Part 5 out of 8
When in after-years Malcolm Herrick reviewed this portion of his
life, he owned to himself that during the five weeks that followed
the Templeton Bean-feast he had lived in a fool's paradise--in a
state of beatitude that was as unsubstantial and fleeting as the
sunset clouds that piled themselves behind the fir woods.
He was very happy, almost pathetically so, and the new wine of youth
seemed coursing through his veins. "This is life," he would say to
himself; "I have only existed before, but now I am reborn into a new
world, and I have learned the secret of all the ages."
Every day his passion for Elizabeth Templeton increased, and the
charm and sweetness of her personality attracted him more
powerfully. He had never seen any one like her; she was so full of
surprises, her nature was so rich, so original, and yet so womanly,
that the man whom she blessed with her love could never have grown
weary of her society. Without an effort, simply by being herself, a
truthful, noble-hearted woman, she had dominated his strong nature
and brought him to her feet. Was she conscious of his devotion? This
was a question that Malcolm vainly tried to answer, but her manner
perplexed and baffled him. She was always kind and friendly, and her
cordial welcome never varied, but Malcolm could not flatter himself
that he received any special encouragement, or that she regarded him
in any other light than a trusted and valued friend. Now and then,
when he found himself alone with her, he fancied her manner had
changed--that she had become quiet and reserved, as though she were
not at her ease with him. Was it only his imagination, he wondered,
that she seemed trying to keep him at a distance, as though she were
afraid of him? But such was his blindness and infatuation that he
drew encouragement even from this.
To Malcolm those summer days were simply perfect. His morning hours
were devoted to his literary work, and the essays were taking shape
and form under his hand. Never had his brain been clearer; he worked
with a facility that surprised himself. "I am inspired," he would
whisper; "I have a patron saint of my own now," and he would tell
himself that no name could be so sweet to him as Elizabeth. He would
murmur it half-aloud as he wandered in the woodlands in the
gloaming--"Elizabeth, Elizabeth"--and once as he said it, something
seemed to rise in his throat and choke him.
He had not forgotten Anna; he had never forgotten her in his life,
for his adopted sister was very dear to him.
Every week he wrote to his mother and also to her--pleasant, chatty
letters, full of affection and warm with brotherly kindness. If Anna
ever shed tears over them he never knew it.
With what touching humility she acknowledged his thoughtfulness!
"Another letter--how good you are to me!" she would say in her
reply. "Mother declares that you spoil me. I read her all your
description of the Bean-feast. Oh, if I had only been there! But it
is wicked of me to say that."
But later on there was a touch of curiosity, almost a shadow of
"You say so little about Miss Elizabeth Templeton," she wrote, "and
yet you are at the Wood House every day. It is always Miss
Templeton. Is it heresy, dear? but I fancy I should like Miss
Elizabeth best. Tell me more about her next time you write. I want
to see her with your eyes." But Anna pleaded in vain--on the subject
of Elizabeth's merits he kept silence.
But it was quite true that he was at the Wood House nearly every
day, and that the sisters always welcomed him most kindly. Sometimes
he dined there, either alone or with the Kestons; or he would stroll
across at tea-time, or oftener in the evening, when they were
sitting on the terrace. David Carlyon was often with them; his
father had left him by this time. The young men used to look askance
at each other in the dim light, and Malcolm would shake hands with
the curate rather stiffly.
"Carlyon was there again," he would say to Amias, when he found his
friend smoking in the porch. "I don't dislike the fellow, but one
may have too much even of a good thing." Then Amias looked at him
rather queerly but made no answer.
Caleb Martin and Kit were established comfortably at the cottage
under Mrs. Sullivan's motherly wing, and Kit's white pinched little
face filled out in the sweet country air.
"She is a different creature," Caleb assured Malcolm. "I wish Ma'am
could see her. She is just as happy as the day is long. We are in
the woods from morning to night, picking up fir-cones and building
with them, and making believe that we are gypsies. She's ready to
drop with fatigue before she lets me take her home, and then our
good lady scolds us a bit."
"And poor Mrs. Martin is alone in Todmorden's Lane?" remarked
"Lord love you, sir," returned Caleb, "you don't need to be pitying
Ma'am; she's glad to be rid of the pair of us. She is whitewashing
and papering the rooms. She is a handy woman, is Ma'am, and she says
we shall not know the place when we go back. I never knew such a
woman for scrubbing and cleaning--it seems to make her happy
Malcolm made frequent visits to Rotherwood to see Caleb and Kit, and
he generally paid them on the days when Elizabeth was at the
schools, so that he could walk back with her through the woodlands.
The first time he did this Elizabeth seemed rather surprised, though
she offered no objection; but after that she took it as a matter of
course, and chatted with him on all manner of subjects. She listened
very kindly when Malcolm sounded her on the subject of Kit, and made
all sorts of impossible plans for the child's future; and though she
laughed at him good-humouredly, and told him that he was a
visionary, impracticable person, she soon became serious and brought
her shrewd common-sense and feminine wits to his assistance. And so
it was that one day he made a proposition that nearly took Caleb's
Kit must certainly not go back to Todmorden's Lane until she was
stronger, he remarked. Miss Templeton and he were fully agreed on
this point; the fogs and low-lying mists from the river were harmful
to her poor little chest.
Caleb must leave her under Mrs. Sullivan's care. Miss Templeton had
made all arrangements, and he would be responsible for the expense.
There had been a pitched battle over this point; but for once
Elizabeth had been forced to give in, Malcolm had been so stern and
Caleb should come down for the week-end every three weeks or so, he
could promise him that, and a whole week at Christmas. But Caleb
looked too much dazed to answer, and there was a misty look in the
transparent, light-blue eyes.
"I'm took all of a heap!" he ejaculated at last. "It is not that I
don't thank you kindly, sir, for I am pretty nigh choking with
gratitude; but you see there is Ma'am to reckon with--if Kit were
her own little 'un she couldn't be fonder of her."
"I daresay not," remarked Malcolm, and there was a trace of
impatience in his tone; "but, after all, Mr. Martin, you are Kit's
father." But Caleb only shook his head doubtfully, and went on in
his slow, ruminating way.
"Most folk think that Ma'am is a bad-natured woman because she gives
them the rough side of her tongue; but, Lord bless you, her bark's
worse than her bite. Her heart is just set on Kit, and she would not
hurt a hair of her head in her most contrary moods, when even the
black cat won't stay in the place she is making such a scrimmage
with the pots and pans. But Kit only laughs. 'It is Ma'am at her
music,' she says; 'but it t'aint the sort of music I like.' Yes,
indeed, sir, I have heered her say that a score of times."
"Very well, then, you had better go and have a talk with your wife,"
And Caleb went, and came back to Rotherwood the next day a sadder
and a wiser man.
"Well, and what did Mrs. Martin say?" asked Malcolm when he saw
The little cobbler drew his hand across his eyes in an embarrassed
fashion; he was evidently trying to recollect something.
"Ma'am sends her humble duty," he answered presently in a sing-song
voice, "and she is greatly obliged to you and the kind lady, and Kit
may stay along of Mrs. Sullivan--those were her very words, sir."
"Mrs. Martin is a sensible woman then."
"Oh, she is that, sir. She was scolding me all supper-time for not
thinking of the child's good. 'You can bring her back if you like,
Caleb,' she says, 'and poison her with the filthy fogs, and get her
ready for her coffin, poor lamb. And you call yourself a father,
Caleb Martin? Drat all such fathers, I say!' She made me clean
ashamed of myself, did Ma'am;" and here the little man looked ready
"Well, Mr. Martin, I do think the child will be better here, and you
can come down every three weeks or so to see her--you know we have
arranged that--and now and then you can bring your wife too;" and
Caleb brightened up at this.
But the day he left Rotherwood he was so lugubrious and tearful that
Malcolm felt quite sorry for him; but Kit took a less depressing
"I don't want you to go, dad," she said feelingly; "but I like
staying along with this good lady," with a friendly nod of her head
to Mrs. Sullivan. "I have got a black kitten of my own and a yellow
chick, and they are better than dolls because they can love me back.
And the ladies from the Wood House are going to take me out for
drives--my, won't that be 'eavenly!" Nevertheless Kit shed a few
tears when Caleb closed the little gate behind him. "I want to stay
here, and I want daddy too," she said rather pitifully.
All these weeks Malcolm had seen nothing of Cedric. His visit to the
Jacobis had been prolonged for another ten days, and then he wrote,
in high spirits, to tell his sisters that Dick Wallace had invited
him to go down to his father's place in Scotland.
"I expect I shall have rare sport there, and stalk a deer or two,"
he continued. "Dick and I are to go down by the night mail on
Thursday, but I will run over to Staplegrove for a few hours. Tell
Herrick I will look him up at his diggings."
By some oversight Elizabeth forgot to give Malcolm this message, and
Malcolm, who had to go up to town on business, was much chagrined to
find that Cedric had called during his absence, and had been greatly
disappointed at missing him.
He went across to the Wood House directly after supper, and found
the ladies sitting out on the terrace.
Elizabeth was very contrite.
"It was dreadfully careless of me," she confessed; "I meant to have
sent you a note last night, but some one called--who was it, Dinah?-
-and put it out of my head." But Dinah could not recollect that any
one had called except David Carlyon, and seemed rather surprised at
"Oh, it must have been Mr. Carlyon," returned Elizabeth; but she
coloured slightly. "It was really very stupid of me; Cedric was
quite put out about it."
"Oh, well, it cannot be helped," observed Malcolm, philosophically.
"Did he say much about the Jacobis?"
"No, he only remarked that they had been very kind, and that he had
had a rattling good time. Those were his words, were they not, Die?"
and Dinah smiled assent.
