Part 2 out of 9
The sun had set, and a star or two began to peep out. They drew
nearer their destination, Edward as he pulled tracing listlessly
with his eyes the red stripes upon her scarf, which grew to appear
as black ones in the increasing dusk of evening. She surveyed the
long line of lamps on the sea-wall of the town, now looking small
and yellow, and seeming to send long tap-roots of fire quivering
down deep into the sea. By-and-by they reached the landing-steps.
He took her hand as before, and found it as cold as the water about
them. It was not relinquished till he reached her door. His
assurance had not removed the constraint of her manner: he saw that
she blamed him mutely and with her eyes, like a captured sparrow.
Left alone, he went and seated himself in a chair on the Esplanade.
Neither could she go indoors to her solitary room, feeling as she
did in such a state of desperate heaviness. When Springrove was out
of sight she turned back, and arrived at the corner just in time to
see him sit down. Then she glided pensively along the pavement
behind him, forgetting herself to marble like Melancholy herself as
she mused in his neighbourhood unseen. She heard, without heeding,
the notes of pianos and singing voices from the fashionable houses
at her back, from the open windows of which the lamp-light streamed
to join that of the orange-hued full moon, newly risen over the Bay
in front. Then Edward began to pace up and down, and Cytherea,
fearing that he would notice her, hastened homeward, flinging him a
last look as she passed out of sight. No promise from him to write:
no request that she herself would do so--nothing but an indefinite
expression of hope in the face of some fear unknown to her. Alas,
When Owen returned he found she was not in the small sitting-room,
and creeping upstairs into her bedroom with a light, he discovered
her there lying asleep upon the coverlet of the bed, still with her
hat and jacket on. She had flung herself down on entering, and
succumbed to the unwonted oppressiveness that ever attends full-
blown love. The wet traces of tears were yet visible upon her long
'Love is a sowre delight, and sugred griefe,
A living death, and ever-dying life.'
'Cytherea,' he whispered, kissing her. She awoke with a start, and
vented an exclamation before recovering her judgment. 'He's gone!'
'He has told me all,' said Graye soothingly. 'He is going off early
to-morrow morning. 'Twas a shame of him to win you away from me,
and cruel of you to keep the growth of this attachment a secret.'
'We couldn't help it,' she said, and then jumping up--'Owen, has he
told you ALL?'
'All of your love from beginning to end,' he said simply.
Edward then had not told more--as he ought to have done: yet she
could not convict him. But she would struggle against his fetters.
She tingled to the very soles of her feet at the very possibility
that he might be deluding her.
'Owen,' she continued, with dignity, 'what is he to me? Nothing. I
must dismiss such weakness as this--believe me, I will. Something
far more pressing must drive it away. I have been looking my
position steadily in the face, and I must get a living somehow. I
mean to advertise once more.'
'Advertising is no use.'
'This one will be.' He looked surprised at the sanguine tone of her
answer, till she took a piece of paper from the table and showed it
him. 'See what I am going to do,' she said sadly, almost bitterly.
This was her third effort:--
'LADY'S-MAID. Inexperienced. Age eighteen.--G., 3 Cross Street,
Owen--Owen the respectable--looked blank astonishment. He repeated
in a nameless, varying tone, the two words--
'Yes; lady's-maid. 'Tis an honest profession,' said Cytherea
'But YOU, Cytherea?'
'Yes, I--who am I?'
'You will never be a lady's-maid--never, I am quite sure.'
'I shall try to be, at any rate.'
'Such a disgrace--'
'Nonsense! I maintain that it is no disgrace!' she said, rather
warmly. 'You know very well--'
'Well, since you will, you must,' he interrupted. 'Why do you put
'Because I am.'
'Never mind that--scratch out "inexperienced." We are poor,
Cytherea, aren't we?' he murmured, after a silence, 'and it seems
that the two months will close my engagement here.'
'We can put up with being poor,' she said, 'if they only give us
work to do. . . . Yes, we desire as a blessing what was given us as
a curse, and even that is denied. However, be cheerful, Owen, and
In justice to desponding men, it is as well to remember that the
brighter endurance of women at these epochs--invaluable, sweet,
angelic, as it is--owes more of its origin to a narrower vision that
shuts out many of the leaden-eyed despairs in the van, than to a
hopefulness intense enough to quell them.
IV. THE EVENTS OF ONE DAY
1. AUGUST THE FOURTH. TILL FOUR O'CLOCK
The early part of the next week brought an answer to Cytherea's last
note of hope in the way of advertisement--not from a distance of
hundreds of miles, London, Scotland, Ireland, the Continent--as
Cytherea seemed to think it must, to be in keeping with the means
adopted for obtaining it, but from a place in the neighbourhood of
that in which she was living--a country mansion not twenty miles
off. The reply ran thus:--
August 3, 1864.
'Miss Aldclyffe is in want of a young person as lady's-maid. The
duties of the place are light. Miss Aldclyffe will be in Budmouth
on Thursday, when (should G. still not have heard of a place) she
would like to see her at the Belvedere Hotel, Esplanade, at four
o'clock. No answer need be returned to this note.'
A little earlier than the time named, Cytherea, clothed in a modest
bonnet, and a black silk jacket, turned down to the hotel.
Expectation, the fresh air from the water, the bright, far-extending
outlook, raised the most delicate of pink colours to her cheeks, and
restored to her tread a portion of that elasticity which her past
troubles, and thoughts of Edward, had well-nigh taken away.
She entered the vestibule, and went to the window of the bar.
'Is Miss Aldclyffe here?' she said to a nicely-dressed barmaid in
the foreground, who was talking to a landlady covered with chains,
knobs, and clamps of gold, in the background.
'No, she isn't,' said the barmaid, not very civilly. Cytherea
looked a shade too pretty for a plain dresser.
'Miss Aldclyffe is expected here,' the landlady said to a third
person, out of sight, in the tone of one who had known for several
days the fact newly discovered from Cytherea. 'Get ready her room--
be quick.' From the alacrity with which the order was given and
taken, it seemed to Cytherea that Miss Aldclyffe must be a woman of
'You are to have an interview with Miss Aldclyffe here?' the
'The young person had better wait,' continued the landlady. With a
money-taker's intuition she had rightly divined that Cytherea would
bring no profit to the house.
Cytherea was shown into a nondescript chamber, on the shady side of
the building, which appeared to be either bedroom or dayroom, as
occasion necessitated, and was one of a suite at the end of the
first-floor corridor. The prevailing colour of the walls, curtains,
carpet, and coverings of furniture, was more or less blue, to which
the cold light coming from the north easterly sky, and falling on a
wide roof of new slates--the only object the small window commanded-
-imparted a more striking paleness. But underneath the door,
communicating with the next room of the suite, gleamed an
infinitesimally small, yet very powerful, fraction of contrast--a
very thin line of ruddy light, showing that the sun beamed strongly
into this room adjoining. The line of radiance was the only
cheering thing visible in the place.
People give way to very infantine thoughts and actions when they
wait; the battle-field of life is temporarily fenced off by a hard
and fast line--the interview. Cytherea fixed her eyes idly upon the
streak, and began picturing a wonderful paradise on the other side
as the source of such a beam--reminding her of the well-known good
deed in a naughty world.
Whilst she watched the particles of dust floating before the
brilliant chink she heard a carriage and horses stop opposite the
front of the house. Afterwards came the rustle of a lady's skirts
down the corridor, and into the room communicating with the one
The golden line vanished in parts like the phosphorescent streak
caused by the striking of a match; there was the fall of a light
footstep on the floor just behind it: then a pause. Then the foot
tapped impatiently, and 'There's no one here!' was spoken
imperiously by a lady's tongue.
'No, madam; in the next room. I am going to fetch her,' said the
'That will do--or you needn't go in; I will call her.'
Cytherea had risen, and she advanced to the middle door with the
chink under it as the servant retired. She had just laid her hand
on the knob, when it slipped round within her fingers, and the door
was pulled open from the other side.
2. FOUR O'CLOCK
The direct blaze of the afternoon sun, partly refracted through the
crimson curtains of the window, and heightened by reflections from
the crimson-flock paper which covered the walls, and a carpet on the
floor of the same tint, shone with a burning glow round the form of
a lady standing close to Cytherea's front with the door in her hand.
The stranger appeared to the maiden's eyes--fresh from the blue
gloom, and assisted by an imagination fresh from nature--like a tall
black figure standing in the midst of fire. It was the figure of a
finely-built woman, of spare though not angular proportions.
Cytherea involuntarily shaded her eyes with her hand, retreated a
step or two, and then she could for the first time see Miss
Aldclyffe's face in addition to her outline, lit up by the secondary
and softer light that was reflected from the varnished panels of the
door. She was not a very young woman, but could boast of much
beauty of the majestic autumnal phase.
'O,' said the lady, 'come this way.' Cytherea followed her to the
embrasure of the window.
Both the women showed off themselves to advantage as they walked
forward in the orange light; and each showed too in her face that
she had been struck with her companion's appearance. The warm tint
added to Cytherea's face a voluptuousness which youth and a simple
life had not yet allowed to express itself there ordinarily; whilst
in the elder lady's face it reduced the customary expression, which
might have been called sternness, if not harshness, to grandeur, and
warmed her decaying complexion with much of the youthful richness it
plainly had once possessed.
She appeared now no more than five-and-thirty, though she might
easily have been ten or a dozen years older. She had clear steady
eyes, a Roman nose in its purest form, and also the round prominent
chin with which the Caesars are represented in ancient marbles; a
mouth expressing a capability for and tendency to strong emotion,
habitually controlled by pride. There was a severity about the
lower outlines of the face which gave a masculine cast to this
portion of her countenance. Womanly weakness was nowhere visible
save in one part--the curve of her forehead and brows--there it was
clear and emphatic. She wore a lace shawl over a brown silk dress,
and a net bonnet set with a few blue cornflowers.
