Readme.it in English  home page
Readme.it in Italiano  pagina iniziale
readme.it by logo SoftwareHouse.it

Ebook in formato Kindle (mobi) - Kindle File Ebook (mobi)

Formato per Iphone, Ipad e Ebook (epub) - Ipad, Iphone and Ebook reader format (epub)

Versione ebook di Readme.it powered by Softwarehouse.it






The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
By Anne Bronte

AUTHOR'S PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION

While I acknowledge the success of the present work to have been
greater than I anticipatedand the praises it has elicited from a
few kind critics to have been greater than it deservedI must also
admit that from some other quarters it has been censured with an
asperity which I was as little prepared to expectand which my
judgmentas well as my feelingsassures me is more bitter than
just. It is scarcely the province of an author to refute the
arguments of his censors and vindicate his own productions; but I
may be allowed to make here a few observations with which I would
have prefaced the first editionhad I foreseen the necessity of
such precautions against the misapprehensions of those who would
read it with a prejudiced mind or be content to judge it by a hasty
glance.

My object in writing the following pages was not simply to amuse
the Reader; neither was it to gratify my own tastenor yet to
ingratiate myself with the Press and the Public: I wished to tell
the truthfor truth always conveys its own moral to those who are
able to receive it. But as the priceless treasure too frequently
hides at the bottom of a wellit needs some courage to dive for
itespecially as he that does so will be likely to incur more
scorn and obloquy for the mud and water into which he has ventured
to plungethan thanks for the jewel he procures; asin like
mannershe who undertakes the cleansing of a careless bachelor's
apartment will be liable to more abuse for the dust she raises than
commendation for the clearance she effects. Let it not be
imaginedhoweverthat I consider myself competent to reform the
errors and abuses of societybut only that I would fain contribute
my humble quota towards so good an aim; and if I can gain the
public ear at allI would rather whisper a few wholesome truths
therein than much soft nonsense.

As the story of 'Agnes Grey' was accused of extravagant overcolouring
in those very parts that were carefully copied from the
lifewith a most scrupulous avoidance of all exaggerationsoin
the present workI find myself censured for depicting CON AMORE
with 'a morbid love of the coarseif not of the brutal' those
scenes whichI will venture to sayhave not been more painful for
the most fastidious of my critics to read than they were for me to
describe. I may have gone too far; in which case I shall be
careful not to trouble myself or my readers in the same way again;
but when we have to do with vice and vicious charactersI maintain
it is better to depict them as they really are than as they would
wish to appear. To represent a bad thing in its least offensive
light isdoubtlessthe most agreeable course for a writer of
fiction to pursue; but is it the most honestor the safest? Is it
better to reveal the snares and pitfalls of life to the young and
thoughtless travelleror to cover them with branches and flowers?
Ohreader! if there were less of this delicate concealment of
facts - this whispering'Peacepeace' when there is no peace


there would be less of sin and misery to the young of both sexes
who are left to wring their bitter knowledge from experience.

I would not be understood to suppose that the proceedings of the
unhappy scapegracewith his few profligate companions I have here
introducedare a specimen of the common practices of society - the
case is an extreme oneas I trusted none would fail to perceive;
but I know that such characters do existand if I have warned one
rash youth from following in their stepsor prevented one
thoughtless girl from falling into the very natural error of my
heroinethe book has not been written in vain. Butat the same
timeif any honest reader shall have derived more pain than
pleasure from its perusaland have closed the last volume with a
disagreeable impression on his mindI humbly crave his pardonfor
such was far from my intention; and I will endeavour to do better
another timefor I love to give innocent pleasure. Yetbe it
understoodI shall not limit my ambition to this - or even to
producing 'a perfect work of art': time and talents so spentI
should consider wasted and misapplied. Such humble talents as God
has given me I will endeavour to put to their greatest use; if I am
able to amuseI will try to benefit too; and when I feel it my
duty to speak an unpalatable truthwith the help of GodI WILL
speak itthough it be to the prejudice of my name and to the
detriment of my reader's immediate pleasure as well as my own.

One word moreand I have done. Respecting the author's identity
I would have it to he distinctly understood that Acton Bell is
neither Currer nor Ellis Belland therefore let not his faults be
attributed to them. As to whether the name be real or fictitious
it cannot greatly signify to those who know him only by his works.
As littleI should thinkcan it matter whether the writer so
designated is a manor a womanas one or two of my critics
profess to have discovered. I take the imputation in good partas
a compliment to the just delineation of my female characters; and
though I am bound to attribute much of the severity of my censors
to this suspicionI make no effort to refute itbecausein my
own mindI am satisfied that if a book is a good oneit is so
whatever the sex of the author may be. All novels areor should
bewritten for both men and women to readand I am at a loss to
conceive how a man should permit himself to write anything that
would be really disgraceful to a womanor why a woman should be
censured for writing anything that would be proper and becoming for
a man.

JULY 22nd1848.

THE TENANT OF WILDFELL HALL

CHAPTER I

You must go back with me to the autumn of 1827.

My fatheras you knowwas a sort of gentleman farmer in -shire;
and Iby his express desiresucceeded him in the same quiet
occupationnot very willinglyfor ambition urged me to higher
aimsand self-conceit assured me thatin disregarding its voice


I was burying my talent in the earthand hiding my light under a
bushel. My mother had done her utmost to persuade me that I was
capable of great achievements; but my fatherwho thought ambition
was the surest road to ruinand change but another word for
destructionwould listen to no scheme for bettering either my own
conditionor that of my fellow mortals. He assured me it was all
rubbishand exhorted mewith his dying breathto continue in the
good old wayto follow his stepsand those of his father before
himand let my highest ambition be to walk honestly through the
worldlooking neither to the right hand nor to the leftand to
transmit the paternal acres to my children inat leastas
flourishing a condition as he left them to me.

'Well! - an honest and industrious farmer is one of the most useful
members of society; and if I devote my talents to the cultivation
of my farmand the improvement of agriculture in generalI shall
thereby benefitnot only my own immediate connections and
dependantsbutin some degreemankind at large:- hence I shall
not have lived in vain.' With such reflections as these I was
endeavouring to console myselfas I plodded home from the fields
one colddampcloudy evening towards the close of October. But
the gleam of a bright red fire through the parlour window had more
effect in cheering my spiritsand rebuking my thankless repinings
than all the sage reflections and good resolutions I had forced my
mind to frame; - for I was young thenremember - only four-andtwenty
- and had not acquired half the rule over my own spirit that
I now possess - trifling as that may be.

Howeverthat haven of bliss must not be entered till I had
exchanged my miry boots for a clean pair of shoesand my rough
surtout for a respectable coatand made myself generally
presentable before decent society; for my motherwith all her
kindnesswas vastly particular on certain points.

In ascending to my room I was met upon the stairs by a smart
pretty girl of nineteenwith a tidydumpy figurea round face
brightblooming cheeksglossyclustering curlsand little merry
brown eyes. I need not tell you this was my sister Rose. She is
I knowa comely matron stillanddoubtlessno less lovely - in
your eyes - than on the happy day you first beheld her. Nothing
told me then that shea few years hencewould be the wife of one
entirely unknown to me as yetbut destined hereafter to become a
closer friend than even herselfmore intimate than that unmannerly
lad of seventeenby whom I was collared in the passageon coming
downand well-nigh jerked off my equilibriumand whoin
correction for his impudencereceived a resounding whack over the
sconcewhichhoweversustained no serious injury from the
infliction; asbesides being more than commonly thickit was
protected by a redundant shock of shortreddish curlsthat my
mother called auburn.

On entering the parlour we found that honoured lady seated in her
arm-chair at the firesideworking away at her knittingaccording
to her usual customwhen she had nothing else to do. She had
swept the hearthand made a bright blazing fire for our reception;
the servant had just brought in the tea-tray; and Rose was
producing the sugar-basin and tea-caddy from the cupboard in the
black oak side-boardthat shone like polished ebonyin the
cheerful parlour twilight.

'Well! here they both are' cried my motherlooking round upon us
without retarding the motion of her nimble fingers and glittering
needles. 'Now shut the doorand come to the firewhile Rose gets
the tea ready; I'm sure you must be starved; - and tell me what


you've been about all day; - I like to know what my children have
been about.'

'I've been breaking in the grey colt - no easy business that directing
the ploughing of the last wheat stubble - for the
ploughboy has not the sense to direct himself - and carrying out a
plan for the extensive and efficient draining of the low
meadowlands.'

'That's my brave boy! - and Ferguswhat have you been doing?'

'Badger-baiting.'

And here he proceeded to give a particular account of his sport
and the respective traits of prowess evinced by the badger and the
dogs; my mother pretending to listen with deep attentionand
watching his animated countenance with a degree of maternal
admiration I thought highly disproportioned to its object.

'It's time you should be doing something elseFergus' said Ias
soon as a momentary pause in his narration allowed me to get in a
word.

'What can I do?' replied he; 'my mother won't let me go to sea or
enter the army; and I'm determined to do nothing else - except make
myself such a nuisance to you allthat you will be thankful to get
rid of me on any terms.'

Our parent soothingly stroked his stiffshort curls. He growled
and tried to look sulkyand then we all took our seats at the
tablein obedience to the thrice-repeated summons of Rose.

'Now take your tea' said she; 'and I'll tell you what I've been
doing. I've been to call on the Wilsons; and it's a thousand
pities you didn't go with meGilbertfor Eliza Millward was
there!'

'Well! what of her?'

'Ohnothing! - I'm not going to tell you about her; - only that
she's a niceamusing little thingwhen she is in a merry humour
and I shouldn't mind calling her - '

'Hushhushmy dear! your brother has no such idea!' whispered my
mother earnestlyholding up her finger.

'Well' resumed Rose; 'I was going to tell you an important piece
of news I heard there - I have been bursting with it ever since.
You know it was reported a month agothat somebody was going to
take Wildfell Hall - and - what do you think? It has actually been
inhabited above a week! - and we never knew!'

'Impossible!' cried my mother.

'Preposterous!!!' shrieked Fergus.

'It has indeed! - and by a single lady!'

'Good graciousmy dear! The place is in ruins!'

'She has had two or three rooms made habitable; and there she
livesall alone - except an old woman for a servant!'

'Ohdear! that spoils it - I'd hoped she was a witch' observed


Ferguswhile carving his inch-thick slice of bread and butter.

'NonsenseFergus! But isn't it strangemamma?'

'Strange! I can hardly believe it.'

'But you may believe it; for Jane Wilson has seen her. She went
with her motherwhoof coursewhen she heard of a stranger being
in the neighbourhoodwould be on pins and needles till she had
seen her and got all she could out of her. She is called Mrs.
Grahamand she is in mourning - not widow's weedsbut slightish
mourning - and she is quite youngthey say- not above five or
six and twenty- but so reserved! They tried all they could to
find out who she was and where she came fromandall about her
but neither Mrs. Wilsonwith her pertinacious and impertinent
home-thrustsnor Miss Wilsonwith her skilful manoeuvringcould
manage to elicit a single satisfactory answeror even a casual
remarkor chance expression calculated to allay their curiosity
or throw the faintest ray of light upon her historycircumstances
or connections. Moreovershe was barely civil to themand
evidently better pleased to say 'good-by' than 'how do you do.'
But Eliza Millward says her father intends to call upon her soon
to offer some pastoral advicewhich he fears she needsasthough
she is known to have entered the neighbourhood early last weekshe
did not make her appearance at church on Sunday; and she - Eliza
that is - will beg to accompany himand is sure she can succeed in
wheedling something out of her - you knowGilbertshe can do
anything. And we should call some timemamma; it's only proper
you know.'

'Of coursemy dear. Poor thing! How lonely she must feel!'

'And praybe quick about it; and mind you bring me word how much
sugar she puts in her teaand what sort of caps and aprons she
wearsand all about it; for I don't know how I can live till I
know' said Fergusvery gravely.

But if he intended the speech to be hailed as a master-stroke of
withe signally failedfor nobody laughed. Howeverhe was not
much disconcerted at that; for when he had taken a mouthful of
bread and butter and was about to swallow a gulp of teathe humour
of the thing burst upon him with such irresistible forcethat he
was obliged to jump up from the tableand rush snorting and
choking from the room; and a minute afterwas heard screaming in
fearful agony in the garden.

As for meI was hungryand contented myself with silently
demolishing the teahamand toastwhile my mother and sister
went on talkingand continued to discuss the apparent or nonapparent
circumstancesand probable or improbable history of the
mysterious lady; but I must confess thatafter my brother's
misadventureI once or twice raised the cup to my lipsand put it
down again without daring to taste the contentslest I should
injure my dignity by a similar explosion.

The next day my mother and Rose hastened to pay their compliments
to the fair recluse; and came back but little wiser than they went;
though my mother declared she did not regret the journeyfor if
she had not gained much goodshe flattered herself she had
imparted someand that was better: she had given some useful
advicewhichshe hopedwould not be thrown away; for Mrs.
Grahamthough she said little to any purposeand appeared
somewhat self-opinionatedseemed not incapable of reflectionthough
she did not know where she had been all her lifepoor


thingfor she betrayed a lamentable ignorance on certain points
and had not even the sense to be ashamed of it.

'On what pointsmother?' asked I.

'On household mattersand all the little niceties of cookeryand
such thingsthat every lady ought to be familiar withwhether she
be required to make a practical use of her knowledge or not. I
gave her some useful pieces of informationhoweverand several
excellent receiptsthe value of which she evidently could not
appreciatefor she begged I would not trouble myselfas she lived
in such a plainquiet waythat she was sure she should never make
use of them. "No mattermy dear said I; it is what every
respectable female ought to know; - and besidesthough you are
alone nowyou will not be always so; you have been marriedand
probably - I might say almost certainly - will be again." "You are
mistaken therema'am said she, almost haughtily; I am certain I
never shall." - But I told her I knew better.'

'Some romantic young widowI suppose' said I'come there to end
her days in solitudeand mourn in secret for the dear departed but
it won't last long.'

'NoI think not' observed Rose; 'for she didn't seem very
disconsolate after all; and she's excessively pretty - handsome
rather - you must see herGilbert; you will call her a perfect
beautythough you could hardly pretend to discover a resemblance
between her and Eliza Millward.'

'WellI can imagine many faces more beautiful than Eliza'sthough
not more charming. I allow she has small claims to perfection; but
thenI maintain thatif she were more perfectshe would be less
interesting.'

'And so you prefer her faults to other people's perfections?'

'Just so - saving my mother's presence.'

'Ohmy dear Gilbertwhat nonsense you talk! - I know you don't
mean it; it's quite out of the question' said my mothergetting
upand bustling out of the roomunder pretence of household
businessin order to escape the contradiction that was trembling
on my tongue.

After that Rose favoured me with further particulars respecting
Mrs. Graham. Her appearancemannersand dressand the very
furniture of the room she inhabitedwere all set before mewith
rather more clearness and precision than I cared to see them; but
as I was not a very attentive listenerI could not repeat the
description if I would.

The next day was Saturday; andon Sundayeverybody wondered
whether or not the fair unknown would profit by the vicar's
remonstranceand come to church. I confess I looked with some
interest myself towards the old family pewappertaining to
Wildfell Hallwhere the faded crimson cushions and lining had been
unpressed and unrenewed so many yearsand the grim escutcheons
with their lugubrious borders of rusty black clothfrowned so
sternly from the wall above.

And there I beheld a talllady-like figureclad in black. Her
face was towards meand there was something in it whichonce
seeninvited me to look again. Her hair was raven blackand
disposed in long glossy ringletsa style of coiffure rather


unusual in those daysbut always graceful and becoming; her
complexion was clear and pale; her eyes I could not seeforbeing
bent upon her prayer-bookthey were concealed by their drooping
lids and long black lashesbut the brows above were expressive and
well defined; the forehead was lofty and intellectualthe nosea
perfect aquiline and the featuresin generalunexceptionable only
there was a slight hollowness about the cheeks and eyesand
the lipsthough finely formedwere a little too thina little
too firmly compressedand had something about them that betokened
I thoughtno very soft or amiable temper; and I said in my heart '
I would rather admire you from this distancefair ladythan be
the partner of your home.'

Just then she happened to raise her eyesand they met mine; I did
not choose to withdraw my gazeand she turned again to her book
but with a momentaryindefinable expression of quiet scornthat
was inexpressibly provoking to me.

'She thinks me an impudent puppy' thought I. 'Humph! - she shall
change her mind before longif I think it worth while.'

But then it flashed upon me that these were very improper thoughts
for a place of worshipand that my behaviouron the present
occasionwas anything but what it ought to be. Previoushowever
to directing my mind to the serviceI glanced round the church to
see if any one had been observing me; - but no- allwho were not
attending to their prayer-bookswere attending to the strange
lady- my good mother and sister among the restand Mrs. Wilson
and her daughter; and even Eliza Millward was slily glancing from
the corners of her eyes towards the object of general attraction.
Then she glanced at mesimpered a littleand blushedmodestly
looked at her prayer-bookand endeavoured to compose her features.

Here I was transgressing again; and this time I was made sensible
of it by a sudden dig in the ribsfrom the elbow of my pert
brother. For the presentI could only resent the insult by
pressing my foot upon his toesdeferring further vengeance till we
got out of church.

NowHalfordbefore I close this letterI'll tell you who Eliza
Millward was: she was the vicar's younger daughterand a very
engaging little creaturefor whom I felt no small degree of
partiality; - and she knew itthough I had never come to any
direct explanationand had no definite intention of so doingfor
my motherwho maintained there was no one good enough for me
within twenty miles roundcould not bear the thoughts of my
marrying that insignificant little thingwhoin addition to her
numerous other disqualificationshad not twenty pounds to call her
own. Eliza's figure was at once slight and plumpher face small
and nearly as round as my sister's- complexionsomething similar
to hersbut more delicate and less decidedly blooming- nose
retrousse- featuresgenerally irregular; andaltogethershe
was rather charming than pretty. But her eyes - I must not forget
those remarkable featuresfor therein her chief attraction lay in
outward aspect at least; - they were long and narrow in shape
the irids blackor very dark brownthe expression variousand
ever changingbut always either preternaturally - I had almost
said diabolically - wickedor irresistibly bewitching - often
both. Her voice was gentle and childishher tread light and soft
as that of a cat:- but her manners more frequently resembled those
of a pretty playful kittenthat is now pert and roguishnow timid
and demureaccording to its own sweet will.

Her sisterMarywas several years olderseveral inches taller


and of a largercoarser build - a plainquietsensible girlwho
had patiently nursed their motherthrough her last longtedious
illnessand been the housekeeperand family drudgefrom thence
to the present time. She was trusted and valued by her father
loved and courted by all dogscatschildrenand poor peopleand
slighted and neglected by everybody else.

The Reverend Michael Millward himself was a tallponderous elderly
gentlemanwho placed a shovel hat above his largesquare
massive-featured facecarried a stout walking-stick in his hand
and incased his still powerful limbs in knee-breeches and gaiters
- or black silk stockings on state occasions. He was a man of
fixed principlesstrong prejudicesand regular habitsintolerant
of dissent in any shapeacting under a firm conviction that his
opinions were always rightand whoever differed from them must be
either most deplorably ignorantor wilfully blind.

In childhoodI had always been accustomed to regard him with a
feeling of reverential awe - but latelyeven nowsurmountedfor
though he had a fatherly kindness for the well-behavedhe was a
strict disciplinarianand had often sternly reproved our juvenile
failings and peccadilloes; and moreoverin those dayswhenever he
called upon our parentswe had to stand up before himand say our
catechismor repeat'How doth the little busy bee' or some other
hymnor - worse than all - be questioned about his last textand
the heads of the discoursewhich we never could remember.
Sometimesthe worthy gentleman would reprove my mother for being
over-indulgent to her sonswith a reference to old Elior David
and Absalomwhich was particularly galling to her feelings; and
very highly as she respected himand all his sayingsI once heard
her exclaim'I wish to goodness he had a son himself! He wouldn't
be so ready with his advice to other people then; - he'd see what
it is to have a couple of boys to keep in order.'

He had a laudable care for his own bodily health - kept very early
hoursregularly took a walk before breakfastwas vastly
particular about warm and dry clothinghad never been known to
preach a sermon without previously swallowing a raw egg - albeit he
was gifted with good lungs and a powerful voice- and was
generallyextremely particular about what he ate and drankthough
by no means abstemiousand having a mode of dietary peculiar to
himself- being a great despiser of tea and such slopsand a
patron of malt liquorsbacon and eggshamhung beefand other
strong meatswhich agreed well enough with his digestive organs
and therefore were maintained by him to be good and wholesome for
everybodyand confidently recommended to the most delicate
convalescents or dyspepticswhoif they failed to derive the
promised benefit from his prescriptionswere told it was because
they had not perseveredand if they complained of inconvenient
results therefromwere assured it was all fancy.

I will just touch upon two other persons whom I have mentionedand
then bring this long letter to a close. These are Mrs. Wilson and
her daughter. The former was the widow of a substantial farmera
narrow-mindedtattling old gossipwhose character is not worth
describing. She had two sonsRoberta rough countrified farmer
and Richarda retiringstudious young manwho was studying the
classics with the vicar's assistancepreparing for collegewith a
view to enter the church.

Their sister Jane was a young lady of some talentsand more
ambition. She hadat her own desirereceived a regular boardingschool
educationsuperior to what any member of the family had
obtained before. She had taken the polish wellacquired


considerable elegance of mannersquite lost her provincial accent
and could boast of more accomplishments than the vicar's daughters.
She was considered a beauty besides; but never for a moment could
she number me amongst her admirers. She was about six and twenty
rather tall and very slenderher hair was neither chestnut nor
auburnbut a most decided brightlight red; her complexion was
remarkably fair and brillianther head smallneck longchin well
turnedbut very shortlips thin and redeyes clear hazelquick
and penetratingbut entirely destitute of poetry or feeling. She
hador might have hadmany suitors in her own rank of lifebut
scornfully repulsed or rejected them all; for none but a gentleman
could please her refined tasteand none but a rich one could
satisfy her soaring ambition. One gentleman there wasfrom whom
she had lately received some rather pointed attentionsand upon
whose heartnameand fortuneit was whisperedshe had serious
designs. This was Mr. Lawrencethe young squirewhose family had
formerly occupied Wildfell Hallbut had deserted itsome fifteen
years agofor a more modern and commodious mansion in the
neighbouring parish.

NowHalfordI bid you adieu for the present. This is the first
instalment of my debt. If the coin suits youtell me soand I'll
send you the rest at my leisure: if you would rather remain my
creditor than stuff your purse with such ungainlyheavy piecestell
me stilland I'll pardon your bad tasteand willingly keep
the treasure to myself.

Yours immutably

GILBERT MARKHAM.

CHAPTER II

I perceivewith joymy most valued friendthat the cloud of your
displeasure has passed away; the light of your countenance blesses
me once moreand you desire the continuation of my story:
thereforewithout more adoyou shall have it.

I think the day I last mentioned was a certain Sundaythe latest
in the October of 1827. On the following Tuesday I was out with my
dog and gunin pursuit of such game as I could find within the
territory of Linden-Car; but finding none at allI turned my arms
against the hawks and carrion crowswhose depredationsas I
suspectedhad deprived me of better prey. To this end I left the
more frequented regionsthe wooded valleysthe corn-fieldsand
the meadow-landsand proceeded to mount the steep acclivity of
Wildfellthe wildest and the loftiest eminence in our
neighbourhoodwhereas you ascendthe hedgesas well as the
treesbecome scanty and stuntedthe formerat lengthgiving
place to rough stone fencespartly greened over with ivy and moss
the latter to larches and Scotch fir-treesor isolated
blackthorns. The fieldsbeing rough and stonyand wholly unfit
for the ploughwere mostly devoted to the posturing of sheep and
cattle; the soil was thin and poor: bits of grey rock here and
there peeped out from the grassy hillocks; bilberry-plants and
heather - relics of more savage wildness - grew under the walls;
and in many of the enclosuresragweeds and rushes usurped
supremacy over the scanty herbage; but these were not my property.

Near the top of this hillabout two miles from Linden-Carstood


Wildfell Halla superannuated mansion of the Elizabethan era
built of dark grey stonevenerable and picturesque to look atbut
doubtlesscold and gloomy enough to inhabitwith its thick stone
mullions and little latticed panesits time-eaten air-holesand
its too lonelytoo unsheltered situation- only shielded from the
war of wind and weather by a group of Scotch firsthemselves half
blighted with stormsand looking as stern and gloomy as the Hall
itself. Behind it lay a few desolate fieldsand then the brown
heath-clad summit of the hill; before it (enclosed by stone walls
and entered by an iron gatewith large balls of grey granite similar
to those which decorated the roof and gables - surmounting
the gate-posts) was a garden- once stocked with such hard plants
and flowers as could best brook the soil and climateand such
trees and shrubs as could best endure the gardener's torturing
shearsand most readily assume the shapes he chose to give themnow
having been left so many years untilled and untrimmed
abandoned to the weeds and the grassto the frost and the wind
the rain and the droughtit presented a very singular appearance
indeed. The close green walls of privetthat had bordered the
principal walkwere two-thirds withered awayand the rest grown
beyond all reasonable bounds; the old boxwood swanthat sat beside
the scraperhad lost its neck and half its body: the castellated
towers of laurel in the middle of the gardenthe gigantic warrior
that stood on one side of the gatewayand the lion that guarded
the otherwere sprouted into such fantastic shapes as resembled
nothing either in heaven or earthor in the waters under the
earth; butto my young imaginationthey presented all of them a
goblinish appearancethat harmonised well with the ghostly legions
and dark traditions our old nurse had told us respecting the
haunted hall and its departed occupants.

I had succeeded in killing a hawk and two crows when I came within
sight of the mansion; and thenrelinquishing further depredations
I sauntered onto have a look at the old placeand see what
changes had been wrought in it by its new inhabitant. I did not
like to go quite to the front and stare in at the gate; but I
paused beside the garden walland lookedand saw no change except
in one wingwhere the broken windows and dilapidated roof
had evidently been repairedand where a thin wreath of smoke was
curling up from the stack of chimneys.

While I thus stoodleaning on my gunand looking up at the dark
gablessunk in an idle reverieweaving a tissue of wayward
fanciesin which old associations and the fair young hermitnow
within those wallsbore a nearly equal partI heard a slight
rustling and scrambling just within the garden; andglancing in
the direction whence the sound proceededI beheld a tiny hand
elevated above the wall: it clung to the topmost stoneand then
another little hand was raised to take a firmer holdand then
appeared a small white foreheadsurmounted with wreaths of light
brown hairwith a pair of deep blue eyes beneathand the upper
portion of a diminutive ivory nose.

The eyes did not notice mebut sparkled with glee on beholding
Sanchomy beautiful black and white setterthat was coursing
about the field with its muzzle to the ground. The little creature
raised its face and called aloud to the dog. The good-natured
animal pausedlooked upand wagged his tailbut made no further
advances. The child (a little boyapparently about five years
old) scrambled up to the top of the walland called again and
again; but finding this of no availapparently made up his mind
like Mahometto go to the mountainsince the mountain would not
come to himand attempted to get over; but a crabbed old cherrytree
that grew hard bycaught him by the frock in one of its


crooked scraggy arms that stretched over the wall. In attempting
to disengage himself his foot slippedand down he tumbled - but
not to the earth; - the tree still kept him suspended. There was a
silent struggleand then a piercing shriek; - butin an instant
I had dropped my gun on the grassand caught the little fellow in
my arms.

I wiped his eyes with his frocktold him he was all right and
called Sancho to pacify him. He was just putting little hand on
the dog's neck and beginning to smile through his tearswhen I
heard behind me a click of the iron gateand a rustle of female
garmentsand lo! Mrs. Graham darted upon me - her neck uncovered
her black locks streaming in the wind.

'Give me the child!' she saidin a voice scarce louder than a
whisperbut with a tone of startling vehemenceandseizing the
boyshe snatched him from meas if some dire contamination were
in my touchand then stood with one hand firmly clasping histhe
other on his shoulderfixing upon me her largeluminous dark eyes

-palebreathlessquivering with agitation.
'I was not harming the childmadam' said Iscarce knowing
whether to be most astonished or displeased; 'he was tumbling off
the wall there; and I was so fortunate as to catch himwhile he
hung suspended headlong from that treeand prevent I know not what
catastrophe.'

'I beg your pardonsir' stammered she; - suddenly calming downthe
light of reason seeming to break upon her beclouded spiritand
a faint blush mantling on her cheek - 'I did not know you; - and I
thought - '

She stooped to kiss the childand fondly clasped her arm round his
neck.

'You thought I was going to kidnap your sonI suppose?'

She stroked his head with a half-embarrassed laughand replied'
I did not know he had attempted to climb the wall. - I have the
pleasure of addressing Mr. MarkhamI believe?' she addedsomewhat
abruptly.

I bowedbut ventured to ask how she knew me.

'Your sister called herea few days agowith Mrs. Markham.'

'Is the resemblance so strong then?' I askedin some surpriseand
not so greatly flattered at the idea as I ought to have been.

'There is a likeness about the eyes and complexion I think'
replied shesomewhat dubiously surveying my face; - 'and I think I
saw you at church on Sunday.'

I smiled. - There was something either in that smile or the
recollections it awakened that was particularly displeasing to her
for she suddenly assumed again that proudchilly look that had so
unspeakably roused my aversion at church - a look of repellent
scornso easily assumedand so entirely without the least
distortion of a single featurethatwhile thereit seemed like
the natural expression of the faceand was the more provoking to
mebecause I could not think it affected.

'Good-morningMr. Markham' said she; and without another word or
glanceshe withdrewwith her childinto the garden; and I


returned homeangry and dissatisfied - I could scarcely tell you
whyand therefore will not attempt it.

I only stayed to put away my gun and powder-hornand give some
requisite directions to one of the farming-menand then repaired
to the vicarageto solace my spirit and soothe my ruffled temper
with the company and conversation of Eliza Millward.

I found heras usualbusy with some piece of soft embroidery (the
mania for Berlin wools had not yet commenced)while her sister was
seated at the chimney-cornerwith the cat on her kneemending a
heap of stockings.

'Mary - Mary! put them away!' Eliza was hastily sayingjust as I
entered the room.

'Not Iindeed!' was the phlegmatic reply; and my appearance
prevented further discussion.

'You're so unfortunateMr. Markham!' observed the younger sister
with one of her archsidelong glances. 'Papa's just gone out into
the parishand not likely to be back for an hour!'

'Never mind; I can manage to spend a few minutes with his
daughtersif they'll allow me' said Ibringing a chair to the
fireand seating myself thereinwithout waiting to be asked.

'Wellif you'll be very good and amusingwe shall not object.'

'Let your permission be unconditionalpray; for I came not to give
pleasurebut to seek it' I answered.

HoweverI thought it but reasonable to make some slight exertion
to render my company agreeable; and what little effort I madewas
apparently pretty successfulfor Miss Eliza was never in a better
humour. We seemedindeedto be mutually pleased with each other
and managed to maintain between us a cheerful and animated though
not very profound conversation. It was little better than a TETEE-
TETEfor Miss Millward never opened her lipsexcept
occasionally to correct some random assertion or exaggerated
expression of her sister'sand once to ask her to pick up the ball
of cotton that had rolled under the table. I did this myself
howeveras in duty bound.

'Thank youMr. Markham' said sheas I presented it to her. 'I
would have picked it up myself; only I did not want to disturb the
cat.'

'Marydearthat won't excuse you in Mr. Markham's eyes' said
Eliza; 'he hates catsI daresayas cordially as he does old maids

-like all other gentlemen. Don't youMr. Markham?'
'I believe it is natural for our unamiable sex to dislike the
creatures' replied I; 'for you ladies lavish so many caresses upon
them.'

'Bless them - little darlings!' cried shein a sudden burst of
enthusiasmturning round and overwhelming her sister's pet with a
shower of kisses.

'Don'tEliza!' said Miss Millwardsomewhat grufflyas she
impatiently pushed her away.

But it was time for me to be going: make what haste I wouldI


should still be too late for tea; and my mother was the soul of
order and punctuality.

My fair friend was evidently unwilling to bid me adieu. I tenderly
squeezed her little hand at parting; and she repaid me with one of
her softest smiles and most bewitching glances. I went home very
happywith a heart brimful of complacency for myselfand
overflowing with love for Eliza.

CHAPTER III

Two days afterMrs. Graham called at Linden-Carcontrary to the
expectation of Rosewho entertained an idea that the mysterious
occupant of Wildfell Hall would wholly disregard the common
observances of civilized life- in which opinion she was supported
by the Wilsonswho testified that neither their call nor the
Millwards' had been returned as yet. Nowhoweverthe cause of
that omission was explainedthough not entirely to the
satisfaction of Rose. Mrs. Graham had brought her child with her
and on my mother's expressing surprise that he could walk so far
she replied- 'It is a long walk for him; but I must have either
taken him with meor relinquished the visit altogether; for I
never leave him alone; and I thinkMrs. MarkhamI must beg you to
make my excuses to the Millwards and Mrs. Wilsonwhen you see
themas I fear I cannot do myself the pleasure of calling upon
them till my little Arthur is able to accompany me.'

'But you have a servant' said Rose; 'could you not leave him with
her?'

'She has her own occupations to attend to; and besidesshe is too
old to run after a childand he is too mercurial to be tied to an
elderly woman.'

'But you left him to come to church.'

'Yesonce; but I would not have left him for any other purpose;
and I thinkin futureI must contrive to bring him with meor
stay at home.'

'Is he so mischievous?' asked my motherconsiderably shocked.

'No' replied the ladysadly smilingas she stroked the wavy
locks of her sonwho was seated on a low stool at her feet; 'but
he is my only treasureand I am his only friend: so we don't like
to be separated.'

'Butmy dearI call that doting' said my plain-spoken parent.
'You should try to suppress such foolish fondnessas well to save
your son from ruin as yourself from ridicule.'

'Ruin! Mrs. Markham!'

'Yes; it is spoiling the child. Even at his agehe ought not to
be always tied to his mother's apron-string; he should learn to be
ashamed of it.'

'Mrs. MarkhamI beg you will not say such thingsin his presence
at least. I trust my son will never be ashamed to love his
mother!' said Mrs. Grahamwith a serious energy that startled the


company.

My mother attempted to appease her by an explanation; but she
seemed to think enough had been said on the subjectand abruptly
turned the conversation.

'Just as I thought' said I to myself: 'the lady's temper is none
of the mildestnotwithstanding her sweetpale face and lofty
browwhere thought and suffering seem equally to have stamped
their impress.'

All this time I was seated at a table on the other side of the
roomapparently immersed in the perusal of a volume of the
FARMER'S MAGAZINEwhich I happened to have been reading at the
moment of our visitor's arrival; andnot choosing to be over
civilI had merely bowed as she enteredand continued my
occupation as before.

In a little whilehoweverI was sensible that some one was
approaching mewith a lightbut slow and hesitating tread. It
was little Arthurirresistibly attracted by my dog Sanchothat
was lying at my feet. On looking up I beheld him standing about
two yards offwith his clear blue eyes wistfully gazing on the
dogtransfixed to the spotnot by fear of the animalbut by a
timid disinclination to approach its master. A little
encouragementhoweverinduced him to come forward. The child
though shywas not sullen. In a minute he was kneeling on the
carpetwith his arms round Sancho's neckandin a minute or two
morethe little fellow was seated on my kneesurveying with eager
interest the various specimens of horsescattlepigsand model
farms portrayed in the volume before me. I glanced at his mother
now and then to see how she relished the new-sprung intimacy; and I
sawby the unquiet aspect of her eyethat for some reason or
other she was uneasy at the child's position.

'Arthur' said sheat length'come here. You are troublesome to
Mr. Markham: he wishes to read.'

'By no meansMrs. Graham; pray let him stay. I am as much amused
as he is' pleaded I. But stillwith hand and eyeshe silently
called him to her side.

'Nomamma' said the child; 'let me look at these pictures first;
and then I'll comeand tell you all about them.'

'We are going to have a small party on Mondaythe fifth of
November' said my mother; 'and I hope you will not refuse to make
oneMrs. Graham. You can bring your little boy with youyou know

-I daresay we shall be able to amuse him; - and then you can make
your own apologies to the Millwards and Wilsons - they will all be
hereI expect.'
'Thank youI never go to parties.'

'Oh! but this will be quite a family concern - early hoursand
nobody here but ourselvesand just the Millwards and Wilsonsmost
of whom you already knowand Mr. Lawrenceyour landlordwith
whom you ought to make acquaintance.'

'I do know something of him - but you must excuse me this time; for
the eveningsnoware dark and dampand ArthurI fearis too
delicate to risk exposure to their influence with impunity. We
must defer the enjoyment of your hospitality till the return of
longer days and warmer nights.'


Rosenowat a hint from my motherproduced a decanter of wine
with accompaniments of glasses and cakefrom the cupboard and the
oak sideboardand the refreshment was duly presented to the
guests. They both partook of the cakebut obstinately refused the
winein spite of their hostess's hospitable attempts to force it
upon them. Arthurespecially shrank from the ruby nectar as if in
terror and disgustand was ready to cry when urged to take it.

'Never mindArthur' said his mamma; 'Mrs. Markham thinks it will
do you goodas you were tired with your walk; but she will not
oblige you to take it! - I daresay you will do very well without.
He detests the very sight of wine' she added'and the smell of it
almost makes him sick. I have been accustomed to make him swallow
a little wine or weak spirits-and-waterby way of medicinewhen
he was sickandin factI have done what I could to make him
hate them.'

Everybody laughedexcept the young widow and her son.

'WellMrs. Graham' said my motherwiping the tears of merriment
from her bright blue eyes - 'wellyou surprise me! I really gave
you credit for having more sense. - The poor child will be the
veriest milksop that ever was sopped! Only think what a man you
will make of himif you persist in - '

'I think it a very excellent plan' interrupted Mrs. Grahamwith
imperturbable gravity. 'By that means I hope to save him from one
degrading vice at least. I wish I could render the incentives to
every other equally innoxious in his case.'

'But by such means' said I'you will never render him virtuous. -
What is it that constitutes virtueMrs. Graham? Is it the
circumstance of being able and willing to resist temptation; or
that of having no temptations to resist? - Is he a strong man that
overcomes great obstacles and performs surprising achievements
though by dint of great muscular exertionand at the risk of some
subsequent fatigueor he that sits in his chair all daywith
nothing to do more laborious than stirring the fireand carrying
his food to his mouth? If you would have your son to walk
honourably through the worldyou must not attempt to clear the
stones from his pathbut teach him to walk firmly over them - not
insist upon leading him by the handbut let him learn to go
alone.'

'I will lead him by the handMr. Markhamtill he has strength to
go alone; and I will clear as many stones from his path as I can
and teach him to avoid the rest - or walk firmly over themas you
say; - for when I have done my utmostin the way of clearance
there will still be plenty left to exercise all the agility
steadinessand circumspection he will ever have. - It is all very
well to talk about noble resistanceand trials of virtue; but for
fifty - or five hundred men that have yielded to temptationshow
me one that has had virtue to resist. And why should I take it for
granted that my son will be one in a thousand? - and not rather
prepare for the worstand suppose he will be like his - like the
rest of mankindunless I take care to prevent it?'

'You are very complimentary to us all' I observed.

'I know nothing about you - I speak of those I do know - and when I
see the whole race of mankind (with a few rare exceptions)
stumbling and blundering along the path of lifesinking into every
pitfalland breaking their shins over every impediment that lies


in their wayshall I not use all the means in my power to insure
for him a smoother and a safer passage?'

'Yesbut the surest means will be to endeavour to fortify him
against temptationnot to remove it out of his way.'

'I will do bothMr. Markham. God knows he will have temptations
enough to assail himboth from within and withoutwhen I have
done all I can to render vice as uninviting to himas it is
abominable in its own nature - I myself have hadindeedbut few
incentives to what the world calls vicebut yet I have experienced
temptations and trials of another kindthat have requiredon many
occasionsmore watchfulness and firmness to resist than I have
hitherto been able to muster against them. And thisI believeis
what most others would acknowledge who are accustomed to
reflectionand wishful to strive against their natural
corruptions.'

'Yes' said my motherbut half apprehending her drift; 'but you
would not judge of a boy by yourself - andmy dear Mrs. Graham
let me warn you in good time against the error - the fatal errorI
may call it - of taking that boy's education upon yourself.
Because you are clever in some things and well informedyou may
fancy yourself equal to the task; but indeed you are not; and if
you persist in the attemptbelieve me you will bitterly repent it
when the mischief is done.'

'I am to send him to schoolI supposeto learn to despise his
mother's authority and affection!' said the ladywith rather a
bitter smile.

'Ohno! - But if you would have a boy to despise his motherlet
her keep him at homeand spend her life in petting him upand
slaving to indulge his follies and caprices.'

'I perfectly agree with youMrs. Markham; but nothing can be
further from my principles and practice than such criminal weakness
as that.'

'Wellbut you will treat him like a girl - you'll spoil his
spiritand make a mere Miss Nancy of him - you willindeedMrs.
Grahamwhatever you may think. But I'll get Mr. Millward to talk
to you about it:- he'll tell you the consequences; - he'll set it
before you as plain as the day; - and tell you what you ought to
doand all about it; - andI don't doubthe'll be able to
convince you in a minute.'

'No occasion to trouble the vicar' said Mrs. Grahamglancing at
me - I suppose I was smiling at my mother's unbounded confidence in
that worthy gentleman - 'Mr. Markham here thinks his powers of
conviction at least equal to Mr. Millward's. If I hear not him
neither should I be convinced though one rose from the deadhe
would tell you. WellMr. Markhamyou that maintain that a boy
should not be shielded from evilbut sent out to battle against
italone and unassisted - not taught to avoid the snares of life
but boldly to rush into themor over themas he may - to seek
dangerrather than shun itand feed his virtue by temptationwould
you -?'

'I beg your pardonMrs. Graham - but you get on too fast. I have
not yet said that a boy should be taught to rush into the snares of
life- or even wilfully to seek temptation for the sake of
exercising his virtue by overcoming it; - I only say that it is
better to arm and strengthen your herothan to disarm and enfeeble


the foe; - and if you were to rear an oak sapling in a hothouse
tending it carefully night and dayand shielding it from every
breath of windyou could not expect it to become a hardy tree
like that which has grown up on the mountain-sideexposed to all
the action of the elementsand not even sheltered from the shock
of the tempest.'

'Granted; - but would you use the same argument with regard to a
girl?'

'Certainly not.'

'No; you would have her to be tenderly and delicately nurtured
like a hot-house plant - taught to cling to others for direction
and supportand guardedas much as possiblefrom the very
knowledge of evil. But will you be so good as to inform me why you
make this distinction? Is it that you think she has no virtue?'

'Assuredly not.'

'Wellbut you affirm that virtue is only elicited by temptation; and
you think that a woman cannot be too little exposed to
temptationor too little acquainted with viceor anything
connected therewith. It must be either that you think she is
essentially so viciousor so feeble-mindedthat she cannot
withstand temptation- and though she may be pure and innocent as
long as she is kept in ignorance and restraintyetbeing
destitute of real virtueto teach her how to sin is at once to
make her a sinnerand the greater her knowledgethe wider her
libertythe deeper will be her depravity- whereasin the nobler
sexthere is a natural tendency to goodnessguarded by a superior
fortitudewhichthe more it is exercised by trials and dangers
is only the further developed - '

'Heaven forbid that I should think so!' I interrupted her at last.

'Wellthenit must be that you think they are both weak and prone
to errand the slightest errorthe merest shadow of pollution
will ruin the onewhile the character of the other will be
strengthened and embellished - his education properly finished by a
little practical acquaintance with forbidden things. Such
experienceto him (to use a trite simile)will be like the storm
to the oakwhichthough it may scatter the leavesand snap the
smaller branchesserves but to rivet the rootsand to harden and
condense the fibres of the tree. You would have us encourage our
sons to prove all things by their own experiencewhile our
daughters must not even profit by the experience of others. Now I
would have both so to benefit by the experience of othersand the
precepts of a higher authoritythat they should know beforehand to
refuse the evil and choose the goodand require no experimental
proofs to teach them the evil of transgression. I would not send a
poor girl into the worldunarmed against her foesand ignorant of
the snares that beset her path; nor would I watch and guard her
tilldeprived of self-respect and self-relianceshe lost the
power or the will to watch and guard herself; - and as for my son if
I thought he would grow up to be what you call a man of the
world - one that has "seen life and glories in his experience,
even though he should so far profit by it as to sober down, at
length, into a useful and respected member of society - I would
rather that he died to-morrow! - rather a thousand times!' she
earnestly repeated, pressing her darling to her side and kissing
his forehead with intense affection. He had already left his new
companion, and been standing for some time beside his mother's
knee, looking up into her face, and listening in silent wonder to


her incomprehensible discourse.

'Well! you ladies must always have the last word, I suppose,' said
I, observing her rise, and begin to take leave of my mother.

'You may have as many words as you please, - only I can't stay to
hear them.'

'No; that is the way: you hear just as much of an argument as you
please; and the rest may be spoken to the wind.'

'If you are anxious to say anything more on the subject,' replied
she, as she shook hands with Rose, 'you must bring your sister to
see me some fine day, and I'll listen, as patiently as you could
wish, to whatever you please to say. I would rather be lectured by
you than the vicar, because I should have less remorse in telling
you, at the end of the discourse, that I preserve my own opinion
precisely the same as at the beginning - as would be the case, I am
persuaded, with regard to either logician.'

'Yes, of course,' replied I, determined to be as provoking as
herself; 'for when a lady does consent to listen to an argument
against her own opinions, she is always predetermined to withstand
it - to listen only with her bodily ears, keeping the mental organs
resolutely closed against the strongest reasoning.'

'Good-morning, Mr. Markham,' said my fair antagonist, with a
pitying smile; and deigning no further rejoinder, she slightly
bowed, and was about to withdraw; but her son, with childish
impertinence, arrested her by exclaiming, - 'Mamma, you have not
shaken hands with Mr. Markham!'

She laughingly turned round and held out her hand. I gave it a
spiteful squeeze, for I was annoyed at the continual injustice she
had done me from the very dawn of our acquaintance. Without
knowing anything about my real disposition and principles, she was
evidently prejudiced against me, and seemed bent upon showing me
that her opinions respecting me, on every particular, fell far
below those I entertained of myself. I was naturally touchy, or it
would not have vexed me so much. Perhaps, too, I was a little bit
spoiled by my mother and sister, and some other ladies of my
acquaintance; - and yet I was by no means a fop - of that I am
fully convinced, whether you are or not.

CHAPTER IV

Our party, on the 5th of November, passed off very well, in spite
of Mrs. Graham's refusal to grace it with her presence. Indeed, it
is probable that, had she been there, there would have been less
cordiality, freedom, and frolic amongst us than there was without
her.

My mother, as usual, was cheerful and chatty, full of activity and
good-nature, and only faulty in being too anxious to make her
guests happy, thereby forcing several of them to do what their soul
abhorred in the way of eating or drinking, sitting opposite the
blazing fire, or talking when they would be silent. Nevertheless,
they bore it very well, being all in their holiday humours.

Mr. Millward was mighty in important dogmas and sententious jokes,


pompous anecdotes and oracular discourses, dealt out for the
edification of the whole assembly in general, and of the admiring
Mrs. Markham, the polite Mr. Lawrence, the sedate Mary Millward,
the quiet Richard Wilson, and the matter-of-fact Robert in
particular, - as being the most attentive listeners.

Mrs. Wilson was more brilliant than ever, with her budgets of fresh
news and old scandal, strung together with trivial questions and
remarks, and oft-repeated observations, uttered apparently for the
sole purpose of denying a moment's rest to her inexhaustible organs
of speech. She had brought her knitting with her, and it seemed as
if her tongue had laid a wager with her fingers, to outdo them in
swift and ceaseless motion.

Her daughter Jane was, of course, as graceful and elegant, as witty
and seductive, as she could possibly manage to be; for here were
all the ladies to outshine, and all the gentlemen to charm, - and
Mr. Lawrence, especially, to capture and subdue. Her little arts
to effect his subjugation were too subtle and impalpable to attract
my observation; but I thought there was a certain refined
affectation of superiority, and an ungenial self-consciousness
about her, that negatived all her advantages; and after she was
gone, Rose interpreted to me her various looks, words, and actions
with a mingled acuteness and asperity that made me wonder, equally,
at the lady's artifice and my sister's penetration, and ask myself
if she too had an eye to the squire - but never mind, Halford; she
had not.

Richard Wilson, Jane's younger brother, sat in a corner, apparently
good-tempered, but silent and shy, desirous to escape observation,
but willing enough to listen and observe: and, although somewhat
out of his element, he would have been happy enough in his own
quiet way, if my mother could only have let him alone; but in her
mistaken kindness, she would keep persecuting him with her
attentions - pressing upon him all manner of viands, under the
notion that he was too bashful to help himself, and obliging him to
shout across the room his monosyllabic replies to the numerous
questions and observations by which she vainly attempted to draw
him into conversation.

Rose informed me that he never would have favoured us with his
company but for the importunities of his sister Jane, who was most
anxious to show Mr. Lawrence that she had at least one brother more
gentlemanly and refined than Robert. That worthy individual she
had been equally solicitous to keep away; but he affirmed that he
saw no reason why he should not enjoy a crack with Markham and the
old lady (my mother was not old, really), and bonny Miss Rose and
the parson, as well as the best; - and he was in the right of it
too. So he talked common-place with my mother and Rose, and
discussed parish affairs with the vicar, farming matters with me,
and politics with us both.

Mary Millward was another mute, - not so much tormented with cruel
kindness as Dick Wilson, because she had a certain short, decided
way of answering and refusing, and was supposed to be rather sullen
than diffident. However that might be, she certainly did not give
much pleasure to the company; - nor did she appear to derive much
from it. Eliza told me she had only come because her father
insisted upon it, having taken it into his head that she devoted
herself too exclusively to her household duties, to the neglect of
such relaxations and innocent enjoyments as were proper to her age
and sex. She seemed to me to be good-humoured enough on the whole.
Once or twice she was provoked to laughter by the wit or the
merriment of some favoured individual amongst us; and then I


observed she sought the eye of Richard Wilson, who sat over against
her. As he studied with her father, she had some acquaintance with
him, in spite of the retiring habits of both, and I suppose there
was a kind of fellow-feeling established between them.

My Eliza was charming beyond description, coquettish without
affectation, and evidently more desirous to engage my attention
than that of all the room besides. Her delight in having me near
her, seated or standing by her side, whispering in her ear, or
pressing her hand in the dance, was plainly legible in her glowing
face and heaving bosom, however belied by saucy words and gestures.
But I had better hold my tongue: if I boast of these things now, I
shall have to blush hereafter.

To proceed, then, with the various individuals of our party; Rose
was simple and natural as usual, and full of mirth and vivacity.

Fergus was impertinent and absurd; but his impertinence and folly
served to make others laugh, if they did not raise himself in their
estimation.

And finally (for I omit myself), Mr. Lawrence was gentlemanly and
inoffensive to all, and polite to the vicar and the ladies,
especially his hostess and her daughter, and Miss Wilson misguided
man; he had not the taste to prefer Eliza Millward. Mr.
Lawrence and I were on tolerably intimate terms. Essentially of
reserved habits, and but seldom quitting the secluded place of his
birth, where he had lived in solitary state since the death of his
father, he had neither the opportunity nor the inclination for
forming many acquaintances; and, of all he had ever known, I
(judging by the results) was the companion most agreeable to his
taste. I liked the man well enough, but he was too cold, and shy,
and self-contained, to obtain my cordial sympathies. A spirit of
candour and frankness, when wholly unaccompanied with coarseness,
he admired in others, but he could not acquire it himself. His
excessive reserve upon all his own concerns was, indeed, provoking
and chilly enough; but I forgave it, from a conviction that it
originated less in pride and want of confidence in his friends,
than in a certain morbid feeling of delicacy, and a peculiar
diffidence, that he was sensible of, but wanted energy to overcome.
His heart was like a sensitive plant, that opens for a moment in
the sunshine, but curls up and shrinks into itself at the slightest
touch of the finger, or the lightest breath of wind. And, upon the
whole, our intimacy was rather a mutual predilection than a deep
and solid friendship, such as has since arisen between myself and
you, Halford, whom, in spite of your occasional crustiness, I can
liken to nothing so well as an old coat, unimpeachable in texture,
but easy and loose - that has conformed itself to the shape of the
wearer, and which he may use as he pleases, without being bothered
with the fear of spoiling it; - whereas Mr. Lawrence was like a new
garment, all very neat and trim to look at, but so tight in the
elbows, that you would fear to split the seams by the unrestricted
motion of your arms, and so smooth and fine in surface that you
scruple to expose it to a single drop of rain.

Soon after the arrival of the guests, my mother mentioned Mrs.
Graham, regretted she was not there to meet them, and explained to
the Millwards and Wilsons the reasons she had given for neglecting
to return their calls, hoping they would excuse her, as she was
sure she did not mean to be uncivil, and would be glad to see them
at any time. - 'But she is a very singular lady, Mr. Lawrence,'
added she; 'we don't know what to make of her - but I daresay you
can tell us something about her, for she is your tenant, you know,

-and she said she knew you a little.'

All eyes were turned to Mr. Lawrence. I thought he looked
unnecessarily confused at being so appealed to.

'I, Mrs. Markham!' said he; 'you are mistaken - I don't - that is I
have seen her, certainly; but I am the last person you should
apply to for information respecting Mrs. Graham.'

He then immediately turned to Rose, and asked her to favour the
company with a song, or a tune on the piano.

'No,' said she, 'you must ask Miss Wilson: she outshines us all in
singing, and music too.'

Miss Wilson demurred.

'She'll sing readily enough,' said Fergus, 'if you'll undertake to
stand by her, Mr. Lawrence, and turn over the leaves for her.'

'I shall be most happy to do so, Miss Wilson; will you allow me?'

She bridled her long neck and smiled, and suffered him to lead her
to the instrument, where she played and sang, in her very best
style, one piece after another; while he stood patiently by,
leaning one hand on the back of her chair, and turning over the
leaves of her book with the other. Perhaps he was as much charmed
with her performance as she was. It was all very fine in its way;
but I cannot say that it moved me very deeply. There was plenty of
skill and execution, but precious little feeling.

But we had not done with Mrs. Graham yet.

'I don't take wine, Mrs. Markham,' said Mr. Millward, upon the
introduction of that beverage; 'I'll take a little of your homebrewed
ale. I always prefer your home-brewed to anything else.'

Flattered at this compliment, my mother rang the bell, and a china
jug of our best ale was presently brought and set before the worthy
gentleman who so well knew how to appreciate its excellences.

'Now THIS is the thing!' cried he, pouring out a glass of the same
in a long stream, skilfully directed from the jug to the tumbler,
so as to produce much foam without spilling a drop; and, having
surveyed it for a moment opposite the candle, he took a deep
draught, and then smacked his lips, drew a long breath, and
refilled his glass, my mother looking on with the greatest
satisfaction.

'There's nothing like this, Mrs. Markham!' said he. 'I always
maintain that there's nothing to compare with your home-brewed
ale.'

'I'm sure I'm glad you like it, sir. I always look after the
brewing myself, as well as the cheese and the butter - I like to
have things well done, while we're about it.'

'Quite right, Mrs. Markham!'

'But then, Mr. Millward, you don't think it wrong to take a little
wine now and then - or a little spirits either!' said my mother, as
she handed a smoking tumbler of gin-and-water to Mrs. Wilson, who
affirmed that wine sat heavy on her stomach, and whose son Robert
was at that moment helping himself to a pretty stiff glass of the
same.


'By no means!' replied the oracle, with a Jove-like nod; 'these
things are all blessings and mercies, if we only knew how to make
use of them.'

'But Mrs. Graham doesn't think so. You shall just hear now what
she told us the other day - I told her I'd tell you.'

And my mother favoured the company with a particular account of
that lady's mistaken ideas and conduct regarding the matter in
hand, concluding with, 'Now, don't you think it is wrong?'

'Wrong!' repeated the vicar, with more than common solemnity '
criminal, I should say - criminal! Not only is it making a fool
of the boy, but it is despising the gifts of Providence, and
teaching him to trample them under his feet.'

He then entered more fully into the question, and explained at
large the folly and impiety of such a proceeding. My mother heard
him with profoundest reverence; and even Mrs. Wilson vouchsafed to
rest her tongue for a moment, and listen in silence, while she
complacently sipped her gin-and-water. Mr. Lawrence sat with his
elbow on the table, carelessly playing with his half-empty wineglass,
and covertly smiling to himself.

'But don't you think, Mr. Millward,' suggested he, when at length
that gentleman paused in his discourse, 'that when a child may be
naturally prone to intemperance - by the fault of its parents or
ancestors, for instance - some precautions are advisable?' (Now it
was generally believed that Mr. Lawrence's father had shortened his
days by intemperance.)

'Some precautions, it may be; but temperance, sir, is one thing,
and abstinence another.'

'But I have heard that, with some persons, temperance - that is,
moderation - is almost impossible; and if abstinence be an evil
(which some have doubted), no one will deny that excess is a
greater. Some parents have entirely prohibited their children from
tasting intoxicating liquors; but a parent's authority cannot last
for ever; children are naturally prone to hanker after forbidden
things; and a child, in such a case, would be likely to have a
strong curiosity to taste, and try the effect of what has been so
lauded and enjoyed by others, so strictly forbidden to himself which
curiosity would generally be gratified on the first
convenient opportunity; and the restraint once broken, serious
consequences might ensue. I don't pretend to be a judge of such
matters, but it seems to me, that this plan of Mrs. Graham's, as
you describe it, Mrs. Markham, extraordinary as it may be, is not
without its advantages; for here you see the child is delivered at
once from temptation; he has no secret curiosity, no hankering
desire; he is as well acquainted with the tempting liquors as he
ever wishes to be; and is thoroughly disgusted with them, without
having suffered from their effects.'

'And is that right, sir? Have I not proven to you how wrong it is

-how contrary to Scripture and to reason, to teach a child to look
with contempt and disgust upon the blessings of Providence, instead
of to use them aright?'
'You may consider laudanum a blessing of Providence, sir,' replied
Mr. Lawrence, smiling; 'and yet, you will allow that most of us had
better abstain from it, even in moderation; but,' added he, 'I
would not desire you to follow out my simile too closely - in


witness whereof I finish my glass.'

'And take another, I hope, Mr. Lawrence,' said my mother, pushing
the bottle towards him.

He politely declined, and pushing his chair a little away from the
table, leant back towards me - I was seated a trifle behind, on the
sofa beside Eliza Millward - and carelessly asked me if I knew Mrs.
Graham.

'I have met her once or twice,' I replied.

'What do you think of her?'

'I cannot say that I like her much. She is handsome - or rather I
should say distinguished and interesting - in her appearance, but
by no means amiable - a woman liable to take strong prejudices, I
should fancy, and stick to them through thick and thin, twisting
everything into conformity with her own preconceived opinions - too
hard, too sharp, too bitter for my taste.'

He made no reply, but looked down and bit his lip, and shortly
after rose and sauntered up to Miss Wilson, as much repelled by me,
I fancy, as attracted by her. I scarcely noticed it at the time,
but afterwards I was led to recall this and other trifling facts,
of a similar nature, to my remembrance, when - but I must not
anticipate.

We wound up the evening with dancing - our worthy pastor thinking
it no scandal to be present on the occasion, though one of the
village musicians was engaged to direct our evolutions with his
violin. But Mary Millward obstinately refused to join us; and so
did Richard Wilson, though my mother earnestly entreated him to do
so, and even offered to be his partner.

We managed very well without them, however. With a single set of
quadrilles, and several country dances, we carried it on to a
pretty late hour; and at length, having called upon our musician to
strike up a waltz, I was just about to whirl Eliza round in that
delightful dance, accompanied by Lawrence and Jane Wilson, and
Fergus and Rose, when Mr. Millward interposed with:- 'No, no; I
don't allow that! Come, it's time to be going now.'

'Oh, no, papa!' pleaded Eliza.

'High time, my girl - high time! Moderation in all things,
remember! That's the plan - Let your moderation be known unto all
men!"'

But in revenge I followed Eliza into the dimly-lighted passage
whereunder pretence of helping her on with her shawlI fear I
must plead guilty to snatching a kiss behind her father's back
while he was enveloping his throat and chin in the folds of a
mighty comforter. But alas! in turning roundthere was my mother
close beside me. The consequence wasthat no sooner were the
guests departedthan I was doomed to a very serious remonstrance
which unpleasantly checked the galloping course of my spiritsand
made a disagreeable close to the evening.

'My dear Gilbert' said she'I wish you wouldn't do so! You know
how deeply I have your advantage at hearthow I love you and prize
you above everything else in the worldand how much I long to see
you well settled in life - and how bitterly it would grieve me to
see you married to that girl - or any other in the neighbourhood.


What you see in her I don't know. It isn't only the want of money
that I think about - nothing of the kind - but there's neither
beautynor clevernessnor goodnessnor anything else that's
desirable. If you knew your own valueas I doyou wouldn't dream
of it. Do wait awhile and see! If you bind yourself to her
you'll repent it all your lifetime when you look round and see how
many better there are. Take my word for ityou will.'

'Wellmotherdo be quiet! - I hate to be lectured! - I'm not
going to marry yetI tell you; but - dear me! mayn't I enjoy
myself at all?'

'Yesmy dear boybut not in that way. Indeedyou shouldn't do
such things. You would be wronging the girlif she were what she
ought to be; but I assure you she is as artful a little hussy as
anybody need wish to see; and you'll got entangled in her snares
before you know where you are. And if you marry herGilbert
you'll break my heart - so there's an end of it.'

'Welldon't cry about itmother' said Ifor the tears were
gushing from her eyes; 'therelet that kiss efface the one I gave
Eliza; don't abuse her any moreand set your mind at rest; for
I'll promise never - that isI'll promise to think twice before I
take any important step you seriously disapprove of.'

So sayingI lighted my candleand went to bedconsiderably
quenched in spirit.

CHAPTER V

It was about the close of the monththatyielding at length to
the urgent importunities of RoseI accompanied her in a visit to
Wildfell Hall. To our surprisewe were ushered into a room where
the first object that met the eye was a painter's easelwith a
table beside it covered with rolls of canvasbottles of oil and
varnishpalettebrushespaints&c. Leaning against the wall
were several sketches in various stages of progressionand a few
finished paintings - mostly of landscapes and figures.

'I must make you welcome to my studio' said Mrs. Graham; 'there is
no fire in the sitting-room to-dayand it is rather too cold to
show you into a place with an empty grate.'

And disengaging a couple of chairs from the artistical lumber that
usurped themshe bid us be seatedand resumed her place beside
the easel - not facing it exactlybut now and then glancing at the
picture upon it while she conversedand giving it an occasional
touch with her brushas if she found it impossible to wean her
attention entirely from her occupation to fix it upon her guests.
It was a view of Wildfell Hallas seen at early morning from the
field belowrising in dark relief against a sky of clear silvery
bluewith a few red streaks on the horizonfaithfully drawn and
colouredand very elegantly and artistically handled.

'I see your heart is in your workMrs. Graham' observed I: 'I
must beg you to go on with it; for if you suffer our presence to
interrupt youwe shall be constrained to regard ourselves as
unwelcome intruders.'

'Ohno!' replied shethrowing her brush on to the tableas if


startled into politeness. 'I am not so beset with visitors but
that I can readily spare a few minutes to the few that do favour me
with their company.'

'You have almost completed your painting' said Iapproaching to
observe it more closelyand surveying it with a greater degree of
admiration and delight than I cared to express. 'A few more
touches in the foreground will finish itI should think. But why
have you called it Fernley ManorCumberlandinstead of Wildfell
Hall-shire?' I askedalluding to the name she had traced in
small characters at the bottom of the canvas.

But immediately I was sensible of having committed an act of
impertinence in so doing; for she coloured and hesitated; but after
a moment's pausewith a kind of desperate franknessshe replied:


'Because I have friends - acquaintances at least - in the world
from whom I desire my present abode to be concealed; and as they
might see the pictureand might possibly recognise the style in
spite of the false initials I have put in the cornerI take the
precaution to give a false name to the place alsoin order to put
them on a wrong scentif they should attempt to trace me out by
it.'

'Then you don't intend to keep the picture?' said Ianxious to say
anything to change the subject.

'No; I cannot afford to paint for my own amusement.'

'Mamma sends all her pictures to London' said Arthur; 'and
somebody sells them for her thereand sends us the money.'

In looking round upon the other piecesI remarked a pretty sketch
of Linden-hope from the top of the hill; another view of the old
hall basking in the sunny haze of a quiet summer afternoon; and a
simple but striking little picture of a child broodingwith looks
of silent but deep and sorrowful regretover a handful of withered
flowerswith glimpses of dark low hills and autumnal fields behind
itand a dull beclouded sky above.

'You see there is a sad dearth of subjects' observed the fair
artist. 'I took the old hall once on a moonlight nightand I
suppose I must take it again on a snowy winter's dayand then
again on a dark cloudy evening; for I really have nothing else to
paint. I have been told that you have a fine view of the sea
somewhere in the neighbourhood. Is it true? - and is it within
walking distance?'

'Yesif you don't object to walking four miles - or nearly so little
short of eight milesthere and back - and over a somewhat
roughfatiguing road.'

'In what direction does it lie?'

I described the situation as well as I couldand was entering upon
an explanation of the various roadslanesand fields to be
traversed in order to reach itthe goings straight onand
turnings to the right and the leftwhen she checked me with


'Ohstop! don't tell me now: I shall forget every word of your
directions before I require them. I shall not think about going
till next spring; and thenperhapsI may trouble you. At present
we have the winter before usand - '


She suddenly pausedwith a suppressed exclamationstarted up from
her seatand saying'Excuse me one moment' hurried from the
roomand shut the door behind her.

Curious to see what had startled her soI looked towards the
window - for her eyes had been carelessly fixed upon it the moment
before - and just beheld the skirts of a man's coat vanishing
behind a large holly-bush that stood between the window and the
porch.

'It's mamma's friend' said Arthur.

Rose and I looked at each other.

'I don't know what to make of her at all' whispered Rose.

The child looked at her in grave surprise. She straightway began
to talk to him on indifferent matterswhile I amused myself with
looking at the pictures. There was one in an obscure corner that I
had not before observed. It was a little childseated on the
grass with its lap full of flowers. The tiny features and large
blue eyessmiling through a shock of light brown curlsshaken
over the forehead as it bent above its treasurebore sufficient
resemblance to those of the young gentleman before me to proclaim
it a portrait of Arthur Graham in his early infancy.

In taking this up to bring it to the lightI discovered another
behind itwith its face to the wall. I ventured to take that up
too. It was the portrait of a gentleman in the full prime of
youthful manhood - handsome enoughand not badly executed; but if
done by the same hand as the othersit was evidently some years
before; for there was far more careful minuteness of detailand
less of that freshness of colouring and freedom of handling that
delighted and surprised me in them. NeverthelessI surveyed it
with considerable interest. There was a certain individuality in
the features and expression that stamped itat oncea successful
likeness. The bright blue eyes regarded the spectator with a kind
of lurking drollery - you almost expected to see them wink; the
lips - a little too voluptuously full - seemed ready to break into
a smile; the warmly-tinted cheeks were embellished with a luxuriant
growth of reddish whiskers; while the bright chestnut hair
clustering in abundantwavy curlstrespassed too much upon the
foreheadand seemed to intimate that the owner thereof was prouder
of his beauty than his intellect - asperhapshe had reason to
be; and yet he looked no fool.

I had not had the portrait in my hands two minutes before the fair
artist returned.

'Only some one come about the pictures' said shein apology for
her abrupt departure: 'I told him to wait.'

'I fear it will be considered an act of impertinence' said 'to
presume to look at a picture that the artist has turned to the
wall; but may I ask -'

'It is an act of very great impertinencesir; and therefore I beg
you will ask nothing about itfor your curiosity will not be
gratified' replied sheattempting to cover the tartness of her
rebuke with a smile; but I could seeby her flushed cheek and
kindling eyethat she was seriously annoyed.

'I was only going to ask if you had painted it yourself' said I
sulkily resigning the picture into her hands; for without a grain


of ceremony she took it from me; and quickly restoring it to the
dark cornerwith its face to the wallplaced the other against it
as beforeand then turned to me and laughed.

But I was in no humour for jesting. I carelessly turned to the
windowand stood looking out upon the desolate gardenleaving her
to talk to Rose for a minute or two; and thentelling my sister it
was time to goshook hands with the little gentlemancoolly bowed
to the ladyand moved towards the door. Buthaving bid adieu to
RoseMrs. Graham presented her hand to mesayingwith a soft
voiceand by no means a disagreeable smile- 'Let not the sun go
down upon your wrathMr. Markham. I'm sorry I offended you by my
abruptness.'

When a lady condescends to apologisethere is no keeping one's
angerof course; so we parted good friends for once; and this time
I squeezed her hand with a cordialnot a spiteful pressure.

CHAPTER VI

During the next four months I did not enter Mrs. Graham's house
nor she mine; but still the ladies continued to talk about herand
still our acquaintance continuedthough slowlyto advance. As
for their talkI paid but little attention to that (when it
related to the fair hermitI mean)and the only information I
derived from it wasthat one fine frosty day she had ventured to
take her little boy as far as the vicarageand that
unfortunatelynobody was at home but Miss Millward; nevertheless
she had sat a long timeandby all accountsthey had found a
good deal to say to each otherand parted with a mutual desire to
meet again. But Mary liked childrenand fond mammas like those
who can duly appreciate their treasures.

But sometimes I saw her myselfnot only when she came to church
but when she was out on the hills with her sonwhether taking a
longpurpose-like walkor - on special fine days - leisurely
rambling over the moor or the bleak pasture-landssurrounding the
old hallherself with a book in her handher son gambolling about
her; andon any of these occasionswhen I caught sight of her in
my solitary walks or ridesor while following my agricultural
pursuitsI generally contrived to meet or overtake herfor I
rather liked to see Mrs. Grahamand to talk to herand I
decidedly liked to talk to her little companionwhomwhen once
the ice of his shyness was fairly brokenI found to be a very
amiableintelligentand entertaining little fellow; and we soon
became excellent friends - how much to the gratification of his
mamma I cannot undertake to say. I suspected at first that she was
desirous of throwing cold water on this growing intimacy - to
quenchas it werethe kindling flame of our friendship - but
discoveringat lengthin spite of her prejudice against methat
I was perfectly harmlessand even well-intentionedand that
between myself and my dogher son derived a great deal of pleasure
from the acquaintance that he would not otherwise have knownshe
ceased to objectand even welcomed my coming with a smile.

As for Arthurhe would shout his welcome from afarand run to
meet me fifty yards from his mother's side. If I happened to be on
horseback he was sure to get a canter or a gallop; orif there was
one of the draught horses within an available distancehe was
treated to a steady ride upon thatwhich served his turn almost as


well; but his mother would always follow and trudge beside him not
so muchI believeto ensure his safe conductas to see that
I instilled no objectionable notions into his infant mindfor she
was ever on the watchand never would allow him to be taken out of
her sight. What pleased her best of all was to see him romping and
racing with Sanchowhile I walked by her side - notI fearfor
love of my company (though I sometimes deluded myself with that
idea)so much as for the delight she took in seeing her son thus
happily engaged in the enjoyment of those active sports so
invigorating to his tender frameyet so seldom exercised for want
of playmates suited to his years: andperhapsher pleasure was
sweetened not a little by the fact of my being with her instead of
with himand therefore incapable of doing him any injury directly
or indirectlydesignedly or otherwisesmall thanks to her for
that same.

But sometimesI believeshe really had some little gratification
in conversing with me; and one bright February morningduring
twenty minutes' stroll along the moorshe laid aside her usual
asperity and reserveand fairly entered into conversation with me
discoursing with so much eloquence and depth of thought and feeling
on a subject happily coinciding with my own ideasand looking so
beautiful withalthat I went home enchanted; and on the way
(morally) started to find myself thinking thatafter allit
wouldperhapsbe better to spend one's days with such a woman
than with Eliza Millward; and then I (figuratively) blushed for my
inconstancy.

On entering the parlour I found Eliza there with Roseand no one
else. The surprise was not altogether so agreeable as it ought to
have been. We chatted together a long timebut I found her rather
frivolousand even a little insipidcompared with the more mature
and earnest Mrs. Graham. Alasfor human constancy!

'However' thought I'I ought not to marry Elizasince my mother
so strongly objects to itand I ought not to delude the girl with
the idea that I intended to do so. Nowif this mood continueI
shall have less difficulty in emancipating my affections from her
soft yet unrelenting sway; andthough Mrs. Graham might be equally
objectionableI may be permittedlike the doctorsto cure a
greater evil by a lessfor I shall not fall seriously in love with
the young widowI thinknor she with me - that's certain - but if
I find a little pleasure in her society I may surely be allowed to
seek it; and if the star of her divinity be bright enough to dim
the lustre of Eliza'sso much the betterbut I scarcely can think
it.'

And thereafter I seldom suffered a fine day to pass without paying
a visit to Wildfell about the time my new acquaintance usually left
her hermitage; but so frequently was I baulked in my expectations
of another interviewso changeable was she in her times of coming
forth and in her places of resortso transient were the occasional
glimpses I was able to obtainthat I felt half inclined to think
she took as much pains to avoid my company as I to seek hers; but
this was too disagreeable a supposition to be entertained a moment
after it could conveniently be dismissed.

One calmclear afternoonhoweverin Marchas I was
superintending the rolling of the meadow-landand the repairing of
a hedge in the valleyI saw Mrs. Graham down by the brookwith a
sketch-book in her handabsorbed in the exercise of her favourite
artwhile Arthur was putting on the time with constructing dams
and breakwaters in the shallowstony stream. I was rather in want
of amusementand so rare an opportunity was not to be neglected;


soleaving both meadow and hedgeI quickly repaired to the spot
but not before Sanchowhoimmediately upon perceiving his young
friendscoured at full gallop the intervening spaceand pounced
upon him with an impetuous mirth that precipitated the child almost
into the middle of the beck; buthappilythe stones preserved him
from any serious wettingwhile their smoothness prevented his
being too much hurt to laugh at the untoward event.

Mrs. Graham was studying the distinctive characters of the
different varieties of trees in their winter nakednessand
copyingwith a spiritedthough delicate touchtheir various
ramifications. She did not talk muchbut I stood and watched the
progress of her pencil: it was a pleasure to behold it so
dexterously guided by those fair and graceful fingers. But ere
long their dexterity became impairedthey began to hesitateto
tremble slightlyand make false strokesand then suddenly came to
a pausewhile their owner laughingly raised her face to mineand
told me that her sketch did not profit by my superintendence.

'Then' said I'I'll talk to Arthur till you've done.'

'I should like to have a rideMr. Markhamif mamma will let me'
said the child.

'What onmy boy?'

'I think there's a horse in that field' replied hepointing to
where the strong black mare was pulling the roller.

'NonoArthur; it's too far' objected his mother.

But I promised to bring him safe back after a turn or two up and
down the meadow; and when she looked at his eager face she smiled
and let him go. It was the first time she had even allowed me to
take him so much as half a field's length from her side.

Enthroned upon his monstrous steedand solemnly proceeding up and
down the widesteep fieldhe looked the very incarnation of
quietgleeful satisfaction and delight. The rollinghoweverwas
soon completed; but when I dismounted the gallant horsemanand
restored him to his mothershe seemed rather displeased at my
keeping him so long. She had shut up her sketch-bookand been
probablyfor some minutes impatiently waiting his return.

It was now high time to go homeshe saidand would have bid me
good-eveningbut I was not going to leave her yet: I accompanied
her half-way up the hill. She became more sociableand I was
beginning to be very happy; buton coming within sight of the grim
old hallshe stood stilland turned towards me while she spoke
as if expecting I should go no furtherthat the conversation would
end hereand I should now take leave and depart - asindeedit
was time to dofor 'the clearcold eve' was fast 'declining' the
sun had setand the gibbous moon was visibly brightening in the
pale grey sky; but a feeling almost of compassion riveted me to the
spot. It seemed hard to leave her to such a lonelycomfortless
home. I looked up at it. Silent and grim it frowned; before us.
A faintred light was gleaming from the lower windows of one wing
but all the other windows were in darknessand many exhibited
their blackcavernous gulfsentirely destitute of glazing or
framework.

'Do you not find it a desolate place to live in?' said Iafter a
moment of silent contemplation.


'I dosometimes' replied she. 'On winter eveningswhen Arthur
is in bedand I am sitting there alonehearing the bleak wind
moaning round me and howling through the ruinous old chambersno
books or occupations can represss the dismal thoughts and
apprehensions that come crowding in - but it is folly to give way
to such weaknessI know. If Rachel is satisfied with such a life
why should not I? - IndeedI cannot be too thankful for such an
asylumwhile it is left me.'

The closing sentence was uttered in an under-toneas if spoken
rather to herself than to me. She then bid me good-evening and
withdrew.

I had not proceeded many steps on my way homewards when I perceived
Mr. Lawrenceon his pretty grey ponycoming up the rugged lane
that crossed over the hill-top. I went a little out of my way to
speak to him; for we had not met for some time.

'Was that Mrs. Graham you were speaking to just now?' said he
after the first few words of greeting had passed between us.

'Yes.'

'Humph! I thought so.' He looked contemplatively at his horse's
maneas if he had some serious cause of dissatisfaction with it
or something else.

'Well! what then?'

'Ohnothing!' replied he. 'Only I thought you disliked her' he
quietly addedcurling his classic lip with a slightly sarcastic
smile.

'Suppose I did; mayn't a man change his mind on further
acquaintance?'

'Yesof course' returned henicely reducing an entanglement in
the pony's redundant hoary mane. Then suddenly turning to meand
fixing his shyhazel eyes upon me with a steady penetrating gaze
he added'Then you have changed your mind?'

'I can't say that I have exactly. No; I think I hold the same
opinion respecting her as before - but slightly ameliorated.'

'Oh!' He looked round for something else to talk about; and
glancing up at the moonmade some remark upon the beauty of the
eveningwhich I did not answeras being irrelevant to the
subject.

'Lawrence' said Icalmly looking him in the face'are you in
love with Mrs. Graham?'

Instead of his being deeply offended at thisas I more than half
expected he wouldthe first start of surpriseat the audacious
questionwas followed by a tittering laughas if he was highly
amused at the idea.

'I in love with her!' repeated he. 'What makes you dream of such a
thing?'

'From the interest you take in the progress of my acquaintance with
the ladyand the changes of my opinion concerning herI thought
you might be jealous.'


He laughed again. 'Jealous! no. But I thought you were going to
marry Eliza Millward.'

'You thought wrongthen; I am not going to marry either one or the
other - that I know of - '

'Then I think you'd better let them alone.'

'Are you going to marry Jane Wilson?'

He colouredand played with the mane againbut answered - 'NoI
think not.'

'Then you had better let her alone.'

'She won't let me alone' he might have said; but he only looked
silly and said nothing for the space of half a minuteand then
made another attempt to turn the conversation; and this time I let
it pass; for he had borne enough: another word on the subject
would have been like the last atom that breaks the camel's. back.

I was too late for tea; but my mother had kindly kept the teapot
and muffin warm upon the hobsandthough she scolded me a little
readily admitted my excuses; and when I complained of the flavour
of the overdrawn teashe poured the remainder into the slop-basin
and bade Rose put some fresh into the potand reboil the kettle
which offices were performed with great commotionand certain
remarkable comments.

'Well! - if it had been me nowI should have had no tea at all if
it had been Fergusevenhe would have to put up with such as
there wasand been told to be thankfulfor it was far too good
for him; but you - we can't do too much for you. It's always so if
there's anything particularly nice at tablemamma winks and
nods at me to abstain from itand if I don't attend to thatshe
whispersDon't eat so much of that, Rose; Gilbert will like it
for his supper.- I'm nothing at all. In the parlourit's "Come
Roseput away your thingsand let's have the room nice and tidy
against they come in; and keep up a good fire; Gilbert likes a
cheerful fire." In the kitchen - "Make that pie a large oneRose;
I daresay the boys'll be hungry; and don't put so much pepper in
they'll not like itI'm sure" - orRose, don't put so many
spices in the pudding, Gilbert likes it plain,- orMind you put
plenty of currants in the cake, Fergus liked plenty.If I say
Well, mamma, I don't,I'm told I ought not to think of myself.
You know, Rose, in all household matters, we have only two things
to consider, first, what's proper to be done; and, secondly, what's
most agreeable to the gentlemen of the house - anything will do for
the ladies.'

'And very good doctrine too' said my mother. 'Gilbert thinks so
I'm sure.'

'Very convenient doctrinefor usat all events' said I; 'but if
you would really study my pleasuremotheryou must consider your
own comfort and convenience a little more than you do - as for
RoseI have no doubt she'll take care of herself; and whenever she
does make a sacrifice or perform a remarkable act of devotedness
she'll take good care to let me know the extent of it. But for you
I might sink into the grossest condition of self-indulgence and
carelessness about the wants of othersfrom the mere habit of
being constantly cared for myselfand having all my wants
anticipated or immediately suppliedwhile left in total ignorance
of what is done for me- if Rose did not enlighten me now and


then; and I should receive all your kindness as a matter of course
and never know how much I owe you.'

'Ah! and you never will knowGilberttill you're married. Then
when you've got some triflingself-conceited girl like Eliza
Millwardcareless of everything but her own immediate pleasure and
advantageor some misguidedobstinate womanlike Mrs. Graham
ignorant of her principal dutiesand clever only in what concerns
her least to know - then you'll find the difference.'

'It will do me goodmother; I was not sent into the world merely
to exercise the good capacities and good feelings of others - was
I? - but to exert my own towards them; and when I marryI shall
expect to find more pleasure in making my wife happy and
comfortablethan in being made so by her: I would rather give
than receive.'

'Oh! that's all nonsensemy dear. It's mere boy's talk that!
You'll soon tire of petting and humouring your wifebe she ever so
charmingand then comes the trial.'

'Wellthenwe must bear one another's burdens.'

'Then you must fall each into your proper place. You'll do your
businessand sheif she's worthy of youwill do hers; but it's
your business to please yourselfand hers to please you. I'm sure
your poordear father was as good a husband as ever livedand
after the first six months or so were overI should as soon have
expected him to flyas to put himself out of his way to pleasure
me. He always said I was a good wifeand did my duty; and he
always did his - bless him! - he was steady and punctualseldom
found fault without a reasonalways did justice to my good
dinnersand hardly ever spoiled my cookery by delay - and that's
as much as any woman can expect of any man.'

Is it soHalford? Is that the extent of your domestic virtues;
and does your happy wife exact no more?

CHAPTER VII

Not many days after thison a mild sunny morning - rather soft
under foot; for the last fall of snow was only just wasted away
leaving yet a thin ridgehere and therelingering on the fresh
green grass beneath the hedges; but beside them alreadythe young
primroses were peeping from among their moistdark foliageand
the lark above was singing of summerand hopeand loveand every
heavenly thing - I was out on the hill-sideenjoying these
delightsand looking after the well-being of my young lambs and
their motherswhenon glancing round meI beheld three persons
ascending from the vale below. They were Eliza MillwardFergus
and Rose; so I crossed the field to meet them; andbeing told they
were going to Wildfell HallI declared myself willing to go with
themand offering my arm to Elizawho readily accepted it in lieu
of my brother'stold the latter he might go backfor I would
accompany the ladies.

'I beg your pardon!' exclaimed he. 'It's the ladies that are
accompanying menot I them. You had all had a peep at this
wonderful stranger but meand I could endure my wretched ignorance
no longer - come what wouldI must be satisfied; so I begged Rose


to go with me to the Halland introduce me to her at once. She
swore she would notunless Miss Eliza would go too; so I ran to
the vicarage and fetched her; and we've come hooked all the wayas
fond as a pair of lovers - and now you've taken her from me; and
you want to deprive me of my walk and my visit besides. Go back to
your fields and your cattleyou lubberly fellow; you're not fit to
associate with ladies and gentlemen like usthat have nothing to
do but to run snooking about to our neighbours' housespeeping
into their private cornersand scenting out their secretsand
picking holes in their coatswhen we don't find them ready made to
our hands - you don't understand such refined sources of
enjoyment.'

'Can't you both go?' suggested Elizadisregarding the latter half
of the speech.

'Yesbothto be sure!' cried Rose; 'the more the merrier - and
I'm sure we shall want all the cheerfulness we can carry with us to
that greatdarkgloomy roomwith its narrow latticed windows
and its dismal old furniture - unless she shows us into her studio
again.'

So we went all in a body; and the meagre old maid-servantthat
opened the doorushered us into an apartment such as Rose had
described to me as the scene of her first introduction to Mrs.
Grahama tolerably spacious and lofty roombut obscurely lighted
by the old-fashioned windowsthe ceilingpanelsand chimneypiece
of grim black oak - the latter elaborately but not very
tastefully carved- with tables and chairs to matchan old
bookcase on one side of the fire-placestocked with a motley
assemblage of booksand an elderly cabinet piano on the other.

The lady was seated in a stiffhigh-backed arm-chairwith a small
round tablecontaining a desk and a work-basket on one side of
herand her little boy on the otherwho stood leaning his elbow
on her kneeand reading to herwith wonderful fluencyfrom a
small volume that lay in her lap; while she rested her hand on his
shoulderand abstractedly played with the longwavy curls that
fell on his ivory neck. They struck me as forming a pleasing
contrast to all the surrounding objects; but of course their
position was immediately changed on our entrance. I could only
observe the picture during the few brief seconds that Rachel held
the door for our admittance.

I do not think Mrs. Graham was particularly delighted to see us:
there was something indescribably chilly in her quietcalm
civility; but I did not talk much to her. Seating myself near the
windowa little back from the circleI called Arthur to meand
he and I and Sancho amused ourselves very pleasantly together
while the two young ladies baited his mother with small talkand
Fergus sat opposite with his legs crossed and his hands in his
breeches-pocketsleaning back in his chairand staring now up at
the ceilingnow straight forward at his hostess (in a manner that
made me strongly inclined to kick him out of the room)now
whistling sotto voce to himself a snatch of a favourite airnow
interrupting the conversationor filling up a pause (as the case
might be) with some most impertinent question or remark. At one
time it was- 'Itamazes meMrs. Grahamhow you could choose
such a dilapidatedrickety old place as this to live in. If you
couldn't afford to occupy the whole houseand have it mended up
why couldn't you take a neat little cottage?'

'Perhaps I was too proudMr. Fergus' replied shesmiling;
'perhaps I took a particular fancy for this romanticold-fashioned


place - butindeedit has many advantages over a cottage - in the
first placeyou seethe rooms are larger and more airy; in the
second placethe unoccupied apartmentswhich I don't pay formay
serve as lumber-roomsif I have anything to put in them; and they
are very useful for my little boy to run about in on rainy days
when he can't go out; and then there is the garden for him to play
inand for me to work in. You see I have effected some little
improvement already' continued sheturning to the window. 'There
is a bed of young vegetables in that cornerand here are some
snowdrops and primroses already in bloom - and theretoois a
yellow crocus just opening in the sunshine.'

'But then how can you bear such a situation - your nearest
neighbours two miles distantand nobody looking in or passing by?
Rose would go stark mad in such a place. She can't put on life
unless she sees half a dozen fresh gowns and bonnets a day - not to
speak of the faces within; but you might sit watching at these
windows all day longand never see so much as an old woman
carrying her eggs to market.'

'I am not sure the loneliness of the place was not one of its chief
recommendations. I take no pleasure in watching people pass the
windows; and I like to be quiet.'

'Oh! as good as to say you wish we would all of us mind our own
businessand let you alone.'

'NoI dislike an extensive acquaintance; but if I have a few
friendsof course I am glad to see them occasionally. No one can
be happy in eternal solitude. ThereforeMr. Fergusif you choose
to enter my house as a friendI will make you welcome; if notI
must confessI would rather you kept away.' She then turned and
addressed some observation to Rose or Eliza.

'AndMrs. Graham' said he againfive minutes after'we were
disputingas we came alonga question that you can readily decide
for usas it mainly regarded yourself - andindeedwe often hold
discussions about you; for some of us have nothing better to do
than to talk about our neighbours' concernsand wethe indigenous
plants of the soilhave known each other so longand talked each
other over so oftenthat we are quite sick of that game; so that a
stranger coming amongst us makes an invaluable addition to our
exhausted sources of amusement. Wellthe questionor questions
you are requested to solve - '

'Hold your tongueFergus!' cried Rosein a fever of apprehension
and wrath.

'I won'tI tell you. The questions you are requested to solve are
these:- Firstconcerning your birthextractionand previous
residence. Some will have it that you are a foreignerand some an
Englishwoman; some a native of the north countryand some of the
south; some say - '

'WellMr. FergusI'll tell you. I'm an Englishwoman - and I
don't see why any one should doubt it - and I was born in the
countryneither in the extreme north nor south of our happy isle;
and in the country I have chiefly passed my lifeand now I hope
you are satisfied; for I am not disposed to answer any more
questions at present.'

'Except this - '

'Nonot one more!' laughed sheandinstantly quitting her seat


she sought refuge at the window by which I was seatedandin very
desperationto escape my brother's persecutionsendeavoured to
draw me into conversation.

'Mr. Markham' said sheher rapid utterance and heightened colour
too plainly evincing her disquietude'have you forgotten the fine
sea-view we were speaking of some time ago? I think I must trouble
younowto tell me the nearest way to it; for if this beautiful
weather continueI shallperhapsbe able to walk thereand take
my sketch; I have exhausted every other subject for painting; and I
long to see it.'

I was about to comply with her requestbut Rose would not suffer
me to proceed.

'Ohdon't tell herGilbert!' cried she; 'she shall go with us.
It's - Bay you are thinking aboutI supposeMrs. Graham? It is a
very long walktoo far for youand out of the question for
Arthur. But we were thinking about making a picnic to see it some
fine day; andif you will wait till the settled fine weather
comesI'm sure we shall all be delighted to have you amongst us.'

Poor Mrs. Graham looked dismayedand attempted to make excuses
but Roseeither compassionating her lonely lifeor anxious to
cultivate her acquaintancewas determined to have her; and every
objection was overruled. She was told it would only be a small
partyand all friendsand that the best view of all was from -
Cliffsfull five miles distant.

'Just a nice walk for the gentlemen' continued Rose; 'but the
ladies will drive and walk by turns; for we shall have our ponycarriage
which will be plenty large enough to contain little
Arthur and three ladiestogether with your sketching apparatus
and our provisions.'

So the proposal was finally acceded to; andafter some further
discussion respecting the time and manner of the projected
excursionwe roseand took our leave.

But this was only March: a coldwet Apriland two weeks of May
passed over before we could venture forth on our expedition with
the reasonable hope of obtaining that pleasure we sought in
pleasant prospectscheerful societyfresh airgood cheer and
exercisewithout the alloy of bad roadscold windsor
threatening clouds. Thenon a glorious morningwe gathered our
forces and set forth. The company consisted of Mrs. and Master
GrahamMary and Eliza MillwardJane and Richard Wilsonand Rose
Fergusand Gilbert Markham.

Mr. Lawrence had been invited to join usbutfor some reason best
known to himselfhad refused to give us his company. I had
solicited the favour myself. When I did sohe hesitatedand
asked who were going. Upon my naming Miss Wilson among the rest
he seemed half inclined to gobut when I mentioned Mrs. Graham
thinking it might be a further inducementit appeared to have a
contrary effectand he declined it altogetherandto confess the
truththe decision was not displeasing to methough I could
scarcely tell you why.

It was about midday when we reached the place of our destination.
Mrs. Graham walked all the way to the cliffs; and little Arthur
walked the greater part of it too; for he was now much more hardy
and active than when he first entered the neighbourhoodand he did
not like being in the carriage with strangerswhile all his four


friendsmammaand Sanchoand Mr. Markhamand Miss Millward
were on footjourneying far behindor passing through distant
fields and lanes.

I have a very pleasant recollection of that walkalong the hard
whitesunny roadshaded here and there with bright green trees
and adorned with flowery banks and blossoming hedges of delicious
fragrance; or through pleasant fields and lanesall glorious in
the sweet flowers and brilliant verdure of delightful May. It was
trueEliza was not beside me; but she was with her friends in the
pony-carriageas happyI trustedas I was; and even when we
pedestrianshaving forsaken the highway for a short cut across the
fieldsbeheld the little carriage far awaydisappearing amid the
greenembowering treesI did not hate those trees for snatching
the dear little bonnet and shawl from my sightnor did I feel that
all those intervening objects lay between my happiness and me; for
to confess the truthI was too happy in the company of Mrs. Graham
to regret the absence of ElizaMillward.

The formerit is truewas most provokingly unsociable at first seemingly
bent upon talking to no one but Mary Millward and Arthur.
She and Mary journeyed along togethergenerally with the child
between them; - but where the road permittedI always walked on
the other side of herRichard Wilson taking the other side of Miss
Millwardand Fergus roving here and there according to his fancy;
andafter a whileshe became more friendlyand at length I
succeeded in securing her attention almost entirely to myself - and
then I was happy indeed; for whenever she did condescend to
converseI liked to listen. Where her opinions and sentiments
tallied with mineit was her extreme good senseher exquisite
taste and feelingthat delighted me; where they differedit was
still her uncompromising boldness in the avowal or defence of that
differenceher earnestness and keennessthat piqued my fancy:
and even when she angered me by her unkind words or looksand her
uncharitable conclusions respecting meit only made me the more
dissatisfied with myself for having so unfavourably impressed her
and the more desirous to vindicate my character and disposition in
her eyesandif possibleto win her esteem.

At length our walk was ended. The increasing height and boldness
of the hills had for some time intercepted the prospect; buton
gaining the summit of a steep acclivityand looking downwardan
opening lay before us - and the blue sea burst upon our sight! deep
violet blue - not deadly calmbut covered with glinting
breakers - diminutive white specks twinkling on its bosomand
scarcely to be distinguishedby the keenest visionfrom the
little seamews that sported abovetheir white wings glittering in
the sunshine: only one or two vessels were visibleand those were
far away.

