet in words, "this is the Paradise, and I am not fit for
it.  I know nothing.  You are a great signore, and I am nothing.  We
are far away from one another.  My mother is in the Inferno; Chiara and
the padre said it; no masses can be said for her soul.  Let me go back
to the mountains.  I am not fit to live with great signori.  My mother
calls to me here," and he laid his hand on his heart, "'Come back,
Martin, come back!' and I must go.  Send me back to the mountains."

Dorothy loosed Margaret's hand and stepped swiftly to Sidney's side,
putting her hand fondly through his arm.  He looked down on her with an
expression of irretrievable sadness.

"Listen to me, my son," he said, speaking very slowly and distinctly.
"I did a great wrong when I left your mother, and I did a greater wrong
in not seeking to know if you lived or not.  I never knew you were
born.  If I had known it, you would have lived with me; and now you
would be as Philip is, like him in every way.  Look round you.  When I
die this house will be yours, and you will be a rich man.  Do you
understand?"

"Yes, signore," he answered, with excited gestures, "I shall have much
money and much land.  But now I have nothing.  Give me some of the
money now, and let me go back and buy a farm in Ampezzo.  They will be
my servants now; nobody will pelt me with stones, and shout after me,
and turn me out of the church.  They will give me a chair there, and
the padre will take off his hat to me.  Perhaps they will say masses
for the soul of my mother, when I am a rich man.  Send me back, oh, my
father!"

"Will you go away and leave your brother Philip?" asked Dorothy in
hesitating accents.  For though she had been diligently learning
Italian for some months, she was afraid Martin would not understand
her.  He looked at her in amazement, and a gleam lighted up his
furrowed face.

"The signora knows what I say!" he exclaimed; "these other people here
know nothing.  I want to speak, and they stare at me.  I am a fool in
their eyes.  But I can speak now to the signora, and to my father, and
to Philippe.  It is better now."

"Martin," said Sidney, "you must stay here, in England, till you are
more like an Englishman.  In a year or two I will take you back to
Cortina, and you shall choose where you will live.  But this house and
these lands are yours, and they will be your son's when you die.  It is
best for you to live in your own house and your own country."

"Stay with us," pleaded Dorothy, looking compassionately into his sad
eyes.  "Nobody loves you there, and we love you.  I will teach you to
be like your brother Philip.  I used to live here, and I will show you
places you have never seen.  Stay with us, Martin."

"But my mother calls me," he answered.  "They will say no masses for
her soul if they do not know I am a rich man."

"I will send them money for it," replied Dorothy.  "Besides, it is a
mistake, Martin; your mother is not in the Inferno."

He listened to her as if she had been the Madonna he had fancied her
when he first saw her.  A heavy sob broke through his lips, and then a
cry of exultation.  The chief burden that had weighed upon his spirit
slipped away and fell from him.  The deepest stigma of his life was
removed; and in this he was like other men, that his mother, whom he
had never seen, was dwelling in the same place as the mothers of other
men.



CHAPTER LI.

THE GROWTH OF A SOUL.

Dorothy gave herself up to the task of humanizing Martin with great
enthusiasm.  Her success was naturally greater and more rapid than that
of the tutor or old Andrew.  She undertook to teach him to read, and
arguing it was best to teach him in Italian until he knew more of
English, she began to teach him from a little book she had bought in
Italy, one which was a great favorite of her own for its quaint and
simple legends.  It was the "Fioretti di San Francisco."

A pretty picture it was to all the other members of the household to
see Dorothy seated in a high-backed oak chair on the hearth, with the
fire light playing about her, while Martin, squatting on a low seat
beside her, read diligently from the book on her lap, marking each word
with his rude forefinger.  Often she read aloud to him in hesitating
accents, for the language was still strange to her; but the very
slowness and difficulty of her utterance made it easier for him to
comprehend.  Sidney and Margaret themselves sat listening to the gentle
and childlike beauty of these "Flowrets of S. Francisco," and watching
the kindling intelligence of Martin's face.  His soul was developing
under Dorothy's tender care.  On the snow-clad moors, also, Dorothy
made herself his constant companion.  In all weather, except when the
snow was whirling in a bewildering network of closely falling flakes,
she was ready to go out with him, and Philip, and Hugh, guiding them to
places known only to herself.  She could show them the winter dens of
many a wild creature; and Martin learned from her that he was not to
kill them.  Once she led them to the edge of a deep, narrow dell,
invisible from a little distance, and under the brow of it was a cave
hewn out of the rock, a cave so similar to his place of refuge on the
mountains, that Martin uttered a cry of mingled astonishment and
delight.  It was like a piece of home to him.

Later on, when the others had gone back to London, Dorothy persuaded
Sidney to procure for him, from that far-off Austrian valley, one of
the curious, quaint old crucifixes which stand at every point where
crossroads meet.  She had it placed near the entrance of this cave;
for, she said, if it awoke a thought, or gave him a glimmer of
religious light, it was right for him to have it.  When he came upon it
first, unexpectedly, he threw himself on his knees before it, and burst
into a passion of tears.  It was a symbol familiar to him from his
earliest days; the only place of refuge, where, if he could reach it,
he was safe from the blows of his tyrants.

So evident was Martin's rapid development, that Margaret decided to
remain with Dorothy after Sidney and Philip had returned to London.
She was deeply interested in this growth of a soul under her own eyes.
Martin was learning to make broken sentences in English; and she marked
his progress with constantly increasing pleasure in seeing him overcome
difficulties.

To Martin these winter months were less wearisome than the summer and
autumn had been.  The snow made the moors a more familiar ground, and
in these long, dark afternoons, if Dorothy was out of the way, he could
creep into the kitchen, and crouch down in the chimney nook smoking a
pipe, undisturbed by the servants, who were still busy at their work.
Margaret and Dorothy sat chiefly in the great hall, which Martin liked
next best to the kitchen; large screens were drawn round the hearth,
and huge fires kept burning, and there Martin would lie on the warm
bearskins, with Dorothy's dogs around him, while she read the "Fioretti
di San Francisco."  Most things were irksome to him still; he could
never wear the shackles of civilization easily.  But he was changing
and developing.  By and by they would reap the harvest of the seed they
were sowing.

The Easter holidays brought back Philip for a few days.  In his eyes
the transformation was marvelous.  Martin had submitted to wearing
boots and a hat; at any rate, when he went out with Dorothy.  He sat
down with them to their meals, and could even make his wants known to
the servants in intelligible words.  He was learning to ride, and he
was willing to sit in the carriage quietly when they drove to the
nearest town.  His eyes followed Dorothy, and he was obedient to her
slightest sign.  He watched her as if to see if he displeased her in
any way.  When she looked at him his dull face brightened with a rare
smile, which had a strange and pathetic attraction in it, like a sudden
and transient gleam of sunshine on a dreary, wintry day.  The doglike
allegiance he had displayed toward Philip was plainly transferred to
her.

Was there any touch of jealousy in the uneasiness which Philip felt at
this new phase of his brother's character?  A vague, indefinable
apprehension of some new danger took hold of him at the sight of this
constant companionship between Martin and Dorothy.  He recognized in
his own mind that Martin was still a young man, and that there was a
simple charm about Dorothy that few men of any rank in life could be
indifferent to.  Was Martin too dense a barbarian to feel it?

Though more civilized in other respects, Martin had not yet learned to
sleep before he was sleepy.  His hours of slumber were still as
irregular as his hours of eating had been at first.  Late one night,
when all the rest of the household were long ago asleep, Philip found
him on the hearth in the hall, sitting on his low stool beside
Dorothy's chair.  His deep-set eyes were glowing under his shaggy
eyebrows like the embers on the hearth.

"My brother," he said, as Philip stood looking down at him, "tell me,
am I now a rich English signore like the other signori?"

"Of course," answered Philip, about to sit down in Dorothy's chair; but
Martin motioned him away, and drew another seat forward.

"This belongs to her, my signorina," he said; "it is not for you or for
me."

"Why not?" asked Philip, half laughing.  "She is only a girl like other
girls."

Martin made no answer, but repeated "like other girls" under his
breath, as if it was a new idea to him.

"My brother," he resumed, after a pause, "when I was poor, without a
penny, long ago, there was a girl I loved.  When a man loves a girl he
wants her for his wife.  I wanted this girl to be my wife, but she spat
at me."

"I am glad you did not marry her, Martin," said Philip, thinking how
far worse it would have been if he had discovered his brother with a
wife and children.

"She wouldn't spit at me now," he continued proudly.  "I am a rich
signore now, and I should laugh at her being my wife.  She is down
there, in the mud.  But, my brother, listen to me.  You say my
signorina is a girl like other girls, and I am a rich signore.  Would
she laugh at me if I love her and want her to be my wife, like the girl
I loved long ago?"

For a minute or two anger and a strong feeling of repulsion kept Philip
silent.  It was too monstrous to think of patiently.  This rude
peasant, this scarcely reclaimed savage, to be lifting up his eyes to
the sweet English girl, who had only stooped to civilize him out of the
pure compassion of her heart!  But the feeling died out as quickly as
it had been kindled.  It was possible for Martin to love her, and, if
so, how much he would have to suffer!

"She would laugh at me," said Martin in tones of the deepest and
saddest conviction; "she would not look at me.  See, I am a dog to her.
She would turn her face away from me, and never look at me again.  She
is so far away above me, but you are close to her.  You are like her,
very grand, and very beautiful, and very clever.  I am down, down in
the mud.  I cannot learn your ways; they are too hard for me.  Oh, my
brother! if I was like you, my signorina would love me and be my wife."

Philip, looking down at the seared and melancholy face of his
unfortunate brother, said to himself that this might have been true.
If Martin had been trained and educated as he himself had been he would
have been a suitable husband for Dorothy, and what would please his
father and mother more than to have her for their daughter?

"She is like the Madonna to me," said Martin slowly and hesitatingly,
as if searching through his brain for suitable words to express the
thoughts pressing busily into it; "my Madonna.  I see her all day, and
at night I cannot sleep.  I sit all night on the mat at her door
watching, listening.  I do not sleep, but I am happy."

"You must never tell her that," replied Philip; "it would make her very
unhappy."

"I will never tell her, my brother," he answered submissively; "she is
too high above me.  She is like an angel, and I am a dog.  That is
true.  I am nothing; only a rich man.  But I will give her all my
riches--this house, these lands.  They shall be hers, not mine."

"But you are not a rich man till your father dies," explained Philip;
"they belong to him as long as he lives, and then they will belong to
you as long as you live, but you can never give them away.  They will
be kept for your eldest son.  It would be impossible for you to give
any of them to Dorothy."

"It is a lie, then," he said; "it is a lie.  I am not a rich man.  They
are of no good to me, this house and these lands.  It would be better
for me to have a farm of my own in Ampezzo, and marry a woman there.  I
did not dare to think the signorina would be my wife; but if I could
give her this house and these lands, and live near her, where I could
see her every day, I could be happy, perhaps, here in this strange
country, though I do not know what the people say.  I am not happy in
Ampezzo; they curse me and throw stones at me.  I am not happy here in
these clothes, and this great house, and these fine rooms.  Let me be a
servant; your servant, or the signorina's; then I might be happy."