'You inserted the advertisement for a situation as lady's-maid
giving the address, G., Cross Street?'
'Yes, madam. Graye.'
'Yes. I have heard your name--Mrs. Morris, my housekeeper,
mentioned you, and pointed out your advertisement.'
This was puzzling intelligence, but there was not time enough to
'Where did you live last?' continued Miss Aldclyffe.
'I have never been a servant before. I lived at home.'
'Never been out? I thought too at sight of you that you were too
girlish-looking to have done much. But why did you advertise with
such assurance? It misleads people.'
'I am very sorry: I put "inexperienced" at first, but my brother
said it is absurd to trumpet your own weakness to the world, and
would not let it remain.'
'But your mother knew what was right, I suppose?'
'I have no mother, madam.'
'Your father, then?'
'I have no father.'
'Well,' she said, more softly, 'your sisters, aunts, or cousins.'
'They didn't think anything about it.'
'You didn't ask them, I suppose.'
'You should have done so, then. Why didn't you?'
'Because I haven't any of them, either.'
Miss Aldclyffe showed her surprise. 'You deserve forgiveness then
at any rate, child,' she said, in a sort of drily-kind tone.
'However, I am afraid you do not suit me, as I am looking for an
elderly person. You see, I want an experienced maid who knows all
the usual duties of the office.' She was going to add, 'Though I
like your appearance,' but the words seemed offensive to apply to
the ladylike girl before her, and she modified them to, 'though I
like you much.'
'I am sorry I misled you, madam,' said Cytherea.
Miss Aldclyffe stood in a reverie, without replying.
'Good afternoon,' continued Cytherea.
'Good-bye, Miss Graye--I hope you will succeed.'
Cytherea turned away towards the door. The movement chanced to be
one of her masterpieces. It was precise: it had as much beauty as
was compatible with precision, and as little coquettishness as was
compatible with beauty.
And she had in turning looked over her shoulder at the other lady
with a faint accent of reproach in her face. Those who remember
Greuze's 'Head of a Girl,' have an idea of Cytherea's look askance
at the turning. It is not for a man to tell fishers of men how to
set out their fascinations so as to bring about the highest possible
average of takes within the year: but the action that tugs the
hardest of all at an emotional beholder is this sweet method of
turning which steals the bosom away and leaves the eyes behind.
Now Miss Aldclyffe herself was no tyro at wheeling. When Cytherea
had closed the door upon her, she remained for some time in her
motionless attitude, listening to the gradually dying sound of the
maiden's retreating footsteps. She murmured to herself, 'It is
almost worth while to be bored with instructing her in order to have
a creature who could glide round my luxurious indolent body in that
manner, and look at me in that way--I warrant how light her fingers
are upon one's head and neck. . . . What a silly modest young thing
she is, to go away so suddenly as that!' She rang the bell.
'Ask the young lady who has just left me to step back again,' she
said to the attendant. 'Quick! or she will be gone.'
Cytherea was now in the vestibule, thinking that if she had told her
history, Miss Aldclyffe might perhaps have taken her into the
household; yet her history she particularly wished to conceal from a
stranger. When she was recalled she turned back without feeling
much surprise. Something, she knew not what, told her she had not
seen the last of Miss Aldclyffe.
'You have somebody to refer me to, of course,' the lady said, when
Cytherea had re-entered the room.
'Yes: Mr. Thorn, a solicitor at Aldbrickham.'
'And are you a clever needlewoman?'
'I am considered to be.'
'Then I think that at any rate I will write to Mr. Thorn,' said Miss
Aldclyffe, with a little smile. 'It is true, the whole proceeding
is very irregular; but my present maid leaves next Monday, and
neither of the five I have already seen seem to do for me. . . .
Well, I will write to Mr. Thorn, and if his reply is satisfactory,
you shall hear from me. It will be as well to set yourself in
readiness to come on Monday.'
When Cytherea had again been watched out of the room, Miss Aldclyffe
asked for writing materials, that she might at once communicate with
Mr. Thorn. She indecisively played with the pen. 'Suppose Mr.
Thorn's reply to be in any way disheartening--and even if so from
his own imperfect acquaintance with the young creature more than
from circumstantial knowledge--I shall feel obliged to give her up.
Then I shall regret that I did not give her one trial in spite of
other people's prejudices. All her account of herself is reliable
enough--yes, I can see that by her face. I like that face of hers.'
Miss Aldclyffe put down the pen and left the hotel without writing
to Mr. Thorn.
V. THE EVENTS OF ONE DAY
1. AUGUST THE EIGHTH. MORNING AND AFTERNOON
At post-time on that following Monday morning, Cytherea watched so
anxiously for the postman, that as the time which must bring him
narrowed less and less her vivid expectation had only a degree less
tangibility than his presence itself. In another second his form
came into view. He brought two letters for Cytherea.
One from Miss Aldclyffe, simply stating that she wished Cytherea to
come on trial: that she would require her to be at Knapwater House
by Monday evening.
The other was from Edward Springrove. He told her that she was the
bright spot of his life: that her existence was far dearer to him
than his own: that he had never known what it was to love till he
had met her. True, he had felt passing attachments to other faces
from time to time; but they all had been weak inclinations towards
those faces as they then appeared. He loved her past and future, as
well as her present. He pictured her as a child: he loved her. He
pictured her of sage years: he loved her. He pictured her in
trouble; he loved her. Homely friendship entered into his love for
her, without which all love was evanescent.
He would make one depressing statement. Uncontrollable
circumstances (a long history, with which it was impossible to
acquaint her at present) operated to a certain extent as a drag upon
his wishes. He had felt this more strongly at the time of their
parting than he did now--and it was the cause of his abrupt
behaviour, for which he begged her to forgive him. He saw now an
honourable way of freeing himself, and the perception had prompted
him to write. In the meantime might he indulge in the hope of
possessing her on some bright future day, when by hard labour
generated from her own encouraging words, he had placed himself in a
position she would think worthy to be shared with him?
Dear little letter; she huddled it up. So much more important a
love-letter seems to a girl than to a man. Springrove was
unconsciously clever in his letters, and a man with a talent of that
kind may write himself up to a hero in the mind of a young woman who
loves him without knowing much about him. Springrove already stood
a cubit higher in her imagination than he did in his shoes.
During the day she flitted about the room in an ecstasy of pleasure,
packing the things and thinking of an answer which should be worthy
of the tender tone of the question, her love bubbling from her
involuntarily, like prophesyings from a prophet.
In the afternoon Owen went with her to the railway-station, and put
her in the train for Carriford Road, the station nearest to
Half-an-hour later she stepped out upon the platform, and found
nobody there to receive her--though a pony-carriage was waiting
outside. In two minutes she saw a melancholy man in cheerful livery
running towards her from a public-house close adjoining, who proved
to be the servant sent to fetch her. There are two ways of getting
rid of sorrows: one by living them down, the other by drowning
them. The coachman drowned his.
He informed her that her luggage would be fetched by a spring-waggon
in about half-an-hour; then helped her into the chaise and drove
Her lover's letter, lying close against her neck, fortified her
against the restless timidity she had previously felt concerning
this new undertaking, and completely furnished her with the
confident ease of mind which is required for the critical
observation of surrounding objects. It was just that stage in the
slow decline of the summer days, when the deep, dark, and vacuous
hot-weather shadows are beginning to be replaced by blue ones that
have a surface and substance to the eye. They trotted along the
turnpike road for a distance of about a mile, which brought them
just outside the village of Carriford, and then turned through large
lodge-gates, on the heavy stone piers of which stood a pair of
bitterns cast in bronze. They then entered the park and wound along
a drive shaded by old and drooping lime-trees, not arranged in the
form of an avenue, but standing irregularly, sometimes leaving the
track completely exposed to the sky, at other times casting a shade
over it, which almost approached gloom--the under surface of the
lowest boughs hanging at a uniform level of six feet above the
grass--the extreme height to which the nibbling mouths of the cattle
'Is that the house?' said Cytherea expectantly, catching sight of a
grey gable between the trees, and losing it again.
'No; that's the old manor-house--or rather all that's left of it.
The Aldycliffes used to let it sometimes, but it was oftener empty.
'Tis now divided into three cottages. Respectable people didn't
care to live there.'
'Why didn't they?'
'Well, 'tis so awkward and unhandy. You see so much of it has been
pulled down, and the rooms that are left won't do very well for a
small residence. 'Tis so dismal, too, and like most old houses
stands too low down in the hollow to be healthy.'
'Do they tell any horrid stories about it?'
'No, not a single one.'
'Ah, that's a pity.'
'Yes, that's what I say. 'Tis jest the house for a nice ghastly
hair-on-end story, that would make the parish religious. Perhaps it
will have one some day to make it complete; but there's not a word
of the kind now. There, I wouldn't live there for all that. In
fact, I couldn't. O no, I couldn't.'
'Why couldn't you?'
'What are they?'
'One is the waterfall, which stands so close by that you can hear
that there waterfall in every room of the house, night or day, ill
or well. 'Tis enough to drive anybody mad: now hark.'
He stopped the horse. Above the slight common sounds in the air
came the unvarying steady rush of falling water from some spot
unseen on account of the thick foliage of the grove.
'There's something awful in the timing o' that sound, ain't there,
'When you say there is, there really seems to be. You said there
were two--what is the other horrid sound?'
'The pumping-engine. That's close by the Old House, and sends water
up the hill and all over the Great House. We shall hear that
directly. . . . There, now hark again.'
