Part 6 out of 9
forward from the large square pew occupied by Miss Aldclyffe and
The ordinary sadness of an autumnal evening-service seemed, in
Cytherea's eyes, to be doubled on this particular occasion. She
looked at all the people as they stood and sang, waving backwards
and forwards like a forest of pines swayed by a gentle breeze; then
at the village children singing too, their heads inclined to one
side, their eyes listlessly tracing some crack in the old walls, or
following the movement of a distant bough or bird with features
petrified almost to painfulness. Then she looked at Manston; he was
already regarding her with some purpose in his glance.
'It is coming this evening,' she said in her mind. A minute later,
at the end of the hymn, when the congregation began to move out,
Manston came down the aisle. He was opposite the end of her seat as
she stepped from it, the remainder of their progress to the door
being in contact with each other. Miss Aldclyffe had lingered
'Don't let's hurry,' he said, when Cytherea was about to enter the
private path to the House as usual. 'Would you mind turning down
this way for a minute till Miss Aldclyffe has passed?'
She could not very well refuse now. They turned into a secluded
path on their left, leading round through a thicket of laurels to
the other gate of the church-yard, walking very slowly. By the time
the further gate was reached, the church was closed. They met the
sexton with the keys in his hand.
'We are going inside for a minute,' said Manston to him, taking the
keys unceremoniously. 'I will bring them to you when we return.'
The sexton nodded his assent, and Cytherea and Manston walked into
the porch, and up the nave.
They did not speak a word during their progress, or in any way
interfere with the stillness and silence that prevailed everywhere
around them. Everything in the place was the embodiment of decay:
the fading red glare from the setting sun, which came in at the west
window, emphasizing the end of the day and all its cheerful doings,
the mildewed walls, the uneven paving-stones, the wormy pews, the
sense of recent occupation, and the dank air of death which had
gathered with the evening, would have made grave a lighter mood than
Cytherea's was then.
'What sensations does the place impress you with?' she said at last,
'I feel imperatively called upon to be honest, from very despair of
achieving anything by stratagem in a world where the materials are
such as these.' He, too, spoke in a depressed voice, purposely or
'I feel as if I were almost ashamed to be seen walking such a
world,' she murmured; 'that's the effect it has upon me; but it does
not induce me to be honest particularly.'
He took her hand in both his, and looked down upon the lids of her
'I pity you sometimes,' he said more emphatically.
'I am pitiable, perhaps; so are many people. Why do you pity me?'
'I think that you make yourself needlessly sad.'
'Yes, needlessly. Why should you be separated from your brother so
much, when you might have him to stay with you till he is well?'
'That can't be,' she said, turning away.
He went on, 'I think the real and only good thing that can be done
for him is to get him away from Budmouth awhile; and I have been
wondering whether it could not be managed for him to come to my
house to live for a few weeks. Only a quarter of a mile from you.
How pleasant it would be!'
He moved himself round immediately to the front of her, and held her
hand more firmly, as he continued, 'Cytherea, why do you say "It
would," so entirely in the tone of abstract supposition? I want him
there: I want him to be my brother, too. Then make him so, and be
my wife! I cannot live without you. O Cytherea. my darling, my
love, come and be my wife!'
His face bent closer and closer to hers, and the last words sank to
a whisper as weak as the emotion inspiring it was strong.
She said firmly and distinctly, 'Yes, I will.'
'Next month?' he said on the instant, before taking breath.
'No; not next month.'
'December? Christmas Day, say?'
'I don't mind.'
'O, you darling!' He was about to imprint a kiss upon her pale,
cold mouth, but she hastily covered it with her hand.
'Don't kiss me--at least where we are now!' she whispered
'We are too near God.'
He gave a sudden start, and his face flushed. She had spoken so
emphatically that the words 'Near God' echoed back again through the
hollow building from the far end of the chancel.
'What a thing to say!' he exclaimed; 'surely a pure kiss is not
inappropriate to the place !'
'No,' she replied, with a swelling heart; 'I don't know why I burst
out so--I can't tell what has come over me! Will you forgive me?'
'How shall I say "Yes" without judging you? How shall I say "No"
without losing the pleasure of saying "Yes?"' He was himself again.
'I don't know,' she absently murmured.
'I'll say "Yes,"' he answered daintily. 'It is sweeter to fancy we
are forgiven, than to think we have not sinned; and you shall have
the sweetness without the need.'
She did not reply, and they moved away. The church was nearly dark
now, and melancholy in the extreme. She stood beside him while he
locked the door, then took the arm he gave her, and wound her way
out of the churchyard with him. Then they walked to the house
together, but the great matter having been set at rest, she
persisted in talking only on indifferent subjects.
'Christmas Day, then,' he said, as they were parting at the end of
'I meant Old Christmas Day,' she said evasively.
'H'm, people do not usually attach that meaning to the words.'
'No; but I should like it best if it could not be till then?' It
seemed to be still her instinct to delay the marriage to the utmost.
'Very well, love,' he said gently. ''Tis a fortnight longer still;
but never mind. Old Christmas Day.'
9. THE ELEVENTH OF SEPTEMBER
'There. It will be on a Friday!'
She sat upon a little footstool gazing intently into the fire. It
was the afternoon of the day following that of the steward's
successful solicitation of her hand.
'I wonder if it would be proper in me to run across the park and
tell him it is a Friday?' she said to herself, rising to her feet,
looking at her hat lying near, and then out of the window towards
the Old House. Proper or not, she felt that she must at all hazards
remove the disagreeable, though, as she herself owned, unfounded
impression the coincidence had occasioned. She left the house
directly, and went to search for him.
Manston was in the timber-yard, looking at the sawyers as they
worked. Cytherea came up to him hesitatingly. Till within a
distance of a few yards she had hurried forward with alacrity--now
that the practical expression of his face became visible she wished
almost she had never sought him on such an errand; in his business-
mood he was perhaps very stern.
'It will be on a Friday,' she said confusedly, and without any
'Come this way!' said Manston, in the tone he used for workmen, not
being able to alter at an instant's notice. He gave her his arm and
led her back into the avenue, by which time he was lover again. 'On
a Friday, will it, dearest? You do not mind Fridays, surely?
'Not seriously mind them, exactly--but if it could be any other
'Well, let us say Old Christmas Eve, then. Shall it be Old
'Yes, Old Christmas Eve.'
'Your word is solemn, and irrevocable now?'
'Certainly, I have solemnly pledged my word; I should not have
promised to marry you if I had not meant it. Don't think I should.'
She spoke the words with a dignified impressiveness.
'You must not be vexed at my remark, dearest. Can you think the
worse of an ardent man, Cytherea, for showing some anxiety in love?'
'No, no.' She could not say more. She was always ill at ease when
he spoke of himself as a piece of human nature in that analytical
way, and wanted to be out of his presence. The time of day, and the
proximity of the house, afforded her a means of escape. 'I must be
with Miss Aldclyffe now--will you excuse my hasty coming and going?'
she said prettily. Before he had replied she had parted from him.
'Cytherea, was it Mr. Manston I saw you scudding away from in the
avenue just now?' said Miss Aldclyffe, when Cytherea joined her.
'"Yes." Come, why don't you say more than that? I hate those
taciturn "Yesses" of yours. I tell you everything, and yet you are
as close as wax with me.'
'I parted from him because I wanted to come in.'
'What a novel and important announcement! Well, is the day fixed?'
Miss Aldclyffe's face kindled into intense interest at once. 'Is it
indeed? When is it to be?'
'On Old Christmas Eve.'
'Old Christmas Eve.' Miss Aldclyffe drew Cytherea round to her
front, and took a hand in each of her own. 'And then you will be a
bride!' she said slowly, looking with critical thoughtfulness upon
the maiden's delicately rounded cheeks.
The normal area of the colour upon each of them decreased
perceptibly after that slow and emphatic utterance by the elder
Miss Aldclyffe continued impressively, 'You did not say "Old
Christmas Eve" as a fiancee should have said the words: and you
don't receive my remark with the warm excitement that foreshadows a
bright future. . . How many weeks are there to the time?'
'I have not reckoned them.'
'Not? Fancy a girl not counting the weeks! I find I must take the
lead in this matter--you are so childish, or frightened, or stupid,
or something, about it, Bring me my diary, and we will count them at
Cytherea silently fetched the book.
Miss Aldclyffe opened the diary at the page containing the almanac,
and counted sixteen weeks, which brought her to the thirty-first of
December--a Sunday. Cytherea stood by, looking on as if she had no
appetite for the scene.
'Sixteen to the thirty-first. Then let me see, Monday will be the
first of January, Tuesday the second, Wednesday third, Thursday
fourth, Friday fifth--you have chosen a Friday, as I declare!'
'A Thursday, surely?' said Cytherea.
'No: Old Christmas Day comes on a Saturday.'
The perturbed little brain had reckoned wrong. 'Well, it must be a
Friday,' she murmured in a reverie.
'No: have it altered, of course,' said Miss Aldclyffe cheerfully.
'There's nothing bad in Friday, but such a creature as you will be
thinking about its being unlucky--in fact, I wouldn't choose a
Friday myself to be married on, since all the other days are equally
'I shall not have it altered,' said Cytherea firmly; 'it has been
altered once already: I shall let it be.'
XIII. THE EVENTS OF ONE DAY
1. THE FIFTH OF JANUARY. BEFORE DAWN
We pass over the intervening weeks. The time of the story is thus
advanced more than a quarter of a year.