I looked at my companion to see what she thought of this glorious
scene. She said nothing: but she stood stilland fixed her eyes
upon it with a gaze that assured me she was not disappointed. She
had very fine eyesby-the-by - I don't know whether I have told
you beforebut they were full of soullargeclearand nearly
black - not brownbut very dark grey. A coolreviving breeze
blew from the sea - softpuresalubrious: it waved her drooping
ringletsand imparted a livelier colour to her usually too pallid
lip and cheek. She felt its exhilarating influenceand so did I I
felt it tingling through my framebut dared not give way to it
while she remained so quiet. There was an aspect of subdued
exhilaration in her facethat kindled into almost a smile of
exaltedglad intelligence as her eye met mine. Never had she
looked so lovely: never had my heart so warmly cleaved to her as


now. Had we been left two minutes longer standing there aloneI
cannot answer for the consequences. Happily for my discretion
perhaps for my enjoyment during the remainder of the daywe were
speedily summoned to the repast - a very respectable collation
which Roseassisted by Miss Wilson and Elizawhohaving shared
her seat in the carriagehad arrived with her a little before the
resthad set out upon an elevated platform overlooking the sea
and sheltered from the hot sun by a shelving rock and overhanging
trees.

Mrs. Graham seated herself at a distance from me. Eliza was my
nearest neighbour. She exerted herself to be agreeablein her
gentleunobtrusive wayand wasno doubtas fascinating and
charming as everif I could only have felt it. But soon my heart
began to warm towards her once again; and we were all very merry
and happy together - as far as I could see - throughout the
protracted social meal.

When that was overRose summoned Fergus to help her to gather up
the fragmentsand the knivesdishes&c.and restore them to the
baskets; and Mrs. Graham took her camp-stool and drawing materials;
and having begged Miss Millward to take charge of her precious son
and strictly enjoined him not to wander from his new guardian's
sideshe left us and proceeded along the steepstony hillto a
loftiermore precipitous eminence at some distancewhence a still
finer prospect was to be hadwhere she preferred taking her
sketchthough some of the ladies told her it was a frightful
placeand advised her not to attempt it.

When she was goneI felt as if there was to be no more fun though
it is difficult to say what she had contributed to the
hilarity of the party. No jestsand little laughterhad escaped
her lips; but her smile had animated my mirth; a keen observation
or a cheerful word from her had insensibly sharpened my witsand
thrown an interest over all that was done and said by the rest.
Even my conversation with Eliza had been enlivened by her presence
though I knew it not; and now that she was goneEliza's playful
nonsense ceased to amuse me - naygrew wearisome to my souland I
grew weary of amusing her: I felt myself drawn by an irresistible
attraction to that distant point where the fair artist sat and
plied her solitary task - and not long did I attempt to resist it:
while my little neighbour was exchanging a few words with Miss
WilsonI rose and cannily slipped away. A few rapid stridesand
a little active clamberingsoon brought me to the place where she
was seated - a narrow ledge of rock at the very verge of the cliff
which descended with a steepprecipitous slantquite down to the
rocky shore.

She did not hear me coming: the falling of my shadow across her
paper gave her an electric start; and she looked hastily round any
other lady of my acquaintance would have screamed under such a
sudden alarm.

'Oh! I didn't know it was you. - Why did you startle me so?' said
shesomewhat testily. 'I hate anybody to come upon me so
unexpectedly.'

'Whywhat did you take me for?' said I: 'if I had known you were
so nervousI would have been more cautious; but - '

'Wellnever mind. What did you come for? are they all coming?'

'No; this little ledge could scarcely contain them all.'


'I'm gladfor I'm tired of talking.'

'WellthenI won't talk. I'll only sit and watch your drawing.'

'Ohbut you know I don't like that.'

'Then I'll content myself with admiring this magnificent prospect.'

She made no objection to this; andfor some timesketched away in
silence. But I could not help stealing a glancenow and then
from the splendid view at our feet to the elegant white hand that
held the penciland the graceful neck and glossy raven curls that
drooped over the paper.

'Now' thought I'if I had but a pencil and a morsel of paperI
could make a lovelier sketch than hersadmitting I had the power
to delineate faithfully what is before me.'

Butthough this satisfaction was denied meI was very well
content to sit beside her thereand say nothing.

'Are you there stillMr. Markham?' said she at lengthlooking
round upon me - for I was seated a little behind on a mossy
projection of the cliff. - 'Why don't you go and amuse yourself
with your friends?'

'Because I am tired of themlike you; and I shall have enough of
them to-morrow - or at any time hence; but you I may not have the
pleasure of seeing again for I know not how long.'

'What was Arthur doing when you came away?'

'He was with Miss Millwardwhere you left him - all rightbut
hoping mamma would not be long away. You didn't intrust him to me
by-the-by' I grumbled'though I had the honour of a much longer
acquaintance; but Miss Millward has the art of conciliating and
amusing children' I carelessly added'if she is good for nothing
else.'

'Miss Millward has many estimable qualitieswhich such as you
cannot be expected to perceive or appreciate. Will you tell Arthur
that I shall come in a few minutes?'

'If that be the caseI will waitwith your permissiontill those
few minutes are past; and then I can assist you to descend this
difficult path.'

'Thank you - I always manage beston such occasionswithout
assistance.'

'Butat leastI can carry your stool and sketch-book.'

She did not deny me this favour; but I was rather offended at her
evident desire to be rid of meand was beginning to repent of my
pertinacitywhen she somewhat appeased me by consulting my taste
and judgment about some doubtful matter in her drawing. My
opinionhappilymet her approbationand the improvement I
suggested was adopted without hesitation.

'I have often wished in vain' said she'for another's judgment to
appeal to when I could scarcely trust the direction of my own eye
and headthey having been so long occupied with the contemplation
of a single object as to become almost incapable of forming a
proper idea respecting it.'


'That' replied I'is only one of many evils to which a solitary
life exposes us.'

'True' said she; and again we relapsed into silence.

About two minutes afterhowevershe declared her sketch
completedand closed the book.

On returning to the scene of our repast we found all the company
had deserted itwith the exception of three - Mary Millward
Richard Wilsonand Arthur Graham. The younger gentleman lay fast
asleep with his head pillowed on the lady's lap; the other was
seated beside her with a pocket edition of some classic author in
his hand. He never went anywhere without such a companion
wherewith to improve his leisure moments: all time seemed lost
that was not devoted to studyor exactedby his physical nature
for the bare support of life. Even now he could not abandon
himself to the enjoyment of that pure air and balmy sunshine - that
splendid prospectand those soothing soundsthe music of the
waves and of the soft wind in the sheltering trees above him - not
even with a lady by his side (though not a very charming oneI
will allow) - he must pull out his bookand make the most of his
time while digesting his temperate mealand reposing his weary
limbsunused to so much exercise.

Perhapshoweverhe spared a moment to exchange a word or a glance
with his companion now and then - at any rateshe did not appear
at all resentful of his conduct; for her homely features wore an
expression of unusual cheerfulness and serenityand she was
studying his palethoughtful face with great complacency when we
arrived.

The journey homeward was by no means so agreeable to me as the
former part of the day: for now Mrs. Graham was in the carriage
and Eliza Millward was the companion of my walk. She had observed
my preference for the young widowand evidently felt herself
neglected. She did not manifest her chagrin by keen reproaches
bitter sarcasmsor pouting sullen silence - any or all of these I
could easily have enduredor lightly laughed away; but she showed
it by a kind of gentle melancholya mildreproachful sadness that
cut me to the heart. I tried to cheer her upand apparently
succeeded in some degreebefore the walk was over; but in the very
act my conscience reproved meknowingas I didthatsooner or
laterthe tie must be brokenand this was only nourishing false
hopes and putting off the evil day.

When the pony-carriage had approached as near Wildfell Hall as the
road would permit - unlessindeedit proceeded up the long rough
lanewhich Mrs. Graham would not allow - the young widow and her
son alightedrelinquishing the driver's seat to Rose; and I
persuaded Eliza to take the latter's place. Having put her
comfortably inbid her take care of the evening airand wished
her a kind good-nightI felt considerably relievedand hastened
to offer my services to Mrs. Graham to carry her apparatus up the
fieldsbut she had already hung her camp-stool on her arm and
taken her sketch-book in her handand insisted upon bidding me
adieu then and therewith the rest of the company. But this time
she declined my proffered aid in so kind and friendly a manner that
I almost forgave her.

CHAPTER VIII


Six weeks had passed away. It was a splendid morning about the
close of June. Most of the hay was cutbut the last week had been
very unfavourable; and now that fine weather was come at last
being determined to make the most of itI had gathered all hands
together into the hay-fieldand was working away myselfin the
midst of themin my shirt-sleeveswith a lightshady straw hat
on my headcatching up armfuls of moistreeking grassand
shaking it out to the four winds of heavenat the head of a goodly
file of servants and hirelings - intending so to labourfrom
morning till nightwith as much zeal and assiduity as I could look
for from any of themas well to prosper the work by my own
exertion as to animate the workers by my example - when lo! my
resolutions were overthrown in a momentby the simple fact of my
brother's running up to me and putting into my hand a small parcel
just arrived from Londonwhich I had been for some time expecting.
I tore off the coverand disclosed an elegant and portable edition
of 'Marmion.'

'I guess I know who that's for' said Ferguswho stood looking on
while I complacently examined the volume. 'That's for Miss Eliza
now.'

He pronounced this with a tone and look so prodigiously knowing
that I was glad to contradict him.

'You're wrongmy lad' said I; andtaking up my coatI deposited
the book in one of its pocketsand then put it on (i.e. the coat).
'Now come hereyou idle dogand make yourself useful for once' I
continued. 'Pull off your coatand take my place in the field
till I come back.'

'Till you come back? - and where are you goingpray?

'No matter where - the when is all that concerns you; - and I shall
be back by dinnerat least.'

'Oh - oh! and I'm to labour away till thenam I? - and to keep all
these fellows hard at it besides? Wellwell! I'll submit - for
once in a way. - Comemy ladsyou must look sharp: I'm come to
help you now:- and woe be to that manor woman eitherthat pauses
for a moment amongst you - whether to stare about himto scratch
his heador blow his nose - no pretext will serve - nothing but
workworkwork in the sweat of your face' &c.&c.

Leaving him thus haranguing the peoplemore to their amusement
than edificationI returned to the houseandhaving made some
alteration in my toilethastened away to Wildfell Hallwith the
book in my pocket; for it was destined for the shelves of Mrs.
Graham.

'What! then had she and you got on so well together as to come to
the giving and receiving of presents?' - Not preciselyold buck;
this was my first experiment in that line; and I was very anxious
to see the result of it.

We had met several times since the - Bay excursionand I had found
she was not averse to my companyprovided I confined my
conversation to the discussion of abstract mattersor topics of
common interest; - the moment I touched upon the sentimental or the
complimentaryor made the slightest approach to tenderness in word
or lookI was not only punished by an immediate change in her


manner at the timebut doomed to find her more cold and distant
if not entirely inaccessiblewhen next I sought her company. This
circumstance did not greatly disconcert mehoweverbecause I
attributed itnot so much to any dislike of my personas to some
absolute resolution against a second marriage formed prior to the
time of our acquaintancewhether from excess of affection for her
late husbandor because she had had enough of him and the
matrimonial state together. At firstindeedshe had seemed to
take a pleasure in mortifying my vanity and crushing my presumption

-relentlessly nipping off bud by bud as they ventured to appear;
and thenI confessI was deeply woundedthoughat the same
timestimulated to seek revenge; - but latterly findingbeyond a
doubtthat I was not that empty-headed coxcomb she had first
supposed meshe had repulsed my modest advances in quite a
different spirit. It was a kind of seriousalmost sorrowful
displeasurewhich I soon learnt carefully to avoid awakening.
'Let me first establish my position as a friend' thought I - 'the
patron and playfellow of her sonthe sobersolidplain-dealing
friend of herselfand thenwhen I have made myself fairly
necessary to her comfort and enjoyment in life (as I believe I
can)we'll see what next may be effected.'

So we talked about paintingpoetryand musictheologygeology
and philosophy: once or twice I lent her a bookand once she lent
me one in return: I met her in her walks as often as I could; I
came to her house as often as I dared. My first pretext for
invading the sanctum was to bring Arthur a little waddling puppy of
which Sancho was the fatherand which delighted the child beyond
expressionandconsequentlycould not fail to please his mamma.
My second was to bring him a bookwhichknowing his mother's
particularityI had carefully selectedand which I submitted for
her approbation before presenting it to him. ThenI brought her
some plants for her gardenin my sister's name - having previously
persuaded Rose to send them. Each of these times I inquired after
the picture she was painting from the sketch taken on the cliff
and was admitted into the studioand asked my opinion or advice
respecting its progress.

My last visit had been to return the book she had lent me; and then
it was thatin casually discussing the poetry of Sir Walter Scott
she had expressed a wish to see 'Marmion' and I had conceived the
presumptuous idea of making her a present of itandon my return
homeinstantly sent for the smart little volume I had this morning
received. But an apology for invading the hermitage was still
necessary; so I had furnished myself with a blue morocco collar for
Arthur's little dog; and that being given and receivedwith much
more joy and gratitudeon the part of the receiverthan the worth
of the gift or the selfish motive of the giver deservedI ventured
to ask Mrs. Graham for one more look at the pictureif it was
still there.

'Ohyes! come in' said she (for I had met them in the garden).
'It is finished and framedall ready for sending away; but give me
your last opinionand if you can suggest any further improvement
it shall be - duly consideredat least.'

The picture was strikingly beautiful; it was the very scene itself
transferred as if by magic to the canvas; but I expressed my
approbation in guarded termsand few wordsfor fear of
displeasing her. Shehoweverattentively watched my looksand
her artist's pride was gratifiedno doubtto read my heartfelt
admiration in my eyes. Butwhile I gazedI thought upon the
bookand wondered how it was to be presented. My heart failed me;


but I determined not to be such a fool as to come away without
having made the attempt. It was useless waiting for an
opportunityand useless trying to concoct a speech for the
occasion. The more plainly and naturally the thing was donethe
betterI thought; so I just looked out of the window to screw up
my courageand then pulled out the bookturned roundand put it
into her handwith this short explanation:

'You were wishing to see 'Marmion' Mrs. Graham; and here it isif
you will be so kind as to take it.'

A momentary blush suffused her face - perhapsa blush of
sympathetic shame for such an awkward style of presentation: she
gravely examined the volume on both sides; then silently turned
over the leavesknitting her brows the whilein serious
cogitation; then closed the bookand turning from it to me
quietly asked the price of it - I felt the hot blood rush to my
face.

'I'm sorry to offend youMr. Markham' said she'but unless I pay
for the bookI cannot take it.' And she laid it on the table.

'Why cannot you?'

'Because' - she pausedand looked at the carpet.

'Why cannot you?' I repeatedwith a degree of irascibility that
roused her to lift her eyes and look me steadily in the face.

'Because I don't like to put myself under obligations that I can
never repay - I am obliged to you already for your kindness to my
son; but his grateful affection and your own good feelings must
reward you for that.'

'Nonsense!' ejaculated I.

She turned her eyes on me againwith a look of quietgrave
surprisethat had the effect of a rebukewhether intended for
such or not.

'Then you won't take the book?' I askedmore mildly than I had yet
spoken.

'I will gladly take itif you will let me pay for it.' I told her
the exact priceand the cost of the carriage besidesin as calm a
tone as I could command - forin factI was ready to weep with
disappointment and vexation.

She produced her purseand coolly counted out the moneybut
hesitated to put it into my hand. Attentively regarding mein a
tone of soothing softnessshe observed- 'You think yourself
insultedMr Markham - I wish I could make you understand that that
I - '

'I do understand youperfectly' I said. 'You think that if you
were to accept that trifle from me nowI should presume upon it
hereafter; but you are mistaken:- if you will only oblige me by
taking itbelieve meI shall build no hopes upon itand consider
this no precedent for future favours:- and it is nonsense to talk
about putting yourself under obligations to me when you must know
that in such a case the obligation is entirely on my side- the
favour on yours.'

'WellthenI'll take you at your word' she answeredwith a most


angelic smilereturning the odious money to her purse - 'but
remember!'

'I will remember - what I have said; - but do not you punish my
presumption by withdrawing your friendship entirely from me- or
expect me to atone for it by being more distant than before' said
Iextending my hand to take leavefor I was too much excited to
remain.

'Wellthen! let us be as we were' replied shefrankly placing
her hand in mine; and while I held it thereI had much difficulty
to refrain from pressing it to my lips; - but that would be
suicidal madness: I had been bold enough alreadyand this
premature offering had well-nigh given the death-blow to my hopes.

It was with an agitatedburning heart and brain that I hurried
homewardsregardless of that scorching noonday sun - forgetful of
everything but her I had just left - regretting nothing but her
impenetrabilityand my own precipitancy and want of tact - fearing
nothing but her hateful resolutionand my inability to overcome it

-hoping nothing - but halt- I will not bore you with my
conflicting hopes and fears - my serious cogitations and resolves.
CHAPTER IX

Though my affections might now be said to be fairly weaned from
Eliza MillwardI did not yet entirely relinquish my visits to the
vicaragebecause I wantedas it wereto let her down easy;
without raising much sorrowor incurring much resentment- or
making myself the talk of the parish; and besidesif I had wholly
kept awaythe vicarwho looked upon my visits as paid chieflyif
not entirelyto himselfwould have felt himself decidedly
affronted by the neglect. But when I called there the day after my
interview with Mrs. Grahamhe happened to be from home - a
circumstance by no means so agreeable to me now as it had been on
former occasions. Miss Millward was thereit is truebut sheof
coursewould be little better than a nonentity. HoweverI
resolved to make my visit a short oneand to talk to Eliza in a
brotherlyfriendly sort of waysuch as our long acquaintance
might warrant me in assumingand whichI thoughtcould neither
give offence nor serve to encourage false hopes.

It was never my custom to talk about Mrs. Graham either to her or
any one else; but I had not been seated three minutes before she
brought that lady on to the carpet herself in a rather remarkable
manner.

'OhMr. Markham!' said shewith a shocked expression and voice
subdued almost to a whisper'what do you think of these shocking
reports about Mrs. Graham? - can you encourage us to disbelieve
them?'

'What reports?'

'Ahnow! you know!' she slily smiled and shook her head.

'I know nothing about them. What in the world do you meanEliza?'

'Ohdon't ask me! I can't explain it.' She took up the cambric
handkerchief which she had been beautifying with a deep lace


borderand began to be very busy.

'What is itMiss Millward? what does she mean?' said Iappealing
to her sisterwho seemed to be absorbed in the hemming of a large
coarse sheet.

'I don't know' replied she. 'Some idle slander somebody has been
inventingI suppose. I never heard it till Eliza told me the
other day- but if all the parish dinned it in my earsI
shouldn't believe a word of it - I know Mrs. Graham too well!'

'Quite rightMiss Millward! - and so do I - whatever it may be.'

'Well' observed Elizawith a gentle sigh'it's well to have such
a comfortable assurance regarding the worth of those we love. I
only wish you may not find your confidence misplaced.'

And she raised her faceand gave me such a look of sorrowful
tenderness as might have melted my heartbut within those eyes
there lurked a something that I did not like; and I wondered how I
ever could have admired them - her sister's honest face and small
grey optics appeared far more agreeable. But I was out of temper
with Eliza at that moment for her insinuations against Mrs. Graham
which were falseI was certainwhether she knew it or not.

I said nothing more on the subjecthoweverat the timeand but
little on any other; forfinding I could not well recover my
equanimityI presently rose and took leaveexcusing myself under
the plea of business at the farm; and to the farm I wentnot
troubling my mind one whit about the possible truth of these
mysterious reportsbut only wondering what they wereby whom
originatedand on what foundations raisedand how they could the
most effectually be silenced or disproved.

A few days after this we had another of our quiet little parties
to which the usual company of friends and neighbours had been
invitedand Mrs. Graham among the number. She could not now
absent herself under the plea of dark evenings or inclement
weatherandgreatly to my reliefshe came. Without her I should
have found the whole affair an intolerable bore; but the moment of
her arrival brought new life to the houseand though I might not
neglect the other guests for heror expect to engross much of her
attention and conversation to myself aloneI anticipated an
evening of no common enjoyment.

Mr. Lawrence came too. He did not arrive till some time after the
rest were assembled. I was curious to see how he would comport
himself to Mrs. Graham. A slight bow was all that passed between
them on his entrance; and having politely greeted the other members
of the companyhe seated himself quite aloof from the young widow
between my mother and Rose.

'Did you ever see such art?' whispered Elizawho was my nearest
neighbour. 'Would you not say they were perfect strangers?'

'Almost; but what then?'

'What then; whyyou can't pretend to be ignorant?'

'Ignorant of what?' demanded Iso sharply that she started and
replied


'Ohhush! don't speak so loud.'


'Welltell me then' I answered in a lower tone'what is it you
mean? I hate enigmas.'

'Wellyou knowI don't vouch for the truth of it - indeedfar
from it - but haven't you heard -?'

'I've heard nothingexcept from you.'

'You must be wilfully deaf thenfor anyone will tell you that; but
I shall only anger you by repeating itI seeso I had better hold
my tongue.'

She closed her lips and folded her hands before herwith an air of
injured meekness.

'If you had wished not to anger meyou should have held your
tongue from the beginningor else spoken out plainly and honestly
all you had to say.'

She turned aside her facepulled out her handkerchiefroseand
went to the windowwhere she stood for some timeevidently
dissolved in tears. I was astoundedprovokedashamed - not so
much of my harshness as for her childish weakness. Howeverno one
seemed to notice herand shortly after we were summoned to the
tea-table: in those parts it was customary to sit to the table at
tea-time on all occasionsand make a meal of itfor we dined
early. On taking my seatI had Rose on one side of me and an
empty chair on the other.

'May I sit by you?' said a soft voice at my elbow.

'If you like' was the reply; and Eliza slipped into the vacant
chair; thenlooking up in my face with a half-sadhalf-playful
smileshe whispered- 'You're so sternGilbert.'

I handed down her tea with a slightly contemptuous smileand said
nothingfor I had nothing to say.

'What have I done to offend you?' said shemore plaintively. 'I
wish I knew.'

'Cometake your teaElizaand don't be foolish' responded I
handing her the sugar and cream.

Just then there arose a slight commotion on the other side of me
occasioned by Miss Wilson's coming to negotiate an exchange of
seats with Rose.

'Will you be so good as to exchange places with meMiss Markham?'
said she; 'for I don't like to sit by Mrs. Graham. If your mamma
thinks proper to invite such persons to her houseshe cannot
object to her daughter's keeping company with them.'

This latter clause was added in a sort of soliloquy when Rose was
gone; but I was not polite enough to let it pass.

'Will you be so good as to tell me what you meanMiss Wilson?'
said I.

The question startled her a littlebut not much.

'WhyMr. Markham' replied shecoollyhaving quickly recovered
her self-possession'it surprises me rather that Mrs. Markham
should invite such a person as Mrs. Graham to her house; but


perhapsshe is not aware that the lady's character is considered
scarcely respectable.'

'She is notnor am I; and therefore you would oblige me by
explaining your meaning a little further.'

'This is scarcely the time or the place for such explanations; but
I think you can hardly be so ignorant as you pretend - you must
know her as well as I do.'

'I think I doperhaps a little better; and thereforeif you will
inform me what you have heard or imagined against herI shall
perhapsbe able to set you right.'

'Can you tell methenwho was her husbandor if she ever had
any?'

Indignation kept me silent. At such a time and place I could not
trust myself to answer.

'Have you never observed' said Eliza'what a striking likeness
there is between that child of hers and - '

'And whom?' demanded Miss Wilsonwith an air of coldbut keen
severity.

Eliza was startled; the timidly spoken suggestion had been intended
for my ear alone.

'OhI beg your pardon!' pleaded she; 'I may be mistaken - perhaps
I was mistaken.' But she accompanied the words with a sly glance
of derision directed to me from the corner of her disingenuous eye.

'There's no need to ask my pardon' replied her friend'but I see
no one here that at all resembles that childexcept his mother
and when you hear ill-natured reportsMiss ElizaI will thank
youthat isI think you will do wellto refrain from repeating
them. I presume the person you allude to is Mr. Lawrence; but I
think I can assure you that your suspicionsin that respectare
utterly misplaced; and if he has any particular connection with the
lady at all (which no one has a right to assert)at least he has
(what cannot be said of some others) sufficient sense of propriety
to withhold him from acknowledging anything more than a bowing
acquaintance in the presence of respectable persons; he was
evidently both surprised and annoyed to find her here.'

'Go it!' cried Ferguswho sat on the other side of Elizaand was
the only individual who shared that side of the table with us. 'Go
it like bricks! mind you don't leave her one stone upon another.'

Miss Wilson drew herself up with a look of freezing scornbut said
nothing. Eliza would have repliedbut I interrupted her by saying
as calmly as I couldthough in a tone which betrayedno doubt
some little of what I felt within- 'We have had enough of this
subject; if we can only speak to slander our betterslet us hold
our tongues.'

'I think you'd better' observed Fergus'and so does our good
parson; he has been addressing the company in his richest vein all
the whileand eyeing youfrom time to timewith looks of stern
distastewhile you sat thereirreverently whispering and
muttering together; and once he paused in the middle of a story or
a sermonI don't know whichand fixed his eyes upon youGilbert
as much as to sayWhen Mr. Markham has done flirting with those


two ladies I will proceed.'

What more was said at the tea-table I cannot tellnor how I found
patience to sit till the meal was over. I rememberhoweverthat
I swallowed with difficulty the remainder of the tea that was in my
cupand ate nothing; and that the first thing I did was to stare
at Arthur Grahamwho sat beside his mother on the opposite side of
the tableand the second to stare at Mr. Lawrencewho sat below;
andfirstit struck me that there was a likeness; buton further
contemplationI concluded it was only in imagination.

Bothit is truehad more delicate features and smaller bones than
commonly fall to the lot of individuals of the rougher sexand
Lawrence's complexion was pale and clearand Arthur's delicately
fair; but Arthur's tinysomewhat snubby nose could never become so
long and straight as Mr. Lawrence's; and the outline of his face
though not full enough to be roundand too finely converging to
the smalldimpled chin to be squarecould never be drawn out to
the long oval of the other'swhile the child's hair was evidently
of a lighterwarmer tint than the elder gentleman's had ever been
and his largeclear blue eyesthough prematurely serious at
timeswere utterly dissimilar to the shy hazel eyes of Mr.
Lawrencewhence the sensitive soul looked so distrustfully forth
as ever ready to retire withinfrom the offences of a too rude
too uncongenial world. Wretch that I was to harbour that
detestable idea for a moment! Did I not know Mrs. Graham? Had I
not seen herconversed with her time after time? Was I not
certain that shein intellectin purity and elevation of soul
was immeasurably superior to any of her detractors; that she was
in factthe noblestthe most adorableof her sex I had ever
beheldor even imagined to exist? Yesand I would say with Mary
Millward (sensible girl as she was)that if all the parishayor
all the worldshould din these horrible lies in my earsI would
not believe themfor I knew her better than they.

Meantimemy brain was on fire with indignationand my heart
seemed ready to burst from its prison with conflicting passions. I
regarded my two fair neighbours with a feeling of abhorrence and
loathing I scarcely endeavoured to conceal. I was rallied from
several quarters for my abstraction and ungallant neglect of the
ladies; but I cared little for that: all I cared aboutbesides
that one grand subject of my thoughtswas to see the cups travel
up to the tea-trayand not come down again. I thought Mr.
Millward never would cease telling us that he was no tea-drinker
and that it was highly injurious to keep loading the stomach with
slops to the exclusion of more wholesome sustenanceand so give
himself time to finish his fourth cup.

At length it was over; and I rose and left the table and the guests
without a word of apology - I could endure their company no longer.
I rushed out to cool my brain in the balmy evening airand to
compose my mind or indulge my passionate thoughts in the solitude
of the garden.

To avoid being seen from the windows I went down a quiet little
avenue that skirted one side of the inclosureat the bottom of
which was a seat embowered in roses and honeysuckles. Here I sat
down to think over the virtues and wrongs of the lady of Wildfell
Hall; but I had not been so occupied two minutesbefore voices and
laughterand glimpses of moving objects through the trees
informed me that the whole company had turned out to take an airing
in the garden too. HoweverI nestled up in a corner of the bower
and hoped to retain possession of itsecure alike from observation
and intrusion. But no - confound it - there was some one coming


down the avenue! Why couldn't they enjoy the flowers and sunshine
of the open gardenand leave that sunless nook to meand the
gnats and midges?

Butpeeping through my fragrant screen of the interwoven branches
to discover who the intruders were (for a murmur of voices told me
it was more than one)my vexation instantly subsidedand far
other feelings agitated my still unquiet soul; for there was Mrs.
Grahamslowly moving down the walk with Arthur by her sideand no
one else. Why were they alone? Had the poison of detracting
tongues already spread through all; and had they all turned their
backs upon her? I now recollected having seen Mrs. Wilsonin the
early part of the eveningedging her chair close up to my mother
and bending forwardevidently in the delivery of some important
confidential intelligence; and from the incessant wagging of her
headthe frequent distortions of her wrinkled physiognomyand the
winking and malicious twinkle of her little ugly eyesI judged it
was some spicy piece of scandal that engaged her powers; and from
the cautious privacy of the communication I supposed some person
then present was the luckless object of her calumnies: and from
all these tokenstogether with my mother's looks and gestures of
mingled horror and incredulityI now concluded that object to have
been Mrs. Graham. I did not emerge from my place of concealment
till she had nearly reached the bottom of the walklest my
appearance should drive her away; and when I did step forward she
stood still and seemed inclined to turn back as it was.

'Ohdon't let us disturb youMr. Markham!' said she. 'We came
here to seek retirement ourselvesnot to intrude on your
seclusion.'

'I am no hermitMrs. Graham - though I own it looks rather like it
to absent myself in this uncourteous fashion from my guests.'

'I feared you were unwell' said shewith a look of real concern.

'I was ratherbut it's over now. Do sit here a little and rest
and tell me how you like this arbour' said Iandlifting Arthur
by the shouldersI planted him in the middle of the seat by way of
securing his mammawhoacknowledging it to be a tempting place of
refugethrew herself back in one cornerwhile I took possession
of the other.

But that word refuge disturbed me. Had their unkindness then
really driven her to seek for peace in solitude?

'Why have they left you alone?' I asked.

'It is I who have left them' was the smiling rejoinder. 'I was
wearied to death with small talk - nothing wears me out like that.
I cannot imagine how they can go on as they do.'

I could not help smiling at the serious depth of her wonderment.

'Is it that they think it a duty to be continually talking'
pursued she: 'and so never pause to thinkbut fill up with
aimless trifles and vain repetitions when subjects of real interest
fail to present themselvesor do they really take a pleasure in
such discourse?'

'Very likely they do' said I; 'their shallow minds can hold no
great ideasand their light heads are carried away by trivialities
that would not move a better-furnished skull; and their only
alternative to such discourse is to plunge over head and ears into


the slough of scandal - which is their chief delight.'

'Not all of themsurely?' cried the ladyastonished at the
bitterness of my remark.

'Nocertainly; I exonerate my sister from such degraded tastes
and my mother tooif you included her in your animadversions.'

'I meant no animadversions against any oneand certainly intended
no disrespectful allusions to your mother. I have known some
sensible persons great adepts in that style of conversation when
circumstances impelled them to it; but it is a gift I cannot boast
the possession of. I kept up my attention on this occasion as long
as I couldbut when my powers were exhausted I stole away to seek
a few minutes' repose in this quiet walk. I hate talking where
there is no exchange of ideas or sentimentsand no good given or
received.'

'Well' said I'if ever I trouble you with my loquacitytell me
so at onceand I promise not to be offended; for I possess the
faculty of enjoying the company of those I - of my friends as well
in silence as in conversation.'

'I don't quite believe you; but if it were so you would exactly
suit me for a companion.'

'I am all you wishthenin other respects?'

'NoI don't mean that. How beautiful those little clusters of
foliage lookwhere the sun comes through behind them!' said she
on purpose to change the subject.

And they did look beautifulwhere at intervals the level rays of
the sun penetrating the thickness of trees and shrubs on the
opposite side of the path before usrelieved their dusky verdure
by displaying patches of semi-transparent leaves of resplendent
golden green.

'I almost wish I were not a painter' observed my companion.

'Why so? one would think at such a time you would most exult in
your privilege of being able to imitate the various brilliant and
delightful touches of nature.'

'No; for instead of delivering myself up to the full enjoyment of
them as others doI am always troubling my head about how I could
produce the same effect upon canvas; and as that can never be done
it is more vanity and vexation of spirit.'

'Perhaps you cannot do it to satisfy yourselfbut you may and do
succeed in delighting others with the result of your endeavours.'

'Wellafter allI should not complain: perhaps few people gain
their livelihood with so much pleasure in their toil as I do. Here
is some one coming.'

She seemed vexed at the interruption.

'It is only Mr. Lawrence and Miss Wilson' said I'coming to enjoy
a quiet stroll. They will not disturb us.'

I could not quite decipher the expression of her face; but I was
satisfied there was no jealousy therein. What business had I to
look for it?


'What sort of a person is Miss Wilson?' she asked.

'She is elegant and accomplished above the generality of her birth
and station; and some say she is ladylike and agreeable.'

'I thought her somewhat frigid and rather supercilious in her
manner to-day.'

'Very likely she might be so to you. She has possibly taken a
prejudice against youfor I think she regards you in the light of
a rival.'

'Me! ImpossibleMr. Markham!' said sheevidently astonished and
annoyed.

'WellI know nothing about it' returned Irather doggedly; for I
thought her annoyance was chiefly against myself.

The pair had now approached within a few paces of us. Our arbour
was set snugly back in a cornerbefore which the avenue at its
termination turned off into the more airy walk along the bottom of
the garden. As they approached thisI sawby the aspect of Jane
Wilsonthat she was directing her companion's attention to us;
andas well by her coldsarcastic smile as by the few isolated
words of her discourse that reached meI knew full well that she
was impressing him with the ideathat we were strongly attached to
each other. I noticed that he coloured up to the templesgave us
one furtive glance in passingand walked onlooking gravebut
seemingly offering no reply to her remarks.

It was truethenthat he had some designs upon Mrs. Graham; and
were they honourablehe would not be so anxious to conceal them.
She was blamelessof coursebut he was detestable beyond all
count.

While these thoughts flashed through my mindmy companion abruptly
roseand calling her sonsaid they would now go in quest of the
companyand departed up the avenue. Doubtless she had heard or
guessed something of Miss Wilson's remarksand therefore it was
natural enough she should choose to continue the TETE-E-TETE no
longerespecially as at that moment my cheeks were burning with
indignation against my former friendthe token of which she might
mistake for a blush of stupid embarrassment. For this I owed Miss
Wilson yet another grudge; and still the more I thought upon her
conduct the more I hated her.

It was late in the evening before I joined the company. I found
Mrs. Graham already equipped for departureand taking leave of the
restwho were now returned to the house. I offerednaybegged
to accompany her home. Mr. Lawrence was standing by at the time
conversing with some one else. He did not look at usbuton
hearing my earnest requesthe paused in the middle of a sentence
to listen for her replyand went onwith a look of quiet
satisfactionthe moment he found it was to be a denial.

A denial it wasdecidedthough not unkind. She could not be
persuaded to think there was danger for herself or her child in
traversing those lonely lanes and fields without attendance. It
was daylight stilland she should meet no one; or if she didthe
people were quiet and harmless she was well assured. In factshe
would not hear of any one's putting himself out of the way to
accompany herthough Fergus vouchsafed to offer his services in
case they should be more acceptable than mineand my mother begged


she might send one of the farming-men to escort her.

When she was gone the rest was all a blank or worse. Lawrence
attempted to draw me into conversationbut I snubbed him and went
to another part of the room. Shortly after the party broke up and
he himself took leave. When he came to me I was blind to his
extended handand deaf to his good-night till he repeated it a
second time; and thento get rid of himI muttered an
inarticulate replyaccompanied by a sulky nod.

'What is the matterMarkham?' whispered he.

I replied by a wrathful and contemptuous stare.

'Are you angry because Mrs. Graham would not let you go home with
her?' he askedwith a faint smile that nearly exasperated me
beyond control.

Butswallowing down all fiercer answersI merely demanded'
What business is it of yours?'

'Whynone' replied he with provoking quietness; 'only' - and he
raised his eyes to my faceand spoke with unusual solemnity'
only let me tell youMarkhamthat if you have any designs in
that quarterthey will certainly fail; and it grieves me to see
you cherishing false hopesand wasting your strength in useless
effortsfor - '

'Hypocrite!' I exclaimed; and he held his breathand looked very
blankturned white about the gillsand went away without another
word.

I had wounded him to the quick; and I was glad of it.

CHAPTER X

When all were goneI learnt that the vile slander had indeed been
circulated throughout the companyin the very presence of the
victim. Rosehowevervowed she did not and would not believe it
and my mother made the same declarationthough notI fearwith
the same amount of realunwavering incredulity. It seemed to
dwell continually on her mindand she kept irritating me from time
to time by such expressions as - 'Deardearwho would have
thought it! - Well! I always thought there was something odd about
her. - You see what it is for women to affect to be different to
other people.' And once it was- 'I misdoubted that appearance of
mystery from the very first - I thought there would no good come of
it; but this is a sadsad businessto be sure!'

'Whymotheryou said you didn't believe these tales' said
Fergus.

'No more I domy dear; but thenyou knowthere must be some
foundation.'

'The foundation is in the wickedness and falsehood of the world'
said I'and in the fact that Mr. Lawrence has been seen to go that
way once or twice of an evening - and the village gossips say he
goes to pay his addresses to the strange ladyand the scandalmongers
have greedily seized the rumourto make it the basis of


their own infernal structure.'

'WellbutGilbertthere must be something in her manner to
countenance such reports.'

'Did you see anything in her manner?'

'Nocertainly; but thenyou knowI always said there was
something strange about her.'

I believe it was on that very evening that I ventured on another
invasion of Wildfell Hall. From the time of our partywhich was
upwards of a week agoI had been making daily efforts to meet its
mistress in her walks; and always disappointed (she must have
managed it so on purpose)had nightly kept revolving in my mind
some pretext for another call. At length I concluded that the
separation could be endured no longer (by this timeyou will see
I was pretty far gone); andtaking from the book-case an old
volume that I thought she might be interested inthoughfrom its
unsightly and somewhat dilapidated conditionI had not yet
ventured to offer it for perusalI hastened away- but not
without sundry misgivings as to how she would receive meor how I
could summon courage to present myself with so slight an excuse.
ButperhapsI might see her in the field or the gardenand then
there would be no great difficulty: it was the formal knocking at
the doorwith the prospect of being gravely ushered in by Rachel
to the presence of a surpriseduncordial mistressthat so greatly
disturbed me.

My wishhoweverwas not gratified. Mrs. Graham herself was not
to be seen; but there was Arthur playing with his frolicsome little
dog in the garden. I looked over the gate and called him to me.
He wanted me to come in; but I told him I could not without his
mother's leave.

'I'll go and ask her' said the child.

'NonoArthuryou mustn't do that; but if she's not engaged
just ask her to come here a minute. Tell her I want to speak to
her.'

He ran to perform my biddingand quickly returned with his mother.
How lovely she looked with her dark ringlets streaming in the light
summer breezeher fair cheek slightly flushedand her countenance
radiant with smiles. Dear Arthur! what did I not owe to you for
this and every other happy meeting? Through him I was at once
delivered from all formalityand terrorand constraint. In love
affairsthere is no mediator like a merrysimple-hearted child ever
ready to cement divided heartsto span the unfriendly gulf of
customto melt the ice of cold reserveand overthrow the
separating walls of dread formality and pride.

'WellMr. Markhamwhat is it?' said the young motheraccosting
me with a pleasant smile.

'I want you to look at this bookandif you pleaseto take it
and peruse it at your leisure. I make no apology for calling you
out on such a lovely eveningthough it be for a matter of no
greater importance.'

'Tell him to come inmamma' said Arthur.

'Would you like to come in?' asked the lady.


'Yes; I should like to see your improvements in the garden.'

'And how your sister's roots have prospered in my charge' added
sheas she opened the gate.

And we sauntered through the gardenand talked of the flowersthe
treesand the bookand then of other things. The evening was
kind and genialand so was my companion. By degrees I waxed more
warm and tender thanperhapsI had ever been before; but still I
said nothing tangibleand she attempted no repulseuntilin
passing a moss rose-tree that I had brought her some weeks since
in my sister's nameshe plucked a beautiful half-open bud and bade
me give it to Rose.

'May I not keep it myself?' I asked.

'No; but here is another for you.'

Instead of taking it quietlyI likewise took the hand that offered
itand looked into her face. She let me hold it for a momentand
I saw a flash of ecstatic brilliance in her eyea glow of glad
excitement on her face - I thought my hour of victory was come but
instantly a painful recollection seemed to flash upon her; a
cloud of anguish darkened her browa marble paleness blanched her
cheek and lip; there seemed a moment of inward conflictandwith
a sudden effortshe withdrew her handand retreated a step or two
back.

'NowMr. Markham' said shewith a kind of desperate calmness'I
must tell you plainly that I cannot do with this. I like your
companybecause I am alone hereand your conversation pleases me
more than that of any other person; but if you cannot be content to
regard me as a friend - a plaincoldmotherlyor sisterly friend

-I must beg you to leave me nowand let me alone hereafter: in
factwe must be strangers for the future.'
'I willthen - be your friendor brotheror anything you wish
if you will only let me continue to see you; but tell me why I
cannot be anything more?'

There was a perplexed and thoughtful pause.

'Is it in consequence of some rash vow?'

'It is something of the kind' she answered. 'Some day I may tell
youbut at present you had better leave me; and neverGilbert
put me to the painful necessity of repeating what I have just now
said to you' she earnestly addedgiving me her hand in serious
kindness. How sweethow musical my own name sounded in her mouth!

'I will not' I replied. 'But you pardon this offence?'

'On condition that you never repeat it.'

'And may I come to see you now and then?'

'Perhaps - occasionally; provided you never abuse the privilege.'

'I make no empty promisesbut you shall see.'

'The moment you do our intimacy is at an endthat's all.'

'And will you always call me Gilbert? It sounds more sisterlyand
it will serve to remind me of our contract.'


She smiledand once more bid me go; and at length I judged it
prudent to obeyand she re-entered the house and I went down the
hill. But as I went the tramp of horses' hoofs fell on my earand
broke the stillness of the dewy evening; andlooking towards the
laneI saw a solitary equestrian coming up. Inclining to dusk as
it wasI knew him at a glance: it was Mr. Lawrence on his grey
pony. I flew across the fieldleaped the stone fenceand then
walked down the lane to meet him. On seeing mehe suddenly drew
in his little steedand seemed inclined to turn backbut on
second thought apparently judged it better to continue his course
as before. He accosted me with a slight bowandedging close to
the wallendeavoured to pass on; but I was not so minded. Seizing
his horse by the bridleI exclaimed- 'NowLawrenceI will have
this mystery explained! Tell me where you are goingand what you
mean to do - at onceand distinctly!'

'Will you take your hand off the bridle?' said hequietly '
you're hurting my pony's mouth.'

'You and your pony be - '

'What makes you so coarse and brutalMarkham? I'm quite ashamed
of you.'

'You answer my questions - before you leave this spot I will know
what you mean by this perfidious duplicity!'

'I shall answer no questions till you let go the bridle- if you
stand till morning.'

'Now then' said Iunclosing my handbut still standing before
him.

'Ask me some other timewhen you can speak like a gentleman'
returned heand he made an effort to pass me again; but I quickly
re-captured the ponyscarce less astonished than its master at
such uncivil usage.

'ReallyMr. Markhamthis is too much!' said the latter. 'Can I
not go to see my tenant on matters of businesswithout being
assaulted in this manner by -?'

'This is no time for businesssir! - I'll tell younowwhat I
think of your conduct.'

'You'd better defer your opinion to a more convenient season'
interrupted he in a low tone - 'here's the vicar.' Andin truth
the vicar was just behind meplodding homeward from some remote
corner of his parish. I immediately released the squire; and he
went on his waysaluting Mr. Millward as he passed.

'What! quarrellingMarkham?' cried the latteraddressing himself
to me- 'and about that young widowI doubt?' he added
reproachfully shaking his head. 'But let me tell youyoung man'
(here he put his face into mine with an importantconfidential
air)'she's not worth it!' and he confirmed the assertion by a
solemn nod.

'MR. MILLWARD' I exclaimedin a tone of wrathful menace that made
the reverend gentleman look round - aghast - astounded at such
unwonted insolenceand stare me in the facewith a look that
plainly said'Whatthis to me!' But I was too indignant to
apologiseor to speak another word to him: I turned awayand


hastened homewardsdescending with rapid strides the steeprough
laneand leaving him to follow as he pleased.

CHAPTER XI

You must suppose about three weeks passed over. Mrs. Graham and I
were now established friends - or brother and sisteras we rather
chose to consider ourselves. She called me Gilbertby my express
desireand I called her Helenfor I had seen that name written in
her books. I seldom attempted to see her above twice a week; and
still I made our meetings appear the result of accident as often as
I could - for I found it necessary to be extremely careful - and
altogetherI behaved with such exceeding propriety that she never
had occasion to reprove me once. Yet I could not but perceive that
she was at times unhappy and dissatisfied with herself or her
positionand truly I myself was not quite contented with the
latter: this assumption of brotherly nonchalance was very hard to
sustainand I often felt myself a most confounded hypocrite with
it all; I saw tooor rather I feltthatin spite of herself'I
was not indifferent to her' as the novel heroes modestly express
itand while I thankfully enjoyed my present good fortuneI could
not fail to wish and hope for something better in future; butof
courseI kept such dreams entirely to myself.

'Where are you goingGilbert?' said Roseone eveningshortly
after teawhen I had been busy with the farm all day.

'To take a walk' was the reply.

'Do you always brush your hat so carefullyand do your hair so
nicelyand put on such smart new gloves when you take a walk?'

'Not always.'

'You're going to Wildfell Hallaren't you?'

'What makes you think so?'

'Because you look as if you were - but I wish you wouldn't go so
often.'

'Nonsensechild! I don't go once in six weeks - what do you
mean?'

'Wellbut if I were youI wouldn't have so much to do with Mrs.
Graham.'

'WhyRoseare youtoogiving in to the prevailing opinion?'

'No' returned shehesitatingly - 'but I've heard so much about
her latelyboth at the Wilsons' and the vicarage; - and besides
mamma saysif she were a proper person she would not be living
there by herself - and don't you remember last winterGilbertall
that about the false name to the picture; and how she explained it

-saying she had friends or acquaintances from whom she wished her
present residence to be concealedand that she was afraid of their
tracing her out; - and thenhow suddenly she started up and left
the room when that person came - whom she took good care not to let
us catch a glimpse ofand who Arthurwith such an air of mystery
told us was his mamma's friend?'

'YesRoseI remember it all; and I can forgive your uncharitable
conclusions; forperhapsif I did not know her myselfI should
put all these things togetherand believe the same as you do; but
thank GodI do know her; and I should be unworthy the name of a
manif I could believe anything that was said against herunless
I heard it from her own lips. - I should as soon believe such
things of youRose.'

'OhGilbert!'

'Welldo you think I could believe anything of the kindwhatever
the Wilsons and Millwards dared to whisper?'

'I should hope not indeed!'

'And why not? - Because I know you - Welland I know her just as
well.'

'Ohno! you know nothing of her former life; and last yearat
this timeyou did not know that such a person existed.'

'No matter. There is such a thing as looking through a person's
eyes into the heartand learning more of the heightand breadth
and depth of another's soul in one hour than it might take you a
lifetime to discoverif he or she were not disposed to reveal it
or if you had not the sense to understand it.'

'Then you are going to see her this evening?'

'To be sure I am!'

'But what would mamma sayGilbert!'

'Mamma needn't know.'

'But she must know some timeif you go on.'

'Go on! - there's no going on in the matter. Mrs. Graham and I are
two friends - and will be; and no man breathing shall hinder itor
has a right to interfere between us.'

'But if you knew how they talk you would be more carefulfor her
sake as well as for your own. Jane Wilson thinks your visits to
the old hall but another proof of her depravity - '

'Confound Jane Wilson!'

'And Eliza Millward is quite grieved about you.'

'I hope she is.'

'But I wouldn'tif I were you.'

'Wouldn't what? - How do they know that I go there?'

'There's nothing hid from them: they spy out everything.'

'OhI never thought of this! - And so they dare to turn my
friendship into food for further scandal against her! - That proves
the falsehood of their other liesat all eventsif any proof were
wanting. - Mind you contradict themRosewhenever you can.'

'But they don't speak openly to me about such things: it is only


by hints and innuendoesand by what I hear others saythat I knew
what they think.'

'WellthenI won't go to-dayas it's getting latish. But oh
deuce take their cursedenvenomed tongues!' I mutteredin the
bitterness of my soul.

And just at that moment the vicar entered the room: we had been
too much absorbed in our conversation to observe his knock. After
his customary cheerful and fatherly greeting of Rosewho was
rather a favourite with the old gentlemanhe turned somewhat
sternly to me:


'Wellsir!' said he'you're quite a stranger. It is - let - me see'
he continuedslowlyas he deposited his ponderous bulk in
the arm-chair that Rose officiously brought towards him; 'it is
just - six-weeks - by my reckoningsince you darkened - my door!'
He spoke it with emphasisand struck his stick on the
floor.

'Is itsir?' said I.

'Ay! It is so!' He added an affirmatory nodand continued to
gaze upon me with a kind of irate solemnityholding his
substantial stick between his kneeswith his hands clasped upon
its head.

'I have been busy' I saidfor an apology was evidently demanded.

'Busy!' repeated hederisively.

'Yesyou know I've been getting in my hay; and now the harvest is
beginning.'

'Humph!'

Just then my mother came inand created a diversion in my favour
by her loquacious and animated welcome of the reverend guest. She
regretted deeply that he had not come a little earlierin time for
teabut offered to have some immediately preparedif he would do
her the favour to partake of it.

'Not any for meI thank you' replied he; 'I shall be at home in a
few minutes.'

'Ohbut do stay and take a little! it will be ready in five
minutes.'

But he rejected the offer with a majestic wave of the hand.

'I'll tell you what I'll takeMrs. Markham' said he: 'I'll take
a glass of your excellent ale.'

'With pleasure!' cried my motherproceeding with alacrity to pull
the bell and order the favoured beverage.

'I thought' continued he'I'd just look in upon you as I passed
and taste your home-brewed ale. I've been to call on Mrs. Graham.'

'Have youindeed?'

He nodded gravelyand added with awful emphasis - 'I thought it
incumbent upon me to do so.'


'Really!' ejaculated my mother.

'Why soMr. Millward?' asked I.

He looked at me with some severityand turning again to my mother
repeated- 'I thought it incumbent upon me!' and struck his stick
on the floor again. My mother sat oppositean awe-struck but
admiring auditor.

'"Mrs. Graham said I,' he continued, shaking his head as he
spoke, 'these are terrible reports!" "Whatsir?" says she
affecting to be ignorant of my meaning. "It is my - duty - as your
pastor said I, to tell you both everything that I myself
see reprehensible in your conductand all I have reason to
suspectand what others tell me concerning you." - So I told her!'

'You didsir?' cried Istarting from my seat and striking my fist
on the table. He merely glanced towards meand continued addressing
his hostess:


'It was a painful dutyMrs. Markham - but I told her!'

'And how did she take it?' asked my mother.

'HardenedI fear - hardened!' he repliedwith a despondent shake
of the head; 'andat the same timethere was a strong display of
unchastenedmisdirected passions. She turned white in the face
and drew her breath through her teeth in a savage sort of way; but
she offered no extenuation or defence; and with a kind of
shameless calmness - shocking indeed to witness in one so young as
good as told me that my remonstrance was unavailingand my
pastoral advice quite thrown away upon her - naythat my very
presence was displeasing while I spoke such things. And I withdrew
at lengthtoo plainly seeing that nothing could be done - and
sadly grieved to find her case so hopeless. But I am fully
determinedMrs. Markhamthat my daughters - shall - not - consort
with her. Do you adopt the same resolution with regard to yours! -
As for your sons - as for youyoung man' he continuedsternly
turning to me


'As for MEsir' I beganbut checked by some impediment in my
utteranceand finding that my whole frame trembled with furyI
said no morebut took the wiser part of snatching up my hat and
bolting from the roomslamming the door behind mewith a bang
that shook the house to its foundationsand made my mother scream
and gave a momentary relief to my excited feelings.

The next minute saw me hurrying with rapid strides in the direction
of Wildfell Hall - to what intent or purpose I could scarcely tell
but I must be moving somewhereand no other goal would do - I must
see her tooand speak to her - that was certain; but what to say
or how to actI had no definite idea. Such stormy thoughts - so
many different resolutions crowded in upon methat my mind was
little better than a chaos of conflicting passions.

CHAPTER XII

In little more than twenty minutes the journey was accomplished. I
paused at the gate to wipe my streaming foreheadand recover my
breath and some degree of composure. Already the rapid walking had


somewhat mitigated my excitement; and with a firm and steady tread
I paced the garden-walk. In passing the inhabited wing of the
buildingI caught a sight of Mrs. Grahamthrough the open window
slowly pacing up and down her lonely room.

She seemed agitated and even dismayed at my arrivalas if she
thought I too was coming to accuse her. I had entered her presence
intending to condole with her upon the wickedness of the worldand
help her to abuse the vicar and his vile informantsbut now I felt
positively ashamed to mention the subjectand determined not to
refer to itunless she led the way.

'I am come at an unseasonable hour' said Iassuming a
cheerfulness I did not feelin order to reassure her; 'but I won't
stay many minutes.'

She smiled upon mefaintly it is truebut most kindly - I had
almost said thankfullyas her apprehensions were removed.

'How dismal you areHelen! Why have you no fire?' I saidlooking
round on the gloomy apartment.

'It is summer yet' she replied.

'But we always have a fire in the eveningsif we can bear it; and
you especially require one in this cold house and dreary room.'

'You should have come a little soonerand I would have had one
lighted for you: but it is not worth while now - you won't stay
many minutesyou sayand Arthur is gone to bed.'

'But I have a fancy for a firenevertheless. Will you order one
if I ring?'

'WhyGilbertyou don't look cold!' said shesmilingly regarding
my facewhich no doubt seemed warm enough.

'No' replied I'but I want to see you comfortable before I go.'

'Me comfortable!' repeated shewith a bitter laughas if there
were something amusingly absurd in the idea. 'It suits me better
as it is' she addedin a tone of mournful resignation.

But determined to have my own wayI pulled the bell.

'There nowHelen!' I saidas the approaching steps of Rachel were
heard in answer to the summons. There was nothing for it but to
turn round and desire the maid to light the fire.

I owe Rachel a grudge to this day for the look she cast upon me ere
she departed on her missionthe soursuspiciousinquisitorial
look that plainly demanded'What are you here forI wonder?' Her
mistress did not fail to notice itand a shade of uneasiness
darkened her brow.

'You must not stay longGilbert' said shewhen the door was
closed upon us.

'I'm not going to' said Isomewhat testilythough without a
grain of anger in my heart against any one but the meddling old
woman. 'ButHelenI've something to say to you before I go.'

'What is it?'


'Nonot now - I don't know yet precisely what it isor how to say
it' replied Iwith more truth than wisdom; and thenfearing lest
she should turn me out of the houseI began talking about
indifferent matters in order to gain time. Meanwhile Rachel came
in to kindle the firewhich was soon effected by thrusting a redhot
poker between the bars of the gratewhere the fuel was already
disposed for ignition. She honoured me with another of her hard
inhospitable looks in departingbutlittle moved therebyI went
on talking; and setting a chair for Mrs. Graham on one side of the
hearthand one for myself on the otherI ventured to sit down
though half suspecting she would rather see me go.

In a little while we both relapsed into silenceand continued for
several minutes gazing abstractedly into the fire - she intent upon
her own sad thoughtsand I reflecting how delightful it would be
to be seated thus beside her with no other presence to restrain our
intercourse - not even that of Arthurour mutual friendwithout
whom we had never met before - if only I could venture to speak my
mindand disburden my full heart of the feelings that had so long
oppressed itand which it now struggled to retainwith an effort
that it seemed impossible to continue much longer- and revolving
the pros and cons for opening my heart to her there and thenand
imploring a return of affectionthe permission to regard her
thenceforth as my ownand the right and the power to defend her
from the calumnies of malicious tongues. On the one handI felt a
new-born confidence in my powers of persuasion - a strong
conviction that my own fervour of spirit would grant me eloquence that
my very determination - the absolute necessity for succeeding
that I felt must win me what I sought; whileon the otherI
feared to lose the ground I had already gained with so much toil
and skilland destroy all future hope by one rash effortwhen
time and patience might have won success. It was like setting my
life upon the cast of a die; and yet I was ready to resolve upon
the attempt. At any rateI would entreat the explanation she had
half promised to give me before; I would demand the reason of this
hateful barrierthis mysterious impediment to my happinessand
as I trustedto her own.

But while I considered in what manner I could best frame my
requestmy companionwakened from her reverie with a scarcely
audible sighand looking towards the windowwhere the blood-red
harvest moonjust rising over one of the grimfantastic
evergreenswas shining in upon ussaid- 'Gilbertit is getting
late.'

'I see' said I. 'You want me to goI suppose?'

'I think you ought. If my kind neighbours get to know of this
visit - as no doubt they will - they will not turn it much to my
advantage.'

It was with what the vicar would doubtless have called a savage
sort of smile that she said this.

'Let them turn it as they will' said I. 'What are their thoughts
to you or meso long as we are satisfied with ourselves - and each
other. Let them go to the deuce with their vile constructions and
their lying inventions!'

This outburst brought a flush of colour to her face.

'You have heardthenwhat they say of me?'

'I heard some detestable falsehoods; but none but fools would


credit them for a momentHelenso don't let them trouble you.'

'I did not think Mr. Millward a fooland he believes it all; but
however little you may value the opinions of those about you however
little you may esteem them as individualsit is not
pleasant to be looked upon as a liar and a hypocriteto be thought
to practise what you abhorand to encourage the vices you would
discountenanceto find your good intentions frustratedand your
hands crippled by your supposed unworthinessand to bring disgrace
on the principles you profess.'

'True; and if Iby my thoughtlessness and selfish disregard to
appearanceshave at all assisted to expose you to these evilslet
me entreat you not only to pardon mebut to enable me to make
reparation; authorise me to clear your name from every imputation:
give me the right to identify your honour with my ownand to
defend your reputation as more precious than my life!'

'Are you hero enough to unite yourself to one whom you know to be
suspected and despised by all around youand identify your
interests and your honour with hers? Think! it is a serious
thing.'

'I should be proud to do itHelen! - most happy - delighted beyond
expression! - and if that be all the obstacle to our unionit is
demolishedand you must - you shall be mine!'

And starting from my seat in a frenzy of ardourI seized her hand
and would have pressed it to my lipsbut she as suddenly caught it
awayexclaiming in the bitterness of intense affliction- 'No
noit is not all!'

'What is itthen? You promised I should know some timeand - '

'You shall know some time - but not now - my head aches terribly'
she saidpressing her hand to her forehead'and I must have some
repose - and surely I have had misery enough to-day!' she added
almost wildly.

'But it could not harm you to tell it' I persisted: 'it would
ease your mind; and I should then know how to comfort you.'

She shook her head despondingly. 'If you knew allyoutoowould
blame me - perhaps even more than I deserve - though I have cruelly
wronged you' she added in a low murmuras if she mused aloud.

'YouHelen? Impossible?'

'Yesnot willingly; for I did not know the strength and depth of
your attachment. I thought - at least I endeavoured to think your
regard for me was as cold and fraternal as you professed it to be.'

'Or as yours?'

'Or as mine - ought to have been - of such a light and selfish
superficial naturethat - '

'Thereindeedyou wronged me.'

I know I did; andsometimesI suspected it then; but I thought
upon the wholethere could be no great harm in leaving your
fancies and your hopes to dream themselves to nothing - or flutter
away to some more fitting objectwhile your friendly sympathies
remained with me; but if I had known the depth of your regardthe


generousdisinterested affection you seem to feel - '

'SeemHelen?'

'That you do feelthenI would have acted differently.'

'How? You could not have given me less encouragementor treated
me with greater severity than you did! And if you think you have
wronged me by giving me your friendshipand occasionally admitting
me to the enjoyment of your company and conversationwhen all
hopes of closer intimacy were vain - as indeed you always gave me
to understand - if you think you have wronged me by thisyou are
mistaken; for such favoursin themselves aloneare not only
delightful to my heartbut purifyingexaltingennobling to my
soul; and I would rather have your friendship than the love of any
other woman in the world!'

Little comforted by thisshe clasped her hands upon her kneeand
glancing upwardseemedin silent anguishto implore divine
assistance; thenturning to meshe calmly said- 'To-morrowif
you meet me on the moor about mid-dayI will tell you all you seek
to know; and perhaps you will then see the necessity of
discontinuing our intimacy - ifindeedyou do not willingly
resign me as one no longer worthy of regard.'

'I can safely answer no to that: you cannot have such grave
confessions to make - you must be trying my faithHelen.'

'Nonono' she earnestly repeated - 'I wish it were so! Thank
heaven!' she added'I have no great crime to confess; but I have
more than you will like to hearorperhapscan readily excuseand
more than I can tell you now; so let me entreat you to leave
me!'

'I will; but answer me this one question first; - do you love me?'

'I will not answer it!'

'Then I will conclude you do; and so good-night.'

She turned from me to hide the emotion she could not quite control;
but I took her hand and fervently kissed it.

'Gilbertdo leave me!' she criedin a tone of such thrilling
anguish that I felt it would be cruel to disobey.

But I gave one look back before I closed the doorand saw her
leaning forward on the tablewith her hands pressed against her
eyessobbing convulsively; yet I withdrew in silence. I felt that
to obtrude my consolations on her then would only serve to
aggravate her sufferings.

To tell you all the questionings and conjectures - the fearsand
hopesand wild emotions that jostled and chased each other through
my mind as I descended the hillwould almost fill a volume in
itself. But before I was half-way downa sentiment of strong
sympathy for her I had left behind me had displaced all other
feelingsand seemed imperatively to draw me back: I began to
think'Why am I hurrying so fast in this direction? Can I find
comfort or consolation - peacecertaintycontentmentall - or
anything that I want at home? and can I leave all perturbation
sorrowand anxiety behind me there?'

And I turned round to look at the old Hall. There was little


besides the chimneys visible above my contracted horizon. I walked
back to get a better view of it. When it rose in sightI stood
still a moment to lookand then continued moving towards the
gloomy object of attraction. Something called me nearer - nearer
still - and why notpray? Might I not find more benefit in the
contemplation of that venerable pile with the full moon in the
cloudless heaven shining so calmly above it - with that warm yellow
lustre peculiar to an August night - and the mistress of my soul
withinthan in returning to my homewhere all comparatively was
lightand lifeand cheerfulnessand therefore inimical to me in
my present frame of mind- and the more so that its inmates all
were more or less imbued with that detestable beliefthe very
thought of which made my blood boil in my veins - and how could I
endure to hear it openly declaredor cautiously insinuated - which
was worse? - I had had trouble enough alreadywith some babbling
fiend that would keep whispering in my ear'It may be true' till
I had shouted aloud'It is false! I defy you to make me suppose
it!'

I could see the red firelight dimly gleaming from her parlour
window. I went up to the garden walland stood leaning over it
with my eyes fixed upon the latticewondering what she was doing
thinkingor suffering nowand wishing I could speak to her but
one wordor even catch one glimpse of herbefore I went.

I had not thus lookedand wishedand wondered longbefore I
vaulted over the barrierunable to resist the temptation of taking
one glance through the windowjust to if she were more composed
than when we parted; - and if I found her still in deep distress
perhaps I might venture attempt a word of comfort - to utter one of
the many things I should have said beforeinstead of aggravating
her sufferings by my stupid impetuosity. I looked. Her chair was
vacant: so was the room. But at that moment some one opened the
outer doorand a voice - her voice - said- 'Come out - I want to
see the moonand breathe the evening air: they will do me good if
anything will.'

Herethenwere she and Rachel coming to take a walk in the
garden. I wished myself safe back over the wall. I stood
howeverin the shadow of the tall holly-bushwhichstanding
between the window and the porchat present screened me from
observationbut did not prevent me from seeing two figures come
forth into the moonlight: Mrs. Graham followed by another - not
Rachelbut a young manslender and rather tall. O heavenshow
my temples throbbed! Intense anxiety darkened my sight; but I
thought - yesand the voice confirmed it - it was Mr. Lawrence!

'You should not let it worry you so muchHelen' said he; 'I will
be more cautious in future; and in time - '

I did not hear the rest of the sentence; for he walked close beside
her and spoke so gently that I could not catch the words. My heart
was splitting with hatred; but I listened intently for her reply.
I heard it plainly enough.

'But I must leave this placeFrederick' she said - 'I never can
be happy here- nor anywhere elseindeed' she addedwith a
mirthless laugh- 'but I cannot rest here.'

'But where could you find a better place?' replied he'so secluded

-so near meif you think anything of that.'
'Yes' interrupted she'it is all I could wishif they could only
have left me alone.'


'But wherever you goHelenthere will be the same sources of
annoyance. I cannot consent to lose you: I must go with youor
come to you; and there are meddling fools elsewhereas well as
here.'

While thus conversing they had sauntered slowly past medown the
walkand I heard no more of their discourse; but I saw him put his
arm round her waistwhile she lovingly rested her hand on his
shoulder; - and thena tremulous darkness obscured my sightmy
heart sickened and my head burned like fire: I half rushedhalf
staggered from the spotwhere horror had kept me rootedand
leaped or tumbled over the wall - I hardly know which - but I know
thatafterwardslike a passionate childI dashed myself on the
ground and lay there in a paroxysm of anger and despair - how long
I cannot undertake to say; but it must have been a considerable
time; for whenhaving partially relieved myself by a torment of
tearsand looked up at the moonshining so calmly and carelessly
onas little influenced by my misery as I was by its peaceful
radianceand earnestly prayed for death or forgetfulnessI had
risen and journeyed homewards - little regarding the waybut
carried instinctively by my feet to the doorI found it bolted
against meand every one in bed except my motherwho hastened to
answer my impatient knockingand received me with a shower of
questions and rebukes.

'OhGilbert! how could you do so? Where have you been? Do come
in and take your supper. I've got it all readythough you don't
deserve itfor keeping me in such a frightafter the strange
manner you left the house this evening. Mr. Millward was quite -
Bless the boy! how ill he looks. Ohgracious! what is the
matter?'

'Nothingnothing - give me a candle.'

'But won't you take some supper?'

'No; I want to go to bed' said Itaking a candle and lighting it
at the one she held in her hand.

'OhGilberthow you tremble!' exclaimed my anxious parent. 'How
white you look! Do tell me what it is? Has anything happened?'

'It's nothing' cried Iready to stamp with vexation because the
candle would not light. Thensuppressing my irritationI added
'I've been walking too fastthat's all. Good-night' and marched
off to bedregardless of the 'Walking too fast! where have you
been?' that was called after me from below.

My mother followed me to the very door of my room with her
questionings and advice concerning my health and my conduct; but I
implored her to let me alone till morning; and she withdrewand at
length I had the satisfaction to hear her close her own door.
There was no sleep for mehoweverthat night as I thought; and
instead of attempting to solicit itI employed myself in rapidly
pacing the chamberhaving first removed my bootslest my mother
should hear me. But the boards creakedand she was watchful. I
had not walked above a quarter of an hour before she was at the
door again.

'Gilbertwhy are you not in bed - you said you wanted to go?'

'Confound it! I'm going' said I.


'But why are you so long about it? You must have something on your
mind - '

'For heaven's sakelet me aloneand get to bed yourself.'

'Can it be that Mrs. Graham that distresses you so?'

'NonoI tell you - it's nothing.'

'I wish to goodness it mayn't' murmured shewith a sighas she
returned to her own apartmentwhile I threw myself on the bed
feeling most undutifully disaffected towards her for having
deprived me of what seemed the only shadow of a consolation that
remainedand chained me to that wretched couch of thorns.

Never did I endure so longso miserable a night as that. And yet
it was not wholly sleepless. Towards morning my distracting
thoughts began to lose all pretensions to coherencyand shape
themselves into confused and feverish dreamsandat lengththere
followed an interval of unconscious slumber. But then the dawn of
bitter recollection that succeeded - the waking to find life a
blankand worse than a blankteeming with torment and misery not
a mere barren wildernessbut full of thorns and briers - to
find myself deceiveddupedhopelessmy affections trampled upon
my angel not an angeland my friend a fiend incarnate - it was
worse than if I had not slept at all.

It was a dullgloomy morning; the weather had changed like my
prospectsand the rain was pattering against the window. I rose
neverthelessand went out; not to look after the farmthough that
would serve as my excusebut to cool my brainand regainif
possiblea sufficient degree of composure to meet the family at
the morning meal without exciting inconvenient remarks. If I got a
wettingthatin conjunction with a pretended over-exertion before
breakfastmight excuse my sudden loss of appetite; and if a cold
ensuedthe severer the better - it would help to account for the
sullen moods and moping melancholy likely to cloud my brow for long
enough.

CHAPTER XIII

'My dear GilbertI wish you would try to be a little more
amiable' said my mother one morning after some display of
unjustifiable ill-humour on my part. 'You say there is nothing the
matter with youand nothing has happened to grieve youand yet I
never saw anyone so altered as you within these last few days. You
haven't a good word for anybody - friends and strangersequals and
inferiors - it's all the same. I do wish you'd try to check it.'

'Check what?'

'Whyyour strange temper. You don't know how it spoils you. I'm
sure a finer disposition than yours by nature could not beif
you'd let it have fair play: so you've no excuse that way.'

While she thus remonstratedI took up a bookand laying it open
on the table before mepretended to be deeply absorbed in its
perusalfor I was equally unable to justify myself and unwilling
to acknowledge my errors; and I wished to have nothing to say on
the matter. But my excellent parent went on lecturingand then


came to coaxingand began to stroke my hair; and I was getting to
feel quite a good boybut my mischievous brotherwho was idling
about the roomrevived my corruption by suddenly calling out'
Don't touch himmother! he'll bite! He's a very tiger in human
form. I've given him up for my part - fairly disowned him - cast
him offroot and branch. It's as much as my life is worth to come
within six yards of him. The other day he nearly fractured my
skull for singing a prettyinoffensive love-songon purpose to
amuse him.'

'OhGilbert! how could you?' exclaimed my mother.

'I told you to hold your noise firstyou knowFergus' said I.

'Yesbut when I assured you it was no trouble and went on with the
next versethinking you might like it betteryou clutched me by
the shoulder and dashed me awayright against the wall therewith
such force that I thought I had bitten my tongue in twoand
expected to see the place plastered with my brains; and when I put
my hand to my headand found my skull not brokenI thought it was
a miracleand no mistake. Butpoor fellow!' added hewith a
sentimental sigh - 'his heart's broken - that's the truth of it and
his head's - '

'Will you be silent NOW?' cried Istarting upand eyeing the
fellow so fiercely that my motherthinking I meant to inflict some
grievous bodily injurylaid her hand on my armand besought me to
let him aloneand he walked leisurely outwith his hands in his
pocketssinging provokingly - 'Shall Ibecause a woman's fair'
&c.

'I'm not going to defile my fingers with him' said Iin answer to
the maternal intercession. 'I wouldn't touch him with the tongs.'

I now recollected that I had business with Robert Wilson
concerning the purchase of a certain field adjoining my farm - a
business I had been putting off from day to day; for I had no
interest in anything now; and besidesI was misanthropically
inclinedandmoreoverhad a particular objection to meeting Jane
Wilson or her mother; for though I had too good reasonnowto
credit their reports concerning Mrs. GrahamI did not like them a
bit the better for it - or Eliza Millward either - and the thought
of meeting them was the more repugnant to me that I could notnow
defy their seeming calumnies and triumph in my own convictions as
before. But to-day I determined to make an effort to return to my
duty. Though I found no pleasure in itit would be less irksome
than idleness - at all events it would be more profitable. If life
promised no enjoyment within my vocationat least it offered no
allurements out of it; and henceforth I would put my shoulder to
the wheel and toil awaylike any poor drudge of a cart-horse that
was fairly broken in to its labourand plod through lifenot
wholly useless if not agreeableand uncomplaining if not contented
with my lot.

Thus resolvingwith a kind of sullen resignationif such a term
may be allowedI wended my way to Ryecote Farmscarcely expecting
to find its owner within at this time of daybut hoping to learn
in what part of the premises he was most likely to be found.

Absent he wasbut expected home in a few minutes; and I was
desired to step into the parlour and wait. Mrs. Wilson was busy in
the kitchenbut the room was not empty; and I scarcely checked an
involuntary recoil as I entered it; for there sat Miss Wilson
chattering with Eliza Millward. HoweverI determined to be cool


and civil. Eliza seemed to have made the same resolution on her
part. We had not met since the evening of the tea-party; but there
was no visible emotion either of pleasure or painno attempt at
pathosno display of injured pride: she was cool in tempercivil
in demeanour. There was even an ease and cheerfulness about her
air and manner that I made no pretension to; but there was a depth
of malice in her too expressive eye that plainly told me I was not
forgiven; forthough she no longer hoped to win me to herselfshe
still hated her rivaland evidently delighted to wreak her spite
on me. On the other handMiss Wilson was as affable and courteous
as heart could wishand though I was in no very conversable humour
myselfthe two ladies between them managed to keep up a pretty
continuous fire of small talk. But Eliza took advantage of the
first convenient pause to ask if I had lately seen Mrs. Grahamin
a tone of merely casual inquirybut with a sidelong glance intended
to be playfully mischievous - reallybrimful and running
over with malice.

'Not lately' I repliedin a careless tonebut sternly repelling
her odious glances with my eyes; for I was vexed to feel the colour
mounting to my foreheaddespite my strenuous efforts to appear
unmoved.

'What! are you beginning to tire already? I thought so noble a
creature would have power to attach you for a year at least!'

'I would rather not speak of her now.'

'Ah! then you are convincedat lastof your mistake - you have at
length discovered that your divinity is not quite the immaculate '


'I desired you not to speak of herMiss Eliza.'

'OhI beg your pardon! I perceive Cupid's arrows have been too
sharp for you: the woundsbeing more than skin-deepare not yet
healedand bleed afresh at every mention of the loved one's name.'

'Sayrather' interposed Miss Wilson'that Mr. Markham feels that
name is unworthy to be mentioned in the presence of right-minded
females. I wonderElizayou should think of referring to that
unfortunate person - you might know the mention of her would be
anything but agreeable to any one here present.'

How could this be borne? I rose and was about to clap my hat upon
my head and burst awayin wrathful indignation from the house; but
recollecting - just in time to save my dignity - the folly of such
a proceedingand how it would only give my fair tormentors a merry
laugh at my expensefor the sake of one I acknowledged in my own
heart to be unworthy of the slightest sacrifice - though the ghost
of my former reverence and love so hung about me stillthat I
could not bear to hear her name aspersed by others - I merely
walked to the windowand having spent a few seconds in vengibly
biting my lips and sternly repressing the passionate heavings of my
chestI observed to Miss Wilsonthat I could see nothing of her
brotherand added thatas my time was preciousit would perhaps
be better to call again to-morrowat some time when I should be
sure to find him at home.

'Ohno!' said she; 'if you wait a minutehe will be sure to come;
for he has business at L-' (that was our market-town)'and will
require a little refreshment before he goes.'

I submitted accordinglywith the best grace I could; andhappily


I had not long to wait. Mr. Wilson soon arrivedandindisposed
for business as I was at that momentand little as I cared for the
field or its ownerI forced my attention to the matter in hand
with very creditable determinationand quickly concluded the
bargain - perhaps more to the thrifty farmer's satisfaction than he
cared to acknowledge. Thenleaving him to the discussion of his
substantial 'refreshment' I gladly quitted the houseand went to
look after my reapers.

Leaving them busy at work on the side of the valleyI ascended the
hillintending to visit a corn-field in the more elevated regions
and see when it would be ripe for the sickle. But I did not visit
it that day; foras I approachedI beheldat no great distance
Mrs. Graham and her son coming down in the opposite direction.
They saw me; and Arthur already was running to meet me; but I
immediately turned back and walked steadily homeward; for I had
fully determined never to encounter his mother again; and
regardless of the shrill voice in my earcalling upon me to 'wait
a moment' I pursued the even tenor of my way; and he soon
relinquished the pursuit as hopelessor was called away by his
mother. At all eventswhen I looked backfive minutes afternot
a trace of either was to be seen.

This incident agitated and disturbed me most unaccountably - unless
you would account for it by saying that Cupid's arrows not only had
been too sharp for mebut they were barbed and deeply rootedand
I had not yet been able to wrench them from my heart. However that
beI was rendered doubly miserable for the remainder of the day.

CHAPTER XIV

Next morningI bethought meItoohad business at L-; so I
mounted my horseand set forth on the expedition soon after
breakfast. It was a dulldrizzly day; but that was no matter: it
was all the more suitable to my frame of mind. It was likely to be
a lonely journey; for it was no market-dayand the road I
traversed was little frequented at any other time; but that suited
me all the better too.

As I trotted alonghoweverchewing the cud of - bitter fanciesI
heard another horse at no great distance behind me; but I never
conjectured who the rider might beor troubled my head about him
tillon slackening my pace to ascend a gentle acclivityor
rathersuffering my horse to slacken his pace into a lazy walk for
rapt in my own reflectionsI was letting it jog on as
leisurely as it thought proper - I lost groundand my fellowtraveller
overtook me. He accosted me by namefor it was no
stranger - it was Mr. Lawrence! Instinctively the fingers of my
whip-hand tingledand grasped their charge with convulsive energy;
but I restrained the impulseand answering his salutation with a
nodattempted to push on; but he pushed on beside meand began to
talk about the weather and the crops. I gave the briefest possible
answers to his queries and observationsand fell back. He fell
back tooand asked if my horse was lame. I replied with a look
at which he placidly smiled.

I was as much astonished as exasperated at this singular
pertinacity and imperturbable assurance on his part. I had thought
the circumstances of our last meeting would have left such an
impression on his mind as to render him cold and distant ever


after: instead of thathe appeared not only to have forgotten all
former offencesbut to be impenetrable to all present
incivilities. Formerlythe slightest hintor mere fancied
coldness in tone or glancehad sufficed to repulse him: now
positive rudeness could not drive him away. Had he heard of my
disappointment; and was he come to witness the resultand triumph
in my despair? I grasped my whip with more determined energy than
before - but still forbore to raise itand rode on in silence
waiting for some more tangible cause of offencebefore I opened
the floodgates of my soul and poured out the dammed-up fury that
was foaming and swelling within.

'Markham' said hein his usual quiet tone'why do you quarrel
with your friendsbecause you have been disappointed in one
quarter? You have found your hopes defeated; but how am I to blame
for it? I warned you beforehandyou knowbut you would not - '

He said no more; forimpelled by some fiend at my elbowI had
seized my whip by the small endand - swift and sudden as a flash
of lightning - brought the other down upon his head. It was not
without a feeling of savage satisfaction that I beheld the instant
deadly pallor that overspread his faceand the few red drops that
trickled down his foreheadwhile he reeled a moment in his saddle
and then fell backward to the ground. The ponysurprised to be so
strangely relieved of its burdenstarted and caperedand kicked a
littleand then made use of its freedom to go and crop the grass
of the hedge-bank: while its master lay as still and silent as a
corpse. Had I killed him? - an icy hand seemed to grasp my heart
and check its pulsationas I bent over himgazing with breathless
intensity upon the ghastlyupturned face. But no; he moved his
eyelids and uttered a slight groan. I breathed again - he was only
stunned by the fall. It served him right - it would teach him
better manners in future. Should I help him to his horse? No.
For any other combination of offences I would; but his were too
unpardonable. He might mount it himselfif he liked - in a while:
already he was beginning to stir and look about him - and there it
was for himquietly browsing on the road-side.

So with a muttered execration I left the fellow to his fateand
clapping spurs to my own horsegalloped awayexcited by a
combination of feelings it would not be easy to analyse; and
perhapsif I did sothe result would not be very creditable to my
disposition; for I am not sure that a species of exultation in what
I had done was not one principal concomitant.

Shortlyhoweverthe effervescence began to abateand not many
minutes elapsed before I had turned and gone back to look after the
fate of my victim. It was no generous impulse - no kind relentings
that led me to this - nor even the fear of what might be the
consequences to myselfif I finished my assault upon the squire by
leaving him thus neglectedand exposed to further injury; it was
simplythe voice of conscience; and I took great credit to myself
for attending so promptly to its dictates - and judging the merit
of the deed by the sacrifice it costI was not far wrong.

Mr. Lawrence and his pony had both altered their positions in some
degree. The pony had wandered eight or ten yards further away; and
he had managedsomehowto remove himself from the middle of the
road: I found him seated in a recumbent position on the banklooking
very white and sickly stilland holding his cambric
handkerchief (now more red than white) to his head. It must have
been a powerful blow; but half the credit - or the blame of it
(which you please) must be attributed to the whipwhich was
garnished with a massive horse's head of plated metal. The grass


being sodden with rainafforded the young gentleman a rather
inhospitable couch; his clothes were considerably bemired; and his
hat was rolling in the mud on the other side of the road. But his
thoughts seemed chiefly bent upon his ponyon which he was
wistfully gazing - half in helpless anxietyand half in hopeless
abandonment to his fate.

I dismountedhoweverand having fastened my own animal to the
nearest treefirst picked up his hatintending to clap it on his
head; but either he considered his head unfit for a hator the
hatin its present conditionunfit for his head; for shrinking
away the onehe took the other from my handand scornfully cast
it aside.

'It's good enough for you' I muttered.

My next good office was to catch his pony and bring it to him
which was soon accomplished; for the beast was quiet enough in the
mainand only winced and flirted a trifle till I got hold of the
bridle - but thenI must see him in the saddle.

'Hereyou fellow - scoundrel - dog - give me your handand I'll
help you to mount.'

No; he turned from me in disgust. I attempted to take him by the
arm. He shrank away as if there had been contamination in my
touch.

'Whatyou won't! Well! you may sit there till doomsdayfor what
I care. But I suppose you don't want to lose all the blood in your
body - I'll just condescend to bind that up for you.'

'Let me aloneif you please.'

'Humph; with all my heart. You may go to the d-lif you choose and
say I sent you.'

But before I abandoned him to his fate I flung his pony's bridle
over a stake in the hedgeand threw him my handkerchiefas his
own was now saturated with blood. He took it and cast it back to
me in abhorrence and contemptwith all the strength he could
muster. It wanted but this to fill the measure of his offences.
With execrations not loud but deep I left him to live or die as he
couldwell satisfied that I had done my duty in attempting to save
him - but forgetting how I had erred in bringing him into such a
conditionand how insultingly my after-services had been offered and
sullenly prepared to meet the consequences if he should choose
to say I had attempted to murder him - which I thought not
unlikelyas it seemed probable he was actuated by such spiteful
motives in so perseveringly refusing my assistance.

Having remounted my horseI just looked back to see how he was
getting onbefore I rode away. He had risen from the groundand
grasping his pony's manewas attempting to resume his seat in the
saddle; but scarcely had he put his foot in the stirrupwhen a
sickness or dizziness seemed to overpower him: he leant forward a
momentwith his head drooped on the animal's backand then made
one more effortwhich proving ineffectualhe sank back on the
bankwhere I left himreposing his head on the oozy turfand to
all appearanceas calmly reclining as if he had been taking his
rest on his sofa at home.

I ought to have helped him in spite of himself - to have bound up
the wound he was unable to staunchand insisted upon getting him


on his horse and seeing him safe home; butbesides my bitter
indignation against himselfthere was the question what to say to
his servants - and what to my own family. Either I should have to
acknowledge the deedwhich would set me down as a madmanunless I
acknowledged the motive too - and that seemed impossible - or I
must get up a liewhich seemed equally out of the question especially
as Mr. Lawrence would probably reveal the whole truth
and thereby bring me to tenfold disgrace - unless I were villain
enoughpresuming on the absence of witnessesto persist in my own
version of the caseand make him out a still greater scoundrel
than he was. No; he had only received a cut above the templeand
perhaps a few bruises from the fallor the hoofs of his own pony:
that could not kill him if he lay there half the day; andif he
could not help himselfsurely some one would be coming by: it
would be impossible that a whole day should pass and no one
traverse the road but ourselves. As for what he might choose to
say hereafterI would take my chance about it: if he told liesI
would contradict him; if he told the truthI would bear it as best
I could. I was not obliged to enter into explanations further than
I thought proper. Perhaps he might choose to be silent on the
subjectfor fear of raising inquiries as to the cause of the
quarreland drawing the public attention to his connection with
Mrs. Grahamwhichwhether for her sake or his ownhe seemed so
very desirous to conceal.

Thus reasoningI trotted away to the townwhere I duly transacted
my businessand performed various little commissions for my mother
and Rosewith very laudable exactitudeconsidering the different
circumstances of the case. In returning homeI was troubled with
sundry misgivings about the unfortunate Lawrence. The question
What if I should find him lying still on the damp earthfairly
dying of cold and exhaustion - or already stark and chill? thrust
itself most unpleasantly upon my mindand the appalling
possibility pictured itself with painful vividness to my
imagination as I approached the spot where I had left him. But no
thank heavenboth man and horse were goneand nothing was left to
witness against me but two objects - unpleasant enough in
themselves to be sureand presenting a very uglynot to say
murderous appearance - in one placethe hat saturated with rain
and coated with mudindented and broken above the brim by that
villainous whip-handle; in anotherthe crimson handkerchief
soaking in a deeply tinctured pool of water - for much rain had
fallen in the interim.

Bad news flies fast: it was hardly four o'clock when I got home
but my mother gravely accosted me with - 'OhGilbert! - Such an
accident! Rose has been shopping in the villageand she's heard
that Mr. Lawrence has been thrown from his horse and brought home
dying!'

This shocked me a trifleas you may suppose; but I was comforted
to hear that he had frightfully fractured his skull and broken a
leg; forassured of the falsehood of thisI trusted the rest of
the story was equally exaggerated; and when I heard my mother and
sister so feelingly deploring his conditionI had considerable
difficulty in preventing myself from telling them the real extent
of the injuriesas far as I knew them.

'You must go and see him to-morrow' said my mother.

'Or to-day' suggested Rose: 'there's plenty of time; and you can
have the ponyas your horse is tired. Won't youGilbert - as
soon as you've had something to eat?'


'Nono - how can we tell that it isn't all a false report? It's
highly im-'

'OhI'm sure it isn't; for the village is all alive about it; and
I saw two people that had seen others that had seen the man that
found him. That sounds far-fetched; but it isn't so when you think
of it.'

'Wellbut Lawrence is a good rider; it is not likely he would fall
from his horse at all; and if he didit is highly improbable he
would break his bones in that way. It must be a gross exaggeration
at least.'

'No; but the horse kicked him - or something.'

'Whathis quiet little pony?'

'How do you know it was that?'

'He seldom rides any other.'

'At any rate' said my mother'you will call to-morrow. Whether
it be true or falseexaggerated or otherwisewe shall like to
know how he is.'

'Fergus may go.'

'Why not you?'

'He has more time. I am busy just now.'

'Oh! butGilberthow can you be so composed about it? You won't
mind business for an hour or two in a case of this sortwhen your
friend is at the point of death.'

'He is notI tell you.'

'For anything you knowhe may be: you can't tell till you have
seen him. At all eventshe must have met with some terrible
accidentand you ought to see him: he'll take it very unkind if
you don't.'

'Confound it! I can't. He and I have not been on good terms of
late.'

'Ohmy dear boy! Surelysurely you are not so unforgiving as to
carry your little differences to such a length as - '

'Little differencesindeed!' I muttered.

'Wellbut only remember the occasion. Think how - '

'Wellwelldon't bother me now - I'll see about it' I replied.

And my seeing about it was to send Fergus next morningwith my
mother's complimentsto make the requisite inquiries; forof
coursemy going was out of the question - or sending a message
either. He brought back intelligence that the young squire was
laid up with the complicated evils of a broken head and certain
contusions (occasioned by a fall - of which he did not trouble
himself to relate the particulars - and the subsequent misconduct
of his horse)and a severe coldthe consequence of lying on the
wet ground in the rain; but there were no broken bonesand no
immediate prospects of dissolution.


It was evidentthenthat for Mrs. Graham's sake it was not his
intention to criminate me.

CHAPTER XV

That day was rainy like its predecessor; but towards evening it
began to clear up a littleand the next morning was fair and
promising. I was out on the hill with the reapers. A light wind
swept over the cornand all nature laughed in the sunshine. The
lark was rejoicing among the silvery floating clouds. The late
rain had so sweetly freshened and cleared the airand washed the
skyand left such glittering gems on branch and bladethat not
even the farmers could have the heart to blame it. But no ray of
sunshine could reach my heartno breeze could freshen it; nothing
could fill the void my faithand hopeand joy in Helen Graham had
leftor drive away the keen regrets and bitter dregs of lingering
love that still oppressed it.

While I stood with folded arms abstractedly gazing on the
undulating swell of the cornnot yet disturbed by the reapers
something gently pulled my skirtsand a small voiceno longer
welcome to my earsaroused me with the startling words- 'Mr.
Markhammamma wants you.'

'Wants meArthur?'

'Yes. Why do you look so queer?' said hehalf laughinghalf
frightened at the unexpected aspect of my face in suddenly turning
towards him- 'and why have you kept so long away? Come! Won't
you come?'

'I'm busy just now' I repliedscarce knowing what to answer.

He looked up in childish bewilderment; but before I could speak
again the lady herself was at my side.

'GilbertI must speak with you!' said shein a tone of suppressed
vehemence.

I looked at her pale cheek and glittering eyebut answered
nothing.

'Only for a moment' pleaded she. 'Just step aside into this other
field.' She glanced at the reaperssome of whom were directing
looks of impertinent curiosity towards her. 'I won't keep you a
minute.'

I accompanied her through the gap.

'Arthurdarlingrun and gather those bluebells' said she
pointing to some that were gleaming at some distance under the
hedge along which we walked. The child hesitatedas if unwilling
to quit my side. 'Golove!' repeated she more urgentlyand in a
tone whichthough not unkinddemanded prompt obedienceand
obtained it.

'WellMrs. Graham?' said Icalmly and coldly; forthough I saw
she was miserableand pitied herI felt glad to have it in my
power to torment her.


She fixed her eyes upon me with a look that pierced me to the
heart; and yet it made me smile.

'I don't ask the reason of this changeGilbert' said shewith
bitter calmness: 'I know it too well; but though I could see
myself suspected and condemned by every one elseand bear it with
calmnessI cannot endure it from you. - Why did you not come to
hear my explanation on the day I appointed to give it?'

'Because I happenedin the interimto learn all you would have
told me - and a trifle moreI imagine.'

'Impossiblefor I would have told you all!' cried she
passionately - 'but I won't nowfor I see you are not worthy of
it!'

And her pale lips quivered with agitation.

'Why notmay I ask?'

She repelled my mocking smile with a glance of scornful
indignation.

'Because you never understood meor you would not soon have
listened to my traducers - my confidence would be misplaced in you

-you are not the man I thought you. Go! I won't care what you
think of me.'
She turned awayand I went; for I thought that would torment her
as much as anything; and I believe I was right; forlooking back a
minute afterI saw her turn half roundas if hoping or expecting
to find me still beside her; and then she stood stilland cast one
look behind. It was a look less expressive of anger than of bitter
anguish and despair; but I immediately assumed an aspect of
indifferenceand affected to be gazing carelessly around meand I
suppose she went on; for after lingering awhile to see if she would
come back or callI ventured one more glanceand saw her a good
way offmoving rapidly up the fieldwith little Arthur running by
her side and apparently talking as he went; but she kept her face
averted from himas if to hide some uncontrollable emotion. And I
returned to my business.

But I soon began to regret my precipitancy in leaving her so soon.
It was evident she loved me - probably she was tired of Mr.
Lawrenceand wished to exchange him for me; and if I had loved and
reverenced her less to begin withthe preference might have
gratified and amused me; but now the contrast between her outward
seeming and her inward mindas I supposed- between my former and
my present opinion of herwas so harrowing - so distressing to my
feelingsthat it swallowed up every lighter consideration.

But still I was curious to know what sort of an explanation she
would have given me - or would give nowif I pressed her for it how
much she would confessand how she would endeavour to excuse
herself. I longed to know what to despiseand what to admire in
her; how much to pityand how much to hate; - andwhat was more
I would know. I would see her once moreand fairly satisfy myself
in what light to regard herbefore we parted. Lost to me she was
for everof course; but still I could not bear to think that we
had partedfor the last timewith so much unkindness and misery
on both sides. That last look of hers had sunk into my heart; I
could not forget it. But what a fool I was! Had she not deceived
meinjured me - blighted my happiness for life? 'WellI'll see


herhowever' was my concluding resolve'but not to-day: to-day
and to-night she may think upon her sinsand be as miserable as
she will: to-morrow I will see her once againand know something
more about her. The interview may be serviceable to heror it may
not. At any rateit will give a breath of excitement to the life
she has doomed to stagnationand may calm with certainty some
agitating thoughts.'