"That could never be," said Philip pityingly.

"That is what I am fit for," urged Martin.  "Take me away from here;
make me work hard.  Say to me: 'Martin, clean my horse;' 'Martin, do
this;' 'Martin, do that,' like Chiara did.  The days would not be long
then, and I should sleep sound at night.  I want to be tired out, my
brother.  See, I am very strong; my arms and legs are strong; and I sit
all day in a chair smoking a pipe, and all they tell me to do is, 'Read
a little book, signore,' or, 'Learn a little English,' or, 'Let me
teach you how to write.'  Only my signorina says: 'Let us go out on the
moors, Martin.'  But she is not big and strong like me, and I walk like
a girl beside her, for fear she should grow tired.  I feel like a wolf
shut up in a stable and fastened by a chain.  Make me work hard like a
servant, or let me go back to Ampezzo."

Philip let his hand fall gently on Martin's shoulder, and he turned and
kissed it--the smooth, well formed hand, strong and muscular, yet as
finely molded as a woman's.  Martin stretched out his own knotted and
deformed hands, and looked at them, as he had never done before, in the
fire light, with a half laugh and a half groan.  Since Philip's arrival
this time he had become more conscious of the vast difference between
himself and his brother.  He saw his own uncouthness and ugliness as
they must appear in Dorothy's eyes.  His close watchfulness of her had
betrayed to him how different was the expression of her face when she
was talking to him or to Philip.  He had seen a happy light in her eyes
when Philip was beside her, or even when she caught the sound of his
voice about the house.  These two, thought Martin humbly, were fit for
each other.  Dorothy would be Philip's wife, not his.

"Yes, my brother," he said, speaking his last thought aloud, "my
signorina loves you, and she will be your wife."

"Martin," exclaimed Philip, rising hastily, "you must never say such a
word as that to me again."

He left him in solitary possession of the great hall; but looking out
of his own room an hour later, he saw Martin stretched like a dog
across the threshold of Dorothy's door.



CHAPTER LII.

LAURA'S DOUBTS.

Philip could not sleep, so great was his agitation.  This conversation,
the first Martin had ever held with anyone, filled him with
consternation, almost to dismay.  He had spoken to Dorothy of his
delight over Martin's awakening soul, the soul of a child expanding
under her influence, and a lovely expression of gladness had lit up the
girl's face.  But it had been a man's soul that was developing, not a
child's.  They had none of them thought of that.  Martin was a man
whose natural affections, so long thwarted and disappointed, were ready
to flow swiftly into the first open channel.  But to love Dorothy!  If
it had not been for his lifelong love for Phyllis, Philip would have
loved Dorothy himself.  How sweet and simple she was! how true!  There
was a fresh and innocent, almost a rustic charm about her which
contrasted strongly with Phyllis's cultivated attractiveness.  Philip,
in his heart-sickness at Phyllis's worldliness, was open-eyed to
Dorothy's unconscious disregard to custom and fashion.  She valued the
world as his mother valued it.  With this thought there flashed across
his mind an idea that brought terror with it.  So unconventional was
Dorothy that outward culture would not have as much value in her sight
as it had in his own.  Moreover, there was a passion in her, as in his
mother, for self-sacrifice, an absolute, unappeasable hunger to be of
service to her fellow-creatures.  Was it quite impossible that after a
while Dorothy might not become Martin's wife?  He vehemently assured
himself that it was impossible; but the question tormented him.  It was
already a marvelous change that had been wrought on Martin.  Yet he
felt an unutterable horror at the thought, and for the first time a
bitter repugnance arose in his heart against his unhappy elder brother.
He might take the estate, that birthright, which had appeared to be his
own through all these years.  But he must not think of Dorothy.  What
could this repugnance mean?  If he had not loved Phyllis so ardently
and constantly, he would have said he was in love with Dorothy himself.
But it was only a few months since all Apley, Dorothy also, were
witnesses of his rejected love and bitter disappointment.  Only a few
months?  They seemed like years!  He had been deceived in Phyllis, of
course; the Phyllis whom he loved was chiefly a creature of his
imagination; there had never been such a being.  Dorothy was nearer his
ideal than Phyllis had ever been, but he could not tell her so when she
knew how passionate had been his mistaken love for Phyllis.

Early in the morning he sought a private interview with his mother,
letting Dorothy go off on to the moors alone with Martin.  Margaret and
he watched them walking side by side, Martin's bowed-down head turned
attentively toward her.

"It is a wonderful change," remarked Margaret; "we have not wasted
these last four months, have we, Philip?"

"Mother," he said abruptly, "suppose Martin has fallen in love with
Dorothy!"

Margaret's eyes met his own for a moment, and then followed the
receding figures till they were nearly lost to sight.  The short
silence seemed intolerable to him.

"Poor fellow!" she said in a tone of exquisite pity, "that might be,
and it would be another misfortune for him.  I believe his nature is a
fine one, full of possibilities of nobleness.  But he has had no chance
hitherto; and if this is true his last hope is gone."

"Dorothy could not marry him!" exclaimed Philip.

"She would not marry him," said Margaret sadly; "if she would she could
indeed do more for him than any other human being can.  If he loves her
that will partly account for his rapid development.  There is no
educator like love."

"But, mother," he cried, "Martin can never be anything but an ignorant,
superstitious peasant.  There can be no real culture for him.  He can
never be a gentleman.  He will not be as well educated as our lodge
keeper."

"I suppose he will always be ignorant of what we call knowledge," she
answered, "but he need not remain superstitious.  The light of God can
shine into his heart as fully as into ours.  He begins to realize that
we love him; and what is our love but single drops from the
unfathomable ocean of God's love?  As soon as he knows that God loves
him, he will be wiser than the wisest man of the world."

"Then you would not oppose Dorothy marrying him?" he asked indignantly.

"Not if she would do it," she replied.  "I would heap upon Martin the
best and worthiest of all the blessings of this life, if that would
atone for the loss of all his childhood and youth.  Think of it, my
Philip.  While you occupied his place, he was enduring the want of all
things.  We cannot do too much, or give up too much, for him.  But no
thought of loving him in that way is in Dorothy's mind."

"Thank God!" he said fervently.

Margaret smiled, and held out her hand to him fondly.  A moment ago the
thought had flashed through his brain that his mother was too
high-minded and too visionary for this life.  But the clear, steadfast
light in her eyes, and the smile playing about her lips, were not those
of a person rapt away from all earthly interests.

"No, Philip," she said, "Dorothy looks upon Martin simply as a brother,
one whose sad lot she can brighten.  I cannot wish it otherwise, though
I am grieved for him.  Tell me all you think about it."

He repeated almost verbally the conversation he had held with Martin
the night before; and Margaret listened with a troubled face.

"Dorothy ought not to stay here," he said.

"It is a pity," she answered, sighing, "for it increases our
difficulties a hundredfold.  I was hoping the time would come when we
could take Martin to London, and introduce him there to such of your
father's old friends who ought to know him, and who could understand
the whole story.  But it will not do for Dorothy to stay here much
longer; and Martin would not improve alone with me, if I could stay, as
he does with her.  O Philip!  I could almost wish, for your father's
sake, that she could care for Martin."

"Impossible!"  he ejaculated.

"Yes, you wise, blind boy," she replied, "it is impossible.  If Martin
could be trained into a perfect gentleman, it would still be
impossible."

"Mother!" he exclaimed, the color mounting to his forehead as he turned
away from her smiling eyes, "it is so short a time since Phyllis jilted
me."

"If I am not mistaken," said Margaret, "Dorothy loved you before that."

"Loved me!" he repeated, "why!  I was nothing to her.  I had no eyes
for her before you came to Venice; I saw no one but Phyllis.  I could
never presume to tell her I loved her, when she knows how infatuated I
was with Phyllis."

"I judge only by appearances," said his mother, "but your father thinks
as I do; and nothing could please your father more.  She is already as
dear to him as his own child.  He has suffered more than words can
tell, and greatly on your account, but he will feel that you have not
lost all if you win Dorothy as your wife.  I think the estate well lost
if it saved you from an unhappy marriage."

"Oh, mother," he cried, "what a fool I was!"

"To be sure," she said smiling.

"But now I could see Phyllis again to-morrow," he went on, "and not
feel grieved.  Let us go back to Apley; at least you and Dorothy.  You
left home on my account; but it is too far away here.  It would be
better for my father to have you at home again, or in London.  Come
home again, mother."

"Poor Martin!" she said, with a troubled face.

But as she thought over what Philip had told her, Margaret felt that it
was time to separate Martin from Dorothy.  She took Rachel Goldsmith
into her confidence, and she agreed with her.  It seemed a preposterous
thing to Rachel that Martin should deprive Philip of his birthright,
and that so much importance should be attached to his education at so
late a period of his life.

"The best thing for him," she said, "would be to set him up in a little
farm, and give him cows and sheep and pigs to tend; he'd be ten times
happier than here.  There's no common sense in the laws, if they say
our Sophy's son is to take the place of your son, my lady; and to his
own misery too.  I'd say nothing if anybody was the better for it.  But
it is just the ruin of my brother Andrew.  And to think of him falling
in love with Miss Dorothy! when the scullery maid would think twice
before she married him!"

"Poor fellow!" sighed Margaret.  "Poor fellow!" she said many times to
herself during the next few days, as preparations were made for their
departure.  Dorothy also was full of pity for him, and devoted every
hour of the day to him.  She visited with him all their favorite
haunts, which were growing to her more beautiful with the touch of
spring upon them, though to him the vanishing of winter brought regret.
She read to him once more the "Fioretti di San Francisco," and heard
him read over and over again the first few chapters, which he had
mastered under her tuition, or perhaps learned by heart merely.  But
Dorothy, though grieved and troubled for him, was glad to go south.
Her spirits rose high at the thought of how short a distance would
separate her from Philip, and the still more pleasant thought that he
was willing to make Apley his home again, shrinking no more from the
sight of Phyllis.  It was with a light heart, saddened for a few
minutes only by Martin's face of moody melancholy, that she quitted
Brackenburn.

The old house fell back into its former dreary stillness.  Andrew and
Mary Goldsmith returned to take charge of it; and the tutor resumed his
routine duties of educating and civilizing Martin.  But Martin was
duller and less apt than before.  Dorothy had left with him her
"Fioretti," telling him to ask his tutor to read to him, and to let him
learn out of it.  But the book was too precious to him; alone he spelt
through the chapters she had taught him, but he would let no one else
touch it.  If he must learn to read it should be in English, out of his
dog's-eared primer.  But he could learn no more.

There was again nothing to do during the long days which the advancing
spring brought.  When the east winds blew bitterly over the moor he lay
silent and still in the warmth of the fire; when the air was heated by
the rays of the sun, which was mounting every day higher into the
heavens, he basked, silent and still, in its warmth.  Andrew again
attached himself as the constant companion of Sophy's son, though
between them must ever stand the barrier of different tongues--a
barrier which neither of them could cross.  There were a hundred things
Andrew wanted to say to him, especially to warn him against cutting off
the entail, when he was dead, but it could not be done.  The two were
seldom apart, though they could exchange no thoughts.  The persistent,
dogged affection of this old man, his grandfather, won its way some
what into Martin's heart.  He grew accustomed to his presence, and
missed him if he was absent.