On the midnight preceding the morning which would make her the wife
of a man whose presence fascinated her into involuntariness of
bearing, and whom in absence she almost dreaded, Cytherea lay in her
little bed, vainly endeavouring to sleep.
She had been looking back amid the years of her short though varied
past, and thinking of the threshold upon which she stood. Days and
months had dimmed the form of Edward Springrove like the gauzes of a
vanishing stage-scene, but his dying voice could still be heard
faintly behind. That a soft small chord in her still vibrated true
to his memory, she would not admit: that she did not approach
Manston with feelings which could by any stretch of words be called
hymeneal, she calmly owned.
'Why do I marry him?' she said to herself. 'Because Owen, dear Owen
my brother, wishes me to marry him. Because Mr. Manston is, and has
been, uniformly kind to Owen, and to me. "Act in obedience to the
dictates of common-sense," Owen said, "and dread the sharp sting of
poverty. How many thousands of women like you marry every year for
the same reason, to secure a home, and mere ordinary, material
comforts, which after all go far to make life endurable, even if not
''Tis right, I suppose, for him to say that. O, if people only knew
what a timidity and melancholy upon the subject of her future grows
up in the heart of a friendless woman who is blown about like a reed
shaken with the wind, as I am, they would not call this resignation
of one's self by the name of scheming to get a husband. Scheme to
marry? I'd rather scheme to die! I know I am not pleasing my
heart; I know that if I only were concerned, I should like risking a
single future. But why should I please my useless self overmuch,
when by doing otherwise I please those who are more valuable than
In the midst of desultory reflections like these, which alternated
with surmises as to the inexplicable connection that appeared to
exist between her intended husband and Miss Aldclyffe, she heard
dull noises outside the walls of the house, which she could not
quite fancy to be caused by the wind. She seemed doomed to such
disturbances at critical periods of her existence. 'It is strange,'
she pondered, 'that this my last night in Knapwater House should be
disturbed precisely as my first was, no occurrence of the kind
As the minutes glided by the noise increased, sounding as if some
one were beating the wall below her window with a bunch of switches.
She would gladly have left her room and gone to stay with one of the
maids, but they were without doubt all asleep.
The only person in the house likely to be awake, or who would have
brains enough to comprehend her nervousness, was Miss Aldclyffe, but
Cytherea never cared to go to Miss Aldclyffe's room, though she was
always welcome there, and was often almost compelled to go against
The oft-repeated noise of switches grew heavier upon the wall, and
was now intermingled with creaks, and a rattling like the rattling
of dice. The wind blew stronger; there came first a snapping, then
a crash, and some portion of the mystery was revealed. It was the
breaking off and fall of a branch from one of the large trees
outside. The smacking against the wall, and the intermediate
rattling, ceased from that time.
Well, it was the tree which had caused the noises. The unexplained
matter was that neither of the trees ever touched the walls of the
house during the highest wind, and that trees could not rattle like
a man playing castanets or shaking dice.
She thought, 'Is it the intention of Fate that something connected
with these noises shall influence my future as in the last case of
During the dilemma she fell into a troubled sleep, and dreamt that
she was being whipped with dry bones suspended on strings, which
rattled at every blow like those of a malefactor on a gibbet; that
she shifted and shrank and avoided every blow, and they fell then
upon the wall to which she was tied. She could not see the face of
the executioner for his mask, but his form was like Manston's.
'Thank Heaven!' she said, when she awoke and saw a faint light
struggling through her blind. 'Now what were those noises?' To
settle that question seemed more to her than the event of the day.
She pulled the blind aside and looked out. All was plain. The
evening previous had closed in with a grey drizzle, borne upon a
piercing air from the north, and now its effects were visible. The
hoary drizzle still continued; but the trees and shrubs were laden
with icicles to an extent such as she had never before witnessed. A
shoot of the diameter of a pin's head was iced as thick as her
finger; all the boughs in the park were bent almost to the earth
with the immense weight of the glistening incumbrance; the walks
were like a looking-glass. Many boughs had snapped beneath their
burden, and lay in heaps upon the icy grass. Opposite her eye, on
the nearest tree, was a fresh yellow scar, showing where the branch
that had terrified her had been splintered from the trunk.
'I never could have believed it possible,' she thought, surveying
the bowed-down branches, 'that trees would bend so far out of their
true positions without breaking.' By watching a twig she could see
a drop collect upon it from the hoary fog, sink to the lowest point,
and there become coagulated as the others had done.
'Or that I could so exactly have imitated them,' she continued. 'On
this morning I am to be married--unless this is a scheme of the
great Mother to hinder a union of which she does not approve. Is it
possible for my wedding to take place in the face of such weather as
Her brother Owen was staying with Manston at the Old House.
Contrary to the opinion of the doctors, the wound had healed after
the first surgical operation, and his leg was gradually acquiring
strength, though he could only as yet get about on crutches, or
ride, or be dragged in a chair.
Miss Aldclyffe had arranged that Cytherea should be married from
Knapwater House, and not from her brother's lodgings at Budmouth,
which was Cytherea's first idea. Owen, too, seemed to prefer the
plan. The capricious old maid had latterly taken to the
contemplation of the wedding with even greater warmth than had at
first inspired her, and appeared determined to do everything in her
power, consistent with her dignity, to render the adjuncts of the
ceremony pleasing and complete.
But the weather seemed in flat contradiction of the whole
proceeding. At eight o'clock the coachman crept up to the House
almost upon his hands and knees, entered the kitchen, and stood with
his back to the fire, panting from his exertions in pedestrianism.
The kitchen was by far the pleasantest apartment in Knapwater House
on such a morning as this. The vast fire was the centre of the
whole system, like a sun, and threw its warm rays upon the figures
of the domestics, wheeling about it in true planetary style. A
nervously-feeble imitation of its flicker was continually attempted
by a family of polished metallic utensils standing in rows and
groups against the walls opposite, the whole collection of shines
nearly annihilating the weak daylight from outside. A step further
in, and the nostrils were greeted by the scent of green herbs just
gathered, and the eye by the plump form of the cook, wholesome,
white-aproned, and floury--looking as edible as the food she
manipulated--her movements being supported and assisted by her
satellites, the kitchen and scullery maids. Minute recurrent sounds
prevailed--the click of the smoke-jack, the flap of the flames, and
the light touches of the women's slippers upon the stone floor.
The coachman hemmed, spread his feet more firmly upon the
hearthstone, and looked hard at a small plate in the extreme corner
of the dresser.
'No wedden this mornen--that's my opinion. In fact, there can't
be,' he said abruptly, as if the words were the mere torso of a
many-membered thought that had existed complete in his head.
The kitchen-maid was toasting a slice of bread at the end of a very
long toasting-fork, which she held at arm's length towards the
unapproachable fire, travestying the Flanconnade in fencing.
'Bad out of doors, isn't it?' she said, with a look of commiseration
for things in general.
'Bad? Not even a liven soul, gentle or simple, can stand on level
ground. As to getten up hill to the church, 'tis perfect lunacy.
And I speak of foot-passengers. As to horses and carriage, 'tis
murder to think of 'em. I am going to send straight as a line into
the breakfast-room, and say 'tis a closer. . . . Hullo--here's
Clerk Crickett and John Day a-comen! Now just look at 'em and
picture a wedden if you can.'
All eyes were turned to the window, from which the clerk and
gardener were seen crossing the court, bowed and stooping like Bel
'You'll have to go if it breaks all the horses' legs in the county,'
said the cook, turning from the spectacle, knocking open the oven-
door with the tongs, glancing critically in, and slamming it
together with a clang.
'O, O; why shall I?' asked the coachman, including in his auditory
by a glance the clerk and gardener who had just entered.
'Because Mr. Manston is in the business. Did you ever know him to
give up for weather of any kind, or for any other mortal thing in
heaven or earth?'
'---- Mornen so's--such as it is!' interrupted Mr. Crickett
cheerily, coming forward to the blaze and warming one hand without
looking at the fire. 'Mr. Manston gie up for anything in heaven or
earth, did you say? You might ha' cut it short by sayen "to Miss
Aldclyffe," and leaven out heaven and earth as trifles. But it
might be put off; putten off a thing isn't getten rid of a thing, if
that thing is a woman. O no, no!'
The coachman and gardener now naturally subsided into secondaries.
The cook went on rather sharply, as she dribbled milk into the exact
centre of a little crater of flour in a platter--
'It might be in this case; she's so indifferent.'
'Dang my old sides! and so it might be. I have a bit of news--I
thought there was something upon my tongue; but 'tis a secret; not a
word, mind, not a word. Why, Miss Hinton took a holiday yesterday.'
'Yes?' inquired the cook, looking up with perplexed curiosity.
'D'ye think that's all?'
'Don't be so three-cunning--if it is all, deliver you from the evil
of raising a woman's expectations wrongfully; I'll skimmer your pate
as sure as you cry Amen!'
'Well, it isn't all. When I got home last night my wife said, "Miss
Adelaide took a holiday this mornen," says she (my wife, that is);
"walked over to Nether Mynton, met the comen man, and got married!"
'Got married! what, Lord-a-mercy, did Springrove come?'
'Springrove, no--no--Springrove's nothen to do wi' it--'twas Farmer
Bollens. They've been playing bo-peep for these two or three months
seemingly. Whilst Master Teddy Springrove has been daddlen, and
hawken, and spetten about having her, she's quietly left him all
forsook. Serve him right. I don't blame the little woman a bit.'