"We both asked him a heap of questions, but they seemed to bore him;
he was full of his Scotch visit, and would scarcely talk of anything
Malcolm was not quite satisfied, but he kept his doubts to himself.
Elizabeth, who was as sharp as a needle, looked up at him quickly.
"We did our best, I assure you, Mr. Herrick, but he refused to be
drawn; he seemed very much excited."
"The Wallaces are a good sort of people, are they not?" was
Malcolm's next question.
"Oh yes, they are thoroughly nice;" it was Dinah who answered him.
"Sir Richard is charming, and so is Lady Wallace; and of course Dick
is an old acquaintance of ours."
"There are some daughters, I believe?"
"Yes, but they are not very young or attractive, poor things,"
replied Elizabeth--"heavy, podgy sort of girls, but very kind-
hearted. By the bye, Die, I wonder if Cedric will come across the
Godfreys, they are somewhere in the neighbourhood." And then she
explained to Malcolm that Fettercairn Hall, where Sir Richard
Wallace lived, was only a few miles from the shooting lodge where
the Godfreys were staying; and this fact appeared to give the
sisters a good deal of satisfaction.
It was the middle of September now, and Malcolm reflected with some
uneasiness that more than half his holiday was over. The Kestons had
decided to return to Cheyne Walk in another three weeks or so, and
of course he must accompany them; his mother and Anna would be back
in town by that time, and his presence would be needed in Lincoln's
"The shadows of the prison-house," as he called it, began to haunt
him, and he counted up his days as jealously as a miser counts his
Every day he saw Elizabeth; and each hour he was alone with her he
found it more difficult to keep silence; but as yet he had had
himself well in hand. Perhaps something in her manner had sealed his
lips, or he feared that the spell of this happy dream would be
broken. But during those wakeful summer nights, when that sweet pain
kept him restless, he would tell himself that the time had not yet
come, that she did not know him well enough.
"She is not a young girl," he would say to himself; "she is a mature
woman who knows the world and has thought deeply-why, even to know
her is a liberal education." And then he repeated to himself in the
darkness those lines of Shelley--
"Her voice was like the voice of his own soul,
Heard in the calm of thought,"
for all the sweet influences of summer and nature had only fed the
passion, and every day it seemed to grow stronger and stronger.
"She is my other self, she thinks my thoughts, we have a thousand
things in common, how can she help loving me!" he would say when his
mood was jubilant and sanguine; but at other times a chill doubt
would cross his mind.
"She is different from other women, she will not be easily won, that
is why I fear to speak;" but all the same Malcolm registered a
mental vow that he would not leave Staplegrove until the decisive
words had been spoken.
DOWN BY THE POOL
Of thy mild brows hath given
Grace to all things I see;
And in thy life I live, and lose myself in thee.
--J. Addington Symonds
I would love infinitely, and be loved.
Malcolm was no hot-headed boy to be moved by mere impulse,
nevertheless the day came when all his prudent resolutions were
forgotten, when silence and self-repression were absolute torture to
him, when he felt he must speak or for ever hold his peace.
It was Elizabeth's birthday; he only heard that afterwards, or he
would have brought her some choice offering in the shape of flowers
or books, in honour of his patron Saint's fete-day; but happily
Elizabeth was unconscious of this.
"I am thirty-one to-day," she said to him gaily; "is not that a
great age? Oh, no wonder Cedric calls me an old maid." And then she
laughed with an air of enjoyment, as though her new title amused
her. "Old maids can be very nice, can they not, Mr. Herrick?"
They were sitting down by the Pool, and Dinah had just left them at
Elizabeth's suggestion to tell the servants that they would have tea
there, and to answer a business note. The afternoon was sultry, more
like August than September; but down by the Pool there was a
pleasant shade and coolness. As usual, all the dogs were grouped
round them; and Elizabeth, in spite of her thirty-one years, looked
quite youthful in her white gown. A dark velvety Cramoisie rose
nestled against her full throat. Malcolm remembered suddenly that he
had noticed that special rose in the garden of the White Cottage
when he last dined at the vicarage; he wondered with a sudden fierce
prick of jealousy if that fellow Carlyon knew it was her birthday,
and had brought it to her. At the idea there was a dangerous
throbbing of his pulses.
The previous evening he had strolled across to the Wood House in the
hope that Elizabeth would be in one of her gracious moods, and then
he could coax her to sing to him. But to his disappointment his
visit had seemed less welcome than usual; and though Dinah received
him with her wonted gentle courtesy, he had a vague suspicion that
something was amiss. Dinah looked as though she had been shedding
tears, and Elizabeth's face was flushed, and she was very silent; if
he had not known them so well, and their intense love for each
other, he would almost have suspected that there had been a warm
altercation between them, but this was manifestly impossible.
No, they had never quarrelled even in their childish days, he
remembered Elizabeth had once told him that, and assuredly they
never quarrelled now. Nevertheless, there was something troubled in
the atmosphere, and even Dinah seemed to find it difficult to talk.
Malcolm raged inwardly over his disappointment, but he had too much
tact to prolong his visit. He was rewarded for his forbearance when
Dinah said in her gentle way, "I am afraid we are rather stupid to-
night, Mr. Herrick; Elizabeth is tired, and--and--we have been
talking for hours; if you look in to-morrow afternoon we will
promise to behave better." But though Elizabeth did not endorse
this, Malcolm accepted this invitation with undisguised pleasure.
But his satisfaction would have been sadly damped if he had
overheard Elizabeth's speech. "Why did you ask him, Die? You know"--
hesitating a moment--" that I like to be quiet on my birthday."
"He looked so dull," returned Dinah apologetically; "I think we
depressed him. I am very sorry, dear; I ought to have found out your
wishes first. But he will not stay long unless we ask him."
Elizabeth made no answer to this; she looked thoughtful and a little
troubled, and Dinah felt she had done the wrong thing. But this
afternoon Elizabeth was in her old sunshiny mood, and she made her
little speech about being an old maid in a way that charmed Malcolm.
How still it was down by the Pool! Only a dry leaf dropping into the
water, or the sleepy snapping of one of the dogs at the midges, or
the faint twitter of a far-off bird broke the silence. The air was
sweet with the warm, resinous smell of the firs; the strong perfume
seemed to pervade his senses.
He was alone with her--not a human creature was near them; and he
was so close that if he had stretched out his hand he could have
touched her dress. Malcolm's heart began beating dangerously, and
there was a curious throbbing at his temples; when he tried to speak
his voice was thick and indistinct; then with a great effort he
steadied himself, for his time had come and he knew it.
"There is something I want to say to you--that for weeks I have been
trying to say--will you let me speak now?" Did he really say those
words, or did he whisper them inwardly? But no, he could see the
sudden startled look in Elizabeth's eyes when she saw his face.
"May I speak?"
"No--no," in a frightened tone. "Mr. Herrick, for my sake--for both
our sakes--I implore you to be silent; I cannot--I will not listen"-
-her agitation increasing with every word. But she might as well
have tried to control the wind.
"You cannot mean that," he returned gently but firmly; "forgive me
if I do not obey you--if it is not possible for me to keep silence
any longer. Elizabeth, surely all these weeks you must have known
that you were the one woman in the world for me?"
"No--no," she returned, covering her face with her hands, "I never
knew it; how could I--how could I?" But he mistook the cause of her
"I think no woman was ever loved so well! All these weeks that I
have been dumb, I have been living for you--only for you." Then she
put up her trembling hand to stop him, but he caught it in his own.
"Elizabeth, will you try to love me a little?"
"Hush--hush," endeavouring to free herself. "Indeed--indeed you must
not say such things, Mr. Herrick; you are deceiving yourself. We are
friends, and I like you, and I am very, very grateful to you for all
your goodness to Cedric, but I never meant it to come to this."
"How do you mean?" he asked, and his face was white with emotion.
"Surely you must have seen how things were with me;" and Malcolm's
voice was a little hard.
"I think I tried not to see," she answered truthfully. "Once or
twice I was afraid, and then I told myself I was mistaken. Mr.
Herrick, I do not want to hurt you, I would not add to your trouble
for the world, but at least you will do me the justice of owning
that I never gave you any encouragement."
"No," he returned, in a tone of forced composure, "you never
encouraged me in my presumption. I loved you because I could not
help myself--because you were Elizabeth Templeton and I was Malcolm
Herrick." Then her eyes grew very sad.
"Dear friend, it was no presumption--any woman would have felt
honoured by such devotion; but," and here a burning flush came to
her face, "it is too late--I am not free."
Malcolm stared at her. Surely he was in some hideous nightmare, but
he would wake directly. What an awful stillness seemed round them!--
as though a storm were impending: the water-lilies on the Pool
looked like dead things, and even the dragon-fly hung motionless in
mid-air; only the dogs panted and snored round them. Elizabeth
pressed her hands together as though something pained her.
"I am not free," she repeated in a low voice; but she did not look
at Malcolm as she spoke. "Last evening Mr. Carlyon spoke to me, and-
-and we are engaged."
"Good God!" but Malcolm did not say the words aloud, for his tongue
felt suddenly dry and palsied,--it was only the cry of his soul to
his Maker in the hour of his agony. But Elizabeth dared not look at
him, or her heart would have been wrung with pity at the sight of
his drawn, haggard face.
"We have cared for each other for a long time," she whispered, "but
he was poor and did not like to speak. Only Dinah knows. I had just
told her when you came in last evening. We did not want any one else
to know just yet."
"But I forced your hand." Malcolm had pulled himself together now.
"Thank you for telling me the truth; but you were always a brave
woman," and he tried to smile.
