Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: A haunted life
Author: Grant, James
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A haunted life" ***


  A HAUNTED LIFE


  BY

  JAMES GRANT

  AUTHOR OF 'THE ROMANCE OF WAR'



  LONDON
  GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS
  BROADWAY, LUDGATE HILL
  NEW YORK: 9, LAFAYETTE PLACE

  1883



  JAMES GRANT'S NOVELS,

  _Price 2s. each, Fancy Boards._

  The Romance of War
  The Aide-de-Camp
  The Scottish Cavalier
  Bothwell
  Jane Seton: or, the Queen's Advocate
  Philip Rollo
  The Black Watch
  Mary of Lorraine
  Oliver Ellis: or, the Fusileers
  Lucy Arden: or, Hollywood Hall
  Frank Hilton: or, the Queen's Own
  The Yellow Frigate
  Harry Ogilvie: or, the Black Dragoons
  Arthur Blane
  Laura Everingham: or, the Highlanders of Glenora
  The Captain of the Guard
  Letty Hyde's Lovers
  Cavaliers of Fortune
  Second to None
  The Constable of France
  The Phantom Regiment
  The King's Own Borderers
  The White Cockade
  First Love and Last Love
  Dick Rooney
  The Girl he Married
  Lady Wedderburn's Wish
  Jack Manly
  Only an Ensign
  Adventures of Rob Roy
  Under the Red Dragon
  The Queen's Cadet
  Shall I Win Her?
  Fairer than a Fairy
  One of the Six Hundred
  Morley Ashton
  Did She Love Him?
  The Ross-shire Buffs
  Six Years Ago
  Vere of Ours
  The Lord Hermitage
  The Royal Regiment
  Duke of Albany's Own Highlanders
  The Cameronians
  The Scots Brigade
  Violet Jermyn
  Jack Chaloner



  CONTENTS.


  CHAPTER

  I. THE MEET OF THE COACHING CLUB
  II. TREVOR CHUTE'S REVERIE
  III. HIS VISIT TO CLARE
  IV. IDA
  V. HOW WILL IT END?
  VI. SIR CARNABY COLLINGWOOD
  VII. A PROPOSAL
  VIII. 'THE DESIRE OF THE MOTH FOR THE STARS'
  IX. DOUBTS DISPELLED
  X. FOR WHOM THE JEWELS WERE INTENDED
  XI. A ROMANCE OF THE DRAWING-ROOM
  XII. IN THE KONGENS NYTORV
  XIII. BY THE EXPRESS FOR LUBECK
  XIV. AN IMBROGLIO
  XV. 'LOVE IS STRONG AS DEATH'
  XVI. 'JEALOUSY CRUEL AS THE GRAVE'
  XVII. A QUARREL
  XVIII. THE EMEUTE AT LUBECK
  XIX. SIR CARNABY'S GRATITUDE
  XX. CARNABY COURT
  XXI. CHRISTMAS EVE



A HAUNTED LIFE.



CHAPTER I.

THE MEET OF THE COACHING CLUB.

'Be patient, Trevor Chute; they are sure to be here to-day, old
fellow, for Ida told me so.'

'Ida?'

'Yes, Mrs. Beverley; does that surprise you?' asked the other, with a
singular smile--one that was rather sardonic.

'No, Jerry, I have long ceased to be surprised at anything.  As I
have told you, my special mission in town is a visit to her; but--so
you and she are good friends still?'

'Yes, though she has been six months a widow, we are on the same
strange terms in which you left us last--friends pure and simple.'

'And nothing more?'

'As yet,' replied Jerry Vane, lowering his voice, with something of
despondency perceptible in his tone, and to a close observer it might
have been apparent that he, though by nature frank, jovial, and
good-humoured, had, by force of habit, or by circumstances, a
somewhat cynical mode of expression and gravity of manner.

The time was the noon of a bright and lovely day in May, when the
newly-opened London season is at its height; and it was the first
meet of the Coaching Club in Hyde Park, where the expectant crowd,
filling all the seats under the pleasant trees, or in occupation of
handsome carriages, snug barouches, dashing phaetons and
victorias--in everything save hackney cabs--covered all the wide
plateau which stretches from the Marble Arch to the somewhat prosaic
powder magazine beside the Serpentine, and waited with the
characteristic patience and good-humour of Londoners for the
assembling of the coaches, though some were seeking to while away the
time with a morning paper or the last periodical.

The speakers, though young men, were old friends, who had known each
other since boyhood in the playing-fields of Rugby.

Jervoise, or, as he was familiarly called, Jerry Vane, was a
curly-pated, good-looking young fellow of the genuine Saxon type,
with expressive, but rather thoughtful eyes of bluish grey, long fair
whiskers, and somewhat the bearing of a 'man about town;' while the
other, perhaps in aspect the manlier of the two, Trevor Chute, in
figure compact and well set-up, was dark-haired, hazel-eyed, and had
a smart moustache, imparting much decision of expression to a
handsome and regular face, which had been scorched and embrowned by a
tropical sun; and where the white flap of the puggaree had failed to
protect his neck and ears, they had deepened to a blister hue.

He had but the day before come to town, on leave from his regiment
(which had just returned from India), on a special errand, to be
detailed in its place.

In front was the great bend of the blue Serpentine rippling and
sparkling in the sunshine, with its tiny fleet of toy-ships; beyond
it was the leafy background of trees, and the far stretch of emerald
lawn, chequered with clumps of rhododendron in full flower, and
almost covered with sight-seers, some of whom gave an occasional
cheer as a stately drag passed to the meeting-place, especially if
its driver was recognized as a personage of note or a public
favourite.

'I don't know what you may have seen in India, Trevor,' said Jerry
Vane, 'but I am assured that the gayest meetings on the continent of
Europe can present nothing like this.  I have been in the Prater at
Vienna on the brightest mornings of summer, and on gala days at the
Bois de Boulogne, and seen there all the _élite_ of Paris wending its
way in equipages, on horse or on foot, but no scene in either place
equals this of to-day by the Serpentine!'

To this his friend, who had so recently returned from military exile,
in the East, warmly assented, adding:

'The day is as hot as my last Christmas was in the Punjaub.'

'Christmas in the Paunjaub, by Jove!' exclaimed Jerry Vane, with a
laugh.  'Eating ices and fanning oneself under a punkah, with the
thermometer at 90 in the shade, eh?'

Captain Chute laughed in turn at this idea; but as he stood at that
time by the inner railings in Hyde Park, waiting anxiously to see the
fair occupants of a certain drag, he could foresee, as little as his
friend, where they were to spend their coming Christmas, or on its
eve to hear, through the stillness thereof, the sweet evensong coming
over a waste of snow from an old chapel, amid a group of
crystal-shrouded trees, where many soft voices, with _hers_ among
them, told again of the angels' message, given more than eighteen
hundred years ago to the shepherds of Chaldea, as they watched their
fleecy flock by night.

'It seems but yesterday that I last stood here, Jerry,' said Trevor
Chute, thoughtfully, almost sadly; 'and how much has come and gone to
us both since then!'

'Yes; and here, as of old, Trevor, are the last new beauties who have
come out, and the overblown belles of seasons that are past, and, of
course, all those great folks whom everybody knows, and others of
whom no one knows anything, save that they have swell equipages, and
are "like magnificent red and purple orchids, which grow out of
nothing, yet do so much credit to their origin."'

'You grow cynical, Jerry.'

'Perhaps; but there was a time when I was not wont to be so.  And
you, Trevor, are not without good reason for being so too.  Why, man
alive! when in the Guards, how popular you were with all the mammas
of unmarried daughters; a seat in the carriage, a box at the opera, a
balcony at the boat-race, whenever you felt disposed.  By Jove! there
was no man in town I envied more than you in those days.'

'And what has it all come to now, Jerry?  I feel quite like a fogey,'
exclaimed Trevor Chute.

'Yet this was but four years ago.'

'Only four years, old fellow, and _she_ is not married yet!  But here
come the party, and on Desmond's drag; he has the "lead," it seems.'

It was now the hour of one; the procession had started, and the eyes
of all the onlookers were eagerly engaged in critically examining the
various drags, so magnificently horsed and brilliantly appointed, as
they passed in succession, with all their silver harness shining in
the sun.

About thirty drove from the well-known rendezvous of the Coaching
Club along the pretty drive which skirts the Serpentine and ends with
the bridge that divides the Park from Kensington Gardens; and though
some of the drivers adhered to the Club uniform--blue, with gilt
buttons--many appeared in the perfection of morning costume; and as
team after team went by, chestnut, white, or grey, with satin-like
skins, murmurs of applause, rising at times to a cheer, greeted the
proprietors.

The costumes of the ladies who occupied the lofty seats were as
perfect as, in many instances, was their beauty; and no other capital
in Europe could have presented such a spectacle as Trevor Chute saw
then, when the summer sun was at its height in the heavens, gilding
the trees with brilliant light, and showing Hyde Park in all its
glory.

The leading drag was the one which fascinated him, and all the other
twenty-nine went clattering past like same phantasmagoria, or a
spectacle one might seem to behold in a dream.

Several ladies were on the drag, including the owner's somewhat
_passé_ sister, the Hon. Evelyn Desmond; but Chute saw only
two--Clare and Violet Collingwood--or one, rather, the elder, who
riveted all his attention.

Both girls were remarkable for their beauty even then, when every
second female face seemed fair to look upon; but the contrast was
strong in the opposite styles of their loveliness, for Clare was a
brilliant brunette, while Violet was even more brilliant as a blonde;
and as the drag swept past, Trevor Chute had only time to remark the
perfect taste of Clare's costume or habit, that her back hair was a
marvel of curious plaiting, and that she was laughingly and hastily
thrusting into her silver-mounted Marguerite pouch a note that
Desmond had handed to her, almost surreptitiously it seemed; and
then, amid the crowd and haze, she passed away from his sight, as
completely as she had done four years before, when, by the force of
circumstances--a fate over which he had no control--they had been
rent asunder, when their engagement was declared null, and they were
informed that thenceforward their paths in life must be far apart.

'Clare Collingwood is the same girl as ever, Trevor,' said Jerry
Vane, breaking a silence of some minutes.  'You saw with what
imperial indifference she was receiving the admiration of all who
passed, and the attention of those who were about her.'

'Is she much changed, Jerry, since--since I left England?' Trevor
asked.

'Oh, no,' replied the other, cynically; 'she and her sisters--Violet,
at least--have gone, and are still going, over the difficult ways of
life pleasantly, gracefully, and easily, as all in their "set"
usually do.  In her fresh widow's weeds Ida Beverley could not be
here to-day, of course.'

'I have an express and most melancholy mission to her on the morrow,'
said Captain Chute.  'But why is Collingwood _père_ not with his
daughters on this occasion?'

'Though girls that any man might be proud of escorting in any
capacity, the old beau, with his dyed hair and curled whispers, is
never seen with them, nor has been since their mother's death.
Though sixty, if he is a day, he prefers to act the _rôle_ of a young
fellow on his preferment, and doesn't like to have these young
women--one of them a widow, too--calling him "papa."  He knows
instinctively--nay, he has overheard--that he is called "old
Collingwood," and he doesn't like the title a bit,' added Vane,
laughing genuinely, for the first time that forenoon, as they made
their way towards the nearest gate of the Park, which the glittering
drags were all leaving by the Marble Arch, and setting forth, _viâ_
Portman Square, for luncheon at Muswell Hill or elsewhere.

'And has Clare had no offers since my time?' asked Trevor Chute,
almost timidly.

'Two; good ones, also.'

'And she refused them?'

'So Ida told me.'

'Ida again; you and Mrs. Beverley seem very good friends.'

'Yes, though she used me shockingly in throwing me over for Beverley.'

'And why did--Clare refuse?'

'Can't say, for the life of me; women are such enigmas; unless a
certain Trevor Chute, then broiling in the Punjaub, wherever that may
be, had something to do with it.'

'I can pardon much in you, Jerry Vane,' said Chute, gravely; 'for we
have been staunch friends ever since I was a species of big brother
to you at Rugby; but please not to make a jest of Clare and me.  And
what of pretty Violet?'

'Oh, Violet is all right,' replied Vane, speaking very fast, and
reddening a little at his friend's reproach.  'She has those
graceful, taking, and pretty ways with her and about her that will be
sure to do well for her in the end; thus, sooner or later, Violet's
fortune is certain to be made in a matrimonial point of view.'

'I have heard of this fellow, Harvey Desmond, before,' said Chute,
musingly.  'I remember his name when I was in the Household Brigade.
He was lately, I think, gazetted a C.B.'

'Of course.'

'For what?'

'In consideration of his great services at Wormwood Scrubs and on
Wimbledon Common.'

To see Clare on _his_ drag, even with his sister, the Hon. Evelyn, to
play propriety, stung Trevor Chute, and, as if divining his very
thoughts, Jerry Vane said, let us hope unintentionally:

'All the clubs have linked their names together for some time past.'

'Well,' replied Trevor, with something like a malediction, as he
proceeded in a vicious manner to manipulate a cigar, and bite off the
end of it.  'What the deuce does that matter to me?'

His expression of face, however, belied the indifference he affected
for the moment, and feeling that he had caused pain by his remark,
Jerry Vane said, as they walked arm and arm along Piccadilly, by the
side of the Green Park:

'Neither of us have been very successful in our love affairs with the
Collingwoods; and with me even more than you, Trevor, it was a case
of "love's labours lost."  Yet, when I think of all that Ida
Collingwood was in the past time to me, I cannot help feeling maudlin
over it.  We had, time to me, I cannot help feeling maudlin over it.
We had, as you know well, been engaged a year when, unluckily,
Beverley, of your corps, became a friend of the family.  I know not
by what magic he swayed her mind, her heart, and all her thoughts,
but, from the first day she knew him, I felt that I was thrown over
and that she was lost to me for ever!  And on that day when she
became Beverley's wife----'

In the bitterness of his heart Vane paused, for his voice became
tremulous.

'The friend equally of you and of poor Jack Beverley, whom I laid in
his grave, far, far away, I felt all the awkwardness of my position
when that bitter rivalry arose between him and you about Ida
Collingwood,' said Trevor Chute, and the usually lively Jerry, who
seemed lost in thoughts which the voice and presence of his friend
had summoned from the past, walked slowly forward in moody silence.

He was recalling, as he had too often done, the agony of the time
when he first began to learn--first became grimly conscious--that the
tender eyes of Ida sought to win glances from other eyes than his,
and ask smile for smile from other lips too!  And when desperately
against hope he had hoped the game would change, and oblivion would
follow forgiveness--but the time never came.

Jerry could recall, too, the sickly attempts he had made to arouse
her pique and jealousy by flirting with Evelyn Desmond and other
girls, but all in vain, as the sequel proved.

She had become so absorbed in Beverley as to be oblivious of every
action of the discarded one, and almost careless of what he thought
or felt.

But now, though Beverley was dead and had found his grave on a
distant and a deadly shore, it was scarcely in human flesh and blood
for Vane--even jolly Jerry Vane--to forgive, and still less to regret
him as Trevor Chute did, though he affected to do so, on which the
soldier shook his hand, saying:

'You are indeed a good-hearted fellow!'

But Vane felt that the praise was perhaps undeserved, and to change
the subject, said--

'She has been to a certain extent getting over Beverley's death.'

'Getting over it?'

'Of course.'

'How?'

'By becoming more composed and settled; no grief lasts for ever, you
know,' replied Vane, a little tartly; 'but now your return, your
special visit to her, and the mementoes you bear, will bring the
whole thing to the surface again, and--and--even after six months of
widowhood--may----'

'Will make matters more difficult for you?' interrupted Trevor Chute,
smiling.

'Precisely.  I am a great ass, I know; but I cannot help loving Ida
still.'

'You will accompany me to the Collingwoods' to-morrow, Jerry?' urged
the soldier, after a pause.

'No, old fellow, decidedly not.  Ida's grief would only worry me and
make me feel _de trop_.  What the deuce do you think I am made of,
Trevor, to attempt to console the woman I love when she is weeping
for _another_?'

'Dine with me at the club this evening, then--sharp eight--and we'll
talk it over.'

'Thanks; and then we shall have a long "jaw" together about all that
is and all that _might_ have been; so, till then, old man, good-bye.'



CHAPTER II.

TREVOR CHUTE'S REVERIE.

Protracted by various culinary devices, the late dinner had
encroached on the night, just as the final cigar in the smoking-room
had done on the early hours of morning; and after a long
conversation, full of many stirring and tender reminiscences and many
mutual confidences, Jerry Vane had driven away to his rooms, and
Trevor Chute was left alone to ponder over them all again, and
consider the task--if task it really was--that lay before him on the
following morn.

And now to tell the reader more precisely the relation in which some
of the _dramatis personæ_ stand to each other.

Four years before the time when our story opens, Trevor Chute, then
in the Foot Guards, had been engaged to Clare Collingwood.  She was
in her second season, though not yet in the zenith of her beauty,
which was undeniably great, even in London; and his friend, Jervoise
Vane, was at the same time the accepted of her second sister Ida, who
had just 'come out' under the best auspices; yet the loves of all
were fated to end unhappily.

Monetary misfortune overtook the family of Trevor Chute; expected
settlements ended in smoke, and he had to begin what he called 'the
sliding scale,' by exchanging from the Guards into a Line regiment
then serving in India; and then the father of Clare--Sir Carnaby
Collingwood--issued the stern fiat which broke off their engagement
for ever.

'Of course,' thought he, as he looked dreamily upward to the
concentric rings and wreaths of smoke, the produce of his mild
havannah, 'we shall meet as mere friends, old acquaintances, and that
sort of thing.  Doubtless she has forgotten me, and all that I was to
her once.  Here, amid the gaieties of three successive seasons since
_those days_, she must have found many greater attractions than poor
Trevor Chute--this fellow Desmond among them--while the poor devil in
the Line was broiling up country, with no solace save the memory--if
solace it was--of the days that were no more!'

Sir Carnaby Collingwood was by nature proud, cold, and selfish.  He
had married for money, as his father had done before him; and though
he seemed to have a pleasure in revenging himself, as some one has
phrased it, by quenching the love and sunshine in the life of others,
because of the lack of both in his own, Trevor Chute felt that he
could scarcely with justice be upbraided for breaking off the
marriage of a girl having such expectations as Clare with an almost
penniless subaltern officer.

Ida's engagement terminated as related in the preceding chapter.
With a cruelty that was somewhat deliberate, she fairly jilted Vane
and married Jack Beverley, undeniably a handsomer and more showy man,
whose settlements were unexceptionable, and came quite up to all that
Sir Carnaby could wish.

Yet Beverley did not gain much by the transaction.  Ida fell into a
chronic state of health so delicate that decline was threatened; the
family physicians interposed, and nearly three years passed away
without her being able to join her husband in India, where he was
then serving with Trevor Chute's regiment, and where he met his death
by a terrible accident.

Jerry Vane felt deeply and bitterly the loss of the girl he had loved
so well; and he would rather that she had gone to India and passed
out of his circle, as he was constantly fated to hear of her, and not
unfrequently to meet her; for Jerry's heart did not break, and sooth
to say, between balls and dinners, croquet and Badminton parties,
cricket matches, whist and chess tournaments, rinking, and so forth,
his time was pretty well parcelled out, when in town or anywhere else.

Trevor Chute and Beverley had been warm friends when with the
regiment.  Loving Clare still, and treasuring all the tender past, he
felt that her brother-in-law was a species of link between them,
through whom he could always hear of her welfare, while he half hoped
that she might wish to hear of his, and yet be led to take an
interest in him.

With all this mutual regard, Chute's dearest friend of the two was
not the dead man, but Jerry Vane; yet there had been a great
community of sentiment between them.  This was born of the affection
they fostered for the two sisters, and sooth to say, Beverley, while
in India, loved his absent wife with a passion that bordered on
something beyond either enthusiasm or romance.  It became eventually
spiritualised and refined, this love for the distant and the ailing,
beyond what he could describe or altogether conceive, though times
there were when in moments of confidence, over their cheroots and
brandy pawnee, he would gravely observe to Trevor Chute that so
strong, and yet so tender, was the tie between him and Ida, that,
though so many thousand miles apart, they were _en rapport_ with each
other, and thus that each thought, or talked, and dreamt of the
absent at the same moment.

Be all this as it may, a time was to come when Trevor was to recall
these strange confidences and apparently wild assertions with
something more than terror and anxiety, though now he only thought of
the death-bed of his friend in India, the details of all that befell
him, and the messages and mementoes which Jack Beverley had charged
him to deliver to Ida on his return to England.

They had been stationed together, on detachment, at the cantonment of
Landour, which is situated on one of the outer ridges of the Himalaya
range, immediately above the Valley of the Deyrah Dhoon, where they
shared the same bungalow.

The dulness of the remote station at which the two friends found
themselves became varied by the sudden advent of a tiger in an
adjacent jungle: a regular man-eater, a brute of unexampled strength
and ferocity, which had carried off more than one unfortunate native
from the pettah or village adjoining the cantonment; thus, as a point
of honour, it behoved Trevor Chute and Beverley, as European officers
and English sportsmen, to undertake its destruction.  Indeed, it was
to them, and to their skill, prowess, and hardihood, the poor natives
looked entirely for security and revenge.

'I have sworn to kill that tiger, and send its skin as a trophy to
Ida,' said Beverley, when the subject was first mooted at tiffin one
day.  'She shall have it for the carriage in the Park, and to show to
her friends!'

About two in the morning, the comrades, accompanied by four native
servants, took their guns, and set forth on this perilous errand, and
leaving the secluded cantonment, proceeded some three or four miles
in the direction of the jungle in which the tiger was generally seen.

As he sat in reverie now, how well Trevor Chute could remember every
petty detail of that eventful day; for an eventful one it proved, in
more ways than one.

The aspect of Jack Beverley, his dark and handsome face, set off by
his white linen puggaree, his lips clearly cut, firm and proud, his
eyes keen as those of a falcon, filled with the fire of youth and
courage, and his splendid figure, with every muscle developed by the
alternate use of the saddle, the oar, and the bat, his chest broad,
and his head nobly set on his shoulders, and looking what he was, the
model of an Englishman.

'Now, Chute, old fellow, you will let me have the first shot, for
Ida's sake, when this brute breaks cover,' said he, laughing, as he
handed him a case worked by her hands, adding, 'Have a cheroot--they
are only chinsurrahs, but I'll send a big box to your crib; they will
be too dry for me ere I get through them all, and we may find them
serviceable this evening.'

Poor Beverley could little foresee the evening that was before _him_!

Though late in the season, the day and the scenery were beautiful.
Leaving behind a noble thicket, where the fragrant and golden bells
of the baubul trees mingled with the branches of other enormous
shrubs, from the stems and branches of which the baboon ropes and
other verdant trailers hung in fantastic festoons, the friends began
to step short, look anxiously around them while advancing, a few
paces apart, with their rifles at half-cock; for now they were close
upon that spot called the jungle, and the morning sun shone brightly.

After six hours' examination of the jungle the friends saw nothing,
and the increasing heat of the morning made them descend thankfully
into a rugged nullah that intersected the thicket, to procure some of
the cool water that trickled and filtered under the broad leaves and
gnarled roots far down below.

Just as Chute was stooping to drink, Beverley said, in a low but
excited voice:

'Look out, Trevor; by Jingo, there's the tiger!'

Chute did so, and his heart gave a kind of leap within him when, sure
enough, he saw the dreaded tiger, one of vast strength and bulk,
passing quietly along the bottom of the nullah, but with something
stealthy in its action, with tail and head depressed.

In silence Beverley put his rifle to his shoulder, just as the
dreadful animal began to climb the bank towards him, and at that
moment a ray of sunlight glittering on the barrel caused the tiger to
pause and look up, when about twenty yards off.

It saw him: the fierce round face seemed to become convulsed with
rage; the little ears fell back close; the carbuncular eyes filled
with a dreadful glare; from its red mouth a kind of steam was
emitted, while its teeth and whiskers seemed to bristle as it drew
crouchingly back on its haunches prior to making a tremendous spring.

Ready to take it in flank, Chute here cocked his rifle, when
Beverley, not without some misgivings, sighted it near the shoulder,
and fired both barrels in quick succession.

Then a triumphant shout escaped him, for on the smoke clearing away
he saw the tiger lying motionless on its side, with its back towards
him.

'You should have reserved the fire of one barrel,' said Chute, 'for
the animal may not be dead, and it may charge us yet.'

'I have knocked the brute fairly over,' replied Beverley; 'don't
fire, Chute, please, as, for Ida's sake, I wish to have all the glory
of the day.'

And without even reloading his rifle the heedless fellow rushed
towards the fallen animal, which was certainly lying quietly enough
among the jungle-grass that clothed the rough sides of the
water-course.

The tiger suddenly rose with a frightful roar, that made the jungle
re-echo; and springing upon Beverley with teeth and claws, they
rolled together to the bottom of the nullah!

Two of the native attendants fled, and two clambered up a tree.  Left
thus alone, with a heart full of horror, anxiety, and trepidation,
Trevor Chute went plunging down the hollow into which his friend had
vanished, and from whence some indescribable, but yet terrible
sounds, seemed to ascend.

He could see nothing of Beverley; but suddenly the crashing of
branches, and the swaying of the tall feathery grass, announced the
whereabouts of the tiger, which became visible a few yards off,
apparently furious with rage and pain, and tearing everything within
its reach to pieces.

On Trevor firing, his ball had the effect of making it spring into
the air with a tremendous bound; but the contents of his second
barrel took the savage right in the heart, after which it rolled dead
to the bottom of the nullah.

On being assured that the tiger was surely killed, the cowardly
natives came slowly to the aid of Chute, who found his friend
Beverley in a shocking condition, with his face fearfully lacerated,
and his breast so torn and mutilated by the dreadful claws, that the
very action of the heart was visible.

He was breathing heavily, but quite speechless and insensible.

Though many minutiæ of that day's dreadful occurrence came vividly
back to Chute's memory, he could scarcely remember how he got his
friend conveyed back to the cantonment of Landour, and laid on a
native charpoy in their great and comfortless-looking bungalow, where
the doctor, after a brief examination, could afford not the slightest
hope of his recovery.

'It's only an affair of time now,' said he; 'muscles, nerves, and
vessels are all so torn and injured that no human system could
survive the shock.'

So, with kind-hearted Trevor Chute, the subsequent time was passed in
a species of nightmare, amid which some catastrophe seemed to have
happened, but the truth of which his mind failed to grasp or realize;
and mourning for his friend as he would for a brother, they got
through the hot and dreary hours of the Indian night, he scarcely
knew how.

About gunfire, and just when dawn was empurpling the snowy summits of
the vast hills that overshadow the Deyrah Dhoon, the doctor came and
said to him, with professional coolness:

'Poor Jack Beverley is going fast; I wish you would do your best to
amuse him.'

'Amuse him?' repeated Chute, indignantly.

'Yes; but no doubt you will find it difficult to do so, when you know
the poor fellow is dying.'

In the grey dawn his appearance was dreadful, yet he was quite cool
and collected, though weaker than a little child--he who but
yesterday had been in all the strength and glory of manhood when in
its prime!

'The regiment is under orders for home,' said he, speaking painfully,
feebly, and at long intervals.  'Dear old friend, you will see
her--Ida--and give my darling all the mementoes of me that you deem
proper to take: my V.C. and all that sort of thing; among others,
_this gipsy ring_; it was her first gift to me; and see, the tiger's
cruel teeth have broken it quite in two!  I have had a little sleep,
and I dreamt of _her_ (God bless her for ever!)--dreamt of her
plainly and distinctly as I see you now, old fellow, for I know that
we are _en rapport_--and we shall soon meet, moreover.'

'_En rapport_ again!' thought Chute; 'what can he--what does he mean?'

'Promise me that you will do what I ask of you, and break to my
darling, as gently as possible, the mode in which I died.'

Trevor Chute promised all that his friend required of him, especially
that he should see Ida personally.

This was insisted on, and after that the victim sank rapidly.

As he lay dying, he seemed in fancy, as his feeble mutterings
indicated, to float through the air as his thoughts and aspirations
fled homeward--homeward by Aden, the Red Sea, and Cairo--homeward by
Malta and the white cliffs to the home of the Collingwoods; and he
saw Ida standing on the threshold to welcome him; and then, when her
fancied kiss fell on his lips, the soul of the poor fellow passed
away.

The name of Ida was the last sound he uttered.

All was silent then, till as Trevor Chute closed his eyes he heard
the merry drums beating the reveille through the echoing cantonments.



CHAPTER III.

HIS VISIT TO CLARE.

Though not yet thirty years of age, Trevor Chute was no longer a
young man with a wild and unguessed idea of existence before him.
Thought and experience of life had tamed him down, and made him in
many respects more a man of the world than when last he stood upon
the threshold of Sir Carnaby Collingwood's stately mansion in
Piccadilly, and left it, as he thought, for ever behind him.

Yet even now a thrill came over him as he rang the visitors' bell.

It would have been wiser, perhaps, and, circumstanced as he was with
the family, the most proper mode, to have simply written to Sir
Carnaby or to Ada Beverley instead of calling; but he had promised
his friend, when dying at Landour, to see her personally; and it is
not improbable that in the kindness of his heart Jack Beverley, even
in that awful hour, was not without a hope that the visit might
eventually lead to something conducive to the future happiness of his
friend, to whom the chance of such a hope had certainly never
occurred.

Trevor Chute had urged Jerry Vane to accompany him, hoping, by the
aid of his presence and companionship, to escape some of the
awkwardness pertaining to his visit; but the latter, though on terms
of passable intimacy with the family still, and more especially since
the widowhood of Ida, considering the peculiar mission of Chute to
her, begged to be excused on this occasion.

And now, while a clamorous longing to see Clare once again--to hear
her voice, to feel the touch of her hand, though all for the last
time in life--rose in his heart, and while conning over the terms in
which he was to address her, and how, in their now altered relations,
he was to comport himself with her from whom he had been so cruelly
separated by no fault of either, he actually hoped that, if not from
home, she might at least be engaged with visitors.

Full of such conflicting thoughts, he rang the bell a second time.
The lofty door of the huge house was slowly unfolded by a tall
powdered lackey of six feet and some odd inches, the inevitable
'Jeames,' of the plush and cauliflower head, who glanced suspiciously
at a glazed sword-case and small travelling-bag which Chute had taken
from his cab.

'Is Sir Carnaby at home?'

'No, sir--gone to his club,' was the reply, languidly given.

'Mrs. Beverley, then?'

'She does not see anyone--to-day, at least.'

'Miss Collingwood?'

_She_ was at home, and on receiving the card of Chute, the valet, who
knew that his name was not on the visitors' list, again looked
suspiciously at the bag and sword-case, and while marvelling 'what
line the "Captain" was in--barometers, French jewellery, or fancy
soaps,' passed the card to a 'gentleman' in plain clothes, and after
some delay and formality our friend was ushered upstairs.

Again he found himself in that familiar drawing-room--but alone.

It seemed as if not a day had elapsed since he had last stood there,
and that all the intervening time was a dream, and that he and Clare
were as they might have been.

From the windows the view was all unchanged; he could see the trees
of the Green Park, and the arch surmounted by the hideous statue of
the 'Iron Duke,' and even the drowsy hum of the streets was the same
as of old.

Chute had seen vast and airy halls in the City of Palaces by the
Hooghly; but, of late, much of his time had been spent under canvas,
or in shabby straw-roofed bungalows; and now the double drawing-room
of this splendid London house, though familiar enough to him, as we
have said, appealed to his sense of costliness, with its rich
furniture, its lofty mirrors, lace curtains, gilded cornices,
statues, and jardinières, loading the atmosphere with the perfume of
heliotrope and tea-roses, and brought home to him, by its details,
the gulf that wealth on one hand, and unmerited misfortune on the
other, had opened between him and Clare Collingwood.