I did go on the morrowbut not till towards eveningafter the
business of the day was concludedthat isbetween six and seven;
and the westering sun was gleaming redly on the old Halland
flaming in the latticed windowsas I reached itimparting to the
place a cheerfulness not its own. I need not dilate upon the
feelings with which I approached the shrine of my former divinity that
spot teeming with a thousand delightful recollections and
glorious dreams - all darkened now by one disastrous truth

Rachel admitted me into the parlourand went to call her mistress
for she was not there: but there was her desk left open on the
little round table beside the high-backed chairwith a book laid
upon it. Her limited but choice collection of books was almost as
familiar to me as my own; but this volume I had not seen before. I
took it up. It was Sir Humphry Davy's 'Last Days of a
Philosopher' and on the first leaf was written'Frederick
Lawrence.' I closed the bookbut kept it in my handand stood
facing the doorwith my back to the fire-placecalmly waiting her
arrival; for I did not doubt she would come. And soon I heard her
step in the hall. My heart was beginning to throbbut I checked
it with an internal rebukeand maintained my composure - outwardly
at least. She enteredcalmpalecollected.

'To what am I indebted for this favourMr. Markham?' said she
with such severe but quiet dignity as almost disconcerted me; but I
answered with a smileand impudently enough


'WellI am come to hear your explanation.'

'I told you I would not give it' said she. 'I said you were
unworthy of my confidence.'

'Ohvery well' replied Imoving to the door.

'Stay a moment' said she. 'This is the last time I shall see you:
don't go just yet.'

I remainedawaiting her further commands.

'Tell me' resumed she'on what grounds you believe these things
against me; who told you; and what did they say?'

I paused a moment. She met my eye as unflinchingly as if her bosom
had been steeled with conscious innocence. She was resolved to
know the worstand determined to dare it too. 'I can crush that
bold spirit' thought I. But while I secretly exulted in my power
I felt disposed to dally with my victim like a cat. Showing her
the book that I still heldin my handand pointing to the name on
the fly-leafbut fixing my eye upon her faceI asked- 'Do you
know that gentleman?'

'Of course I do' replied she; and a sudden flush suffused her
features - whether of shame or anger I could not tell: it rather
resembled the latter. 'What nextsir?'

'How long is it since you saw him?'


'Who gave you the right to catechize me on this or any other
subject?'

'Ohno one! - it's quite at your option whether to answer or not.
And nowlet me ask - have you heard what has lately befallen this
friend of yours? - becauseif you have not - '

'I will not be insultedMr. Markham!' cried shealmost infuriated
at my manner. 'So you had better leave the house at onceif you
came only for that.'

'I did not come to insult you: I came to hear your explanation.'

'And I tell you I won't give it!' retorted shepacing the room in
a state of strong excitementwith her hands clasped tightly
togetherbreathing shortand flashing fires of indignation from
her eyes. 'I will not condescend to explain myself to one that can
make a jest of such horrible suspicionsand be so easily led to
entertain them.'

'I do not make a jest of themMrs. Graham' returned Idropping
at once my tone of taunting sarcasm. 'I heartily wish I could find
them a jesting matter. And as to being easily led to suspectGod
only knows what a blindincredulous fool I have hitherto been
perseveringly shutting my eyes and stopping my ears against
everything that threatened to shake my confidence in youtill
proof itself confounded my infatuation!'

'What proofsir?'

'WellI'll tell you. You remember that evening when I was here
last?'

'I do.'

'Even then you dropped some hints that might have opened the eyes
of a wiser man; but they had no such effect upon me: I went on
trusting and believinghoping against hopeand adoring where I
could not comprehend. It so happenedhoweverthat after I left
you I turned back - drawn by pure depth of sympathy and ardour of
affection - not daring to intrude my presence openly upon youbut
unable to resist the temptation of catching one glimpse through the
windowjust to see how you were: for I had left you apparently in
great afflictionand I partly blamed my own want of forbearance
and discretion as the cause of it. If I did wronglove alone was
my incentiveand the punishment was severe enough; for it was just
as I had reached that treethat you came out into the garden with
your friend. Not choosing to show myselfunder the circumstances
I stood stillin the shadowtill you had both passed by.'

'And how much of our conversation did you hear?'

'I heard quite enoughHelen. And it was well for me that I did
hear it; for nothing less could have cured my infatuation. I
always said and thoughtthat I would never believe a word against
youunless I heard it from your own lips. All the hints and
affirmations of others I treated as malignantbaseless slanders;
your own self-accusations I believed to be overstrained; and all
that seemed unaccountable in your position I trusted that you could
account for if you chose.'

Mrs. Graham had discontinued her walk. She leant against one end
of the chimney-pieceopposite that near which I was standingwith


her chin resting on her closed handher eyes - no longer burning
with angerbut gleaming with restless excitement - sometimes
glancing at me while I spokethen coursing the opposite wallor
fixed upon the carpet.

'You should have come to me after all' said she'and heard what I
had to say in my own justification. It was ungenerous and wrong to
withdraw yourself so secretly and suddenlyimmediately after such
ardent protestations of attachmentwithout ever assigning a reason
for the change. You should have told me all-no matter how
bitterly. It would have been better than this silence.'

'To what end should I have done so? You could not have enlightened
me furtheron the subject which alone concerned me; nor could you
have made me discredit the evidence of my senses. I desired our
intimacy to be discontinued at onceas you yourself had
acknowledged would probably be the case if I knew all; but I did
not wish to upbraid you- though (as you also acknowledged) you
had deeply wronged me. Yesyou have done me an injury you can
never repair - or any other either - you have blighted the
freshness and promise of youthand made my life a wilderness! I
might live a hundred yearsbut I could never recover from the
effects of this withering blow - and never forget it! Hereafter -
You smileMrs. Graham' said Isuddenly stopping shortchecked
in my passionate declamation by unutterable feelings to behold her
actually smiling at the picture of the ruin she had wrought.

'Did I?' replied shelooking seriously up; 'I was not aware of it.
If I didit was not for pleasure at the thoughts of the harm I had
done you. Heaven knows I have had torment enough at the bare
possibility of that; it was for joy to find that you had some depth
of soul and feeling after alland to hope that I had not been
utterly mistaken in your worth. But smiles and tears are so alike
with methey are neither of them confined to any particular
feelings: I often cry when I am happyand smile when I am sad.'

She looked at me againand seemed to expect a reply; but I
continued silent.

'Would you be very glad' resumed she'to find that you were
mistaken in your conclusions?'

'How can you ask itHelen?'

'I don't say I can clear myself altogether' said shespeaking low
and fastwhile her heart beat visibly and her bosom heaved with
excitement- 'but would you be glad to discover I was better than
you think me?'

'Anything that could in the least degree tend to restore my former
opinion of youto excuse the regard I still feel for youand
alleviate the pangs of unutterable regret that accompany itwould
be only too gladlytoo eagerly received!' Her cheeks burnedand
her whole frame tremblednowwith excess of agitation. She did
not speakbut flew to her deskand snatching thence what seemed a
thick album or manuscript volumehastily tore away a few leaves
from the endand thrust the rest into my handsaying'You
needn't read it all; but take it home with you' and hurried from
the room. But when I had left the houseand was proceeding down
the walkshe opened the window and called me back. It was only to
say- 'Bring it back when you have read it; and don't breathe a
word of what it tells you to any living being. I trust to your
honour.'


Before I could answer she had closed the casement and turned away.
I saw her cast herself back in the old oak chairand cover her
face with her hands. Her feelings had been wrought to a pitch that
rendered it necessary to seek relief in tears.

Panting with eagernessand struggling to suppress my hopesI
hurried homeand rushed up-stairs to my roomhaving first
provided myself with a candlethough it was scarcely twilight yet

-thenshut and bolted the doordetermined to tolerate no
interruption; and sitting down before the tableopened out my
prize and delivered myself up to its perusal - first hastily
turning over the leaves and snatching a sentence here and there
and then setting myself steadily to read it through.
I have it now before me; and though you could notof course
peruse it with half the interest that I didI know you would not
be satisfied with an abbreviation of its contentsand you shall
have the wholesaveperhapsa few passages here and there of
merely temporary interest to the writeror such as would serve to
encumber the story rather than elucidate it. It begins somewhat
abruptlythus - but we will reserve its commencement for another
chapter.

CHAPTER XVI

June 1st1821. - We have just returned to Staningley - that iswe
returned some days agoand I am not yet settledand feel as if I
never should be. We left town sooner than was intendedin
consequence of my uncle's indisposition; - I wonder what would have
been the result if we had stayed the full time. I am quite ashamed
of my new-sprung distaste for country life. All my former
occupations seem so tedious and dullmy former amusements so
insipid and unprofitable. I cannot enjoy my musicbecause there
is no one to hear it. I cannot enjoy my walksbecause there is no
one to meet. I cannot enjoy my booksbecause they have not power
to arrest my attention: my head is so haunted with the
recollections of the last few weeksthat I cannot attend to them.
My drawing suits me bestfor I can draw and think at the same
time; and if my productions cannot now be seen by any one but
myselfand those who do not care about themtheypossiblymay
behereafter. Butthenthere is one face I am always trying to
paint or to sketchand always without success; and that vexes me.
As for the owner of that faceI cannot get him out of my mind and
indeedI never try. I wonder whether he ever thinks of me;
and I wonder whether I shall ever see him again. And then might
follow a train of other wonderments - questions for time and fate
to answer - concluding with - Supposing all the rest be answered in
the affirmativeI wonder whether I shall ever repent it? as my
aunt would tell me I shouldif she knew what I was thinking about.

How distinctly I remember our conversation that evening before our
departure for townwhen we were sitting together over the firemy
uncle having gone to bed with a slight attack of the gout.

'Helen' said sheafter a thoughtful silence'do you ever think
about marriage?'

'Yesauntoften.'

'And do you ever contemplate the possibility of being married


yourselfor engagedbefore the season is over?'

'Sometimes; but I don't think it at all likely that I ever shall.'

'Why so?'

'BecauseI imaginethere must be only a veryvery few men in the
world that I should like to marry; and of those fewit is ten to
one I may never be acquainted with one; or if I shouldit is
twenty to one he may not happen to be singleor to take a fancy to
me.'

'That is no argument at all. It may be very true - and I hope is
truethat there are very few men whom you would choose to marry
of yourself. It is notindeedto be supposed that you would wish
to marry any one till you were asked: a girl's affections should
never be won unsought. But when they are sought - when the citadel
of the heart is fairly besieged - it is apt to surrender sooner
than the owner is aware ofand often against her better judgment
and in opposition to all her preconceived ideas of what she could
have lovedunless she be extremely careful and discreet. NowI
want to warn youHelenof these thingsand to exhort you to be
watchful and circumspect from the very commencement of your career
and not to suffer your heart to be stolen from you by the first
foolish or unprincipled person that covets the possession of it. -
You knowmy dearyou are only just eighteen; there is plenty of
time before youand neither your uncle nor I are in any hurry to
get you off our handsand I may venture to saythere will be no
lack of suitors; for you can boast a good familya pretty
considerable fortune and expectationsandI may as well tell you
likewise - forif I don'tothers will - that you have a fair
share of beauty besides - and I hope you may never have cause to
regret it!'

'I hope notaunt; but why should you fear it?'

'Becausemy dearbeauty is that quality whichnext to moneyis
generally the most attractive to the worst kinds of men; and
thereforeit is likely to entail a great deal of trouble on the
possessor.'

'Have you been troubled in that wayaunt?'

'NoHelen' said shewith reproachful gravity'but I know many
that have; and somethrough carelessnesshave been the wretched
victims of deceit; and somethrough weaknesshave fallen into
snares and temptations terrible to relate.'

'WellI shall be neither careless nor weak.'

'Remember PeterHelen! Don't boastbut watch. Keep a guard over
your eyes and ears as the inlets of your heartand over your lips
as the outletlest they betray you in a moment of unwariness.
Receivecoldly and dispassionatelyevery attentiontill you have
ascertained and duly considered the worth of the aspirant; and let
your affections be consequent upon approbation alone. First study;
then approve; then love. Let your eyes be blind to all external
attractionsyour ears deaf to all the fascinations of flattery and
light discourse. - These are nothing - and worse than nothing snares
and wiles of the tempterto lure the thoughtless to their
own destruction. Principle is the first thingafter all; and next
to thatgood senserespectabilityand moderate wealth. If you
should marry the handsomestand most accomplished and
superficially agreeable man in the worldyou little know the


misery that would overwhelm you ifafter allyou should find him
to be a worthless reprobateor even an impracticable fool.'

'But what are all the poor fools and reprobates to doaunt? If
everybody followed your advicethe world would soon come to an
end.'

'Never fearmy dear! the male fools and reprobates will never want
for partnerswhile there are so many of the other sex to match
them; but do you follow my advice. And this is no subject for
jestingHelen - I am sorry to see you treat the matter in that
light way. Believe mematrimony is a serious thing.' And she
spoke it so seriouslythat one might have fancied she had known it
to her cost; but I asked no more impertinent questionsand merely
answered- 'I know it is; and I know there is truth and sense in
what you say; but you need not fear mefor I not only should think
it wrong to marry a man that was deficient in sense or in
principlebut I should never be tempted to do it; for I could not
like himif he were ever so handsomeand ever so charmingin
other respects; I should hate him - despise him - pity him anything
but love him. My affections not only ought to be founded
on approbationbut they will and must be so: forwithout
approvingI cannot love. It is needless to sayI ought to be
able to respect and honour the man I marryas well as love him
for I cannot love him without. So set your mind at rest.'

'I hope it may be so' answered she.

'I know it is so' persisted I.

'You have not been tried yetHelen - we can but hope' said she in
her coldcautious way.

'I was vexed at her incredulity; but I am not sure her doubts were
entirely without sagacity; I fear I have found it much easier to
remember her advice than to profit by it; - indeedI have
sometimes been led to question the soundness of her doctrines on
those subjects. Her counsels may be goodas far as they go - in
the main points at least; - but there are some things she has
overlooked in her calculations. I wonder if she was ever in love.

I commenced my career - or my first campaignas my uncle calls it

-kindling with bright hopes and fancies - chiefly raised by this
conversation - and full of confidence in my own discretion. At
firstI was delighted with the novelty and excitement of our
London life; but soon I began to weary of its mingled turbulence
and constraintand sigh for the freshness and freedom of home. My
new acquaintancesboth male and femaledisappointed my
expectationsand vexed and depressed me by turns; I for I soon
grew tired of studying their peculiaritiesand laughing at their
foibles - particularly as I was obliged to keep my criticisms to
myselffor my aunt would not hear them - and they - the ladies
especially - appeared so provokingly mindlessand heartlessand
artificial. The gentlemen scorned betterbutperhapsit was
because I knew them less - perhapsbecause they flattered me; but
I did not fall in love with any of them; andif their attentions
pleased me one momentthey provoked me the nextbecause they put
me out of humour with myselfby revealing my vanity and making me
fear I was becoming like some of the ladies I so heartily despised.
There was one elderly gentleman that annoyed me very much; a rich
old friend of my uncle'swhoI believethought I could not do
better than marry him; butbesides being oldhe was ugly and
disagreeable- and wickedI am surethough my aunt scolded me


for saying so; but she allowed he was no saint. And there was
anotherless hatefulbut still more tiresomebecause she
favoured himand was always thrusting him upon meand sounding
his praises in my ears - Mr. Boarham by nameBore'emas I prefer
spelling itfor a terrible bore he was: I shudder still at the
remembrance of his voice - dronedronedronein my ear - while
he sat beside meprosing away by the half-hour togetherand
beguiling himself with the notion that he was improving my mind by
useful informationor impressing his dogmas upon me and reforming
my errors of judgmentor perhaps that he was talking down to my
leveland amusing me with entertaining discourse. Yet he was a
decent man enough in the mainI daresay; and if he had kept his
distanceI never would have hated him. As it wasit was almost
impossible to help itfor he not only bothered me with the
infliction of his own presencebut he kept me from the enjoyment
of more agreeable society.

One nighthoweverat a ballhe had been more than usually
tormentingand my patience was quite exhausted. It appeared as if
the whole evening was fated to be insupportable: I had just had
one dance with an empty-headed coxcomband then Mr. Boarham had
come upon me and seemed determined to cling to me for the rest of
the night. He never danced himselfand there he satpoking his
head in my faceand impressing all beholders with the idea that he
was a confirmedacknowledged lover; my aunt looking complacently
on all the timeand wishing him God-speed. In vain I attempted to
drive him away by giving a loose to my exasperated feelingseven
to positive rudeness: nothing could convince him that his presence
was disagreeable. Sullen silence was taken for rapt attentionand
gave him greater room to talk; sharp answers were received as smart
sallies of girlish vivacitythat only required an indulgent
rebuke; and flat contradictions were but as oil to the flames
calling forth new strains of argument to support his dogmasand
bringing down upon me endless floods of reasoning to overwhelm me
with conviction.

But there was one present who seemed to have a better appreciation
of my frame of mind. A gentleman stood bywho had been watching
our conference for some timeevidently much amused at my
companion's remorseless pertinacity and my manifest annoyanceand
laughing to himself at the asperity and uncompromising spirit of my
replies. At lengthhoweverhe withdrewand went to the lady of
the houseapparently for the purpose of asking an introduction to
meforshortly afterthey both came upand she introduced him
as Mr. Huntingdonthe son of a late friend of my uncle's. He
asked me to dance. I gladly consentedof course; and he was my
companion during the remainder of my staywhich was not longfor
my auntas usualinsisted upon an early departure.

I was sorry to gofor I had found my new acquaintance a very
lively and entertaining companion. There was a certain graceful
ease and freedom about all he said and didthat gave a sense of
repose and expansion to the mindafter so much constraint and
formality as I had been doomed to suffer. There might beit is
truea little too much careless boldness in his manner and
addressbut I was in so good a humourand so grateful for my late
deliverance from Mr. Boarhamthat it did not anger me.

'WellHelenhow do you like Mr. Boarham now?' said my auntas we
took our seats in the carriage and drove away.

'Worse than ever' I replied.

She looked displeasedbut said no more on that subject.


'Who was the gentleman you danced with last' resumed sheafter a
pause - 'that was so officious in helping you on with your shawl?'

'He was not officious at allaunt: he never attempted to help me
till he saw Mr. Boarham coming to do so; and then he stepped
laughingly forward and saidCome, I'll preserve you from that
infliction.'

'Who was itI ask?' said shewith frigid gravity.

'It was Mr. Huntingdonthe son of uncle's old friend.'

'I have heard your uncle speak of young Mr. Huntingdon. I've heard
him sayHe's a fine lad, that young Huntingdon, but a bit
wildish, I fancy.So I'd have you beware.'

'What does "a bit wildish" mean?' I inquired.

'It means destitute of principleand prone to every vice that is
common to youth.'

'But I've heard uncle say he was a sad wild fellow himselfwhen he
was young.'

She sternly shook her head.

'He was jesting thenI suppose' said I'and here he was speaking
at random - at leastI cannot believe there is any harm in those
laughing blue eyes.'

'False reasoningHelen!' said shewith a sigh.

'Wellwe ought to be charitableyou knowaunt - besidesI don't
think it is false: I am an excellent physiognomistand I always
judge of people's characters by their looks - not by whether they
are handsome or uglybut by the general cast of the countenance.
For instanceI should know by your countenance that you were not
of a cheerfulsanguine disposition; and I should know by Mr.
Wilmot'sthat he was a worthless old reprobate; and by Mr.
Boarham'sthat he was not an agreeable companion; and by Mr.
Huntingdon'sthat he was neither a fool nor a knavethough
possiblyneither a sage nor a saint - but that is no matter to me
as I am not likely to meet him again - unless as an occasional
partner in the ball-room.'

It was not sohoweverfor I met him again next morning. He came
to call upon my uncleapologising for not having done so before
by saying he was only lately returned from the Continentand had
not heardtill the previous nightof my uncle's arrival in town;
and after that I often met him; sometimes in publicsometimes at
home; for he was very assiduous in paying his respects to his old
friendwho did nothoweverconsider himself greatly obliged by
the attention.

'I wonder what the deuce the lad means by coming so often' he
would say- 'can you tellHelen? - Hey? He wants none o' my
companynor I his - that's certain.'

'I wish you'd tell him sothen' said my aunt.

'Whywhat for? If I don't want himsomebody doesmayhap'
(winking at me). 'Besideshe's a pretty tidy fortunePeggyyou
know - not such a catch as Wilmot; but then Helen won't hear of


that match: forsomehowthese old chaps don't go down with the
girls - with all their moneyand their experience to boot. I'll
bet anything she'd rather have this young fellow without a penny
than Wilmot with his house full of gold. Wouldn't youNell?'

'Yesuncle; but that's not saying much for Mr. Huntingdon; for I'd
rather be an old maid and a pauper than Mrs. Wilmot.'

'And Mrs. Huntingdon? What would you rather be than Mrs.
Huntingdon - eh?'

'I'll tell you when I've considered the matter.'

'Ah! it needs considerationthen? But comenow - would you
rather be an old maid - let alone the pauper?'

'I can't tell till I'm asked.'

And I left the room immediatelyto escape further examination.
But five minutes afterin looking from my windowI beheld Mr.
Boarham coming up to the door. I waited nearly half-an-hour in
uncomfortable suspenseexpecting every minute to be calledand
vainly longing to hear him go. Then footsteps were heard on the
stairsand my aunt entered the room with a solemn countenanceand
closed the door behind her.

'Here is Mr. BoarhamHelen' said she. 'He wishes to see you.'

'Ohaunt! - Can't you tell him I'm indisposed? - I'm sure I am to
see him.'

'Nonsensemy dear! this is no trifling matter. He is come on a
very important errand - to ask your hand in marriage of your uncle
and me.'

'I hope my uncle and you told him it was not in your power to give
it. What right had he to ask any one before me?'

'Helen!'

'What did my uncle say?'

'He said he would not interfere in the matter; if you liked to
accept Mr. Boarham's obliging offeryou - '

'Did he say obliging offer?'

'No; he said if you liked to take him you might; and if notyou
might please yourself.'

'He said right; and what did you say?'

'It is no matter what I said. What will you say? - that is the
question. He is now waiting to ask you himself; but consider well
before you go; and if you intend to refuse himgive me your
reasons.'

'I shall refuse himof course; but you must tell me howfor I
want to be civil and yet decided - and when I've got rid of him
I'll give you my reasons afterwards.'

'But stayHelen; sit down a little and compose yourself. Mr.
Boarham is in no particular hurryfor he has little doubt of your
acceptance; and I want to speak with you. Tell memy dearwhat


are your objections to him? Do you deny that he is an upright
honourable man?'

'No.'

'Do you deny that he is sensiblesoberrespectable?'

'No; he may be all thisbut - '

'ButHelen! How many such men do you expect to meet with in the
world? Uprighthonourablesensiblesoberrespectable! Is this
such an every-day character that you should reject the possessor of
such noble qualities without a moment's hesitation? Yesnoble I
may call them; for think of the full meaning of eachand how many
inestimable virtues they include (and I might add many more to the
list)and consider that all this is laid at your feet. It is in
your power to secure this inestimable blessing for life - a worthy
and excellent husbandwho loves you tenderlybut not too fondly
so as to blind him to your faultsand will be your guide
throughout life's pilgrimageand your partner in eternal bliss.
Think how - '

'But I hate himaunt' said Iinterrupting this unusual flow of
eloquence.

'Hate himHelen! Is this a Christian spirit? - you hate him? and
he so good a man!'

'I don't hate him as a manbut as a husband. As a manI love him
so much that I wish him a better wife than I - one as good as
himselfor better - if you think that possible - provided she
could like him; but I never couldand therefore - '

'But why not? What objection do you find?'

'Firstlyhe is at least forty years old - considerably moreI
should think - and I am but eighteen; secondlyhe is narrow-minded
and bigoted in the extreme; thirdlyhis tastes and feelings are
wholly dissimilar to mine; fourthlyhis looksvoiceand manner
are particularly displeasing to me; andfinallyI have an
aversion to his whole person that I never can surmount.'

'Then you ought to surmount it. And please to compare him for a
moment with Mr. Huntingdonandgood looks apart (which contribute
nothing to the merit of the manor to the happiness of married
lifeand which you have so often professed to hold in light
esteem)tell me which is the better man.'

'I have no doubt Mr. Huntingdon is a much better man than you think
him; but we are not talking about him nowbut about Mr. Boarham;
and as I would rather growliveand die in single blessedness than
be his wifeit is but right that I should tell him so at
onceand put him out of suspense - so let me go.'

'But don't give him a flat denial; he has no idea of such a thing
and it would offend him greatly: say you have no thoughts of
matrimony at present - '

'But I have thoughts of it.'

'Or that you desire a further acquaintance.'

'But I don't desire a further acquaintance - quite the contrary.'


And without waiting for further admonitions I left the room and
went to seek Mr. Boarham. He was walking up and down the drawingroom
humming snatches of tunes and nibbling the end of his cane.

'My dear young lady' said hebowing and smirking with great
complacency'I have your kind guardian's permission - '

'I knowsir' said Iwishing to shorten the scene as much as
possible'and I am greatly obliged for your preferencebut must
beg to decline the honour you wish to conferfor I think we were
not made for each otheras you yourself would shortly discover if
the experiment were tried.'

My aunt was right. It was quite evident he had had little doubt of
my acceptanceand no idea of a positive denial. He was amazed
astounded at such an answerbut too incredulous to be much
offended; and after a little humming and hawinghe returned to the
attack.

'I knowmy dearthat there exists a considerable disparity
between us in yearsin temperamentand perhaps some other things;
but let me assure youI shall not be severe to mark the faults and
foibles of a young and ardent nature such as yoursand while I
acknowledge them to myselfand even rebuke them with all a
father's carebelieve meno youthful lover could be more tenderly
indulgent towards the object of his affections than I to you; and
on the other handlet me hope that my more experienced years and
graver habits of reflection will be no disparagement in your eyes
as I shall endeavour to make them all conducive to your happiness.
Comenow! What do you say? Let us have no young lady's
affectations and capricesbut speak out at once.'

'I willbut only to repeat what I said beforethat I am certain
we were not made for each other.'

'You really think so?'

'I do.'

'But you don't know me - you wish for a further acquaintance - a
longer time to - '

'NoI don't. I know you as well as I ever shalland better than
you know meor you would never dream of uniting yourself to one so
incongruous - so utterly unsuitable to you in every way.'

'Butmy dear young ladyI don't look for perfection; I can excuse

-'
'Thank youMr. Boarhambut I won't trespass upon your goodness.
You may save your indulgence and consideration for some more worthy
objectthat won't tax them so heavily.'

'But let me beg you to consult your aunt; that excellent ladyI am
surewill - '

'I have consulted her; and I know her wishes coincide with yours;
but in such important mattersI take the liberty of judging for
myself; and no persuasion can alter my inclinationsor induce me
to believe that such a step would be conducive to my happiness or
yours - and I wonder that a man of your experience and discretion
should think of choosing such a wife.'

'Ahwell!' said he'I have sometimes wondered at that myself.


have sometimes said to myselfNow Boarham, what is this you're
after? Take care, man - look before you leap! This is a sweet,
bewitching creature, but remember, the brightest attractions to the
lover too often prove the husband's greatest torments!I assure
you my choice has not been made without much reasoning and
reflection. The seeming imprudence of the match has cost me many
an anxious thought by dayand many a sleepless hour by night; but
at length I satisfied myself that it was notin very deed
imprudent. I saw my sweet girl was not without her faultsbut of
these her youthI trustedwas not onebut rather an earnest of
virtues yet unblown - a strong ground of presumption that her
little defects of temper and errors of judgmentopinionor manner
were not irremediablebut might easily be removed or mitigated by
the patient efforts of a watchful and judicious adviserand where
I failed to enlighten and controlI thought I might safely
undertake to pardonfor the sake of her many excellences.
Thereforemy dearest girlsince I am satisfiedwhy should you
object - on my accountat least?'

'But to tell you the truthMr. Boarhamit is on my own account I
principally object; so let us - drop the subject' I would have
said'for it is worse than useless to pursue it any further' but
he pertinaciously interrupted me with- 'But why so? I would love
youcherish youprotect you' &c.&c.

I shall not trouble myself to put down all that passed between us.
Suffice it to saythat I found him very troublesomeand very hard
to convince that I really meant what I saidand really was so
obstinate and blind to my own intereststhat there was no shadow
of a chance that either he or my aunt would ever be able to
overcome my objections. IndeedI am not sure that I succeeded
after all; though wearied with his so pertinaciously returning to
the same point and repeating the same arguments over and over
againforcing me to reiterate the same repliesI at length turned
short and sharp upon himand my last words were- 'I tell you
plainlythat it cannot be. No consideration can induce me to
marry against my inclinations. I respect you - at leastI would
respect youif you would behave like a sensible man - but I cannot
love youand never could - and the more you talk the further you
repel me; so pray don't say any more about it.'

Whereupon he wished me a good-morningand withdrewdisconcerted
and offendedno doubt; but surely it was not my fault.

CHAPTER XVII

The next day I accompanied my uncle and aunt to a dinner-party at
Mr. Wilmot's. He had two ladies staying with him: his niece
Annabellaa fine dashing girlor rather young woman- of some
five-and-twentytoo great a flirt to be marriedaccording to her
own assertionbut greatly admired by the gentlemenwho
universally pronounced her a splendid woman; and her gentle cousin
Milicent Hargravewho had taken a violent fancy to memistaking
me for something vastly better than I was. And Iin returnwas
very fond of her. I should entirely exclude poor Milicent in my
general animadversions against the ladies of my acquaintance. But
it was not on her accountor her cousin'sthat I have mentioned
the party: it was for the sake of another of Mr. Wilmot's guests
to wit Mr. Huntingdon. I have good reason to remember his presence
therefor this was the last time I saw him.


He did not sit near me at dinner; for it was his fate to hand in a
capacious old dowagerand mine to be handed in by Mr. Grimsbya
friend of hisbut a man I very greatly disliked: there was a
sinister cast in his countenanceand a mixture of lurking ferocity
and fulsome insincerity in his demeanourthat I could not away
with. What a tiresome custom that isby-the-by - one among the
many sources of factitious annoyance of this ultra-civilised life.
If the gentlemen must lead the ladies into the dining-roomwhy
cannot they take those they like best?

I am not surehoweverthat Mr. Huntingdon would have taken meif
he had been at liberty to make his own selection. It is quite
possible he might have chosen Miss Wilmot; for she seemed bent upon
engrossing his attention to herselfand he seemed nothing loth to
pay the homage she demanded. I thought soat leastwhen I saw
how they talked and laughedand glanced across the tableto the
neglect and evident umbrage of their respective neighbours - and
afterwardsas the gentlemen joined us in the drawing-roomwhen
sheimmediately upon his entranceloudly called upon him to be
the arbiter of a dispute between herself and another ladyand he
answered the summons with alacrityand decided the question
without a moment's hesitation in her favour - thoughto my
thinkingshe was obviously in the wrong - and then stood chatting
familiarly with her and a group of other ladies; while I sat with
Milicent Hargrave at the opposite end of the roomlooking over the
latter's drawingsand aiding her with my critical observations and
adviceat her particular desire. But in spite of my efforts to
remain composedmy attention wandered from the drawings to the
merry groupand against my better judgment my wrath roseand
doubtless my countenance lowered; for Milicentobserving that I
must be tired of her daubs and scratchesbegged I would join the
company nowand defer the examination of the remainder to another
opportunity. But while I was assuring her that I had no wish to
join themand was not tiredMr. Huntingdon himself came up to the
little round table at which we sat.

'Are these yours?' said hecarelessly taking up one of the
drawings.

'Nothey are Miss Hargrave's.'

'Oh! welllet's have a look at them.'

Andregardless of Miss Hargrave's protestations that they were not
worth looking athe drew a chair to my sideand receiving the
drawingsone by one from my handsuccessively scanned them over
and threw them on the tablebut said not a word about themthough
he was talking all the time. I don't know what Milicent Hargrave
thought of such conductbut I found his conversation extremely
interesting; thoughas I afterwards discoveredwhen I came to
analyse itit was chiefly confined to quizzing the different
members of the company present; and albeit he made some clever
remarksand some excessively droll onesI do not think the whole
would appear anything very particularif written herewithout the
adventitious aids of lookand toneand gestureand that
ineffable but indefinite charmwhich cast a halo over all he did
and saidand which would have made it a delight to look in his
faceand hear the music of his voiceif he had been talking
positive nonsense - and whichmoreovermade me feel so bitter
against my aunt when she put a stop to this enjoymentby coming
composedly forwardunder pretence of wishing to see the drawings
that she cared and knew nothing aboutand while making believe to
examine themaddressing herself to Mr. Huntingdonwith one of her


coldest and most repellent aspectsand beginning a series of the
most common-place and formidably formal questions and observations
on purpose to wrest his attention from me - on purpose to vex me
as I thought: and having now looked through the portfolioI left
them to their TETE-E-TETEand seated myself on a sofaquite apart
from the company - never thinking how strange such conduct would
appearbut merely to indulgeat firstthe vexation of the
momentand subsequently to enjoy my private thoughts.

But I was not left long alonefor Mr. Wilmotof all men the least
welcometook advantage of my isolated position to come and plant
himself beside me. I had flattered myself that I had so
effectually repulsed his advances on all former occasionsthat I
had nothing more to apprehend from his unfortunate predilection;
but it seems I was mistaken: so great was his confidenceeither
in his wealth or his remaining powers of attractionand so firm
his conviction of feminine weaknessthat he thought himself
warranted to return to the siegewhich he did with renovated
ardourenkindled by the quantity of wine he had drunk - a
circumstance that rendered him infinitely the more disgusting; but
greatly as I abhorred him at that momentI did not like to treat
him with rudenessas I was now his guestand had just been
enjoying his hospitality; and I was no hand at a polite but
determined rejectionnor would it have greatly availed me if I
hadfor he was too coarse-minded to take any repulse that was not
as plain and positive as his own effrontery. The consequence was
that he waxed more fulsomely tenderand more repulsively warmand
I was driven to the very verge of desperationand about to say I
know not whatwhen I felt my handthat hung over the arm of the
sofasuddenly taken by another and gently but fervently pressed.
InstinctivelyI guessed who it wasandon looking upwas less
surprised than delighted to see Mr. Huntingdon smiling upon me. It
was like turning from some purgatorial fiend to an angel of light
come to announce that the season of torment was past.

'Helen' said he (he frequently called me Helenand I never
resented the freedom)'I want you to look at this picture. Mr.
Wilmot will excuse you a momentI'm sure.'

I rose with alacrity. He drew my arm within hisand led me across
the room to a splendid painting of Vandyke's that I had noticed
beforebut not sufficiently examined. After a moment of silent
contemplationI was beginning to comment on its beauties and
peculiaritieswhenplayfully pressing the hand he still retained
within his armhe interrupted me with- 'Never mind the picture:
it was not for that I brought you here; it was to get you away from
that scoundrelly old profligate yonderwho is looking as if he
would like to challenge me for the affront.'

'I am very much obliged to you' said I. 'This is twice you have
delivered me from such unpleasant companionship.'

'Don't be too thankful' he answered: 'it is not all kindness to
you; it is partly from a feeling of spite to your tormentors that
makes me delighted to do the old fellows a bad turnthough I don't
think I have any great reason to dread them as rivals. Have I
Helen?'

'You know I detest them both.'

'And me?'

'I have no reason to detest you.'


'But what are your sentiments towards me? Helen - Speak! How do
you regard me?'

And again he pressed my hand; but I feared there was more of
conscious power than tenderness in his demeanourand I felt he had
no right to extort a confession of attachment from me when he had
made no correspondent avowal himselfand knew not what to answer.
At last I said- 'How do you regard me?'

'Sweet angelI adore you! I - '

'HelenI want you a moment' said the distinctlow voice of my
auntclose beside us. And I left himmuttering maledictions
against his evil angel.

'Wellauntwhat is it? What do you want?' said Ifollowing her
to the embrasure of the window.

'I want you to join the companywhen you are fit to be seen'
returned sheseverely regarding me; 'but please to stay here a
littletill that shocking colour is somewhat abatedand your eyes
have recovered something of their natural expression. I should be
ashamed for anyone to see you in your present state.'

Of coursesuch a remark had no effect in reducing the 'shocking
colour'; on the contraryI felt my face glow with redoubled fires
kindled by a complication of emotionsof which indignantswelling
anger was the chief. I offered no replyhoweverbut pushed aside
the curtain and looked into the night - or rather into the lamp-lit
square.

'Was Mr. Huntingdon proposing to youHelen?' inquired my too
watchful relative.

'No.'

'What was he saying then? I heard something very like it.'

'I don't know what he would have saidif you hadn't interrupted
him.'

'And would you have accepted himHelenif he had proposed?'

'Of course not - without consulting uncle and you.'

'Oh! I'm gladmy dearyou have so much prudence left. Well
now' she addedafter a moment's pause'you have made yourself
conspicuous enough for one evening. The ladies are directing
inquiring glances towards us at this momentI see: I shall join
them. Do you come toowhen you are sufficiently composed to
appear as usual.'

'I am so now.'

'Speak gently thenand don't look so malicious' said my calmbut
provoking aunt. 'We shall return home shortlyand then' she
added with solemn significance'I have much to say to you.'

So I went home prepared for a formidable lecture. Little was said
by either party in the carriage during our short transit homewards;
but when I had entered my room and thrown myself into an easychair
to reflect on the events of the daymy aunt followed me
thitherand having dismissed Rachelwho was carefully stowing
away my ornamentsclosed the door; and placing a chair beside me


or rather at right angles with minesat down. With due deference
I offered her my more commodious seat. She declined itand thus
opened the conference: 'Do you rememberHelenour conversation
the night but one before we left Staningley?'

'Yesaunt.'

'And do you remember how I warned you against letting your heart be
stolen from you by those unworthy of its possessionand fixing
your affections where approbation did not go beforeand where
reason and judgment withheld their sanction?'

'Yes; but my reason - '

'Pardon me - and do you remember assuring me that there was no
occasion for uneasiness on your account; for you should never be
tempted to marry a man who was deficient in sense or principle
however handsome or charming in other respects he might befor you
could not love him; you should hate - despise - pity - anything but
love him - were not those your words?'

'Yes; but - '

'And did you not say that your affection must be founded on
approbation; and thatunless you could approve and honour and
respectyou could not love?'

'Yes; but I do approveand honourand respect - '

'How somy dear? Is Mr. Huntingdon a good man?'

'He is a much better man than you think him.'

'That is nothing to the purpose. Is he a good man?'

'Yes - in some respects. He has a good disposition.'

'Is he a man of principle?'

'Perhaps notexactly; but it is only for want of thought. If he
had some one to advise himand remind him of what is right - '

'He would soon learnyou think - and you yourself would willingly
undertake to be his teacher? Butmy dearhe isI believefull
ten years older than you - how is it that you are so beforehand in
moral acquirements?'

'Thanks to youauntI have been well brought upand had good
examples always before mewhich hemost likelyhas not; and
besideshe is of a sanguine temperamentand a gaythoughtless
temperand I am naturally inclined to reflection.'

'Wellnow you have made him out to be deficient in both sense and
principleby your own confession - '

'Thenmy sense and my principle are at his service.'

'That sounds presumptuousHelen. Do you think you have enough for
both; and do you imagine your merrythoughtless profligate would
allow himself to be guided by a young girl like you?'

'No; I should not wish to guide him; but I think I might have
influence sufficient to save him from some errorsand I should
think my life well spent in the effort to preserve so noble a


nature from destruction. He always listens attentively now when I
speak seriously to him (and I often venture to reprove his random
way of talking)and sometimes he says that if he had me always by
his side he should never do or say a wicked thingand that a
little daily talk with me would make him quite a saint. It may he
partly jest and partly flatterybut still - '

'But still you think it may be truth?'

'If I do think there is any mixture of truth in itit is not from
confidence in my own powersbut in his natural goodness. And you
have no right to call him a profligateaunt; he is nothing of the
kind.'

'Who told you somy dear? What was that story about his intrigue
with a married lady - Lady who was it? - Miss Wilmot herself was
telling you the other day?'

'It was false - false!' I cried. 'I don't believe a word of it.'

'You thinkthenthat he is a virtuouswell-conducted young man?'

'I know nothing positive respecting his character. I only know
that I have heard nothing definite against it - nothing that could
be provedat least; and till people can prove their slanderous
accusationsI will not believe them. And I know thisthat if he
has committed errorsthey are only such as are common to youth
and such as nobody thinks anything about; for I see that everybody
likes himand all the mammas smile upon himand their daughters and
Miss Wilmot herself - are only too glad to attract his
attention.'

'Helenthe world may look upon such offences as venial; a few
unprincipled mothers may be anxious to catch a young man of fortune
without reference to his character; and thoughtless girls may be
glad to win the smiles of so handsome a gentlemanwithout seeking
to penetrate beyond the surface; but youI trustedwere better
informed than to see with their eyesand judge with their
perverted judgment. I did not think you would call these venial
errors!'

'Nor do Iaunt; but if I hate the sinsI love the sinnerand
would do much for his salvationeven supposing your suspicions to
be mainly truewhich I do not and will not believe.'

'Wellmy dearask your uncle what sort of company he keepsand
if he is not banded with a set of looseprofligate young menwhom
he calls his friendshis jolly companionsand whose chief delight
is to wallow in viceand vie with each other who can run fastest
and furthest down the headlong road to the place prepared for the
devil and his angels.'

'Then I will save him from them.'

'OhHelenHelen! you little know the misery of uniting your
fortunes to such a man!'

'I have such confidence in himauntnotwithstanding all you say
that I would willingly risk my happiness for the chance of securing
his. I will leave better men to those who only consider their own
advantage. If he has done amissI shall consider my life well
spent in saving him from the consequences of his early errorsand
striving to recall him to the path of virtue. God grant me
success!'


Here the conversation endedfor at this juncture my uncle's voice
was heard from his chamberloudly calling upon my aunt to come to
bed. He was in a bad humour that night; for his gout was worse.
It had been gradually increasing upon him ever since we came to
town; and my aunt took advantage of the circumstance next morning
to persuade him to return to the country immediatelywithout
waiting for the close of the season. His physician supported and
enforced her arguments; and contrary to her usual habitsshe so
hurried the preparations for removal (as much for my sake as my
uncle'sI think)that in a very few days we departed; and I saw
no more of Mr. Huntingdon. My aunt flatters herself I shall soon
forget him - perhaps she thinks I have forgotten him alreadyfor I
never mention his name; and she may continue to think sotill we
meet again - if ever that should be. I wonder if it will?

CHAPTER XVIII

August 25th. - I am now quite settled down to my usual routine of
steady occupations and quiet amusements - tolerably contented and
cheerfulbut still looking forward to spring with the hope of
returning to townnot for its gaieties and dissipationsbut for
the chance of meeting Mr. Huntingdon once again; for still he is
always in my thoughts and in my dreams. In all my employments
whatever I door seeor hearhas an ultimate reference to him;
whatever skill or knowledge I acquire is some day to be turned to
his advantage or amusement; whatever new beauties in nature or art
I discover are to be depicted to meet his eyeor stored in my
memory to be told him at some future period. Thisat leastis
the hope that I cherishthe fancy that lights me on my lonely way.
It may be only an ignis fatuusafter allbut it can do no harm to
follow it with my eyes and rejoice in its lustreas long as it
does not lure me from the path I ought to keep; and I think it will
notfor I have thought deeply on my aunt's adviceand I see
clearlynowthe folly of throwing myself away on one that is
unworthy of all the love I have to giveand incapable of
responding to the best and deepest feelings of my inmost heart - so
clearlythat even if I should see him againand if he should
remember me and love me still (whichalas! is too little probable
considering how he is situatedand by whom surrounded)and if he
should ask me to marry him - I am determined not to consent until I
know for certain whether my aunt's opinion of him or mine is
nearest the truth; for if mine is altogether wrongit is not he
that I love; it is a creature of my own imagination. But I think
it is not wrong - nono - there is a secret something - an inward
instinct that assures me I am right. There is essential goodness
in him; - and what delight to unfold it! If he has wanderedwhat
bliss to recall him! If he is now exposed to the baneful influence
of corrupting and wicked companionswhat glory to deliver him from
them! Oh! if I could but believe that Heaven has designed me for
this!

* * * * *

To-day is the first of September; but my uncle has ordered the
gamekeeper to spare the partridges till the gentlemen come. 'What
gentlemen?' I asked when I heard it. A small party he had invited
to shoot. His friend Mr. Wilmot was oneand my aunt's friendMr.
Boarhamanother. This struck me as terrible news at the moment;
but all regret and apprehension vanished like a dream when I heard


that Mr. Huntingdon was actually to be a third! My aunt is greatly
against his comingof course: she earnestly endeavoured to
dissuade my uncle from asking him; but helaughing at her
objectionstold her it was no use talkingfor the mischief was
already done: he had invited Huntingdon and his friend Lord
Lowborough before we left Londonand nothing now remained but to
fix the day for their coming. So he is safeand I am sure of
seeing him. I cannot express my joy. I find it very difficult to
conceal it from my aunt; but I don't wish to trouble her with my
feelings till I know whether I ought to indulge them or not. If I
find it my absolute duty to suppress themthey shall trouble no
one but myself; and if I can really feel myself justified in
indulging this attachmentI can dare anythingeven the anger and
grief of my best friendfor its object - surelyI shall soon
know. But they are not coming till about the middle of the month.

We are to have two lady visitors also: Mr. Wilmot is to bring his
niece and her cousin Milicent. I suppose my aunt thinks the latter
will benefit me by her societyand the salutary example of her
gentle deportment and lowly and tractable spirit; and the former I
suspect she intends as a species of counter-attraction to win Mr.
Huntingdon's attention from me. I don't thank her for this; but I
shall be glad of Milicent's company: she is a sweetgood girl
and I wish I were like her - more like herat leastthan I am.

* * * * *

19th. - They are come. They came the day before yesterday. The
gentlemen are all gone out to shootand the ladies are with my
auntat work in the drawing-room. I have retired to the library
for I am very unhappyand I want to be alone. Books cannot divert
me; so having opened my deskI will try what may be done by
detailing the cause of my uneasiness. This paper will serve
instead of a confidential friend into whose ear I might pour forth
the overflowings of my heart. It will not sympathise with my
distressesbut then it will not laugh at themandif I keep it
closeit cannot tell again; so it isperhapsthe best friend I
could have for the purpose.

Firstlet me speak of his arrival - how I sat at my windowand
watched for nearly two hoursbefore his carriage entered the parkgates
- for they all came before him- and how deeply I was
disappointed at every arrivalbecause it was not his. First came
Mr. Wilmot and the ladies. When Milicent had got into her roomI
quitted my post a few minutes to look in upon her and have a little
private conversationfor she was now my intimate friendseveral
long epistles having passed between us since our parting. On
returning to my windowI beheld another carriage at the door. Was
it his? No; it was Mr. Boarham's plain dark chariot; and there
stood he upon the stepscarefully superintending the dislodging of
his various boxes and packages. What a collection! One would have
thought he projected a visit of six months at least. A
considerable time aftercame Lord Lowborough in his barouche. Is
he one of the profligate friendsI wonder? I should think not;
for no one could call him a jolly companionI'm sure- and
besideshe appears too sober and gentlemanly in his demeanour to
merit such suspicions. He is a tallthingloomy-looking man
apparently between thirty and fortyand of a somewhat sickly
careworn aspect.

At lastMr. Huntingdon's light phaeton came bowling merrily up the
lawn. I had but a transient glimpse of him: for the moment it
stoppedhe sprang out over the side on to the portico stepsand
disappeared into the house.


I now submitted to be dressed for dinner - a duty which Rachel had
been urging upon me for the last twenty minutes; and when that
important business was completedI repaired to the drawing-room
where I found Mr. and Miss Wilmot and Milicent Hargrave already
assembled. Shortly afterLord Lowborough enteredand then Mr.
Boarhamwho seemed quite willing to forget and forgive my former
conductand to hope that a little conciliation and steady
perseverance on his part might yet succeed in bringing me to
reason. While I stood at the windowconversing with Milicenthe
came up to meand was beginning to talk in nearly his usual
strainwhen Mr. Huntingdon entered the room.

'How will he greet meI wonder?' said my bounding heart; and
instead of advancing to meet himI turned to the window to hide or
subdue my emotion. But having saluted his host and hostessand
the rest of the companyhe came to meardently squeezed my hand
and murmured he was glad to see me once again. At that moment
dinner was announced: my aunt desired him to take Miss Hargrave
into the dining-roomand odious Mr. Wilmotwith unspeakable
grimacesoffered his arm to me; and I was condemned to sit between
himself and Mr. Boarham. But afterwardswhen we were all again
assembled in the drawing-roomI was indemnified for so much
suffering by a few delightful minutes of conversation with Mr.
Huntingdon.

In the course of the eveningMiss Wilmot was called upon to sing
and play for the amusement of the companyand I to exhibit my
drawingsandthough he likes musicand she is an accomplished
musicianI think I am right in affirmingthat he paid more
attention to my drawings than to her music.

So far so good; - but hearing him pronouncesotto vocebut with
peculiar emphasisconcerning one of the pieces'This is better
than all!' - I looked upcurious to see which it wasandto my
horrorbeheld him complacently gazing at the back of the picture:it
was his own face that I had sketched there and forgotten to rub
out! To make matters worsein the agony of the momentI
attempted to snatch it from his hand; but he prevented meand
exclaiming'No - by GeorgeI'll keep it!' placed it against his
waistcoat and buttoned his coat upon it with a delighted chuckle.

Thendrawing a candle close to his elbowhe gathered all the
drawings to himselfas well what he had seen as the othersand
muttering'I must look at both sides now' he eagerly commenced an
examinationwhich I watchedat firstwith tolerable composure
in the confidence that his vanity would not be gratified by any
further discoveries; forthough I must plead guilty to having
disfigured the backs of several with abortive attempts to delineate
that too fascinating physiognomyI was sure thatwith that one
unfortunate exceptionI had carefully obliterated all such
witnesses of my infatuation. But the pencil frequently leaves an
impression upon cardboard that no amount of rubbing can efface.
Suchit seemswas the case with most of these; andI confessI
trembled when I saw him holding them so close to the candleand
poring so intently over the seeming blanks; but stillI trusted
he would not be able to make out these dim traces to his own
satisfaction. I was mistakenhowever. Having ended his scrutiny
he quietly remarked- 'I perceive the backs of young ladies'
drawingslike the postscripts of their lettersare the most
important and interesting part of the concern.'

Thenleaning back in his chairhe reflected a few minutes in
silencecomplacently smiling to himselfand while I was


concocting some cutting speech wherewith to check his
gratificationhe roseand passing over to where Annabella Wilmot
sat vehemently coquetting with Lord Lowboroughseated himself on
the sofa beside herand attached himself to her for the rest of
the evening.

'So then' thought I'he despises mebecause he knows I love
him.'

And the reflection made me so miserable I knew not what to do.
Milicent came and began to admire my drawingsand make remarks
upon them; but I could not talk to her - I could talk to no one
andupon the introduction of teaI took advantage of the open
door and the slight diversion caused by its entrance to slip out for
I was sure I could not take any - and take refuge in the
library. My aunt sent Thomas in quest of meto ask if I were not
coming to tea; but I bade him say I should not take any to-night
andhappilyshe was too much occupied with her guests to make any
further inquiries at the time.

As most of the company had travelled far that daythey retired
early to rest; and having heard them allas I thoughtgo upstairs
I ventured outto get my candlestick from the drawing-room
sideboard. But Mr. Huntingdon had lingered behind the rest. He
was just at the foot of the stairs when I opened the doorand
hearing my step in the hall - though I could hardly hear it myself

-he instantly turned back.
'Helenis that you?' said he. 'Why did you run away from us?'

'Good-nightMr. Huntingdon' said Icoldlynot choosing to
answer the question. And I turned away to enter the drawing-room.

'But you'll shake handswon't you?' said heplacing himself in
the doorway before me. And he seized my hand and held itmuch
against my will.

'Let me goMr. Huntingdon' said I. 'I want to get a candle.'

'The candle will keep' returned he.

I made a desperate effort to free my hand from his grasp.

'Why are you in such a hurry to leave meHelen?' he saidwith a
smile of the most provoking self-sufficiency. 'You don't hate me
you know.'

'YesI do - at this moment.'

'Not you. It is Annabella Wilmot you hatenot me.'

'I have nothing to do with Annabella Wilmot' said Iburning with
indignation.

'But I haveyou know' returned hewith peculiar emphasis.

'That is nothing to mesir' I retorted.

'Is it nothing to youHelen? Will you swear it? Will you?'

'No I won'tMr. Huntingdon! and I will go' cried Inot knowing
whether to laughor to cryor to break out into a tempest of
fury.


'Gothenyou vixen!' he said; but the instant he released my hand
he had the audacity to put his arm round my neckand kiss me.

Trembling with anger and agitationand I don't know what besides
I broke awayand got my candleand rushed up-stairs to my room.
He would not have done so but for that hateful picture. And there
he had it still in his possessionan eternal monument to his pride
and my humiliation.

It was but little sleep I got that nightand in the morning I rose
perplexed and troubled with the thoughts of meeting him at
breakfast. I knew not how it was to be done. An assumption of
dignifiedcold indifference would hardly doafter what he knew of
my devotion - to his faceat least. Yet something must be done to
check his presumption - I would not submit to be tyrannised over by
those brightlaughing eyes. AndaccordinglyI received his
cheerful morning salutation as calmly and coldly as my aunt could
have wishedand defeated with brief answers his one or two
attempts to draw me into conversationwhile I comported myself
with unusual cheerfulness and complaisance towards every other
member of the partyespecially Annabella Wilmotand even her
uncle and Mr. Boarham were treated with an extra amount of civility
on the occasionnot from any motives of coquetrybut just to show
him that my particular coolness and reserve arose from no general
ill-humour or depression of spirits.

He was nothoweverto be repelled by such acting as this. He did
not talk much to mebut when he did speak it was with a degree of
freedom and opennessand kindliness toothat plainly seemed to
intimate he knew his words were music to my ears; and when his
looks met mine it was with a smile - presumptuousit might be but
oh! so sweetso brightso genialthat I could not possibly
retain my anger; every vestige of displeasure soon melted away
beneath it like morning clouds before the summer sun.

Soon after breakfast all the gentlemen save onewith boyish
eagernessset out on their expedition against the hapless
partridges; my uncle and Mr. Wilmot on their shooting poniesMr.
Huntingdon and Lord Lowborough on their legs: the one exception
being Mr. Boarhamwhoin consideration of the rain that had
fallen during the nightthought it prudent to remain behind a
little and join them in a while when the sun had dried the grass.
And he favoured us all with a long and minute disquisition upon the
evils and dangers attendant upon damp feetdelivered with the most
imperturbable gravityamid the jeers and laughter of Mr.
Huntingdon and my unclewholeaving the prudent sportsman to
entertain the ladies with his medical discussionssallied forth
with their gunsbending their steps to the stables firstto have
a look at the horses and let out the dogs.

Not desirous of sharing Mr. Boarham's company for the whole of the
morningI betook myself to the libraryand there brought forth my
easel and began to paint. The easel and the painting apparatus
would serve as an excuse for abandoning the drawing-room if my aunt
should come to complain of the desertionand besides I wanted to
finish the picture. It was one I had taken great pains withand I
intended it to be my masterpiecethough it was somewhat
presumptuous in the design. By the bright azure of the skyand by
the warm and brilliant lights and deep long shadowsI had
endeavoured to convey the idea of a sunny morning. I had ventured
to give more of the bright verdure of spring or early summer to the
grass and foliage than is commonly attempted in painting. The
scene represented was an open glade in a wood. A group of dark
Scotch firs was introduced in the middle distance to relieve the


prevailing freshness of the rest; but in the foreground was part of
the gnarled trunk and of the spreading boughs of a large foresttree
whose foliage was of a brilliant golden green - not golden
from autumnal mellownessbut from the sunshine and the very
immaturity of the scarce expanded leaves. Upon this boughthat
stood out in bold relief against the sombre firswere seated an
amorous pair of turtle doveswhose soft sad-coloured plumage
afforded a contrast of another nature; and beneath it a young girl
was kneeling on the daisy-spangled turfwith head thrown back and
masses of fair hair falling on her shouldersher hands clasped
lips partedand eyes intently gazing upward in pleased yet earnest
contemplation of those feathered lovers - too deeply absorbed in
each other to notice her.

I had scarcely settled to my workwhichhoweverwanted but a few
touches to the finishingwhen the sportsmen passed the window on
their return from the stables. It was partly openand Mr.
Huntingdon must have seen me as he went byfor in half a minute he
came backand setting his gun against the wallthrew up the sash
and sprang inand set himself before my picture.

'Very prettyi'faith' said heafter attentively regarding it for
a few seconds; 'and a very fitting study for a young lady. Spring
just opening into summer - morning just approaching noon - girlhood
just ripening into womanhoodand hope just verging on fruition.
She's a sweet creature! but why didn't you make her black hair?'

'I thought light hair would suit her better. You see I have made
her blue-eyed and plumpand fair and rosy.'

'Upon my word - a very Hebe! I should fall in love with her if I
hadn't the artist before me. Sweet innocent! she's thinking there
will come a time when she will be wooed and won like that pretty
hen-dove by as fond and fervent a lover; and she's thinking how
pleasant it will beand how tender and faithful he will find her.'

'And perhaps' suggested I'how tender and faithful she shall find
him.'

'Perhapsfor there is no limit to the wild extravagance of Hope's
imaginings at such an age.'

'Do you call thatthenone of her wildextravagant delusions?'

'No; my heart tells me it is not. I might have thought so once
but nowI saygive me the girl I loveand I will swear eternal
constancy to her and her alonethrough summer and winterthrough
youth and ageand life and death! if age and death must come.'

He spoke this in such serious earnest that my heart bounded with
delight; but the minute after he changed his toneand askedwith
a significant smileif I had 'any more portraits.'

'No' replied Ireddening with confusion and wrath.

But my portfolio was on the table: he took it upand coolly sat
down to examine its contents.

'Mr. Huntingdonthose are my unfinished sketches' cried I'and I
never let any one see them.'

And I placed my hand on the portfolio to wrest it from himbut he
maintained his holdassuring me that he 'liked unfinished sketches
of all things.'


'But I hate them to be seen' returned I. 'I can't let you have
itindeed!'

'Let me have its bowels then' said he; and just as I wrenched the
portfolio from his handhe deftly abstracted the greater part of
its contentsand after turning them over a moment he cried out'
Bless my starshere's another;' and slipped a small oval of ivory
paper into his waistcoat pocket - a complete miniature portrait
that I had sketched with such tolerable success as to be induced to
colour it with great pains and care. But I was determined he
should not keep it.

'Mr. Huntingdon' cried I'I insist upon having that back! It is
mineand you have no right to take it. Give it me directly - I'll
never forgive you if you don't!'

But the more vehemently I insistedthe more he aggravated my
distress by his insultinggleeful laugh. At lengthhoweverhe
restored it to mesaying- 'Wellwellsince you value it so
muchI'll not deprive you of it.'

To show him how I valued itI tore it in two and threw it into the
fire. He was not prepared for this. His merriment suddenly
ceasinghe stared in mute amazement at the consuming treasure; and
thenwith a careless 'Humph! I'll go and shoot now' he turned on
his heel and vacated the apartment by the window as he cameand
setting on his hat with an airtook up his gun and walked away
whistling as he went - and leaving me not too much agitated to
finish my picturefor I was gladat the momentthat I had vexed
him.

When I returned to the drawing-roomI found Mr. Boarham had
ventured to follow his comrades to the field; and shortly after
lunchto which they did not think of returningI volunteered to
accompany the ladies in a walkand show Annabella and Milicent the
beauties of the country. We took a long rambleand re-entered the
park just as the sportsmen were returning from their expedition.
Toil-spent and travel-stainedthe main body of them crossed over
the grass to avoid usbut Mr. Huntingdonall spattered and
splashed as he wasand stained with the blood of his prey - to the
no small offence of my aunt's strict sense of propriety - came out
of his way to meet uswith cheerful smiles and words for all but
meand placing himself between Annabella Wilmot and myselfwalked
up the road and began to relate the various exploits and disasters
of the dayin a manner that would have convulsed me with laughter
if I had been on good terms with him; but he addressed himself
entirely to Annabellaand Iof courseleft all the laughter and
all the badinage to herand affecting the utmost indifference to
whatever passed between themwalked along a few paces apartand
looking every way but theirswhile my aunt and Milicent went
beforelinked arm in arm and gravely discoursing together. At
length Mr. Huntingdon turned to meand addressing me in a
confidential whispersaid- 'Helenwhy did you burn my picture?'

'Because I wished to destroy it' I answeredwith an asperity it
is useless now to lament.

'Ohvery good!' was the reply; 'if you don't value meI must turn
to somebody that will.'

I thought it was partly in jest - a half-playful mixture of mock
resignation and pretended indifference: but immediately he resumed
his place beside Miss Wilmotand from that hour to this - during


all that eveningand all the next dayand the nextand the next
and all this morning (the 22nd)he has never given me one kind
word or one pleasant look - never spoken to mebut from pure
necessity - never glanced towards me but with a coldunfriendly
look I thought him quite incapable of assuming.

My aunt observes the changeand though she has not inquired the
cause or made any remark to me on the subjectI see it gives her
pleasure. Miss Wilmot observes ittooand triumphantly ascribes
it to her own superior charms and blandishments; but I am truly
miserable - more so than I like to acknowledge to myself. Pride
refuses to aid me. It has brought me into the scrapeand will not
help me out of it.

He meant no harm - it was only his joyousplayful spirit; and I
by my acrimonious resentment - so seriousso disproportioned to
the offence - have so wounded his feelingsso deeply offended him
that I fear he will never forgive me - and all for a mere jest! He
thinks I dislike himand he must continue to think so. I must
lose him for everand Annabella may win himand triumph as she
will.

But it is not my loss nor her triumph that I deplore so greatly as
the wreck of my fond hopes for his advantageand her unworthiness
of his affectionand the injury he will do himself by trusting his
happiness to her. She does not love him: she thinks only of
herself. She cannot appreciate the good that is in him: she will
neither see itnor value itnor cherish it. She will neither
deplore his faults nor attempt their amendmentbut rather
aggravate them by her own. And I doubt whether she will not
deceive him after all. I see she is playing double between him and
Lord Lowboroughand while she amuses herself with the lively
Huntingdonshe tries her utmost to enslave his moody friend; and
should she succeed in bringing both to her feetthe fascinating
commoner will have but little chance against the lordly peer. If
he observes her artful by-playit gives him no uneasinessbut
rather adds new zest to his diversion by opposing a stimulating
check to his otherwise too easy conquest.

Messrs. Wilmot and Boarham have severally taken occasion by his
neglect of me to renew their advances; and if I were like Annabella
and some others I should take advantage of their perseverance to
endeavour to pique him into a revival of affection; butjustice
and honesty apartI could not bear to do it. I am annoyed enough
by their present persecutions without encouraging them further; and
even if I did it would have precious little effect upon him. He
sees me suffering under the condescending attentions and prosaic
discourses of the oneand the repulsive obtrusions of the other
without so much as a shadow of commiseration for meor resentment
against my tormentors. He never could have loved meor he would
not have resigned me so willinglyand he would not go on talking
to everybody else so cheerfully as he does - laughing and jesting
with Lord Lowborough and my uncleteasing Milicent Hargraveand
flirting with Annabella Wilmot - as if nothing were on his mind.
Oh! why can't I hate him? I must be infatuatedor I should scorn
to regret him as I do. But I must rally all the powers I have
remainingand try to tear him from my heart. There goes the
dinner-belland here comes my aunt to scold me for sitting here at
my desk all dayinstead of staying with the company: wish the
company were - gone.

CHAPTER XIX


Twenty Second: Night. - What have I done? and what will be the end
of it? I cannot calmly reflect upon it; I cannot sleep. I must
have recourse to my diary again; I will commit it to paper to-
nightand see what I shall think of it to-morrow.

I went down to dinner resolving to be cheerful and well-conducted
and kept my resolution very creditablyconsidering how my head
ached and how internally wretched I felt. I don't know what is
come over me of late; my very energiesboth mental and physical
must be strangely impairedor I should not have acted so weakly in
many respects as I have done; but I have not been well this last
day or two. I suppose it is with sleeping and eating so little
and thinking so muchand being so continually out of humour. But
to return. I was exerting myself to sing and play for the
amusementand at the requestof my aunt and Milicentbefore the
gentlemen came into the drawing-room (Miss Wilmot never likes to
waste her musical efforts on ladies' ears alone). Milicent had
asked for a little Scotch songand I was just in the middle of it
when they entered. The first thing Mr. Huntingdon did was to walk
up to Annabella.

'NowMiss Wilmotwon't you give us some music to-night?' said he.
'Do now! I know you willwhen I tell you that I have been
hungering and thirsting all day for the sound of your voice. Come!
the piano's vacant.'

It wasfor I had quitted it immediately upon hearing his petition.
Had I been endowed with a proper degree of self-possessionI
should have turned to the lady myselfand cheerfully joined my
entreaties to hiswhereby I should have disappointed his
expectationsif the affront had been purposely givenor made him
sensible of the wrongif it had only arisen from thoughtlessness;
but I felt it too deeply to do anything but rise from the musicstool
and throw myself back on the sofasuppressing with
difficulty the audible expression of the bitterness I felt within.
I knew Annabella's musical talents were superior to minebut that
was no reason why I should be treated as a perfect nonentity. The
time and the manner of his asking her appeared like a gratuitous
insult to me; and I could have wept with pure vexation.

Meantimeshe exultingly seated herself at the pianoand favoured
him with two of his favourite songsin such superior style that
even I soon lost my anger in admirationand listened with a sort
of gloomy pleasure to the skilful modulations of her full-toned and
powerful voiceso judiciously aided by her rounded and spirited
touch; and while my ears drank in the soundmy eyes rested on the
face of her principal auditorand derived an equal or superior
delight from the contemplation of his speaking countenanceas he
stood beside her - that eye and brow lighted up with keen
enthusiasmand that sweet smile passing and appearing like gleams
of sunshine on an April day. No wonder he should hunger and thirst
to hear her sing. I now forgave him from my heart his reckless
slight of meand I felt ashamed at my pettish resentment of such a
trifle - ashamed too of those bitter envious pangs that gnawed my
inmost heartin spite of all this admiration and delight.

'There now' said sheplayfully running her fingers over the keys
when she had concluded the second song. 'What shall I give you
next?'

But in saying this she looked back at Lord Lowboroughwho was


standing a little behindleaning against the back of a chairan
attentive listenertooexperiencingto judge by his countenance
much the same feelings of mingled pleasure and sadness as I did.
But the look she gave him plainly said'Do you choose for me now:
I have done enough for himand will gladly exert myself to gratify
you;' and thus encouragedhis lordship came forwardand turning
over the musicpresently set before her a little song that I had
noticed beforeand read more than oncewith an interest arising
from the circumstance of my connecting it in my mind with the
reigning tyrant of my thoughts. And nowwith my nerves already
excited and half unstrungI could not hear those words so sweetly
warbled forth without some symptoms of emotion I was not able to
suppress. Tears rose unbidden to my eyesand I buried my face in
the sofa-pillow that they might flow unseen while I listened. The
air was simplesweetand sad. It is still running in my head
and so are the words:-


Farewell to thee! but not farewell
To all my fondest thoughts of thee:
Within my heart they still shall dwell;
And they shall cheer and comfort me.


O beautifuland full of grace!
If thou hadst never met mine eye
I had not dreamed a living face
Could fancied charms so far outvie.


If I may ne'er behold again
That form and face so dear to me
Nor hear thy voicestill would I fain
Preservefor ayetheir memory.


That voicethe magic of whose tone
Can wake an echo in my breast
Creating feelings thatalone
Can make my tranced spirit blest.


That laughing eyewhose sunny beam
My memory would not cherish less; -
And ohthat smile! I whose joyous gleam
No mortal languish can express.


Adieu! but let me cherishstill
The hope with which I cannot part.
Contempt may woundand coldness chill
But still it lingers in my heart.


And who can tell but Heavenat last
May answer all my thousand prayers
And bid the future pay the past
With joy for anguishsmiles for tears.


When it ceasedI longed for nothing so much as to be out of the
room. The sofa was not far from the doorbut I did not dare to
raise my headfor I knew Mr. Huntingdon was standing near meand
I knew by the sound of his voiceas he spoke in answer to some
remark of Lord Lowborough'sthat his face was turned towards me.
Perhaps a half-suppressed sob had caught his earand caused him to
look round - heaven forbid! But with a violent effortI checked
all further signs of weaknessdried my tearsandwhen I thought
he had turned away againroseand instantly left the apartment
taking refuge in my favourite resortthe library.



There was no light there but the faint red glow of the neglected
fire; - but I did not want a light; I only wanted to indulge my
thoughtsunnoticed and undisturbed; and sitting down on a low
stool before the easy-chairI sunk my head upon its cushioned
seatand thoughtand thoughtuntil the tears gushed out again
and I wept like any child. Presentlyhoweverthe door was gently
opened and someone entered the room. I trusted it was only a
servantand did not stir. The door was closed again - but I was
not alone; a hand gently touched my shoulderand a voice said
softly- 'Helenwhat is the matter?'

I could not answer at the moment.

'You mustand shall tell me' was addedmore vehementlyand the
speaker threw himself on his knees beside me on the rugand
forcibly possessed himself of my hand; but I hastily caught it
awayand replied- 'It is nothing to youMr. Huntingdon.'

'Are you sure it is nothing to me?' he returned; 'can you swear
that you were not thinking of me while you wept?' This was
unendurable. I made an effort to risebut he was kneeling on my
dress.

'Tell me' continued he - 'I want to know- because if you wereI
have something to say to you- and if notI'll go.'

'Go then!' I cried; butfearing he would obey too welland never
come againI hastily added - 'Or say what you have to sayand
have done with it!'

'But which?' said he - 'for I shall only say it if you really were
thinking of me. So tell meHelen.'

'You're excessively impertinentMr. Huntingdon!'

'Not at all - too pertinentyou mean. So you won't tell me? -
WellI'll spare your woman's prideandconstruing your silence
into "Yes I'll take it for granted that I was the subject of your
thoughts, and the cause of your affliction - '

'Indeed, sir - '

'If you deny it, I won't tell you my secret,' threatened he; and I
did not interrupt him again, or even attempt to repulse him:
though he had taken my hand once more, and half embraced me with
his other arm, I was scarcely conscious of it at the time.

'It is this,' resumed he: 'that Annabella Wilmot, in comparison
with you, is like a flaunting peony compared with a sweet, wild
rosebud gemmed with dew - and I love you to distraction! - Now,
tell me if that intelligence gives you any pleasure. Silence
again? That means yes. Then let me add, that I cannot live
without you, and if you answer No to this last question, you will
drive me mad. - Will you bestow yourself upon me? - you will!' he
cried, nearly squeezing me to death in his arms.

'No, no!' I exclaimed, struggling to free myself from him - 'you
must ask my uncle and aunt.'

'They won't refuse me, if you don't.'

'I'm not so sure of that - my aunt dislikes you.'


'But you don't, Helen - say you love me, and I'll go.'

'I wish you would go!' I replied.

'I will, this instant, - if you'll only say you love me.'

'You know I do,' I answered. And again he caught me in his arms,
and smothered me with kisses.

At that moment my aunt opened wide the door, and stood before us,
candle in hand, in shocked and horrified amazement, gazing
alternately at Mr. Huntingdon and me - for we had both started up,
and now stood wide enough asunder. But his confusion was only for
a moment. Rallying in an instant, with the most enviable
assurance, he began, - 'I beg ten thousand pardons, Mrs. Maxwell!
Don't be too severe upon me. I've been asking your sweet niece to
take me for better, for worse; and she, like a good girl, informs
me she cannot think of it without her uncle's and aunt's consent.
So let me implore you not to condemn me to eternal wretchedness:
if you favour my cause, I am safe; for Mr. Maxwell, I am certain,
can refuse you nothing.'

'We will talk of this to-morrow, sir,' said my aunt, coldly. 'It
is a subject that demands mature and serious deliberation. At
present, you had better return to the drawing-room.'

'But meantime,' pleaded he, 'let me commend my cause to your most
indulgent - '

'No indulgence for you, Mr. Huntingdon, must come between me and
the consideration of my niece's happiness.'

'Ah, true! I know she is an angel, and I am a presumptuous dog to
dream of possessing such a treasure; but, nevertheless, I would
sooner die than relinquish her in favour of the best man that ever
went to heaven - and as for her happiness, I would sacrifice my
body and soul - '

'Body and soul, Mr. Huntingdon - sacrifice your soul?'

'Well, I would lay down life - '

'You would not be required to lay it down.'

'I would spend it, then - devote my life - and all its powers to
the promotion and preservation - '

'Another time, sir, we will talk of this - and I should have felt
disposed to judge more favourably of your pretensions, if you too
had chosen another time and place, and let me add - another manner
for your declaration.'

'Why, you see, Mrs. Maxwell,' he began


'Pardon me, sir,' said she, with dignity - 'The company are
inquiring for you in the other room.' And she turned to me.

'Then you must plead for me, Helen,' said he, and at length
withdrew.

'You had better retire to your room, Helen,' said my aunt, gravely.
'I will discuss this matter with you, too, to-morrow.'

'Don't be angry, aunt,' said I.


'My dear, I am not angry,' she replied: 'I am surprised. If it is
true that you told him you could not accept his offer without our
consent - '

'It is true,' interrupted I.

'Then how could you permit -?'

'I couldn't help it, aunt,' I cried, bursting into tears. They
were not altogether the tears of sorrow, or of fear for her
displeasure, but rather the outbreak of the general tumultuous
excitement of my feelings. But my good aunt was touched at my
agitation. In a softer tone, she repeated her recommendation to
retire, and, gently kissing my forehead, bade me good-night, and
put her candle in my hand; and I went; but my brain worked so, I
could not think of sleeping. I feel calmer now that I have written
all this; and I will go to bed, and try to win tired nature's sweet
restorer.

CHAPTER XX

September 24th. - In the morning I rose, light and cheerful - nay,
intensely happy. The hovering cloud cast over me by my aunt's
views, and by the fear of not obtaining her consent, was lost in
the bright effulgence of my own hopes, and the too delightful
consciousness of requited love. It was a splendid morning; and I
went out to enjoy it, in a quiet ramble, in company with my own
blissful thoughts. The dew was on the grass, and ten thousand
gossamers were waving in the breeze; the happy red-breast was
pouring out its little soul in song, and my heart overflowed with
silent hymns of gratitude and praise to heaven.

But I had not wandered far before my solitude was interrupted by
the only person that could have disturbed my musings, at that
moment, without being looked upon as an unwelcome intruder: Mr.
Huntingdon came suddenly upon me. So unexpected was the
apparition, that I might have thought it the creation of an overexcited
imagination, had the sense of sight alone borne witness to
his presence; but immediately I felt his strong arm round my waist
and his warm kiss on my cheek, while his keen and gleeful
salutation, 'My own Helen!' was ringing in my ear.

'Not yours yet!' said I, hastily swerving aside from this too
presumptuous greeting. 'Remember my guardians. You will not
easily obtain my aunt's consent. Don't you see she is prejudiced
against you?'

'I do, dearest; and you must tell me why, that I may best know how
to combat her objections. I suppose she thinks I am a prodigal,'
pursued he, observing that I was unwilling to reply, 'and concludes
that I shall have but little worldly goods wherewith to endow my
better half? If so, you must tell her that my property is mostly
entailed, and I cannot get rid of it. There may be a few mortgages
on the rest - a few trifling debts and incumbrances here and there,
but nothing to speak of; and though I acknowledge I am not so rich
as I might be - or have been - still, I think, we could manage
pretty comfortably on what's left. My father, you know, was
something of a miser, and in his latter days especially saw no
pleasure in life but to amass riches; and so it is no wonder that


his son should make it his chief delight to spend them, which was
accordingly the case, until my acquaintance with you, dear Helen,
taught me other views and nobler aims. And the very idea of having
you to care for under my roof would force me to moderate my
expenses and live like a Christian - not to speak of all the
prudence and virtue you would instil into my mind by your wise
counsels and sweet, attractive goodness.'

'But it is not that,' said I; 'it is not money my aunt thinks
about. She knows better than to value worldly wealth above its
price.'

'What is it, then?'

'She wishes me to - to marry none but a really good man.'

'What, a man of decided piety"? - ahem! - WellcomeI'll manage
that too! It's Sunday to-dayisn't it? I'll go to church
morningafternoonand eveningand comport myself in such a godly
sort that she shall regard me with admiration and sisterly loveas
a brand plucked from the burning. I'll come home sighing like a
furnaceand full of the savour and unction of dear Mr. Blatant's
discourse - '

'Mr. Leighton' said Idryly.

'Is Mr. Leighton a "sweet preacher Helen - a deardelightful
heavenly-minded man"?'

'He is a good manMr. Huntingdon. I wish I could say half as much
for you.'

'OhI forgotyou are a sainttoo. I crave your pardondearest

-but don't call me Mr. Huntingdon; my name is Arthur.'
'I'll call you nothing - for I'll have nothing at all to do with
you if you talk in that way any more. If you really mean to
deceive my aunt as you sayyou are very wicked; and if notyou
are very wrong to jest on such a subject.'

'I stand corrected' said heconcluding his laugh with a sorrowful
sigh. 'Now' resumed heafter a momentary pause'let us talk
about something else. And come nearer to meHelenand take my
arm; and then I'll let you alone. I can't be quiet while I see you
walking there.'

I complied; but said we must soon return to the house.

'No one will be down to breakfast yetfor long enough' he
answered. 'You spoke of your guardians just nowHelenbut is not
your father still living?'

'Yesbut I always look upon my uncle and aunt as my guardiansfor
they are so in deedthough not in name. My father has entirely
given me up to their care. I have never seen him since dear mamma
diedwhen I was a very little girland my auntat her request
offered to take charge of meand took me away to Staningleywhere
I have remained ever since; and I don't think he would object to
anything for me that she thought proper to sanction.'

'But would he sanction anything to which she thought proper to
object?'

'NoI don't think he cares enough about me.'


'He is very much to blame - but he doesn't know what an angel he
has for his daughter - which is all the better for measif he
didhe would not be willing to part with such a treasure.'

'And Mr. Huntingdon' said I'I suppose you know I am not an
heiress?'

He protested he had never given it a thoughtand begged I would
not disturb his present enjoyment by the mention of such
uninteresting subjects. I was glad of this proof of disinterested
affection; for Annabella Wilmot is the probable heiress to all her
uncle's wealthin addition to her late father's propertywhich
she has already in possession.

I now insisted upon retracing our steps to the house; but we walked
slowlyand went on talking as we proceeded. I need not repeat all
we said: let me rather refer to what passed between my aunt and
meafter breakfastwhen Mr. Huntingdon called my uncle asideno
doubt to make his proposalsand she beckoned me into another room
where she once more commenced a solemn remonstrancewhich
howeverentirely failed to convince me that her view of the case
was preferable to my own.

'You judge him uncharitablyauntI know' said I. 'His very
friends are not half so bad as you represent them. There is Walter
HargraveMilicent's brotherfor one: he is but a little lower
than the angelsif half she says of him is true. She is
continually talking to me about himand lauding his many virtues
to the skies.'

'You will form a very inadequate estimate of a man's character'
replied she'if you judge by what a fond sister says of him. The
worst of them generally know how to hide their misdeeds from their
sisters' eyesand their mother'stoo.'

'And there is Lord Lowborough' continued I'quite a decent man.'

'Who told you so? Lord Lowborough is a desperate man. He has
dissipated his fortune in gambling and other thingsand is now
seeking an heiress to retrieve it. I told Miss Wilmot so; but
you're all alike: she haughtily answered she was very much obliged
to mebut she believed she knew when a man was seeking her for her
fortuneand when for herself; she flattered herself she had had
experience enough in those matters to be justified in trusting to
her own judgment - and as for his lordship's lack of fortuneshe
cared nothing about thatas she hoped her own would suffice for
both; and as for his wildnessshe supposed he was no worse than
others - besideshe was reformed now. Yesthey can all play the
hypocrite when they want to take in a fondmisguided woman!'

'WellI think he's about as good as she is' said I. 'But when
Mr. Huntingdon is marriedhe won't have many opportunities of
consorting with his bachelor friends; - and the worse they arethe
more I long to deliver him from them.'

'To be suremy dear; and the worse he isI supposethe more you
long to deliver him from himself.'

'Yesprovided he is not incorrigible - that isthe more I long to
deliver him from his faults - to give him an opportunity of shaking
off the adventitious evil got from contact with others worse than
himselfand shining out in the unclouded light of his own genuine
goodness - to do my utmost to help his better self against his


worseand make him what he would have been if he had notfrom the
beginninghad a badselfishmiserly fatherwhoto gratify his
own sordid passionsrestricted him in the most innocent enjoyments
of childhood and youthand so disgusted him with every kind of
restraint; - and a foolish mother who indulged him to the top of
his bentdeceiving her husband for himand doing her utmost to
encourage those germs of folly and vice it was her duty to
suppress- and thensuch a set of companions as you represent his
friends to be - '

'Poor man!' said shesarcastically'his kind have greatly wronged
him!'

'They have!' cried I - 'and they shall wrong him no more - his wife
shall undo what his mother did!'

'Well' said sheafter a short pause'I must sayHelenI
thought better of your judgment than this - and your taste too.
How you can love such a man I cannot tellor what pleasure you can
find in his company; for "what fellowship hath light with darkness;
or he that believeth with an infidel?"'

'He is not an infidel; - and I am not lightand he is not
darkness; his worst and only vice is thoughtlessness.'

'And thoughtlessness' pursued my aunt'may lead to every crime
and will but poorly excuse our errors in the sight of God. Mr.
HuntingdonI supposeis not without the common faculties of men:
he is not so light-headed as to be irresponsible: his Maker has
endowed him with reason and conscience as well as the rest of us;
the Scriptures are open to him as well as to others; - and "if he
hear not themneither will he hear though one rose from the dead."
And rememberHelen' continued shesolemnly'"the wicked shall
be turned into helland they that forget God!"' And suppose
eventhat he should continue to love youand you himand that
you should pass through life together with tolerable comfort - how
will it be in the endwhen you see yourselves parted for ever;
youperhapstaken into eternal blissand he cast into the lake
that burneth with unquenchable fire - there for ever to - '

'Not for ever' I exclaimed'"only till he has paid the uttermost
farthing;" for "if any man's work abide not the firehe shall
suffer lossyet himself shall be savedbut so as by fire;" and He
that "is able to subdue all things to Himself will have all men to
be saved and willin the fulness of timegather together in
one all things in Christ Jesuswho tasted death for every manand
in whom God will reconcile all things to Himselfwhether they be
things in earth or things in heaven."'

'OhHelen! where did you learn all this?'

'In the Bibleaunt. I have searched it throughand found nearly
thirty passagesall tending to support the same theory.'

'And is that the use you make of your Bible? And did you find no
passages tending to prove the danger and the falsity of such a
belief?'

'No: I foundindeedsome passages thattaken by themselves
might seem to contradict that opinion; but they will all bear a
different construction to that which is commonly givenand in most
the only difficulty is in the word which we translate "everlasting"
or "eternal." I don't know the Greekbut I believe it strictly
means for agesand might signify either endless or long-enduring.


And as for the danger of the beliefI would not publish it abroad
if I thought any poor wretch would be likely to presume upon it to
his own destructionbut it is a glorious thought to cherish in
one's own heartand I would not part with it for all the world can
give!'

Here our conference endedfor it was now high time to prepare for
church. Every one attended the morning serviceexcept my uncle
who hardly ever goesand Mr. Wilmotwho stayed at home with him
to enjoy a quiet game of cribbage. In the afternoon Miss Wilmot
and Lord Lowborough likewise excused themselves from attending; but
Mr. Huntingdon vouchsafed to accompany us again. Whether it was to
ingratiate himself with my aunt I cannot tellbutif sohe
certainly should have behaved better. I must confessI did not
like his conduct during service at all. Holding his prayer-book
upside downor open at any place but the righthe did nothing but
stare about himunless he happened to catch my aunt's eye or mine
and then he would drop his own on his bookwith a puritanical air
of mock solemnity that would have been ludicrousif it had not
been too provoking. Onceduring the sermonafter attentively
regarding Mr. Leighton for a few minuteshe suddenly produced his
gold pencil-case and snatched up a Bible. Perceiving that I
observed the movementhe whispered that he was going to make a
note of the sermon; but instead of thatas I sat next himI could
not help seeing that he was making a caricature of the preacher
giving to the respectablepiouselderly gentlemanthe air and
aspect of a most absurd old hypocrite. And yetupon his return
he talked to my aunt about the sermon with a degree of modest
serious discrimination that tempted me to believe he had really
attended to and profited by the discourse.

Just before dinner my uncle called me into the library for the
discussion of a very important matterwhich was dismissed in few
words.

'NowNell' said he'this young Huntingdon has been asking for
you: what must I say about it? Your aunt would answer "no" - but
what say you?'

'I say yesuncle' replied Iwithout a moment's hesitation; for I
had thoroughly made up my mind on the subject.

'Very good!' cried he. 'Now that's a good honest answer wonderful
for a girl! - WellI'll write to your father to-morrow.
He's sure to give his consent; so you may look on the matter as
settled. You'd have done a deal better if you'd taken WilmotI
can tell you; but that you won't believe. At your time of life
it's love that rules the roast: at mineit's solidserviceable
gold. I suppose nowyou'd never dream of looking into the state
of your husband's financesor troubling your head about
settlementsor anything of that sort?'

'I don't think I should.'

'Wellbe thankfulthenthat you've wiser heads to think for you.
I haven't had timeyetto examine thoroughly into this young
rascal's affairsbut I see that a great part of his father's fine
property has been squandered away; - but stillI thinkthere's a
pretty fair share of it leftand a little careful nursing may make
a handsome thing of it yet; and then we must persuade your father
to give you a decent fortuneas he has only one besides yourself
to care for; - andif you behave wellwho knows but what I may be
induced to remember you in my will!' continued heputting his
fingers to his nosewith a knowing wink.


'Thanksunclefor that and all your kindness' replied I.

'Welland I questioned this young spark on the matter of
settlements' continued he; 'and he seemed disposed to be generous
enough on that point - '

'I knew he would!' said I. 'But pray don't trouble your head - or
hisor mine about that; for all I have will be hisand all he has
will be mine; and what more could either of us require?' And I was
about to make my exitbut he called me back.

'Stopstop!' cried he; 'we haven't mentioned the time yet. When
must it be? Your aunt would put it off till the Lord knows when
but he is anxious to be bound as soon as may be: he won't hear of
waiting beyond next month; and youI guesswill be of the same
mindso - '

'Not at alluncle; on the contraryI should like to wait till
after Christmasat least.'

'Oh! poohpooh! never tell me that tale - I know better' cried
he; and he persisted in his incredulity. Neverthelessit is quite
true. I am in no hurry at all. How can I bewhen I think of the
momentous change that awaits meand of all I have to leave? It is
happiness enough to know that we are to be united; and that he
really loves meand I may love him as devotedlyand think of him
as often as I please. HoweverI insisted upon consulting my aunt
about the time of the weddingfor I determined her counsels should
not be utterly disregarded; and no conclusions on that particular
are come to yet.

CHAPTER XXI

October 1st. - All is settled now. My father has given his
consentand the time is fixed for Christmasby a sort of
compromise between the respective advocates for hurry and delay.
Milicent Hargrave is to be one bridesmaid and Annabella Wilmot the
other - not that I am particularly fond of the latterbut she is
an intimate of the familyand I have not another friend.

When I told Milicent of my engagementshe rather provoked me by
her manner of talking it. After staring a moment in mute surprise
she said- 'WellHelenI suppose I ought to congratulate you and
I am glad to see you so happy; but I did not think you would
take him; and I can't help feeling surprised that you should like
him so much.'

'Why so?'

'Because you are so superior to him in every wayand there's
something so bold and reckless about him - soI don't know how but
I always feel a wish to get out of his way when I see him
approach.'

'You are timidMilicent; but that's no fault of his.'

'And then his look' continued she. 'People say he's handsomeand
of course he is; but I don't like that kind of beautyand I wonder
that you should.'


'Why sopray?'

'Wellyou knowI think there's nothing noble or lofty in his
appearance.'

'In factyou wonder that I can like any one so unlike the stilted
heroes of romance. Wellgive me my flesh and blood loverand
I'll leave all the Sir Herberts and Valentines to you - if you can
find them.'

'I don't want them' said she. 'I'll be satisfied with flesh and
blood too - only the spirit must shine through and predominate.
But don't you think Mr. Huntingdon's face is too red?'

'No!' cried Iindignantly. 'It is not red at all. There is just
a pleasant glowa healthy freshness in his complexion - the warm
pinky tint of the whole harmonising with the deeper colour of the
cheeksexactly as it ought to do. I hate a man to be red and
whitelike a painted dollor all sickly whiteor smoky blackor
cadaverous yellow.'

'Welltastes differ - but I like pale or dark' replied she.
'Butto tell you the truthHelenI had been deluding myself with
the hope that you would one day be my sister. I expected Walter
would be introduced to you next season; and I thought you would
like himand was certain he would like you; and I flattered myself
I should thus have the felicity of seeing the two persons I like
best in the world - except mamma - united in one. He mayn't be
exactly what you would call handsomebut he's far more
distinguished-lookingand nicer and better than Mr. Huntingdon; and
I'm sure you would say soif you knew him.'

'ImpossibleMilicent! You think sobecause you're his sister;
andon that accountI'll forgive you; but nobody else should so
disparage Arthur Huntingdon to me with impunity.'

Miss Wilmot expressed her feelings on the subject almost as openly.

'And soHelen' said shecoming up to me with a smile of no
amiable import'you are to be Mrs. HuntingdonI suppose?'

'Yes' replied I. 'Don't you envy me?'

'Ohdearno!' she exclaimed. 'I shall probably be Lady
Lowborough some dayand then you knowdearI shall be in a
capacity to inquireDon't you envy me?'

'Henceforth I shall envy no one' returned I.

'Indeed! Are you so happy then?' said shethoughtfully; and
something very like a cloud of disappointment shadowed her face.
'And does he love you - I meandoes he idolise you as much as you
do him?' she addedfixing her eyes upon me with ill-disguised
anxiety for the reply.

'I don't want to be idolised' I answered; 'but I am well assured
that he loves me more than anybody else in the world - as I do
him.'

'Exactly' said shewith a nod. 'I wish - ' she paused.

'What do you wish?' asked Iannoyed at the vindictive expression
of her countenance.


'I wish' returnedshewith a short laugh'that all the
attractive points and desirable qualifications of the two gentlemen
were united in one - that Lord Lowborough had Huntingdon's handsome
face and good temperand all his witand mirth and charmor else
that Huntingdon had Lowborough's pedigreeand titleand
delightful old family seatand I had him; and you might have the
other and welcome.'

'Thank youdear Annabella: I am better satisfied with things as
they arefor my own part; and for youI wish you were as well
content with your intended as I am with mine' said I; and it was
true enough; forthough vexed at first at her unamiable spirit
her frankness touched meand the contrast between our situations
was suchthat I could well afford to pity her and wish her well.

Mr. Huntingdon's acquaintances appear to be no better pleased with
our approaching union than mine. This morning's post brought him
letters from several of his friendsduring the perusal of which
at the breakfast-tablehe excited the attention of the company by
the singular variety of his grimaces. But he crushed them all into
his pocketwith a private laughand said nothing till the meal
was concluded. Thenwhile the company were hanging over the fire
or loitering through the roomprevious to settling to their
various morning avocationshe came and leant over the back of my
chairwith his face in contact with my curlsand commencing with
a quiet little kisspoured forth the following complaints into my
ear:


'Helenyou witchdo you know that you've entailed upon me the
curses of all my friends? I wrote to them the other dayto tell
them of my happy prospectsand nowinstead of a bundle of
congratulationsI've got a pocketful of bitter execrations and
reproaches. There's not one kind wish for meor one good word for
youamong them all. They say there'll be no more fun nowno more
merry days and glorious nights - and all my fault - I am the first
to break up the jovial bandand othersin pure despairwill
follow my example. I was the very life and prop of the community
they do me the honour to sayand I have shamefully betrayed my
trust - '

'You may join them againif you like' said Isomewhat piqued at
the sorrowful tone of his discourse. 'I should be sorry to stand
between any man - or body of menand so much happiness; and
perhaps I can manage to do without youas well as your poor
deserted friends.'

'Bless youno' murmured he. 'It's "all for love or the world
well lost with me. Let them go to - where they belong, to speak
politely. But if you saw how they abuse me, Helen, you would love
me all the more for having ventured so much for your sake.'

He pulled out his crumpled letters. I thought he was going to show
them to me, and told him I did not wish to see them.

'I'm not going to show them to you, love,' said he. 'They're
hardly fit for a lady's eyes - the most part of them. But look
here. This is Grimsby's scrawl - only three lines, the sulky dog!
He doesn't say much, to be sure, but his very silence implies more
than all the others' words, and the less he says, the more he
thinks - and this is Hargrave's missive. He is particularly
grieved at me, because, forsooth he had fallen in love with you
from his sister's reports, and meant to have married you himself,
as soon as he had sown his wild oats.'


'I'm vastly obliged to him,' observed I.

'And so am I,' said he. 'And look at this. This is Hattersley's every
page stuffed full of railing accusations, bitter curses, and
lamentable complaints, ending up with swearing that he'll get
married himself in revenge: he'll throw himself away on the first
old maid that chooses to set her cap at him, - as if I cared what
he did with himself.'

'Well,' said I, 'if you do give up your intimacy with these men, I
don't think you will have much cause to regret the loss of their
society; for it's my belief they never did you much good.'

'Maybe not; but we'd a merry time of it, too, though mingled with
sorrow and pain, as Lowborough knows to his cost - Ha, ha!' and
while he was laughing at the recollection of Lowborough's troubles,
my uncle came and slapped him on the shoulder.