The one person who rejoiced most in Margaret's return to Apley was
Sidney.  She had been more separated from him these last few months
than she had ever been since he first knew her.  It struck Margaret
that his burden pressed more heavily upon him than it did at first.
The parliamentary session had been running its course, and he, who was
an ardent politician, stood outside the arena.  Many of his former
colleagues, possessing only a partial knowledge of the events of the
last years, treated him with thinly disguised contempt or studied
neglect.  Even in Apley and its neighborhood the faces of old friends
were estranged, and their manner chilling.  He was no longer the public
favorite.

Sidney felt this change bitterly and profoundly.  It had always been
his aim to surround himself with kindly and smiling faces, which should
meet his eye wherever he looked, even to the farthest circle of his
sphere.  His servants and dependents almost idolized him, and he had
succeeded in gaining popularity among his equals.  Now all faces seemed
changed and critical.  Even God's face was turned away from him.  He
was walking in heaviness and darkness of soul, such as he had not known
before his sin had found him out, and while his conscience was
satisfied with mechanical and superficial religion.  His path was
strait where it had once been broad and pleasant.  Still, deeper down
than this surface conscience of his, and this heaviness of soul, in his
inmost spirit, touched by no other spirit than God's, there was a
stirring of life and love such as he had never known before, which no
words can shadow forth, and no mind save that which feels it can
conceive.

It was a necessary consequence of this intrinsic change that he and
Margaret should draw nearer to one another.  He understood now what had
been mysterious and incomprehensible in her.  There was in a degree the
same sense of closer union and mutual comprehension between him and the
rector.  While other faces were turned away, these two shone upon him
with a diviner light of love and friendship.  But there was no one
else.  Even Dorothy, with all her sweetness, was judging him, balancing
the scales of justice with the severe evenhandedness of youth with a
bandage over its eyes.  Philip had passed beyond him, and stood higher
than he in his youthful probity and honor.  They were right; he had
been guilty of a great wrong.

Always gnawing at his heart was the remorseful recollection of his
eldest son, whom he could not love, but for whom he felt an unutterable
pity.  A living witness against his selfishness and hypocrisy!  The
thought of him, haunting him at all times, was charged with misery.  It
was becoming morbid with him, when Margaret, not too soon, came back to
Apley, and was once more his daily companion.

Margaret and Laura met on apparently the old terms.  Margaret was very
anxious that there should be no break in the intimacy between Sidney
and the rector.  Partly on this account, and partly from the patience
and pity she had learned for the follies of others, she made no
difference toward Laura.  But Dorothy, again with the severity of
youth, could not tolerate the presence of Phyllis's mother.  Phyllis
herself was away; but when Laura came up to the Hall, Dorothy found
some pretext to be absent, or, if that was impossible, sat by in
unbroken silence.  Not one of Laura's blandishments could induce her to
go to the Rectory.  Dick's chances were gone, if he ever had any.

"I see plainly enough what Sidney and Margaret are about," Laura said
to her husband.  "Now Philip has lost the inheritance, and is a poor
match, they are going to bring about a marriage between him and Dorothy
Churchill.  They are shrewd enough for that, with all their
unworldliness."

"Philip and Dorothy!" he repeated thoughtfully; "that seems to me an
excellent marriage, now that my poor little Phyllis has found out she
never loved Philip.  I should have rejoiced in giving Phyllis to him;
but doubtless Dorothy is still better suited.  And Sidney wished it
before he knew of Phyllis's engagement to Philip."

"But I was hoping Dick would have a chance with Dorothy," she said.

"Dick?  Oh, no!" he answered.  "It would grieve me to the heart if any
of my sons became fortune hunters.  Dorothy is too rich for any of
them.  Let them marry girls in their own station, and live honest,
industrious lives.  I am glad Dick never thought of such a thing."

"But Philip is in the same position now; it is just as much
fortune-hunting for him to seek Dorothy."

"Nothing of the kind," he said with the sudden sharpness of a dreamy,
mild-tempered man.  "Do you suppose Sidney has nothing but those
estates bought by Sir John Martin, our uncle?  He has had that
magnificent business for over five-and-twenty years.  All that he has
made for himself will go to Philip."

"Why does Philip become a medical student, then?" she asked snappishly.

"Because the lad does not care to be doing nothing," he replied, "and
Margaret does not like him to engage in commerce.  She says she does
not want him to have nothing to do save merely amassing money.  Of
course, he would have been a country gentleman, practically a landlord,
looking after his father's interests and the welfare of his future
tenants.  He would have become a magistrate, and he was admirably
fitted for filling many useful posts as a country gentleman.  Now this
prospect has come to an end he chooses to study surgery instead of
going into business; a good choice, I think.  But he will be a rich
man, rich enough to marry a greater heiress than Dorothy, without
incurring the reproach of fortune hunting.  Sidney must be little short
of being a millionaire."

Could this be true? thought Laura with a sinking heart.  George might
easily be mistaken, but then again it was quite probable that Sidney
had made a large fortune by trade.  Enormous fortunes were made in the
city, and Sidney was always spoken of as a very successful man.
Suppose he should be a millionaire!  There was not the shadow of a
doubt which of his sons his money would go to.  Hugh was well provided
for, and Martin would not get a shilling, more than was entailed upon
him.  Philip as a millionaire would be a better match than even an
English landlord with a Yorkshire estate, worth only £10,000 a year.
She wished she had been less hasty in breaking off Phyllis's
engagement.  It was that folly of Philip becoming a medical student
which had led her astray.  But then, would Philip be a millionaire?



CHAPTER LIII.

ANDREW'S HOPE.

A few weeks after Margaret and Dorothy left Brackenburn, a telegram
reached Sidney in town from Martin's tutor: "Martin lost since dawn
yesterday; searching moors."

The sense of loneliness and separation became intolerable to Martin
after Dorothy was gone.  The homesickness, if it could be called so in
one who had never had a home, made him uncontrollably restless.  There
was not in all this vast expanse of moorland an object that could
distract his brooding memory, and in the old house, with its now empty
rooms, there was no one who could speak in his own language except the
tutor, a kindly man enough, but with no special interest in his uncouth
charge.  Martin had borne his exile as long as he could.  Now he would
make his way down to London where Dorothy and Philip lived.  His father
also was there, and that beautiful, gracious signora, who called
herself his mother, and who always looked at him with wonderful
kindness in her eyes.  When he saw them he would make them understand
that he could not live in England any longer, and they would let him go
back to Ampezzo, and buy him a farm there among the old familiar faces.
No one would ill treat him any more when they saw how rich he was.

He set off in the clear gray of the dawn, just as the twitter of the
birds began in every tree and hedgerow, and the silver drops of dew
hung upon every leaf.  It was barely a year since he had been taken
from his mountain home, and his life of misery and oppression there;
but to him it was as long as centuries.  He recollected well enough
what he had suffered; still he felt vaguely that, though his sufferings
were different, they were not less in this strange country.  He was
like a blind man whose sight is partially restored, and behold!
everything is dim, and monstrous, and full of terror; he dare not move
lest he should come in contact with these menacing forms.  All the new
world to which Martin had been brought was out of keeping with him.  He
had no place in it.  If he could only live like the farmers in the
Ampezzo Valley, a hardy, sturdy, stalwart life, where his sinewy,
clumsy limbs would be of service to him, there would be a chance of his
being happy.

These impressions, like all others, were vague, but not on that account
less powerful.  He could not shape them into language, but he fancied
if he could see Philip or Dorothy he could make them understand.  But
they were gone, these only beloved ones, and he did not know when he
should see them again.  He must follow them, or he would die.  His
wanderings took a southerly direction.  It was natural to him to avoid
passing through the streets of any town, and when he came near to one
he turned aside and took a roundabout road.  There was no hardship to
him in sleeping out of doors at this time of the year, and he felt no
inconvenience from the fact that he could not maintain a decent
appearance.  In the villages he passed through, buying food with the
few shillings he possessed, he was taken for a foreign tramp, and well
watched.  The children sometimes hooted at him, but that was nothing;
it was almost welcome, and he paid no attention to it beyond a
flickering smile.

Meanwhile, in all the local papers, and very quickly in the London
papers also, there appeared sensational paragraphs describing the
disappearance of and search made for the son and heir of Sidney Martin.
The whole story, with the old scandal, came to the front again.  In the
course of a few days the fugitive was found, and brought back to
Brackenburn, whither his father and brother had hurried upon receiving
the news.  It was in vain to reproach him.  He was a man, with a man's
right to freedom, and not even his father was justified in keeping him
under restraint as if he was a madman.  A man who suffered from no
sense of hardship when he was living out of doors, with little food
besides wild berries and field vegetables, might spend the greater part
of his time in these fitful wanderings, relapsing more and more into
his original barbarism.

"Your mother and Dorothy cannot live here altogether to be his keeper,"
said Sidney to Philip, "yet it is evident his grandfather has no
control over him.  What more can we do?"

"You have done all you could, father," answered Philip, "and now I say,
let him go back to Cortina, if he is so bent upon it; and we should not
lose sight of him.  It would be nothing to buy him a farm there."

"Impossible!" said Sidney.  "If he returns a rich man, some woman there
will marry him, and his son will be no more fit to be an English
gentleman than he is.  If we could make him understand about the entail
I could pay him to cut it off; but he could never know what it meant.
No; he must not go back to Cortina."

"Let us take him down to Apley," suggested Philip.

"Would he be better off there?" asked his father.  "He finds life here
too civilized with all the moors to roam over.  How would he feel where
every acre of land is enclosed, and no trespassing allowed, and where
life is so much more cramped by custom and conventionality?  Do you
think he could bear it?  I say nothing about your mother and Dorothy,
whose lives must be upset and spoiled by his presence; but would he be
happier?"

"Look at him," said Philip, "how he is listening and watching us, as if
he would tear the words out of our mouths.  Martin," he added in
Italian, "we are talking about you."

"Yes, yes!" he answered eagerly.

"What are we to do with you?" asked Philip.

"Send me back to Cortina," he replied.

"But we want you to live here," continued Philip; "we wish you to marry
some good English girl, and bring up your sons to be like Hugh and me.
This house and these lands will belong to your eldest son when you die;
and he must be brought up like us, not like the farmers in Cortina."

"If I die, and if I have no son, who would the house belong to?" asked
Martin reflectively.

They did not answer him.  Martin's face was thoughtful and anxious, and
he was evidently puzzling over this new idea.  He looked from one to
the other with an expression of wistful entreaty in his deep-set eyes,
and a look of stronger intelligence than they had seen before dawned
upon his face.

"My brother," he said, "before I came you were in my place.  You did
not know I lived; you were the eldest son.  I take from you this house,
these lands.  Take them back from me; they make me sad.  I will keep
none of them.  See!  I am not even good enough to be thy servant."

"But you cannot give them back," rejoined Philip.  "Perhaps I might
take them if you could and let you be happy in your own way.  But you
are my father's eldest son, and you must have them, and your eldest son
after you."

"Ah! what a misery!" he cried.  "I take all these things from my
brother!"

He spoke mournfully and tears glistened in his eyes.  He flung himself
down on the floor, and hid his face with his hands in an attitude of
despondency and wretchedness.