A rustle of silk was heard, and suddenly she stood before him.

She was very, very pale, and while striving to conceal her emotion
under the cool exterior enforced by good breeding, it was evident
that the hand in which she held his card was trembling.

But she presented the other frankly to Trevor Chute, and hastily
begging him to be seated, bade him welcome to England, and skilfully
threw herself into a sofa with her back to the light.

'We saw in the papers that your regiment was coming home, and then
that it had landed at Portsmouth,' she remarked, after a brief pause,
and Chute's heart beat all the more lightly that she seemed still to
have some interest in his movements.  'Poor Ida,' she resumed, 'is
confined to her room; Violet is at home,--you remember Violet? but I
am so sorry that papa is out.'

'My visit was to him, or rather to Mrs. Beverley,' said Chute, with
the slightest tinge of bitterness in his tone; 'and believe me that I
should not have intruded at all on Sir Carnaby Collingwood but for
the dying wish of my poor friend your brother-in-law.'

'Intruded!  Oh, how can you speak thus, Captain Chute--and to _me_?'
she asked in almost breathless voice, while her respiration became
quicker, and a little flush crossed her pale face for a second.

Then Chute began to feel more than ever the miserable awkwardness of
the situation, and of the task which had been set him; for when a man
and woman have ever been more to each other than mere friends, they
can never meet in the world simply as acquaintances again.

For a minute he looked earnestly at Clare, and thought that never
before, even in the buried past that seemed so distant now--yet only
four years ago--had she seemed more lovely than now.

The blood of a long line of fair and highly bred ancestresses had
given to her features that, though perfectly regular and beautifully
cut, were full of expression and vivacity, though times there were
when a certain fixity or statue-like repose that pervaded them seemed
to enhance their beauty.

Her eyes and hair were wonderfully dark when contrasted with the pale
purity of her complexion, and the colour and form of her lips, though
full and pouting, were expressive of softness, of sweetness, and even
of passionate tenderness, but without giving the slightest suggestion
of aught that was sensuous; for if the heart of Clare Collingwood was
passionate and affectionate, its outlet was rather in her eyes than
in the form of her mouth.

And now, while gazing upon her and striving hard to utter the merest
commonplaces with an unfaltering tongue, Trevor Chute could but
ponder how often he had kissed those lips, those thick dark tresses,
and her charming hands, on which his eyes had to turn as on a picture
now.

His eyes, however, were speaking eyes; they were full of tenderness
and truth, and showed, though proper pride and the delicacy of their
mutual position forbade the subject, how his tongue longed to take up
the dear old story he had told her in the past years, ere cold
worldliness parted them so roughly, and, as it seemed, for ever.

On the other hand, Clare Collingwood--perfectly high-bred, past
girlhood, a woman of the world, and fully accustomed to society, if
she received him now without any too apparent emotion, by the
delicate flush that flitted across her beautiful face, and the almost
imperceptible constraint in her graceful yet--shall we say
it?--startled manner, imparted the flattering conviction to her
visitor that he was far from indifferent to her still, and her eyes
filled alternately with keen interest, with alarm, affection, and
sorrow, as she heard, for the first time, all the details of
Beverley's death in that distant hill cantonment, a place of which
she had not the slightest conception.

'Will Mrs. Beverley see me?' he concluded.

'Though much of an invalid now, poor Ida undoubtedly will; but you
must not tell her all that you have told to me,' said Clare, in her
earnestness almost unconsciously laying her hand on his arm, which
thrilled beneath her touch.  'Dearest mamma is, of course you know,
no more.  We lost her since--since you left England.'

'Yes, I heard of the sorrowful event when we were up country on the
march to Benares, and it seemed to--to bring my heart back to its
starting-place.'

'Since then I have been quite a matron to Violet, and even to Ida,
though married; thus I feel myself, when in society, equal to half a
dozen of chaperones.'

A little laugh followed this remark, and to Chute's ear it had, he
thought, a hollow sound, and Vane's report of 'what the clubs said'
concerning Desmond and the 'linked names,' and the recollection of
the note placed so hastily in the Marguerite pouch which she wore at
that very time, rankled in Chute's mind, and began to steel him
somewhat against her, in spite of himself, but only for a time, for
the charm of her presence was fast bewildering him.

Her heart, like his own, perhaps, was full to bursting--beating with
love and yearning, yet stifled under the exterior that good breeding
and the conventionality of 'society' inculcated.

'I hope you find the climate of England pleasant after--after India,'
she remarked, when there was a pause in the conversation.

'Oh, yes--of course--Miss Collingwood--my native air.'

'Our climate is so very variable.'

_Captain_ Chute agreed with her cordially that it was so.

Though subjects not to be approached by either, each was doubtful how
the heart of the other stood in the matters of love and affection.

Trevor Chute had, all things considered, though their engagement had
been brought to a calamitous end, good reason, he thought, to be
jealous of Harvey Desmond; while Clare had equal reason to doubt
whether, in the years that were gone, and in his wanderings in that
land of the sun from whence he had just returned so bronzed and
scorched, he might have loved, and become, even now, engaged to
another.

She was only certain of one fact: that he was yet unmarried.

These very ideas and mutual suspicions made their conversation
disjointed; hollow, and unprofitable; but now, luckily, an awkward
pause was interrupted by the entrance of a fair and handsome, dashing
yet delicate-looking girl, attired for a ride in the Row, with her
whip and gloves in one hand, her gathered skirt in the other.

Though neither bashful nor shy, her bright blue eyes glanced
inquiringly at their military-looking visitor, to whom she merely
bowed, and was, perhaps, about to withdraw, when Clare said:

'Don't you remember who this is, Captain Chute?'

Turning more fully towards the young girl, whose beauty and charming
grace in her riding-habit were undeniable, he said:

'I think I do; you are----'

'Violet; you can't have forgotten Violet, Trevor?  Oh, how well I
remember you, though you are as brown as a berry now!' exclaimed
Violet Collingwood, as she threw aside her gloves and whip, and took
each of his hands in hers.  'I was thirteen when you saw me last; I
am seventeen, quite a woman, now.'

Kindly he pressed the fairy fingers of Violet, whose merry blue eyes
gazed with loving kindness into his, for the girl had suddenly struck
a chord of great tenderness in his heart by so frankly calling him
'Trevor,' while another, who was wont to do so once, was now styling
him ceremoniously 'Captain Chute.'

Clare seemed sensible of the situation in which her somewhat girlish
sister placed them; for a moment her face looked haughty and
aristocratic, but the next its normal sweet expression of character,
all that is womanly, beautiful, and tender, stole into it, and she
fairly laughed when Violet twitched off her hat and veil, and,
seating herself beside Trevor Chute, declared that the Row should not
be honoured with her presence that day.

Though naturally playful, frank, and almost hoydenish--if such an
expression could be applied to a girl of Violet's appearance, and one
so highly bred, too--she gazed with something of wonder, curiosity,
and undeniable interest on the handsome face, the tender eyes, and
well-knit figure of this once lover of her elder sister, whose story,
with all the romance of a young girl's nature, she so genuinely
pitied, whom she remembered so well as being her particular friend
when she was permitted to come home for the holidays, who had petted
and toyed with her so often, as with a little sister, and of whom she
had only heard a little from time to time as being absent with
Beverley in a distant, and to her unknown, land; and now, girl-like,
she began to blunder, to the confusion and annoyance of her more
stately sister.

'Trevor Chute here _after all_!' she exclaimed, with a merry burst of
laughter.  'Why! it seems all like a story in one of Mudie's novels!'

'What does?' asked Clare, with a little asperity of tone.

'Can you ask?' persisted Violet.

'His visit is a very melancholy one; and if Captain Chute will excuse
me, I shall go and prepare poor Ida for it,' said Clare, rising.

'What does it all mean?' asked Violet, again capturing the willing
hands of their visitor, as Clare hastily, and not without some
confusion, swept away through the outer drawing-room.  'Why doesn't
she call you Trevor, as I do?  _Captain_ Chute sounds so formal!  I
am sure I have often heard her talk to Ida of you as "Trevor" when
they thought I was asleep, yet was very much awake indeed.  So you
are Clare's first love, are you?'

'I am glad to find that I am not quite forgotten,' replied Chute,
smiling in earnest now; 'you were quite a child when I--I----'

'Left this for India.'

'Yes.'

'_Why_ did you go?'

'To join my regiment.'

'Leaving Clare behind you?  I must have a long, long talk with you
about this, and you shall be my escort in the Park the next time I
ride with Evelyn Desmond, for her brother is perpetually dangling
after Clare, eyeing her with his stupid china-blue eyes, and doing
his dreary best to be pleasing, like a great booby as he is.'



CHAPTER IV.

IDA.

Preceded by Clare, and accompanied by Violet, Trevor Chute entered
the apartment of Ida Beverley, a species of little drawing-room,
appropriated to her own use, and where, when not driving in the Park,
she spent most of the day, apart from everyone.

Ere they entered, Clare again touched his arm lightly, and whispered,

'Be careful in all you say.'

'Be assured that I shall.'

'Thanks, for poor Ida looks as though she would never smile again.'

Though warned by these words to expect some marked change in the
beautiful coquette who had been the sun of Beverley's life, and who
had taken nearly all the life out of the less luckless Jerry Vane,
the visitor was greatly shocked by the appearance of Ida, who rose
from her easy-chair to receive him with the saddest of smiles on one
of the sweetest of faces--Ida, who had the richest and brightest
auburn hair in London, and the 'most divine complexion in the same
big village by the Thames,' as Beverley used to boast many a time and
oft, when he and Trevor were far, far away from home and her.

Her beauty had become strangely ethereal; her complexion purer, even,
and more waxen than ever; her eyes seemed larger, but clearer, more
lustrous, and filled at times with a far-seeing expression, and they
were long-lashed and heavily lidded.

Her hands seemed very thin and white, yet so pink in the palms.

To Trevor Chute she had the appearance of one in consumption; but
strange to say, poor Jerry Vane, who still loved her so well, saw
nothing of all this, even when meeting her at intervals.

She received Trevor Chute with outstretched hands, and with an
_empressement_ which, perhaps, her elder sister envied; she invited
him to sit close by her side, and to tell her all he knew, all he
could remember, and every detail of Beverley's last hours; but to do
this, after the warning he had received from Clare, required all the
tact, ingenuity, and delicacy that Chute was master of.

She had become composed and calm during the past months; but now the
proffered relics brought so vividly and painfully before her the
individuality of the dead, the handsome young husband she had lost,
that a heavy outburst of anguish was the result, as all expected.

There were rings, each of which had its own story; a miniature of
herself, with a lock of her auburn hair behind it; there were his
medals and his Victoria cross, gained by an act of bravery among the
hills, his sword and sash: all were kissed with quivering lips,
commented on, and wept over again and again, not noisily or
obstreperously, but with a quiet, gentle, subdued, and ladylike grief
that proved very touching, especially in one so young and so
beautiful in her deep crape dress; and Trevor Chute, as he observed
all this, began to think that even yet his friend Vane's chances of
regaining the widow's heart were of the slightest kind.

'I knew, Trevor Chute,' said she, after a pause, 'that I should
never, never see him again!'

'How?' he asked.

'Because in the dawn of that morning when--when he died, I dreamt of
him, and he showed me the ring you have brought--the gipsy ring I
gave him, broken in two, as it now is.'

'The tiger's teeth did that.'

'It is true,' said Clare.  'She was sleeping with me, and started up
in tears and agitation to tell me of her dream and of the ring.'

Trevor Chute's mind went back to that time when the pale face of the
dead man looked so sad in the half-darkened bungalow, while the drums
beat merrily in the square without; the last words of Beverley came
back to him, and could it be, as he had often said, that he and Ida
were indeed _en rapport_, and had a spiritual and unseen link between
them?

It began to seem so now.

Then, fearing that his visit was somewhat protracted, he rose, yet
lingeringly, to go.

'Dear Captain Chute--Trevor we all called you once,' said Ida, taking
his hand in both of hers, while Clare drew a little way back, 'you
will call again and see us?'

'It is better that I should not,' replied Chute, in a voice that
became agitated in spite of himself; 'you know all the circumstances,
Ida, under which we parted,' he added, in a lower voice.

'You will surely come again and see _me_?' she urged.

'If the family were out of town,' Chute was beginning.

'Trevor,' said the widow, passionately, 'love me as if--as if I were
your sister; for you were more than a friend--yes, a very brother--to
my poor Beverley, and I must be as your sister.'

Clare's eyes met those of Chute for an instant, and then were dropped
on the carpet; but she did not blush, as another might have done, at
all this speech implied or suggested, for her face grew very pale,
and then, feeling the dire necessity of saying something, she
muttered, falteringly:

'You will surely call and see papa, after--after----'

'What, Miss Collingwood?'

'Your long absence from this country.'

'It has seemed somewhat of an eternity to me.'

She trembled as he added, in a gentle, yet cold manner:

'Excuse me, but it were better to pay my first visit to him at his
club.'

Chute, who had been all tenderness to Ida, could not help this manner
to Clare, for Violet's remarks about Desmond seemed to corroborate
those of Vane.

Unstable of purpose, he held Clare's hand, and she permitted him to
do so, with a slow, regretful clasp.  Why should he not do so, and
why should she withdraw her slender fingers?

As he descended the staircase, he heard the name of the Honourable
Harvey Desmond announced with his card, and the rivals passed each
other in the marble vestibule, the former with the easy air of a
daily, at least a frequent, visitor; the other with that of one whose
mission was over.

'On what terms are he and Clare if the clubs link their names
together?' thought Trevor, bitterly and sadly, as he came forth.

Did she, after all, love himself still?

He was almost inclined to flatter himself that she did so.

Worldly or monetary matters were unchanged between them, as at that
cruel time when he lost her; so perhaps he had only returned to
London to stand idly by and see her become the wife of Desmond!

After all that had passed between them, after all that seemed gone
for ever, after the bitterness and mortification he had endured, the
years of hopeless separation in a distant land, he could scarcely
realize, while walking along the sunny and crowded pavement of
Piccadilly, the assured fact that he had again seen and spoken with
Clare Collingwood; and that the whole interview had not been one of
those day-dreams in which, when in Beverley's society, he had been so
often wont to indulge when quartered far up country in the burning
East.

Then he recalled the cold terms of that letter in which her father--a
hard and heartless, frivolous and luxurious man of the world, with
much of aristocratic snobbery in his composition--had bluntly
informed him that the engagement between him and Clare was ended for
ever, and _why_; and he resolved that neither at the baronet's club
nor anywhere else would he waste a calling card upon him; and in this
pleasant mood of mind he hailed a hansom and drove to the rooms of
his friend Jerry Vane.



CHAPTER V.

HOW WILL IT END?

If Jerry Vane was not very contented in mind, his rooms, the windows
of which overlooked a fashionable square, bore evidence that he was
surrounded by every luxury, that he was behind the young fellows of
his set in nothing; while the velvet and silk cases for cigars or
vestas that littered the table and mantelpiece, even the slippers and
smoking-cap he wore, all the work of feminine fingers, seemed to hint
of the many fair ones who were ready to console him.

Possessed of means ample enough to indulge in every whim and fancy,
the mantelpiece and the tables about him were littered by the
'hundred and one' objects with which a young man like Jerry is apt to
surround himself.

There were pipes of all kinds, whips, spurs, fencing-foils,
revolvers, Derringer pistols, Bohemian glass, and gold-mounted
bottles full of essences, statuettes pell-mell with soiled kid
gloves, soda-water bottles, pink notes, faded bouquets, and French
novels in their yellow covers.

The hangings and furniture were elegant and luxurious, on the walls
were some crayons of very fair girls in rather _décolleté_ dress,
while on a marble console lay a gun-case, hunting-flasks, and many
other things that were quite out of place in a drawing-room, and a
Skye terrier and an enormous St. Bernard mastiff were gambolling
together on a couple of great tiger-skins, the spoil of Trevor
Chute's gun in some far Indian jungle.

The day was far advanced, yet Jerry had not long breakfasted, and
lay, not fully dressed, in a luxurious dressing-robe, tasselled and
braided, on the softest of sofas, enjoying the inevitable cigar, when
Chute was ushered in, and he sprang up to receive him.

It may easily be supposed that Vane was most impatient to hear all
the details of his friend's remarkable visit to the
Collingwoods--remarkable, at least, under all circumstances--but he
could not fail to listen with emotions of a somewhat mingled cast to
the account of Ida's undoubted grief for his supplanter--an account
which he certainly, with that love of self-torment peculiar to some
men, wrung from Trevor Chute by dint of much industrious
cross-questioning.

Could he blame her for it?

'This sadness, of which all are cognizant,' said Chute, 'is not
unaccountable, you know, Jerry.'

'I suppose so.'

'It is natural grief for Jack Beverley.'

'Pleasant fact to thrust on me!' said Vane, grimly.

'Pardon me, old fellow, I did not thrust it on you.  But take heart;
a girl with such capacity for love and tenderness is worth the
winning.'

'I won her, man alive!' said Jerry, savagely.

'Well, such a fortune is worth winning again.'

'This is barrack slang, Trevor.'

'Not at all,' said Chute, laughing at his friend's petulance.  'Be
assured that she must love something; and your turn will deservedly
come in due time.'

'If a cat or a monkey don't take my place.'

'Cynical again.'

'I can't help being so, Trevor, as well as being a simpleton.'

'Nay, don't say so, Jerry,' said the soldier, kindly; 'I think this
unchanging love you have for a girl who used you so does honour to
your heart, especially in this age of ours, when we are much more
addicted to pence than to poetry; and, as some one says, the _sauce
piquante_ of life is its glorious uncertainty.'

'And Clare--what were your thoughts and conclusions about _her_?

'My thoughts you know; my conclusions--I have none,' replied Chute,
who, since he had again seen and talked with Clare Collingwood, had
felt his heart too full of her to confide, even to his friend, as
yet, what hope or fear he had.

'And you saw Violet, too?' asked Vane, to fill up a pause.

'Oh, yes,' replied Chute, with animation; 'Violet, whilom the pretty
little girl--the child with a wealth of golden hair flowing below her
waist, and no end of mischief and fun in her bright blue eyes; she
seems the same now as then.  She actually spoke of Desmond being an
admirer of Clare.'

'Surely that was bad form in the girl, to _you_ especially.'

'She did so through pure inadvertence, Jerry; but I must own that,
when coupled with your remarks, the circumstance stung me more than a
week ago I could have anticipated.  But I suppose such trials as
those of ours,' he continued, helping himself to a bumper of sherry
without waiting to be asked, 'are part and parcel of the ills that
manhood has to encounter--"Manhood, with all its chances and changes,
its wild revels and its dark regrets--its sparkling champagne-cup and
its bitter aconite lying at the dregs."'

'Times there are when I blush at my own want of proper pride of heart
in continuing to mourn after a girl who has quietly let me drop into
the place of a mere friend.'

'Nay, depend upon it, Jerry, you must be much more than any mere
friend can be to Ida Beverley; and now, as far as her grief goes, my
visit to-day will prove, I think, the turning point.'

'And so Violet actually blundered out with some remark about Desmond.'

'Yes, and that which galled me more was to see him come lounging into
the house to visit Clare just as I took my departure, so there _must_
be some truth in what the clubs say.'

Jerry Vane did not reply, and his silence seemed to give a marked
assent to the surmise, as he had been in London, for some time past,
and must, as Chute thought bitterly, know all the _on dits_ of the
fashionable world, and he sat also silent, watching the ice in the
sherry cobbler melt slowly away.

Though Trevor Chute had, with emotions of doubt, regret, and envy,
seen Desmond lounging into the house of the Collingwoods on the
eventful day of his visit thereto, it did not follow, he thought on
reflection, that he visited there daily.

Nor was it so.

It was the height of a crowded and brilliant London season, and the
Brigade had to undergo what that branch of the service deem 'hard
work.'

There were guards of honour for Royal drawing-rooms; escort duty;
heavy morning drills at Wormwood Scrubs; the daily ride in the Lady's
Mile; polo at Lillie Bridge; perhaps a match with the Coldstreams at
Lord's; a Bacchanalian water party and a nine o'clock dinner at
Richmond with some of the pets of the Opera; midnight receptions and
later waltzes; at homes, and so forth: thus the time of Desmond was
pretty well filled up; and yet at many of these places he had ample
opportunities for meeting Clare, and being somewhat of a privileged
dangler, without committing himself so far as a special visit might
imply.

All was over between Clare Collingwood and Trevor Chute; yet the
interest of the latter in her and her future was irrepressible.

Two days passed, and he remained in great doubt what to do: whether
to accept Ida's piteous and pressing invitation to call on _her_,
heedless, of course, though not forgetting it, of Violet's proposal
that he should escort her in the Park when Clare rode with Desmond.

And now he began to think that to remain in London, where there would
be daily chances of seeing Clare, would be but to trifle with his own
happiness and that peace of mind which he had been gradually
attaining in India, and that he and Jerry Vane should betake
themselves to Paris or Brussels, and kill thought as best they could;
to this conclusion they came as they sat far into the hours of a
sultry summer night over cigars and iced drinks, and resolved that
the morrow should see them leave 'the silver streak' behind them.

And at that very time, when they were forming their plans, what was
Clare about?

Could Trevor have seen her then, and known her secret thoughts,
perhaps he might have been less decided in his views of foreign
travel.

Returning wearily and long before the usual time from a brilliant
rout, greatly to the surprise of Violet, and not a little to the
vexation of that young lady, Clare was seated alone in her own room,
lost in thought and unwilling to consult poor sad Ida, who was now
fast asleep.

It was long past midnight; the throng of foot passengers was gone,
but the rattle of carriages was incessant as if the time were mid-day.

She had unclasped her ornaments as if they oppressed her, and
forgetful of her maid, who yawned fitfully and impatiently in an
adjoining room, she sat with her rounded chin placed in the palm of a
white hand, with her dark eyes fixed on vacancy.

The soft air of the summer night--or morning, rather--came gently
through the lace curtains of an open window, bringing with it the
delicious perfume of flowers from the jardinière in the balcony; and
perhaps the fragrance of these blossoms, and the half-hushed hum of
the streets without, 'stole through the portals of the senses,' and
lured her into waking dreams of the past and of the future.

At the ball she had quitted so early, her father, who had been making
himself appear somewhat absurd by his senile attentions to Desmond's
rather _passée_ sister, Evelyn, had actually _spoken_ to her of
Trevor Chute, and in unwonted friendly terms; and the flood of
thought this episode had called up within her, conflicting with the
half-decided addresses of Desmond, partly drew her home, to think and
ponder over her future, if a future she had that was worth
considering now.

So far as monetary matters were concerned, the same barriers existed
still between her and poor Trevor Chute as when Sir Carnaby broke off
the engagement as cruelly as he would have 'scratched' a horse; and
then the settlements which the great, languid guardsman could make
were known to be unexceptional.

These did not weigh much with gentle, yet proud, and unambitious
Clare; but she knew that they had vast weight with her worldly-minded
father, so why torment herself by thinking of Trevor Chute at all?

But thoughts came thick and fast in spite of reason and cool
reflection, and the girl sank into a reverie that was far from being
a pleasant one.

But what if Trevor Chute had learned to love another!

She bit her lovely nether lip, which was like a scarlet camellia bud,
for an instant; her dark eyes flashed, then drooped, and she smiled
softly, confidently, and perhaps triumphantly, as she said, half
audibly:

'Ah, no--he loves me still; poor Trevor!  I saw it in his eyes--I
heard it in the cadence of his voice, and I never was mistaken!  He
loves me still--but to what purpose, _to what end_?'

Tears started to her eyes; but she crushed her emotion, and, with a
quick, impatient little hand, rang for her waiting-maid.



CHAPTER VI.

SIR CARNABY COLLINGWOOD.

Still intent upon his Continental scheme, and somewhat impatiently
waiting the arrival of Jerry Vane, Trevor Chute was idling over a
late breakfast, so full of thoughts--sweet, regretful, and angry
thoughts--of Clare Collingwood that he seemed like one in a dream.

It was nearly noon.  The sun of May was bathing in light the leafy
foliage of the Green Park, and throwing its shadows darkly and
strongly on the green below; while the far extent of the lofty street
seemed all aglow and quivering in the sunshine.

How fair and fresh the world looked, and yet, since his last
interview with Clare, everything seemed indistinct and unusual to his
senses.

'Bah!' thought he; 'to-night Jerry and I shall be in France, and
then----'

What _then_, he scarcely knew.

The current of his ideas changed, for times there were, and this
became one of them, when he longed morbidly to go through all the
luxury of grief and sentiment in taking that which he had never
before taken, save by letter--a last farewell of her; to beg of her
to let no hour of sorrow for him mar her peace, no regret for his
loss of fortune, a loss that was no fault of his own; to think of him
with no pain, but with a soft memory of their past love, or to forget
him, though he never could, or should, forget _her_, but would ever
treasure in his heart how dear she had been to him, etc., etc.; and
in this mood he was indulging, when his valet laid before him a note,
the envelope of which caused him to feel a kind of electric shock.

It bore the Collingwood crest.

With hands tremulous as those of an agitated girl, he tore it open,
and found that it was from Sir Carnaby Collingwood--a brief
invitation to dine with him at his club at eight to-morrow evening
(if disengaged), 'that they might have a little talk over old times.'

'Old times,' he repeated; 'what does that phrase mean?'

He had read over the note for the fourth or fifth time when Jerry
Vane arrived.

He, too, had a similar invitation, but in that there was nothing
remarkable, as he had never ceased to be on terms of intimacy with
Sir Carnaby.

'What _can_ old Collingwood mean by this invitation to smoke the
calumet of peace?' exclaimed Trevor Chute.

'Time will show.'

'After the cutting tenor of the letter he sent me--that cold and
formal letter of dismissal--I--I----'

'Forget it, like the good fellow you are; and remember only that he
is the father of Clare Collingwood.'

'True.'

'You'll go, of course?' said Jerry, after a pause; but Chute was
silent.

His pride suggested that under all the circumstances, especially if
what 'the clubs said' were true, he should decline the invitation.

But why?

He had already been at the Collingwoods', but on a special mission,
certainly.

Then Sir Carnaby was proud, and it was impossible to forget that the
first formal advance had come from him.  More than all, as Jerry Vane
had said, he was the father of Clare, of her who had never ceased to
be the idol of all his thoughts.

'By Jove, I'll go--and you, Jerry,' he exclaimed.  'Of course.'

Each dashed off an acceptance, and they were despatched to Pall Mall
in the care of Trevor's valet.

After a time, as if repenting of his sudden facility, Trevor Chute
muttered:

'He used barely to bow to me in the Row or in the streets after he
gave me my _congé_.  What the deuce can his object be?  Is he--is he
relenting?'

The pulsation of Chute's heart quickened at the idea, and the colour
deepened in his bronzed cheek.

'How anomalous and singular is the position in which we both stand
with this selfish old fellow and his daughters,' said he to Jerry as
they ascended the stately marble staircase of the baronet's club next
evening, and gave their cards to a giant in livery, with the small
head and enormous calves and feet peculiar to the fraternity of the
shoulder-knot.

As they were ushered into a lofty and magnificent room, the great
windows of which opened to Pall Mall, Sir Carnaby took their cards
mechanically from the silver salver, but seemed chiefly intent on
bowing out a tall and fashionable-looking man, whose leading
characteristics were languor of gait and bearing, with insipid blue
eyes, and a bushy, sandy-coloured moustache.

'And you won't dine with us, Desmond?' he was saying.

'Impossible, thanks very much,' drawled the other.  'Then I have your
full permission, Sir Carnaby?'

'With all my warmest wishes, my dear fellow,' responded the baronet
cordially; and, hat in hand, the visitor bowed himself out, with a
brief kind of stare at Trevor Chute, whose face, he thought, he
somehow remembered, and a dry shake of the hand with Jerry Vane, whom
he knew.

He was gone, 'with full permission,' to do what?

Chute's heart foreboded at that moment all the two words meant, and
the next he found himself cordially greeted by the man whose
son-in-law he had once so nearly been.

'Ha, Captain Chute, welcome back from India,' he exclaimed.  'By
Jove, how brown you look--brown as a berry, Violet said--after
potting tigers, and all that sort of thing; too much for Beverley,
though.  Poor Jack--good fellow, Beverley, but rash, I fear.  Very
glad to thank you in person for all your kindness to him and to poor
Ida.  Most kind of you both, I am sure, to come on so hurried an
invitation.'

Of Beverley and Ida, with reference to the death of the first, and
the grief of the second, he spoke in the same jaunty and smiling way
that he did of the beauty of the weather, the brilliance of the
London season, the topics before the House last night, or anything
else, and laughingly he led the way to dinner, the courses of which
were perfect, and included all manner of far-fetched luxuries, even
to pigeons stewed in champagne, and other culinary absurdities.

Sir Carnaby did not seem one day older than when Trevor Chute had
seen him last, and yet he had attained to those years when most men
age rapidly.

He had been a singularly handsome man in that time which he was
exceedingly loath to convince himself had departed--his youth.

His firm, though thin--very thin--figure was still erect,
well-stayed, and padded, perhaps; his eyes were keen and bright,
their smile as insincere, artificial, and hollow as it had been forty
years Before.  His cheek was not pale, for there was a suspicious
dash of red about it, while his well-shaved hair and ragged moustache
were dyed beyond a doubt, like his curled whiskers.

His mouth was perhaps weak and rather sensual; he had thin white
diaphanous hands, with carefully trimmed nails and sparkling diamond
rings.  In general accuracy of costume he might have passed for a
tailor's model, while to Chute's eye his feet were as small, his
boots as glazed, as ever; yet he had undergone the tortures of the
gout, drunk colchicum with toast and water till he shuddered at the
thoughts thereof, and talked surreptitiously of high and dry
localities as being most suitable for his health.

He had, as we have said, keen--others averred rather wicked--grey
eyes, a long and thin aristocratic nose, on which, when ladies were
_not_ present, he sometimes perched a gold eyeglass.  He was
certainly wrinkled about the face; but his smooth white forehead
showed no line of thought or care, as he had never known either, yet
death had more than once darkened his threshold, and hung above it a
scutcheon powdered with tears.  He had still the appearance of what
he was--a well-shaved, well-dressed, and well 'got-up' old beau and
man about town, and still flattered himself that he was not without
interest in a pretty girl's eye.

He had the reputation of being a courtly and well-bred man; and yet,
in his present hilarity, or from some inexplicable cause, he had the
bad taste to refer in his jaunty way to his past relations with
Trevor Chute, and to mingle them with some praises of his recent
visitor.

'Good style of fellow, Desmond!--devilish good style, you know; has a
nice place in Hants, and no end of coal-pits near the Ribble,' he
continued, after the decanters had been replenished more than once.
'Wishes to stand well with Clare--_your_ old flame, Chute; got over
all that sort of thing long ago, of course, for, as a lady writer
says, "nothing on earth is so pleasant as being a little in love, and
nothing on earth so destructive as being too much so."  Desmond has
my best wishes--but, Chute, the decanters stand with you.'

Chute exchanged one brief and lightning-like glance with Jerry Vane;
he felt irrepressible disgust, and for this stinging tone to him
would have hated the heartless old man but that he was the father of
(as he now deemed her) his lost Clare Collingwood.  But Jerry was
made to wince too.

'Your visit the other day, Chute, seems quite to have upset poor
Ida,' said he, after an awkward pause.