"Oh no, I have not been brave;" and then her eyes suddenly filled
with tears. "Mr. Herrick, I am so unhappy; this--this--has spoiled
"No--no, you must not say that. If I have been a blind fool, it is
no fault of yours, and I have no one to thank but myself for the
misery that has come upon me. Elizabeth"--oh, how sad his voice was!
it thrilled her to hear it--"before I leave you, let me wish you
every happiness--you and Mr. Carlyon too;" and then he rose to his
"Must you go?" she pleaded.
"Yes, I must go," he returned hurriedly; "will you excuse me to your
sister?" Then Elizabeth stretched out her hand to him in silence,
and he saw that she could not trust herself to speak.
"You must not be too sorry for me," he said rather brokenly; "I am
not the only man who has been denied his heart's desire;" and he
turned away and plunged into the little fir wood. Elizabeth sat
listening to his retreating footsteps. The tears were running down
her cheeks. She was still weeping when Dinah rejoined her.
"Have I been long?" she observed cheerfully. "That tiresome Mrs.
Carrick called about the mothers' meetings. Where is Mr. Herrick?"
Then, as she caught sight of Elizabeth's face, "Oh, my dear Betty,
what is it?--what has gone wrong?--and on your birthday too!"--
Elizabeth wept afresh.
"Hush, don't ask me--not now. David will be here directly, and he
must not see me like this. You were right, Die, you saw how it was,
and I would not believe you--I did not want to believe you. Now let
me go away and recover myself." But Dinah held her fast.
"You shall go in a moment, dear; but just tell me one thing--did Mr.
Herrick ask you to be his wife?"
"Not exactly--I would not let him go as far as that; but, Die, he
loves me so, and he is so unhappy." Then Dinah sighed, and her hand
dropped from her sister's arm.
"You had better go," she returned. "I see Mullins crossing the
bridge. If David comes I will make an excuse for your absence;" and
Elizabeth nodded and turned away. Dinah's heart was very heavy as
she stood looking down upon the Pool. It is the looker-on who sees
most of the game, and weeks ago she had vainly tried to open
Elizabeth's eyes to a sense of her danger.
"He has never said a word to me that the whole world might not hear-
-I don't believe he ever will," Elizabeth had replied obstinately;
but Dinah knew that she was wilfully deceiving herself--that her
intuition was truer than her words, and that in Malcolm Herrick's
presence she was always on guard, as if she feared an invasion of
her woman's kingdom.
Dinah could have wept too in her grievous disappointment and
passionate pity, for Elizabeth's choice seemed to her a great
mistake. David Carlyon was a dear fellow, and as good as gold, but
he was not equal to Malcolm.
"If only they had met a year ago," she thought, "before David's
influence grew so strong, she would surely have discovered then that
they were made for each other. Mr. Herrick is just the sort of man
she would have admired. There is something striking and original
about him, and then in spite of his cleverness he is so simple and
good. Oh, Betty, my darling," she went on, "why could you not have
given me such a brother! I should have been so proud of him!" And
then Dinah checked herself in very shame, for she remembered how she
had promised Elizabeth the previous evening that she would take
David Carlyon to her sisterly heart."
It was not a very cheerful birthday tea, though each one of the trio
tried to do his or her best to promote innocent hilarity. Elizabeth
talked a great deal, but her face was still flushed, and she rather
avoided her lover's eyes, and as for David he talked principally to
Dinah. He told funny little parish stories which made her laugh, and
to which Elizabeth listened with a manifest effort, and he took no
notice when she chimed in with some irrelevant remark. Dinah
wondered to herself more than once if he really had not noticed that
Elizabeth's eyelids were still reddened, in spite of cold water and
eau de Cologne. David was certainly a little dense in his happiness,
she thought, and then she sighed involuntarily as she thought of the
lonely man who had left them.
"He will take it hardly," she said to herself. "His nature is
intense, and he will suffer more than most men;" and as this thought
passed through her mind, she looked up and found David's keen,
bright eyes fixed on her, and coloured a little as though he had
read her thoughts.
When tea was over, Dinah made some transparent little excuse to go
back to the house, for in these sweet, early days of their happiness
she knew well that the lovers would have much to say to each other.
And she was not wrong: before she was out of sight David had flung
himself down at Elizabeth's feet, and had taken her hands.
"What is it, dearest?" he said tenderly. "You have been shedding
tears--do you think I did not know that?" Then Elizabeth blushed as
though she were a child discovered in a fault. "Tell me all about
it, darling," he whispered; but she shook her head.
"I cannot, David--indeed I cannot; you must not ask me to tell you
this." Elizabeth's voice quivered a little, but she was very much in
"Must I not?" he returned with a smile. "Don't look so frightened,
sweetheart; perhaps there is no need to ask, perhaps I know all you
are trying to keep from me." And then in a low voice full of
meaning, "So Herrick has spoken at last."
"At last!" It was evident those two words had startled Elizabeth.
David with some difficulty suppressed an irresistible smile.
"Do you mean," he asked incredulously, "that you never noticed, what
every one else saw so plainly, that that poor fellow fairly
worshipped the ground you trod on?" Then again a painful flush came
to Elizabeth's face.
"I was not sure," she stammered, for her conscience did not wholly
acquit her--"I would not let myself see or notice things; besides, I
was thinking of you." Then David kissed the hands he held; but there
was a troubled look in his eyes.
"Poor beggar!" he muttered to himself. Then aloud, "Do you know, my
darling, what people will say when they hear you have thrown over a
man like Herrick for me--for a mere curate, with empty pockets and
not too many brains."
"Do you suppose I care what they say!" throwing her head back in
rather a regal fashion.
"They will say you are mad; and upon my word," and here David knit
his brows in a puzzled manner, "I am not sure that they will be
wrong. Look at the difference between us. Herrick is my superior in
every way. I used to shake in my shoes to hear him talk to the
vicar. Elizabeth, my heart aches for that poor fellow, but even you
do not know what I have suffered on his account all these weeks.
There were times when I was tempted to throw up the sponge."
"Oh, David, when you knew--when you must have known my feelings!"
"Yes, I knew; but there were days when my courage failed me, and I
felt I had no right to stand in your light. Dearest," and here he
was kneeling beside her with all a man's worship in his honest eyes,
"you are too good for me--do you think I do not know that it is your
goodness and generosity that make you stoop to me!" But Elizabeth
laid her hand upon his lips.
"Hush, you shall not talk so. It is I who am not worthy of you. I
love you, David--I love you, oh so dearly; that is enough for you--
and me too," and Elizabeth looked at him with an adorable smile.
Then for a little while Malcolm Herrick was forgotten.
"IT HAS GONE VERY DEEP"
When you depart from me, sorrow abides and happiness
takes his leave.
Fulfil the perfection of long-suffering--be thou
--Teaching of Buddha.
All his life long Malcolm never spoke of the hours that followed
that fateful interview down by the Pool, when he was as one who had
just received his baptism of fire--when he was scorched through and
through with that new and terrible agony.
"He will take it hardly," Dinah had said to herself. "His nature is
intense, and he will suffer more than most men;" and she was right.
Malcolm did suffer cruelly.
He had spoken his parting words to Elizabeth with outward calmness,
though his lips were blanched and his features drawn with pain; for
he was a gentleman, and noblesse oblige, and why should he make her
suffer when she had done him no wrong? "I am not the only man who
has been denied his heart's desire," he had said to her in a dull,
lifeless voice, and in this he was certainly right. All are not
winners in the race; many fail to attain their goal, and retire
baffled and disheartened from the contest; but few suffer as Malcolm
Herrick did, and though he did not curse the day he was born, as Job
did, the whole plan and purpose of his life seemed frustrated and
the future a hopeless blank.
And the fault was his own! Even in his most despairing moments he
never ceased to tell himself that she had never encouraged him--
never held out her woman's sceptre for him to touch; and even when
she had been most sweet and winsome, she had not abridged the
distance between them, nor, in her noble sincerity and friendship,
attempted to draw him closer.
No, it was he who had been a blind fool, and he must pay the penalty
of his madness. The gates of his earthly paradise had closed behind
him for ever. He could hear them clanging in the distance; and the
golden bells of his city of dreams were chiming "Nevermore--oh,
"His City of dreams--what a good name!" thought he; and through the
long summer days he had dwelt there like a king. And now the gates
had closed, and the golden pinnacles were no longer visible, and the
breath of the roses and the fragrance of the spices of Araby the
blessed would no longer steep his senses in sweetness. Nevermore--
oh, nevermore would those blissful dreams be his!
Malcolm never quite recollected what he did with himself that
evening. The idea of going back to the Crow's Nest in his present
state of mind was simply intolerable. How could he have joined in
the simple meal and listened to Goliath's talk!
No, it would be better to have a good long walk and look things in
the face, and if he tired himself so much the better. But Malcolm
never retained any clear recollection of that walk. He had a vague
idea that he passed Earlsfield station, and presently he found
himself on the open moor, where he had driven with Elizabeth the day
when she had so naively confessed her ignorance to him. "I am rather
a desultory sort of person," she had said to him, and he had offered
to make out a list of books for her to read.
He had done so, and she had thanked him very sweetly, and had sent
for some of the books, but he had never seen her read them. Perhaps
Carlyon--and at this thought he ground his teeth hard--perhaps
Carlyon had discouraged her. Horticulture seemed his chief hobby,
and he was always talking to her about a new fern-house they were
making at the Wood House, and Malcolm's poor books were neglected.
He flung himself down on the heather. He would battle it out with
himself, he thought, and when he was in a quieter frame of mind he
would go home. Home, pooh! he would never have a home now!