"If I died," he said at last, "all would come right.  Why did you not
leave me in Ampezzo?  I do you harm; I rob you."

"No, you do me no harm," answered Philip; "besides, you are my brother
and we care for you.  If you are good we shall love you."

To Philip it seemed as if this brother of his was little more than a
child, who might be managed as a child.  But Martin shook his head and
looked up intently into his father's face.

"You will never love me," he said.  "My father, it would be a happy
thing for you all if I was to die."

The words were so true that neither of them could contradict him.  If
Martin died how many of the vexatious complications that beset them
would cease, and soon be forgotten by the world!  Margaret might have
said something to console the sorrowful heart just awaking to life and
consciousness, but she was not there.

"If I could only die!" he murmured to himself with exceeding sadness.

The problem of how to atone for his sin presented itself with augmented
force to Sidney.  This son of his had none of the distinctive vices of
a savage, unless it was a touch of ferocious cruelty, not surprising in
one whose whole life had been subject to oppression and persecution.
He had inherited from himself certain moral qualities which dominated
his lower passions; but from his mother he had derived a self-will and
a lack of intelligence which must always make him blind and deaf to
reason.  As he crouched there on the ground, muttering to himself, a
vivid image of Sophy came across Sidney's mind.  This poor creature
could never make a thorough savage, self-reliant and triumphant in his
animal nature; neither could he now be trained into an intelligent and
contented member of civilized society.  What could be done for him?

Andrew Goldsmith had taken himself off immediately upon Sidney's
arrival at Brackenburn, but Mary remained in charge of the household.
To Mary, as well as to Rachel, it was a great trial to see Philip's
place taken by Martin, though he was their own niece's son.  Their
old-fashioned loyalty to their superiors made them feel as if he was an
interloper, one who was utterly unfit for the position which was
Philip's due.  If Martin could have been brought to England to inherit
their own savings, and perhaps succeed his grandfather as the village
saddler, they would have welcomed Sophy's son with all their hearts.
But it seemed out of the course of nature that he should succeed
Sidney, and take Philip's estate.  Mary, too, was additionally troubled
just now by a scheme of her brother Andrew's.

"Martin's giving you a deal of trouble, sir," said Mary the evening of
the day after Martin had been brought back to the Manor House.  "If it
wasn't for our Andrew, I should say let him go back where he came from.
But Andrew won't hear a word of that sort.  He says Martin shall have
his rights, and as long as he lives he'll see there's fair play.  But
if you'll let me tell you a secret, sir, Andrew's bent upon getting him
married, because he thinks you'll want to keep him single, so as Mr.
Philip may come into the estate some day."

"It would be the best thing that could be done for him," said Sidney,
"if Andrew could find anybody who would marry him.  I mean any good,
reputable girl."

"Well, I don't credit it!" replied Mary, "but I think Mrs. Martin at
the Rectory put it into Andrew's head at Christmas, talking to him a
lot of nonsense.  He says he's sure she'd be willing for Miss Phyllis
to marry him when he's renovated and polished up a little.  But Rachel
and me laughed at him, and said, anyhow, the rector 'ud never think of
giving his consent to her marrying a poor, ignorant, dark Roman
Catholic, worshiping a crucifix set up for him by Miss Dorothy, to say
nothing of his rough ways, and dreadful bad manners.  Miss Phyllis
would never look at him, I said, and Mrs. Martin has never set eyes on
him yet.  All the same, it put it into Andrew's head that somebody
would marry Martin, if he could not marry as high as Miss Phyllis."

It spite of the heaviness of his heart, Sidney could not repress a grim
laugh at the thought of Laura marrying Phyllis to his eldest son, when
that son was Martin, not Philip.

"Does Andrew know of anyone else?" he asked.

"Why, yes," said Mary, "if he's not hindered.  There's a sort of
far-off cousin of ours, a pretty, nice-mannered girl, something like
our Sophy, you know; she's a clerk in a post office, getting her
fifteen pounds a year.  Selina Goldsmith her name is, and Andrew wants
me to have her here to keep me company, he says, and wait on him and
me.  But I'm sure he's got another notion in his head, and Rachel told
me to tell you, when I wrote to ask her advice."

"Mary, you and Rachel are faithful old friends," he answered, "but
believe me when I assure you Margaret and I would be grateful to any
good girl who would become Martin's wife and make him happy.  There are
many women who would marry him for his future position, if Miss Phyllis
would not.  You have my full sanction to bringing your young kinswoman
here, and, if you succeed in marrying her to Martin, half our
difficulties will be overcome."

"Andrew will never believe it," said Mary.  "And she may sit at table
with us when Martin is there, and go out walks with him and Andrew?  I
shan't let her go without Andrew."

"You may do all you can to promote such a marriage," he replied; "and
if Martin is married before next Christmas, we shall be only too glad."

He returned to Apley the next day with a sense of relief in the hopeful
prospect which Mary's words had opened to him.  It was not improbable
that Martin would marry this girl, and if he did, he might lead a
secluded and tolerably happy life in the old house at Brackenburn, and
gradually fall into occupying himself on the farm that was attached to
it.  Once suitably married, Martin would be no longer so great an
anxiety to them all, and he himself might live down the aspersions so
lavishly cast upon his reputation.  Martin's children should be brought
to Apley at an early age, and, though he would not separate them too
much from their parents, they should grow up under his own and
Margaret's care.  To them he might make that atonement which he could
never make to his son.

Andrew Goldsmith rejoiced greatly in the success of his scheme, to
which Mary had withdrawn all her opposition.  Selina was brought to
live at Brackenburn.  She was something like Sophy--pretty, lively, and
pettish.  To exchange her drudgery at the small post office and shop,
where she had been glad to earn fifteen pounds a year, for the grandeur
of living at a manor house, with very little to do, seemed at first an
immense step in life to her girlish ambition.  Andrew had rather
plainly hinted at what a height she might climb to if she chose, but to
his intense disappointment and dismay, Selina seemed much more shocked
at Martin's rough ways and bad manners than Miss Dorothy herself was.
He had seen Dorothy carry Martin his food from the dining room to the
porch, when he refused to sit down to the table, and many a time had
Martin persisted in walking barefoot beside her on the turfy moors.
But Selina declared she could not put up with his coarseness and
vulgarity, and she seemed more inclined to devote herself to winning
the admiration of Martin's tutor.

Andrew insisted upon Selina accompanying them often in their rambles on
the moors, rambles irksome and tedious to her beyond measure.  There
was nothing to be seen there save earth and sky.  Martin paid but
little heed to her.  Like all the rest, she could not talk to him.
Those who knew his language were gone away, and how long it would be
before they came again he did not know.  This girl, whose voice was
loud and shrill, and who laughed all the time a little giggling laugh,
except when she was sulky, who had strange antics, shaking her head at
him, and holding up her finger, and pointing here and there, was
altogether unlike his signorina, or the gracious and stately lady who
was now his father's wife.  He liked his rambles best alone, though he
could tolerate the companionship of the old man, his grandfather, who
was always silent, but who looked at him often with loving eyes.  It
did not escape his notice that, since his foiled attempt to find his
way to London, he was never left long alone but one or other of his
guardians sought him out.  The fancy took possession of him that Selina
had been added to their number to be another spy upon him.

Andrew Goldsmith's impatience was extreme.  He was angry with Selina
for failing to win his grandson's love, and angry at the thought of
Martin not marrying.  That would be a triumph for his enemy.  If he
could only argue with Martin, he fancied something could be done, but
all he had to say must be translated by the tutor, who was in Sidney's
pay.  This barrier of language between himself and Sophy's son was
another of the wrongs Sidney had inflicted on him.



CHAPTER LIV.

FAILURES.

Sidney's disappointment at the failure of this new scheme almost
equaled Andrew's.  He had built a good many hopes on the chance of
Martin's marriage, for Margaret dwelt much on the humanizing influence
a wife and children would have upon him.  But Rachel secretly rejoiced
in her brother's discomfiture; and Mary, who could not be brought to
fall into the scheme, watched its failure gladly.  Neither of them
could believe it would be a good thing for Philip.

Nothing could be more melancholy than Martin's life became.  At Cortina
he had been miserably oppressed, every man's hand being against him;
but he had been so fully occupied by the heavy tasks exacted from him
by Chiara that time had never hung heavily on his hands.  The very
hatred and tyranny he had suffered from, and the deprivations he had to
undergo, supplied that spice of excitement without which existence is a
tedious monotony.  A deep disgust of life took hold of his half
awakened mind.  In former days the struggle for existence had occupied
him.  That hunger, which hardened him to a long and patient effort, as
he stealthily followed and trapped some wild animal, was no longer
felt; his food was brought to him oftener than he needed it, and he ate
more than was good for him out of sheer want of employment.  The sound,
dreamless sleep that came to him on his heap of straw in Chiara's hut
did not visit the soft, comfortable bed, which his aunt Mary took care
to make herself every morning, that the feathers might be kept downy.
Even his outdoor life was no longer a perilous climbing of peaks with
deep precipices and abysses, which compelled him to give a strained
attention to every step; it was a dull loitering over a safe plain,
with an old man always jogging on beside him, and a smooth horizon
bounding his view.  He was too ignorant to know what was ailing him,
body and mind; but nostalgia held him in its dread embrace, and life
was becoming an insufferable burden to him.

Now and then the heavy cloud lifted, and a gleam of light reached him.
Philip came down as often as he could spare a day or two, and his
flying visits were Martin's only sunshine.  He was at last beginning to
realize that this grand signore was indeed his brother.  If he knew
when he was to come he watched all day for the moment when he could set
out to meet him.  If Philip came unawares his transport of gladness
more than once brought the tears to Philip's eyes.  But his father's
visits produced in him a feeling of anxiety, and almost of terror.  He
was afraid of him, and this fear flung him back into his original
moroseness and barbarism in his father's presence.

His longing to see Margaret and Dorothy was intense, but he never gave
expression to it.  Only when kneeling before the crucifix, near the
entrance of his cave, did he utter either of their names.  In this
place alone did he find any moments of comparative freedom from the
mysterious malady which was consuming him.  The damp, rocky roof and
walls, the hard, rough floor, the utter stillness and wildness of the
place were like a bit of his old life when he sought refuge in his cave
on the mountains.  Sometimes, when he managed to elude the vigilance of
his grandfather, he made his way to this spot, and felt, for an hour or
two, something of the restful, satisfied feelings we all enjoy when we
are at home.  When, as he stood at the low mouth of the cave, and
lifted up his heavy eyes to the worn, grotesque, pathetic figure of
Christ upon the cross, that familiar sight on which his childish gaze
had so often rested, then he could almost fancy that a step or two
would bring him out upon the sharp, ice-bound peaks, where the biting
wind would string up his relaxed frame, and send the blood tingling
through his languid veins.

The summer and autumn passed by, but Margaret and Dorothy did not
return to Brackenburn.  Sidney intended to keep Christmas there again,
and their visit was reserved for the winter.  Philip and Hugh also,
though they spent a week now and then shooting on the moors, did not
give up the whole of the long vacation to Martin, as they had done the
year before.  Some of the time was spent at Apley, where their
intercourse with their cousins at the Rectory had returned to its
former channel, excepting with Phyllis, whose absence when Philip was
staying at the Hall was as regular as his presence there.