'So sorry to hear you say so, Sir Carnaby,' replied Chute, drily.

'I don't like girls to betray emotion on every frivolous occasion; it
is bad form, you know.'

Frivolous occasion! thought Chute, receiving the last relics and
mementoes of her husband from the comrade in whose arms he died, and
who commanded the funeral party that fired over him.

'She has begun to mope more horribly than ever during the last few
days; but if I take her down to the country, she becomes more dull
than ever, or goes in for parochial work--bad style of things, I
think--blankets and coals--Dorcas meetings--and helps the rector's
wife in matters of soup and psalm-singing.'

Indeed, if the truth were known, Sir Carnaby Collingwood was not ill
pleased by Beverley's death, all things considered.  Ida's jointure
was most ample--even splendid--and she had no little heir to attend
to.  To be the father of these grown-up girls was bad enough, he
thought; but to have been a 'grandfather' would prove the culmination
of horror to the would-be youthful beau of sixty.

His own lover and romance, if he ever had any--which may be
doubted--were put by and forgotten years ago, and he never dreamed
that others might indulge in such dreams apart from the prose of
life.  From his school-days he had been petted, pampered, and
caressed by wealth and fortune, so much so that he was actually
ignorant of human wants, ailments, or sufferings.  Hence his utter
callousness and indifference in such a matter as Trevor Chute's love
for Clare, or her love for Chute.  Though his dead wife, a fair and
gentle creature, who was the antitype of Ida, and had been quite as
lovely, loved him well, he had married her without an atom of
affection, to suit the views of his family and her own.

Hence it was that, as we have shown, he could talk in the manner he
did to his two guests--men whose past relations with his own
household were of a nature so delicate, and to be approached with
difficulty; yet, had anyone accused Sir Carnaby of want of tact or
taste, or more than all of ill-breeding, he would have been filled
with astonishment.  But the ill-breeding shown by Sir Carnaby simply
resulted from a total want of feeling, good taste, and perception.

Thus it was that he could coolly expatiate to Chute on the good
qualities of Desmond, adding, 'You'll be glad to hear of my girl's
welfare and expectations; he'll be a peer, you know, some of these
days; and to poor Jerry Vane upon Ida's grief for the loss of her
husband, _his_ rival.

Then, while smoothing his dyed moustache with a dainty girl-like
handkerchief, all perfume and point, with a Collingwood crest in the
corner thereof, he would continue in this fashion:

'Poverty is a nuisance.  I have admired dowerless girls in my day--do
so still--but never go farther than mere admiration; so no girl of
mine shall ever marry any man who cannot keep her in the style to
which she has been accustomed.  It was, perhaps, a foolish match Ida
made with Beverley, though he had that snug place in the Midlands--or
rather, the reversion of it when his father died; but now she is a
widow--ha! ha! bless my soul, that I should be the father of a
widow!--and with her natural attractions, enhanced by a handsome
dowry, may yet be a peeress--who knows?'

Jerry Vane, with silent rage swelling in his heart, glanced at Chute,
as much as to say:

'How intolerable--how detestable--all this is!'

'She is a widow,' continued Sir Carnaby, eyeing fondly the ruby wine
in his glass, as he held it between him and the lustre, with one eye
closed for a moment, 'but with all her attractions, may perhaps
remain so if she continues this horrible folly of unfathomable grief,
and all that sort of thing.'

'It does honour to her heart!' sighed poor Jerry.

'She is becoming an enthusiast and a visionary.  The girl's grief
bores me, and times there are when I wish that you, friend Vane, may
come to the rescue, after all.'

A little smile flitted across the face of Vane as he merely bowed to
this remark, which he cared not to follow, as he was doubtful whether
it was the baronet or his wine that was talking now; but he glanced
at Trevor Chute, and both rose to depart, thinking they had now quite
enough of Sir Carnaby's 'hospitality.'

But the latter, seized by a sudden access of friendship or
familiarity, on finding that he could no longer prevail on them to
remain, proposed, as the night was fine, and their ways lay together,
to walk so far and enjoy a cigar.

It was impossible to decline this: the 'weeds' were lit; Sir Carnaby
took an arm of each--perhaps his steps were a little unsteady--and as
they turned away towards Piccadilly, he began anew to sing the
praises of Desmond, with the pertinacity with which wine will
sometimes make a man recur again and again to the same subject.

'Good style of fellow, and all that sort of thing, don't you know,
Chute?  Has a fortune--comfortable thing that--very!--but it has
prevented--it has prevented----'

'What, Sir Carnaby?' asked Trevor, wearily.

'The development of his genius.'

Trevor Chute laughed aloud at this, and said:

'Ah! there is nothing like a hand-to-hand free fight with the world
for _that_.'

'You are a soldier, Chute, but the world is no longer a bivalve,
which one may, like ancient Pistol, open by the sword.  Desmond
graduated at Oxford.'

'As stroke oar, Sir Carnaby, I presume.'

'He would have taken the highest honours, Chute, and all that sort of
thing, don't you know, only--only----'

'He could not?'

'Not at all,' replied Sir Carnaby, somewhat tartly.  'He preferred
that they should be taken, Chute, by those who set their hearts on
such things; yet for Clare's sake, I wish----'

Whatever it was he wished, Trevor Chute never learned, for now he
lost all patience, and affecting suddenly to remember another
engagement, bade farewell, curtly and hurriedly, to Sir Carnaby, who
said:

'Must have you down at Carnaby Court when the event--perhaps the
double event--comes off; good style of old place--the baronial, the
mediæval, the picturesque, and all that sort of thing--bored by
artists and tourists, don't you know, but, of course, you remember
it--ta-ta!'

And arresting skilfully an undeniable hiccup, the senile baronet
trotted, or rather 'toddled,' away in the moonlight.  Remember it!

Well and sadly did Trevor Chute remember it; for there, on a soft
autumn night, when the music and the hum of the dancers' voices came
through the ball-room oriels, when the moonlight steeped masses of
the ancient pile in silver sheen or sunk them in shadow--

  'When buttresses and buttresses alternately
  Seem framed of ebon or ivory,'

as he and Clare stole forth for one delicious moment from the
conservatory, had he first told her how deeply and tenderly he loved
her; and now again memories of the waltz they had just concluded, of
the delicate perfume of her floating dress, of the scarlet flower in
her dark hair, of the drooping, downcast eyes, and her lovely lips,
near which his own were hovering, come vividly back to haunt him, as
they had done many a time and oft when he had seen the same moon that
lit up prosaic Piccadilly shining in its Orient splendour on the
marble domes and towers of Delhi, on the waters of the Jumna or the
Indus, and on the snow-clad peaks that look down, from afar, on the
vast plains of Assam!

Now that their old tormentor was gone, both Chute and Jerry Vane
laughed, but with much of scornful bitterness in their merriment.

'Hope you enjoyed your dinner, Jerry!'

'Hereditary rank is very noble, according to Burke and Debrett,'
replied Vane, cynically.  'He is a baronet, true; but I would rather
win a title than succeed to one; and to meet a few more men like Sir
Carnaby would make a down-right Republican of me.'

'How such an empty fool ever had a daughter like Clare Collingwood is
a riddle to me.  He is so cool, so listless, so heartless----'

'Yet so thoroughbred, as it is deemed!'

'And so worldly--she, all heart!'

'Perhaps; but what does all this about Desmond mean, eh, friend
Trevor?'

'A little time will show now,' said the other, bitterly.



CHAPTER VII.

A PROPOSAL.

It was the noon of the following day when Major Desmond ordered his
mail phaeton, and drove to the mansion of the Collingwoods to avail
himself of the 'permission' granted to him so fully by Sir Carnaby on
the evening before.

The hour was somewhat early for a usual call; but as an _ami de la
maison_, and considering the errand on which he was come, Desmond
thought he might venture to take the liberty, and he felt a kind of
pleasure in the belief that he would surprise his intended, for he
came with the full resolution of sacrificing himself at last, and
making a proposal to Clare, and feeling apparently as cool in the
matter as if he were going to buy a horse at Tattersall's.

Miss Collingwood was at home and disengaged; Miss Violet and Mrs.
Beverley were out driving; so all seemed to favour the object he had
in view, and he was ushered into the drawing-room.  His name was
announced; but Clare, who was seated at a writing-table, with a
somewhat abstracted air, did not hear it, as she was intently
perusing a tiny note she had just written.  She seemed agitated, too,
for her eyes bore unmistakable traces of tears.

Agitation was so unusual with her, and indeed with anyone Desmond met
in society, that he paused with some surprise, standing irresolutely
near her, hat in hand; and as he watched the contour of her head with
a gleam of sunshine in her braided hair, the curve of her shoulders,
the pure beauty of her profile, the grace of the tender white neck
encircled by its frill of tulle, and the quick movement of the lovely
little hand, as she rapidly closed and addressed the note, he thought
what a creditable-looking wife she would be to show the world--aye,
even the world of London.

There seemed something of a sad expression on her usually serene
face; but he knew not then that her heart was beating with a new
joy--yea, that 'it throbbed like a bird's heart when it is wild with
the first breath of spring.'

Suddenly his figure caught her eye.

'Major Desmond, pray pardon me; I did not hear you announced.'

'I fear, Miss Collingwood'--he could not at that moment trust himself
to say 'Clare'--'that I intrude upon your privacy,' and the nearest
approach to anger and surprise that the usually imperturbable and
impassive Desmond could permit himself to manifest appeared in his
face when he saw her, with a rapidity, and even with something of
alarm, which she could not or cared not to conceal, thrust the
recently addressed envelope into the Marguerite pouch--the same in
which Trevor Chute had seen her place a note from Desmond on the
coaching day; but that referred only to a bet of gloves and the
coming Derby.

All this seemed terribly unwonted, and the deduction instantly drawn
by the tall guardsman was that a note thus concealed was not intended
for one of her own sex.

'You do not intrude,' said Clare, timidly, yet composedly.  'I am, as
you see, quite alone--my sisters have gone to the Park.'

Desmond was too well bred to make any direct allusion either to
Clare's emotion or the matter of the note, to which that emotion gave
an importance it otherwise could not merit; but he was nevertheless
anxious for some light on the episode.

'You dined with papa yesterday?' said Clare, after a pause.

'I had to deny myself that pleasure, being otherwise engaged; but he
had an old _friend_ with him,' replied Desmond, tugging his moustache
as he accentuated the word; 'and I have come here with his express
permission,' he added; but instead of seating himself, he drew very
near, and bent over her, with tenderness in his tone and manner.

'Express permission?' repeated Clare, lifting her clear, bright eyes
composedly to his.

'Yes--to take you out for a ride; we may join Sir Carnaby and my
sister, who----'

He paused, for this was _not_ what he came to say; but he felt an
awkwardness in the situation, and the perfect coolness or apparent
unconsciousness of Clare put him out, all the more so that now a
smile stole over her face.

Vanity and admiration of her beauty had made him dangle so much about
Clare, that he felt the time was come when 'something must be done.'

He had come to do that 'something'--to propose, in short; and now,
with all his _insouciance_, he had a doubt that, if it did not give
him pain, certainly piqued his pride; and he actually hoped that
visitors might interrupt the _tête-à-tête_.

But he hoped in vain; the hour was too early for callers.

Clare's smile brightened; but there was an undeniable curl on her
lovely lip.

He had just enough of lazy tenderness in his manner, with something
in his tone and eye which seemed to indicate what he had in view, and
yet seemed unmistakably to say: 'I can't act the lover, so why the
deuce do I come here to talk nonsense?'

'My mail phaeton is at the door; shall I send for my horse and ring
for yours?' he asked.

'Excuse me--I have a headache this morning.'

'So sorry; but, perhaps, you may be better amused at home.'

'How, Major?' asked Clare.

'With books, music, or--or correspondence.'

At the last word she _did_ colour, he saw, a very little.

'Ladies have a thousand ways of passing time that men don't possess,'
he added, lapsing into his habitual bearing, which in his style of
man some one describes as 'gentle and resigned weariness.'

It actually seemed too much trouble to make love when the matter
became serious.

There was a pause, after which, for a change of subject, Clare asked
about the horse he was to run in the Derby.

'Oh!  Crusader is in capital form,' said he with animation, as this
was a subject to be approached with ease.  'Though neither a large
nor a powerful horse, he is "blood" all over, and there is no better
animal in the stud book!'

'I know that he stands high in the betting.'

'How?'

'From the racing column in the _Times_.'

'Ah, you take an interest in my horse, then!'

'Of course,' replied Clare, smiling, thinking of her bets in gloves;
'a very deep interest.'

Encouraged by this trivial remark, he thought to himself, 'Hang
it--here goes!' and while there occurred vaguely to his lazy mind
recollections of all he had read of proposals, and seen of them on
the stage, he took her hand in his, and said abruptly:

'Miss Collingwood--Clare--dearest Clare--will you be my wife?  Will
you marry me--love me--and all that, don't you know?'

Clare withdrew her hand, and slightly elevated her proud eyebrows,
which were dark and straight rather than arched, while something of a
dangerous and then of a droll sparkle came into her dreamy and
beautiful eyes, for neither the tone nor the mode of the proposal
proved pleasing to her, in her then mood of mind especially.

'Excuse me, Major Desmond,' said she, scarcely knowing how to frame
her reply, 'you have done me an honour, which--which I must, however,
decline.'

'Just now, perhaps; but--but in time, dearest Clare?'

'Your sister may call me that; but to you I am Miss Collingwood.'

'Shall I ever get beyond that?' he urged, in a soft tone.

'I do not know,' murmured Clare, doubtfully; for she knew what her
father wished and expected of her; 'but as yet let us be friends as
we have been, and not talk of marriage, I implore you.'

'Deuced odd!' thought the Major, who, perhaps, felt relieved in his
mind.

Clare knew well the calm, half-passionless, and _insouciant_ world of
the Major and his 'set,' her own 'set' too; she was not surprised;
she had ere now expected some such declaration or proposal as this
from Desmond; but certainly, with all his inanity, and perhaps
stupidity, she expected it to be made in other terms, and with more
ardour and earnestness; and at the moment he spoke her memory flashed
back to the same moonlight night of which Trevor Chute had thought
and remembered so vividly when he parted from her father but a few
hours before.

While Desmond was considering what to say next, it chanced that Clare
drew her handkerchief from the Marguerite pouch, and with it the
note, which fell at the feet of her visitor.  Ere she was aware, he
had picked it up, and saw that it was addressed to _Trevor Chute_.

With a greater sense of irritation, pique, and even jealousy than he
thought himself capable of feeling--certainly than ever he felt
before--he presented it to her, saying blandly:

'You have dropped a note, Miss Collingwood--addressed to some one at
the "Rag," I think.'

'Oh, thanks,' she replied in a voice with the slightest tinge of
alarm and annoyance.

'Have you many correspondents there?' he ventured to ask, with the
slightest approach to a sneer, as he placed his glass in his eye.

'Only one,' replied Clare, now thoroughly irritated.  'Captain
Chute--Trevor Chute--perhaps you have heard of him.'

'Yes; does Sir Carnaby know of this correspondence?'

'No,' she replied, a little defiantly.

The Major began to feel himself, as he would have phrased it,
'nowhere,' and to wish that he had _not_ called that morning.  There
ensued a break in the conversation which was embarrassing to both,
till Clare, who was the first to recover her equanimity, said with a
smile, as she deemed some explanation due, if not to him, at least to
herself:

'It is to Trevor--to Captain Chute--concerning poor Ida--not on any
affair of mine, be assured; but,' she added, colouring a little, 'you
will not mention this circumstance to--to papa?'

'You have my word, Miss Collingwood; and now good-morning.'

He left her with coldness of manner, but only a little; for whatever
he thought, he deemed it bad style to discover the least emotion.
But he felt that even in a small way, in virtue of his promised
secrecy, he and Clare had a secret understanding.  Why had she been
so afraid that he should know of her correspondence with this fellow
Chute, who he understood had been a discarded admirer of hers in her
first season; and why keep her father in ignorance of it, when Chute
was the old man's guest but yesterday?

It was, he thought, altogether one of those things 'no fellow can
understand,' and drove off in his mail phaeton to visit Crusader in
his loose box.

Clare remained full of thought after he had gone, and the note had
been despatched to Trevor Chute; she felt none of the excitement a
proposal might cause in another.  She was, in fact, more annoyed than
fluttered or flattered by it.  Yet Clare felt a need for loving some
one and being beloved in turn.  It is a necessity in every female,
perhaps every true human heart.

Clare had certainly many admirers, but she was always disposed to
criticise them, and the woman who criticises a man rarely ends by
loving him; so since that old time, to which we have already
referred, she had gone through the world of gaiety heart-free; and
though mingling much in society, she had somehow made a little world
of her own--a species of independent existence, and even preferred
the retirement of their country home, with a few pleasant visitors,
of course, and weaving out schemes of benevolence to the tenantry, to
the whirl of life in London, with its balls, drums, crushes, and
at-homes, attending sometimes three in the same evening, as it was
called, though the early morning was glittering on the silver harness
as the carriage drove her home.

Though the proposal of Desmond had excited not the least emotion in
the heart of Clare Collingwood, it caused some unpleasant and
unwelcome thoughts to arise, and at such a time as this more than
ever did she miss her mother, whose affection and counsel were never
wanting.  She had a dread of her father, and of his cold and cutting,
yet withal courtly, way of addressing her, when in any way, however
lightly, she displeased him, and now she feared intuitively that she
would do so, or had done so, in a serious manner.

She knew how much he was under the influence of the Desmonds, and
felt assured that something unpleasant would come out of that
morning's episode; and apart from having such a husband as the Major,
even with his great wealth and prospective title, too, Clare felt
that she could not tolerate the close relationship of his sister, a
_passé_ belle, horsey in nature and style, who had been engaged in
intrigues and flirtations that were unnumbered, and more than once
had made a narrow escape from being a source of downright scandal,
for the Honourable Evelyn Desmond was fast--undeniably very fast
indeed for an unmarried lady, and the queen of a fast set, too--yet
it never reached the ears of Clare, though the rumour went current
that she had dined at Richmond and elsewhere with Sir Carnaby
Collingwood and some of the fastest men in the Brigade, and without
any other chaperon than her brother.  But then the baronet was more
than old enough to be her father, with whom a late conversation now
recurred to Clare's memory.  While talking of Desmond, she had
remarked:

'I am surprised, papa, that, with all her opportunities, his sister
does not get married.'

'Why?' he asked, curtly.

'She has now been out for seven or eight seasons--even more, I
think--and is getting quite _passé_!

'Yet she is much admired; besides, Clare, it is not her place to make
proposals.'

'Of course not.'

'Nor is it every proposal she would accept, any more than yourself,'
said the baronet, with a loftiness of manner.

'She seems to dazzle without touching men's hearts.'

'Indeed!'

'Papa, how sententious you have become!  But really I don't think
Evelyn will ever be married at all.'

'Time will show, Clare--time will show,' chuckled Sir Carnaby,
showing all his brilliantly white Parisian teeth.

'It will not be her fault if she is _not_, papa,' said Violet, who
had a special dislike to the lady in question.  'I wonder how long
she has studied the language of the flowers in the conservatory with
old Colonel Rakes' son?'

'Why?'

'And never got _him_ to propose, I mean, papa.  Her eyes are
handsome, yet they smiled exclusively, for the time, on young Rakes.'

'Violet!'

'One good flirtation, she told me, always led to another.'

'Surely that is not _her_ style,' said Sir Carnaby, with some
asperity; 'and I have to request, Miss Violet, that you will not
speak in this rough manner of any lady in the position of Miss
Desmond.'

This and many similar conversations of the kind now recurred to
Clare, and led her to dread her father's questions, and perhaps his
lectures, on the subject, and she began to feel sadness and doubt.

From these thoughts she was roused by the entrance of a servant, who
said:

'Miss Collingwood, a jeweller's man is here with the jewels from Bond
Street for your inspection.'

'_The_ jewels! what jewels?  I ordered none,' said Clare.

'He 'ave Sir Carnaby's card, miss,' replied the man, pulling his long
whiskers, in imitation of Desmond and others.

The man entered with a mincing step, and bowed very low, announcing
the name of the firm he represented, and unlocking a handsome walnut
and brass-bound box, took out the morocco cases, and unclasping them,
displayed, to the surprise of Clare, three magnificent suites of
diamond ornaments, all set in gold and blue enamel, reposing on the
whitest of velvet.  In each suite were a tiara, pendant ear-rings,
and a necklace, each and all worth several thousand pounds.

'Oh, such lovely jewels!' exclaimed Violet, who came in at the
moment, and with a burst of girlish delight; 'these diamonds are fit
for a prince or a maharajah!  Clare!  Clare! are they meant for you?'

'They are submitted for inspection and choice.'

'What can this mean?  There is some mistake,' replied Clare,
colouring with extreme annoyance.  If they came by her father's
order, they came as a bribe; if from Desmond, they could not be left
for a moment!  'Did Sir Carnaby give his address?' she asked.

'No, miss; he simply ordered the three sets to be sent on approval,
and I brought them here.  This is Sir Carnaby's card.'

'They are all too large--much too large for me,' said Clare, hastily.
'Take them away, please, and I shall ask Sir Carnaby about them when
he returns.'

The man bowed, returned the jewels to their cases, and was ushered
out.

'Oh, papa, how kind of you!' exclaimed Violet, apostrophizing the
absent.  'Are you sure, Clare, that these three lovely suites were
not for us?'

'I am sure of--nothing, Violet: I don't know what to think,' replied
Clare, wearily, and with an unmistakable air of annoyance.  'The
Collingwood jewels are enough for us all, Violet.'



CHAPTER VIII.

'THE DESIRE OF THE MOTH FOR THE STAR.'

Ignorant of the little scene that had passed in the Collingwoods'
drawing-room, Trevor Chute felt only something very nearly amounting
to transports of rage when he thought of all that had occurred
overnight at Sir Carnaby's club.  The callous remarks of the
frivolous old man stung him to the heart.  So Clare as well as her
father had blotted him out of their selfish world, and Desmond was
the man who took his place!

Love, doubt, indignation, and jealousy tormented him by turns, or all
together at once: love for Clare--the dear old love that had never
died within him, and that, seeing her again and hearing her voice,
had roused in all its former strength and tenderness; doubt whether
she were worthy of it, and whether he had a place yet in her heart;
indignation at the underbred indifference of her father to whatever
he might think or feel, and jealousy of the influence of Desmond with
them both.

Nor were the visions of hope and revenge absent.  He pondered that if
she loved him--if she still loved him--why leave it unknown? why
should he trifle with himself and her?  Why tamper with fate?  Why
not marry her in spite of her father and Desmond, too?  In mere
revenge he might make Clare his own, after all!

Then second, and perhaps better, thoughts came anon; for Trevor
Chute, though to his friends apparently but an ordinary good fellow
in most respects, a mere captain of the line, and so forth, was in
spirit as genuine a soldier and a knight as chivalrous as any that
ever rode at Hastings with the bastard Conqueror, or at Bannockburn;
and thus, on reflection, his heart recoiled from making any advances
to his old love--to the girl that had been torn from him, unless he
obtained that which he considered hopeless--the permission of her
father.

In India, why was it, when so many perished of jungle-fever and other
pests, that he escaped with scarcely the illness of a day?--when
among Nagas, Bhotanese, and Thibetians, matchlock balls and poisoned
arrows whistled past him, and keen-edged swords crossed his, no
missile or weapon had found a passage to his heart?

Amid these stirring scenes and episodes he had striven to forget
everything--more than all, those days of his Guards' life in England;
and now--now a lovely face--'only the face of a woman--only a woman's
face, nothing more,' as the song has it, and a woman's voice, with
all its subtle music, had summoned again all the half-buried memories
of the past!

From day-dreams, tormenting thoughts, and weary speculative fancies,
which were in some respects alien to his natural temperament, Chute
was roused by his valet, Tom Travers, presenting him with a note on
the inevitable silver salver.

If, as we have related, he was startled before by seeing an envelope
with the Collingwood crest thereon still more was he startled now on
receiving another addressed in the well-remembered handwriting of
Clare!  How long, long it seemed since last he had looked upon it!

While his heart and hands trembled with surprise, he opened Clare's
note, which stated briefly that she had heard from Mr. Vane of their
intention of going abroad, and begged that he would not forget his
promise of once more visiting Ida, by whose request she now wrote.

'The pallor of her complexion and the lowness of her spirits alarm me
greatly,' continued Clare.  'I can but hope that when the season is
over, and we go to Carnaby Court, the quietness there and the
pleasant shady groves in autumn may restore her to health; only papa
always likes to have the house full of lively friends from town, as
you know of old.'

'Did her hand tremble when she referred to the past?' thought Chute,
viciously.  'Was Desmond hanging over her chair when she penned this?
Why does she and not Ida write to me?  Is this angling or coquetry?
But Clare needs not to angle with me, and she never was a coquette.'

The truth was that poor Clare had written, but with the greatest
reluctance, by desire of Ida, who, for secret and kind reasons of her
own, wished her sister to address him; and the sight of her
handwriting did not fail to produce much of the effect which the
gentle Ida intended; for Chute, while resolving to pay a visit, meant
it to be a farewell one; and if he saw Clare, to suppress all
emotion, to seem 'as cool as a cucumber.'

And yet, but for his promise given, and in accordance with Jack
Beverley's dying request, he would, on visiting London, no more have
gone near the Collingwood family than have faced a volcano in full
flame; perhaps he would not have come to London at all till the
season was over; and now he was preparing to pay a second visit, but
as he meant, a farewell one, to Ida, after dining--actually dining,
per express invitation--with the father, who, in a spirit of selfish
policy, had broken his engagement with Clare.

It was an absurdly anomalous situation, and altogether strange.

With all Trevor Chute's regard for Jerry Vane, many of his deepest
sympathies were with his brave comrade, Beverley, whose last moments
he had soothed, and to whose last faint mutterings he had listened
when life ebbed in that hot and distant bungalow--mutterings of his
past years and absent love--of the beechen woods of his English home.

Chute had a brotherly love for Ida, and had she not asked him to love
_her_ as a sister?

He could remember a dainty, delicate little girl, with a rose-leaf
complexion, a face of smiles and dimples, all gay with white lace and
blue ribbon, and the floating masses of her auburn hair bound by a
simple fillet of gold.

And the memory of these past times, with all their dear and deep
associations, came strongly back to Trevor's heart when, within a
short time of the receipt of Clare's note, he sat with Ida's thin
white hand in his, gazing into the depths of her tender brown eyes,
on her pale and delicate cheek, and confessing to himself how lovely
she was, and how charming as a friend.

She was every way more calm and composed than when he visited her
before, and she seemed much inclined to talk of their first
intercourse and relations in the years that were gone; and more than
once she stirred the depths of Trevor's honest heart by a few words,
dropped as if casually, yet so delicately, from which he was led to
infer that he had frequently formed the topic of conversation between
her and Clare, and that he was not without an interest in the breast
of the latter still.

After a pause he sighed, but with some little bitterness, as he
thought of the formidable rival who had Sir Carnaby's 'warmest
wishes,' and said:

'Am I, then, to suppose that you have pleaded for me with Clare?'

'Yes, dear Trevor,' she replied, as her slender fingers tightened
upon his.

'There was a time when I did not require even you, Ida, to do so for
me,' he replied, mistaking, perhaps, her meaning, for he was
oversensitive.  'That is all past and gone now; but in the same kind
spirit may I not plead with you for one who was very dear to you
once--poor Jerry Vane?'

She coloured deeply, and then grew very pale again, and while the
long lashes of her soft eyes dropped, she said:

'Do not speak of this again, Trevor--my heart is in Beverley's grave.'

'Yet,' he urged gently, 'a time may come----'

'It will never come.'

'Poor Jerry--as he loved you once, he loves you still.  I hope, dear
Ida, you pardon me for speaking of this to you.'

'I do from my heart, Trevor; but tell me, in the time that you have
seen me--I mean since your return--have you not been struck by a
certain strangeness of action about me?'

'I confess that I have.'

'I am conscious of it repeatedly,' she continued with a strange and
sad smile.

'In the midst of an animated conversation, I have all at once
perceived your thoughts to wander, an expression of alarm to creep
over your face, a kind of shudder through your frame, and your hand
to tremble.'

'It is so.'

'And this sudden emotion, Ida?

'Comes when I think of Beverley--or, rather, this emotion, which I
can neither avert nor control, makes _me_ think of _him_ even when my
thoughts have been elsewhere.'

'This is very strange,' said Trevor Chute, as some of what he deemed
Beverley's 'wild speeches' came back to memory again.

'Strange indeed, Trevor; but morbid thoughts come over me, with the
_thrill_ you have remarked, even in the sunshine and when with
others, but more especially when I am alone; and there seems to
be--oh, Trevor Chute, I know not how to phrase it, lest you think me
absurd or eccentric,' she continued, while a wild, sad earnestness
stole into her eyes, 'that there hovers near me, and unknown to all,
a spirit--a something that is unseen and intangible.'

'This is but overheated fancy,' said Chute tenderly, and with
commiseration; 'you should be alone as seldom as possible, and change
of air and scene will cure you of all this gloom.  On my return--if I
should return to London--I shall hope to hear that you are, as you
used to be, the bright and happy Ida of my own brighter and happier
days.'

And rising now, he lingered with Ida's hand in his, intent on
departure, as his last orders to his valet had been to pack at once
for France or Germany; and Tom Travers, a faithful fellow, whose
discharge he had bought from the Guards, and who had been with him in
India and everywhere else, was fully engaged on that duty by this
time.

'But, dear Ida,' he said, 'dismiss as soon as you can these gloomy
ideas from your mind, and cease to imagine that anything so
unnatural, so repugnant to the fixed laws of nature, as aught
hovering near you _unseen_, forcing you to think of Beverley, could
exist.'

'I do not require to be forced to think of Beverley,' said she, with
tender sadness.

'Pardon me, I did not mean that,' said he.

'I know; but that which seems to haunt me at times may exist; the
world is full of mystery, and so is all nature.  We know not how even
a seed takes root, or a blade of grass springs from the earth.'

'Ida, this is the cant of the spiritualists!' urged Trevor Chute; 'do
not adopt it.  What would Sir Carnaby think of such a theme?'

She slightly shrugged her shoulders, and with a little laugh said:

'Papa's views of life are very different from mine, and his ideas of
the superiority of mind over matter must be vague, if, indeed, he has
any views on the subject at all.  Do you go to the Continent alone?'

'No, Jerry Vane proposes to accompany me.'

'Also leaving London in the height of the season!'

'His reasons are nearly the same as mine,' replied Chute.  'Have you
any message to him?'

'None,' said she, colouring and looking down.

'None,' repeated Chute, in a half-reproachful tone.

'Save my kindest wishes.  You know, Trevor, that I used Jerry very
ill; I am well aware of that, but it is too late now to--to----'  She
paused in confusion, and then said, 'Poor Jerry, I pity him with
unspeakable pity.'

'I would that he heard you,' said Chute, caressing her pretty hand.

'Why?'

'Does not Dryden tell us that pity melts the mind to love?'

'Do not repeat the admission I have made,' said Ida, as a shade of
annoyance crossed her pallid face, adding firmly, 'Let him have no
false hopes; my heart has a great tenderness, but no such love as he
wishes, for him.'

'And now farewell, Ida, for a long time.'

'A pleasant journey to you,' said she, and tears started to her eyes,
as he bowed himself out of her boudoir.

'Thanks--to-night may see me in Paris.'



CHAPTER IX.

DOUBTS DISPELLED.

'In Paris to-night?' said a voice that thrilled him, and he found
himself face to face with Clare, who unexpectedly, and somewhat to
her own confusion, appeared at the drawing-room door.

