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A Perilous Secret by Charles Reade

Part 4 out of 7

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"Ye don't say so, sir!" said she. "Well, I see your heart is good" (the
first time he had ever been told that), "and so I've a mind to risk it."

Then she quickly clapped on ten shillings a week more for color, and he
was installed. He washed his face, and then the woman conceived hopes of
him, and expressed them in rustic fashion. "Well," said she, "dirt is a
disguise. Now I look at you, you have got more mischief to do in the
world yet, I do believe."

"A deal more, I hope," said he.

It now occurred to him, all of a sudden, that really he was not in good
health, and that he had difficulties before him which required calm
nerves, and that nerves are affected by the stomach. So, not to throw a
chance away, he had the sense and the resolution to devote a few days to
health and unwholesome meditation.

This is a discordant world: even vices will not always pull the same
way. Here was a sinister villain distracted between avarice and revenge,
and sore puzzled which way to turn. Of course he could expose the real
parentage of Mary Bartley, and put both Bartley and Hope to shame, and
then the Cliffords would make Bartley disgorge the L20,000. But he,
Monckton, would not make a shilling by that, and it would be a weak
revenge on Bartley, who could now spare L20,000, and no revenge at all on
Hope, for Hope was now well-to-do, and would most likely be glad to get
his daughter back. Then, on the other hand, he could easily frighten
Bartley into giving him L5000 to keep dark, but in that case he must
forego his vengeance on Hope.

This difficulty had tormented Monckton all along; but now Mrs. Dawson had
revealed another obstacle. Young Clifford and Mary in love with each
other. What Mrs. Easton saw as a friend, with her good mother-wit, this
man saw in a moment as an enemy, viz., that this new combination dwarfed
the L20,000 altogether. Monckton had no idea that his unknown antagonist
Nurse Easton had married the pair, but the very attachment, as the
chatter-box of the Dun Cow described it, was a bitter pill to him. "Who
could have foreseen this?" said he. "It's devilish." We did not ourselves
intend our readers to feel it so, or we would not have spent so much time
over it. But as regards that one adjective, Mr. Monckton is a better
authority than we are. He had a document with him that, skillfully used,
might make mischief for a time between these lovers. But he foresaw there
could be no permanent result without the personal assistance of Mrs.
Braham. That he could have commanded fourteen years ago, but now he felt
how difficult it would be. He would have to threaten and torment her
almost to madness before she would come down to Derbyshire and declare
that this Walter Clifford was the Walter Clifford of the certificate, and
that she was his discarded wife. But Monckton was none the less resolved
she should come if necessary. Leaving him _varius distractum vitiis_, and
weighing every scheme, with its pros and cons, and, like a panther
crouching and watching before he would make his first spring, we will now
bring our other characters up to the same point, and that will not take
us long, for during the months we have skipped there were not many
events, and Mrs. Dawson has told the readers some of them, and the rest
were only detached incidents.

The most important in our opinion were:

1. That Colonel Clifford resumed his determination to marry Julia
Clifford to Walter, and pooh-poohed Fitzroy entirely, declaring him to be
five feet nothing, and therefore far below the military standard.

2. That Hope rented a cottage of Walter about three hundred yards
from the mine, and not upon the land that was leased to Bartley; that
there was a long detached building hard by, which Walter divided for
him, and turned into an office with a large window close to the
ground, and a workshop with a doorway and an aperture for a window,
but no window nor door.

3. That Hope got more and more uneasy about the L20,000, and observed to
Bartley that they must be robbing _somebody_ of it without the excuse
they once had. He, for his part, would work to disgorge his share.
Bartley replied that the money would have gone to a convent if he had not
saved it from so vile a fate. This said the astute Bartley because one
day Hope, who had his opinions on everything, inveighed against a
convent, and said no private prisons ought to exist in a free country. So
Bartley's ingenious statement stunned Hope for a minute, but did not
satisfy his conscience.

4. Hope went to London for a week, and Mary spent four days with her
husband at a hotel near the lake; but not the one held by Mrs. Easton's
sister. This change was by advice of Mrs. Easton. On this occasion Mary
played the woman. She requested Walter to get her some orange blossoms,
and she borrowed a diamond bracelet of Julia, and sat down to dinner with
her husband in evening dress, and dazzled him with her lovely arms and
bust, and her diamond bracelet and eyes that outshone it. She seemed ever
so much larger as well as lovelier, and Walter gazed at her with a sort
of loving awe, and she smiled archly at him, and it was the first time
she had really enjoyed her own beauty, or even troubled her head much
about it. They condensed a honey-moon into these four days, and came home
compensated for their patience, and more devoted than ever. But whilst
they were away Colonel Clifford fired his attorney at Mr. Bartley, and
when Mary came home, Bartley, who had lately connived at the love affair,
told Mary this, and forbade her strictly to hold any more intercourse
with Walter Clifford.

This was the state of things when "the hare with many friends," and only
one enemy, returned to his cottage late in the afternoon. But before
night everybody knew he had come home, and next morning they were all at
him in due order. No sooner was he seated in his workshop, studying the
lines of a new machine he was trying to invent, than he was startled from
intense thought into the attitude of Hogarth's enraged musician by cries
of "Mr. Hope! Mr. Hope! Mr. Hope!" and there was a little lot of eager
applicants. First a gypsy boy with long black curls and continuous
genuflections, and a fiddle, and doleful complaints that he could not
play it, and that it was the fiddle's fault.

"Well, it is for once," said Hope. "Why, you little duffer, don't you see
the bridge is too low?"

He slackened the string, removed the bridge, fitted on a higher one,
tuned it, and handed it over.

"There," said he, "play us one of the tunes of Egypt. 'The Rogue's
March,' eh? and mizzle."

The supple Oriental grinned and made obeisances, pretended not to know
"The Rogue's March" (to the hen-house), and went off playing "Johnny
Comes Marching Home." (Bridewell to wit.)

Then did Miss Clifford's French maid trip forward smirking with a parasol
to mend: _Desolee de vous deranger, Monsieur Hope, mais notre demoiselle
est au desespoir: oh, ces parasols Anglais_!

"_Connu_," said Hope, "_voyons ca_;" and in a minute repaired the
article, and the girl spread it, and went off wriggling and mincing with
it, so that there was a pronounced horse-laugh at her minauderies.

Then advanced a rough young English nurse out of a farm-house with a
child that could just toddle. She had left an enormous doll with Hope for
repairs, and the child had given her no peace for the last week. Luckily
the doll was repaired, and handed over. The mite, in whose little bosom
maternal feelings had been excited, insisted on carrying her child. The
consequence was that at about the third step they rolled over one
another, and to spectators at a little distance it was hard to say which
was the parent and which the offspring. Them the strapping lass in charge
seized roughly, and at the risk of dislocating their little limbs, tossed
into the air and caught, one on each of her own robust arms, and carried
them off stupidly irritated--for want of a grain of humor--at the
good-natured laugh this caused, and looking as if she would like to knock
their little heads together.

Under cover of this an old man in a broad hat, and seemingly infirm,
crept slowly by and looked keenly at Hope, but made no application. Only
while taking stock of Hope his eyes flashed wickedly, and much too
brightly for so old a man as he appeared. He did not go far; he got
behind a tree, and watched the premises. Then a genuine old man and
feeble came and brought Hope his clock to mend. Hope wound it up, and it
went to perfection. The old man had been a stout fellow when Hope was a
boy, but now he was weak, especially in the upper story. Hope saw at
once that the young folk had sent him there for a joke, and he did not
approve it.

"Gaffer," said he, "this will want repairing every eight days; but don't
you come here any more; I'll call on you every week, and repair it for
auld lang syne."

Whilst he toddled away, and Hope retired behind his lathe to study his
model in peace, Monckton raged at the sight of him and his popularity.

"Ay," said he, "you are a genius. You can model a steam-engine or mend a
doll, and you outwitted me, and gave me fourteen years. But you will find
me as ingenious as you at one thing, and that's revenge."

And now a higher class of visitors began to find their way to the general
favorite. The first was a fair young lady of surpassing beauty. She
strolled pensively down the green turf, cast a hasty glance in at the
workshop, and not seeing Hope, concluded he was a little tired after his
journey, and had not yet arrived. She strolled slowly down then, and
seated herself in a large garden chair, stuffed, that Hope had made, and
placed there for Colonel Clifford. That worthy frequented the spot
because he had done so for years, and because it was a sweet turfy slope;
and there was a wonderful beech-tree his father had made him plant when
he was five years old. It had a gigantic silvery stem, and those giant
branches which die crippled in a beech wood but really belong to the
isolated tree, as one Virgil discovered before we were born. Mary Bartley
then lowered her parasol, and settled into the Colonel's chair under the
shade _patulae fagi_--of the wide-spreading beech-tree.

She sat down and sighed. Monckton eyed her from his lurking-place, and
made a shrewd guess who she was, but resolved to know.

Presently Hope caught a glimpse of her, and came forward and leaned out
of the window to enjoy the sight of her. He could do that unobserved, for
he was a long way behind her at a sharp angle.

He was still a widower and this his only child, and lovely as an angel;
and he had seen her grow into ripe loveliness from a sick girl. He had
sinned for her and saved her; he had saved her again from a more terrible
death. He doted on her, and it was always a special joy to him when he
could gloat on her unseen. Then he had no need to make up an artificial
face and hide his adoration from her.

But soon a cloud came over his face and his paternal heart. He knew she
had a lover; and she looked like a girl who was waiting pensively for
him. She had not come there for him whom she knew only as her devoted
friend. At this thought the poor father sighed.

Mary's quick senses caught that, and she turned her head, and her sweet
face beamed.

"You _are_ there, after all, Mr. Hope."

Hope was delighted. Why, it was him she had come to see, after all. He
came down to her directly, radiant, and then put on a stiff manner he
often had to wear, out of fidelity to Bartley, who did not deserve it.