'Come, my lad!' said he. 'Are you too busy making love to my niece
to make war with the pheasants? - First of October, remember! Sun
shines out - rain ceased - even Boarham's not afraid to venture in
his waterproof boots; and Wilmot and I are going to beat you all.
I declare, we old 'uns are the keenest sportsmen of the lot!'

'I'll show you what I can do to-day, however,' said my companion.
'I'll murder your birds by wholesale, just for keeping me away from
better company than either you or them.'

And so saying he departed; and I saw no more of him till dinner.
It seemed a weary time; I wonder what I shall do without him.

It is very true that the three elder gentlemen have proved
themselves much keener sportsmen than the two younger ones; for
both Lord Lowborough and Arthur Huntingdon have of late almost
daily neglected the shooting excursions to accompany us in our
various rides and rambles. But these merry times are fast drawing
to a close. In less than a fortnight the party break up, much to
my sorrow, for every day I enjoy it more and more - now that
Messrs. Boarham and Wilmot have ceased to tease me, and my aunt has
ceased to lecture me, and I have ceased to be jealous of Annabella

-and even to dislike her - and now that Mr. Huntingdon is become
my Arthur, and I may enjoy his society without restraint. What
shall I do without him, I repeat?
CHAPTER XXII

October 5th. - My cup of sweets is not unmingled: it is dashed
with a bitterness that I cannot hide from myself, disguise it as I
will. I may try to persuade myself that the sweetness overpowers
it; I may call it a pleasant aromatic flavour; but say what I will,
it is still there, and I cannot but taste it. I cannot shut my
eyes to Arthur's faults; and the more I love him the more they
trouble me. His very heart, that I trusted so, is, I fear, less
warm and generous than I thought it. At least, he gave me a
specimen of his character to-day that seemed to merit a harder name
than thoughtlessness. He and Lord Lowborough were accompanying
Annabella and me in a long, delightful ride; he was riding by my
side, as usual, and Annabella and Lord Lowborough were a little
before us, the latter bending towards his companion as if in tender


and confidential discourse.

'Those two will get the start of us, Helen, if we don't look
sharp,' observed Huntingdon. 'They'll make a match of it, as sure
as can be. That Lowborough's fairly besotted. But he'll find
himself in a fix when he's got her, I doubt.'

'And she'll find herself in a fix when she's got him,' said I, 'if
what I've heard of him is true.'

'Not a bit of it. She knows what she's about; but he, poor fool,
deludes himself with the notion that she'll make him a good wife,
and because she has amused him with some rodomontade about
despising rank and wealth in matters of love and marriage, he
flatters himself that she's devotedly attached to him; that she
will not refuse him for his poverty, and does not court him for his
rank, but loves him for himself alone.'

'But is not he courting her for her fortune?'

'No, not he. That was the first attraction, certainly; but now he
has quite lost sight of it: it never enters his calculations,
except merely as an essential without which, for the lady's own
sake, he could not think of marrying her. No; he's fairly in love.
He thought he never could be again, but he's in for it once more.
He was to have been married before, some two or three years ago;
but he lost his bride by losing his fortune. He got into a bad way
among us in London: he had an unfortunate taste for gambling; and
surely the fellow was born under an unlucky star, for he always
lost thrice where he gained once. That's a mode of self-torment I
never was much addicted to. When I spend my money I like to enjoy
the full value of it: I see no fun in wasting it on thieves and
blacklegs; and as for gaining money, hitherto I have always had
sufficient; it's time enough to be clutching for more, I think,
when you begin to see the end of what you have. But I have
sometimes frequented the gaming-houses just to watch the on-goings
of those mad votaries of chance - a very interesting study, I
assure you, Helen, and sometimes very diverting: I've had many a
laugh at the boobies and bedlamites. Lowborough was quite
infatuated - not willingly, but of necessity, - he was always
resolving to give it up, and always breaking his resolutions.
Every venture was the 'just once more:' if he gained a little, he
hoped to gain a little more next time, and if he lost, it would not
do to leave off at that juncture; he must go on till he had
retrieved that last misfortune, at least: bad luck could not last
for ever; and every lucky hit was looked upon as the dawn of better
times, till experience proved the contrary. At length he grew
desperate, and we were daily on the look-out for a case of FELO-DESE
- no great matter, some of us whispered, as his existence had
ceased to be an acquisition to our club. At last, however, he came
to a check. He made a large stake, which he determined should be
the last, whether he lost or won. He had often so determined
before, to be sure, and as often broken his determination; and so
it was this time. He lost; and while his antagonist smilingly
swept away the stakes, he turned chalky white, drew back in
silence, and wiped his forehead. I was present at the time; and
while he stood with folded arms and eyes fixed on the ground, I
knew well enough what was passing in his mind.

'Is it to be the lastLowborough?" said Istepping up to him.

'"The last but one he answered, with a grim smile; and then,
rushing back to the table, he struck his hand upon it, and, raising
his voice high above all the confusion of jingling coins and


muttered oaths and curses in the room, he swore a deep and solemn
oath that, come what would, this trial should be the last, and
imprecated unspeakable curses on his head if ever he should shuffle
a card or rattle a dice-box again. He then doubled his former
stake, and challenged any one present to play against him. Grimsby
instantly presented himself. Lowborough glared fiercely at him,
for Grimsby was almost as celebrated for his luck as he was for his
ill-fortune. However, they fell to work. But Grimsby had much
skill and little scruple, and whether he took advantage of the
other's trembling, blinded eagerness to deal unfairly by him, I
cannot undertake to say; but Lowborough lost again, and fell dead
sick.

'You'd better try once more said Grimsby, leaning across the
table. And then he winked at me.

'I've nothing to try with said the poor devil, with a ghastly
smile.

'OhHuntingdon will lend you what you want said the other.

'No; you heard my oath answered Lowborough, turning away in
quiet despair. And I took him by the arm and led him out.

'Is it to be the lastLowborough?" I askedwhen I got him into
the street.

'"The last he answered, somewhat against my expectation. And I
took him home - that is, to our club - for he was as submissive as
a child - and plied him with brandy-and-water till he began to look
rather brighter - rather more alive, at least.

'HuntingdonI'm ruined!" said hetaking the third glass from my
hand - he had drunk the others in dead silence.

'"Not you said I. You'll find a man can live without his money
as merrily as a tortoise without its heador a wasp without its
body.

'"But I'm in debt said he - deep in debt. And I can never
never get out of it."

'"Wellwhat of that? Many a better man than you has lived and
died in debt; and they can't put you in prisonyou knowbecause
you're a peer." And I handed him his fourth tumbler.

'"But I hate to be in debt!" he shouted. "I wasn't born for it
and I cannot bear it."

'"What can't be cured must be endured said I, beginning to mix
the fifth.

'And thenI've lost my Caroline." And he began to snivel then
for the brandy had softened his heart.

'"No matter I answered, there are more Carolines in the world
than one."

'"There's only one for me he replied, with a dolorous sigh. And
if there were fifty morewho's to get themI wonderwithout
money?"

'"Ohsomebody will take you for your title; and then you've your
family estate yet; that's entailedyou know."


'"I wish to God I could sell it to pay my debts he muttered.


'And then said Grimsby, who had just come in, you can try
againyou know. I would have more than one chanceif I were you.
I'd never stop here."


'"I won'tI tell you!" shouted he. And he started upand left
the room - walking rather unsteadilyfor the liquor had got into
his head. He was not so much used to it thenbut after that he
took to it kindly to solace his cares.


'He kept his oath about gambling (not a little to the surprise of
us all)though Grimsby did his utmost to tempt him to break it
but now he had got hold of another habit that bothered him nearly
as muchfor he soon discovered that the demon of drink was as
black as the demon of playand nearly as hard to get rid of -
especially as his kind friends did all they could to second the
promptings of his own insatiable cravings.'


'Thenthey were demons themselves' cried Iunable to contain my
indignation. 'And youMr. Huntingdonit seemswere the first to
tempt him.'


'Wellwhat could we do?' replied hedeprecatingly. - 'We meant it
in kindness - we couldn't bear to see the poor fellow so
miserable:- and besideshe was such a damper upon ussitting
there silent and glumwhen he was under the threefold influence -
of the loss of his sweetheartthe loss of his fortuneand the
reaction of the lost night's debauch; whereaswhen he had
something in himif he was not merry himselfhe was an unfailing
source of merriment to us. Even Grimsby could chuckle over his odd
sayings: they delighted him far more than my merry jestsor
Hattersley's riotous mirth. But one eveningwhen we were sitting
over our wineafter one of our club dinnersand all had been
hearty together- Lowborough giving us mad toastsand hearing our
wild songsand bearing a hand in the applauseif he did not help
us to sing them himself- he suddenly relapsed into silence
sinking his head on his handand never lifting his glass to his
lips; - but this was nothing new; so we let him aloneand went on
with our jollificationtillsuddenly raising his headhe
interrupted us in the middle of a roar of laughter by exclaiming-
'Gentlemenwhere is all this to end? - Will you just tell me that
now? - Where is it all to end?' He rose.


'"A speecha speech!" shouted we. "Hearhear! Lowborough's
going to give us a speech!"


'He waited calmly till the thunders of applause and jingling of
glasses had ceasedand then proceeded- "It's only this
gentlemen- that I think we'd better go no further. We'd better
stop while we can."


'"Just so!" cried Hattersley -


Stop, poor sinner, stop and think
Before you further go,
No longer sport upon the brink
Of everlasting woe.


'"Exactly!" replied his lordshipwith the utmost gravity. "And if
you choose to visit the bottomless pitI won't go with you - we



must part companyfor I swear I'll not move another step towards
it! - What's this?' he saidtaking up his glass of wine.

'"Taste it suggested I.

'This is hell broth!" he exclaimed. "I renounce it for ever!"
And he threw it out into the middle of the table.

'"Fill again!" said Ihanding him the bottle - "and let us drink
to your renunciation."

'"It's rank poison said he, grasping the bottle by the neck, and
I forswear it! I've given up gamblingand I'll give up this too."
He was on the point of deliberately pouring the whole contents of
the bottle on to the tablebut Hargrave wrested it from him. "On
you be the cursethen!" said he. Andbacking from the roomhe
shoutedFarewell, ye tempters!and vanished amid shouts of
laughter and applause.

'We expected him back among us the next day; butto our surprise
the place remained vacant: we saw nothing of him for a whole week;
and we really began to think he was going to keep his word. At
lastone eveningwhen we were most of us assembled together
againhe enteredsilent and grim as a ghostand would have
quietly slipped into his usual seat at my elbowbut we all rose to
welcome himand several voices were raised to ask what he would
haveand several hands were busy with bottle and glass to serve
him; but I knew a smoking tumbler of brandy-and-water would comfort
him bestand had nearly prepared itwhen he peevishly pushed it
awaysaying


'"Do let me aloneHuntingdon! Do be quietall of you! I'm not
come to join you: I'm only come to be with you awhilebecause I
can't bear my own thoughts." And he folded his armsand leant
back in his chair; so we let him be. But I left the glass by him;
andafter awhileGrimsby directed my attention towards itby a
significant wink; andon turning my headI saw it was drained to
the bottom. He made me a sign to replenishand quietly pushed up
the bottle. I willingly complied; but Lowborough detected the
pantomimeandnettled at the intelligent grins that were passing
between ussnatched the glass from my handdashed the contents of
it in Grimsby's facethrew the empty tumbler at meand then
bolted from the room.'

'I hope he broke your head' said I.

'Nolove' replied helaughing immoderately at the recollection
of the whole affair; 'he would have done so- and perhapsspoilt
my facetoobutprovidentiallythis forest of curls' (taking
off his hatand showing his luxuriant chestnut locks) 'saved my
skulland prevented the glass from breakingtill it reached the
table.'

'After that' he continued'Lowborough kept aloof from us a week
or two longer. I used to meet him occasionally in the town; and
thenas I was too good-natured to resent his unmannerly conduct
and he bore no malice against me- he was never unwilling to talk
to me; on the contraryhe would cling to meand follow me
anywhere but to the cluband the gaming-housesand such-like
dangerous places of resort - he was so weary of his own moping
melancholy mind. At lastI got him to come in with me to the
clubon condition that I would not tempt him to drink; andfor
some timehe continued to look in upon us pretty regularly of an
evening- still abstainingwith wonderful perseverancefrom the


rank poisonhe had so bravely forsworn. But some of our members
protested against this conduct. They did not like to have him
sitting there like a skeleton at a feastinstead of contributing
his quota to the general amusementcasting a cloud over alland
watchingwith greedy eyesevery drop they carried to their lips they
vowed it was not fair; and some of them maintained that he
should either be compelled to do as others didor expelled from
the society; and swore thatnext time he showed himselfthey
would tell him as muchandif he did not take the warning
proceed to active measures. HoweverI befriended him on this
occasionand recommended them to let him be for a while
intimating thatwith a little patience on our partshe would soon
come round again. Butto be sureit was rather provoking; for
though he refused to drink like an honest Christianit was well
known to me that he kept a private bottle of laudanum about him
which he was continually soaking at - or ratherholding off and on
withabstaining one day and exceeding the next - just like the
spirits.

'One nighthoweverduring one of our orgies - one of our high
festivalsI mean - he glided inlike the ghost in "Macbeth and
seated himself, as usual, a little back from the table, in the
chair we always placed for the spectre whether it chose to fill
it or not. I saw by his face that he was suffering from the
effects of an overdose of his insidious comforter; but nobody spoke
to him, and he spoke to nobody. A few sidelong glances, and a
whispered observation, that the ghost was come was all the
notice he drew by his appearance, and we went on with our merry
carousals as before, till he startled us all by suddenly drawing in
his chair, and leaning forward with his elbows on the table, and
exclaiming with portentous solemnity, - Well! it puzzles me what
you can find to be so merry about. What you see in life I don't
know - I see only the blackness of darknessand a fearful looking
for of judgment and fiery indignation!"

'All the company simultaneously pushed up their glasses to himand
I set them before him in a semicircleandtenderly patting him on
the backbid him drinkand he would soon see as bright a prospect
as any of us; but he pushed them backmuttering


'"Take them away! I won't taste itI tell you. I won't - I
won't!" So I handed them down again to the owners; but I saw that
he followed them with a glare of hungry regret as they departed.
Then he clasped his hands before his eyes to shut out the sight
and two minutes after lifted his head againand saidin a hoarse
but vehement whisper


'"And yet I must! Huntingdonget me a glass!"

'"Take the bottleman!" said Ithrusting the brandy-bottle into
his hand - but stopI'm telling too much' muttered the narrator
startled at the look I turned upon him. 'But no matter' he
recklessly addedand thus continued his relation: 'In his
desperate eagernesshe seized the bottle and sucked awaytill he
suddenly dropped from his chairdisappearing under the table amid
a tempest of applause. The consequence of this imprudence was
something like an apoplectic fitfollowed by a rather severe brain
fever - '

'And what did you think of yourselfsir?' said Iquickly.

'Of courseI was very penitent' he replied. 'I went to see him
once or twice - naytwice or thrice - or by'r ladysome four
times - and when he got betterI tenderly brought him back to the


fold.'

'What do you mean?'

'I meanI restored him to the bosom of the cluband
compassionating the feebleness of his health and extreme lowness of
his spiritsI recommended him to "take a little wine for his
stomach's sake and, when he was sufficiently re-established, to
embrace the media-via, ni-jamais-ni-toujours plan - not to kill
himself like a fool, and not to abstain like a ninny - in a word,
to enjoy himself like a rational creature, and do as I did; for,
don't think, Helen, that I'm a tippler; I'm nothing at all of the
kind, and never was, and never shall be. I value my comfort far
too much. I see that a man cannot give himself up to drinking
without being miserable one-half his days and mad the other;
besides, I like to enjoy my life at all sides and ends, which
cannot be done by one that suffers himself to be the slave of a
single propensity - and, moreover, drinking spoils one's good
looks,' he concluded, with a most conceited smile that ought to
have provoked me more than it did.

'And did Lord Lowborough profit by your advice?' I asked.

'Why, yes, in a manner. For a while he managed very well; indeed,
he was a model of moderation and prudence - something too much so
for the tastes of our wild community; but, somehow, Lowborough had
not the gift of moderation: if he stumbled a little to one side,
he must go down before he could right himself: if he overshot the
mark one night, the effects of it rendered him so miserable the
next day that he must repeat the offence to mend it; and so on from
day to day, till his clamorous conscience brought him to a stand.
And then, in his sober moments, he so bothered his friends with his
remorse, and his terrors and woes, that they were obliged, in selfdefence,
to get him to drown his sorrows in wine, or any more
potent beverage that came to hand; and when his first scruples of
conscience were overcome, he would need no more persuading, he
would often grow desperate, and be as great a blackguard as any of
them could desire - but only to lament his own unutterable
wickedness and degradation the more when the fit was over.

'At last, one day when he and I were alone together, after
pondering awhile in one of his gloomy, abstracted moods, with his
arms folded and his head sunk on his breast, he suddenly woke up,
and vehemently grasping my arm, said,


'Huntingdonthis won't do! I'm resolved to have done with it."

'"Whatare you going to shoot yourself?" said I.

'"No; I'm going to reform."

'"Ohthat's nothing new! You've been going to reform these twelve
months and more."

'"Yesbut you wouldn't let me; and I was such a fool I couldn't
live without you. But now I see what it is that keeps me backand
what's wanted to save me; and I'd compass sea and land to get it only
I'm afraid there's no chance." And he sighed as if his heart
would break.

'"What is itLowborough?" said Ithinking he was fairly cracked
at last.

'"A wife he answered; for I can't live alonebecause my own


mind distracts meand I can't live with youbecause you take the
devil's part against me."

'"Who - I?"

'"Yes - all of you do - and you more than any of themyou know.
But if I could get a wifewith fortune enough to pay off my debts
and set me straight in the world - "

'"To be sure said I.

'And sweetness and goodness enough he continued, to make home
tolerableand to reconcile me to myselfI think I should do yet.
I shall never be in love againthat's certain; but perhaps that
would be no great matterit would enable me to choose with my eyes
open - and I should make a good husband in spite of it; but could
any one be in love with me? - that's the question. With your good
looks and powers of fascination" (he was pleased to say)I might
hope; but as it is, Huntingdon, do you think anybody would take me

-ruined and wretched as I am?
'"Yescertainly."

'"Who?"

'"Whyany neglected old maidfast sinking in despairwould be
delighted to - "

'"Nono said he - it must be somebody that I can love."

'"Whyyou just said you never could be in love again!'

'"Welllove is not the word - but somebody that I can like. I'll
search all England throughat all events!" he criedwith a sudden
burst of hopeor desperation. "Succeed or failit will be better
than rushing headlong to destruction at that d-d club: so farewell
to it and you. Whenever I meet you on honest ground or under a
Christian roofI shall be glad to see you; but never more shall
you entice me to that devil's den!"

'This was shameful languagebut I shook hands with himand we
parted. He kept his word; and from that time forward he has been a
pattern of proprietyas far as I can tell; but till lately I have
not had very much to do with him. He occasionally sought my
companybut as frequently shrunk from itfearing lest I should
wile him back to destructionand I found his not very
entertainingespecially as he sometimes attempted to awaken my
conscience and draw me from the perdition he considered himself to
have escaped; but when I did happen to meet himI seldom failed to
ask after the progress of his matrimonial efforts and researches
andin generalhe could give me but a poor account. The mothers
were repelled by his empty coffers and his reputation for gambling
and the daughters by his cloudy brow and melancholy temper besides
he didn't understand them; he wanted the spirit and
assurance to carry his point.

'I left him at it when I went to the continent; and on my return
at the year's endI found him still a disconsolate bachelor though
certainlylooking somewhat less like an unblest exile from
the tomb than before. The young ladies had ceased to be afraid of
himand were beginning to think him quite interesting; but the
mammas were still unrelenting. It was about this timeHelenthat
my good angel brought me into conjunction with you; and then I had
eyes and ears for nobody else. ButmeantimeLowborough became


acquainted with our charming friendMiss Wilmot - through the
intervention of his good angelno doubt he would tell youthough
he did not dare to fix his hopes on one so courted and admired
till after they were brought into closer contact here at
Staningleyand shein the absence of her other admirers
indubitably courted his notice and held out every encouragement to
his timid advances. Thenindeedhe began to hope for a dawn of
brighter days; and iffor a whileI darkened his prospects by
standing between him and his sun - and so nearly plunged him again
into the abyss of despair - it only intensified his ardour and
strengthened his hopes when I chose to abandon the field in the
pursuit of a brighter treasure. In a wordas I told youhe is
fairly besotted. At firsthe could dimly perceive her faultsand
they gave him considerable uneasiness; but now his passion and her
art together have blinded him to everything but her perfections and
his amazing good fortune. Last night he came to me brimful of his
new-found felicity:

'"HuntingdonI am not a castaway!" said heseizing my hand and
squeezing it like a vice. "There is happiness in store for me yet

-even in this life - she loves me!"
'"Indeed!" said I. "Has she told you so?"

'"Nobut I can no longer doubt it. Do you not see how pointedly
kind and affectionate she is? And she knows the utmost extent of
my povertyand cares nothing about it! She knows all the folly
and all the wickedness of my former lifeand is not afraid to
trust me - and my rank and title are no allurements to her; for
them she utterly disregards. She is the most generoushigh-minded
being that can be conceived of. She will save mebody and soul
from destruction. Alreadyshe has ennobled me in my own
estimationand made me three times betterwisergreater than I
was. Oh! if I had but known her beforehow much degradation and
misery I should have been spared! But what have I done to deserve
so magnificent a creature?"

'And the cream of the jest' continued Mr. Huntingdonlaughing
'isthat the artful minx loves nothing about him but his title and
pedigreeand "that delightful old family seat."'

'How do you know?' said I.

'She told me so herself; she saidAs for the man himself, I
thoroughly despise him; but then, I suppose, it is time to be
making my choice, and if I waited for some one capable of eliciting
my esteem and affection, I should have to pass my life in single
blessedness, for I detest you all!Haha! I suspect she was
wrong there; buthoweverit is evident she has no love for him
poor fellow.'

'Then you ought to tell him so.'

'What! and spoil all her plans and prospectspoor girl? Nono:
that would be a breach of confidencewouldn't itHelen? Haha!
Besidesit would break his heart.' And he laughed again.

'WellMr. HuntingdonI don't know what you see so amazingly
diverting in the matter; I see nothing to laugh at.'

'I'm laughing at youjust nowlove' said heredoubling his
machinations.

And leaving him to enjoy his merriment aloneI touched Ruby with


the whipand cantered on to rejoin our companions; for we had been
walking our horses all this timeand were consequently a long way
behind. Arthur was soon at my side again; but not disposed to talk
to himI broke into a gallop. He did the same; and we did not
slacken our pace till we came up with Miss Wilmot and Lord
Lowboroughwhich was within half a mile of the park-gates. I
avoided all further conversation with him till we came to the end
of our ridewhen I meant to jump off my horse and vanish into the
housebefore he could offer his assistance; but while I was
disengaging my habit from the crutchhe lifted me offand held me
by both handsasserting that he would not let me go till I had
forgiven him.

'I have nothing to forgive' said I. 'You have not injured me.'

'Nodarling - God forbid that I should! but you are angry because
it was to me that Annabella confessed her lack of esteem for her
lover.'

'NoArthurit is not that that displeases me: it is the whole
system of your conduct towards your friendand if you wish me to
forget itgo nowand tell him what sort of a woman it is that he
adores so madlyand on whom he has hung his hopes of future
happiness.'

'I tell youHelenit would break his heart - it would be the
death of him - besides being a scandalous trick to poor Annabella.
There is no help for him now; he is past praying for. Besidesshe
may keep up the deception to the end of the chapter; and then he
will be just as happy in the illusion as if it were reality; or
perhaps he will only discover his mistake when he has ceased to
love her; and if notit is much better that the truth should dawn
gradually upon him. So nowmy angelI hope I have made out a
clear caseand fully convinced you that I cannot make the
atonement you require. What other requisition have you to make?
Speakand I will gladly obey.'

'I have none but this' said Ias gravely as before: 'thatin
futureyou will never make a jest of the sufferings of othersand
always use your influence with your friends for their own advantage
against their evil propensitiesinstead of seconding their evil
propensities against themselves.'

'I will do my utmost' said he'to remember and perform the
injunctions of my angel monitress;' and after kissing both my
gloved handshe let me go.

When I entered my roomI was surprised to see Annabella Wilmot
standing before my toilet-tablecomposedly surveying her features
in the glasswith one hand flirting her gold-mounted whipand the
other holding up her long habit.

'She certainly is a magnificent creature!' thought Ias I beheld
that tallfinely developed figureand the reflection of the
handsome face in the mirror before mewith the glossy dark hair
slightly and not ungracefully disordered by the breezy ridethe
rich brown complexion glowing with exerciseand the black eyes
sparkling with unwonted brilliance. On perceiving meshe turned
roundexclaimingwith a laugh that savoured more of malice than
of mirth- 'WhyHelen! what have you been doing so long? I came
to tell you my good fortune' she continuedregardless of Rachel's
presence. 'Lord Lowborough has proposedand I have been
graciously pleased to accept him. Don't you envy medear?'


'Nolove' said I - 'or him either' I mentally added. 'And do
you like himAnnabella?'

'Like him! yesto be sure - over head and ears in love!'

'WellI hope you'll make him a good wife.'

'Thank youmy dear! And what besides do you hope?'

'I hope you will both love each otherand both be happy.'

'Thanks; and I hope you will make a very good wife to Mr.
Huntingdon!' said shewith a queenly bowand retired.

'OhMiss! how could you say so to her!' cried Rachel.

'Say what?' replied I.

'Whythat you hoped she would make him a good wife. I never heard
such a thing!'

'Because I do hope itor ratherI wish it; she's almost past
hope.'

'Well' said she'I'm sure I hope he'll make her a good husband.
They tell queer things about him downstairs. They were saying - '

'I knowRachel. I've heard all about him; but he's reformed now.
And they have no business to tell tales about their masters.'

'Nomum - or elsethey have said some things about Mr. Huntingdon
too.'

'I won't hear themRachel; they tell lies.'

'Yesmum' said shequietlyas she went on arranging my hair.

'Do you believe themRachel?' I askedafter a short pause.

'NoMissnot all. You know when a lot of servants gets together
they like to talk about their betters; and somefor a bit of
swaggerlikes to make it appear as though they knew more than they
doand to throw out hints and things just to astonish the others.
But I thinkif I was youMiss HelenI'd look very well before I
leaped. I do believe a young lady can't be too careful who she
marries.'

'Of course not' said I; 'but be quickwill youRachel? I want
to be dressed.'

AndindeedI was anxious to be rid of the good womanfor I was
in such a melancholy frame I could hardly keep the tears out of my
eyes while she dressed me. It was not for Lord Lowborough - it was
not for Annabella - it was not for myself - it was for Arthur
Huntingdon that they rose.

* * * * *

13th. - They are goneand he is gone. We are to be parted for
more than two monthsabove ten weeks! a longlong time to live
and not to see him. But he has promised to write oftenand made
me promise to write still oftenerbecause he will be busy settling
his affairsand I shall have nothing better to do. WellI think
I shall always have plenty to say. But oh! for the time when we


shall be always togetherand can exchange our thoughts without the
intervention of these cold go-betweenspeninkand paper!

22nd. - I have had several letters from Arthur already. They are
not longbut passing sweetand just like himselffull of ardent
affectionand playful lively humour; but there is always a 'but'
in this imperfect worldand I do wish he would sometimes be
serious. I cannot get him to write or speak in realsolid
earnest. I don't much mind it nowbut if it be always sowhat
shall I do with the serious part of myself?

CHAPTER XXIII

Feb. 181822. - Early this morning Arthur mounted his hunter and
set off in high glee to meet the - hounds. He will be away all
dayand so I will amuse myself with my neglected diaryif I can
give that name to such an irregular composition. It is exactly
four months since I opened it last.

I am married nowand settled down as Mrs. Huntingdon of Grassdale
Manor. I have had eight weeks' experience of matrimony. And do I
regret the step I have taken? Nothough I must confessin my
secret heartthat Arthur is not what I thought him at firstand
if I had known him in the beginning as thoroughly as I do nowI
probably never should have loved himand if I loved him firstand
then made the discoveryI fear I should have thought it my duty
not to have married him. To be sure I might have known himfor
every one was willing enough to tell me about himand he himself
was no accomplished hypocritebut I was wilfully blind; and now
instead of regretting that I did not discern his full character
before I was indissolubly bound to himI am gladfor it has saved
me a great deal of battling with my conscienceand a great deal of
consequent trouble and pain; andwhatever I ought to have donemy
duty now is plainly to love him and to cleave to himand this just
tallies with my inclination.

He is very fond of mealmost too fond. I could do with less
caressing and more rationality. I should like to be less of a pet
and more of a friendif I might choose; but I won't complain of
that: I am only afraid his affection loses in depth where it gains
in ardour. I sometimes liken it to a fire of dry twigs and
branches compared with one of solid coalvery bright and hot; but
if it should burn itself out and leave nothing but ashes behind
what shall I do? But it won'tit sha'n'tI am determined; and
surely I have power to keep it alive. So let me dismiss that
thought at once. But Arthur is selfish; I am constrained to
acknowledge that; andindeedthe admission gives me less pain
than might be expectedforsince I love him so muchI can easily
forgive him for loving himself: he likes to be pleasedand it is
my delight to please him; and when I regret this tendency of his
it is for his own sakenot for mine.

The first instance he gave was on the occasion of our bridal tour.
He wanted to hurry it overfor all the continental scenes were
already familiar to him: many had lost their interest in his eyes
and others had never had anything to lose. The consequence was
that after a flying transit through part of France and part of
ItalyI came back nearly as ignorant as I wenthaving made no
acquaintance with persons and mannersand very little with things
my head swarming with a motley confusion of objects and scenes;


someit is trueleaving a deeper and more pleasing impression
than othersbut these embittered by the recollection that my
emotions had not been shared by my companionbut thaton the
contrarywhen I had expressed a particular interest in anything
that I saw or desired to seeit had been displeasing to him
inasmuch as it proved that I could take delight in anything
disconnected with himself.

As for Pariswe only just touched at thatand he would not give
me time to see one-tenth of the beauties and interesting objects of
Rome. He wanted to get me homehe saidto have me all to
himselfand to see me safely installed as the mistress of
Grassdale Manorjust as single-mindedas naiveand piquante as I
was; and as if I had been some frail butterflyhe expressed
himself fearful of rubbing the silver off my wings by bringing me
into contact with societyespecially that of Paris and Rome; and
more-overhe did not scruple to tell me that there were ladies in
both places that would tear his eyes out if they happened to meet
him with me.

Of course I was vexed at all this; but still it was less the
disappointment to myself that annoyed methan the disappointment
in himand the trouble I was at to frame excuses to my friends for
having seen and observed so littlewithout imputing one particle
of blame to my companion. But when we got home - to my new
delightful home - I was so happy and he was so kind that I freely
forgave him all; and I was beginning to think my lot too happyand
my husband actually too good for meif not too good for this
worldwhenon the second Sunday after our arrivalhe shocked and
horrified me by another instance of his unreasonable exaction. We
were walking home from the morning servicefor it was a fine
frosty dayand as we are so near the churchI had requested the
carriage should not be used.

'Helen' said hewith unusual gravity'I am not quite satisfied
with you.'

I desired to know what was wrong.

'But will you promise to reform if I tell you?'

'Yesif I canand without offending a higher authority.'

'Ah! there it isyou see: you don't love me with all your heart.'

'I don't understand youArthur (at least I hope I don't): pray
tell me what I have done or said amiss.'

'It is nothing you have done or said; it is something that you are

-you are too religious. Now I like a woman to be religiousand I
think your piety one of your greatest charms; but thenlike all
other good thingsit may be carried too far. To my thinkinga
woman's religion ought not to lessen her devotion to her earthly
lord. She should have enough to purify and etherealise her soul
but not enough to refine away her heartand raise her above all
human sympathies.'
'And am I above all human sympathies?' said I.

'Nodarling; but you are making more progress towards that saintly
condition than I like; for all these two hours I have been thinking
of you and wanting to catch your eyeand you were so absorbed in
your devotions that you had not even a glance to spare for me - I
declare it is enough to make one jealous of one's Maker - which is


very wrongyou know; so don't excite such wicked passions again
for my soul's sake.'

'I will give my whole heart and soul to my Maker if I can' I
answered'and not one atom more of it to you than He allows. What
are yousirthat you should set yourself up as a godand presume
to dispute possession of my heart with Him to whom I owe all I have
and all I amevery blessing I ever did or ever can enjoy - and
yourself among the rest - if you are a blessingwhich I am half
inclined to doubt.'

'Don't be so hard upon meHelen; and don't pinch my arm so: you
are squeezing your fingers into the bone.'

'Arthur' continued Irelaxing my hold of his arm'you don't love
me half as much as I do you; and yetif you loved me far less than
you doI would not complainprovided you loved your Maker more.
I should rejoice to see you at any time so deeply absorbed in your
devotions that you had not a single thought to spare for me. But
indeedI should lose nothing by the changefor the more you loved
your God the more deep and pure and true would be your love to me.'

At this he only laughed and kissed my handcalling me a sweet
enthusiast. Then taking off his hathe added: 'But look here
Helen - what can a man do with such a head as this?'

The head looked right enoughbut when he placed my hand on the top
of itit sunk in a bed of curlsrather alarmingly lowespecially
in the middle.

'You see I was not made to be a saint' said helaughing'If God
meant me to be religiouswhy didn't He give me a proper organ of
veneration?'

'You are like the servant' I replied'whoinstead of employing
his one talent in his master's servicerestored it to him
unimprovedallegingas an excusethat he knew him "to be a hard
manreaping where he had not sownand gathering where he had not
strawed." Of him to whom less is givenless will be requiredbut
our utmost exertions are required of us all. You are not without
the capacity of venerationand faith and hopeand conscience and
reasonand every other requisite to a Christian's characterif
you choose to employ them; but all our talents increase in the
usingand every facultyboth good and badstrengthens by
exercise: thereforeif you choose to use the bador those which
tend to eviltill they become your mastersand neglect the good
till they dwindle awayyou have only yourself to blame. But you
have talentsArthur - natural endowments both of heart and mind
and tempersuch as many a better Christian would be glad to
possessif you would only employ them in God's service. I should
never expect to see you a devoteebut it is quite possible to be a
good Christian without ceasing to be a happymerry-hearted man.'

'You speak like an oracleHelenand all you say is indisputably
true; but listen here: I am hungryand I see before me a good
substantial dinner; I am told that if I abstain from this to-day I
shall have a sumptuous feast to-morrowconsisting of all manner of
dainties and delicacies. Nowin the first placeI should be loth
to wait till to-morrow when I have the means of appeasing my hunger
already before me: in the second placethe solid viands of to-day
are more to my taste than the dainties that are promised me; in the
third placeI don't see to-morrow's banquetand how can I tell
that it is not all a fablegot up by the greasy-faced fellow that
is advising me to abstain in order that he may have all the good


victuals to himself? in the fourth placethis table must be spread
for somebodyandas Solomon saysWho can eat, or who else can
hasten hereunto more than I?and finallywith your leaveI'll
sit down and satisfy my cravings of to-dayand leave to-morrow to
shift for itself - who knows but what I may secure both this and
that?'

'But you are not required to abstain from the substantial dinner of
to-day: you are only advised to partake of these coarser viands in
such moderation as not to incapacitate you from enjoying the
choicer banquet of to-morrow. Ifregardless of that counselyou
choose to make a beast of yourself nowand over-eat and over-drink
yourself till you turn the good victuals into poisonwho is to
blame ifhereafterwhile you are suffering the torments of
yesterday's gluttony and drunkennessyou see more temperate men
sitting down to enjoy themselves at that splendid entertainment
which you are unable to taste?'

'Most truemy patron saint; but againour friend Solomon says
There is nothing better for a man than to eat and to drink, and to
be merry.'

'And again' returned I'he saysRejoice, O young man, in thy
youth; and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of
thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will
bring thee into judgment.'

'WellbutHelenI'm sure I've been very good these last few
weeks. What have you seen amiss in meand what would you have me
to do?'

'Nothing more than you doArthur: your actions are all right so
far; but I would have your thoughts changed; I would have you to
fortify yourself against temptationand not to call evil goodand
good evil; I should wish you to think more deeplyto look further
and aim higher than you do.'

CHAPTER XXIV

March 25th. - Arthur is getting tired - not of meI trustbut of
the idlequiet life he leads - and no wonderfor he has so few
sources of amusement: he never reads anything but newspapers and
sporting magazines; and when he sees me occupied with a bookhe
won't let me rest till I close it. In fine weather he generally
manages to get through the time pretty wellbut on rainy daysof
which we have had a good many of lateit is quite painful to
witness his ennui. I do all I can to amuse himbut it is
impossible to get him to feel interested in what I most like to
talk aboutwhileon the other handhe likes to talk about things
that cannot interest me - or even that annoy me - and these please
him - the most of all: for his favourite amusement is to sit or
loll beside me on the sofaand tell me stories of his former
amoursalways turning upon the ruin of some confiding girl or the
cozening of some unsuspecting husband; and when I express my horror
and indignationhe lays it all to the charge of jealousyand
laughs till the tears run down his cheeks. I used to fly into
passions or melt into tears at firstbut seeing that his delight
increased in proportion to my anger and agitationI have since
endeavoured to suppress my feelings and receive his revelations in
the silence of calm contempt; but still he reads the inward


struggle in my faceand misconstrues my bitterness of soul for his
unworthiness into the pangs of wounded jealousy; and when he has
sufficiently diverted himself with thator fears my displeasure
will become too serious for his comforthe tries to kiss and
soothe me into smiles again - never were his caresses so little
welcome as then! This is double selfishness displayed to me and to
the victims of his former love. There are times whenwith a
momentary pang - a flash of wild dismayI ask myself'Helenwhat
have you done?' But I rebuke the inward questionerand repel the
obtrusive thoughts that crowd upon me; for were he ten times as
sensual and impenetrable to good and lofty thoughtsI well know I
have no right to complain. And I don't and won't complain. I do
and will love him still; and I do not and will not regret that I
have linked my fate with his.

April 4th. - We have had a downright quarrel. The particulars are
as follows: Arthur had told meat different intervalsthe whole
story of his intrigue with Lady F-which I would not believe
before. It was some consolationhoweverto find that in this
instance the lady had been more to blame than hefor he was very
young at the timeand she had decidedly made the first advances
if what he said was true. I hated her for itfor it seemed as if
she had chiefly contributed to his corruption; and when he was
beginning to talk about her the other dayI begged he would not
mention herfor I detested the very sound of her name.

'Not because you loved herArthurmindbut because she injured
you and deceived her husbandand was altogether a very abominable
womanwhom you ought to be ashamed to mention.'

But he defended her by saying that she had a doting old husband
whom it was impossible to love.

'Then why did she marry him?' said I.

'For his money' was the reply.

'Then that was another crimeand her solemn promise to love and
honour him was anotherthat only increased the enormity of the
last.'

'You are too severe upon the poor lady' laughed he. 'But never
mindHelenI don't care for her now; and I never loved any of
them half as much as I do youso you needn't fear to be forsaken
like them.'

'If you had told me these things beforeArthurI never should
have given you the chance.'

'Wouldn't youmy darling?'

'Most certainly not!'

He laughed incredulously.

'I wish I could convince you of it now!' cried Istarting up from
beside him: and for the first time in my lifeand I hope the
lastI wished I had not married him.

'Helen' said hemore gravely'do you know that if I believed you
now I should be very angry? but thank heaven I don't. Though you
stand there with your white face and flashing eyeslooking at me
like a very tigressI know the heart within you perhaps a trifle
better than you know it yourself.'


Without another word I left the room and locked myself up in my own
chamber. In about half an hour he came to the doorand first he
tried the handlethen he knocked.

'Won't you let me inHelen?' said he.

'No; you have displeased me' I replied'and I don't want to see
your face or hear your voice again till the morning.'

He paused a moment as if dumfounded or uncertain how to answer such
a speechand then turned and walked away. This was only an hour
after dinner: I knew he would find it very dull to sit alone all
the evening; and this considerably softened my resentmentthough
it did not make me relent. I was determined to show him that my
heart was not his slaveand I could live without him if I chose;
and I sat down and wrote a long letter to my auntof course
telling her nothing of all this. Soon after ten o'clock I heard
him come up againbut he passed my door and went straight to his
own dressing-roomwhere he shut himself in for the night.

I was rather anxious to see how he would meet me in the morning
and not a little disappointed to behold him enter the breakfastroom
with a careless smile.

'Are you cross stillHelen?' said heapproaching as if to salute
me. I coldly turned to the tableand began to pour out the
coffeeobserving that he was rather late.

He uttered a low whistle and sauntered away to the windowwhere he
stood for some minutes looking out upon the pleasing prospect of
sullen grey cloudsstreaming rainsoaking lawnand dripping
leafless treesand muttering execrations on the weatherand then
sat down to breakfast. While taking his coffee he muttered it was
'd-d cold.'

'You should not have left it so long' said I.

He made no answerand the meal was concluded in silence. It was a
relief to both when the letter-bag was brought in. It contained
upon examination a newspaper and one or two letters for himand a
couple of letters for mewhich he tossed across the table without
a remark. One was from my brotherthe other from Milicent
Hargravewho is now in London with her mother. HisI thinkwere
business lettersand apparently not much to his mindfor he
crushed them into his pocket with some muttered expletives that I
should have reproved him for at any other time. The paper he set
before himand pretended to be deeply absorbed in its contents
during the remainder of breakfastand a considerable time after.

The reading and answering of my lettersand the direction of
household concernsafforded me ample employment for the morning:
after lunch I got my drawingand from dinner till bed-time I read.
Meanwhilepoor Arthur was sadly at a loss for something to amuse
him or to occupy his time. He wanted to appear as busy and as
unconcerned as I did. Had the weather at all permittedhe would
doubtless have ordered his horse and set off to some distant
regionno matter whereimmediately after breakfastand not
returned till night: had there been a lady anywhere within reach
of any age between fifteen and forty-fivehe would have sought
revenge and found employment in getting upor trying to get upa
desperate flirtation with her; but beingto my private
satisfactionentirely cut off from both these sources of
diversionhis sufferings were truly deplorable. When he had done


yawning over his paper and scribbling short answers to his shorter
lettershe spent the remainder of the morning and the whole of the
afternoon in fidgeting about from room to roomwatching the
cloudscursing the rainalternately petting and teasing and
abusing his dogssometimes lounging on the sofa with a book that
he could not force himself to readand very often fixedly gazing
at me when he thought I did not perceive itwith the vain hope of
detecting some traces of tearsor some tokens of remorseful
anguish in my face. But I managed to preserve an undisturbed
though grave serenity throughout the day. I was not really angry:
I felt for him all the timeand longed to be reconciled; but I
determined he should make the first advancesor at least show some
signs of an humble and contrite spirit first; forif I beganit
would only minister to his self-conceitincrease his arrogance
and quite destroy the lesson I wanted to give him.

He made a long stay in the dining-room after dinnerandI fear
took an unusual quantity of winebut not enough to loosen his
tongue: for when he came in and found me quietly occupied with my
booktoo busy to lift my head on his entrancehe merely murmured
an expression of suppressed disapprobationandshutting the door
with a bangwent and stretched himself at full length on the sofa
and composed himself to sleep. But his favourite cockerDash
that had been lying at my feettook the liberty of jumping upon
him and beginning to lick his face. He struck it off with a smart
blowand the poor dog squeaked and ran cowering back to me. When
he woke upabout half an hour afterhe called it to him again
but Dash only looked sheepish and wagged the tip of his tail. He
called again more sharplybut Dash only clung the closer to me
and licked my handas if imploring protection. Enraged at this
his master snatched up a heavy book and hurled it at his head. The
poor dog set up a piteous outcryand ran to the door. I let him
outand then quietly took up the book.

'Give that book to me' said Arthurin no very courteous tone.
gave it to him.

'Why did you let the dog out?' he asked; 'you knew I wanted him.'

'By what token?' I replied; 'by your throwing the book at him? but
perhaps it was intended for me?'

'No; but I see you've got a taste of it' said helooking at my
handthat had also been struckand was rather severely grazed.

I returned to my readingand he endeavoured to occupy himself in
the same manner; but in a little whileafter several portentous
yawnshe pronounced his book to be 'cursed trash' and threw it on
the table. Then followed eight or ten minutes of silenceduring
the greater part of whichI believehe was staring at me. At
last his patience was tired out.

'What is that bookHelen?' he exclaimed.

I told him.

'Is it interesting?'

'Yesvery.'

I went on readingor pretending to readat least - I cannot say
there was much communication between my eyes and my brain; for
while the former ran over the pagesthe latter was earnestly
wondering when Arthur would speak nextand what he would sayand


what I should answer. But he did not speak again till I rose to
make the teaand then it was only to say he should not take any.
He continued lounging on the sofaand alternately closing his eyes
and looking at his watch and at metill bed-timewhen I roseand
took my candle and retired.

'Helen!' cried hethe moment I had left the room. I turned back
and stood awaiting his commands.

'What do you wantArthur?' I said at length.

'Nothing' replied he. 'Go!'

I wentbut hearing him mutter something as I was closing the door
I turned again. It sounded very like 'confounded slut' but I was
quite willing it should be something else.

'Were you speakingArthur?' I asked.

'No' was the answerand I shut the door and departed. I saw
nothing more of him till the following morning at breakfastwhen
he came down a full hour after the usual time.

'You're very late' was my morning's salutation.

'You needn't have waited for me' was his; and he walked up to the
window again. It was just such weather as yesterday.

'Ohthis confounded rain!' he muttered. Butafter studiously
regarding it for a minute or twoa bright ideaseemed to strike
himfor he suddenly exclaimed'But I know what I'll do!' and then
returned and took his seat at the table. The letter-bag was
already therewaiting to be opened. He unlocked it and examined
the contentsbut said nothing about them.

'Is there anything for me?' I asked.

'No.'

He opened the newspaper and began to read.

'You'd better take your coffee' suggested I; 'it will be cold
again.'

'You may go' said he'if you've done; I don't want you.'

I rose and withdrew to the next roomwondering if we were to have
another such miserable day as yesterdayand wishing intensely for
an end of these mutually inflicted torments. Shortly after I heard
him ring the bell and give some orders about his wardrobe that
sounded as if he meditated a long journey. He then sent for the
coachmanand I heard something about the carriage and the horses
and Londonand seven o'clock to-morrow morningthat startled and
disturbed me not a little.

'I must not let him go to Londonwhatever comes of it' said I to
myself; 'he will run into all kinds of mischiefand I shall be the
cause of it. But the question isHow am I to alter his purpose?
WellI will wait awhileand see if he mentions it.'

I waited most anxiouslyfrom hour to hour; but not a word was
spokenon that or any other subjectto me. He whistled and
talked to his dogsand wandered from room to roommuch the same
as on the previous day. At last I began to think I must introduce


the subject myselfand was pondering how to bring it aboutwhen
John unwittingly came to my relief with the following message from
the coachman:

'PleasesirRichard says one of the horses has got a very bad
coldand he thinkssirif you could make it convenient to go the
day after to-morrowinstead of to-morrowhe could physic it today
so as - '

'Confound his impudence!' interjected the master.

'Pleasesirhe says it would be a deal better if you could'
persisted John'for he hopes there'll be a change in the weather
shortlyand he says it's not likelywhen a horse is so bad with a
coldand physicked and all - '

'Devil take the horse!' cried the gentleman. 'Welltell him I'll
think about it' he addedafter a moment's reflection. He cast a
searching glance at meas the servant withdrewexpecting to see
some token of deep astonishment and alarm; butbeing previously
preparedI preserved an aspect of stoical indifference. His
countenance fell as he met my steady gazeand he turned away in
very obvious disappointmentand walked up to the fire-placewhere
he stood in an attitude of undisguised dejectionleaning against
the chimney-piece with his forehead sunk upon his arm.

'Where do you want to goArthur?' said I.

'To London' replied hegravely.

'What for?' I asked.

'Because I cannot be happy here.'

'Why not?'

'Because my wife doesn't love me.'

'She would love you with all her heartif you deserved it.'

'What must I do to deserve it?'

This seemed humble and earnest enough; and I was so much affected
between sorrow and joythat I was obliged to pause a few seconds
before I could steady my voice to reply.

'If she gives you her heart' said I'you must take it
thankfullyand use it welland not pull it in piecesand laugh
in her facebecause she cannot snatch it away.'

He now turned roundand stood facing mewith his back to the
fire. 'ComethenHelenare you going to be a good girl?' said
he.

This sounded rather too arrogantand the smile that accompanied it
did not please me. I therefore hesitated to reply. Perhaps my
former answer had implied too much: he had heard my voice falter
and might have seen me brush away a tear.

'Are you going to forgive meHelen?' he resumedmore humbly.

'Are you penitent?' I repliedstepping up to him and smiling in
his face.


'Heart-broken!' he answeredwith a rueful countenanceyet with a
merry smile just lurking within his eyes and about the corners of
his mouth; but this could not repulse meand I flew into his arms.
He fervently embraced meand though I shed a torrent of tearsI
think I never was happier in my life than at that moment.

'Then you won't go to LondonArthur?' I saidwhen the first
transport of tears and kisses had subsided.

'Nolove- unless you will go with me.'

'I willgladly' I answered'if you think the change will amuse
youand if you will put off the journey till next week.'

He readily consentedbut said there was no need of much
preparationas he should not be for staying longfor he did not
wish me to be Londonizedand to lose my country freshness and
originality by too much intercourse with the ladies of the world.
I thought this folly; but I did not wish to contradict him now: I
merely said that I was of very domestic habitsas he well knew
and had no particular wish to mingle with the world.

So we are to go to London on Mondaythe day after to-morrow. It
is now four days since the termination of our quarreland I am
sure it has done us both good: it has made me like Arthur a great
deal betterand made him behave a great deal better to me. He has
never once attempted to annoy me sinceby the most distant
allusion to Lady F-or any of those disagreeable reminiscences of
his former life. I wish I could blot them from my memoryor else
get him to regard such matters in the same light as I do. Well! it
is somethinghoweverto have made him see that they are not fit
subjects for a conjugal jest. He may see further some time. I
will put no limits to my hopes; andin spite of my aunt's
forebodings and my own unspoken fearsI trust we shall be happy
yet.

CHAPTER XXV

On the eighth of April we went to Londonon the eighth of May I
returnedin obedience to Arthur's wish; very much against my own
because I left him behind. If he had come with meI should have
been very glad to get home againfor he led me such a round of
restless dissipation while therethatin that short space of
timeI was quite tired out. He seemed bent upon displaying me to
his friends and acquaintances in particularand the public in
generalon every possible occasionand to the greatest possible
advantage. It was something to feel that he considered me a worthy
object of pride; but I paid dear for the gratification: forin
the first placeto please him I had to violate my cherished
predilectionsmy almost rooted principles in favour of a plain
darksober style of dress - I must sparkle in costly jewels and
deck myself out like a painted butterflyjust as I hadlong
sincedetermined I would never do - and this was no trifling
sacrifice; in the second placeI was continually straining to
satisfy his sanguine expectations and do honour to his choice by my
general conduct and deportmentand fearing to disappoint him by
some awkward misdemeanouror some trait of inexperienced ignorance
about the customs of societyespecially when I acted the part of
hostesswhich I was not unfrequently called upon to do; andin
the third placeas I intimated beforeI was wearied of the throng


and bustlethe restless hurry and ceaseless change of a life so
alien to all my previous habits. At lasthe suddenly discovered
that the London air did not agree with meand I was languishing
for my country homeand must immediately return to Grassdale.

I laughingly assured him that the case was not so urgent as he
appeared to think itbut I was quite willing to go home if he was.
He replied that he should be obliged to remain a week or two
longeras he had business that required his presence.

'Then I will stay with you' said I.

'But I can't do with youHelen' was his answer: 'as long as you
stay I shall attend to you and neglect my business.'

'But I won't let you' I returned; 'now that I know you have
business to attend toI shall insist upon your attending to it
and letting me alone; andto tell the truthI shall be glad of a
little rest. I can take my rides and walks in the Park as usual;
and your business cannot occupy all your time: I shall see you at
meal-timesand in the evenings at leastand that will be better
than being leagues away and never seeing you at all.'

'Butmy loveI cannot let you stay. How can I settle my affairs
when I know that you are hereneglected -?'

'I shall not feel myself neglected: while you are doing your duty
ArthurI shall never complain of neglect. If you had told me
beforethat you had anything to doit would have been half done
before this; and now you must make up for lost time by redoubled
exertions. Tell me what it is; and I will be your taskmaster
instead of being a hindrance.'

'Nono' persisted the impracticable creature; 'you must go home
Helen; I must have the satisfaction of knowing that you are safe
and wellthough far away. Your bright eyes are fadedand that
tenderdelicate bloom has quite deserted your cheek.'

'That is only with too much gaiety and fatigue.'

'It is notI tell you; it is the London air: you are pining for
the fresh breezes of your country homeand you shall feel them
before you are two days older. And remember your situation
dearest Helen; on your healthyou knowdepends the healthif not
the lifeof our future hope.'

'Then you really wish to get rid of me?'

'PositivelyI do; and I will take you down myself to Grassdale
and then return. I shall not be absent above a week or fortnight
at most.'

'But if I must goI will go alone: if you must stayit is
needless to waste your time in the journey there and back.'

But he did not like the idea of sending me alone.

'Whywhat helpless creature do you take me for' I replied'that
you cannot trust me to go a hundred miles in our own carriagewith
our own footman and a maid to attend me? If you come with me I
shall assuredly keep you. But tell meArthurwhat is this
tiresome business; and why did you never mention it before?'

'It is only a little business with my lawyer' said he; and he told


me something about a piece of property he wanted to sellin order
to pay off a part of the incumbrances on his estate; but either the
account was a little confusedor I was rather dull of
comprehensionfor I could not clearly understand how that should
keep him in town a fortnight after me. Still less can I now
comprehend how it should keep him a monthfor it is nearly that
time since I left himand no signs of his return as yet. In every
letter he promises to be with me in a few daysand every time
deceives meor deceives himself. His excuses are vague and
insufficient. I cannot doubt that he has got among his former
companions again. Ohwhy did I leave him! I wish - I do
intensely wish he would return!

June 29th. - No Arthur yet; and for many days I have been looking
and longing in vain for a letter. His letterswhen they comeare
kindif fair words and endearing epithets can give them a claim to
the title - but very shortand full of trivial excuses and
promises that I cannot trust; and yet how anxiously I look forward
to them I how eagerly I open and devour one of those little
hastily-scribbled returns for the three or four long letters
hitherto unansweredhe has had from me!

Ohit is cruel to leave me so long alone! He knows I have no one
but Rachel to speak tofor we have no neighbours hereexcept the
Hargraveswhose residence I can dimly descry from these upper
windows embosomed among those lowwoody hills beyond the Dale. I
was glad when I learnt that Milicent was so near us; and her
company would be a soothing solace to me now; but she is still in
town with her mother; there is no one at the Grove but little
Esther and her French governessfor Walter is always away. I saw
that paragon of manly perfections in London: he seemed scarcely to
merit the eulogiums of his mother and sisterthough he certainly
appeared more conversable and agreeable than Lord Lowboroughmore
candid and high-minded than Mr. Grimsbyand more polished and
gentlemanly than Mr. HattersleyArthur's only other friend whom he
judged fit to introduce to me. - OhArthurwhy won't you come?
why won't you write to me at least? You talked about my health:
how can you expect me to gather bloom and vigour herepining in
solitude and restless anxiety from day to day? - It would serve you
right to come back and find my good looks entirely wasted away. I
would beg my uncle and auntor my brotherto come and see mebut
I do not like to complain of my loneliness to themand indeed
loneliness is the least of my sufferings. But what is hedoing what
is it that keeps him away? It is this ever-recurring
questionand the horrible suggestions it raisesthat distract me.

July 3rd. - My last bitter letter has wrung from him an answer at
lastand a rather longer one than usual; but still I don't know
what to make of it. He playfully abuses me for the gall and
vinegar of my latest effusiontells me I can have no conception of
the multitudinous engagements that keep him awaybut avers that
in spite of them allhe will assuredly be with me before the close
of next week; though it is impossible for a man so circumstanced as
he is to fix the precise day of his return: meantime he exhorts me
to the exercise of patience'that first of woman's virtues' and
desires me to remember the saying'Absence makes the heart grow
fonder' and comfort myself with the assurance that the longer he
stays away the better he shall love me when he returns; and till he
does returnhe begs I will continue to write to him constantly
forthough he is sometimes too idle and often too busy to answer
my letters as they comehe likes to receive them daily; and if I
fulfil my threat of punishing his seeming neglect by ceasing to
writehe shall be so angry that he will do his utmost to forget
me. He adds this piece of intelligence respecting poor Milicent


Hargrave:

'Your little friend Milicent is likelybefore longto follow your
exampleand take upon her the yoke of matrimony in conjunction
with a friend of mine. Hattersleyyou knowhas not yet fulfilled
his direful threat of throwing his precious person away on the
first old maid that chose to evince a tenderness for him; but he
still preserves a resolute determination to see himself a married
man before the year is out. "Only said he to me, I must have
somebody that will let me have my own way in everything - not like
your wifeHuntingdon: she is a charming creaturebut she looks
as if she had a will of her ownand could play the vixen upon
occasion" (I thought "you're right thereman but I didn't say
so). I must have some goodquiet soul that will let me just do
what I like and go where I likekeep at home or stay awaywithout
a word of reproach or complaint; for I can't do with being
bothered." "Well said I, I know somebody that will suit you to
a teeif you don't care for moneyand that's Hargrave's sister
Milicent." He desired to be introduced to her forthwithfor he
said he had plenty of the needful himselfor should have when his
old governor chose to quit the stage. So you seeHelenI have
managed pretty wellboth for your friend and mine.'

Poor Milicent! But I cannot imagine she will ever be led to accept
such a suitor - one so repugnant to all her ideas of a man to be
honoured and loved.

5th. - Alas! I was mistaken. I have got a long letter from her
this morningtelling me she is already engagedand expects to be
married before the close of the month.

'I hardly know what to say about it' she writes'or what to
think. To tell you the truthHelenI don't like the thoughts of
it at all. If I am to be Mr. Hattersley's wifeI must try to love
him; and I do try with all my might; but I have made very little
progress yet; and the worst symptom of the case isthat the
further he is from me the better I like him: he frightens me with
his abrupt manners and strange hectoring waysand I dread the
thoughts of marrying him. "Then why have you accepted him?" you
will ask; and I didn't know I had accepted him; but mamma tells me
I haveand he seems to think so too. I certainly didn't mean to
do so; but I did not like to give him a flat refusalfor fear
mamma should be grieved and angry (for I knew she wished me to
marry him)and I wanted to talk to her first about it: So I gave
him what I thought was an evasivehalf negative answer; but she
says it was as good as an acceptanceand he would think me very
capricious if I were to attempt to draw back - and indeed I was so
confused and frightened at the momentI can hardly tell what I
said. And next time I saw himhe accosted me in all confidence as
his affianced brideand immediately began to settle matters with
mamma. I had not courage to contradict them thenand how can I do
it now? I cannot; they would think me mad. Besidesmamma is so
delighted with the idea of the match; she thinks she has managed so
well for me; and I cannot bear to disappoint her. I do object
sometimesand tell her what I feelbut you don't know how she
talks. Mr. Hattersleyyou knowis the son of a rich bankerand
as Esther and I have no fortunesand Walter very littleour dear
mamma is very anxious to see us all well marriedthat isunited
to rich partners. It is not my idea of being well marriedbut she
means it all for the best. She says when I am safe off her hands
it will be such a relief to her mind; and she assures me it will be
a good thing for the family as well as for me. Even Walter is
pleased at the prospectand when I confessed my reluctance to him
he said it was all childish nonsense. Do you think it nonsense


Helen? I should not care if I could see any prospect of being able
to love and admire himbut I can't. There is nothing about him to
hang one's esteem and affection upon; he is so diametrically
opposite to what I imagined my husband should be. Do write to me
and say all you can to encourage me. Don't attempt to dissuade me
for my fate is fixed: preparations for the important event are
already going on around me; and don't say a word against Mr.
Hattersleyfor I want to think well of him; and though I have
spoken against him myselfit is for the last time: hereafterI
shall never permit myself to utter a word in his dispraisehowever
he may seem to deserve it; and whoever ventures to speak
slightingly of the man I have promised to loveto honourand
obeymust expect my serious displeasure. After allI think he is
quite as good as Mr. Huntingdonif not better; and yet you love
himand seem to be happy and contented; and perhaps I may manage
as well. You must tell meif you canthat Mr. Hattersley is
better than he seems - that he is uprighthonourableand openhearted
- in facta perfect diamond in the rough. He may be all
thisbut I don't know him. I know only the exteriorand whatI
trustis the worst part of him.'

She concludes with 'Good-bydear Helen. I am waiting anxiously
for your advice - but mind you let it be all on the right side.'

Alas! poor Milicentwhat encouragement can I give you? or what
advice - except that it is better to make a bold stand nowthough
at the expense of disappointing and angering both mother and
brother and loverthan to devote your whole lifehereafterto
misery and vain regret?

Saturday13th. - The week is overand he is not come. All the
sweet summer is passing away without one breath of pleasure to me
or benefit to him. And I had all along been looking forward to
this season with the fonddelusive hope that we should enjoy it so
sweetly together; and thatwith God's help and my exertionsit
would be the means of elevating his mindand refining his taste to
a due appreciation of the salutary and pure delights of natureand
peaceand holy love. But now - at eveningwhen I see the round
red sun sink quietly down behind those woody hillsleaving them
sleeping in a warmredgolden hazeI only think another lovely
day is lost to him and me; and at morningwhen roused by the
flutter and chirp of the sparrowsand the gleeful twitter of the
swallows - all intent upon feeding their youngand full of life
and joy in their own little frames - I open the window to inhale
the balmysoul-reviving airand look out upon the lovely
landscapelaughing in dew and sunshine - I too often shame that
glorious scene with tears of thankless miserybecause he cannot
feel its freshening influence; and when I wander in the ancient
woodsand meet the little wild flowers smiling in my pathor sit
in the shadow of our noble ash-trees by the water-sidewith their
branches gently swaying in the light summer breeze that murmurs
through their feathery foliage - my ears full of that low music
mingled with the dreamy hum of insectsmy eyes abstractedly gazing
on the glassy surface of the little lake before mewith the trees
that crowd about its banksome gracefully bending to kiss its
waterssome rearing their stately heads high abovebut stretching
their wide arms over its marginall faithfully mirrored farfar
down in its glassy depth - though sometimes the images are
partially broken by the sport of aquatic insectsand sometimes
for a momentthe whole is shivered into trembling fragments by a
transient breeze that sweeps the surface too roughly - still I have
no pleasure; for the greater the happiness that nature sets before
methe more I lament that he is not here to taste it: the greater
the bliss we might enjoy togetherthe more I feel our present


wretchedness apart (yesours; he must be wretchedthough he may
not know it); and the more my senses are pleasedthe more my heart
is oppressed; for he keeps it with him confined amid the dust and
smoke of London - perhaps shut up within the walls of his own
abominable club.

But most of allat nightwhen I enter my lonely chamberand look
out upon the summer moon'sweet regent of the sky' floating above
me in the 'black blue vault of heaven' shedding a flood of silver
radiance over parkand woodand waterso pureso peacefulso
divine - and thinkWhere is he now? - what is he doing at this
moment? wholly unconscious of this heavenly scene - perhaps
revelling with his boon companionsperhaps - God help meit is
too - too much!

23rd. - Thank heavenhe is come at last! But how altered! flushed
and feverishlistless and languidhis beauty strangely
diminishedhis vigour and vivacity quite departed. I have not
upbraided him by word or look; I have not even asked him what he
has been doing. I have not the heart to do itfor I think he is
ashamed of himself-he must be so indeedand such inquiries could
not fail to be painful to both. My forbearance pleases him touches
him evenI am inclined to think. He says he is glad to be
home againand God knows how glad I am to get him backeven as he
is. He lies on the sofanearly all day long; and I play and sing
to him for hours together. I write his letters for himand get
him everything he wants; and sometimes I read to himand sometimes
I talkand sometimes only sit by him and soothe him with silent
caresses. I know he does not deserve it; and I fear I am spoiling
him; but this onceI will forgive himfreely and entirely. I
will shame him into virtue if I canand I will never let him leave
me again.

He is pleased with my attentions - it may begrateful for them.
He likes to have me near him: and though he is peevish and testy
with his servants and his dogshe is gentle and kind to me. What
he would beif I did not so watchfully anticipate his wantsand
so carefully avoidor immediately desist from doing anything that
has a tendency to irritate or disturb himwith however little
reasonI cannot tell. How intensely I wish he were worthy of all
this care! Last nightas I sat beside himwith his head in my
lappassing my fingers through his beautiful curlsthis thought
made my eyes overflow with sorrowful tears - as it often does; but
this timea tear fell on his face and made him look up. He
smiledbut not insultingly.

'Dear Helen!' he said - 'why do you cry? you know that I love you'
(and he pressed my hand to his feverish lips)'and what more could
you desire?'

'OnlyArthurthat you would love yourself as truly and as
faithfully as you are loved by me.'

'That would be hardindeed!' he repliedtenderly squeezing my
hand.

August 24th. - Arthur is himself againas lusty and recklessas
light of heart and head as everand as restless and hard to amuse
as a spoilt childand almost as full of mischief tooespecially
when wet weather keeps him within doors. I wish he had something
to dosome useful tradeor professionor employment - anything
to occupy his head or his hands for a few hours a dayand give him
something besides his own pleasure to think about. If he would
play the country gentleman and attend to the farm - but that he


knows nothing aboutand won't give his mind to consider- or if
he would take up with some literary studyor learn to draw or to
play - as he is so fond of musicI often try to persuade him to
learn the pianobut he is far too idle for such an undertaking:
he has no more idea of exerting himself to overcome obstacles than
he has of restraining his natural appetites; and these two things
are the ruin of him. I lay them both to the charge of his harsh
yet careless fatherand his madly indulgent mother. - If ever I am
a mother I will zealously strive against this crime of overindulgence.
I can hardly give it a milder name when I think of the
evils it brings.

Happilyit will soon be the shooting seasonand thenif the
weather permithe will find occupation enough in the pursuit and
destruction of the partridges and pheasants: we have no grouseor
he might have been similarly occupied at this momentinstead of
lying under the acacia-tree pulling poor Dash's ears. But he says
it is dull work shooting alone; he must have a friend or two to
help him.

'Let them be tolerably decent thenArthur' said I. The word
'friend' in his mouth makes me shudder: I know it was some of his
'friends' that induced him to stay behind me in Londonand kept
him away so long: indeedfrom what he has unguardedly told meor
hinted from time to timeI cannot doubt that he frequently showed
them my lettersto let them see how fondly his wife watched over
his interestsand how keenly she regretted his absence; and that
they induced him to remain week after weekand to plunge into all
manner of excessesto avoid being laughed at for a wife-ridden
foolandperhapsto show how far he could venture to go without
danger of shaking the fond creature's devoted attachment. It is a
hateful ideabut I cannot believe it is a false one.

'Well' replied he'I thought of Lord Lowborough for one; but
there is no possibility of getting him without his better halfour
mutual friendAnnabella; so we must ask them both. You're not
afraid of herare youHelen?' he askedwith a mischievous
twinkle in his eyes.

'Of course not' I answered: 'why should I? And who besides?'

'Hargrave for one. He will be glad to comethough his own place
is so nearfor he has little enough land of his own to shoot over
and we can extend our depredations into itif we like; and he is
thoroughly respectableyou knowHelen - quite a lady's man: and
I thinkGrimsby for another: he's a decentquiet fellow enough.
You'll not object to Grimsby?'

'I hate him: buthoweverif you wish itI'll try to endure his
presence for a while.'

'All a prejudiceHelena mere woman's antipathy.'

'No; I have solid grounds for my dislike. And is that all?'

'WhyyesI think so. Hattersley will be too busy billing and
cooingwith his bride to have much time to spare for guns and dogs
at present' he replied. And that reminds methat I have had
several letters from Milicent since her marriageand that she
either isor pretends to bequite reconciled to her lot. She
professes to have discovered numberless virtues and perfections in
her husbandsome of whichI fearless partial eyes would fail to
distinguishthough they sought them carefully with tears; and now
that she is accustomed to his loud voiceand abruptuncourteous


mannersshe affirms she finds no difficulty in loving him as a
wife should doand begs I will burn that letter wherein she spoke
so unadvisedly against him. So that I trust she may yet be happy;
butif she isit will be entirely the reward of her own goodness
of heart; for had she chosen to consider herself the victim of
fateor of her mother's worldly wisdomshe might have been
thoroughly miserable; and iffor duty's sakeshe had not made
every effort to love her husbandshe woulddoubtlesshave hated
him to the end of her days.

CHAPTER XXVI

Sept. 23rd. - Our guests arrived about three weeks ago. Lord and
Lady Lowborough have now been married above eight months; and I
will do the lady the credit to say that her husband is quite an
altered man; his lookshis spiritsand his temperare all
perceptibly changed for the better since I last saw him. But there
is room for improvement still. He is not always cheerfulnor
always contentedand she often complains of his ill-humourwhich
howeverof all personsshe ought to be the last to accuse him of
as he never displays it against herexcept for such conduct as
would provoke a saint. He adores her stilland would go to the
world's end to please her. She knows her powerand she uses it
too; but well knowing that to wheedle and coax is safer than to
commandshe judiciously tempers her despotism with flattery and
blandishments enough to make him deem himself a favoured and a
happy man.

But she has a way of tormenting himin which I am a fellowsufferer
or might beif I chose to regard myself as such. This
is by openlybut not too glaringlycoquetting with Mr.
Huntingdonwho is quite willing to be her partner in the game; but
I don't care for itbecausewith himI know there is nothing but
personal vanityand a mischievous desire to excite my jealousy
andperhapsto torment his friend; and sheno doubtis actuated
by much the same motives; onlythere is more of malice and less of
playfulness in her manoeuvres. It is obviouslythereforemy
interest to disappoint them bothas far as I am concernedby
preserving a cheerfulundisturbed serenity throughout; and
accordinglyI endeavour to show the fullest confidence in my
husbandand the greatest indifference to the arts of my attractive
guest. I have never reproached the former but onceand that was
for laughing at Lord Lowborough's depressed and anxious countenance
one eveningwhen they had both been particularly provoking; and
thenindeedI said a good deal on the subjectand rebuked him
sternly enough; but he only laughedand said- 'You can feel for
himHelencan't you?'

'I can feel for anyone that is unjustly treated' I replied'and I
can feel for those that injure them too.'

'WhyHelenyou are as jealous as he is!' cried helaughing still
more; and I found it impossible to convince him of his mistake.
Sofrom that timeI have carefully refrained from any notice of
the subject whateverand left Lord Lowborough to take care of
himself. He either has not the sense or the power to follow my
examplethough he does try to conceal his uneasiness as well as he
can; but stillit will appear in his faceand his ill-humour will
peep out at intervalsthough not in the expression of open
resentment - they never go far enough for that. But I confess I do


feel jealous at timesmost painfullybitterly so; when she sings
and plays to himand he hangs over the instrumentand dwells upon
her voice with no affected interest; for then I know he is really
delightedand I have no power to awaken similar fervour. I can
amuse and please him with my simple songsbut not delight him
thus.

28th. - Yesterdaywe all went to the GroveMr. Hargrave's muchneglected
home. His mother frequently asks us overthat she may
have the pleasure of her dear Walter's company; and this time she
had invited us to a dinner-partyand got together as many of the
country gentry as were within reach to meet us. The entertainment
was very well got up; but I could not help thinking about the cost
of it all the time. I don't like Mrs. Hargrave; she is a hard
pretentiousworldly-minded woman. She has money enough to live
very comfortablyif she only knew how to use it judiciouslyand
had taught her son to do the same; but she is ever straining to
keep up appearanceswith that despicable pride that shuns the
semblance of poverty as of a shameful crime. She grinds her
dependentspinches her servantsand deprives even her daughters
and herself of the real comforts of lifebecause she will not
consent to yield the palm in outward show to those who have three
times her wealth; andabove allbecause she is determined her
cherished son shall be enabled to 'hold up his head with the
highest gentlemen in the land.' This same sonI imagineis a man
of expensive habitsno reckless spendthrift and no abandoned
sensualistbut one who likes to have 'everything handsome about
him' and to go to a certain length in youthful indulgencesnot so
much to gratify his own tastes as to maintain his reputation as a
man of fashion in the worldand a respectable fellow among his own
lawless companions; while he is too selfish to consider how many
comforts might be obtained for his fond mother and sisters with the
money he thus wastes upon himself: as long as they can contrive to
make a respectable appearance once a yearwhen they come to town
he gives himself little concern about their private stintings and
struggles at home. This is a harsh judgment to form of 'dear
noble-mindedgenerous-hearted Walter' but I fear it is too just.

Mrs. Hargrave's anxiety to make good matches for her daughters is
partly the causeand partly the resultof these errors: by
making a figure in the worldand showing them off to advantage
she hopes to obtain better chances for them; and by thus living
beyond her legitimate meansand lavishing so much on their
brothershe renders them portionlessand makes them burdens on
her hands. Poor MilicentI fearhas already fallen a sacrifice
to the manoeuvrings of this mistaken motherwho congratulates
herself on having so satisfactorily discharged her maternal duty
and hopes to do as well for Esther. But Esther is a child as yet
a little merry romp of fourteen: as honest-heartedand as
guileless and simple as her sisterbut with a fearless spirit of
her ownthat I fancy her mother will find some difficulty in
bending to her purposes.

CHAPTER XXVII

October 9th. - It was on the night of the 4tha little after tea
that Annabella had been singing and playingwith Arthur as usual
at her side: she had ended her songbut still she sat at the
instrument; and he stood leaning on the back of her chair
conversing in scarcely audible toneswith his face in very close


proximity with hers. I looked at Lord Lowborough. He was at the
other end of the roomtalking with Messrs. Hargrave and Grimsby;
but I saw him dart towards his lady and his host a quickimpatient
glanceexpressive of intense disquietudeat which Grimsby smiled.
Determined to interrupt the TETE-E-TETEI roseandselecting a
piece of music from the music standstepped up to the piano
intending to ask the lady to play it; but I stood transfixed and
speechless on seeing her seated therelisteningwith what seemed
an exultant smile on her flushed face to his soft murmuringswith
her hand quietly surrendered to his clasp. The blood rushed first
to my heartand then to my head; for there was more than this:
almost at the moment of my approachhe cast a hurried glance over
his shoulder towards the other occupants of the roomand then
ardently pressed the unresisting hand to his lips. On raising his
eyeshe beheld meand dropped them againconfounded and
dismayed. She saw me tooand confronted me with a look of hard
defiance. I laid the music on the pianoand retired. I felt ill;
but I did not leave the room: happilyit was getting lateand
could not be long before the company dispersed.

I went to the fireand leant my head against the chimney-piece.
In a minute or twosome one asked me if I felt unwell. I did not
answer; indeedat the timeI knew not what was said; but I
mechanically looked upand saw Mr. Hargrave standing beside me on
the rug.

'Shall I get you a glass of wine?' said he.

'Nothank you' I replied; andturning from himI looked round.
Lady Lowborough was beside her husbandbending over him as he sat
with her hand on his shouldersoftly talking and smiling in his
face; and Arthur was at the tableturning over a book of
engravings. I seated myself in the nearest chair; and Mr.
Hargravefinding his services were not desiredjudiciously
withdrew. Shortly afterthe company broke upandas the guests
were retiring to their roomsArthur approached mesmiling with
the utmost assurance.

'Are you very angryHelen?' murmured he.

'This is no jestArthur' said Iseriouslybut as calmly as I
could - 'unless you think it a jest to lose my affection for ever.'

'What! so bitter?' he exclaimedlaughinglyclasping my hand
between both his; but I snatched it awayin indignation - almost
in disgustfor he was obviously affected with wine.

'Then I must go down on my knees' said he; and kneeling before me
with clasped handsuplifted in mock humiliationhe continued
imploringly - 'Forgive meHelen - dear Helenforgive meand I'll
never do it again!' andburying his face in his handkerchiefhe
affected to sob aloud.

Leaving him thus employedI took my candleandslipping quietly
from the roomhastened up-stairs as fast as I could. But he soon
discovered that I had left himandrushing up after mecaught me
in his armsjust as I had entered the chamberand was about to
shut the door in his face.

'Nonoby heavenyou sha'n't escape me so!' he cried. Then
alarmed at my agitationhe begged me not to put myself in such a
passiontelling me I was white in the faceand should kill myself
if I did so.


'Let me gothen' I murmured; and immediately he released me - and
it was well he didfor I was really in a passion. I sank into the
easy-chair and endeavoured to compose myselffor I wanted to speak
to him calmly. He stood beside mebut did not venture to touch me
or to speak for a few seconds; thenapproaching a little nearer
he dropped on one knee - not in mock humilitybut to bring himself
nearer my leveland leaning his hand on the arm of the chairhe
began in a low voice: 'It is all nonsenseHelen - a jesta mere
nothing - not worth a thought. Will you never learn' he continued
more boldly'that you have nothing to fear from me? that I love
you wholly and entirely? - or if' he added with a lurking smile
'I ever give a thought to anotheryou may well spare itfor those
fancies are here and gone like a flash of lightningwhile my love
for you burns on steadilyand for everlike the sun. You little
exorbitant tyrantwill not that -?'

'Be quiet a momentwill youArthur?' said I'and listen to me and
don't think I'm in a jealous fury: I am perfectly calm. Feel
my hand.' And I gravely extended it towards him - but closed it
upon his with an energy that seemed to disprove the assertionand
made him smile. 'You needn't smilesir' said Istill tightening
my graspand looking steadfastly on him till he almost quailed
before me. 'You may think it all very fineMr. Huntingdonto
amuse yourself with rousing my jealousy; but take care you don't
rouse my hate instead. And when you have once extinguished my
loveyou will find it no easy matter to kindle it again.'

'WellHelenI won't repeat the offence. But I meant nothing by
itI assure you. I had taken too much wineand I was scarcely
myself at the time.'

'You often take too much; and that is another practice I detest.'
He looked up astonished at my warmth. 'Yes' I continued; 'I never
mentioned it beforebecause I was ashamed to do so; but now I'll
tell you that it distresses meand may disgust meif you go on
and suffer the habit to grow upon youas it will if you don't
check it in time. But the whole system of your conduct to Lady
Lowborough is not referable to wine; and this night you knew
perfectly well what you were doing.'

'WellI'm sorry for it' replied hewith more of sulkiness than
contrition: 'what more would you have?'

'You are sorry that I saw youno doubt' I answered coldly.

'If you had not seen me' he mutteredfixing his eyes on the
carpet'it would have done no harm.'

My heart felt ready to burst; but I resolutely swallowed back my
emotionand answered calmly

'You think not?'

'No' replied heboldly. 'After allwhat have I done? It's
nothing - except as you choose to make it a subject of accusation
and distress.'

'What would Lord Lowboroughyour friendthinkif he knew all? or
what would you yourself thinkif he or any other had acted the
same part to methroughoutas you have to Annabella?'

'I would blow his brains out.'

'WellthenArthurhow can you call it nothing - an offence for


which you would think yourself justified in blowing another man's
brains out? Is it nothing to trifle with your friend's feelings
and mine - to endeavour to steal a woman's affections from her
husband - what he values more than his goldand therefore what it
is more dishonest to take? Are the marriage vows a jest; and is it
nothing to make it your sport to break themand to tempt another
to do the same? Can I love a man that does such thingsand coolly
maintains it is nothing?'


'You are breaking your marriage vows yourself' said he
indignantly rising and pacing to and fro. 'You promised to honour
and obey meand now you attempt to hector over meand threaten
and accuse meand call me worse than a highwayman. If it were not
for your situationHelenI would not submit to it so tamely. I
won't be dictated to by a womanthough she be my wife.'


'What will you do then? Will you go on till I hate youand then
accuse me of breaking my vows?'


He was silent a. momentand then replied: 'You never will hate
me.' Returning and resuming his former position at my feethe
repeated more vehemently - 'You cannot hate me as long as I love
you.'


'But how can I believe that you love meif you continue to act in
this way? Just imagine yourself in my place: would you think I
loved youif I did so? Would you believe my protestationsand
honour and trust me under such circumstances? '


'The cases are different' he replied. 'It is a woman's nature to
be constant - to love one and one onlyblindlytenderlyand for
ever - bless themdear creatures! and you above them all; but you
must have some commiseration for usHelen; you must give us a
little more licenceforas Shakespeare has it -


However we do praise ourselves
Our fancies are more giddy and unfirm
More longingwaveringsooner lost and won
Than women's are.'


'Do you mean by thatthat your fancies are lost to meand won by
Lady Lowborough?'


'No! heaven is my witness that I think her mere dust and ashes in
comparison with youand shall continue to think sounless you
drive me from you by too much severity. She is a daughter of
earth; you are an angel of heaven; only be not too austere in your
divinityand remember that I am a poorfallible mortal. Come
nowHelen; won't you forgive me?' he saidgently taking my hand
and looking up with an innocent smile.


'If I doyou will repeat the offence.'


'I swear by - '


'Don't swear; I'll believe your word as well as your oath. I wish
I could have confidence in either.'


'Try methenHelen: only trust and pardon me this onceand you
shall see! ComeI am in hell's torments till you speak the word.'


I did not speak itbut I put my hand on his shoulder and kissed



his foreheadand then burst into tears. He embraced me tenderly;
and we have been good friends ever since. He has been decently
temperate at tableand well-conducted towards Lady Lowborough.
The first day he held himself aloof from heras far as he could
without any flagrant breach of hospitality: since that he has been
friendly and civilbut nothing more - in my presenceat least
norI thinkat any other time; for she seems haughty and
displeasedand Lord Lowborough is manifestly more cheerfuland
more cordial towards his host than before. But I shall be glad
when they are gonefor I have so little love for Annabella that it
is quite a task to be civil to herand as she is the only woman
here besides myselfwe are necessarily thrown so much together.
Next time Mrs. Hargrave calls I shall hail her advent as quite a
relief. I have a good mind to ask Arthur's leave to invite the old
lady to stay with us till our guests depart. I think I will. She
will take it as a kind attentionandthough I have little relish
for her societyshe will be truly welcome as a third to stand
between Lady Lowborough and me.

The first time the latter and I were alone togetherafter that
unhappy eveningwas an hour or two after breakfast on the
following daywhen the gentlemen were gone outafter the usual
time spent in the writing of lettersthe reading of newspapers
and desultory conversation. We sat silent for two or three
minutes. She was busy with her workand I was running over the
columns of a paper from which I had extracted all the pith some
twenty minutes before. It was a moment of painful embarrassment to
meand I thought it must be infinitely more so to her; but it
seems I was mistaken. She was the first to speak; andsmiling
with the coolest assuranceshe began


'Your husband was merry last nightHelen: is he often so?'

My blood boiled in my face; but it was better she should seem to
attribute his conduct to this than to anything else.

'No' replied I'and never will be so againI trust.'

'You gave him a curtain lecturedid you?'

'No! but I told him I disliked such conductand he promised me not
to repeat it.'

'I thought he looked rather subdued this morning' she continued;
'and youHelen? you've been weepingI see - that's our grand
resourceyou know. But doesn't it make your eyes smart? and do
you always find it to answer?'

'I never cry for effect; nor can I conceive how any one can.'

'WellI don't know: I never had occasion to try it; but I think
if Lowborough were to commit such improprietiesI'd make him cry.
I don't wonder at your being angryfor I'm sure I'd give my
husband a lesson he would not soon forget for a lighter offence
than that. But then he never will do anything of the kind; for I
keep him in too good order for that.'

'Are you sure you don't arrogate too much of the credit to
yourself. Lord Lowborough was quite as remarkable for his
abstemiousness for some time before you married himas he is now
I have heard.'

'Ohabout the wine you mean - yeshe's safe enough for that. And
as to looking askance to another womanhe's safe enough for that


toowhile I livefor he worships the very ground I tread on.'

'Indeed! and are you sure you deserve it?'

'Whyas to thatI can't say: you know we're all fallible
creaturesHelen; we none of us deserve to be worshipped. But are
you sure your darling Huntingdon deserves all the love you give to
him?'

I knew not what to answer to this. I was burning with anger; but I
suppressed all outward manifestations of itand only bit my lip
and pretended to arrange my work.

'At any rate' resumed shepursuing her advantage'you can
console yourself with the assurance that you are worthy of all the
love he gives to you.'

'You flatter me' said I; 'butat leastI can try to be worthy of
it.' And then I turned the conversation.

CHAPTER XXVIII

December 25th. - Last Christmas I was a bridewith a heart
overflowing with present blissand full of ardent hopes for the
futurethough not unmingled with foreboding fears. Now I am a
wife: my bliss is soberedbut not destroyed; my hopes diminished
but not departed; my fears increasedbut not yet thoroughly
confirmed; andthank heavenI am a mother too. God has sent me a
soul to educate for heavenand give me a new and calmer blissand
stronger hopes to comfort me.

Dec. 25th1823. - Another year is gone. My little Arthur lives
and thrives. He is healthybut not robustfull of gentle
playfulness and vivacityalready affectionateand susceptible of
passions and emotions it will be long ere he can find words to
express. He has won his father's heart at last; and now my
constant terror islest he should be ruined by that father's
thoughtless indulgence. But I must beware of my own weakness too
for I never knew till now how strong are a parent's temptations to
spoil an only child.

I have need of consolation in my sonfor (to this silent paper I
may confess it) I have but little in my husband. I love him still;
and he loves mein his own way - but ohhow different from the
love I could have givenand once had hoped to receive! How little
real sympathy there exists between us; how many of my thoughts and
feelings are gloomily cloistered within my own mind; how much of my
higher and better self is indeed unmarried - doomed either to
harden and sour in the sunless shade of solitudeor to quite
degenerate and fall away for lack of nutriment in this unwholesome
soil! ButI repeatI have no right to complain; only let me
state the truth - some of the truthat least- and see hereafter
if any darker truths will blot these pages. We have now been full
two years united; the 'romance' of our attachment must be worn
away. Surely I have now got down to the lowest gradation in
Arthur's affectionand discovered all the evils of his nature: if
there be any further changeit must be for the betteras we
become still more accustomed to each other; surely we shall find no
lower depth than this. Andif soI can bear it well - as well
at leastas I have borne it hitherto.


Arthur is not what is commonly called a bad man: he has many good
qualities; but he is a man without self-restraint or lofty
aspirationsa lover of pleasuregiven up to animal enjoyments:
he is not a bad husbandbut his notions of matrimonial duties and
comforts are not my notions. Judging from appearanceshis idea of
a wife is a thing to love one devotedlyand to stay at home to
wait upon her husbandand amuse him and minister to his comfort in
every possible waywhile he chooses to stay with her; andwhen he
is absentto attend to his interestsdomestic or otherwiseand
patiently wait his returnno matter how he may be occupied in the
meantime.

Early in spring he announced his intention of going to London: his
affairs there demanded his attendancehe saidand he could refuse
it no longer. He expressed his regret at having to leave mebut
hoped I would amuse myself with the baby till he returned.

'But why leave me?' I said. 'I can go with you: I can be ready at
any time.'

'You would not take that child to town?'

'Yes; why not?'

The thing was absurd: the air of the town would be certain to
disagree with himand with me as a nurse; the late hours and
London habits would not suit me under such circumstances; and
altogether he assured me that it would be excessively troublesome
injuriousand unsafe. I over-ruled his objections as well as I
couldfor I trembled at the thoughts of his going aloneand would
sacrifice almost anything for myselfmuch even for my childto
prevent it; but at length he told meplainlyand somewhat
testilythat he could not do with me: he was worn out with the
baby's restless nightsand must have some repose. I proposed
separate apartments; but it would not do.

'The truth isArthur' I said at last'you are weary of my
companyand determined not to have me with you. You might as well
have said so at once.'

He denied it; but I immediately left the roomand flew to the
nurseryto hide my feelingsif I could not soothe themthere.

I was too much hurt to express any further dissatisfaction with his
plansor at all to refer to the subject againexcept for the
necessary arrangements concerning his departure and the conduct of
affairs during his absencetill the day before he wentwhen I
earnestly exhorted him to take care of himself and keep out of the
way of temptation. He laughed at my anxietybut assured me there
was no cause for itand promised to attend to my advice.

'I suppose it is no use asking you to fix a day for your return?'
said I.

'Whyno; I hardly canunder the circumstances; but be assured
loveI shall not be long away.'

'I don't wish to keep you a prisoner at home' I replied; 'I should
not grumble at your staying whole months away - if you can be happy
so long without me - provided I knew you were safe; but I don't
like the idea of your being there among your friendsas you call
them.'


'Poohpoohyou silly girl! Do you think I can't take care of
myself?'

'You didn't last time. But THIS timeArthur' I addedearnestly
'show me that you canand teach me that I need not fear to trust
you!'

He promised fairbut in such a manner as we seek to soothe a
child. And did he keep his promise? No; and henceforth I can
never trust his word. Bitterbitter confession! Tears blind me
while I write. It was early in March that he wentand he did not
return till July. This time he did not trouble himself to make
excuses as beforeand his letters were less frequentand shorter
and less affectionateespecially after the first few weeks: they
came slower and slowerand more terse and careless every time.
But stillwhen I omitted writinghe complained of my neglect.
When I wrote sternly and coldlyas I confess I frequently did at
the lasthe blamed my harshnessand said it was enough to scare
him from his home: when I tried mild persuasionhe was a little
more gentle in his repliesand promised to return; but I had
learntat lastto disregard his promises.

CHAPTER XXIX

Those were four miserable monthsalternating between intense
anxietydespairand indignationpity for him and pity for
myself. And yetthrough allI was not wholly comfortless: I had
my darlingsinlessinoffensive little one to console me; but even
this consolation was embittered by the constantly-recurring
thought'How shall I teach him hereafter to respect his father
and yet to avoid his example?'

But I remembered that I had brought all these afflictionsin a
manner wilfullyupon myself; and I determined to bear them without
a murmur. At the same time I resolved not to give myself up to
misery for the transgressions of anotherand endeavoured to divert
myself as much as I could; and besides the companionship of my
childand my dearfaithful Rachelwho evidently guessed my
sorrows and felt for themthough she was too discreet to allude to
themI had my books and pencilmy domestic affairsand the
welfare and comfort of Arthur's poor tenants and labourers to
attend to: and I sometimes sought and obtained amusement in the
company of my young friend Esther Hargrave: occasionally I rode
over to see herand once or twice I had her to spend the day with
me at the Manor. Mrs. Hargrave did not visit London that season:
having no daughter to marryshe thought it as well to stay at home
and economise; andfor a wonderWalter came down to join her in
the beginning of Juneand stayed till near the close of August.

The first time I saw him was on a sweetwarm eveningwhen I was
sauntering in the park with little Arthur and Rachelwho is headnurse
and lady's-maid in one - forwith my secluded life and
tolerably active habitsI require but little attendanceand as
she had nursed me and coveted to nurse my childand was moreover
so very trustworthyI preferred committing the important charge to
herwith a young nursery-maid under her directionsto engaging
any one else: besidesit saves money; and since I have made
acquaintance with Arthur's affairsI have learnt to regard that as
no trifling recommendation; forby my own desirenearly the whole
of the income of my fortune is devotedfor years to cometo the


paying off of his debtsand the money he contrives to squander
away in London is incomprehensible. But to return to Mr. Hargrave.
I was standing with Rachel beside the wateramusing the laughing
baby in her arms with a twig of willow laden with golden catkins
whengreatly to my surprisehe entered the parkmounted on his
costly black hunterand crossed over the grass to meet me. He
saluted me with a very fine complimentdelicately wordedand
modestly delivered withalwhich he had doubtless concocted as he
rode along. He told me he had brought a message from his mother
whoas he was riding that wayhad desired him to call at the
Manor and beg the pleasure of my company to a friendly family
dinner to-morrow.

'There is no one to meet but ourselves' said he; 'but Esther is
very anxious to see you; and my mother fears you will feel solitary
in this great house so much aloneand wishes she could persuade
you to give her the pleasure of your company more frequentlyand
make yourself at home in our more humble dwellingtill Mr.
Huntingdon's return shall render this a little more conducive to
your comfort.'

'She is very kind' I answered'but I am not aloneyou see; - and
those whose time is fully occupied seldom complain of solitude.'

'Will you not come to-morrowthen? She will be sadly disappointed
if you refuse.'

I did not relish being thus compassionated for my loneliness; but
howeverI promised to come.

'What a sweet evening this is!' observed helooking round upon the
sunny parkwith its imposing swell and slopeits placid water
and majestic clumps of trees. 'And what a paradise you live in!'

'It is a lovely evening' answered I; and I sighed to think how
little I had felt its lovelinessand how little of a paradise
sweet Grassdale was to me - how still less to the voluntary exile
from its scenes. Whether Mr. Hargrave divined my thoughtsI
cannot tellbutwith a half-hesitatingsympathising seriousness
of tone and mannerhe asked if I had lately heard from Mr.
Huntingdon.

'Not lately' I replied.

'I thought not' he mutteredas if to himselflooking
thoughtfully on the ground.

'Are you not lately returned from London?' I asked.

'Only yesterday.'

'And did you see him there?'

'Yes - I saw him.'

'Was he well?'

'Yes - that is' said hewith increasing hesitation and an
appearance of suppressed indignation'he was as well as - as he
deserved to bebut under circumstances I should have deemed
incredible for a man so favoured as he is.' He here looked up and
pointed the sentence with a serious bow to me. I suppose my face
was crimson.


'Pardon meMrs. Huntingdon' he continued'but I cannot suppress
my indignation when I behold such infatuated blindness and
perversion of taste; - butperhapsyou are not aware - ' He
paused.