'I knew not that you were at home,' replied Chute, with some coldness
of manner, as the memories of last night occurred to him, and he too
became confused as he added, 'I meant to have left a farewell card
for Sir Carnaby.'

Mechanically they entered the drawing-room.  For reasons of her own,
Ida did not follow them, and feeling full of the awkwardness of the
situation, Trevor Chute lingered, hat in hand, and Clare, amid the
tremor and tumult of her thoughts, forgot to offer him a seat.

She was provoked now that she had yielded to Ida's urgency, and
written personally to Chute.

Yet wherefore, or why?  She had loved him in the past time, and loved
him still, as she whispered in her heart; and felt sure that he loved
her; and yet--and yet she thought now that letter should have been
written by Ida, not her, if written at all.

'I hope you enjoyed your evening with papa at the club,' she said;
with polite frigidity of manner.

'Far from it,' said he abruptly, as he felt piqued thereby.

'Indeed!'

'I can scarcely tell you why.'

'Do, if possible,' said she, with genuine surprise.

'Pardon the admission, Miss Collingwood, but all night long Sir
Carnaby sang the praises of a certain Major Desmond.'

Clare coloured deeply; her eyes darkened, and sparkled, yet softly,
under the sweep of their long black lashes.

'It was horrible taste in papa--to _you_ especially!  How could he
act so strangely?'

'So cruelly, Clare,' said Trevor Chute, with a burst of honest
emotion, born of the sudden line this conversation had taken.

'Fear not for Desmond,' said she, in a bitter, yet low tone, as she
shook her graceful head.

'He was to--to propose for your hand.'

'He did so this morning,' was the calm reply.

'And you, Miss Collingwood, you----'

'Refused him.'

'Oh, Clare!' exclaimed Trevor, and all the old love beamed in his
eyes as he uttered her name.

'Neither doubt nor misunderstand me,' said Clare, very calmly, and in
a voice that was earnest, sweet, and low.  'Papa and others too'
('What others?' thought Chute) 'have tried hard to make me forget
what you and I were to each other once, but he and they have failed.'

'Thank God!' exclaimed Chute, so full of emotion that he clutched the
back of a chair for support.

'In the seeming emptiness of my heart,' said Clare, speaking in a low
tone and with downcast eyes, while the throbbing of her bosom was
apparent beneath her dress, 'I made for myself a life within a life,
known to myself alone.'

'And that life, darling?'

'Was full of _you_.'

He made a step towards her; but she drew back, and said,
questioningly:

'And you, Trevor, in the days of this long separation?'

'Have never, never forgotten you, Clare!'

'Yet you must have seen many!'

'Many--yes, and lovely women, too; but never have I felt a touch of
even the slightest passing pang or preference for any one out of the
many.'

Clare gazed at him softly and sweetly.  She did not, she could not,
tell him that in the intervals of a brilliant garden party she had
rejected for the third time the passionate supplications and
proposals of one who could have made her a marchioness; and those who
knew of this thought her cold and proud, but they were wrong, for
Clare was 'one of those women who, beneath the courtly negligence of
a chill manner, are capable of infinite tenderness, infinite
nobility, and infinite self-reproach,' and her heart was loving,
tender, sweet, and warm as a summer rose to those who knew her, and
whom she loved.

The mist was dispelling fast now.

Again they were discovering, or recalling, all that was sympathetic
in each other, and learning to understand each other by word, and
hint, or glance, when soul seemed to speak to soul, and more than
all, when hand met hand, did Clare feel that which she had never felt
since their separation, how magnetic was the influence between them,
and how no other hand had made the blood course through her veins as
his had done.

The situation was becoming perilous, and Sir Carnaby might at any
moment come upon them, like the ogre of a fairy tale, or the irate
father of a melodrama.

'I must go, Clare,' said he, but yet he lingered.

Again he was calling her by her name--her Christian name--as of old,
in the dear past time, and how sweetly it sounded in her ear!

'Trevor,' said she, pressing a hand on her heart as if to soothe its
throbbing, while she leant on a table with the other, 'stay yet a
moment.'

Clare was with him again; he was conscious of nothing more; and the
old love that had never passed out of his heart, or hers either,
stronger now than it had ever been, made him linger in her presence,
and made eye dwell on eye, tenderly, sadly, and passionately, till
emotion got the better of all prudence, pride, and policy, and
snatching the hand that was pressed upon her bosom, he besought her,
in what terms, or with what words, he scarcely knew in the whirl of
his thoughts, to be his wife at all risks and hazards.

But Clare drew her hand away, and mournfully shook her head, and
then, with an effort, spoke calmly--

'You know, Trevor, how I loved poor mamma, and how she loved me?'

'I do, my own Clare.'

'Well, on her death-bed she made me give her two solemn promises.'

'And these were?'

'First, to be, so far as I could, a mother to Ida and Violet,
and--and----'

'The second?  Oh, Clare, keep me not in suspense!'

'Never to marry without the fullest consent of papa; and as he acted
before, so will he act again, out of mere petulance and pride,
perhaps, as he will never acknowledge himself in error.  Oh, Trevor!'
she added, pathetically, 'I would that we had never met, and almost
wish that after being so cruelly parted we had never met more.'

Trevor Chute was silent for a time, but a sense of irritation against
her father gave him courage to hope.

'Clare, Sir Carnaby is a somewhat gay man,' said he, 'and he has
hinted to Jerry Vane, to Colonel Rakes, and others, the chance----'

'Of what?' asked Clare, as her lips became pale.

'Pardon me--his marrying again.'

'With whom?'

'I heard no name.'

'Marrying again!' she exclaimed, with anger, as certain undefined
suspicions occurred to her or came to memory.  'If Sir Carnaby does
aught so absurd, I shall consider myself absolved from my promise to
await his permission, and--and----'

'What, dearest Clare?'

'Become that which I should have been three long years ago,' she
replied, with tenderness and vehemence.

'My wife, darling?'

'Your wife, Trevor.'

'Oh, Clare, God bless you for these words!'

And as his arms went round her, all the man's brave heart went out to
her, and tears started to his eyes as he kissed her with a passionate
warmth in which he had never indulged in the past days of their early
and unclouded love.

Soft Clare in his arms again!  Clare's tender lips touching his!  Oh,
which was a dream and which was the truth?  The three years of
excitement, sorrow, and disappointment in burning India; the marches
under the fierce glaring sun; long days of drought and thirst, when
facing death among the fierce hill tribes; nights, chill and bitter,
among the Himalayan snows; the hard existence in barrack, tent, and
bungalow, all so different from what his Guards life had been in
London--the present or the past!

But to what would the present lead?

They knew too well that, so far as Sir Carnaby was concerned, his
consent would never be given.

'Heavens, Clare!' exclaimed Trevor, in this bitter conviction, 'to
what a death in life does your father doom you!'

'Say _us_, Trevor,' said she, in a choking voice.

'Bless you, dear girl, for saying so; but you it seems, and all for
my sake!'

At last he had to retire--literally to tear himself away.

So there was acted and there was ended, for the time, their bitter
but sorrowful romance, in that most prosaic of all places a
fashionable drawing-room, with all its mirrors, lounges, porcelains,
and _objets d'art_, which seem so necessary to that apartment which
Button Cook calls essentially 'the British drawing-room,' and
mentally over and over again did Trevor Chute react and recall every
detail of that delicious, yet painful interview, which had come so
unexpectedly about, while the swift tidal train bore him from Charing
Cross; and her last words seemed to linger yet in his ear--her face
before his eye, like the vision of a waking dream--as on the deck of
the steam-packet he sat, apart from all, full of his own thoughts,
and saw the lights of Harwich and Landguard Fort mingling with
moonshine on the water, while the clang of the Bell Buoy came on the
wind, and the Shipwash floating beacon was soon left astern, and
Trevor Chute, careless of whither he went, changed his mind and
resolved to go to Germany.

Happy thoughts banished sleep from his eyes, and on deck he stayed
nearly the whole night through, till the muddy waters of the Maese
were rippling against the bow of the Dutch steamer.

Clare loved him still, as she had ever, ever done!  New happiness
grew with hope in his heart.

Yet the prospect was a hard one.  He could only know that, though not
his wife, Clare Collingwood should never be the wife of another, and
tenderly he looked on a ring of sapphires and opals from her hand, on
which he had slipped their old engagement ring of diamonds.

He was alone, we have said, for his friend Vane did not accompany him.

He had a card for Lady Rakes' 'at home;' Clare was going, and Ida
too; so the former asked Trevor to get him to defer his journey and
be present, adding:

'It is for Ida's sake; you know _all_ I mean, and all I hope she
wishes.'

'I do, Clare, and so will Jerry.'

'But do not speak of her.'

Hence Vane remained behind in London.



CHAPTER X.

FOR WHOM THE JEWELS WERE INTENDED.

Clare was seated in a shady corner of the library, looking
alternately at the German map in Murray's Guide and the diamond ring
which she had first received from Trevor Chute on the eventful
moonlight night at Carnaby Court.

How strange that it should be on her finger again after all!

'And to think,' she muttered, 'that papa should so unkindly and, with
bad taste have stung his tender and loving heart by speaking to _him_
of me and that big butterfly soldier, Desmond!  No wonder it is that
Trevor seemed cold, constrained, and strange.  Oh, my love, what must
you have thought of me!'

And the girl, as she uttered this aloud, pressed the ring to her
lips, while her eyes filled with tears.  Then she sank into one of
her reveries, from which, after a time, she was roused by the
entrance of her father.  He was attired for a ride in the Row, had
his whip in his hand, and was buttoning his faultlessly fitting
gloves on his thin white aristocratic hands with the care that he
usually exhibited; but Clare could perceive that his face wore an
undoubtedly cloudy expression.

'Papa, for whom were those lovely jewels that came here for
inspection yesterday?' she asked.

'Not for you, Miss Collingwood.'

'Yet they were sent here.'

'A mistake of the shop-people.'

Clare looked up with surprise in her sweet face, for his manner,
though studiously polite in tone, was curt and strange.

'Perhaps they were for Ida?' said Clare, gently.

'No.'--'Violet, then?'

'No.'--'For whom, then, papa?'

'The sister of him you rejected yesterday.'

'Evelyn Desmond!'

'Yes, Miss Collingwood; and thereby hangs a tale,' replied Sir
Carnaby, giving a final touch to his stock in a mirror opposite.
'Did any silly fancy for this man who has just returned to
India--this Captain Chute--influence you in this matter?'

Clare coloured painfully, but said 'No.'

'Glad to hear it, Clare, as I thought all that stuff was forgotten
long ago,' he continued, with the nearest approach to a frown that
was ever seen on his usually impassible visage.

'You asked him to dine at your club, papa,' said Clare, evasively.

'Yes, out of mere politeness, to thank him, as Beverley's friend, for
visiting Ida, though I fear the visit may make her grief a greater
bore than ever.  But why did you decline an alliance that would be so
advantageous as that with Desmond?'

'Simply because I cannot love him, and I don't wish to leave you,
dearest papa; now that you are getting old.'

'Old!'  He was frowning in earnest now.

'Pardon me, papa, I love no man sufficiently to make me leave your
roof for his.'

'What stuff and nonsense is this, Clare Collingwood!'

'It is neither, but truth, papa.'

'Though you have the bad taste to inform me that I am getting old,
permit me to remind you that in many things you, Clare, are a mere
child, though a woman in years.'

'A child, perhaps, compared with such women as Desmond's sister
Evelyn,' replied Clare, with some annoyance.

'And as a woman in years, I, foreseeing the time when I could not
have you always to reign over my table at Carnaby Court or in
Piccadilly, have deemed it necessary to provide myself with a--a----'

'Papa!'

'Well, a substitute,' he added, giving a finishing adjust to his
gloves, and then looking Clare steadily in the face.

'In the person of Evelyn Desmond!' she exclaimed, in a breathless
voice, and becoming very pale.

'Precisely, my dear Miss Collingwood.  She has promised to fill up in
my heart all the fearful void left there by the loss of your good
mother.  I meant to have told you this long ago, but--but it was an
awkward subject to approach.'

'So I should think!'

'With one who comports herself like you; and--ah--in fact, now that
we are about it, I may mention that the marriage has been postponed
only in consequence of Beverley's death, Ida's mourning, illness, and
all that sort of thing.'

'So my sacrifice in declining poor Trevor Chute, after all his faith,
love, and cruel treatment, was uncalled for,' thought Clare, as she
stood like a marble statue, with scorn growing on her lovely lip,
while endeavouring to realize the startling tidings now given to her.

'Is _this_ to be the end of Evelyn's endless manoeuvring and
countless flirtations?' she exclaimed after a pause.

'Miss Collingwood, I spoke of Miss Desmond,' said he.

'So did I,' replied Clare, with growing anger.

'Don't be so impulsive--rude, I should say--it is bad form, bad
style, very.'

'Poor mamma!' sighed Clare; 'she was a good and true gentlewoman.'

'That I grant you, but a trifle cold and stately.'

'When she died I thought it is only when angels leave us that we see
the light of heaven on their wings.'

'Now don't be melodramatic; it is absurd, and to be emotional is bad
taste.  As one cuckoo does not make a spring any more than one
swallow a summer, so no more should one affair of the human heart
make up the end of a human existence.'

'Are you really in earnest about this, papa?'

'Of course, though I am not much in earnest about anything usually;
it is not worth one's while.'

'At a certain age, perhaps,' thought Clare; 'but you were earnest
enough once, in dismissing poor Trevor Chute.'

'You will break this matter to your sisters,' said he, preparing to
leave her.

'My sisters!' said Clare, bitterly and sadly.  'Oh, papa! think of
Violet's prospects with--with' (she feared to add such a
chaperon)--'and of Ida, so sad, so delicate in health.'

'Nonsense, Miss Collingwood, Ida will soon marry again; such absurd
grief never lasts; and I am sure that Vane loves her still.'

'Then _he_ is not supposed to have got over "that stuff," as you
think Trevor Chute and I have done.'

'Miss Collingwood, I do not like my words repeated; so with your
permission we shall cease the subject, and I shall bid you
good-morning.'

Whenever he was offended with any of his own family the tone he
adopted was one of elaborate politeness; and twiddling his eyeglass,
with a kind of Dundreary skip, this model father, this 'awful dad' of
Clare, departed to the abode of his inamorata.

Clare remained for some time standing where he had left her as if
turned to stone.  The proud and sensitive girl's cheek burned with
mingled shame and anger as she thought of the ridicule, the perhaps
coarse gibes of the clubs, and general irony of society, which such
an alliance was apt to excite; and with all the usual command of
every emotion peculiar to her set and style, as this conviction came
upon her, tears hot and swift rushed into her sweet dark eyes.

Could Sir Carnaby have been so insane as to contemplate a double
alliance with that fast family? she asked of herself.

'It would have made us all more than ever ridiculous!' she muttered
aloud; and then she thought with more pleasure of her re-engagement
with Trevor Chute, the promise given, and which she would certainly
redeem; yet she fairly wept for the price of its redemption, as she
shrank with a species of horror from seeing that 'Parky party,' as
she knew the men about town called the fair Evelyn, occupying the
place of her dead mother at home and abroad, and presented at Court
and elsewhere in the Collingwood jewels.

Vanity, perhaps, as much as anything else, was the cause of this new
idea in the mind of the shallow Sir Carnaby.  Though he felt
perfectly conscious that his own day was past, he would not
acknowledge it.  He knew well, too, that though many enjoyed his
dinners and wines, his crushes in Piccadilly, and his cover-shooting
at Carnaby Court, and that many tolerated him for the sake of his
rank, position, and charming daughters, they deemed him 'no end of an
old bore,' and this conviction galled and cut him to the quick.

Hence, if Evelyn Desmond became his wife, the fact would be a kind of
protest against _Time_ itself!

'How society will laugh! it is intolerable!' exclaimed Ida,
thoroughly rousing herself when she heard the startling tidings.
'You, Clare, were ever his favourite--the one who, as he said always,
reminded him most of poor mamma 'when she last folded her pale, thin
hands so meekly, and after kissing us all, gave up her soul to God;
yet he could tell you, in this jaunty way, that another was to take
her place, and that other was such a woman as Evelyn Desmond!'

Already the rumour of 'the coming event' must, they thought, be known
in town, else wherefore the hint thrown out so vaguely by Trevor
Chute?  Already!  The mortification of the girls was unspeakable.

Had the unwelcome announcement been made to her but a day sooner, at
least before her chance interview with Trevor--that interview so full
of deep and tender interest to them both--she might have been tempted
to make a promise more distinct than she had given, for Clare's
gentle heart was full of indignation now.

Trevor Chute could not now make, as in the past time, such
settlements as her father's ambition required and deemed necessary;
yet his means were ample, and she had lands, riches, and position
enough for both; so why should she not be his wife?

Such are the idiosyncrasies of human nature, that her father, who
once liked Trevor Chute, now disliked, and more than disliked him,
because he felt quite sensible that he had done the frank but
unfortunate soldier who had loved his daughter a wrong.

To stay in town with this engagement on the _tapis_, and this
marriage in prospect, was more, however, than Clare cared to endure,
or Ida either.  When it was pressed upon the baronet that the three
sisters should go to Carnaby Court or elsewhere, he affected much
surprise, as they had barely reached the middle of the season, and
the engagement list contained many affairs towards which Clare, and
certainly Violet, had looked forward with interest.

Though he made a show of some opposition to all this, Sir Carnaby was
not unwilling to be left in town alone at this time, where he had to
be in frequent attendance upon his intended, where there were
settlements to arrange, a _trousseau_ to prepare, and jewels to
select, so the plan of Clare and Ida was at once adopted.



CHAPTER XI.

A ROMANCE OF THE DRAWING-ROOM.

'It is bitter,' says a powerful writer, 'to know those whom we love
dead; but it is more bitter to be as dead to those who, once having
loved us, have sunk our memory deep beneath an oblivion that is not
the oblivion of the grave.'

Jerry Vane had experienced much of this bitterness in the past time;
but new hopes were already dawning within him.

He had received Clare's message from Trevor Chute, who, for the life
of him, in the fulness of his own joy, could not, nathless his
promise to her, help telling Vane what she had said of Ida's probable
wishes; thus, with a heart light as a bird's, on the evening of the
'at-home,' he betook himself to a part of Belgravia where at that
season the great houses, rising floor above floor, have usually every
window ablaze with light, and awnings of brilliant hues extending
from the pillared portico to the kerb, with soft bright carpets
stretched beneath for the tread of pretty feet in the daintiest of
boots, while the carriages, with rich liveries and flashing harness,
line the way, waiting to set down or take up.

Countless carriages were there; those which had deposited their
freights were drawn up on the opposite side of the square, wheel to
wheel, like a park of artillery; others were setting down past the
lighted portico, which was crowded by servants in livery.  The bustle
was great, nor were smart hansoms and even rickety 'growlers' wanting
in the throng of more dashing vehicles, bringing bachelors, like
Jerry, from their clubs.

Full of one thought--Ida--he was betimes at Colonel Rakes'
house--earlier, indeed, than was his wont--and piloted his way up the
great staircase and through the great drawing-rooms, which were hung
with stately family portraits of the Rakes of other times, and were
already crowded with people of the best style, for the 'at-home' was
usually a 'crusher' in this house; a sea of velvets and silks,
diamonds, and sapphires; and every other man wore a ribbon, star, or
order of some kind.

Of his hostess Lady Rakes, a _fade_ old woman of fashion, with her
company smile and insipid remarks for all in succession, and her
husband the Colonel, who, till Sir Carnaby came, was ever about
Evelyn Desmond, with whom he fancied himself to have an incipient
flirtation, we shall say no particular more, as they have no part in
our story.

The Collingwoods had not yet arrived.  Vane could see nothing of them
amid the throng while looking everywhere for Ida.  Any very definite
idea he had none; but love was the impulse that led him to seek her
society so sedulously again--to see her, and hear her voice.  How
often had he said and thought, even while his whole heart yearned for
her, 'I shall never torment myself by looking on her face again!' and
now he was searching for her with a heart that was hungry and eager.

He heard carriage after carriage come up and deposit its occupants,
name after name announced, and saw group after group stream up the
staircase and glide through the doors.  Would she come after all?  He
was beginning to fear not, when suddenly the name of 'Collingwood'
caught his ear, and the well-saved old dandy, with an unusually
bright smile on his thin aristocratic face, appeared with Clare
leaning on one arm and Ida on the other.  With all their beauty, we
have said that he felt his daughters a bore; thus, so soon as he
could, he made all haste to leave them in the care of others, while
he mixed with the glittering throng.

So dense was the latter that a considerable time elapsed ere Vane
could make his way to where the sisters stood, with more than one
admirer near them.

There, too, was Desmond, with his cross of the Bath, and a delicate
waxen flower in his lapel.  Clara's refusal had certainly piqued, but
not pained, the tall, languid guardsman with the tawny hair; yet he
did not think his chances of ultimate success, if he cared
sufficiently to attain it, were over yet; but his love was of that
easy nature--more like a listless flirtation than love--that he was
in no haste to press his suit again; for if this affair, and 'a very
absurd affair, by Jove!' he deemed it, between Sir Carnaby and his
fast sister actually came off, he would find himself often enough in
the charming society of Clare; but what a joke it would be to think
that Evelyn might be his mother-in-law.

All things considered, the Honourable Major was not much in want of
consolation, and if he had required it, there were plenty of lovely
belles there and elsewhere 'who would gladly be bride,' not 'to young
Lochinvar,' but to the future Lord Bayswater.

And what of Clare, so calm in aspect and aristocratically serene?

Her thoughts were not with the gay yet empty throng that buzzed and
glittered around her, but with her soldier-lover, browned and tanned
by the fierce sun-glare of India, from whom she had been so long
wantonly separated, and was now separated again, yet with the sweet
memory of his last passionate kisses on her lip, that looked so proud
to others, and who was not now, thank God! as before--facing the
toils and terrors of an obscure mountain war in India, but simply
self-banished to Germany till time should show what might be before
them both.  Where was he then? what doing, and with whom?

Thinking, doubtless, of her! so thought and pondered Clare, when she
could thrust aside the coming marriage of Sir Carnaby, with all its
contingent ridicule; but it was in vain that she repelled it, for the
fact took full and bitter possession of her, and could not be
displaced; and her lip curled scornfully as she saw her father, with
his bald head shining in the light like a billiard ball, his dyed
moustache, and false teeth, his undoubtedly handsome and aristocratic
figure, though thin and shrunken, clad in evening costume of the most
perfect fashion, simpering and bending over Evelyn, of whom we shall
have more to say anon.

None that looked on Clare, and saw the greatness of her beauty, the
general sweetness of her smile, her tranquil air, and somewhat
languid grace, could have dreamed that irritating or bitter thoughts
were flitting through her mind.

'Oh,' thought she, as she fanned herself, 'how vapid it all is,
exchanging the same hackneyed commonplaces with dozens in succession.'

Yet society compelled her to appear like other people, and she found
herself listening to Desmond, who lisped away in his usual fashion of
things in general: the debates in the House last night, the envious
screen of the ladies' gallery, la crosse at Hurlingham, polo,
tent-pegging, and lemon-slicing at Lillie Bridge, the coaching club
and the teams, Colonel Rakes' greys, Bayswater's roans, the Scottish
Duke of Chatelherault's snow-whites, the matching of wheelers and
leaders; of this party and that rout; who were and were not at the
Chiswick Garden Fete.

One circumstance pleased her.  Nothing in the well-bred and impassive
manner of Desmond, though he hung over her and tugged his long fair
moustache, could have led anyone to suppose that he had actually made
her a proposal the other morning, and as to his sister's intended
'fiasco,' for such they both deemed it, the subject was not even
hinted at; and now, as he moved on to speak to some one else, a
gloved hand was laid on her arm, and Clare found herself beside
Evelyn Desmond.

She was perhaps about thirty, yet she had more experience of the
world than Clare could ever have won in a lifetime.  In girlhood she
had been handsome; but her beauty--if real beauty she ever
possessed--was already gone; bloom at least had departed.  She was
fair, blue-eyed, and not unlike her brother, with a proportionately
tall figure, and a face rather aristocratic in contour, but with a
keener, sharper, more haughty and defiant expression.

One of the _three_ suites of diamonds that Clare had seen was
sparkling on her brow and bosom.  She was attired in violet velvet,
with priceless point lace, cut in the extreme mode: her neck and
shoulders were bare, and her dress cut so absurdly low behind as to
show rather too much of a certainly fair and snow-white back.

Clare's chief objection to her, apart from the disparity of years,
was that the Honourable Evelyn had the unpleasant reputation of
having done more than one very fast thing in her life, though no one
could precisely say what they were; and though she was the daughter
of a peer and a sister of a major in the Guards, all men had a cool,
_insouciant_, and even flippant or half 'chaffing' mode of addressing
her, that they would never have dared to adopt to a girl like Clare
Collingwood.

'Your papa has told you about--you know what, Clare?' said Miss
Desmond, looking not in the slightest degree abashed, though lowering
her tone, certainly.

'Yes,' said Clare, curtly and wearily.

'We must be better friends than ever, Clare.'

Miss Collingwood fanned herself in silence, so Evelyn spoke again:

'I suppose you know when the--the event takes place?'

'No.'

'How monosyllabic you are,' said the other, while her lip quivered,
and her eye lightened.  'Has Sir Carnaby not told you?'

'I never asked him,' was the half-contemptuous response.

'Why?'

'I was not aware that matters were in such a state of progression.  A
time is named, then, for--for this _affaire de fantasie_?'

'A month from to-day.  Pray call it an _affaire du cœur_.'

'A month!' repeated Clare, dreamily.

'He would have it, he was so impatient,' said Evelyn Desmond, with
something of a smile; but whether it was a triumphant or malignant
one, Clare cared not to analyze.  She only feared that the
'impatience' had been elsewhere, as Evelyn had been on the point of
marrying with more than one man already, but there was always a flaw
somewhere, and the affairs ended.  Perhaps, as some hinted, they were
too easily begun.

As she could neither express pleasure or congratulation, Clare fanned
herself in silence, until Evelyn said:

'And so you have refused Harvey?'

'Yes.'

'How exceedingly funny.'

'Why?'

'Because on that same morning I finally accepted Sir Carnaby.  By the
way,' she added, with a glance that was not a pleasant one, 'I heard
that your old admirer, Trevor Chute, once of the Guards, was in town
again.'

'Indeed.'

'Yes; perhaps that accounts for poor Harvey's disappointment.'

'Think so if you choose,' replied Clare, haughtily, as she turned
away to conceal how her soft cheek coloured with the excess of her
annoyance.

By this time Vane, after being entangled by innumerable trains, had
made his way to the side of Ida.

Jerry Vane was popular in society, and could have had many a girl for
the asking.  Clare and Ida, too, had often wished--for he was still
the dearest of their friends--that he should marry; but they had
never suggested it to him, for under the circumstances it would have
seemed bad taste, and though he had but one thought--Ida, and Ida
only--Jerry Vane went everywhere, and was deemed the gayest of the
gay; and now, when their eyes met, there was a kind, sad smile in
hers--a smile of the olden time--that took a load off his heart, and
still lighter did it grow when, rising, she took his arm--as a widow
she could do so now, and said:

'Take me to a cool place; the heat here is stifling, especially in
this dark dress; there is a cool seat just within the conservatory
door.  Thanks, that will do.'

Many a picture--many a soft Gainsborough or softer Greuze--may
suggest a face as delicate and beautiful as that which was turned up
to his; but no picture ever painted by human hand had such a power of
expression as that possessed by the face of Ida Beverley, as she sat
there, slightly flushed by the heat of the crowded room, and feeling
with pleasure the breeze from the great square without blowing on her
cheek, and laden with perfumes of fresh flowers as it passed through
the long conservatory.

The broken ring, the gipsy ring of the dream, rent in two by the
cruel tiger's fangs, was now on the marriage finger beside the
wedding hoop, as Jerry could see when she drew off her glove, but he
was glad to observe that her mourning was becoming lessened by
trimmings of grey silk; yet the dark costume, by its contrast to the
pallor and purity of her complexion, made Ida seem lovelier than
ever, and his heart ached to think that those trappings of woe were
worn for a rival.

Why did he seek her presence? he was asking himself again.  Did some
lingering hope inspire him?  Without it Jerry felt that it would be
madness to place himself within the sphere of her beauty, with their
mutual past; yet he could not deny himself the joy of the present, in
watching the tenderness of her soft grey-blue eye, the glory of her
auburn hair, and the grace of all her actions.

She had been the wife of Beverley, true; but the wife of only a few
months, and left behind in loneliness while yet a bride.

Worried by her sadness, and sick of her repining, selfish old Sir
Carnaby had become, unknown to her, somewhat an adherent of her first
lover.  He was not disinclined to let his widowed daughter become the
wife of this unappropriated man, whose good looks and style were as
undeniable as his position and expectations.  Thus he whispered to
Evelyn Desmond that he was not ill-pleased to see them draw apart
within the conservatory door.

Jerry's friends would have called him 'a muff,' to sigh as he did,
and make himself 'a blighted being' for Ida, whose whole heart and
soul seemed devoted to another, and who sorrowed as some women only
sorrow over their dead, going through the world with one visionary
yet formed fancy that floated drearily and vaguely in her memory.
Yet, in spite of himself, Jerry Vane hovered near the sad one like a
love-bird by the nest of its young.

It was impossible that the love of this faithful, honest, and
good-hearted fellow should fail to impress Ida.  She was conscious
that his fate was a cruel one, and of her own making; and she felt a
great pity for him; for although she _had_ been fickle once, her
nature was generous and compassionate.

A dead flirtation can seldom be revived, but an old love is often
rekindled; yet Ida bore him none as yet; it was only pity, as we have
said--compunction for what she had done--a tenderness, nothing more,
save, perhaps, a sense of honour for him, that gave Jerry Vane an
indefinable and, it may be, dangerous attraction to her; and now, as
he spoke to her, bending over her as he used to do of old, her dark
blue eyes changed and shadowed with the changing thoughts that passed
quickly through her mind.

'We are good friends as ever,' said she, smiling upward in reply to
some remark of his.

'Ida, some one has written that after love, mere friendship becomes
more cruel than hate, and says it is the worst cruelty "when we seek
love--as a stone proffered to us when we ask for bread in famine."'

Jerry felt that in this remark he had made somewhat of a 'header;'
but fanning herself, she said calmly:

'I _believe_ in you, Mr. Vane; is not that the highest trust one
creature can give another?'

'May I not implore you to call me Jerry, as--as of old?' he asked, in
a tremulous voice.

'When alone--yes.'

'Mr. Vane sounds so odiously formal after--after----' his lip
quivered.

'Well--Jerry it shall be.'

'Thanks, dear, dear Ida; I begin to hope again.'

Poor Jerry did begin indeed to have fresh hope; and are we not told
that its promises are sweeter than roses in the bud, and more
flattering to expectation?

'Combine love with friendship, Ida,' he urged, softly, with the tip
of his moustache almost touching her ear, 'and its tranquillity will
be great and happy.'

She could not, without growing interest and tenderness, see the
mournful love-me look that his eyes wore; yet she said, over her
bouquet of stephanotis, Beverley's favourite flower and perfume:

'Do not talk thus, I implore you, Jerry Vane.'

A gesture of impatience escaped Vane, yet he said, in a voice of
tenderness:

'Oh, Ida, _I do know it_--too well and bitterly; for as I loved you
in the past time, so do I love you still!'

'Pardon me, Jerry; you are indeed a kind and faithful----'

'Fool!' he interrupted her, bitterly.  'That is the word, Ida.'