Laura was for once perplexed and uncertain.  She could not forget that
though Philip was at present only a medical student he might some day
be a millionaire.  She had means of setting an inquiry afloat as to
Sidney's position in the city; but the answers she got were
contradictory, and in consequence unsatisfactory.  Ought she, in
Phyllis's interests, to attach him once more to her? or should she see
him carry off a rich heiress like Dorothy before her very eyes?  She
could not forgive herself for having been too precipitate in breaking
off his long engagement with Phyllis, but she did not think it would be
impossible to renew it.

She summoned Phyllis home early in October, while Philip was still at
Apley, in order to see how the young people would conduct themselves
toward one another.  But fortune did not favor her.  Philip and Dorothy
met Phyllis unexpectedly in the avenue between the Hall and the
Rectory.  The color mounted up to Philip's face, and there was a slight
embarrassment in his manner; but Phyllis was quite self-possessed, and
spoke to him in a cordial and cousinly tone.

"Why!  Philip, it is ages since I saw you," she said gayly, "and now
you have quite a professional air.  Pray do not ask me after my health,
dear Dr. Martin.  I cannot let you feel my pulse, or look at my tongue."

"I need not," he answered; "you never had anything the matter with you,
and you have not now.  I wish some of our poor hospital patients had
your chances of keeping well."

"He talks of the hospital immediately," she rejoined, tossing her head,
"and he smells of his drugs.  O Philip!  Philip! that you should come
to this!  You are a lost man."

"I suppose I am," he said, laughing; "I am lost to my old life, but I
like the new one as much.  Phyllis, it seems like a hundred years since
I saw you."

"That is what makes you look so old," she retorted; "a hundred years,
added to the twenty-three I know of, must make a tremendous difference.
How much more aged you are than me!"

"Do you think he looks older?" asked Dorothy rather anxiously.  "Mrs.
Martin is afraid he works too hard, and she is troubled a little about
it."

"So are you," rejoined Phyllis.

"Yes, I am," she replied steadily, yet a little shyly.  She was more
disturbed by this unexpected meeting than either of the other two were.
It seemed to her that it must be inexpressibly painful to them both,
and that it would be better for her to go away.

"Well, good-by," said Phyllis airily; "here is the gate.  Open it for
me, and shut it behind me, or we shall have your Scotch cattle in our
glebe.  We shall see you at the Rectory soon, Philip?"

Philip opened the gate, and he and Dorothy stood in silence watching
her, until, as she turned a corner that would hide her from their
sight, she looked round and kissed her hand to them.

"How pretty she is!" exclaimed Philip.  It astonished him that he felt
so little agitation upon seeing her for the first time.  She was very
pretty; very fair.  "But if she be not fair for me, what care I how
fair she be?" he said to himself, feeling the very spirit of Wither's
old poem.  The face beside him, not so faultless as Phyllis's, was more
beautiful to him for its expression of almost timid sympathy with his
supposed grief.  Dorothy's eyes looked wistfully into his.

"I cannot understand how or why I loved her," he went on in a low tone.
"I suppose it was because I grew up with the idea that she was to be my
wife.  Not at home, but at the Rectory she was always called my little
wife.  So it grew with my growth."

"It must have been a great sorrow to you," murmured Dorothy.

"It was the uprooting of a fancy, not a sorrow," he said; "I am
thankful it was torn up like the weed it was.  A weed!  Yes; and it
would have been a noxious weed, poisoning my whole life.  It is
compensation enough for losing the position for which Phyllis would
have married me."

They walked on under the overarching trees, with the setting sun
throwing long shadows before them as they moved side by side.  A few
fallen leaves lay upon the road, or whirled merrily around them in the
evening wind.

"There is only one girl who is like my mother," he said suddenly, "and
if I could hope to win her--if it was in years to come--if she would
wait for me----"

"Who is it?" asked Dorothy tremulously, as he paused; and she looked up
into his face with a pained expression.  So soon to have forgotten his
love to Phyllis--and to love again!

"Why, Dorothy!" he exclaimed, "there is nobody in the world like my
mother but you!  Don't you feel it?  My father is always pointing it
out.  Will you not some day forget my foolish fancy for Phyllis, and
believe that I love you, and only you, with all my heart?  I have loved
you ever since we were at Cortina and found out poor Martin."

Dorothy made no answer.  Her heart beat so quickly that she knew she
could not control her voice or her tears if she attempted to speak.
Her love for him dated farther back than his for her.

"You think me fickle, and that I fall in love too easily," he said in
tones of deprecating earnestness, "but set me a time, let me prove
myself in earnest.  I had not seen you when I was inextricably bound to
Phyllis.  Oh!  I love you quite differently; I think of you as if you
were my conscience.  I try to see myself as you see me; and when I do I
feel how unworthy I am of you."

"No, no," she answered, between laughing and sobbing; "unworthy of me!"

"Then you will give me time to prove that I love you," he said, "and to
give me a chance of winning your love."

"There is no need of that," she whispered.

"Is that true?" he cried, seizing her hands, and gazing eagerly into
her face.  "Do you mean that you have loved me, blind idiot that I was?
Do you mean that you were not disgusted by me when I was playing the
forlorn lover, and must needs be sent abroad to cure me of my folly?  O
Dorothy! if I could only make you forget what a fool I made of myself!"

"I was so sorry for you," she said pityingly, "and I would have done
all I could to save you from your sorrow.  But it is best as it is,
perhaps."

"A thousand times best!" he exclaimed.  "Ever since we were at Cortina
you have been in my heart of hearts; and I understand a little now the
sacred mystery that a true marriage must be."



CHAPTER LV.

A NEW PLAN.

There were more persons than Laura Martin who felt bitter and
disappointed when the announcement was made that Sidney Martin's second
son was about to marry his rich ward.  Dorothy, with her large fortune,
had been the subject of much speculation and many schemes among
Sidney's circle, and he did not escape further odium.

His career stood in this light in the eyes of most who knew him.  In
his early manhood he contracted a low marriage, which he kept a
profound secret for fear of losing the favor of his rich uncle, whose
next heir he was.  When tired and disgusted with his unsuitable wife,
he deserted her and his infant son in a remote and almost unvisited
spot in the Austrian Tyrol, thus dooming his firstborn child to a life
of misery and degradation many degrees worse than that of the lowest
laborer in England.  After his succession to the estates of his uncle
he assumed the character of an ardent philanthropist and Christian, by
which he gained the affection of the only daughter and heiress of
Colonel Cleveland of Apley.  His eldest son by this marriage was
brought up as his heir, and would have succeeded him but for the
accidental discovery of his first-born son, a man of thirty, densely
ignorant, and as uncivilized as a savage.  The right of this man having
been established by his mother's father, Sidney was compelled to
acknowledge him and place him in the house which would belong to him
upon his father's death.  But to compensate the second son, thus
dispossessed and disinherited, he handed over to him the wealthy ward,
who had been entrusted to his care by a man who knew him only under his
assumed character.  This young girl had been kept secluded from all
chances of making another choice.  Sidney Martin was a clever man, said
the world, a clever Christian.

No man knew the depth of his repentance.  Even Margaret but dimly
guessed it.  If he could have made a sacrifice of all his life, and
gone back to the hour when he fled from Sophy's shrill peevishness, he
would have done it, and taken up his life afresh, burdened with her as
his wife and the mother of his children.  But the past could not be
undone.  There was a closer union now between him and Margaret than
there ever had been, though it had struck its roots in his sin and
sorrow.  It might have been a higher union, lifted up into pure regions
of holiness and gladness, but he had dragged her down to him in the
valley instead of rising with her to fairer heights.

Another scheme presented itself to his brain, always busily planning
how to retrieve the past.  Why should not Philip and Dorothy marry at
once, and go to live at Brackenburn?  Philip had been brought up to
fulfill the duties of an English country gentleman, a post Martin could
never fill.  He might still take that position, and look after the
Yorkshire estate as long as Sidney himself lived.  Then the progress
which Martin had been making under Dorothy's influence, and which had
been arrested by her departure, would go on again.  Martin was sinking
back mentally, and was failing physically.  Philip and Dorothy would
save him body and soul.

Margaret approved cordially of this idea.  Her heart was full of pity
for the desolate man, living his lonely life among people who must
utterly fail to understand him.  There was no reason why Philip and
Dorothy should not marry soon and take up their charge.  They could
make a home for Martin, who loved them both so ardently; and if it came
to pass in the future that he should marry, they would give up the
place to him.  As Dorothy loved her birthplace so much, she and Philip
might choose to build themselves a house in the neighborhood of
Brackenburn.

There was one person only who might raise an objection to this plan;
and Philip went down to Brackenburn to consult Andrew Goldsmith, and
convince him of its desirability.  It was a November night when he
reached the manor house, and scarcely a light shone in any of its
windows, and not a sound was to be heard until Philip rang the great
hall door bell.  It was opened by Selina, with a candle in her hand;
and by its dim light she led him along the many passages until they
reached the door of the housekeeper's room near the kitchen.  Both
Andrew and Mary Goldsmith were dozing in the flickering firelight, and
Selina giggled audibly at their bewildered efforts to appear awake and
lively.

"A poor home for Martin," thought Philip, as he shook hands with the
old people.  Martin was stretched upon the hearthrug, and did not stir.
He was lying in a languid posture, as if his strength was quite worn
out.  His hair, no longer left to grow in a tangled mass, lay in thin,
straight lines on his forehead and his hollow temples, which had almost
the color of old ivory.  His cheeks, too, were sunken, and as he slept
there was a tremulous movement about his lips, which gave to him an air
of childish weakness.  He looked like a strong man whose strength was
slowly ebbing away.

"Martin, old man," said Philip, laying a cold hand on his burning
forehead, "wake up and give me a welcome."

Martin awoke with a violent start, and looked up vacantly, like a dog
just roused from his sleep, but when he saw who was bending over him he
burst into a passion of tears.

"It is time Dorothy and I came to take care of him," thought Philip.

He would have no other fire kindled, and as supper was just ready, he
sat down with them.  When this meal was over, and Mary and Selina had
gone to see after his room for the night, Philip found an opportunity
of at once telling his business.  Andrew was fond of him, but in his
obstinate old heart there was a lurking jealousy of this fine young
fellow who had so long usurped the place of his grandson.  It vexed him
to see Martin stretch himself on the ground at Philip's feet, and gaze
up into his face in humble admiration.

"Mr. Goldsmith," began Philip.  In old times he had called him Andrew,
but since he knew him to be his father's father-in-law he had adopted a
more formal mode of address, which Andrew always acknowledged by a slow
and somewhat dignified motion of his head.  "Mr. Goldsmith, I came to
tell you and Mary, who are among my earliest friends, that I am going
to marry Miss Dorothy.  Soon, too, for my father and mother wish it, as
well as myself."

Andrew took his pipe out of his mouth as if to speak, but put it back
again till he should hear more, for he was sure there was more to come.

"We are to be married almost immediately," continued Philip, "partly on
Martin's account.  You know how he misses my mother and Dorothy, and
you know how quickly he learns from Dorothy.  He has fallen back ever
since she went away.  So we intend to make a home for Martin.  We are
going to take him under our charge, and see how much we can do for him.
My mother says this life is only a moment in our endless life, and
Dorothy and I are going to spend our moment in taking care of my
brother."