'I am aware of nothingsir - except that he delays his coming
longer than I expected; and ifat presenthe prefers the society
of his friends to that of his wifeand the dissipations of the
town to the quiet of country lifeI suppose I have those friends
to thank for it. Their tastes and occupations are similar to his
and I don't see why his conduct should awaken either their
indignation or surprise.'

'You wrong me cruelly' answered he. 'I have shared but little of
Mr. Huntingdon's society for the last few weeks; and as for his
tastes and occupationsthey are quite beyond me - lonely wanderer
as I am. Where I have but sipped and tastedhe drains the cup to
the dregs; and if ever for a moment I have sought to drown the
voice of reflection in madness and follyor if I have wasted too
much of my time and talents among reckless and dissipated
companionsGod knows I would gladly renounce them entirely and for
everif I had but half the blessings that man so thanklessly casts
behind his back - but half the inducements to virtue and domestic
orderly habits that he despises - but such a homeand such a
partner to share it! It is infamous!' he mutteredbetween his
teeth. 'And don't thinkMrs. Huntingdon' he added aloud'that I
could be guilty of inciting him to persevere in his present
pursuits: on the contraryI have remonstrated with him again and
again; I have frequently expressed my surprise at his conductand
reminded him of his duties and his privileges - but to no purpose;
he only - '

'EnoughMr. Hargrave; you ought to be aware that whatever my
husband's faults may beit can only aggravate the evil for me to
hear them from a stranger's lips.'

'Am I then a stranger?' said he in a sorrowful tone. 'I am your
nearest neighbouryour son's godfatherand your husband's friend;
may I not be yours also?'

'Intimate acquaintance must precede real friendship; I know but
little of youMr. Hargraveexcept from report.'

'Have you then forgotten the six or seven weeks I spent under your
roof last autumn? I have not forgotten them. And I know enough of
youMrs. Huntingdonto think that your husband is the most
enviable man in the worldand I should be the next if you would
deem me worthy of your friendship.'

'If you knew more of meyou would not think itor if you did you
would not say itand expect me to be flattered by the compliment.'

I stepped backward as I spoke. He saw that I wished the
conversation to end; and immediately taking the hinthe gravely
bowedwished me good-eveningand turned his horse towards the
road. He appeared grieved and hurt at my unkind reception of his
sympathising overtures. I was not sure that I had done right in
speaking so harshly to him; butat the timeI had felt irritated

-almost insulted by his conduct; it seemed as if he was presuming
upon the absence and neglect of my husbandand insinuating even
more than the truth against him.
Rachel had moved onduring our conversationto some yards'
distance. He rode up to herand asked to see the child. He took


it carefully into his armslooked upon it with an almost paternal
smileand I heard him sayas I approached


'And thistoohe has forsaken!'

He then tenderly kissed itand restored it to the gratified nurse.

'Are you fond of childrenMr. Hargrave?' said Ia little softened
towards him.

'Not in general' he replied'but that is such a sweet childand
so like its mother' he added in a lower tone.

'You are mistaken there; it is its father it resembles.'

'Am I not rightnurse?' said heappealing to Rachel.

'I thinksirthere's a bit of both' she replied.

He departed; and Rachel pronounced him a very nice gentleman. I
had still my doubts on the subject.

In the course of the following six weeks I met him several times
but alwayssave oncein company with his motheror his sister
or both. When I called on themhe always happened to be at home
andwhen they called on meit was always he that drove them over
in the phaeton. His motherevidentlywas quite delighted with
his dutiful attentions and newly-acquired domestic habits.

The time that I met him alone was on a brightbut not oppressively
hot dayin the beginning of July: I had taken little Arthur into
the wood that skirts the parkand there seated him on the mosscushioned
roots of an old oak; andhaving gathered a handful of
bluebells and wild-rosesI was kneeling before himand presenting
themone by oneto the grasp of his tiny fingers; enjoying the
heavenly beauty of the flowersthrough the medium of his smiling
eyes: forgettingfor the momentall my careslaughing at his
gleeful laughterand delighting myself with his delight- when a
shadow suddenly eclipsed the little space of sunshine on the grass
before us; and looking upI beheld Walter Hargrave standing and
gazing upon us.

'Excuse meMrs. Huntingdon' said he'but I was spell-bound; I
had neither the power to come forward and interrupt younor to
withdraw from the contemplation of such a scene. How vigorous my
little godson grows! and how merry he is this morning!' He
approached the childand stooped to take his hand; buton seeing
that his caresses were likely to produce tears and lamentations
instead of a reciprocation of friendly demonstrationshe prudently
drew back.

'What a pleasure and comfort that little creature must be to you
Mrs. Huntingdon!' he observedwith a touch of sadness in his
intonationas he admiringly contemplated the infant.

'It is' replied I; and then I asked after his mother and sister.

He politely answered my inquiriesand then returned again to the
subject I wished to avoid; though with a degree of timidity that
witnessed his fear to offend.

'You have not heard from Huntingdon lately?' he said.

'Not this week' I replied. Not these three weeksI might have


said.

'I had a letter from him this morning. I wish it were such a one
as I could show to his lady.' He half drew from his waistcoatpocket
a letter with Arthur's still beloved hand on the address
scowled at itand put it back againadding - 'But he tells me he
is about to return next week.'

'He tells me so every time he writes.'

'Indeed! wellit is like him. But to me he always avowed it his
intention to stay till the present month.'

It struck me like a blowthis proof of premeditated transgression
and systematic disregard of truth.

'It is only of a piece with the rest of his conduct' observed Mr.
Hargravethoughtfully regarding meand readingI supposemy
feelings in my face.

'Then he is really coming next week?' said Iafter a pause.

'You may rely upon itif the assurance can give you any pleasure.
And is it possibleMrs. Huntingdonthat you can rejoice at his
return?' he exclaimedattentively perusing my features again.

'Of courseMr. Hargrave; is he not my husband?'

'OhHuntingdon; you know not what you slight!' he passionately
murmured.

I took up my babyandwishing him good-morningdepartedto
indulge my thoughts unscrutinizedwithin the sanctum of my home.

And was I glad? Yesdelighted; though I was angered by Arthur's
conductand though I felt that he had wronged meand was
determined he should feel it too.

CHAPTER XXX

On the following morning I received a few lines from him myself
confirming Hargrave's intimations respecting his approaching
return. And he did come next weekbut in a condition of body and
mind even worse than before. I did nothoweverintend to pass
over his derelictions this time without a remark; I found it would
not do. But the first day he was weary with his journeyand I was
glad to get him back: I would not upbraid him then; I would wait
till to-morrow. Next morning he was weary still: I would wait a
little longer. But at dinnerwhenafter breakfasting at twelve
o'clock on a bottle of soda-water and a cup of strong coffeeand
lunching at two on another bottle of soda-water mingled with
brandyhe was finding fault with everything on the tableand
declaring we must change our cookI thought the time was come.

'It is the same cook as we had before you wentArthur' said I.
'You were generally pretty well satisfied with her then.'

'You must have been letting her get into slovenly habitsthen
while I was away. It is enough to poison oneeating such a
disgusting mess!' And he pettishly pushed away his plateand


leant back despairingly in his chair.

'I think it is you that are changednot she' said Ibut with the
utmost gentlenessfor I did not wish to irritate him.

'It may be so' he replied carelesslyas he seized a tumbler of
wine and wateraddingwhen he had tossed it off'for I have an
infernal fire in my veinsthat all the waters of the ocean cannot
quench!'

'What kindled it?' I was about to askbut at that moment the
butler entered and began to take away the things.

'Be quickBenson; do have done with that infernal clatter!' cried
his master. 'And don't bring the cheeseunless you want to make
me sick outright!'

Bensonin some surpriseremoved the cheeseand did his best to
effect a quiet and speedy clearance of the rest; but
unfortunatelythere was a rumple in the carpetcaused by the
hasty pushing back of his master's chairat which he tripped and
stumbledcausing a rather alarming concussion with the trayful of
crockery in his handsbut no positive damagesave the fall and
breaking of a sauce tureen; butto my unspeakable shame and
dismayArthur turned furiously around upon himand swore at him
with savage coarseness. The poor man turned paleand visibly
trembled as he stooped to pick up the fragments.

'He couldn't help itArthur' said I; 'the carpet caught his foot
and there's no great harm done. Never mind the pieces nowBenson;
you can clear them away afterwards.'

Glad to be releasedBenson expeditiously set out the dessert and
withdrew.

'What could you meanHelenby taking the servant's part against
me' said Arthuras soon as the door was closed'when you knew I
was distracted?'

'I did not know you were distractedArthur: and the poor man was
quite frightened and hurt at your sudden explosion.'

'Poor manindeed! and do you think I could stop to consider the
feelings of an insensate brute like thatwhen my own nerves were
racked and torn to pieces by his confounded blunders?'

'I never heard you complain of your nerves before.'

'And why shouldn't I have nerves as well as you?'

'OhI don't dispute your claim to their possessionbut I never
complain of mine.'

'Nohow should youwhen you never do anything to try them?'

'Then why do you try yoursArthur?'

'Do you think I have nothing to do but to stay at home and take
care of myself like a woman?'

'Is it impossiblethento take care of yourself like a man when
you go abroad? You told me that you couldand would too; and you
promised - '


'ComecomeHelendon't begin with that nonsense now; I can't
bear it.'

'Can't bear what? - to be reminded of the promises you have
broken?'

'Helenyou are cruel. If you knew how my heart throbbedand how
every nerve thrilled through me while you spokeyou would spare
me. You can pity a dolt of a servant for breaking a dish; but you
have no compassion for me when my head is split in two and all on
fire with this consuming fever.'

He leant his head on his handand sighed. I went to him and put
my hand on his forehead. It was burning indeed.

'Then come with me into the drawing-roomArthur; and don't take
any more wine: you have taken several glasses since dinnerand
eaten next to nothing all the day. How can that make you better?'

With some coaxing and persuasionI got him to leave the table.
When the baby was brought I tried to amuse him with that; but poor
little Arthur was cutting his teethand his father could not bear
his complaints: sentence of immediate banishment was passed upon
him on the first indication of fretfulness; and becausein the
course of the eveningI went to share his exile for a little
whileI was reproachedon my returnfor preferring my child to
my husband. I found the latter reclining on the sofa just as I had
left him.

'Well!' exclaimed the injured manin a tone of pseudo-resignation.
'I thought I wouldn't send for you; I thought I'd just see how long
it would please you to leave me alone.'

'I have not been very longhave IArthur? I have not been an
hourI'm sure.'

'Ohof coursean hour is nothing to youso pleasantly employed;
but to me - '

'It has not been pleasantly employed' interrupted I. 'I have been
nursing our poor little babywho is very far from welland I
could not leave him till I got him to sleep.'

'Ohto be sureyou're overflowing with kindness and pity for
everything but me.'

'And why should I pity you? What is the matter with you?'

'Well! that passes everything! After all the wear and tear that
I've hadwhen I come home sick and wearylonging for comfortand
expecting to find attention and kindnessat least from my wife
she calmly asks what is the matter with me!'

'There is nothing the matter with you' returned I'except what
you have wilfully brought upon yourselfagainst my earnest
exhortation and entreaty.'

'NowHelen' said he emphaticallyhalf rising from his recumbent
posture'if you bother me with another wordI'll ring the bell
and order six bottles of wineandby heavenI'll drink them dry
before I stir from this place!'

I said no morebut sat down before the table and drew a book
towards me.


'Do let me have quietness at least!' continued he'if you deny me
every other comfort;' and sinking back into his former position
with an impatient expiration between a sigh and a groanhe
languidly closed his eyesas if to sleep.

What the book was that lay open on the table before meI cannot
tellfor I never looked at it. With an elbow on each side of it
and my hands clasped before my eyesI delivered myself up to
silent weeping. But Arthur was not asleep: at the first slight
sobhe raised his head and looked roundimpatiently exclaiming
'What are you crying forHelen? What the deuce is the matter
now?'

'I'm crying for youArthur' I repliedspeedily drying my tears;
and starting upI threw myself on my knees before himand
clasping his nerveless hand between my owncontinued: 'Don't you
know that you are a part of myself? And do you think you can
injure and degrade yourselfand I not feel it?'

'Degrade myselfHelen?'

'Yesdegrade! What have you been doing all this time?'

'You'd better not ask' said hewith a faint smile.

'And you had better not tell; but you cannot deny that you have
degraded yourself miserably. You have shamefully wronged yourself
body and souland me too; and I can't endure it quietlyand I
won't!'

'Welldon't squeeze my hand so franticallyand don't agitate me
sofor heaven's sake! OhHattersley! you were right: this woman
will be the death of mewith her keen feelings and her interesting
force of character. Theretheredo spare me a little.'

'Arthuryou must repent!' cried Iin a frenzy of desperation
throwing my arms around him and burying my face in his bosom. 'You
shall say you are sorry for what you have done!'

'WellwellI am.'

'You are not! you'll do it again.'

'I shall never live to do it again if you treat me so savagely'
replied hepushing me from him. 'You've nearly squeezed the
breath out of my body.' He pressed his hand to his heartand
looked really agitated and ill.

'Now get me a glass of wine' said he'to remedy what you've done
you she tiger! I'm almost ready to faint.'

I flew to get the required remedy. It seemed to revive him
considerably.

'What a shame it is' said Ias I took the empty glass from his
hand'for a strong young man like you to reduce yourself to such a
state!'

'If you knew allmy girlyou'd say ratherWhat a wonder it is
you can bear it so well as you do!I've lived more in these four
monthsHelenthan you have in the whole course of your existence
or will to the end of your daysif they numbered a hundred years;
so I must expect to pay for it in some shape.'


'You will have to pay a higher price than you anticipateif you
don't take care: there will be the total loss of your own health
and of my affection tooif that is of any value to you.'

'What! you're at that game of threatening me with the loss of your
affection againare you? I think it couldn't have been very
genuine stuff to begin withif it's so easily demolished. If you
don't mindmy pretty tyrantyou'll make me regret my choice in
good earnestand envy my friend Hattersley his meek little wife:
she's quite a pattern to her sexHelen. He had her with him in
London all the seasonand she was no trouble at all. He might
amuse himself just as he pleasedin regular bachelor styleand
she never complained of neglect; he might come home at any hour of
the night or morningor not come home at all; be sullensoberor
glorious drunk; and play the fool or the madman to his own heart's
desirewithout any fear or botheration. She never gives him a
word of reproach or complaintdo what he will. He says there's
not such a jewel in all Englandand swears he wouldn't take a
kingdom for her.'

'But he makes her life a curse to her.'

'Not he! She has no will but hisand is always contented and
happy as long as he is enjoying himself.'

'In that case she is as great a fool as he is; but it is not so. I
have several letters from herexpressing the greatest anxiety
about his proceedingsand complaining that you incite him to
commit those extravagances - one especiallyin which she implores
me to use my influence with you to get you away from Londonand
affirms that her husband never did such things before you cameand
would certainly discontinue them as soon as you departed and left
him to the guidance of his own good sense.'

'The detestable little traitor! Give me the letterand he shall
see it as sure as I'm a living man.'

'Nohe shall not see it without her consent; but if he didthere
is nothing there to anger himnor in any of the others. She never
speaks a word against him: it is only anxiety for him that she
expresses. She only alludes to his conduct in the most delicate
termsand makes every excuse for him that she can possibly think
of; and as for her own miseryI rather feel it than see it
expressed in her letters.'

'But she abuses me; and no doubt you helped her.'

'No; I told her she over-rated my influence with youthat I would
gladly draw you away from the temptations of the town if I could
but had little hope of successand that I thought she was wrong in
supposing that you enticed Mr. Hattersley or any one else into
error. I had myself held the contrary opinion at one timebut I
now believed that you mutually corrupted each other; andperhaps
if she used a little gentle but serious remonstrance with her
husbandit might be of some service; asthough he was more roughhewn
than mineI believed he was of a less impenetrable material.'

'And so that is the way you go on - heartening each other up to
mutinyand abusing each other's partnersand throwing out
implications against your ownto the mutual gratification of
both!'

'According to your own account' said I'my evil counsel has had


but little effect upon her. And as to abuse and aspersionswe are
both of us far too deeply ashamed of the errors and vices of our
other halvesto make them the common subject of our
correspondence. Friends as we arewe would willingly keep your
failings to ourselves - even from ourselves if we couldunless by
knowing them we could deliver you from them.'

'Wellwell! don't worry me about them: you'll never effect any
good by that. Have patience with meand bear with my languor and
crossness a little whiletill I get this cursed low fever out of
my veinsand then you'll find me cheerful and kind as ever. Why
can't you be gentle and goodas you were last time? - I'm sure I
was very grateful for it.'

'And what good did your gratitude do? I deluded myself with the
idea that you were ashamed of your transgressionsand hoped you
would never repeat them again; but now you have left me nothing to
hope!'

'My case is quite desperateis it? A very blessed consideration
if it will only secure me from the pain and worry of my dear
anxious wife's efforts to convert meand her from the toil and
trouble of such exertionsand her sweet face and silver accents
from the ruinous effects of the same. A burst of passion is a fine
rousing thing upon occasionHelenand a flood of tears is
marvellously affectingbutwhen indulged too oftenthey are both
deuced plaguy things for spoiling one's beauty and tiring out one's
friends.'

Thenceforth I restrained my tears and passions as much as I could.
I spared him my exhortations and fruitless efforts at conversion
toofor I saw it was all in vain: God might awaken that heart
supine and stupefied with self-indulgenceand remove the film of
sensual darkness from his eyesbut I could not. His injustice and
ill-humour towards his inferiorswho could not defend themselves
I still resented and withstood; but when I alone was their object
as was frequently the caseI endured it with calm forbearance
except at timeswhen my temperworn out by repeated annoyances
or stung to distraction by some new instance of irrationalitygave
way in spite of myselfand exposed me to the imputations of
fiercenesscrueltyand impatience. I attended carefully to his
wants and amusementsbut notI ownwith the same devoted
fondness as beforebecause I could not feel it; besidesI had now
another claimant on my time and care - my ailing infantfor whose
sake I frequently braved and suffered the reproaches and complaints
of his unreasonably exacting father.

But Arthur is not naturally a peevish or irritable man; so far from
itthat there was something almost ludicrous in the incongruity of
this adventitious fretfulness and nervous irritabilityrather
calculated to excite laughter than angerif it were not for the
intensely painful considerations attendant upon those symptoms of a
disordered frameand his temper gradually improved as his bodily
health was restoredwhich was much sooner than would have been the
case but for my strenuous exertions; for there was still one thing
about him that I did not give up in despairand one effort for his
preservation that I would not remit. His appetite for the stimulus
of wine had increased upon himas I had too well foreseen. It was
now something more to him than an accessory to social enjoyment:
it was an important source of enjoyment in itself. In this time of
weakness and depression he would have made it his medicine and
supporthis comforterhis recreationand his friendand thereby
sunk deeper and deeperand bound himself down for ever in the
bathos whereinto he had fallen. But I determined this should never


beas long as I had any influence left; and though I could not
prevent him from taking more than was good for himstillby
incessant perseveranceby kindnessand firmnessand vigilance
by coaxingand daringand determinationI succeeded in
preserving him from absolute bondage to that detestable propensity
so insidious in its advancesso inexorable in its tyrannyso
disastrous in its effects.

And here I must not forget that I am not a little indebted to his
friend Mr. Hargrave. About that time he frequently called at
Grassdaleand often dined with uson which occasions I fear
Arthur would willingly have cast prudence and decorum to the winds
and made 'a night of it' as often as his friend would have
consented to join him in that exalted pastime; and if the latter
had chosen to complyhe mightin a night or twohave ruined the
labour of weeksand overthrown with a touch the frail bulwark it
had cost me such trouble and toil to construct. I was so fearful
of this at firstthat I humbled myself to intimate to himin
privatemy apprehensions of Arthur's proneness to these excesses
and to express a hope that he would not encourage it. He was
pleased with this mark of confidenceand certainly did not betray
it. On that and every subsequent occasion his presence served
rather as a check upon his hostthan an incitement to further acts
of intemperance; and he always succeeded in bringing him from the
dining-room in good timeand in tolerably good condition; for if
Arthur disregarded such intimations as 'WellI must not detain you
from your lady' or 'We must not forget that Mrs. Huntingdon is
alone' he would insist upon leaving the table himselfto join me
and his hosthowever unwillinglywas obliged to follow.

Hence I learned to welcome Mr. Hargrave as a real friend to the
familya harmless companion for Arthurto cheer his spirits and
preserve him from the tedium of absolute idleness and a total
isolation from all society but mineand a useful ally to me. I
could not but feel grateful to him under such circumstances; and I
did not scruple to acknowledge my obligation on the first
convenient opportunity; yetas I did somy heart whispered all
was not rightand brought a glow to my facewhich he heightened
by his steadyserious gazewhileby his manner of receiving
those acknowledgmentshe more than doubled my misgivings. His
high delight at being able to serve me was chastened by sympathy
for me and commiseration for himself - aboutI know not whatfor
I would not stay to inquireor suffer him to unburden his sorrows
to me. His sighs and intimations of suppressed affliction seemed
to come from a full heart; but either he must contrive to retain
them within itor breathe them forth in other ears than mine:
there was enough of confidence between us already. It seemed wrong
that there should exist a secret understanding between my husband's
friend and meunknown to himof which he was the object. But my
after-thought was'If it is wrongsurely Arthur's is the fault
not mine.'

And indeed I know not whetherat the timeit was not for him
rather than myself that I blushed; forsince he and I are oneI
so identify myself with himthat I feel his degradationhis
failingsand transgressions as my own: I blush for himI fear
for him; I repent for himweepprayand feel for him as for
myself; but I cannot act for him; and hence I must beand I am
debasedcontaminated by the unionboth in my own eyes and in the
actual truth. I am so determined to love himso intensely anxious
to excuse his errorsthat I am continually dwelling upon themand
labouring to extenuate the loosest of his principles and the worst
of his practicestill I am familiarised with viceand almost a
partaker in his sins. Things that formerly shocked and disgusted


menow seem only natural. I know them to be wrongbecause reason
and God's word declare them to be so; but I am gradually losing
that instinctive horror and repulsion which were given me by
natureor instilled into me by the precepts and example of my
aunt. Perhaps then I was too severe in my judgmentsfor I
abhorred the sinner as well as the sin; now I flatter myself I am
more charitable and considerate; but am I not becoming more
indifferent and insensate too? Fool that I wasto dream that I
had strength and purity enough to save myself and him! Such vain
presumption would be rightly servedif I should perish with him in
the gulf from which I sought to save him! YetGod preserve me
from itand him too! Yespoor ArthurI will still hope and pray
for you; and though I write as if you were some abandoned wretch
past hope and past reprieveit is only my anxious fearsmy strong
desires that make me do so; one who loved you less would be less
bitterless dissatisfied.

His conduct hasof latebeen what the world calls irreproachable;
but then I know his heart is still unchanged; and I know that
spring is approachingand deeply dread the consequences.

As he began to recover the tone and vigour of his exhausted frame
and with it something of his former impatience of retirement and
reposeI suggested a short residence by the sea-sidefor his
recreation and further restorationand for the benefit of our
little one as well. But no: watering-places were so intolerably
dull; besideshe had been invited by one of his friends to spend a
month or two in Scotland for the better recreation of grouseshooting
and deer-stalkingand had promise to go.

'Then you will leave me againArthur?' said I.

'Yesdearestbut only to love you the better when I come back
and make up for all past offences and short-comings; and you
needn't fear me this time: there are no temptations on the
mountains. And during my absence you may pay a visit to
Staningleyif you like: your uncle and aunt have long been
wanting us to go thereyou know; but somehow there's such a
repulsion between the good lady and methat I never could bring
myself up to the scratch.'

About the third week in AugustArthur set out for Scotlandand
Mr. Hargrave accompanied him thitherto my private satisfaction.
Shortly afterIwith little Arthur and Rachelwent to
Staningleymy dear old homewhichas well as my dear old friends
its inhabitantsI saw again with mingled feelings of pleasure and
pain so intimately blended that I could scarcely distinguish the
one from the otheror tell to which to attribute the various
tearsand smilesand sighs awakened by those old familiar scenes
and tonesand faces.

Arthur did not come home till several weeks after my return to
Grassdale; but I did not feel so anxious about him now; to think of
him engaged in active sports among the wild hills of Scotlandwas
very different from knowing him to be immersed amid the corruptions
and temptations of London. His letters now; though neither long
nor loverlikewere more regular than ever they had been before;
and when he did returnto my great joyinstead of being worse
than when he wenthe was more cheerful and vigorousand better in
every respect. Since that time I have had little cause to
complain. He still has an unfortunate predilection for the
pleasures of the tableagainst which I have to struggle and watch;
but he has begun to notice his boyand that is an increasing
source of amusement to him within-doorswhile his fox-hunting and


coursing are a sufficient occupation for him withoutwhen the
ground is not hardened by frost; so that he is not wholly dependent
on me for entertainment. But it is now January; spring is
approaching; andI repeatI dread the consequences of its
arrival. That sweet seasonI once so joyously welcomed as the
time of hope and gladnessawakens now far other anticipations by
its return.

CHAPTER XXXI

March 20th1824. The dreaded time is comeand Arthur is goneas
I expected. This time he announced it his intention to make but a
short stay in Londonand pass over to the Continentwhere he
should probably stay a few weeks; but I shall not expect him till
after the lapse of many weeks: I now know thatwith himdays
signify weeksand weeks months.

July 30th. - He returned about three weeks agorather better in
healthcertainlythan beforebut still worse in temper. And
yetperhapsI am wrong: it is I that am less patient and
forbearing. I am tired out with his injusticehis selfishness and
hopeless depravity. I wish a milder word would do; I am no angel
and my corruption rises against it. My poor father died last week:
Arthur was vexed to hear of itbecause he saw that I was shocked
and grievedand he feared the circumstance would mar his comfort.
When I spoke of ordering my mourninghe exclaimed- 'OhI hate
black! ButhoweverI suppose you must wear it awhilefor form's
sake; but I hopeHelenyou won't think it your bounden duty to
compose your face and manners into conformity with your funereal
garb. Why should you sigh and groanand I be made uncomfortable
because an old gentleman in -shirea perfect stranger to us both
has thought proper to drink himself to death? TherenowI
declare you're crying! Wellit must be affectation.'

He would not hear of my attending the funeralor going for a day
or twoto cheer poor Frederick's solitude. It was quite
unnecessaryhe saidand I was unreasonable to wish it. What was
my father to me? I had never seen him but once since I was a baby
and I well knew he had never cared a stiver about me; and my
brothertoowas little better than a stranger. 'Besidesdear
Helen' said heembracing me with flattering fondness'I cannot
spare you for a single day.'

'Then how have you managed without me these many days?' said I.

'Ah! then I was knocking about the worldnow I am at homeand
home without youmy household deitywould be intolerable.'

'Yesas long as I am necessary to your comfort; but you did not
say so beforewhen you urged me to leave youin order that you
might get away from your home without me' retorted I; but before
the words were well out of my mouthI regretted having uttered
them. It seemed so heavy a charge: if falsetoo gross an insult;
if truetoo humiliating a fact to be thus openly cast in his
teeth. But I might have spared myself that momentary pang of selfreproach.
The accusation awoke neither shame nor indignation in
him: he attempted neither denial nor excusebut only answered
with a longlowchuckling laughas if he viewed the whole
transaction as a clevermerry jest from beginning to end. Surely
that man will make me dislike him at last!


Sine as ye brewmy maiden fair
Keep mind that ye maun drink the yill.


Yes; and I will drink it to the very dregs: and none but myself
shall know how bitter I find it!


August 20th. - We are shaken down again to about our usual
position. Arthur has returned to nearly his former condition and
habits; and I have found it my wisest plan to shut my eyes against
the past and futureas far as heat leastis concernedand live
only for the present: to love him when I can; to smile (if
possible) when he smilesbe cheerful when he is cheerfuland
pleased when he is agreeable; and when he is notto try to make
him so; and if that won't answerto bear with himto excuse him
and forgive him as well as I canand restrain my own evil passions
from aggravating his; and yetwhile I thus yield and minister to
his more harmless propensities to self-indulgenceto do all in my
power to save him from the worse.


But we shall not be long alone together. I shall shortly be called
upon to entertain the same select body of friends as we had the
autumn before lastwith the addition of Mr. Hattersley andat my
special requesthis wife and child. I long to see Milicentand
her little girl too. The latter is now above a year old; she will
be a charming playmate for my little Arthur.


September 30th. - Our guests have been here a week or two; but I
have had no leisure to pass any comments upon them till now. I
cannot get over my dislike to Lady Lowborough. It is not founded
on mere personal pique; it is the woman herself that I dislike
because I so thoroughly disapprove of her. I always avoid her
company as much as I can without violating the laws of hospitality;
but when we do speak or converse togetherit is with the utmost
civilityeven apparent cordiality on her part; but preserve me
from such cordiality! It is like handling brier-roses and may-
blossomsbright enough to the eyeand outwardly soft to the
touchbut you know there are thorns beneathand every now and
then you feel them too; and perhaps resent the injury by crushing
them in till you have destroyed their powerthough somewhat to the
detriment of your own fingers.


Of latehoweverI have seen nothing in her conduct towards Arthur
to anger or alarm me. During the first few days I thought she
seemed very solicitous to win his admiration. Her efforts were not
unnoticed by him: I frequently saw him smiling to himself at her
artful manoeuvres: butto his praise be it spokenher shafts
fell powerless by his side. Her most bewitching smilesher
haughtiest frowns were ever received with the same immutable
careless good-humour; tillfinding he was indeed impenetrableshe
suddenly remitted her effortsand becameto all appearanceas
perfectly indifferent as himself. Nor have I since witnessed any
symptom of pique on his partor renewed attempts at conquest upon
hers.


This is as it should be; but Arthur never will let me be satisfied
with him. I have neverfor a single hour since I married him
known what it is to realise that sweet idea'In quietness and
confidence shall be your rest.' Those two detestable menGrimsby
and Hattersleyhave destroyed all my labour against his love of
wine. They encourage him daily to overstep the bounds of
moderationand not unfrequently to disgrace himself by positive



excess. I shall not soon forget the second night after their
arrival. Just as I had retired from the dining-room with the
ladiesbefore the door was closed upon usArthur exclaimed'
Now thenmy ladswhat say you to a regular jollification?'

Milicent glanced at me with a half-reproachful lookas if I could
hinder it; but her countenance changed when she heard Hattersley's
voiceshouting through door and wall- 'I'm your man! Send for
more wine: here isn't half enough!'

We had scarcely entered the drawing-room before we were joined by
Lord Lowborough.

'What can induce you to come so soon?' exclaimed his ladywith a
most ungracious air of dissatisfaction.

'You know I never drinkAnnabella' replied he seriously.

'Wellbut you might stay with them a little: it looks so silly to
be always dangling after the women; I wonder you can!'

He reproached her with a look of mingled bitterness and surprise
andsinking into a chairsuppressed a heavy sighbit his pale
lipsand fixed his eyes upon the floor.

'You did right to leave themLord Lowborough' said I. 'I trust
you will always continue to honour us so early with your company.
And if Annabella knew the value of true wisdomand the misery of
folly and - and intemperanceshe would not talk such nonsense even
in jest.'

He raised his eyes while I spokeand gravely turned them upon me
with a half-surprisedhalf-abstracted lookand then bent them on
his wife.

'At least' said she'I know the value of a warm heart and a bold
manly spirit.'

'WellAnnabella' said hein a deep and hollow tone'since my
presence is disagreeable to youI will relieve you of it.'

'Are you going back to themthen?' said shecarelessly.

'No' exclaimed hewith harsh and startling emphasis. 'I will not
go back to them! And I will never stay with them one moment longer
than I think rightfor you or any other tempter! But you needn't
mind that; I shall never trouble you again by intruding my company
upon you so unseasonably.'

He left the room: I heard the hall-door open and shutand
immediately afteron putting aside the curtainI saw him pacing
down the parkin the comfortless gloom of the dampcloudy
twilight.

'It would serve you rightAnnabella' said Iat length'if Lord
Lowborough were to return to his old habitswhich had so nearly
effected his ruinand which it cost him such an effort to break:
you would then see cause to repent such conduct as this.'

'Not at allmy dear! I should not mind if his lordship were to
see fit to intoxicate himself every day: I should only the sooner
be rid of him.'

'OhAnnabella!' cried Milicent. 'How can you say such wicked


things! It wouldindeedbe a just punishmentas far as you are
concernedif Providence should take you at your wordand make you
feel what others feelthat - ' She paused as a sudden burst of
loud talking and laughter reached us from the dining-roomin which
the voice of Hattersley was pre-eminently conspicuouseven to my
unpractised ear.

'What you feel at this momentI suppose?' said Lady Lowborough
with a malicious smilefixing her eyes upon her cousin's
distressed countenance.

The latter offered no replybut averted her face and brushed away
a tear. At that moment the door opened and admitted Mr. Hargrave
just a little flushedhis dark eyes sparkling with unwonted
vivacity.

'OhI'm so glad you're comeWalter?' cried his sister. 'But I
wish you could have got Ralph to come too.'

'Utterly impossibledear Milicent' replied hegaily. 'I had
much ado to get away myself. Ralph attempted to keep me by
violence; Huntingdon threatened me with the eternal loss of his
friendship; and Grimsbyworse than allendeavoured to make me
ashamed of my virtueby such galling sarcasms and innuendoes as he
knew would wound me the most. So you seeladiesyou ought to
make me welcome when I have braved and suffered so much for the
favour of your sweet society.' He smilingly turned to me and bowed
as he finished the sentence.

'Isn't he handsome nowHelen!' whispered Milicenther sisterly
pride overcomingfor the momentall other considerations.

'He would be' I returned'if that brilliance of eyeand lipand
cheek were natural to him; but look againa few hours hence.'

Here the gentleman took a seat near me at the tableand petitioned
for a cup of coffee.

'I consider this an apt illustration of heaven taken by storm'
said heas I handed one to him. 'I am in paradisenow; but I
have fought my way through flood and fire to win it. Ralph
Hattersley's last resource was to set his back against the door
and swear I should find no passage but through his body (a pretty
substantial one too). Happilyhoweverthat was not the only
doorand I effected my escape by the side entrance through the
butler's pantryto the infinite amazement of Bensonwho was
cleaning the plate.'

Mr. Hargrave laughedand so did his cousin; but his sister and I
remained silent and grave.

'Pardon my levityMrs. Huntingdon' murmured hemore seriously
as he raised his eyes to my face. 'You are not used to these
things: you suffer them to affect your delicate mind too sensibly.
But I thought of you in the midst of those lawless roysterers; and
I endeavoured to persuade Mr. Huntingdon to think of you too; but
to no purpose: I fear he is fully determined to enjoy himself this
night; and it will be no use keeping the coffee waiting for him or
his companions; it will be much if they join us at tea. Meantime
I earnestly wish I could banish the thoughts of them from your mind

-and my own toofor I hate to think of them - yes - even of my
dear friend Huntingdonwhen I consider the power he possesses over
the happiness of one so immeasurably superior to himselfand the
use he makes of it - I positively detest the man!'

'You had better not say so to methen' said I; 'forbad as he
ishe is part of myselfand you cannot abuse him without
offending me.'

'Pardon methenfor I would sooner die than offend you. But let
us say no more of him for the presentif you please.'

At last they came; but not till after tenwhen teawhich had been
delayed for more than half an hourwas nearly over. Much as I had
longed for their comingmy heart failed me at the riotous uproar
of their approach; and Milicent turned paleand almost started
from her seatas Mr. Hattersley burst into the room with a
clamorous volley of oaths in his mouthwhich Hargrave endeavoured
to check by entreating him to remember the ladies.

'Ah! you do well to remind me of the ladiesyou dastardly
deserter' cried heshaking his formidable fist at his brother-inlaw.
'If it were not for themyou well knowI'd demolish you in
the twinkling of an eyeand give your body to the fowls of heaven
and the lilies of the fields!' Thenplanting a chair by Lady
Lowborough's sidehe stationed himself in itand began to talk to
her with a mixture of absurdity and impudence that seemed rather to
amuse than to offend her; though she affected to resent his
insolenceand to keep him at bay with sallies of smart and
spirited repartee.

Meantime Mr. Grimsby seated himself by mein the chair vacated by
Hargrave as they enteredand gravely stated that he would thank me
for a cup of tea: and Arthur placed himself beside poor Milicent
confidentially pushing his head into her faceand drawing in
closer to her as she shrank away from him. He was not so noisy as
Hattersleybut his face was exceedingly flushed: he laughed
incessantlyand while I blushed for all I saw and heard of himI
was glad that he chose to talk to his companion in so low a tone
that no one could hear what he said but herself.

'What fools they are!' drawled Mr. Grimsbywho had been talking
awayat my elbowwith sententious gravity all the time; but I had
been too much absorbed in contemplating the deplorable state of the
other two - especially Arthur - to attend to him.

'Did you ever hear such nonsense as they talkMrs. Huntingdon?' he
continued. 'I'm quite ashamed of them for my part: they can't
take so much as a bottle between them without its getting into
their heads - '

'You are pouring the cream into your saucerMr. Grimsby.'

'Ah! yesI seebut we're almost in darkness here. Hargrave
snuff those candleswill you?'

'They're wax; they don't require snuffing' said I.

'"The light of the body is the eye' observed Hargrave, with a
sarcastic smile. 'If thine eye be singlethy whole body shall be
full of light."'

Grimsby repulsed him with a solemn wave of the handand then
turning to mecontinuedwith the same drawling tones and strange
uncertainty of utterance and heavy gravity of aspect as before:
'But as I was sayingMrs. Huntingdonthey have no head at all:
they can't take half a bottle without being affected some way;
whereas I - wellI've taken three times as much as they have to



nightand you see I'm perfectly steady. Now that may strike you
as very singularbut I think I can explain it: you see their
brains - I mention no namesbut you'll understand to whom I allude

-their brains are light to begin withand the fumes of the
fermented liquor render them lighter stilland produce an entire
light-headednessor giddinessresulting in intoxication; whereas
my brainsbeing composed of more solid materialswill absorb a
considerable quantity of this alcoholic vapour without the
production of any sensible result - '
'I think you will find a sensible result produced on that tea'
interrupted Mr. Hargrave'by the quantity of sugar you have put
into it. Instead of your usual complement of one lumpyou have
put in six.'

'Have I so?' replied the philosopherdiving with his spoon into
the cupand bringing up several half-dissolved pieces in
confirmation of the assertion. 'Hum! I perceive. ThusMadam
you see the evil of absence of mind - of thinking too much while
engaged in the common concerns of life. Nowif I had had my wits
about melike ordinary meninstead of within me like a
philosopherI should not have spoiled this cup of teaand been
constrained to trouble you for another.'

'That is the sugar-basinMr. Grimsby. Now you have spoiled the
sugar too; and I'll thank you to ring for some morefor here is
Lord Lowborough at last; and I hope his lordship will condescend to
sit down with ussuch as we areand allow me to give him some
tea.'

His lordship gravely bowed in answer to my appealbut said
nothing. MeantimeHargrave volunteered to ring for the sugar
while Grimsby lamented his mistakeand attempted to prove that it
was owing to the shadow of the urn and the badness of the lights.

Lord Lowborough had entered a minute or two beforeunobserved by
an one but meand had been standing before the doorgrimly
surveying the company. He now stepped up to Annabellawho sat
with her back towards himwith Hattersley still beside herthough
not now attending to herbeing occupied in vociferously abusing
and bullying his host.

'WellAnnabella' said her husbandas he leant over the back of
her chair'which of these three "boldmanly spirits" would you
have me to resemble?'

'By heaven and earthyou shall resemble us all!' cried Hattersley
starting up and rudely seizing him by the arm. 'Hallo
Huntingdon!' he shouted - 'I've got him! Comemanand help me!
And d-n meif I don't make him drunk before I let him go! He
shall make up for all past delinquencies as sure as I'm a living
soul!'

There followed a disgraceful contest: Lord Lowboroughin
desperate earnestand pale with angersilently struggling to
release himself from the powerful madman that was striving to drag
him from the room. I attempted to urge Arthur to interfere in
behalf of his outraged guestbut he could do nothing but laugh.

'Huntingdonyou foolcome and help mecan't you!' cried
Hattersleyhimself somewhat weakened by his excesses.

'I'm wishing you God-speedHattersley' cried Arthur'and aiding
you with my prayers: I can't do anything else if my life depended


on it! I'm quite used up. Oh - oh!' and leaning back in his seat
he clapped his hands on his sides and groaned aloud.

'Annabellagive me a candle!' said Lowboroughwhose antagonist
had now got him round the waist and was endeavouring to root him
from the door-postto which he madly clung with all the energy of
desperation.

'I shall take no part in your rude sports!' replied the lady coldly
drawing back. 'I wonder you can expect it.' But I snatched up a
candle and brought it to him. He took it and held the flame to
Hattersley's handstillroaring like a wild beastthe latter
unclasped them and let him go. He vanishedI suppose to his own
apartmentfor nothing more was seen of him till the morning.
Swearing and cursing like a maniacHattersley threw himself on to
the ottoman beside the window. The door being now freeMilicent
attempted to make her escape from the scene of her husband's
disgrace; but he called her backand insisted upon her coming to
him.

'What do you wantRalph?' murmured shereluctantly approaching
him.

'I want to know what's the matter with you' said hepulling her
on to his knee like a child. 'What are you crying forMilicent? -
Tell me!'

'I'm not crying.'

'You are' persisted herudely pulling her hands from her face.
'How dare you tell such a lie!'

'I'm not crying now' pleaded she.

'But you have beenand just this minute too; and I will know what
for. Comenowyou shall tell me!'

'Do let me aloneRalph! Rememberwe are not at home.'

'No matter: you shall answer my question!' exclaimed her
tormentor; and he attempted to extort the confession by shaking
herand remorselessly crushing her slight arms in the gripe of his
powerful fingers.

'Don't let him treat your sister in that way' said I to Mr.
Hargrave.

'Come nowHattersleyI can't allow that' said that gentleman
stepping up to the ill-assorted couple. 'Let my sister aloneif
you please.'

And he made an effort to unclasp the ruffian's fingers from her
armbut was suddenly driven backwardand nearly laid upon the
floor by a violent blow on the chestaccompanied with the
admonition'Take that for your insolence! and learn to interfere
between me and mine again.'

'If you were not drunkI'd have satisfaction for that!' gasped
Hargravewhite and breathless as much from passion as from the
immediate effects of the blow.

'Go to the devil!' responded his brother-in-law. 'NowMilicent
tell me what you were crying for.'


'I'll tell you some other time' murmured she'when we are alone.'

'Tell me now!' said hewith another shake and a squeeze that made
her draw in her breath and bite her lip to suppress a cry of pain.

'I'll tell youMr. Hattersley' said I. 'She was crying from pure
shame and humiliation for you; because she could not bear to see
you conduct yourself so disgracefully.'

'Confound youMadam!' muttered hewith a stare of stupid
amazement at my 'impudence.' 'It was not that - was itMilicent?'

She was silent.

'Comespeak upchild!'

'I can't tell now' sobbed she.

'But you can say "yes" or "no" as well as "I can't tell." - Come!'

'Yes' she whisperedhanging her headand blushing at the awful
acknowledgment.

'Curse you for an impertinent hussythen!' cried hethrowing her
from him with such violence that she fell on her side; but she was
up again before either I or her brother could come to her
assistanceand made the best of her way out of the roomandI
supposeup-stairswithout loss of time.

The next object of assault was Arthurwho sat oppositeand had
no doubtrichly enjoyed the whole scene.

'NowHuntingdon' exclaimed his irascible friend'I will not have
you sitting there and laughing like an idiot!'

'OhHattersley' cried hewiping his swimming eyes - 'you'll be
the death of me.'

'YesI willbut not as you suppose: I'll have the heart out of
your bodymanif you irritate me with any more of that imbecile
laughter! - What! are you at it yet? - There! see if that'll settle
you!' cried Hattersleysnatching up a footstool and hurting it at
the head of his host; but he as well as missed his aimand the
latter still sat collapsed and quaking with feeble laughterwith
tears running down his face: a deplorable spectacle indeed.

Hattersley tried cursing and swearingbut it would not do: he
then took a number of books from the table beside himand threw
themone by oneat the object of his wrath; but Arthur only
laughed the more; andfinallyHattersley rushed upon him in a
frenzy and seizing him by the shouldersgave him a violent
shakingunder which he laughed and shrieked alarmingly. But I saw
no more: I thought I had witnessed enough of my husband's
degradation; and leaving Annabella and the rest to follow when they
pleasedI withdrewbut not to bed. Dismissing Rachel to her
restI walked up and down my roomin an agony of misery for what
had been doneand suspensenot knowing what might further happen
or how or when that unhappy creature would come up to bed.

At last he cameslowly and stumblingly ascending the stairs
supported by Grimsby and Hattersleywho neither of them walked
quite steadily themselvesbut were both laughing and joking at
himand making noise enough for all the servants to hear. He
himself was no longer laughing nowbut sick and stupid. I will


write no more about that.

Such disgraceful scenes (or nearly such) have been repeated more
than once. I don't say much to Arthur about itforif I didit
would do more harm than good; but I let him know that I intensely
dislike such exhibitions; and each time he has promised they should
never again be repeated. But I fear he is losing the little selfcommand
and self-respect he once possessed: formerlyhe would
have been ashamed to act thus - at leastbefore any other
witnesses than his boon companionsor such as they. His friend
Hargravewith a prudence and self-government that I envy for him
never disgraces himself by taking more than sufficient to render
him a little 'elevated' and is always the first to leave the table
after Lord Lowboroughwhowiser stillperseveres in vacating the
dining-room immediately after us: but never oncesince Annabella
offended him so deeplyhas he entered the drawing-room before the
rest; always spending the interim in the librarywhich I take care
to have lighted for his accommodation; oron fine moonlight
nightsin roaming about the grounds. But I think she regrets her
misconductfor she has never repeated it sinceand of late she
has comported herself with wonderful propriety towards him
treating him with more uniform kindness and consideration than ever
I have observed her to do before. I date the time of this
improvement from the period when she ceased to hope and strive for
Arthur's admiration.

CHAPTER XXXII

October 5th. - Esther Hargrave is getting a fine girl. She is not
out of the school-room yetbut her mother frequently brings her
over to call in the mornings when the gentlemen are outand
sometimes she spends an hour or two in company with her sister and
meand the children; and when we go to the GroveI always
contrive to see herand talk more to her than to any one elsefor
I am very much attached to my little friendand so is she to me.
I wonder what she can see to like in me thoughfor I am no longer
the happylively girl I used to be; but she has no other society
save that of her uncongenial motherand her governess (as
artificial and conventional a person as that prudent mother could
procure to rectify the pupil's natural qualities)andnow and
thenher subduedquiet sister. I often wonder what will be her
lot in lifeand so does she; but her speculations on the future
are full of buoyant hope; so were mine once. I shudder to think of
her being awakenedlike meto a sense of their delusive vanity.
It seems as if I should feel her disappointmenteven more deeply
than my own. I feel almost as if I were born for such a fatebut
she is so joyous and freshso light of heart and free of spirit
and so guileless and unsuspecting too. Ohit would be cruel to
make her feel as I feel nowand know what I have known!

Her sister trembles for her too. Yesterday morningone of
October's brightestloveliest daysMilicent and I were in the
garden enjoying a brief half-hour together with our childrenwhile
Annabella was lying on the drawing-room sofadeep in the last new
novel. We had been romping with the little creaturesalmost as
merry and wild as themselvesand now paused in the shade of the
tall copper beechto recover breath and rectify our hair
disordered by the rough play and the frolicsome breezewhile they
toddled together along the broadsunny walk; my Arthur supporting
the feebler steps of her little Helenand sagaciously pointing out


to her the brightest beauties of the border as they passedwith
semi-articulate prattlethat did as well for her as any other mode
of discourse. From laughing at the pretty sightwe began to talk
of the children's future life; and that made us thoughtful. We
both relapsed into silent musing as we slowly proceeded up the
walk; and I suppose Milicentby a train of associationswas led
to think of her sister.

'Helen' said she'you often see Estherdon't you?'

'Not very often.'

'But you have more frequent opportunities of meeting her than I
have; and she loves youI knowand reverences you too: there is
nobody's opinion she thinks so much of; and she says you have more
sense than mamma.'

'That is because she is self-willedand my opinions more generally
coincide with her own than your mamma's. But what thenMilicent?'

'Wellsince you have so much influence with herI wish you would
seriously impress it upon herneveron any accountor for
anybody's persuasionto marry for the sake of moneyor rankor
establishmentor any earthly thingbut true affection and wellgrounded
esteem.'

'There is no necessity for that' said I'for we have had some
discourse on that subject alreadyand I assure you her ideas of
love and matrimony are as romantic as any one could desire.'

'But romantic notions will not do: I want her to have true
notions.'

'Very right: but in my judgmentwhat the world stigmatises as
romanticis often more nearly allied to the truth than is commonly
supposed; forif the generous ideas of youth are too often overclouded
by the sordid views of after-lifethat scarcely proves
them to be false.'

'Wellbut if you think her ideas are what they ought to be
strengthen themwill you? and confirm themas far as you can; for
I had romantic notions onceand - I don't mean to say that I
regret my lotfor I am quite sure I don'tbut - '

'I understand you' said I; 'you are contented for yourselfbut
you would not have your sister to suffer the same as you.'

'No - or worse. She might have far worse to suffer than Ifor I
am really contentedHelenthough you mayn't think it: I speak
the solemn truth in saying that I would not exchange my husband for
any man on earthif I might do it by the plucking of this leaf.'

'WellI believe you: now that you have himyou would not
exchange him for another; but then you would gladly exchange some
of his qualities for those of better men.'

'Yes: just as I would gladly exchange some of my own qualities for
those of better women; for neither he nor I are perfectand I
desire his improvement as earnestly as my own. And he will
improvedon't you think soHelen? he's only six-and-twenty yet.'

'He may' I answered

'He willhe WILL!' repeated she.


'Excuse the faintness of my acquiescenceMilicentI would not
discourage your hopes for the worldbut mine have been so often
disappointedthat I am become as cold and doubtful in my
expectations as the flattest of octogenarians.'

'And yet you do hopestilleven for Mr. Huntingdon?'

'I doI confessevenfor him; for it seems as if life and hope
must cease together. And is he so much worseMilicentthan Mr.
Hattersley?'

'Wellto give you my candid opinionI think there is no
comparison between them. But you mustn't be offendedHelenfor
you know I always speak my mindand you may speak yours too. I
sha'n't care.'

'I am not offendedlove; and my opinion isthat if there be a
comparison made between the twothe differencefor the most part
is certainly in Hattersley's favour.'

Milicent's own heart told her how much it cost me to make this
acknowledgment; andwith a childlike impulseshe expressed her
sympathy by suddenly kissing my cheekwithout a word of replyand
then turning quickly awaycaught up her babyand hid her face in
its frock. How odd it is that we so often weep for each other's
distresseswhen we shed not a tear for our own! Her heart had
been full enough of her own sorrowsbut it overflowed at the idea
of mine; and Itooshed tears at the sight of her sympathetic
emotionthough I had not wept for myself for many a week.

It was one rainy day last week; most of the company were killing
time in the billiard-roombut Milicent and I were with little
Arthur and Helen in the libraryand between our booksour
childrenand each otherwe expected to make out a very agreeable
morning. We had not been thus secluded above two hourshowever
when Mr. Hattersley came inattractedI supposeby the voice of
his childas he was crossing the hallfor he is prodigiously fond
of herand she of him.

He was redolent of the stableswhere he had been regaling himself
with the company of his fellow-creatures the horses ever since
breakfast. But that was no matter to my little namesake; as soon
as the colossal person of her father darkened the doorshe uttered
a shrill scream of delightandquitting her mother's sideran
crowing towards himbalancing her course with outstretched arms
and embracing his kneethrew back her head and laughed in his
face. He might well look smilingly down upon those smallfair
featuresradiant with innocent mirththose clear blue shining
eyesand that soft flaxen hair cast back upon the little ivory
neck and shoulders. Did he not think how unworthy he was of such a
possession? I fear no such idea crossed his mind. He caught her
upand there followed some minutes of very rough playduring
which it is difficult to say whether the father or the daughter
laughed and shouted the loudest. At lengthhoweverthe
boisterous pastime terminatedsuddenlyas might be expected: the
little one was hurtand began to cry; and the ungentle play-fellow
tossed it into its mother's lapbidding her 'make all straight.'
As happy to return to that gentle comforter as it had been to leave
herthe child nestled in her armsand hushed its cries in a
moment; and sinking its little weary head on her bosomsoon
dropped asleep.

Meantime Mr. Hattersley strode up to the fireand interposing his


height and breadth between us and itstood with arms akimbo
expanding his chestand gazing round him as if the house and all
its appurtenances and contents were his own undisputed possessions.

'Deuced bad weather this!' he began. 'There'll be no shooting today
I guess.' Thensuddenly lifting up his voicehe regaled us
with a few bars of a rollicking songwhich abruptly ceasinghe
finished the tune with a whistleand then continued:- 'I sayMrs.
Huntingdonwhat a fine stud your husband has! not largebut good.
I've been looking at them a bit this morning; and upon my word
Black Bossand Grey Tomand that young Nimrod are the finest
animals I've seen for many a day!' Then followed a particular
discussion of their various meritssucceeded by a sketch of the
great things he intended to do in the horse-jockey linewhen his
old governor thought proper to quit the stage. 'Not that I wish
him to close his accounts' added he: 'the old Trojan is welcome
to keep his books open as long as he pleases for me.'

'I hope soindeedMr. Hattersley.'

'Ohyes! It's only my way of talking. The event must come some
timeand so I look to the bright side of it: that's the right
plan - isn't itMrs. H.? What are you two doing here? By-the-by
where's Lady Lowborough?'

'In the billiard-room.'

'What a splendid creature she is!' continued hefixing his eyes on
his wifewho changed colourand looked more and more disconcerted
as he proceeded. 'What a noble figure she has; and what
magnificent black eyes; and what a fine spirit of her own; and what
a tongue of her owntoowhen she likes to use it. I perfectly
adore her! But never mindMilicent: I wouldn't have her for my
wifenot if she'd a kingdom for her dowry! I'm better satisfied
with the one I have. Now then! what do you look so sulky for?
don't you believe me?'

'YesI believe you' murmured shein a tone of half sadhalf
sullen resignationas she turned away to stroke the hair of her
sleeping infantthat she had laid on the sofa beside her.

'Wellthenwhat makes you so cross? Come hereMillyand tell
me why you can't be satisfied with my assurance.'

She wentand putting her little hand within his armlooked up in
his faceand said softly


'What does it amount toRalph? Only to thisthat though you
admire Annabella so muchand for qualities that I don't possess
you would still rather have me than her for your wifewhich merely
proves that you don't think it necessary to love your wife; you are
satisfied if she can keep your houseand take care of your child.
But I'm not cross; I'm only sorry; for' added shein a low
tremulous accentwithdrawing her hand from his armand bending
her looks on the rug'if you don't love meyou don'tand it
can't be helped.'

'Very true; but who told you I didn't? Did I say I loved
Annabella?'

'You said you adored her.'

'Truebut adoration isn't love. I adore Annabellabut I don't
love her; and I love theeMilicentbut I don't adore thee.' In


proof of his affectionhe clutched a handful of her light brown
ringletsand appeared to twist them unmercifully.

'Do you reallyRalph?' murmured shewith a faint smile beaming
through her tearsjust putting up her hand to hisin token that
he pulled rather too hard.

'To be sure I do' responded he: 'only you bother me rather
sometimes.'

'I bother you!' cried shein very natural surprise.

'Yesyou - but only by your exceeding goodness. When a boy has
been eating raisins and sugar-plums all dayhe longs for a squeeze
of sour orange by way of a change. And did you neverMilly
observe the sands on the sea-shore; how nice and smooth they look
and how soft and easy they feel to the foot? But if you plod
alongfor half an hourover this softeasy carpet - giving way
at every stepyielding the more the harder you press- you'll
find it rather wearisome workand be glad enough to come to a bit
of goodfirm rockthat won't budge an inch whether you stand
walkor stamp upon it; andthough it be hard as the nether
millstoneyou'll find it the easier footing after all.'

'I know what you meanRalph' said shenervously playing with her
watchguard and tracing the figure on the rug with the point of her
tiny foot - 'I know what you mean: but I thought you always liked
to be yielded toand I can't alter now.'

'I do like it' replied hebringing her to him by another tug at
her hair. 'You mustn't mind my talkMilly. A man must have
something to grumble about; and if he can't complain that his wife
harries him to death with her perversity and ill-humourhe must
complain that she wears him out with her kindness and gentleness.'

'But why complain at allunless because you are tired and
dissatisfied?'

'To excuse my own failingsto be sure. Do you think I'll bear all
the burden of my sins on my own shouldersas long as there's
another ready to help mewith none of her own to carry?'

'There is no such one on earth' said she seriously; and then
taking his hand from her headshe kissed it with an air of genuine
devotionand tripped away to the door.

'What now?' said he. 'Where are you going?'

'To tidy my hair' she answeredsmiling through her disordered
locks; 'you've made it all come down.'

'Off with you then! - An excellent little woman' he remarked when
she was gone'but a thought too soft - she almost melts in one's
hands. I positively think I ill-use her sometimeswhen I've taken
too much - but I can't help itfor she never complainseither at
the time or after. I suppose she doesn't mind it.'

'I can enlighten you on that subjectMr. Hattersley' said I:
'she does mind it; and some other things she minds still more
which yet you may never hear her complain of.'

'How do you know? - does she complain to you?' demanded hewith a
sudden spark of fury ready to burst into a flame if I should answer
yes.


'No' I replied; 'but I have known her longer and studied her more
closely than you have done. - And I can tell youMr. Hattersley
that Milicent loves you more than you deserveand that you have it
in your power to make her very happyinstead of which you are her
evil geniusandI will venture to saythere is not a single day
passes in which you do not inflict upon her some pang that you
might spare her if you would.'

'Well - it's not my fault' said hegazing carelessly up at the
ceiling and plunging his hands into his pockets: 'if my ongoings
don't suit hershe should tell me so.'

'Is she not exactly the wife you wanted? Did you not tell Mr.
Huntingdon you must have one that would submit to anything without
a murmurand never blame youwhatever you did?'

'Truebut we shouldn't always have what we want: it spoils the
best of usdoesn't it? How can I help playing the deuce when I
see it's all one to her whether I behave like a Christian or like a
scoundrelsuch as nature made me? and how can I help teasing her
when she's so invitingly meek and mimwhen she lies down like a
spaniel at my feet and never so much as squeaks to tell me that's
enough?'

'If you are a tyrant by naturethe temptation is strongI allow;
but no generous mind delights to oppress the weakbut rather to
cherish and protect.'

'I don't oppress her; but it's so confounded flat to be always
cherishing and protecting; and thenhow can I tell that I am
oppressing her when she "melts away and makes no sign"? I
sometimes think she has no feeling at all; and then I go on till
she criesand that satisfies me.'

'Then you do delight to oppress her?'

'I don'tI tell you! only when I'm in a bad humouror a
particularly good oneand want to afflict for the pleasure of
comforting; or when she looks flat and wants shaking up a bit. And
sometimes she provokes me by crying for nothingand won't tell me
what it's for; and thenI allowit enrages me past bearing
especially when I'm not my own man.'

'As is no doubt generally the case on such occasions' said I.
'But in futureMr. Hattersleywhen you see her looking flator
crying for "nothing" (as you call it)ascribe it all to yourself:
be assured it is something you have done amissor your general
misconductthat distresses her.'

'I don't believe it. If it wereshe should tell me so: I don't
like that way of moping and fretting in silenceand saying
nothing: it's not honest. How can she expect me to mend my ways
at that rate?'

'Perhaps she gives you credit for having more sense than you
possessand deludes herself with the hope that you will one day
see your own errors and repair themif left to your own
reflection.'

'None of your sneersMrs. Huntingdon. I have the sense to see
that I'm not always quite correctbut sometimes I think that's no
great matteras long as I injure nobody but myself - '


'It is a great matter' interrupted I'both to yourself (as you
will hereafter find to your cost) and to all connected with you
most especially your wife. Butindeedit is nonsense to talk
about injuring no one but yourself: it is impossible to injure
yourselfespecially by such acts as we allude towithout injuring
hundredsif not thousandsbesidesin a greater or lessdegree
either by the evil you do or the good you leave undone.'

'And as I was saying' continued he'or would have said if you
hadn't taken me up so shortI sometimes think I should do better
if I were joined to one that would always remind me when I was
wrongand give me a motive for doing good and eschewing evilby
decidedly showing her approval of the one and disapproval of the
other.'

'If you had no higher motive than the approval of your fellowmortal
it would do you little good.'

'Wellbut if I had a mate that would not always be yieldingand
always equally kindbut that would have the spirit to stand at bay
now and thenand honestly tell me her mind at all timessuch a
one as yourself for instance. Nowif I went on with you as I do
with her when I'm in Londonyou'd make the house too hot to hold
me at timesI'll be sworn.'

'You mistake me: I'm no termagant.'

'Wellall the better for thatfor I can't stand contradictionin
a general wayand I'm as fond of my own will as another; only I
think too much of it doesn't answer for any man.'

'WellI would never contradict you without a causebut certainly
I would always let you know what I thought of your conduct; and if
you oppressed mein bodymindor estateyou should at least
have no reason to suppose "I didn't mind it."'

'I know thatmy lady; and I think if my little wife were to follow
the same planit would be better for us both.'

'I'll tell her.'

'Nonolet her be; there's much to be said on both sidesand
now I think upon itHuntingdon often regrets that you are not more
like herscoundrelly dog that he isand you seeafter allyou
can't reform him: he's ten times worse than I. He's afraid of
youto be sure; that ishe's always on his best behaviour in your
presence - but - '

'I wonder what his worst behaviour is likethen?' I could not
forbear observing.

'Whyto tell you the truthit's very bad indeed - isn't it
Hargrave?' said headdressing that gentlemanwho had entered the
room unperceived by mefor I was now standing near the firewith
my back to the door. 'Isn't Huntingdon' he continued'as great a
reprobate as ever was d-d?'

'His lady will not hear him censured with impunity' replied Mr.
Hargravecoming forward; 'but I must sayI thank God I am not
such another.'

'Perhaps it would become you better' said I'to look at what you
areand sayGod be merciful to me a sinner.'


'You are severe' returned hebowing slightly and drawing himself
up with a proud yet injured air. Hattersley laughedand clapped
him on the shoulder. Moving from under his hand with a gesture of
insulted dignityMr. Hargrave took himself away to the other end
of the rug.

'Isn't it a shameMrs. Huntingdon?' cried his brother-in-law; 'I
struck Walter Hargrave when I was drunkthe second night after we
cameand he's turned a cold shoulder on me ever since; though I
asked his pardon the very morning after it was done!'

'Your manner of asking it' returned the other'and the clearness
with which you remembered the whole transactionshowed you were
not too drunk to be fully conscious of what you were aboutand
quite responsible for the deed.'

'You wanted to interfere between me and my wife' grumbled
Hattersley'and that is enough to provoke any man.'

'You justify itthen?' said his opponentdarting upon him a most
vindictive glance.

'NoI tell you I wouldn't have done it if I hadn't been under
excitement; and if you choose to bear malice for it after all the
handsome things I've saiddo so and be d-d!'

'I would refrain from such language in a lady's presenceat
least' said Mr. Hargravehiding his anger under a mask of
disgust.

'What have I said?' returned Hattersley: 'nothing but heaven's
truth. He will be damnedwon't heMrs. Huntingdonif he doesn't
forgive his brother's trespasses?'

'You ought to forgive himMr. Hargravesince he asks you' said

I.
'Do you say so? Then I will!' Andsmiling almost franklyhe
stepped forward and offered his hand. It was immediately clasped
in that of his relativeand the reconciliation was apparently
cordial on both sides.

'The affront' continued Hargraveturning to me'owed half its
bitterness to the fact of its being offered in your presence; and
since you bid me forgive itI willand forget it too.'

'I guess the best return I can make will be to take myself off'
muttered Hattersleywith a broad grin. His companion smiledand
he left the room. This put me on my guard. Mr. Hargrave turned
seriously to meand earnestly began


'Dear Mrs. Huntingdonhow I have longed foryet dreadedthis
hour! Do not be alarmed' he addedfor my face was crimson with
anger: 'I am not about to offend you with any useless entreaties
or complaints. I am not going to presume to trouble you with the
mention of my own feelings or your perfectionsbut I have
something to reveal to you which you ought to knowand whichyet
it pains me inexpressibly - '

'Then don't trouble yourself to reveal it!'

'But it is of importance - '

'If so I shall hear it soon enoughespecially if it is bad news


as you seem to consider it. At present I am going to take the
children to the nursery.'

'But can't you ring and send them?'

'No; I want the exercise of a run to the top of the house. Come
Arthur.'

'But you will return?'

'Not yet; don't wait.'

'Then when may I see you again?'

'At lunch' said Ideparting with little Helen in one arm and
leading Arthur by the hand.

He turned awaymuttering some sentence of impatient censure or
complaintin which 'heartless' was the only distinguishable word.

'What nonsense is thisMr. Hargrave?' said Ipausing in the
doorway. 'What do you mean?'

'Ohnothing; I did not intend you should hear my soliloquy. But
the fact isMrs. HuntingdonI have a disclosure to makepainful
for me to offer as for you to hear; and I want you to give me a few
minutes of your attention in private at any time and place you like
to appoint. It is from no selfish motive that I ask itand not
for any cause that could alarm your superhuman purity: therefore
you need not kill me with that look of cold and pitiless disdain.
I know too well the feelings with which the bearers of bad tidings
are commonly regarded not to - '

'What is this wonderful piece of intelligence?' said Iimpatiently
interrupting him. 'If it is anything of real importancespeak it
in three words before I go.'

'In three words I cannot. Send those children away and stay with
me.'

'No; keep your bad tidings to yourself. I know it is something I
don't want to hearand something you would displease me by
telling.'

'You have divined too trulyI fear; but stillsince I know itI
feel it my duty to disclose it to you.'

'Ohspare us both the inflictionand I will exonerate you from
the duty. You have offered to tell; I have refused to hear: my
ignorance will not be charged on you.'

'Be it so: you shall not hear it from me. But if the blow fall
too suddenly upon you when it comesremember I wished to soften
it!'

I left him. I was determined his words should not alarm me. What
could heof all menhave to reveal that was of importance for me
to hear? It was no doubt some exaggerated tale about my
unfortunate husband that he wished to make the most of to serve his
own bad purposes.

6th. - He has not alluded to this momentous mystery sinceand I
have seen no reason to repent of my unwillingness to hear it. The
threatened blow has not been struck yetand I do not greatly fear


it. At present I am pleased with Arthur: he has not positively
disgraced himself for upwards of a fortnightand all this last
week has been so very moderate in his indulgence at table that I
can perceive a marked difference in his general temper and
appearance. Dare I hope this will continue?

CHAPTER XXXIII

Seventh. - YesI will hope! To-night I heard Grimsby and
Hattersley grumbling together about the inhospitality of their
host. They did not know I was nearfor I happened to be standing
behind the curtain in the bow of the windowwatching the moon
rising over the clump of tall dark elm-trees below the lawnand
wondering why Arthur was so sentimental as to stand without
leaning against the outer pillar of the porticoapparently
watching it too.

'SoI suppose we've seen the last of our merry carousals in this
house' said Mr. Hattersley; 'I thought his good-fellowship
wouldn't last long. But' added helaughing'I didn't expect it
would meet its end this way. I rather thought our pretty hostess
would be setting up her porcupine quillsand threatening to turn
us out of the house if we didn't mind our manners.'

'You didn't foresee thisthen?' answered Grimsbywith a guttural
chuckle. 'But he'll change again when he's sick of her. If we
come here a year or two hencewe shall have all our own way
you'll see.'

'I don't know' replied the other: 'she's not the style of woman
you soon tire of. But be that as it mayit's devilish provoking
now that we can't be jollybecause he chooses to be on his good
behaviour.'

'It's all these cursed women!' muttered Grimsby: 'they're the very
bane of the world! They bring trouble and discomfort wherever they
comewith their falsefair faces and their deceitful tongues.'

At this juncture I issued from my retreatand smiling on Mr.
Grimsby as I passedleft the room and went out in search of
Arthur. Having seen him bend his course towards the shrubberyI
followed him thitherand found him just entering the shadowy walk.
I was so light of heartso overflowing with affectionthat I
sprang upon him and clasped him in my arms. This startling conduct
had a singular effect upon him: firsthe murmured'Bless you
darling!' and returned my close embrace with a fervour like old
timesand then he startedandin a tone of absolute terror
exclaimed'Helen! what the devil is this?' and I sawby the faint
light gleaming through the overshadowing treethat he was
positively pale with the shock.

How strange that the instinctive impulse of affection should come
firstand then the shock of the surprise! It showsat least
that the affection is genuine: he is not sick of me yet.

'I startled youArthur' said Ilaughing in my glee. 'How
nervous you are!'

'What the deuce did you do it for?' cried hequite testily
extricating himself from my armsand wiping his forehead with his


handkerchief. 'Go backHelen - go back directly! You'll get your
death of cold!'

'I won'ttill I've told you what I came for. They are blaming
youArthurfor your temperance and sobrietyand I'm come to
thank you for it. They say it is all "these cursed women and
that we are the bane of the world; but don't let them laugh or
grumble you out of your good resolutions, or your affection for
me.'

He laughed. I squeezed him in my arms again, and cried in tearful
earnest, 'Do, do persevere! and I'll love you better than ever I
did before!'

'Well, well, I will!' said he, hastily kissing me. 'There, now,
go. You mad creature, how could you come out in your light evening
dress this chill autumn night?'

'It is a glorious night,' said I.

'It is a night that will give you your death, in another minute.
Run away, do!'

'Do you see my death among those trees, Arthur?' said I, for he was
gazing intently at the shrubs, as if he saw it coming, and I was
reluctant to leave him, in my new-found happiness and revival of
hope and love. But he grew angry at my delay, so I kissed him and
ran back to the house.

I was in such a good humour that night: Milicent told me I was the
life of the party, and whispered she had never seen me so
brilliant. Certainly, I talked enough for twenty, and smiled upon
them all. Grimsby, Hattersley, Hargrave, Lady Lowborough, all
shared my sisterly kindness. Grimsby stared and wondered;
Hattersley laughed and jested (in spite of the little wine he had
been suffered to imbibe), but still behaved as well as he knew how.
Hargrave and Annabella, from different motives and in different
ways, emulated me, and doubtless both surpassed me, the former in
his discursive versatility and eloquence, the latter in boldness
and animation at least. Milicent, delighted to see her husband,
her brother, and her over-estimated friend acquitting themselves so
well, was lively and gay too, in her quiet way. Even Lord
Lowborough caught the general contagion: his dark greenish eyes
were lighted up beneath their moody brows; his sombre countenance
was beautified by smiles; all traces of gloom and proud or cold
reserve had vanished for the time; and he astonished us all, not
only by his general cheerfulness and animation, but by the positive
flashes of true force and brilliance he emitted from time to time.
Arthur did not talk much, but he laughed, and listened to the rest,
and was in perfect good-humour, though not excited by wine. So
that, altogether, we made a very merry, innocent, and entertaining
party.

9th. - Yesterday, when Rachel came to dress me for dinner, I saw
that she had been crying. I wanted to know the cause of it, but
she seemed reluctant to tell. Was she unwell? No. Had she heard
bad news from her friends? No. Had any of the servants vexed her?

'Oh, no, ma'am!' she answered; 'it's not for myself.'

'What then, Rachel? Have you been reading novels?'

'Bless you, no!' said she, with a sorrowful shake of the head; and
then she sighed and continued: 'But to tell you the truth, ma'am,


I don't like master's ways of going on.'

'What do you mean, Rachel? He's going on very properly at
present.'

'Well, ma'am, if you think so, it's right.'

And she went on dressing my hair, in a hurried way, quite unlike
her usual calm, collected manner, murmuring, half to herself, she
was sure it was beautiful hair: she 'could like to see 'em match
it.' When it was done, she fondly stroked it, and gently patted my
head.

'Is that affectionate ebullition intended for my hair, or myself,
nurse?' said I, laughingly turning round upon her; but a tear was
even now in her eye.

'What do you mean, Rachel?' I exclaimed.

'Well, ma'am, I don't know; but if - '

'If what?'

'Well, if I was you, I wouldn't have that Lady Lowborough in the
house another minute - not another minute I wouldn't!

I was thunderstruck; but before I could recover from the shock
sufficiently to demand an explanation, Milicent entered my room, as
she frequently does when she is dressed before me; and she stayed
with me till it was time to go down. She must have found me a very
unsociable companion this time, for Rachel's last words rang in my
ears. But still I hoped, I trusted they had no foundation but in
some idle rumour of the servants from what they had seen in Lady
Lowborough's manner last month; or perhaps from something that had
passed between their master and her during her former visit. At
dinner I narrowly observed both her and Arthur, and saw nothing
extraordinary in the conduct of either, nothing calculated to
excite suspicion, except in distrustful minds, which mine was not,
and therefore I would not suspect.

Almost immediately after dinner Annabella went out with her husband
to share his moonlight ramble, for it was a splendid evening like
the last. Mr. Hargrave entered the drawing-room a little before
the others, and challenged me to a game of chess. He did it
without any of that sad but proud humility he usually assumes in
addressing me, unless he is excited with wine. I looked at his
face to see if that was the case now. His eye met mine keenly, but
steadily: there was something about him I did not understand, but
he seemed sober enough. Not choosing to engage with him, I
referred him to Milicent.

'She plays badly,' said he, 'I want to match my skill with yours.
Come now! you can't pretend you are reluctant to lay down your
work. I know you never take it up except to pass an idle hour,
when there is nothing better you can do.'

'But chess-players are so unsociable,' I objected; 'they are no
company for any but themselves.'

'There is no one here but Milicent, and she - '

'Oh, I shall be delighted to watch you!' cried our mutual friend.
'Two such players - it will be quite a treat! I wonder which will
conquer.'


I consented.

'Now, Mrs. Huntingdon,' said Hargrave, as he arranged the men on
the board, speaking distinctly, and with a peculiar emphasis, as if
he had a double meaning to all his words, 'you are a good player,
but I am a better: we shall have a long game, and you will give me
some trouble; but I can be as patient as you, and in the end I
shall certainly win.' He fixed his eyes upon me with a glance I
did not like, keen, crafty, bold, and almost impudent; - already
half triumphant in his anticipated success.

'I hope not, Mr. Hargrave!' returned I, with vehemence that must
have startled Milicent at least; but he only smiled and murmured,
'Time will show.'

We set to work: he sufficiently interested in the game, but calm
and fearless in the consciousness of superior skill: I, intensely
eager to disappoint his expectations, for I considered this the
type of a more serious contest, as I imagined he did, and I felt an
almost superstitious dread of being beaten: at all events, I could
ill endure that present success should add one tittle to his
conscious power (his insolent self-confidence I ought to say), or
encourage for a moment his dream of future conquest. His play was
cautious and deep, but I struggled hard against him. For some time
the combat was doubtful: at length, to my joy, the victory seemed
inclining to my side: I had taken several of his best pieces, and
manifestly baffled his projects. He put his hand to his brow and
paused, in evident perplexity. I rejoiced in my advantage, but
dared not glory in it yet. At length, he lifted his head, and
quietly making his move, looked at me and said, calmly, 'Now you
think you will win, don't you?'

'I hope so,' replied I, taking his pawn that he had pushed into the
way of my bishop with so careless an air that I thought it was an
oversight, but was not generous enough, under the circumstances, to
direct his attention to it, and too heedless, at the moment, to
foresee the after-consequences of my move.

'It is those bishops that trouble me,' said he; 'but the bold
knight can overleap the reverend gentlemen,' taking my last bishop
with his knight; 'and now, those sacred persons once removed, I
shall carry all before me.'

'Oh, Walter, how you talk!' cried Milicent; 'she has far more
pieces than you still.'

'I intend to give you some trouble yet,' said I; 'and perhaps, sir,
you will find yourself checkmated before you are aware. Look to
your queen.'

The combat deepened. The game was a long one, and I did give him
some trouble: but he was a better player than I.

'What keen gamesters you are!' said Mr. Hattersley, who had now
entered, and been watching us for some time. 'Why, Mrs.
Huntingdon, your hand trembles as if you had staked your all upon
it! and, Walter, you dog, you look as deep and cool as if you were
certain of success, and as keen and cruel as if you would drain her
heart's blood! But if I were you, I wouldn't beat her, for very
fear: she'll hate you if you do - she will, by heaven! I see it
in her eye.'

'Hold your tongue, will you?' said I: his talk distracted me, for


I was driven to extremities. A few more moves, and I was
inextricably entangled in the snare of my antagonist.

'Check,' cried he: I sought in agony some means of escape.
'Mate!' he added, quietly, but with evident delight. He had
suspended the utterance of that last fatal syllable the better to
enjoy my dismay. I was foolishly disconcerted by the event.
Hattersley laughed; Milicent was troubled to see me so disturbed.
Hargrave placed his hand on mine that rested on the table, and
squeezing it with a firm but gentle pressure, murmured, 'Beaten,
beaten!' and gazed into my face with a look where exultation was
blended with an expression of ardour and tenderness yet more
insulting.

'No, never, Mr. Hargrave!' exclaimed I, quickly withdrawing my
hand.

'Do you deny?' replied he, smilingly pointing to the board. 'No,
no,' I answered, recollecting how strange my conduct must appear:
'you have beaten me in that game.'

'Will you try another, then?'

'No.'

'You acknowledge my superiority?'

'Yes, as a chess-player.'

I rose to resume my work.

'Where is Annabella?' said Hargrave, gravely, after glancing round
the room.

'Gone out with Lord Lowborough,' answered I, for he looked at me
for a reply.

'And not yet returned!' he said, seriously.

'I suppose not.'

'Where is Huntingdon?' looking round again.

'Gone out with Grimsby, as you know,' said Hattersley, suppressing
a laugh, which broke forth as he concluded the sentence. Why did
he laugh? Why did Hargrave connect them thus together? Was it
true, then? And was this the dreadful secret he had wished to
reveal to me? I must know, and that quickly. I instantly rose and
left the room to go in search of Rachel and demand an explanation
of her words; but Mr. Hargrave followed me into the anteroom, and
before I could open its outer door, gently laid his hand upon the
lock. 'May I tell you something, Mrs. Huntingdon?' said he, in a
subdued tone, with serious, downcast eyes.

'If it be anything worth hearing,' replied I, struggling to be
composed, for I trembled in every limb.

He quietly pushed a chair towards me. I merely leant my hand upon
it, and bid him go on.

'Do not be alarmed,' said he: 'what I wish to say is nothing in
itself; and I will leave you to draw your own inferences from it.
You say that Annabella is not yet returned?'


'Yes, yes - go on!' said I, impatiently; for I feared my forced
calmness would leave me before the end of his disclosure, whatever
it might be.

'And you hear,' continued he, 'that Huntingdon is gone out with
Grimsby?'

'Well?'

'I heard the latter say to your husband - or the man who calls
himself so - '

'Go on, sir!'

He bowed submissively, and continued: 'I heard him say, - I shall
manage ityou'll see! They're gone down by the water; I shall
meet them thereand tell him I want a bit of talk with him about
some things that we needn't trouble the lady with; and she'll say
she can be walking back to the house; and then I shall apologise
you knowand all thatand tip her a wink to take the way of the
shrubbery. I'll keep him talking thereabout those matters I
mentionedand anything else I can think ofas long as I canand
then bring him round the other waystopping to look at the trees
the fieldsand anything else I can find to discourse of."' Mr.
Hargrave pausedand looked at me.

Without a word of comment or further questioningI roseand
darted from the room and out of the house. The torment of suspense
was not to be endured: I would not suspect my husband falselyon
this man's accusationand I would not trust him unworthily - I
must know the truth at once. I flew to the shrubbery. Scarcely
had I reached itwhen a sound of voices arrested my breathless
speed.

'We have lingered too long; he will be back' said Lady
Lowborough's voice.

'Surely notdearest!' was his reply; 'but you can run across the
lawnand get in as quietly as you can; I'll follow in a while.'

My knees trembled under me; my brain swam round. I was ready to
faint. She must not see me thus. I shrunk among the bushesand
leant against the trunk of a tree to let her pass.

'AhHuntingdon!' said she reproachfullypausing where I had stood
with him the night before - 'it was here you kissed that woman!'
she looked back into the leafy shade. Advancing thencehe
answeredwith a careless laugh


'WelldearestI couldn't help it. You know I must keep straight
with her as long as I can. Haven't I seen you kiss your dolt of a
husband scores of times? - and do I ever complain?'

'But tell medon't you love her still - a little?' said she
placing her hand on his armlooking earnestly in his face - for I
could see themplainlythe moon shining full upon them from
between the branches of the tree that sheltered me.

'Not one bitby all that's sacred!' he repliedkissing her
glowing cheek.

'Good heavensI must be gone!' cried shesuddenly breaking from
himand away she flew.


There he stood before me; but I had not strength to confront him
now: my tongue cleaved to the roof of my mouth; I was well-nigh
sinking to the earthand I almost wondered he did not hear the
beating of my heart above the low sighing of the wind and the
fitful rustle of the falling leaves. My senses seemed to fail me
but still I saw his shadowy form pass before meand through the
rushing sound in my ears I distinctly heard him sayas he stood
looking up the lawn- 'There goes the fool! RunAnnabellarun!
There - in with you! Ah- he didn't see! That's rightGrimsby
keep him back!' And even his low laugh reached me as he walked
away.

'God help me now!' I murmuredsinking on my knees among the damp
weeds and brushwood that surrounded meand looking up at the
moonlit skythrough the scant foliage above. It seemed all dim
and quivering now to my darkened sight. My burningbursting heart
strove to pour forth its agony to Godbut could not frame its
anguish into prayer; until a gust of wind swept over mewhich
while it scattered the dead leaveslike blighted hopesaround
cooled my foreheadand seemed a little to revive my sinking frame.
Thenwhile I lifted up my soul in speechlessearnest
supplicationsome heavenly influence seemed to strengthen me
within: I breathed more freely; my vision cleared; I saw
distinctly the pure moon shining onand the light clouds skimming
the cleardark sky; and then I saw the eternal stars twinkling
down upon me; I knew their God was mineand He was strong to save
and swift to hear. 'I will never leave theenor forsake thee'
seemed whispered from above their myriad orbs. Nono; I felt He
would not leave me comfortless: in spite of earth and hell I
should have strength for all my trialsand win a glorious rest at
last!

Refreshedinvigoratedif not composedI rose and returned to the
house. Much of my new-born strength and courage forsook meI
confessas I entered itand shut out the fresh wind and the
glorious sky: everything I saw and heard seemed to sicken my heart

-the hallthe lampthe staircasethe doors of the different
apartmentsthe social sound of talk and laughter from the drawingroom.
How could I bear my future life! In this houseamong those
people - ohhow could I endure to live! John just then entered
the halland seeing metold me he had been sent in search of me
adding that he had taken in the teaand master wished to know if I
were coming.
'Ask Mrs. Hattersley to be so kind as to make the teaJohn' said

I. 'Say I am not well to-nightand wish to be excused.'
I retired into the largeempty dining-roomwhere all was silence
and darknessbut for the soft sighing of the wind withoutand the
faint gleam of moonlight that pierced the blinds and curtains; and
there I walked rapidly up and downthinking of my bitter thoughts
alone. How different was this from the evening of yesterday!
Thatit seemswas the last expiring flash of my life's happiness.
Poorblinded fool that I was to be so happy! I could now see the
reason of Arthur's strange reception of me in the shrubbery; the
burst of kindness was for his paramourthe start of horror for his
wife. NowtooI could better understand the conversation between
Hattersley and Grimsby; it was doubtless of his love for her they
spokenot for me.

I heard the drawing-room door open: a light quick step came out of
the ante-roomcrossed the halland ascended the stairs. It was
Milicentpoor Milicentgone to see how I was - no one else cared
for me; but she still was kind. I shed no tears beforebut now


they camefast and free. Thus she did me goodwithout
approaching me. Disappointed in her searchI heard her come down
more slowly than she had ascended. Would she come in thereand
find me out? Noshe turned in the opposite direction and reentered
the drawing-room. I was gladfor I knew not how to meet
heror what to say. I wanted no confidante in my distress. I
deserved noneand I wanted none. I had taken the burden upon
myself; let me bear it alone.

As the usual hour of retirement approached I dried my eyesand
tried to clear my voice and calm my mind. I must see Arthur to-
nightand speak to him; but I would do it calmly: there should be
no scene - nothing to complain or to boast of to his companions nothing
to laugh at with his lady-love. When the company were
retiring to their chambers I gently opened the doorand just as he
passedbeckoned him in.

'What's to do with youHelen?' said he. 'Why couldn't you come to
make tea for us? and what the deuce are you here forin the dark?
What ails youyoung woman: you look like a ghost!' he continued
surveying me by the light of his candle.

'No matter' I answered'to you; you have no longer any regard for
me it appears; and I have no longer any for you.'

'Hal-lo! what the devil is this?' he muttered.

'I would leave you to-morrow' continued I'and never again come
under this roofbut for my child' - I paused a moment to steady
my voice.

'What in the devil's name is thisHelen?' cried he. 'What can you
be driving at?'

'You know perfectly well. Let us waste no time in useless
explanationbut tell mewill you -?'

He vehemently swore he knew nothing about itand insisted upon
hearing what poisonous old woman had been blackening his nameand
what infamous lies I had been fool enough to believe.

'Spare yourself the trouble of forswearing yourself and racking
your brains to stifle truth with falsehood' I coldly replied. 'I
have trusted to the testimony of no third person. I was in the
shrubbery this eveningand I saw and heard for myself.'

This was enough. He uttered a suppressed exclamation of
consternation and dismayand muttering'I shall catch it now!'
set down his candle on the nearest chairand rearing his back
against the wallstood confronting me with folded arms.

'Wellwhat then?' said hewith the calm insolence of mingled
shamelessness and desperation.

'Only this' returned I; 'will you let me take our child and what
remains of my fortuneand go?'

'Go where?'

'Anywherewhere he will be safe from your contaminating influence
and I shall be delivered from your presenceand you from mine.'

'No.'


'Will you let me have the child thenwithout the money?'

'Nonor yourself without the child. Do you think I'm going to be
made the talk of the country for your fastidious caprices?'

'Then I must stay hereto be hated and despised. But henceforth
we are husband and wife only in the name.'

'Very good.'

'I am your child's motherand your housekeepernothing more. So
you need not trouble yourself any longer to feign the love you
cannot feel: I will exact no more heartless caresses from younor
offer nor endure them either. I will not be mocked with the empty
husk of conjugal endearmentswhen you have given the substance to
another!'

'Very goodif you please. We shall see who will tire firstmy
lady.'

'If I tireit will be of living in the world with you: not of
living without your mockery of love. When you tire of your sinful
waysand show yourself truly repentantI will forgive youand
perhapstry to love you againthough that will be hard indeed.'

'Humph! and meantime you will go and talk me over to Mrs. Hargrave
and write long letters to aunt Maxwell to complain of the wicked
wretch you have married?'

'I shall complain to no one. Hitherto I have struggled hard to
hide your vices from every eyeand invest you with virtues you
never possessed; but now you must look to yourself.'

I left him muttering bad language to himselfand went up-stairs.

'You are poorlyma'am' said Rachelsurveying me with deep
anxiety.

'It is too trueRachel' said Ianswering her sad looks rather
than her words.

'I knew itor I wouldn't have mentioned such a thing.'

'But don't you trouble yourself about it' said Ikissing her
paletime-wasted cheek. 'I can bear it better than you imagine.'

'Yesyou were always for "bearing." But if I was you I wouldn't
bear it; I'd give way to itand cry right hard! and I'd talk too
I just would - I'd let him know what it was to - '

'I have talked' said I; 'I've said enough.'

'Then I'd cry' persisted she. 'I wouldn't look so white and so
calmand burst my heart with keeping it in.'

'I have cried' said Ismilingin spite of my misery; 'and I am
calm nowreally: so don't discompose me againnurse: let us say
no more about itand don't mention it to the servants. Thereyou
may go now. Good-night; and don't disturb your rest for me: I
shall sleep well - if I can.'

Notwithstanding this resolutionI found my bed so intolerable
thatbefore two o'clockI roseand lighting my candle by the
rushlight that was still burningI got my desk and sat down in my


dressing-gown to recount the events of the past evening. It was
better to be so occupied than to be lying in bed torturing my brain
with recollections of the far past and anticipations of the
dreadful future. I have found relief in describing the very
circumstances that have destroyed my peaceas well as the little
trivial details attendant upon their discovery. No sleep I could
have got this night would have done so much towards composing my
mindand preparing me to meet the trials of the day. I fancy so
at least; and yetwhen I cease writingI find my head aches
terribly; and when I look into the glassI am startled at my
haggardworn appearance.

Rachel has been to dress meand says I have had a sad night of it
she can see. Milicent has just looked in to ask me how I was. I
told her I was betterbut to excuse my appearance admitted I had
had a restless night. I wish this day were over! I shudder at the
thoughts of going down to breakfast. How shall I encounter them
all? Yet let me remember it is not I that am guilty: I have no
cause to fear; and if they scorn me as a victim of their guiltI
can pity their folly and despise their scorn.

CHAPTER XXXIV

Evening. - Breakfast passed well over: I was calm and cool
throughout. I answered composedly all inquiries respecting my
health; and whatever was unusual in my look or manner was generally
attributed to the trifling indisposition that had occasioned my
early retirement last night. But how am I to get over the ten or
twelve days that must yet elapse before they go? Yet why so long
for their departure? When they are gonehow shall I get through
the months or years of my future life in company with that man - my
greatest enemy? for none could injure me as he has done. Oh! when
I think how fondlyhow foolishly I have loved himhow madly I
have trusted himhow constantly I have labouredand studiedand
prayedand struggled for his advantage; and how cruelly he has
trampled on my lovebetrayed my trustscorned my prayers and
tearsand efforts for his preservationcrushed my hopes
destroyed my youth's best feelingsand doomed me to a life of
hopeless miseryas far as man can do itit is not enough to say
that I no longer love my husband - I HATE him! The word stares me
in the face like a guilty confessionbut it is true: I hate him I
hate him! But God have mercy on his miserable soul! and make him
see and feel his guilt - I ask no other vengeance! If he could but
fully know and truly feel my wrongs I should be well avengedand I
could freely pardon all; but he is so lostso hardened in his
heartless depravitythat in this life I believe he never will.
But it is useless dwelling on this theme: let me seek once more to
dissipate reflection in the minor details of passing events.

Mr. Hargrave has annoyed me all day long with his serious
sympathisingand (as he thinks) unobtrusive politeness. If it
were more obtrusive it would trouble me lessfor then I could snub
him; butas it ishe contrives to appear so really kind and
thoughtful that I cannot do so without rudeness and seeming
ingratitude. I sometimes think I ought to give him credit for the
good feeling he simulates so well; and then againI think it is my
duty to suspect him under the peculiar circumstances in which I am
placed. His kindness may not all be feigned; but stilllet not
the purest impulse of gratitude to him induce me to forget myself:
let me remember the game of chessthe expressions he used on the


occasionand those indescribable looks of histhat so justly
roused my indignationand I think I shall be safe enough. I have
done well to record them so minutely.

I think he wishes to find an opportunity of speaking to me alone:
he has seemed to be on the watch all day; but I have taken care to
disappoint him - not that I fear anything he could saybut I have
trouble enough without the addition of his insulting consolations
condolencesor whatever else he might attempt; andfor Milicent's
sakeI do not wish to quarrel with him. He excused himself from
going out to shoot with the other gentlemen in the morningunder
the pretext of having letters to write; and instead of retiring for
that purpose into the libraryhe sent for his desk into the
morning-roomwhere I was seated with Milicent and Lady Lowborough.
They had betaken themselves to their work; Iless to divert my
mind than to deprecate conversationhad provided myself with a
book. Milicent saw that I wished to be quietand accordingly let
me alone. Annabelladoubtlesssaw it too: but that was no
reason why she should restrain her tongueor curb her cheerful
spirits: she accordingly chatted awayaddressing herself almost
exclusively to meand with the utmost assurance and familiarity
growing the more animated and friendly the colder and briefer my
answers became. Mr. Hargrave saw that I could ill endure itand
looking up from his deskhe answered her questions and
observations for meas far as he couldand attempted to transfer
her social attentions from me to himself; but it would not do.
Perhaps she thought I had a headacheand could not bear to talk;
at any rateshe saw that her loquacious vivacity annoyed meas I
could tell by the malicious pertinacity with which she persisted.
But I checked it effectually by putting into her hand the book I
had been trying to readon the fly-leaf of which I had hastily
scribbled


'I am too well acquainted with your character and conduct to feel
any real friendship for youand as I am without your talent for
dissimulationI cannot assume the appearance of it. I must
thereforebeg that hereafter all familiar intercourse may cease
between us; and if I still continue to treat you with civilityas
if you were a woman worthy of consideration and respectunderstand
that it is out of regard for your cousin Milicent's feelingsnot
for yours.'

Upon perusing this she turned scarletand bit her lip. Covertly
tearing away the leafshe crumpled it up and put it in the fire
and then employed herself in turning over the pages of the book
andreally or apparentlyperusing its contents. In a little
while Milicent announced it her intention to repair to the nursery
and asked if I would accompany her.

'Annabella will excuse us' said she; 'she's busy reading.'

'NoI won't' cried Annabellasuddenly looking upand throwing
her book on the table; 'I want to speak to Helen a minute. You may
goMilicentand she'll follow in a while.' (Milicent went.)
'Will you oblige meHelen?' continued she.