'Nay, nay, don't say so,' she urged, with tremulous lips and
moistened eyes.

'The first love of a woman's heart is a holy thing, Ida--and yours
was mine.'

'Let us be friends,' said she, in a painful tone.

'I can never, never be your--mere friend, Ida!'

Like that of Clare and Trevor Chute, but a few days before, it was
another romance of the drawing-room, the strange intercourse and
perilous friendship between these two.

She looked wistfully at Vane.

'We know not what God may have in store for us yet,' said she,
colouring while she spoke, but only with the desire to soothe and not
ignore the passion he was avowing.  'It may be--may be that we have
only in our hearts been waiting for each other after all.'

Ere Vane could make a response to this speech, which she felt
conscious was a rash one, she shivered and grew deadly pale.

'Does the night air chill you, Ida?' he asked.

'I know not--surely no,' said she, in a strange voice: 'it is close,
rather; and yet----'

'What, dear Ida?'

'I felt a strange shudder come over me as I spoke.'

'It is nervousness, and will soon pass away.'

For a moment she sat with her eyes dropped and her heart palpitating.
Whence came that strange, cold, and irrepressible tremor, like the
shock of an electric battery, yet so chilly?  What could it be?
Could she have an affection of the heart?

She started from her seat with manifest uneasiness, and taking his
arm, said, 'Let us return to the rooms.'

And now there occurred an episode which, however trivial then, Jerry
Vane recalled with singular and very mingled emotions at a future
time.  As they came out of the conservatory, Colonel Rakes said,
laughingly:

'Who is your friend, Vane, that is so strangely dressed--at least,
not in evening costume?'

'Friend!  What friend?--where, Colonel?'

'In the conservatory with you and Mrs. Beverley.  Ah, Mrs. Beverley,
too bad of you to appropriate our friend Vane when you know all the
women are in love with him.'

'Colonel--I?'

'You, my dear girl--for I am old enough to call you so.  But about
your friend----'

'There was no one but ourselves in the conservatory,' said Vane.

'Oh pardon me, Vane, you three were close together.'

'Impossible!'

'As you rose to retire, I saw him slide, as it were, behind the
shelves of flowers.'

'We saw no one,' urged Ida.

'Can it be a thief or an intruder?  Let us see,' said the Colonel;
and he and Vane searched all over the place, which was brilliantly
lighted with gas, but without success.

'You must be mistaken, Colonel,' said Jerry, 'as the only other door
of the conservatory is locked, and on the inside.'

'Though a little short-sighted, I was not mistaken, Vane.'

'And this man----?'

'Stood close behind Mrs. Beverley's chair, within less than
arm's-length of you both.'

'What was he like?' asked Vane, with genuine irritation and
astonishment.

'That I can scarcely describe.'

'His face?'

'Was singularly pale, with dark eyes and a dark, heavy moustache.'

'And he actually hung over Ida--Mrs. Beverley, I mean--unseen by me.'

'Yes; closer than good breeding warranted.  You must have been very
much absorbed not to have seen him,' said the Colonel, with a wicked
smile in his old eyes.

'I was indeed absorbed, Colonel.'

'Don't wonder at it; there are not many Ida Beverleys even in the
world of London.  But, egad, the butler must be told to have an eye
upon the plate-chest--the racing-cups and silver spoons!'

_Who_ was this strange-looking man whom the Colonel could not
describe, yet had so distinctly seen close by Ida's chair, listening,
doubtless, to all their remarkable conversation?  It was, to say the
least of it, a most ungentlemanly proceeding; and Jerry, amid the
clatter of tongues around him, strove to remember all they had said,
and whether he had let fall anything that shed a light upon their
past relations and his present hopes; with the pleasant conviction
that the eavesdropper must have heard much that was intended for
Ida's ear alone!

'By Jove!' thought Jerry, 'if I had caught the fellow, there would
have been an unseemly scene among the Colonel's majolica flower-pots,
his orchids, and azaleas.'

The interview in the conservatory, and the strange emotion that came
over her, had somewhat wearied Ida; and like Clare, who had overheard
some unmistakable remarks on the 'coming event'--remarks certainly
not meant for her sensitive ear--she was anxious to be home.

'A game old fellah,' she heard Lord Brixton say--a peer whose only
known ancestor was one of the cottonocracy--to another, whose
adjusted eye-glass was focussed on Sir Carnaby; 'game indeed! but
will live to repent his matrimonial folly.  _She'll_ lead him a
dance, believe me, don't you know.'

Even the servants in the hall and at the portico had heard some
rumour, for there fell upon Clare's ear, as they swept out to the
carriage, something like this:--

'Oh, yes!  I knows 'em--the Honourable Miss Desmond, with her big
mastiff, whip, and wissel, and only Sir Carnaby on dooty.  I've seen
'em by the Serpentine many times.'

So, then, their names were linked together, even by the men in livery!

And as they drove home in the carriage, leaving Sir Carnaby with his
fair one, by the lighted windows of the far extent of streets and
squares, Ida lay back in a corner, muffled in her gossamer-like
Shetland shawl, soft as Dacca muslin, the 'woven wind,' very silent
and sad.

She was thinking very much of what Jerry had said, and the hopes she
had, perhaps unwisely, awakened; but more of the strange cold thrill
that came over her, for she had too often experienced that unwelcome
emotion or sensation of late.

In another direction Jerry was 'tooling' home in a hansom, with a
heart full of happiness.  He had struck the vein; he had an interest,
even though but a renewed interest, in the eyes and heart of his old
love.  Had she not admitted that they knew not what Fate had in store
for them yet, and that their hearts might only have been waiting for
each other after all!

Moreover, Sir Carnaby had given, and he had accepted, a formal
invitation for the shooting and then for the Christmas festivities at
Carnaby Court; and he drove on, sunk in happy waking dreams of all
that the future might have in store for him yet.



CHAPTER XII.

IN THE KONGENS NYTORV.

'Married, at St. George's Church, Hanover Square, on Saturday, Sir
Carnaby Collingwood, Bart., of Carnaby Court, to the Hon. Evelyn
Desmond, only daughter of the Right Hon. Lord Bayswater.....  The
bride wore a dress composed of rich ivory-white Duchesse satin, the
skirt,' &c., &c.

Such was the announcement which suddenly met the eye of startled
Trevor Chute, as it was running leisurely and carelessly over the
columns of a _Times_, nearly a fortnight old, as he lingered over his
coffee one morning, when seated under the awning in front of the
Hotel d'Angleterre, in the Kongens Nytorv of Copenhagen.

'Whew!' whistled Chute, as he read and re-read the paragraph, with
all its details of the bride's elaborate costume, the uniform of the
bridesmaids, the presents, and so forth, down to the shower of satin
slippers, and the departure of the happy couple by the Great Western
Railway.

This event was all the more startling to Chute, as he had been
wandering from place to place, through Germany and the North of
Europe, and thus few letters and no papers from England had reached
him for some time past; and now it was the end of the first week of
September, when the brown partridges would be learning to their cost
that the tall waving wheat, amid which their little broods had
thriven, was shorn on the uplands, and the sharp-bladed plough was
turning up the barley-stubbles.

It may well be supposed that the contents of this paragraph among the
fashionable intelligence gave our wanderer occasion for much thought;
and from the bustle around him--for he had been taking his coffee at
a little marble table placed literally on the pavement of the square,
which, if not one of the handsomest places in Europe, is certainly
the finest in the Danish capital, with its statue of Christian V.,
with its green plateau and flower-borders--he retired to the solitude
of his own room; but even as he did so there were others, he found,
who were near him, and took a gossiping interest in the paragraph.

There were several English people in the hotel, of course, for one
must travel a long way to find solitude in these our days of
universal locomotion.  Among others there was young Charley Rakes, at
whose house we have lately seen the Collingwoods--a fast youth of
Belgravian breed, whom Chute did not like; and he had rather a way of
keeping at full arm's-length those whom he viewed thus.

'So, so,' he heard him say to a friend; 'the old fellow is married at
last, and to the Desmond.  What the little birds said proves right,
after all.'

'Poor Clare!' thought Chute, as a burst of laughter followed the
reading of the paragraph, with great accentuation, aloud.

'Fancy Evelyn Desmond airing flannel bags for the gouty feet of old
Collingwood, fomenting his bald pate--(he is bald, isn't
he?)--putting his lovely teeth into a tumbler at night, unlacing his
stays, and all that sort of thing, don't you know!'

From this rough jesting with names in which he had an interest so
vital now, Trevor Chute, we say, gladly sought the privacy of his own
room, where, stretched upon a sofa, he gave himself tip to the luxury
of lonely thinking, while watching the pale blue wreaths evoked from
his meerschaum bowl floating upward into the lofty ceiling overhead,
while the drowsy hum of the city came through the green jalousies of
the windows, which opened to the Kongens Nytorv, and faced the
Theatre Royal.

Would this alliance mar for ever the chances of the Major, or
redouble them, as he would be quite _en famille_ at Carnaby Court and
the town mansion in Piccadilly?

He recalled the parting words of Clare, and thrust the speculation
aside as unworthy the consideration of a second.  He could awaken in
the morning now with other thoughts than the dull ache of the bitter
olden time; for though their prospects were vague and undefined, he
had her renewed promise, and now more than ever did he recall it,
with the delicious threat that accompanied the renewal.

'Clare, Clare!' he muttered aloud; and with all the passionate
longing of a lad of twenty, the man's heart went out to her, the
absent one.

She was his in spirit only; but oh, for Surrey's magic mirror, to
bring her before him once again, that he might revel on the calm
poses of her statuesque figure, her soft, yet aristocratic face, and
the curve of her lips, that were exquisite as those of a Greuze--even
as Surrey revelled on the beauties of Geraldine when conjured up by
Cornelius Agrippa!

Again he was sunk in thoughts of her, as when far away amid the awful
and undisturbed solitude of the Himalayan forests, where the pines
that rose to the height of two hundred feet were tipped with
sunshine, while all was night below; and where the torrents, with
their ceaseless roar, that wearied the ear, when, swollen by the
winter rains, they tore past the lonely cantonment of Landour, where
the last home of Beverley and many more lie, rolling on and on to the
plains and tea-gardens of Assam.

But his prospects were brighter now, and thus he had thought of her
happily when idling from place to place, in the glittering Kursaal at
Hamburg, the many gaieties of Berlin, and of more domestic
Copenhagen; when among the lonely woods of Norway, and the countless
isles of the Christiana Fiord, which the Norse packet had traversed
when its waters were moonlit and luminous, when the dark
violet-tinted waves of eve rolled on the green shores of the Jungfrau
land, when he had seen the gorgeous sun setting redly beyond the
bronze-like forests of Sweden, and flushing alike the sky above and
the waters of the Sound below--her face was ever before him, and he
had remembered its expressions and the tone of her voice in every
hour he spent, especially when alone, by land and sea, in city, wood,
or wilderness.

'I have Clare's promise and assurance that she loves me still,' he
would think; 'but how long am I to drag on this absurd life, this
separate existence?  Surely we are not so hopeless now as in that
time when I was broiling up country.'

With reference to her promise, he pondered, would she write to him?
Scarcely.  Should he write to her, and remind her of it--not that for
a moment he ever believed it to be forgotten; but of, this policy he
was doubtful, and so resolved to wait a little, as he would be
certain to hear from Jerry Vane or some other friend.

But while waiting, Clare might be cast into the attractive influence
of some one else, and he knew that she was surrounded by all the
charms and allurements of rank and of wealth.  Then he deemed himself
a wretch to think of such things.  Anon he became terrified lest she
should be ill, as he knew how much this marriage would mortify, fret,
and worry her.

From his reverie he was roused by the appearance of his valet, Tom
Travers, standing close by at 'attention,' by pure force of old
habit.  He had neither heard him knock nor enter; neither had he
heard his tread on the polished floor, which as usual in these
countries, was uncarpeted.

'Letter for you, sir,' said he, presenting one on a salver.

'Thanks, Tom.'

He tore it open; it was from Jerry Vane, and dated from 'Carnaby
Court.'  This made Trevor's heart leap.

'Jerry must have been making his innings,' thought he, 'to be there.
He has surely been seized with a most unusual _cacoethes scribendi_.
I have not heard from the fellow for months, and now he sends me
nearly sixteen pages.  What can they all be about?  Perhaps the
marriage, but more likely that alluring _ignis fatuus_, Ida.'

And once more filling his pipe, he composed himself to peruse the
letter of his old chum, Jerry, who ran on thus:--

'I suppose you have long since heard how Sir Carnaby Collingwood made
a fool of himself at St. George's.  He has now gone on his wedding
tour, and I am thankful he is out of the way.  It is ungracious to
write these lines of one's host, and still more so of one I would
fain be more nearly connected with; but it is the old story of Doctor
Fell, and you know I never liked Sir Carnaby.  How difficult it is to
analyse sympathy.  By Jove, Trevor, it is a thing that no fellow can
understand, for it takes possession of us whether we will or no;
hence it is that we are unconsciously attracted or repelled by some
of those we meet at first sight.  And why?  No one can tell.  Hence,
a magnetic influence draws us sometimes even to those we should shun,
or compels us to shun sometimes those whom, from policy, we should
attract, and in whom we should confide.'  ('Has Jerry had a
sunstroke?' thought Trevor; 'what _is_ all this about?')  'And thus
it was that a magnetic influence led me to love Ida at first sight,
and at the same time to dislike Sir Carnaby, and I fear the feeling
will never pass away, so far as he is concerned.

'I know not where this may find you; but any place is better than
London at this season.  You know what it is in August and September,
with its pavement fit only for a salamander or a fireman.  After
Ascot, the Collingwoods--the three ladies, at least--left London in
the height of the season, and went to Carnaby Court.  I was with
them--Ida and Clare, I mean--on Rakes' drag on the Royal Heath on the
Cup day.  Don't you envy me, old fellow?  I am sure you do.  We spoke
much of you among ourselves, anyhow, and Clare looked her brightest
and her best when we did so.  By not starting early, we were delayed
waiting for the young engaged couple; we lost the first two races,
but that was nothing.

'It was with quiet anger the girls saw the half-concealed billing and
cooing of the old baronet and the _fiancée_, and with what excellent
grace he lost some heavy bets to her brother, the Guardsman, and
others to the lady herself, which she entered in a dainty little book
with a jewelled pencil, and laughing girlishly as she buried her
pretty nose in a hot-house bouquet of the colours affected by Sir
Carnaby.

'Desmond's animal was nowhere; but, perhaps, you won't be sorry for
that.  Some say he has lost a pot of money, and may have to leave the
Brigade; anyway, it did not prevent him from returning with some
dolls in his hat-band.  For some reason--gout, it was whispered--the
baronet did not go to the Derby, so the fair Evelyn agreed with him
that it was only fit for boys, and declined to go either.  Why should
a gentleman go, to have his clothes covered by dust or flour, his
hat, perhaps, banished by a cocoa-nut; and why a lady, to see and
hear all the horrid things that were said or done?  Yet, in times
past, she had gone and faced all these things and more, so it suited
her to play propriety on that Derby Day; but when Ascot came, she was
there making bets, even 'ponies,' in full swing.

'I came here at first to have a shot or two at the birds for a week,
by express invitation, as I told you, and then I may, perhaps, join
you on the Continent after all.  Ida matronises the household, and a
lovely matron she makes, with her sweet, sad grace.  Sir John and
Lady Oriel are here, old Colonel Rakes and his wife, and that titled
_parvenu_, Lord Brixton, with some others, to await the return of the
"young couple" from Germany, whither they have gone to hide their
blushes; and the tenantry are getting up an enormous triumphal
archway at the avenue gate; the public-house at the village is
getting a new signboard; the ringers are practising chimes in the old
Saxon spire; the schoolmaster is composing an epithalamium, and the
Carnaby volunteer artillery are to fire a salute on the lawn.  But I
wonder how I can write so frivolously, for something occurred on the
third day after I came that has caused me much discomfort and
perplexity.

'There is an arbour in the garden, one of many, but before this I
mean there stands a marble Psyche.'

(How well Trevor Chute could remember that arbour--a kiosk--with all
its iron lattice-work and gilded knobs, and the masses of roses and
clematis, Virginia creeper and ivy, all matted and woven in profusion
over it.  Many a time had he sat there with Clare, and often in a
silence that was not without its eloquence.  'Well; and what of the
arbour?' thought he, turning again to the letter of Jerry.)

'When passing among the shrubberies, I saw Ida seated in that arbour,
with a book in her lap, and, to all appearance, lost in thought.  A
flood of amber light, shed by the evening sun, poured aslant through
an opening in the greenery upon her white neck and lustrous auburn
hair, which shone like gold, as her hat was off and lay beside her.
A great joy filled my heart as I thought of the hopes given me during
the meeting at Rakes' house, and after watching her beauty for a
minute or so in silence I was about to join her, when she looked
upward, and then there appeared, what I had not before perceived, so
absorbed had I been in her, a man, unknown to me, looking down upon
her--a man with whom she seemed to be in close conversation.

'Some huge branches of roses concealed his figure from me, but his
face was distinct enough, in closer proximity to hers than good
breeding generally warrants.  It was pale, very, with dark eyes and a
black moustache--in detail, by Jove, Chute, the same fellow whom
Colonel Rakes found eavesdropping in the conservatory!

'Startled, alarmed, and scarcely knowing what to think, I still
resolved to join her.  I could scarcely deem myself an intruder,
considering the terms we had been on, and are on now, and approached
the arbour, but in doing so had to make a circuit among the
shrubberies.  Half a minute had not elapsed when I reached the
arbour; no one passed me on the walk, not a footfall was heard on the
gravel, at least by me; but when I joined her she was alone, with her
head stooped forward, her face buried in her hands, and when she
looked up its pallor startled me; yet her grey-blue, changeful, and
lustrous eyes looked, and with a smile, into mine.

'"Have I disturbed you?" I asked, scarcely knowing what to say.

'"Disturbed me?  Oh, no; I was done reading."

'"But some one was with you."

'"When?"

'"Just now."

'"Impossible!"

'"I thought that some one was here," I said, in great perplexity.

'"Oh no--but sit down and let us talk," said she, frankly.

'I thought of the face I had just seen so near her own.  I was
rendered dumb, as I felt my tenure of favour was too slight to risk
offending her by further remark on a subject so singular; but I was
pained, grieved, and bewildered to a degree beyond what words can
express.  I looked at her earnestly, and seeing her so pale, said:

'"Are you not well, Ida?"

'"Only in so far that one of those mysterious shudders which I feel
at times came over me a minute ago."

'I am aware that she has complained of this emotion or sensation
before, and that the best medical skill in town has failed to make
anything of it.

'"The odour of those flowers has perhaps affected you," said I,
somewhat pettishly thrusting aside a bouquet tied by a white ribbon
which lay near her.

'"Oh no," she replied, "their perfume has always been a favourite of
mine."

'They were stephanotis, and I have often heard it was a favourite
flower with Beverley.

'"From whom did you receive the bouquet?" I asked, but something
indefinable in my tone attracted her.

'"Vane--Jerry!" she exclaimed.  "It was brought me by the gardener,"
she added, and her calm face and serene eye all spoke of one to whom
doubt or further question would have been intolerable, and the fear
of anything unknown.  Did she know what I had seen, or suspect what
was passing in my mind?  It would seem not; and still more was I
perplexed and startled on perceiving, as we rose to join Clare,
Violet, and others who were proceeding laughingly to the croquet
lawn, a gentleman's glove lying on the seat which she had just
quitted.

'"Some one has dropped this," said I, taking it up.

'"I never observed it," she replied, quietly; "is it not your own?"

'"No," said I, curtly, as I tossed it into the arbour, with the fear,
the crushing conviction, that some fellow _had_ been there after all
How he had effected his exit from the arbour unseen by me was a
mystery; but how I enjoyed our croquet that afternoon you may imagine.

'In the course of our game I casually discovered that the lost glove
belonged to Sir John Oriel, but you know that his personal appearance
scarcely answers to that of the man I have described to you.

'I am loath to admit myself to be jealous; but there is a mystery in
all this I cannot fathom.  My visit here terminates at the end of a
week, when I shall return to town more miserable in mind than I ever
did before.  I am to be at Carnaby Court for the Christmas
festivities, but have a vague fear of what may happen in the
meantime.  _This fellow_----' (Jerry had drawn his pen through words,
evidently as if checking some ebullition, and then continued).

'It was, perhaps, with the naturally kind and womanly desire to
soothe the sorrow she had caused, and the wound she had inflicted,
that when next day we met by chance in the same arbour--in fact, I
followed her to it--she was more than usually affable and sweet with
me, and I ventured in the plainest terms to speak of the subject that
was nearest my heart.

'"Confident in my own unchanging love for you, Ida," said I, "honour
for your feelings, tenderness and kindness have made me silent for
long; but I think the better time has come when I might openly speak
to you of love again, dear Ida."

'"Do not urge that subject on me now," she replied, with undisguised
agitation.  "You are a dear good and kind fellow--dear and good
as--as--as when I first knew you; but I--I----"  She paused and
trembled.

'"What?" I whispered.

'"My heart is in the grave!"

'"This is absurd; it is morbid--it is irreligious!" I exclaimed.

'"Do not say so, Jerry Vane."

'I thought to myself, bitterly (excuse me, Chute), could not this
confounded fellow Beverley die without bothering her with all his
gloomy messages and mementoes?

'"If you do not marry me, I shall die an old bachelor.  Let not the
one love of my life be utterly hopeless--you, my first and last!"

'"Poor Jerry, what _can_ I say?" she exclaimed, interlacing her
white, slender fingers.

'"That you will love me."

'"In time, perhaps--I will try--but cease to urge me now."

'"Bless you for those words, Ida."

'"I am glad to make you happy, Jerry," said she, with a bright smile
in her beautiful eyes.

'"You do indeed cause my heart to swell with happiness--but--but why
do you _shudder_?" I exclaimed.

'"Did I shudder?" she asked, growing very pale, and withdrawing her
hand from mine.  "Oh, let us cease this subject, Jerry, and--and
excuse me leaving you."

'She glided away from my sight down the garden walk, quitting me with
an abruptness unusual to her, which I observed on more than one
occasion, and the cause of which I was unable to discover, or
reconcile even with the rules of common politeness; but now she
returned with a sad yet smiling and somewhat confused expression of
face, and showed me the book she had been perusing on the preceding
day.  It was the Baron von Reichenbach's work on magnetism and vital
force, and pointing to a passage wherein he details the effect
produced on a girl of highly sensitive organization when influenced
by a magnet, she said:

'"I feel when I start and leave you exactly what this girl describes
her sensation to be, drawn from you by an irresistible attraction
which I am compelled to follow unconditionally and involuntarily, and
which, while the power lasts, I am obliged to obey, even against my
own will.  So do pardon me, Jerry; I am powerless, and not to blame."

'She spoke with quiet sweetness--with an infinite gentleness and
sadness, but I saw the man's glove yet lying in the arbour--the
tangible glove--and thought: "Good heavens! is all this
acting--insanity, or what?"

'Anyway, I was filled with keen anxiety and deep sorrow to find that
she whom I loved so tenderly was under influences so strange and
accountable--so far beyond one's grasp.

'Could the figure of the man I had seen so near her, with his odious
face so close--so very close--to hers, have been an illusion--a
hallucination--a thing born of my own heated fancy, and the shifting
lights and shadows of the arbour and its foliage?

'If so, it seemed very odd indeed that an appearance exactly similar
should have been seen in his conservatory by such a sentimental and
matter-of-fact old fellow as Colonel Rakes!'

Here ended Jerry's long and rambling letter, many items in which gave
Trevor Chute food for long thought and reverie.

As for Ida's nervous illness, for such he deemed it beyond a doubt to
be--an illness born of her grief for Beverley, and annoyance at her
father's marriage--he believed the bracing country air would cure all
that; and as for her magnetic fancies, he thought that the less she
read of such far-fetched philosophy as that of the Baron the better.

The two stories of the man who had been seen were odd, certainly, and
to some minds the bouquet, though alleged to be given by the
gardener, and the glove might have seemed suspicious; but Ida, though
she had jilted Jerry in time that was past, was not by nature a
coquette; and knowing this, Trevor Chute, as a man of the world,
dismissed the whole affair as some fancy or coincidence, and then his
ideas went direct to Clare and Carnaby Court, and he envied Jerry.

The strange medley of foreign sounds in the vast space of the Kongens
Nytorv were forgotten and unheard, for Chute's mind was revelling
amid other scenes and places now.  He was even thinking over the
Derby to which Vane had alluded, and he recalled the days when he had
been a species of pet in 'the Brigade,' when he looked forward to the
Derby as the great event of the year, and his own delight when he
first drove the regimental drag, the selection of the horses, the
ordering of the luncheon, the colour of the veils, and the road along
which all the world of London seemed pouring, the golden laburnums at
Balham in all their glory, the hawthorn hedges at Ewell, the beeches
and chestnuts that shaded the dusty way, the myriads on the course,
the wonderful bird's-eye view from the grand-stand, the excitement of
the races, the stakes and the bets, from thousands to pretty boxes of
delicate gloves for Clare and others; all of which he should never
enjoy as he had enjoyed them once.  And now impatience made him
peripatetic, so he rang for his valet, Travers.

'Pack up, Tom,' said he; 'we leave Copenhagen to-morrow.'

'All right, sir--for where?'

'Lubeck.  Have a droski ready at ten; I shall take the morning train.'

Travers saluted and withdrew, without thinking or caring whether
Lubeck was in Hanover, Hindostan, or the island of Laputa.

It was the merest whim or chance in the world that led to the
selection of Lubeck as a place to be visited; but Trevor Chute could
little foresee whom he was to meet there, or all that meeting led to.



CHAPTER XIII.

BY THE EXPRESS FOR LUBECK.

Though Trevor Chute's old habits of decision and activity remained, a
new kind of life had come upon him of late; thus he who had found the
greatest pleasure in his military duties and attending to the wants
of his men, in the saddle hunting, enjoying the day-dawn gallop, or
with his rifle and hog-spear, watching under the fierce sun-glare for
the red-eyed tiger or the bristly boar, as they came to drink in some
secluded nullah, had now changed into one of the veriest day-dreamers
that ever let the slow hours steal past him uselessly in succession.

So that time were got through, he cared little how.  Would Vane join
him?  He rather fancied that he would not.

Nor did he wish it, though Jerry was the friend he valued most in the
world, for the urgent reason that through him alone could he hear
aught of her to whom he could not write, and who would not write to
him.

Thus Chute lived in a little world of his own, lighted up by the
remembered face of Clare and the hopes she had bade him cherish.

He marvelled much how Jerry's love affair was progressing, and
whether Ida would yet forget his other friend, Jack Beverley.

He thought not, by all he knew of her, yet wished that she should do
so, for Jerry's sake.

There was much of humility in the latter, and he held himself of
small account with her.

Though proud enough with his own sex, even to hauteur at times, his
love for Ida made him her very slave; and now how often came back to
Vane's memory, with regret and reproach, the bygone scoffs and silly
ironies he had often cast on his friends, who, when he was
heart-whole, were suffering from the lost smile of those they had
loved, perhaps more truly than wisely.

Recollections of his own laughter, his gibes and his quips, came back
to him as if in mockery now.

Trevor Chute and Clare were separated again; but not as before: now
he did not feel, as in the old time, that he had lost her, and he
looked back to his last interview with joy.

Long though the time seemed since then, it was but recently that her
dark eyes had smiled lovingly into his; that all the nameless charms
of her presence had been with him, that she had spoken with him, and
that he had listened to her.

When would all this come to pass again?

Till then what mattered it how he killed the time, or whither he went?

Yet pleasure and amusement palled on him; the sea breeze had lost its
charm, and the sparkling waves their beauty; flowers seemed to be
without fragrance; the fertile green pastures of Germany and Denmark,
in all their summer glory, and the woods with the first tints of
autumn, were without interest to his eye; for he was, more than ever,
a man of one thought, and that thought was Clare Collingwood.

In this mood of mind, without thinking how or why, he started for the
famous old Hans town.

The train took him to Korsor, in Zealand; there he crossed the Great
Belt, and from the deck of the _Maid of Norway_ steamer could see the
Danish Isles steeped in the noon-day heat, when every sandy holm and
green headland seemed to vibrate in the sunshine that glistened on
the blue waves which roll round Nyeborg and picturesque old Odensee;
and after running through Sleswig and Holstein on a pleasant
afternoon in autumn, he found himself at Hamburg, in the train for
Lubeck, 'the Carthage of the North.'

Tom Travers had seen to the luggage and the inspection thereof;
procured the tickets for himself and his master, and the latter had
just lit his cigar, and composed himself for his journey, pleased to
find himself the sole occupant of a carriage, when he suddenly
observed a lady, undoubtedly an Englishwoman, procuring a bouquet of
rose-buds from a Vierlander _fleuriste_, one of those picturesquely
costumed girls who wear a bodice that is a mass of spangles and
embroidery, a straw hat shaped like a Spanish sombrero, and thick,
bunchy skirts, such as we may see in an old picture of Teniers, and
who come from that district which lies between the Elbe and the
Bille, where the whole population are market-gardeners.

There was some delay, during which the train was shifted a little,
and amid the bustle of the platform the lady looked about in
confusion, uncertain which was her carriage.

Already the starting bell had been rung and the shrill steam-whistle
had sent up its preparatory shriek.

'Dritte klasse, zweite klasse!' the bearded German guard was
shouting, while waving his little flag of the North Germanic colours.
'Hierher--nach hinten--nach vorn--Bitte, steigen sie ein, madame!'
('Pray get in,' etc.)

Mechanically, Chute, in mere politeness, opened the carriage door,
and she was half handed, half pushed in by the hasty guard, for
already the train was in motion, and she found herself, it would
seem, separated from her friends, and swept away by the express in
companionship with a total stranger.

'How awkward,' she said in German; 'I have been put--almost thrust, I
may say--into the wrong carriage.'

'You can change at Buchen, the only place where the express stops,'
replied Chute.

'Ah! you are English,' said she, her countenance languidly lighted
up.  'So glad; for though I speak German pretty well, I don't
understand the patois of the people hereabouts, on the borders of
Holstein.'

Chute merely made an inclination of his head, and was about to throw
his cigar out of the window, when she begged he would not do so;
smoking never incommoded her--indeed, she rather liked it.

He thanked her, and they slid into the usual little commonplaces
about the weather, the scenery, and so forth.

Though handsome, she was _passée_, and Trevor Chute could detect that
she had in her manner much of the polished _insouciance_, the
cultivated, yet apparently careless fascination of a woman of the
world; and it soon became evident that she knew it, and the world of
London too, in many phases.

Apart from the rank that was indicated by a coronet and monogram that
were among the silver ornaments on her blue velvet Marguerite pouch,
he felt certain that she was an Englishwoman of undoubted position,
and was quite _aplomb_--even a little 'fast'--in her manner; but that
amused Chute.

He could perceive that she was married, as a wedding hoop was among
the gemmed rings that sparkled on her left hand--a very lovely one in
shape and whiteness; moreover, she spoke of her husband, and said
they were to take the branch line at Buchen for the Elbe, adding:

'Do you go so far?'

'Farther; to Lubeck--a place few people go to, and few come from.'

'Ah!  And you travel----'

'To kill time.'

'Most people do so.  _We_ came here to be out of the way of people
one knows and is sure to meet everywhere in more beaten tracks; also
to get rid of the tedium of visiting ambassadors, and undergoing
their receptions--one of the greatest bores when abroad.'

She evidently knew London well.  In the course of conversation they
discovered that several of their acquaintances were mutual, and Chute
began to wonder who she was, and became interested in her, in spite
of his general indifference.