'Farmer Bollens is old enough to be her father!'
'Ay, quite; and rich enough to be ten fathers. They say he's so
rich that he has business in every bank, and measures his money in
'Lord, I wish it was me, don't I wish 'twas me!' said the scullery-
'Yes, 'twas as neat a bit of stitching as ever I heard of,'
continued the clerk, with a fixed eye, as if he were watching the
process from a distance. 'Not a soul knew anything about it, and my
wife is the only one in our parish who knows it yet. Miss Hinton
came back from the wedden, went to Mr. Manston, puffed herself out
large, and said she was Mrs. Bollens, but that if he wished, she had
no objection to keep on the house till the regular time of giving
notice had expired, or till he could get another tenant.'
'Just like her independence,' said the cook.
'Well, independent or no, she's Mrs. Bollens now. Ah, I shall never
forget once when I went by Farmer Bollens's garden--years ago now--
years, when he was taking up ashleaf taties. A merry feller I was
at that time, a very merry feller--for 'twas before I took holy
orders, and it didn't prick my conscience as 'twould now. "Farmer,"
says I, "little taties seem to turn out small this year, don't em?"
"O no, Crickett," says he, "some be fair-sized." He's a dull man--
Farmer Bollens is--he always was. However, that's neither here nor
there; he's a-married to a sharp woman, and if I don't make a
mistake she'll bring him a pretty good family, gie her time.'
'Well, it don't matter; there's a Providence in it,' said the
scullery-maid. 'God A'mighty always sends bread as well as
'But 'tis the bread to one house and the children to another very
often. However, I think I can see my lady Hinton's reason for
chosen yesterday to sickness-or-health-it. Your young miss, and
that one, had crossed one another's path in regard to young Master
Springrove; and I expect that when Addy Hinton found Miss Graye
wasn't caren to have en, she thought she'd be beforehand with her
old enemy in marrying somebody else too. That's maids' logic all
over, and maids' malice likewise.'
Women who are bad enough to divide against themselves under a man's
partiality are good enough to instantly unite in a common cause
against his attack. 'I'll just tell you one thing then,' said the
cook, shaking out her words to the time of a whisk she was beating
eggs with. 'Whatever maids' logic is and maids' malice too, if
Cytherea Graye even now knows that young Springrove is free again,
she'll fling over the steward as soon as look at him.'
'No, no: not now,' the coachman broke in like a moderator.
'There's honour in that maid, if ever there was in one. No Miss
Hinton's tricks in her. She'll stick to Manston.'
'Don't let a word be said till the wedden is over, for Heaven's
sake,' the clerk continued. 'Miss Aldclyffe would fairly hang and
quarter me, if my news broke off that there wedden at a last minute
'Then you had better get your wife to bolt you in the closet for an
hour or two, for you'll chatter it yourself to the whole boiling
parish if she don't! 'Tis a poor womanly feller!'
'You shouldn't ha' begun it, clerk. I knew how 'twould be,' said
the gardener soothingly, in a whisper to the clerk's mangled
The clerk turned and smiled at the fire, and warmed his other hand.
The weather gave way. In half-an-hour there began a rapid thaw. By
ten o'clock the roads, though still dangerous, were practicable to
the extent of the half-mile required by the people of Knapwater
Park. One mass of heavy leaden cloud spread over the whole sky; the
air began to feel damp and mild out of doors, though still cold and
They reached the church and passed up the nave, the deep-coloured
glass of the narrow windows rendering the gloom of the morning
almost night itself inside the building. Then the ceremony began.
The only warmth or spirit imported into it came from the bridegroom,
who retained a vigorous--even Spenserian--bridal-mood throughout the
Cytherea was as firm as he at this critical moment, but as cold as
the air surrounding her. The few persons forming the wedding-party
were constrained in movement and tone, and from the nave of the
church came occasional coughs, emitted by those who, in spite of the
weather, had assembled to see the termination of Cytherea's
existence as a single woman. Many poor people loved her. They
pitied her success, why, they could not tell, except that it was
because she seemed to stand more like a statue than Cytherea Graye.
Yet she was prettily and carefully dressed; a strange contradiction
in a man's idea of things--a saddening, perplexing contradiction.
Are there any points in which a difference of sex amounts to a
difference of nature? Then this is surely one. Not so much, as it
is commonly put, in regard to the amount of consideration given, but
in the conception of the thing considered. A man emasculated by
coxcombry may spend more time upon the arrangement of his clothes
than any woman, but even then there is no fetichism in his idea of
them--they are still only a covering he uses for a time. But here
was Cytherea, in the bottom of her heart almost indifferent to life,
yet possessing an instinct with which her heart had nothing to do,
the instinct to be particularly regardful of those sorry trifles,
her robe, her flowers, her veil, and her gloves.
The irrevocable words were soon spoken--the indelible writing soon
written--and they came out of the vestry. Candles had been
necessary here to enable them to sign their names, and on their
return to the church the light from the candles streamed from the
small open door, and across the chancel to a black chestnut screen
on the south side, dividing it from a small chapel or chantry,
erected for the soul's peace of some Aldclyffe of the past. Through
the open-work of this screen could now be seen illuminated, inside
the chantry, the reclining figures of cross-legged knights, damp and
green with age, and above them a huge classic monument, also
inscribed to the Aldclyffe family, heavily sculptured in cadaverous
Leaning here--almost hanging to the monument--was Edward Springrove,
or his spirit.
The weak daylight would never have revealed him, shaded as he was by
the screen; but the unexpected rays of candle-light in the front
showed him forth in startling relief to any and all of those whose
eyes wandered in that direction. The sight was a sad one--sad
beyond all description. His eyes were wild, their orbits leaden.
His face was of a sickly paleness, his hair dry and disordered, his
lips parted as if he could get no breath. His figure was spectre-
thin. His actions seemed beyond his own control.
Manston did not see him; Cytherea did. The healing effect upon her
heart of a year's silence--a year and a half's separation--was
undone in an instant. One of those strange revivals of passion by
mere sight--commoner in women than in men, and in oppressed women
commonest of all--had taken place in her--so transcendently, that
even to herself it seemed more like a new creation than a revival.
Marrying for a home--what a mockery it was!
It may be said that the means most potent for rekindling old love in
a maiden's heart are, to see her lover in laughter and good spirits
in her despite when the breach has been owing to a slight from
herself; when owing to a slight from him, to see him suffering for
his own fault. If he is happy in a clear conscience, she blames
him; if he is miserable because deeply to blame, she blames herself.
The latter was Cytherea's case now.
First, an agony of face told of the suppressed misery within her,
which presently could be suppressed no longer. When they were coming
out of the porch, there broke from her in a low plaintive scream the
words, 'He's dying--dying! O God, save us!' She began to sink
down, and would have fallen had not Manston caught her. The chief
bridesmaid applied her vinaigrette.
'What did she say?' inquired Manston.
Owen was the only one to whom the words were intelligible, and he
was far too deeply impressed, or rather alarmed, to reply. She did
not faint, and soon began to recover her self-command. Owen took
advantage of the hindrance to step back to where the apparition had
been seen. He was enraged with Springrove for what he considered an
But Edward was not in the chantry. As he had come, so he had gone,
nobody could tell how or whither.
It might almost have been believed that a transmutation had taken
place in Cytherea's idiosyncrasy, that her moral nature had fled.
The wedding-party returned to the house. As soon as he could find
an opportunity, Owen took his sister aside to speak privately with
her on what had happened. The expression of her face was hard,
wild, and unreal--an expression he had never seen there before, and
it disturbed him. He spoke to her severely and sadly.
'Cytherea,' he said, 'I know the cause of this emotion of yours.
But remember this, there was no excuse for it. You should have been
woman enough to control yourself. Remember whose wife you are, and
don't think anything more of a mean-spirited fellow like Springrove;
he had no business to come there as he did. You are altogether
wrong, Cytherea, and I am vexed with you more than I can say--very
'Say ashamed of me at once,' she bitterly answered.
'I am ashamed of you,' he retorted angrily; 'the mood has not left
you yet, then?'
'Owen,' she said, and paused. Her lip trembled; her eye told of
sensations too deep for tears. 'No, Owen, it has not left me; and I
will be honest. I own now to you, without any disguise of words,
what last night I did not own to myself, because I hardly knew of
it. I love Edward Springrove with all my strength, and heart, and
soul. You call me a wanton for it, don't you? I don't care; I have
gone beyond caring for anything!' She looked stonily into his face
and made the speech calmly.
'Well, poor Cytherea, don't talk like that!' he said, alarmed at her
'I thought that I did not love him at all,' she went on
hysterically. 'A year and a half had passed since we met. I could
go by the gate of his garden without thinking of him--look at his
seat in church and not care. But I saw him this morning--dying
because he loves me so--I know it is that! Can I help loving him
too? No, I cannot, and I will love him, and I don't care! We have
been separated somehow by some contrivance--I know we have. O, if I
could only die!'
He held her in his arms. 'Many a woman has gone to ruin herself,'
he said, 'and brought those who love her into disgrace, by acting
upon such impulses as possess you now. I have a reputation to lose
as well as you. It seems that do what I will by way of remedying
the stains which fell upon us, it is all doomed to be undone again.'
His voice grew husky as he made the reply.
The right and only effective chord had been touched. Since she had
seen Edward, she had thought only of herself and him. Owen--her
name--position--future--had been as if they did not exist.