"How are you going to do it?" asked Andrew suspiciously.

"And as soon as we are married, we are coming here to live with
Martin----"

"That shall never be," interrupted Andrew, bringing his clenched fist
down on the table with a blow that made Martin start, and cower like a
frightened hound.  "I'll see that my grandson is not turned out of his
own house.  No, no.  Marry as soon as you please; but you shan't come
to live in Martin's place."

Andrew's folly and vehemence were so unexpected by Philip, that for a
minute or two he sat silently staring at the old man's infuriated face.
Martin, who had been roused by his angry tones, sat up on his heels and
gazed from one to the other in bewildered attention.

"Mr. Goldsmith," said Philip, after his pause of amazement, "we are
making this arrangement chiefly on Martin's account.  It is true Miss
Dorothy loves this house, where she was born, and would rather live
here than anywhere else; but she knows it can never be ours.  We think
of building another house in this neighborhood."

"Ay!" interrupted Andrew again, "with the money left by Sir John Martin
to build a place suitable for his heir.  But Martin is his heir.  I am
not too old to see that he has his rights.  What you say sounds all
very well; but there's nobody but me to see the poor lad gets his own.
I'm sorry to gainsay you, Mr. Philip, but you cannot come to live here
in my grandson's house.  He must be master, and nobody else."

"Not for his own good?" asked Philip.  "He cannot be master, for he
does not know how to give an order to any servant.  He will learn in
time, if we take him in hand.  We thought you and Mary would be glad to
return to Apley, for you are among total strangers here; and Rachel is
going to live with us as housekeeper."

"Ah!" cried Andrew, with a long-drawn accent of suspicion and contempt,
"Rachel would do anything to serve you.  I should soon hear that Martin
had signed his rights away.  I couldn't trust Sophy's son with Rachel
when it was you he had to be unsaddled for.  No; it shall never be.
I'll stay by Martin as long as I live; and nobody else shall be master
or mistress in his house."

"Martin," said Philip, stooping down to his brother again, and speaking
in the simple Italian words he understood, "I am going to marry the
signorina.  Would you like us to come here, and live with you always?"

Martin repeated the words slowly to himself in a whisper; and slowly
the expression of his heavy face turned into a smile so wistful and
pathetic that it made Philip's heart ache.  It was the smile of a soul
that sees afar off the glory and blissful ness of a life from which it
is shut out, but which it gazes at with distant and ignorant sympathy.

"Yes, yes, my brother!" he answered.

"I don't know what you say to him," said Andrew jealously; "but he's
more simple than a child; you may do what you like with him.  But you
won't take me in; neither you nor your father.  Here Martin is, and
here he stays."

"We wish him to stay here," replied Philip.  "We are coming chiefly for
his sake."

"But I say you shall not come," persisted Andrew.  "I'm his only
guardian, and I'll defend his rights.  Come in Philip--turn out Martin.
That's how it will be; and I put down my foot against it.  Here Martin
stops, and here I stop; and nobody else comes in as master."

"You compel me to remind you that Martin has no right to this house,"
said Philip, "as long as my father lives.  This place belongs to my
father, and to no one else."

"I'll take lawyer's opinion on that," he answered doggedly.  "I've
given up putting my trust in any man, especially Mr. Martin.  And if
it's true, as sure as you bring Miss Dorothy here as your wife I'll
take my grandson away, down to Apley, and all the country-side shall
see Mr. Martin's son and heir sitting at work in a saddler's shop.  He
is fitter for that, perhaps, than to be a squire; but whose fault is
it?  Who deserted him and his mother?  Oh!  Sophy, Sophy! my poor lost
little girl!"

He dropped his white head upon his hands, and his sobs sounded through
the little room.  Philip rose silently, and went away; and Martin, with
his bare feet, followed him noiselessly.  The old man was left alone
with his impotent rage and grief.



CHAPTER LVI.

ON THE MOORS.

Andrew Goldsmith went, as he had threatened, to consult lawyers, one
after another, and learned, to his vexation, that, so long as the
father lived, the son had no legal claim to the estate.  There could be
no disputing Sidney's right to dispose of Brackenburn as he pleased
during his lifetime.  The next course to take would be to follow out
his other threat of having his grandson at Apley, and setting him to
learn his trade in the village shop, in the sight of all the
passers-by.  But here again he found himself baffled.  He had no
authority over Martin; no power save that of persuasion.  And how could
he persuade one with whom he could exchange no conversation, except by
signs?  Martin was free to choose for himself; and none but his enemies
had access by language to his mind.  They might tell him exactly what
they pleased; and there was no doubt they would prevail upon him to
welcome Philip and Dorothy to Brackenburn.  Andrew found himself
defeated on all points.

One thing he resolved upon in this defeat--he would not leave
Brackenburn unless he was forcibly ejected.  He would remain beside
Martin, jealously guarding him against signing away his rights.  If
they ejected him he would find quarters near at hand; and all the
country should hear of his apprehensions.  The thing should not be done
in a corner.  If it was done it should be proclaimed far and wide.  He
was Martin's sole protector as long as he lived; and his resolution and
resentment made him feel strong enough to live through many long years
yet.

Since old Andrew was so determined in his opposition to Sidney's
scheme, there was no longer a great haste in pushing forward the
marriage of Philip and Dorothy.  But the old purpose of keeping
Christmas at Brackenburn was taken up again.  Margaret hoped that she
and Rachel could make Andrew believe that there was no antagonism felt
by any one of them against Martin, but that their great desire was to
arrange everything for his welfare.  They were glad to hear that he did
not intend to quit Brackenburn on their arrival, although he had taken
lodgings in the bailiff's house, resolved not to sleep under the same
roof as Sidney.

The weather during December was unusually severe.  For several days a
bitter northeast wind, rising almost to a gale, swept across England,
and there was a leaden hue in the gloomy sky, as of low clouds charged
with snow, which needed a little rise in the temperature before it
could fall.  Even at Apley, black frosts, changing into dense fogs,
prevailed.  But in Yorkshire, though the fogs were lighter, the frost
was keener.  Every pool and tarn on the moors were ice-bound, and the
noisy burn running down the valley at Brackenburn was silenced, only a
sluggish thread of water trickling under the sheet of ice which spread
from side to side.  The coarse grass upon the moors was fringed with
ice; and the low trees, now bare of leaves, showed like masses of white
coral against the leaden sky.  The farmers brought their flocks of
sheep to pastures near home, and only the wild ponies were left to
brave the inclemency of the threatened storm.  But it was slow in
coming.  Now and then the clouds broke, and gleams of wintry sunshine,
or a brilliant vision of stars, appeared through the opening.

The winter once again made Martin feel more at home.  This snow-charged
sky was familiar to him, more familiar than the soft, hazy, blue sky,
or the drifting clouds of summer.  The moorlands, too, were less
strange to him in their frost-bound grayness than in the gorgeous
purple and gold of autumn.  He felt less homesick than usual; yet he
was no happier.  There was a lurking dread in his heart, so vague that
he was only dimly conscious of it--the dread of having Philip and
Dorothy in their great happiness always in sight.

For he loved Dorothy with a passion that was none the less because he
could not express it in words, even to himself.  He felt himself unfit
for her--far beneath her.  He could see how Philip stood beside her,
her equal, each suited to the other.  But this did not make his
inferiority less painful to him.  He knew enough of his present
position to be aware that what Philip was he might have been.  They had
brought this foolish girl, Selina, to be his wife, but how could he
love her when he had seen Dorothy?

The day was come when all these great and fine people were expected to
arrive--to find him in their way--always in their way, like a dog who
has no right to a place on the hearth, but is not driven away out of
pity.  This kindness of theirs was only a little less oppressive than
Chiara's tyranny.  Never could he become what they wished him to be,
yet he would have to be always striving to become it.  It was as if
they stood on a sunlit peak far above him, beckoning and calling to him
to come up to them, while he was chained at the foot, and could climb
but a very little way toward them.  Forever climbing and forever
falling, with soreness of heart and sickness of soul.  This was what
his future life would be.

Early in the short day he started off for the moors, followed at a
little distance by Andrew, who was as miserable as himself.  Martin
strode on across the trackless uplands, scarcely heeding where he went,
though he kept his purpose vaguely in his mind.  He was going toward
his cave, three miles away; but, at present, trivial objects were
sufficient to divert him from his path.  The wild creatures, so
numerous on the moors, were become almost tame by the severity of the
cold, and many of them were lying dead on the frozen ground.  Martin
stood at times for some minutes gazing down with a sort of pity on
these victims of the cold.  In former days he would have rejoiced over
them as so much prey; but he was never hungry now, and he had seen
Dorothy look sad over the dead body of a bird.  So with this dim sense
of compassion in his heart he stood and gazed at them.  Then Andrew,
who kept him in sight as far as his old limbs permitted, had time to
overtake him, and lay his hand upon Martin's arm, and point toward
home, only to start him on again in his devious course.

Ever since he understood that his death would reinstate Philip in his
old position, he had thought wistfully of death.  There was no escape
out of the evil about him except by dying.  He was too much of a savage
yet to think of suicide: that is a crime of a certain degree of
civilization.  To put himself to death would have been to him almost as
impossible as for a beast to do so.  But as he came again and again
across these creatures who had perished by the cold, the idea of death
was kept all day before his mind.

There was a brief spell of sunshine, but it soon came to an end, and
the wintry beauty of the moors was over.  They lay sullen and gloomy
under the sullen and gloomy sky.  The frost-bound pools lurked in the
hollows like black gulfs.  A sudden blast of freezing wind blew across
the wide expanse with a shriek, beneath which was a moan.  Then there
followed a silence; and the crackling of the frozen twigs and sedges
under his feet sounded with strange loudness.

He went on more languidly, for with the hiding of the sun the glow
passed out of his veins.  The sky in the north, toward which his face
was turned, grew denser and darker; and he wondered why he saw no snowy
peaks rising against it.  For he was at home again, in Ampezzo, and
more than once he fancied he heard Chiara's shrill, threatening voice
calling to him.  Was he come out to seek anything that was lost?  Were
all the sheep safe? and the goats?  He could hear no bleating.  The
wolves would be dangerous in such weather as this.  And now the snow
was falling thickly, driven by the wind in giddy circles, and swirling
around him bewilderingly.  He laughed aloud as he stood still to watch
them.  But he had lost his way, and there was nothing to guide him; no
light in the sky except from these white, fluttering snowflakes.  In
which direction did his cave lie?  Once there he would be under shelter
from the storm.

All at once he heard the frenzied shouting of old Andrew's voice,
calling, "Martin!  Martin!" and he came back with a start to the
present time.  He was not on the mountains above Cortina, but in
England, on the wild moors, and the voice calling to him was not
Chiara's, but the old man's, who was said to be his mother's father.
He shouted back again, and the call drew nearer.  He went a few steps
toward the sound; and the tall, stooping figure of Andrew loomed
through the driving storm.  As Martin drew near him, he uttered a cry
of joy, and fell senseless and benumbed into his arms, which he
stretched out to catch him.