She seemed to be 'up to' a good deal, too; acknowledged that she made
quite a little book on the Derby and Ascot--was above taking a bet on
a favourite in kid gloves only; and told in the prettiest way how
skilfully, and with a little spice of naughtiness, she had, on more
than one occasion, learned the secrets of the stables, and of the
trials in the early morning gallops; and actually how she had
persuaded people to lay five to one, when the printed lists said
'evens,' to square herself in the end; and then she laughed, and said
it was so odd to have her husband travelling in the next carriage,
and thus quite separated from her; but at Buchen she would rejoin him.

'Do you travel much?' she asked, after a pause.

'Well; yes.'

'Who does not nowadays!'

'My profession----'

'The army?'

'Yes; I have just returned from India.'

'To one who has seen all the wonders and marvels there--the rock-hewn
temples, the marble palaces and mosques, the vast plains and mighty
mountains of India--how tame you must think these level landscapes
and little German villages!'

'They are peaceful scenes, and most English in aspect.'

'But all this part of Europe is quite like the midland counties.  You
were, of course, with the Line in India; but--you have been in the
Guards?'

'Yes,' replied Chute, becoming thoroughly interested now.

'Ah!  I discovered that from a slight remark you made about the
Derby.'

'Who the deuce can this woman be, who picks all my past life out of
me?' thought Chute, as they mutually recalled the names of many men
of 'the Brigade.'

'Do you know Major Desmond?' she asked.

'Slightly,' replied Chute, while a shade crossed his face.

She was quick enough to perceive it, so the subject was not pursued;
and now the train glided into the station.

She bowed politely to Chute, who endeavoured to open the door for
her; but it was locked fast, and the guard was at the other end of
the train.

A sound was heard, like the clanking of a heavy chain, as some
carriages were uncoupled; and the train again began to move.  Chute
called and gesticulated to some men on the platform.

'Sitzen sie ruhig!' was the only response.  'Sit still! the train is
in motion!'

And once more they were sweeping with increased speed, through the
open country.  The carriages for the branch line had been left
behind, with the lady's husband, suite and baggage; and she borne
helplessly off by the express for Lubeck.

She became very much discomposed on learning this, and that she would
be carried on fifty-six English miles in a wrong direction before she
could telegraph to or communicate with her friends in any way; but
after a time she laughed at it as being quite a little adventure, and
to amuse her, Chute, by the aid of his Continental guide, indicated
the various places of interest through which they swept with a mighty
rush; now it was Ahrensburg or Bargtehude, and after traversing a
flat, stupid, and uninteresting district, Oldeslohe with its salt
mines and lime pits, and then Reinfeldt.

Anon the scenery became more and more English in aspect, and enclosed
with hedges in English fashion, and all so homelike, that one could
not but remember that not far off lies the nook which still bears the
name of England, which was transferred by the emigrant Saxons to
South Britain.  The rich meadows, the well-tilled corn-lands, the
farmhouses and villages, all looking as clean and as pretty as red
brick, white plaster, green paint and flowers could make them, all
seem there to remind one of the most beautiful parts in England;
while in the distance, more than once could be had glimpses of the
Baltic, with its dark blue waters sparkling in the evening sun.
Lakes and groves add then to the beauty of the scenery, and
wood-covered hills that slope gently upward from the bordering sea,
or smooth sheets of inland water.

Chute's companion seemed really to enjoy her journey; and her first
annoyance over, she relapsed into her occasional air of nonchalance
and languid carelessness, that seemed born of Tyburnia and the
West-end of London; and soon the tall red spires of Lubeck, which had
been long in sight above the greenness of the level land, were close
by, as the train ran into the station, near the magnificent and
picturesque double towers and deep dark archways of the Holstein
Thor, which stands among the long and shady avenues of the
Linden-platz.

Though small, beautiful indeed looked the ancient Hans city rising on
its ridge, with its twelve great earthen bastions covered by
luxuriant foliage, all steeped in the glorious crimson of the
after-glow from the set sun that blended with amber and blue.

Trevor Chute handed out his fair companion.  There was no train for
Buchen that night, nor would there be one till nearly noon on the
morrow.  The lady knew that her husband would be taken on to
Lauenberg, but as she did not know where to telegraph to him there,
she could but do so to the station-master at Buchen, and on this
being done, she turned to Chute, for, traveller though she was, she
was perplexed to find herself in a strange place, without servants or
escort, and surrounded by unceremonious German touts bawling out,
'Stadt Hamburg,' 'Hotel du Nord,' 'Funf Thurme,' and the names of
other hotels.

'Permit me to be your guide,' said he, as Travers procured an open
droski; 'the Stadt Hamburg is the chief hotel.  I shall have the
honour to escort you there.'

'Thanks, very much indeed,' said she, bowing, and for the first time
colouring slightly; 'when' (he did not catch the name amid the hubbub
around them) 'my husband arrives he will be most grateful to you for
all this.'

And now, as they drove through the Holstein Thor towards the hotel,
Chute was provoked to see in the face of his man, Travers, a comical
and perplexed expression.  He had never seen his master escorting an
apparent stranger thus before, and hence knew not what to make of the
situation.



CHAPTER XIV.

AN IMBROGLIO.

The great dining-hall of the hotel, where the _table d'hôte_ was
daily served, was empty; all the visitors had gone to the theatres,
the Tivoli gardens, and so forth, so Trevor Chute and the lady found
themselves seated at a long table alone, to partake of a meal that
was of course deemed supper there, where people dine at 2 p.m.

The _salle_ was elegant; at one end a great console glass, with all
its curved branches, lit up the gilded cornices, the tall mirrors,
the long extent of damask table-cloth, the rich fruit, the silver
epergnes, and the wines.

Without, through the open windows, could be seen, on one side, the
partially-lighted streets of quaint gable-ended houses, all of the
middle ages; on the other, the dark and silent woods, where the Trave
and the Wakenitz wandered towards the Baltic, showing here and there
amid the shadows 'the phosphor crests of star-lit waves,' while
overhead was a cloudless sky, the constellations of which had a
brilliance and a clearness all unknown in England.

All was very still without, and perhaps--for all are abed betimes in
these northern cities--the only sounds that stirred the air were the
murmur of the Trave, with the music of a band in a distant Tivoli
garden.

'Oh, that Clare were with me here!' thought Chute, while endeavouring
to make himself agreeable to a woman of whom he knew nothing, and for
whom he cared nothing; and Chute had a natural turn and capacity for
doing it with all, but with a lady more especially; and she, to all
appearance naturally fast and coquettish, could not help giving
Chute, even amid her dilemma, what she deemed one of her most
effective side-glances; but, though they were not unperceived, they
were wholly wasted upon him, save as a little source of amusement;
and after a time her face and manner seemed to express a wish to know
who this man was who seemed so politely insensible to her powers--to
those of all women, perhaps.  He was quite unlike, she thought,
anything she had ever met in _her_ world, and she was, consequently,
somewhat piqued.

On the other side of the table Chute, while toying with the fruit and
drinking with her the golden moselle, was wondering who his fair
_compagnon de voyage_ was; and felt that it might be bad taste to
inquire her name, as she had not asked for his; yet she knew many of
his old friends in the Brigade--men who were well up in the service
when he joined, and long before he left it for India.

She seemed fond of questioning about the latter, and led him to speak
more of himself, and of wild adventures in the dark jungle, where
daylight scarcely came, than was his wont.  She asked him what his
regiment was, and on his telling her, the expression of her face
brightened; and laughingly tapping his hand with her perfumed fan,
she said:

'Then you must know well a friend of mine.'

'Very probably; was he of ours?'

'If not quite a friend, one at least in whom I have an interest.'

'And his name?'

'Chute--Captain Trevor Chute.'

'I am he you speak of,' replied the other, feeling considerably
mystified.

'You!' exclaimed the lady, colouring.

'There is no other so named in the regiment.'

'You the Trevor Chute who was engaged to--to Clare Collingwood!' she
exclaimed.

It was Chute's turn to colour now at this blunt remark, and with some
surprise and annoyance he said:

'I knew not that our engagement was such a common topic as to be
known to every chance stranger.'

'But I am no stranger to all this,' she replied, with something of a
haughty smile; 'I have heard much of your love and devotion--a love
quite like that of a romance rather than of everyday life; but I fear
greatly that in the present instance your chances of success----'

'Are rather small,' said a voice, and Sir Carnaby Collingwood,
looking somewhat flurried and weary, but yet endeavouring to cover
his annoyance by his perpetual smile, suddenly appeared beside them.
'Got your telegram at Buchen just in time to catch the last train for
this place, and so am here; and so I find you, Evelyn, _tête-à-tête_
with Captain Chute!'

Evelyn!

So the lady was the sister of Desmond, and the newly married bride of
Sir Carnaby.  The words he had casually overheard, without
understanding their exact application, had filled him with a secret
annoyance that almost amounted to rage and jealousy.  The old baronet
was aware of Chute's great personal attractions, his popularity with
women, his charms of manner and handsome person, and of the disparity
in years between them; he was fully aware also of the name Lady
Evelyn had for scientific flirtation, and for a time he almost feared
that, perhaps in revenge, Chute might have been overattentive, or
tempted to improve the occasion, so little did he understand the real
nature of the man at whom he was gazing now with a cold stare, while
his lips attempted a smile.

'This is a doubly unexpected pleasure, Sir Carnaby,' said Chute,
presenting his hand, which the other seemed not to perceive; 'I am so
glad to have been of service to Lady Evelyn, and permit me to
congratulate----'

'Thanks, that will do,' replied the baronet, abruptly interrupting
him; 'you are too apt, sir, to thrust yourself upon members of my
family, and at times, too, when you are neither wanted nor wished
for.'

'Sir, this is most unwarrantable!' exclaimed Chute, who grew very
pale with mortification and bitterness of heart.

'Sir Carnaby!' urged the lady.

'I am astonished, Lady Evelyn, that you could so far forget the
proprieties as to sit down and sup at a common _table d'hôte_, and
with a stranger!'

'A stranger!' said Lady Evelyn, with much of hauteur in her manner,
for never in her life had she been reprehended before; 'he has been
most kind to me, and seems to know many of my friends.'

'By name, doubtless,' sneered Sir Carnaby.

'Sir,' said Chute, 'you are offensive--unnecessarily so; and, after
my past relations with your family, your manner is unjustifiable.
Were you not the father of Clare Collingwood, whom I love better than
my own life,' he added, with a tremulous voice, 'I would here, in
Lubeck, teach you--even at your years--Sir Carnaby, the peril of
insulting me thus!'

'My years! my years! impertinence!' muttered the other, who, we have
said, had conceived an unwarrantable and unjust dislike of Trevor
Chute, and now was disposed to give full swing to the emotion.
Chute's faith to Clare, like that of Vane to Ida, was a sentiment
utterly beyond Sir Carnaby's comprehension; and, indeed, was perhaps
beyond 'the present unheroic, unadventurous, unmoved, and unadmiring
age,' as it has, perhaps justly, been described.

Like all persons of her order, Lady Evelyn had a horror of everything
that bordered on a scene.  For a moment her calm _insouciance_ left
her, and she darted an angry glance at her husband, but was silent.
She had lived amidst luxury, splendour, and pleasure, power and, at
times, triumph, but now 'the perfume and effervescence of the wine
were much evaporated, and there was bitterness in the cup and a
canker in the roses that crowned its brim.'  At that moment she felt,
perhaps, ashamed of herself, and of him to whom she was bound, for
thus insulting an unoffending man.

'Yes, Sir Carnaby,' continued Chute, 'your age and relationship to
Clare, together with the presence of Lady Evelyn, alone protect you
in daring to sneer at me.'

Feeling intuitively, with all his anger, that there was something
grotesque in the situation, and that in it he was forgetting the
rules he prescribed for himself, and was in 'bad form,' he looked at
Chute for a moment with a languid but impertinent stare, and after
ringing the hand-bell, said to the head waiter:

'Desire my valet to select rooms for us on the first _étage_, if
unoccupied.  Lady Evelyn, your maid will attend you at once.'

They left the _salle_ together, she alone bowing to Chute, who,
though swelling with passion, returned it, but with frigid politeness.

'Thank Heaven,' thought he, as he tossed over a bumper of moselle,
'poor Clare knows nothing of a scene like this, and never shall from
me!'

He then thought with mad bitterness of the glory that had departed
amid the monetary misfortunes of the old general, his father; of all
that would have been, and once was, his by right to lay at the feet
of the beautiful girl that returned his love so tenderly; and his
heart seemed to shrink up within him at the tone assumed by Sir
Carnaby.

The dislike of that personage towards the man he had injured in the
past years, and openly insulted now, was at this time as great as
though the injury and the insult had been received by himself.  He
was one of whom it might be said that 'he never went out of his way
in wrath, but, all the same, he never missed his way to revenge.  He
had a good deal of ice in his nature; but it was, perhaps, the most
dangerous of ice--that which smiles in the sun, and breaks to drop
you into the grave.'

Disquietude of any kind, or mental tumult, were usually all unknown
to Sir Carnaby, and were, he thought, as unbeseeming as any
exhibition of temper; hence he was intensely provoked by the manner
in which, through his own fault, the adventures of the day had wound
up, as by means of their servants or others--perhaps Trevor Chute
himself--the affair might be noised abroad till it assumed the absurd
form of some genuine fiasco.

'Could the old man have been inflamed by the bad wine of the railway
buffets,' thought Chute.  It almost seemed so; and he began to hope
that when the morrow came, and with it temper and reflection, some
approach to a reconciliation might--especially if Lady Evelyn acted
the part of peacemaker--be made by her husband; and if anything like
an apology came, Chute felt that he would with joy take the hand of
his cold-hearted insulter.

But in the artificial life she had led since girlhood Lady Evelyn had
never found much use for a heart, and was not disposed to take upon
herself the task of pouring oil upon troubled waters.  At first she
had been inclined, in her own insipid way, to like Chute very much,
as who did not?  But afterwards she conceived a pique to him, as the
lover of Clare, for she remembered how the latter had called her
marriage 'an affaire de fantasie;' and there had been other passages
of arms between them, in which such as women, especially well-bred
ones, with a singular subtlety of the tongue, can gibe and goad each
other to the core; so, perhaps, she was not ill-pleased, after all,
that an affront had been put upon Trevor Chute as the known lover of
Clare.

Feeling himself galled, insulted, and outraged by the whole affair,
he resolved to quit Lubeck--or the hotel, certainly--the next day, if
no apology came, but it so happened that he had reason to change his
mind.

The treatment he had received at the hands of _her_ father was, to a
man of Chute's sensitive nature, a source of intense pain.

This sudden and insulting hostility to himself made the love of him
and of Clare seem more than ever hopeless, unless--unless what? in
revenge he eloped with her, but that Clare would never consent to;
and now, despite all that had passed between them at their last
interview, the old dull ache of the heart had come back to him again.

From what did the old baronet's indignation spring?

'What were we saying when he came so suddenly upon us?' thought
Chute; 'we were speaking of love, but it was mine for Clare.  Could
he have dreamed for a moment that I meant for Lady--oh, absurd!
absurd!'

Yet perhaps it was not so much so as Chute deemed it.

So long after darkness had sunk over Lubeck, he sat at his window
thinking, and smoking a favourite pipe given him by Beverley in
India, and many times he filled and emptied it without seeing his way
very clear in the future, while the clear northern moon flooded the
sky with a light against which the taper church spires of the little
city stood up in sharp and dark outlines, and the bells of the
cathedral tolled the hours in succession, and the sunshine, or at
least the grey dawn, began to steal over the woodlands that surround
Lubeck; and with it came the odour of peat, as the fires were
lighted--an odour as strong as there is in any Irish village, or a
Scottish clachan in the wilds of Lorne or Lochabar; and he strove to
court sleep, thinking that it would be better were he sleeping as
Jack Beverley did, under the shadowy shelter of the Indian palms and
the fragrance of the baubul trees.



CHAPTER XV.

'LOVE IS STRONG AS DEATH.'

Jerry Vane did not leave Carnaby Court at the time he intended to do;
with ulterior views in her kind heart, Clare pressed him to lengthen
his visit, and enjoy a few days' more shooting.  She found but little
pressing requisite to influence Jerry's actions; yet ere long he had
cause greatly to deplore that he had not taken his departure earlier,
and he was again doomed to experience a bitter shock concerning his
rival--if rival, indeed, he had.

Daily and hourly intercourse afforded him all the facilities he could
wish for now; but it seemed as though Ida would never again receive
him or accept him as her lover, yet would permit him to be the slave
of her fascinations, and without the slightest symptoms of vanity or
coquetry.  She knew all the simple and single-hearted fellow's love,
and yet, apparently, would not yield him hers.

Indeed, she had more than once hinted or said, he scarcely knew
which, as he declined to accept the proposition, that she wished his
regard for her to die away in silence.  If so, why did she permit her
sister to urge that she should remain at Carnaby Court, where, in
virtue of her widowhood, she yet presided as matron, though some
change would assuredly take place on the return of Lady Evelyn to
England.

Whatever were her motives, he could not but give himself up blindly
and helplessly to the intoxication of the present time, to gaze upon
her face, to hear her voice, and conjure up the hope that a time
would come when she would love him better than ever.  Besides, her
society was full of many charms.  As in Clare, there was in Ida a
wonderful attraction to a companion.  She had, though young,
travelled much in Europe, and seen all that was worth seeing.  She
was thus familiar with many countries; and so far as their histories
and traditions went, together with a knowledge of literature that was
classic, refined, abstruse, and even mystic, as we have shown, she
was far beyond an everyday young Englishman like Jerry Vane.

'I am neither a boy nor a madman, yet I dream like both in hanging on
here as I do!' he would sometimes say in bitterness; and then he
would recall her remarkable words on that evening in town--'It may be
that we have only been in our hearts waiting for each other after
all.'

From what did these hopeful words spring?--coquetry, mockery,
reality, or what?

She was never known to coquet; she was too genuine a creature for
mockery; hence, they must have been reality, and, full of this
conviction, he resolved once more to put it to the issue on the first
opportunity, and one was secured on the very afternoon he made the
resolution.

He had not, that day, gone to shoot; the men were all abroad; nearly
all the ladies were out driving or riding, save Ida, whom he found in
the curtained oriel of the inner drawing-room, where she was standing
alone and gazing out on the far-stretching landscape, that was
steeped in the evening sunshine; the square spire of the village
church, the tossing arms of an old windmill, the yellow-thatched
roofs of white-walled cottages stood out strongly against the dark
green of the woodlands at the end of a long vista of the chase, and
made a charming picture.  In the middle distance was some pasture
land, where several of Sir Carnaby's fierce little Highland cattle
and great fat brindled Alderneys stood knee-deep amid the rich grass.

Perhaps she was thinking of how often she had ridden there with
Beverley, and loved to hear him compliment her on the daring grace
and ease with which she topped her fences, and the lightness of hand
with which she lifted her bay cob's head; and Jerry feared that some
such thoughts might be passing through her mind as he paused
irresolutely and thought how beautiful was the outline and pose of
her darkly dressed figure against the flood of light that poured
through the painted oriel.

The dark shadow had been less upon her to-day than usual, and on
hearing his footstep on the soft carpet she turned and welcomed him
with a bright smile.  Would that smile ever change again to coldness
and gloom?  Would his hand ever again wander lovingly and half
fatuously among the richness of her auburn hair, that shone like
plaits of golden sheen in the light?  Heaven alone knew.

'Dear Ida,' said he, longing, but not venturing to take her hand (he
had been on the point of saying 'darling'--had he not been privileged
once to do so?), 'I am so glad to find you thus alone, for I have
much to say, too, that cannot brook interruption.'

'Say on, then, Jerry,' said she, knowing too surely it would be 'the
old, old story,' while his devotion seemed to touch and pain her, for
she did honour and pity him, as she had already admitted.

'Ida, save on that night in the conservatory, I have hitherto, from
motives that you must be well aware of--motives most pure and
honourable--never spoken to you of the love that my heart has never,
never ceased to feel for you.'

'Love is no word for me to listen to now, Jerry.'

'Not from--from _me_?'

'Even from you, Jerry.'

'I implore you to be mine, Ida.  Do not weep--do not turn away--you
stand alone now; this recent marriage has made your home a broken
one; I, too, am alone, and each needs the love of the other.  Do not
trifle with me, Ida!'

'Trifle--I--oh, Jerry Vane.'

'You loved me once!' he urged, drawing very near.

'Yes--I loved you once,' she said, vaguely and wearily.

_Once!_  How cruel the speech sounded, though she did not mean it to
be so, of course; for as she turned to him, an infinite tenderness
filled her sparkling eyes of grey or violet blue--for times there
were when they seemed both; and his met them with something wistful
and pathetic in their gaze as he said:

'Ida, dearest Ida, time and separation--separation that seemed as if
it would be lifelong, have but strengthened the regard I bear you;
and now--now----'

'That I am free, you would say?'

'I entreat you to be mine.  Your father would wish it, and I know
that dear Clare does.  All my brightest hopes and associations, all
my fondest memories are of you; and all have been bound up now in the
hope that we might yet be so happy, beloved Ida.'

'Do not address me thus,' said she, imploringly, as she covered her
eyes with her slender fingers tightly interlaced.

'Ah--why?' he asked, entreatingly, and venturing to put a hand
lightly on each side of her little waist; but she stepped back, and
said in a low and concentrated voice:

'Because--how shall I say it?  Each time you speak thus the strange
thrill I spoke of passes through me.'

'A thrill?'

'A shudder!' she answered,

'What causes it?'

'I cannot, cannot tell'

'My poor Ida! your nerves are all unstrung, and that absurd book of
Reichenbach's has made you worse.  Promise to marry me, Ida, and we
will go to Switzerland, to Scotland, or anywhere that the breezes of
mountains or the sea may restore you to what you once were, even as
fate has restored you to me!'

But the lovely head was shaken sadly, and the pale face was turned to
the distant landscape.  The passion with which he loved her was of a
quality certainly very rare in the world of 'society,' she knew that.

'Your wants are very simple, as your tastes are, Ida, and my fortune
is more than equal to your own--in worldly matters there can be
nothing wanting.'

'I know, Jerry, that a devotion such as yours deserves all the love I
could and ought to give it; and yet----'

She paused, and permitted him to retain her hand.  Was she, in spite
of her asseverations to the contrary, about to love him after all?
The heart of Vane beat wildly amid the dawn of fresh hope.

'Many men have loved, Ida,' he urged, in a soft, low, passionate
tone; 'but it seems to me that I love you as few men have ever loved
before.  From the first moment I met you I loved
you--and--and--surely circumstances have tested and tried that love
to the uttermost.'

'Most true, Jerry.'

'I ask not of what your--your regard has been for another since we
parted; I ask you only to love me as you did before that time, if you
can.'

The words that Vane spoke came from the depth of the honest fellow's
heart, in the full tide of emotion, and Ida could not fail to be
touched; and as she gave him one of her profound yet indefinable
glances of pity, the light in her beautiful eyes seemed to brighten
as her lashes drooped, and Jerry read in them an expression he had
not seen there since the happy time that was past.

In fact, Ida seemed to be trembling in her heart to think how
dear--was it indeed so?--how dear Jerry Vane was becoming to her
again, and how necessary to her his society was daily becoming, and
how like the old time it was--more like than, with all her past love
for Jack Beverley and her strange dreams and hauntings, she dared to
acknowledge to herself!

'Say, Ida, that the gap in my life is to be forgotten--filled up it
can never be!'

'Jerry, Jerry,' she urged, 'do not press me so--at present, at least!'

She was yielding after all.

'May I hope that you will accept me yet?' he said, pressing her hand
caressingly between both of his.

'A heart is not worth having, Jerry, that accords to pity only what
it should accord to love.  You have all my esteem, and, perhaps, in
time, Jerry----'

She paused and shuddered visibly, and sank back with eyes half closed
and a hand pressed on her bosom as if about to faint or fall, but
Jerry's arm supported her.

'Good heavens, that sensation again!' he exclaimed.

'I must struggle against it, or it will conquer me,' she said,
suddenly regaining her firmness and striving to crush or shake off
the nervous emotion that shook her fragile form and gentle spirit.

'My darling, I am to blame; oh, pardon me, if I, at a time when your
health--your nervous system, at least--so selfishly urge my claim
upon your heart, for a strong and tender claim I have, indeed, Ida.'

There was in this an eloquence greater than more florid phrases could
express, as he spoke, for it seemed as if Jerry's very soul was spent
in what he said.  After a pause, he said, with an arm still round her:

'I will not press you to answer me now, dearest Ida; you are pale and
seem so weary.  I will go, but ere I do so, give me one kiss in
memory of the past, if not to encourage hope for the future.'

She lifted her sweet face to his, and there was infinite tenderness,
but no passion in the kiss she accorded him so frankly; and Vane was
but too sensible of that; while a sound like a deep sigh fell at the
same moment on the ears of both.

'Who sighed?' she asked, startled, in the fear that they were
overseen or overheard; 'did you, Jerry?'

'No; yourself, perhaps, darling.'

'Nay--I sigh often enough, but I did not do so now, Jerry.'

'Most strange!  We must have deceived ourselves, for here are people
coming,' he added, as steps were heard in the outer drawing-room.
'You will give me a final answer, then?' he urged, in a deep, soft
whisper.

'Yes.'

'When?'

'This evening.'

'Bless you, darling Ida.  Where?

'After dinner--we dine at six--say eight o'clock, in the rhododendron
walk.'

And as she left him, on her pouting lip and in her grey-blue
eyes--eyes that seemed black at night--Jerry thought that the sadness
was gone, and replaced by the beautiful smile of old.  Unheard by
both, the dressing-bell for dinner had already rung, and several of
the sportsmen, Sir John Oriel, Colonel Rakes, and others, entered the
room.  Among them was Major Desmond, the languid, irrepressible, and
imperturbable Desmond--who, en route from town, had turned up for a
single day's cover shooting at Carnaby Court.

Overcome by the new tide of his own thoughts, Jerry Vane hurriedly
left them to talk over their hits, misses, experiences, and exploits
of the day, the results of which had filled a small-sized pony cart.

He retired to his room to dress, and threw open the window to admit
the autumn breeze, that it might cool his flushed cheeks and
throbbing temples.  The kiss of that beloved lip--albeit one so
coldly given--yet seemed to linger on his, and all nature around him
seemed to grow lighter now that hope had swelled in his heart.

Lit by the evening sun, the leaves of the masses of wild roses and
other creepers that clambered round the mullioned window of his room,
seemed to murmur pleasantly on the passing breeze, that brought also
the chimes of the village spire, the voices of the exulting birds,
and the pleasant rustle of the old oak trees in the chase.  To the
ear of Jerry Vane there seemed to be a melody in all the voices of
nature now, for his own heart was all aglow with joy.



CHAPTER XVI.

'JEALOUSY CRUEL AS THE GRAVE.'

He could gather from the manner of Ida nothing of what was passing in
her mind during dinner.  He observed, however, that she wore on this
occasion a flower in her auburn hair, the first with which she had
appeared since the time of her mourning--a simple white rose.  He
remembered that he had admired the simple decoration long ago, and
that she had been wont to wear it to please him ere she had worn
flowers to please another, so hope grew stronger in the heart of Vane.

She chatted away with Desmond and joined in the general conversation
with more gaiety than usual, but not without showing a little
abstraction at times, as if her thoughts wandered.  She accorded
little more than an occasional glance to Vane, with a soft smile on
her sweet face, though there was the old languor in all her actions
and manner, while she gave a programme of the forthcoming Christmas
festivities at Carnaby Court, to which he, and some of the others
present, were invited.

At last the ladies left the room, and the last glance, as she
retired, rested on _him_.  Jerry's heart beat like lightning.  The
hands of the clock above the mantel-piece were close upon the hour of
eight when--after having to linger over a glass or two of wine--he
quitted the table, and the house unperceived, and hastening through
the garden, where the few flowers of autumn were lingering yet, he
reached the appointed place, the long vista of which he could see in
the twilight, bordered by gigantic rhododendron bushes, intermingled
with lilac trees and Portugal laurels.

She had not yet come, and with a heart in which much of joyous
happiness was blended with hope and anxiety, Jerry walked slowly to
and fro, as he knew not at which end of the alley she might appear.
The sun had set more than an hour and a half; there was a deep
crimson flush in the west, against which the great trees of the chase
stood up still, motionless, and dark as bronze, for the night was
calm, without a breath of wind, and the garden was so lonely and
still, that Jerry thought he could actually hear the beating of his
heart.

Time stole on; the twilight passed away, and the shadows and shapes
became lost and blended in darkness.  The clock in the central gable
of the court struck quarter after quarter, till Jerry, peevish with
impatience now, and alone, too, found the hour of nine was nigh, and
that Ida had not appeared.

Could he have mistaken the place, or she the time?  Had sudden
illness come upon her, as her health was so uncertain now?  Had she
been interrupted by some of their numerous guests?  To forget, or
omit to come, were surely impossible!

A distant step on the ground made his pulses quicken.

'At last, dearest, dearest Ida!' he muttered aloud.

But no; that could not be the step of Ida, hastening lightly and
quickly to keep her appointment.  It was a slow and heavy one--that
of a man; and Major Desmond came sauntering along, in full evening
costume, with his hands in his coat-pockets, and the red glowing end
of a cigar projecting from his bushy moustache.  He was chuckling,
laughing to himself, and evidently much amused by something.

Vane would gladly have avoided him and quitted the rhododendron walk,
but to do so might be to lose the last chance of seeing whether Ida
kept her appointment; while, if she came, it might indicate that one
had been made.

He could but hope that the tall guardsman would pass and leave him;
but it was not to be so.  He had partaken freely of wine, and he was
disposed to be jocular, confidential, and particularly friendly, so
he passed his arm through Vane's, saying:

'As I passed into the garden a few minutes ago, just to enjoy a
soothing weed, I made the funniest discovery in the world--by Jove I
did!'

'You discovered what?' asked Vane, intensely annoyed.

'Well--ah--that, with all her grief for our friend Beverley, I don't
think the fair Ida is quite beyond being consoled.  Do you take?'

'Not in the least,' was the curt response.

'She has an admirer.'

'Many, I should think,' replied Jerry, becoming more and more amazed
and nettled by the tone and laughter of the guardsman.

'But she has one in particular, I tell you.'

'Who do you mean?' asked Vane, colouring, as he thought the reference
was to himself.

'By Jove, that is more than I can tell you!' said Desmond, with
another quiet laugh, as he tossed his cigar away; 'I only know that
as I lounged slowly past the arbour where the marble statue stands,
about ten minutes ago, I saw her in close proximity--quite a
confabulation--with a fellow, though I did not hear their voices;
doubtless they were "low and sweet," like that of Annie Laurie.'

Was this assertion a piece of Desmond's impudence, or the result of
the baronet's champagne? his idea of wit, fun, or what?

Jerry Vane felt his face first redden and then grow pale with fury in
the dark.

'You must be mistaken,' he said, sternly--almost imperiously.

'Not at all, Vane,' replied the other; 'I passed on without affecting
to perceive them; but I could make out that the fellow who hung over
her as she sat at the table was not one of the guests--very pale,
with a black, lanky moustache.'

'Oh, it is impossible!' urged Vane in a very strange voice.

'Not at all, I tell you,' replied Desmond, in a somewhat nettled
tone.  'I simply amused myself with the fun of the thing.  I heard a
sound, and on looking up saw her start up, look at her watch, and
then hurry--almost rush----'

'This way?'

'Oh, no!'

'Whither, then?'