It was a glorious evening. A fresh, soft breeze had risen and blew
refreshingly in his face, but he never heeded it, for in some moods
we take the gifts and graces of Nature as a matter of course, and
yield her no thanks or acknowledgment for her gentle benison. Even
the glowing crimson tints of the sunset clouds could not move him to
admiration. A line of Browning came involuntarily to his mind:
I will not soil thy purple with my dust;
but he was thinking of Elizabeth and not of the sunset.
"I must battle it out with myself," he repeated. But hours passed,
and the moon had risen, and he still lay there, plucking up the
heather and flinging it aside in a stupefaction of misery. It was
only when the September darkness stole over the moor that he
recollected himself and stumbled to his feet.
He was almost worn out when he unlatched the little gate at the
Crow's Nest. Amias was smoking as usual in the porch, and Verity was
with him. The lamplight from within fell full on Malcolm's face as
he approached them. Verity gave a start.
"Oh, how tired you look!" she said in quite a shocked voice. Malcolm
gave her a weary smile.
"I have had a long walk," he returned. "It was such a lovely
evening, so I resolved to miss supper for once." He tried to speak
in a jaunty fashion, but it was a ghastly failure, and he knew it.
He was so sick and faint with inanition that he felt as though he
could not utter another word. "I am tired, I think I will go to bed.
Good-night you two;" and he groped his way to the garden-house.
Amias took his pipe from his mouth and looked at his wife
"What's come to Herrick?" he said in a concerned tone; "he looks
dead beat. We thought he was dining at the Wood House; at least you
said so, Yea-Verily, my child, and I believed you."
"Yes, I know, dear; but we were both wrong, and he has eaten
nothing, that is evident." And then she got up quickly. "The kitchen
fire is still alight, and the kettle will soon boil; I told Martha
to leave it. I will make him some coffee, and you shall take it to
him. And, Amias, you dear old thing, don't talk to him; he is not
fit for it to-night."
And so it was that a quarter of an hour later Amias knocked at
Malcolm's door, and was reluctantly bidden to enter.
Malcolm was sitting still fully dressed by the open window, and the
moonlight made him look still more ghastly. Amias, without a word,
lighted the lamp and placed the tray beside him. "Verity sends her
love, and says you must eat your supper," was all he ventured to
say, but his large hand rested kindly on Malcolm's shoulder for a
moment. Malcolm tried to thank him, but the words would not come.
But when his friend had left the room he suddenly covered his face
with his hands and cried like a child. "Elizabeth--Elizabeth!" but
there was no response; only a sleepy bird stirred in the shrubbery.
In spite of his great intimacy with the Kestons and his very real
friendship, Malcolm did not confide in either of them. He was
undemonstrative and self-reliant by nature, and, as he said himself
afterwards, "There are some things that a man ought to keep to
himself." But neither Amias nor Verity expected any such confidence.
If Amias seemed puzzled by the change in Malcolm, Verity needed no
explanation. She had seen how things were from the first. She had
once caught sight of Malcolm's face when Elizabeth Templeton had
passed him so closely that her dress brushed against him. She had
seen that look in Amias's eyes in the dear auld lang syne.
Verity was a loyal little soul, and she never even hinted her
suspicions to her husband. Neither did she attempt to find out what
was amiss. When, the next evening, Malcolm told them hurriedly that
he would be obliged to return to town earlier than he thought, she
interrupted Amias's clumsy exclamations of regret. "Mr. Herrick has
been very good to give us so much of his company," she said
cheerfully. "Of course we shall miss him, and so will Babs;" and
then in her pretty, housewifely way she set about making
arrangements for his comfort, and Malcolm felt inwardly grateful for
this unspoken sympathy.
He went over to the vicarage to bid Mr. Charrington good-bye. On the
way back he met David Carlyon. The young curate looked rather
nervous and discomposed, but Malcolm was quite calm.
"As I am leaving Staplegrove to-morrow," he said quietly, "I am glad
to have this opportunity of offering my congratulations and bidding
you good-bye." The lie came glibly to his lips. Glad, when he would
have gone a dozen miles to avoid his rival--his successful rival!
Nevertheless--such hypocrites are the best of men--the words flowed
smoothly from his lips.
"Thanks awfully," replied David, prodding the dust with his stick.
"Are you going up to the Wood House now? I think--that is, I am sure
the ladies are out;" which was certainly the fact, as he had just
seen them driving in the direction of Earlsfield.
"No, not this afternoon, I think," replied Malcolm.
"Well, good-bye, I am a bit pressed for time;" and then the young
men shook hands, and David's grip was almost painful.
"Poor beggar!" he muttered to himself as he turned away; but Malcolm
could not give expression, if he tried, to those bitter thoughts of
"David Carlyon her husband--the husband of Elizabeth Templeton--why,
the very birds knew how to mate more fitly!" he thought. "He is good
and true, but he is not worthy of her;" and David in his sad
humility was saying the same thing of himself.
That evening Dinah received a note; Amias Keston left it.
"My dear Miss Templeton," wrote Malcolm, "to-morrow I am leaving
Staplegrove, and I know you will understand the reason why I do not
call to bid you good-bye, and that you will not think me ungrateful
after all the kindness and hospitality I have received from you.
Your sister has often told me that you have no secrets from each
other; so you will know why it is better for me to return to town. I
have been to the vicarage this afternoon, and have seen Carlyon.
With kindest regards to you and your sister, yours very sincerely
Elizabeth grew a little pale and bit her lip when Dinah showed her
"It has gone very deep," she said to herself. "David said so, and he
was right--it has gone very deep."
So Malcolm shook off the dust of Staplegrove, and the gates of his
City of dreams clanged behind him.
"He must dree his weird," he said to himself, as he sat down to his
work in the gloomy room in Lincoln's Inn, and in spite of heart-
sickness he worked on stolidly and well. The evenings were his worst
time, when he went back to the empty house at Cheyne Walk and sat on
the balcony brooding over his troubles, until the light faded and an
eerie darkness crept over the river.
"I suppose many men have to go through this sort of thing," he would
say to himself, trying to philosophise in his old way, but if any
one had seen his face! "What does our glorious Will say?--'Men have
died from time to time and worms have eaten them, but not for love.'
Ah, but he also says, 'How bitter a thing it is to look into
happiness through another man's eyes!'" And sometimes, when the
silence and solitude oppressed him terribly, he would picture to
himself the dreary future. "I shall never marry," he would say.
"There is only one woman in the whole world that I want, and she
will have nothing to do with me and my love, and no other woman
shall ever be my wife." And then he would wonder sadly what life
would be like when he was an old bachelor; would he be living on
here with Amias and Verity, or would he go back to his mother and do
his duty to her in her old age? But with all his bitter ruminations
he never let himself go again, but battled manfully with his pain,
though as the days went on he grew paler and thinner, and looked
Malcolm knew that his mother and Anna were back at Queen's Gate, but
it was quite ten days before he saw them. He dreaded the ordeal of
his mother's searching glances; but at last one evening he plucked
up his courage and went.
Anna, who saw him coming, flew down the staircase to meet him. She
looked younger than ever, and quite pretty, with the soft pink
colour in her cheeks and her fair hair; but her smile faded when she
saw Malcolm's face.
"Oh, Malcolm, have you been ill?" she asked in an alarmed voice.
"No, dear, not ill--only a trifle seedy and out of sorts. Come, let
me look at you, lady fair?" and he pinioned her lightly. "Good
child," he continued approvingly, "I shall tell the mater you do her
"Yes, I am quite well, and quite rested; and oh, Malcolm, I am so
glad to see you again!" Then he smiled at her kindly, and they went
upstairs hand in hand. Mrs. Herrick, hearing their voices, came out
on the landing to greet her son. Her manner was more than usually
"My dear boy," she said, "what an age it is since we saw you! It is
more than a fortnight since you even wrote. When did you come back
Malcolm had dreaded this question, but he was compelled to answer it
"About ten days ago," he returned coolly; he knew his mother never
"Ten days, and you have never been near us!" Then her tone changed.
"Have you been ill, Malcolm?" and she regarded him with undisguised
"Anna asked me the same question," he replied, impatiently. "I have
only been out of sorts, as I tell her--rather off my feed and that
kind of thing." Then Mrs. Herrick said no more on that subject, but
as they sat at dinner the keen gray eyes were often fixed on his
face. Malcolm did his part manfully: he talked and questioned Anna
about her doings; he would not brook an instant's silence. Anna must
tell him this and that about her water-party and the picnic, and
those wonderful people who tried to force an acquaintance on them;
he would not let her off, though more than once the girl looked
wistfully at him. Why did he not tell them about Staplegrove? He had
not once mentioned the Wood House and the Templetons. Was anything
wrong with him? He did not look himself; and she had never before
noticed those lines on his forehead. He looked different somehow in
these two months. When he went on to the balcony to smoke his
cigarette she followed, and stood silently beside him, until he
turned and saw her anxious face.
"Well, Annachen," one of his pet names for her, "what is it, little
woman?" Then her soft hand smoothed his coat-sleeve.
"Malcolm dear, I don't like to ask, but I am sure something has gone
wrong between you and your friends at the Wood House; you have not
once mentioned their name, and there is such a sad, sad look in your
Malcolm took the girl's slender wrists and held them firmly.
"Anna, you are my dear little sister, are you not?"
"Oh yes," in a shrinking voice, for he was evidently waiting for an
"A faithful little sister, who will not misunderstand her brother,
even if he doesn't confide in her?"
"Anna, you are right, and something is troubling me--something that
can never be set straight in this world; but not even to you can I
speak of it." Then she knew, and in her innocent love she would fain
have comforted him.
"I am very sorry--very, very sorry," was all she could find to say.