"This is early for you to be out, Miss Bartley."

"Of course it is," said she. "But I know it is the time of day when you
are kind to anybody that comes, and mend all their rubbish for them, and
I could kill them for their impudence in wasting your time so. And I am
as bad as the rest. For here I am wasting your time in my turn. Yes, dear
Mr. Hope, you are so kind to everybody and mend their things, I want you
to be kind to me and mend--my prospects for me."

Hope's impulse was to gather into his arms and devour with kisses this
sweet specimen of womanly tenderness, frank inconsistency, naivete,
and archness.

As he could not do that, he made himself extra stiff.

"Your prospects. Miss Bartley! Why, they are brilliant. Heiress to all
the growing wealth and power around you."

"Wealth and power!" said the girl. "What is the use of them, if our
hearts are to be broken? Oh, Mr. Hope, papa is so unkind. He has
forbidden me to speak to him." Then, gravely, "That command comes
too late."

"I fear it does," said Hope. "I have long suspected something."

"Suspected?" said Mary, turning pale. "What?"

"That you and Walter Clifford--"

"Yes," said Mary, trembling inwardly, but commanding her face.

"Are--engaged."

Mary drew a long breath. "What makes you think so?" said she,
looking down.

"Well, there is a certain familiarity--no, that is too strong a word; but
there is more ease between you than there was. Ever since I came back
from Belgium I have seen that the preliminaries of courtship were over,
and you two looked on yourselves as one."

"Mr. Hope," said this good, arch girl, and left off panting, "you are
a terrible man. Papa is eyes and no eyes. You frighten me; but not
very much, for you would not watch me so closely if you did not love
me--a little."

"Not a little, Miss Bartley."

"Mary, please."

"Mary. I have seen you a sickly child; I have been anxious--who would
not? I have seen you grow in health and strength, and every virtue."

"And seen me tumble into the water and frighten you out of your senses,
and there's nothing one loves like a downright pest, especially if she
loves us; and I do love you, Mr. Hope, dearly, dearly, and I promise to
be a pest to you all your days. Ah, here he comes at last." She made two
eager steps to meet him, then she said, "Oh! I forgot," and came back
again and looked prodigiously demure and innocent.

Walter came on with his usual rush, crying, "Mary, how good of you!"

Mary put her fingers in her ears. "No, no, no; we are forbidden to
communicate." Then, imitating a stiff man of business--for she was a
capital mimic when she chose--"any communication you may wish to honor me
with must be addressed to this gentleman, Mr. Hope; he will convey it to
me, and it shall meet with all the attention it deserves."

Walter laughed, and said, "That's ingenious."

"Of course it is ingenuous," said Mary, subtly. "That's my character
to a fault."

"Well, young people," said Hope, "I am not sure that I have time to
repeat verbal communications to keen ears that heard them. And I think I
can make myself more useful to you. Walter, your father has set his
lawyer on to Mr. Bartley, and what is the consequence? Mr. Bartley
forbids Mary to speak to you, and the next thing will be a summons,
lawsuit, and a great defeat, and loss to your father and you. Mr. Bartley
sent me the lawyer's letter. He hopes to get out of a clear contract by
pleading a surprise. Now you must go to the lawyer--it is no use arguing
with your father in his present heat--and you must assure him there has
been no surprise. Why, I called on Colonel Clifford years ago, and told
him there was coal on that farm; and I almost went on my knees to him to
profit by it."

"You don't say that, Mr. Hope?"

"I do say it, and I shall have to swear it. You may be sure Mr. Bartley
will subpoena me, if this wretched squabble gets into court."

"But what did my father say to you?"

"He was kind and courteous to me. I was poor as a rat, and dusty with
travel--on foot; and he was a fine gentleman, as he always is, when he is
not in too great a passion. He told me more than one land-owner had
wasted money in this county groping for coal. He would not waste his
money nor dirty his fingers. But he thanked me for my friendly zeal, and
rewarded me with ten shillings."

"Oh!" cried Walter, and hid his face in his hands. As for Mary, she put
her hand gently but quietly on Hope's shoulder, as if to protect him from
such insults.

"Why, children," said Hope, pleased at their sympathy, but too manly to
hunt for it, "it was more than he thought the information worth, and I
assure you it was a blessed boon to me. I had spent my last shilling, and
there I was trapesing across the island on a wild-goose chase with my
reaping-hook and my fiddle; and my poor little Grace, that I--that I--"

Mary's hand went a moment to his other shoulder, and she murmured through
her tears, "You have got _me_."

Then Hope was happy again, and indeed the simplest woman can find in a
moment the very word that is balm of Gilead to a sorrowful man.

However, Hope turned it off and continued his theme. The jury, he said,
would pounce on that ten shillings as the Colonel's true estimate of his
coal, and he would figure in the case as a dog in the manger who grudged
Bartley the profits of a risky investment he had merely sneered at and
not opposed, until it turned out well; and also disregarded the interests
of the little community to whom the mine was a boon. "No," said Hope;
"tell your lawyer that I am Bartley's servant, but love equity. I have
proposed to Bartley to follow a wonderful seam of coal under Colonel
Clifford's park. We have no business there. So if the belligerents will
hear reason I will make Bartley pay a royalty on every ton that comes to
the surface from any part of the mine; and that will be L1200 a year to
the Cliffords. Take this to the lawyer and tell him to unfix that hero's
bayonet, or he will charge at the double and be the death of his own
money--and yours."

Walter threw up his hands with amazement and admiration. "What a
head!" said he.

"Fiddledee!" said Mary; "what a heart!"

"In a word, a phoenix," said Hope, dryly. "Praise is sweet, especially
behind one's back. So pray go on, unless you have something better to
say to each other;" and Hope retired briskly into his office. But when
the lovers took him at his word, and began to strut up and down hand in
hand, and murmur love's music into each other's ears, he could not take
his eyes off them, and his thoughts were sad. She had only known that
young fellow a few months, yet she loved him passionately, and he would
take her away from her father before she even knew all that father had
done and suffered for her. When the revelation did come she would
perhaps be a wife and a mother, and then even that revelation would fall
comparatively flat.

Besides his exceptional grief, he felt the natural pang of a father at
the prospect of resigning her to a husband. Hard is the lot of parents;
and, above all, of a parent with one child whom he adores. Many other
creatures love their young tenderly, and their young leave them. But then
the infancy and youth of those creatures are so short. In a few months
the young shift for themselves, forgetting and forgotten. But with our
young the helpless periods of infancy and youth are so long. Parental
anxiety goes through so many trials and so various, and they all strike
roots into the parent's heart. Yet after twenty years of love and hope
and fear comes a handsome young fellow, a charming highwayman to a
parent's eye, and whisks her away after two months' courtship. Then, oh,
ye young, curb for a moment your blind egotism, and feel a little for the
parents who have felt so much for you! You rather like William Hope, so
let him help you to pity your own parents. See his sad face as he looks
at the love he is yet too unselfish to discourage. To save that tender
root, a sickly child, he transplanted it from his own garden, and still
tended it with loving care for many a year. Another gathers the flower.
He watched and tended and trembled over the tender nestling. The young
bird is trying her wings before his eyes; soon she will spread them, and
fly away to a newer nest and a younger bosom.

In this case, however, the young people had their troubles too, and their
pretty courtship was soon interrupted by an unwelcome and unexpected
visitor, who, as a rule, avoided that part, for the very reason that
Colonel Clifford frequented it. However, he came there to-day to speak to
Hope. Mr. Bartley, for he it was, would have caught the lovers if he had
come silently; but he was talking to a pitman as he came, and Mary's
quick ears heard his voice round the corner.

"Papa!" cried she. "Oh, don't let him see us! Hide!"

"Where?"

"Anywhere--in here--quick!" and she flew into Hope's workshop, which
indeed offered great facilities for hiding. However, to make sure, they
crouched behind the lathe and a huge plank of beautiful mahogany Hope was
very proud of.

As soon as they were hidden, Mary began to complain in a whisper. "This
comes of our clandestine m--. Our very life is a falsehood; concealment
is torture--and degradation."

"I don't feel it. I call this good fun."

"Oh, Walter! Good fun! For shame! Hush!"

Bartley bustled on to the green, called Hope out, and sat down in Colonel
Clifford's chair. Hope came to him, and Bartley, who had in his hand some
drawings of the strata in the coal mine, handed the book to Hope, and
said, "I quite agree with you. That is the seam to follow: there's a
fortune in it."

"Then you are satisfied with me?"

"More than satisfied."

"I have something to ask in return."

"I am not likely to say no, my good friend," was the cordial reply.

"Thank you. Well, then, there is an attachment between Mary and young
Clifford."

Bartley was on his guard directly.

"Her happiness is at stake. That gives me a right to interfere, and say,
'be kind to her.'"

"Am I not kind to her? Was any parent ever kinder? But I must be wise as
well as kind. Colonel Clifford can disinherit his son."

At this point the young people ventured to peep and listen, taking
advantage of the circumstance that both Hope and Bartley were at some
distance, with their backs turned to the workshop.

So they both heard Hope say,

"Withdraw your personal opposition to the match, and the other difficulty
can be got over. If you want to be kind to a young woman, it is no use
feeding her ambition and her avarice, for these are a man's idols. A
woman's is love."

Mary wafted the speaker a furtive kiss.

"To enrich that dear child after your death, thirty years hence, and
break her heart in the flower of her youth, is to be unkind to her; and
if you are unkind to her, our compact is broken."

"Unkind to her," said Bartley. "What male parent has ever been more kind,
more vigilant? Sentimental weakness is another matter. My affection is
more solid. Can I oblige you in anything that is business?"