'Straight into the house by the back drawing-room window.'  And the
tall dandy stroked his long moustache, and uttered one of his quiet
laughs again.

Vane, past making any comment, remained silent and in utter
bewilderment.  His heart seemed to stand still; and he felt a more
deadly jealousy, a more sickening and permanent pang in it, than he
had ever endured before.  He remembered what he himself had seen in
that bower, and recalled the eavesdropper in the conservatory, who
was seen by another, and whose personal appearance tallied exactly
with what Desmond had said, and an emotion of heart-sick misery--of
bitter, bitter disappointment and hopeless desolation, came upon him.

Great was the mental torture he endured for some moments.  While he
had been awaiting her in that walk, with such emotions in his soul as
were known only to heaven and himself, she had been in dalliance with
another--an unknown man--in that accursed bower _again_!  'Violent
passions,' he knew, 'are formed in solitude.  In the bustle of the
world no object has time to make deep impression.'  So are deep
emotions formed in solitude; but where had she learned to love this
unknown, if love she did? and if she did not, what was the object of
their secret meetings, and whence the power he seemed to have over
her?

All these ideas and many more flashed through the mind of Jerry Vane,
whose lips became dry as dust.  His tongue, though parched, seemed
cleaving to the roof of his mouth, whilst a rush of blood seemed
mounting to his brain, and a giddiness came upon him.  He heard the
drawling and 'chaffing' remarks upon the arbour scene, which Desmond
had resumed, but knew not a word he said, while arm-and-arm he
mechanically promenaded to and fro with him.

He had but one idea--Ida false, and _thus_!

He knew not what to think, in whom to believe, or in whom to trust
now, if it were so.  Heaven, could such falsehood be, and within a
few brief hours! he thought.

Then for the first time there began to creep into the heart of Vane
something of that hatred which in the end becomes so fierce, cruel,
and bitter--the hate that is born of baffled or unrequited love!

Anon, his heart wavered again; the unwonted emotion began to die
away; it seemed too strange and unnatural and the passion he had for
Ida vanquished him once more, by suggestions of utter unbelief, or
there being an unexplainable, but dreadful, mistake somewhere.

It could not be that all along she had been deceiving him and others
by playing a double game of dissimulation, while acting outwardly
such gravity and grief!  The soft and sad expression of the chaste
and sweetly pretty face that seemed before him even then forbade the
idea, yet the galling fear, the stinging suspicion, remained behind.

'She refused Jerningham, of ours, who was foolish enough to propose
in the first flush of her widowhood, and she refused Jack Rakes of
the Coldstreams last month, and sent him off to the Continent to
console himself,' Desmond was saying; 'she has vowed, they say, that
she would never, never marry, after the death of that fellow in the
line--what's his name?--Beverley, don't you know, and here I find her
billing and cooing most picturesquely in an arbour!  It is right good
fun, by Jove!  I only wonder who the party is that was receiving "the
outpouring of an enamoured heart, secluded in moral widowhood;" and I
might have discovered, if I had only pretended to blunder into the
arbour; but then I hate to make a scene, and it's deuced bad form to
spoil sport.'

Vane felt it in his heart to knock the laughing plunger down, when
hearing him run on thus.

It began to seem painfully evident that all this episode could not be
falsification.  Major Desmond had no particular interest in Ida,
though piqued, as much as it was in his lazy nature to be, at Clare,
for refusing the lounging offer he had made her.

For the other he had neither liking nor disliking; but, in all he
told Vane, he seemed inspired only by that love of gossipy chit-chat
in which even men of the best position will indulge by the hour at
their club or elsewhere, together, perhaps, with the desire, so
invariable, to quiz the grief of a widow, especially if she is young
and handsome.

'There is,' says a writer, 'no weakness of which men are so ashamed
of being convicted as credulity, and there is none so natural to an
honest nature.'

But to the storm that gathered in the honest heart of Jerry were
added rage, astonishment, and an overwhelming sense of utter
disappointment.

Where had this unknown come from, and whither did he go?  Where had
she met him, and how long had this mysterious, and, to all
appearance, secret intimacy lasted?  What manner of man was he, that
she was ashamed to have him introduced to her family?  He had
heard--he had certainly _read_--of ladies, even of the highest, most
delicate nurture and tender culture, by some madness, inversion of
the mind, or by temptation of the devil, taking wild fancies for
valets and grooms, and even marrying them in secret, and thus at
times all manner of horrible speculations crowded into the now giddy
brain of Jerry.

Ida! wildly as he loved her he would rather she were dead than less
or not what he supposed and believed her to be; but he thought
bitterly, 'Alas! where was there ever man or woman who reached the
spiritualised standard of idealistic love?'

So, in spite of himself--it was not in human nature that it could be
otherwise--his old jealousy, that barbarous yet just leaven which he
had felt in the past time, when she preferred Jack Beverley to
himself, grew in his heart again.

He marvelled much how she would look when he joined her among other
guests in the drawing-room; but the face he had looked for so
anxiously was not there when he and Desmond entered it; and he was
actually somewhat relieved when he was informed by Clare that Ida was
unable to appear, and had retired to her room 'with a crushing
headache.'

He expressed some well-bred sorrow to hear this, very mechanically
and quietly, adding that he was the more sorry to hear it as he
believed he would have to leave for town early on the morrow.

Clare heard this sudden announcement with surprise, and regarded
Jerry's face earnestly.



CHAPTER XVII.

A QUARREL.

But one idea or conviction, prevailed in the mind of Jerry Vane:

'She who was so readily false to me before, may easily be so again!'

If he slept at all that night, his sleep was but a succession of
nightmares, with dreams such as might spring from a slumber procured
by the mandragora; one aching thought ever recurring amid the
darkness of the waking hours, and all the more keenly when morning
came, and he knew that he must inexorably see and talk with Ida in
the usual commonplace way before others, ere he left her for ever,
and quitted Carnaby Court to return no more.

The tortures he had endured he resolved never to endure again.  It
should never be in the power of Ida or any other woman to place her
heel upon his heart and crush it, as she had crushed it twice!

Yet when he saw her at the breakfast-table, in all her fresh morning
loveliness, and in the most becoming demi-toilette, with her gorgeous
hair so skilfully manipulated by her maid, and her grave, chastely
beautiful face rippling with a kind--almost fond--smile, as if
greeting him and asking his forgiveness too, he knew not what to
think, but strove to steel himself against her for the future.

She had a newly gathered white rose--his flower, she was wont to call
it--in her bosom; and that rose was not whiter than the slender neck
round which the frills of tulle were clasped by a tiny coral brooch.

At times, when he looked on her, and heard the steadiness of her
musical voice and sweet silvery little laugh, and beheld the perfect
ease of her manner and the candour of her eyes, he could have
imagined the affair in the garden to have been a dream, but for the
strange and conscious smile that hovered in the face of Desmond when
he addressed Ida, while making a hurried breakfast before his
departure for London.

'I would take the same train with you, Desmond,' said Vane, 'but that
my things are not packed.'

'Do you leave us so soon?' asked Ida, who overheard him.

'I must,' said Vane, for whom there had been no letters that morning,
much to his annoyance, as he wished to plead something like a genuine
excuse to Clare for taking an abrupt departure.  'I mean to leave
England--perhaps even Europe, if I can.'

'For where?' asked Ida, growing very pale.

'Well, I scarcely know,' replied Vane, with a laugh that certainly
had no merriment in it.

'Do you really mean this?'

'Yes,' he replied, curtly.

She was silent, but looked at him pleadingly, and even upbraidingly
across the table, while Jerry, becoming, as he thought, grim as Ajax,
busied himself with a piece of partridge pie.

'No, no,' thought he; 'I shall not again begin that hazardous play
with love, which some one truly calls "the deadly gambling of heart
and thought and sense, which casts all stakes in faith upon the
venture of another's life."'

He had hoped that by the mere force of his own passionate love for
her some tenderness might be reawakened in her heart for him; and
now--now, after all, she was actually fooling him--vulgarly fooling
him!

By a glance that was exchanged between them they tacitly quitted the
room when breakfast was over, and passed together--he following with
undisguised reluctance--into the garden, through a window which
opened like a folding-door on the back terrace of the mansion.

'What is the meaning of this sudden departure, Jerry?' she asked,
when they reached a part of the garden near the very bower Desmond
had referred to.  'Do you mean it?'

'I do.'

'How strange you are in your manner, Jerry!  Look at me! why, you are
quite pale!'

He dared not tell her the cause at first; he felt ashamed of his own
folly--ashamed of her and of the accusation he had to make.

'I was in the rhododendron walk last night.  You did not come, as you
promised.'

'I--I could not,' said she, her pallor increasing, as she cast down
her eyes.

'My heart was wrung by your absence, Ida; but still more wrung--ay,
tortured nigh unto death--by the cause!'

'_Cause?_' said she, trembling.

'Yes,' he replied, sharply and bitterly.

'Oh, you know not the cause,' she said sadly, as she shook her head.

'I do know, and so do others; but I have no right to question your
actions or control your movements--no warrant for--God help me, Ida,
I scarcely know what I say.'

'So it seems,' said she, a little haughtily.

'Oh, Ida, what is this man to you?' he asked, huskily.

'To me--who--what man?' she asked, with a bewildered air.

'He who is always hanging about you--he who detained you in that
arbour last night, when you promised to meet me, and give me the
answer I prayed for in yonder oriel.'

Astonishment, alarm, and anxiety pervaded the delicate coldness of
her pure, pale face, and then a flush--the hectic of unwonted
anger--crossed it.

'Jerry--Mr. Vane--are you mad?' she exclaimed.  'How dare you address
me thus?'

'Mad--I fear so; but for the love of pity, Ida----'

'Well, sir.'

'Tell me, what am I to think?'

'Enough,' said she coldly; 'the words we have exchanged are most
painful to us both.'

'They are agony to me, Ida.  But say, were you in that arbour last
night?'

'On the way to meet you, _I was_,' she replied, but with hesitation
in her manner.

'And there you remained?'

'Oh, thrice I endeavoured to leave the arbour and keep my appointment
with you, and then--then----'

She paused, and her voice died away upon her quivering lip.

'What?  Speak, dearest Ida.'

'That strange magnetic influence, which I told you impels my actions
and controls my movements, came over me like a species of drowsy
sleep, and I remained till the time to meet you was long since past.'

'And _he_ who had this influence over you--he who detained you,' said
Vane, bitterly and incredulously.

'Jerry! this to _me_!' she exclaimed, her eyes expressive now of sad
reproach.  'Think of me as you will, I can explain no more.'

Her eyes closed, her little white hands were clenched and pressed
upon her bosom, and again, as yesterday in the oriel, she seemed on
the point of sinking.  She had suddenly become bewildered and
confused, and this bewilderment and confusion were but too painfully
apparent to the sorrowing and exasperated Vane.

Was she thinking it possible that _that_ of which she had spoken in a
moment of confidence to Trevor Chute--the thing or being unseen, but
which she felt conscious of being near her--could have been by her
side in that dark arbour then, or what caused her emotion?  Did a
memory of the icy and irrepressible shudder she felt at times, when
that dread pang occurred to her, come over her then?

Perhaps so, for the nameless dread that paralysed her tongue made her
more tolerant to Jerry.  Anon she recovered herself, and pride of
heart, dignity of position, and a sense of insult came to her rescue
and restored her strength, and she looked Vane steadily, even
haughtily, in the face.

'You put my faith to a hard test, Ida,' said he; 'God alone knows how
hard.'

'If I could spare you a pang, Mr. Vane, He knows I would,' she
replied; 'but when last you spoke to me about a strange gentleman
being with me in the arbour, I thought your manner odd and
unwarrantable, and now I think it more so.  I trust this is the last
time the subject will be referred to--and, and--now I wish you
good-morning.'

And bowing with gravity and grace, not unmingled with hauteur, she
swept away towards the house and left him.  Great was the shock this
event, and this most unanticipated interview or explanation, gave the
heart of Vane, who made not the slightest attempt to detain her, or
soothe the indignation he had apparently kindled; but he stood rooted
to the spot, motionless as the marble Psyche on its pedestal close by.

If perfidy rendered her unworthy of him, why regret her?  Yet it was
so hard, so bitter, and so unnatural to deem her so.  With all his
pride, we have said that Jerry had none with Ida, and the moment the
accusation against her escaped him, he repented of it.  With all her
tenderness and gentleness, he knew how dignified and resolute Ida
could be.  He recalled all the varying expressions he had seen in her
sweet face, great amazement, pain, alarm, and sorrow, culminating in
indignation and pride; and though she left him in undisguised anger,
he still seemed to hear the pathos of her voice, which seemed filled
with unshed tears.

Was he yielding her up in anger now, and not in sorrow as before, to
another who would revel in all the spells of her beauty and
sweetness, and thus ruining all for himself again?

Then he said through his clenched teeth:

'What matters it?  If she is so perfidious, let her go.  But I have
been too long here playing the moonstruck fool.'

Yet with a pitiful desperation he clung to the faint hope that ere he
left, some explanation, other than he had received, might be given
him; that another interview might pass between them which would
change the present gloomy aspect of their affairs, and place them
even on their former vague and unsatisfactory basis.  But Major
Desmond had taken his departure during the interview in the garden;
thus Vane had no opportunity of recurring to what he had related
overnight in the garden; and Ida remained studiously aloof,
sequestered in her own room, and he saw no more till the moment of
his departure, and even then not a word passed between them.

Clare Collingwood heard with genuine concern the announcement of
Vane's sudden departure that day; he was the sole link between her
and Trevor Chute, and the medium through which she heard of all the
wanderer's movements.

It was long past mid-day ere he could leave the Court, and as he
passed through the hall he saw the ladies taking their afternoon tea
in the morning room, and amid that brilliant group, with their
shining silks and rich laces, their perfumed hair and glittering
ornaments, he saw only the bright Aurora tresses and sombre dress of
Ida, her jet ear-rings and necklet contrasting so powerfully with the
paleness of her blonde beauty--the wondrous whiteness of her skin.
She was smiling lightly now at Violet, who was coquetting with, or
quizzing, old Colonel Rakes.

Why should not Ida smile when the eyes of 'Society' were upon her?

It fretted Vane, however, that she should be doing so on the eve of
his departure, and added fuel to the fire that consumed him.  He was
just in the humour to quarrel with trifles.  He simply bade her adieu
as he did all the rest, and bowed himself out; but he could not
resist making some explanation to Clare, who followed him to the
porch, and whose expressive eyes seemed to ask it, for she had
detected in a moment that something unusual had passed between him
and Ida.

She heard him with pain and bewilderment.

'All this must, and shall, be fully explained,' said Clare, with her
dark eyes swimming in tears.

'I doubt it.'

'Doubt not!' said she, firmly, 'and, dear Jerry, promise me that you
will forget your quarrel with Ida, and visit us again at Christmas;
papa and--and Lady Evelyn will be home long before that.  Do you
promise?'

'I promise you, Clare--dear Clare, you were ever my friend,' said he,
in a broken voice, as he kissed her hand, and would have kissed her
cheek, perhaps, but for the servants who stood by; and in half an
hour afterwards the train was sweeping him onward to London.

'I had hoped, Ida, that Jerry Vane's visit would have had a different
termination than this,' said Clare, the moment she got her sister
alone.  'Why, you have actually quarrelled.'

'No, not quarrelled,' urged Ida.

'What then?'

'Parted coldly, certainly.'

'Why did you not keep your appointment with him?'

Again the expression that Vane had seen on her face--pain and
embarrassment, sorrow and bewilderment, were all visible to Clare,
who had to repeat the question three times; then Ida said:

'As he himself has told you, he accused me--me--of meeting another,
and I was almost bluntly accused thus, Clare, when--when I was
certainly beginning to feel that I might love him with the emotion
that I deemed dead in my heart and impossible to resuscitate.'

'All this seems most inexplicable to me!' said Clare, with the
smallest expression of irritation in her tone.  'Poor Jerry! he loves
you very truly, Ida, and sorely indeed has that love been tested.'

'He loved me because he believed in me; that regard will cease when
he ceases to believe, as he has done, through some insulting
suspicion, the source or cause of which is utterly beyond my
conception,' said Ida, wearily and sadly.  Then she threw an arm
round the waist of Clare, and lying on her sister's breast, said in a
low voice, 'Another seems to hold me by bonds that will never be
unloosed, Clare.'

'_Another_, Ida!'

'Beverley.'

'What madness is this?' asked Clare, regarding her sister's face with
great and deep anxiety.

'I loved Beverley as I never loved Jerry; it was, indeed, the passion
which Scott describes as given by God alone:

  '"It is the secret sympathy,
  The silver link, the silken tie,
  Which heart to heart and mind to mind
  _In body and in soul can bind_."

Beverley's last words were that we should meet again; and we have met
again--nay, seem to be always meeting in my thoughts by day and
dreams by night; but always the memory of him was most vivid when
Jerry Vane was near me or in my mind.'

'How will all this end?' said Clare, in a voice of sorrow.  'I would
that papa were here.'

'He had never much sympathy with, or toleration for, my grief, and
now that it is passing away, he would have still less with these
secret thoughts or strange impressions I have told to you, dear
Clare, and even hinted at to Trevor Chute.'

'It is a disease of the mind, Ida; but all this seems so
incomprehensible to me.  Surely we have power and will over our own
acts, and even in these days, when so much is said, thought,
written--yes, and practised too, about spiritualism, mysticism, etc.,
there is the danger of adopting that as an _inevitable law_ to which
we must conform, but which we should with all our power resist as the
vilest of superstition.'

Ida only shook her head mournfully, and poor Clare's motherly and
sisterly heart was stirred within her.  She knew not what to think;
but she clung to the hope that ultimately a marriage with Jerry Vane
would dissipate these morbid impressions with which the mind of Ida
had become so singularly and so strongly imbued.

But now, after this, rumours began to spread--though the strange man,
if man he was, had disappeared, and was seen no more, but seemed to
have taken his departure with Jerry Vane--rumours born of chance,
remarks overheard by listening servants, and taken to the still-room,
the kitchen, the stable court and gamekeeper's lodge, of spectral
appearances in the rhododendron walk, in the arbour where the Psyche
stood, and elsewhere about the ancient mansion, till at last, through
Major Desmond, they actually reached the ears of Sir Carnaby
Collingwood abroad, and though they excited the merriment and languid
curiosity of Lady Evelyn, they caused him anger and annoyance, and
not a little contempt: 'Such stories are such deuced bad form--get
into the local papers, and all that sort of thing, don't you know.'

One fact became pleasantly apparent to Clare ere long, that though
Ida regretted the departure of Vane, and still more the inexplicable
cause of their mutual coldness, her health for a time improved
rapidly: the colour came back to her cheek, and the brightness to her
eyes; she loved as of old to take her share in pleasures and
amusements; and the chill shiver she had been wont to experience
affected her less and less--but for a time only.



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE EMEUTE AT LUBECK.

At the Stadt Hamburg Sir Carnaby and his bride probably secluded
themselves in their own apartments on the day after the unpleasant
rencontre related in Chapter XIV.; at least Trevor Chute saw nothing
of them at the _table d'hôte_, which was filled by its usual
frequenters, officers of the garrison, German Jews and Jewesses, and
those whose names inevitably figure on the board in the hall as
'Grafs, Herrs, Rentiers, and Privatiers.'

Avoiding the hotel--on consideration, Chute saw no reason why _he_
should change his quarters--he had 'done' all Lubeck, seen the Dom or
Cathedral, a huge red-brick edifice of the twelfth century, with its
wonderful screen, stone pulpit, and brass font; the Marien Kirche,
with its astronomical clock, where daily the figures of the seven
Electors pass in review, and bow before the Emperor; the wonderful
old Rathhaus; and the stone in the marketplace whereon 'the Byng' of
Lubeck, Admiral Mark Meyer, was judicially murdered for not fighting
a Danish fleet; the wood carvings in the Schusselbuden Strasse; and
the famous letter of Sir William Wallace to the Hans cities--the
first 'free trade' document the world ever saw; and when evening was
come again he found himself seated, somewhat weary and almost alone,
at the long board of the _table d'hôte_ in the great dining-room.

A tempestuous sun was setting in the west, against the crimson glow
of which the black kites, like flies amid wine, seemed to float above
the trees of the Linden Platz; and the waters of the Trave and the
Wakenitz were reddened, as they flowed past the timber-clothed
ramparts, the copse woods and turfy moors, towards the sea.

Something portentous seemed in the air, the sky, and even in the
manner of the people of Lubeck that evening.  Trevor Chute observed
that the Prussian officers who were at the table, or smoking under
the verandah outside the windows, all talked confidentially of
something that was expected--he could not make out what, and the
military eye of Chute observed that, since noon, double sentinels had
been posted at the Burg Thor, the Rathhaus, and elsewhere.

The thoughts of Trevor Chute went back over the many stirring events
of his past life since he had known Clare and been rent from
her--events full of sporting excitement, of military peril, and
Indian adventures, of rapid change by land and sea, of aimless
wanderings like the present, of wet night marches and wild gallops,
amid the scorching heats of the Punjaub, when men fell by the
wayside, stricken and foaming at the mouth with sunstroke, or
writhing with the deadlier cholera, and he knew not why all this
retrospect occurred to him.  Was he on the eve of any great danger?
It almost seemed so.

The evening closed in dark and gloomy, and though the atmosphere was
stifling, Chute perceived that the lower windows of the hotel were
being all closed and barricaded.  He was then informed by the _Ober
Kellner_ that a serious riot was expected by 'His High Wisdom, the
Senior Burgomaster,' among the tradesmen and working population, who
were all 'on strike,' and hence the doubling of the guards on the
town house and at the city gates.

Sounds of alarm from time to time, shouts and other noises, were
heard in the echoing streets, then followed the tolling of an alarm
bell, and the beating of the Prussian drums, while flames began to
redden the sky in one quarter, thus indicating that the houses of
some persons obnoxious to the rabble had been set on fire outside the
Holstein Thor.

Despite the advice of the landlord and the waiters, Trevor Chute
remained on the steps at the hotel door, enjoying a cigar, and
determined to see what was going on, though but little was visible,
as in the streets the rioters had turned off the gas.  Ere long he
could make out something like the head of a great column debouching
over the open space before the hotel.

For a moment nothing could be distinguished but that it was a crowd,
shadows moving in the shade, but accompanied by a roar of sounds,
cheers, hoarse hurrahs, oaths and imprecations in German, with the
patois of Schleswig and of Holstein.  The rabble, consisting of many
thousands, were in readiness to commit outrage on anyone or anything
that came in their way, and were now in fierce pursuit of an open
droski that was brought at a gallop up to the door of the hotel, and
out of which there sprang, looking very pale and bewildered, Sir
Carnaby Collingwood and Lady Evelyn, whom the crowd had overtaken
when returning from a visit to one of the three Syndics.  Above the
heads of the grimy rabble seven or eight torches were shaking like
tufts of flame, and by their uncertain glare added much to the terror
of the scene, for a madly infuriated mob has terrors that are
peculiarly its own, and the simple circumstance that Sir Carnaby and
Lady Evelyn were the occupants of a hired vehicle was sufficient to
make all these half-starved and tipsified boors--tipsy with beer and
fiery corn-brandy--turn their vengeance on them.

Even while rushing alongside the fast-flying wheels--for the driver
lashed his horses to a gallop--they could see that Sir Carnaby was an
aristocrat, an _hochgeboren_, or well-born man; that was enough to
ensure insult and ridicule, or worse, and all the more when they
discovered that he was an Englishman--and, like a true Englishman,
the baronet, with all his folly and shortcomings in many ways, did
not want a proper amount of pluck.

All that passed now seemed to do so with the quickness of lightning.

Sir Carnaby, highly exasperated by what he had undergone, and the
terror of Lady Evelyn, instead of retiring at once into the hotel,
unwisely turned and struck the foremost man in the crowd a sharp blow
across the face with his cane.

The voices of the crowd now burst into one united roar of senseless
rage, and a piercing and agonising shriek escaped Lady Evelyn, as she
saw him seized by many hands, torn from her side, and dragged
violently along the streets, amid shouts of 'To the Trave!--to the
Trave!'

She did not and could not love this old man--she was, perhaps,
incapable of loving anyone--but she loved well the position her
marriage gave her, though a viscount's daughter, with the luxury and
splendour in which she was cradled when at home.  She had been used
since childhood to obedience; to be followed and caressed; to have
every wish gratified, every caprice supplied; to see every doubt and
difficulty cleared away; to feel neither pain nor illness, not even
the least excitement about anything; and now--now, the man with whom
she had linked her fate was at the mercy of an infamous and brutal
foreign mob; and with her shriek there came a cry to Chute to save
him; but Trevor never heard her, for the moment hands were laid on
Sir Carnaby, followed by Tom Travers, his servant, he had plunged
into the moving and shouting mass, which went surging down the
street; then Lady Evelyn saw the three disappear in the obscurity;
out of which there came the roar of mingling shouts, the gleam of
cutlasses as the night-watch attacked the rioters; and then followed
the red flashes and the report of musketry, as the Prussian guard at
the Rathhaus opened fire upon them; and Lady Evelyn, unused, as we
have said, to any excitement, especially the sudden and unwonted
horrors of an episode like this, fainted, and was borne senseless
into the hotel.

Meanwhile, amid the wild whirl of that seething mob, how fared it
with Trevor Chute and him whom he sought to save or rescue?

In all his service in India--service so different from the silk and
velvet dawdling tenor of life in the Guards--dread of death had been
unknown to Trevor Chute, and never felt by him, even when he knew
that he was supposed to be dying of fever or a wound, or when he lay
in the dark jungle, where the thick and rank vegetation ran riot, as
it were; where the Brahminese cobra had its lair, the tiger and the
cheetah, too; where, heavy, hot, and oppressive, the vapour rose like
steamy clouds about the stems of the trees, while his life-blood
ebbed away, and he had the knowledge that, if undiscovered, he might
die of thirst, of weakness, under the kuttack dagger of a mountain
robber, or by the feet of a wild elephant, for oblivion thus clouded
the end of many a comrade who was reported 'missing,' and no more was
known; so Chute was not to recoil before a German rabble now.

He knocked down by main strength of arm and sheer weight of hand the
two who had hold of Sir Carnaby, and were dragging him helplessly
along the street; and then, with the aid of Travers, he assisted him
towards an archway which opened off the street, while the rabble
closed in upon them, showering blows and execrations, but impeding
each other in their mad efforts; thus man after man of them, uttering
groans and shouts, went down before the regular facers, dealt
straight out from the shoulder by Chute and Travers into the eyes and
jaws of their assailants, who had a wholesome Continental terror of
'the art de box,' as the French name it, while breathless,
bewildered, and certainly appalled to find himself so suddenly become
the sole victim of a dreadful mob, Sir Carnaby stood between his two
defenders, his polite and deprecatory gestures (for voice he had
none), and the elegance of his delicate white hands, as seen in the
torchlight, exciting only the ridicule of the unwashed rabble.

Through the archway, which was narrow, they conveyed Sir Carnaby, and
by their united strength succeeded in closing the door, and by an
iron bar that was behind it completely excluding the crowd, who
continued to shout and rave without as they surged against it and
beat upon it with sticks and stones.  Anon the crash of glass was
heard, and then the cries of women, as the house itself was assailed.

Infuriated to find that their victim or victims, whom many of them
now supposed to be some of their wealthy and oppressive monopolists,
had escaped them, the blows upon the door were redoubled, but its
strength baffled them.

'It is me they want, Chute, because I struck that rascal at the
hotel,' said Sir Carnaby: 'leave me--they will tear you to pieces to
get at me, the German brutes!'

'Leave you, Sir Carnaby!  Never!  If, even were you a stranger, I
should stand by you, how much more am I bound to do so when you are
the father of Clare Collingwood!  And if I cannot by main strength
save, I shall die with you--game, an Englishman to the last!'

They were in a court which had no outlet.  From it an open stair led
to a species of ancient gallery overlooking the street; it was a
species of balcony, with pillars and arches carved of stone, like
those in front of the wonderfully quaint Rathhaus, which was not far
from it, and was built in the middle of the fifteenth century.

Their appearance in this place elicited a roar from the mob some
fifteen feet below them, and hundreds of dirty hands were shaken
clenched towards them, and hundreds of excited and upturned faces
were visible in the red, uncertain glare of the torches that were
held still by five or six of the rioters.  But matters now began to
look very serious; for the crowd was seen to part like the waves of
the sea as a ladder was borne through it and planted against the
wall.  Then five or six men began to mount at once, while others
pressed forward to follow, determined to visit the fugitives by
escalade.

Travers looked bewildered, and Sir Carnaby still more so; but Trevor
Chute, by habit, profession, and nature, had all that coolness in
front of immediate peril, and utter indifference of personal risk,
which made him renowned in his regiment and the idol of the soldiers,
and he had been in many critical situations, where caution and
decision had to be combined with instant action.

The head and shoulders of the uppermost man on the ladder had barely
appeared above the front of the balcony when Chute seized the former
by its two uprights, and thrust it fairly outward from the wall.  For
a moment it oscillated, or seemed to balance itself, and then,
describing a radius of about thirty feet or more, fell back among the
crowd with its load of ruffians.

Then shrieks and the rattle of musketry were heard, as the Prussian
guard arrived from the Rathhaus, and by orders of a burgomaster
poured in a volley of some twenty muskets or so, on which the mob
took to flight, and dispersed in all directions, leaving behind two
or three dead men and the maimed wretches who had been on the upper
portion of the ladder.

So ended this episode of excitement and peril, after which the three
Englishmen, to whom every species of apology was tendered--after due
explanation given--were conducted by the armed night watch back to
their hotel, and once more quietness settled over the little city of
Lubeck.



CHAPTER XIX.

SIR CARNABY'S GRATITUDE.

Save that he had got a terrible shaking, a few blows, and
considerable fright, Sir Carnaby Collingwood, thanks to Trevor Chute
and his servant, was not much the worse and between his draughts of
iced seltzer and brandy, he sputtered and threatened the whole city
of Lubeck with our ambassador at Berlin, and to have the outrage of
the night brought 'before the House' as soon as he returned to town;
while Lady Evelyn, filled with genuine admiration of the pluck shown
by Chute, his manly and generous bearing, and with gratitude for the
manner in which he had assuredly saved the life of her _caro sposo_,
became his most ardent ally; but as he and Sir Carnaby lingered over
their wine that night he felt--and still more next day--the weight of
the many blows and buffets of which he had been quite unconscious at
the time they were so freely bestowed upon him.

'Egad, Chute,' chuckled Sir Carnaby, 'didn't think you and I should
ever figure like two heroes in a melodrama; by Jove--absurd, don't
you know--but those Germans _are_ beastly fellows.  The moselle
stands with you.  We have had nothing here,' he continued, laughing
with more genuine heartiness than was usual to him, for his feelings
had undergone a revulsion--'we have had nothing here but mistakes and
scenes--actually scenes.  I refused you Clare, and you make off, per
train, with Lady Evelyn.  I was most unkind to you, and you act
generously by returning good for exceeding evil.'

Trevor was so unused to this tone from Sir Carnaby that his heart
swelled with mingled hope and anticipation, joy and sadness, as he
said:

'I am only thankful to Heaven that I was here to-night, and able to
be of service to you.'

'Service--egad, my dear fellow, you have saved my life!'

'The consciousness of that rewards me for more than one past
misfortune.'

'Ah, you mean those which caused you to leave the Guards?'

'To leave England, and--lost me Clare!' said Chute, falteringly.

'Ah, well, it was all no fault of yours.  It was a thousand pities
that your father, the old General--an extravagant dog he was--could
touch the entail.  That is all over now; and believe me, Trevor
Chute, if you forgive me the past, you shall not go without your
_reward_.'