From the same direction down the dell they could now hear the
whistling creak of cranks, repeated at intervals of half-a-minute,
with a sousing noise between each: a creak, a souse, then another
creak, and so on continually.
'Now if anybody could make shift to live through the other sounds,
these would finish him off, don't you think so, miss? That machine
goes on night and day, summer and winter, and is hardly ever greased
or visited. Ah, it tries the nerves at night, especially if you are
not very well; though we don't often hear it at the Great House.'
'That sound is certainly very dismal. They might have the wheel
greased. Does Miss Aldclyffe take any interest in these things?'
'Well, scarcely; you see her father doesn't attend to that sort of
thing as he used to. The engine was once quite his hobby. But now
he's getten old and very seldom goes there.'
'How many are there in family?'
'Only her father and herself. He's a' old man of seventy.'
'I had thought that Miss Aldclyffe was sole mistress of the
property, and lived here alone.'
'No, m--' The coachman was continually checking himself thus, being
about to style her miss involuntarily, and then recollecting that he
was only speaking to the new lady's-maid.
'She will soon be mistress, however, I am afraid,' he continued, as
if speaking by a spirit of prophecy denied to ordinary humanity.
'The poor old gentleman has decayed very fast lately.' The man then
drew a long breath.
'Why did you breathe sadly like that?' said Cytherea.
'Ah!. . . When he's dead peace will be all over with us old
servants. I expect to see the old house turned inside out.'
'She will marry, do you mean?'
'Marry--not she! I wish she would. No, in her soul she's as
solitary as Robinson Crusoe, though she has acquaintances in plenty,
if not relations. There's the rector, Mr. Raunham--he's a relation
by marriage--yet she's quite distant towards him. And people say
that if she keeps single there will be hardly a life between Mr.
Raunham and the heirship of the estate. Dang it, she don't care.
She's an extraordinary picture of womankind--very extraordinary.'
'In what way besides?'
'You'll know soon enough, miss. She has had seven lady's-maids this
last twelvemonth. I assure you 'tis one body's work to fetch 'em
from the station and take 'em back again. The Lord must be a
neglectful party at heart, or he'd never permit such overbearen
'Does she dismiss them directly they come!'
'Not at all--she never dismisses them--they go theirselves. Ye see
'tis like this. She's got a very quick temper; she flees in a
passion with them for nothing at all; next mornen they come up and
say they are going; she's sorry for it and wishes they'd stay, but
she's as proud as a lucifer, and her pride won't let her say,
"Stay," and away they go. 'Tis like this in fact. If you say to
her about anybody, "Ah, poor thing!" she says, "Pooh! indeed!" If
you say, "Pooh, indeed!" "Ah, poor thing!" she says directly. She
hangs the chief baker, as mid be, and restores the chief butler, as
mid be, though the devil but Pharaoh herself can see the difference
Cytherea was silent. She feared she might be again a burden to her
'However, you stand a very good chance,' the man went on, 'for I
think she likes you more than common. I have never known her send
the pony-carriage to meet one before; 'tis always the trap, but this
time she said, in a very particular ladylike tone, "Roobert, gaow
with the pony-kerriage.". . . There, 'tis true, pony and carriage
too are getten rather shabby now,' he added, looking round upon the
vehicle as if to keep Cytherea's pride within reasonable limits.
''Tis to be hoped you'll please in dressen her to-night.'
'There's a dinner-party of seventeen; 'tis her father's birthday,
and she's very particular about her looks at such times. Now see;
this is the house. Livelier up here, isn't it, miss?'
They were now on rising ground, and had just emerged from a clump of
trees. Still a little higher than where they stood was situated the
mansion, called Knapwater House, the offices gradually losing
themselves among the trees behind.
The house was regularly and substantially built of clean grey
freestone throughout, in that plainer fashion of Greek classicism
which prevailed at the latter end of the last century, when the
copyists called designers had grown weary of fantastic variations in
the Roman orders. The main block approximated to a square on the
ground plan, having a projection in the centre of each side,
surmounted by a pediment. From each angle of the inferior side ran
a line of buildings lower than the rest, turning inwards again at
their further end, and forming within them a spacious open court,
within which resounded an echo of astonishing clearness. These
erections were in their turn backed by ivy-covered ice-houses,
laundries, and stables, the whole mass of subsidiary buildings being
half buried beneath close-set shrubs and trees.
There was opening sufficient through the foliage on the right hand
to enable her on nearer approach to form an idea of the arrangement
of the remoter or lawn front also. The natural features and contour
of this quarter of the site had evidently dictated the position of
the house primarily, and were of the ordinary, and upon the whole,
most satisfactory kind, namely, a broad, graceful slope running from
the terrace beneath the walls to the margin of a placid lake lying
below, upon the surface of which a dozen swans and a green punt
floated at leisure. An irregular wooded island stood in the midst
of the lake; beyond this and the further margin of the water were
plantations and greensward of varied outlines, the trees
heightening, by half veiling, the softness of the exquisite
landscape stretching behind.
The glimpses she had obtained of this portion were now checked by
the angle of the building. In a minute or two they reached the side
door, at which Cytherea alighted. She was welcomed by an elderly
woman of lengthy smiles and general pleasantness, who announced
herself to be Mrs. Morris, the housekeeper.
'Mrs. Graye, I believe?' she said.
'I am not--O yes, yes, we are all mistresses,' said Cytherea,
smiling, but forcedly. The title accorded her seemed disagreeably
like the first slight scar of a brand, and she thought of Owen's
Mrs. Morris led her into a comfortable parlour called The Room.
Here tea was made ready, and Cytherea sat down, looking, whenever
occasion allowed, at Mrs. Morris with great interest and curiosity,
to discover, if possible, something in her which should give a clue
to the secret of her knowledge of herself, and the recommendation
based upon it. But nothing was to be learnt, at any rate just then.
Mrs. Morris was perpetually getting up, feeling in her pockets,
going to cupboards, leaving the room two or three minutes, and
trotting back again.
'You'll excuse me, Mrs. Graye,' she said, 'but 'tis the old
gentleman's birthday, and they always have a lot of people to dinner
on that day, though he's getting up in years now. However, none of
them are sleepers--she generally keeps the house pretty clear of
lodgers (being a lady with no intimate friends, though many
acquaintances), which, though it gives us less to do, makes it all
the duller for the younger maids in the house.' Mrs. Morris then
proceeded to give in fragmentary speeches an outline of the
constitution and government of the estate.
'Now, are you sure you have quite done tea? Not a bit or drop more?
Why, you've eaten nothing, I'm sure. . . . Well, now, it is rather
inconvenient that the other maid is not here to show you the ways of
the house a little, but she left last Saturday, and Miss Aldclyffe
has been making shift with poor old clumsy me for a maid all
yesterday and this morning. She is not come in yet. I expect she
will ask for you, Mrs. Graye, the first thing. . . . I was going to
say that if you have really done tea, I will take you upstairs, and
show you through the wardrobes--Miss Aldclyffe's things are not laid
out for to-night yet.'
She preceded Cytherea upstairs, pointed out her own room, and then
took her into Miss Aldclyffe's dressing-room, on the first-floor;
where, after explaining the whereabouts of various articles of
apparel, the housekeeper left her, telling her that she had an hour
yet upon her hands before dressing-time. Cytherea laid out upon the
bed in the next room all that she had been told would be required
that evening, and then went again to the little room which had been
appropriated to herself.
Here she sat down by the open window, leant out upon the sill like
another Blessed Damozel, and listlessly looked down upon the
brilliant pattern of colours formed by the flower-beds on the lawn--
now richly crowded with late summer blossom. But the vivacity of
spirit which had hitherto enlivened her, was fast ebbing under the
pressure of prosaic realities, and the warm scarlet of the
geraniums, glowing most conspicuously, and mingling with the vivid
cold red and green of the verbenas, the rich depth of the dahlia,
and the ripe mellowness of the calceolaria, backed by the pale hue
of a flock of meek sheep feeding in the open park, close to the
other side of the fence, were, to a great extent, lost upon her
eyes. She was thinking that nothing seemed worth while; that it was
possible she might die in a workhouse; and what did it matter? The
petty, vulgar details of servitude that she had just passed through,
her dependence upon the whims of a strange woman, the necessity of
quenching all individuality of character in herself, and
relinquishing her own peculiar tastes to help on the wheel of this
alien establishment, made her sick and sad, and she almost longed to
pursue some free, out-of-doors employment, sleep under trees or a
hut, and know no enemy but winter and cold weather, like shepherds
and cowkeepers, and birds and animals--ay, like the sheep she saw
there under her window. She looked sympathizingly at them for
several minutes, imagining their enjoyment of the rich grass.
'Yes--like those sheep,' she said aloud; and her face reddened with
surprise at a discovery she made that very instant.
The flock consisted of some ninety or a hundred young stock ewes:
the surface of their fleece was as rounded and even as a cushion,
and white as milk. Now she had just observed that on the left
buttock of every one of them were marked in distinct red letters the
initials 'E. S.'
'E. S.' could bring to Cytherea's mind only one thought; but that
immediately and for ever--the name of her lover, Edward Springrove.
'O, if it should be--!' She interrupted her words by a resolve.
Miss Aldclyffe's carriage at the same moment made its appearance in
the drive; but Miss Aldclyffe was not her object now. It was to
ascertain to whom the sheep belonged, and to set her surmise at rest
one way or the other. She flew downstairs to Mrs. Morris.
'Whose sheep are those in the park, Mrs. Morris?'
'What Farmer Springrove is that?' she said quickly.