"Mr. Bartley," said Hope, "you can not divert me from the more important
question: business is secondary to that dear girl's happiness. However, I
have more than once asked you to tell me who is the loser of that large
sum, which, as you and I have dealt with it, has enriched you and given
me a competence."

"That's my business," said Bartley, sharply, "for you never fingered a
shilling of it. So if the pittance I pay you for conducting my business
burns your pocket, why, send it to Rothschild."

And having made this little point, Bartley walked away to escape further
comment, and Hope turned on his heel and walked into his office, and out
at the back door directly, and proceeded to his duties in the mine; but
he was much displeased with Bartley, and his looks showed it.

The coast lay clear. The lovers came cautiously out, and silently too,
for what they had heard puzzled them not a little.

Mary came out first, and wore a very meditative look. She did not say a
word till they got to some little distance from the workshop. Then she
half turned her head toward Walter, who was behind her, and said, "I
suppose you know we have done a contemptible thing--listening?"

"Well," said Walter, "it wasn't good form; but," added he, "we could
hardly help it."

"Of course not," said Mary. "We have been guilty of a concealment that
drives us into holes and corners, and all manner of meannesses must be
expected to follow. Well, we _have_ listened, and I am very glad of it;
for it is plain we are not the only people who have got secrets. Now
tell me, please, what does it all mean?"

"Well, Mary," said Walter, "to tell the truth, it is all Greek to
me, except about the money. I think I could give a guess where that
came from."

"There, now!" cried Mary; "that is so like you gentlemen.
Money--money--money! Never mind the money part; leave that to take care
of itself. Can you explain what Mr. Hope said to papa about _me_? Mr.
Hope is a very superior man, and papa's adviser _in business_. But, after
all, he is in papa's employment. Papa _pays_ him. Then how comes he to
care more about my happiness than papa does--and say so?"

"Why, you begged him to intercede."

"Yes," said Mary, "but not to threaten papa; not to say, 'If you are
unkind to Mary, our compact is broken.'"

Then she pondered awhile; then she turned to Walter, and said:

"What sort of compact is that? A compact between a father and another
gentleman that a father shall not be unkind to his own daughter? Did you
ever hear of such a thing?"

"I can't say I ever did."

"Did you ever hear tell of such a thing?"

"Well, now you put it to me, I don't think I ever did."

"And yet you could run off about money. What's money! This compact is a
great mystery. It's my business from this hour to fathom that mystery.
Please let me think."

Mary's face now began to show great power and intensity; her eyes seemed
to veil themselves, and to turn down their glances inward.

Walter was struck with the intensity of that fair brow, those remarkable
eyes, and that beautiful face; they seemed now to be all strung up to
concert pitch. He kept silent and looked at his wife with a certain
reverence, for to tell the truth she had something of the Pythian
priestess about her, when she concentrated her whole mind on any one
thing in this remarkable manner. At last the oracle spoke:

"Mr. Hope has been deceiving me with some good intention. He pretends to
be subservient to papa, but he is the master. How he comes to be master I
don't know, but so it is, Walter. If it came to a battle royal, Mr. Hope
would side, not with papa, but with me."

"That's important, if true," said Walter, dryly.

"It's true," said Mary, "and it's important." Then she turned suddenly
round on him. "How did you feel when you ran into that workshop, and we
both crouched, and hid like criminals or slaves?"

"Well," said Walter, hanging his head, "to tell the truth, I took a comic
view of the business."

"I can't do that," said Mary. "I respect my husband, and can't bear him
to hide from the face of any mortal man; and I am proud of my own love,
and indignant to think that I have condescended to hide it."

"It is a shame," said Walter, "and I hope we sha'n't have to hide it
much longer. Oh, bother, how unfortunate! here's my father. What are
we to do?"

"I'll tell you," said Mary, resolutely. "You must speak to him at once,
and win him over to our side. Tell him Julia is going to marry Percy
Fitzroy on the first of next month, then tell him all that Mr. Hope said
you were to tell the lawyer, and then tell him what you have made me
believe, that you love me better than your life, and that I love you
better still; and that no power _can_ part us. If you can soften him, Mr.
Hope shall soften papa."

"But if he is too headstrong to be softened?" faltered Walter.

"Then," said Mary, "you must defy my papa, and I shall defy yours."

After a moment's thought she said: "Walter, I shall stay here till he
sees me and you together; then he won't be able to run off about his
mines, and his lawsuits, and such rubbishy things. His attention will be
attracted to our love, and so you will have it out with him, whilst I
retire a little way--not far--and meditate upon Mr. Hope's strange words,
and ponder over many things that have happened within my recollection."

True to this policy, the spirited girl waited till Colonel Clifford came
on the green, and then made Walter as perfect a courtesy as ever graced a
minuet at the court of Louis le Grand.

Walter took off his hat to her with chivalric grace and respect. Colonel
Clifford drew up in a stiff military attitude, which flavored rather of
the parade or the field of battle than the court either of the great
monarch or of little Cupid.

CHAPTER XV.

THE SECRET IN DANGER.

"Hum!" said the Colonel, dryly; "a petticoat!"

"Et cetera," suggested Walter, meekly; and we think he was right, for a
petticoat has never in our day been the only garment worn by females,
nor even the most characteristic: fishermen wear petticoats, and don't
wear bonnets.

"Who is she, sir?" asked the grim Colonel.

"Your niece, father," said Walter, mellifluously, "and the most beautiful
girl in Derbyshire."

The Colonel snorted, but didn't condescend to go into the question
of beauty.

"Why did my niece retire at sight of me?" was his insidious inquiry.

"Well," said Walter, meekly, "the truth is, some mischief-making fool has
been telling her that you have lost all natural affection for your dead
sister's child."

The stout Colonel staggered for a moment, snorted, and turned it off.
"You and she are very often together, it seems."

"All the better for me," said Walter, stoutly.

"And all the worse for me," retorted the Colonel. And as men gravitate
toward their leading grievance, he went off at a tangent, "What do you
think my feelings must be, to see my son, my only son, spooning the
daughter of my only enemy; of a knave who got on my land on pretense of
farming it, but instead of that he burrowed under the soil like a mole,
sir; and now the place is defiled with coal dust, the roads are black,
the sheep are black, the daisies and buttercups are turning black.
There's a smut on your nose, Walter. I forbid you to spoon his daughter,
upon pain of a father's curse. My real niece, Julia, is a lady and an
heiress, and the beauty of the county. She is the girl for you."

"And how about the seventh commandment?" inquired Walter, putting his
hands in his pockets.

"Oh," said the Colonel, indifferently, "you must mind your eye, like
other husbands. But in our walk of life it's the man's fault if the woman
falls out of the ranks."

"That's not what I mean," said Walter.

"What do you mean, then, if you mean anything at all?"

"I mean this, father. She marries Percy Fitzroy in three weeks; so if I
fix my affections on her up to the date of the wedding, shall I not be
tempted to continue, and will not a foolish attachment to another man's
sweetheart end in a vicious attachment to another man's wife?"

Once more was the Colonel staggered for a moment, and, oh--as the ladies
say--is it not gratifying to find that where honest reasons go for
nothing, humbug can obtain a moment's hearing? The Colonel admitted there
was something in that; but even humbug could not divert him long from
his mania. "The only thing to be done," said he, "is to cut him out
between this and then. Why, he stands five feet nothing."

"That's the advantage he has over me," suggested Walter; "she is five
feet eight or thereabouts, so he is just the height of her heart."

The Colonel burst out laughing. "You are no fool," said he; "that's the
second good thing you have said these three years. I forget what the
other was, but I remember it startled me at the time. You are a wit, and
you will cut out that manikin or you are no son of mine."

"Don't say that, father," said Walter; "and cutting out, why, that's a
naval operation, not military. I am not the son of an admiral."

"No equivocation, sir; the forces assist one another at a pinch."

"How can I cut him out?--there's no room, he is tied to her apron
strings."

"Untie him, then."

At this moment, whether because Hope attracted everybody in the course of
the day, or because talking about people draws them to the place by some
subtle agency, who should appear in sight but Miss Julia Clifford, and
little Fitzroy wooing her so closely that really he did seem tied to her
apron strings.

"There," said Walter, "now use your eyes, father; look at this amorous
pair. Do you really think it possible for a fellow to untie those two?"

"Quite possible," said the Colonel. "Walter," said he, sententiously,
"there's a little word in the English language which is one of the
biggest. I will spell it to you, T--R--Y. Nobody knows what he can do
till he gives that word a fair trial. It was far more impossible to scale
the rock of Gibraltar; but our infantry did it; and there we are, with
all Europe grinding their teeth at us. What's a woman compared with
Gibraltar? However, as you seem to be a bit of a muff, I'll stand
sentinel whilst you cut him out."

The Colonel then retired into a sort of ambuscade--at least he mingled
with a small clump of three Scotch firs, and stood amongst them so
rectilinear he might have passed for the fourth stump. Walter awaited the
arrival of the foe, but in a spirit which has seldom conducted men to
conquest and glory, for if the English infantry had deviated so far from
their insular habits as to admire the Spaniards, you may be sure that
Gibraltar rock at this day would be a part of the Continent, and not a
detached fragment of Great Britain. In a word, Walter, at sight of the
lovers, was suddenly seized with sentimental sympathy; they both seemed
to him so beautiful in their way. The man was small, but his heart was
not; he stuck to the woman like a man, and poured hot love into her ears,
and almost lost the impediment in his speech. The woman pretended to be
cooler, but she half turned her head toward him, and her half-closed eyes
and heightened color showed she was drinking every word. Her very gayety,
though it affected nonchalance, revealed happiness to such as can read
below the surface of her sex. The Colonel's treacherous ally, after
gazing at them with marked approval, and saying, "I couldn't do it better
myself," which was surely a great admission for a lover to make, slipped
quietly into Hope's workshop not to spoil sport--a juvenile idea which we
recommend to older persons, and to such old maids as have turned sour.
The great majority of old maids are match-makers, whatever cant may keep
saying and writing to the contrary.