"I am sorry too," he returned gently, and then he kissed her cheek,
and Anna stole away sadly to her own room. If she shed tears they
were for him, and not for herself. Anna's affection for her adopted
brother was perfectly unconscious and selfless; she never indulged
in unwholesome introspection; she never asked herself why her heart
ached that night, and a sense of loneliness and desolation stole
Malcolm was unhappy, that was her one thought--things had gone wrong
with him. Oh, if she could only give him his heart's desire! This
wonderful unknown Elizabeth--had she refused him? Was there some one
else? Alas, these questions were not to be answered. She must play
her part of a faithful little sister, who must ask nothing, refuse
Malcolm's ordeal was not yet over. When he threw away his cigarette
and went back to the drawing-room, he found his mother alone.
"I thought Anna was with you," he said apologetically, "or I would
not have stayed out there so long. I am afraid I must be going now."
"You have your latch-key," she returned quietly; "sit down a moment,
I want to speak to you, Malcolm. You are not yourself this evening,
something has gone wrong." Again Anna's very words. He was silent.
Why had his womankind such sharp eyes?
"I am a bit flattened out," he acknowledged, "but I shall be all
right in a day or two;" but she passed this by almost
"Something is troubling you," she continued, "and to judge by your
looks it is no light thing. You have grown thinner, Malcolm."
"Oh, I was always one of the lean kine," he returned lightly; but
she seemed almost affronted at the little joke.
"Does that mean you do not intend to tell me your trouble?" and here
her eyes grew very wistful. "You are my only son, Malcolm;" she
never called him her only child, her adopted daughter was too dear
to her. "Is there anything that I can do to help you?"
"Nothing--nothing," and he kissed her hand gratefully, for her
motherly tone touched his heart. "Mother dear, forgive me if I
cannot speak to you or Anna about this."
"Not even to poor little Anna?"
"No, not even to her. Mother, please do not misunderstand me, or
think me ungrateful, but there are some things of which a man does
not find it easy to speak." Then Mrs. Herrick said no more; she must
bide her time, and until then she could only pray for him.
And up in her pretty room Anna was praying her guileless, innocent
prayers, and watering every petition with her tears.
"How could she--how could she?" she cried more than once; "how could
any woman refuse my dear Malcolm?"
Can such prayers help? Yea--a thousand times yea! Only He who reads
human hearts knows the value of such prayers! When the son--the
brother--the lover--has gone into the battle of life, when his
strength is failing and the Philistines are upon him, it may be that
the pure petition of some loving heart may be as an invisible shield
to withstand the darts of the evil one, or haply that "arrow drawn
at a venture" which else had pierced between the joints of his
armour. "I said little, but I prayed much for you, my son," Mrs.
Herrick once said to Malcolm in after-years when they understood
each other better, and he knew that she spoke the truth.
"I SEE LIGHT NOW"
Every man's task is his life-preserver.
Life is an opportunity for service.
It is in the silence that follows the storm, and not in
the silence before it, that we should search for the
One gray October afternoon, a fortnight later, Malcolm was walking
down Victoria Street, when he came face to face with Colonel
Godfrey. The Colonel, who was full of business as usual, seemed
unfeignedly pleased at the meeting.
"This is a stroke of good luck!" he exclaimed in his hearty way.
"You are just the man I want, Herrick. I was rather in a fix, and
was going to Victoria for one of those boy messengers; but you will
do my business for me, like a good fellow? Have you anything
particular to do?"
"Nothing special. I was only going to the Army and Navy Stores for
some stationery." Then the Colonel looked still more delighted.
"There, I was sure of it! My wife is in the tea-room at this very
minute expecting me to join her. I should have been punctual to the
minute, only I came across Erskine of ours; he wants my advice about
a mare he is thinking of buying, and he was so pressing that I felt
I must send Catherine a message."
"And I am to do the job for you? All right: Barkis is willin'." And
then they both laughed at the familiar words, for Colonel Godfrey
loved and studied his Dickens as some men study their classics.
"Tell her to be at the entrance at a quarter to six, and I will be
there. Well, I must be off, Erskine will be waiting for me." And the
Colonel saluted Malcolm and marched off with his head in the air,
while more than one fashionable lounger turned round to look at the
fine soldierly figure.
At this hour the refreshment-rooms at the Army and Navy Stores were
generally crowded, and for two or three minutes Malcolm searched
them vainly, before he discovered Mrs. Godfrey sitting alone at a
table at the other end of the long room.
She gave an exclamation when she saw him. "Life is full of
surprises," she said with the bright, vivid smile that always
welcomed her favourite--"Alick promised to join me here!" And
Malcolm sat down beside her and gave her the Colonel's message.
Mrs. Godfrey was evidently well used to these messages, for she
received it with becoming resignation.
"I have ten minutes to spare," she observed serenely, "so you had
better order yourself some tea, and we can tell each other our news.
By the bye, how long have you been in town?" And when Malcolm told
her nearly a month, she seemed surprised.
"I made up my mind you were still at Staplegrove," she replied;
"though, now I come to think of it, there has certainly been no
mention of you in Elizabeth's last two letters. By the bye," turning
to him with her customary quickness--but Malcolm was just then
studying the menu--"what do you think of this engagement?"
"I think it is for me to put the question to you," he returned with
admirable sang-froid; but one hand clenched itself so tightly under
the table that the marks of the nails were in the palm.
"Then I may as well be frank and tell you that I would forbid the
banns if I could. Elizabeth ought to have married better--she is far
too fine a creature to throw herself away on David Carlyon."
"He is a very good fellow," observed Malcolm rather feebly; it was
hard lines that he should be expected to discuss this.
"Oh yes, he is a good fellow," a little contemptuously. "I remember
I liked him very well when we were down at the Wood House this
spring; there is nothing to say against the young man, he is as good
as gold, and an excellent clergyman; and he is gentlemanly too--both
the Carlyons are that; but," very decidedly, "he is not good enough
Malcolm agreed with every word, but he dared not trust himself to
say so; he waited a moment, and then said quietly--
"It seems that Miss Templeton holds a different opinion; she appears
quite satisfied with her choice."
"Satisfied"--and here Mrs. Godfrey gave a little laugh. "To judge
from her letters--and we have been corresponding pretty freely
lately--one would think she was a girl in her teens; she is absurdly
happy--even Dinah says so. But between you and me I don't believe
Dinah is a bit better pleased than the rest of us."
"What does the Colonel think?" asked Malcolm, feeling as though he
ought to say something.
"Oh, Alick always agrees with me, though he expresses his ideas
rather differently. He took quite a fancy to Mr. Carlyon, and they
were always together last spring; so of course he will not say much-
-only he will have it that he is not big enough or strong enough for
Elizabeth. 'She will master him, and make him look small,' that was
what Alick said. They are not to be married until Easter, I hear,
and Dinah wishes them to live at the Wood House."
Malcolm had never felt anything like the sudden throb of pain that
shot through him when Mrs. Godfrey said this; he grew so pale that
she rose hastily, thinking the room was too hot for him.
"Shall we go downstairs?" she said kindly; "the atmosphere of this
place is quite suffocating." And Malcolm agreed to this; he was just
thinking that he would make some excuse to leave her, when to his
chagrin she led the way to the little waiting-place by the entrance,
and, seating herself, beckoned to him to follow her example. "There
is something I ought to tell you," she said rather seriously; "it is
nice and quiet here, and there is plenty of fresh air. You are not
looking the thing, Mr. Herrick; you are thinner--much thinner; I am
afraid you have been working too hard."
"Oh, no, I cannot lay that flattering unction to my soul," he
returned. "Is this what you have to tell me? for in that case I must
remark that I have about a ton of stationery on my mind."
"No, do be quiet a moment," and her faultlessly gloved hand rested
on his arm. "There is really something I want to say. You know we
saw Cedric when he was staying at Fettercairn?" Malcolm's forced
"Oh, yes, Cedric told me that in one of his letters."
"The Wallaces are nice people, and in our cramped quarters the Hall
was rather a find. Sir Richard and my husband took to each other,
and Lady Wallace and I followed suit."
"That must have been a pleasant sort of arrangement," observed
"I liked the girls too, they were so honestly, frankly ugly; and
they were so good-natured, and so delightfully aware of their
shortcomings, that they were quite refreshing. Fancy Martha, the
eldest girl, saying to me seriously, 'Dick is the only one who takes
after mother and father; he is really nice-looking, you know, but
Ailie and I are a couple of squat little toads. Now, please don't
laugh, Mrs. Godfrey,' she went on, 'for we are very fond of toads,
and they have such bright, projecting eyes.' What on earth could I
say! for indeed poor Martha is almost grotesque-looking, and yet one
can't help loving her. I know I had a fit of laughing, and both of
them laughed with me."
"Cedric always said they were good sort of girls."
"Cedric--oh, he is their hero. By the bye, Mr. Herrick, did you know
the Jacobis were staying a mile and a half from Fettercairn? Ah I
thought so"--as Malcolm started and frowned--"I was sure that bad
boy never let any of you know."
"Were they there all the time?"
"Yes, they all travelled together. Mr. Jacobi had taken the cottage
they call Shepherd's Hut, because at one time Sir Richard's shepherd
lived there; but a room or two has been added, and people take it
for the fishing. Alick rather thought of it himself, only the rooms
are so small, and one of the chimneys smoked; we were far more
comfortable at the shooting-lodge."
"I suppose Miss Jacobi was there too?"
"Of course she was there," in a significant tone, "and Cedric and
Dick Wallace spent most of their time with them. I believe they
fished, and wandered over the moors, and when they were not at
Shepherd's Hut the Jacobis were at the Hall. Mr. Herrick, I am
afraid--I am really afraid that that foolish boy Cedric is head over
ears in love with Leah Jacobi."
"It looks rather shady," acknowledged Malcolm; "he is not the sort
of fellow to keep things to himself." Then with a sudden change of
tone--"Did you tell his sisters?"