'I won't give way and become a disgrace to YOU, at any rate,' she
'Besides, your duty to society, and those about you, requires that
you should live with (at any rate) all the appearance of a good
wife, and try to love your husband.'
'Yes--my duty to society,' she murmured. 'But ah, Owen, it is
difficult to adjust our outer and inner life with perfect honesty to
all! Though it may be right to care more for the benefit of the
many than for the indulgence of your own single self, when you
consider that the many, and duty to them, only exist to you through
your own existence, what can be said? What do our own acquaintances
care about us? Not much. I think of mine. Mine will now (do they
learn all the wicked frailty of my heart in this affair) look at me,
smile sickly, and condemn me. And perhaps, far in time to come,
when I am dead and gone, some other's accent, or some other's song,
or thought, like an old one of mine, will carry them back to what I
used to say, and hurt their hearts a little that they blamed me so
soon. And they will pause just for an instant, and give a sigh to
me, and think, "Poor girl!" believing they do great justice to my
memory by this. But they will never, never realize that it was my
single opportunity of existence, as well as of doing my duty, which
they are regarding; they will not feel that what to them is but a
thought, easily held in those two words of pity, "Poor girl!" was a
whole life to me; as full of hours, minutes, and peculiar minutes,
of hopes and dreads, smiles, whisperings, tears, as theirs: that it
was my world, what is to them their world, and they in that life of
mine, however much I cared for them, only as the thought I seem to
them to be. Nobody can enter into another's nature truly, that's
what is so grievous.'
'Well, it cannot be helped,' said Owen.
'But we must not stay here,' she continued, starting up and going.
'We shall be missed. I'll do my best, Owen--I will, indeed.'
It had been decided that on account of the wretched state of the
roads, the newly-married pair should not drive to the station till
the latest hour in the afternoon at which they could get a train to
take them to Southampton (their destination that night) by a
reasonable time in the evening. They intended the next morning to
cross to Havre, and thence to Paris--a place Cytherea had never
visited--for their wedding tour.
The afternoon drew on. The packing was done. Cytherea was so
restless that she could stay still nowhere. Miss Aldclyffe, who,
though she took little part in the day's proceedings, was, as it
were, instinctively conscious of all their movements, put down her
charge's agitation for once as the natural result of the novel
event, and Manston himself was as indulgent as could be wished.
At length Cytherea wandered alone into the conservatory. When in
it, she thought she would run across to the hot-house in the outer
garden, having in her heart a whimsical desire that she should also
like to take a last look at the familiar flowers and luxuriant
leaves collected there. She pulled on a pair of overshoes, and
thither she went. Not a soul was in or around the place. The
gardener was making merry on Manston's and her account.
The happiness that a generous spirit derives from the belief that it
exists in others is often greater than the primary happiness itself.
The gardener thought 'How happy they are!' and the thought made him
happier than they.
Coming out of the forcing-house again, she was on the point of
returning indoors, when a feeling that these moments of solitude
would be her last of freedom induced her to prolong them a little,
and she stood still, unheeding the wintry aspect of the curly-leaved
plants, the straw-covered beds, and the bare fruit-trees around her.
The garden, no part of which was visible from the house, sloped down
to a narrow river at the foot, dividing it from the meadows without.
A man was lingering along the public path on the other side of the
river; she fancied she knew the form. Her resolutions, taken in the
presence of Owen, did not fail her now. She hoped and prayed that
it might not be one who had stolen her heart away, and still kept
it. Why should he have reappeared at all, when he had declared that
he went out of her sight for ever?
She hastily hid herself, in the lowest corner of the garden close to
the river. A large dead tree, thickly robed in ivy, had been
considerably depressed by its icy load of the morning, and hung low
over the stream, which here ran slow and deep. The tree screened
her from the eyes of any passer on the other side.
She waited timidly, and her timidity increased. She would not allow
herself to see him--she would hear him pass, and then look to see if
it had been Edward.
But, before she heard anything, she became aware of an object
reflected in the water from under the tree which hung over the river
in such a way that, though hiding the actual path, and objects upon
it, it permitted their reflected images to pass beneath its boughs.
The reflected form was that of the man she had seen further off, but
being inverted, she could not definitely characterize him.
He was looking at the upper windows of the House--at hers--was it
Edward, indeed? If so, he was probably thinking he would like to
say one parting word. He came closer, gazed into the stream, and
walked very slowly. She was almost certain that it was Edward. She
kept more safely hidden. Conscience told her that she ought not to
see him. But she suddenly asked herself a question: 'Can it be
possible that he sees my reflected image, as I see his? Of course
He was looking at her in the water.
She could not help herself now. She stepped forward just as he
emerged from the other side of the tree and appeared erect before
her. It was Edward Springrove--till the inverted vision met his
eye, dreaming no more of seeing his Cytherea there than of seeing
the dead themselves.
'Mr. Springrove,' she returned, in a low voice, across the stream.
He was the first to speak again.
'Since we have met, I want to tell you something, before we become
quite as strangers to each other.'
'No--not now--I did not mean to speak--it is not right, Edward.'
She spoke hurriedly and turned away from him, beating the air with
'Not one common word of explanation?' he implored. 'Don't think I
am bad enough to try to lead you astray. Well, go--it is better.'
Their eyes met again. She was nearly choked. O, how she longed--
and dreaded--to hear his explanation!
'What is it?' she said desperately.
'It is that I did not come to the church this morning in order to
distress you: I did not, Cytherea. It was to try to speak to you
before you were--married.'
He stepped closer, and went on, 'You know what has taken place?
Surely you do?--my cousin is married, and I am free.'
'Married--and not to you?' Cytherea faltered, in a weak whisper.
'Yes, she was married yesterday! A rich man had appeared, and she
jilted me. She said she never would have jilted a stranger, but
that by jilting me, she only exercised the right everybody has of
snubbing their own relations. But that's nothing now. I came to
you to ask once more if. . . . But I was too late.'
'But, Edward, what's that, what's that!' she cried, in an agony of
reproach. 'Why did you leave me to return to her? Why did you
write me that cruel, cruel letter that nearly killed me!'
'Cytherea! Why, you had grown to love--like--Mr. Manston, and how
could you be anything to me--or care for me? Surely I acted
'O no--never! I loved you--only you--not him--always you!--till
lately. . . . I try to love him now.'
'But that can't be correct! Miss Aldclyffe told me that you wanted
to hear no more of me--proved it to me!' said Edward.
'Never! she couldn't.'
'She did, Cytherea. And she sent me a letter--a love-letter, you
wrote to Mr. Manston.'
'A love-letter I wrote?'
'Yes, a love-letter--you could not meet him just then, you said you
were sorry, but the emotion you had felt with him made you forgetful
The strife of thought in the unhappy girl who listened to this
distortion of her meaning could find no vent in words. And then
there followed the slow revelation in return, bringing with it all
the misery of an explanation which comes too late. The question
whether Miss Aldclyffe were schemer or dupe was almost passed over
by Cytherea, under the immediate oppressiveness of her despair in
the sense that her position was irretrievable.
Not so Springrove. He saw through all the cunning half-
misrepresentations--worse than downright lies--which had just been
sufficient to turn the scale both with him and with her; and from
the bottom of his soul he cursed the woman and man who had brought
all this agony upon him and his Love. But he could not add more
misery to the future of the poor child by revealing too much. The
whole scheme she should never know.
'I was indifferent to my own future,' Edward said, 'and was urged to
promise adherence to my engagement with my cousin Adelaide by Miss
Aldclyffe: now you are married I cannot tell you how, but it was on
account of my father. Being forbidden to think of you, what did I
care about anything? My new thought that you still loved me was
first raised by what my father said in the letter announcing my
cousin's marriage. He said that although you were to be married on
Old Christmas Day--that is to-morrow--he had noticed your appearance
with pity: he thought you loved me still. It was enough for me--I
came down by the earliest morning train, thinking I could see you
some time to-day, the day, as I thought, before your marriage,
hoping, but hardly daring to hope, that you might be induced to
marry me. I hurried from the station; when I reached the village I
saw idlers about the church, and the private gate leading to the
House open. I ran into the church by the small door and saw you
come out of the vestry; I was too late. I have now told you. I was
compelled to tell you. O, my lost darling, now I shall live
content--or die content!'
'I am to blame, Edward, I am,' she said mournfully; 'I was taught to
dread pauperism; my nights were made sleepless; there was
continually reiterated in my ears till I believed it--
'"The world and its ways have a certain worth,
And to press a point where these oppose
Were a simple policy."
But I will say nothing about who influenced--who persuaded. The act
is mine, after all. Edward, I married to escape dependence for my
bread upon the whim of Miss Aldclyffe, or others like her. It was
clearly represented to me that dependence is bearable if we have
another place which we can call home; but to be a dependent and to
have no other spot for the heart to anchor upon--O, it is mournful
and harassing!. . . But that without which all persuasion would
have been as air, was added by my miserable conviction that you were
false; that did it, that turned me! You were to be considered as
nobody to me, and Mr. Manston was invariably kind. Well, the deed
is done--I must abide by it. I shall never let him know that I do
not love him--never. If things had only remained as they seemed to
be, if you had really forgotten me and married another woman, I
could have borne it better. I wish I did not know the truth as I
know it now! But our life, what is it? Let us be brave, Edward,
and live out our few remaining years with dignity. They will not be
long. O, I hope they will not be long!. . . Now, good-bye, good-
'I wish I could be near and touch you once, just once,' said
Springrove, in a voice which he vainly endeavoured to keep firm and
They looked at the river, then into it; a shoal of minnows was
floating over the sandy bottom, like the black dashes on miniver;
though narrow, the stream was deep, and there was no bridge.
