Part 8 out of 9
'I'm afraid we shan't,' said the other, standing up.
'I'll tell you what we had better do,' said Manston. 'I shall be
back this way in an hour or so, and since it was all my fault, I'll
look again, and shall be sure to find it in the daylight. And I'll
hide the key here for you.' He pointed to a spot behind the post.
'It will be too late to turn the index then, as the people will have
been here, so that the box had better stay as it is. The letter
will only be delayed a day, and that will not be noticed; if it is,
you can say you placed the iron the wrong way without knowing it,
and all will be well.'
This was agreed to by the postman as the best thing to be done under
the circumstances, and the pair went on. They had passed the
village and come to a crossroad, when the steward, telling his
companion that their paths now diverged, turned off to the left
No sooner was the postman out of sight and hearing than Manston
stalked back to the vicarage letter-box by keeping inside a fence,
and thus avoiding the village; arrived here, he took the key from
his pocket, where it had been concealed all the time, and abstracted
Owen's letter. This done, he turned towards home, by the help of
what he carried in his valise adjusting himself to his ordinary
appearance as he neared the quarter in which he was known.
An hour and half's sharp walking brought him to his own door in
2. EIGHT O'CLOCK A.M.
Seated in his private office he wetted the flap of the stolen
letter, and waited patiently till the adhesive gum could be
loosened. He took out Edward's note, the accounts, the rosebud, and
the photographs, regarding them with the keenest interest and
The note, the accounts, the rosebud, and his own photograph, he
restored to their places again. The other photograph he took
between his finger and thumb, and held it towards the bars of the
grate. There he held it for half-a-minute or more, meditating.
'It is a great risk to run, even for such an end,' he muttered.
Suddenly, impregnated with a bright idea, he jumped up and left the
office for the front parlour. Taking up an album of portraits,
which lay on the table, he searched for three or four likenesses of
the lady who had so lately displaced Cytherea, which were
interspersed among the rest of the collection, and carefully
regarded them. They were taken in different attitudes and styles,
and he compared each singly with that he held in his hand. One of
them, the one most resembling that abstracted from the letter in
general tone, size, and attitude, he selected from the rest, and
returned with it to his office.
Pouring some water into a plate, he set the two portraits afloat
upon it, and sitting down tried to read.
At the end of a quarter of an hour, after several ineffectual
attempts, he found that each photograph would peel from the card on
which it was mounted. This done, he threw into the fire the
original likeness and the recent card, stuck upon the original card
the recent likeness from the album, dried it before the fire, and
placed it in the envelope with the other scraps.
The result he had obtained, then, was this: in the envelope were
now two photographs, both having the same photographer's name on the
back and consecutive numbers attached. At the bottom of the one
which showed his own likeness, his own name was written down; on the
other his wife's name was written; whilst the central feature, and
whole matter to which this latter card and writing referred, the
likeness of a lady mounted upon it, had been changed.
Mrs. Manston entered the room, and begged him to come to breakfast.
He followed her and they sat down. During the meal he told her what
he had done, with scrupulous regard to every detail, and showed her
'It is indeed a great risk to run,' she said, sipping her tea.
'But it would be a greater not to do it.'
The envelope was again fastened up as before, and Manston put it in
his pocket and went out. Shortly afterwards he was seen, on
horseback, riding in a direction towards Tolchurch. Keeping to the
fields, as well as he could, for the greater part of the way, he
dropped into the road by the vicarage letter-box, and looking
carefully about, to ascertain that no person was near, he restored
the letter to its nook, placed the key in its hiding-place, as he
had promised the postman, and again rode homewards by a roundabout
The letter was brought to Owen Graye, the same afternoon, by one of
the vicar's servants who had been to the box with a duplicate key,
as usual, to leave letters for the evening post. The man found that
the index had told falsely that morning for the first time within
his recollection; but no particular attention was paid to the
mistake, as it was considered. The contents of the envelope were
scrutinized by Owen and flung aside as useless.
The next morning brought Springrove's second letter, the existence
of which was unknown to Manston. The sight of Edward's handwriting
again raised the expectations of brother and sister, till Owen had
opened the envelope and pulled out the twig and verse.
'Nothing that's of the slightest use, after all,' he said to her;
'we are as far as ever from the merest shadow of legal proof that
would convict him of what I am morally certain he did, marry you,
suspecting, if not knowing, her to be alive all the time.'
'What has Edward sent?' said Cytherea.
'An old amatory verse in Manston's writing. Fancy,' he said
bitterly, 'this is the strain he addressed her in when they were
courting--as he did you, I suppose.'
He handed her the verse and she read--
'Whoso for hours or lengthy days
Shall catch her aspect's changeful rays,
Then turn away, can none recall
Beyond a galaxy of all
In hazy portraiture;
Lit by the light of azure eyes
Like summer days by summer skies:
Her sweet transitions seem to be
A kind of pictured melody,
And not a set contour.
A strange expression had overspread Cytherea's countenance. It
rapidly increased to the most death-like anguish. She flung down
the paper, seized Owen's hand tremblingly, and covered her face.
'Cytherea! What is it, for Heaven's sake?'
'Owen--suppose--O, you don't know what I think.'
'"THE LIGHT OF AZURE EYES,"' she repeated with ashy lips.
'Well, "the light of azure eyes"?' he said, astounded at her manner.
'Mrs. Morris said in her letter to me that her eyes are BLACK!'
'H'm. Mrs. Morris must have made a mistake--nothing likelier.'
'They might be either in this photograph,' said Owen, looking at the
card bearing Mrs. Manston's name.
'Blue eyes would scarcely photograph so deep in tone as that,' said
Cytherea. 'No, they seem black here, certainly.'
'Well, then, Manston must have blundered in writing his verses.'
'But could he? Say a man in love may forget his own name, but not
that he forgets the colour of his mistress's eyes. Besides she
would have seen the mistake when she read them, and have had it
'That's true, she would,' mused Owen. 'Then, Cytherea, it comes to
this--you must have been misinformed by Mrs. Morris, since there is
no other alternative.'
'I suppose I must.'
Her looks belied her words.
'What makes you so strange--ill?' said Owen again.
'I can't believe Mrs. Morris wrong.'
'But look at this, Cytherea. If it is clear to us that the woman
had blue eyes two years ago, she MUST have blue eyes now, whatever
Mrs. Morris or anybody else may fancy. Any one would think that
Manston could change the colour of a woman's eyes to hear you.'
'Yes,' she said, and paused.
'You say yes, as if he could,' said Owen impatiently.
'By changing the woman herself,' she exclaimed. 'Owen, don't you
see the horrid--what I dread?--that the woman he lives with is not
Mrs. Manston--that she was burnt after all--and that I am HIS WIFE!'
She tried to support a stoicism under the weight of this new
trouble, but no! The unexpected revulsion of ideas was so
overwhelming that she crept to him and leant against his breast.
Before reflecting any further upon the subject Graye led her
upstairs and got her to lie down. Then he went to the window and
stared out of it up the lane, vainly endeavouring to come to some
conclusion upon the fantastic enigma that confronted him.
Cytherea's new view seemed incredible, yet it had such a hold upon
her that it would be necessary to clear it away by positive proof
before contemplation of her fear should have preyed too deeply upon
'Cytherea,' he said, 'this will not do. You must stay here alone
all the afternoon whilst I go to Carriford. I shall know all when I
'No, no, don't go!' she implored.
'Soon, then, not directly.' He saw her subtle reasoning--that it
was folly to be wise.
Reflection still convinced him that good would come of persevering
in his intention and dispelling his sister's idle fears. Anything
was better than this absurd doubt in her mind. But he resolved to
wait till Sunday, the first day on which he might reckon upon seeing
Mrs. Manston without suspicion. In the meantime he wrote to Edward
Springrove, requesting him to go again to Mrs. Manston's former
XVIII. THE EVENTS OF THREE DAYS
1. MARCH THE EIGHTEENTH
Sunday morning had come, and Owen was trudging over the six miles of
hill and dale that lay between Tolchurch and Carriford.
Edward Springrove's answer to the last letter, after expressing his
amazement at the strange contradiction between the verses and Mrs.
Morris's letter, had been to the effect that he had again visited
the neighbour of the dead Mr. Brown, and had received as near a
description of Mrs. Manston as it was possible to get at second-
hand, and by hearsay. She was a tall woman, wide at the shoulders,
and full-chested, and she had a straight and rather large nose. The
colour of her eyes the informant did not know, for she had only seen
the lady in the street as she went in or out. This confusing remark
was added. The woman had almost recognized Mrs. Manston when she
had called with her husband lately, but she had kept her veil down.
Her residence, before she came to Hoxton, was quite unknown to this
next-door neighbour, and Edward could get no manner of clue to it
from any other source.
Owen reached the church-door a few minutes before the bells began
chiming. Nobody was yet in the church, and he walked round the
aisles. From Cytherea's frequent description of how and where
herself and others used to sit, he knew where to look for Manston's
seat; and after two or three errors of examination he took up a
prayer-book in which was written 'Eunice Manston.' The book was
nearly new, and the date of the writing about a month earlier. One
point was at any rate established: that the woman living with
Manston was presented to the world as no other than his lawful wife.
The quiet villagers of Carriford required no pew-opener in their
place of worship: natives and in-dwellers had their own seats, and
strangers sat where they could. Graye took a seat in the nave, on
the north side, close behind a pillar dividing it from the north
aisle, which was completely allotted to Miss Aldclyffe, her farmers,
and her retainers, Manston's pew being in the midst of them. Owen's
position on the other side of the passage was a little in advance of
Manston's seat, and so situated that by leaning forward he could
look directly into the face of any person sitting there, though, if
he sat upright, he was wholly hidden from such a one by the
Aiming to keep his presence unknown to Manston if possible, Owen
sat, without once turning his head, during the entrance of the
congregation. A rustling of silk round by the north passage and
into Manston's seat, told him that some woman had entered there, and
as it seemed from the accompaniment of heavier footsteps, Manston
was with her.