"I will save you, old man," cried Martin; "I will save you."



CHAPTER LVII.

EXPIATION.

Important business had taken Sidney to Liverpool, and it had been
arranged that instead of returning to Apley, he should go across to
Brackenburn and meet the rest of the Christmas party there.  Traveling
was a good deal impeded by a severe snowstorm, and he was disappointed,
though not surprised, to find that the London train was very much
behind time, when he reached the country station nearest to
Brackenburn.  Leaving the carriage and brake to bring the large party
coming up from the south, Sidney hired a light spring cart, which would
make its way more quickly and easily along the encumbered roads.  The
early night had already fallen; and a few breaks in the drifting
clouds, through which the stars shone by twos and threes, seemed to
foretell a cessation in the storm.

The full moon was shining through one of these rifts when he reached
the forecourt of the old house, and its silvery light fell on all the
gables, and touched every tossing spray of ivy glistering with the
freshly fallen snow.  But instead of the cheerful lights shining in
every window, all the front of the house was in darkness.  Within the
wide porch a deep drift almost barred the approach to the door.  There
was something ominous in the deathlike silence and darkness of this
place, to which he had been traveling with the expectation of entering
it surrounded by all whom he loved most.  There stole over him a sense
of loneliness, such as all of us feel at times, when the utter solitude
of the life within us, the isolation of each one's spirit, presses
consciously and with deep awe upon us.  No words could say how precious
Margaret was to him; but even she could never enter into the secret and
mysterious house of his soul.

A glimmer in a distant window at last answered to the driver's noisy
and repeated ringing of the great bell; and the door was opened, Mary
Goldsmith appearing with a face of terror.

"Oh, Mr. Martin!" she cried in a tremulous voice, "they're lost in the
snow.  They've never come back.  Andrew and Martin are lost in the
snow!"

For a moment it seemed as if her words forbade his entrance; and he
stood motionless on the threshold looking from her to the whiteness of
the scene behind him.

"Come in, come in," she said impatiently, "and tells us what we must
do.  All the men are gone to the station, and only the old gardener's
left.  They went out hours ago, Andrew and Martin, and never came back.
They'd have been home before nightfall if they hadn't lost themselves."

Sidney entered the hall, leaving the heavy door ajar, and in a minute
or two a long drift of snow stretched across the polished floor, blown
in by the rising wind.

"Has nobody gone in search of them?" asked Sidney.

"Nay!" said Mary, crying, "there's only me, and Selina, and the maids;
and it's such a dizzy storm.  We lost our way only going along the
garden walks.  We couldn't see a yard before us.  But we've lighted up
all the windows at the back, looking over the moor.  Only I'm afraid
they can't be seen far off through the driving snow."

The wind had risen again almost to a gale, and roared round the
solitary house, shaking every door and casement, and beating the long
ivy tendrils against the windowpanes.  Sidney could see nothing even of
the storm for the sheet of ice and snow covering the outside of the
windows.  Andrew old, and Martin ailing in health, out on the moors, in
this tempest!  He looked into Mary's terror-stricken face with an
expression of intense anxiety.

"They will be dead before morning!" cried Mary.

She put his own half formed thought into blunt words.  Dead!  Sophy's
father and Sophy's son!  The old, long gone by days when he was a boy
and madly in love with Sophy came back to him vividly, as if the
effacing touch of many years had not blotted out the recollection of
them.  The girl's pretty, saucy face, her high spirits and merry moods,
her unrestrained love for him and his brief frenzied passion for her,
all the long forgotten memories, sprang into bitter and stinging life.
His conscience told him he had been glad when he knew she was dead,
leaving his way to happiness and prosperity clear before him.  But
there was a great horror to him in a thought which was lurking
somewhere in an obscure corner of his brain, a murderous thought, that
he would rejoice in the death of Sophy's son.  What would he do if
Philip, his beloved son, were lost on the moors?  That must he do for
Martin.

He forgot Margaret for the time, as if to him she had no existence.  He
thought only of his sons--Philip, whom he would give his life to save,
and Martin, to whom he owed a deeper debt than to any other human
being; and flinging open the hall door he precipitated himself into the
storm.  There was a sudden lull as he did so; the gusts of wind ceased,
and the dizzy snowflakes no longer hid the way.  Bidding Mary send all
the aid she could, as soon as the men arrived from the station, Sidney
started across the moors.

He was fairly well acquainted with their general aspect, and felt no
misgiving as to keeping within the range of the points most familiar to
him.  The light was clear enough to enable him to avoid the greater
drifts, and the hollows, lying like great basins of snow.  Besides, at
any moment he might come upon the weary men, exhausted, perhaps, with
exposure and fatigue, but stumbling homeward.  From time to time he
shouted, and waited, listening painfully for some answer.  But no
answer came, and still he went on, busy with the multiplicity of
thoughts that crowded through his brain, and taking little heed of time
or distance.

It seemed almost as if Martin and Philip were walking beside him.  The
fatherhood that was in him--the most godlike of all human emotions--was
stirred to its very depths.  He knew what it was; he had felt it in all
its fullness toward Philip.  But Martin also was his son!  What an
infinite love and pathos there were in the words "my son"!  It seemed
incredible, impossible, that he could have so sinned against that
divine fatherhood in himself as to forsake the mother of his firstborn
child.  He had given life to Martin, but alas! what a life!  Could he
never set that wrong right through even the countless ages of eternity?
Had not Martin lost forever the birthright that ought to have been his
in this world?

No love either of father or mother; no symbol by which he could learn
the love of God himself.  Martin had never known what it was to be a
son.  All the innocent blisses, the passing gladness, the deep,
unutterable joys of a happy childhood had been stolen from him.  That
which Philip had possessed in the richest measure Martin had had no
least taste of.  His childhood had been desolate and oppressed as
childhood ought never to to be; his manhood had been given over to
destitution and slavery.  The father had sown in a small seed-plot, the
son had reaped in a wide harvest-field.

The chief bitterness of it all, the very sting of death, was that no
atonement was possible.  As Sidney struggled onward through the
clogging snowdrifts, he felt that he could give up even Margaret if he
could recall the past.  What was wealth, or influence, or the love of
wife and child, or the choicest of all earth's many gifts, compared
with the joy of having been true to that which was most akin to God in
his own nature?  That joy could never be his; but he would be a true
father to Martin now, though he could not hope to find in him the
sonship which is the crown of fatherhood.

The lull in the storm was over.  The snowflakes began to whirl around
him giddily, driven and tossed hither and thither by the bitter wind,
and falling so thickly that they formed a dense veil of fluttering
atoms, as impervious to the sight as a stone wall.  The familiar
landmarks were utterly lost were they ever so near to him.  He fought
his way through the wind and the snow as best he could, calling from
time to time.  The thick air was soundless; he could hear only his own
heavy sighs and labored breath.  The biting cold was making him feel
dull and torpid; a lethargy crept over his busy brain.

Suddenly, as if a white curtain had been drawn aside for a moment, he
saw on the other side of a slight ravine the cave which had been
Martin's chosen retreat, and in the safe shelter of it sat Andrew and
Martin, with a fire burning brightly in the entrance of the cave.
Yonder there were warmth and safety; and in Sidney's clouded brain
there sprang a great gladness at having found his son.  He cried
"Martin!" and it seemed to him as if he turned his ear toward him and
listened to his call.

But the vision was hidden again from his sight before he could take a
step forward; and still groping his way, though feebly and with
exhausted limbs, he struggled on through the bewildering snowflakes to
reach the haven of his son's shelter.



CHAPTER LVIII.

NIGHT AND MORNING.

Scarcely an hour later than Sidney's arrival Margaret came to
Brackenburn, with the large party of her companions and servants.  It
did not strike her or Philip that there could be much danger in a storm
such as they had passed through coming from the south.  But Dorothy and
the servants belonging to Brackenburn looked grave.  The men, huddled
in the porch, held a consultation.  It was impossible to do anything
until the downfall abated.  The giddy maze of snowflakes was more
bewildering than the darkest night, for lanterns could be of no use in
such a storm, as they would have been in utter darkness.

"Oh!  Miss Dorothy," cried Mary, "you know this country's ways better
than us from the south.  Is there nothing we can do?"

"Nothing," she answered; "we must wait till the snow abates.  Nobody
could go out in a storm like this."

"Would not your St. Bernard track them?" asked Philip.

"No," she said, "none of the men could venture out now.  Oh! you don't
know what it is.  You cannot go, Philip; you could not find your way
for five minutes."

"They'll be frozen to death before morning," wailed Mary.

"No," answered Dorothy in a faltering voice; "Martin would get to his
cave, and they are safe there.  But there is your father, Philip."

"He hasn't been gone an hour," said Mary, "and the others have been out
six hours or more."

They gathered round the fire, which had smoldered down upon the
neglected hearth; but it was soon in a blaze again, and the cheerful
light fell upon Margaret's pale and thoughtful face.  Philip and
Dorothy looked at her, and then glanced apprehensively at each other.
For the moment Margaret, with her steadfast and simple air of
tranquillity, seemed to belong to another world than theirs.

"God is also in the storm," she said softly, as if to herself.  She
drew Dorothy close to her, and laid her other hand on Philip's arm.

"Children," she said, "we are no safer than they are, for we are all
alike in the hands of God.  You must go and take food and rest, that
you may be strong to help as soon as the storm is over.  Philip must go
to seek them as soon as it is possible to find them."

But Margaret herself could not take either rest or food.  Under her
habitual tranquillity, which had become almost a second nature to her,
there was to-night a strange agitation, such as she had felt but once
before.  This breaking up of the deep spring of feeling differed from
the storm that had shaken her soul to the center when she discovered
Sidney's treachery; but it was not less intense.  She had never known
before how much she loved him as her husband, with what a passionate
force her heart clung to him.  It seemed to her as if she was actually
out with him, out in the bewildering snow, weary, aching, stumbling
from drift to drift, growing numb and torpid.  Oh! if she were really
by his side, speaking to him, and hearing his dear voice!  It was right
that he should go to seek Martin; she did not grudge the peril.  She
was glad that he should risk his life for the son whose life he had
ruined.  But if he should perish, her husband, just now, when he had
attained a higher level, when the love of God had conquered his love of
the world!

From time to time Margaret opened her casement and looked out on the
baffling snow-fall, which filled all the contracted field of vision.
Nothing else could she see, not even the sky; only the dancing motes
against a background of dense gloom.

Soon after dawn the downfall ceased, and Dorothy led Philip up to an
attic window from which there was the widest view of the moorland.
Stretching before their dazzled eyes was an undulating plain of the
purest white, with not a track or mark upon it.  Here and there a line
of the faintest primrose shining in the pale daylight showed the crest
of a hillock or the margin of a hollow.  But all landmarks were blotted
out.  The sky was still of a leaden hue, and there was a threatening of
more snow on the northern horizon.

"We must find them before another night comes on," exclaimed Philip.

"I could find my way to Martin's cave with a compass," said Dorothy
hesitatingly.  "If the sun comes out I am sure I could find it."

"But you must not go, my darling," he answered.  "I cannot let you go
with us men."

"My dogs would be very little use without me," she said; "they will not
follow anyone else so well.  I don't think the dogs can track them, but
Martin might hear their baying, and would make an effort to come to us,
or let us know where they are."