'Why, surely you know? Your friend, Farmer Springrove, the cider-
maker, and who keeps the Three Tranters Inn; who recommended you to
me when he came in to see me the other day?'
Cytherea's mother-wit suddenly warned her in the midst of her
excitement that it was necessary not to betray the secret of her
love. 'O yes,' she said, 'of course.' Her thoughts had run as
follows in that short interval:--
'Farmer Springrove is Edward's father, and his name is Edward too.
'Edward knew I was going to advertise for a situation of some kind.
'He watched the Times, and saw it, my address being attached.
'He thought it would be excellent for me to be here that we might
meet whenever he came home.
'He told his father that I might be recommended as a lady's-maid;
and he knew my brother and myself.
'His father told Mrs. Morris; Mrs. Morris told Miss Aldclyffe.'
The whole chain of incidents that drew her there was plain, and
there was no such thing as chance in the matter. It was all
The sound of a bell was heard. Cytherea did not heed it, and still
continued in her reverie.
'That's Miss Aldclyffe's bell,' said Mrs. Morris.
'I suppose it is,' said the young woman placidly.
'Well, it means that you must go up to her,' the matron continued,
in a tone of surprise.
Cytherea felt a burning heat come over her, mingled with a sudden
irritation at Mrs. Morris's hint. But the good sense which had
recognized stern necessity prevailed over rebellious independence;
the flush passed, and she said hastily--
'Yes, yes; of course, I must go to her when she pulls the bell--
whether I want to or no.'
However, in spite of this painful reminder of her new position in
life, Cytherea left the apartment in a mood far different from the
gloomy sadness of ten minutes previous. The place felt like home to
her now; she did not mind the pettiness of her occupation, because
Edward evidently did not mind it; and this was Edward's own spot.
She found time on her way to Miss Aldclyffe's dressing-room to
hurriedly glide out by a side door, and look for a moment at the
unconscious sheep bearing the friendly initials. She went up to
them to try to touch one of the flock, and felt vexed that they all
stared sceptically at her kind advances, and then ran pell-mell down
the hill. Then, fearing any one should discover her childish
movements, she slipped indoors again, and ascended the staircase,
catching glimpses, as she passed, of silver-buttoned footmen, who
flashed about the passages like lightning.
Miss Aldclyffe's dressing-room was an apartment which, on a casual
survey, conveyed an impression that it was available for almost any
purpose save the adornment of the feminine person. In its hours of
perfect order nothing pertaining to the toilet was visible; even the
inevitable mirrors with their accessories were arranged in a roomy
recess not noticeable from the door, lighted by a window of its own,
called the dressing-window.
The washing-stand figured as a vast oak chest, carved with grotesque
Renaissance ornament. The dressing table was in appearance
something between a high altar and a cabinet piano, the surface
being richly worked in the same style of semi-classic decoration,
but the extraordinary outline having been arrived at by an ingenious
joiner and decorator from the neighbouring town, after months of
painful toil in cutting and fitting, under Miss Aldclyffe's
immediate eye; the materials being the remains of two or three old
cabinets the lady had found in the lumber-room. About two-thirds of
the floor was carpeted, the remaining portion being laid with
parquetry of light and dark woods.
Miss Aldclyffe was standing at the larger window, away from the
dressing-niche. She bowed, and said pleasantly, 'I am glad you have
come. We shall get on capitally, I dare say.'
Her bonnet was off. Cytherea did not think her so handsome as on
the earlier day; the queenliness of her beauty was harder and less
warm. But a worse discovery than this was that Miss Aldclyffe, with
the usual obliviousness of rich people to their dependents'
specialities, seemed to have quite forgotten Cytherea's
inexperience, and mechanically delivered up her body to her handmaid
without a thought of details, and with a mild yawn.
Everything went well at first. The dress was removed, stockings and
black boots were taken off, and silk stockings and white shoes were
put on. Miss Aldclyffe then retired to bathe her hands and face,
and Cytherea drew breath. If she could get through this first
evening, all would be right. She felt that it was unfortunate that
such a crucial test for her powers as a birthday dinner should have
been applied on the threshold of her arrival; but set to again.
Miss Aldclyffe was now arrayed in a white dressing-gown, and dropped
languidly into an easy-chair, pushed up before the glass. The
instincts of her sex and her own practice told Cytherea the next
movement. She let Miss Aldclyffe's hair fall about her shoulders,
and began to arrange it. It proved to be all real; a satisfaction.
Miss Aldclyffe was musingly looking on the floor, and the operation
went on for some minutes in silence. At length her thoughts seemed
to turn to the present, and she lifted her eyes to the glass.
'Why, what on earth are you doing with my head?' she exclaimed, with
widely opened eyes. At the words she felt the back of Cytherea's
little hand tremble against her neck.
'Perhaps you prefer it done the other fashion, madam?' said the
'No, no; that's the fashion right enough, but you must make more
show of my hair than that, or I shall have to buy some, which God
'It is how I do my own,' said Cytherea naively, and with a sweetness
of tone that would have pleased the most acrimonious under
favourable circumstances; but tyranny was in the ascendant with Miss
Aldclyffe at this moment, and she was assured of palatable food for
her vice by having felt the trembling of Cytherea's hand.
'Yours, indeed! YOUR hair! Come, go on.' Considering that
Cytherea possessed at least five times as much of that valuable
auxiliary to woman's beauty as the lady before her, there was at the
same time some excuse for Miss Aldclyffe's outburst. She remembered
herself, however, and said more quietly, 'Now then, Graye-- By-the-
bye, what do they call you downstairs?'
'Mrs. Graye,' said the handmaid.
'Then tell them not to do any such absurd thing--not but that it is
quite according to usage; but you are too young yet.'
This dialogue tided Cytherea safely onward through the hairdressing
till the flowers and diamonds were to be placed upon the lady's
brow. Cytherea began arranging them tastefully, and to the very
best of her judgment.
'That won't do,' said Miss Aldclyffe harshly.
'I look too young--an old dressed doll.'
'Will that, madam?'
'No, I look a fright--a perfect fright!'
'This way, perhaps?'
'Heavens! Don't worry me so.' She shut her lips like a trap.
Having once worked herself up to the belief that her head-dress was
to be a failure that evening, no cleverness of Cytherea's in
arranging it could please her. She continued in a smouldering
passion during the remainder of the performance, keeping her lips
firmly closed, and the muscles of her body rigid. Finally,
snatching up her gloves, and taking her handkerchief and fan in her
hand, she silently sailed out of the room, without betraying the
least consciousness of another woman's presence behind her.
Cytherea's fears that at the undressing this suppressed anger would
find a vent, kept her on thorns throughout the evening. She tried
to read; she could not. She tried to sew; she could not. She tried
to muse; she could not do that connectedly. 'If this is the
beginning, what will the end be!' she said in a whisper, and felt
many misgivings as to the policy of being overhasty in establishing
an independence at the expense of congruity with a cherished past.
The clock struck twelve. The Aldclyffe state dinner was over. The
company had all gone, and Miss Aldclyffe's bell rang loudly and
Cytherea started to her feet at the sound, which broke in upon a
fitful sleep that had overtaken her. She had been sitting drearily
in her chair waiting minute after minute for the signal, her brain
in that state of intentness which takes cognizance of the passage of
Time as a real motion--motion without matter--the instants throbbing
past in the company of a feverish pulse. She hastened to the room,
to find the lady sitting before the dressing shrine, illuminated on
both sides, and looking so queenly in her attitude of absolute
repose, that the younger woman felt the awfullest sense of
responsibility at her Vandalism in having undertaken to demolish so
imposing a pile.
The lady's jewelled ornaments were taken off in silence--some by her
own listless hands, some by Cytherea's. Then followed the outer
stratum of clothing. The dress being removed, Cytherea took it in
her hand and went with it into the bedroom adjoining, intending to
hang it in the wardrobe. But on second thoughts, in order that she
might not keep Miss Aldclyffe waiting a moment longer than
necessary, she flung it down on the first resting-place that came to
hand, which happened to be the bed, and re-entered the dressing-room
with the noiseless footfall of a kitten. She paused in the middle
of the room.
She was unnoticed, and her sudden return had plainly not been
expected. During the short time of Cytherea's absence, Miss
Aldclyffe had pulled off a kind of chemisette of Brussels net, drawn
high above the throat, which she had worn with her evening dress as
a semi-opaque covering to her shoulders, and in its place had put
her night-gown round her. Her right hand was lifted to her neck, as
if engaged in fastening her night-gown.
But on a second glance Miss Aldclyffe's proceeding was clearer to
Cytherea. She was not fastening her night-gown; it had been
carelessly thrown round her, and Miss Aldclyffe was really occupied
in holding up to her eyes some small object that she was keenly
scrutinizing. And now on suddenly discovering the presence of
Cytherea at the back of the apartment, instead of naturally
continuing or concluding her inspection, she desisted hurriedly; the
tiny snap of a spring was heard, her hand was removed, and she began
adjusting her robes.
Modesty might have directed her hasty action of enwrapping her
shoulders, but it was scarcely likely, considering Miss Aldclyffe's
temperament, that she had all her life been used to a maid,
Cytherea's youth, and the elder lady's marked treatment of her as if
she were a mere child or plaything. The matter was too slight to
reason about, and yet upon the whole it seemed that Miss Aldclyffe
must have a practical reason for concealing her neck.
With a timid sense of being an intruder Cytherea was about to step
back and out of the room; but at the same moment Miss Aldclyffe
turned, saw the impulse, and told her companion to stay, looking
into her eyes as if she had half an intention to explain something.