"I just mentioned the fact of their being there; and then
Elizabeth's engagement occupied my attention. Young Dick was half in
love too. Miss Jacobi is really very handsome, but, as Alick says,
she ought to marry a man at least ten years older."
"My dear lady, she will never marry Cedric; she is only fooling him
"Don't be too sure of that," returned Mrs. Godfrey quietly; "you
know I am rather observant, and it struck me more than once that Mr.
Jacobi was playing a double game. He seemed at one time to take a
great deal of notice of Dick Wallace, and Cedric was rather shunted.
But one Sunday afternoon, when Mr. Jacobi and Sir Richard had been
having a long walk together, he suddenly changed, and Cedric was in
"I am afraid I don't quite follow you," returned Malcolm, who
certainly did not understand what she meant to convey to him.
Mrs. Godfrey arched her eyebrows in surprise.
"My dear friend, you are not generally so dense. Don't you see the
poor man had never heard of the existence of Ralph Wallace, and so
he thought Master Dick was heir to the baronetcy--voila, tout."
"Oh, I see light now."
"Sir Richard, who is immensely proud of his eldest son, entertained
his companion with graphic descriptions of Ralph, Mrs. Ralph, and
all the Ralph olive branches; and of course Mr. Jacobi was immensely
interested. But he was rather cool to poor Dick that evening, and
now Cedric is in the ascendant again."
Malcolm reflected for a moment; then he said in rather a puzzled
"Of course I see my bearings now, but all the same I am not out of
the fog. At the garden-party at the Wood House Jacobi was evidently
fishing for information; but he got precious little, I can tell you.
But I remember he seemed to know far more than I did about the
Templetons"--here Malcolm's voice unconsciously changed; "he even
told me about the tin mine that had been discovered on a Cornish
farm that belonged to them."
"I wonder where he got his information," observed Mrs. Godfrey
thoughtfully. "But he was quite correct. Mr. Templeton was not a
rich man by any means; he was just a country squire, with a moderate
income, which his first wife brought him, and of course her money
was left to her daughters. Cedric is absolutely dependent on his
"Oh, Jacobi quite understands that."
"So much the better. Well, then, three or four years ago this mine
was discovered, and that beggarly little farm has brought them quite
a fortune. Elizabeth told me that their income was nearly doubled."
"Oh, then Jacobi was right when he said they were rich." And then
Malcolm smiled bitterly as he remembered the two maiden ladies of
"Of course he was right. Dinah was talking to me on this very
subject last May. She said then that she felt that Elizabeth would
marry, and that in that case she would like her to have the Wood
House. Of course, I am telling you this in confidence. 'Cedric will
be my heir,' she continued; 'but I do not wish him to know this at
present. It will be better for him to work, and not eat the bread of
idleness;' and of course I approved of this. Now, Mr. Herrick, I
must not wait a moment longer. Why do you not come down to the Manor
House for a quiet Sunday?" But Malcolm excused himself. He was busy;
he had been away so much, he could not take any more holidays, and
so on. Mrs. Godfrey looked as though she hardly believed him.
"It would do you good," she persisted, looking at him very kindly.
"This week we have a young American coming to us for two or three
nights--Hugh Rossiter, the famous bear-hunter. I have often
mentioned him to you. Alick is devoted to him; he says of all the
acute Yankees he is the acutest, and that he could see through any
number of brick walls. No, I will not ask you to meet him. Bears are
not in your line. Come the week after." But Malcolm shook his head.
Much as he valued his friends, and dearly as he loved to be with
them, the Manor House was the last place for him just then.
Elizabeth's name would be frequently mentioned, and there would be
constant references to the Wood House, and he fancied that at some
unguarded moment he might betray himself. At present Mrs. Godfrey
had no suspicion. She very naturally attributed his jaded looks to
overwork, and he had been able to mask his feelings, except at that
one dreadful moment. When she spoke of the intended marriage the
sudden sickening pain at his heart told him that he could not trust
himself. As he walked towards the station, when he had done his
business, he pondered over all Mrs. Godfrey had told him.
Was it possible that the sisters had known all these weeks that
Cedric had been thrown into daily and hourly contact with Leah
Jacobi and her brother? Was it likely that Cedric had told them that
there was even such a place as Shepherd's Hut?
Perhaps he did not mean to wilfully deceive them. Very probably he
had his excuse ready. Malcolm could almost hear his words. "I said
nothing about the Jacobis because I knew your prejudice, and I did
not want to fluster you. I thought Mrs. Godfrey would spin her yarn,
and I left it to her. It was not my fault if the Wallaces took to
them, and that they were often up at Fettercairn." Some such words
Cedric would say when he saw his sisters.
What a blessing term had begun and he was back at Oxford! He was
safe from the Jacobis there. They would be in town probably; and
then the fancy came into his head that he would find that out for
himself before he went home. His evening hours always hung heavily
on his hands, and a walk more or less would not hurt him, That was
the best of living with Bohemians. No one questioned his movements,
or took it amiss if he were an hour or two late for meals.
He knew where the Jacobis lived--Cedric had told him--at 12 Gresham
Gardens; so he went on to Queen's Road by train.
It was quite dark by that time, but he would just pass by the house
and see if it were lighted up. His curiosity to know if they were
there rather surprised himself. When he came in sight of No. 12 the
door opened, and, unwilling to be seen, he stole into the portico of
the next house, which was dark and uninhabited, and waited there for
He could hear Saul Jacobi's voice distinctly, smooth and unctuous as
usual, and Leah's deep, flute-like tones chiming in. Somebody, a
young man he guessed, was answering her. "You will not be late on
Monday. I always like to be in good time for a new piece."
"That is so like a woman," interrupted her brother in a jeering
voice. "Don't attend to her, old fellow; we have seats in the
stalls, and you can please yourself."
"You bet, I always do that!" was the answer, in a slightly nasal
tone. "Ta-ta, Jacobi;" and then a muscular, active-looking young man
ran down the steps. Malcolm had just a glimpse of a lean brown face
and deeply-set eyes, and then the door closed.
"Another string to the Jacobi bow," he thought as he followed him
slowly. "I wonder how many he has." And then, as he walked back to
the station, he made up his mind that as soon as possible he would
run down to Oxford and have a talk with Cedric. "I think I could
manage it on Friday or Saturday," he thought. "I should soon find
out for myself if those people have done him any mischief."
Malcolm felt his conscience easier when he had planned this. Mrs.
Godfrey had really made him very anxious about the boy. That evening
he was less self-centred; the conversation had roused him; it gave
him a dreary sort of satisfaction to know that there was still
something that he could do for her.
He ate his supper with something of his old appetite, and the next
evening he went to Queen's Gate and made himself very pleasant to
his mother and Anna. "I think I shall run down to Oxford to-morrow
or the next day," he said casually as he bade them good-night, "and
look up Cedric Templeton," and he was still in the same mind when he
woke the next morning. He would go to Lincoln's Inn and open his
letters and see if he could get away that afternoon. But as he
entered his chambers Malachi handed him a telegram that had just
come. It was from the Manor House. "Please come at once. Hugh
Rossiter here. Important news about Jacobi.--GODFREY."
HUGH ROSSITER SPINS HIS YARN
Speak to me as to thy thinkings,
As thou dost ruminate, and give thy worst of thoughts
The worst of words.
The reward of one duty is the power to fulfil another.
Malcolm read the telegram twice. Then he took up his time-table. A
quarter of an hour later he was in a hansom on his way to the
station. With all his impracticable fads and fancies, he was not one
to let the grass grow under his feet. It was quite early, barely
noon, when he walked up the hill leading to the Manor House;
nevertheless Mrs. Godfrey was evidently on the watch for him.
"Good man," she said approvingly; "I knew you would not fail me;"
and then she led him into the morning room, her own special sanctum,
which opened into her husband's study.
Colonel Godfrey always called it his study, though it may be doubted
if he ever studied anything but his Times, Spectator, and his three
favourite authors, Thackeray, Dickens, and Kingsley; but his wife
was a great reader, and there were few modern books that she could
not discuss and criticise.
"And now, my dear lady, what is wrong?" asked Malcolm. He spoke with
the coolness of the well-bred Englishman, who refuses to give
himself away. In reality the telegram had made him very anxious--his
old friend would not have summoned him without a good reason; but
this was not apparent in his manner.
"Wrong!" she replied; "I think everything is wrong. Mr. Rossiter has
been making us so uncomfortable; by his account Mr. Jacobi is a mere
vulgar adventurer, if not worse."
"And Mr. Rossiter knows him?"
"Yes, in a sort of way. Miss Jacobi is evidently the attraction
there. As he says himself, he knocks up against lots of shady
characters in his nomadic existence. But you must question him
yourself. It was Alick who made me send you the telegram, as Mr.
Rossiter goes back to town this evening."
"You were quite right to send for me," returned Malcolm, and then he
followed her into a pleasant room with a bay window overlooking the
Malcolm gave a slight start of recognition when he saw the American.
It was not the first time he had seen the lean brown face and deep-
set eyes, but he kept this to himself. In spite of his nasal twang
and a little surface roughness, Hugh Rossiter was decidedly a
gentleman: the mere fact of his presence at the Manor House was a
sufficient proof of this. But he was evidently a very eccentric and
unconventional being. In age he was about seven-and-thirty.
Malcolm, who felt his position was somewhat delicate, hardly knew
how to begin the conversation; but Colonel Godfrey soon put things
on a comfortable footing.
"Look here, Rossiter," he said frankly, "we are all friends here,
and you may speak out. Mr. Herrick is very much interested in this
young fellow, Cedric Templeton, and acts as a sort of guide,
philosopher, and friend to him. He has always put his foot down as
far as the Jacobis were concerned; he and my wife were dead against
"I never believed in the man," observed Malcolm; "there was no ring
of true metal about him."