Immediately upon rising up, he looked intently in that direction,
and saw a lady standing at the end of the seat nearest himself.
Portions of Manston's figure appeared on the other side of her. In
two glances Graye read thus many of her characteristics, and in the
She was a tall woman.
She was broad at the shoulders.
She was full-bosomed.
She was easily recognizable from the photograph but nothing could be
discerned of the colour of her eyes.
With a preoccupied mind he withdrew into his nook, and heard the
service continued--only conscious of the fact that in opposition to
the suspicion which one odd circumstance had bred in his sister
concerning this woman, all ostensible and ordinary proofs and
probabilities tended to the opposite conclusion. There sat the
genuine original of the portrait--could he wish for more? Cytherea
wished for more. Eunice Manston's eyes were blue, and it was
necessary that this woman's eyes should be blue also.
Unskilled labour wastes in beating against the bars ten times the
energy exerted by the practised hand in the effective direction.
Owen felt this to be the case in his own and Edward's attempts to
follow up the clue afforded them. Think as he might, he could not
think of a crucial test in the matter absorbing him, which should
possess the indispensable attribute--a capability of being applied
privately; that in the event of its proving the lady to be the
rightful owner of the name she used, he might recede without obloquy
from an untenable position.
But to see Mrs. Manston's eyes from where he sat was impossible, and
he could do nothing in the shape of a direct examination at present.
Miss Aldclyffe had possibly recognized him, but Manston had not, and
feeling that it was indispensable to keep the purport of his visit a
secret from the steward, he thought it would be as well, too, to
keep his presence in the village a secret from him; at any rate,
till the day was over.
At the first opening of the doors, Graye left the church and
wandered away into the fields to ponder on another scheme. He could
not call on Farmer Springrove, as he had intended, until this matter
was set at rest. Two hours intervened between the morning and
This time had nearly expired before Owen had struck out any method
of proceeding, or could decide to run the risk of calling at the Old
House and asking to see Mrs. Manston point-blank. But he had drawn
near the place, and was standing still in the public path, from
which a partial view of the front of the building could be obtained,
when the bells began chiming for afternoon service. Whilst Graye
paused, two persons came from the front door of the half-hidden
dwelling whom he presently saw to be Manston and his wife. Manston
was wearing his old garden-hat, and carried one of the monthly
magazines under his arm. Immediately they had passed the gateway he
branched off and went over the hill in a direction away from the
church, evidently intending to ramble along, and read as the humour
moved him. The lady meanwhile turned in the other direction, and
went into the church path.
Owen resolved to make something of this opportunity. He hurried
along towards the church, doubled round a sharp angle, and came back
upon the other path, by which Mrs. Manston must arrive.
In about three minutes she appeared in sight without a veil. He
discovered, as she drew nearer, a difficulty which had not struck
him at first--that it is not an easy matter to particularize the
colour of a stranger's eyes in a merely casual encounter on a path
out of doors. That Mrs. Manston must be brought close to him, and
not only so, but to look closely at him, if his purpose were to be
He shaped a plan. It might by chance be effectual; if otherwise, it
would not reveal his intention to her. When Mrs. Manston was within
speaking distance, he went up to her and said--
'Will you kindly tell me which turning will take me to
'The second on the right,' said Mrs. Manston.
Owen put on a blank look: he held his hand to his ear--conveying to
the lady the idea that he was deaf.
She came closer and said more distinctly--
'The second turning on the right.'
Owen flushed a little. He fancied he had beheld the revelation he
was in search of. But had his eyes deceived him?
Once more he used the ruse, still drawing nearer and intimating by a
glance that the trouble he gave her was very distressing to him.
'How very deaf!' she murmured. She exclaimed loudly--
'THE SECOND TURNING TO THE RIGHT.'
She had advanced her face to within a foot of his own, and in
speaking mouthed very emphatically, fixing her eyes intently upon
his. And now his first suspicion was indubitably confirmed. Her
eyes were as black as midnight.
All this feigning was most distasteful to Graye. The riddle having
been solved, he unconsciously assumed his natural look before she
had withdrawn her face. She found him to be peering at her as if he
would read her very soul--expressing with his eyes the notification
of which, apart from emotion, the eyes are more capable than any
Her face changed its expression--then its colour. The natural tint
of the lighter portions sank to an ashy gray; the pink of her cheeks
grew purpler. It was the precise result which would remain after
blood had left the face of one whose skin was dark, and artificially
coated with pearl-powder and carmine.
She turned her head and moved away, murmuring a hasty reply to
Owen's farewell remark of 'Good-day,' and with a kind of nervous
twitch lifting her hand and smoothing her hair, which was of a
'She wears false hair,' he thought, 'or has changed its colour
artificially. Her true hair matched her eyes.'
And now, in spite of what Mr. Brown's neighbours had said about
nearly recognizing Mrs. Manston on her recent visit--which might
have meant anything or nothing; in spite of the photograph, and in
spite of his previous incredulity; in consequence of the verse, of
her silence and backwardness at the visit to Hoxton with Manston,
and of her appearance and distress at the present moment, Graye had
a conviction that the woman was an impostor.
What could be Manston's reason for such an astounding trick he could
by no stretch of imagination divine.
He changed his direction as soon as the woman was out of sight, and
plodded along the lanes homeward to Tolchurch.
One new idea was suggested to him by his desire to allay Cytherea's
dread of being claimed, and by the difficulty of believing that the
first Mrs. Manston lost her life as supposed, notwithstanding the
inquest and verdict. Was it possible that the real Mrs. Manston,
who was known to be a Philadelphian by birth, had returned by the
train to London, as the porter had said, and then left the country
under an assumed name, to escape that worst kind of widowhood--the
misery of being wedded to a fickle, faithless, and truant husband?
In her complicated distress at the news brought by her brother,
Cytherea's thoughts at length reverted to her friend, the Rector of
Carriford. She told Owen of Mr. Raunham's warm-hearted behaviour
towards herself, and of his strongly expressed wish to aid her.
'He is not only a good, but a sensible man. We seem to want an old
head on our side.'
'And he is a magistrate,' said Owen in a tone of concurrence. He
thought, too, that no harm could come of confiding in the rector,
but there was a difficulty in bringing about the confidence. He
wished that his sister and himself might both be present at an
interview with Mr. Raunham, yet it would be unwise for them to call
on him together, in the sight of all the servants and parish of
There could be no objection to their writing him a letter.
No sooner was the thought born than it was carried out. They wrote
to him at once, asking him to have the goodness to give them some
advice they sadly needed, and begging that he would accept their
assurance that there was a real justification for the additional
request they made--that instead of their calling upon him, he would
any evening of the week come to their cottage at Tolchurch.
2. MARCH THE TWENTIETH. SIX TO NINE O'CLOCK P.M.
Two evenings later, to the total disarrangement of his dinner-hour,
Mr. Raunham appeared at Owen's door. His arrival was hailed with
genuine gratitude. The horse was tied to the palings, and the
rector ushered indoors and put into the easy-chair.
Then Graye told him the whole story, reminding him that their first
suspicions had been of a totally different nature, and that in
endeavouring to obtain proof of their truth they had stumbled upon
marks which had surprised them into these new uncertainties, thrice
as marvellous as the first, yet more prominent.
Cytherea's heart was so full of anxiety that it superinduced a
manner of confidence which was a death-blow to all formality. Mr.
Raunham took her hand pityingly.
'It is a serious charge,' he said, as a sort of original twig on
which his thoughts might precipitate themselves.
'Assuming for a moment that such a substitution was rendered an easy
matter by fortuitous events,' he continued, 'there is this
consideration to be placed beside it--what earthly motive can Mr.
Manston have had which would be sufficiently powerful to lead him to
run such a very great risk? The most abandoned roue could not, at
that particular crisis, have taken such a reckless step for the mere
pleasure of a new companion.'
Owen had seen that difficulty about the motive; Cytherea had not.
'Unfortunately for us,' the rector resumed, 'no more evidence is to
be obtained from the porter, Chinney. I suppose you know what
became of him? He got to Liverpool and embarked, intending to work
his way to America, but on the passage he fell overboard and was
drowned. But there is no doubt of the truth of his confession--in
fact, his conduct tends to prove it true--and no moral doubt of the
fact that the real Mrs. Manston left here to go back by that
morning's train. This being the case, then, why, if this woman is
not she, did she take no notice of the advertisement--I mean not
necessarily a friendly notice, but from the information it afforded
her have rendered it impossible that she should be personified
without her own connivance?'
'I think that argument is overthrown,' Graye said, 'by my earliest
assumption of her hatred of him, weariness of the chain which bound
her to him, and a resolve to begin the world anew. Let's suppose
she has married another man--somewhere abroad, say; she would be
silent for her own sake.'
'You've hit the only genuine possibility,' said Mr. Raunham, tapping
his finger upon his knee. 'That would decidedly dispose of the
second difficulty. But his motive would be as mysterious as ever.'
Cytherea's pictured dreads would not allow her mind to follow their
conversation. 'She's burnt,' she said. 'O yes; I fear--I fear she
'I don't think we can seriously believe that now, after what has
happened,' said the rector.
Still straining her thought towards the worst, 'Then, perhaps, the
first Mrs. Manston was not his wife,' she returned; 'and then I
should be his wife just the same, shouldn't I?'