Her impudence astounded me; but I compliedand followed her into
the library. She closed the doorand walked up to the fire.

'Who told you this?' said she.

'No one: I am not incapable of seeing for myself.'

'Ahyou are suspicious!' cried shesmilingwith a gleam of hope.


Hitherto there had been a kind of desperation in her hardihood; now
she was evidently relieved.

'If I were suspicious' I replied'I should have discovered your
infamy long before. NoLady LowboroughI do not found my charge
upon suspicion.'

'On what do you found itthen?' said shethrowing herself into an
arm-chairand stretching out her feet to the fenderwith an
obvious effort to appear composed.

'I enjoy a moonlight ramble as well as you' I answeredsteadily
fixing my eyes upon her; 'and the shrubbery happens to be one of my
favourite resorts.'

She coloured again excessivelyand remained silentpressing her
finger against her teethand gazing into the fire. I watched her
a few moments with a feeling of malevolent gratification; then
moving towards the doorI calmly asked if she had anything more to
say.

'Yesyes!' cried she eagerlystarting up from her reclining
posture. 'I want to know if you will tell Lord Lowborough?'

'Suppose I do?'

'Wellif you are disposed to publish the matterI cannot dissuade
youof course - but there will be terrible work if you do - and if
you don'tI shall think you the most generous of mortal beings and
if there is anything in the world I can do for you - anything
short of - ' she hesitated.

'Short of renouncing your guilty connection with my husbandI
suppose you mean?' said I.

She pausedin evident disconcertion and perplexitymingled with
anger she dared not show.

'I cannot renounce what is dearer than life' she mutteredin a
lowhurried tone. Thensuddenly raising her head and fixing her
gleaming eyes upon meshe continued earnestly: 'ButHelen - or
Mrs. Huntingdonor whatever you would have me call you - will you
tell him? If you are generoushere is a fitting opportunity for
the exercise of your magnanimity: if you are proudhere am I your
rival - ready to acknowledge myself your debtor for an act of
the most noble forbearance.'

'I shall not tell him.'

'You will not!' cried shedelightedly. 'Accept my sincere thanks
then!'

She sprang upand offered me her hand. I drew back.

'Give me no thanks; it is not for your sake that I refrain.
Neither is it an act of any forbearance: I have no wish to publish
your shame. I should be sorry to distress your husband with the
knowledge of it.'

'And Milicent? will you tell her?'

'No: on the contraryI shall do my utmost to conceal it from her.
I would not for much that she should know the infamy and disgrace
of her relation!'


'You use hard wordsMrs. Huntingdonbut I can pardon you.'

'And nowLady Lowborough' continued I'let me counsel you to
leave this house as soon as possible. You must be aware that your
continuance here is excessively disagreeable to me - not for Mr.
Huntingdon's sake' said Iobserving the dawn of a malicious smile
of triumph on her face - 'you are welcome to himif you like him
as far as I am concerned - but because it is painful to be always
disguising my true sentiments respecting youand straining to keep
up an appearance of civility and respect towards one for whom I
have not the most distant shadow of esteem; and becauseif you
stayyour conduct cannot possibly remain concealed much longer
from the only two persons in the house who do not know it already.
Andfor your husband's sakeAnnabellaand even for your ownI
wish - I earnestly advise and entreat you to break off this
unlawful connection at onceand return to your duty while you may
before the dreadful consequences - '

'Yesyesof course' said sheinterrupting me with a gesture of
impatience. 'But I cannot goHelenbefore the time appointed for
our departure. What possible pretext could I frame for such a
thing? Whether I proposed going back alone - which Lowborough
would not hear of - or taking him with methe very circumstance
itself would be certain to excite suspicion - and when our visit is
so nearly at an end too - little more than a week - surely you can
endure my presence so long! I will not annoy you with any more of
my friendly impertinences.'

'WellI have nothing more to say to you.'

'Have you mentioned this affair to Huntingdon?' asked sheas I was
leaving the room.

'How dare you mention his name to me!' was the only answer I gave.

No words have passed between us sincebut such as outward decency
or pure necessity demanded.

CHAPTER XXXV

Nineteenth. - In proportion as Lady Lowborough finds she has
nothing to fear from meand as the time of departure draws nigh
the more audacious and insolent she becomes. She does not scruple
to speak to my husband with affectionate familiarity in my
presencewhen no one else is byand is particularly fond of
displaying her interest in his health and welfareor in anything
that concerns himas if for the purpose of contrasting her kind
solicitude with my cold indifference. And he rewards her by such
smiles and glancessuch whispered wordsor boldly-spoken
insinuationsindicative of his sense of her goodness and my
neglectas make the blood rush into my facein spite of myself for
I would be utterly regardless of it all - deaf and blind to
everything that passes between themsince the more I show myself
sensible of their wickedness the more she triumphs in her victory
and the more he flatters himself that I love him devotedly still
in spite of my pretended indifference. On such occasions I have
sometimes been startled by a subtlefiendish suggestion inciting
me to show him the contrary by a seeming encouragement of
Hargrave's advances; but such ideas are banished in a moment with


horror and self-abasement; and then I hate him tenfold more than
ever for having brought me to this! - God pardon me for it and all
my sinful thoughts! Instead of being humbled and purified by my
afflictionsI feel that they are turning my nature into gall.
This must be my fault as much as theirs that wrong me. No true
Christian could cherish such bitter feelings as I do against him
and herespecially the latter: himI still feel that I could
pardon - freelygladly - on the slightest token of repentance; but
she - words cannot utter my abhorrence. Reason forbidsbut
passion urges strongly; and I must pray and struggle long ere I
subdue it.

It is well that she is leaving to-morrowfor I could not well
endure her presence for another day. This morning she rose earlier
than usual. I found her in the room alonewhen I went down to
breakfast.

'OhHelen! is it you?' said sheturning as I entered.

I gave an involuntary start back on seeing herat which she
uttered a short laughobserving'I think we are both
disappointed.'

I came forward and busied myself with the breakfast things.

'This is the last day I shall burden your hospitality' said she
as she seated herself at the table. 'Ahhere comes one that will
not rejoice at it!' she murmuredhalf to herselfas Arthur
entered the room.

He shook hands with her and wished her good-morning: thenlooking
lovingly in her faceand still retaining her hand in hismurmured
pathetically'The last - last day!'

'Yes' said she with some asperity; 'and I rose early to make the
best of it - I have been here alone this half-hourand you - you
lazy creature - '

'WellI thought I was early too' said he; 'but' dropping his
voice almost to a whisper'you see we are not alone.'

'We never are' returned she. But they were almost as good as
alonefor I was now standing at the windowwatching the clouds
and struggling to suppress my wrath.

Some more words passed between themwhichhappilyI did not
overhear; but Annabella had the audacity to come and place herself
beside meand even to put her hand upon my shoulder and say
softly'You need not grudge him to meHelenfor I love him more
than ever you could do.'

This put me beside myself. I took her hand and violently dashed it
from mewith an expression of abhorrence and indignation that
could not be suppressed. Startledalmost appalledby this sudden
outbreakshe recoiled in silence. I would have given way to my
fury and said morebut Arthur's low laugh recalled me to myself.
I checked the half-uttered invectiveand scornfully turned away
regretting that I had given him so much amusement. He was still
laughing when Mr. Hargrave made his appearance. How much of the
scene he had witnessed I do not knowfor the door was ajar when he
entered. He greeted his host and his cousin both coldlyand me
with a glance intended to express the deepest sympathy mingled with
high admiration and esteem.


'How much allegiance do you owe to that man?' he asked below his
breathas he stood beside me at the windowaffecting to be making
observations on the weather.

'None' I answered. And immediately returning to the tableI
employed myself in making the tea. He followedand would have
entered into some kind of conversation with mebut the other
guests were now beginning to assembleand I took no more notice of
himexcept to give him his coffee.

After breakfastdetermined to pass as little of the day as
possible in company with Lady LowboroughI quietly stole away from
the company and retired to the library. Mr. Hargrave followed me
thitherunder pretence of coming for a book; and firstturning to
the shelveshe selected a volumeand then quietlybut by no
means timidlyapproaching mehe stood beside meresting his hand
on the back of my chairand said softly'And so you consider
yourself free at last?'

'Yes' said Iwithout movingor raising my eyes from my book
'free to do anything but offend God and my conscience.'

There was a momentary pause.

'Very right' said he'provided your conscience be not too
morbidly tenderand your ideas of God not too erroneously severe;
but can you suppose it would offend that benevolent Being to make
the happiness of one who would die for yours? - to raise a devoted
heart from purgatorial torments to a state of heavenly blisswhen
you could do it without the slightest injury to yourself or any
other?'

This was spoken in a lowearnestmelting toneas he bent over
me. I now raised my head; and steadily confronting his gazeI
answered calmly'Mr. Hargravedo you mean to insult me?'

He was not prepared for this. He paused a moment to recover the
shook; thendrawing himself up and removing his hand from my
chairhe answeredwith proud sadness- 'That was not my
intention.'

I just glanced towards the doorwith a slight movement of the
headand then returned to my book. He immediately withdrew. This
was better than if I had answered with more wordsand in the
passionate spirit to which my first impulse would have prompted.
What a good thing it is to be able to command one's temper! I must
labour to cultivate this inestimable quality: God only knows how
often I shall need it in this roughdark road that lies before me.

In the course of the morning I drove over to the Grove with the two
ladiesto give Milicent an opportunity for bidding farewell to her
mother and sister. They persuaded her to stay with them the rest
of the dayMrs. Hargrave promising to bring her back in the
evening and remain till the party broke up on the morrow.
ConsequentlyLady Lowborough and I had the pleasure of returning
TETE-E-TETE in the carriage together. For the first mile or two we
kept silenceI looking out of my windowand she leaning back in
her corner. But I was not going to restrict myself to any
particular position for her; when I was tired of leaning forward
with the coldraw wind in my faceand surveying the russet hedges
and the damptangled grass of their banksI gave it up and leant
back too. With her usual impudencemy companion then made some
attempts to get up a conversation; but the monosyllables 'yes' or
'no' or 'humph' were the utmost her several remarks could elicit


from me. At laston her asking my opinion upon some immaterial
point of discussionI answered- 'Why do you wish to talk to me
Lady Lowborough? You must know what I think of you.'

'Wellif you will be so bitter against me' replied she'I can't
help it; but I'm not going to sulk for anybody.'

Our short drive was now at an end. As soon as the carriage door
was openedshe sprang outand went down the park to meet the
gentlemenwho were just returning from the woods. Of course I did
not follow.

But I had not done with her impudence yet: after dinnerI retired
to the drawing-roomas usualand she accompanied mebut I had
the two children with meand I gave them my whole attentionand
determined to keep them till the gentlemen cameor till Milicent
arrived with her mother. Little Helenhoweverwas soon tired of
playingand insisted upon going to sleep; and while I sat on the
sofa with her on my kneeand Arthur seated beside megently
playing with her softflaxen hairLady Lowborough composedly came
and placed herself on the other side.

'To-morrowMrs. Huntingdon' said she'you will be delivered from
my presencewhichno doubtyou will be very glad of - it is
natural you should; but do you know I have rendered you a great
service? Shall I tell you what it is?'

'I shall be glad to hear of any service you have rendered me' said
Idetermined to be calmfor I knew by the tone of her voice she
wanted to provoke me.

'Well' resumed she'have you not observed the salutary change in
Mr. Huntingdon? Don't you see what a sobertemperate man he is
become? You saw with regret the sad habits he was contractingI
know: and I know you did your utmost to deliver him from thembut
without successuntil I came to your assistance. I told him in
few words that I could not bear to see him degrade himself soand
that I should cease to - no matter what I told himbut you see the
reformation I have wrought; and you ought to thank me for it.'

I rose and rang for the nurse.

'But I desire no thanks' she continued; 'all the return I ask is
that you will take care of him when I am goneand notby
harshness and neglectdrive him back to his old courses.'

I was almost sick with passionbut Rachel was now at the door.
pointed to the childrenfor I could not trust myself to speak:
she took them awayand I followed.

'Will youHelen?' continued the speaker.

I gave her a look that blighted the malicious smile on her faceor
checked itat least for a momentand departed. In the ante-room
I met Mr. Hargrave. He saw I was in no humour to be spoken toand
suffered me to pass without a word; but whenafter a few minutes'
seclusion in the libraryI had regained my composureand was
returning to join Mrs. Hargrave and Milicentwhom I had just heard
come downstairs and go into the drawing-roomI found him there
still lingering in the dimly-lighted apartmentand evidently
waiting for me.

'Mrs. Huntingdon' said he as I passed'will you allow me one
word?'


'What is it then? be quickif you please.'

'I offended you this morning; and I cannot live under your
displeasure.'

'Then goand sin no more' replied Iturning away.

'Nono!' said hehastilysetting himself before me. 'Pardon me
but I must have your forgiveness. I leave you to-morrowand I may
not have an opportunity of speaking to you again. I was wrong to
forget myself and youas I did; but let me implore you to forget
and forgive my rash presumptionand think of me as if those words
had never been spoken; forbelieve meI regret them deeplyand
the loss of your esteem is too severe a penalty: I cannot bear
it.'

'Forgetfulness is not to be purchased with a wish; and I cannot
bestow my esteem on all who desire itunless they deserve it too.'

'I shall think my life well spent in labouring to deserve itif
you will but pardon this offence - will you?'

'Yes.'

'Yes! but that is coldly spoken. Give me your hand and I'll
believe you. You won't? ThenMrs. Huntingdonyou do not forgive
me!'

'Yes; here it isand my forgiveness with it: onlySIN NO MORE.'

He pressed my cold hand with sentimental fervourbut said nothing
and stood aside to let me pass into the roomwhere all the company
were now assembled. Mr. Grimsby was seated near the door: on
seeing me enteralmost immediately followed by Hargravehe leered
at me with a glance of intolerable significanceas I passed. I
looked him in the facetill he sullenly turned awayif not
ashamedat least confounded for the moment. Meantime Hattersley
had seized Hargrave by the armand was whispering something in his
ear - some coarse jokeno doubtfor the latter neither laughed
nor spoke in answerbutturning from him with a slight curl of
the lipdisengaged himself and went to his motherwho was telling
Lord Lowborough how many reasons she had to be proud of her son.

Thank heaventhey are all going to-morrow.

CHAPTER XXXVI

December 20th1824. - This is the third anniversary of our
felicitous union. It is now two months since our guests left us to
the enjoyment of each other's society; and I have had nine weeks'
experience of this new phase of conjugal life - two persons living
togetheras master and mistress of the houseand father and
mother of a winsomemerry little childwith the mutual
understanding that there is no lovefriendshipor sympathy
between them. As far as in me liesI endeavour to live peaceably
with him: I treat him with unimpeachable civilitygive up my
convenience to hiswherever it may reasonably be doneand consult
him in a business-like way on household affairsdeferring to his
pleasure and judgmenteven when I know the latter to be inferior


to my own.

As for himfor the first week or twohe was peevish and low
frettingI supposeover his dear Annabella's departureand
particularly ill-tempered to me: everything I did was wrong; I was
cold-heartedhardinsensate; my sourpale face was perfectly
repulsive; my voice made him shudder; he knew not how he could live
through the winter with me; I should kill him by inches. Again I
proposed a separationbut it would not do: he was not going to be
the talk of all the old gossips in the neighbourhood: he would not
have it said that he was such a brute his wife could not live with
him. No; he must contrive to bear with me.

'I must contrive to bear with youyou mean' said I; 'for so long
as I discharge my functions of steward and house-keeperso
conscientiously and wellwithout pay and without thanksyou
cannot afford to part with me. I shall therefore remit these
duties when my bondage becomes intolerable.' This threatI
thoughtwould serve to keep him in checkif anything would.

I believe he was much disappointed that I did not feel his
offensive sayings more acutelyfor when he had said anything
particularly well calculated to hurt my feelingshe would stare me
searchingly in the faceand then grumble against my 'marble heart'
or my 'brutal insensibility.' If I had bitterly wept and deplored
his lost affectionhe wouldperhapshave condescended to pity
meand taken me into favour for a whilejust to comfort his
solitude and console him for the absence of his beloved Annabella
until he could meet her againor some more fitting substitute.
Thank heavenI am not so weak as that! I was infatuated once with
a foolishbesotted affectionthat clung to him in spite of his
unworthinessbut it is fairly gone now - wholly crushed and
withered away; and he has none but himself and his vices to thank
for it.

At first (in compliance with his sweet lady's injunctionsI
suppose)he abstained wonderfully well from seeking to solace his
cares in wine; but at length he began to relax his virtuous
effortsand now and then exceeded a littleand still continues to
do so; naysometimesnot a little. When he is under the exciting
influence of these excesseshe sometimes fires up and attempts to
play the brute; and then I take little pains to suppress my scorn
and disgust. When he is under the depressing influence of the
after-consequenceshe bemoans his sufferings and his errorsand
charges them both upon me; he knows such indulgence injures his
healthand does him more harm than good; but he says I drive him
to it by my unnaturalunwomanly conduct; it will be the ruin of
him in the endbut it is all my fault; and then I am roused to
defend myselfsometimes with bitter recrimination. This is a kind
of injustice I cannot patiently endure. Have I not laboured long
and hard to save him from this very vice? Would I not labour still
to deliver him from it if I could? but could I do so by fawning
upon him and caressing him when I know that he scorns me? Is it my
fault that I have lost my influence with himor that he has
forfeited every claim to my regard? And should I seek a
reconciliation with himwhen I feel that I abhor himand that he
despises me? and while he continues still to correspond with Lady
Lowboroughas I know he does? Nonevernevernever! he may
drink himself deadbut it is NOT my fault!

Yet I do my part to save him still: I give him to understand that
drinking makes his eyes dulland his face red and bloated; and
that it tends to render him imbecile in body and mind; and if
Annabella were to see him as often as I doshe would speedily be


disenchanted; and that she certainly will withdraw her favour from
himif he continues such courses. Such a mode of admonition wins
only coarse abuse for me - andindeedI almost feel as if I
deserved itfor I hate to use such arguments; but they sink into
his stupefied heartand make him pauseand ponderand abstain
more than anything else I could say.

At present I am enjoying a temporary relief from his presence: he
is gone with Hargrave to join a distant huntand will probably not
be back before to-morrow evening. How differently I used to feel
his absence!

Mr. Hargrave is still at the Grove. He and Arthur frequently meet
to pursue their rural sports together: he often calls upon us
hereand Arthur not unfrequently rides over to him. I do not
think either of these soi-disant friends is overflowing with love
for the other; but such intercourse serves to get the time onand
I am very willing it should continueas it saves me some hours of
discomfort in Arthur's societyand gives him some better
employment than the sottish indulgence of his sensual appetites.
The only objection I have to Mr. Hargrave's being in the
neighbourhoodis that the fear of meeting him at the Grove
prevents me from seeing his sister so often as I otherwise should;
forof latehe has conducted himself towards me with such
unerring proprietythat I have almost forgotten his former
conduct. I suppose he is striving to 'win my esteem.' If he
continue to act in this wayhe may win it; but what then? The
moment he attempts to demand anything morehe will lose it again.

February 10th. - It is a hardembittering thing to have one's kind
feelings and good intentions cast back in one's teeth. I was
beginning to relent towards my wretched partner; to pity his
forlorncomfortless conditionunalleviated as it is by the
consolations of intellectual resources and the answer of a good
conscience towards God; and to think I ought to sacrifice my pride
and renew my efforts once again to make his home agreeable and lead
him back to the path of virtue; not by false professions of love
and not by pretended remorsebut by mitigating my habitual
coldness of mannerand commuting my frigid civility into kindness
wherever an opportunity occurred; and not only was I beginning to
think sobut I had already begun to act upon the thought - and
what was the result? No answering spark of kindnessno awakening
penitencebut an unappeasable ill-humourand a spirit of
tyrannous exaction that increased with indulgenceand a lurking
gleam of self-complacent triumph at every detection of relenting
softness in my mannerthat congealed me to marble again as often
as it recurred; and this morning he finished the business:- I think
the petrifaction is so completely effected at last that nothing can
melt me again. Among his letters was one which he perused with
symptoms of unusual gratificationand then threw it across the
table to mewith the admonition


'There! read thatand take a lesson by it!'

It was in the freedashing hand of Lady Lowborough. I glanced at
the first page; it seemed full of extravagant protestations of
affection; impetuous longings for a speedy reunion - and impious
defiance of God's mandatesand railings against His providence for
having cast their lot asunderand doomed them both to the hateful
bondage of alliance with those they could not love. He gave a
slight titter on seeing me change colour. I folded up the letter
roseand returned it to himwith no remarkbut


'Thank youI will take a lesson by it!'


My little Arthur was standing between his kneesdelightedly
playing with the brightruby ring on his finger. Urged by a
suddenimperative impulse to deliver my son from that
contaminating influenceI caught him up in my arms and carried him
with me out of the room. Not liking this abrupt removalthe child
began to pout and cry. This was a new stab to my already tortured
heart. I would not let him go; buttaking him with me into the
libraryI shut the doorandkneeling on the floor beside himI
embraced himkissed himwept over with him with passionate
fondness. Rather frightened than consoled by thishe turned
struggling from meand cried out aloud for his papa. I released
him from my armsand never were more bitter tears than those that
now concealed him from my blindedburning eyes. Hearing his
criesthe father came to the room. I instantly turned awaylest
he should see and misconstrue my emotion. He swore at meand took
the now pacified child away.

It is hard that my little darling should love him more than me; and
thatwhen the well-being and culture of my son is all I have to
live forI should see my influence destroyed by one whose selfish
affection is more injurious than the coldest indifference or the
harshest tyranny could be. If Ifor his gooddeny him some
trifling indulgencehe goes to his fatherand the latterin
spite of his selfish indolencewill even give himself some trouble
to meet the child's desires: if I attempt to curb his willor
look gravely on him for some act of childish disobediencehe knows
his other parent will smile and take his part against me. Thus
not only have I the father's spirit in the son to contend against
the germs of his evil tendencies to search out and eradicateand
his corrupting intercourse and example in after-life to counteract
but already he counteracts my arduous labour for the child's
advantagedestroys my influence over his tender mindand robs me
of his very love; I had no earthly hope but thisand he seems to
take a diabolical delight in tearing it away.

But it is wrong to despair; I will remember the counsel of the
inspired writer to him 'that feareth the Lord and obeyeth the voice
of his servantthat sitteth in darkness and hath no light; let him
trust in the name of the Lordand stay upon his God!'

CHAPTER XXXVII

December 20th1825. - Another year is past; and I am weary of this
life. And yet I cannot wish to leave it: whatever afflictions
assail me hereI cannot wish to go and leave my darling in this
dark and wicked world alonewithout a friend to guide him through
its weary mazesto warn him of its thousand snaresand guard him
from the perils that beset him on every hand. I am not well fitted
to be his only companionI know; but there is no other to supply
my place. I am too grave to minister to his amusements and enter
into his infantile sports as a nurse or a mother ought to doand
often his bursts of gleeful merriment trouble and alarm me; I see
in them his father's spirit and temperamentand I tremble for the
consequences; and too often damp the innocent mirth I ought to
share. That fatheron the contraryhas no weight of sadness on
his mind; is troubled with no fearsno scruples concerning his
son's future welfare; and at evenings especiallythe times when
the child sees him the most and the oftenesthe is always
particularly jocund and open-hearted: ready to laugh and to jest


with anything or anybody but meand I am particularly silent and
sad: thereforeof coursethe child dotes upon his seemingly
joyous amusingever-indulgent papaand will at any time gladly
exchange my company for his. This disturbs me greatly; not so much
for the sake of my son's affection (though I do prize that highly
and though I feel it is my rightand know I have done much to earn
it) as for that influence over him whichfor his own advantageI
would strive to purchase and retainand which for very spite his
father delights to rob me ofandfrom motives of mere idle
egotismis pleased to win to himself; making no use of it but to
torment me and ruin the child. My only consolation isthat he
spends comparatively little of his time at homeandduring the
months he passes in London or elsewhereI have a chance of
recovering the ground I had lostand overcoming with good the evil
he has wrought by his wilful mismanagement. But then it is a
bitter trial to behold himon his returndoing his utmost to
subvert my labours and transform my innocentaffectionate
tractable darling into a selfishdisobedientand mischievous boy;
thereby preparing the soil for those vices he has so successfully
cultivated in his own perverted nature.

Happilythere were none of Arthur's 'friends' invited to Grassdale
last autumn: he took himself off to visit some of them instead. I
wish he would always do soand I wish his friends were numerous
and loving enough to keep him amongst them all the year round. Mr.
Hargraveconsiderably to my annoyancedid not go with him; but I
think I have done with that gentleman at last.

For seven or eight months he behaved so remarkably welland
managed so skilfully toothat I was almost completely off my
guardand was really beginning to look upon him as a friendand
even to treat him as suchwith certain prudent restrictions (which
I deemed scarcely necessary); whenpresuming upon my unsuspecting
kindnesshe thought he might venture to overstep the bounds of
decent moderation and propriety that had so long restrained him.
It was on a pleasant evening at the close of May: I was wandering
in the parkand heon seeing me there as he rode pastmade bold
to enter and approach medismounting and leaving his horse at the
gate. This was the first time he had ventured to come within its
inclosure since I had been left alonewithout the sanction of his
mother's or sister's companyor at least the excuse of a message
from them. But he managed to appear so calm and easyso
respectful and self-possessed in his friendlinessthatthough a
little surprisedI was neither alarmed nor offended at the unusual
libertyand he walked with me under the ash-trees and by the
water-sideand talkedwith considerable animationgood taste
and intelligenceon many subjectsbefore I began to think about
getting rid of him. Thenafter a pauseduring which we both
stood gazing on the calmblue water - I revolving in my mind the
best means of politely dismissing my companionheno doubt
pondering other matters equally alien to the sweet sights and
sounds that alone were present to his senses- he suddenly
electrified me by beginningin a peculiar tonelowsoftbut
perfectly distinctto pour forth the most unequivocal expressions
of earnest and passionate love; pleading his cause with all the
bold yet artful eloquence he could summon to his aid. But I cut
short his appealand repulsed him so determinatelyso decidedly
and with such a mixture of scornful indignationtempered with
cooldispassionate sorrow and pity for his benighted mindthat he
withdrewastonishedmortifiedand discomforted; anda few days
afterI heard that he had departed for London. He returned
howeverin eight or nine weeksand did not entirely keep aloof
from mebut comported himself in so remarkable a manner that his
quick-sighted sister could not fail to notice the change.


'What have you done to WalterMrs. Huntingdon?' said she one
morningwhen I had called at the Groveand he had just left the
room after exchanging a few words of the coldest civility. 'He has
been so extremely ceremonious and stately of lateI can't imagine
what it is all aboutunless you have desperately offended him.
Tell me what it isthat I may be your mediatorand make you
friends again.'

'I have done nothing willingly to offend him' said I. 'If he is
offendedhe can best tell you himself what it is about.'

'I'll ask him' cried the giddy girlspringing up and putting her
head out of the window: 'he's only in the garden - Walter!'

'NonoEsther! you will seriously displease me if you do; and I
shall leave you immediatelyand not come again for months perhaps
years.'

'Did you callEsther?' said her brotherapproaching the window
from without.

'Yes; I wanted to ask you - '

'Good-morningEsther' said Italking her hand and giving it a
severe squeeze.

'To ask you' continued she'to get me a rose for Mrs.
Huntingdon.' He departed. 'Mrs. Huntingdon' she exclaimed
turning to me and still holding me fast by the hand'I'm quite
shocked at you - you're just as angryand distantand cold as he
is: and I'm determined you shall be as good friends as ever before
you go.'

'Estherhow can you be so rude!' cried Mrs. Hargravewho was
seated gravely knitting in her easy-chair. 'Surelyyou never will
learn to conduct yourself like a lady!'

'Wellmammayou said yourself - ' But the young lady was
silenced by the uplifted finger of her mammaaccompanied with a
very stern shake of the head.

'Isn't she cross?' whispered she to me; butbefore I could add my
share of reproofMr. Hargrave reappeared at the window with a
beautiful moss-rose in his hand.

'HereEstherI've brought you the rose' said heextending it
towards her.

'Give it her yourselfyou blockhead!' cried sherecoiling with a
spring from between us.

'Mrs. Huntingdon would rather receive it from you' replied hein
a very serious tonebut lowering his voice that his mother might
not hear. His sister took the rose and gave it to me.

'My brother's complimentsMrs. Huntingdonand he hopes you and he
will come to a better understanding by-and-by. Will that do
Walter?' added the saucy girlturning to him and putting her arm
round his neckas he stood leaning upon the sill of the window '
or should I have said that you are sorry you were so touchy? or
that you hope she will pardon your offence?'

'You silly girl! you don't know what you are talking about'


replied he gravely.

'Indeed I don't: for I'm quite in the dark!'

'NowEsther' interposed Mrs. Hargravewhoif equally benighted
on the subject of our estrangementsaw at least that her daughter
was behaving very improperly'I must insist upon your leaving the
room!'

'Pray don'tMrs. Hargravefor I'm going to leave it myself' said
Iand immediately made my adieux.

About a week after Mr. Hargrave brought his sister to see me. He
conducted himselfat firstwith his usual colddistanthalfstately
half-melancholyaltogether injured air; but Esther made
no remark upon it this time: she had evidently been schooled into
better manners. She talked to meand laughed and romped with
little Arthurher loved and loving playmate. Hesomewhat to my
discomfortenticed her from the room to have a run in the hall
and thence into the garden. I got up to stir the fire. Mr.
Hargrave asked if I felt coldand shut the door - a very
unseasonable piece of officiousnessfor I had meditated following
the noisy playfellows if they did not speedily return. He then
took the liberty of walking up to the fire himselfand asking me
if I were aware that Mr. Huntingdon was now at the seat of Lord
Lowboroughand likely to continue there some time.

'No; but it's no matter' I answered carelessly; and if my cheek
glowed like fireit was rather at the question than the
information it conveyed.

'You don't object to it?' he said.

'Not at allif Lord Lowborough likes his company.'

'You have no love left for himthen?'

'Not the least.'

'I knew that - I knew you were too high-minded and pure in your own
nature to continue to regard one so utterly false and polluted with
any feelings but those of indignation and scornful abhorrence!'

'Is he not your friend?' said Iturning my eyes from the fire to
his facewith perhaps a slight touch of those feelings he assigned
to another.

'He was' replied hewith the same calm gravity as before; 'but do
not wrong me by supposing that I could continue my friendship and
esteem to a man who could so infamouslyso impiously forsake and
injure one so transcendently - wellI won't speak of it. But tell
medo you never think of revenge?'

'Revenge! No - what good would that do? - it would make him no
betterand me no happier.'

'I don't know how to talk to youMrs. Huntingdon' said he
smiling; 'you are only half a woman - your nature must be half
humanhalf angelic. Such goodness overawes me; I don't know what
to make of it.'

'ThensirI fear you must be very much worse than you should be
if Ia mere ordinary mortalamby your own confessionso vastly
your superior; and since there exists so little sympathy between


usI think we had better each look out for some more congenial
companion.' And forthwith moving to the windowI began to look
out for my little son and his gay young friend.

'NoI am the ordinary mortalI maintain' replied Mr. Hargrave.
'I will not allow myself to be worse than my fellows; but you
Madam - I equally maintain there is nobody like you. But are you
happy?' he asked in a serious tone.

'As happy as some othersI suppose.'

'Are you as happy as you desire to be?'

'No one is so blest as that comes to on this side eternity.'

'One thing I know' returned hewith a deep sad sigh; 'you are
immeasurably happier than I am.'

'I am very sorry for youthen' I could not help replying.

'Are youindeed? Nofor if you were you would be glad to relieve
me.'

'And so I should if I could do so without injuring myself or any
other.'

'And can you suppose that I should wish you to injure yourself?
No: on the contraryit is your own happiness I long for more than
mine. You are miserable nowMrs. Huntingdon' continued he
looking me boldly in the face. 'You do not complainbut I see and
feel - and know that you are miserable - and must remain so as
long as you keep those walls of impenetrable ice about your still
warm and palpitating heart; and I am miserabletoo. Deign to
smile on me and I am happy: trust meand you shall be happy also
for if you are a woman I can make you so - and I will do it in
spite of yourself!' he muttered between his teeth; 'and as for
othersthe question is between ourselves alone: you cannot injure
your husbandyou knowand no one else has any concern in the
matter.'

'I have a sonMr. Hargraveand you have a mother' said I
retiring from the windowwhither he had followed me.

'They need not know' he began; but before anything more could be
said on either sideEsther and Arthur re-entered the room. The
former glanced at Walter's flushedexcited countenanceand then
at mine - a little flushed and excited tooI daresaythough from
far different causes. She must have thought we had been
quarrelling desperatelyand was evidently perplexed and disturbed
at the circumstance; but she was too polite or too much afraid of
her brother's anger to refer to it. She seated herself on the
sofaand putting back her brightgolden ringletsthat were
scattered in wild profusion over her faceshe immediately began to
talk about the garden and her little playfellowand continued to
chatter away in her usual strain till her brother summoned her to
depart.

'If I have spoken too warmlyforgive me' he murmured on taking
his leave'or I shall never forgive myself.' Esther smiled and
glanced at me: I merely bowedand her countenance fell. She
thought it a poor return for Walter's generous concessionand was
disappointed in her friend. Poor childshe little knows the world
she lives in!


Mr. Hargrave had not an opportunity of meeting me again in private
for several weeks after this; but when he did meet me there was
less of pride and more of touching melancholy in his manner than
before. Ohhow he annoyed me! I was obliged at last almost
entirely to remit my visits to the Groveat the expense of deeply
offending Mrs. Hargrave and seriously afflicting poor Estherwho
really values my society for want of betterand who ought not to
suffer for the fault of her brother. But that indefatigable foe
was not yet vanquished: he seemed to be always on the watch. I
frequently saw him riding lingeringly past the premiseslooking
searchingly round him as he went - orif I did notRachel did.
That sharp-sighted woman soon guessed how matters stood between us
and descrying the enemy's movements from her elevation at the
nursery-windowshe would give me a quiet intimation if she saw me
preparing for a walk when she had reason to believe he was about
or to think it likely that he would meet or overtake me in the way
I meant to traverse. I would then defer my rambleor confine
myself for that day to the park and gardensorif the proposed
excursion was a matter of importancesuch as a visit to the sick
or afflictedI would take Rachel with meand then I was never
molested.

But one mildsunshiny dayearly in NovemberI had ventured forth
alone to visit the village school and a few of the poor tenants
and on my return I was alarmed at the clatter of a horse's feet
behind meapproaching at a rapidsteady trot. There was no stile
or gap at hand by which I could escape into the fieldsso I walked
quietly onsaying to myself'It may not be he after all; and if
it isand if he do annoy meit shall be for the last timeI am
determinedif there be power in words and looks against cool
impudence and mawkish sentimentality so inexhaustible as his.'

The horse soon overtook meand was reined up close beside me. It
was Mr. Hargrave. He greeted me with a smile intended to be soft
and melancholybut his triumphant satisfaction at having caught me
at last so shone through that it was quite a failure. After
briefly answering his salutation and inquiring after the ladies at
the GroveI turned away and walked on; but he followed and kept
his horse at my side: it was evident he intended to be my
companion all the way.

'Well! I don't much care. If you want another rebufftake it and
welcome' was my inward remark. 'Nowsirwhat next?'

This questionthough unspokenwas not long unanswered; after a
few passing observations upon indifferent subjectshe began in
solemn tones the following appeal to my humanity:


'It will be four years next April since I first saw youMrs.
Huntingdon - you may have forgotten the circumstancebut I never
can. I admired you then most deeplybut I dared not love you. In
the following autumn I saw so much of your perfections that I could
not fail to love youthough I dared not show it. For upwards of
three years I have endured a perfect martyrdom. From the anguish
of suppressed emotionsintense and fruitless longingssilent
sorrowcrushed hopesand trampled affectionsI have suffered
more than I can tellor you imagine - and you were the cause of
itand not altogether the innocent cause. My youth is wasting
away; my prospects are darkened; my life is a desolate blank; I
have no rest day or night: I am become a burden to myself and
othersand you might save me by a word - a glanceand will not do
it - is this right?'

'In the first placeI don't believe you' answered I; 'in the


secondif you will be such a foolI can't hinder it.'

'If you affect' replied heearnestly'to regard as folly the
bestthe strongestthe most godlike impulses of our natureI
don't believe you. I know you are not the heartlessicy being you
pretend to be - you had a heart onceand gave it to your husband.
When you found him utterly unworthy of the treasureyou reclaimed
it; and you will not pretend that you loved that sensualearthlyminded
profligate so deeplyso devotedlythat you can never love
another? I know that there are feelings in your nature that have
never yet been called forth; I knowtoothat in your present
neglected lonely state you are and must be miserable. You have it
in your power to raise two human beings from a state of actual
suffering to such unspeakable beatitude as only generousnoble
self-forgetting love can give (for you can love me if you will);
you may tell me that you scorn and detest mebutsince you have
set me the example of plain speakingI will answer that I do not
believe you. But you will not do it! you choose rather to leave us
miserable; and you coolly tell me it is the will of God that we
should remain so. You may call this religionbut I call it wild
fanaticism!'

'There is another life both for you and for me' said I. 'If it be
the will of God that we should sow in tears nowit is only that we
may reap in joy hereafter. It is His will that we should not
injure others by the gratification of our own earthly passions; and
you have a motherand sistersand friends who would be seriously
injured by your disgrace; and Itoohave friendswhose peace of
mind shall never be sacrificed to my enjoymentor yours either
with my consent; and if I were alone in the worldI have still my
God and my religionand I would sooner die than disgrace my
calling and break my faith with heaven to obtain a few brief years
of false and fleeting happiness - happiness sure to end in misery
even here - for myself or any other!'

'There need be no disgraceno misery or sacrifice in any quarter'
persisted he. 'I do not ask you to leave your home or defy the
world's opinion.' But I need not repeat all his arguments. I
refuted them to the best of my power; but that power was
provokingly smallat the momentfor I was too much flurried with
indignation - and even shame - that he should thus dare to address
meto retain sufficient command of thought and language to enable
me adequately to contend against his powerful sophistries.
Findinghoweverthat he could not be silenced by reasonand even
covertly exulted in his seeming advantageand ventured to deride
those assertions I had not the coolness to proveI changed my
course and tried another plan.

'Do you really love me?' said Iseriouslypausing and looking him
calmly in the face.

'Do I love you!' cried he.

'Truly?' I demanded.

His countenance brightened; he thought his triumph was at hand. He
commenced a passionate protestation of the truth and fervour of his
attachmentwhich I cut short by another question:


'But is it not a selfish love? Have you enough disinterested
affection to enable you to sacrifice your own pleasure to mine?'

'I would give my life to serve you.'


'I don't want your life; but have you enough real sympathy for my
afflictions to induce you to make an effort to relieve themat the
risk of a little discomfort to yourself?'

'Try meand see.'

'If you havenever mention this subject again. You cannot recur
to it in any way without doubling the weight of those sufferings
you so feelingly deplore. I have nothing left me but the solace of
a good conscience and a hopeful trust in heavenand you labour
continually to rob me of these. If you persistI must regard you
as my deadliest foe.'

'But hear me a moment - '

'Nosir! You said you would give your life to serve me; I only
ask your silence on one particular point. I have spoken plainly;
and what I say I mean. If you torment me in this way any moreI
must conclude that your protestations are entirely falseand that
you hate me in your heart as fervently as you profess to love me!'

He bit his lipand bent his eyes upon the ground in silence for a
while.

'Then I must leave you' said he at lengthlooking steadily upon
meas if with the last hope of detecting some token of
irrepressible anguish or dismay awakened by those solemn words. 'I
must leave you. I cannot live hereand be for ever silent on the
all-absorbing subject of my thoughts and wishes.'

'FormerlyI believeyou spent but little of your time at home' I
answered; 'it will do you no harm to absent yourself againfor a
while - if that be really necessary.'

'If that be really possible' he muttered; 'and can you bid me go
so coolly? Do you really wish it?'

'Most certainly I do. If you cannot see me without tormenting me
as you have lately doneI would gladly say farewell and never see
you more.'

He made no answerbutbending from his horseheld out his hand
towards me. I looked up at his faceand saw therein such a look
of genuine agony of soulthatwhether bitter disappointmentor
wounded prideor lingering loveor burning wrath were uppermost
I could not hesitate to put my hand in his as frankly as if I bade
a friend farewell. He grasped it very hardand immediately put
spurs to his horse and galloped away. Very soon afterI learned
that he was gone to Pariswhere he still is; and the longer he
stays there the better for me.

I thank God for this deliverance!

CHAPTER XXXVIII

December 20th1826. - The fifth anniversary of my wedding-day
andI trustthe last I shall spend under this roof. My
resolution is formedmy plan concoctedand already partly put in
execution. My conscience does not blame mebut while the purpose
ripens let me beguile a few of these long winter evenings in


stating the case for my own satisfaction: a dreary amusement
enoughbut having the air of a useful occupationand being
pursued as a taskit will suit me better than a lighter one.

In Septemberquiet Grassdale was again alive with a party of
ladies and gentlemen (so called)consisting of the same
individuals as those invited the year before lastwith the
addition of two or three othersamong whom were Mrs. Hargrave and
her younger daughter. The gentlemen and Lady Lowborough were
invited for the pleasure and convenience of the host; the other
ladiesI supposefor the sake of appearancesand to keep me in
checkand make me discreet and civil in my demeanour. But the
ladies stayed only three weeks; the gentlemenwith two exceptions
above two months: for their hospitable entertainer was loth to
part with them and be left alone with his bright intellecthis
stainless conscienceand his loved and loving wife.

On the day of Lady Lowborough's arrivalI followed her into her
chamberand plainly told her thatif I found reason to believe
that she still continued her criminal connection with Mr.
HuntingdonI should think it my absolute duty to inform her
husband of the circumstance - or awaken his suspicions at least however
painful it might beor however dreadful the consequences.
She was startled at first by the declarationso unexpectedand so
determinately yet calmly delivered; but rallying in a momentshe
coolly replied thatif I saw anything at all reprehensible or
suspicious in her conductshe would freely give me leave to tell
his lordship all about it. Willing to be satisfied with thisI
left her; and certainly I saw nothing thenceforth particularly
reprehensible or suspicious in her demeanour towards her host; but
then I had the other guests to attend toand I did not watch them
narrowly - forto confess the truthI feared to see anything
between them. I no longer regarded it as any concern of mineand
if it was my duty to enlighten Lord Lowboroughit was a painful
dutyand I dreaded to be called to perform it.

But my fears were brought to an end in a manner I had not
anticipated. One eveningabout a fortnight after the visitors'
arrivalI had retired into the library to snatch a few minutes'
respite from forced cheerfulness and wearisome discoursefor after
so long a period of seclusiondreary indeed as I had often found
itI could not always bear to be doing violence to my feelings
and goading my powers to talkand smile and listenand play the
attentive hostessor even the cheerful friend: I had just
ensconced myself within the bow of the windowand was looking out
upon the westwhere the darkening hills rose sharply defined
against the clear amber light of eveningthat gradually blended
and faded away into the purepale blue of the upper skywhere one
bright star was shining throughas if to promise - 'When that
dying light is gonethe world will not be left in darknessand
they who trust in Godwhose minds are unbeclouded by the mists of
unbelief and sinare never wholly comfortless' - when I heard a
hurried step approachingand Lord Lowborough entered. This room
was still his favourite resort. He flung the door to with unusual
violenceand cast his hat aside regardless where it fell. What
could be the matter with him? His face was ghastly pale; his eyes
were fixed upon the ground; his teeth clenched: his forehead
glistened with the dews of agony. It was plain he knew his wrongs
at last!

Unconscious of my presencehe began to pace the room in a state of
fearful agitationviolently wringing his hands and uttering low
groans or incoherent ejaculations. I made a movement to let him
know that he was not alone; but he was too preoccupied to notice


it. Perhapswhile his back was towards meI might cross the room
and slip away unobserved. I rose to make the attemptbut then he
perceived me. He started and stood still a moment; then wiped his
streaming foreheadandadvancing towards mewith a kind of
unnatural composuresaid in a deepalmost sepulchral tone'
Mrs. HuntingdonI must leave you to-morrow.'

'To-morrow!' I repeated. 'I do not ask the cause.'

'You know it thenand you can be so calm!' said hesurveying me
with profound astonishmentnot unmingled with a kind of resentful
bitternessas it appeared to me.

'I have so long been aware of - ' I paused in timeand added'of
my husband's characterthat nothing shocks me.'

'But this - how long have you been aware of this?' demanded he
laying his clenched hand on the table beside himand looking me
keenly and fixedly in the face.

I felt like a criminal.

'Not long' I answered.

'You knew it!' cried hewith bitter vehemence - 'and you did not
tell me! You helped to deceive me!'

'My lordI did not help to deceive you.'

'Then why did you not tell me?'

'Because I knew it would be painful to you. I hoped she would
return to her dutyand then there would be no need to harrow your
feelings with such - '

'O God! how long has this been going on? How long has it been
Mrs. Huntingdon? - Tell me - I must know!' exclaimedwith intense
and fearful eagerness.

'Two yearsI believe.'

'Great heaven! and she has duped me all this time!' He turned away
with a suppressed groan of agonyand paced the room again in a
paroxysm of renewed agitation. My heart smote me; but I would try
to console himthough I knew not how to attempt it.

'She is a wicked woman' I said. 'She has basely deceived and
betrayed you. She is as little worthy of your regret as she was of
your affection. Let her injure you no further; abstract yourself
from herand stand alone.'

'And youMadam' said he sternlyarresting himselfand turning
round upon me'you have injured me too by this ungenerous
concealment!'

There was a sudden revulsion in my feelings. Something rose within
meand urged me to resent this harsh return for my heartfelt
sympathyand defend myself with answering severity. HappilyI
did not yield to the impulse. I saw his anguish assuddenly
smiting his foreheadhe turned abruptly to the windowand
looking upward at the placid skymurmured passionately'O God
that I might die!' - and felt that to add one drop of bitterness to
that already overflowing cup would be ungenerous indeed. And yet I
fear there was more coldness than gentleness in the quiet tone of


my reply:- 'I might offer many excuses that some would admit to be
validbut I will not attempt to enumerate them - '

'I know them' said he hastily: 'you would say that it was no
business of yours: that I ought to have taken care of myself; that
if my own blindness has led me into this pit of hellI have no
right to blame another for giving me credit for a larger amount of
sagacity than I possessed - '

'I confess I was wrong' continued Iwithout regarding this bitter
interruption; 'but whether want of courage or mistaken kindness was
the cause of my errorI think you blame me too severely. I told
Lady Lowborough two weeks agothe very hour she camethat I
should certainly think it my duty to inform you if she continued to
deceive you: she gave me full liberty to do so if I should see
anything reprehensible or suspicious in her conduct; I have seen
nothing; and I trusted she had altered her course.'

He continued gazing from the window while I spokeand did not
answerbutstung by the recollections my words awakenedstamped
his foot upon the floorground his teethand corrugated his brow
like one under the influence of acute physical pain.

'It was wrongit was wrong!' he muttered at length. 'Nothing can
excuse it; nothing can atone for it- for nothing can recall those
years of cursed credulity; nothing obliterate them! - nothing
nothing!' he repeated in a whisperwhose despairing bitterness
precluded all resentment.

'When I put the case to myselfI own it was wrong' I answered;
'but I can only now regret that I did not see it in this light
beforeand thatas you saynothing can recall the past.'

Something in my voice or in the spirit of this answer seemed to
alter his mood. Turning towards meand attentively surveying my
face by the dim lighthe saidin a milder tone than he had yet
employed- 'Youtoohave sufferedI suppose.'

'I suffered muchat first.'

'When was that?'

'Two years ago; and two years hence you will be as calm as I am
nowand farfar happierI trustfor you are a manand free to
act as you please.'

Something like a smilebut a very bitter onecrossed his face for
a moment.

'You have not been happylately?' he saidwith a kind of effort
to regain composureand a determination to waive the further
discussion of his own calamity.

'Happy?' I repeatedalmost provoked at such a question. 'Could I
be sowith such a husband?'

'I have noticed a change in your appearance since the first years
of your marriage' pursued he: 'I observed it to - to that
infernal demon' he muttered between his teeth; 'and he said it was
your own sour temper that was eating away your bloom: it was
making you old and ugly before your timeand had already made his
fireside as comfortless as a convent cell. You smileMrs.
Huntingdon; nothing moves you. I wish my nature were as calm as
yours.'


'My nature was not originally calm' said I. 'I have learned to
appear so by dint of hard lessons and many repeated efforts.'

At this juncture Mr. Hattersley burst into the room.

'HalloLowborough!' he began - 'Oh! I beg your pardon' he
exclaimed on seeing me. 'I didn't know it was A TETE-E-TETE.
Cheer upman' he continuedgiving Lord Lowborough a thump on the
backwhich caused the latter to recoil from him with looks of
ineffable disgust and irritation. 'ComeI want to speak with you
a bit.'

'Speakthen.'

'But I'm not sure it would be quite agreeable to the lady what I
have to say.'

'Then it would not be agreeable to me' said his lordshipturning
to leave the room.

'Yesit would' cried the otherfollowing him into the hall. 'If
you've the heart of a manit would be the very ticket for you.
It's just thismy lad' he continuedrather lowering his voice
but not enough to prevent me from hearing every word he said
though the half-closed door stood between us. 'I think you're an
ill-used man - naynowdon't flare up; I don't want to offend
you: it's only my rough way of talking. I must speak right out
you knowor else not at all; and I'm come - stop now! let me
explain - I'm come to offer you my servicesfor though Huntingdon
is my friendhe's a devilish scampas we all knowand I'll be
your friend for the nonce. I know what it is you wantto make
matters straight: it's just to exchange a shot with himand then
you'll feel yourself all right again; and if an accident happens why
that'll be all right tooI daresayto a desperate fellow
like you. Come nowgive me your handand don't look so black
upon it. Name time and placeand I'll manage the rest.'

'That' answered the more lowdeliberate voice of Lord Lowborough
'is just the remedy my own heartor the devil within itsuggested

-to meet himand not to part without blood. Whether I or he
should fallor bothit would be an inexpressible relief to meif
-'
'Just so! Well then- '

'No!' exclaimed his lordshipwith deepdetermined emphasis.
'Though I hate him from my heartand should rejoice at any
calamity that could befall himI'll leave him to God; and though I
abhor my own lifeI'll leave thattooto Him that gave it.'

'But you seein this case' pleaded Hattersley


'I'll not hear you!' exclaimed his companionhastily turning away.
'Not another word! I've enough to do against the fiend within me.'

'Then you're a white-livered fooland I wash my hands of you'
grumbled the tempteras he swung himself round and departed.

'RightrightLord Lowborough' cried Idarting out and clasping
his burning handas he was moving away to the stairs. 'I begin to
think the world is not worthy of you!' Not understanding this
sudden ebullitionhe turned upon me with a stare of gloomy
bewildered amazementthat made me ashamed of the impulse to which


I had yielded; but soon a more humanised expression dawned upon his
countenanceand before I could withdraw my handhe pressed it
kindlywhile a gleam of genuine feeling flashed from his eyes as
he murmured'God help us both!'

'Amen!' responded I; and we parted.

I returned to the drawing-roomwheredoubtlessmy presence would
be expected by mostdesired by one or two. In the ante-room was
Mr. Hattersleyrailing against Lord Lowborough's poltroonery
before a select audienceviz. Mr. Huntingdonwho was lounging
against the tableexulting in his own treacherous villainyand
laughing his victim to scornand Mr. Grimsbystanding byquietly
rubbing his hands and chuckling with fiendish satisfaction.

In the drawing-room I found Lady Lowboroughevidently in no very
enviable state of mindand struggling hard to conceal her
discomposure by an overstrained affectation of unusual cheerfulness
and vivacityvery uncalled-for under the circumstancesfor she
had herself given the company to understand that her husband had
received unpleasant intelligence from homewhich necessitated his
immediate departureand that he had suffered it so to bother his
mind that it had brought on a bilious headacheowing to whichand
the preparations he judged necessary to hasten his departureshe
believed they would not have the pleasure of seeing him to-night.
Howevershe assertedit was only a business concernand so she
did not intend it should trouble her. She was just saying this as
I enteredand she darted upon me such a glance of hardihood and
defiance as at once astonished and revolted me.

'But I am troubled' continued she'and vexed toofor I think it
my duty to accompany his lordshipand of course I am very sorry to
part with all my kind friends so unexpectedly and so soon.'

'And yetAnnabella' said Estherwho was sitting beside her'I
never saw you in better spirits in my life.'

'Precisely somy love: because I wish to make the best of your
societysince it appears this is to be the last night I am to
enjoy it till heaven knows when; and I wish to leave a good
impression on you all' - she glanced roundand seeing her aunt's
eye fixed upon herrather too scrutinizinglyas she probably
thoughtshe started up and continued: 'To which end I'll give you
a song - shall Iaunt? shall IMrs. Huntingdon? shall I ladies
and gentlemen all? Very well. I'll do my best to amuse you.'

She and Lord Lowborough occupied the apartments next to mine. I
know not how she passed the nightbut I lay awake the greater part
of it listening to his heavy step pacing monotonously up and down
his dressing-roomwhich was nearest my chamber. Once I heard him
pause and throw something out of the window with a passionate
ejaculation; and in the morningafter they were gonea keenbladed
clasp-knife was found on the grass-plot below; a razor
likewisewas snapped in two and thrust deep into the cinders of
the gratebut partially corroded by the decaying embers. So
strong had been the temptation to end his miserable lifeso
determined his resolution to resist it.

My heart bled for him as I lay listening to that ceaseless tread.
Hitherto I had thought too much of myselftoo little of him: now
I forgot my own afflictionsand thought only of his; of the ardent
affection so miserably wastedthe fond faith so cruelly betrayed
the - noI will not attempt to enumerate his wrongs - but I hated
his wife and my husband more intensely than everand not for my


sakebut for his.

They departed early in the morningbefore any one else was down
except myselfand just as I was leaving my room Lord Lowborough
was descending to take his place in the carriagewhere his lady
was already ensconced; and Arthur (or Mr. Huntingdonas I prefer
calling himfor the other is my child's name) had the gratuitous
insolence to come out in his dressing-gown to bid his 'friend'
good-by.

'Whatgoing alreadyLowborough!' said he. 'Wellgood-morning.'
He smilingly offered his hand.

I think the other would have knocked him downhad he not
instinctively started back before that bony fist quivering with
rage and clenched till the knuckles gleamed white and glistening
through the skin. Looking upon him with a countenance livid with
furious hateLord Lowborough muttered between his closed teeth a
deadly execration he would not have uttered had he been calm enough
to choose his wordsand departed.

'I call that an unchristian spirit now' said the villain. 'But
I'd never give up an old friend for the sake of a wife. You may
have mine if you likeand I call that handsome; I can do no more
than offer restitutioncan I?'

But Lowborough had gained the bottom of the stairsand was now
crossing the hall; and Mr. Huntingdonleaning over the banisters
called out'Give my love to Annabella! and I wish you both a happy
journey' and withdrewlaughingto his chamber.

He subsequently expressed himself rather glad she was gone. 'She
was so deuced imperious and exacting' said he. 'Now I shall be my
own man againand feel rather more at my ease.'

CHAPTER XXXIX

My greatest source of uneasinessin this time of trialwas my
sonwhom his father and his father's friends delighted to
encourage in all the embryo vices a little child can showand to
instruct in all the evil habits he could acquire - in a wordto
'make a man of him' was one of their staple amusements; and I need
say no more to justify my alarm on his accountand my
determination to deliver him at any hazard from the hands of such
instructors. I first attempted to keep him always with meor in
the nurseryand gave Rachel particular injunctions never to let
him come down to dessert as long as these 'gentlemen' stayed; but
it was no use: these orders were immediately countermanded and
overruled by his father; he was not going to have the little fellow
moped to death between an old nurse and a cursed fool of a mother.
So the little fellow came down every evening in spite of his cross
mammaand learned to tipple wine like papato swear like Mr.
Hattersleyand to have his own way like a manand sent mamma to
the devil when she tried to prevent him. To see such things done
with the roguish naivete of that pretty little childand hear such
things spoken by that small infantile voicewas as peculiarly
piquant and irresistibly droll to them as it was inexpressibly
distressing and painful to me; and when he had set the table in a
roar he would look round delightedly upon them alland add his
shrill laugh to theirs. But if that beaming blue eye rested on me


its light would vanish for a momentand he would sayin some
concern'Mammawhy don't you laugh? Make her laughpapa - she
never will.'

Hence was I obliged to stay among these human bruteswatching an
opportunity to get my child away from them instead of leaving them
immediately after the removal of the clothas I should always
otherwise have done. He was never willing to goand I frequently
had to carry him away by forcefor which he thought me very cruel
and unjust; and sometimes his father would insist upon my letting
him remain; and then I would leave him to his kind friendsand
retire to indulge my bitterness and despair aloneor to rack my
brains for a remedy to this great evil.

But here again I must do Mr. Hargrave the justice to acknowledge
that I never saw him laugh at the child's misdemeanoursnor heard
him utter a word of encouragement to his aspirations after manly
accomplishments. But when anything very extraordinary was said or
done by the infant profligateI noticedat timesa peculiar
expression in his face that I could neither interpret nor define:
a slight twitching about the muscles of the mouth; a sudden flash
in the eyeas he darted a sudden glance at the child and then at
me: and then I could fancy there arose a gleam of hardkeen
sombre satisfaction in his countenance at the look of impotent
wrath and anguish he was too certain to behold in mine. But on one
occasionwhen Arthur had been behaving particularly illand Mr.
Huntingdon and his guests had been particularly provoking and
insulting to me in their encouragement of himand I particularly
anxious to get him out of the roomand on the very point of
demeaning myself by a burst of uncontrollable passion - Mr.
Hargrave suddenly rose from his seat with an aspect of stern
determinationlifted the child from his father's kneewhere he
was sitting half-tipsycocking his head and laughing at meand
execrating me with words he little knew the meaning ofhanded him
out of the roomandsetting him down in the hallheld the door
open for megravely bowed as I withdrewand closed it after me.
I heard high words exchanged between him and his already halfinebriated
host as I departedleading away my bewildered and
disconcerted boy.

But this should not continue: my child must not be abandoned to
this corruption: better far that he should live in poverty and
obscuritywith a fugitive motherthat in luxury and affluence
with such a father. These guests might not be with us longbut
they would return again: and hethe most injurious of the whole
his child's worst enemywould still remain. I could endure it for
myselfbut for my son it must be borne no longer: the world's
opinion and the feelings of my friends must be alike unheeded here
at least - alike unable to deter me from my duty. But where should
I find an asylumand how obtain subsistence for us both? OhI
would take my precious charge at early dawntake the coach to M-
flee to the port of -cross the Atlanticand seek a quiethumble
home in New Englandwhere I would support myself and him by the
labour of my hands. The palette and the easelmy darling
playmates oncemust be my sober toil-fellows now. But was I
sufficiently skilful as an artist to obtain my livelihood in a
strange landwithout friends and without recommendation? No; I
must wait a little; I must labour hard to improve my talentand to
produce something worth while as a specimen of my powerssomething
to speak favourably for mewhether as an actual painter or a
teacher. Brilliant successof courseI did not look forbut
some degree of security from positive failure was indispensable: I
must not take my son to starve. And then I must have money for the
journeythe passageand some little to support us in our retreat


in case I should be unsuccessful at first: and not too little
either: for who could tell how long I might have to struggle with
the indifference or neglect of othersor my own inexperience or
inability to suit their tastes?

What should I do then? Apply to my brother and explain my
circumstances and my resolves to him? Nono: even if I told him
all my grievanceswhich I should be very reluctant to dohe would
be certain to disapprove of the step: it would seem like madness
to himas it would to my uncle and auntor to Milicent. No; I
must have patience and gather a hoard of my own. Rachel should be
my only confidante - I thought I could persuade her into the
scheme; and she should help mefirstto find out a picture-dealer
in some distant town; thenthrough her meansI would privately
sell what pictures I had on hand that would do for such a purpose
and some of those I should thereafter paint. Besides thisI would
contrive to dispose of my jewelsnot the family jewelsbut the
few I brought with me from homeand those my uncle gave me on my
marriage. A few months' arduous toil might well be borne by me
with such an end in view; and in the interim my son could not be
much more injured than he was already.

Having formed this resolutionI immediately set to work to
accomplish itI might possibly have been induced to wax cool upon
it afterwardsor perhaps to keep weighing the pros and cons in my
mind till the latter overbalanced the formerand I was driven to
relinquish the project altogetheror delay the execution of it to
an indefinite periodhad not something occurred to confirm me in
that determinationto which I still adherewhich I still think I
did well to formand shall do better to execute.

Since Lord Lowborough's departure I had regarded the library as
entirely my owna secure retreat at all hours of the day. None of
our gentlemen had the smallest pretensions to a literary taste
except Mr. Hargrave; and heat presentwas quite contented with
the newspapers and periodicals of the day. And ifby any chance
he should look in hereI felt assured he would soon depart on
seeing meforinstead of becoming less cool and distant towards
mehe had become decidedly more so since the departure of his
mother and sisterswhich was just what I wished. HerethenI
set up my easeland here I worked at my canvas from daylight till
duskwith very little intermissionsaving when pure necessityor
my duties to little Arthurcalled me away: for I still thought
proper to devote some portion of every day exclusively to his
instruction and amusement. Butcontrary to my expectationon the
third morningwhile I was thus employedMr. Hargrave did look in
and did not immediately withdraw on seeing me. He apologized for
his intrusionand said he was only come for a book; but when he
had got ithe condescended to cast a glance over my picture.
Being a man of tastehe had something to say on this subject as
well as anotherand having modestly commented on itwithout much
encouragement from mehe proceeded to expatiate on the art in
general. Receiving no encouragement in that eitherhe dropped it
but did not depart.

'You don't give us much of your companyMrs. Huntingdon' observed
heafter a brief pauseduring which I went on coolly mixing and
tempering my colours; 'and I cannot wonder at itfor you must be
heartily sick of us all. I myself am so thoroughly ashamed of my
companionsand so weary of their irrational conversation and
pursuits - now that there is no one to humanize them and keep them
in checksince you have justly abandoned us to our own devices that
I think I shall presently withdraw from amongst themprobably
within this week; and I cannot suppose you will regret my


departure.'

He paused. I did not answer.

'Probably' he addedwith a smile'your only regret on the
subject will be that I do not take all my companions along with me.
I flatter myselfat timesthat though among them I am not of
them; but it is natural that you should be glad to get rid of me.
I may regret thisbut I cannot blame you for it.'

'I shall not rejoice at your departurefor you can conduct
yourself like a gentleman' said Ithinking it but right to make
some acknowledgment for his good behaviour; 'but I must confess I
shall rejoice to bid adieu. to the restinhospitable as it may
appear.'

'No one can blame you for such an avowal' replied he gravely:
'not even the gentlemen themselvesI imagine. I'll just tell
you' he continuedas if actuated by a sudden resolution'what
was said last night in the dining-roomafter you left us: perhaps
you will not mind itas you're so very philosophical on certain
points' he added with a slight sneer. 'They were talking about
Lord Lowborough and his delectable ladythe cause of whose sudden
departure is no secret amongst them; and her character is so well
known to them allthatnearly related to me as she isI could
not attempt to defend it. Curse me!' he mutteredpar parenthese
'if I don't have vengeance for this! If the villain must disgrace
the familymust he blazon it abroad to every low-bred knave of his
acquaintance? I beg your pardonMrs. Huntingdon. Wellthey were
talking of these thingsand some of them remarked thatas she was
separated from her husbandhe might see her again when he
pleased.'

'"Thank you said he; I've had enough of her for the present:
I'll not trouble to see herunless she comes to me."

'"Then what do you mean to doHuntingdonwhen we're gone?" said
Ralph Hattersley. "Do you mean to turn from the error of your
waysand be a good husbanda good fatherand so forth; as I do
when I get shut of you and all these rollicking devils you call
your friends? I think it's time; and your wife is fifty times too
good for youyou know - "

'And he added some praise of youwhich you would not thank me for
repeatingnor him for uttering; proclaiming it aloudas he did
without delicacy or discriminationin an audience where it seemed
profanation to utter your name: himself utterly incapable of
understanding or appreciating your real excellences. Huntingdon
meanwhilesat quietly drinking his wine- or looking smilingly
into his glass and offering no interruption or replytill
Hattersley shouted out- "Do you hear meman?"

'"Yesgo on said he.

'NayI've done replied the other: I only want to know if you
intend to take my advice."

'"What advice?"

'"To turn over a new leafyou double-dyed scoundrel shouted
Ralph, and beg your wife's pardonand be a good boy for the
future."

'"My wife! what wife? I have no wife replied Huntingdon, looking


innocently up from his glass, or if I havelook yougentlemen:
I value her so highly that any one among youthat can fancy her
may have her and welcome: you mayby Joveand my blessing into
the bargain!"

'I - hem - someone asked if he really meant what he said; upon
which he solemnly swore he didand no mistake. What do you think
of thatMrs. Huntingdon?' asked Mr. Hargraveafter a short pause
during which I had felt he was keenly examining my half-averted
face.

'I say' replied Icalmly'that what he prizes so lightly will
not be long in his possession.'

'You cannot mean that you will break your heart and die for the
detestable conduct of an infamous villain like that!'

'By no means: my heart is too thoroughly dried to be broken in a
hurryand I mean to live as long as I can.'

'Will you leave him then?'

'Yes.'

'When: and how?' asked heeagerly.

'When I am readyand how I can manage it most effectually.'

'But your child?'

'My child goes with me.'

'He will not allow it.'

'I shall not ask him.'

'Ahthenit is a secret flight you meditate! but with whomMrs.
Huntingdon?'

'With my son: and possiblyhis nurse.'

'Alone - and unprotected! But where can you go? what can you do?
He will follow you and bring you back.'

'I have laid my plans too well for that. Let me once get clear of
Grassdaleand I shall consider myself safe.'

Mr. Hargrave advanced one step towards melooked me in the face
and drew in his breath to speak; but that lookthat heightened
colourthat sudden sparkle of the eyemade my blood rise in
wrath: I abruptly turned awayandsnatching up my brushbegan
to dash away at my canvas with rather too much energy for the good
of the picture.

'Mrs. Huntingdon' said he with bitter solemnity'you are cruel cruel
to me - cruel to yourself.'

'Mr. Hargraveremember your promise.'

'I must speak: my heart will burst if I don't! I have been silent
long enoughand you must hear me!' cried heboldly intercepting
my retreat to the door. 'You tell me you owe no allegiance to your
husband; he openly declares himself weary of youand calmly gives
you up to anybody that will take you; you are about to leave him;


no one will believe that you go alone; all the world will sayShe
has left him at last, and who can wonder at it? Few can blame her,
fewer still can pity him; but who is the companion of her flight?
Thus you will have no credit for your virtue (if you call it such):
even your best friends will not believe in it; because it is
monstrousand not to be credited but by those who sufferfrom the
effects of itsuch cruel torments that they know it to be indeed
reality. But what can you do in the coldrough world alone? you
a young and inexperienced womandelicately nurturedand utterly '


'In a wordyou would advise me to stay where I am' interrupted I.
'WellI'll see about it.'

'By all meansleave him!' cried he earnestly; 'but NOT alone!
Helen! let me protect you!'

'Never! while heaven spares my reason' replied Isnatching away
the hand he had presumed to seize and press between his own. But
he was in for it now; he had fairly broken the barrier: he was
completely rousedand determined to hazard all for victory.

'I must not be denied!' exclaimed hevehemently; and seizing both
my handshe held them very tightbut dropped upon his kneeand
looked up in my face with a half-imploringhalf-imperious gaze.
'You have no reason now: you are flying in the face of heaven's
decrees. God has designed me to be your comfort and protector - I
feel itI know it as certainly as if a voice from heaven declared
Ye twain shall be one flesh- and you spurn me from you - '

'Let me goMr. Hargrave!' said Isternly. But he only tightened
his grasp.

'Let me go!' I repeatedquivering with indignation.

His face was almost opposite the window as he knelt. With a slight
startI saw him glance towards it; and then a gleam of malicious
triumph lit up his countenance. Looking over my shoulderI beheld
a shadow just retiring round the corner.

'That is Grimsby' said he deliberately. 'He will report what he
has seen to Huntingdon and all the restwith such embellishments
as he thinks proper. He has no love for youMrs. Huntingdon - no
reverence for your sexno belief in virtueno admiration for its
image. He will give such a version of this story as will leave no
doubt at all about your characterin the minds of those who hear
it. Your fair fame is gone; and nothing that I or you can say can
ever retrieve it. But give me the power to protect youand show
me the villain that dares to insult!'

'No one has ever dared to insult me as you are doing now!' said I
at length releasing my handsand recoiling from him.

'I do not insult you' cried he: 'I worship you. You are my
angelmy divinity! I lay my powers at your feetand you must and
shall accept them!' he exclaimedimpetuously starting to his feet.
'I will be your consoler and defender! and if your conscience
upbraid you for itsay I overcame youand you could not choose
but yield!'

I never saw a man go terribly excited. He precipitated himself
towards me. I snatched up my palette-knife and held it against
him. This startled him: he stood and gazed at me in astonishment;
I daresay I looked as fierce and resolute as he. I moved to the


belland put my hand upon the cord. This tamed him still more.
With a half-authoritativehalf-deprecating wave of the handhe
sought to deter me from ringing.

'Stand offthen!' said I; he stepped back. 'And listen to me.
don't like you' I continuedas deliberately and emphatically as I
couldto give the greater efficacy to my words; 'and if I were
divorced from my husbandor if he were deadI would not marry
you. There now! I hope you're satisfied.'

His face grew blanched with anger.

'I am satisfied' he repliedwith bitter emphasis'that you are
the most cold-heartedunnaturalungrateful woman I ever yet
beheld!'

'Ungratefulsir?'

'Ungrateful.'

'NoMr. HargraveI am not. For all the good you ever did meor
ever wished to doI most sincerely thank you: for all the evil
you have done meand all you would have doneI pray God to pardon
youand make you of a better mind.' Here the door was thrown
openand Messrs. Huntingdon and Hattersley appeared without. The
latter remained in the hallbusy with his ramrod and his gun; the
former walked inand stood with his back to the firesurveying
Mr. Hargrave and meparticularly the formerwith a smile of
insupportable meaningaccompanied as it was by the impudence of
his brazen browand the slymalicioustwinkle of his eye.

'Wellsir?' said Hargraveinterrogativelyand with the air of
one prepared to stand on the defensive.

'Wellsir' returned his host.

'We want to know if you are at liberty to join us in a go at the
pheasantsWalter' interposed Hattersley from without. 'Come!
there shall be nothing shot besidesexcept a puss or two; I'll
vouch for that.'

Walter did not answerbut walked to the window to collect his
faculties. Arthur uttered a low whistleand followed him with his
eyes. A slight flush of anger rose to Hargrave's cheek; but in a
moment he turned calmly roundand said carelessly:

'I came here to bid farewell to Mrs. Huntingdonand tell her I
must go to-morrow.'

'Humph! You're mighty sudden in your resolution. What takes you
off so soonmay I ask?'

'Business' returned herepelling the other's incredulous sneer
with a glance of scornful defiance.

'Very good' was the reply; and Hargrave walked away. Thereupon
Mr. Huntingdongathering his coat-laps under his armsand setting
his shoulder against the mantel-pieceturned to meand
addressing me in a low voicescarcely above his breathpoured
forth a volley of the vilest and grossest abuse it was possible for
the imagination to conceive or the tongue to utter. I did not
attempt to interrupt him; but my spirit kindled within meand when
he had doneI replied'If your accusation were trueMr.
Huntingdonhow dare you blame me?'


'She's hit itby Jove!' cried Hattersleyrearing his gun against
the wall; andstepping into the roomhe took his precious friend
by the armand attempted to drag him away. 'Comemy lad' he
muttered; 'true or falseyou've no right to blame heryou know
nor him either; after what you said last night. So come along.'

There was something implied here that I could not endure.

'Dare you suspect meMr. Hattersley?' said Ialmost beside myself
with fury.

'NaynayI suspect nobody. It's all rightit's all right. So
come alongHuntingdonyou blackguard.'

'She can't deny it!' cried the gentleman thus addressedgrinning
in mingled rage and triumph. 'She can't deny it if her life
depended on it!' and muttering some more abusive languagehe
walked into the halland took up his hat and gun from the table.

'I scorn to justify myself to you!' said I. 'But you' turning to
Hattersley'if you presume to have any doubts on the subjectask
Mr. Hargrave.'

At this they simultaneously burst into a rude laugh that made my
whole frame tingle to the fingers' ends.

'Where is he? I'll ask him myself!' said Iadvancing towards
them.

Suppressing a new burst of merrimentHattersley pointed to the
outer door. It was half open. His brother-in-law was standing on
the front without.

'Mr. Hargravewill you please to step this way?' said I.

He turned and looked at me in grave surprise.

'Step this wayif you please!' I repeatedin so determined a
manner that he could notor did not choose to resist its
authority. Somewhat reluctantly he ascended the steps and advanced
a pace or two into the hall.

'And tell those gentlemen' I continued - 'these menwhether or
not I yielded to your solicitations.'

'I don't understand youMrs. Huntingdon.'

'You do understand mesir; and I charge youupon your honour as a
gentleman (if you have any)to answer truly. Did Ior did I
not?'

'No' muttered heturning away.

'Speak upsir; they can't hear you. Did I grant your request?

'You did not.'

'NoI'll be sworn she didn't' said Hattersley'or he'd never
look so black.'

'I'm willing to grant you the satisfaction of a gentleman
Huntingdon' said Mr. Hargravecalmly addressing his hostbut
with a bitter sneer upon his countenance.


'Go to the deuce!' replied the latterwith an impatient jerk of
the head. Hargrave withdrew with a look of cold disdainsaying'
You know where to find meshould you feel disposed to send a
friend.'

Muttered oaths and curses were all the answer this intimation
obtained.

'NowHuntingdonyou see!' said Hattersley. 'Clear as the day.'

'I don't care what he sees' said I'or what he imagines; but you
Mr. Hattersleywhen you hear my name belied and slanderedwill
you defend it?'

'I will.'

I instantly departed and shut myself into the library. What could
possess me to make such a request of such a man I cannot tell; but
drowning men catch at straws: they had driven me desperate between
them; I hardly knew what I said. There was no other to preserve my
name from being blackened and aspersed among this nest of boon
companionsand through themperhapsinto the world; and beside
my abandoned wretch of a husbandthe basemalignant Grimsbyand
the false villain Hargravethis boorish ruffiancoarse and brutal
as he wasshone like a glow-worm in the darkamong its fellow
worms.

What a scene was this! Could I ever have imagined that I should be
doomed to bear such insults under my own roof - to hear such things
spoken in my presence; nayspoken to me and of me; and by those
who arrogated to themselves the name of gentlemen? And could I
have imagined that I should have been able to endure it as calmly
and to repel their insults as firmly and as boldly as I had done?
A hardness such as this is taught by rough experience and despair
alone.

Such thoughts as these chased one another through my mindas I
paced to and fro the roomand longed - ohhow I longed - to take
my child and leave them nowwithout an hour's delay! But it could
not be; there was work before me: hard workthat must be done.

'Then let me do it' said I'and lose not a moment in vain
repinings and idle chafings against my fateand those who
influence it.'

And conquering my agitation with a powerful effortI immediately
resumed my taskand laboured hard all day.

Mr. Hargrave did depart on the morrow; and I have never seen him
since. The others stayed on for two or three weeks longer; but I
kept aloof from them as much as possibleand still continued my
labourand have continued itwith almost unabated ardourto the
present day. I soon acquainted Rachel with my designconfiding
all my motives and intentions to her earandmuch to my agreeable
surprisefound little difficulty in persuading her to enter into
my views. She is a sobercautious womanbut she so hates her
masterand so loves her mistress and her nurslingthat after
several ejaculationsa few faint objectionsand many tears and
lamentations that I should be brought to such a passshe applauded
my resolution and consented to aid me with all her might: on one
condition only: that she might share my exile: otherwiseshe was
utterly inexorableregarding it as perfect madness for me and
Arthur to go alone. With touching generosityshe modestly offered


to aid me with her little hoard of savingshoping I would 'excuse
her for the libertybut reallyif I would do her the favour to
accept it as a loanshe would be very happy.' Of course I could
not think of such a thing; but nowthank heavenI have gathered a
little hoard of my ownand my preparations are so far advanced
that I am looking forward to a speedy emancipation. Only let the
stormy severity of this winter weather be somewhat abatedand
thensome morningMr. Huntingdon will come down to a solitary
breakfast-tableand perhaps be clamouring through the house for
his invisible wife and childwhen they are some fifty miles on
their way to the Western worldor it may be more: for we shall
leave him hours before the dawnand it is not probable he will
discover the loss of both until the day is far advanced.

I am fully alive to the evils that may and must result upon the
step I am about to take; but I never waver in my resolution
because I never forget my son. It was only this morningwhile I
pursued my usual employmenthe was sitting at my feetquietly
playing with the shreds of canvas I had thrown upon the carpet; but
his mind was otherwise occupiedforin a whilehe looked up
wistfully in my faceand gravely asked- 'Mammawhy are you
wicked?'

'Who told you I was wickedlove?'

'Rachel.'

'NoArthurRachel never said soI am certain.'

'Wellthenit was papa' replied hethoughtfully. Thenafter a
reflective pausehe added'At leastI'll tell you how it was I
got to know: when I'm with papaif I say mamma wants meor mamma
says I'm not to do something that he tells me to dohe always
saysMamma be damned,and Rachel says it's only wicked people
that are damned. Somammathat's why I think you must be wicked:
and I wish you wouldn't.'

'My dear childI am not. Those are bad wordsand wicked people
often say them of others better than themselves. Those words
cannot make people be damnednor show that they deserve it. God
will judge us by our own thoughts and deedsnot by what others say
about us. And when you hear such words spokenArthurremember
never to repeat them: it is wicked to say such things of others
not to have them said against you.'

'Then it's papa that's wicked' said heruefully.

'Papa is wrong to say such thingsand you will be very wrong to
imitate him now that you know better.'

'What is imitate?'

'To do as he does.'

'Does he know better?'

'Perhaps he does; but that is nothing to you.'

'If he doesn'tyou ought to tell himmamma.'

'I have told him.'

The little moralist paused and pondered. I tried in vain to divert
his mind from the subject.


'I'm sorry papa's wicked' said he mournfullyat length'for I
don't want him to go to hell.' And so saying he burst into tears.

I consoled him with the hope that perhaps his papa would alter and
become good before he died -; but is it not time to deliver him
from such a parent?

CHAPTER XL

January 10th1827. - While writing the aboveyesterday eveningI
sat in the drawing-room. Mr. Huntingdon was presentbutas I
thoughtasleep on the sofa behind me. He had risenhowever
unknown to meandactuated by some base spirit of curiositybeen
looking over my shoulder for I know not how long; for when I had
laid aside my penand was about to close the bookhe suddenly
placed his hand upon itand saying- 'With your leavemy dear
I'll have a look at this' forcibly wrested it from meand
drawing a chair to the tablecomposedly sat down to examine it:
turning back leaf after leaf to find an explanation of what he had
read. Unluckily for mehe was more sober that night than he
usually is at such an hour.

Of course I did not leave him to pursue this occupation in quiet:
I made several attempts to snatch the book from his handsbut he
held it too firmly for that; I upbraided him in bitterness and
scorn for his mean and dishonourable conductbut that had no
effect upon him; andfinallyI extinguished both the candlesbut
he only wheeled round to the fireand raising a blaze sufficient
for his purposescalmly continued the investigation. I had
serious thoughts of getting a pitcher of water and extinguishing
that light too; but it was evident his curiosity was too keenly
excited to be quenched by thatand the more I manifested my
anxiety to baffle his scrutinythe greater would be his
determination to persist in it besides it was too late.

'It seems very interestinglove' said helifting his head and
turning to where I stoodwringing my hands in silent rage and
anguish; 'but it's rather long; I'll look at it some other time;
and meanwhile I'll trouble you for your keysmy dear.'

'What keys?'

'The keys of your cabinetdeskdrawersand whatever else you
possess' said herising and holding out his hand.

'I've not got them' I replied. The key of my deskin factwas
at that moment in the lockand the others were attached to it.

'Then you must send for them' said he; 'and if that old devil
Racheldoesn't immediately deliver them upshe tramps bag and
baggage tomorrow.'

'She doesn't know where they are' I answeredquietly placing my
hand upon themand taking them from the deskas I thought
unobserved. 'I knowbut I shall not give them up without a
reason.'

'And I knowtoo' said hesuddenly seizing my closed hand and
rudely abstracting them from it. He then took up one of the


candles and relighted it by thrusting it into the fire.

'Nowthen' sneered he'we must have a confiscation of property.
Butfirstlet us take a peep into the studio.'

And putting the keys into his pockethe walked into the library.
I followedwhether with the dim idea of preventing mischiefor
only to know the worstI can hardly tell. My painting materials
were laid together on the corner tableready for to-morrow's use
and only covered with a cloth. He soon spied them outand putting
down the candledeliberately proceeded to cast them into the fire:
palettepaintsbladderspencilsbrushesvarnish: I saw them
all consumed: the palette-knives snapped in twothe oil and
turpentine sent hissing and roaring up the chimney. He then rang
the bell.

'Bensontake those things away' said hepointing to the easel
canvasand stretcher; 'and tell the housemaid she may kindle the
fire with them: your mistress won't want them any more.'

Benson paused aghast and looked at me.

'Take them awayBenson' said I; and his master muttered an oath.

'And this and allsir?' said the astonished servantreferring to
the half-finished picture.

'That and all' replied the master; and the things were cleared
away.

Mr. Huntingdon then went up-stairs. I did not attempt to follow
himbut remained seated in the arm-chairspeechlesstearless
and almost motionlesstill he returned about half-an-hour after
and walking up to meheld the candle in my face and peered into my
eyes with looks and laughter too insulting to be borne. With a
sudden stroke of my hand I dashed the candle to the floor.

'Hal-lo!' muttered hestarting back; 'she's the very devil for
spite. Did ever any mortal see such eyes? - they shine in the dark
like a cat's. Ohyou're a sweet one!' So sayinghe gathered up
the candle and the candlestick. The former being broken as well as
extinguishedhe rang for another.

'Bensonyour mistress has broken the candle; bring another.'

'You expose yourself finely' observed Ias the man departed.

'I didn't say I'd broken itdid I?' returned he. He then threw my
keys into my lapsaying- 'There! you'll find nothing gone but
your moneyand the jewelsand a few little trifles I thought it
advisable to take into my own possessionlest your mercantile
spirit should be tempted to turn them into gold. I've left you a
few sovereigns in your pursewhich I expect to last you through
the month; at all eventswhen you want more you will be so good as
to give me an account of how that's spent. I shall put you upon a
small monthly allowancein futurefor your own private expenses;
and you needn't trouble yourself any more about my concerns; I
shall look out for a stewardmy dear - I won't expose you to the
temptation. And as for the household mattersMrs. Greaves must be
very particular in keeping her accounts; we must go upon an
entirely new plan - '

'What great discovery have you made nowMr. Huntingdon? Have I
attempted to defraud you?'


'Not in money mattersexactlyit seems; but it's best to keep out
of the way of temptation.'

Here Benson entered with the candlesand there followed a brief
interval of silence; I sitting still in my chairand he standing
with his back to the firesilently triumphing in my despair.

'And so' said he at length'you thought to disgrace medid you
by running away and turning artistand supporting yourself by the
labour of your handsforsooth? And you thought to rob me of my
sontooand bring him up to be a dirty Yankee tradesmanor a
lowbeggarly painter?'

'Yesto obviate his becoming such a gentleman as his father.'

'It's well you couldn't keep your own secret - haha! It's well
these women must be blabbing. If they haven't a friend to talk to
they must whisper their secrets to the fishesor write them on the
sandor something; and it's welltooI wasn't over full to-
nightnow I think of itor I might have snoozed away and never
dreamt of looking what my sweet lady was about; or I might have
lacked the sense or the power to carry my point like a manas I
have done.'

Leaving him to his self-congratulationsI rose to secure my
manuscriptfor I now remembered it had been left upon the drawingroom
tableand I determinedif possibleto save myself the
humiliation of seeing it in his hands again. I could not bear the
idea of his amusing himself over my secret thoughts and
recollections; thoughto be surehe would find little good of
himself therein inditedexcept in the former part; and ohI would
sooner burn it all than he should read what I had written when I
was such a fool as to love him!

'And by-the-by' cried heas I was leaving the room'you'd better
tell that d-d old sneak of a nurse to keep out of my way for a day
or two; I'd pay her her wages and send her packing to-morrowbut I
know she'd do more mischief out of the house than in it.'

And as I departedhe went on cursing and abusing my faithful
friend and servant with epithets I will not defile this paper with
repeating. I went to her as soon as I had put away my bookand
told her how our project was defeated. She was as much distressed
and horrified as I was - and more so than I was that nightfor I
was partly stunned by the blowand partly excited and supported
against it by the bitterness of my wrath. But in the morningwhen
I woke without that cheering hope that had been my secret comfort
and support so longand all this daywhen I have wandered about
restless and objectlessshunning my husbandshrinking even from
my childknowing that I am unfit to be his teacher or companion
hoping nothing for his future lifeand fervently wishing he had
never been born- I felt the full extent of my calamityand I
feel it now. I know that day after day such feelings will return
upon me. I am a slave - a prisoner - but that is nothing; if it
were myself alone I would not complainbut I am forbidden to
rescue my son from ruinand what was once my only consolation is
become the crowning source of my despair.

Have I no faith in God? I try to look to Him and raise my heart to
heavenbut it will cleave to the dust. I can only say'He hath
hedged me aboutthat I cannot get out: He hath made my chain
heavy. He hath filled me with bitterness - He hath made me drunken
with wormwood.' I forget to add'But though He cause griefyet


will He have compassion according to the multitude of His mercies.
For He doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.'
I ought to think of this; and if there be nothing but sorrow for me
in this worldwhat is the longest life of misery to a whole
eternity of peace? And for my little Arthur - has he no friend but
me? Who was it said'It is not the will of your Father which is
in heaven that one of these little ones should perish?'

CHAPTER XLI

March 20th. - Having now got rid of Mr. Huntingdon for a seasonmy
spirits begin to revive. He left me early in February; and the
moment he was goneI breathed againand felt my vital energy
return; not with the hope of escape - he has taken care to leave me
no visible chance of that - but with a determination to make the
best of existing circumstances. Here was Arthur left to me at
last; and rousing from my despondent apathyI exerted all my
powers to eradicate the weeds that had been fostered in his infant
mindand sow again the good seed they had rendered unproductive.
Thank heavenit is not a barren or a stony soil; if weeds spring
fast thereso do better plants. His apprehensions are more quick
his heart more overflowing with affection than ever his father's
could have beenand it is no hopeless task to bend him to
obedience and win him to love and know his own true friendas long
as there is no one to counteract my efforts.

I had much trouble at first in breaking him of those evil habits
his father had taught him to acquirebut already that difficulty
is nearly vanquished now: bad language seldom defiles his mouth
and I have succeeded in giving him an absolute disgust for all
intoxicating liquorswhich I hope not even his father or his
father's friends will be able to overcome. He was inordinately
fond of them for so young a creatureandremembering my
unfortunate father as well as hisI dreaded the consequences of
such a taste. But if I had stinted himin his usual quantity of
wineor forbidden him to taste it altogetherthat would only have
increased his partiality for itand made him regard it as a
greater treat than ever. I therefore gave him quite as much as his
father was accustomed to allow him; as muchindeedas he desired
to have - but into every glass I surreptitiously introduced a small
quantity of tartar-emeticjust enough to produce inevitable nausea
and depression without positive sickness. Finding such
disagreeable consequences invariably to result from this
indulgencehe soon grew weary of itbut the more he shrank from
the daily treat the more I pressed it upon himtill his reluctance
was strengthened to perfect abhorrence. When he was thoroughly
disgusted with every kind of wineI allowed himat his own
requestto try brandy-and-waterand then gin-and-waterfor the
little toper was familiar with them alland I was determined that
all should be equally hateful to him. This I have now effected;
and since he declares that the tastethe smellthe sight of any
one of them is sufficient to make him sickI have given up teasing
him about themexcept now and then as objects of terror in cases
of misbehaviour. 'Arthurif you're not a good boy I shall give
you a glass of wine' or 'NowArthurif you say that again you
shall have some brandy-and-water' is as good as any other threat;
and once or twicewhen he was sickI have obliged the poor child
to swallow a little wine-and-water without the tartar-emeticby
way of medicine; and this practice I intend to continue for some
time to come; not that I think it of any real service in a physical


sensebut because I am determined to enlist all the powers of
association in my service; I wish this aversion to be so deeply
grounded in his nature that nothing in after-life may be able to
overcome it.

ThusI flatter myselfI shall secure him from this one vice; and
for the restif on his father's return I find reason to apprehend
that my good lessons will be all destroyed - if Mr. Huntingdon
commence again the game of teaching the child to hate and despise
his motherand emulate his father's wickedness - I will yet
deliver my son from his hands. I have devised another scheme that
might be resorted to in such a case; and if I could but obtain my
brother's consent and assistanceI should not doubt of its
success. The old hall where he and I were bornand where our
mother diedis not now inhabitednor yet quite sunk into decay
as I believe. Nowif I could persuade him to have one or two
rooms made habitableand to let them to me as a strangerI might
live therewith my childunder an assumed nameand still support
myself by my favourite art. He should lend me the money to begin
withand I would pay him backand live in lowly independence and
strict seclusionfor the house stands in a lonely placeand the
neighbourhood is thinly inhabitedand he himself should negotiate
the sale of my pictures for me. I have arranged the whole plan in
my head: and all I want is to persuade Frederick to be of the same
mind as myself. He is coming to see me soonand then I will make
the proposal to himhaving first enlightened him upon my
circumstances sufficiently to excuse the project.

AlreadyI believehe knows much more of my situation than I have
told him. I can tell this by the air of tender sadness pervading
his letters; and by the fact of his so seldom mentioning my
husbandand generally evincing a kind of covert bitterness when he
does refer to him; as well as by the circumstance of his never
coming to see me when Mr. Huntingdon is at home. But he has never
openly expressed any disapprobation of him or sympathy for me; he
has never asked any questionsor said anything to invite my
confidence. Had he done soI should probably have had but few
concealments from him. Perhaps he feels hurt at my reserve. He is
a strange being; I wish we knew each other better. He used to
spend a month at Staningley every yearbefore I was married; but
since our father's deathI have only seen him oncewhen he came
for a few days while Mr. Huntingdon was away. He shall stay many
days this timeand there shall be more candour and cordiality
between us than ever there was beforesince our early childhood.
My heart clings to him more than ever; and my soul is sick of
solitude.

April 16th. - He is come and gone. He would not stay above a
fortnight. The time passed quicklybut veryvery happilyand it
has done me good. I must have a bad dispositionfor my
misfortunes have soured and embittered me exceedingly: I was
beginning insensibly to cherish very unamiable feelings against my
fellow-mortalsthe male part of them especially; but it is a
comfort to see there is at least one among them worthy to be
trusted and esteemed; and doubtless there are morethough I have
never known themunless I except poor Lord Lowboroughand he was
bad enough in his day. But what would Frederick have beenif he
had lived in the worldand mingled from his childhood with such
men as these of my acquaintance? and what will Arthur bewith all
his natural sweetness of dispositionif I do not save him from
that world and those companions? I mentioned my fears to
Frederickand introduced the subject of my plan of rescue on the
evening after his arrivalwhen I presented my little son to his
uncle.


'He is like youFrederick' said I'in some of his moods: I
sometimes think he resembles you more than his father; and I am
glad of it.'

'You flatter meHelen' replied hestroking the child's soft
wavy locks.

'Noyou will think it no compliment when I tell you I would rather
have him to resemble Benson than his father.'

He slightly elevated his eyebrowsbut said nothing.

'Do you know what sort of man Mr. Huntingdon is?' said I.

'I think I have an idea.'

'Have you so clear an idea that you can hearwithout surprise or
disapprovalthat I meditate escaping with that child to some
secret asylumwhere we can live in peaceand never see him
again?'

'Is it really so?'

'If you have not' continued I'I'll tell you something more about
him'; and I gave a sketch of his general conductand a more
particular account of his behaviour with regard to his childand
explained my apprehensions on the latter's accountand my
determination to deliver him from his father's influence.

Frederick was exceedingly indignant against Mr. Huntingdonand
very much grieved for me; but still he looked upon my project as
wild and impracticable. He deemed my fears for Arthur
disproportioned to the circumstancesand opposed so many
objections to my planand devised so many milder methods for
ameliorating my conditionthat I was obliged to enter into further
details to convince him that my husband was utterly incorrigible
and that nothing could persuade him to give up his sonwhatever
became of mehe being as fully determined the child should not
leave himas I was not to leave the child; and thatin fact
nothing would answer but thisunless I fled the countryas I had
intended before. To obviate thathe at length consented to have
one wing of the old hall put into a habitable conditionas a place
of refuge against a time of need; but hoped I would not take
advantage of it unless circumstances should render it really
necessarywhich I was ready enough to promise: for thoughfor my
own sakesuch a hermitage appears like paradise itselfcompared
with my present situationyet for my friends' sakesfor Milicent
and Esthermy sisters in heart and affectionfor the poor tenants
of Grassdaleandabove allfor my auntI will stay if I
possibly can.

July 29th. - Mrs. Hargrave and her daughter are come back from
London. Esther is full of her first season in town; but she is
still heart-whole and unengaged. Her mother sought out an
excellent match for herand even brought the gentleman to lay his
heart and fortune at her feet; but Esther had the audacity to
refuse the noble gifts. He was a man of good family and large
possessionsbut the naughty girl maintained he was old as Adam
ugly as sinand hateful as - one who shall be nameless.