And the two shook hands in silence.  The heart of the younger man
beat tumultuously, for well did he know the glorious 'reward' that
was referred to.  He knew that Sir Carnaby would keep to his word,
and he had, we have said, an ardent admirer and adherent in Lady
Evelyn.

'Captain Chute,' said she, 'do give up this peregrimania of yours,
and spend Christmas with us at Carnaby Court.  Promise me,' she
added, taking his hands in hers; 'I will take no denial, and am
always used to have my way in everything.'

So Chute, without much difficulty, accepted an invitation in which
kindness was perhaps mingled with some desire to get Clare off her
hands.

Chute, with Sir Carnaby's permission, wrote to Clare next day, saying
that he had been so happy as to be of service to her father, and had
saved him--'saved his life, in fact'--during a row among the Germans;
that they were the best of friends now that all barriers were
removed, and how happy he and she would yet be in the time to come.

Poor Clare was extremely bewildered by all this, till the letter was
supplemented by a more descriptive and effusive epistle from the,
sometime to her, obnoxious Lady Evelyn, describing in glowing colours
the terrors of the affair at Lubeck, Chute's bravery, and Sir
Carnaby's rescue, and the heart of the girl leaped in her breast with
gratitude to Heaven for this sudden change in the feelings of her
father, and gratitude to Trevor for saving the selfish old man from
injury, insult, and, too probably, a sudden and dreadful death; and
amid this new-born happiness grew a longing to behold that of her
sister and Jerry Vane.

The latter, when in London, more than once, when with Desmond;
contrived to draw on the subject of the male figure he had seen in
the arbour with Ida, and found that he still adhered to it in all its
somewhat vague details.

On the other hand, he had a long private letter from Clare,
impressing upon him that it must have been a delusion; that no such
person had been seen by Ida; and dwelling delicately on the health of
the latter, and the strange fancies which haunted her.  Perplexed, he
knew not what to think, and would mutter:

'Delusion!  Were Colonel Rakes, Desmond, and I all deluded alike?  It
is an impossibility!'

He actually doubted her, and bitter as the doubt must be of that one
loves, deep must be the love that struggles against it, and his was
of that kind.  Clare reminded him of his promised visit at
Christmas-time.

'Shall I go, to be snared again by the witchery of Ida's violet eyes
and the golden gleam of her auburn hair?'

The most rankling and bitter wounds are those of the heart; because
they are unseen, and, too often, untellable; so Vane, amid the
bitterness of his doubt, consoled, or strove to console himself with
the remark of a Scottish writer, who says, 'How humbling it is to
think that the strongest affections which have perplexed, or
agitated, or delighted us from our birth, will, in a few years, cease
to have an existence on the earth; and that all the ardour which they
have kindled will be as completely extinguished and forgotten as if
they had never been!'

Love for him certainly seemed to have been dawning in her heart
again; else whence that kiss--somewhat too sisterly, perhaps--which
she accorded to him so frankly in the oriel window, filling his bosom
with the old joy?  Across the sunshine that was brightening his path
why should this marring shadow have fallen, giving a pain that was
only equalled in intensity by his love? hence it was simply horrid to
hear a man like Desmond say, mockingly:

'You ask me about that fellow in the arbour so often that, by Jove,
Vane, you are becoming spoony on her again--heard you were so once,
don't you know--threw you over for Beverley, and all that sort of
thing.  Fact is, my dear fellow, women always betray those who love
them too much.  Never throw your heart further away than just so far
that you can easily recover it.'

And with his thoughts elsewhere, Jerry, spoiled as women of the world
will spoil a drawing-room pet, lingered on amid a gay circle in
London, endowed with a vague flirting commission, and coquetted a
little with the languid, the soft, and the lovely, to hide or heal
the wound that Ida had inflicted; while it was with regret, and a
sense of as much irritation and hauteur as her gentle nature was
capable of feeling, Ida heard that Vane was to accompany Chute (after
all that had passed between them, and his suspicions) to Carnaby
Court, where now the beeches and elms were all yellow or brown with
the last tints of autumn, and the tall trees in the chase showed
flushes of crimson, purple, and orange when the sun was sinking
beyond the uplands in the west.

On very different terms were Clare and _her_ lover; and in their
letters they wrote freely and confidently of their future--a happy
time that seemed certain now--the future that had once been but as
the mirage that Chute had often beheld on the march in the sandy
deserts of Aijmere.

'Clare--I shall see her again!' he muttered to himself; it was a
great thought, a bright conviction, that to him she was no longer a
dream but a reality; thus in his heart he felt 'that riot of hope,
joy, and belief which is too tumultuous and impatient for happiness,
but yet _is_ happy beyond all that the world holds.'

Objectless till he saw her again, after Sir Carnaby and Lady Evelyn
had left him for England, he lingered in Northern Germany; but Jerry
Vane had accepted Lady Evelyn's written and actually reiterated
invitation for Christmas with very mingled feelings indeed.

Since the day he had left Carnaby Court so abruptly he had never
exchanged a word, verbally or in writing, with Ida.

In going there now he would do so with a deadened sense of sorrow,
disappointment, and bitterness in his heart and the wretched doubt as
to whether he was wise to throw himself into the lure--was it
snare?--of her society again; even with the intention of showing, as
he thought, poor goose, how bravely he could resist it, and seek to
convince her that he had effaced the past and forgotten to view her
amid the halo in which he had once enshrined her.  Were they, then,
to meet in a state of antagonism?

Trevor Chute's brave rescue of Sir Carnaby Collingwood had, as a
story, preceded his return to town, with many exaggerations; the
clubs rang with it, and it actually stirred the blood in what 'Ouida'
calls 'the languid, _nil admirari_, egotistic, listless pulses of
high-bred society.'

But time was creeping on now, and the Christmas of the year drew near
at hand.



CHAPTER XX.

CARNABY COURT.

The baronet's country seat was popular among his 'set,' and in the
county generally.  The ladies were attractive, Sir Carnaby was fond
of society, and was undeniably hospitable: the preserves were good,
the corn-fed pheasants were among the best in the land, and
partridges abounded in the coverts and thickets; the stud and cellar
were good, and his French cook was a genius.  The oak-studded chase,
where the deer lay deep amid the fern, showed trees that were of vast
antiquity--remnants, perhaps, of the days when Bucks was all a
forest, as old historians tell us.

The Collingwoods had been lords of Collingwood ever since tradition
could tell of them.  They were, it was said, old as the chalky
Chiltern Hills and the woods of Whaddon Chase, and stories of their
prowess had been rife among the people since the days when Edward was
murdered at Tewkesbury, when 'bluff King Hal' burnt Catholics and
Protestants together with perfect impartiality at Smithfield, when
Mary spent her maudlin love on Philip, and Queen Bess boxed the ears
of her courtiers: all had figured in history somehow; and everywhere,
over the gateway half hidden by ivy, in the painted oriels, on the
gables, and on the buttons of the livery servants, were three eels
wavy on a bend, indicating a heraldic portion of the tenure by which
they held their land, like the lord of Aylesbury in the same
county--'By the sergentry of finding straw for the bed of the
Defender of the Faith, with three eels for his supper, when he should
travel that way.'

Built, patched, and repaired in various ages, the Court is one of the
most picturesque old mansions in the county.  In one portion, chiefly
inhabited by crows and bats, there was a half-ruined remnant left by
the Wars of the Roses, on which the present Tudor, or, rather,
Elizabethan mansion, with its peaked gables, oriel windows, and
clustered chimney-stacks--square, twisted, or fluted--had been
engrafted.  Hawthorn, holly, and ivy grew out of the clefts of the
ruinous portion; and there in childhood had Clare and Ida made baby
houses; and there they had devoured in secret many a fairy and ghost
story, and thrilled with joy over that of the 'Ugly Duckling.'  The
terrace balustrades were mossy and green, and though Carnaby Court
had an old and decayed aspect, there was a lingering grandeur about
it.

The plate in the dining-hall was famous in the county for its value
and antiquity, though many a goblet and salver had gone to the
melting-pot when King Charles unfurled his standard at Nottingham.

We have said that stories had been rumoured about of a figure seen in
the garden and elsewhere; and Sir Carnaby, who loathed scenes,
excitement, worry, 'and all that sort of thing,' as he phrased it
(though he had undergone enough and to spare), was intensely provoked
when the old butler gave him some hint of the shadowy addition to the
family at the Court.

'A ghost!' he exclaimed, with his gold glasses on his long, thin nose.

'Yes, sir--so they say.'

'They--who?  Stuff!  If this absurd story gets abroad, we shall find
ourselves a subject for the speculation of the vulgar here and the
spiritualists everywhere; and the house may be beset by all manner of
intruders.  And what is it like?'

'Nobody knows; a tall man in black, I have heard,' replied the butler.

'Black!  How do ghosts or spirits get clothes?'

'I don't know, Sir Carnaby.'

'Of course you don't, how should you?  _Your_ spirits are in wood,'
chuckled the baronet.  'I have heard of tables spinning about, of
bells ringing, banjos playing, of sticks beating on a drum-head by
unseen hands, and even of people flying through the air at _séances_,
but I'll have none of that nonsense at Carnaby Court.  It's bad
style--vulgar--very!  We'll send for the disembodied police, and have
your ghost taken up as a rogue and impostor.'

Quite a gay party had assembled for the Christmas festivities at the
old Court; there were Major Desmond, and two of his brother officers,
with his intended, one of the belles of the last season at Tyburnia,
Colonel and Lady Rakes, Lord Brixton, and many more, including old
Lord Bayswater and Charley Rakes, a mere lad, steeped already in
folly or worse, yet very much disposed to lionise and patronise the
pretty Violet.

When Trevor Chute and Vane first arrived they were both shocked--the
latter particularly so--to find a great and fatal change had come
over Ida, and it had come suddenly too, as Clare asserted.  Jerry had
begun to feel the sweetness of cheated hope, but this was fading now.
She seemed in a decline apparently; large dark circles were under her
eyes, and their old soft sweetness of gaze was blended with a weird
and weary look of infinite melancholy at times; and when Clare had
expressed to Sir Carnaby a hope that she might yet wed Jerry out of
pity--

'Let her wed him for anything, for--by Jove, this sort of thing is
great boredom,' sighed or grumbled the baronet.

'The idea of you, Captain Chute, eloping with our new mamma,' said
Violet, when she met him.

'That led to my being of service to your father, Violet--to my being
here to-night,' he added, in a tender whisper to Clare, as the ladies
left the dining-table, and Sir Carnaby changed his seat to the head
of the table.

'Ugh!' said he, in a low voice, 'unless poor Ida brightens up a
little, a doleful Christmas we are likely to have of it; but I am
glad to see you, Vane--the wine stands with you--pass the bottles,
and don't insult my butler by neglecting to fill your glass.'

With all his affected breeze of manner, his desire to appear juvenile
before Lady Evelyn, and all his inborn selfishness, both Vane and
Chute could perceive that the failing health of his favourite
daughter had affected him.  The unwelcome crow's-feet were deeper
about his eyes; his general 'get-up' was less elaborate; his whiskers
were out of curl, and like what remained of his hair, showed, by an
occasional patch of grey, that dye was sometimes forgotten.

The first quiet stolen interview of Clare and Trevor Chute was one of
inexpressible happiness and joy.  They were again in the recess of
that oriel near which he had first said he loved her, and she had
accepted him.  The moon shone as bright now as then, but in the clear
and frosty sky of a winter night, and the flakes of light threw down
many a crimson, golden, and blue ray of colour on the snowy skin and
white dress of Clare, as she nestled her face on Trevor's breast,
while his arm went round her.

Clare loved well the woods of the old Court--the lovely, leafy
woods--with trees round and vast as the pillars of a Saxon
cathedral--loved them in their vernal greenery, their summer foliage,
and their varied autumnal tints of russet, brown, and gold, for there
had Trevor told her again and again the old, old story, the story of
both their hearts, hand locked in hand; and there she had first
learned how sweet and good our earthly life may be, how full of hope,
of sunshine, and glory to the loving and the loved; but never did she
love them as when she saw them now, though standing black and
leafless amid the far-stretching waste of snow that gleamed in the
distance far away under the glare of the moon, for Trevor was with
her once more, and never to be separated from her again!

'Oh, Trevor, Trevor!  I thank kind Heaven,' she whispered for the
twentieth time, 'that you and papa are friends now--and such friends!
Lady Evelyn has told me again and again all the debt we owe.  If the
poor old man had perished----'

'Had I saved a nation, Clare, my reward is in you,' said he,
arresting effectually further thanks or praises.

He had dreamed by day of Clare, and loved her as much as ever man
loved woman; he had undergone all the misery of separation, of
hopelessness, doubt, and even of groundless jealousy; and now, after
all, she was his own!  For the most tranquil time of all his past
life he would not have exchanged the tumultuous and brilliant joy of
the present; yet that joy was not without a cloud, and that cloud was
the regret and perplexity caused by Ida, for whom he had all the
tenderness of a brother.

On the day after his arrival he was writing in the library, and had
been so for some time, before he discovered that Ida was lying fast
asleep in an easy-chair near the fire, her slumber being induced
either by weariness and languor, or the cosy heat of the room, with
its warmth of colour and its heavy draperies, which partly hid the
snowy scene without.  For a few moments he watched the singular
beauty of the girl's upturned face, the purity of her profile, and
the sweetness of her parted lips, as her graceful head reclined
against the back of the softly cushioned chair, over which, as they
had become undone, bright masses of her auburn hair were rippling.

Suddenly she seemed to shiver in her sleep, and to mutter, as terror
and sorrow hardened the lines of her face.  She was dreaming; and
starting with a low cry, she awoke, and sprang almost into the arms
of Chute.  Her lips were white and parched--white as the teeth within
them; her eyes, with a wild, hysterical, and overstrained expression,
were fixed on the empty air, while the veins in her delicate throat
were swollen; and then she turned to Chute, who kissed her forehead,
caressed her hands, and besought her to be calm.  She drew a long,
gasping sigh, and said, while swaying forward, as if about to fall:

'Oh, Trevor, Trevor!  I have had a dream of Beverley--and such a
dream!  Hold me up, or I shall fall!' she added, pressing her
tremulous hands upon her thin white temples.  'In this dream,
Beverley said--said----'  Tears choked her utterance.

'_What_ did you think he said?' asked Chute, tenderly.

'Think?  I heard him as plainly as I hear you!'

'Well, do speak, Ida.'

'He said, "We are never to be parted, Ida, even by death.  Fate has
linked my soul to yours for ever; and though unseen, I am ever near
you."  Then a cry escaped me, and I awoke.  Had you not been here, I
should have fainted.'

'This is--heavens! what shall I call it--morbid!' exclaimed Chute.
'Such dreams----'

'Come to me unbidden--uncontrolled,' continued Ida, sobbing heavily.
'There seems to be a strange, half sad and sweet, half fearful and
subtle, influence at work around me!  I am sure that there is a world
beyond the grave--an unseen world that is close, close to us all,
Trevor.'

As she spoke, Chute, who was regarding her with the tenderest
sympathy, became deeply pained to see the grey, death-like hue that
stole over her lovely face, and the droop that came into her--for the
moment--lustreless eyes; and as he gazed he almost began to imbibe
some of her wild convictions.  'It is a matter of knowledge,' says a
writer, 'that there are persons whose yearning conceptions--nay,
travelled conclusions--continually take the form of images which have
a foreshadowing power: the deed they do starts up before them in
complete shape, making a coercive type; the event they hunger for or
dread rises into vision with a seed-like growth, feeding itself fast
on unnumbered impressions.  They are not always the less capable of
argumentative process, nor less sane than the commonplace calculators
of the market.'

'Whenever I _think_ of Beverley, I seem to feel that he is, unseen,
beside me; and this startling and oppressive emotion I can neither
control, analyze, or conquer,' said Ida, wearily, as Chute led her to
another room.



CHAPTER XXI.

CHRISTMAS EVE.

It was not in the heart of honest Jerry Vane to harbour much of doubt
when pity was wanted; and, so far as Ida was concerned, it fully
seemed wanted now.

The change that came over her health had been rapid and
unexplainable.  Her nerves were evidently hopelessly unstrung; she
seemed to be pining and passing away in the midst of them all.  Her
temperament was entirely changed; she could see the light emitted by
a magnet in the dark, and always shuddered at the touch of one.  The
doctors shook their heads, and could only speak of change of air when
the season opened, and so forth; while poor Jerry Vane hung about her
in an agony of love and anxiety, hoping against hope that she might
yet recover and be his dear little wife after all; but when Clare
hinted at this, the ailing girl only shook her head and smiled sadly.

It was just shortly before Christmas Eve, however, that Jerry felt
himself lured and tempted, with his heart full of great pity for the
feeble condition in which he saw the once brilliant Ida, to speak to
her again of the love he bore her.

The jealous shame that he had a rival--another who might have won her
when he had failed--the lurker whom Desmond and himself had seen--was
all forgotten now; and though her bloom was gone, her complexion had
become waxen, her beautiful hands almost transparent, her eyes
unnaturally large and bright, he seemed to see in her only the same
Ida whom he had loved in the first flush of her beauty ere it budded,
and whom he had wooed and won in happier and unclouded times, in the
same old English home where they were all gathered together.

She approached the subject herself, by saying to him, when they were
alone:

'Forgive me, Jerry, if I spoke hastily to you when last we parted.'

'Forgive you!' he exclaimed, in a low voice.

'Yes; surely that is not impossible.'

'Oh, Ida! forgiveness is no word to pass between you and me.'

'Especially now, Jerry; but though I treated you ill--very, very
ill--in the past time----'

'Let us not talk of that, Ida.'

'Of what, then?'

'Our future,' he whispered, while, drawing near, he took her passive
hand in his, and longed to kiss, but dared not touch her, while great
love and compassion filled his heart--the love that had never died;
but as he held her hand she shivered like an aspen leaf.

'Future--oh, Jerry, I would that I were at rest beside mamma in
yonder church!' she said, looking to where the square tower of the
village fane, mantled in ivy and snow, stood darkly up in purple
shade against the crimson flush of the evening sky.

'Can it be that your illness is such--your weakness--oh, what shall I
term it!--is such that you are indeed tired of life, Ida?' he asked,
with an anxiety that was not unmixed with fear.

'Life is only a delusion.  What is it that we should desire it?'

'You are very strange this evening, dearest Ida,' he urged softly.

'My health is shattered, Jerry--my spirit gone! hence, though you
love me, no comfort or joy would ever come to you through me.'

There were tears in the man's eyes as he listened to her.  She was
pressing his hand kindly between hers, but there was a weary
wistfulness in the gaze of Ida which bewildered him, and he thought
how unlike was this sad love-making to that of the past time.

'Poor Jerry!' she resumed, after a long pause, 'I don't think I shall
live very long; a little time, I fear, and I shall only be a dream to
you, but a dream full of disappointment and pain.'

'Do not say so, Ida--my own beloved Ida!' he exclaimed, as the last
vestige of mistrust in her was forgotten, and sorrow, love, and
perplexity took its place.  'Ida,' he continued, in a voice that was
touching, passionate, and appealing, 'young, beautiful, and rich, you
shall yet be well and strong; your own gay spirit will return with
the renewed health which we shall find you in another and a sunnier
land than ours.  Oh, for the love I bear you, darling, do thrust
aside these thoughts of gloom and death!'

But she answered him slowly and deliberately, in a voice that was
without tremor, though her eyes were full of melancholy, and with
something of love, too, but not earthly loving, for that passion had
long since departed.

'The thoughts of gloom come over me unsought, and will not be thrust
aside; and to dread or avoid death is folly, and to fear it is also
folly; for that which is so universal must be for our general good;
hence, to fear that which we cannot understand, and is for our good,
is greater folly.  Moreover, it puts an end to all earthly suffering
and to all earthly sorrow.  But leave me, dear Jerry, now; I am
weary--_so_ weary.'

Then Vane, with his eyes full of tears, pressed his lips to her pale
forehead as she sank back in her chair and closed her eyes as if to
court sleep; and he left her slowly and reluctantly, and with a heart
torn by many emotions, and not the least of these was the aching and
clamorous sense of a coming calamity.

It was Christmas-tide, when, from all parts of the British Isles, the
trains are pouring London-ward, laden with turkeys, game, and geese,
and all manner of good things; when the post-bags are filled with
dainty Christmas cards that express good and kind thoughts; when the
warmest wishes of the jocund season are exchanged by all who meet,
even to those whose hands they do not clasp, though eye looks kindly
to eye; when the sparrows, finches, and robins flock about the
farmyards, and the poor little blue tomtits feel cold and hungry in
the leafless woods and orchards; Christmas Eve--'whose red signal
fires shall glow through gloom and darkness till all the years be
done'--the season of plum-pudding and holly, mistletoe and carolling,
and of kind-hearted generosity, when the traditional stocking is
filled, and the green branches of the festive tree are loaded with
every species of 'goodies,' for excited and expectant little folks;
and 'once a year,' the eve that, of all others, makes the place of
those whom death has taken seem doubly vacant, and when the baby that
came since last Christmas is hailed with a new joy; the eve that is
distinguished by the solemnity of the mighty mission with which if is
associated; and when over all God's Christian world, the bells ring
out the chimes in memory of the star that shone over Bethlehem; and
even now they were jingling merrily in the old square English tower
of Collingwood church, from whence the cadence of the sweet
even-song, in which the voices of Clare and Violet mingled with
others, came on the clear frosty breeze to the old Court, the painted
oriels of which were all aflame with ruddy light, that fell far in
flakes across the snow-covered chase.

One voice alone was wanting there--the soft and tender one of Ida,
who was unable to leave the house and face the keen, cold winter air.

She alone, of all the gay party assembled at the Court, remained
behind.

Anxious to rejoin her, the moment the service was over in the little
village church--the altar and pillars of which Clare and her friends,
with the assistance of the gardener, had elaborately decorated: with
bays and glistening hollies--Jerry Vane slipped out of his pew and
hastened away through the snow-covered fields to where the
picturesque masses of the ancient Court, with all its traceried and
tinted windows gaily lighted up, stood darkly against the starry sky.

Unusual anxiety agitated the breast of Jerry Vane on this night; the
strange words and stranger manner of Ida had made a great impression
upon him.

That she respected him deeply he saw plainly enough; but her regard
for him, if it existed at all, which he often doubted, at least, such
regard as he wished, seemed merely that of a sister; and every way
the altered terms on which they now were seemed singular and
perplexing; and yet he loved her fondly, truly, and, when he thought
of her shattered health, most compassionately.

On entering the drawing-room, which was brilliantly lighted, he saw
Ida within an arched and curtained alcove that opened out of it; the
blue silk hangings were festooned on each side by silver tassels and
cords.  The recess was thus partly in shadow, and, within, Ida
reclined on a couch, near which lay a book, that had apparently
dropped from her hand.

Her attitude, expressive of great excitement or of great grief, made
Vane pause for a moment.  Her figure was in shadow, but her lovely
auburn hair glittered in light as she lay back on the couch, with her
white hands covering her eyes, pressing, to all appearance, hard upon
them, while heavy sobs convulsed her bosom and throat.

Vane was about to approach and question her as to this excessive
grief, when his blood ran cold on perceiving the figure of a
gentleman bending tenderly and caressingly over her--the man of the
arbour.

His form was in shadow, but his face was most distinct; it was
handsome in contour, though very pale; his eyes, that were cast
fondly down on Ida, were dark, as Vane could perceive, and his thick
moustache was jetty in hue.

What could he have to say to Ida that agitated her thus?  And who was
this stranger who seemed to avail himself of every conceivable moment
she was alone to thrust himself upon her?--if, indeed, he were not,
as Jerry's jealousy began to hint, but too welcome!

How many times had he been with her, unknown to all? was the next
bitter thought that flashed upon him.

He resolved to bring Chute to the spot, for Chute had never believed
the stories of Ida and her mysterious friend or admirer; so, instead
of boldly advancing and intruding upon them, he softly quitted the
room, and met the Captain in the entrance hall.

'Where is Clare?' he asked.

'Gone to take off her wraps,' replied Chute.

'Quick!' said Jerry, in an agitated voice; 'come this way.'

'What is the matter?'

'You shall see.  The honour--oh, that I should speak of it!--the
honour of Ida is dearer to me than life,' said Vane, in a voice which
indicated great mental pain; 'yet what am I to think, unless her
brain is turned?'

He leaned for a moment against a console table, as if a giddiness or
a weakness had come over him.

'Jerry, are you unwell?' asked Chute, anxiously.

'I don't know what the devil is up, or whether Ida--with her face
lovely as it is, and pure as that of a saint in some old cathedral
window--is playing false to me and to us all!'

'False!' exclaimed Chute, astonished by this outburst, which was made
with great bitterness.

'Yes, false.'

'Ida--why--how?'

'Because that mysterious fellow is with her now.'

'Where?'

'In the arched alcove off the drawing-room.  I know not what he has
been saying to her, but the effect of his presence is to fill her
with grief and agitation; these are manifest enough, whatever may be
the secret tie or sympathy between them.'

They were for the present alone, Chute and Vane.

The gentlemen had all gone unanimously to the smoking-room, and the
voices of the ladies were heard merrily talking in the upper
corridors, in anticipation of a ball on the morrow, for which the
gayest and richest of toilettes that Paris and Regent Street could
produce were spread on more than one bed to be exultingly
contemplated.

Trevor Chute gave Jerry a grave and inquiring glance, and with
soldierlike promptitude stepped quickly towards the drawing-room.

'She declined to go with us to the evensong, and _this_ is the reason
why!' resumed Vane, bitterly.  'There--he is beside her still!'

Ida now reclined with her face upward, and the pure outline of her
profile could be distinctly seen against the dark background of the
alcove, as also the dazzling whiteness of her hands, which were
crossed upon her bosom.  Over her hung the stranger, with his face so
closely bowed to hers that his features could not be seen.

'She is asleep or in a faint,' said Jerry, as they paused.

'This man's figure is familiar to me--quite,' said Chute; '_where_
have I seen him before?

As he spoke, the stranger raised his head, and turning to them his
pale, now ghastly, face, gazed at them for a moment with eyes that
were dark, singularly piercing, and intensely melancholy; there was
something in their expression which chilled the blood of Vane; but
for a moment only did he so look, and then the face and figure
melted, and in that moment a thrill of unnatural horror ran through
the heart of Trevor Chute, who stood rooted to the spot, and next, as
a wild cry escaped him, fell senseless on the carpet, for he had
beheld the visual realization of that which he had begun to fear was
Ida's haunting spirit--the face and form of Beverley, or of a demon
in his shape.

And ere he sank down where he lay, even when the eyes of this dread
thing had turned upon him, there stole over his passing senses,
quickly, the memory of the hot air of that breathless Indian morning,
when the notes of the réveille seemed to mingle with the last dying
words of his comrade--his farewell message to Ida!

All this passed in the vibration of a pendulum.

Vane was in equal terror and perplexity, all the more so that the
name of 'Beverley' had mingled with the cry of Trevor Chute.

'Beverley!' he thought.  'My God! can we look upon such things and
live!'

Like Chute and many others, he had ever prided himself on his
superiority to all thoughts of superstition and vulgar fears; he had
ever scoffed at all manner of warnings, dreams, visitations, and
spiritual influences, believing that the laws of nature were fixed
and immutable; and here, amid the blaze of light, he had been face to
face with the usually unseen world!  He was face to face with
more--death!

His beloved Ida was found to have been dead for many minutes.  Her
heart was cold, her pulses still, and when the cry of Chute brought,
by its strange and unnatural sound, all the household thronging to
the room in alarm and amazement, Vane was found hanging over her, and
weeping as only women weep, and with all the wild and passionate
abandonment he had never felt since childhood.

Had she seen, as they had at last, this haunting figure, whose
vicinity caused that mysterious icy chill and tremor which nevermore
would shock her delicate system and lovely form?  Had the--to
her--long unseen been visible at last--that pale, solemn face with
its sad, dark eyes and black moustache?

It almost seemed so, for terror dwelt on her still features for a
time, then repose, sadness, and sweetness stole over her beautiful
face--still most beautiful in death.

Had she died of terror, of grief, or of both, inducing perhaps a
rupture of the heart?  The pressure of her hands upon her breast
would seem to say the latter, but all was wild and sad conjecture now
in the startled and sorrowing household.

So ended the _haunted life_!

But the doctors discussed the subject learnedly, and her nervous
thrills or involuntary tremors were accounted for by one who asserted
'that such an emotion was producible in persons of a certain nervous
_diathesis_ by the approach alike of an unseen spirit or the
impingement of an electric fluid evolved by the superior will of
another.'

It was urged by some that anything supernatural could only be seen by
a person who was under an extraordinary exaltation of the sensuous
perceptions, and certainly this was not the case with either Desmond,
Vane, or Chute; thus it was deemed doubly strange that such men as
they should have seen this singular and terrible presence, when she,
whose system was of the most refined and delicate nature, and
rendered more spiritual by her sinking health, should only have felt
that something unseen was near her, until, perhaps, that fatal night.

What miracle, _diablerie_, or spiritualistic horror was this?
speculated all, when the story came to be sifted around the couch
whereon the dead Ida lay, like a marble statue, with her skin soft
and pale as a white camellia leaf.

Can it be, they asked, that 'his solicitude cannot rest with his
bones,' far away in that Indian grave where Trevor Chute had laid
him?  Was that grave not deep enough to hide him, that his spiritual
essence--if essence it is--comes here?

It was a dark and sorrowful Christmas Eve at Carnaby Court; guests
who came to be gay, and to rejoice in the festivities of the joyous
season, departed in quick succession.

Jerry Vane never quite recovered the death of Ida or the manner of
it, and some time elapsed before the gallant heart of Trevor Chute
got the better of the shock of that night; but he could never forget
the expression of the dead eyes that seemed to have looked again into
his!

He could recall the fierce and sudden excitement of finding himself
face to face with his first tiger in India, and putting the contents
of both barrels into him, just as the monster was in the act of
tearing down the shrieking mahout from his perch behind the ears of
his shikaree elephant in a jungle where the twisted branches had to
be torn aside at every step; and the nearly similar emotion with
which he speared his first wild hog--an old boar, but too likely to
turn like an envenomed devil when hard pressed and the pace grew hot;
he could recall its glistening bristles that were like blue steel,
its red eyes, and its fierce white tusks, as he whetted them in his
dying wrath against a peepul tree; he could recall, too, the shock of
the first bullet that took him in the arm, the vague terror of a
barbed arrow that pierced his thigh, and which, for all he knew,
might be poisoned; but never was mortal shock or emotion equal to the
horror that burst upon him that night in the drawing-room of Carnaby
Court, when a grasp of iron seemed to tighten round his heart, 'when
the hair of his flesh stood up,' the light went out of his eyes, and
he sank into oblivion.

* * * * *

Brighter times come anon.

None can sorrow for ever; though that of the inmates of Carnaby Court
did not pass away with the snows of winter--nay, nor with the sweet
buds of spring or the roses of summer, when they climbed round the
oriels and gables of the grand old mansion.  Thus it was not for many
months after that night of dread and dismay--that most mournful
Christmas Eve--that the merry chimes were heard to ring in the old
square tower of the Saxon church for the marriage of Clare and Trevor
Chute, who passed, with chastened looks and much of tender sorrow,
amid their long-deferred happiness, the now flower-covered garden of
the gentle sister who had been indirectly the good angel who brought
that happiness to pass.



THE END.



BILLING AND SONS, PRINTERS, GUILDFORD AND LONDON.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A haunted life" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files. We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's search system for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.




Home