'Cytherea, reach out your hand that I may just touch it with mine.'
She stepped to the brink and stretched out her hand and fingers
towards his, but not into them. The river was too wide.
'Never mind,' said Cytherea, her voice broken by agitation, 'I must
be going. God bless and keep you, my Edward! God bless you!'
'I must touch you, I must press your hand,' he said.
They came near--nearer--nearer still--their fingers met. There was
a long firm clasp, so close and still that each hand could feel the
other's pulse throbbing beside its own.
'My Cytherea! my stolen pet lamb!'
She glanced a mute farewell from her large perturbed eyes, turned,
and ran up the garden without looking back. All was over between
them. The river flowed on as quietly and obtusely as ever, and the
minnows gathered again in their favourite spot as if they had never
Nobody indoors guessed from her countenance and bearing that her
heart was near to breaking with the intensity of the misery which
gnawed there. At these times a woman does not faint, or weep, or
scream, as she will in the moment of sudden shocks. When lanced by
a mental agony of such refined and special torture that it is
indescribable by men's words, she moves among her acquaintances much
as before, and contrives so to cast her actions in the old moulds
that she is only considered to be rather duller than usual.
5. HALF-PAST TWO TO FIVE O'CLOCK P.M.
Owen accompanied the newly-married couple to the railway-station,
and in his anxiety to see the last of his sister, left the brougham
and stood upon his crutches whilst the train was starting.
When the husband and wife were about to enter the railway-carriage
they saw one of the porters looking frequently and furtively at
them. He was pale, and apparently very ill.
'Look at that poor sick man,' said Cytherea compassionately, 'surely
he ought not to be here.'
'He's been very queer to-day, madam, very queer,' another porter
answered. 'He do hardly hear when he's spoken to, and d' seem
giddy, or as if something was on his mind. He's been like it for
this month past, but nothing so bad as he is to-day.'
She could not resist an innate desire to do some just thing on this
most deceitful and wretched day of her life. Going up to him she
gave him money, and told him to send to the old manor-house for wine
or whatever he wanted.
The train moved off as the trembling man was murmuring his
incoherent thanks. Owen waved his hand; Cytherea smiled back to him
as if it were unknown to her that she wept all the while.
Owen was driven back to the Old House. But he could not rest in the
lonely place. His conscience began to reproach him for having
forced on the marriage of his sister with a little too much
peremptoriness. Taking up his crutches he went out of doors and
wandered about the muddy roads with no object in view save that of
getting rid of time.
The clouds which had hung so low and densely during the day cleared
from the west just now as the sun was setting, calling forth a
weakly twitter from a few small birds. Owen crawled down the path
to the waterfall, and lingered thereabout till the solitude of the
place oppressed him, when he turned back and into the road to the
village. He was sad; he said to himself--
'If there is ever any meaning in those heavy feelings which are
called presentiments--and I don't believe there is--there will be in
mine to-day. . . . Poor little Cytherea!'
At that moment the last low rays of the sun touched the head and
shoulders of a man who was approaching, and showed him up to Owen's
view. It was old Mr. Springrove. They had grown familiar with
each other by reason of Owen's visits to Knapwater during the past
year. The farmer inquired how Owen's foot was progressing, and was
glad to see him so nimble again.
'How is your son?' said Owen mechanically.
'He is at home, sitting by the fire,' said the farmer, in a sad
voice. 'This morning he slipped indoors from God knows where, and
there he sits and mopes, and thinks, and thinks, and presses his
head so hard, that I can't help feeling for him.'
'Is he married?' said Owen. Cytherea had feared to tell him of the
interview in the garden.
'No. I can't quite understand how the matter rests. . . . Ah!
Edward, too, who started with such promise; that he should now have
become such a careless fellow--not a month in one place. There, Mr.
Graye, I know what it is mainly owing to. If it hadn't been for
that heart affair, he might have done--but the less said about him
the better. I don't know what we should have done if Miss Aldclyffe
had insisted upon the conditions of the leases. Your brother-in-
law, the steward, had a hand in making it light for us, I know, and
I heartily thank him for it.' He ceased speaking, and looked round
at the sky.
'Have you heard o' what's happened?' he said suddenly; 'I was just
coming out to learn about it.'
'I haven't heard of anything.'
'It is something very serious, though I don't know what. All I know
is what I heard a man call out bynow--that it very much concerns
somebody who lives in the parish.'
It seems singular enough, even to minds who have no dim beliefs in
adumbration and presentiment, that at that moment not the shadow of
a thought crossed Owen's mind that the somebody whom the matter
concerned might be himself, or any belonging to him. The event
about to transpire was as portentous to the woman whose welfare was
more dear to him than his own, as any, short of death itself, could
possibly be; and ever afterwards, when he considered the effect of
the knowledge the next half-hour conveyed to his brain, even his
practical good sense could not refrain from wonder that he should
have walked toward the village after hearing those words of the
farmer, in so leisurely and unconcerned a way. 'How unutterably
mean must my intelligence have appeared to the eye of a foreseeing
God,' he frequently said in after-time. 'Columbus on the eve of his
discovery of a world was not so contemptibly unaware.'
After a few additional words of common-place the farmer left him,
and, as has been said, Owen proceeded slowly and indifferently
towards the village.
The labouring men had just left work, and passed the park gate,
which opened into the street as Owen came down towards it. They
went along in a drift, earnestly talking, and were finally about to
turn in at their respective doorways. But upon seeing him they
looked significantly at one another, and paused. He came into the
road, on that side of the village-green which was opposite the row
of cottages, and turned round to the right. When Owen turned, all
eyes turned; one or two men went hurriedly indoors, and afterwards
appeared at the doorstep with their wives, who also contemplated
him, talking as they looked. They seemed uncertain how to act in
'If they want me, surely they will call me,' he thought, wondering
more and more. He could no longer doubt that he was connected with
the subject of their discourse.
The first who approached him was a boy.
'What has occurred?' said Owen.
'O, a man ha' got crazy-religious, and sent for the pa'son.'
'Is that all?'
'Yes, sir. He wished he was dead, he said, and he's almost out of
his mind wi' wishen it so much. That was before Mr. Raunham came.'
'Who is he?' said Owen.
'Joseph Chinney, one of the railway-porters; he used to be night-
'Ah--the man who was ill this afternoon; by the way, he was told to
come to the Old House for something, but he hasn't been. But has
anything else happened--anything that concerns the wedding to-day?'
Concluding that the connection which had seemed to be traced between
himself and the event must in some way have arisen from Cytherea's
friendliness towards the man, Owen turned about and went homewards
in a much quieter frame of mind--yet scarcely satisfied with the
solution. The route he had chosen led through the dairy-yard, and
he opened the gate.
Five minutes before this point of time, Edward Springrove was
looking over one of his father's fields at an outlying hamlet of
three or four cottages some mile and a half distant. A turnpike-
gate was close by the gate of the field.
The carrier to Casterbridge came up as Edward stepped into the road,
and jumped down from the van to pay toll. He recognized Springrove.
'This is a pretty set-to in your place, sir,' he said. 'You don't
know about it, I suppose?'
'What?' said Springrove.
The carrier paid his dues, came up to Edward, and spoke ten words in
a confidential whisper: then sprang upon the shafts of his vehicle,
gave a clinching nod of significance to Springrove, and rattled
Edward turned pale with the intelligence. His first thought was,
'Bring her home!'
The next--did Owen Graye know what had been discovered? He probably
did by that time, but no risks of probability must be run by a woman
he loved dearer than all the world besides. He would at any rate
make perfectly sure that her brother was in possession of the
knowledge, by telling it him with his own lips.
Off he ran in the direction of the old manor-house.
The path was across arable land, and was ploughed up with the rest
of the field every autumn, after which it was trodden out afresh.
The thaw had so loosened the soft earth, that lumps of stiff mud
were lifted by his feet at every leap he took, and flung against him
by his rapid motion, as it were doggedly impeding him, and
increasing tenfold the customary effort of running,
But he ran on--uphill, and downhill, the same pace alike--like the
shadow of a cloud. His nearest direction, too, like Owen's, was
through the dairy-barton, and as Owen entered it he saw the figure
of Edward rapidly descending the opposite hill, at a distance of two
or three hundred yards. Owen advanced amid the cows.
The dairyman, who had hitherto been talking loudly on some absorbing
subject to the maids and men milking around him, turned his face
towards the head of the cow when Owen passed, and ceased speaking.
Owen approached him and said--
'A singular thing has happened, I hear. The man is not insane, I
'Not he--he's sensible enough,' said the dairyman, and paused. He
was a man noisy with his associates--stolid and taciturn with
'Is it true that he is Chinney, the railway-porter?'
'That's the man, sir.' The maids and men sitting under the cows
were all attentively listening to this discourse, milking
irregularly, and softly directing the jets against the sides of the
Owen could contain himself no longer, much as his mind dreaded
anything of the nature of ridicule. 'The people all seem to look at
me, as if something seriously concerned me; is it this stupid
matter, or what is it?'
'Surely, sir, you know better than anybody else if such a strange
thing concerns you.'