"No wonder at all," said Percy, who was evidently in the middle of some
amorous speech; "you are the goddess of my idolatry."

"What ardent expressions you do use!" said Julia, smiling.

"Of c-course I do; I'm over head and ears in love."

Julia surveyed his proportions, and said, "That's not very deep."

But Percy had got used to this kind of wit, and did not mind it now.
He replied with dignity: "It's as deep--as the ocean, and as
imp-per-t-t-tur-bable. Confound it! there's your cousin."

"You are not jealous of him, Mr. Imperturbable, are you?" asked
Julia, slyly.

"Jealous?" said Percy, changing color rather suspiciously; "certainly
not. Hang him!"

Walter, finding he was discovered, and feeling himself in the way, came
out at the back behind them, and said, "Never mind me, you two; far be it
from me to deprive the young of their innocent amusements."

Whilst making this little speech he was going off on the points of his
toes, intending to slip off to Clifford Hall, and tell his father that
both cutting out and untying had proved impossible, but, to his horror,
the Colonel emerged from his ambuscade and collared him. Then took place
two short contemporaneous dialogues:

_Julia_. "I'd never marry a jealous man."

_Percy_. "I never could be jealous. I'm above it. Impossible for a nature
like mine to be jealous."

_Colonel Clifford._ "Well, why don't you cut him out?"

_Walter_. "They seem so happy without it."

_Colonel Clifford._ "You are a muff. I'll do it for you. Forward!"

Colonel Clifford then marched down and seated himself in the chair Hope
had made for him.

Julia saw him, and whispered Percy: "Ah! here's Uncle Clifford. He is
going to marry me to Walter. Never mind--you are not jealous."

Percy turned yellow.

"Well," said Colonel Clifford to all whom it might concern, "this
certainly is the most comfortable chair in England. These fools of
upholsterers never make the bottom of the chair long enough, but Mr.
Hope has made this to run under a gentleman's knees and support him. He's
a clever fellow. Julia, my dear, there's a garden chair for you; come and
sit down by me."

Julia gave a sly look at Percy, and went to Colonel Clifford. She kissed
him on the forehead to soften the coming negative, and said: "To tell you
the truth, dear uncle, I have promised to go down a coal mine. See! I'm
dressed accordingly."

"Go down a coal mine!" said the Colonel, contemptuously. "What fool put
that idea in your head?"

Fitzroy strutted forward like a bantam-cock. "I did, sir. Coal is a very
interesting product."

"Ay, to a cook."

"To every English g-gentleman."

"I disown that imputation for one."

"Of being an English g-gentleman?"

There was a general titter at this sly hit.

"No, sir," said the Colonel, angrily--"of taking an interest in coal."

"Well, but," said Percy, with a few slight hesitations, "not to t-take an
interest in c-coal is not to take an interest in the n-nation, for this
n-nation is g-great, not by its p-powerful fleet, nor its little b-b-bit
of an army--"

A snort from the Colonel.

"--nor its raw m-militia, but by its m-m-manufactures; these depend on
machines that are driven by steam-power, and the steam-engines are
coal-fed, and were made in coal-fed furnaces; our machines do the work of
five hundred million hands, and you see coal keeps them going. The
machinery will be imitated by other nations, but those nations can not
create coal-fields. Should those ever be exhausted, our ingenuity will be
imitated by larger nations, our territory will remain small, and we shall
be a second-rate power; so I say that every man who reads and thinks
about his own c--country ought to be able to say, 'I have been
d--d--down a coal mine.'"

"Well," said the Colonel, loftily, "and can't you say you have been down
a coal mine? I could say that and sit here. Well, sir, you have been
reading the newspapers, and learning them off by heart as if they were
the Epistle and Gospel; of course _you_ must go down a coal mine; but if
you do, have a little mercy on the fair, and go down by yourself. In the
mean while, Walter, you can take your cousin and give her a walk in the
woods, and show her the primroses."

Now Julia was surprised and pleased at Percy's good sense, and she did
not care whether he got it from the newspapers or where he got it from;
it was there; so she resisted, and said, coldly and firmly, "Thank you,
uncle, but I don't want the primroses, and Walter does not want me. Come,
Percy _dear_;" and so she marched off; but she had not gone many steps
before, having a great respect for old age, she ordered Percy, in a
whisper, to make some apology to her uncle.

Percy did not much like the commission. However, he went back, and said,
very civilly, "This is a free country, but I am afraid I have been a
little too free in expressing my opinion; let me hope you are not
annoyed with me."

"I am never annoyed with a fool," said the implacable Colonel.

This was too much for any little man to stand.

"That is why you are always on such good terms with yourself," said
Percy, as red as a turkey-cock.

The Colonel literally stared with amazement. Hitherto it had been for him
to deliver bayonet thrusts, not to receive them.

Julia pounced on her bantam-cock, and with her left hand literally pulled
him off the premises, and shook her right fist at him till she got him
out of sight of the foe; then she kissed him on both cheeks, and burst
out laughing; and, indeed, she was so tickled that she kept laughing at
intervals, whether the immediate subject of the conversation was grave or
gay. It is hard not to laugh when a very little fellow cheeks a very big
one. Even Walter, though he admired as well as loved his father, hung his
head, and his shoulders shook with suppressed risibility. Colonel
Clifford detected him in this posture, and in his wrath gave his chair a
whack with his staff that brought Master Walter to the position of a
private soldier when the drill-sergeant cries "ATTENTION!"

"Did you hear that, sir?" said he.

"I did," said Walter: "cheeky little beggar. But you know, father, you
were rather hard upon him before his sweetheart, and a little pot is
soon hot."

"There was nothing to be hot about," said the Colonel, naively; "but that
is neither here nor there. You are ten times worse than he is. He is only
a prating, pedantic puppy, but you are a muff, sir, a most unmitigated
muff, to stand there mum-chance and let such an article as that carry off
the prize."

"Oh, father," said Walter, "why will you not see that the prize is a
living woman, a woman with a will of her own, and not a French eagle, or
the figure-head of a ship? Now do listen to reason."

"Not a word," said the Colonel, marching off.

"But excuse me," said Walter, "I have another thing far more important to
speak to you about: this unhappy lawsuit."

"That's no business of yours, and I don't want your opinion of it;
there is no more fight in you than there is in a hen-sparrow. I decline
your company and your pacific twaddle; I have no patience with a muff;"
and the Colonel marched off, leaving his son planted there, as the
French say.

Walter, however, was not long alone; the interview had been watched
from a distance by Mary. She now stole noiselessly on the scene, and
laid her white hand upon her husband's shoulder before he was aware of
her. The sight of her was heaven to him, but her first question clouded
his happy face.

"Well, dear, have you propitiated him?"

Walter hung his head sorrowfully, and said hardly anything.

"He has been blustering at me all the time, and insists upon my
cutting out Percy whether I can or not, and marrying Julia whether she
chooses or not."

"Then we must do what I said. Indeed there is no other course. We must
own the truth; concealment and deceit will not mend our folly."

"Oh, hang it, Mary, don't call it folly."

"Forgive me, dear, but it was the height of folly. Not that I mean to
throw the blame on you--that would be ungenerous; but the truth is you
had no business to marry me, and I had no business to marry you. Only
think--me--Mary Bartley--a clandestine marriage, and then our going to
the lakes again, and spending our honey-moon together just like other
couples--the recklessness--the audacity! Oh, what happiness it was!"

Walter very naturally pounced upon this unguarded and naive conclusion of
Mary's self-reproaches. "Yes," said he, eagerly; "let us go there again
next week."

"Not next week, not next month, not next year, nor ever again until we
have told all the world."

"Well, Mary," said Walter, "it's for you to command and me to obey. I
said so before, and I say so now, if you are not ashamed of me, how can I
be ashamed of you; you say the word, and I will tell my father at
dinner-time, before Julia Clifford and John Baker, and request them to
tell everybody they know, that I am married to a woman I adore, and there
is nobody I care for on earth as I do for her, and nothing I value
compared with her love and her esteem."

Mary put her arm tenderly around her husband's neck; and now it was
with her as it is often with generous and tender-hearted women, when
all opposition to their wishes is withdrawn, they begin to see the
other side.

"My dearest," said Mary, "I couldn't bear you to sacrifice your
prospects for me."

"Why, Mary," said Walter, "what would my love be worth if it shrank from
self-sacrifice? I really think I should feel more pleasure than pain if I
gave up friends, kindred, hope, everything that is supposed to make life
pleasant for you."

"And so would I for you," said Mary; "and oh, Walter, women have
presentiments, and something tells me that fate has great trials in store
for you or for me, perhaps for both. Yes, you are right, the true measure
of love must be self-sacrifice, and if there is to be self-sacrifice, oh,
let the self-sacrifice fall on me; for I can not think any man can love a
woman quite so deeply as I love you--my darling."

He had only time to draw her sweet forehead to his bosom, whilst her arm
encircled his neck, when in came an ordinary love by way of contrast.

Julia Clifford and Percy came in, walking three yards apart: Percy had
untied the apron strings without Walter's assistance.

"Ah," said she, "you two are not like us. I am ashamed to interrupt you;
but they would not let us go down the mine without an order from Mr.
Hope. Really, I think Mr. Hope is king of this country. Not that we have
wasted our time, for he has been quarrelling with me all the way there
and back."

"Oh, Mr. Fitzroy!" said Mary Bartley.

"Miss Bartley," said Percy, very civilly, "I never q-q-quarrel, I merely
dis-distin-guished between right and wrong. I shall make you the judge.
I gave her a di-dia-mond br-bracelet which came down from my ancestors;
she did me the honor to accept it, and she said it should never leave her
day nor night."