Cytherea felt certain it was the little mystery of her late
movements. The other withdrew her eyes; Cytherea went to fetch the
dressing-gown, and wheeled round again to bring it up to Miss
Aldclyffe, who had now partly removed her night-dress to put it on
the proper way, and still sat with her back towards Cytherea.
Her neck was again quite open and uncovered, and though hidden from
the direct line of Cytherea's vision, she saw it reflected in the
glass--the fair white surface, and the inimitable combination of
curves between throat and bosom which artists adore, being brightly
lit up by the light burning on either side.
And the lady's prior proceedings were now explained in the simplest
manner. In the midst of her breast, like an island in a sea of
pearl, reclined an exquisite little gold locket, embellished with
arabesque work of blue, red, and white enamel. That was undoubtedly
what Miss Aldclyffe had been contemplating; and, moreover, not
having been put off with her other ornaments, it was to be retained
during the night--a slight departure from the custom of ladies which
Miss Aldclyffe had at first not cared to exhibit to her new
assistant, though now, on further thought, she seemed to have become
indifferent on the matter.
'My dressing-gown,' she said, quietly fastening her night-dress as
Cytherea came forward with it. Miss Aldclyffe did not turn her
head, but looked inquiringly at her maid in the glass.
'You saw what I wear on my neck, I suppose?' she said to Cytherea's
'Yes, madam, I did,' said Cytherea to Miss Aldclyffe's reflected
Miss Aldclyffe again looked at Cytherea's reflection as if she were
on the point of explaining. Again she checked her resolve, and said
'Few of my maids discover that I wear it always. I generally keep
it a secret--not that it matters much. But I was careless with you,
and seemed to want to tell you. You win me to make confidences
that. . .'
She ceased, took Cytherea's hand in her own, lifted the locket with
the other, touched the spring and disclosed a miniature.
'It is a handsome face, is it not?' she whispered mournfully, and
But the sight had gone through Cytherea like an electric shock, and
there was an instantaneous awakening of perception in her, so
thrilling in its presence as to be well-nigh insupportable. The
face in the miniature was the face of her own father--younger and
fresher than she had ever known him--but her father!
Was this the woman of his wild and unquenchable early love? And was
this the woman who had figured in the gate-man's story as answering
the name of Cytherea before her judgment was awake? Surely it was.
And if so, here was the tangible outcrop of a romantic and hidden
stratum of the past hitherto seen only in her imagination; but as
far as her scope allowed, clearly defined therein by reason of its
Miss Aldclyffe's eyes and thoughts were so intent upon the miniature
that she had not been conscious of Cytherea's start of surprise.
She went on speaking in a low and abstracted tone.
'Yes, I lost him.' She interrupted her words by a short meditation,
and went on again. 'I lost him by excess of honesty as regarded my
past. But it was best that it should be so. . . . I was led to
think rather more than usual of the circumstances to-night because
of your name. It is pronounced the same way, though differently
The only means by which Cytherea's surname could have been spelt to
Miss Aldclyffe must have been by Mrs. Morris or Farmer Springrove.
She fancied Farmer Springrove would have spelt it properly if Edward
was his informant, which made Miss Aldclyffe's remark obscure.
Women make confidences and then regret them. The impulsive rush of
feeling which had led Miss Aldclyffe to indulge in this revelation,
trifling as it was, died out immediately her words were beyond
recall; and the turmoil, occasioned in her by dwelling upon that
chapter of her life, found vent in another kind of emotion--the
result of a trivial accident.
Cytherea, after letting down Miss Aldclyffe's hair, adopted some
plan with it to which the lady had not been accustomed. A rapid
revulsion to irritation ensued. The maiden's mere touch seemed to
discharge the pent-up regret of the lady as if she had been a jar of
'How strangely you treat my hair!' she exclaimed.
'I have told you what I never tell my maids as a rule; of course
NOTHING that I say in this room is to be mentioned outside it.' She
spoke crossly no less than emphatically.
'It shall not be, madam,' said Cytherea, agitated and vexed that the
woman of her romantic wonderings should be so disagreeable to her.
'Why on earth did I tell you of my past?' she went on.
Cytherea made no answer.
The lady's vexation with herself, and the accident which had led to
the disclosure swelled little by little till it knew no bounds. But
what was done could not be undone, and though Cytherea had shown a
most winning responsiveness, quarrel Miss Aldclyffe must. She
recurred to the subject of Cytherea's want of expertness, like a
bitter reviewer, who finding the sentiments of a poet unimpeachable,
quarrels with his rhymes.
'Never, never before did I serve myself such a trick as this in
engaging a maid!' She waited for an expostulation: none came.
Miss Aldclyffe tried again.
'The idea of my taking a girl without asking her more than three
questions, or having a single reference, all because of her good l--
, the shape of her face and body! It WAS a fool's trick. There, I
am served right, quite right--by being deceived in such a way.'
'I didn't deceive you,' said Cytherea. The speech was an
unfortunate one, and was the very 'fuel to maintain its fires' that
the other's petulance desired.
'You did,' she said hotly.
'I told you I couldn't promise to be acquainted with every detail of
routine just at first.'
'Will you contradict me in this way! You are telling untruths, I
Cytherea's lip quivered. 'I would answer the remark if--if--'
'If it were a lady's!'
'You girl of impudence--what do you say? Leave the room this
instant, I tell you.'
'And I tell you that a person who speaks to a lady as you do to me,
is no lady herself!'
'To a lady? A lady's-maid speaks in this way. The idea!'
'Don't "lady's-maid" me: nobody is my mistress I won't have it!'
'I wouldn't have come--no--I wouldn't! if I had known!'
'That you were such an ill-tempered, unjust woman!'
'Possest beyond the Muse's painting,' Miss Aldclyffe exclaimed--
'A Woman, am I! I'll teach you if I am a Woman!' and lifted her
hand as if she would have liked to strike her companion. This stung
the maiden into absolute defiance.
'I dare you to touch me!' she cried. 'Strike me if you dare, madam!
I am not afraid of you--what do you mean by such an action as that?'
Miss Aldclyffe was disconcerted at this unexpected show of spirit,
and ashamed of her unladylike impulse now it was put into words.
She sank back in the chair. 'I was not going to strike you--go to
your room--I beg you to go to your room!' she repeated in a husky
Cytherea, red and panting, took up her candlestick and advanced to
the table to get a light. As she stood close to them the rays from
the candles struck sharply on her face. She usually bore a much
stronger likeness to her mother than to her father, but now, looking
with a grave, reckless, and angered expression of countenance at the
kindling wick as she held it slanting into the other flame, her
father's features were distinct in her. It was the first time Miss
Aldclyffe had seen her in a passionate mood, and wearing that
expression which was invariably its concomitant. It was Miss
Aldclyffe's turn to start now; and the remark she made was an
instance of that sudden change of tone from high-flown invective to
the pettiness of curiosity which so often makes women's quarrels
ridiculous. Even Miss Aldclyffe's dignity had not sufficient power
to postpone the absorbing desire she now felt to settle the strange
suspicion that had entered her head.
'You spell your name the common way, G, R, E, Y, don't you?' she
said, with assumed indifference.
'No,' said Cytherea, poised on the side of her foot, and still
looking into the flame.
'Yes, surely? The name was spelt that way on your boxes: I looked
and saw it myself.'
The enigma of Miss Aldclyffe's mistake was solved. 'O, was it?'
said Cytherea. 'Ah, I remember Mrs. Jackson, the lodging-house
keeper at Budmouth, labelled them. We spell our name G, R, A, Y,
'What was your father's trade?'
Cytherea thought it would be useless to attempt to conceal facts any
longer. 'His was not a trade,' she said. 'He was an architect.'
'The idea of your being an architect's daughter!'
'There's nothing to offend, you in that, I hope?'
'Why did you say "the idea"?'
'Leave that alone. Did he ever visit in Gower Street, Bloomsbury,
one Christmas, many years ago?--but you would not know that.'
'I have heard him say that Mr. Huntway, a curate somewhere in that
part of London, and who died there, was an old college friend of
'What is your Christian name?'
'No! And is it really? And you knew that face I showed you? Yes,
I see you did.' Miss Aldclyffe stopped, and closed her lips
impassibly. She was a little agitated.
'Do you want me any longer?' said Cytherea, standing candle in hand
and looking quietly in Miss Aldclyffe's face.
'Well--no: no longer,' said the other lingeringly.
'With your permission, I will leave the house to morrow morning,
'Ah.' Miss Aldclyffe had no notion of what she was saying.
'And I know you will be so good as not to intrude upon me during the
short remainder of my stay?'
Saying this Cytherea left the room before her companion had
answered. Miss Aldclyffe, then, had recognized her at last, and had
been curious about her name from the beginning.
The other members of the household had retired to rest. As Cytherea
went along the passage leading to her room her skirts rustled
against the partition. A door on her left opened, and Mrs. Morris
'I waited out of bed till you came up,' she said, 'it being your
first night, in case you should be at a loss for anything. How have
you got on with Miss Aldclyffe?'
'Pretty well--though not so well as I could have wished.'
'Has she been scolding?'
'She's a very odd lady--'tis all one way or the other with her.
She's not bad at heart, but unbearable in close quarters. Those of
us who don't have much to do with her personally, stay on for years
'Has Miss Aldclyffe's family always been rich?' said Cytherea.
'O no. The property, with the name, came from her mother's uncle.
Her family is a branch of the old Aldclyffe family on the maternal
side. Her mother married a Bradleigh--a mere nobody at that time--
and was on that account cut by her relations. But very singularly
the other branch of the family died out one by one--three of them,
and Miss Aldclyffe's great-uncle then left all his property,
including this estate, to Captain Bradleigh and his wife--Miss
Aldclyffe's father and mother--on condition that they took the old
family name as well. There's all about it in the "Landed Gentry."