'What strange thing?'
'Don't you know! His confessing to Parson Raunham.'
'What did he confess? Tell me.'
'If you really ha'n't heard, 'tis this. He was as usual on duty at
the station on the night of the fire last year, otherwise he
wouldn't ha' known it.'
'Known what? For God's sake tell, man!'
But at this instant the two opposite gates of the dairy-yard, one on
the east, the other on the west side, slammed almost simultaneously.
The rector from one, Springrove from the other, came striding across
Edward was nearest, and spoke first. He said in a low voice: 'Your
sister is not legally married! His first wife is still living! How
it comes out I don't know!'
'O, here you are at last, Mr. Graye, thank Heaven!' said the rector
breathlessly. 'I have been to the Old House, and then to Miss
Aldclyffe's looking for you--something very extraordinary.' He
beckoned to Owen, afterwards included Springrove in his glance, and
the three stepped aside together.
'A porter at the station. He was a curious nervous man. He had
been in a strange state all day, but he wouldn't go home. Your
sister was kind to him, it seems, this afternoon. When she and her
husband had gone, he went on with his work, shifting luggage-vans.
Well, he got in the way, as if he were quite lost to what was going
on, and they sent him home at last. Then he wished to see me. I
went directly. There was something on his mind, he said, and told
it. About the time when the fire of last November twelvemonth was
got under, whilst he was by himself in the porter's room, almost
asleep, somebody came to the station and tried to open the door. He
went out and found the person to be the lady he had accompanied to
Carriford earlier in the evening, Mrs. Manston. She asked, when
would be another train to London? The first the next morning, he
told her, was at a quarter-past six o'clock from Budmouth, but that
it was express, and didn't stop at Carriford Road--it didn't stop
till it got to Anglebury. "How far is it to Anglebury?" she said.
He told her, and she thanked him, and went away up the line. In a
short time she ran back and took out her purse. "Don't on any
account say a word in the village or anywhere that I have been here,
or a single breath about me--I'm ashamed ever to have come." He
promised; she took out two sovereigns. "Swear it on the Testament
in the waiting-room," she said, "and I'll pay you these." He got
the book, took an oath upon it, received the money, and she left
him. He was off duty at half-past five. He has kept silence all
through the intervening time till now, but lately the knowledge he
possessed weighed heavily upon his conscience and weak mind. Yet
the nearer came the wedding-day, the more he feared to tell. The
actual marriage filled him with remorse. He says your sister's
kindness afterwards was like a knife going through his heart. He
thought he had ruined her.'
'But whatever can be done? Why didn't he speak sooner?' cried Owen.
'He actually called at my house twice yesterday,' the rector
continued, 'resolved, it seems, to unburden his mind. I was out
both times--he left no message, and, they say, he looked relieved
that his object was defeated. Then he says he resolved to come to
you at the Old House last night--started, reached the door, and
dreaded to knock--and then went home again.'
'Here will be a tale for the newsmongers of the county,' said Owen
bitterly. 'The idea of his not opening his mouth sooner--the
criminality of the thing!'
'Ah, that's the inconsistency of a weak nature. But now that it is
put to us in this way, how much more probable it seems that she
should have escaped than have been burnt--'
'You will, of course, go straight to Mr. Manston, and ask him what
it all means?' Edward interrupted.
'Of course I shall! Manston has no right to carry off my sister
unless he's her husband,' said Owen. 'I shall go and separate
'Certainly you will,' said the rector.
'Where's the man?'
'In his cottage.'
''Tis no use going to him, either. I must go off at once and
overtake them--lay the case before Manston, and ask him for
additional and certain proofs of his first wife's death. An up-
train passes soon, I think.'
'Where have they gone?' said Edward.
'To Paris--as far as Southampton this afternoon, to proceed to-
'Where in Southampton?'
'I really don't know--some hotel. I only have their Paris address.
But I shall find them by making a few inquiries.'
The rector had in the meantime been taking out his pocket-book, and
now opened it at the first page, whereon it was his custom every
month to gum a small railway time-table--cut from the local
'The afternoon express is just gone,' he said, holding open the
page, 'and the next train to Southampton passes at ten minutes to
six o'clock. Now it wants--let me see--five-and-forty minutes to
that time. Mr. Graye, my advice is that you come with me to the
porter's cottage, where I will shortly write out the substance of
what he has said, and get him to sign it. You will then have far
better grounds for interfering between Mr. and Mrs. Manston than if
you went to them with a mere hearsay story.'
The suggestion seemed a good one. 'Yes, there will be time before
the train starts,' said Owen.
Edward had been musing restlessly.
'Let me go to Southampton in your place, on account of your
lameness?' he said suddenly to Graye.
'I am much obliged to you, but I think I can scarcely accept the
offer,' returned Owen coldly. 'Mr. Manston is an honourable man,
and I had much better see him myself.'
'There is no doubt,' said Mr. Raunham, 'that the death of his wife
was fully believed in by himself.'
'None whatever,' said Owen; 'and the news must be broken to him, and
the question of other proofs asked, in a friendly way. It would not
do for Mr. Springrove to appear in the case at all.' He still spoke
rather coldly; the recollection of the attachment between his sister
and Edward was not a pleasant one to him.
'You will never find them,' said Edward. 'You have never been to
Southampton, and I know every house there.'
'That makes little difference,' said the rector; 'he will have a
cab. Certainly Mr. Graye is the proper man to go on the errand.'
'Stay; I'll telegraph to ask them to meet me when I arrive at the
terminus,' said Owen; 'that is, if their train has not already
Mr. Raunham pulled out his pocket-book again. 'The two-thirty train
reached Southampton a quarter of an hour ago,' he said.
It was too late to catch them at the station. Nevertheless, the
rector suggested that it would be worth while to direct a message to
'all the respectable hotels in Southampton,' on the chance of its
finding them, and thus saving a deal of personal labour to Owen in
searching about the place.
'I'll go and telegraph, whilst you return to the man,' said Edward--
an offer which was accepted. Graye and the rector then turned off
in the direction of the porter's cottage.
Edward, to despatch the message at once, hurriedly followed the road
towards the station, still restlessly thinking. All Owen's
proceedings were based on the assumption, natural under the
circumstances, of Manston's good faith, and that he would readily
acquiesce in any arrangement which should clear up the mystery.
'But,' thought Edward, 'suppose--and Heaven forgive me, I cannot
help supposing it--that Manston is not that honourable man, what
will a young and inexperienced fellow like Owen do? Will he not be
hoodwinked by some specious story or another, framed to last till
Manston gets tired of poor Cytherea? And then the disclosure of the
truth will ruin and blacken both their futures irremediably.'
However, he proceeded to execute his commission. This he put in the
form of a simple request from Owen to Manston, that Manston would
come to the Southampton platform, and wait for Owen's arrival, as he
valued his reputation. The message was directed as the rector had
suggested, Edward guaranteeing to the clerk who sent it off that
every expense connected with the search would be paid.
No sooner had the telegram been despatched than his heart sank
within him at the want of foresight shown in sending it. Had
Manston, all the time, a knowledge that his first wife lived, the
telegram would be a forewarning which might enable him to defeat
Owen still more signally.
Whilst the machine was still giving off its multitudinous series of
raps, Edward heard a powerful rush under the shed outside, followed
by a long sonorous creak. It was a train of some sort, stealing
softly into the station, and it was an up-train. There was the ring
of a bell. It was certainly a passenger train.
Yet the booking-office window was closed.
'Ho, ho, John, seventeen minutes after time and only three stations
up the line. The incline again?' The voice was the
stationmaster's, and the reply seemed to come from the guard.
'Yes, the other side of the cutting. The thaw has made it all in a
perfect cloud of fog, and the rails are as slippery as glass. We
had to bring them through the cutting at twice.'
'Anybody else for the four-forty-five express?' the voice continued.
The few passengers, having crossed over to the other side long
before this time, had taken their places at once.
A conviction suddenly broke in upon Edward's mind; then a wish
overwhelmed him. The conviction--as startling as it was sudden--was
that Manston was a villain, who at some earlier time had discovered
that his wife lived, and had bribed her to keep out of sight, that
he might possess Cytherea. The wish was--to proceed at once by this
very train that was starting, find Manston before he would expect
from the words of the telegram (if he got it) that anybody from
Carriford could be with him--charge him boldly with the crime, and
trust to his consequent confusion (if he were guilty) for a solution
of the extraordinary riddle, and the release of Cytherea!
The ticket-office had been locked up at the expiration of the time
at which the train was due. Rushing out as the guard blew his
whistle, Edward opened the door of a carriage and leapt in. The
train moved along, and he was soon out of sight.
Springrove had long since passed that peculiar line which lies
across the course of falling in love--if, indeed, it may not be
called the initial itself of the complete passion--a longing to
cherish; when the woman is shifted in a man's mind from the region
of mere admiration to the region of warm fellowship. At this
assumption of her nature, she changes to him in tone, hue, and
expression. All about the loved one that said 'She' before, says
'We' now. Eyes that were to be subdued become eyes to be feared
for: a brain that was to be probed by cynicism becomes a brain that
is to be tenderly assisted; feet that were to be tested in the dance
become feet that are not to be distressed; the once-criticized
accent, manner, and dress, become the clients of a special pleader.