'They were married safely enough,' said Owen. 'There is abundance
of circumstantial evidence to prove that.'
'Upon the whole,' said Mr. Raunham, 'I should advise your asking in
a straightforward way for legal proof from the steward that the
present woman is really his original wife--a thing which, to my
mind, you should have done at the outset.' He turned to Cytherea
kindly, and asked her what made her give up her husband so
She could not tell the rector of her aversion to Manston, and of her
unquenched love for Edward.
'Your terrified state no doubt,' he said, answering for her, in the
manner of those accustomed to the pulpit. 'But into such a solemn
compact as marriage, all-important considerations, both legally and
morally, enter; it was your duty to have seen everything clearly
proved. Doubtless Mr. Manston is prepared with proofs, but as it
concerns nobody but yourself that her identity should be publicly
established (and by your absenteeism you act as if you were
satisfied) he has not troubled to exhibit them. Nobody else has
taken the trouble to prove what does not affect them in the least--
that's the way of the world always. You, who should have required
all things to be made clear, ran away.'
'That was partly my doing,' said Owen.
The same explanation--her want of love for Manston--applied here
too, but she shunned the revelation.
'But never mind,' added the rector, 'it was all the greater credit
to your womanhood, perhaps. I say, then, get your brother to write
a line to Mr. Manston, saying you wish to be satisfied that all is
legally clear (in case you should want to marry again, for
instance), and I have no doubt that you will be. Or, if you would
rather, I'll write myself?'
'O no, sir, no,' pleaded Cytherea, beginning to blanch, and
breathing quickly. 'Please don't say anything. Let me live here
with Owen. I am so afraid it will turn out that I shall have to go
to Knapwater and be his wife, and I don't want to go. Do conceal
what we have told you. Let him continue his deception--it is much
the best for me.'
Mr. Raunham at length divined that her love for Manston, if it had
ever existed, had transmuted itself into a very different feeling
'At any rate,' he said, as he took his leave and mounted his mare,
'I will see about it. Rest content, Miss Graye, and depend upon it
that I will not lead you into difficulty.'
'Conceal it,' she still pleaded.
'We'll see--but of course I must do my duty.'
'No--don't do your duty!' She looked up at him through the gloom,
illuminating her own face and eyes with the candle she held.
'I will consider, then,' said Mr. Raunham, sensibly moved. He
turned his horse's head, bade them a warm adieu, and left the door.
The rector of Carriford trotted homewards under the cold and clear
March sky, its countless stars fluttering like bright birds. He was
unconscious of the scene. Recovering from the effect of Cytherea's
voice and glance of entreaty, he laid the subject of the interview
clearly before himself.
The suspicions of Cytherea and Owen were honest, and had foundation-
-that he must own. Was he--a clergyman, magistrate, and
conscientious man--justified in yielding to Cytherea's importunities
to keep silence, because she dreaded the possibility of a return to
Manston? Was she wise in her request? Holding her present belief,
and with no definite evidence either way, she could, for one thing,
never conscientiously marry any one else. Suppose that Cytherea
were Manston's wife--i.e., that the first wife was really burnt?
The adultery of Manston would be proved, and, Mr. Raunham thought,
cruelty sufficient to bring the case within the meaning of the
statute. Suppose the new woman was, as stated, Mr. Manston's
restored wife? Cytherea was perfectly safe as a single woman whose
marriage had been void. And if it turned out that, though this
woman was not Manston's wife, his wife was still living, as Owen had
suggested, in America or elsewhere, Cytherea was safe.
The first supposition opened up the worst contingency. Was she
really safe as Manston's wife? Doubtful. But, however that might
be, the gentle, defenceless girl, whom it seemed nobody's business
to help or defend, should be put in a track to proceed against this
man. She had but one life, and the superciliousness with which all
the world now regarded her should be compensated in some measure by
the man whose carelessness--to set him in the best light--had caused
Mr. Raunham felt more and more positively that his duty must be
done. An inquiry must be made into the matter. Immediately on
reaching home, he sat down and wrote a plain and friendly letter to
Mr. Manston, and despatched it at once to him by hand. Then he
flung himself back in his chair, and went on with his meditation.
Was there anything in the suspicion? There could be nothing,
surely. Nothing is done by a clever man without a motive, and what
conceivable motive could Manston have for such abnormal conduct?
Corinthian that he might be, who had preyed on virginity like St.
George's dragon, he would never have been absurd enough to venture
on such a course for the possession alone of the woman--there was no
reason for it--she was inferior to Cytherea in every respect,
physical and mental.
On the other hand, it seemed rather odd, when he analyzed the
action, that a woman who deliberately hid herself from her husband
for more than a twelvemonth should be brought back by a mere
advertisement. In fact, the whole business had worked almost too
smoothly and effectually for unpremeditated sequence. It was too
much like the indiscriminate righting of everything at the end of an
old play. And there was that curious business of the keys and
watch. Her way of accounting for their being left behind by
forgetfulness had always seemed to him rather forced. The only
unforced explanation was that suggested by the newspaper writers--
that she left them behind on purpose to blind people as to her
escape, a motive which would have clashed with the possibility of
her being fished back by an advertisement, as the present woman had
been. Again, there were the two charred bones. He shuffled the
books and papers in his study, and walked about the room, restlessly
musing on the same subject. The parlour-maid entered.
'Can young Mr. Springrove from London see you to-night, sir?'
'Young Mr. Springrove?' said the rector, surprised.
'Yes, of course he can see me. Tell him to come in.'
Edward came so impatiently into the room, as to show that the few
short moments his announcement had occupied had been irksome to him.
He stood in the doorway with the same black bag in his hand, and the
same old gray cloak on his shoulders, that he had worn fifteen
months earlier when returning on the night of the fire. This
appearance of his conveyed a true impression; he had become a
stagnant man. But he was excited now.
'I have this moment come from London,' he said, as the door was
closed behind him.
The prophetic insight, which so strangely accompanies critical
experiences, prompted Mr. Raunham's reply.
'About the Grayes and Manston?'
'Yes. That woman is not Mrs. Manston.'
'I can prove that she is somebody else--that her name is Anne
'And are their suspicions true indeed!'
'And I can do what's more to the purpose at present.'
'Suggest Manston's motive?'
'Only suggest it, remember. But my assumption fits so perfectly
with the facts that have been secretly unearthed and conveyed to me,
that I can hardly conceive of another.'
There was in Edward's bearing that entire unconsciousness of himself
which, natural to wild animals, only prevails in a sensitive man at
moments of extreme intentness. The rector saw that he had no
trivial story to communicate, whatever the story was.
'Sit down,' said Mr. Raunham. 'My mind has been on the stretch all
the evening to form the slightest guess at such an object, and all
to no purpose--entirely to no purpose. Have you said anything to
'Nothing--nor to anybody. I could not trust to the effect a letter
might have upon yourself, either; the intricacy of the case brings
me to this interview.'
Whilst Springrove had been speaking the two had sat down together.
The conversation, hitherto distinct to every corner of the room, was
carried on now in tones so low as to be scarcely audible to the
interlocutors, and in phrases which hesitated to complete
themselves. Three-quarters of an hour passed. Then Edward arose,
came out of the rector's study and again flung his cloak around him.
Instead of going thence homeward, he went first to the Carriford
Road Station with a telegram, having despatched which he proceeded
to his father's house for the first time since his arrival in the
3. FROM NINE TO TEN O'CLOCK P.M.
The next presentation is the interior of the Old House on the
evening of the preceding section. The steward was sitting by his
parlour fire, and had been reading the letter arrived from the
rectory. Opposite to him sat the woman known to the village and
neighbourhood as Mrs. Manston.
'Things are looking desperate with us,' he said gloomily. His gloom
was not that of the hypochondriac, but the legitimate gloom which
has its origin in a syllogism. As he uttered the words he handed
the letter to her.
'I almost expected some such news as this,' she replied, in a tone
of much greater indifference. 'I knew suspicion lurked in the eyes
of that young man who stared at me so in the church path: I could
have sworn it.'
Manston did not answer for some time. His face was worn and
haggard; latterly his head had not been carried so uprightly as of
old. 'If they prove you to be--who you are. . . . Yes, if they
do,' he murmured.
'They must not find that out,' she said, in a positive voice, and
looking at him. 'But supposing they do, the trick does not seem to
me to be so serious as to justify that wretched, miserable, horrible
look of yours. It makes my flesh creep; it is perfectly deathlike.'
He did not reply, and she continued, 'If they say and prove that
Eunice is indeed living--and dear, you know she is--she is sure to
This remark seemed to awaken and irritate him to speech. Again, as
he had done a hundred times during their residence together, he
categorized the events connected with the fire at the Three
Tranters. He dwelt on every incident of that night's history, and
endeavoured, with an anxiety which was extraordinary in the apparent
circumstances, to prove that his wife must, by the very nature of
things, have perished in the flames. She arose from her seat,
crossed the hearthrug, and set herself to soothe him; then she
whispered that she was still as unbelieving as ever. 'Come,
supposing she escaped--just supposing she escaped--where is she?'
coaxed the lady.
'Why are you so curious continually?' said Manston.
'Because I am a woman and want to know. Now where is she?'
'In the Flying Isle of San Borandan.'
'Witty cruelty is the cruellest of any. Ah, well--if she is in
England, she will come back.'
'She is not in England.'
'But she will come back?'
'No, she won't. . . . Come, madam,' he said, arousing himself, 'I
shall not answer any more questions.'
'Ah--ah--ah--she is not dead,' the woman murmured again poutingly.
'She is, I tell you.'
'I don't think so, love.'
'She was burnt, I tell you!' he exclaimed.
'Now to please me, admit the bare possibility of her being alive--
just the possibility.'