'ButindeedI had a hard time of it' said she: 'mamma was very
greatly disappointed at the failure of her darling projectand
veryvery angry at my obstinate resistance to her willand is so


still; but I can't help it. And Waltertoois so seriously
displeased at my perversity and absurd capriceas he calls it
that I fear he will never forgive me - I did not think he could be
so unkind as he has lately shown himself. But Milicent begged me
not to yieldand I'm sureMrs. Huntingdonif you had seen the
man they wanted to palm upon meyou would have advised me not to
take him too.'

'I should have done so whether I had seen him or not' said I; 'it
is enough that you dislike him.'

'I knew you would say so; though mamma affirmed you would be quite
shocked at my undutiful conduct. You can't imagine how she
lectures me: I am disobedient and ungrateful; I am thwarting her
wisheswronging my brotherand making myself a burden on her
hands. I sometimes fear she'll overcome me after all. I have a
strong willbut so has sheand when she says such bitter things
it provokes me to such a pass that I feel inclined to do as she
bids meand then break my heart and sayThere, mamma, it's all
your fault!'

'Pray don't!' said I. 'Obedience from such a motive would be
positive wickednessand certain to bring the punishment it
deserves. Stand firmand your mamma will soon relinquish her
persecution; and the gentleman himself will cease to pester you
with his addresses if he finds them steadily rejected.'

'Ohno! mamma will weary all about her before she tires herself
with her exertions; and as for Mr. Oldfieldshe has given him to
understand that I have refused his offernot from any dislike of
his personbut merely because I am giddy and youngand cannot at
present reconcile myself to the thoughts of marriage under any
circumstances: but by next seasonshe has no doubtI shall have
more senseand hopes my girlish fancies will be worn away. So she
has brought me hometo school me into a proper sense of my duty
against the time comes round again. IndeedI believe she will not
put herself to the expense of taking me up to London againunless
I surrender: she cannot afford to take me to town for pleasure and
nonsenseshe saysand it is not every rich gentleman that will
consent to take me without a fortunewhatever exalted ideas I may
have of my own attractions.'

'WellEstherI pity you; but stillI repeatstand firm. You
might as well sell yourself to slavery at onceas marry a man you
dislike. If your mother and brother are unkind to youyou may
leave thembut remember you are bound to your husband for life.'

'But I cannot leave them unless I get marriedand I cannot get
married if nobody sees me. I saw one or two gentlemen in London
that I might have likedbut they were younger sonsand mamma
would not let me get to know them - one especiallywho I believe
rather liked me - but she threw every possible obstacle in the way
of our better acquaintance. Wasn't it provoking?'

'I have no doubt you would feel it sobut it is possible that if
you married himyou might have more reason to regret it hereafter
than if you married Mr. Oldfield. When I tell you not to marry
without loveI do not advise you to marry for love alone: there
are manymany other things to be considered. Keep both heart and
hand in your own possessiontill you see good reason to part with
them; and if such an occasion should never present itselfcomfort
your mind with this reflectionthat though in single life your
joys may not be very manyyour sorrowsat leastwill not be more
than you can bear. Marriage may change your circumstances for the


betterbutin my private opinionit is far more likely to
produce a contrary result.'

'So thinks Milicent; but allow me to say I think otherwise. If I
thought myself doomed to old-maidenhoodI should cease to value my
life. The thoughts of living onyear after yearat the Grove - a
hanger-on upon mamma and Waltera mere cumberer of the ground (now
that I know in what light they would regard it)is perfectly
intolerable; I would rather run away with the butler.'

'Your circumstances are peculiarI allow; but have patiencelove;
do nothing rashly. Remember you are not yet nineteenand many
years are yet to pass before any one can set you down as an old
maid: you cannot tell what Providence may have in store for you.
And meantimeremember you have a right to the protection and
support of your mother and brotherhowever they may seem to grudge
it.'

'You are so graveMrs. Huntingdon' said Estherafter a pause.
'When Milicent uttered the same discouraging sentiments concerning
marriageI asked if she was happy: she said she was; but I only
half believed her; and now I must put the same question to you.'

'It is a very impertinent question' laughed I'from a young girl
to a married woman so many years her seniorand I shall not answer
it.'

'Pardon medear madam' said shelaughingly throwing herself into
my armsand kissing me with playful affection; but I felt a tear
on my neckas she dropped her head on my bosom and continuedwith
an odd mixture of sadness and levitytimidity and audacity- 'I
know you are not so happy as I mean to befor you spend half your
life alone at Grassdalewhile Mr. Huntingdon goes about enjoying
himself where and how he pleases. I shall expect my husband to
have no pleasures but what he shares with me; and if his greatest
pleasure of all is not the enjoyment of my companywhyit will be
the worse for himthat's all.'

'If such are your expectations of matrimonyEstheryou must
indeedbe careful whom you marry - or ratheryou must avoid it
altogether.'

CHAPTER XLII

September 1st. - No Mr. Huntingdon yet. Perhaps he will stay among
his friends till Christmas; and thennext springhe will be off
again. If he continue this planI shall be able to stay at
Grassdale well enough - that isI shall be able to stayand that
is enough; even an occasional bevy of friends at the shooting
season may be borneif Arthur get so firmly attached to meso
well established in good sense and principles before they come that
I shall be ableby reason and affectionto keep him pure from
their contaminations. Vain hopeI fear! but stilltill such a
time of trial comes I will forbear to think of my quiet asylum in
the beloved old hall.

Mr. and Mrs. Hattersley have been staying at the Grove a fortnight:
and as Mr. Hargrave is still absentand the weather was remarkably
fineI never passed a day without seeing my two friendsMilicent
and Esthereither there or here. On one occasionwhen Mr.


Hattersley had driven them over to Grassdale in the phaetonwith
little Helen and Ralphand we were all enjoying ourselves in the
garden - I had a few minutes' conversation with that gentleman
while the ladies were amusing themselves with the children.

'Do you want to hear anything of your husbandMrs. Huntingdon?'
said he.

'Nounless you can tell me when to expect him home.'

'I can't. - You don't want himdo you?' said hewith a broad
grin.

'No.'

'WellI think you're better without himsure enough - for my
partI'm downright weary of him. I told him I'd leave him if he
didn't mend his mannersand he wouldn't; so I left him. You see
I'm a better man than you think me; andwhat's moreI have
serious thoughts of washing my hands of him entirelyand the whole
set of 'emand comporting myself from this day forward with all
decency and sobrietyas a Christian and the father of a family
should do. What do you think of that?'

'It is a resolution you ought to have formed long ago.'

'WellI'm not thirty yet; it isn't too lateis it?'

'No; it is never too late to reformas long as you have the sense
to desire itand the strength to execute your purpose.'

'Wellto tell you the truthI've thought of it often and often
before; but he's such devilish good companyis Huntingdonafter
all. You can't imagine what a jovial good fellow he is when he's
not fairly drunkonly just primed or half-seas-over. We all have
a bit of a liking for him at the bottom of our heartsthough we
can't respect him.'

'But should you wish yourself to be like him?'

'NoI'd rather be like myselfbad as I am.'

'You can't continue as bad as you are without getting worse and
more brutalised every dayand therefore more like him.'

I could not help smiling at the comicalhalf-angryhalfconfounded
look he put on at this rather unusual mode of address.

'Never mind my plain speaking' said I; 'it is from the best of
motives. But tell meshould you wish your sons to be like Mr.
Huntingdon - or even like yourself?'

'Hang it! no.'

'Should you wish your daughter to despise you - orat leastto
feel no vestige of respect for youand no affection but what is
mingled with the bitterest regret?'

'Ohno! I couldn't stand that.'

'Andfinallyshould you wish your wife to be ready to sink into
the earth when she hears you mentioned; and to loathe the very
sound of your voiceand shudder at your approach?'


'She never will; she likes me all the samewhatever I do.'

'ImpossibleMr. Hattersley! you mistake her quiet submission for
affection.'

'Fire and fury - '

'Now don't burst into a tempest at that. I don't mean to say she
does not love you - she doesI knowa great deal better than you
deserve; but I am quite surethat if you behave bettershe will
love you moreand if you behave worseshe will love you less and
lesstill all is lost in fearaversionand bitterness of soul
if not in secret hatred and contempt. Butdropping the subject of
affectionshould you wish to be the tyrant of her life - to take
away all the sunshine from her existenceand make her thoroughly
miserable?'

'Of course not; and I don'tand I'm not going to.'

'You have done more towards it than you suppose.'

'Poohpooh! she's not the susceptibleanxiousworriting creature
you imagine: she's a little meekpeaceableaffectionate body;
apt to be rather sulky at timesbut quiet and cool in the main
and ready to take things as they come.'

'Think of what she was five years agowhen you married herand
what she is now.'

'I know she was a little plump lassie thenwith a pretty pink and
white face: now she's a poor little bit of a creaturefading and
melting away like a snow-wreath. But hang it! - that's not my
fault.'

'What is the cause of it then? Not yearsfor she's only five-andtwenty.'


'It's her own delicate healthand confound itmadam! what would
you make of me? - and the childrento be surethat worry her to
death between them.'

'NoMr. Hattersleythe children give her more pleasure than pain:
they are finewell-dispositioned children - '

'I know they are - bless them!'

'Then why lay the blame on them? - I'll tell you what it is: it's
silent fretting and constant anxiety on your accountmingledI
suspectwith something of bodily fear on her own. When you behave
wellshe can only rejoice with trembling; she has no securityno
confidence in your judgment or principles; but is continually
dreading the close of such short-lived felicity; when you behave
illher causes of terror and misery are more than any one can tell
but herself. In patient endurance of evilshe forgets it is our
duty to admonish our neighbours of their transgressions. Since you
will mistake her silence for indifferencecome with meand I'll
show you one or two of her letters - no breach of confidenceI
hopesince you are her other half.'

He followed me into the library. I sought out and put into his
hands two of Milicent's letters: one dated from Londonand
written during one of his wildest seasons of reckless dissipation;
the other in the countryduring a lucid interval. The former was
full of trouble and anguish; not accusing himbut deeply


regretting his connection with his profligate companionsabusing
Mr. Grimsby and othersinsinuating bitter things against Mr.
Huntingdonand most ingeniously throwing the blame of her
husband's misconduct on to other men's shoulders. The latter was
full of hope and joyyet with a trembling consciousness that this
happiness would not last; praising his goodness to the skiesbut
with an evidentthough but half-expressed wishthat it were based
on a surer foundation than the natural impulses of the heartand a
half-prophetic dread of the fall of that house so founded on the
sand- which fall had shortly after taken placeas Hattersley
must have been conscious while he read.

Almost at the commencement of the first letter I had the unexpected
pleasure of seeing him blush; but he immediately turned his back to
meand finished the perusal at the window. At the secondI saw
himonce or twiceraise his handand hurriedly pass it across
his face. Could it be to dash away a tear? When he had done
there was an interval spent in clearing his throat and staring out
of the windowand thenafter whistling a few bars of a favourite
airhe turned roundgave me back the lettersand silently shook
me by the hand.

'I've been a cursed rascalGod knows' said heas he gave it a
hearty squeeze'but you see if I don't make amends for it - d-n me
if I don't!'

'Don't curse yourselfMr. Hattersley; if God had heard half your
invocations of that kindyou would have been in hell long before
now - and you cannot make amends for the past by doing your duty
for the futureinasmuch as your duty is only what you owe to your
Makerand you cannot do more than fulfil it: another must make
amends for your past delinquencies. If you intend to reform
invoke God's blessingHis mercyand His aid; not His curse.'

'God help methen - for I'm sure I need it. Where's Milicent?'

'She's therejust coming in with her sister.'

He stepped out at the glass doorand went to meet them. I
followed at a little distance. Somewhat to his wife's
astonishmenthe lifted her off from the groundand saluted her
with a hearty kiss and a strong embrace; then placing his two hands
on her shouldershe gave herI supposea sketch of the great
things he meant to dofor she suddenly threw her arms round him
and burst into tearsexclaiming- 'DodoRalph - we shall be so
happy! How veryvery good you are!'

'Naynot I' said heturning her roundand pushing her towards
me. 'Thank her; it's her doing.'

Milicent flew to thank meoverflowing with gratitude. I
disclaimed all title to ittelling her her husband was predisposed
to amendment before I added my mite of exhortation and
encouragementand that I had only done what she mightand ought
to have done herself.

'Ohno!' cried she; 'I couldn't have influenced himI'm sureby
anything that I could have said. I should only have bothered him
by my clumsy efforts at persuasionif I had made the attempt.'

'You never tried meMilly' said he.

Shortly after they took their leave. They are now gone on a visit
to Hattersley's father. After that they will repair to their


country home. I hope his good resolutions will not fall through
and poor Milicent will not be again disappointed. Her last letter
was full of present blissand pleasing anticipations for the
future; but no particular temptation has yet occurred to put his
virtue to the test. Henceforthhowevershe will doubtless be
somewhat less timid and reservedand he more kind and thoughtful.

-Surelythenher hopes are not unfounded; and I have one bright
spotat leastwhereon to rest my thoughts.
CHAPTER XLIII

October 10th. - Mr. Huntingdon returned about three weeks ago. His
appearancehis demeanour and conversationand my feelings with
regard to himI shall not trouble myself to describe. The day
after his arrivalhoweverhe surprised me by the announcement of
an intention to procure a governess for little Arthur: I told him
it was quite unnecessarynot to say ridiculousat the present
season: I thought I was fully competent to the task of teaching
him myself - for some years to comeat least: the child's
education was the only pleasure and business of my life; and since
he had deprived me of every other occupationhe might surely leave
me that.

He said I was not fit to teach childrenor to be with them: I had
already reduced the boy to little better than an automaton; I had
broken his fine spirit with my rigid severity; and I should freeze
all the sunshine out of his heartand make him as gloomy an
ascetic as myselfif I had the handling of him much longer. And
poor Racheltoocame in for her share of abuseas usual; he
cannot endure Rachelbecause he knows she has a proper
appreciation of him.

I calmly defended our several qualifications as nurse and
governessand still resisted the proposed addition to our family;
but he cut me short by saying it was no use bothering about the
matterfor he had engaged a governess alreadyand she was coming
next week; so that all I had to do was to get things ready for her
reception. This was a rather startling piece of intelligence. I
ventured to inquire her name and addressby whom she had been
recommendedor how he had been led to make choice of her.

'She is a very estimablepious young person' said he; 'you
needn't be afraid. Her name is MyersI believe; and she was
recommended to me by a respectable old dowager: a lady of high
repute in the religious world. I have not seen her myselfand
therefore cannot give you a particular account of her person and
conversationand so forth; butif the old lady's eulogies are
correctyou will find her to possess all desirable qualifications
for her position: an inordinate love of children among the rest.'

All this was gravely and quietly spokenbut there was a laughing
demon in his half-averted eye that boded no goodI imagined.
HoweverI thought of my asylum in -shireand made no further
objections.

When Miss Myers arrivedI was not prepared to give her a very
cordial reception. Her appearance was not particularly calculated
to produce a favourable impression at first sightnor did her
manners and subsequent conductin any degreeremove the prejudice
I had already conceived against her. Her attainments were limited


her intellect noways above mediocrity. She had a fine voiceand
could sing like a nightingaleand accompany herself sufficiently
well on the piano; but these were her only accomplishments. There
was a look of guile and subtlety in her facea sound of it in her
voice. She seemed afraid of meand would start if I suddenly
approached her. In her behaviour she was respectful and
complaisanteven to servility: she attempted to flatter and fawn
upon me at firstbut I soon checked that. Her fondness for her
little pupil was overstrainedand I was obliged to remonstrate
with her on the subject of over-indulgence and injudicious praise;
but she could not gain his heart. Her piety consisted in an
occasional heaving of sighsand uplifting of eyes to the ceiling
and the utterance of a few cant phrases. She told me she was a
clergyman's daughterand had been left an orphan from her
childhoodbut had had the good fortune to obtain a situation in a
very pious family; and then she spoke so gratefully of the kindness
she had experienced from its different membersthat I reproached
myself for my uncharitable thoughts and unfriendly conductand
relented for a timebut not for long: my causes of dislike were
too rationalmy suspicions too well founded for that; and I knew
it was my duty to watch and scrutinize till those suspicions were
either satisfactorily removed or confirmed.

I asked the name and residence of the kind and pious family. She
mentioned a common nameand an unknown and distant place of abode
but told me they were now on the Continentand their present
address was unknown to her. I never saw her speak much to Mr.
Huntingdon; but he would frequently look into the school-room to
see how little Arthur got on with his new companionwhen I was not
there. In the eveningshe sat with us in the drawing-roomand
would sing and play to amuse him or usas she pretendedand was
very attentive to his wantsand watchful to anticipate them
though she only talked to me; indeedhe was seldom in a condition
to be talked to. Had she been other than she wasI should have
felt her presence a great relief to come between us thusexcept
indeedthat I should have been thoroughly ashamed for any decent
person to see him as he often was.

I did not mention my suspicions to Rachel; but shehaving
sojourned for half a century in this land of sin and sorrowhas
learned to be suspicious herself. She told me from the first she
was 'down of that new governess' and I soon found she watched her
quite as narrowly as I did; and I was glad of itfor I longed to
know the truth: the atmosphere of Grassdale seemed to stifle me
and I could only live by thinking of Wildfell Hall.

At lastone morningshe entered my chamber with such intelligence
that my resolution was taken before she had ceased to speak. While
she dressed me I explained to her my intentions and what assistance
I should require from herand told her which of my things she was
to pack upand what she was to leave behind for herselfas I had
no other means of recompensing her for this sudden dismissal after
her long and faithful service: a circumstance I most deeply
regrettedbut could not avoid.

'And what will you doRachel?' said I; 'will you go homeor seek
another place?'

'I have no homema'ambut with you' she replied; 'and if I leave
you I'll never go into place again as long as I live.'

'But I can't afford to live like a lady now' returned I: 'I must
be my own maid and my child's nurse.'


'What signifies!' replied shein some excitement. 'You'll want
somebody to clean and washand cookwon't you? I can do all
that; and never mind the wages: I've my bits o' savings yetand
if you wouldn't take me I should have to find my own board and
lodging out of 'em somewhereor else work among strangers: and
it's what I'm not used to: so you can please yourselfma'am.'
Her voice quavered as she spokeand the tears stood in her eyes.

'I should like it above all thingsRacheland I'd give you such
wages as I could afford: such as I should give to any servant-ofall-
work I might employ: but don't you see I should be dragging
you down with me when you have done nothing to deserve it?'

'Ohfiddle!' ejaculated she.

'Andbesidesmy future way of living will be so widely different
to the past: so different to all you have been accustomed to - '

'Do you thinkma'amI can't bear what my missis can? surely I'm
not so proud and so dainty as that comes to; and my little master
tooGod bless him!'

'But I'm youngRachel; I sha'n't mind it; and Arthur is young too:
it will be nothing to him.'

'Nor me either: I'm not so old but what I can stand hard fare and
hard workif it's only to help and comfort them as I've loved like
my own bairns: for all I'm too old to bide the thoughts o' leaving
'em in trouble and dangerand going amongst strangers myself.'

'Then you sha'n'tRachel!' cried Iembracing my faithful friend.
'We'll all go togetherand you shall see how the new life suits
you.'

'Bless youhoney!' cried sheaffectionately returning my embrace.
'Only let us get shut of this wicked houseand we'll do right
enoughyou'll see.'

'So think I' was my answer; and so that point was settled.

By that morning's post I despatched a few hasty lines to Frederick
beseeching him to prepare my asylum for my immediate reception:
for I should probably come to claim it within a day after the
receipt of that note: and telling himin few wordsthe cause of
my sudden resolution. I then wrote three letters of adieu: the
first to Esther Hargravein which I told her that I found it
impossible to stay any longer at Grassdaleor to leave my son
under his father's protection; andas it was of the last
importance that our future abode should be unknown to him and his
acquaintanceI should disclose it to no one but my brother
through the medium of whom I hoped still to correspond with my
friends. I then gave her his addressexhorted her to write
frequentlyreiterated some of my former admonitions regarding her
own concernsand bade her a fond farewell.

The second was to Milicent; much to the same effectbut a little
more confidentialas befitted our longer intimacyand her greater
experience and better acquaintance with my circumstances.

The third was to my aunt: a much more difficult and painful
undertakingand therefore I had left it to the last; but I must
give her some explanation of that extraordinary step I had taken:
and that quicklyfor she and my uncle would no doubt hear of it
within a day or two after my disappearanceas it was probable that


Mr. Huntingdon would speedily apply to them to know what was become
of me. At lasthoweverI told her I was sensible of my error: I
did not complain of its punishmentand I was sorry to trouble my
friends with its consequences; but in duty to my son I must submit
no longer; it was absolutely necessary that he should be delivered
from his father's corrupting influence. I should not disclose my
place of refuge even to herin order that she and my uncle might
be ablewith truthto deny all knowledge concerning it; but any
communications addressed to me under cover to my brother would be
certain to reach me. I hoped she and my uncle would pardon the
step I had takenfor if they knew allI was sure they would not
blame me; and I trusted they would not afflict themselves on my
accountfor if I could only reach my retreat in safety and keep it
unmolestedI should be very happybut for the thoughts of them;
and should be quite contented to spend my life in obscurity
devoting myself to the training up of my childand teaching him to
avoid the errors of both his parents.

These things were done yesterday: I have given two whole days to
the preparation for our departurethat Frederick may have more
time to prepare the roomsand Rachel to pack up the things: for
the latter task must be done with the utmost caution and secrecy
and there is no one but me to assist her. I can help to get the
articles togetherbut I do not understand the art of stowing them
into the boxesso as to take up the smallest possible space; and
there are her own things to doas well as mine and Arthur's. I
can ill afford to leave anything behindsince I have no money
except a few guineas in my purse; and besidesas Rachel observed
whatever I left would most likely become the property of Miss
Myersand I should not relish that.

But what trouble I have had throughout these two daysstruggling
to appear calm and collectedto meet him and her as usualwhen I
was obliged to meet themand forcing myself to leave my little
Arthur in her hands for hours together! But I trust these trials
are over now: I have laid him in my bed for better securityand
never moreI trustshall his innocent lips be defiled by their
contaminating kissesor his young ears polluted by their words.
But shall we escape in safety? Ohthat the morning were comeand
we were on our way at least! This eveningwhen I had given Rachel
all the assistance I couldand had nothing left me but to wait
and wish and trembleI became so greatly agitated that I knew not
what to do. I went down to dinnerbut I could not force myself to
eat. Mr. Huntingdon remarked the circumstance.

'What's to do with you now?' said hewhen the removal of the
second course gave him time to look about him.

'I am not well' I replied: 'I think I must lie down a little; you
won't miss me much?'

'Not the least: if you leave your chairit'll do just as well better
a trifle' he mutteredas I left the room'for I can
fancy somebody else fills it.'

'Somebody else may fill it to-morrow' I thoughtbut did not say.
'There! I've seen the last of youI hope' I mutteredas I
closed the door upon him.

Rachel urged me to seek repose at onceto recruit my strength for
to-morrow's journeyas we must be gone before the dawn; but in my
present state of nervous excitement that was entirely out of the
question. It was equally out of the question to sitor wander
about my roomcounting the hours and the minutes between me and


the appointed time of actionstraining my ears and trembling at
every soundlest someone should discover and betray us after all.
I took up a book and tried to read: my eyes wandered over the
pagesbut it was impossible to bind my thoughts to their contents.
Why not have recourse to the old expedientand add this last event
to my chronicle? I opened its pages once moreand wrote the above
account - with difficultyat firstbut gradually my mind became
more calm and steady. Thus several hours have passed away: the
time is drawing near; and now my eyes feel heavy and my frame
exhausted. I will commend my cause to Godand then lie down and
gain an hour or two of sleep; and then! -

Little Arthur sleeps soundly. All the house is still: there can
be no one watching. The boxes were all corded by Bensonand
quietly conveyed down the back stairs after duskand sent away in
a cart to the M- coach-office. The name upon the cards was Mrs.
Grahamwhich appellation I mean henceforth to adopt. My mother's
maiden name was Grahamand therefore I fancy I have some claim to
itand prefer it to any otherexcept my ownwhich I dare not
resume.

CHAPTER XLIV

October 24th. - Thank heavenI am free and safe at last. Early we
roseswiftly and quietly dressedslowly and stealthily descended
to the hallwhere Benson stood ready with a lightto open the
door and fasten it after us. We were obliged to let one man into
our secret on account of the boxes&c. All the servants were but
too well acquainted with their master's conductand either Benson
or John would have been willing to serve me; but as the former was
more staid and elderlyand a crony of Rachel's besidesI of
course directed her to make choice of him as her assistant and
confidant on the occasionas far as necessity demandedI only
hope he may not be brought into trouble therebyand only wish I
could reward him for the perilous service he was so ready to
undertake. I slipped two guineas into his handby way of
remembranceas he stood in the doorwayholding the candle to
light our departurewith a tear in his honest grey eyeand a host
of good wishes depicted on his solemn countenance. Alas! I could
offer no more: I had barely sufficient remaining for the probable
expenses of the journey.

What trembling joy it was when the little wicket closed behind us
as we issued from the park! Thenfor one momentI pausedto
inhale one draught of that coolbracing airand venture one look
back upon the house. All was dark and still: no light glimmered
in the windowsno wreath of smoke obscured the stars that sparkled
above it in the frosty sky. As I bade farewell for ever to that
placethe scene of so much guilt and miseryI felt glad that I
had not left it beforefor now there was no doubt about the
propriety of such a step - no shadow of remorse for him I left
behind. There was nothing to disturb my joy but the fear of
detection; and every step removed us further from the chance of
that.

We had left Grassdale many miles behind us before the round red sun
arose to welcome our deliverance; and if any inhabitant of its
vicinity had chanced to see us thenas we bowled along on the top
of the coachI scarcely think they would have suspected our
identity. As I intend to be taken for a widowI thought it


advisable to enter my new abode in mourning: I wastherefore
attired in a plain black silk dress and mantlea black veil (which
I kept carefully over my face for the first twenty or thirty miles
of the journey)and a black silk bonnetwhich I had been
constrained to borrow of Rachelfor want of such an article
myself. It was not in the newest fashionof course; but none the
worse for thatunder present circumstances. Arthur was clad in
his plainest clothesand wrapped in a coarse woollen shawl; and
Rachel was muffled in a grey cloak and hood that had seen better
daysand gave her more the appearance of an ordinary though decent
old womanthan of a lady's-maid.

Ohwhat delight it was to be thus seated aloftrumbling along the
broadsunshiny roadwith the fresh morning breeze in my face
surrounded by an unknown countryall smiling - cheerfully
gloriously smiling in the yellow lustre of those early beams; with
my darling child in my armsalmost as happy as myselfand my
faithful friend beside me: a prison and despair behind me
receding furtherfurther back at every clatter of the horses'
feet; and liberty and hope before! I could hardly refrain from
praising God aloud for my deliveranceor astonishing my fellowpassengers
by some surprising outburst of hilarity.

But the journey was a very long oneand we were all weary enough
before the close of it. It was far into the night when we reached
the town of L-and still we were seven miles from our journey's
end; and there was no more coachingnor any conveyance to be had
except a common cartand that with the greatest difficultyfor
half the town was in bed. And a dreary ride we had of itthat
last stage of the journeycold and weary as we were; sitting on
our boxeswith nothing to cling tonothing to lean against
slowly dragged and cruelly shaken over the roughhilly roads. But
Arthur was asleep in Rachel's lapand between us we managed pretty
well to shield him from the cold night air.

At last we began to ascend a terribly steep and stony lanewhich
in spite of the darknessRachel said she remembered well: she had
often walked there with me in her armsand little thought to come
again so many years afterunder such circumstances as the present.
Arthur being now awakened by the jolting and the stoppageswe all
got out and walked. We had not far to go; but what if Frederick
should not have received my letter? or if he should not have had
time to prepare the rooms for our receptionand we should find
them all darkdampand comfortlessdestitute of foodfireand
furnitureafter all our toil?

At length the grimdark pile appeared before us. The lane
conducted us round by the back way. We entered the desolate court
and in breathless anxiety surveyed the ruinous mass. Was it all
blackness and desolation? No; one faint red glimmer cheered us
from a window where the lattice was in good repair. The door was
fastenedbut after due knocking and waitingand some parleying
with a voice from an upper windowwe were admitted by an old woman
who had been commissioned to air and keep the house till our
arrivalinto a tolerably snug little apartmentformerly the
scullery of the mansionwhich Frederick had now fitted up as a
kitchen. Here she procured us a lightroused the fire to a
cheerful blazeand soon prepared a simple repast for our
refreshment; while we disencumbered ourselves of our travellinggear
and took a hasty survey of our new abode. Besides the
kitchenthere were two bedroomsa good-sized parlourand another
smaller onewhich I destined for my studioall well aired and
seemingly in good repairbut only partly furnished with a few old
articleschiefly of ponderous black oakthe veritable ones that


had been there beforeand which had been kept as antiquarian
relics in my brother's present residenceand nowin all haste
transported back again.

The old woman brought my supper and Arthur's into the parlourand
told mewith all due formalitythat 'the master desired his
compliments to Mrs. Grahamand he had prepared the rooms as well
as he could upon so short a notice; but he would do himself the
pleasure of calling upon her to-morrowto receive her further
commands.'

I was glad to ascend the stern-looking stone staircaseand lie
down in the gloomyold-fashioned bedbeside my little Arthur. He
was asleep in a minute; butweary as I wasmy excited feelings
and restless cogitations kept me awake till dawn began to struggle
with the darkness; but sleep was sweet and refreshing when it came
and the waking was delightful beyond expression. It was little
Arthur that roused mewith his gentle kisses. He was herethen
safely clasped in my armsand many leagues away from his unworthy
father! Broad daylight illumined the apartmentfor the sun was
high in heaventhough obscured by rolling masses of autumnal
vapour.

The sceneindeedwas not remarkably cheerful in itselfeither
within or without. The large bare roomwith its grim old
furniturethe narrowlatticed windowsrevealing the dullgrey
sky above and the desolate wilderness belowwhere the dark stone
walls and iron gatethe rank growth of grass and weedsand the
hardy evergreens of preternatural formsalone remained to tell
that there had been once a garden- and the bleak and barren
fields beyond might have struck me as gloomy enough at another
time; but noweach separate object seemed to echo back my own
exhilarating sense of hope and freedom: indefinite dreams of the
far past and bright anticipations of the future seemed to greet me
at every turn. I should rejoice with more securityto be sure
had the broad sea rolled between my present and my former homes;
but surely in this lonely spot I might remain unknown; and then I
had my brother here to cheer my solitude with his occasional
visits.

He came that morning; and I have had several interviews with him
since; but he is obliged to be very cautious when and how he comes;
not even his servants or his best friends must know of his visits
to Wildfell - except on such occasions as a landlord might be
expected to call upon a stranger tenant - lest suspicion should be
excited against mewhether of the truth or of some slanderous
falsehood.

I have now been here nearly a fortnightandbut for one
disturbing carethe haunting dread of discoveryI am comfortably
settled in my new home: Frederick has supplied me with all
requisite furniture and painting materials: Rachel has sold most
of my clothes for mein a distant townand procured me a wardrobe
more suitable to my present position: I have a second-hand piano
and a tolerably well-stocked bookcase in my parlour; and my other
room has assumed quite a professionalbusiness-like appearance
already. I am working hard to repay my brother for all his
expenses on my account; not that there is the slightest necessity
for anything of the kindbut it pleases me to do so: I shall have
so much more pleasure in my labourmy earningsmy frugal fare
and household economywhen I know that I am paying my way
honestlyand that what little I possess is legitimately all my
own; and that no one suffers for my folly - in a pecuniary way at
least. I shall make him take the last penny I owe himif I can


possibly effect it without offending him too deeply. I have a few
pictures already donefor I told Rachel to pack up all I had; and
she executed her commission but too well - for among the restshe
put up a portrait of Mr. Huntingdon that I had painted in the first
year of my marriage. It struck me with dismayat the momentwhen
I took it from the box and beheld those eyes fixed upon me in their
mocking mirthas if exulting still in his power to control my
fateand deriding my efforts to escape.

How widely different had been my feelings in painting that portrait
to what they now were in looking upon it! How I had studied and
toiled to produce somethingas I thoughtworthy of the original!
what mingled pleasure and dissatisfaction I had had in the result
of my labours! - pleasure for the likeness I had caught;
dissatisfactionbecause I had not made it handsome enough. NowI
see no beauty in it - nothing pleasing in any part of its
expression; and yet it is far handsomer and far more agreeable far
less repulsive I should rather say - than he is now: for these
six years have wrought almost as great a change upon himself as on
my feelings regarding him. The framehoweveris handsome enough;
it will serve for another painting. The picture itself I have not
destroyedas I had first intended; I have put it aside; notI
thinkfrom any lurking tenderness for the memory of past
affectionnor yet to remind me of my former follybut chiefly
that I may compare my son's features and countenance with thisas
he grows upand thus be enabled to judge how much or how little he
resembles his father - if I may be allowed to keep him with me
stilland never to behold that father's face again - a blessing I
hardly dare reckon upon.

It seems Mr. Huntingdon is making every exertion to discover the
place of my retreat. He has been in person to Staningleyseeking
redress for his grievances - expecting to hear of his victimsif
not to find them there - and has told so many liesand with such
unblushing coolnessthat my uncle more than half believes himand
strongly advocates my going back to him and being friends again.
But my aunt knows better: she is too cool and cautiousand too
well acquainted with both my husband's character and my own to be
imposed upon by any specious falsehoods the former could invent.
But he does not want me back; he wants my child; and gives my
friends to understand that if I prefer living apart from himhe
will indulge the whim and let me do so unmolestedand even settle
a reasonable allowance on meprovided I will immediately deliver
up his son. But heaven help me! I am not going to sell my child
for goldthough it were to save both him and me from starving: it
would be better that he should die with me than that he should live
with his father.

Frederick showed me a letter he had received from that gentleman
full of cool impudence such as would astonish any one who did not
know himbut such asI am convincednone would know better how
to answer than my brother. He gave me no account of his reply
except to tell me that he had not acknowledged his acquaintance
with my place of refugebut rather left it to be inferred that it
was quite unknown to himby saying it was useless to apply to him
or any other of my relationsfor information on the subjectas it
appeared I had been driven to such extremity that I had concealed
my retreat even from my best friends; but that if he had known it
or should at any time be made aware of itmost certainly Mr.
Huntingdon would be the last person to whom he should communicate
the intelligence; and that he need not trouble himself to bargain
for the childfor he (Frederick) fancied he knew enough of his
sister to enable him to declarethat wherever she might beor
however situatedno consideration would induce her to deliver him


up.

30th. - Alas! my kind neighbours will not let me alone. By some
means they have ferreted me outand I have had to sustain visits
from three different familiesall more or less bent upon
discovering who and what I amwhence I cameand why I have chosen
such a home as this. Their society is unnecessary to meto say
the leastand their curiosity annoys and alarms me: if I gratify
itit may lead to the ruin of my sonand if I am too mysterious
it will only excite their suspicionsinvite conjectureand rouse
them to greater exertions - and perhaps be the means of spreading
my fame from parish to parishtill it reach the ears of some one
who will carry it to the Lord of Grassdale Manor.

I shall be expected to return their callsbut ifupon inquiryI
find that any of them live too far away for Arthur to accompany me
they must expect in vain for a whilefor I cannot bear to leave
himunless it be to go to churchand I have not attempted that
yet: for - it may be foolish weaknessbut I am under such
constant dread of his being snatched awaythat I am never easy
when he is not by my side; and I fear these nervous terrors would
so entirely disturb my devotionsthat I should obtain no benefit
from the attendance. I meanhoweverto make the experiment next
Sundayand oblige myself to leave him in charge of Rachel for a
few hours. It will be a hard taskbut surely no imprudence; and
the vicar has been to scold me for my neglect of the ordinances of
religion. I had no sufficient excuse to offerand I promisedif
all were wellhe should see me in my pew next Sunday; for I do not
wish to be set down as an infidel; andbesidesI know I should
derive great comfort and benefit from an occasional attendance at
public worshipif I could only have faith and fortitude to compose
my thoughts in conformity with the solemn occasionand forbid them
to be for ever dwelling on my absent childand on the dreadful
possibility of finding him gone when I return; and surely God in
His mercy will preserve me from so severe a trial: for my child's
own sakeif not for mineHe will not suffer him to be torn away.

November 3rd. - I have made some further acquaintance with my
neighbours. The fine gentleman and beau of the parish and its
vicinity (in his own estimationat least) is a young . . . .

* * * * *

Here it ended. The rest was torn away. How crueljust when she
was going to mention me! for I could not doubt it was your humble
servant she was about to mentionthough not very favourablyof
course. I could tell thatas well by those few words as by the
recollection of her whole aspect and demeanour towards me in the
commencement of our acquaintance. Well! I could readily forgive
her prejudice against meand her hard thoughts of our sex in
generalwhen I saw to what brilliant specimens her experience had
been limited.

Respecting mehowevershe had long since seen her errorand
perhaps fallen into another in the opposite extreme: for ifat
firsther opinion of me had been lower than I deservedI was
convinced that now my deserts were lower than her opinion; and if
the former part of this continuation had been torn away to avoid
wounding my feelingsperhaps the latter portion had been removed
for fear of ministering too much to my self-conceit. At any rate
I would have given much to have seen it all - to have witnessed the
gradual changeand watched the progress of her esteem and
friendship for meand whatever warmer feeling she might have; to
have seen how much of love there was in her regardand how it had


grown upon her in spite of her virtuous resolutions and strenuous
exertions to - but noI had no right to see it: all this was too
sacred for any eyes but her ownand she had done well to keep it
from me.

CHAPTER XLV

WellHalfordwhat do you think of all this? and while you read
itdid you ever picture to yourself what my feelings would
probably be during its perusal? Most likely not; but I am not
going to descant upon them now: I will only make this
acknowledgmentlittle honourable as it may be to human natureand
especially to myself- that the former half of the narrative was
to memore painful than the latternot that I was at all
insensible to Mrs. Huntingdon's wrongs or unmoved by her
sufferingsbutI must confessI felt a kind of selfish
gratification in watching her husband's gradual decline in her good
gracesand seeing how completely he extinguished all her affection
at last. The effect of the wholehoweverin spite of all my
sympathy for herand my fury against himwas to relieve my mind
of an intolerable burdenand fill my heart with joyas if some
friend had roused me from a dreadful nightmare.

It was now near eight o'clock in the morningfor my candle had
expired in the midst of my perusalleaving me no alternative but
to get anotherat the expense of alarming the houseor to go to
bedand wait the return of daylight. On my mother's accountI
chose the latter; but how willingly I sought my pillowand how
much sleep it brought meI leave you to imagine.

At the first appearance of dawnI roseand brought the manuscript
to the windowbut it was impossible to read it yet. I devoted
half an hour to dressingand then returned to it again. Nowwith
a little difficultyI could manage; and with intense and eager
interestI devoured the remainder of its contents. When it was
endedand my transient regret at its abrupt conclusion was overI
opened the window and put out my head to catch the cooling breeze
and imbibe deep draughts of the pure morning air. A splendid
morning it was; the half-frozen dew lay thick on the grassthe
swallows were twittering round methe rooks cawingand cows
lowing in the distance; and early frost and summer sunshine mingled
their sweetness in the air. But I did not think of that: a
confusion of countless thoughts and varied emotions crowded upon me
while I gazed abstractedly on the lovely face of nature. Soon
howeverthis chaos of thoughts and passions cleared awaygiving
place to two distinct emotions: joy unspeakable that my adored
Helen was all I wished to think her - that through the noisome
vapours of the world's aspersions and my own fancied convictions
her character shone brightand clearand stainless as that sun I
could not bear to look on; and shame and deep remorse for my own
conduct.

Immediately after breakfast I hurried over to Wildfell Hall.
Rachel had risen many degrees in my estimation since yesterday.
was ready to greet her quite as an old friend; but every kindly
impulse was checked by the look of cold distrust she cast upon me
on opening the door. The old virgin had constituted herself the
guardian of her lady's honourI supposeand doubtless she saw in
me another Mr. Hargraveonly the more dangerous in being more
esteemed and trusted by her mistress.


'Missis can't see any one to-daysir - she's poorly' said shein
answer to my inquiry for Mrs. Graham.

'But I must see herRachel' said Iplacing my hand on the door
to prevent its being shut against me.

'Indeedsiryou can't' replied shesettling her countenance in
still more iron frigidity than before.

'Be so good as to announce me.'

'It's no manner of useMr. Markham; she's poorlyI tell you.'

Just in time to prevent me from committing the impropriety of
taking the citadel by stormand pushing forward unannouncedan
inner door openedand little Arthur appeared with his frolicsome
playfellowthe dog. He seized my hand between both hisand
smilingly drew me forward.

'Mamma says you're to come inMr. Markham' said he'and I am to
go out and play with Rover.'

Rachel retired with a sighand I stepped into the parlour and shut
the door. Therebefore the fire-placestood the tallgraceful
figurewasted with many sorrows. I cast the manuscript on the
tableand looked in her face. Anxious and paleit was turned
towards me; her cleardark eyes were fixed on mine with a gaze so
intensely earnest that they bound me like a spell.

'Have you looked it over?' she murmured. The spell was broken.

'I've read it through' said Iadvancing into the room- 'and I
want to know if you'll forgive me - if you can forgive me?'

She did not answerbut her eyes glistenedand a faint red mantled
on her lip and cheek. As I approachedshe abruptly turned away
and went to the window. It was not in angerI was well assured
but only to conceal or control her emotion. I therefore ventured
to follow and stand beside her there- but not to speak. She gave
me her handwithout turning her headand murmured in a voice she
strove in vain to steady- 'Can you forgive me?'

It might be deemed a breach of trustI thoughtto convey that
lily hand to my lipsso I only gently pressed it between my own
and smilingly replied- 'I hardly can. You should have told me
this before. It shows a want of confidence - '

'Ohno' cried sheeagerly interrupting me; 'it was not that. It
was no want of confidence in you; but if I had told you anything of
my historyI must have told you allin order to excuse my
conduct; and I might well shrink from such a disclosuretill
necessity obliged me to make it. But you forgive me? - I have done
veryvery wrongI know; butas usualI have reaped the bitter
fruits of my own error- and must reap them to the end.'

Bitterindeedwas the tone of anguishrepressed by resolute
firmnessin which this was spoken. NowI raised her hand to my
lipsand fervently kissed it again and again; for tears prevented
any other reply. She suffered these wild caresses without
resistance or resentment; thensuddenly turning from meshe paced
twice or thrice through the room. I knew by the contraction of her
browthe tight compression of her lipsand wringing of her hands
that meantime a violent conflict between reason and passion was


silently passing within. At length she paused before the empty
fire-placeand turning to mesaid calmly - if that might be
called calmness which was so evidently the result of a violent
effort- 'NowGilbertyou must leave me - not this momentbut
soon - and you must never come again.'

'Never againHelen? just when I love you more than ever.'

'For that very reasonif it be sowe should not meet again. I
thought this interview was necessary - at leastI persuaded myself
it was so - that we might severally ask and receive each other's
pardon for the past; but there can be no excuse for another. I
shall leave this placeas soon as I have means to seek another
asylum; but our intercourse must end here.'

'End here!' echoed I; and approaching the highcarved chimneypiece
I leant my hand against its heavy mouldingsand dropped my
forehead upon it in silentsullen despondency.

'You must not come again' continued she. There was a slight
tremor in her voicebut I thought her whole manner was provokingly
composedconsidering the dreadful sentence she pronounced. 'You
must know why I tell you so' she resumed; 'and you must see that
it is better to part at once: - if it be hard to say adieu for
everyou ought to help me.' She paused. I did not answer. 'Will
you promise not to come? - if you won'tand if you do come here
againyou will drive me away before I know where to find another
place of refuge - or how to seek it.'

'Helen' said Iturning impatiently towards her'I cannot discuss
the matter of eternal separation calmly and dispassionately as you
can do. It is no question of mere expedience with me; it is a
question of life and death!'

She was silent. Her pale lips quiveredand her fingers trembled
with agitationas she nervously entwined them in the hair-chain to
which was appended her small gold watch - the only thing of value
she had permitted herself to keep. I had said an unjust and cruel
thing; but I must needs follow it up with something worse.

'ButHelen!' I began in a softlow tonenot daring to raise my
eyes to her face'that man is not your husband: in the sight of
heaven he has forfeited all claim to - ' She seized my arm with a
grasp of startling energy.

'Gilbertdon't!' she criedin a tone that would have pierced a
heart of adamant. 'For God's sakedon't you attempt these
arguments! No fiend could torture me like this!'

'I won'tI won't!' said Igently laying my hand on hers; almost
as much alarmed at her vehemence as ashamed of my own misconduct.

'Instead of acting like a true friend' continued shebreaking
from meand throwing herself into the old arm-chair'and helping
me with all your might - or rather taking your own part in the
struggle of right against passion - you leave all the burden to me;

-and not satisfied with thatyou do your utmost to fight against
me - when you know that! - ' she pausedand hid her face in her
handkerchief.
'Forgive meHelen!' pleaded I. 'I will never utter another word
on the subject. But may we not still meet as friends?'

'It will not do' she repliedmournfully shaking her head; and


then she raised her eyes to minewith a mildly reproachful look
that seemed to say'You must know that as well as I.'

'Then what must we do?' cried Ipassionately. But immediately I
added in a quieter tone - 'I'll do whatever you desire; only don't
say that this meeting is to be our last.'

'And why not? Don't you know that every time we meet the thoughts
of the final parting will become more painful? Don't you feel that
every interview makes us dearer to each other than the last?'

The utterance of this last question was hurried and lowand the
downcast eyes and burning blush too plainly showed that sheat
leasthad felt it. It was scarcely prudent to make such an
admissionor to add - as she presently did - 'I have power to bid
you gonow: another time it might be different' - but I was not
base enough to attempt to take advantage of her candour.

'But we may write' I timidly suggested. 'You will not deny me
that consolation?'

'We can hear of each other through my brother.'

'Your brother!' A pang of remorse and shame shot through me. She
had not heard of the injury he had sustained at my hands; and I had
not the courage to tell her. 'Your brother will not help us' I
said: 'he would have all communion between us to be entirely at an
end.'

'And he would be rightI suppose. As a friend of bothhe would
wish us both well; and every friend would tell us it was our
interestas well as our dutyto forget each otherthough we
might not see it ourselves. But don't be afraidGilbert' she
addedsmiling sadly at my manifest discomposure; 'there is little
chance of my forgetting you. But I did not mean that Frederick
should be the means of transmitting messages between us - only that
each might knowthrough himof the other's welfare; - and more
than this ought not to be: for you are youngGilbertand you
ought to marry - and will some timethough you may think it
impossible now: and though I hardly can say I wish you to forget
meI know it is right that you shouldboth for your own
happinessand that of your future wife; - and therefore I must and
will wish it' she added resolutely.

'And you are young tooHelen' I boldly replied; 'and when that
profligate scoundrel has run through his careeryou will give your
hand to me - I'll wait till then.'

But she would not leave me this support. Independently of the
moral evil of basing our hopes upon the death of anotherwhoif
unfit for this worldwas at least no less so for the nextand
whose amelioration would thus become our bane and his greatest
transgression our greatest benefit- she maintained it to be
madness: many men of Mr. Huntingdon's habits had lived to a ripe
though miserable old age. 'And if I' said she'am young in
yearsI am old in sorrow; but even if trouble should fail to kill
me before vice destroys himthinkif he reached but fifty years
or sowould you wait twenty or fifteen - in vague uncertainty and
suspense - through all the prime of youth and manhood - and marry
at last a woman faded and worn as I shall be - without ever having
seen me from this day to that? - You would not' she continued
interrupting my earnest protestations of unfailing constancy- 'or
if you wouldyou should not. Trust meGilbert; in this matter I
know better than you. You think me cold and stony-heartedand you


maybut - '

'I don'tHelen.'

'Wellnever mind: you might if you would: but I have not spent
my solitude in utter idlenessand I am not speaking now from the
impulse of the momentas you do. I have thought of all these
matters again and again; I have argued these questions with myself
and pondered well our pastand presentand future career; and
believe meI have come to the right conclusion at last. Trust my
words rather than your own feelings nowand in a few years you
will see that I was right - though at present I hardly can see it
myself' she murmured with a sigh as she rested her head on her
hand. 'And don't argue against me any more: all you can say has
been already said by my own heart and refuted by my reason. It was
hard enough to combat those suggestions as they were whispered
within me; in your mouth they are ten times worseand if you knew
how much they pain me you would cease at onceI know. If you knew
my present feelingsyou would even try to relieve them at the
expense of your own.'

'I will go - in a minuteif that can relieve you - and NEVER
return!' said Iwith bitter emphasis. 'Butif we may never meet
and never hope to meet againis it a crime to exchange our
thoughts by letter? May not kindred spirits meetand mingle in
communionwhatever be the fate and circumstances of their earthly
tenements?'

'They maythey may!' cried shewith a momentary burst of glad
enthusiasm. 'I thought of that tooGilbertbut I feared to
mention itbecause I feared you would not understand my views upon
the subject. I fear it even now - I fear any kind friend would
tell us we are both deluding ourselves with the idea of keeping up
a spiritual intercourse without hope or prospect of anything
further - without fostering vain regrets and hurtful aspirations
and feeding thoughts that should be sternly and pitilessly left to
perish of inanition.'

'Never mind our kind friends: if they can part our bodiesit is
enough; in God's namelet them not sunder our souls!' cried Iin
terror lest she should deem it her duty to deny us this last
remaining consolation.

'But no letters can pass between us here' said she'without
giving fresh food for scandal; and when I departedI had intended
that my new abode should be unknown to you as to the rest of the
world; not that I should doubt your word if you promised not to
visit mebut I thought you would be more tranquil in your own mind
if you knew you could not do itand likely to find less difficulty
in abstracting yourself from me if you could not picture my
situation to your mind. But listen' said shesmilingly putting
up her finger to check my impatient reply: 'in six months you
shall hear from Frederick precisely where I am; and if you still
retain your wish to write to meand think you can maintain a
correspondence all thoughtall spirit - such as disembodied souls
or unimpassioned friendsat leastmight hold- writeand I will
answer you.'

'Six months!'

'Yesto give your present ardour time to cooland try the truth
and constancy of your soul's love for mine. And nowenough has
been said between us. Why can't we part at once?' exclaimed she
almost wildlyafter a moment's pauseas she suddenly rose from


her chairwith her hands resolutely clasped together. I thought
it was my duty to go without delay; and I approached and half
extended my hand as if to take leave - she grasped it in silence.
But this thought of final separation was too intolerable: it
seemed to squeeze the blood out of my heart; and my feet were glued
to the floor.

'And must we never meet again?' I murmuredin the anguish of my
soul.

'We shall meet in heaven. Let us think of that' said she in a
tone of desperate calmness; but her eyes glittered wildlyand her
face was deadly pale.

'But not as we are now' I could not help replying. 'It gives me
little consolation to think I shall next behold you as a
disembodied spiritor an altered beingwith a frame perfect and
gloriousbut not like this! - and a heartperhapsentirely
estranged from me.'

'NoGilbertthere is perfect love in heaven!'

'So perfectI supposethat it soars above distinctionsand you
will have no closer sympathy with me than with any one of the ten
thousand thousand angels and the innumerable multitude of happy
spirits round us.'

'Whatever I amyou will be the sameandthereforecannot
possibly regret it; and whatever that change may be we know it must
be for the better.'

'But if I am to be so changed that I shall cease to adore you with
my whole heart and souland love you beyond every other creature
I shall not be myself; and thoughif ever I win heaven at allI
mustI knowbe infinitely better and happier than I am nowmy
earthly nature cannot rejoice in the anticipation of such
beatitudefrom which itself and its chief joy must be excluded.'

'Is your love all earthlythen?'

'Nobut I am supposing we shall have no more intimate communion
with each other than with the rest.'

'If soit will be because we love them moreand not each other
less. Increase of love brings increase of happinesswhen it is
mutualand pure as that will be.'

'But can youHelencontemplate with delight this prospect of
losing me in a sea of glory?'

'I own I cannot; but we know not that it will be so; - and I do
know that to regret the exchange of earthly pleasures for the joys
of heavenis as if the grovelling caterpillar should lament that
it must one day quit the nibbled leaf to soar aloft and flutter
through the airroving at will from flower to flowersipping
sweet honey from their cupsor basking in their sunny petals. If
these little creatures knew how great a change awaited themno
doubt they would regret it; but would not all such sorrow be
misplaced? And if that illustration will not move youhere is
another:- We are children now; we feel as childrenand we
understand as children; and when we are told that men and women do
not play with toysand that our companions will one day weary of
the trivial sports and occupations that interest them and us so
deeply nowwe cannot help being saddened at the thoughts of such


an alterationbecause we cannot conceive that as we grow up our
own minds will become so enlarged and elevated that we ourselves
shall then regard as trifling those objects and pursuits we now so
fondly cherishand thatthough our companions will no longer join
us in those childish pastimesthey will drink with us at other
fountains of delightand mingle their souls with ours in higher
aims and nobler occupations beyond our present comprehensionbut
not less deeply relished or less truly good for thatwhile yet
both we and they remain essentially the same individuals as before.
ButGilbertcan you really derive no consolation from the thought
that we may meet together where there is no more pain and sorrow
no more striving against sinand struggling of the spirit against
the flesh; where both will behold the same glorious truthsand
drink exalted and supreme felicity from the same fountain of light
and goodness - that Being whom both will worship with the same
intensity of holy ardour - and where pure and happy creatures both
will love with the same divine affection? If you cannotnever
write to me!'

'HelenI can! if faith would never fail.'

'Nowthen' exclaimed she'while this hope is strong within us '


'We will part' I cried. 'You shall not have the pain of another
effort to dismiss me. I will go at once; but - '

I did not put my request in words: she understood it
instinctivelyand this time she yielded too - or ratherthere was
nothing so deliberate as requesting or yielding in the matter:
there was a sudden impulse that neither could resist. One moment I
stood and looked into her facethe next I held her to my heart
and we seemed to grow together in a close embrace from which no
physical or mental force could rend us. A whispered 'God bless
you!' and 'Go - go!' was all she said; but while she spoke she held
me so fast thatwithout violenceI could not have obeyed her. At
lengthhoweverby some heroic effortwe tore ourselves apart
and I rushed from the house.

I have a confused remembrance of seeing little Arthur running up
the garden-walk to meet meand of bolting over the wall to avoid
him - and subsequently running down the steep fieldsclearing the
stone fences and hedges as they came in my waytill I got
completely out of sight of the old hall and down to the bottom of
the hill; and then of long hours spent in bitter tears and
lamentationsand melancholy musings in the lonely valleywith the
eternal music in my earsof the west wind rushing through the
overshadowing treesand the brook babbling and gurgling along its
stony bed; my eyesfor the most partvacantly fixed on the deep
chequered shades restlessly playing over the bright sunny grass at
my feetwhere now and then a withered leaf or two would come
dancing to share the revelry; but my heart was away up the hill in
that dark room where she was weeping desolate and alone - she whom
I was not to comfortnot to see againtill years or suffering had
overcome us bothand torn our spirits from their perishing abodes
of clay.

There was little business done that dayyou may be sure. The farm
was abandoned to the labourersand the labourers were left to
their own devices. But one duty must be attended to; I had not
forgotten my assault upon Frederick Lawrence; and I must see him to
apologise for the unhappy deed. I would fain have put it off till
the morrow; but what if he should denounce me to his sister in the
meantime? Nono! I must ask his pardon to-dayand entreat him


to be lenient in his accusationif the revelation must be made. I
deferred ithowevertill the eveningwhen my spirits were more
composedand when - ohwonderful perversity of human nature! some
faint germs of indefinite hopes were beginning to rise in my
mind; not that I intended to cherish themafter all that had been
said on the subjectbut there they must lie for a whileuncrushed
though not encouragedtill I had learnt to live without them.

Arrived at Woodfordthe young squire's abodeI found no little
difficulty in obtaining admission to his presence. The servant
that opened the door told me his master was very illand seemed to
think it doubtful whether he would be able to see me. I was not
going to be baulkedhowever. I waited calmly in the hall to be
announcedbut inwardly determined to take no denial. The message
was such as I expected - a polite intimation that Mr. Lawrence
could see no one; he was feverishand must not be disturbed.

'I shall not disturb him long' said I; 'but I must see him for a
moment: it is on business of importance that I wish to speak to
him.'

'I'll tell himsir' said the man. And I advanced further into
the hall and followed him nearly to the door of the apartment where
his master was - for it seemed he was not in bed. The answer
returned was that Mr. Lawrence hoped I would be so good as to leave
a message or a note with the servantas he could attend to no
business at present.

'He may as well see me as you' said I; andstepping past the
astonished footmanI boldly rapped at the doorenteredand
closed it behind me. The room was spacious and handsomely
furnished - very comfortablytoofor a bachelor. A clearred
fire was burning in the polished grate: a superannuated greyhound
given up to idleness and good livinglay basking before it on the
thicksoft rugon one corner of whichbeside the sofasat a
smart young springerlooking wistfully up in its master's face perhaps
asking permission to share his couchorit might beonly
soliciting a caress from his hand or a kind word from his lips.
The invalid himself looked very interesting as he lay reclining
therein his elegant dressing-gownwith a silk handkerchief bound
across his temples. His usually pale face was flushed and
feverish; his eyes were half closeduntil he became sensible of my
presence - and then he opened them wide enough: one hand was
thrown listlessly over the back of the sofaand held a small
volumewith whichapparentlyhe had been vainly attempting to
beguile the weary hours. He dropped ithoweverin his start of
indignant surprise as I advanced into the room and stood before him
on the rug. He raised himself on his pillowsand gazed upon me
with equal degrees of nervous horrorangerand amazement depicted
on his countenance.

'Mr. MarkhamI scarcely expected this!' he said; and the blood
left his cheek as he spoke.

'I know you didn't' answered I; 'but be quiet a minuteand I'll
tell you what I came for.' UnthinkinglyI advanced a step or two
nearer. He winced at my approachwith an expression of aversion
and instinctive physical fear anything but conciliatory to my
feelings. I stepped backhowever.

'Make your story a short one' said heputting his hand on the
small silver bell that stood on the table beside him'or I shall
be obliged to call for assistance. I am in no state to bear your
brutalities nowor your presence either.' And in truth the


moisture started from his pores and stood on his pale forehead like
dew.

Such a reception was hardly calculated to diminish the difficulties
of my unenviable task. It must be performed howeverin some
fashion; and so I plunged into it at onceand floundered through
it as I could.

'The truth isLawrence' said I'I have not acted quite correctly
towards you of late - especially on this last occasion; and I'm
come to - in shortto express my regret for what has been done
and to beg your pardon. If you don't choose to grant it' I added
hastilynot liking the aspect of his face'it's no matter; only
I've done my duty - that's all.'

'It's easily done' replied hewith a faint smile bordering on a
sneer: 'to abuse your friend and knock him on the head without any
assignable causeand then tell him the deed was not quite correct
but it's no matter whether he pardons it or not.'

'I forgot to tell you that it was in consequence of a mistake' muttered
I. 'I should have made a very handsome apologybut you
provoked me so confoundedly with your -. WellI suppose it's my
fault. The fact isI didn't know that you were Mrs. Graham's
brotherand I saw and heard some things respecting your conduct
towards her which were calculated to awaken unpleasant suspicions
thatallow me to saya little candour and confidence on your part
might have removed; andat lastI chanced to overhear a part of a
conversation between you and her that made me think I had a right
to hate you.'

'And how came you to know that I was her brother?' asked hein
some anxiety.

'She told me herself. She told me all. She knew I might be
trusted. But you needn't disturb yourself about thatMr.
Lawrencefor I've seen the last of her!'

'The last! Is she gonethen?'

'No; but she has bid adieu to meand I have promised never to go
near that house again while she inhabits it.' I could have groaned
aloud at the bitter thoughts awakened by this turn in the
discourse. But I only clenched my hands and stamped my foot upon
the rug. My companionhoweverwas evidently relieved.

'You have done right' he saidin a tone of unqualified
approbationwhile his face brightened into almost a sunny
expression. 'And as for the mistakeI am sorry for both our sakes
that it should have occurred. Perhaps you can forgive my want of
candourand rememberas some partial mitigation of the offence
how little encouragement to friendly confidence you have given me
of late.'

'Yesyes - I remember it all: nobody can blame me more than I
blame myself in my own heart; at any ratenobody can regret more
sincerely than I do the result of my brutalityas you rightly term
it.'

'Never mind that' said hefaintly smiling; 'let us forget all
unpleasant words on both sidesas well as deedsand consign to
oblivion everything that we have cause to regret. Have you any
objection to take my handor you'd rather not?' It trembled
through weakness as he held it outand dropped before I had time


to catch it and give it a hearty squeezewhich he had not the
strength to return.

'How dry and burning your hand isLawrence' said I. 'You are
really illand I have made you worse by all this talk.'

'Ohit is nothing; only a cold got by the rain.'

'My doingtoo.'

'Never mind that. But tell medid you mention this affair to my
sister?'

'To confess the truthI had not the courage to do so; but when you
tell herwill you just say that I deeply regret itand - ?'

'Ohnever fear! I shall say nothing against youas long as you
keep your good resolution of remaining aloof from her. She has not
heard of my illnessthenthat you are aware of?'

'I think not.'

'I'm glad of thatfor I have been all this time tormenting myself
with the fear that somebody would tell her I was dyingor
desperately illand she would be either distressing herself on
account of her inability to hear from me or do me any goodor
perhaps committing the madness of coming to see me. I must
contrive to let her know something about itif I can' continued
hereflectively'or she will be hearing some such story. Many
would be glad to tell her such newsjust to see how she would take
it; and then she might expose herself to fresh scandal.'

'I wish I had told her' said I. 'If it were not for my promiseI
would tell her now.'

'By no means! I am not dreaming of that; - but if I were to write
a short notenownot mentioning youMarkhambut just giving a
slight account of my illnessby way of excuse for my not coming to
see herand to put her on her guard against any exaggerated
reports she may hear- and address it in a disguised hand - would
you do me the favour to slip it into the post-office as you pass?
for I dare not trust any of the servants in such a case.'

Most willingly I consentedand immediately brought him his desk.
There was little need to disguise his handfor the poor fellow
seemed to have considerable difficulty in writing at allso as to
be legible. When the note was doneI thought it time to retire
and took leaveafter asking if there was anything in the world I
could do for himlittle or greatin the way of alleviating his
sufferingsand repairing the injury I had done.

'No' said he; 'you have already done much towards it; you have
done more for me than the most skilful physician could do: for you
have relieved my mind of two great burdens - anxiety on my sister's
accountand deep regret upon your own: for I do believe these two
sources of torment have had more effect in working me up into a
fever than anything else; and I am persuaded I shall soon recover
now. There is one more thing you can do for meand that iscome
and see me now and then - for you see I am very lonely hereand I
promise your entrance shall not be disputed again.'

I engaged to do soand departed with a cordial pressure of the
hand. I posted the letter on my way homemost manfully resisting
the temptation of dropping in a word from myself at the same time.


CHAPTER XLVI

I felt strongly temptedat timesto enlighten my mother and
sister on the real character and circumstances of the persecuted
tenant of Wildfell Halland at first I greatly regretted having
omitted to ask that lady's permission to do so; buton due
reflectionI considered that if it were known to themit could
not long remain a secret to the Millwards and Wilsonsand such was
my present appreciation of Eliza Millward's dispositionthatif
once she got a clue to the storyI should fear she would soon find
means to enlighten Mr. Huntingdon upon the place of his wife's
retreat. I would therefore wait patiently till these weary six
months were overand thenwhen the fugitive had found another
homeand I was permitted to write to herI would beg to be
allowed to clear her name from these vile calumnies: at present I
must content myself with simply asserting that I knew them to be
falseand would prove it some dayto the shame of those who
slandered her. I don't think anybody believed mebut everybody
soon learned to avoid insinuating a word against heror even
mentioning her name in my presence. They thought I was so madly
infatuated by the seductions of that unhappy lady that I was
determined to support her in the very face of reason; and meantime
I grow insupportably morose and misanthropical from the idea that
every one I met was harbouring unworthy thoughts of the supposed
Mrs. Grahamand would express them if he dared. My poor mother
was quite distressed about me; but I couldn't help it - at least I
thought I could notthough sometimes I felt a pang of remorse for
my undutiful conduct to herand made an effort to amendattended
with some partial success; and indeed I was generally more
humanised in my demeanour to her than to any one elseMr. Lawrence
excepted. Rose and Fergus usually shunned my presence; and it was
well they didfor I was not fit company for themnor they for me
under the present circumstances.

Mrs. Huntingdon did not leave Wildfell Hall till above two months
after our farewell interview. During that time she never appeared
at churchand I never went near the house: I only knew she was
still there by her brother's brief answers to my many and varied
inquiries respecting her. I was a very constant and attentive
visitor to him throughout the whole period of his illness and
convalescence; not only from the interest I took in his recovery
and my desire to cheer him up and make the utmost possible amends
for my former 'brutality' but from my growing attachment to
himselfand the increasing pleasure I found in his society partly
from his increased cordiality to mebut chiefly on account
of his close connectionboth in blood and in affectionwith my
adored Helen. I loved him for it better than I liked to express:
and I took a secret delight in pressing those slender white
fingersso marvellously like her ownconsidering he was not a
womanand in watching the passing changes in his fairpale
featuresand observing the intonations of his voicedetecting
resemblances which I wondered had never struck me before. He
provoked me at timesindeedby his evident reluctance to talk to
me about his sisterthough I did not question the friendliness of
his motives in wishing to discourage my remembrance of her.

His recovery was not quite so rapid as he had expected it to be; he
was not able to mount his pony till a fortnight after the date of
our reconciliation; and the first use he made of his returning


strength was to ride over by night to Wildfell Hallto see his
sister. It was a hazardous enterprise both for him and for her
but he thought it necessary to consult with her on the subject of
her projected departureif not to calm her apprehensions
respecting his healthand the worst result was a slight relapse of
his illnessfor no one knew of the visit but the inmates of the
old Hallexcept myself; and I believe it had not been his
intention to mention it to mefor when I came to see him the next
dayand observed he was not so well as he ought to have beenhe
merely said he had caught cold by being out too late in the
evening.

'You'll never be able to see your sisterif you don't take care of
yourself' said Ia little provoked at the circumstance on her
accountinstead of commiserating him.

'I've seen her already' said hequietly.

'You've seen her!' cried Iin astonishment.

'Yes.' And then he told me what considerations had impelled him to
make the ventureand with what precautions he had made it.

'And how was she?' I eagerly asked.

'As usual' was the brief though sad reply.

'As usual - that isfar from happy and far from strong.'

'She is not positively ill' returned he; 'and she will recover her
spirits in a whileI have no doubt - but so many trials have been
almost too much for her. How threatening those clouds look'
continued heturning towards the window. 'We shall have thundershowers
before nightI imagineand they are just in the midst of
stacking my corn. Have you got yours all in yet?'

'No. AndLawrencedid she - did your sister mention me?'

'She asked if I had seen you lately.'

'And what else did she say?'

'I cannot tell you all she said' replied hewith a slight smile;
'for we talked a good dealthough my stay was but short; but our
conversation was chiefly on the subject of her intended departure
which I begged her to delay till I was better able to assist her in
her search after another home.'

'But did she say no more about me?'

'She did not say much about youMarkham. I should not have
encouraged her to do sohad she been inclined; but happily she was
not: she only asked a few questions concerning youand seemed
satisfied with my brief answerswherein she showed herself wiser
than her friend; and I may tell youtoothat she seemed to be far
more anxious lest you should think too much of herthan lest you
should forget her.'

'She was right.'

'But I fear your anxiety is quite the other way respecting her.'

'Noit is not: I wish her to be happy; but I don't wish her to
forget me altogether. She knows it is impossible that I should


forget her; and she is right to wish me not to remember her too
well. I should not desire her to regret me too deeply; but I can
scarcely imagine she will make herself very unhappy about me
because I know I am not worthy of itexcept in my appreciation of
her.'

'You are neither of you worthy of a broken heart- nor of all the
sighsand tearsand sorrowful thoughts that have beenand I fear
will bewasted upon you both; butat presenteach has a more
exalted opinion of the other thanI fearhe or she deserves; and
my sister's feelings are naturally full as keen as yoursand I
believe more constant; but she has the good sense and fortitude to
strive against them in this particular; and I trust she will not
rest till she has entirely weaned her thoughts - ' he hesitated.

'From me' said I.

'And I wish you would make the like exertions' continued he.

'Did she tell you that that was her intention?'

'No; the question was not broached between us: there was no
necessity for itfor I had no doubt that such was her
determination.'

'To forget me?'

'YesMarkham! Why not?'

'Ohwell!' was my only audible reply; but I internally answered'
NoLawrenceyou're wrong there: she is not determined to forget
me. It would be wrong to forget one so deeply and fondly devoted
to herwho can so thoroughly appreciate her excellenciesand
sympathise with all her thoughtsas I can doand it would be
wrong in me to forget so excellent and divine a piece of God's
creation as shewhen I have once so truly loved and known her.'
But I said no more to him on that subject. I instantly started a
new topic of conversationand soon took leave of my companion
with a feeling of less cordiality towards him than usual. Perhaps
I had no right to be annoyed at himbut I was so nevertheless.

In little more than a week after this I met him returning from a
visit to the Wilsons'; and I now resolved to do him a good turn
though at the expense of his feelingsand perhaps at the risk of
incurring that displeasure which is so commonly the reward of those
who give disagreeable informationor tender their advice unasked.
In thisbelieve meI was actuated by no motives of revenge for
the occasional annoyances I had lately sustained from him- nor
yet by any feeling of malevolent enmity towards Miss Wilsonbut
purely by the fact that I could not endure that such a woman should
be Mrs. Huntingdon's sisterand thatas well for his own sake as
for hersI could not bear to think of his being deceived into a
union with one so unworthy of himand so utterly unfitted to be
the partner of his quiet homeand the companion of his life. He
had had uncomfortable suspicions on that head himselfI imagined;
but such was his inexperienceand such were the lady's powers of
attractionand her skill in bringing them to bear upon his young
imaginationthat they had not disturbed him long; and I believe
the only effectual causes of the vacillating indecision that had
preserved him hitherto from making an actual declaration of love
was the consideration of her connectionsand especially of her
motherwhom he could not abide. Had they lived at a distancehe
might have surmounted the objectionbut within two or three miles
of Woodford it was really no light matter.


'You've been to call on the WilsonsLawrence' said Ias I walked
beside his pony.

'Yes' replied heslightly averting his face: 'I thought it but
civil to take the first opportunity of returning their kind
attentionssince they have been so very particular and constant in
their inquiries throughout the whole course of my illness.'

'It's all Miss Wilson's doing.'

'And if it is' returned hewith a very perceptible blush'is
that any reason why I should not make a suitable acknowledgment?'

'It is a reason why you should not make the acknowledgment she
looks for.'

'Let us drop that subject if you please' said hein evident
displeasure.

'NoLawrencewith your leave we'll continue it a while longer;
and I'll tell you somethingnow we're about itwhich you may
believe or not as you choose - only please to remember that it is
not my custom to speak falselyand that in this case I can have no
motive for misrepresenting the truth - '

'WellMarkhamwhat now?'

'Miss Wilson hates your sister. It may be natural enough thatin
her ignorance of the relationshipshe should feel some degree of
enmity against herbut no good or amiable woman would be capable
of evincing that bittercold-bloodeddesigning malice towards a
fancied rival that I have observed in her.'

'Markham!'

'Yes - and it is my belief that Eliza Millward and sheif not the
very originators of the slanderous reports that have been
propagatedwere designedly the encouragers and chief disseminators
of them. She was not desirous to mix up your name in the matter
of coursebut her delight wasand still isto blacken your
sister's character to the utmost of her powerwithout risking too
greatly the exposure of her own malevolence!'

'I cannot believe it' interrupted my companionhis face burning
with indignation.

'Wellas I cannot prove itI must content myself with asserting
that it is so to the best of my belief; but as you would not
willingly marry Miss Wilson if it were soyou will do well to be
cautioustill you have proved it to be otherwise.'

'I never told youMarkhamthat I intended to marry Miss Wilson'
said heproudly.

'Nobut whether you do or notshe intends to marry you.'

'Did she tell you so?'

'Nobut - '

'Then you have no right to make such an assertion respecting her.'
He slightly quickened his pony's pacebut I laid my hand on its
manedetermined he should not leave me yet.


'Wait a momentLawrenceand let me explain myself; and don't be
so very - I don't know what to call it - inaccessible as you are. I
know what you think of Jane Wilson; and I believe I know how far
you are mistaken in your opinion: you think she is singularly
charmingelegantsensibleand refined: you are not aware that
she is selfishcold-heartedambitiousartfulshallow-minded - '

'EnoughMarkham - enough!'

'No; let me finish:- you don't know thatif you married heryour
home would be rayless and comfortless; and it would break your
heart at last to find yourself united to one so wholly incapable of
sharing your tastesfeelingsand ideas - so utterly destitute of
sensibilitygood feelingand true nobility of soul.'

'Have you done?' asked my companion quietly.

'Yes; - I know you hate me for my impertinencebut I don't care if
it only conduces to preserve you from that fatal mistake.'

'Well!' returned hewith a rather wintry smile - 'I'm glad you
have overcome or forgotten your own afflictions so far as to be
able to study so deeply the affairs of othersand trouble your
head so unnecessarily about the fancied or possible calamities of
their future life.'

We parted - somewhat coldly again: but still we did not cease to
be friends; and my well-meant warningthough it might have been
more judiciously deliveredas well as more thankfully received
was not wholly unproductive of the desired effect: his visit to
the Wilsons was not repeatedand thoughin our subsequent
interviewshe never mentioned her name to menor I to him- I
have reason to believe he pondered my words in his mindeagerly
though covertly sought information respecting the fair lady from
other quarterssecretly compared my character of her with what he
had himself observed and what he heard from othersand finally
came to the conclusion thatall things consideredshe had much
better remain Miss Wilson of Ryecote Farm than be transmuted into
Mrs. Lawrence of Woodford Hall. I believetoothat he soon
learned to contemplate with secret amazement his former
predilectionand to congratulate himself on the lucky escape he
had made; but he never confessed it to meor hinted one word of
acknowledgment for the part I had had in his deliverancebut this
was not surprising to any one that knew him as I did.

As for Jane Wilsonsheof coursewas disappointed and embittered
by the sudden cold neglect and ultimate desertion of her former
admirer. Had I done wrong to blight her cherished hopes? I think
not; and certainly my conscience has never accused mefrom that
day to thisof any evil design in the matter.

CHAPTER XLVII

One morningabout the beginning of Novemberwhile I was inditing
some business lettersshortly after breakfastEliza Millward came
to call upon my sister. Rose had neither the discrimination nor
the virulence to regard the little demon as I didand they still
preserved their former intimacy. At the moment of her arrival
howeverthere was no one in the room but Fergus and myselfmy


mother and sister being both of them absent'on household cares
intent'; but I was not going to lay myself out for her amusement
whoever else might so incline: I merely honoured her with a
careless salutation and a few words of courseand then went on
with my writingleaving my brother to be more polite if he chose.
But she wanted to tease me.

'What a pleasure it is to find you at homeMr. Markham!' said she
with a disingenuously malicious smile. 'I so seldom see you now
for you never come to the vicarage. Papais quite offendedI can
tell you' she added playfullylooking into my face with an
impertinent laughas she seated herselfhalf beside and half
before my deskoff the corner of the table.

'I have had a good deal to do of late' said Iwithout looking up
from my letter.

'Have youindeed! Somebody said you had been strangely neglecting
your business these last few months.'

'Somebody said wrongforthese last two months especiallyI have
been particularly plodding and diligent.'

'Ah! wellthere's nothing like active employmentI supposeto
console the afflicted; - andexcuse meMr. Markhambut you look
so very far from welland have beenby all accountsso moody and
thoughtful of late- I could almost think you have some secret
care preying on your spirits. Formerly' said she timidly'I
could have ventured to ask you what it wasand what I could do to
comfort you: I dare not do it now.'

'You're very kindMiss Eliza. When I think you can do anything to
comfort meI'll make bold to tell you.'

'Pray do! - I suppose I mayn't guess what it is that troubles you?'

'There's no necessityfor I'll tell you plainly. The thing that
troubles me the most at present is a young lady sitting at my
elbowand preventing me from finishing my letterandthereafter
repairing to my daily business.'

Before she could reply to this ungallant speechRose entered the
room; and Miss Eliza rising to greet herthey both seated
themselves near the firewhere that idle lad Fergus was standing
leaning his shoulder against the corner of the chimney-piecewith
his legs crossed and his hands in his breeches-pockets.

'NowRoseI'll tell you a piece of news - I hope you have not
heard it before: for goodbador indifferentone always likes
to be the first to tell. It's about that sad Mrs. Graham - '

'Hush-sh-sh!' whispered Fergusin a tone of solemn import. '"We
never mention her; her name is never heard."' And glancing upI
caught him with his eye askance on meand his finger pointed to
his forehead; thenwinking at the young lady with a doleful shake
of the headbe whispered - 'A monomania - but don't mention it all
right but that.'

'I should be sorry to injure any one's feelings' returned she
speaking below her breath. 'Another timeperhaps.'

'Speak outMiss Eliza!' said Inot deigning to notice the other's
buffooneries: 'you needn't fear to say anything in my presence.'


'Well' answered she'perhaps you know already that Mrs. Graham's
husband is not really deadand that she had run away from him?' I
startedand felt my face glow; but I bent it over my letterand
went on folding it up as she proceeded. 'But perhaps you did not
know that she is now gone back to him againand that a perfect
reconciliation has taken place between them? Only think' she
continuedturning to the confounded Rose'what a fool the man
must be!'

'And who gave you this piece of intelligenceMiss Eliza?' said I
interrupting my sister's exclamations.

'I had it from a very authentic source.'

'From whommay I ask?'

'From one of the servants at Woodford.'

'Oh! I was not aware that you were on such intimate terms with Mr.
Lawrence's household.'

'It was not from the man himself that I heard itbut he told it in
confidence to our maid Sarahand Sarah told it to me.'

'In confidenceI suppose? And you tell it in confidence to us?
But I can tell you that it is but a lame story after alland
scarcely one-half of it true.'

While I spoke I completed the sealing and direction of my letters
with a somewhat unsteady handin spite of all my efforts to retain
composureand in spite of my firm conviction that the story was a
lame one - that the supposed Mrs. Grahammost certainlyhad not
voluntarily gone back to her husbandor dreamt of a
reconciliation. Most likely she was gone awayand the talebearing
servantnot knowing what was become of herhad
conjectured that such was the caseand our fair visitor had
detailed it as a certaintydelighted with such an opportunity of
tormenting me. But it was possible - barely possible - that some
one might have betrayed herand she had been taken away by force.
Determined to know the worstI hastily pocketed my two letters
and muttered something about being too late for the postleft the
roomrushed into the yardand vociferously called for my horse.
No one being thereI dragged him out of the stable myself
strapped the saddle on to his back and the bridle on to his head
mountedand speedily galloped away to Woodford. I found its owner
pensively strolling in the grounds.

'Is your sister gone?' were my first words as I grasped his hand
instead of the usual inquiry after his health.

'Yesshe's gone' was his answerso calmly spoken that my terror
was at once removed.

'I suppose I mayn't know where she is?' said Ias I dismounted
and relinquished my horse to the gardenerwhobeing the only
servant within callhad been summoned by his masterfrom his
employment of raking up the dead leaves on the lawnto take him to
the stables.

My companion gravely took my armand leading me away to the
gardenthus answered my question- 'She is at Grassdale Manorin
-shire.'

'Where?' cried Iwith a convulsive start.


'At Grassdale Manor.'

'How was it?' I gasped. 'Who betrayed her?'

'She went of her own accord.'

'ImpossibleLawrence! She could not be so frantic!' exclaimed I
vehemently grasping his armas if to force him to unsay those
hateful words.

'She did' persisted he in the same gravecollected manner as
before; 'and not without reason' he continuedgently disengaging
himself from my grasp. 'Mr. Huntingdon is ill.'

'And so she went to nurse him?'

'Yes.'

'Fool!' I could not help exclaimingand Lawrence looked up with a
rather reproachful glance. 'Is he dyingthen?'

'I think notMarkham.'

'And how many more nurses has he? How many ladies are there
besides to take care of him?'

'None; he was aloneor she would not have gone.'

'Ohconfound it! This is intolerable!'

'What is? That he should be alone?'

I attempted no replyfor I was not sure that this circumstance did
not partly conduce to my distraction. I therefore continued to
pace the walk in silent anguishwith my hand pressed to my
forehead; then suddenly pausing and turning to my companionI
impatiently exclaimed'Why did she take this infatuated step?
What fiend persuaded her to it?'

'Nothing persuaded her but her own sense of duty.'

'Humbug!'

'I was half inclined to say so myselfMarkhamat first. I assure
you it was not by my advice that she wentfor I detest that man as
fervently as you can do- exceptindeedthat his reformation
would give me much greater pleasure than his death; but all I did
was to inform her of the circumstance of his illness (the
consequence of a fall from his horse in hunting)and to tell her
that that unhappy personMiss Myershad left him some time ago.'

'It was ill done! Nowwhen he finds the convenience of her
presencehe will make all manner of lying speeches and falsefair
promises for the futureand she will believe himand then her
condition will be ten times worse and ten times more irremediable
than before.'

'There does not appear to be much ground for such apprehensions at
present' said heproducing a letter from his pocket. 'From the
account I received this morningI should say - '

It was her writing! By an irresistible impulse I held out my hand
and the words'Let me see it' involuntarily passed my lips. He


was evidently reluctant to grant the requestbut while he
hesitated I snatched it from his hand. Recollecting myself
howeverthe minute afterI offered to restore it.

'Heretake it' said I'if you don't want me to read it.'

'No' replied he'you may read it if you like.'

I read itand so may you.

GrassdaleNov. 4th.

Dear Frederick- I know you will be anxious to hear from meand I
will tell you all I can. Mr. Huntingdon is very illbut not
dyingor in any immediate danger; and he is rather better at
present than he was when I came. I found the house in sad
confusion: Mrs. GreavesBensonevery decent servant had left
and those that were come to supply their places were a negligent
disorderly setto say no worse - I must change them againif I
stay. A professional nursea grimhard old womanhad been hired
to attend the wretched invalid. He suffers muchand has no
fortitude to bear him through. The immediate injuries he sustained
from the accidenthoweverwere not very severeand wouldas the
doctor sayshave been but trifling to a man of temperate habits
but with him it is very different. On the night of my arrival
when I first entered his roomhe was lying in a kind of half
delirium. He did not notice me till I spokeand then he mistook
me for another.

'Is it youAlicecome again?' he murmured. 'What did you leave
me for?'

'It is IArthur - it is Helenyour wife' I replied.

'My wife!' said hewith a start. 'For heaven's sakedon't
mention her - I have none. Devil take her' he crieda moment
after'and youtoo! What did you do it for?'

I said no more; but observing that he kept gazing towards the foot
of the bedI went and sat thereplacing the light so as to shine
full upon mefor I thought he might be dyingand I wanted him to
know me. For a long time he lay silently looking upon mefirst
with a vacant starethen with a fixed gaze of strange growing
intensity. At last he startled me by suddenly raising himself on
his elbow and demanding in a horrified whisperwith his eyes still
fixed upon me'Who is it?'

'It is Helen Huntingdon' said Iquietly rising at the same time
and removing to a less conspicuous position.

'I must be going mad' cried he'or something - delirious
perhaps; but leave mewhoever you are. I can't bear that white
faceand those eyes. For God's sake goand send me somebody else
that doesn't look like that!'

I went at onceand sent the hired nurse; but next morning I
ventured to enter his chamber againandtaking the nurse's place
by his bedsideI watched him and waited on him for several hours
showing myself as little as possibleand only speaking when
necessaryand then not above my breath. At first he addressed me
as the nursebuton my crossing the room to draw up the windowblinds
in obedience to his directionshe said'Noit isn't
nurse; it's Alice. Stay with medo! That old hag will be the


death of me.'

'I mean to stay with you' said I. And after that he would call me
Aliceor some other name almost equally repugnant to my feelings.
I forced myself to endure it for a whilefearing a contradiction
might disturb him too much; but whenhaving asked for a glass of
waterwhile I held it to his lipshe murmured'Thanksdearest!'
I could not help distinctly observing'You would not say so if you
knew me' intending to follow that up with another declaration of
my identity; but he merely muttered an incoherent replyso I
dropped it againtill some time afterwhenas I was bathing his
forehead and temples with vinegar and water to relieve the heat and
pain in his headhe observedafter looking earnestly upon me for
some minutes'I have such strange fancies - I can't get rid of
themand they won't let me rest; and the most singular and
pertinacious of them all is your face and voice - they seem just
like hers. I could swear at this moment that she was by my side.'

'She is' said I.

'That seems comfortable' continued hewithout noticing my words;
'and while you do itthe other fancies fade away - but this only
strengthens. - Go on - go ontill it vanishestoo. I can't stand
such a mania as this; it would kill me!'

'It never will vanish' said Idistinctly'for it is the truth!'

'The truth!' he criedstartingas if an asp had stung him. 'You
don't mean to say that you are really she?'

'I do; but you needn't shrink away from meas if I were your
greatest enemy: I am come to take care of youand do what none of
them would do.'

'For God's sakedon't torment me now!' cried he in pitiable
agitation; and then he began to mutter bitter curses against meor
the evil fortune that had brought me there; while I put down the
sponge and basinand resumed my seat at the bed-side.

'Where are they?' said he: 'have they all left me - servants and
all?'

'There are servants within call if you want them; but you had
better lie down now and be quiet: none of them could or would
attend you as carefully as I shall do.'

'I can't understand it at all' said hein bewildered perplexity.
'Was it a dream that - ' and he covered his eyes with his handsas
if trying to unravel the mystery.

'NoArthurit was not a dreamthat your conduct was such as to
oblige me to leave you; but I heard that you were ill and alone
and I am come back to nurse you. You need not fear to trust me
tell me all your wantsand I will try to satisfy them. There is
no one else to care for you; and I shall not upbraid you now.'

'Oh! I see' said hewith a bitter smile; 'it's an act of
Christian charitywhereby you hope to gain a higher seat in heaven
for yourselfand scoop a deeper pit in hell for me.'

'No; I came to offer you that comfort and assistance your situation
required; and if I could benefit your soul as well as your body
and awaken some sense of contrition and - '


'Ohyes; if you could overwhelm me with remorse and confusion of
facenow's the time. What have you done with my son?'

'He is welland you may see him some timeif you will compose
yourselfbut not now.'

'Where is he?'

'He is safe.'

'Is he here?'

'Wherever he isyou will not see him till you have promised to
leave him entirely under my care and protectionand to let me take
him away whenever and wherever I pleaseif I should hereafter
judge it necessary to remove him again. But we will talk of that
to-morrow: you must be quiet now.'

'Nolet me see him nowI promiseif it must be so.'

'No - '

'I swear itas God is in heaven! Nowthenlet me see him.'

'But I cannot trust your oaths and promises: I must have a written
agreementand you must sign it in presence of a witness: but not
to-day - to-morrow.'

'Noto-day; now' persisted he: and he was in such a state of
feverish excitementand so bent upon the immediate gratification
of his wishthat I thought it better to grant it at onceas I saw
he would not rest till I did. But I was determined my son's
interest should not be forgotten; and having clearly written out
the promise I wished Mr. Huntingdon to give upon a slip of paperI
deliberately read it over to himand made him sign it in the
presence of Rachel. He begged I would not insist upon this: it
was a useless exposure of my want of faith in his word to the
servant. I told him I was sorrybut since he had forfeited my
confidencehe must take the consequence. He next pleaded
inability to hold the pen. 'Then we must wait until you can hold
it' said I. Upon which he said he would try; but then he could
not see to write. I placed my finger where the signature was to
beand told him he might write his name in the darkif he only
knew where to put it. But he had not power to form the letters.
'In that caseyou must be too ill to see the child' said I; and
finding me inexorablehe at length managed to ratify the
agreement; and I bade Rachel send the boy.

All this may strike you as harshbut I felt I must not lose my
present advantageand my son's future welfare should not be
sacrificed to any mistaken tenderness for this man's feelings.
Little Arthur had not forgotten his fatherbut thirteen months of
absenceduring which he had seldom been permitted to hear a word
about himor hardly to whisper his namehad rendered him somewhat
shy; and when he was ushered into the darkened room where the sick
man layso altered from his former selfwith fiercely flushed
face and wildly-gleaming eyes - he instinctively clung to meand
stood looking on his father with a countenance expressive of far
more awe than pleasure.

'Come hereArthur' said the latterextending his hand towards
him. The child wentand timidly touched that burning handbut
almost started in alarmwhen his father suddenly clutched his arm
and drew him nearer to his side.


'Do you know me?' asked Mr. Huntingdonintently perusing his
features.

'Yes.'

'Who am I?'

'Papa.'

'Are you glad to see me?'

'Yes.'

'You're not!' replied the disappointed parentrelaxing his hold
and darting a vindictive glance at me.

Arthurthus releasedcrept back to me and put his hand in mine.
His father swore I had made the child hate himand abused and
cursed me bitterly. The instant he began I sent our son out of the
room; and when he paused to breatheI calmly assured him that he
was entirely mistaken; I had never once attempted to prejudice his
child against him.

'I did indeed desire him to forget you' I said'and especially to
forget the lessons you taught him; and for that causeand to
lessen the danger of discoveryI own I have generally discouraged
his inclination to talk about you; but no one can blame me for
thatI think.'

The invalid only replied by groaning aloudand rolling his head on
a pillow in a paroxysm of impatience.

'I am in hellalready!' cried he. 'This cursed thirst is burning
my heart to ashes! Will nobody -?'

Before he could finish the sentence I had poured out a glass of
some acidulatedcooling drink that was on the tableand brought
it to him. He drank it greedilybut mutteredas I took away the
glass- 'I suppose you're heaping coals of fire on my headyou
think?'

Not noticing this speechI asked if there was anything else I
could do for him.

'Yes; I'll give you another opportunity of showing your Christian
magnanimity' sneered he: 'set my pillow straightand these
confounded bed-clothes.' I did so. 'There: now get me another
glass of that slop.' I complied. 'This is delightfulisn't it?'
said he with a malicious grinas I held it to his lips; 'you never
hoped for such a glorious opportunity?'

'Nowshall I stay with you?' said Ias I replaced the glass on
the table: 'or will you be more quiet if I go and send the nurse?'

'Ohyesyou're wondrous gentle and obliging! But you've driven
me mad with it all!' responded hewith an impatient toss.

'I'll leave youthen' said I; and I withdrewand did not trouble
him with my presence again that dayexcept for a minute or two at
a timejust to see how he was and what he wanted.

Next morning the doctor ordered him to be bled; and after that he
was more subdued and tranquil. I passed half the day in his room


at different intervals. My presence did not appear to agitate or
irritate him as beforeand he accepted my services quietly
without any bitter remarks: indeedhe scarcely spoke at all
except to make known his wantsand hardly then. But on the
morrowthat is to sayin proportion as he recovered from the
state of exhaustion and stupefactionhis ill-nature appeared to
revive.

'Ohthis sweet revenge!' cried hewhen I had been doing all I
could to make him comfortable and to remedy the carelessness of his
nurse. 'And you can enjoy it with such a quiet conscience too
because it's all in the way of duty.'

'It is well for me that I am doing my duty' said Iwith a
bitterness I could not repress'for it is the only comfort I have;
and the satisfaction of my own conscienceit seemsis the only
reward I need look for!'

He looked rather surprised at the earnestness of my manner.

'What reward did you look for?' he asked.

'You will think me a liar if I tell you; but I did hope to benefit
you: as well to better your mind as to alleviate your present
sufferings; but it appears I am to do neither; your own bad spirit
will not let me. As far as you are concernedI have sacrificed my
own feelingsand all the little earthly comfort that was left me
to no purpose; and every little thing I do for you is ascribed to
self-righteous malice and refined revenge!'

'It's all very fineI daresay' said heeyeing me with stupid
amazement; 'and of course I ought to be melted to tears of
penitence and admiration at the sight of so much generosity and
superhuman goodness; but you see I can't manage it. Howeverpray
do me all the good you canif you do really find any pleasure in
it; for you perceive I am almost as miserable just now as you need
wish to see me. Since you cameI confessI have had better
attendance than beforefor these wretches neglected me shamefully
and all my old friends seem to have fairly forsaken me. I've had a
dreadful time of itI assure you: I sometimes thought I should
have died: do you think there's any chance?'

'There's always a chance of death; and it is always well to live
with such a chance in view.'

'Yesyes! but do you think there's any likelihood that this
illness will have a fatal termination?'

'I cannot tell; butsupposing it shouldhow are you prepared to
meet the event?'

'Whythe doctor told me I wasn't to think about itfor I was sure
to get better if I stuck to his regimen and prescriptions.'

'I hope you mayArthur; but neither the doctor nor I can speak
with certainty in such a case; there is internal injuryand it is
difficult to know to what extent.'

'There now! you want to scare me to death.'

'No; but I don't want to lull you to false security. If a
consciousness of the uncertainty of life can dispose you to serious
and useful thoughtsI would not deprive you of the benefit of such
reflectionswhether you do eventually recover or not. Does the


idea of death appal you very much?'