6. FIVE TO EIGHT O'CLOCK P.M.
Now that he was fairly on the track, and had begun to cool down,
Edward remembered that he had nothing to show--no legal authority
whatever to question Manston or interfere between him and Cytherea
as husband and wife. He now saw the wisdom of the rector in
obtaining a signed confession from the porter. The document would
not be a death-bed confession--perhaps not worth anything legally--
but it would be held by Owen; and he alone, as Cytherea's natural
guardian, could separate them on the mere ground of an unproved
probability, or what might perhaps be called the hallucination of an
idiot. Edward himself, however, was as firmly convinced as the
rector had been of the truth of the man's story, and paced backward
and forward the solitary compartment as the train wound through the
dark heathery plains, the mazy woods, and moaning coppices, as
resolved as ever to pounce on Manston, and charge him with the crime
during the critical interval between the reception of the telegram
and the hour at which Owen's train would arrive--trusting to
circumstances for what he should say and do afterwards, but making
up his mind to be a ready second to Owen in any emergency that might
At thirty-three minutes past seven he stood on the platform of the
station at Southampton--a clear hour before the train containing
Owen could possibly arrive.
Making a few inquiries here, but too impatient to pursue his
investigation carefully and inductively, he went into the town.
At the expiration of another half-hour he had visited seven hotels
and inns, large and small, asking the same questions at each, and
always receiving the same reply--nobody of that name, or answering
to that description, had been there. A boy from the telegraph-
office had called, asking for the same persons, if they recollected
He reflected awhile, struck again by a painful thought that they
might possibly have decided to cross the Channel by the night-boat.
Then he hastened off to another quarter of the town to pursue his
inquiries among hotels of the more old-fashioned and quiet class.
His stained and weary appearance obtained for him but a modicum of
civility, wherever he went, which made his task yet more difficult.
He called at three several houses in this neighbourhood, with the
same result as before. He entered the door of the fourth house
whilst the clock of the nearest church was striking eight.
'Have a tall gentleman named Manston, and a young wife arrived here
this evening?' he asked again, in words which had grown odd to his
ears from very familiarity.
'A new-married couple, did you say?'
'They are, though I didn't say so.'
'They have taken a sitting-room and bedroom, number thirteen.'
'Are they indoors?'
'I don't know. Eliza!'
'See if number thirteen is in--that gentleman and his wife.'
'Has any telegram come for them?' said Edward, when the maid had
gone on her errand.
'No--nothing that I know of.'
'Somebody did come and ask if a Mr. and Mrs. Masters, or some such
name, were here this evening,' said another voice from the back of
'And did they get the message?'
'Of course they did not--they were not here--they didn't come till
half-an-hour after that. The man who made inquiries left no
message. I told them when they came that they, or a name something
like theirs, had been asked for, but they didn't seem to understand
why it should be, and so the matter dropped.'
The chambermaid came back. 'The gentleman is not in, but the lady
is. Who shall I say?'
'Nobody,' said Edward. For it now became necessary to reflect upon
his method of proceeding. His object in finding their whereabouts--
apart from the wish to assist Owen--had been to see Manston, ask him
flatly for an explanation, and confirm the request of the message in
the presence of Cytherea--so as to prevent the possibility of the
steward's palming off a story upon Cytherea, or eluding her brother
when he came. But here were two important modifications of the
expected condition of affairs. The telegram had not been received,
and Cytherea was in the house alone.
He hesitated as to the propriety of intruding upon her in Manston's
absence. Besides, the women at the bottom of the stairs would see
him--his intrusion would seem odd--and Manston might return at any
moment. He certainly might call, and wait for Manston with the
accusation upon his tongue, as he had intended. But it was a
doubtful course. That idea had been based upon the assumption that
Cytherea was not married. If the first wife were really dead after
all--and he felt sick at the thought--Cytherea as the steward's wife
might in after-years--perhaps, at once--be subjected to indignity
and cruelty on account of an old lover's interference now.
Yes, perhaps the announcement would come most properly and safely
for her from her brother Owen, the time of whose arrival had almost
But, on turning round, he saw that the staircase and passage were
quite deserted. He and his errand had as completely died from the
minds of the attendants as if they had never been. There was
absolutely nothing between him and Cytherea's presence. Reason was
powerless now; he must see her--right or wrong, fair or unfair to
Manston--offensive to her brother or no. His lips must be the first
to tell the alarming story to her. Who loved her as he! He went
back lightly through the hall, up the stairs, two at a time, and
followed the corridor till he came to the door numbered thirteen.
He knocked softly: nobody answered.
There was no time to lose if he would speak to Cytherea before
Manston came. He turned the handle of the door and looked in. The
lamp on the table burned low, and showed writing materials open
beside it; the chief light came from the fire, the direct rays of
which were obscured by a sweet familiar outline of head and
shoulders--still as precious to him as ever.
7. A QUARTER-PAST EIGHT O'CLOCK P.M.
There is an attitude--approximatively called pensive--in which the
soul of a human being, and especially of a woman, dominates
outwardly and expresses its presence so strongly, that the
intangible essence seems more apparent than the body itself. This
was Cytherea's expression now. What old days and sunny eves at
Budmouth Bay was she picturing? Her reverie had caused her not to
notice his knock.
'Cytherea!' he said softly.
She let drop her hand, and turned her head, evidently thinking that
her visitor could be no other than Manston, yet puzzled at the
There was no preface on Springrove's tongue; he forgot his position-
-hers--that he had come to ask quietly if Manston had other proofs
of being a widower--everything--and jumped to a conclusion.
'You are not his wife, Cytherea--come away, he has a wife living!'
he cried in an agitated whisper. 'Owen will be here directly.'
She started up, recognized the tidings first, the bearer of them
afterwards. 'Not his wife? O, what is it--what--who is living?'
She awoke by degrees. 'What must I do? Edward, it is you! Why did
you come? Where is Owen?'
'What has Manston shown you in proof of the death of his other wife?
Tell me quick.'
'Nothing--we have never spoken of the subject. Where is my brother
Owen? I want him, I want him!'
'He is coming by-and-by. Come to the station to meet him--do,'
implored Springrove. 'If Mr. Manston comes, he will keep you from
me: I am nobody,' he added bitterly, feeling the reproach her words
had faintly shadowed forth.
'Mr. Manston is only gone out to post a letter he has just written,'
she said, and without being distinctly cognizant of the action, she
wildly looked for her bonnet and cloak, and began putting them on,
but in the act of fastening them uttered a spasmodic cry.
'No, I'll not go out with you,' she said, flinging the articles down
again. Running to the door she flitted along the passage, and
'Give me a private room--quite private,' she said breathlessly to
some one below.
'Number twelve is a single room, madam, and unoccupied,' said some
tongue in astonishment.
Without waiting for any person to show her into it, Cytherea hurried
upstairs again, brushed through the corridor, entered the room
specified, and closed the door. Edward heard her sob out--
'Nobody but Owen shall speak to me--nobody!'
'He will be here directly,' said Springrove, close against the
panel, and then went towards the stairs. He had seen her; it was
He descended, stepped into the street, and hastened to meet Owen at
As for the poor maiden who had received the news, she knew not what
to think. She listened till the echo of Edward's footsteps had died
away, then bowed her face upon the bed. Her sudden impulse had been
to escape from sight. Her weariness after the unwonted strain,
mental and bodily, which had been put upon her by the scenes she had
passed through during the long day, rendered her much more timid and
shaken by her position than she would naturally have been. She
thought and thought of that single fact which had been told her--
that the first Mrs. Manston was still living--till her brain seemed
ready to burst its confinement with excess of throbbing. It was
only natural that she should, by degrees, be unable to separate the
discovery, which was matter of fact, from the suspicion of treachery
on her husband's part, which was only matter of inference. And thus
there arose in her a personal fear of him.
'Suppose he should come in now and seize me!' This at first mere
frenzied supposition grew by degrees to a definite horror of his
presence, and especially of his intense gaze. Thus she raised
herself to a heat of excitement, which was none the less real for
being vented in no cry of any kind. No; she could not meet
Manston's eye alone, she would only see him in her brother's
Almost delirious with this idea, she ran and locked the door to
prevent all possibility of her intentions being nullified, or a look
or word being flung at her by anybody whilst she knew not what she
8. HALF-PAST EIGHT O'CLOCK P.M.
Then Cytherea felt her way amid the darkness of the room till she
came to the head of the bed, where she searched for the bell-rope
and gave it a pull. Her summons was speedily answered by the
landlady herself, whose curiosity to know the meaning of these
strange proceedings knew no bounds. The landlady attempted to turn
the handle of the door. Cytherea kept the door locked. 'Please
tell Mr. Manston when he comes that I am ill,' she said from the
inside, 'and that I cannot see him.'
'Certainly I will, madam,' said the landlady. 'Won't you have a
'No, thank you.'
'Nor a light?'
'I don't want one, thank you.'
The landlady withdrew, thinking her visitor half insane.
Manston came in about five minutes later, and went at once up to the
sitting-room, fully expecting to find his wife there. He looked
round, rang, and was told the words Cytherea had said, that she was
too ill to be seen.
'She is in number twelve room,' added the maid.
Manston was alarmed, and knocked at the door. 'Cytherea!'
'I am unwell, I cannot see you,' she said.
'Are you seriously ill, dearest? Surely not.'
'No, not seriously.'
'Let me come in; I will get a doctor.'
'No, he can't see me either.'
'She won't open the door, sir, not to nobody at all!' said the
chambermaid, with wonder-waiting eyes.