"You are about right there," returned the American; "but I have come
across worse fellows than Saul Jacobi. He is a clever chap--about as
cute as they make 'em, and knows a trick or two; he is not too nice,
does not stick at trifles, and the almighty dollar is his only
"Do you mind telling my friend Herrick all you said to us?" asked
"Not the least, if you have a taste for chestnuts," and Hugh
Rossiter laughed in a genial way. "I owe you a good turn, Colonel--"
but here Colonel Godfrey held up a warning hand. "Well, I suppose I
must spare your blushes, so I will take up my parable."
"May I ask you one question first?" interrupted Malcolm. "How long
have you known these people?"
"About six or seven years, I should say," was the answer. "Jacobi
was a billiard-marker in San Francisco when I first came across his
trail, and his sister had just married an Italian count."
"Married! Leah Jacobi married! What on earth do you mean?"
"That's so," returned the American coolly. "Count Antonio Ferrari--
that was the name; a hoary old sinner with a pedigree that nearly
reached to Adam, and as rich and miserly as Shylock. He bid high for
the girl, I can tell you that, but I believe our friend Saul had a
tough job to get her to marry him."
"He is a greater brute than I thought him," returned Malcolm in a
disgusted tone. "That poor girl!" Then Hugh Rossiter looked grave.
"It was a bit rough on her, but Jacobi was in Queer Street just
then, and the old fellow gave him a helping hand."
"Jacobi is an Italian Jew, is he not?" Mr. Rossiter nodded.
"Yes, his father was an artist model in Rome--a fine-looking old
fellow, I believe--and his mother sold flowers in the market. Some
one told me she had been a model too, and that they were rather a
shady couple; but peace to their manes! They have joined the
majority long ago."
"And Saul Jacobi was a billiard-marker?"
"Yes, till they turned him out; and then he became valet to a young
millionaire who had more dollars than brains. I was shooting
grizzlies in the Rockies then, and did not come across him again
until eighteen months ago. The millionaire was dead then; he never
had any constitution worth mentioning, and he was evidently
graduating for the idiot asylum. You bet, he would have taken a
first class there, for he had fits, poor beggar; so it was a mercy
that he went where the good niggers go."
"May I ask where you met Jacobi, Mr. Rossiter?"
"To be sure you may, and I have no objection to answer. It was the
Hotel de Belleville at Paris. He was sitting opposite to me at
table-d'hote, and his clothes were so new and glossy that I
contemplated them with admiration, not unmixed with awe. He had a
valuable ring on his finger, and a superb orchid in his buttonhole,
and looked like a millionaire himself; things had improved with him,
and the billiard-marker and valet were safely shunted. Miss Jacobi
was with him"--and here Hugh paused a moment--"and she was handsomer
"Miss Jacobi--I suppose you mean the Contessa Ferrari?"
"No, Mr. Herrick, the marriage had worked badly. Count Antonio was
an infernal brute--excuse my strong language. After a few months his
behaviour was so atrocious that the poor thing left him and fled to
her brother for protection. It would have been difficult, nay
impossible, for her to obtain a divorce. Count Antonio was a wily
old rascal, and he had too much influence at court. There had been
no proper settlements; he had cheated them all through. Some people
say he was mad, that his father had been in a lunatic asylum; but
when he died he left all his money to charitable institutions."
"When did he die?"
Hugh Rossiter hesitated a moment. "Some time in September--I do not
know the exact date. But he had been failing for months. I know a
cousin of his, Count Orsino, and he was asking me what had become of
the woman he married; but I did not give him much information."
"But why does she call herself Miss Jacobi when she is really the
"Oh, that is just her craze. I believe she was a bit queer and
unhinged when Jacobi got her back. Anyhow, he was obliged to pacify
her a bit. She threw away her wedding-ring and never again alluded
to her wretched marriage, and he is obliged to give in to her. I
believe Jacobi was properly frightened that time. When I saw them in
Paris Jacobi had just had a run of good luck. It is my private
opinion he gambles. I once lost a good bit of money to him; but a
burnt child dreads the fire--eh, Colonel? No more baccarat for me."
"And Miss Jacobi seemed in fairly good spirits?"
"Yes," hesitatingly; "but I fancied she had a fit of the blues
sometimes, as though Count Antonio's ghost haunted her--oh, by the
bye, he was still in the land of the living then. She and Jacobi
seemed good friends, though she was evidently afraid of him. He told
me one day, when he had been rather too free with the Burgundy, that
she was in his way; that he wanted her to marry, and that he
intended marrying himself; but he had promised her that her next
husband should be young and an Englishman. I remember that this
greatly surprised me. 'I understood that Count Antonio was living,'
I observed; but Jacobi only winked at me in a stupid sort of way.
'Oh, we know all about that, my boy, but the gout will soon finish
him; and there is no hurry--Leah is not thirty yet, and she is
handsomer than she ever was in her life;' and he filled himself
Malcolm was silent. Hugh Rossiter had apparently finished his
recital, for he took up his meerschaum and polished it tenderly, an
action that was full of suggestion. But Colonel Godfrey put his hand
on his arm.
"One moment, my dear fellow, and then we will go out and have a
smoke before luncheon. I can see Herrick has something else to ask
you. Hurry up, my boy, or our friend here will lose patience."
"I shall be sorry to tax Mr. Rossiter's patience," replied Malcolm;
"but I hope he will be good enough to satisfy me on one point. Is it
your opinion," turning to him, "that Saul Jacobi and his sister have
any designs on my friend Cedric Templeton?"
Hugh Rossiter opened his eyes rather widely at this. "Well, I
suppose so--at least, Jacobi means her to marry him. Whew," with a
droll gesture, "this is getting a trifle hot--you will be telling me
next that you did not know they are engaged."
"Engaged! My good sir, excuse me, but this is no joke."
Mrs. Godfrey's face grew anxious. "You never told us that, Mr.
Rossiter," she said rather reproachfully.
"I am not sure that I should have let the cat out of the bag now,"
he replied with a laugh, "if Mr. Herrick had not asked such a direct
question. I am not one for meddling in other folks' business; but as
this seems a grave matter, and my friend Saul is evidently playing
the dark horse, I will tell you the little I know."
"I shall be obliged to you if you will do so," returned Malcolm, and
Hugh Rossiter nodded good-humouredly.
"Well, then, I was dining at Gresham Gardens about a fortnight ago,
and Jacobi told me in the course of conversation that his sister had
never been to Oxford, and that they meant to run down for a day or
two, and that a friend of theirs had offered to be showman and pilot
them about the place."
Malcolm muttered something, and Mr. Rossiter stopped and looked at
him inquiringly; but as he remained silent he resumed his narrative.
"They put up at the 'Ranelagh,' and had a good old time, and I
believe, from a word Jacobi dropped, that the job was done then. I
wanted to congratulate the lady, but Jacobi said that would do later
on; his sister wished the engagement to be kept quiet, she had not
been a widow for many weeks, and so on; so of course I took my cue.
I am bound to say that Miss Jacobi seemed in unusually good
"And this is all you have to tell me?" asked Malcolm hurriedly.
"Well, now, I call that ungrateful, Colonel," with a droll look at
his host; "here I have been talking myself dry for the last hour."
"And I am infinitely obliged to you," returned Malcolm, trying to
smile. "The question is what are we to do next--there seems no time
to be lost." And then, before any one could speak, he added, "I
think it would be best for me to go down to Oxford at once." And as
they all agreed that this would be the wisest course to pursue,
Malcolm settled to go down by an early afternoon train.
They went out on the terrace after this, and Hugh Rossiter
entertained them with a description of his adventures in Colorado,
to which Malcolm listened some-what absently; but once, when Colonel
Godfrey had left them for a moment together, the American broke off
his story rather suddenly.
"Look here, Mr. Herrick," he said quickly, "I want to give you a
straight tip. If the youngster will not listen to reason, and you
find yourself in a fix, just talk to the girl herself."
"To Miss Jacobi?" for he was naturally surprised at this piece of
"Yes, to the fair Leah herself. Oh, the girl is not so bad,
considering her antecedents and the way she has been educated. Think
of her own flesh and blood selling her to that son of Belial! Old
Beelzebub, I call him. No wonder she got a bit queer. Jacobi knows
how to manage her: she is fond of him, but she is afraid of him too.
You will have to get her alone, remember that."
"Oh, that's the difficulty. Besides, I am not on visiting terms with
"My good sir, what does that matter! I am to give you a straight
tip, am I not? Well, then, to the best of my knowledge Miss Jacobi
is in Kensington Gardens soon after ten every morning. She takes the
dog for an airing before her brother is up. Saul is a lazy beast,"
continued Hugh Rossiter, "and is seldom down before mid-day. He
takes his beauty sleep when the rest of the world is at work."
Malcolm thanked Mr. Rossiter cordially for this advice, and then the
Colonel came back to them; but as they walked back to the house he
stole more than one glance at the young American. The thin brown
face was both intelligent and sagacious, and there was a keen,
searching look in the brown eyes.
Why was this stranger so anxious to help him, he wondered. Was it
mere good-humour and a wish to please, or had he any private reason
of his own for desiring to break off this engagement? Had Leah
Jacobi's strange beauty ensnared him too? He seemed to know her
habits as though he were a constant visitor in Gresham Gardens. But
his cool, impassive manner gave no clue to his feelings, and at this
stage of the proceedings Malcolm was not to be enlightened. They
parted in the friendliest manner. "Good luck to you, Mr. Herrick,"
he said cordially; "don't forget my straight tip."