'It's just the only thing I can't bear to think of; so if you've
any - '

'But it must come some time' interrupted I'and if it be years
henceit will as certainly overtake you as if it came to-dayand
no doubt be as unwelcome then as nowunless you - '

'Ohhang it! don't torment me with your preachments nowunless
you want to kill me outright. I can't stand itI tell you. I've
sufferings enough without that. If you think there's dangersave
me from it; and thenin gratitudeI'll hear whatever you like to
say.'

I accordingly dropped the unwelcome topic. And nowFrederickI
think I may bring my letter to a close. From these details you may
form your own judgment of the state of my patientand of my own
position and future prospects. Let me hear from you soonand I
will write again to tell you how we get on; but now that my
presence is toleratedand even requiredin the sick-roomI shall
have but little time to spare between my husband and my son- for
I must not entirely neglect the latter: it would not do to keep
him always with Racheland I dare not leave him for a moment with
any of the other servantsor suffer him to be alonelest he
should meet them. If his father get worseI shall ask Esther
Hargrave to take charge of him for a timetill I have reorganised
the household at least; but I greatly prefer keeping him under my
own eye.

I find myself in rather a singular position: I am exerting my
utmost endeavours to promote the recovery and reformation of my
husbandand if I succeedwhat shall I do? My dutyof coursebut
how? No matter; I can perform the task that is before me now
and God will give me strength to do whatever He requires hereafter.
Good-bydear Frederick.

HELEN HUNTINGDON.

'What do you think of it?' said Lawrenceas I silently refolded
the letter.

'It seems to me' returned I'that she is casting her pearls
before swine. May they be satisfied with trampling them under
their feetand not turn again and rend her! But I shall say no
more against her: I see that she was actuated by the best and
noblest motives in what she has done; and if the act is not a wise
onemay heaven protect her from its consequences! May I keep this
letterLawrence? - you see she has never once mentioned me
throughout - or made the most distant allusion to me; therefore
there can be no impropriety or harm in it.'

'Andthereforewhy should you wish to keep it?'

'Were not these characters written by her hand? and were not these
words conceived in her mindand many of them spoken by her lips?'

'Well' said he. And so I kept it; otherwiseHalfordyou could
never have become so thoroughly acquainted with its contents.

'And when you write' said I'will you have the goodness to ask
her if I may be permitted to enlighten my mother and sister on her
real history and circumstancejust so far as is necessary to make


the neighbourhood sensible of the shameful injustice they have done
her? I want no tender messagesbut just ask her thatand tell
her it is the greatest favour she could do me; and tell her - no
nothing more. You see I know the addressand I might write to her
myselfbut I am so virtuous as to refrain.'

'WellI'll do this for youMarkham.'

'And as soon as you receive an answeryou'll let me know?'

'If all be wellI'll come myself and tell you immediately.'

CHAPTER XLVIII

Five or six days after this Mr. Lawrence paid us the honour of a
call; and when he and I were alone together - which I contrived as
soon as possible by bringing him out to look at my cornstacks - he
showed me another letter from his sister. This one he was quite
willing to submit to my longing gaze; he thoughtI supposeit
would do me good. The only answer it gave to my message was this:


'Mr. Markham is at liberty to make such revelations concerning me
as he judges necessary. He will know that I should wish but little
to be said on the subject. I hope he is well; but tell him he must
not think of me.'

I can give you a few extracts from the rest of the letterfor I
was permitted to keep this also - perhapsas an antidote to all
pernicious hopes and fancies.

* * * * *

He is decidedly betterbut very low from the depressing effects of
his severe illness and the strict regimen he is obliged to observe

-so opposite to all his previous habits. It is deplorable to see
how completely his past life has degenerated his once noble
constitutionand vitiated the whole system of his organization.
But the doctor says he may now be considered out of dangerif he
will only continue to observe the necessary restrictions. Some
stimulating cordials he must havebut they should be judiciously
diluted and sparingly used; and I find it very difficult to keep
him to this. At firsthis extreme dread of death rendered the
task an easy one; but in proportion as he feels his acute suffering
abatingand sees the danger recedingthe more intractable he
becomes. Nowalsohis appetite for food is beginning to return;
and heretoohis long habits of self-indulgence are greatly
against him. I watch and restrain him as well as I canand often
get bitterly abused for my rigid severity; and sometimes he
contrives to elude my vigilanceand sometimes acts in opposition
to my will. But he is now so completely reconciled to my
attendance in general that he is never satisfied when I am not by
his side. I am obliged to be a little stiff with him sometimesor
he would make a complete slave of me; and I know it would be
unpardonable weakness to give up all other interests for him. I
have the servants to overlookand my little Arthur to attend toand
my own health tooall of which would be entirely neglected
were I to satisfy his exorbitant demands. I do not generally sit
up at nightfor I think the nurse who has made it her business is
better qualified for such undertakings than I am; - but stillan
unbroken night's rest is what I but seldom enjoyand never can

venture to reckon upon; for my patient makes no scruple of calling
me up at an hour when his wants or his fancies require my presence.
But he is manifestly afraid of my displeasure; and if at one time
he tries my patience by his unreasonable exactionsand fretful
complaints and reproachesat another he depresses me by his abject
submission and deprecatory self-abasement when he fears he has gone
too far. But all this I can readily pardon; I know it is chiefly
the result of his enfeebled frame and disordered nerves. What
annoys me the mostis his occasional attempts at affectionate
fondness that I can neither credit nor return; not that I hate him:
his sufferings and my own laborious care have given him some claim
to my regard - to my affection evenif he would only be quiet and
sincereand content to let things remain as they are; but the more
he tries to conciliate methe more I shrink from him and from the
future.

'Helenwhat do you mean to do when I get well?' he asked this
morning. 'Will you run away again?'

'It entirely depends upon your own conduct.'

'OhI'll be very good.'

'But if I find it necessary to leave youArthurI shall not "run
away": you know I have your own promise that I may go whenever I
pleaseand take my son with me.'

'Ohbut you shall have no cause.' And then followed a variety of
professionswhich I rather coldly checked.

'Will you not forgive methen?' said he.

'Yes- I have forgiven you: but I know you cannot love me as you
once did - and I should be very sorry if you were tofor I could
not pretend to return it: so let us drop the subjectand never
recur to it again. By what I have done for youyou may judge of
what I will do - if it be not incompatible with the higher duty I
owe to my son (higherbecause he never forfeited his claimsand
because I hope to do more good to him than I can ever do to you);
and if you wish me to feel kindly towards youit is deeds not
words which must purchase my affection and esteem.'

His sole reply to this was a slight grimaceand a scarcely
perceptible shrug. Alasunhappy man! wordswith himare so much
cheaper than deeds; it was as if I had said'Poundsnot pence
must buy the article you want.' And then he sighed a querulous
self-commiserating sighas if in pure regret that hethe loved
and courted of so many worshippersshould be now abandoned to the
mercy of a harshexactingcold-hearted woman like thatand even
glad of what kindness she chose to bestow.

'It's a pityisn't it?' said I; and whether I rightly divined his
musings or notthe observation chimed in with his thoughtsfor he
answered - 'It can't be helped' with a rueful smile at my
penetration.

* * * * *

I have I seen Esther Hargrave twice. She is a charming creature
but her blithe spirit is almost brokenand her sweet temper almost
spoiledby the still unremitting persecutions of her mother in
behalf of her rejected suitor - not violentbut wearisome and
unremitting like a continual dropping. The unnatural parent seems
determined to make her daughter's life a burdenif she will not


yield to her desires.

'Mamma does all she can' said she'to make me feel myself a
burden and incumbrance to the familyand the most ungrateful
selfishand undutiful daughter that ever was born; and Walter
toois as stern and cold and haughty as if he hated me outright.
I believe I should have yielded at once if I had knownfrom the
beginninghow much resistance would have cost me; but nowfor
very obstinacy's sakeI will stand out!'

'A bad motive for a good resolve' I answered. 'ButhoweverI
know you have better motivesreallyfor your perseverance: and I
counsel you to keep them still in view.'

'Trust me I will. I threaten mamma sometimes that I'll run away
and disgrace the family by earning my own livelihoodif she
torments me any more; and then that frightens her a little. But I
will do itin good earnestif they don't mind.'

'Be quiet and patient a while' said I'and better times will
come.'

Poor girl! I wish somebody that was worthy to possess her would
come and take her away - don't youFrederick?

* * * * *

If the perusal of this letter filled me with dismay for Helen's
future life and minethere was one great source of consolation:
it was now in my power to clear her name from every foul aspersion.
The Millwards and the Wilsons should see with their own eyes the
bright sun bursting from the cloud - and they should be scorched
and dazzled by its beams; - and my own friends too should see it they
whose suspicions had been such gall and wormwood to my soul.
To effect this I had only to drop the seed into the groundand it
would soon become a statelybranching herb: a few words to my
mother and sisterI knewwould suffice to spread the news
throughout the whole neighbourhoodwithout any further exertion on
my part.

Rose was delighted; and as soon as I had told her all I thought
proper - which was all I affected to know - she flew with alacrity
to put on her bonnet and shawland hasten to carry the glad
tidings to the Millwards and Wilsons - glad tidingsI suspectto
none but herself and Mary Millward - that steadysensible girl
whose sterling worth had been so quickly perceived and duly valued
by the supposed Mrs. Grahamin spite of her plain outside; and
whoon her parthad been better able to see and appreciate that
lady's true character and qualities than the brightest genius among
them.

As I may never have occasion to mention her againI may as well
tell you here that she was at this time privately engaged to
Richard Wilson - a secretI believeto every one but themselves.
That worthy student was now at Cambridgewhere his most exemplary
conduct and his diligent perseverance in the pursuit of learning
carried him safely throughand eventually brought him with hardearned
honoursand an untarnished reputationto the close of his
collegiate career. In due time he became Mr. Millward's first and
only curate - for that gentleman's declining years forced him at
last to acknowledge that the duties of his extensive parish were a
little too much for those vaunted energies which he was wont to
boast over his younger and less active brethren of the cloth. This
was what the patientfaithful lovers had privately planned and


quietly waited for years ago; and in due time they were unitedto
the astonishment of the little world they lived inthat had long
since declared them both born to single blessedness; affirming it
impossible that the paleretiring bookworm should ever summon
courage to seek a wifeor be able to obtain one if he didand
equally impossible that the plain-lookingplain-dealing
unattractiveunconciliating Miss Millward should ever find a
husband.

They still continued to live at the vicaragethe lady dividing her
time between her fatherher husbandand their poor parishioners

-and subsequently her rising family; and now that the Reverend
Michael Millward has been gathered to his fathersfull of years
and honoursthe Reverend Richard Wilson has succeeded him to the
vicarage of Linden-hopegreatly to the satisfaction of its
inhabitantswho had so long tried and fully proved his meritsand
those of his excellent and well-loved partner.
If you are interested in the after fate of that lady's sisterI
can only tell you - what perhaps you have heard from another
quarter - that some twelve or thirteen years ago she relieved the
happy couple of her presence by marrying a wealthy tradesman of L-;
and I don't envy him his bargain. I fear she leads him a rather
uncomfortable lifethoughhappilyhe is too dull to perceive the
extent of his misfortune. I have little enough to do with her
myself: we have not met for many years; butI am well assured
she has not yet forgotten or forgiven either her former loveror
the lady whose superior qualities first opened his eyes to the
folly of his boyish attachment.

As for Richard Wilson's sistershehaving been wholly unable to
recapture Mr. Lawrenceor obtain any partner rich and elegant
enough to suit her ideas of what the husband of Jane Wilson ought
to beis yet in single blessedness. Shortly after the death of
her mother she withdrew the light of her presence from Ryecote
Farmfinding it impossible any longer to endure the rough manners
and unsophisticated habits of her honest brother Robert and his
worthy wifeor the idea of being identified with such vulgar
people in the eyes of the worldand took lodgings in - the county
townwhere she livedand still livesI supposein a kind of
close-fistedcolduncomfortable gentilitydoing no good to
othersand but little to herself; spending her days in fancy-work
and scandal; referring frequently to her 'brother the vicar' and
her 'sisterthe vicar's lady' but never to her brother the farmer
and her sister the farmer's wife; seeing as much company as she can
without too much expensebut loving no one and beloved by none a
cold-heartedsuperciliouskeenlyinsidiously censorious old
maid.

CHAPTER XLIX

Though Mr. Lawrence's health was now quite re-establishedmy
visits to Woodford were as unremitting as ever; though often less
protracted than before. We seldom talked about Mrs. Huntingdon;
but yet we never met without mentioning herfor I never sought his
company but with the hope of hearing something about herand he
never sought mine at allbecause he saw me often enough without.
But I always began to talk of other thingsand waited first to see
if he would introduce the subject. If he did notI would casually
ask'Have you heard from your sister lately?' If he said 'No'


the matter was dropped: if he said 'Yes' I would venture to
inquire'How is she?' but never 'How is her husband?' though I
might be burning to know; because I had not the hypocrisy to
profess any anxiety for his recoveryand I had not the face to
express any desire for a contrary result. Had I any such desire? I
fear I must plead guilty; but since you have heard my confession
you must hear my justification as well - a few of the excusesat
leastwherewith I sought to pacify my own accusing conscience.

In the first placeyou seehis life did harm to othersand
evidently no good to himself; and though I wished it to terminate
I would not have hastened its close ifby the lifting of a finger
I could have done soor if a spirit had whispered in my ear that a
single effort of the will would be enough- unlessindeedI had
the power to exchange him for some other victim of the gravewhose
life might be of service to his raceand whose death would be
lamented by his friends. But was there any harm in wishing that
among the many thousands whose souls would certainly be required of
them before the year was overthis wretched mortal might be one?
I thought not; and therefore I wished with all my heart that it
might please heaven to remove him to a better worldor if that
might not bestill to take him out of this; for if he were unfit
to answer the summons nowafter a warning sicknessand with such
an angel by his sideit seemed but too certain that he never would
be - thaton the contraryreturning health would bring returning
lust and villainyand as he grew more certain of recoverymore
accustomed to her generous goodnesshis feelings would become more
calloushis heart more flinty and impervious to her persuasive
arguments - but God knew best. MeantimehoweverI could not but
be anxious for the result of His decrees; knowingas I didthat
(leaving myself entirely out of the question)however Helen might
feel interested in her husband's welfarehowever she might deplore
his fatestill while he lived she must be miserable.

A fortnight passed awayand my inquiries were always answered in
the negative. At length a welcome 'yes' drew from me the second
question. Lawrence divined my anxious thoughtsand appreciated my
reserve. I fearedat firsthe was going to torture me by
unsatisfactory repliesand either leave me quite in the dark
concerning what I wanted to knowor force me to drag the
information out of himmorsel by morselby direct inquiries.
'And serve you right' you will say; but he was more merciful; and
in a little while he put his sister's letter into my hand. I
silently read itand restored it to him without comment or remark.
This mode of procedure suited him so wellthat thereafter he
always pursued the plan of showing me her letters at oncewhen
'inquired' after herif there were any to show - it was so much
less trouble than to tell me their contents; and I received such
confidences so quietly and discreetly that he was never induced to
discontinue them.

But I devoured those precious letters with my eyesand never let
them go till their contents were stamped upon my mind; and when I
got homethe most important passages were entered in my diary
among the remarkable events of the day.

The first of these communications brought intelligence of a serious
relapse in Mr. Huntingdon's illnessentirely the result of his own
infatuation in persisting in the indulgence of his appetite for
stimulating drink. In vain had she remonstratedin vain she had
mingled his wine with water: her arguments and entreaties were a
nuisanceher interference was an insult so intolerable thatat
lengthon finding she had covertly diluted the pale port that was
brought himhe threw the bottle out of windowswearing he would


not be cheated like a babyordered the butleron pain of instant
dismissalto bring a bottle of the strongest wine in the cellar
and affirming that he should have been well long ago if he had been
let to have his own waybut she wanted to keep him weak in order
that she might have him under her thumb - butby the Lord Harry
he would have no more humbug - seized a glass in one hand and the
bottle in the otherand never rested till he had drunk it dry.
Alarming symptoms were the immediate result of this 'imprudence'
as she mildly termed it - symptoms which had rather increased than
diminished since; and this was the cause of her delay in writing to
her brother. Every former feature of his malady had returned with
augmented virulence: the slight external woundhalf healedhad
broken out afresh; internal inflammation had taken placewhich
might terminate fatally if not soon removed. Of coursethe
wretched sufferer's temper was not improved by this calamity - in
factI suspect it was well nigh insupportablethough his kind
nurse did not complain; but she said she had been obliged at last
to give her son in charge to Esther Hargraveas her presence was
so constantly required in the sick-room that she could not possibly
attend to him herself; and though the child had begged to be
allowed to continue with her thereand to help her to nurse his
papaand though she had no doubt he would have been very good and
quietshe could not think of subjecting his young and tender
feelings to the sight of so much sufferingor of allowing him to
witness his father's impatienceor hear the dreadful language he
was wont to use in his paroxysms of pain or irritation.

The latter (continued she) most deeply regrets the step that has
occasioned his relapse; butas usualhe throws the blame upon me.
If I had reasoned with him like a rational creaturehe saysit
never would have happened; but to be treated like a baby or a fool
was enough to put any man past his patienceand drive him to
assert his independence even at the sacrifice of his own interest.
He forgets how often I had reasoned him 'past his patience' before.
He appears to be sensible of his danger; but nothing can induce him
to behold it in the proper light. The other nightwhile I was
waiting on himand just as I had brought him a draught to assuage
his burning thirsthe observedwith a return of his former
sarcastic bitterness'Yesyou're mighty attentive now! I suppose
there's nothing you wouldn't do for me now?'

'You know' said Ia little surprised at his manner'that I am
willing to do anything I can to relieve you.'

'Yesnowmy immaculate angel; but when once you have secured your
rewardand find yourself safe in heavenand me howling in hellfire
catch you lifting a finger to serve me then! Noyou'll look
complacently onand not so much as dip the tip of your finger in
water to cool my tongue!'

'If soit will be because of the great gulf over which I cannot
pass; and if I could look complacently on in such a caseit would
be only from the assurance that you were being purified from your
sinsand fitted to enjoy the happiness I felt. - But are you
determinedArthurthat I shall not meet you in heaven?'

'Humph! What should I do thereI should like to know?'

'IndeedI cannot tell; and I fear it is too certain that your
tastes and feelings must be widely altered before you can have any
enjoyment there. But do you prefer sinkingwithout an effort
into the state of torment you picture to yourself?'

'Ohit's all a fable' said hecontemptuously.


'Are you sureArthur? are you quite sure? Becauseif there is
any doubtand if you should find yourself mistaken after allwhen
it is too late to turn - '

'It would be rather awkwardto be sure' said he; 'but don't
bother me now - I'm not going to die yet. I can't and won't' he
added vehementlyas if suddenly struck with the appalling aspect
of that terrible event. 'Helenyou must save me!' And he
earnestly seized my handand looked into my face with such
imploring eagerness that my heart bled for himand I could not
speak for tears.

* * * * *

The next letter brought intelligence that the malady was fast
increasing; and the poor sufferer's horror of death was still more
distressing than his impatience of bodily pain. All his friends
had not forsaken him; for Mr. Hattersleyhearing of his danger
had come to see him from his distant home in the north. His wife
had accompanied himas much for the pleasure of seeing her dear
friendfrom whom she had been parted so longas to visit her
mother and sister.

Mrs. Huntingdon expressed herself glad to see Milicent once more
and pleased to behold her so happy and well. She is now at the
Grovecontinued the letterbut she often calls to see me. Mr.
Hattersley spends much of his time at Arthur's bed-side. With more
good feeling than I gave him credit forhe evinces considerable
sympathy for his unhappy friendand is far more willing than able
to comfort him. Sometimes he tries to joke and laugh with himbut
that will not do; sometimes he endeavours to cheer him with talk
about old timesand this at one time may serve to divert the
sufferer from his own sad thoughts; at anotherit will only plunge
him into deeper melancholy than before; and then Hattersley is
confoundedand knows not what to sayunless it be a timid
suggestion that the clergyman might be sent for. But Arthur will
never consent to that: he knows he has rejected the clergyman's
well-meant admonitions with scoffing levity at other timesand
cannot dream of turning to him for consolation now.

Mr. Hattersley sometimes offers his services instead of minebut
Arthur will not let me go: that strange whim still increasesas
his strength declines - the fancy to have me always by his side. I
hardly ever leave himexcept to go into the next roomwhere I
sometimes snatch an hour or so of sleep when he is quiet; but even
then the door is left ajarthat he may know me to be within call.
I am with him nowwhile I writeand I fear my occupation annoys
him; though I frequently break off to attend to himand though Mr.
Hattersley is also by his side. That gentleman cameas he said
to beg a holiday for methat I might have a run in the parkthis
fine frosty morningwith Milicent and Esther and little Arthur
whom he had driven over to see me. Our poor invalid evidently felt
it a heartless propositionand would have felt it still more
heartless in me to accede to it. I therefore said I would only go
and speak to them a minuteand then come back. I did but exchange
a few words with themjust outside the porticoinhaling the
freshbracing air as I stoodand thenresisting the earnest and
eloquent entreaties of all three to stay a little longerand join
them in a walk round the gardenI tore myself away and returned to
my patient. I had not been absent five minutesbut he reproached
me bitterly for my levity and neglect. His friend espoused my
cause.


'NaynayHuntingdon' said he'you're too hard upon her; she
must have food and sleepand a mouthful of fresh air now and then
or she can't stand itI tell you. Look at herman! she's worn to
a shadow already.'

'What are her sufferings to mine?' said the poor invalid. 'You
don't grudge me these attentionsdo youHelen?'

'NoArthurif I could really serve you by them. I would give my
life to save youif I might.'

'Would youindeed? No!'

'Most willingly I would.'

'Ah! that's because you think yourself more fit to die!'

There was a painful pause. He was evidently plunged in gloomy
reflections; but while I pondered for something to say that might
benefit without alarming himHattersleywhose mind had been
pursuing almost the same coursebroke silence with'I say
HuntingdonI would send for a parson of some sort: if you didn't
like the vicaryou knowyou could have his curateor somebody
else.'

'No; none of them can benefit me if she can't' was the answer.
And the tears gushed from his eyes as he earnestly exclaimed'Oh
Helenif I had listened to youit never would have come to this!
and if I had heard you long ago - ohGod! how different it would
have been!'

'Hear me nowthenArthur' said Igently pressing his hand.

'It's too late now' said he despondingly. And after that another
paroxysm of pain came on; and then his mind began to wanderand we
feared his death was approaching: but an opiate was administered:
his sufferings began to abatehe gradually became more composed
and at length sank into a kind of slumber. He has been quieter
since; and now Hattersley has left himexpressing a hope that he
shall find him better when he calls to-morrow.

'Perhaps I may recover' he replied; 'who knows? This may have
been the crisis. What do you thinkHelen?' Unwilling to depress
himI gave the most cheering answer I couldbut still recommended
him to prepare for the possibility of what I inly feared was but
too certain. But he was determined to hope. Shortly after he
relapsed into a kind of dozebut now he groans again.

There is a change. Suddenly he called me to his sidewith such a
strangeexcited mannerthat I feared he was deliriousbut he was
not. 'That was the crisisHelen!' said hedelightedly. 'I had
an infernal pain here - it is quite gone now. I never was so easy
since the fall - quite goneby heaven!' and he clasped and kissed
my hand in the very fulness of his heart; but finding I did not
participate his joyhe quickly flung it from himand bitterly
cursed my coldness and insensibility. How could I reply? Kneeling
beside himI took his hand and fondly pressed it to my lips - for
the first time since our separation - and told himas well as
tears would let me speakthat it was not that that kept me silent:
it was the fear that this sudden cessation of pain was not so
favourable a symptom as he supposed. I immediately sent for the
doctor: we are now anxiously awaiting him. I will tell you what
he says. There is still the same freedom from painthe same
deadness to all sensation where the suffering was most acute.


My worst fears are realised: mortification has commenced. The
doctor has told him there is no hope. No words can describe his
anguish. I can write no more.

* * * * *

The next was still more distressing in the tenor of its contents.
The sufferer was fast approaching dissolution - dragged almost to
the verge of that awful chasm he trembled to contemplatefrom
which no agony of prayers or tears could save him. Nothing could
comfort him now; Hattersley's rough attempts at consolation were
utterly in vain. The world was nothing to him: life and all its
interestsits petty cares and transient pleasureswere a cruel
mockery. To talk of the past was to torture him with vain remorse;
to refer to the future was to increase his anguish; and yet to be
silent was to leave him a prey to his own regrets and
apprehensions. Often he dwelt with shuddering minuteness on the
fate of his perishing clay - the slowpiecemeal dissolution
already invading his frame: the shroudthe coffinthe dark
lonely graveand all the horrors of corruption.

'If I try' said his afflicted wife'to divert him from these
things - to raise his thoughts to higher themesit is no better:"
Worse and worse!" he groans. "If there be really life beyond the
tomband judgment after deathhow can I face it?" - I cannot do
him any good; he will neither be enlightenednor rousednor
comforted by anything I say; and yet he clings to me with
unrelenting pertinacity - with a kind of childish desperationas
if I could save him from the fate he dreads. He keeps me night and
day beside him. He is holding my left hand nowwhile I write; he
has held it thus for hours: sometimes quietlywith his pale face
upturned to mine: sometimes clutching my arm with violence - the
big drops starting from his forehead at the thoughts of what he
seesor thinks he seesbefore him. If I withdraw my hand for a
moment it distresses him.

'"Stay with meHelen he says; let me hold you so: it seems as
if harm could not reach me while you are here. But death will come

-it is coming now - fastfast! - and - ohif I could believe
there was nothing after!"
'"Don't try to believe itArthur; there is joy and glory afterif
you will but try to reach it!"

'"Whatfor me?" he saidwith something like a laugh. "Are we not
to be judged according to the deeds done in the body? Where's the
use of a probationary existenceif a man may spend it as he
pleasesjust contrary to God's decreesand then go to heaven with
the best - if the vilest sinner may win the reward of the holiest
saintby merely sayingI repent!'

'"But if you sincerely repent - "

'"I can't repent; I only fear."

'"You only regret the past for its consequences to yourself?"

'"Just so - except that I'm sorry to have wronged youNell
because you're so good to me."

'"Think of the goodness of Godand you cannot but be grieved to
have offended Him."


'"What is God? - I cannot see Him or hear Him. - God is only an
idea."

'"God is Infinite Wisdomand Powerand Goodness - and LOVE; but
if this idea is too vast for your human faculties - if your mind
loses itself in its overwhelming infinitudefix it on Him who
condescended to take our nature upon Himwho was raised to heaven
even in His glorified human bodyin whom the fulness of the
Godhead shines."

'But he only shook his head and sighed. Thenin another paroxysm
of shuddering horrorhe tightened his grasp on my hand and arm
andgroaning and lamentingstill clung to me with that wild
desperate earnestness so harrowing to my soulbecause I know I
cannot help him. I did my best to soothe and comfort him.

'"Death is so terrible he cried, I cannot bear it! You don't
knowHelen - you can't imagine what it isbecause you haven't it
before you! and when I'm buriedyou'll return to your old ways and
be as happy as everand all the world will go on just as busy and
merry as if I had never been; while I - " He burst into tears.

'"You needn't let that distress you I said; we shall all follow
you soon enough."

'"I wish to God I could take you with me now!" he exclaimed: "you
should plead for me."

'"No man can deliver his brothernor make agreement unto God for
him I replied: it cost more to redeem their souls - it cost the
blood of an incarnate Godperfect and sinless in Himselfto
redeem us from the bondage of the evil one:- let Him plead for
you."

'But I seem to speak in vain. He does not nowas formerlylaugh
these blessed truths to scorn: but still he cannot trustor will
not comprehend them. He cannot linger long. He suffers
dreadfullyand so do those that wait upon him. But I will not
harass you with further details: I have said enoughI thinkto
convince you that I did well to go to him.'

* * * * *

Poorpoor Helen! dreadful indeed her trials must have been! And I
could do nothing to lessen them - nayit almost seemed as if I had
brought them upon her myself by my own secret desires; and whether
I looked at her husband's sufferings or her ownit seemed almost
like a judgment upon myself for having cherished such a wish.

The next day but one there came another letter. That too was put
into my hands without a remarkand these are its contents:-

Dec. 5th.

He is gone at last. I sat beside him all nightwith my hand fast
looked in hiswatching the changes of his features and listening
to his failing breath. He had been silent a long timeand I
thought he would never speak againwhen he murmuredfaintly but
distinctly- 'Pray for meHelen!'

'I do pray for youevery hour and every minuteArthur; but you
must pray for yourself.'


His lips movedbut emitted no sound; - then his looks became
unsettled; andfrom the incoherenthalf-uttered words that
escaped him from time to timesupposing him to be now unconscious
I gently disengaged my hand from hisintending to steal away for a
breath of airfor I was almost ready to faint; but a convulsive
movement of the fingersand a faintly whispered 'Don't leave me!'
immediately recalled me: I took his hand againand held it till
he was no more - and then I fainted. It was not grief; it was
exhaustionthattill thenI had been enabled successfully to
combat. OhFrederick! none can imagine the miseriesbodily and
mentalof that death-bed! How could I endure to think that that
poor trembling soul was hurried away to everlasting torment? it
would drive me mad. Butthank GodI have hope - not only from a
vague dependence on the possibility that penitence and pardon might
have reached him at the lastbut from the blessed confidence that
through whatever purging fires the erring spirit may be doomed to
pass - whatever fate awaits it - still it is not lostand Godwho
hateth nothing that He hath madewill bless it in the end!

His body will be consigned on Thursday to that dark grave he so
much dreaded; but the coffin must be closed as soon as possible.
If you will attend the funeralcome quicklyfor I need help.

HELEN HUNTINGDON.

CHAPTER L

On reading this I had no reason to disguise my joy and hope from
Frederick Lawrencefor I had none to be ashamed of. I felt no joy
but that his sister was at length released from her afflictive
overwhelming toil - no hope but that she would in time recover from
the effects of itand be suffered to rest in peace and quietness
at leastfor the remainder of her life. I experienced a painful
commiseration for her unhappy husband (though fully aware that he
had brought every particle of his sufferings upon himselfand but
too well deserved them all)and a profound sympathy for her own
afflictionsand deep anxiety for the consequences of those
harassing caresthose dreadful vigilsthat incessant and
deleterious confinement beside a living corpse - for I was
persuaded she had not hinted half the sufferings she had had to
endure.

'You will go to herLawrence?' said Ias I put the letter into
his hand.

'Yesimmediately.'

'That's right! I'll leave youthento prepare for your
departure.'

'I've done that alreadywhile you were reading the letterand
before you came; and the carriage is now coming round to the door.'

Inly approving his promptitudeI bade him good-morningand
withdrew. He gave me a searching glance as we pressed each other's
hands at parting; but whatever he sought in my countenancehe saw
there nothing but the most becoming gravity - it might be mingled
with a little sternness in momentary resentment at what I suspected
to be passing in his mind.


Had I forgotten my own prospectsmy ardent lovemy pertinacious
hopes? It seemed like sacrilege to revert to them nowbut I had
not forgotten them. It washoweverwith a gloomy sense of the
darkness of those prospectsthe fallacy of those hopesand the
vanity of that affectionthat I reflected on those things as I
remounted my horse and slowly journeyed homewards. Mrs. Huntingdon
was free now; it was no longer a crime to think of her - but did
she ever think of me? Not now - of course it was not to be
expected - but would she when this shock was over? In all the
course of her correspondence with her brother (our mutual friend
as she herself had called him) she had never mentioned me but once

-and that was from necessity. This alone afforded strong
presumption that I was already forgotten; yet this was not the
worst: it might have been her sense of duty that had kept her
silent: she might be only trying to forget; but in addition to
thisI had a gloomy conviction that the awful realities she had
seen and felther reconciliation with the man she had once loved
his dreadful sufferings and deathmust eventually efface from her
mind all traces of her passing love for me. She might recover from
these horrors so far as to be restored to her former healthher
tranquillityher cheerfulness even - but never to those feelings
which would appear to herhenceforthas a fleeting fancya vain
illusive dream; especially as there was no one to remind her of my
existence - no means of assuring her of my fervent constancynow
that we were so far apartand delicacy forbade me to see her or to
write to herfor months to come at least. And how could I engage
her brother in my behalf? how could I break that icy crust of shy
reserve? Perhaps he would disapprove of my attachment now as
highly as before; perhaps he would think me too poor - too lowly
bornto match with his sister. Yesthere was another barrier:
doubtless there was a wide distinction between the rank and
circumstances of Mrs. Huntingdonthe lady of Grassdale Manorand
those of Mrs. Grahamthe artistthe tenant of Wildfell Hall. And
it might be deemed presumption in me to offer my hand to the
formerby the worldby her friendsif not by herself; a penalty
I might braveif I were certain she loved me; but otherwisehow
could I? Andfinallyher deceased husbandwith his usual
selfishnessmight have so constructed his will as to place
restrictions upon her marrying again. So that you see I had
reasons enough for despair if I chose to indulge it.
Neverthelessit was with no small degree of impatience that I
looked forward to Mr. Lawrence's return from Grassdale: impatience
that increased in proportion as his absence was prolonged. He
stayed away some ten or twelve days. All very right that he should
remain to comfort and help his sisterbut he might have written to
tell me how she wasor at least to tell me when to expect his
return; for he might have known I was suffering tortures of anxiety
for herand uncertainty for my own future prospects. And when he
did returnall he told me about her wasthat she had been greatly
exhausted and worn by her unremitting exertions in behalf of that
man who had been the scourge of her lifeand had dragged her with
him nearly to the portals of the graveand was still much shaken
and depressed by his melancholy end and the circumstances attendant
upon it; but no word in reference to me; no intimation that my name
had ever passed her lipsor even been spoken in her presence. To
be sureI asked no questions on the subject; I could not bring my
mind to do sobelievingas I didthat Lawrence was indeed averse
to the idea of my union with his sister.

I saw that he expected to be further questioned concerning his
visitand I saw toowith the keen perception of awakened
jealousyor alarmed self-esteemor by whatever name I ought to
call itthat he rather shrank from that impending scrutinyand


was no less pleased than surprised to find it did not come. Of
courseI was burning with angerbut pride obliged me to suppress
my feelingsand preserve a smooth faceor at least a stoic
calmnessthroughout the interview. It was well it didfor
reviewing the matter in my sober judgmentI must say it would have
been highly absurd and improper to have quarrelled with him on such
an occasion. I must confesstoothat I wronged him in my heart:
the truth washe liked me very wellbut he was fully aware that a
union between Mrs. Huntingdon and me would be what the world calls
a mesalliance; and it was not in his nature to set the world at
defiance; especially in such a case as thisfor its dread laugh
or ill opinionwould be far more terrible to him directed against
his sister than himself. Had he believed that a union was
necessary to the happiness of bothor of eitheror had he known
how fervently I loved herhe would have acted differently; but
seeing me so calm and coolhe would not for the world disturb my
philosophy; and though refraining entirely from any active
opposition to the matchhe would yet do nothing to bring it about
and would much rather take the part of prudencein aiding us to
overcome our mutual predilectionsthan that of feelingto
encourage them. 'And he was in the right of it' you will say.
Perhaps he was; at any rateI had no business to feel so bitterly
against him as I did; but I could not then regard the matter in
such a moderate light; andafter a brief conversation upon
indifferent topicsI went awaysuffering all the pangs of wounded
pride and injured friendshipin addition to those resulting from
the fear that I was indeed forgottenand the knowledge that she I
loved was alone and afflictedsuffering from injured health and
dejected spiritsand I was forbidden to console or assist her:
forbidden even to assure her of my sympathyfor the transmission
of any such message through Mr. Lawrence was now completely out of
the question.

But what should I do? I would waitand see if she would notice
mewhich of course she would notunless by some kind message
intrusted to her brotherthatin all probabilityhe would not
deliverand thendreadful thought! she would think me cooled and
changed for not returning itorperhapshe had already given her
to understand that I had ceased to think of her. I would wait
howevertill the six months after our parting were fairly passed
(which would be about the close of February)and then I would send
her a lettermodestly reminding her of her former permission to
write to her at the close of that periodand hoping I might avail
myself of it - at least to express my heartfelt sorrow for her late
afflictionsmy just appreciation of her generous conductand my
hope that her health was now completely re-establishedand that
she wouldsome timebe permitted to enjoy those blessings of a
peacefulhappy lifewhich had been denied her so longbut which
none could more truly be said to merit than herself - adding a few
words of kind remembrance to my little friend Arthurwith a hope
that he had not forgotten meand perhaps a few more in reference
to bygone timesto the delightful hours I had passed in her
societyand my unfading recollection of themwhich was the salt
and solace of my lifeand a hope that her recent troubles had not
entirely banished me from her mind. If she did not answer thisof
course I should write no more: if she did (as surely she wouldin
some fashion)my future proceedings should be regulated by her
reply.

Ten weeks was long to wait in such a miserable state of
uncertainty; but courage! it must be endured! and meantime I would
continue to see Lawrence now and thenthough not so often as
beforeand I would still pursue my habitual inquiries after his
sisterif he had lately heard from herand how she wasbut


nothing more.

I did soand the answers I received were always provokingly
limited to the letter of the inquiry: she was much as usual: she
made no complaintsbut the tone of her last letter evinced great
depression of mind: she said she was better: andfinallyshe
said she was welland very busy with her son's educationand with
the management of her late husband's propertyand the regulation
of his affairs. The rascal had never told me how that property was
disposedor whether Mr. Huntingdon had died intestate or not; and
I would sooner die than ask himlest he should misconstrue into
covetousness my desire to know. He never offered to show me his
sister's letters nowand I never hinted a wish to see them.
Februaryhoweverwas approaching; December was past; Januaryat
lengthwas almost over - a few more weeksand thencertain
despair or renewal of hope would put an end to this long agony of
suspense.

But alas! it was just about that time she was called to sustain
another blow in the death of her uncle - a worthless old fellow
enough in himselfI daresaybut he had always shown more kindness
and affection to her than to any other creatureand she had always
been accustomed to regard him as a parent. She was with him when
he diedand had assisted her aunt to nurse him during the last
stage of his illness. Her brother went to Staningley to attend the
funeraland told meupon his returnthat she was still there
endeavouring to cheer her aunt with her presenceand likely to
remain some time. This was bad news for mefor while she
continued there I could not write to heras I did not know the
addressand would not ask it of him. But week followed weekand
every time I inquired about her she was still at Staningley.

'Where is Staningley?' I asked at last.

'In -shire' was the brief reply; and there was something so cold
and dry in the manner of itthat I was effectually deterred from
requesting a more definite account.

'When will she return to Grassdale?' was my next question.

'I don't know.'

'Confound it!' I muttered.

'WhyMarkham?' asked my companionwith an air of innocent
surprise. But I did not deign to answer himsave by a look of
silentsullen contemptat which he turned awayand contemplated
the carpet with a slight smilehalf pensivehalf amused; but
quickly looking uphe began to talk of other subjectstrying to
draw me into a cheerful and friendly conversationbut I was too
much irritated to discourse with himand soon took leave.

You see Lawrence and I somehow could not manage to get on very well
together. The fact isI believewe were both of us a little too
touchy. It is a troublesome thingHalfordthis susceptibility to
affronts where none are intended. I am no martyr to it nowas you
can bear me witness: I have learned to be merry and wiseto be
more easy with myself and more indulgent to my neighboursand I
can afford to laugh at both Lawrence and you.

Partly from accidentpartly from wilful negligence on my part (for
I was really beginning to dislike him)several weeks elapsed
before I saw my friend again. When we did meetit was he that
sought me out. One bright morningearly in Junehe came into the


fieldwhere I was just commencing my hay harvest.

'It is long since I saw youMarkham' said heafter the first few
words had passed between us. 'Do you never mean to come to
Woodford again?'

'I called onceand you were out.'

'I was sorrybut that was long since; I hoped you would call
againand now I have calledand you were outwhich you generally
areor I would do myself the pleasure of calling more frequently;
but being determined to see you this timeI have left my pony in
the laneand come over hedge and ditch to join you; for I am about
to leave Woodford for a whileand may not have the pleasure of
seeing you again for a month or two.'

'Where are you going?'

'To Grassdale first' said hewith a half-smile he would willingly
have suppressed if he could.

'To Grassdale! Is she therethen?'

'Yesbut in a day or two she will leave it to accompany Mrs.
Maxwell to F- for the benefit of the sea airand I shall go with
them.' (F- was at that time a quiet but respectable wateringplace:
it is considerably more frequented now.)

Lawrence seemed to expect me to take advantage of this circumstance
to entrust him with some sort of a message to his sister; and I
believe he would have undertaken to deliver it without any material
objectionsif I had had the sense to ask himthough of course he
would not offer to do soif I was content to let it alone. But I
could not bring myself to make the requestand it was not till
after he was gonethat I saw how fair an opportunity I had lost;
and thenindeedI deeply regretted my stupidity and my foolish
pridebut it was now too late to remedy the evil.

He did not return till towards the latter end of August. He wrote
to me twice or thrice from F-but his letters were most
provokingly unsatisfactorydealing in generalities or in trifles
that I cared nothing aboutor replete with fancies and reflections
equally unwelcome to me at the timesaying next to nothing about
his sisterand little more about himself. I would waithowever
till he came back; perhaps I could get something more out of him
then. At all eventsI would not write to her nowwhile she was
with him and her auntwho doubtless would be still more hostile to
my presumptuous aspirations than himself. When she was returned to
the silence and solitude of her own homeit would be my fittest
opportunity.

When Lawrence camehoweverhe was as reserved as ever on the
subject of my keen anxiety. He told me that his sister had derived
considerable benefit from her stay at F- that her son was quite
welland - alas! that both of them were gonewith Mrs. Maxwell
back to Staningleyand there they stayed at least three months.
But instead of boring you with my chagrinmy expectations and
disappointmentsmy fluctuations of dull despondency and flickering
hopemy varying resolutionsnow to drop itand now to persevere

-now to make a bold pushand now to let things pass and patiently
abide my time- I will employ myself in settling the business of
one or two of the characters introduced in the course of this
narrativewhom I may not have occasion to mention again.

Some time before Mr. Huntingdon's death Lady Lowborough eloped with
another gallant to the Continentwherehaving lived a while in
reckless gaiety and dissipationthey quarrelled and parted. She
went dashing on for a seasonbut years came and money went: she
sunkat lengthin difficulty and debtdisgrace and misery; and
died at lastas I have heardin penuryneglectand utter
wretchedness. But this might be only a report: she may be living
yet for anything I or any of her relatives or former acquaintances
can tell; for they have all lost sight of her long years agoand
would as thoroughly forget her if they could. Her husband
howeverupon this second misdemeanourimmediately sought and
obtained a divorceandnot long aftermarried again. It was
well he didfor Lord Lowboroughmorose and moody as he seemed
was not the man for a bachelor's life. No public interestsno
ambitious projectsor active pursuits- or ties of friendship
even (if he had had any friends)could compensate to him for the
absence of domestic comforts and endearments. He had a son and a
nominal daughterit is truebut they too painfully reminded him
of their motherand the unfortunate little Annabella was a source
of perpetual bitterness to his soul. He had obliged himself to
treat her with paternal kindness: he had forced himself not to
hate herand evenperhapsto feel some degree of kindly regard
for herat lastin return for her artless and unsuspecting
attachment to himself; but the bitterness of his self-condemnation
for his inward feelings towards that innocent beinghis constant
struggles to subdue the evil promptings of his nature (for it was
not a generous one)though partly guessed at by those who knew
himcould be known to God and his own heart alone; - so also was
the hardness of his conflicts with the temptation to return to the
vice of his youthand seek oblivion for past calamitiesand
deadness to the present misery of a blighted heart a joyless
friendless lifeand a morbidly disconsolate mindby yielding
again to that insidious foe to healthand senseand virtuewhich
had so deplorably enslaved and degraded him before.

The second object of his choice was widely different from the
first. Some wondered at his taste; some even ridiculed it - but in
this their folly was more apparent than his. The lady was about
his own age - i.e.between thirty and forty - remarkable neither
for beautynor wealthnor brilliant accomplishments; nor any
other thing that I ever heard ofexcept genuine good sense
unswerving integrityactive pietywarm-hearted benevolenceand a
fund of cheerful spirits. These qualitieshoweveras you way
readily imaginecombined to render her an excellent mother to the
childrenand an invaluable wife to his lordship. Hewith his
usual self-depreciationthought her a world too good for himand
while he wondered at the kindness of Providence in conferring such
a gift upon himand even at her taste in preferring him to other
menhe did his best to reciprocate the good she did himand so
far succeeded that she wasand I believe still isone of the
happiest and fondest wives in England; and all who question the
good taste of either partner may be thankful if their respective
selections afford them half the genuine satisfaction in the endor
repay their preference with affection half as lasting and sincere.

If you are at all interested in the fate of that low scoundrel
GrimsbyI can only tell you that he went from bad to worse
sinking from bathos to bathos of vice and villainyconsorting only
with the worst members of his club and the lowest dregs of society

-happily for the rest of the world - and at last met his end in a
drunken brawlfrom the handsit is saidof some brother
scoundrel he had cheated at play.
As for Mr. Hattersleyhe had never wholly forgotten his resolution


to 'come out from among them' and behave like a man and a
Christianand the last illness and death of his once jolly friend
Huntingdon so deeply and seriously impressed him with the evil of
their former practicesthat he never needed another lesson of the
kind. Avoiding the temptations of the townhe continued to pass
his life in the countryimmersed in the usual pursuits of a
heartyactivecountry gentleman; his occupations being those of
farmingand breeding horses and cattlediversified with a little
hunting and shootingand enlivened by the occasional companionship
of his friends (better friends than those of his youth)and the
society of his happy little wife (now cheerful and confiding as
heart could wish)and his fine family of stalwart sons and
blooming daughters. His fatherthe bankerhaving died some years
ago and left him all his richeshe has now full scope for the
exercise of his prevailing tastesand I need not tell you that
Ralph HattersleyEsq.is celebrated throughout the country for
his noble breed of horses.

CHAPTER LI

We will now turn to a certain stillcoldcloudy afternoon about
the commencement of Decemberwhen the first fall of snow lay
thinly scattered over the blighted fields and frozen roadsor
stored more thickly in the hollows of the deep cart-ruts and
footsteps of men and horses impressed in the now petrified mire of
last month's drenching rains. I remember it wellfor I was
walking home from the vicarage with no less remarkable a personage
than Miss Eliza Millward by my side. I had been to call upon her
father- a sacrifice to civility undertaken entirely to please my
mothernot myselffor I hated to go near the house; not merely on
account of my antipathy to the once so bewitching Elizabut
because I had not half forgiven the old gentleman himself for his
ill opinion of Mrs. Huntingdon; for though now constrained to
acknowledge himself mistaken in his former judgmenthe still
maintained that she had done wrong to leave her husband; it was a
violation of her sacred duties as a wifeand a tempting of
Providence by laying herself open to temptation; and nothing short
of bodily ill-usage (and that of no trifling nature) could excuse
such a step - nor even thatfor in such a case she ought to appeal
to the laws for protection. But it was not of him I intended to
speak; it was of his daughter Eliza. Just as I was taking leave of
the vicarshe entered the roomready equipped for a walk.

'I was just coming to seeyour sisterMr. Markham' said she;
'and soif you have no objectionI'll accompany you home. I like
company when I'm walking out - don't you?'

'Yeswhen it's agreeable.'

'That of course' rejoined the young ladysmiling archly.

So we proceeded together.

'Shall I find Rose at homedo you think?' said sheas we closed
the garden gateand set our faces towards Linden-Car.

'I believe so.'

'I trust I shallfor I've a little bit of news for her - if you
haven't forestalled me.'


'I?'

'Yes: do you know what Mr. Lawrence is gone for?' She looked up
anxiously for my reply.

'Is he gone?' said I; and her face brightened.

'Ah! then he hasn't told you about his sister?'

'What of her?' I demanded in terrorlest some evil should have
befallen her.

'OhMr. Markhamhow you blush!' cried shewith a tormenting
laugh. 'Hahayou have not forgotten her yet. But you had
better be quick about itI can tell youfor - alasalas! - she's
going to be married next Thursday!'

'NoMiss Elizathat's false.'

'Do you charge me with a falsehoodsir?'

'You are misinformed.'

'Am I? Do you know betterthen?'

'I think I do.'

'What makes you look so pale then?' said shesmiling with delight
at my emotion. 'Is it anger at poor me for telling such a fib?
WellI only "tell the tale as 'twas told to me:" I don't vouch for
the truth of it; but at the same timeI don't see what reason
Sarah should have for deceiving meor her informant for deceiving
her; and that was what she told me the footman told her:- that Mrs.
Huntingdon was going to be married on Thursdayand Mr. Lawrence
was gone to the wedding. She did tell me the name of the
gentlemanbut I've forgotten that. Perhaps you can assist me to
remember it. Is there not some one that lives near - or frequently
visits the neighbourhoodthat has long been attached to her? - a
Mr. - ohdear! Mr. - '

'Hargrave?' suggested Iwith a bitter smile.

'You're right' cried she; 'that was the very name.'

'ImpossibleMiss Eliza!' I exclaimedin a tone that made her
start.

'Wellyou knowthat's what they told me' said shecomposedly
staring me in the face. And then she broke out into a long shrill
laugh that put me to my wit's end with fury.

'Really you must excuse me' cried she. 'I know it's very rude
but hahaha! - did you think to marry her yourself? Deardear
what a pity! - hahaha! GraciousMr. Markhamare you going to
faint? Ohmercy! shall I call this man? HereJacob - ' But
checking the word on her lipsI seized her arm and gave itI
thinka pretty severe squeezefor she shrank into herself with a
faint cry of pain or terror; but the spirit within her was not
subdued: instantly rallyingshe continuedwith well-feigned
concern'What can I do for you? Will you have some water - some
brandy? I daresay they have some in the public-house down there
if you'll let me run.'


'Have done with this nonsense!' cried Isternly. She looked
confounded - almost frightened againfor a moment. 'You know I
hate such jests' I continued.

'Jests indeed! I wasn't jesting!'

'You were laughingat all events; and I don't like to be laughed
at' returned Imaking violent efforts to speak with proper
dignity and composureand to say nothing but what was coherent and
sensible. 'And since you are in such a merry moodMiss Elizayou
must be good enough company for yourself; and therefore I shall
leave you to finish your walk alone - fornow I think of itI
have business elsewhere; so good-evening.'

With that I left her (smothering her malicious laughter) and turned
aside into the fieldsspringing up the bankand pushing through
the nearest gap in the hedge. Determined at once to prove the
truth - or rather the falsehood - of her storyI hastened to
Woodford as fast as my legs could carry me; first veering round by
a circuitous coursebut the moment I was out of sight of my fair
tormentor cutting away across the countryjust as a bird might
flyover pasture-landand fallowand stubbleand laneclearing
hedges and ditches and hurdlestill I came to the young squire's
gates. Never till now had I known the full fervour of my love the
full strength of my hopesnot wholly crushed even in my hours
of deepest despondencyalways tenaciously clinging to the thought
that one day she might be mineorif not thatat least that
something of my memorysome slight remembrance of our friendship
and our lovewould be for ever cherished in her heart. I marched
up to the doordeterminedif I saw the masterto question him
boldly concerning his sisterto wait and hesitate no longerbut
cast false delicacy and stupid pride behind my backand know my
fate at once.

'Is Mr. Lawrence at home?' I eagerly asked of the servant that
opened the door.

'Nosirmaster went yesterday' replied helooking very alert.

'Went where?'

'To Grassdalesir - wasn't you awaresir? He's very closeis
master' said the fellowwith a foolishsimpering grin. 'I
supposesir - '

But I turned and left himwithout waiting to hear what he
supposed. I was not going to stand there to expose my tortured
feelings to the insolent laughter and impertinent curiosity of a
fellow like that.

But what was to be done now? Could it be possible that she had
left me for that man? I could not believe it. Me she might
forsakebut not to give herself to him! WellI would know the
truth; to no concerns of daily life could I attend while this
tempest of doubt and dreadof jealousy and ragedistracted me. I
would take the morning coach from L- (the evening one would be
already gone)and fly to Grassdale - I must be there before the
marriage. And why? Because a thought struck me that perhaps I
might prevent it - that if I did notshe and I might both lament
it to the latest moment of our lives. It struck me that someone
might have belied me to her: perhaps her brother; yesno doubt
her brother had persuaded her that I was false and faithlessand
taking advantage of her natural indignationand perhaps her
desponding carelessness about her future lifehad urged her


artfullycruellyon to this other marriagein order to secure
her from me. If this was the caseand if she should only discover
her mistake when too late to repair it - to what a life of misery
and vain regret might she be doomed as well as me; and what remorse
for me to think my foolish scruples had induced it all! OhI must
see her - she must know my truth even if I told it at the church
door! I might pass for a madman or an impertinent fool - even she
might be offended at such an interruptionor at least might tell
me it was now too late. But if I could save herif she might be
mine! - it was too rapturous a thought!

Winged by this hopeand goaded by these fearsI hurried homewards
to prepare for my departure on the morrow. I told my mother that
urgent business which admitted no delaybut which I could not then
explaincalled me away.

My deep anxiety and serious preoccupation could not be concealed
from her maternal eyes; and I had much ado to calm her
apprehensions of some disastrous mystery.

That night there came a heavy fall of snowwhich so retarded the
progress of the coaches on the following day that I was almost
driven to distraction. I travelled all nightof coursefor this
was Wednesday: to-morrow morningdoubtlessthe marriage would
take place. But the night was long and dark: the snow heavily
clogged the wheels and balled the horses' feet; the animals were
consumedly lazy; the coachman most execrably cautious; the
passengers confoundedly apathetic in their supine indifference to
the rate of our progression. Instead of assisting me to bully the
several coachmen and urge them forwardthey merely stared and
grinned at my impatience: one fellow even ventured to rally me
upon it - but I silenced him with a look that quelled him for the
rest of the journey; and whenat the last stageI would have
taken the reins into my own handthey all with one accord opposed
it.

It was broad daylight when we entered M- and drew up at the 'Rose
and Crown.' I alighted and called aloud for a post-chaise to
Grassdale. There was none to be had: the only one in the town was
under repair. 'A gigthen - a fly - car - anything - only be
quick!' There was a gigbut not a horse to spare. I sent into
the town to seek one: but they were such an intolerable time about
it that I could wait no longer - I thought my own feet could carry
me sooner; and bidding them send the conveyance after meif it
were ready within an hourI set off as fast as I could walk. The
distance was little more than six milesbut the road was strange
and I had to keep stopping to inquire my way; hallooing to carters
and clodhoppersand frequently invading the cottagesfor there
were few abroad that winter's morning; sometimes knocking up the
lazy people from their bedsfor where so little work was to be
doneperhaps so little food and fire to be hadthey cared not to
curtail their slumbers. I had no time to think of themhowever;
aching with weariness and desperationI hurried on. The gig did
not overtake me: and it was well I had not waited for it;
vexatious ratherthat I had been fool enough to wait so long.

At lengthhoweverI entered the neighbourhood of Grassdale. I
approached the little rural church - but lo! there stood a train of
carriages before it; it needed not the white favours bedecking the
servants and horsesnor the merry voices of the village idlers
assembled to witness the showto apprise me that there was a
wedding within. I ran in among themdemandingwith breathless
eagernesshad the ceremony long commenced? They only gaped and
stared. In my desperationI pushed past themand was about to


enter the churchyard gatewhen a group of ragged urchinsthat had
been hanging like bees to the windowsuddenly dropped off and made
a rush for the porchvociferating in the uncouth dialect of their
country something which signified'It's over - they're coming
out!'

If Eliza Millward had seen me then she might indeed have been
delighted. I grasped the gate-post for supportand stood intently
gazing towards the door to take my last look on my soul's delight
my first on that detested mortal who had torn her from my heart
and doomed herI was certainto a life of misery and hollowvain
repining - for what happiness could she enjoy with him? I did not
wish to shock her with my presence nowbut I had not power to move
away. Forth came the bride and bridegroom. Him I saw not; I had
eyes for none but her. A long veil shrouded half her graceful
formbut did not hide it; I could see that while she carried her
head erecther eyes were bent upon the groundand her face and
neck were suffused with a crimson blush; but every feature was
radiant with smilesand gleaming through the misty whiteness of
her veil were clusters of golden ringlets! Ohheavens! it was not
my Helen! The first glimpse made me start - but my eyes were
darkened with exhaustion and despair. Dare I trust them? 'Yes it
is not she! It was a youngerslighterrosier beauty - lovely
indeedbut with far less dignity and depth of soul - without that
indefinable gracethat keenly spiritual yet gentle charmthat
ineffable power to attract and subjugate the heart - my heart at
least. I looked at the bridegroom - it was Frederick Lawrence! I
wiped away the cold drops that were trickling down my foreheadand
stepped back as he approached; buthis eyes fell upon meand he
knew mealtered as my appearance must have been.

'Is that youMarkham?' said hestartled and confounded at the
apparition - perhapstooat the wildness of my looks.

'YesLawrence; is that you?' I mustered the presence of mind to
reply.

He smiled and colouredas if half-proud and half-ashamed of his
identity; and if he had reason to be proud of the sweet lady on his
armhe had no less cause to be ashamed of having concealed his
good fortune so long.

'Allow me to introduce you to my bride' said heendeavouring to
hide his embarrassment by an assumption of careless gaiety.
'Estherthis is Mr. Markham; my friend MarkhamMrs. Lawrence
late Miss Hargrave.'

I bowed to the brideand vehemently wrung the bridegroom's hand.

'Why did you not tell me of this?' I saidreproachfully
pretending a resentment I did not feel (for in truth I was almost
wild with joy to find myself so happily mistakenand overflowing
with affection to him for this and for the base injustice I felt
that I had done him in my mind - he might have wronged mebut not
to that extent; and as I had hated him like a demon for the last
forty hoursthe reaction from such a feeling was so great that I
could pardon all offences for the moment - and love him in spite of
them too).

'I did tell you' said hewith an air of guilty confusion; 'you
received my letter?'

'What letter?'


'The one announcing my intended marriage.'

'I never received the most distant hint of such an intention.'

'It must have crossed you on your way then - it should have reached
you yesterday morning - it was rather lateI acknowledge. But
what brought you herethenif you received no information?'

It was now my turn to be confounded; but the young ladywho had
been busily patting the snow with her foot during our short sottovoce
colloquyvery opportunely came to my assistance by pinching
her companion's arm and whispering a suggestion that his friend
should be invited to step into the carriage and go with them; it
being scarcely agreeable to stand there among so many gazersand
keeping their friends waiting into the bargain.

'And so cold as it is too!' said heglancing with dismay at her
slight draperyand immediately handing her into the carriage.
'Markhamwill you come? We are going to Parisbut we can drop
you anywhere between this and Dover.'

'Nothank you. Good-by - I needn't wish you a pleasant journey;
but I shall expect a very handsome apologysome timemindand
scores of lettersbefore we meet again.'

He shook my handand hastened to take his place beside his lady.
This was no time or place for explanation or discourse: we had
already stood long enough to excite the wonder of the village
sight-seersand perhaps the wrath of the attendant bridal party;
thoughof courseall this passed in a much shorter time than I
have taken to relateor even than you will take to read it. I
stood beside the carriageandthe window being downI saw my
happy friend fondly encircle his companion's waist with his arm
while she rested her glowing cheek on his shoulderlooking the
very impersonation of lovingtrusting bliss. In the interval
between the footman's closing the door and taking his place behind
she raised her smiling brown eyes to his faceobserving
playfully- 'I fear you must think me very insensibleFrederick:
I know it is the custom for ladies to cry on these occasionsbut I
couldn't squeeze a tear for my life.'

He only answered with a kissand pressed her still closer to his
bosom.

'But what is this?' he murmured. 'WhyEstheryou're crying now!'

'Ohit's nothing - it's only too much happiness - and the wish'
sobbed she'that our dear Helen were as happy as ourselves.'

'Bless you for that wish!' I inwardly respondedas the carriage
rolled away - 'and heaven grant it be not wholly vain!'

I thought a cloud had suddenly darkened her husband's face as she
spoke. What did he think? Could he grudge such happiness to his
dear sister and his friend as he now felt himself? At such a
moment it was impossible. The contrast between her fate and his
must darken his bliss for a time. Perhapstoohe thought of me:
perhaps he regretted the part he had had in preventing our union
by omitting to help usif not by actually plotting against us.
exonerated him from that charge nowand deeply lamented my former
ungenerous suspicions; but he had wronged usstill - I hopedI
trusted that he had. He had not attempted to cheek the course of
our love by actually damming up the streams in their passagebut
he had passively watched the two currents wandering through life's


arid wildernessdeclining to clear away the obstructions that
divided themand secretly hoping that both would lose themselves
in the sand before they could be joined in one. And meantime he
had been quietly proceeding with his own affairs; perhapshis
heart and head had been so full of his fair lady that he had had
but little thought to spare for others. Doubtless he had made his
first acquaintance with her - his first intimate acquaintance at
least - during his three months' sojourn at F-for I now
recollected that he had once casually let fall an intimation that
his aunt and sister had a young friend staying with them at the
timeand this accounted for at least one-half his silence about
all transactions there. NowtooI saw a reason for many little
things that had slightly puzzled me before; among the restfor
sundry departures from Woodfordand absences more or less
prolongedfor which he never satisfactorily accountedand
concerning which he hated to be questioned on his return. Well
might the servant say his master was 'very close.' But why this
strange reserve to me? Partlyfrom that remarkable idiosyncrasy
to which I have before alluded; partlyperhapsfrom tenderness to
my feelingsor fear to disturb my philosophy by touching upon the
infectious theme of love.

CHAPTER LII

The tardy gig had overtaken me at last. I entered itand bade the
man who brought it drive to Grassdale Manor - I was too busy with
my own thoughts to care to drive it myself. I would see Mrs.
Huntingdon - there could be no impropriety in that now that her
husband had been dead above a year - and by her indifference or her
joy at my unexpected arrival I could soon tell whether her heart
was truly mine. But my companiona loquaciousforward fellow
was not disposed to leave me to the indulgence of my private
cogitations.

'There they go!' said heas the carriages filed away before us.
'There'll be brave doings on yonder to-dayas what come to-morra.

-Know anything of that familysir? or you're a stranger in these
parts?'
'I know them by report.'

'Humph! There's the best of 'em goneanyhow. And I suppose the
old missis is agoing to leave after this stir's gotten overedand
take herself offsomewhereto live on her bit of a jointure; and
the young 'un - at least the new 'un (she's none so very young) is
coming down to live at the Grove.'

'Is Mr. Hargrave marriedthen?'

'Aysira few months since. He should a been wed aforeto a
widow ladybut they couldn't agree over the money: she'd a rare
long purseand Mr. Hargrave wanted it all to hisself; but she
wouldn't let it goand so then they fell out. This one isn't
quite as richnor as handsome eitherbut she hasn't been married
before. She's very plainthey sayand getting on to forty or
pastand soyou knowif she didn't jump at this hopportunity
she thought she'd never get a better. I guess she thought such a
handsome young husband was worth all 'at ever she hadand he might
take it and welcomebut I lay she'll rue her bargain afore long.
They say she begins already to see 'at he isn't not altogether that


nicegenerousperlitedelightful gentleman 'at she thought him
afore marriage - he begins a being careless and masterful already.
Ayand she'll find him harder and carelesser nor she thinks on.'

'You seem to be well acquainted with him' I observed.

'I amsir; I've known him since he was quite a young gentleman;
and a proud 'un he wasand a wilful. I was servant yonder for
several years; but I couldn't stand their niggardly ways - she got
ever longer and worsedid missiswith her nipping and screwing
and watching and grudging; so I thought I'd find another place.'

'Are we not near the house?' said Iinterrupting him.

'Yessir; yond's the park.'

My heart sank within me to behold that stately mansion in the midst
of its expansive grounds. The park as beautiful nowin its wintry
garbas it could be in its summer glory: the majestic sweepthe
undulating swell and falldisplayed to full advantage in that robe
of dazzling puritystainless and printless - save one long
winding track left by the trooping deer - the stately timber-trees
with their heavy-laden branches gleaming white against the dull
grey sky; the deepencircling woods; the broad expanse of water
sleeping in frozen quiet; and the weeping ash and willow drooping
their snow-clad boughs above it - all presented a picturestriking
indeedand pleasing to an unencumbered mindbut by no means
encouraging to me. There was one comforthowever- all this was
entailed upon little Arthurand could not under any circumstances
strictly speakingbe his mother's. But how was she situated?
Overcoming with a sudden effort my repugnance to mention her name
to my garrulous companionI asked him if he knew whether her late
husband had left a willand how the property had been disposed of.
Ohyeshe knew all about it; and I was quickly informed that to
her had been left the full control and management of the estate
during her son's minoritybesides the absoluteunconditional
possession of her own fortune (but I knew that her father had not
given her much)and the small additional sum that had been settled
upon her before marriage.

Before the close of the explanation we drew up at the park-gates.
Now for the trial. If I should find her within - but alas! she
might be still at Staningley: her brother had given me no
intimation to the contrary. I inquired at the porter's lodge if
Mrs. Huntingdon were at home. Noshe was with her aunt in -shire
but was expected to return before Christmas. She usually spent
most of her time at Staningleyonly coming to Grassdale
occasionallywhen the management of affairsor the interest of
her tenants and dependentsrequired her presence.

'Near what town is Staningley situated?' I asked. The requisite
information was soon obtained. 'Now thenmy mangive me the
reinsand we'll return to M-. I must have some breakfast at the
Rose and Crown,and then away to Staningley by the first coach
for -.'

At M- I had time before the coach started to replenish my forces
with a hearty breakfastand to obtain the refreshment of my usual
morning's ablutionsand the amelioration of some slight change in
my toiletand also to despatch a short note to my mother
(excellent son that I was)to assure her that I was still in
existenceand to excuse my non-appearance at the expected time.
It was a long journey to Staningley for those slow-travelling days
but I did not deny myself needful refreshment on the roadnor even


a night's rest at a wayside innchoosing rather to brook a little
delay than to present myself wornwildand weather-beaten before
my mistress and her auntwho would be astonished enough to see me
without that. Next morningthereforeI not only fortified myself
with as substantial a breakfast as my excited feelings would allow
me to swallowbut I bestowed a little more than usual time and
care upon my toilet; andfurnished with a change of linen from my
small carpet-bagwell-brushed clotheswell-polished bootsand
neat new glovesI mounted 'The Lightning' and resumed my journey.
I had nearly two stages yet before mebut the coachI was
informedpassed through the neighbourhood of Staningleyand
having desired to be set down as near the Hall as possibleI had
nothing to do but to sit with folded arms and speculate upon the
coming hour.

It was a clearfrosty morning. The very fact of sitting exalted
aloftsurveying the snowy landscape and sweet sunny skyinhaling
the purebracing airand crunching away over the crisp frozen
snowwas exhilarating enough in itself; but add to this the idea
of to what goal I was hasteningand whom I expected to meetand
you may have some faint conception of my frame of mind at the time
- only a faint onethough: for my heart swelled with unspeakable
delightand my spirits rose almost to madnessin spite of my
prudent endeavours to bind them down to a reasonable platitude by
thinking of the undeniable difference between Helen's rank and
mine; of all that she had passed through since our parting; of her
longunbroken silence; andabove allof her coolcautious aunt
whose counsels she would doubtless be careful not to slight again.
These considerations made my heart flutter with anxietyand my
chest heave with impatience to get the crisis over; but they could
not dim her image in my mindor mar the vivid recollection of what
had been said and felt between usor destroy the keen anticipation
of what was to be: in factI could not realise their terrors now.
Towards the close of the journeyhowevera couple of my fellowpassengers
kindly came to my assistanceand brought me low enough.

'Fine land this' said one of thempointing with his umbrella to
the wide fields on the rightconspicuous for their compact
hedgerowsdeepwell-cut ditchesand fine timber-treesgrowing
sometimes on the borderssometimes in the midst of the enclosure:
'very fine landif you saw it in the summer or spring.'

'Ay' responded the othera gruff elderly manwith a drab
greatcoat buttoned up to the chinand a cotton umbrella between
his knees. 'It's old Maxwell'sI suppose.'

'It was hissir; but he's dead nowyou're awareand has left it
all to his niece.'

'All?'

'Every rood of itand the mansion-house and all! every hatom of
his worldly goodsexcept just a trifleby way of remembranceto
his nephew down in -shireand an annuity to his wife.'

'It's strangesir!'

'It issir; and she wasn't his own niece neither. But he had no
near relations of his own - none but a nephew he'd quarrelled with;
and he always had a partiality for this one. And then his wife
advised him to itthey say: she'd brought most of the property
and it was her wish that this lady should have it.'

'Humph! She'll be a fine catch for somebody.'


'She will so. She's a widowbut quite young yetand uncommon
handsome: a fortune of her ownbesidesand only one childand
she's nursing a fine estate for him in -. There'll be lots to
speak for her! 'fraid there's no chance for uz' - (facetiously
jogging me with his elbowas well as his companion) - 'hahaha!
No offencesirI hope?' - (to me). 'Ahem! I should think she'll
marry none but a nobleman myself. Look yesir' resumed he
turning to his other neighbourand pointing past me with his
umbrella'that's the Hall: grand parkyou seeand all them
woods - plenty of timber thereand lots of game. Hallo! what
now?'

This exclamation was occasioned by the sudden stoppage of the coach
at the park-gates.

'Gen'leman for Staningley Hall?' cried the coachman and I rose and
threw my carpet-bag on to the groundpreparatory to dropping
myself down after it.

'Sicklysir?' asked my talkative neighbourstaring me in the
face. I daresay it was white enough.

'No. Herecoachman!'

'Thank'eesir. - All right!'

The coachman pocketed his fee and drove awayleaving menot
walking up the parkbut pacing to and fro before its gateswith
folded armsand eyes fixed upon the groundan overwhelming force
of imagesthoughtsimpressions crowding on my mindand nothing
tangibly distinct but this: My love had been cherished in vain my
hope was gone for ever; I must tear myself away at onceand
banish or suppress all thoughts of herlike the remembrance of a
wildmad dream. Gladly would I have lingered round the place for
hoursin the hope of catching at least one distant glimpse of her
before I wentbut it must not be - I must not suffer her to see
me; for what could have brought me hither but the hope of reviving
her attachmentwith a view hereafter to obtain her hand? And
could I bear that she should think me capable of such a thing? - of
presuming upon the acquaintance - the loveif you will accidentally
contractedor rather forced upon her against her
willwhen she was an unknown fugitivetoiling for her own
supportapparently without fortunefamilyor connections; to
come upon her nowwhen she was reinstated in her proper sphere
and claim a share in her prosperitywhichhad it never failed
herwould most certainly have kept her unknown to me for ever?
And thistoowhen we had parted sixteen months agoand she had
expressly forbidden me to hope for a re-union in this worldand
never sent me a line or a message from that day to this. No! The
very idea was intolerable.

And even if she should have a lingering affection for me still
ought I to disturb her peace by awakening those feelings? to
subject her to the struggles of conflicting duty and inclination to
whichsoever side the latter might allureor the former
imperatively call her - whether she should deem it her duty to risk
the slights and censures of the worldthe sorrow and displeasure
of those she lovedfor a romantic idea of truth and constancy to
meor to sacrifice her individual wishes to the feelings of her
friends and her own sense of prudence and the fitness of things?
No - and I would not! I would go at onceand she should never
know that I had approached the place of her abode: for though I
might disclaim all idea of ever aspiring to her handor even of


soliciting a place in her friendly regardher peace should not be
broken by my presencenor her heart afflicted by the sight of my
fidelity.

'Adieu thendear Helenforever! Forever adieu!'

So said I - and yet I could not tear myself away. I moved a few
pacesand then looked backfor one last view of her stately home
that I might have its outward format leastimpressed upon my
mind as indelibly as her own imagewhichalas! I must not see
again - then walked a few steps further; and thenlost in
melancholy musingspaused again and leant my back against a rough
old tree that grew beside the road.

CHAPTER LIII

While standing thusabsorbed in my gloomy reveriea gentleman's
carriage came round the corner of the road. I did not look at it;
and had it rolled quietly by meI should not have remembered the
fact of its appearance at all; but a tiny voice from within it
roused me by exclaiming'Mammamammahere's Mr. Markham!'

I did not hear the replybut presently the same voice answered
'It is indeedmamma - look for yourself.'

I did not raise my eyesbut I suppose mamma lookedfor a clear
melodious voicewhose tones thrilled through my nervesexclaimed
'Ohaunt! here's Mr. MarkhamArthur's friend! StopRichard!'

There was such evidence of joyous though suppressed excitement in
the utterance of those few words - especially that tremulous'Oh
aunt' - that it threw me almost off my guard. The carriage stopped
immediatelyand I looked up and met the eye of a palegrave
elderly lady surveying me from the open window. She bowedand so
did Iand then she withdrew her headwhile Arthur screamed to the
footman to let him out; but before that functionary could descend
from his box a hand was silently put forth from the carriage
window. I knew that handthough a black glove concealed its
delicate whiteness and half its fair proportionsand quickly
seizing itI pressed it in my own - ardently for a momentbut
instantly recollecting myselfI dropped itand it was immediately
withdrawn.

'Were you coming to see usor only passing by?' asked the low
voice of its ownerwhoI feltwas attentively surveying my
countenance from behind the thick black veil whichwith the
shadowing panelsentirely concealed her own from me.

'I - I came to see the place' faltered I.

'The place' repeated shein a tone which betokened more
displeasure or disappointment than surprise.

'Will you not enter itthen?'

'If you wish it.'

'Can you doubt?'

'Yesyes! he must enter' cried Arthurrunning round from the


other door; and seizing my hand in both hishe shook it heartily.

'Do you remember mesir?' said he.

'Yesfull wellmy little manaltered though you are' replied I
surveying the comparatively tallslim young gentlemanwith his
mother's image visibly stamped upon his fairintelligent features
in spite of the blue eyes beaming with gladnessand the bright
locks clustering beneath his cap.

'Am I not grown?' said hestretching himself up to his full
height.

'Grown! three inchesupon my word!'

'I was seven last birthday' was the proud rejoinder. 'In seven
years more I shall be as tall as you nearly.'

'Arthur' said his mother'tell him to come in. Go onRichard.'

There was a touch of sadness as well as coldness in her voicebut
I knew not to what to ascribe it. The carriage drove on and
entered the gates before us. My little companion led me up the
parkdiscoursing merrily all the way. Arrived at the hall-doorI
paused on the steps and looked round mewaiting to recover my
composureif possible - orat any rateto remember my new-formed
resolutions and the principles on which they were founded; and it
was not till Arthur had been for some time gently pulling my coat
and repeating his invitations to enterthat I at length consented
to accompany him into the apartment where the ladies awaited us.

Helen eyed me as I entered with a kind of gentleserious scrutiny
and politely asked after Mrs. Markham and Rose. I respectfully
answered her inquiries. Mrs. Maxwell begged me to be seated
observing it was rather coldbut she supposed I had not travelled
far that morning.

'Not quite twenty miles' I answered.

'Not on foot!'

'NoMadamby coach.'

'Here's Rachelsir' said Arthurthe only truly happy one amongst
usdirecting my attention to that worthy individualwho had just
entered to take her mistress's things. She vouchsafed me an almost
friendly smile of recognition - a favour that demandedat leasta
civil salutation on my partwhich was accordingly given and
respectfully returned - she had seen the error of her former
estimation of my character.

When Helen was divested of her lugubrious bonnet and veilher
heavy winter cloak&c.she looked so like herself that I knew not
how to bear it. I was particularly glad to see her beautiful black
hairunstinted stilland unconcealed in its glossy luxuriance.

'Mamma has left off her widow's cap in honour of uncle's marriage'
observed Arthurreading my looks with a child's mingled simplicity
and quickness of observation. Mamma looked grave and Mrs. Maxwell
shook her head. 'And aunt Maxwell is never going to leave off
hers' persisted the naughty boy; but when he saw that his pertness
was seriously displeasing and painful to his aunthe went and
silently put his arm round her neckkissed her cheekand withdrew
to the recess of one of the great bay-windowswhere he quietly


amused himself with his dogwhile Mrs. Maxwell gravely discussed
with me the interesting topics of the weatherthe seasonand the
roads. I considered her presence very useful as a check upon my
natural impulses - an antidote to those emotions of tumultuous
excitement which would otherwise have carried me away against my
reason and my will; but just then I felt the restraint almost
intolerableand I had the greatest difficulty in forcing myself to
attend to her remarks and answer them with ordinary politeness; for
I was sensible that Helen was standing within a few feet of me
beside the fire. I dared not look at herbut I felt her eye was
upon meand from one hastyfurtive glanceI thought her cheek
was slightly flushedand that her fingersas she played with her
watch-chainwere agitated with that restlesstrembling motion
which betokens high excitement.

'Tell me' said sheavailing herself of the first pause in the
attempted conversation between her aunt and meand speaking fast
and lowwith her eyes bent on the gold chain - for I now ventured
another glance - 'Tell me how you all are at Linden-hope - has
nothing happened since I left you?'

'I believe not.'

'Nobody dead? nobody married?'

'No.'

'Or - or expecting to marry? - No old ties dissolved or new ones
formed? no old friends forgotten or supplanted?'

She dropped her voice so low in the last sentence that no one could
have caught the concluding words but myselfand at the same time
turned her eyes upon me with a dawning smilemost sweetly
melancholyand a look of timid though keen inquiry that made my
cheeks tingle with inexpressible emotions.

'I believe not' I answered. 'Certainly notif others are as
little changed as I.' Her face glowed in sympathy with mine.

'And you really did not mean to call?' she exclaimed.

'I feared to intrude.'

'To intrude!' cried shewith an impatient gesture. 'What - ' but
as if suddenly recollecting her aunt's presenceshe checked
herselfandturning to that ladycontinued - 'Whyauntthis
man is my brother's close friendand was my own intimate
acquaintance (for a few short months at least)and professed a
great attachment to my boy - and when he passes the houseso many
scores of miles from his homehe declines to look in for fear of
intruding!'

'Mr. Markham is over-modest' observed Mrs. Maxwell.

'Over-ceremonious rather' said her niece - 'over - wellit's no
matter.' And turning from meshe seated herself in a chair beside
the tableand pulling a book to her by the coverbegan to turn
over the leaves in an energetic kind of abstraction.

'If I had known' said I'that you would have honoured me by
remembering me as an intimate acquaintanceI most likely should
not have denied myself the pleasure of calling upon youbut I
thought you had forgotten me long ago.'


'You judged of others by yourself' muttered she without raising
her eyes from the bookbut reddening as she spokeand hastily
turning over a dozen leaves at once.

There was a pauseof which Arthur thought he might venture to
avail himself to introduce his handsome young setterand show me
how wonderfully it was grown and improvedand to ask after the
welfare of its father Sancho. Mrs. Maxwell then withdrew to take
off her things. Helen immediately pushed the book from herand
after silently surveying her sonhis friendand his dog for a few
momentsshe dismissed the former from the room under pretence of
wishing him to fetch his last new book to show me. The child
obeyed with alacrity; but I continued caressing the dog. The
silence might have lasted till its master's returnhad it depended
on me to break it; butin half a minute or lessmy hostess
impatiently roseandtaking her former station on the rug between
me and the chimney cornerearnestly exclaimed


'Gilbertwhat is the matter with you? - why are you so changed?
It is a very indiscreet questionI know' she hastened to add:
'perhaps a very rude one - don't answer it if you think so - but I
hate mysteries and concealments.'

'I am not changedHelen - unfortunately I am as keen and
passionate as ever - it is not Iit is circumstances that are
changed.'

'What circumstances? Do tell me!' Her cheek was blanched with the
very anguish of anxiety - could it be with the fear that I had
rashly pledged my faith to another?

'I'll tell you at once' said I. 'I will confess that I came here
for the purpose of seeing you (not without some monitory misgivings
at my own presumptionand fears that I should be as little welcome
as expected when I came)but I did not know that this estate was
yours until enlightened on the subject of your inheritance by the
conversation of two fellow-passengers in the last stage of my
journey; and then I saw at once the folly of the hopes I had
cherishedand the madness of retaining them a moment longer; and
though I alighted at your gatesI determined not to enter within
them; I lingered a few minutes to see the placebut was fully
resolved to return to M- without seeing its mistress.'

'And if my aunt and I had not been just returning from our morning
driveI should have seen and heard no more of you?'

'I thought it would be better for both that we should not meet'
replied Ias calmly as I couldbut not daring to speak above my
breathfrom conscious inability to steady my voiceand not daring
to look in her face lest my firmness should forsake me altogether.
'I thought an interview would only disturb your peace and madden
me. But I am gladnowof this opportunity of seeing you once
more and knowing that you have not forgotten meand of assuring
you that I shall never cease to remember you.'

There was a moment's pause. Mrs. Huntingdon moved awayand stood
in the recess of the window. Did she regard this as an intimation
that modesty alone prevented me from asking her hand? and was she
considering how to repulse me with the smallest injury to my
feelings? Before I could speak to relieve her from such a
perplexityshe broke the silence herself by suddenly turning
towards me and observing


'You might have had such an opportunity before - as farI meanas


regards assuring me of your kindly recollectionsand yourself of
mineif you had written to me.'

'I would have done sobut I did not know your addressand did not
like to ask your brotherbecause I thought he would object to my
writing; but this would not have deterred me for a momentif I
could have ventured to believe that you expected to hear from me
or even wasted a thought upon your unhappy friend; but your silence
naturally led me to conclude myself forgotten.'

'Did you expect me to write to youthen?'

'NoHelen - Mrs. Huntingdon' said Iblushing at the implied
imputation'certainly not; but if you had sent me a message
through your brotheror even asked him about me now and then - '

'I did ask about you frequently. I was not going to do more'
continued shesmiling'so long as you continued to restrict
yourself to a few polite inquiries about my health.'

'Your brother never told me that you had mentioned my name.'

'Did you ever ask him?'

'No; for I saw he did not wish to be questioned about youor to
afford the slightest encouragement or assistance to my too
obstinate attachment.' Helen did not reply. 'And he was perfectly
right' added I. But she remained in silencelooking out upon the
snowy lawn. 'OhI will relieve her of my presence' thought I;
and immediately I rose and advanced to take leavewith a most
heroic resolution - but pride was at the bottom of itor it could
not have carried me through.

'Are you going already?' said shetaking the hand I offeredand
not immediately letting it go.

'Why should I stay any longer?'

'Wait till Arthur comesat least.'

Only too glad to obeyI stood and leant against the opposite side
of the window.

'You told me you were not changed' said my companion: 'you are very
much so.'

'NoMrs. HuntingdonI only ought to be.'

'Do you mean to maintain that you have the same regard for me that
you had when last we met?'

'I have; but it would be wrong to talk of it now.'

'It was wrong to talk of it thenGilbert; it would not now unless
to do so would be to violate the truth.'

I was too much agitated to speak; butwithout waiting for an
answershe turned away her glistening eye and crimson cheekand
threw up the window and looked outwhether to calm her own
excited feelingsor to relieve her embarrassmentor only to pluck
that beautiful half-blown Christmas-rose that grew upon the little
shrub withoutjust peeping from the snow that had hithertono
doubtdefended it from the frostand was now melting away in the
sun. Pluck ithowevershe didand having gently dashed the


glittering powder from its leavesapproached it to her lips and
said:

'This rose is not so fragrant as a summer flowerbut it has stood
through hardships none of them could bear: the cold rain of winter
has sufficed to nourish itand its faint sun to warm it; the bleak
winds have not blanched itor broken its stemand the keen frost
has not blighted it. LookGilbertit is still fresh and blooming
as a flower can bewith the cold snow even now on its petals. -
Will you have it?'

I held out my hand: I dared not speak lest my emotion should
overmaster me. She laid the rose across my palmbut I scarcely
closed my fingers upon itso deeply was I absorbed in thinking
what might be the meaning of her wordsand what I ought to do or
say upon the occasion; whether to give way to my feelings or
restrain them still. Misconstruing this hesitation into
indifference - or reluctance even - to accept her giftHelen
suddenly snatched it from my handthrew it out on to the snow
shut down the window with an emphasisand withdrew to the fire.

'Helenwhat means this?' I criedelectrified at this startling
change in her demeanour.

'You did not understand my gift' said she - 'orwhat is worse
you despised it. I'm sorry I gave it you; but since I did make
such a mistakethe only remedy I could think of was to take it
away.'

'You misunderstood me cruelly' I repliedand in a minute I had
opened the window againleaped outpicked up the flowerbrought
it inand presented it to herimploring her to give it me again
and I would keep it for ever for her sakeand prize it more highly
than anything in the world I possessed.

'And will this content you?' said sheas she took it in her hand.

'It shall' I answered.

'Therethen; take it.'

I pressed it earnestly to my lipsand put it in my bosomMrs.
Huntingdon looking on with a half-sarcastic smile.

'Noware you going?' said she.

'I will if - if I must.'

'You are changed' persisted she - 'you are grown either very proud
or very indifferent.'

'I am neitherHelen - Mrs. Huntingdon. If you could see my heart

-'
'You must be one- if not both. And why Mrs. Huntingdon? - why
not Helenas before?'

'Helenthen - dear Helen!' I murmured. I was in an agony of
mingled lovehopedelightuncertaintyand suspense.

'The rose I gave you was an emblem of my heart' said she; 'would
you take it away and leave me here alone?'

'Would you give me your hand tooif I asked it?'


'Have I not said enough?' she answeredwith a most enchanting
smile. I snatched her handand would have fervently kissed it
but suddenly checked myselfand said


'But have you considered the consequences?'

'HardlyI thinkor I should not have offered myself to one too
proud to take meor too indifferent to make his affection outweigh
my worldly goods.'

Stupid blockhead that I was! - I trembled to clasp her in my arms
but dared not believe in so much joyand yet restrained myself to
say


'But if you should repent!'

'It would be your fault' she replied: 'I never shallunless you
bitterly disappoint me. If you have not sufficient confidence in
my affection to believe thislet me alone.'

'My darling angel - my own Helen' cried Inow passionately
kissing the hand I still retainedand throwing my left arm around
her'you never shall repentif it depend on me alone. But have
you thought of your aunt?' I trembled for the answerand clasped
her closer to my heart in the instinctive dread of losing my newfound
treasure.

'My aunt must not know of it yet' said she. 'She would think it a
rashwild stepbecause she could not imagine how well I know you;
but she must know you herselfand learn to like you. You must
leave us nowafter lunchand come again in springand make a
longer stayand cultivate her acquaintanceand I know you will
like each other.'

'And then you will be mine' said Iprinting a kiss upon her lips
and anotherand another; for I was as daring and impetuous now as
I had been backward and constrained before.

'No - in another year' replied shegently disengaging herself
from my embracebut still fondly clasping my hand.

'Another year! OhHelenI could not wait so long!'

'Where is your fidelity?'

'I mean I could not endure the misery of so long a separation.'

'It would not be a separation: we will write every day: my spirit
shall be always with youand sometimes you shall see me with your
bodily eye. I will not be such a hypocrite as to pretend that I
desire to wait so long myselfbut as my marriage is to please
myselfaloneI ought to consult my friends about the time of it.'

'Your friends will disapprove.'

'They will not greatly disapprovedear Gilbert' said she
earnestly kissing my hand; 'they cannotwhen they know youorif
they couldthey would not be true friends - I should not care for
their estrangement. Now are you satisfied?' She looked up in my
face with a smile of ineffable tenderness.

'Can I be otherwisewith your love? And you do love meHelen?'
said Inot doubting the factbut wishing to hear it confirmed by


her own acknowledgment.

'If you loved as I do' she earnestly replied'you would not have
so nearly lost me - these scruples of false delicacy and pride
would never thus have troubled you - you would have seen that the
greatest worldly distinctions and discrepancies of rankbirthand
fortune are as dust in the balance compared with the unity of
accordant thoughts and feelingsand truly lovingsympathising
hearts and souls.'

'But this is too much happiness' said Iembracing her again; 'I
have not deserved itHelen - I dare not believe in such felicity:
and the longer I have to waitthe greater will be my dread that
something will intervene to snatch you from me - and thinka
thousand things may happen in a year! - I shall be in one long
fever of restless terror and impatience all the time. And besides
winter is such a dreary season.'

'I thought so too' replied she gravely: 'I would not be married
in winter - in Decemberat least' she addedwith a shudder - for
in that month had occurred both the ill-starred marriage that had
bound her to her former husbandand the terrible death that
released her - 'and therefore I said another yearin spring.'

'Next spring?'

'Nono - next autumnperhaps.'

'Summerthen?'

'Wellthe close of summer. There now! be satisfied.'

While she was speaking Arthur re-entered the room - good boy for
keeping out so long.

'MammaI couldn't find the book in either of the places you told
me to look for it' (there was a conscious something in mamma's
smile that seemed to say'NodearI knew you could not')'but
Rachel got it for me at last. LookMr. Markhama natural
historywith all kinds of birds and beasts in itand the reading
as nice as the pictures!'

In great good humour I sat down to examine the bookand drew the
little fellow between my knees. Had he come a minute before I
should have received him less graciouslybut now I affectionately
stroked his curling looksand even kissed his ivory forehead: he
was my own Helen's sonand therefore mine; and as such I have ever
since regarded him. That pretty child is now a fine young man: he
has realised his mother's brightest expectationsand is at present
residing in Grassdale Manor with his young wife - the merry little
Helen Hattersley of yore.

I had not looked through half the book before Mrs. Maxwell appeared
to invite me into the other room to lunch. That lady's cool
distant manners rather chilled me at first; but I did my best to
propitiate herand not entirely without successI thinkeven in
that first short visit; for when I talked cheerfully to hershe
gradually became more kind and cordialand when I departed she
bade me a gracious adieuhoping ere long to have the pleasure of
seeing me again.

'But you must not go till you have seen the conservatorymy aunt's
winter garden' said Helenas I advanced to take leave of her
with as much philosophy and self-command as I could summon to my


aid.

I gladly availed myself of such a respiteand followed her into a
large and beautiful conservatoryplentifully furnished with
flowersconsidering the season - butof courseI had little
attention to spare for them. It was nothoweverfor any tender
colloquy that my companion had brought me there:


'My aunt is particularly fond of flowers' she observed'and she
is fond of Staningley too: I brought you here to offer a petition
in her behalfthat this may be her home as long as she livesand

-if it be not our home likewise - that I may often see her and be
with her; for I fear she will be sorry to lose me; and though she
leads a retired and contemplative lifeshe is apt to get lowspirited
if left too much alone.'
'By all meansdearest Helen! - do what you will with your own. I
should not dream of wishing your aunt to leave the place under any
circumstances; and we will live either here or elsewhere as you and
she may determineand you shall see her as often as you like. I
know she must be pained to part with youand I am willing to make
any reparation in my power. I love her for your sakeand her
happiness shall be as dear to me as that of my own mother.'

'Thank youdarling! you shall have a kiss for that. Good-by.
There now - thereGilbert - let me go - here's Arthur; don't
astonish his infantile brain with your madness.'

* * * * *

But it is time to bring my narrative to a close. Any one but you
would say I had made it too long already. But for your
satisfaction I will add a few words more; because I know you will
have a fellow-feeling for the old ladyand will wish to know the
last of her history. I did come again in springandagreeably to
Helen's injunctionsdid my best to cultivate her acquaintance.
She received me very kindlyhaving beendoubtlessalready
prepared to think highly of my character by her niece's too
favourable report. I turned my best side outof courseand we
got along marvellously well together. When my ambitious intentions
were made known to hershe took it more sensibly than I had
ventured to hope. Her only remark on the subjectin my hearing
was


'And soMr. Markhamyou are going to rob me of my nieceI
understand. Well! I hope God will prosper your unionand make my
dear girl happy at last. Could she have been contented to remain
singleI own I should have been better satisfied; but if she must
marry againI know of no onenow living and of a suitable ageto
whom I would more willingly resign her than yourselfor who would
be more likely to appreciate her worth and makeher truly happy
as far as I can tell.'

Of course I was delighted with the complimentand hoped to show
her that she was not mistaken in her favourable judgment.

'I havehoweverone request to offer' continued she. 'It seems
I am still to look on Staningley as my home: I wish you to make it
yours likewisefor Helen is attached to the place and to me - as I
am to her. There are painful associations connected with
Grassdalewhich she cannot easily overcome; and I shall not molest
you with my company or interference here: I am a very quiet
personand shall keep my own apartmentsand attend to my own
concernsand only see you now and then.'


Of course I most readily consented to this; and we lived in the
greatest harmony with our dear aunt until the day of her death
which melancholy event took place a few years after - melancholy
not to herself (for it came quietly upon herand she was glad to
reach her journey's end)but only to the few loving friends and
grateful dependents she left behind.

To returnhoweverto my own affairs: I was married in summeron
a glorious August morning. It took the whole eight monthsand all
Helen's kindness and goodness to bootto overcome my mother's
prejudices against my bride-electand to reconcile her to the idea
of my leaving Linden Grange and living so far away. Yet she was
gratified at her son's good fortune after alland proudly
attributed it all to his own superior merits and endowments. I
bequeathed the farm to Ferguswith better hopes of its prosperity
than I should have had a year ago under similar circumstances; for
he had lately fallen in love with the Vicar of L-'s eldest daughter

-a lady whose superiority had roused his latent virtuesand
stimulated him to the most surprising exertionsnot only to gain
her affection and esteemand to obtain a fortune sufficient to
aspire to her handbut to render himself worthy of herin his own
eyesas well as in those of her parents; and in the end he was
successfulas you already know. As for myselfI need not tell
you how happily my Helen and I have lived togetherand how blessed
we still are in each other's societyand in the promising young
scions that are growing up about us. We are just now looking
forward to the advent of you and Rosefor the time of your annual
visit draws nighwhen you must leave your dustysmokynoisy
toilingstriving city for a season of invigorating relaxation and
social retirement with us.
Till thenfarewell

GILBERT MARKHAM.

STANINGLEY: June 10TH1847.