'O yes--to please you I will admit that,' he said quickly. 'Yes, I
admit the possibility of her being alive, to please you.'
She looked at him in utter perplexity. The words could only have
been said in jest, and yet they seemed to savour of a tone the
furthest remove from jesting. There was his face plain to her eyes,
but no information of any kind was to be read there.
'It is only natural that I should be curious,' she murmured
pettishly, 'if I resemble her as much as you say I do.'
'You are handsomer,' he said, 'though you are about her own height
and size. But don't worry yourself. You must know that you are
body and soul united with me, though you are but my housekeeper.'
She bridled a little at the remark. 'Wife,' she said, 'most
certainly wife, since you cannot dismiss me without losing your
character and position, and incurring heavy penalties.'
'I own it--it was well said, though mistakenly--very mistakenly.'
'Don't riddle to me about mistakenly and such dark things. Now what
was your motive, dearest, in running the risk of having me here?'
'Your beauty,' he said.
'She thanks you much for the compliment, but will not take it.
Come, what was your motive?'
'No, no; not my wit. Wit would have made a wife of me by this time
instead of what I am.'
'Or virtue either.'
'I tell you it was your beauty--really.'
'But I cannot help seeing and hearing, and if what people say is
true, I am not nearly so good-looking as Cytherea, and several years
The aspect of Manston's face at these words from her was so
confirmatory of her hint, that his forced reply of 'O no,' tended to
develop her chagrin.
'Mere liking or love for me,' she resumed, 'would not have sprung up
all of a sudden, as your pretended passion did. You had been to
London several times between the time of the fire and your marriage
with Cytherea--you had never visited me or thought of my existence
or cared that I was out of a situation and poor. But the week after
you married her and were separated from her, off you rush to make
love to me--not first to me either, for you went to several places--
'No, not several places.'
'Yes, you told me so yourself--that you went first to the only
lodging in which your wife had been known as Mrs. Manston, and when
you found that the lodging-house-keeper had gone away and died, and
that nobody else in the street had any definite ideas as to your
wife's personal appearance, and came and proposed the arrangement we
carried out--that I should personate her. Your taking all this
trouble shows that something more serious than love had to do with
'Humbug--what trouble after all did I take? When I found Cytherea
would not stay with me after the wedding I was much put out at being
left alone again. Was that unnatural?'
'And those favouring accidents you mention--that nobody knew my
first wife--seemed an arrangement of Providence for our mutual
benefit, and merely perfected a half-formed impulse--that I should
call you my first wife to escape the scandal that would have arisen
if you had come here as anything else.'
'My love, that story won't do. If Mrs. Manston was burnt, Cytherea,
whom you love better than me, could have been compelled to live with
you as your lawful wife. If she was not burnt, why should you run
the risk of her turning up again at any moment and exposing your
substitution of me, and ruining your name and prospects?'
'Why--because I might have loved you well enough to run the risk
(assuming her not to be burnt, which I deny).'
'No--you would have run the risk the other way. You would rather
have risked her finding you with Cytherea as a second wife, than
with me as a personator of herself--the first one.'
'You came easiest to hand--remember that.'
'Not so very easy either, considering the labour you took to teach
me your first wife's history. All about how she was a native of
Philadelphia. Then making me read up the guide-book to
Philadelphia, and details of American life and manners, in case the
birthplace and history of your wife, Eunice, should ever become
known in this neighbourhood--unlikely as it was. Ah! and then about
the handwriting of hers that I had to imitate, and the dying my
hair, and rouging, to make the transformation complete? You mean to
say that that was taking less trouble than there would have been in
arranging events to make Cytherea believe herself your wife, and
live with you?'
'You were a needy adventuress, who would dare anything for a new
pleasure and an easy life--and I was fool enough to give in to you--
'Good heavens above!--did I ask you to insert those advertisements
for your old wife, and to make me answer it as if I was she? Did I
ask you to send me the letter for me to copy and send back to you
when the third advertisement appeared--purporting to come from the
long-lost wife, and giving a detailed history of her escape and
subsequent life--all which you had invented yourself? You deluded
me into loving you, and then enticed me here! Ah, and this is
another thing. How did you know the real wife wouldn't answer it,
and upset all your plans?'
'Because I knew she was burnt.'
'Why didn't you force Cytherea to come back, then? Now, my love, I
have caught you, and you may just as well tell first as last, WHAT
WAS YOUR MOTIVE IN HAVING ME HERE AS YOUR FIRST WIFE?'
'Silence!' he exclaimed.
She was silent for the space of two minutes, and then persisted in
going on to mutter, 'And why was it that Miss Aldclyffe allowed her
favourite young lady, Cythie, to be overthrown and supplanted
without an expostulation or any show of sympathy? Do you know I
often think you exercise a secret power over Miss Aldclyffe. And
she always shuns me as if I shared the power. A poor, ill-used
creature like me sharing power, indeed!'
'She thinks you are Mrs. Manston.'
'That wouldn't make her avoid me.'
'Yes it would,' he exclaimed impatiently. 'I wish I was dead--
dead!' He had jumped up from his seat in uttering the words, and
now walked wearily to the end of the room. Coming back more
decisively, he looked in her face.
'We must leave this place if Raunham suspects what I think he does,'
he said. 'The request of Cytherea and her brother may simply be for
a satisfactory proof, to make her feel legally free--but it may mean
'What may it mean?'
'How should I know?'
'Well, well, never mind, old boy,' she said, approaching him to make
up the quarrel. 'Don't be so alarmed--anybody would think that you
were the woman and I the man. Suppose they do find out what I am--
we can go away from here and keep house as usual. People will say
of you, "His first wife was burnt to death" (or "ran away to the
Colonies," as the case may be); "He married a second, and deserted
her for Anne Seaway." A very everyday case--nothing so horrible,
He made an impatient movement. 'Whichever way we do it, NOBODY MUST
KNOW THAT YOU ARE NOT MY WIFE EUNICE. And now I must think about
Manston then retired to his office, and shut himself up for the
remainder of the evening.
XIX. THE EVENTS OF A DAY AND NIGHT
1. MARCH THE TWENTY-FIRST. MORNING
Next morning the steward went out as usual. He shortly told his
companion, Anne, that he had almost matured their scheme, and that
they would enter upon the details of it when he came home at night.
The fortunate fact that the rector's letter did not require an
immediate answer would give him time to consider.
Anne Seaway then began her duties in the house. Besides daily
superintending the cook and housemaid one of these duties was, at
rare intervals, to dust Manston's office with her own hands, a
servant being supposed to disturb the books and papers
unnecessarily. She softly wandered from table to shelf with the
duster in her hand, afterwards standing in the middle of the room,
and glancing around to discover if any noteworthy collection of dust
had still escaped her.
Her eye fell upon a faint layer which rested upon the ledge of an
old-fashioned chestnut cabinet of French Renaissance workmanship,
placed in a recess by the fireplace. At a height of about four feet
from the floor the upper portion of the front receded, forming the
ledge alluded to, on which opened at each end two small doors, the
centre space between them being filled out by a panel of similar
size, making the third of three squares. The dust on the ledge was
nearly on a level with the woman's eye, and, though insignificant in
quantity, showed itself distinctly on account of this obliquity of
vision. Now opposite the central panel, concentric quarter-circles
were traced in the deposited film, expressing to her that this
panel, too, was a door like the others; that it had lately been
opened, and had skimmed the dust with its lower edge.
At last, then, her curiosity was slightly rewarded. For the right
of the matter was that Anne had been incited to this exploration of
Manston's office rather by a wish to know the reason of his long
seclusion here, after the arrival of the rector's letter, and their
subsequent discourse, than by any immediate desire for cleanliness.
Still, there would have been nothing remarkable to Anne in this
sight but for one recollection. Manston had once casually told her
that each of the two side-lockers included half the middle space,
the panel of which did not open, and was only put in for symmetry.
It was possible that he had opened this compartment by candlelight
the preceding night, or he would have seen the marks in the dust,
and effaced them, that he might not be proved guilty of telling her
an untruth. She balanced herself on one foot and stood pondering.
She considered that it was very vexing and unfair in him to refuse
her all knowledge of his remaining secrets, under the peculiar
circumstances of her connection with him. She went close to the
cabinet. As there was no keyhole, the door must be capable of being
opened by the unassisted hand. The circles in the dust told her at
which edge to apply her force. Here she pulled with the tips of her
fingers, but the panel would not come forward. She fetched a chair
and looked over the top of the cabinet, but no bolt, knob, or spring
was to be seen.
'O, never mind,' she said, with indifference; 'I'll ask him about
it, and he will tell me.' Down she came and turned away. Then
looking back again she thought it was absurd such a trifle should
puzzle her. She retraced her steps, and opened a drawer beneath the
ledge of the cabinet, pushing in her hand and feeling about on the
underside of the board.
Here she found a small round sinking, and pressed her finger into
it. Nothing came of the pressure. She withdrew her hand and looked
at the tip of her finger: it was marked with the impress of the
circle, and, in addition, a line ran across it diametrically.
'How stupid of me; it is the head of a screw.' Whatever mysterious
contrivance had originally existed for opening the puny cupboard of
the cabinet, it had at some time been broken, and this rough
substitute provided. Stimulated curiosity would not allow her to
recede now. She fetched a screwdriver, withdrew the screw, pulled
the door open with a penknife, and found inside a cavity about ten
inches square. The cavity contained--
Letters from different women, with unknown signatures, Christian
names only (surnames being despised in Paphos). Letters from his
wife Eunice. Letters from Anne herself, including that she wrote in
answer to his advertisement. A small pocket-book. Sundry scraps of
The letters from the strange women with pet names she glanced
carelessly through, and then put them aside. They were too similar
to her own regretted delusion, and curiosity requires contrast to
The letters from his wife were next examined. They were dated back
as far as Eunice's first meeting with Manston, and the early ones
before their marriage contained the usual pretty effusions of women
at such a period of their existence. Some little time after he had
made her his wife, and when he had come to Knapwater, the series
began again, and now their contents arrested her attention more
forcibly. She closed the cabinet, carried the letters into the
parlour, reclined herself on the sofa, and carefully perused them in
the order of their dates.