'Tis a thing very often done.'
'O, I see. Thank you. Well, now I am going. Good-night.'
VI. THE EVENTS OF TWELVE HOURS
1. AUGUST THE NINTH. ONE TO TWO O'CLOCK A.M.
Cytherea entered her bedroom, and flung herself on the, bed,
bewildered by a whirl of thought. Only one subject was clear in her
mind, and it was that, in spite of family discoveries, that day was
to be the first and last of her experience as a lady's-maid.
Starvation itself should not compel her to hold such a humiliating
post for another instant. 'Ah,' she thought, with a sigh, at the
martyrdom of her last little fragment of self-conceit, 'Owen knows
everything better than I.'
She jumped up and began making ready for her departure in the
morning, the tears streaming down when she grieved and wondered what
practical matter on earth she could turn her hand to next. All
these preparations completed, she began to undress, her mind
unconsciously drifting away to the contemplation of her late
surprises. To look in the glass for an instant at the reflection of
her own magnificent resources in face and bosom, and to mark their
attractiveness unadorned, was perhaps but the natural action of a
young woman who had so lately been chidden whilst passing through
the harassing experience of decorating an older beauty of Miss
But she directly checked her weakness by sympathizing reflections on
the hidden troubles which must have thronged the past years of the
solitary lady, to keep her, though so rich and courted, in a mood so
repellent and gloomy as that in which Cytherea found her; and then
the young girl marvelled again and again, as she had marvelled
before, at the strange confluence of circumstances which had brought
herself into contact with the one woman in the world whose history
was so romantically intertwined with her own. She almost began to
wish she were not obliged to go away and leave the lonely being to
In bed and in the dark, Miss Aldclyffe haunted her mind more
persistently than ever. Instead of sleeping, she called up staring
visions of the possible past of this queenly lady, her mother's
rival. Up the long vista of bygone years she saw, behind all, the
young girl's flirtation, little or much, with the cousin, that
seemed to have been nipped in the bud, or to have terminated hastily
in some way. Then the secret meetings between Miss Aldclyffe and
the other woman at the little inn at Hammersmith and other places:
the commonplace name she adopted: her swoon at some painful news,
and the very slight knowledge the elder female had of her partner in
mystery. Then, more than a year afterwards, the acquaintanceship of
her own father with this his first love; the awakening of the
passion, his acts of devotion, the unreasoning heat of his rapture,
her tacit acceptance of it, and yet her uneasiness under the
delight. Then his declaration amid the evergreens: the utter
change produced in her manner thereby, seemingly the result of a
rigid determination: and the total concealment of her reason by
herself and her parents, whatever it was. Then the lady's course
dropped into darkness, and nothing more was visible till she was
discovered here at Knapwater, nearly fifty years old, still
unmarried and still beautiful, but lonely, embittered, and haughty.
Cytherea imagined that her father's image was still warmly cherished
in Miss Aldclyffe's heart, and was thankful that she herself had not
been betrayed into announcing that she knew many particulars of this
page of her father's history, and the chief one, the lady's
unaccountable renunciation of him. It would have made her bearing
towards the mistress of the mansion more awkward, and would have
been no benefit to either.
Thus conjuring up the past, and theorizing on the present, she lay
restless, changing her posture from one side to the other and back
again. Finally, when courting sleep with all her art, she heard a
clock strike two. A minute later, and she fancied she could
distinguish a soft rustle in the passage outside her room.
To bury her head in the sheets was her first impulse; then to
uncover it, raise herself on her elbow, and stretch her eyes wide
open in the darkness; her lips being parted with the intentness of
her listening. Whatever the noise was, it had ceased for the time.
It began again and came close to her door, lightly touching the
panels. Then there was another stillness; Cytherea made a movement
which caused a faint rustling of the bed-clothes.
Before she had time to think another thought a light tap was given.
Cytherea breathed: the person outside was evidently bent upon
finding her awake, and the rustle she had made had encouraged the
hope. The maiden's physical condition shifted from one pole to its
opposite. The cold sweat of terror forsook her, and modesty took
the alarm. She became hot and red; her door was not locked.
A distinct woman's whisper came to her through the keyhole:
Only one being in the house knew her Christian name, and that was
Miss Aldclyffe. Cytherea stepped out of bed, went to the door, and
whispered back, 'Yes?'
'Let me come in, darling.'
The young woman paused in a conflict between judgment and emotion.
It was now mistress and maid no longer; woman and woman only. Yes;
she must let her come in, poor thing.
She got a light in an instant, opened the door, and raising her eyes
and the candle, saw Miss Aldclyffe standing outside in her dressing-
'Now you see that it is really myself; put out the light,' said the
visitor. 'I want to stay here with you, Cythie. I came to ask you
to come down into my bed, but it is snugger here. But remember that
you are mistress in this room, and that I have no business here, and
that you may send me away if you choose. Shall I go?'
'O no; you shan't indeed if you don't want to,' said Cythie
The instant they were in bed Miss Aldclyffe freed herself from the
last remnant of restraint. She flung her arms round the young girl,
and pressed her gently to her heart.
'Now kiss me,' she said.
Cytherea, upon the whole, was rather discomposed at this change of
treatment; and, discomposed or no, her passions were not so
impetuous as Miss Aldclyffe's. She could not bring her soul to her
lips for a moment, try how she would.
'Come, kiss me,' repeated Miss Aldclyffe.
Cytherea gave her a very small one, as soft in touch and in sound as
the bursting of a bubble.
'More earnestly than that--come.'
She gave another, a little but not much more expressively.
'I don't deserve a more feeling one, I suppose,' said Miss
Aldclyffe, with an emphasis of sad bitterness in her tone. 'I am an
ill-tempered woman, you think; half out of my mind. Well, perhaps I
am; but I have had grief more than you can think or dream of. But I
can't help loving you--your name is the same as mine--isn't it
Cytherea was inclined to say no, but remained silent.
'Now, don't you think I must love you?' continued the other.
'Yes,' said Cytherea absently. She was still thinking whether duty
to Owen and her father, which asked for silence on her knowledge of
her father's unfortunate love, or duty to the woman embracing her,
which seemed to ask for confidence, ought to predominate. Here was
a solution. She would wait till Miss Aldclyffe referred to her
acquaintanceship and attachment to Cytherea's father in past times:
then she would tell her all she knew: that would be honour.
'Why can't you kiss me as I can kiss you? Why can't you!' She
impressed upon Cytherea's lips a warm motherly salute, given as if
in the outburst of strong feeling, long checked, and yearning for
something to love and be loved by in return.
'Do you think badly of me for my behaviour this evening, child? I
don't know why I am so foolish as to speak to you in this way. I am
a very fool, I believe. Yes. How old are you?'
'Eighteen! . . . Well, why don't you ask me how old I am?'
'Because I don't want to know.'
'Never mind if you don't. I am forty-six; and it gives me greater
pleasure to tell you this than it does to you to listen. I have not
told my age truly for the last twenty years till now.'
'Why haven't you?'
'I have met deceit by deceit, till I am weary of it--weary, weary--
and I long to be what I shall never be again--artless and innocent,
like you. But I suppose that you, too, will, prove to be not worth
a thought, as every new friend does on more intimate knowledge.
Come, why don't you talk to me, child? Have you said your prayers?'
'Yes--no! I forgot them to-night.'
'I suppose you say them every night as a rule?'
'Why do you do that?'
'Because I have always done so, and it would seem strange if I were
not to. Do you?'
'I? A wicked old sinner like me! No, I never do. I have thought
all such matters humbug for years--thought so so long that I should
be glad to think otherwise from very weariness; and yet, such is the
code of the polite world, that I subscribe regularly to Missionary
Societies and others of the sort. . . . Well, say your prayers,
dear--you won't omit them now you recollect it. I should like to
hear you very much. Will you?'
'It seems hardly--'
'It would seem so like old times to me--when I was young, and
nearer--far nearer Heaven than I am now. Do, sweet one,'
Cytherea was embarrassed, and her embarrassment arose from the
following conjuncture of affairs. Since she had loved Edward
Springrove, she had linked his name with her brother Owen's in her
nightly supplications to the Almighty. She wished to keep her love
for him a secret, and, above all, a secret from a woman like Miss
Aldclyffe; yet her conscience and the honesty of her love would not
for an instant allow her to think of omitting his dear name, and so
endanger the efficacy of all her previous prayers for his success by
an unworthy shame now: it would be wicked of her, she thought, and
a grievous wrong to him. Under any worldly circumstances she might
have thought the position justified a little finesse, and have
skipped him for once; but prayer was too solemn a thing for such
'I would rather not say them,' she murmured first. It struck her
then that this declining altogether was the same cowardice in
another dress, and was delivering her poor Edward over to Satan just
as unceremoniously as before. 'Yes; I will say my prayers, and you
shall hear me,' she added firmly.
She turned her face to the pillow and repeated in low soft tones the
simple words she had used from childhood on such occasions. Owen's
name was mentioned without faltering, but in the other case,
maidenly shyness was too strong even for religion, and that when
supported by excellent intentions. At the name of Edward she
stammered, and her voice sank to the faintest whisper in spite of
'Thank you, dearest,' said Miss Aldclyffe. 'I have prayed too, I
verily believe. You are a good girl, I think.' Then the expected
'"Bless Owen," and whom, did you say?'
There was no help for it now, and out it came. 'Owen and Edward,'
'Who are Owen and Edward?'
'Owen is my brother, madam,' faltered the maid.
'Ah, I remember. Who is Edward?'
'Your brother, too?' continued Miss Aldclyffe.