"Oh," cried Julia, "that I never did. I can not afford to stop my
circulation altogether; it's much too little." Then she flew at him
suddenly. "Your ancestors were pigmies."

Percy drew himself up to his full height, and defied the insinuation.
"They were giants, in chain armor," said he.

"What," said Julia, without a moment's hesitation, "the ladies? Or was it
the knights that wore bracelets?"

Some French writer says, "The tongue of a woman is her sword," and Percy
Fitzroy found it so. He could no more answer this sudden thrust than he
could win the high leap at Lillie Bridge. He stood quivering as if a
polished rapier had really been passed clean through him.

Mary was too kind-hearted to laugh in his face, but she could not help
turning her head away and giggling a little.

At last Percy recovered himself enough to say,

"The truth is you have gone and given it to somebody else."

"Oh, you wicked--bad-hearted--you that couldn't be jealous!"

By this time Percy was himself again, and said, with some reason, that
"invectives were not arguments. Produce the bracelet."

"And so I can," said Julia, stoutly. "Give me time."

"Oh," said Percy, "if it's a mere question of time, there is no more to
be said. You'll find the bracelet in time, and in time I shall feel once
more that confidence in you which induced me to confide to you as to
another self that precious family relic, which I value more than any
other material object in the world." Then Percy, whose character seemed
to have changed, retired with stiff dignity and an air of indomitable
resolution.

Neither Julia nor Mary had ever seen him like that before. Julia was
unaffectedly distressed.

"Oh, Mary, why did I ever lend it to you?"

Now Mary knew very well where the bracelet was, but she was ashamed to
say; she stammered and said, "You know, dear, it is too small, much too
small, and my arm is bigger than yours."

"There!" said Julia; "you have broken the clasp!"

Mary colored up to the eyes at her own disingenuousness, and said,
hastily, "But I'll have it mended directly; I'll return it to-morrow at
the latest."

"I shall be wretched till you do," said Julia, eagerly. "I suppose you
know what I want it for now?"

"Why," said Mary, "of course I do: to soothe his wounded feelings."

"Soothe _his_ feelings!" cried Julia, scornfully; "and how about mine?
No; the only thing I want it for now is to fling it in his face. His
soul is as small as his body: he's a little, mean, suspicious, jealous
fellow, and I'm very glad to have lost him." She flounced off all on
fire, looking six feet high, and got quite out of sight before she
began to cry.

Then the truth came out. Mary, absorbed in conjugal bliss, had left it at
the hotel by the lakes. She told Walter.

"Oh, hang it!" said Walter; "that's unlucky; you will never see it
again."

"Oh yes, I shall," said Mary; "they are very honest people at that inn;
and I have written about it, and told them to keep it safe, unless they
have an opportunity of sending it."

Walter reflected a moment. "Take my advice, Mary," said he. "Let me
gallop off this afternoon and get it."

"Oh yes, Walter," said Mary. "Thank you so much. That will be the
best way."

At this moment loud and angry voices were heard coming round the corner,
and Mary uttered a cry of dismay, for her discriminating ear recognized
both those voices in a moment. She clutched Walter's shoulder.

"Oh, Walter, it's your father and mine quarrelling. How unfortunate that
they should have met! What shall we do?"

"Hide in Hope's office. The French window is open."

"Quick, then!" cried Mary, and darted into the office in a moment. Walter
dashed in after her.

When she got safe into cover she began to complain.

"This comes of concealment--we are always being driven into holes
and corners."

"I rather like them with you," said the unabashed Walter.

It matters little what had passed out of sight between Bartley and
Colonel Clifford, for what the young people heard now was quite enough to
make what Sir Lucius O'Trigger calls a very pretty quarrel. Bartley,
hitherto known to Mary as a very oily speaker, shouted at the top of his
voice in arrogant defiance, "You're not a child, are you? You are old
enough to read papers before you sign them."

The Colonel shouted in reply, "I am old, sir, but I am old in honor. I
did not expect that any decent tradesman would slip a clause into a farm
lease conveying the minerals below the surface to a farmer. It was a
fraud, sir; but there's law for fraud. My lawyer shall be down on you
to-morrow. Your chimneys disgorge smoke all over my fields. You shall
disgorge your dishonest gains. I'll have you off my land, sir; I'll tear
you out of the bowels of the earth. You are a sharper and a knave."

At this Bartley roared at him louder still, so that both the young people
winced as they crouched in the recess of the window. "You foul-mouthed
slanderer, I'll indict you for defamation, and give you twelve months in
one of her Majesty's jails."

"No, you won't," roared the Colonel; "I know the law. My comments on
your character are not written and signed like your knavish lease; it's a
privileged communication--VILLAIN! there are no witnesses--SHARPER! By
Jupiter, there are, though!"

He had caught sight of a male figure just visible at the side of
the window.

"Who is it? MY SON!"

"My DAUGHTER!" cried Bartley, catching sight of Mary.

"Come out, sir," said the Colonel, no longer loudly, but trembling
with emotion.

"Come here, Mary," said Bartley, sternly.

At this moment who should open the back door of the office but
William Hope!

"Walter," said the Colonel, with the quiet sternness more formidable than
all his bluster, "have not I forbidden you to court this man's daughter?"

Said Bartley to Mary: "Haven't I forbidden you to speak to this
ruffian's son?"

Then, being a cad who had lost his temper, he took the girl by the wrist
and gave her a rough pull across him that sent her effectually away from
Walter. She sank into the Colonel's seat, and burst out crying with
shame, pain, and fright.

"Brute!" said the Colonel. But the thing was not to end there. Hope
strode in amongst them, with a pale cheek and a lowering brow as black as
thunder; his first words were, "Do YOU CALL YOURSELF A FATHER?" Not one
of them had ever seen Hope like that, and they all stood amazed, and
wondered what would come next.

CHAPTER XVI.

REMINISCENCES.--THE FALSE ACCUSER.--THE SECRET EXPLODED.

The secret hung on a thread. Hope, after denouncing Bartley, as we have
described, was rushing across to Mary, and what he would have said or
done in the first impulse of his wrath, who can tell?

But the quick-witted Bartley took the alarm, and literally collared him.
"My good friend," said he, "you don't know the provocation. It is the
affront to her that has made me forget myself. Affronts to myself from
the same quarter I have borne with patience. But now this insolent man
has forbidden his son to court her, and that to her face; as if we wanted
his son or him. Haven't I forbidden the connection?"

"We are agreed for once," said the Colonel, and carried his son off
bodily, sore against his will.

"Yes," shrieked Bartley after him; "only _I_ did it like a gentleman, and
did not insult the young man to his face for loving my daughter."

"Let me hear what Mary says," was Hope's reply.

"Mr. Hope," said Mary, "did you ever know papa to be hard on me before?
He is vexed because he feels I am lowered. We have both been grossly
insulted, and he may well be in a passion. But I am very unhappy." And
she began to cry again.

"My poor child," said Bartley, coaxingly, "talk it all over with Mr.
Hope. He may be able to comfort you, and, indeed, to advise me. For what
can I do when the man calls me a sharper, a villain, and a knave, before
his son and my daughter?"

"Is it possible?" said Hope, beginning to relent a little.

"It is true," replied Mary.

Bartley then drew Hope aside, and said, "See what confidence I place in
you. Now show me my trust is not misplaced." Then he left them together.

Hope came to Mary and said, tenderly, "What can I say or do to
comfort you?"

Mary shook her head. "I asked you to mend my prospects; but you can't do
that. They are desperate. You can do nothing for me now but comfort me
with your kind voice. And mend my poor wrist--ha! ha! ha! oh! oh!"
(Hysterical.)

"What?" cried Hope, in sudden alarm; "is it hurt? Is it sprained?"

Mary recovered her composure. "Oh no," said she; "only twisted a little.
Papa was so rough."

Hope went into a rage again. "Perdition!" cried he. "I'll go and end this
once for all."

"You will do nothing of the kind," said the quick-witted girl. "Oh, Mr.
Hope, would you break my heart altogether, quarrelling with papa? Be
reasonable. I tell you he couldn't help it, that old monster insulted him
so. It hurts, for all that," said she, naively, and held him out a lovely
white wrist with a red mark on it.

Hope inspected it. "Poor little wrist," said he. "I think I can cure it."
Then he went into his office for something to bind it with.

But he had spoken those few words as one speaks to an afflicted child.
There was a mellow softness and an undisguised paternity in his
tones--and what more natural, the girl being in pain?

But Mary's ear was so acute that these tones carried her out of the
present situation, and seemed to stir the depths of memory. She fell into
a little reverie, and asked herself had she not heard a voice like that
many years ago.

She was puzzling herself a little over this when Hope returned with a
long thin band of white Indian cotton, steeped in water, and, taking her
hand gently, began to bind her wrist with great lightness and delicacy.
And as he bound it he said, "There, the pain will soon go."

Mary looked at him full, and said, slowly, "I believe it will." Then,
very thoughtfully, "It did--before."

These three simple words struck Hope as rather strange.

"It did before?" said he, and stared at her. "Why, when was that?"

Mary said, in a hopeless sort of way, "I don't know when, but long
before your time."

"Before my time, Mary? What, are you older than me?" And he smiled
sweetly on her.

"One would think not. But let me ask you a question, Mr. Hope?"

"Yes, Mary."

"Have you lived _two lives_?"

Said Hope, solemnly, "I have lived through great changes, but only
one life."

"Well, then," said Mary, "I have lived two; or more likely it was one
life, only some of it in another world--my other world, I mean."

Hope left off binding her wrist, and said, "I don't understand you." But
his heart began to pant.

The words that passed between them were now so strange that both their
voices sank into solemnity, and had an acute observer listened to them he
would have noticed that these two mellow voices had similar beauties, and
were pitched exactly in the same key, though there was, of course, an
octave between them.