'MY DEAREST HUSBAND,--I received your hurried line of yesterday, and
was of course content with it. But why don't you tell me your exact
address instead of that "Post-Office, Budmouth?" This matter is all
a mystery to me, and I ought to be told every detail. I cannot
fancy it is the same kind of occupation you have been used to
hitherto. Your command that I am to stay here awhile until you can
"see how things look" and can arrange to send for me, I must
necessarily abide by. But if, as you say, a married man would have
been rejected by the person who engaged you, and that hence my
existence must be kept a secret until you have secured your
position, why did you think of going at all?
'The truth is, this keeping our marriage a secret is troublesome,
vexing, and wearisome to me. I see the poorest woman in the street
bearing her husband's name openly--living with him in the most
matter-of-fact ease, and why shouldn't I? I wish I was back again
'To-day I bought a grey waterproof cloak. I think it is a little
too long for me, but it was cheap for one of such a quality. The
weather is gusty and dreary, and till this morning I had hardly set
foot outside the door since you left. Please do tell me when I am
to come.--Very affectionately yours, EUNICE.'
'MY DEAR HUSBAND,--Why don't you write? Do you hate me? I have not
had the heart to do anything this last week. That I, your wife,
should be in this strait, and my husband well to do! I have been
obliged to leave my first lodging for debt--among other things, they
charged me for a lot of brandy which I am quite sure I did not
taste. Then I went to Camberwell and was found out by them. I went
away privately from thence, and changed my name the second time. I
am now Mrs. Rondley. But the new lodging was the wretchedest and
dearest I ever set foot in, and I left it after being there only a
day. I am now at No. 2O in the same street that you left me in
originally. All last night the sash of my window rattled so
dreadfully that I could not sleep, but I had not energy enough to
get out of bed to stop it. This morning I have been walking--I
don't know how far--but far enough to make my feet ache. I have
been looking at the outside of two or three of the theatres, but
they seem forbidding if I regard them with the eye of an actress in
search of an engagement. Though you said I was to think no more of
the stage, I believe you would not care if you found me there. But
I am not an actress by nature, and art will never make me one. I am
too timid and retiring; I was intended for a cottager's wife. I
certainly shall not try to go on the boards again whilst I am in
this strange place. The idea of being brought on as far as London
and then left here alone! Why didn't you leave me in Liverpool?
Perhaps you thought I might have told somebody that my real name was
Mrs. Manston. As if I had a living friend to whom I could impart
it--no such good fortune! In fact, my nearest friend is no nearer
than what most people would call a stranger. But perhaps I ought to
tell you that a week before I wrote my last letter to you, after
wishing that my uncle and aunt in Philadelphia (the only near
relatives I had) were still alive, I suddenly resolved to send a
line to my cousin James, who, I believe, is still living in that
neighbourhood. He has never seen me since we were babies together.
I did not tell him of my marriage, because I thought you might not
like it, and I gave my real maiden name, and an address at the post-
office here. But God knows if the letter will ever reach him.
'Do write me an answer, and send something.--Your affectionate wife,
'MY DEAR HUSBAND,--The order for ten pounds has just come, and I am
truly glad to get it. But why will you write so bitterly? Ah--
well, if I had only had the money I should have been on my way to
America by this time, so don't think I want to bore you of my own
free-will. Who can you have met with at that new place? Remember I
say this in no malignant tone, but certainly the facts go to prove
that you have deserted me! You are inconstant--I know it. O, why
are you so? Now I have lost you, I love you in spite of your
neglect. I am weakly fond--that's my nature. I fear that upon the
whole my life has been wasted. I know there is another woman
supplanting me in your heart--yes, I know it. Come to me--do come.
'41 CHARLES SQUARE, HOXTON,
'DEAR AENEAS,--Here I am back again after my visit. Why should you
have been so enraged at my finding your exact address? Any woman
would have tried to do it--you know she would have. And no woman
would have lived under assumed names so long as I did. I repeat
that I did not call myself Mrs. Manston until I came to this lodging
at the beginning of this month--what could you expect?
'A helpless creature I, had not fortune favoured me unexpectedly.
Banished as I was from your house at dawn, I did not suppose the
indignity was about to lead to important results. But in crossing
the park I overheard the conversation of a young man and woman who
had also risen early. I believe her to be the girl who has won you
away from me. Well, their conversation concerned you and Miss
Aldclyffe, VERY PECULIARLY. The remarkable thing is that you
yourself, without knowing it, told me of what, added to their
conversation, completely reveals a secret to me that neither of you
understand. Two negatives never made such a telling positive
before. One clue more, and you would see it. A single
consideration prevents my revealing it--just one doubt as to whether
your ignorance was real, and was not feigned to deceive me.
Civility now, please.
'41 CHARLES SQUARE,
Tuesday, November 22.
'MY DARLING HUSBAND,--Monday will suit me excellently for coming. I
have acted exactly up to your instructions, and have sold my rubbish
at the broker's in the next street. All this movement and bustle is
delightful to me after the weeks of monotony I have endured. It is
a relief to wish the place good-bye--London always has seemed so
much more foreign to me than Liverpool The mid-day train on Monday
will do nicely for me. I shall be anxiously looking out for you on
'I hope so much that you are not angry with me for writing to Miss
Aldclyffe. You are not, dear, are you? Forgive me.--Your loving
This was the last of the letters from the wife to the husband. One
other, in Mrs. Manston's handwriting, and in the same packet, was
'THREE TRANTERS INN, CARRIFORD,
November 28, 1864.
'DEAR COUSIN JAMES,--Thank you indeed for answering my letter so
promptly. When I called at the post-office yesterday I did not in
the least think there would be one. But I must leave this subject.
I write again at once under the strangest and saddest conditions it
is possible to conceive.
'I did not tell you in my last that I was a married woman. Don't
blame me--it was my husband's influence. I hardly know where to
begin my story. I had been living apart from him for a time--then
he sent for me (this was last week) and I was glad to go to him.
Then this is what he did. He promised to fetch me, and did not--
leaving me to do the journey alone. He promised to meet me at the
station here--he did not. I went on through the darkness to his
house, and found his door locked and himself away from home. I have
been obliged to come here, and I write to you in a strange room in a
strange village inn! I choose the present moment to write to drive
away my misery. Sorrow seems a sort of pleasure when you detail it
on paper--poor pleasure though.
'But this is what I want to know--and I am ashamed to tell it. I
would gladly do as you say, and come to you as a housekeeper, but I
have not the money even for a steerage passage. James, do you want
me badly enough--do you pity me enough to send it? I could manage
to subsist in London upon the proceeds of my sale for another month
or six weeks. Will you send it to the same address at the post-
office? But how do I know that you . . . '
Thus the letter ended. From creases in the paper it was plain that
the writer, having got so far, had become dissatisfied with her
production, and had crumpled it in her hand. Was it to write
another, or not to write at all?
The next thing Anne Seaway perceived was that the fragmentary story
she had coaxed out of Manston, to the effect that his wife had left
England for America, might be truthful, according to two of these
letters, corroborated by the evidence of the railway-porter. And
yet, at first, he had sworn in a passion that his wife was most
certainly consumed in the fire.
If she had been burnt, this letter, written in her bedroom, and
probably thrust into her pocket when she relinquished it, would have
been burnt with her. Nothing was surer than that. Why, then, did
he say she was burnt, and never show Anne herself this letter?
The question suddenly raised a new and much stranger one--kindling a
burst of amazement in her. How did Manston become possessed of this
That fact of possession was certainly the most remarkable revelation
of all in connection with this epistle, and perhaps had something to
do with his reason for never showing it to her.
She knew by several proofs, that before his marriage with Cytherea,
and up to the time of the porter's confession, Manston believed--
honestly believed--that Cytherea would be his lawful wife, and
hence, of course, that his wife Eunice was dead. So that no
communication could possibly have passed between his wife and
himself from the first moment that he believed her dead on the night
of the fire, to the day of his wedding. And yet he had that letter.
How soon afterwards could they have communicated with each other?
The existence of the letter--as much as, or more than its contents--
implying that Mrs Manston was not burnt, his belief in that calamity
must have terminated at the moment he obtained possession of the
letter, if no earlier. Was, then, the only solution to the riddle
that Anne could discern, the true one?--that he had communicated
with his wife somewhere about the commencement of Anne's residence
with him, or at any time since?
It was the most unlikely thing on earth that a woman who had
forsaken her husband should countenance his scheme to personify her-
-whether she were in America, in London, or in the neighbourhood of
Then came the old and harassing question, what was Manston's real
motive in risking his name on the deception he was practising as
regarded Anne. It could not be, as he had always pretended, mere
passion. Her thoughts had reverted to Mr. Raunham's letter, asking
for proofs of her identity with the original Mrs. Manston. She
could see no loophole of escape for the man who supported her.