"Let us start at once then," exclaimed Philip.

The men were scanning the threatened storm in the north, but Dorothy's
appearance, ready to go with them, silenced all objections.  The snow
was too soft to walk on easily, and the dogs whined as she bade them
follow her, but they obeyed.

"Only pray 'at the storm 'ill keep off till we are home again," said
the old shepherd, who could estimate the danger of their undertaking
better than anyone else.  Margaret watched them from her window with a
wistful tenderness in her eyes, which were heavy and dim with her
sleepless night.  It was not possible for her to go.

The sun shone faintly, and Dorothy, by its aid and that of her compass,
could direct the course of the little troop of men and dogs to the
point where the cave was.  She fancied she could recognize, under the
softly undulating surface, the outlines of one ridge after another, and
the hollows where frozen tarns were lying.  The men shouted, and the
dogs bayed with their deep voices, filling the moorland with their cry,
but there was no sign as yet that any of the lost men heard them.  How
swiftly the precious moments were passing by! and how slow was the
progress which they made!  The leaden snowclouds were slowly climbing
up the sky, and had already covered the dim disk of the low lying sun.

"I feel sure the cave is over there," said Dorothy.

They had reached a more rugged part of the upland, strewn with masses
of rock, which stood half buried in heather in the summer.  Deep
snowdrifts had gathered on the side of each of them.  The cave lay
under a rock at the head of a long, narrow dell, scarcely more than a
cleft in the earth, down which a burn ran in summer; and above the
margin of this cleft stood a shape which, as they drew near to it, took
the form of a cross.

They hastened to the ravine, and looked down into it.  It was half
filled with a deep drift, which almost hid the mouth of the cave, but
the wind had blown away most of the snow from the old Calvary, which
had weathered so many wintry tempests in the Ampezzo Valley.  The arms
of the cross were pure white, and the crucified form upon it was
swathed in a white shroud.  But the foot of it was buried in the snow,
and a human form lay there almost hidden by it, with arms outstretched,
as if to clasp the cross.  Who could it be?



CHAPTER LIX.

FOUND.

For a few moments they all stood paralyzed and speechless on the edge
of the ravine, gazing down at the death-like form.  Dorothy and Philip
clasped one another's hands with a grasp as if their own death was
near.  Then the dogs broke noisily on the dread silence, and as the
clamor rang through the air, there came a shout from the cave; and
Martin made his way through the drifted snow, and stood in the
entrance, looking up to them with rough gestures of delight.

A sharp cry of terror broke from Philip's lips, and springing down into
the ravine he cleared away the snow that covered the prostrate form.
Martin was beside him in an instant, and with swift, savage instinct,
he bent down, and laid his head on his father's breast, to hear if the
heart within was beating still.  His head had never rested there
before, and now it lay there motionless, listening for the feeblest
throb that spoke of life.  No one moved or spoke.  How long the
suspense lasted, who could tell?  But at length Martin raised himself,
and looked up into Philip's face.

"My brother, our father is dead!" he said.

And now Philip flung himself down upon his father's breast.  How often
he had lain there!  How many thousands of times had these outstretched
arms carried him to and fro, and these lips spoken to him the fondest
and proudest words a father could utter!  He cried, "Father! father!"
in a tone of passionate entreaty, which made the hearts ache of all who
heard him.  But no man there dare tell him that there was any hope.

There was, however, no time to spare.  If the coming storm broke out
again in its former fury the position of all of them would be perilous.
Martin beckoned them to follow him into the cave, where old Andrew lay,
well protected by dry fern and ling heaped about him, and with Martin's
thick overcoat laid over him.  He was too feeble to walk home across
the moors, and a double burden had to be borne by them.

It was a slow and sorrowful progress homeward under the gloomy sky, and
across the trackless snow.  Philip and Martin had to take their part in
carrying the rude litter on which their father lay, and Dorothy,
speechless with grief and anxiety for Margaret, walked beside it.
Margaret watched the mournful procession as it crept slowly toward her
across the silent uplands.  Never before had she been so vividly
conscious of the presence of God.  "In him we live, and move, and have
our being," she said in her inmost soul, with a gladness as sharp as
pain, as these slowly moving forms of those she loved most drew nearer.
One was being carried home; and by a subtle, sympathetic instinct which
had stirred within her all night, she knew who it must be.  Sidney, her
husband, dearer than all save God, was being brought home to her, dead.

She met Philip at the door of her room, his young features drawn and
set with anguish, and she laid her hand in his, and looked up into his
eyes, with a tender tranquillity on her white face.

"Do not tell me," she said, "only show me where they have laid him."

They went hand in hand silently across the old hall to the library
door; then Margaret paused, and pushed Philip gently on one side, with
such a smile as the angel of death might have upon his benignant face.

"I must go in alone," she said, "and let no one come near me.  But I
know that God is good."

Philip and Dorothy watched within sight of the door through which she
had disappeared and Martin stretched himself on the floor at their
feet.  Deeper than their own grief was their sorrow for the mortal
anguish of Margaret.  For what would life be to either of them if the
other was taken away?  They did not speak; but they looked into each
other's face, and felt that their love was made greater and more sacred
by this calamity.  Martin's sad eyes were fastened upon them, as they
sat together, leaning toward one another, as if words between them were
not needed.

"My brother," he said, breaking the silence at last, "I wish I was dead
instead of my father.  Why did he go out into the storm?"

"He went to find you, Martin," answered Dorothy.

"To find me!" he cried, "to find me!"

A gleam of gladness came across his heavy face, and into his deep-set
eyes; and he raised himself from the ground to pace up and down the
floor, murmuring, "To find me," again and again to himself.  Once he
approached the closed door of the library, and knelt before it,
crossing himself devoutly, and whispering a prayer, such as he was wont
to say at the foot of the Calvary.  After a while he returned to the
hearth, where Philip and Dorothy had been anxiously watching him.

"My father went out into the storm to find me," he said with glistening
eyes.  "I shall know him now when I see him again in Paradise."

How long they waited they never knew; but at last from the soundless
room Margaret came out, white as death, but with a radiant look upon
her face such as they had never seen before.  Dorothy and Philip stood
up in awed silence but Martin fell down on his knees as she drew near
to them.  She laid her hands upon his shoulders and, bending over him,
laid her lips upon his wrinkled forehead.

It was the seal of such a pardon as few women are called upon to give.
This man had cost her all that she most prized on earth.  He was the
living memorial of her husband's sin.  He would thrust her firstborn
son out of his birthright.  As long as she lived he would be to her the
symbol of all earthly anguish, and love, and bitterness.  But her heart
was melted with inexpressible pity for him, a pity which his dark mind
could never understand.  Nothing but this mute and solemn caress could
tell him that she pitied and loved him.

Dorothy understood it more fully than the others did, and, throwing her
arms around Margaret, she burst into a passion of tears.



CHAPTER LX.

MARTIN'S FATE.

Andrew Goldsmith was ailing for a few days, and kept his bed until
after the funeral solemnities were over.  Sidney was taken home to
Apley, to be buried where Margaret would some day lie beside him.
Martin went down there for the first time to appear as one of the chief
mourners at his father's grave; but he returned immediately to
Brackenburn, which was now his own.

Andrew Goldsmith entered into his heart's desire.  Sophy's son, his own
grandson, was now the squire of Brackenburn, the possessor of the
estates entailed by Sir John Martin.  He would take his place as a
wealthy landowner, a man of position and influence.  The old saddler,
who had been so long dominated by a fixed idea, could hardly give a
thought to the tragic fate of his son-in-law, Sophy's husband, who had
deserted her, and left her to die among strangers.  Once or twice Mary
overheard him saying to himself, "He died alone, like my Sophy, with
nobody near him as loved him."  But he seldom spoke of Sidney.

"I must see they don't wrong Martin," he said, full of suspicion even
of Margaret and his own sister Rachel; "there's a many ways rich folks
can wrong poor ones.  I must see to it myself."

But his disappointment was great when he found that all Sidney's
accumulated wealth was left to Philip, Martin and Hugh, his other sons,
being amply provided for in other ways.  Philip's portion was still the
largest.  Andrew's chagrin and consternation were boundless, and he
could never believe that his grandson had not been defrauded.  The idea
fastened on his mind, and made him a miserable man.

Martin contributed largely to his misery.  He was now unquestionably an
English landowner, but he could not, or would not, live otherwise than
as an Austrian peasant.  It was at first planned that Philip should buy
an estate near Brackenburn, and take Martin under his brotherly
protection and influence.  But the vast complications of his father's
business involved too many interests for him to withdraw from it for
some years.  He could not sacrifice the interests of hundreds of
families to his own desire for a private life, or even to the claims of
brotherhood.  He felt himself called to step into his father's place,
and for some time to be the head of the many branches into which his
father's business had spread.

So Martin was left reluctantly to his fate.  Before long a priest from
the Ampezzo Valley, a man whom he knew, came to take charge of him and
his affairs.  Martin was glad to have anybody who could talk to him in
his own dialect; and this man, to whom he looked up in awe and
reverence, was so kindly to him, and knew how to direct him so well,
that he soon yielded to him the unquestioning obedience of an ignorant
peasant to his priest.  There was no more intercourse than before
between Andrew and his grandson; but the former, with all his narrow
and strong prejudices, was compelled to witness the introduction of
foreign ways and Popish idolatry, as he called it, into Martin's
household.  This was not what he had looked forward to when his heart
had beaten high with pride when his grandson took possession of his
estates.

Now and then Philip went to see his half-brother, when he could spare a
day or two, and Margaret every year spent a few weeks at Brackenburn.
But Martin only once visited Apley, the restraints of a home so
civilized and cultured being intolerably irksome to him.  He was not
unhappy, but he had none of the higher joys of life.  There was one
point on which no man could influence him.  He would never marry.
Ignorant and savage as he must always remain, there was an austere
purity of soul in him which made it impossible for him to marry without
love.

The conviction that, after all, Philip or Philip's son would succeed to
the estates was a secret trouble to Laura for the rest of her life.  If
she could but have known that Philip would be the most wealthy of
Sidney's three sons!  But she had formed no idea of the immense
accumulation of Sidney's private property, which would have all been
Phyllis's if she had not broken off that match.  Phyllis shared her
chagrin in some measure, but it was tempered with the anticipations of
a youthful beauty.  There were other men besides Philip, she said,
though he was a great miss.  And she had loved him, she added, with
more sadness in her tone than her mother had ever heard.  They both
took more interest in the details of Philip and Dorothy's marriage than
Margaret herself did.

Margaret took up her old life in her old home, where most of all
Sidney's presence was most real to her.  It was her conviction that he
was present, a thin though impenetrable veil alone lying between them.
In this path of consolation and peace she walked by faith, a more
satisfying thing than walking by sight.  She knew that if he had not
gone forth to seek the son whom he did not love, there would have dwelt
in her heart of hearts a lurking condemnation of him, which would have
been exceedingly bitter; whereas now there was there a thankful sense
of the full atonement he had made for deserting his child in his
infancy.  She could well wait until she spoke face to face with Sidney
again.  Day by day she was strengthened with strength in her soul.



THE END.





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