"Understand me? How should you? It is all so strange, so mysterious: I
have never told a soul; but I will tell you. You won't laugh at me?"

"Laugh at you? Only fools laugh at what they don't understand. Why, Mary,
I hang on every word you say with breathless interest."

"Dear Mr. Hope! Well, then, I will tell you. Sometimes in the silent
night, when the present does not glare at one, the past comes back to me
dimly, and I seem to have lived two lives: one long, one short--too
short. My long life in a comfortable house, with servants and carriages
and all that. My short life in different places; not comfortable places,
but large places; all was free and open, and there was always a kind
voice in my ear--like yours; and a tender touch--like yours."

Hope was restraining himself with difficulty, and here he could not help
uttering a faint exclamation.

To cover it he took her wrist again, and bending his head over it, he
said, almost in a whisper, "And the face?"

Mary's eyes turned inward, and she seemed to scan the past.

"The face?" said she--"the face I can not recall. But one thing I do
remember clearly. This is not the first time my wrist--yes--and it was my
right wrist too--has been bound up so tenderly. He did it for me in that
other world, just as you do in this one."

Hope now thrilled all over at this most unexpected revelation. But though
he glowed with delight and curiosity, he put on a calm voice and manner,
and begged her to tell him everything else she could remember that had
happened in that other life.

Finding him so serious, so sympathetic, and so interested, put this
remarkable girl on her mettle. She began to think very hard, and show
that intense power of attention she had always in reserve for great
occasions.

"Then you must not touch me nor speak to me," said she. "The past is
such a mist."

He obeyed, and left off binding her wrist; and now he literally hung upon
her words.

Then she took one step away from him; her bright eyes veiled themselves,
and seemed to see nothing external, but looked into the recesses of the
brain. Her forehead, her hand, her very body, thought, and we must try,
though it is almost hopeless, to convey some faint idea of her manner and
her words.

"Let--me--see."

Then she paused.

"I remember--WHITE SWANS."

A pause.

"Were they swans?"

"Or ships?"

"They floated down the river to the sea."

She paused.

"And the kind voice beside me said, 'Darling!' Papa never calls me
'darling.'"

"Yes, yes," whispered Hope, almost panting.

"'Darling, we must go with them to some other land, for we are poor.'"
She paused and thought hard. "Poor we must have been; very poor. I can
see that now that I am rich." She paused and thought hard. "But all was
peace and love. There were two of us, yet we seemed one."

Then in a moment Mary left the past, her eyes resigned the film of
thought, and shone with the lustre of her great heart, and she burst at
once into that simple eloquence which no hearer of hers from John Baker
to William Hope ever resisted. "Ah! sweet memories, treasures of the
past, why are you so dim and wavering, and this hard world so clear and
glaring it seems cut out of stone? Oh, if I had a fairy's wand, I'd say,
'Vanish fine house and servants--vanish wealth and luxury and strife; and
you come back to me, sweet hours of peace--and poverty--and love.'"

Her arms were stretched out with a grace and ardor that could embellish
even eloquence, when a choking sob struck her ear. She turned her head
swiftly, and there was William Hope, his hands working, his face
convulsed, and the tears running down his cheeks like the very rain.

It was no wonder. Think of it! The child he adored, yet had parted with
to save her from dire poverty, remembered that sad condition to ask for
it back again, because of his love that made it sweet to her after all
these years of comfort. And of late he had been jealous, and saw, or
thought, he had no great place in her heart, and never should have.

Ah, it is a rarity to shed tears of joy! The thing is familiarly spoken
of, but the truth is that many pass through this world of tears and never
shed one such tear. The few who have shed them can congratulate William
Hope for this blissful moment after all he had done and suffered.

But the sweet girl who so surprised that manly heart, and drew those
heavenly tears, had not the key. She was shocked, surprised, distressed.
She burst out crying directly from blind womanly sympathy; and then she
took herself to task. "Oh, Mr. Hope! what have I done? Ah! I have
touched some chord of memory. Wicked, selfish girl, to distress you with
my dreams."

"Distress me!" cried Hope. "These tears you have drawn from me are pearls
of memory and drops of balm to my sore, tried heart. I, too, have lived
and struggled in a by-gone world. I had a lovely child; she made me rich
in my poverty, and happy in my homelessness. She left me--"

"Poor Mr. Hope!"

"Then I went abroad, drudged in foreign mines, came home and saw my child
again in you. I need no fairy's wand to revive the past; you are my
fairy--your sweet words recall those by-gone scenes; and wealth,
ambition, all I live for now, vanish into smoke. The years themselves
roll back, and all is once more peace--and poverty--and love."

"Dear Mr. Hope!" said Mary, and put her forehead upon his shoulder.

After a while she said, timidly, "Dear Mr. Hope, now I feel I can trust
you with anything." Then she looked down in charming confusion. "My
reminiscences--they are certainly a great mystery. But I have another
secret to confide to you, if I am permitted."

"Is the consent of some other person necessary?"

"Not exactly necessary, Mr. Hope."

"But advisable."

Mary nodded her head.

"Then take your time," said Hope. He took out his watch, and said: "I
want to go to the mine. My right-hand man reports that a ruffian has been
caught lighting his pipe in the most dangerous part after due warning. I
must stop that game at once, or we shall have a fatal accident. But I
will be back in half an hour. You can rest in my office if you are here
first. It is nice and cool."

Hope hurried away on his errand, and Mary was still looking after him,
when she heard horses' feet, and up came Walter Clifford, escaped from
his father. He slipped off his horse directly at sight of Mary, and they
came together like steel and magnet.

"Oh, Walter," said Mary, "we are not so unfortunate as we were just now.
We have a powerful friend. Where are you going in such hurry?"

"That is a good joke. Why, did you not order me to the lakes?"

"Oh yes, for Julia's bracelet. I forgot all about that."

"Very likely; but it is not my business to forget your orders."

"Dear Walter! But, dearest, things of more importance have happened since
then. We have been insulted. Oh, how we have been insulted!"

"That we have," said Walter.

"And nobody knows the truth."

"Not yet."

"And our secret oppresses me--torments me--degrades me."

"Pray don't say that."

"Forgive me. I can't help saying it, I feel it so bitterly. Now, dear, I
will walk a little way with you, and tell you what I want you to do this
very day; and you will be a darling, as you always are, and consent."

Then Mary told how Mr. Hope had just shown her singular affection; next
she reminded him of the high tone Mr. Hope had taken with her father in
their hearing. "Why," said she, "there is some mysterious compact about
me between papa and him. I don't think I shall ever have the courage to
ask him about that compact, for then I must confess that I listened; but
it is clear we can depend upon Mr. Hope, and trust him. So now, dear, I
want you to indulge your little wife, and let me take Mr. Hope into our
confidence."

To Mary's surprise and disappointment, Walter's countenance fell.

"I don't know," said he, after a pause. "Unfortunately it's not Mr.
Bartley only that's against us."

"Well, but, dear," said Mary, "the more people there are against us, the
more we need one powerful friend and champion. Now you know Mr. Hope is a
man that everybody loves and respects, even your father."

Walter just said, gloomily, "I see objections, for all that; but do as
you please."

Mary's tender heart and loving nature couldn't accept an unwilling
assent. She turned her eyes on Walter a little reproachfully. "That's the
way to make me do what you please."

"I don't intend it so," said Walter. "When a husband and wife love each
other as we do, they must give in to each other."

"That's not what we said at the altar."

"Oh, the marriage service is rather one-sided. I promised very different
things to get you to marry me, and I mean to stand by them. If you are
impatient at all of this secrecy, tell Mr. Hope."

"I can't now," said Mary, a little bitterly.

"Why not, since I consent?"

"An unwilling consent is no consent."

"Mary, you are too tyrannical. How can I downright like a thing I don't
like? I yield my will to yours; there's a certain satisfaction in that. I
really can say no more."

"Then say no more," said Mary, almost severely.

"At all events give me a kiss at parting."

Mary gave him that directly, but it was not a warm one.

He galloped away upon his errand, and as she paced slowly back toward Mr.
Hope's office she was a good deal put out. What should she say to Mr.
Hope now? She could not defy Walter's evident wishes, and make a clean
breast of the matter. Then she asked herself what was Walter's
objection; she couldn't conceive why he was afraid to trust Mr. Hope. It
was a perfect puzzle to her.

Indeed this was a most unfortunate dialogue between her and Walter, for
it set her mind speculating and guessing at Walter's mind, and thinking
all manner of things just at the moment when an enemy, smooth as the old
serpent, was watching for an opportunity to make mischief and poison her
mind. Leonard Monckton, who had long been hanging about, waiting to catch
her alone, met her returning from Walter Clifford, and took off his hat
very respectfully to her, and said:

"Miss Bartley, I think."

Mary lifted her eyes, and saw an elderly man with a pale face and dark
eyebrows and a cast of countenance quite unlike that of any of her
friends. His face repelled her directly, and she said, very coldly:

"Yes, sir; but I have not the pleasure of knowing you."

And she quietly passed on.

Monckton affected not to see that she was declining to communicate with
him. He walked on quietly, and said:

"And I have not seen you since you were a child, but I had the honor of
knowing your mother."

"You knew my mother, sir?"

"Knew her and respected her."

"What was she like, sir?"

"She was tall and rather dark, not like you."

"So I have heard," said Mary. "Well, sir," said she, for his voice was
ingratiating, and had modified the effect of his criminal countenance,
"as you knew my mother, you are welcome to me."

The artist in deceit gave a little sigh, and said, "That's more than I
dare hope. For I am here upon a most unpleasant commission; but for my
respect for your mother I would not have undertaken it, for really my
acquaintance with the other lady is but slight."

Mary looked a little surprised at this rigmarole, and said, "But this
commission, what is it?"

"Miss Bartley," said he, solemnly, yet gravely, "I have been requested to
warn you against a gentleman who is deceiving you."