True, in her own estimation, his worst alternative was not so very
bad after all--the getting the name of libertine, a possible
appearance in the divorce or some other court of law, and a question
of damages. Such an exposure might hinder his worldly progress for
some time. Yet to him this alternative was, apparently, terrible as
She restored the letters to their hiding-place, scanned anew the
other letters and memoranda, from which she could gain no fresh
information, fastened up the cabinet, and left everything in its
Her mind was ill at ease. More than ever she wished that she had
never seen Manston. Where the person suspected of mysterious moral
obliquity is the possessor of great physical and intellectual
attractions, the mere sense of incongruity adds an extra shudder to
dread. The man's strange bearing terrified Anne as it had terrified
Cytherea; for with all the woman Anne's faults, she had not
descended to such depths of depravity as to willingly participate in
crime. She had not even known that a living wife was being
displaced till her arrival at Knapwater put retreat out of the
question, and had looked upon personation simply as a mode of
subsistence a degree better than toiling in poverty and alone, after
a bustling and somewhat pampered life as housekeeper in a gay
'Non illa colo calathisve Minervae
Foemineas assueta manus.'
Mr. Raunham and Edward Springrove had by this time set in motion a
machinery which they hoped to find working out important results.
The rector was restless and full of meditation all the following
morning. It was plain, even to the servants about him, that
Springrove's communication wore a deeper complexion than any that
had been made to the old magistrate for many months or years past.
The fact was that, having arrived at the stage of existence in which
the difficult intellectual feat of suspending one's judgment becomes
possible, he was now putting it in practice, though not without the
penalty of watchful effort.
It was not till the afternoon that he determined to call on his
relative, Miss Aldclyffe, and cautiously probe her knowledge of the
subject occupying him so thoroughly. Cytherea, he knew, was still
beloved by this solitary woman. Miss Aldclyffe had made several
private inquiries concerning her former companion, and there was
ever a sadness in her tone when the young lady's name was mentioned,
which showed that from whatever cause the elder Cytherea's
renunciation of her favourite and namesake proceeded, it was not
from indifference to her fate.
'Have you ever had any reason for supposing your steward anything
but an upright man?' he said to the lady.
'Never the slightest. Have you?' said she reservedly.
'What is it?'
'I can say nothing plainly, because nothing is proved. But my
suspicions are very strong.'
'Do you mean that he was rather cool towards his wife when they were
first married, and that it was unfair in him to leave her? I know
he was; but I think his recent conduct towards her has amply atoned
for the neglect.'
He looked Miss Aldclyffe full in the face. It was plain that she
spoke honestly. She had not the slightest notion that the woman who
lived with the steward might be other than Mrs. Manston--much less
that a greater matter might be behind.
'That's not it--I wish it was no more. My suspicion is, first, that
the woman living at the Old House is not Mr. Manston's wife.'
'Not--Mr. Manston's wife?'
'That is it.'
Miss Aldclyffe looked blankly at the rector. 'Not Mr. Manston's
wife--who else can she be?' she said simply.
'An improper woman of the name of Anne Seaway.'
Mr. Raunham had, in common with other people, noticed the
extraordinary interest of Miss Aldclyffe in the well-being of her
steward, and had endeavoured to account for it in various ways. The
extent to which she was shaken by his information, whilst it proved
that the understanding between herself and Manston did not make her
a sharer of his secrets, also showed that the tie which bound her to
him was still unbroken. Mr. Raunham had lately begun to doubt the
latter fact, and now, on finding himself mistaken, regretted that he
had not kept his own counsel in the matter. This it was too late to
do, and he pushed on with his proofs. He gave Miss Aldclyffe in
detail the grounds of his belief.
Before he had done, she recovered the cloak of reserve that she had
adopted on his opening the subject.
'I might possibly be convinced that you were in the right, after
such an elaborate argument,' she replied, 'were it not for one fact,
which bears in the contrary direction so pointedly, that nothing but
absolute proof can turn it. It is that there is no conceivable
motive which could induce any sane man--leaving alone a man of Mr.
Manston's clear-headedness and integrity--to venture upon such an
extraordinary course of conduct--no motive on earth.'
'That was my own opinion till after the visit of a friend last
night--a friend of mine and poor little Cytherea's.'
'Ah--and Cytherea,' said Miss Aldclyffe, catching at the idea raised
by the name. 'That he loved Cytherea--yes and loves her now, wildly
and devotedly, I am as positive as that I breathe. Cytherea is
years younger than Mrs. Manston--as I shall call her--twice as sweet
in disposition, three times as beautiful. Would he have given her
up quietly and suddenly for a common--Mr. Raunham, your story is
monstrous, and I don't believe it!' She glowed in her earnestness.
The rector might now have advanced his second proposition--the
possible motive--but for reasons of his own he did not.
'Very well, madam. I only hope that facts will sustain you in your
belief. Ask him the question to his face, whether the woman is his
wife or no, and see how he receives it.'
'I will to-morrow, most certainly,' she said. 'I always let these
things die of wholesome ventilation, as every fungus does.'
But no sooner had the rector left her presence, than the grain of
mustard-seed he had sown grew to a tree. Her impatience to set her
mind at rest could not brook a night's delay. It was with the
utmost difficulty that she could wait till evening arrived to screen
her movements. Immediately the sun had dropped behind the horizon,
and before it was quite dark, she wrapped her cloak around her,
softly left the house, and walked erect through the gloomy park in
the direction of the old manor-house.
The same minute saw two persons sit down in the rectory-house to
share the rector's usually solitary dinner. One was a man of
official appearance, commonplace in all except his eyes. The other
was Edward Springrove.
The discovery of the carefully-concealed letters rankled in the mind
of Anne Seaway. Her woman's nature insisted that Manston had no
right to keep all matters connected with his lost wife a secret from
herself. Perplexity had bred vexation; vexation, resentment;
curiosity had been continuous. The whole morning this resentment
and curiosity increased.
The steward said very little to his companion during their luncheon
at mid-day. He seemed reckless of appearances--almost indifferent
to whatever fate awaited him. All his actions betrayed that
something portentous was impending, and still he explained nothing.
By carefully observing every trifling action, as only a woman can
observe them, the thought at length dawned upon her that he was
going to run away secretly. She feared for herself; her knowledge
of law and justice was vague, and she fancied she might in some way
be made responsible for him.
In the afternoon he went out of the house again, and she watched him
drive away in the direction of the county-town. She felt a desire
to go there herself, and, after an interval of half-an-hour,
followed him on foot notwithstanding the distance--ostensibly to do
One among her several trivial errands was to make a small purchase
at the druggist's. Near the druggist's stood the County Bank.
Looking out of the shop window, between the coloured bottles, she
saw Manston come down the steps of the bank, in the act of
withdrawing his hand from his pocket, and pulling his coat close
over its mouth.
It is an almost universal habit with people, when leaving a bank, to
be carefully adjusting their pockets if they have been receiving
money; if they have been paying it in, their hands swing laxly. The
steward had in all likelihood been taking money--possibly on Miss
Aldclyffe's account--that was continual with him. And he might have
been removing his own, as a man would do who was intending to leave
3. FROM FIVE TO EIGHT O'CLOCK P.M.
Anne reached home again in time to preside over preparations for
dinner. Manston came in half-an-hour later. The lamp was lighted,
the shutters were closed, and they sat down together. He was pale
and worn--almost haggard.
The meal passed off in almost unbroken silence. When preoccupation
withstands the influence of a social meal with one pleasant
companion, the mental scene must be surpassingly vivid. Just as she
was rising a tap came to the door.
Before a maid could attend to the knock, Manston crossed the room
and answered it himself. The visitor was Miss Aldclyffe.
Manston instantly came back and spoke to Anne in an undertone. 'I
should be glad if you could retire to your room for a short time.'
'It is a dry, starlight evening,' she replied. 'I will go for a
little walk if your object is merely a private conversation with
'Very well, do; there's no accounting for tastes,' he said. A few
commonplaces then passed between her and Miss Aldclyffe, and Anne
went upstairs to bonnet and cloak herself. She came down, opened
the front door, and went out.
She looked around to realize the night. It was dark, mournful, and
quiet. Then she stood still. From the moment that Manston had
requested her absence, a strong and burning desire had prevailed in
her to know the subject of Miss Aldclyffe's conversation with him.
Simple curiosity was not entirely what inspired her. Her suspicions
had been thoroughly aroused by the discovery of the morning. A
conviction that her future depended on her power to combat a man
who, in desperate circumstances, would be far from a friend to her,
prompted a strategic movement to acquire the important secret that
was in handling now. The woman thought and thought, and regarded
the dull dark trees, anxiously debating how the thing could be done.
Stealthily re-opening the front door she entered the hall, and
advancing and pausing alternately, came close to the door of the
room in which Miss Aldclyffe and Manston conversed. Nothing could
be heard through the keyhole or panels. At a great risk she softly
turned the knob and opened the door to a width of about half-an-
inch, performing the act so delicately that three minutes, at least,
were occupied in completing it. At that instant Miss Aldclyffe
'There's a draught somewhere. The door is ajar, I think.'
Anne glided back under the staircase. Manston came forward and
closed the door. This chance was now cut off, and she considered
again. The parlour, or sitting-room, in which the conference took
place, had the window-shutters fixed on the outside of the window,
as is usual in the back portions of old country-houses. The
shutters were hinged one on each side of the opening, and met in the
middle, where they were fastened by a bolt passing continuously
through them and the wood mullion within, the bolt being secured on
the inside by a pin, which was seldom inserted till Manston and
herself were about to retire for the night; sometimes not at all.
If she returned to the door of the room she might be discovered at
any moment, but could she listen at the window, which overlooked a
part of the garden never visited after nightfall, she would be safe
from disturbance. The idea was worth a trial.
She glided round to the window, took the head of the bolt between
her finger and thumb, and softly screwed it round until it was
entirely withdrawn from its position. The shutters remained as
before, whilst, where the bolt had come out, was now a shining hole
three-quarters of an inch in diameter, through which one might see
into the middle of the room. She applied her eye to the orifice.