'Hold your tongue, and be off!' said Manston with a snap.
The maid vanished.
'Come, Cytherea, this is foolish--indeed it is--not opening the
door. . . . I cannot comprehend what can be the matter with you.
Nor can a doctor either, unless he sees you.'
Her voice had trembled more and more at each answer she gave, but
nothing could induce her to come out and confront him. Hating
scenes, Manston went back to the sitting-room, greatly irritated and
And there Cytherea from the adjoining room could hear him pacing up
and down. She thought, 'Suppose he insists upon seeing me--he
probably may--and will burst open the door!' This notion increased,
and she sank into a corner in a half-somnolent state, but with ears
alive to the slightest sound. Reason could not overthrow the
delirious fancy that outside her door stood Manston and all the
people in the hotel, waiting to laugh her to scorn.
9. HALF-PAST EIGHT TO ELEVEN P.M.
In the meantime, Springrove was pacing up and down the arrival
platform of the railway-station. Half-past eight o'clock--the time
at which Owen's train was due--had come, and passed, but no train
'When will the eight-thirty train be in?' he asked of a man who was
sweeping the mud from the steps.
'She is not expected yet this hour.'
'How is that?'
'Christmas-time, you see, 'tis always so. People are running about
to see their friends. The trains have been like it ever since
Christmas Eve, and will be for another week yet.'
Edward again went on walking and waiting under the draughty roof.
He found it utterly impossible to leave the spot. His mind was so
intent upon the importance of meeting with Owen, and informing him
of Cytherea's whereabouts, that he could not but fancy Owen might
leave the station unobserved if he turned his back, and become lost
to him in the streets of the town.
The hour expired. Ten o'clock struck. 'When will the train be in?'
said Edward to the telegraph clerk.
'In five-and-thirty minutes. She's now at L----. They have extra
passengers, and the rails are bad to-day.'
At last, at a quarter to eleven, the train came in.
The first to alight from it was Owen, looking pale and cold. He
casually glanced round upon the nearly deserted platform, and was
hurrying to the outlet, when his eyes fell upon Edward. At sight of
his friend he was quite bewildered, and could not speak.
'Here I am, Mr. Graye,' said Edward cheerfully. 'I have seen
Cytherea, and she has been waiting for you these two or three
Owen took Edward's hand, pressed it, and looked at him in silence.
Such was the concentration of his mind, that not till many minutes
after did he think of inquiring how Springrove had contrived to be
there before him.
10. ELEVEN O'CLOCK P.M.
On their arrival at the door of the hotel, it was arranged between
Springrove and Graye that the latter only should enter, Edward
waiting outside. Owen had remembered continually what his friend
had frequently overlooked, that there was yet a possibility of his
sister being Manston's wife, and the recollection taught him to
avoid any rashness in his proceedings which might lead to bitterness
Entering the room, he found Manston sitting in the chair which had
been occupied by Cytherea on Edward's visit, three hours earlier.
Before Owen had spoken, Manston arose, and stepping past him closed
the door. His face appeared harassed--much more troubled than the
slight circumstance which had as yet come to his knowledge seemed to
Manston could form no reason for Owen's presence, but intuitively
linked it with Cytherea's seclusion. 'Altogether this is most
unseemly,' he said, 'whatever it may mean.'
'Don't think there is meant anything unfriendly by my coming here,'
said Owen earnestly; 'but listen to this, and think if I could do
otherwise than come.'
He took from his pocket the confession of Chinney the porter, as
hastily written out by the vicar, and read it aloud. The aspects of
Manston's face whilst he listened to the opening words were strange,
dark, and mysterious enough to have justified suspicions that no
deceit could be too complicated for the possessor of such impulses,
had there not overridden them all, as the reading went on, a new and
irrepressible expression--one unmistakably honest. It was that of
unqualified amazement in the steward's mind at the news he heard.
Owen looked up and saw it. The sight only confirmed him in the
belief he had held throughout, in antagonism to Edward's suspicions.
There could no longer be a shadow of doubt that if the first Mrs.
Manston lived, her husband was ignorant of the fact. What he could
have feared by his ghastly look at first, and now have ceased to
fear, it was quite futile to conjecture.
'Now I do not for a moment doubt your complete ignorance of the
whole matter; you cannot suppose for an instant that I do,' said
Owen when he had finished reading. 'But is it not best for both
that Cytherea should come back with me till the matter is cleared
up? In fact, under the circumstances, no other course is left open
to me than to request it.'
Whatever Manston's original feelings had been, all in him now gave
way to irritation, and irritation to rage. He paced up and down the
room till he had mastered it; then said in ordinary tones--
'Certainly, I know no more than you and others know--it was a
gratuitous unpleasantness in you to say you did not doubt me. Why
should you, or anybody, have doubted me?'
'Well, where is my sister?' said Owen.
'Locked in the next room.'
His own answer reminded Manston that Cytherea must, by some
inscrutable means, have had an inkling of the event.
Owen had gone to the door of Cytherea's room.
'Cytherea, darling--'tis Owen,' he said, outside the door. A
rustling of clothes, soft footsteps, and a voice saying from the
inside, 'Is it really you, Owen,--is it really?'
'O, will you take care of me?'
She unlocked the door, and retreated again. Manston came forward
from the other room with a candle in his hand, as Owen pushed open
Her frightened eyes were unnaturally large, and shone like stars in
the darkness of the background, as the light fell upon them. She
leapt up to Owen in one bound, her small taper fingers extended like
the leaves of a lupine. Then she clasped her cold and trembling
hands round his neck and shivered.
The sight of her again kindled all Manston's passions into activity.
'She shall not go with you,' he said firmly, and stepping a pace or
two closer, 'unless you prove that she is not my wife; and you can't
'This is proof,' said Owen, holding up the paper.
'No proof at all,' said Manston hotly. ''Tis not a death-bed
confession, and those are the only things of the kind held as good
'Send for a lawyer,' Owen returned, 'and let him tell us the proper
course to adopt.'
'Never mind the law--let me go with Owen!' cried Cytherea, still
holding on to him. 'You will let me go with him, won't you, sir?'
she said, turning appealingly to Manston.
'We'll have it all right and square,' said Manston, with more
quietness. 'I have no objection to your brother sending for a
lawyer, if he wants to.'
It was getting on for twelve o'clock, but the proprietor of the
hotel had not yet gone to bed on account of the mystery on the first
floor, which was an occurrence unusual in the quiet family lodging.
Owen looked over the banisters, and saw him standing in the hall.
It struck Graye that the wisest course would be to take the landlord
to a certain extent into their confidence, appeal to his honour as a
gentleman, and so on, in order to acquire the information he wanted,
and also to prevent the episode of the evening from becoming a
public piece of news. He called the landlord up to where they
stood, and told him the main facts of the story.
The landlord was fortunately a quiet, prejudiced man, and a
'I know the very man you want to see--the very man,' he said,
looking at the general features of the candle-flame. 'Sharp as a
needle, and not over-rich. Timms will put you all straight in no
time--trust Timms for that.'
'He's in bed by this time for certain,' said Owen.
'Never mind that--Timms knows me, I know him. He'll oblige me as a
personal favour. Wait here a bit. Perhaps, too, he's up at some
party or another--he's a nice, jovial fellow, sharp as a needle,
too; mind you, sharp as a needle, too.'
He went downstairs, put on his overcoat, and left the house, the
three persons most concerned entering the room, and standing
motionless, awkward, and silent in the midst of it. Cytherea
pictured to herself the long weary minutes she would have to stand
there, whilst a sleepy man could be prepared for consultation, till
the constraint between them seemed unendurable to her--she could
never last out the time. Owen was annoyed that Manston had not
quietly arranged with him at once; Manston at Owen's homeliness of
idea in proposing to send for an attorney, as if he would be a
touchstone of infallible proof.
Reflection was cut short by the approach of footsteps, and in a few
moments the proprietor of the hotel entered, introducing his friend.
'Mr. Timms has not been in bed,' he said; 'he had just returned from
dining with a few friends, so there's no trouble given. To save
time I explained the matter as we came along.'
It occurred to Owen and Manston both that they might get a misty
exposition of the law from Mr. Timms at that moment of concluding
dinner with a few friends.
'As far as I can see,' said the lawyer, yawning, and turning his
vision inward by main force, 'it is quite a matter for private
arrangement between the parties, whoever the parties are--at least
at present. I speak more as a father than as a lawyer, it is true,
but, let the young lady stay with her father, or guardian, safe out
of shame's way, until the mystery is sifted, whatever the mystery
is. Should the evidence prove to be false, or trumped up by anybody
to get her away from you, her husband, you may sue them for the
damages accruing from the delay.'
'Yes, yes,' said Manston, who had completely recovered his self-
possession and common-sense; 'let it all be settled by herself.'
Turning to Cytherea he whispered so softly that Owen did not hear
'Do you wish to go back with your brother, dearest, and leave me
here miserable, and lonely, or will you stay with me, your own
'I'll go back with Owen.'
'Very well.' He relinquished his coaxing tone, and went on sternly:
'And remember this, Cytherea, I am as innocent of deception in this
thing as you are yourself. Do you believe me?'
'I do,' she said.
'I had no shadow of suspicion that my first wife lived. I don't
think she does even now. Do you believe me?'
'I believe you,' she said.
'And now, good-evening,' he continued, opening the door and politely
intimating to the three men standing by that there was no further
necessity for their remaining in his room. 'In three days I shall