"Who is that?" said Mary, on her guard directly.

"It is a Mr. Walter Clifford."

"Walter Clifford!" said Mary. "You are a slanderer; he is incapable
of deceit."

The rogue pretended to brighten up.

"Well, I hope so," said he, "and I told the lady as much; he comes from a
most honorable stock. So then he has _told_ you about Lucy Monckton?"

"Lucy Monckton!" cried Mary. "No; who is she?"

"Miss Bartley," said the villain, very gravely and solemnly, "she is
his wife."

"His wife, sir?" cried Mary, contemptuously--"his wife? You must be mad.
I'll hear no more against him behind his back." Then, threatening her
tormentor: "He will be home again this evening; he has only ridden to the
Lake Hotel; you shall repeat this to his face, if you dare."

"It will be my painful duty," said the serpent, meekly.

"His wife!" said Mary, scornfully, but her lips trembled.

"His wife," replied Monckton, calmly; "a respectable woman whom, it
seems, he has deserted these fourteen years. My acquaintance with her is
slight, but she is in a good position, and, indeed, wealthy, and has
never troubled him. However, she heard somehow he was courting you, and
as I often visit Derby upon business, she requested me to come over here
and warn you in time."

"And do you think," said Mary, scornfully, "I shall believe this from a
stranger?"

"Hardly," said Monckton, with every appearance of candor. "Mrs. Walter
Clifford directed me to show you his marriage certificate and hers."

"The marriage certificate!" cried Mary, turning pale.

"Yes," said Monckton; "they were married at the Registry Office on the
11th June, 1868," and he put his hand in his breast pocket to search for
the certificate. He took this opportunity to say, "You must not fancy
that there is any jealousy or ill feeling after fourteen years'
desertion, but she felt it her duty as a woman--"

"The certificate!" said Mary--"the certificate!"

He showed her the certificate; she read the fatal words, "Walter
Clifford." The rest swam before her eyes, and to her the world seemed at
an end. She heard, as in a dream, the smooth voice of the false accuser,
saying, with a world of fictitious sympathy, "I wish I had never
undertaken this business. Mrs. Walter Clifford doesn't want to distress
you; she only felt it her duty to save you. Don't give way. There is no
great harm done, unless you were to be deluded into marrying him."

"And what then?" inquired Mary, trembling.

Monckton appeared to be agitated at this question.

"Oh, don't speak of it," said he. "You would be ruined for life, and he
would get seven years' penal servitude; and that is a sentence few
gentlemen survive in the present day when prisons are slaughter-houses.
There, I have discharged the most disagreeable office I ever undertook in
my life; but at all events you are warned in time."

Then he bowed most respectfully to her, and retired, exhaling his pent-up
venom in a diabolical grin.

She, poor victim, stood there stupefied, pierced with a poisoned arrow,
and almost in a state of collapse; then she lifted her hands and eyes for
help, and saw Hope's study in front of her. Everything swam confusedly
before her; she did not know for certain whether he was there or not;
she cried to that true friend for help.

"Mr. Hope--I am lost--I am in the deep waters of despair--save me _once
more_, save me!" Thus speaking she tottered into the office, and sank all
limp and powerless into a chair, unable to move or speak, but still not
insensible, and soon her brow sank upon the table, and her hands spread
themselves feebly out before her.

It was all villainous spite on Monckton's part. He did not for a moment
suppose that his lie could long outlive Walter Clifford's return; but he
was getting desperate, and longing to stab them all. Unfortunately fate
befriended the villain's malice, and the husband and wife did not meet
again till that diabolical poison had done its work.

Monckton retired, put off his old man's disguise behind the fir-trees,
and went toward another of his hiding-places, an enormous oak-tree which
stood in the hedge of Hope's cottage garden. The subtle villain had made
this hollow tree an observatory, and a sort of sally-port, whence he
could play the fiend.

The people at the hotel were, as Mary told Julia Clifford, very
honest people.

They showed Percy Fitzroy's bracelet to one or two persons, and found it
was of great value. This made them uneasy, lest something should happen
to it under their charge; so the woman sent her husband to the
neighborhood of Clifford Hall to try and find out if there was a lady of
that name who had left it. The husband was a simple fellow, very unfit to
discharge so delicate a commission. He went at first, as a matter of
course, to the public-house; they directed him to the Hall, but he missed
it, and encountered a gentleman, whose quick eye fell upon the bracelet,
for the foolish man had shown it to so many people that now he was
carrying it in his hand, and it blazed in the meridian sun. This
gentleman said, "What have you got there?"

"Well, sir," said the man, "it was left at our hotel by a young couple
from these parts. Handsome couple they were, sir, and spending their
honey-moon."

"Let me see it," said Mr. Bartley, for he was the gentleman. He had come
back in some anxiety to see whether Hope had pacified Mary, or whether
he must exert himself to make matters smooth with her again. Whilst he
was examining the bracelet, who should appear but Percy Fitzroy, the
owner. Not that he came after the bracelet; on the contrary, that
impetuous young gentleman had discovered during the last two hours that
he valued Miss Clifford's love a great deal more than all the bracelets
in the world, for all that he was delighted at the unexpected sight of
his property.

"Why, that's mine," said he. "It's an heirloom. I lent it to Miss Julia
Clifford, and when I asked her for it to-day she could not produce it."

"Oho!" said Mr. Bartley. "What, do the ladies of the house of Clifford go
in for clandestine marriages?"

"Certainly not, sir," said Fitzroy. "Don't you know the difference
between a wedding ring and a bracelet?" Then he turned to the man, "Here
is a sovereign for your trouble, my man. Now give me my bracelet."

To his surprise the hotel-keeper put it behind his back instead of giving
it to him.

"Nay," said he, shaking his head knowingly, "you are not the gentleman
that spent the honey-moon with the lady as owns it. My mistress said I
was not to give it into no hands but hers."

This staggered Percy dreadfully, and he looked from one to another to
assist him in solving the mystery.

Bartley came to the assistance of his understanding, but with no regard
to the feelings of his heart. "It's clear enough what it means, sir; your
sweetheart is playing you false."

That went through the true-lover's heart like a knife, and poor little
Percy leaned in despair against Hope's workshop window transfixed by the
poisoned arrow of jealousy.

At this moment the voice of Colonel Clifford was heard, loud and ringing
as usual. Julia Clifford had decoyed him there in hopes of falling in
with Percy and making it up; and to deceive the good Colonel as to her
intentions she had been running him down all the way; so the Colonel was
heard to say, in a voice for all the village to hear, "Jealous is he, and
suspicious? Then you take my advice and give him up at once. You will
easily find a better man and a bigger." After delivering this, like the
word of command upon parade, the Colonel was crossing the turf, a yard or
two higher up than Hope's workshop, when the spirit of revenge moved
Bartley to retort upon his insulter.

"Hy, Colonel Clifford!"

The Colonel instantly halted, and marched down with Julia on his arm,
like a game-cock when another rooster crows defiance.

"And what can you have to say to me, sir?" was his haughty inquiry.

"To take you down a peg. You rode the high horse pretty hard to-day. The
spotless honor of the Cliffords, eh?"

Then it was fixed bayonets and no quarter.

"Have the Cliffords ever dabbled in trade or trickery? Coal merchants,
coal heavers, and coal whippers may defile our fields with coal dust and
smoke, but they can not defile our honor."

"The men are brave as lions, and the women as chaste as snow?"
sneered Bartley.

"I don't know about lions and snow. I have often seen a lion turn tail,
and the snow is black slush wherever you are. But the Cliffords, being
gentlemen, are brave, and being ladies, are chaste."

"Oh, indeed!" hissed Bartley. "Then how comes it that your niece
there--whose name is _Miss_ Clifford, I believe--spent what this good man
calls a honey-moon, with a young gentleman, at this good man's inn?"

Here the good man in question made a faint endeavor to interpose, but the
gentlefolks by their impetuosity completely suppressed him.

"It's a falsehood!" cried Julia, haughtily.

"You scurrilous cad!" roared the Colonel, and shook his staff at him, and
seemed on the point of charging him.

But Bartley was not to be put down this time. He snatched the bracelet
from the man, and held it up in triumph.

"And left this bracelet there to prove it was no falsehood."

Then Julia got frightened at the evidence and the terrible nature of the
accusation. "Oh!" cried she, in great distress, "can any one here believe
that I am a creature so lost? I have not seen the bracelet these two
months. I lent it--to--ah, here she is! Mary, save me from shame; you
know I am innocent."

Mary, who was standing at the window in Hope's study, came slowly
forward, pale as death with her own trouble, to do an act of womanly
justice. "Miss Clifford," said she, languidly, as one to whom all human
events were comparatively indifferent--"Miss Clifford lent the bracelet
to me, and I left it at that man's inn." This she said right in the
middle of them all.

The hotel-keeper took the bracelet from the unresisting hand of Bartley,
touched his hat, and gave it to her.

"There, mistress," said he. "I could have told them you was the lady, but
they would not let a poor fellow get a word in edgeways." He retired with
an obeisance.

Mary handed the bracelet to Julia, and then remained passive.

A dead silence fell upon them all, and a sort of horror crept over Mary
Bartley at what must follow; but come what might, no power should
induce her to say the word that should send Walter Clifford to jail for
seven years.

Bartley came to her; she trembled, and her hands worked.

"What are you saying, you fool?" he whispered. "The lady that left the
bracelet was there with a gentleman."

Mary winced.

Then Bartley said, sternly, "Who was your companion?"

"I must not say."

"You will say one thing," said Bartley, "or I shall have no mercy on you.
Are you secretly married?"

Then a single word flashed across Mary's almost distracted
mind--SELF-SACRIFICE. She held her tongue.

"Can't you speak? Are you a wife?" He now began to speak so loud in his
anger that everybody heard it.