Miss Aldclyffe and Manston were both standing; Manston with his back
to the window, his companion facing it. The lady's demeanour was
severe, condemnatory, and haughty. No more was to be seen; Anne
then turned sideways, leant with her shoulder against the shutters
and placed her ear upon the hole.
'You know where,' said Miss Aldclyffe. 'And how could you, a man,
act a double deceit like this?'
'Men do strange things sometimes.'
'What was your reason--come?'
'A mere whim.'
'I might even believe that, if the woman were handsomer than
Cytherea, or if you had been married some time to Cytherea and had
grown tired of her.'
'And can't you believe it, too, under these conditions; that I
married Cytherea, gave her up because I heard that my wife was
alive, found that my wife would not come to live with me, and then,
not to let any woman I love so well as Cytherea run any risk of
being displaced and ruined in reputation, should my wife ever think
fit to return, induced this woman to come to me, as being better
than no companion at all?'
'I cannot believe it. Your love for Cytherea was not of such a kind
as that excuse would imply. It was Cytherea or nobody with you. As
an object of passion, you did not desire the company of this Anne
Seaway at all, and certainly not so much as to madly risk your
reputation by bringing her here in the way you have done. I am sure
you didn't, AEneas.'
'So am I,' he said bluntly.
Miss Aldclyffe uttered an exclamation of astonishment; the
confession was like a blow in its suddenness. She began to reproach
him bitterly, and with tears.
'How could you overthrow my plans, disgrace the only girl I ever had
any respect for, by such inexplicable doings!. . . That woman must
leave this place--the country perhaps. Heavens! the truth will leak
out in a day or two!'
'She must do no such thing, and the truth must be stifled somehow--
nobody knows how. If I stay here, or on any spot of the civilized
globe, as AEneas Manston, this woman must live with me as my wife,
or I am damned past redemption!'
'I will not countenance your keeping her, whatever your motive may
'You must do something,' he murmured. 'You must. Yes, you must.'
'I never will,' she said. 'It is a criminal act.'
He looked at her earnestly. 'Will you not support me through this
deception if my very life depends upon it? Will you not?'
'Nonsense! Life! It will be a scandal to you, but she must leave
this place. It will out sooner or later, and the exposure had
better come now.'
Manston repeated gloomily the same words. 'My life depends upon
your supporting me--my very life.'
He then came close to her, and spoke into her ear. Whilst he spoke
he held her head to his mouth with both his hands. Strange
expressions came over her face; the workings of her mouth were
painful to observe. Still he held her and whispered on.
The only words that could be caught by Anne Seaway, confused as her
hearing frequently was by the moan of the wind and the waterfall in
her outer ear, were these of Miss Aldclyffe, in tones which
absolutely quivered: 'They have no money. What can they prove?'
The listener tasked herself to the utmost to catch his answer, but
it was in vain. Of the remainder of the colloquy one fact alone was
plain to Anne, and that only inductively--that Miss Aldclyffe, from
what he had revealed to her, was going to scheme body and soul on
Miss Aldclyffe seemed now to have no further reason for remaining,
yet she lingered awhile as if loth to leave him. When, finally, the
crestfallen and agitated lady made preparations for departure, Anne
quickly inserted the bolt, ran round to the entrance archway, and
down the steps into the park. Here she stood close to the trunk of
a huge lime-tree, which absorbed her dark outline into its own.
In a few minutes she saw Manston, with Miss Aldclyffe leaning on his
arm, cross the glade before her and proceed in the direction of the
house. She watched them ascend the rise and advance, as two black
spots, towards the mansion. The appearance of an oblong space of
light in the dark mass of walls denoted that the door was opened.
Miss Aldclyffe's outline became visible upon it; the door shut her
in, and all was darkness again. The form of Manston returning alone
arose from the gloom, and passed by Anne in her hiding-place.
Waiting outside a quarter of an hour longer, that no suspicion of
any kind might be excited, Anne returned to the old manor-house.
4. FROM EIGHT TO ELEVEN O'CLOCK P.M.
Manston was very friendly that evening. It was evident to her, now
that she was behind the scenes, that he was making desperate efforts
to disguise the real state of his mind.
Her terror of him did not decrease. They sat down to supper,
Manston still talking cheerfully. But what is keener than the eye
of a mistrustful woman? A man's cunning is to it as was the armour
of Sisera to the thin tent-nail. She found, in spite of his
adroitness, that he was attempting something more than a disguise of
his feeling. He was trying to distract her attention, that he might
be unobserved in some special movement of his hands.
What a moment it was for her then! The whole surface of her body
became attentive. She allowed him no chance whatever. We know the
duplicated condition at such times--when the existence divides
itself into two, and the ostensibly innocent chatterer stands in
front, like another person, to hide the timorous spy.
Manston played the same game, but more palpably. The meal was
nearly over when he seemed possessed of a new idea of how his object
might be accomplished. He tilted back his chair with a reflective
air, and looked steadily at the clock standing against the wall
opposite to him. He said sententiously, 'Few faces are capable of
expressing more by dumb show than the face of a clock. You may see
in it every variety of incentive--from the softest seductions to
negligence to the strongest hints for action.'
'Well, in what way?' she inquired. His drift was, as yet, quite
unintelligible to her.
'Why, for instance: look at the cold, methodical, unromantic,
business-like air of all the right-angled positions of the hands.
They make a man set about work in spite of himself. Then look at
the piquant shyness of its face when the two hands are over each
other. Several attitudes imply "Make ready." The "make ready" of
ten minutes to one differs from the "make ready" of ten minutes to
twelve, as youth differs from age. "Upward and onward" says twenty-
five minutes to eleven. Mid-day or midnight expresses distinctly
"It is done." You surely have noticed that?'
'Yes, I have.'
He continued with affected quaintness:--
'The easy dash of ten minutes past seven, the rakish recklessness of
a quarter past, the drooping weariness of twenty-five minutes past,
must have been observed by everybody.'
'Whatever amount of truth there may be, there is a good deal of
imagination in your fancy,' she said.
He still contemplated the clock.
'Then, again, the general finish of the face has a great effect upon
the eye. This old-fashioned brass-faced one we have here, with its
arched top, half-moon slit for the day of the month, and ship
rocking at the upper part, impresses me with the notion of its being
an old cynic, elevating his brows, whose thoughts can be seen
wavering between good and evil.'
A thought now enlightened her: the clock was behind her, and he
wanted to get her back turned. She dreaded turning, yet, not to
excite his suspicion, she was on her guard; she quickly looked
behind her at the clock as he spoke, recovering her old position
again instantly. The time had not been long enough for any action
whatever on his part.
'Ah,' he casually remarked, and at the same minute began to pour her
out a glass of wine. 'Speaking of the clock has reminded me that it
must nearly want winding up. Remember that it is wound to-night.
Suppose you do it at once, my dear.'
There was no possible way of evading the act. She resolutely turned
to perform the operation: anything was better than that he should
suspect her. It was an old-fashioned eight-day clock, of
workmanship suited to the rest of the antique furniture that Manston
had collected there, and ground heavily during winding.
Anne had given up all idea of being able to watch him during the
interval, and the noise of the wheels prevented her learning
anything by her ears. But, as she wound, she caught sight of his
shadow on the wall at her right hand.
What was he doing? He was in the very act of pouring something into
her glass of wine.
He had completed the manoeuvre before she had done winding. She
methodically closed the clock-case and turned round again. When she
faced him he was sitting in his chair as before she had risen.
In a familiar scene which has hitherto been pleasant it is difficult
to realize that an added condition, which does not alter its aspect,
can have made it terrible. The woman thought that his action must
have been prompted by no other intent than that of poisoning her,
and yet she could not instantly put on a fear of her position.
And before she had grasped these consequences, another supposition
served to make her regard the first as unlikely, if not absurd. It
was the act of a madman to take her life in a manner so easy of
discovery, unless there were far more reason for the crime than any
that Manston could possibly have.
Was it not merely his intention, in tampering with her wine, to make
her sleep soundly that night? This was in harmony with her original
suspicion, that he intended secretly to abscond. At any rate, he
was going to set about some stealthy proceeding, as to which she was
to be kept in utter darkness. The difficulty now was to avoid
drinking the wine.
By means of one pretext and another she put off taking her glass for
nearly five minutes, but he eyed her too frequently to allow her to
throw the potion under the grate. It became necessary to take one
sip. This she did, and found an opportunity of absorbing it in her
Plainly he had no idea of her countermoves. The scheme seemed to
him in proper train, and he turned to poke out the fire. She
instantly seized the glass, and poured its contents down her bosom.
When he faced round again she was holding the glass to her lips,
In due course he locked the doors and saw that the shutters were
fastened. She attended to a few closing details of housewifery, and
a few minutes later they retired for the night.
5. FROM ELEVEN O'CLOCK TO MIDNIGHT
When Manston was persuaded, by the feigned heaviness of her
breathing, that Anne Seaway was asleep, he softly arose, and dressed
himself in the gloom. With ears strained to their utmost she heard
him complete this operation; then he took something from his pocket,
put it in the drawer of the dressing-table, went to the door, and
down the stairs. She glided out of bed and looked in the drawer.