Miss Aldclyffe reflected a moment. 'Don't you want to tell me who
Edward is?' she said at last, in a tone of meaning.
'I don't mind telling; only . . .'
'You would rather not, I suppose?'
Miss Aldclyffe shifted her ground. 'Were you ever in love?' she
Cytherea was surprised to hear how quickly the voice had altered
from tenderness to harshness, vexation, and disappointment.
'Yes--I think I was--once,' she murmured.
'Aha! And were you ever kissed by a man?'
'Well, were you?' said Miss Aldclyffe, rather sharply.
'Don't press me to tell--I can't--indeed, I won't, madam!'
Miss Aldclyffe removed her arms from Cytherea's neck. ''Tis now
with you as it is always with all girls,' she said, in jealous and
gloomy accents. 'You are not, after all, the innocent I took you
for. No, no.' She then changed her tone with fitful rapidity.
'Cytherea, try to love me more than you love him--do. I love you
more sincerely than any man can. Do, Cythie: don't let any man
stand between us. O, I can't bear that!' She clasped Cytherea's
'I must love him now I have begun,' replied the other.
'Must--yes--must,' said the elder lady reproachfully. 'Yes, women
are all alike. I thought I had at last found an artless woman who
had not been sullied by a man's lips, and who had not practised or
been practised upon by the arts which ruin all the truth and
sweetness and goodness in us. Find a girl, if you can, whose mouth
and ears have not been made a regular highway of by some man or
another! Leave the admittedly notorious spots--the drawing-rooms of
society--and look in the villages--leave the villages and search in
the schools--and you can hardly find a girl whose heart has not been
HAD--is not an old thing half worn out by some He or another! If
men only knew the staleness of the freshest of us! that nine times
out of ten the "first love" they think they are winning from a woman
is but the hulk of an old wrecked affection, fitted with new sails
and re-used. O Cytherea, can it be that you, too, are like the
'No, no, no,' urged Cytherea, awed by the storm she had raised in
the impetuous woman's mind. 'He only kissed me once--twice I mean.'
'He might have done it a thousand times if he had cared to, there's
no doubt about that, whoever his lordship is. You are as bad as I--
we are all alike; and I--an old fool--have been sipping at your
mouth as if it were honey, because I fancied no wasting lover knew
the spot. But a minute ago, and you seemed to me like a fresh
spring meadow--now you seem a dusty highway.'
'O no, no!' Cytherea was not weak enough to shed tears except on
extraordinary occasions, but she was fain to begin sobbing now. She
wished Miss Aldclyffe would go to her own room, and leave her and
her treasured dreams alone. This vehement imperious affection was
in one sense soothing, but yet it was not of the kind that
Cytherea's instincts desired. Though it was generous, it seemed
somewhat too rank and capricious for endurance.
'Well,' said the lady in continuation, 'who is he?'
Her companion was desperately determined not to tell his name: she
too much feared a taunt when Miss Aldclyffe's fiery mood again ruled
'Won't you tell me? not tell me after all the affection I have
'I will, perhaps, another day.'
'Did you wear a hat and white feather in Budmouth for the week or
two previous to your coming here?'
'Then I have seen you and your lover at a distance! He rowed you
round the bay with your brother.'
'And without your brother--fie! There, there, don't let that little
heart beat itself to death: throb, throb: it shakes the bed, you
silly thing. I didn't mean that there was any harm in going alone
with him. I only saw you from the Esplanade, in common with the
rest of the people. I often run down to Budmouth. He was a very
good figure: now who was he?'
'I--I won't tell, madam--I cannot indeed!'
'Won't tell--very well, don't. You are very foolish to treasure up
his name and image as you do. Why, he has had loves before you,
trust him for that, whoever he is, and you are but a temporary link
in a long chain of others like you: who only have your little day
as they have had theirs.'
''Tisn't true! 'tisn't true! 'tisn't true!' cried Cytherea in an
agony of torture. 'He has never loved anybody else, I know--I am
sure he hasn't.'
Miss Aldclyffe was as jealous as any man could have been. She
'He sees a beautiful face and thinks he will never forget it, but in
a few weeks the feeling passes off, and he wonders how he could have
cared for anybody so absurdly much.'
'No, no, he doesn't--What does he do when he has thought that--Come,
tell me--tell me!'
'You are as hot as fire, and the throbbing of your heart makes me
nervous. I can't tell you if you get in that flustered state.'
'Do, do tell--O, it makes me so miserable! but tell---come tell me!'
'Ah--the tables are turned now, dear!' she continued, in a tone
which mingled pity with derision--
'"Love's passions shall rock thee
As the storm rocks the ravens on high,
Bright reason will mock thee
Like the sun from a wintry sky."
'What does he do next?--Why, this is what he does next: ruminate on
what he has heard of women's romantic impulses, and how easily men
torture them when they have given way to those feelings, and have
resigned everything for their hero. It may be that though he loves
you heartily now--that is, as heartily as a man can--and you love
him in return, your loves may be impracticable and hopeless, and you
may be separated for ever. You, as the weary, weary years pass by
will fade and fade--bright eyes WILL fade--and you will perhaps then
die early--true to him to your latest breath, and believing him to
be true to the latest breath also; whilst he, in some gay and busy
spot far away from your last quiet nook, will have married some
dashing lady, and not purely oblivious of you, will long have ceased
to regret you--will chat about you, as you were in long past years--
will say, "Ah, little Cytherea used to tie her hair like that--poor
innocent trusting thing; it was a pleasant useless idle dream--that
dream of mine for the maid with the bright eyes and simple, silly
heart; but I was a foolish lad at that time." Then he will tell the
tale of all your little Wills and Wont's and particular ways, and as
he speaks, turn to his wife with a placid smile.'
'It is not true! He can't, he c-can't be s-so cruel--and you are
cruel to me--you are, you are!' She was at last driven to
desperation: her natural common sense and shrewdness had seen all
through the piece how imaginary her emotions were--she felt herself
to be weak and foolish in permitting them to rise; but even then she
could not control them: be agonized she must. She was only
eighteen, and the long day's labour, her weariness, her excitement,
had completely unnerved her, and worn her out: she was bent hither
and thither by this tyrannical working upon her imagination, as a
young rush in the wind. She wept bitterly. 'And now think how much
I like you,' resumed Miss Aldclyffe, when Cytherea grew calmer. 'I
shall never forget you for anybody else, as men do--never. I will
be exactly as a mother to you. Now will you promise to live with me
always, and always be taken care of, and never deserted?'
'I cannot. I will not be anybody's maid for another day on any
'No, no, no. You shan't be a lady's-maid. You shall be my
companion. I will get another maid.'
Companion--that was a new idea. Cytherea could not resist the
evidently heartfelt desire of the strange-tempered woman for her
presence. But she could not trust to the moment's impulse.
'I will stay, I think. But do not ask for a final answer to-night.'
'Never mind now, then. Put your hair round your mamma's neck, and
give me one good long kiss, and I won't talk any more in that way
about your lover. After all, some young men are not so fickle as
others; but even if he's the ficklest, there is consolation. The
love of an inconstant man is ten times more ardent than that of a
faithful man--that is, while it lasts.'
Cytherea did as she was told, to escape the punishment of further
talk; flung the twining tresses of her long, rich hair over Miss
Aldclyffe's shoulders as directed, and the two ceased conversing,
making themselves up for sleep. Miss Aldclyffe seemed to give
herself over to a luxurious sense of content and quiet, as if the
maiden at her side afforded her a protection against dangers which
had menaced her for years; she was soon sleeping calmly.
2. TWO TO FIVE A.M.
With Cytherea it was otherwise. Unused to the place and
circumstances, she continued wakeful, ill at ease, and mentally
distressed. She withdrew herself from her companion's embrace,
turned to the other side, and endeavoured to relieve her busy brain
by looking at the window-blind, and noticing the light of the rising
moon--now in her last quarter--creep round upon it: it was the
light of an old waning moon which had but a few days longer to live.
The sight led her to think again of what had happened under the rays
of the same month's moon, a little before its full, the ecstatic
evening scene with Edward: the kiss, and the shortness of those
happy moments--maiden imagination bringing about the apotheosis of a
status quo which had had several unpleasantnesses in its earthly
But sounds were in the ascendant that night. Her ears became aware
of a strange and gloomy murmur.
She recognized it: it was the gushing of the waterfall, faint and
low, brought from its source to the unwonted distance of the House
by a faint breeze which made it distinct and recognizable by reason
of the utter absence of all disturbing sounds. The groom's
melancholy representation lent to the sound a more dismal effect
than it would have had of its own nature. She began to fancy what
the waterfall must be like at that hour, under the trees in the
ghostly moonlight. Black at the head, and over the surface of the
deep cold hole into which it fell; white and frothy at the fall;
black and white, like a pall and its border; sad everywhere.
She was in the mood for sounds of every kind now, and strained her
ears to catch the faintest, in wayward enmity to her quiet of mind.
Another soon came.
The second was quite different from the first--a kind of
intermittent whistle it seemed primarily: no, a creak, a metallic
creak, ever and anon, like a plough, or a rusty wheelbarrow, or at
least a wheel of some kind. Yes, it was, a wheel--the water-wheel
in the shrubbery by the old manor-house, which the coachman had said
would drive him mad.
She determined not to think any more of these gloomy things; but now
that she had once noticed the sound there was no sealing her ears to
it. She could not help timing its creaks, and putting on a dread
expectancy just before the end of each half-minute that brought
them. To imagine the inside of the engine-house, whence these
noises proceeded, was now a necessity. No window, but crevices in
the door, through which, probably, the moonbeams streamed in the
most attenuated and skeleton-like rays, striking sharply upon
portions of wet rusty cranks and chains; a glistening wheel, turning
incessantly, labouring in the dark like a captive starving in a
dungeon; and instead of a floor below, gurgling water, which on
account of the darkness could only be heard; water which laboured up
dark pipes almost to where she lay.