Mary crouched a little and worked her hands convulsively under the
torture, but she answered with such a doggedness that evidently she would
have let herself be cut to pieces sooner than said more.

"I--don't--know."

"You don't know?" roared Bartley.

Mary paused, and then, with iron doggedness, "I--don't--know."

This apparent insult to his common-sense drove Bartley almost mad. "You
have given these cursed Cliffords a triumph over me," he cried; "you have
brought shame to my door; but it shall never pass the threshold." Here
the Colonel uttered a contemptuous snort. This drove Bartley wild
altogether; he rushed at the Colonel, and shook his fist in his face.
"You stand there sneering at my humiliation; now see the example I can
make." Then he was down upon Mary in a moment, and literally yelled at
her in his fury. "Go to your paramour, girl; go where you will. You never
enter my door again." And he turned his back furiously upon her.

This terrible denunciation overpowered poor Mary's resolution; she clung
to him in terror. "Oh, mercy, mercy, papa! I'll explain to _you_, have
pity on your child!"

Bartley flung her so roughly from him that she nearly fell, "You are my
child no more."

But at that moment in strode William Hope, looking seven feet high, and
his eyes blazing. "Liar and hypocrite," he roared, "_she never was your
child_!" Then, changing to a tone of exquisite love, and stretching out
both his hands to Mary, "SHE IS MINE!"

Mary, being now between the two men, turned swiftly first to one, then to
the other, and with woman's infallible eye knew her own flesh and blood
in that half-moment. She uttered a cry of love and rapture that went
through every heart that heard it; and she flung herself in a moment upon
her father's bosom.

He whirled her round like a feather on to his right arm, then faced both
her enemies, Clifford and Bartley, with haughty defiance, head thrown
back, and eyes that flashed black lightning in defense of his child.

CHAPTER XVII.

LOVERS' QUARRELS.

It was a living picture. The father protecting his child like an eagle;
Bartley cooled in a moment, and hanging his head apart, gloomy and
alarmed at the mad blunder rage had betrayed him into; Colonel Clifford
amazed and puzzled, and beginning to see the consequences of all this;
Julia clasping her hands in rapture and thrilling interest at so
romantic an incident; Fitzroy beaming with delight at his sweetheart
being cleared; and, to complete the picture, the villainous face of
Leonard Monckton, disguised as an old man, showed itself for a moment
sinister and gloomy; for now all hope of pecuniary advantage to him was
gone, and nothing but revenge was on the cards, and he could not see his
way clear to that.

But Hope was no posture-maker; he turned the next moment and said a word
or two to all present.

"Yes, this is Grace Hope, my daughter. We were very poor, and her life
was in danger; I saw nothing else but that; my love was stronger than my
conscience; I gave her to that man upon a condition which he has now
broken. He saved her life and was kind to her. I thanked him; I thank him
still, and I did my best to repay him. But now he has trusted to
appearances, and not to her; he has belied and outraged her publicly. But
I am as proud of her as ever, and don't believe appearances against her
character and her angel face and--"

"No more do I," cried Julia Clifford, eagerly. "I know her. She's purity
itself, and a better woman than I shall ever be."

"Thank you, Miss Clifford," said Hope, in a broken voice; "God bless you.
Come, Grace, and share my humble home. At all events, it will shelter you
from insult."

And so the pair went lovingly away, Grace clinging to her father,
comforted for the moment, but unable to speak, and entered Hope's little
cottage. It was but a stone's-throw from where they stood.

This broke up the party.

"And my house is yours," said Colonel Clifford to Julia. "I did not
believe appearances against a Clifford." With these words he took two
steps toward his niece and held out his arm. She moved toward him. Percy
came forward radiant to congratulate her. She drew up with a look of
furious scorn that made him recoil, and she marched proudly away with
her uncle. He bestowed one parting glance of contempt upon the
discomfited Bartley, and marched his niece proudly off, more determined
than ever that she should be his daughter. But for once he was wise
enough not to press that topic: he let her indignation work alone.
Moreover, though he was a little wrong-headed and not a little
pig-headed, he was a noble-minded man, and nothing noble passed him
unobserved or unappreciated.

"_That_ Bartley's daughter!" said he to Julia. "Ay, when roses spring
from dunghills, and eagles are born of sparrow-hawks. Brave
girl!--brave girl!"

"Oh, uncle," said Julia, "I am so glad you appreciate her!"

"Appreciate her!" said the Colonel; "what should I be worth if I did not?
Why, these are the women that win Waterloo in the persons of their sons.
That girl could never breed a coward nor a cheat." Then his incisive
voice mellowed suddenly. "Poor young thing," said he, with manly emotion,
"I saw her come out of that room pale as death to do another woman
justice. She's no fool, though that ruffian called her one. She knew what
she was doing, yet for all her woman's heart she faced disgrace as
unflinchingly as if it was, only death. It was a great action, a noble
action, a just action, and a manly action, but done like a very woman.
Where the two sexes meet like that in one brave deed it's grand. I
declare it warms an old soldier's heart, and makes him thank God there
are a few creatures in the world that do humanity honor."

As the Colonel was a man that stuck to a topic when he got upon it, this
was the main of his talk all the way to Clifford Hall. He even remarked
to his niece that, so far as his observations of the sex extended, great
love of justice was not the leading feature of the female mind; other
virtues he ventured to think were more prominent.

"So everybody says," was Julia's admission.

"Everybody is right for once," said the Colonel.

They entered the house together, and Miss Clifford went up to her room;
there she put on a new bonnet and a lovely shawl, recently imported from
Paris. Who could this be for? She sauntered upon the lawn till she found
herself somehow near the outward boundary, where there was a gate leading
into the Park. As she walked to and fro by this gate she observed, out of
the tail of her eye of course, the figure of a devoted lover creeping
toward her. Whether this took her by surprise, or whether the lovely
creature was playing the part of a beautiful striped spider waiting for
her fly, the reader must judge for himself.

Percy came to the gate; she walked past him twice, coming and going with
her eyes fixed upon vacancy. She passed him a third time. He murmured in
a pleading voice,

"Julia!"

She neither saw nor heard, so attractive had the distant horizon become.

Percy opened the gate and came inside, and stood before her the next time
she passed. She started with _surprise_.

"What do you want here?" said she.

"To speak to you."

"How dare you speak to me after your vile suspicions?"

"Well, but, Julia--"

"How dare you call me Julia?"

"Well, Miss Clifford, won't you even hear me?"

"Not a word. It's through you poor dear Mary and I have both been
insulted by that wretch of a father of hers."

"Which father?"

"I said wretch. To whom does that term apply except to Mr. Bartley, and"
(with sudden vigor) "to you."

"Then you think I am as bad as old Bartley," said Percy, firing up.

"No, I don't."

"Ah," said Percy, glad to find there was a limit.

But Julia explained: "I think you are a great deal worse. You pretend to
love me, and yet without the slightest reason you doubt me."

"What did I doubt? I thought you had parted with my bracelet to another
person, and so you had. I never doubted your honor."

"Oh yes, you did; I saw your face."

"I am not r--r--responsible for my face."

"Yes, you are; you had no business to look broken-hearted, and miserable,
and distrustful, and abominable. It was your business, face and all, to
distrust appearances, and not me."

"Ap--pear--ances were so strong that not to look m--miserable would have
been to seem indifferent; there is no love where there is no jealousy."

"Oh," said Julia, "he has let that out at last, after denying it a
hundred times. Now I say there is no true love without respect and
confidence, and this doesn't exist where there is jealousy, and all about
a trumpery bracelet."

"Anything but tr--ump--ump--umpery; it came down from my ancestors."

"You never had any; your behavior shows that."

"I tell you it is an heirloom. It was given to my mother by--"

"Oh, we know all about that," said Julia. "'This bracelet did an Egyptian
to my mother give.' But you are not going to play Othello with me."

"I shouldn't have a very gentle Desdemona."

"No, you wouldn't, candidly. No man shall ever bully and insult me, and
then wake me out of my first sleep to smother me because my maid has lost
one of his handkerchiefs at the wash."

He burst out laughing at this, and tried to inveigle her into good-humor.

"Say no more about it," said he, "and I'll forgive you."

"Forgive me, you little wretch!" cried Julia. "Why, haven't you the
sense to see that it is serious this time, and my patience is exhausted,
and that our engagement is broken off, and I never mean to see you
again--except when you come to my wedding?"

"Your wedding!" cried Percy, turning pale. "With whom?"

"That's my business; you leave that to me, sir. Hold out your hand--both
hands; here is the ancestral bracelet--it shall pinch me no longer,
neither my wrist nor my heart; here's the brooch you gave me--I won't be
pinned to it any longer, nor to you neither; and there is your bunch of
charms; and there is your bundle of love-letters--stupid ones they are;"
and she crammed all the aforesaid treasures into his hands one after the
other. So this was what she went to her room for.

Percy looked down on his handful ruefully. "My very letters! There was no
jealousy in them; they were full of earnest love."

"Fuller of bad spelling," said the relentless girl. Then she went into
details: "You spell abominable with two m's--and that's abominable; you
spell ridiculous with a k--and that's ridicklous. So after this don't you
presume to speak to me, for I shall never speak to you again."

"Very well, then," said Percy. "I, too, will be silent forever."

"Oh, I dare say," said Julia; "a chatter-box like you."

"Even chatter-boxes are silent in the grave," suggested Percy; "and if we
are to part like this forever to-day, to-morrow I shall be no more."

"Well, you could not be much less," said Julia, but with a certain
shame-faced change of tone that perhaps, if Percy had been more
experienced, might have given him a ray of hope.

"Well," said he, "I know one lady that would not treat these presents
with quite so much contempt."

"Oh, I have seen her," said Julia, spitefully. "She has been setting
her cap at you for some time; it's Miss Susan Beckley--a fine

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