He had only restored to its place a small phial she had seen there
before. It was labelled 'Battley's Solution of Opium.' She felt
relieved that her life had not been attempted. That was to have
been her sleeping-draught. No time was to be lost if she meant to
be a match for him. She followed him in her nightdress. When she
reached the foot of the staircase he was in the office and had
closed the door, under which a faint gleam showed that he had
obtained a light. She crept to the door, but could not venture to
open it, however slightly. Placing her ear to the panel, she could
hear him tearing up papers of some sort, and a brighter and
quivering ray of light coming from the threshold an instant later,
implied that he was burning them. By the slight noise of his
footsteps on the uncarpeted floor, she at length imagined that he
was approaching the door. She flitted upstairs again and crept into
Manston returned to the bedroom close upon her heels, and entered
it--again without a light. Standing motionless for an instant to
assure himself that she still slept, he went to the drawer in which
their ready-money was kept, and removed the casket that contained
it. Anne's ear distinctly caught the rustle of notes, and the chink
of the gold as he handled it. Some he placed in his pocket, some he
returned to its place. He stood thinking, as it were weighing a
possibility. While lingering thus, he noticed the reflected image
of his own face in the glass--pale and spectre-like in its
indistinctness. The sight seemed to be the feather which turned the
balance of indecision: he drew a heavy breath, retired from the
room, and passed downstairs. She heard him unbar the back-door, and
go out into the yard.
Feeling safe in a conclusion that he did not intend to return to the
bedroom again, she arose, and hastily dressed herself. On going to
the door of the apartment she found that he had locked it behind
him. 'A precaution--it can be no more,' she muttered. Yet she was
all the more perplexed and excited on this account. Had he been
going to leave home immediately, he would scarcely have taken the
trouble to lock her in, holding the belief that she was in a drugged
sleep. The lock shot into a mortice, so that there was no
possibility of her pushing back the bolt. How should she follow
him? Easily. An inner closet opened from the bedroom: it was
large, and had some time heretofore been used as a dressing or bath
room, but had been found inconvenient from having no other outlet to
the landing. The window of this little room looked out upon the
roof of the porch, which was flat and covered with lead. Anne took
a pillow from the bed, gently opened the casement of the inner room
and stepped forth on the flat. There, leaning over the edge of the
small parapet that ornamented the porch, she dropped the pillow upon
the gravel path, and let herself down over the parapet by her hands
till her toes swung about two feet from the ground. From this
position she adroitly alighted upon the pillow, and stood in the
Since she had come indoors from her walk in the early part of the
evening the moon had risen. But the thick clouds overspreading the
whole landscape rendered the dim light pervasive and grey: it
appeared as an attribute of the air. Anne crept round to the back
of the house, listening intently. The steward had had at least ten
minutes' start of her. She had waited here whilst one might count
fifty, when she heard a movement in the outhouse--a fragment once
attached to the main building. This outhouse was partitioned into
an outer and an inner room, which had been a kitchen and a scullery
before the connecting erections were pulled down, but they were now
used respectively as a brewhouse and workshop, the only means of
access to the latter being through the brewhouse. The outer door of
this first apartment was usually fastened by a padlock on the
exterior. It was now closed, but not fastened. Manston was
evidently in the outhouse.
She slightly moved the door. The interior of the brewhouse was
wrapped in gloom, but a streak of light fell towards her in a line
across the floor from the inner or workshop door, which was not
quite closed. This light was unexpected, none having been visible
through hole or crevice. Glancing in, the woman found that he had
placed cloths and mats at the various apertures, and hung a sack at
the window to prevent the egress of a single ray. She could also
perceive from where she stood that the bar of light fell across the
brewing-copper just outside the inner door, and that upon it lay the
key of her bedroom. The illuminated interior of the workshop was
also partly visible from her position through the two half-open
doors. Manston was engaged in emptying a large cupboard of the
tools, gallipots, and old iron it contained. When it was quite
cleared he took a chisel, and with it began to withdraw the hooks
and shoulder-nails holding the cupboard to the wall. All these
being loosened, he extended his arms, lifted the cupboard bodily
from the brackets under it, and deposited it on the floor beside
That portion of the wall which had been screened by the cupboard was
now laid bare. This, it appeared, had been plastered more recently
than the bulk of the outhouse. Manston loosened the plaster with
some kind of tool, flinging the pieces into a basket as they fell.
Having now stripped clear about two feet area of wall, he inserted a
crowbar between the joints of the bricks beneath, softly wriggling
it until several were loosened. There was now disclosed the mouth
of an old oven, which was apparently contrived in the thickness of
the wall, and having fallen into disuse, had been closed up with
bricks in this manner. It was formed after the simple old-fashioned
plan of oven-building--a mere oblate cavity without a flue.
Manston now stretched his arm into the oven, dragged forth a heavy
weight of great bulk, and let it slide to the ground. The woman who
watched him could see the object plainly. It was a common corn-
sack, nearly full, and was tied at the mouth in the usual way.
The steward had once or twice started up, as if he had heard sounds,
and his motions now became more cat-like still. On a sudden he put
out the light. Anne had made no noise, yet a foreign noise of some
kind had certainly been made in the intervening portion of the
house. She heard it. 'One of the rats,' she thought.
He seemed soon to recover from his alarm, but changed his tactics
completely. He did not light his candle--going on with his work in
the dark. She had only sounds to go by now, and, judging as well as
she could from these, he was piling up the bricks which closed the
oven's mouth as they had been before he disturbed them. The query
that had not left her brain all the interval of her inspection--how
should she get back into her bedroom again?--now received a
solution. Whilst he was replacing the cupboard, she would glide
across the brewhouse, take the key from the top of the copper, run
upstairs, unlock the door, and bring back the key again: if he
returned to bed, which was unlikely, he would think the lock had
failed to catch in the staple. This thought and intention,
occupying such length of words, flashed upon her in an instant, and
hardly disturbed her strong curiosity to stay and learn the meaning
of his actions in the workshop.
Slipping sideways through the first door and closing it behind her,
she advanced into the darkness towards the second, making every
individual footfall with the greatest care, lest the fragments of
rubbish on the floor should crackle beneath her tread. She soon
stood close by the copper, and not more than a foot from the door of
the room occupied by Manston himself, from which position she could
distinctly hear him breathe between each exertion, although it was
far too dark to discern anything of him.
To secure the key of her chamber was her first anxiety, and
accordingly she cautiously reached out with her hand to where it
lay. Instead of touching it, her fingers came in contact with the
boot of a human being.
She drooped faint in a cold sweat. It was the foot either of a man
or woman, standing on the brewing-copper where the key had lain. A
warm foot, covered with a polished boot.
The startling discovery so terrified her that she could hardly
repress a sound. She withdrew her hand with a motion like the
flight of an arrow. Her touch was so light that the leather seemed
to have been thick enough to keep the owner of the foot in entire
ignorance of it, and the noise of Manston's scraping might have been
quite sufficient to drown the slight rustle of her dress.
The person was obviously not the steward: he was still busy. It
was somebody who, since the light had been extinguished, had taken
advantage of the gloom, to come from some dark recess in the
brewhouse and stand upon the brickwork of the copper. The fear
which had at first paralyzed her lessened with the birth of a sense
that fear now was utter failure: she was in a desperate position
and must abide by the consequences. The motionless person on the
copper was, equally with Manston, quite unconscious of her
proximity, and she ventured to advance her hand again, feeling
behind the feet, till she found the key. On its return to her side,
her finger-tip skimmed the lower verge of a trousers-leg.
It was a man, then, who stood there. To go to the door just at this
time was impolitic, and she shrank back into an inner corner to
wait. The comparative security from discovery that her new position
ensured resuscitated reason a little, and empowered her to form some
1. The man who stood on the copper had taken advantage of the
darkness to get there, as she had to enter.
2. The man must have been hidden in the outhouse before she had
reached the door.
3. He must be watching Manston with much calculation and system,
and for purposes of his own.
She could now tell by the noises that Manston had completed his re-
erection of the cupboard. She heard him replacing the articles it
had contained--bottle by bottle, tool by tool--after which he came
into the brewhouse, went to the window, and pulled down the cloths
covering it; but the window being rather small, this unveiling
scarcely relieved the darkness of the interior. He returned to the
workshop, hoisted something to his back by a jerk, and felt about
the room for some other article. Having found it, he emerged from
the inner door, crossed the brewhouse, and went into the yard.
Directly he stepped out she could see his outline by the light of
the clouded and weakly moon. The sack was slung at his back, and in
his hand he carried a spade.
Anne now waited in her corner in breathless suspense for the
proceedings of the other man. In about half-a-minute she heard him
descend from the copper, and then the square opening of the doorway
showed the outline of this other watcher passing through it
likewise. The form was that of a broad-shouldered man enveloped in
a long coat. He vanished after the steward.
The woman vented a sigh of relief, and moved forward to follow.
Simultaneously, she discovered that the watcher whose foot she had
touched was, in his turn, watched and followed also.
It was by one of her own sex. Anne Seaway shrank backward again.
The unknown woman came forward from the further side of the yard,
and pondered awhile in hesitation. Tall, dark, and closely wrapped,
she stood up from the earth like a cypress. She moved, crossed the
yard without producing the slightest disturbance by her footsteps,
and went in the direction the others had taken.
Anne waited yet another minute--then in her turn noiselessly
followed the last woman.
But so impressed was she with the sensation of people in hiding,
that in coming out of the yard she turned her head to see if any
person were following her, in the same way. Nobody was visible, but
she discerned, standing behind the angle of the stable, Manston's
horse and gig, ready harnessed.
He did intend to fly after all, then, she thought. He must have
placed the horse in readiness, in the interval between his leaving
the house and her exit by the window. However, there was not time
to weigh this branch of the night's events. She turned about again,
and continued on the trail of the other three.
6. FROM MIDNIGHT TO HALF-PAST ONE A.M.
Intentness pervaded everything; Night herself seemed to have become
The four persons proceeded across the glade, and into the park
plantation, at equi-distances of about seventy yards. Here the
ground, completely overhung by the foliage, was coated with a thick