She shivered. Now she was determined to go to sleep; there could be
nothing else left to be heard or to imagine--it was horrid that her
imagination should be so restless. Yet just for an instant before
going to sleep she would think this--suppose another sound SHOULD
come--just suppose it should! Before the thought had well passed
through her brain, a third sound came.
The third was a very soft gurgle or rattle--of a strange and
abnormal kind--yet a sound she had heard before at some past period
of her life--when, she could not recollect. To make it the more
disturbing, it seemed to be almost close to her--either close
outside the window, close under the floor, or close above the
ceiling. The accidental fact of its coming so immediately upon the
heels of her supposition, told so powerfully upon her excited nerves
that she jumped up in the bed. The same instant, a little dog in
some room near, having probably heard the same noise, set up a low
whine. The watch-dog in the yard, hearing the moan of his
associate, began to howl loudly and distinctly. His melancholy
notes were taken up directly afterwards by the dogs in the kennel a
long way off, in every variety of wail.
One logical thought alone was able to enter her flurried brain. The
little dog that began the whining must have heard the other two
sounds even better than herself. He had taken no notice of them,
but he had taken notice of the third. The third, then, was an
It was not like water, it was not like wind; it was not the night-
jar, it was not a clock, nor a rat, nor a person snoring.
She crept under the clothes, and flung her arms tightly round Miss
Aldclyffe, as if for protection. Cytherea perceived that the lady's
late peaceful warmth had given place to a sweat. At the maiden's
touch, Miss Aldclyffe awoke with a low scream.
She remembered her position instantly. 'O such a terrible dream!'
she cried, in a hurried whisper, holding to Cytherea in her turn;
'and your touch was the end of it. It was dreadful. Time, with his
wings, hour-glass, and scythe, coming nearer and nearer to me--
grinning and mocking: then he seized me, took a piece of me only. .
. But I can't tell you. I can't bear to think of it. How those
dogs howl! People say it means death.'
The return of Miss Aldclyffe to consciousness was sufficient to
dispel the wild fancies which the loneliness of the night had woven
in Cytherea's mind. She dismissed the third noise as something
which in all likelihood could easily be explained, if trouble were
taken to inquire into it: large houses had all kinds of strange
sounds floating about them. She was ashamed to tell Miss Aldclyffe
A silence of five minutes.
'Are you asleep?' said Miss Aldclyffe.
'No,' said Cytherea, in a long-drawn whisper.
'How those dogs howl, don't they?'
'Yes. A little dog in the house began it.'
'Ah, yes: that was Totsy. He sleeps on the mat outside my father's
bedroom door. A nervous creature.'
There was a silent interval of nearly half-an-hour. A clock on the
landing struck three.
'Are you asleep, Miss Aldclyffe?' whispered Cytherea.
'No,' said Miss Aldclyffe. 'How wretched it is not to be able to
sleep, isn't it?'
'Yes,' replied Cytherea, like a docile child.
Another hour passed, and the clock struck four. Miss Aldclyffe was
'Cytherea,' she said, very softly.
Cytherea made no answer. She was sleeping soundly.
The first glimmer of dawn was now visible. Miss Aldclyffe arose,
put on her dressing-gown, and went softly downstairs to her own
'I have not told her who I am after all, or found out the
particulars of Ambrose's history,' she murmured. 'But her being in
love alters everything.'
3. HALF-PAST SEVEN TO TEN O'CLOCK A.M.
Cytherea awoke, quiet in mind and refreshed. A conclusion to remain
at Knapwater was already in possession of her.
Finding Miss Aldclyffe gone, she dressed herself and sat down at the
window to write an answer to Edward's letter, and an account of her
arrival at Knapwater to Owen. The dismal and heart-breaking
pictures that Miss Aldclyffe had placed before her the preceding
evening, the later terrors of the night, were now but as shadows of
shadows, and she smiled in derision at her own excitability.
But writing Edward's letter was the great consoler, the effect of
each word upon him being enacted in her own face as she wrote it.
She felt how much she would like to share his trouble--how well she
could endure poverty with him--and wondered what his trouble was.
But all would be explained at last, she knew.
At the appointed time she went to Miss Aldclyffe's room, intending,
with the contradictoriness common in people, to perform with
pleasure, as a work of supererogation, what as a duty was simply
Miss Aldclyffe was already out of bed. The bright penetrating light
of morning made a vast difference in the elder lady's behaviour to
her dependent; the day, which had restored Cytherea's judgment, had
effected the same for Miss Aldclyffe. Though practical reasons
forbade her regretting that she had secured such a companionable
creature to read, talk, or play to her whenever her whim required,
she was inwardly vexed at the extent to which she had indulged in
the womanly luxury of making confidences and giving way to emotions.
Few would have supposed that the calm lady sitting aristocratically
at the toilet table, seeming scarcely conscious of Cytherea's
presence in the room, even when greeting her, was the passionate
creature who had asked for kisses a few hours before.
It is both painful and satisfactory to think how often these
antitheses are to be observed in the individual most open to our
observation--ourselves. We pass the evening with faces lit up by
some flaring illumination or other: we get up the next morning--the
fiery jets have all gone out, and nothing confronts us but a few
crinkled pipes and sooty wirework, hardly even recalling the outline
of the blazing picture that arrested our eyes before bedtime.
Emotions would be half starved if there were no candle-light.
Probably nine-tenths of the gushing letters of indiscreet confession
are written after nine or ten o'clock in the evening, and sent off
before day returns to leer invidiously upon them. Few that remain
open to catch our glance as we rise in the morning, survive the
frigid criticism of dressing-time.
The subjects uppermost in the minds of the two women who had thus
cooled from their fires, were not the visionary ones of the later
hours, but the hard facts of their earlier conversation. After a
remark that Cytherea need not assist her in dressing unless she
wished to, Miss Aldclyffe said abruptly--
'I can tell that young man's name.' She looked keenly at Cytherea.
'It is Edward Springrove, my tenant's son.'
The inundation of colour upon the younger lady at hearing a name
which to her was a world, handled as if it were only an atom, told
Miss Aldclyffe that she had divined the truth at last.
'Ah--it is he, is it?' she continued. 'Well, I wanted to know for
practical reasons. His example shows that I was not so far wrong in
my estimate of men after all, though I only generalized, and had no
thought of him.' This was perfectly true.
'What do you mean?' said Cytherea, visibly alarmed.
'Mean? Why that all the world knows him to be engaged to be
married, and that the wedding is soon to take place.' She made the
remark bluntly and superciliously, as if to obtain absolution at the
hands of her family pride for the weak confidences of the night.
But even the frigidity of Miss Aldclyffe's morning mood was overcome
by the look of sick and blank despair which the carelessly uttered
words had produced upon Cytherea's face. She sank back into a
chair, and buried her face in her hands.
'Don't be so foolish,' said Miss Aldclyffe. 'Come, make the best of
it. I cannot upset the fact I have told you of, unfortunately. But
I believe the match can be broken off.'
'O no, no.'
'Nonsense. I liked him much as a youth, and I like him now. I'll
help you to captivate and chain him down. I have got over my absurd
feeling of last night in not wanting you ever to go away from me--of
course, I could not expect such a thing as that. There, now I have
said I'll help you, and that's enough. He's tired of his first
choice now that he's been away from home for a while. The love that
no outer attack can frighten away quails before its idol's own
homely ways; it is always so. . . . Come, finish what you are doing
if you are going to, and don't be a little goose about such a
trumpery affair as that.'
'Who--is he engaged to?' Cytherea inquired by a movement of her lips
but no sound of her voice. But Miss Aldclyffe did not answer. It
mattered not, Cytherea thought. Another woman--that was enough for
her: curiosity was stunned.
She applied herself to the work of dressing, scarcely knowing how.
Miss Aldclyffe went on:--
'You were too easily won. I'd have made him or anybody else speak
out before he should have kissed my face for his pleasure. But you
are one of those precipitantly fond things who are yearning to throw
away their hearts upon the first worthless fellow who says good-
morning. In the first place, you shouldn't have loved him so
quickly: in the next, if you must have loved him off-hand, you
should have concealed it. It tickled his vanity: "By Jove, that
girl's in love with me already!" he thought.'
To hasten away at the end of the toilet, to tell Mrs. Morris--who
stood waiting in a little room prepared for her, with tea poured
out, bread-and-butter cut into diaphanous slices, and eggs arranged-
-that she wanted no breakfast: then to shut herself alone in her
bedroom, was her only thought. She was followed thither by the
well-intentioned matron with a cup of tea and one piece of bread-
and-butter on a tray, cheerfully insisting that she should eat it.
To those who grieve, innocent cheerfulness seems heartless levity.
'No, thank you, Mrs. Morris,' she said, keeping the door closed.
Despite the incivility of the action, Cytherea could not bear to let
a pleasant person see her face then.
Immediate revocation--even if revocation would be more effective by
postponement--is the impulse of young wounded natures. Cytherea
went to her blotting-book, took out the long letter so carefully
written, so full of gushing remarks and tender hints, and sealed up
so neatly with a little seal bearing 'Good Faith' as its motto, tore
the missive into fifty pieces, and threw them into the grate. It
was then the bitterest of anguishes to look upon some of the words
she had so lovingly written, and see them existing only in mutilated
forms without meaning--to feel that his eye would never read them,
nobody ever know how ardently she had penned them.