Mrs. Godfrey walked with Malcolm to the station. She wanted a few
last words, she said, and her mankind had had their innings.
"There is one thing you must do, if Cedric refuses to listen to
reason," she said very seriously to him; "you must go down to
Staplegrove and tell his sisters every-thing."
"I suppose I must," he returned; but he spoke under his breath, for
this new duty filled him with dismay. He had shaken off the dust of
Staplegrove, as he believed, for ever, and the thought that he must
stand face to face with Elizabeth again turned him giddy. "I suppose
in that case I must do it," he went on. His hesitating manner made
Mrs. Godfrey look at him.
"It is the only thing to be done," she repeated firmly. "You must
see them both and tell them all Hugh Rossiter said. Dinah will be
very much upset, but Elizabeth never loses her wits; she will grasp
everything in a minute--Elizabeth has such a clear head, and she
never muddles things--and then you can hold a friendly council."
"Of course I will do what I can to help them," he replied quietly,
for he had been fully aware of Mrs. Godfrey's look; but as he sat in
the first-class compartment he told himself with some irritation
that his position was a cruel one.
"It is Carlyon who ought to be the family adviser now," he thought.
"If I could only wash my hands of this business! What a fool Cedric
is to get himself into this mess. Good lack, to think he has fallen
among thieves for the second time! The young jackanapes seems to
have a natural affinity for sharpers and swindlers. That infernal
cad Jacobi!" and here Malcolm boiled with impotent wrath as he
thought of that dastardly conspiracy to entrap a young and innocent
girl. "I should like to horsewhip him," he went on; "how is one to
keep one's hands off such a fellow! He may be a dark horse, as
Rossiter says, but he will have to reckon with me." And Malcolm
straightened his shoulders with quite a martial air, as though he
were ready to fight to the death.
"THE LADY CALLING HERSELF MISS JACOBI"
Master, master! news, old news, and such news as you never
heard of!--Taming of the Shrew.
The first and worst of all frauds is to cheat oneself.--BAILEY,
Malcolm had telegraphed to Verity to pack his Gladstone bag and send
it by special messenger to Paddington. Verity, who was accustomed to
these commissions, had fulfilled her orders with neatness and
despatch, and he found it waiting for him on his arrival at the
station. It was nearly half-past six when the spires and pinnacles
of the old collegiate city came in sight, so he drove straight to
the "Randolph," ordered his room, then dined and refreshed himself
after his journey; and it was not until after eight that he went
across to St. John's and found his way to Cedric's rooms.
Cedric's sisters had taken great pride and pleasure in furnishing
them, and they were the envy of all his friends. A rather impatient
"Come in," answered Malcolm's knock.
Cedric was at his writing-table, but he was evidently not at work.
He gave a surprised exclamation when he saw his visitor's face; but
Malcolm at once perceived that he was not welcome. Cedric frowned
slightly and closed his blotting-case, but not before Malcolm's
sharp eyes had caught sight of a cabinet photograph of Leah Jacobi.
"What on earth has brought you to Oxford?" asked Cedric in rather an
uneasy tone. "I thought it was one of our fellows, and was just
swearing to myself for forgetting to sport the oak. I suppose you
are staying with Dr. Medcalf as usual?"
"No, I had no time to let him know; I am sleeping at the
'Randolph,'" returned Malcolm quietly. "I am sorry to interrupt you,
my boy," with another glance at the blotting-case; "but I have only
a few hours, so I have no time to lose. May I take this comfortable
chair?"--sinking into it as he spoke. "I have just dined, so we
might as well smoke a friendly weed together."
"You can help yourself--there are some excellent cigars in that
drawer--but I do not feel like smoking myself." Cedric spoke rather
sulkily and with none of his accustomed amiability. "Shall I give
you some whiskey and soda?" But Malcolm refused this refreshment--no
man was more abstemious than he.
"If you want to finish your letter I can look at the paper for half
an hour;" but this suggestion seemed only to irritate Cedric.
"Oh, there is no hurry," he returned hastily; "I could not write a
sentence decently, feeling you were waiting for me to finish. Well,"
struggling with his ill-humour, "what have you been doing with
yourself since you left Staplegrove? You look rather seedy and a bit
pale about the gills--do you and the giant smoke too much?"
"Oh, I am well enough," replied Malcolm hurriedly. "If we come to
that, you have rather a weedy appearance yourself;" for Cedric
looked decidedly thinner, and his eyes were almost unnaturally
bright. He seemed older, too, and changed in some undefinable way;
but he had never looked handsomer. Malcolm forgot his own troubles
in his anxiety to prevent his protege falling into the hands of the
adventurer, Saul Jacobi. For the moment his own soul seemed to yearn
over the boy who was his sisters' darling and the object of their
thoughts and prayers.
"Look here, old fellow," he went on, as Cedric seemed relapsing into
moody silence, "there is no use beating about the bush. I have come
down to-night to have a talk with you, because a report has reached
my ears. Is it true that you have been mad enough to engage yourself
to the lady calling herself Miss Jacobi?" Then Cedric flushed up,
and his eyes blazed with anger.
"May I ask if the report be true?" went on Malcolm, taking no notice
of Cedric's fiery looks.
"I object to the manner in which you frame your question," returned
Cedric proudly. Strange to say, at that moment he reminded Malcolm
of Elizabeth. "Granted that such a report were true, I fail to see
where the madness comes in. Any man might consider himself fortunate
in winning the affections of a woman like Leah Jacobi."
"And you are engaged to her? Speak out, man; I suppose you don't
intend to keep your engagement dark?"
"Of course not," angrily; but Cedric's manner was decidedly
embarrassed, and he seemed unwilling to look Malcolm in the face.
"But I must tell you, Herrick, that I strongly object to the way you
are questioning me. I don't want to quarrel with you, but what the
deuce can it matter to you if I choose to keep my private affairs to
myself for a week or two! I have reasons of my own for not wishing
my sisters to hear of my engagement for a fortnight or so. I--I,"
hesitating and floundering in his sentence, "meant to tell them
myself, and to introduce Leah to them. It is a confounded shame,"
lashing himself up to great wrath, "that it should have leaked out
in this underhand fashion. May I ask how you got your information?"
Malcolm considered for a moment; then he made up his mind that it
was best to be perfectly open.
"I had it from a man who knows the Jacobis. His name is Hugh
Rossiter. He is a friend of the Godfreys."
Cedric started. "I had quite forgotten that," he muttered; "the
fat's in the fire with a vengeance." Then aloud, "Why, the fellow's
in love with Leah himself. He made up to her, only Jacobi would not
hear of it. He said he could not bear the idea of the roving,
uncomfortable life she would have to lead as his wife."
"Mr. Rossiter is not well off, is he?" asked Malcolm tentatively.
Then Cedric looked at him as if he suspected some arriere pensee.
"No, he has lost a good bit of money lately--invested it in some
rotten concern or other. Jacobi says he can't afford to have a
"I should have thought he would have said the same of you," rather
pointedly. "He must be aware that you have only an allowance from
your sisters?" And at this plain speaking Cedric reddened again with
"I suppose I shall have a profession some day," he returned with a
lordly air; "and as my sisters are rich, and Dinah is certainly not
likely to marry, I think I may safely count on a pretty handsome
"If you marry in accordance with your sister's wish, I should think
you are right," returned Malcolm coolly. "My dear fellow, would it
not have been as well to find this out before you pledged yourself
to the lady?"
"There was no necessity for that," replied Cedric; "Jacobi seemed
quite satisfied with my prospects. He is not a bit grasping. He told
me that he wished his sister to marry a gentleman; that he had been
to the Wood House and seen my sisters, and he was quite willing to
give his sanction to the engagement; and as Leah and I understood
each other perfectly, I had no difficulty with her. Why don't you
congratulate me, Herrick," exclaimed the lad excitedly, "instead of
badgering and cross-examining me like an Old Bailey witness? I am
the happiest fellow in existence! Leah's a darling--there is not
such a woman in the world!"
"Is there not?" returned Malcolm quietly. His face looked a little
haggard as he spoke, and there was a wistful, pining look in his
eyes. Oh, why was the boy so like Elizabeth? There was no real
similarity--it was only a trick of expression, a turn of the head, a
sudden impulsive movement that recalled her. "May I ask one more
question, old fellow? Is it by your own or Mr. Jacobi's wish that
the engagement is kept a secret?" But Cedric refused to answer this.
He said with a good deal of dignity that there were limits to
everything. He had a great respect for Herrick, and always looked
upon him as his best friend, but he must excuse him answering this.
"Well--well, we will talk of that again," returned Malcolm; but in
his own mind he was certain that Saul Jacobi had his own reasons for
preventing the news of Cedric's engagement from reaching his
sisters' ears. "There is another question I must ask you. Why do you
call your fiancee Miss Jacobi?"
Cedric stared at him.
"I suppose because it is her name," he replied rather impatiently.
"What a fellow you are, Herrick! I think your wits must be wool-
"Oh dear, nothing of the kind; I am not mad, most noble Felix, but
in my sane, sober senses. I am quite aware the lady you wish to
marry was at one time Leah Jacobi, but her married name is the
Countess Antonio Ferrari."
"What!" exclaimed Cedric, springing to his feet; but he added
something rather stronger. "Confound you, Herrick, what do you mean
by talking such infernal rot?"
"Sit down," returned Malcolm calmly; "I can't talk while you are
walking to and fro like the old gentleman. My dear boy, I am sorry
to give you this shock, but do you actually mean to tell me that you
do not know, that Leah Jacobi is a widow--that neither she nor her
brother have informed you of her previous marriage?"
"No," broke from Cedric's lips; he seemed quite stunned. Then he
exclaimed indignantly, "But it is a lie--a cursed lie!"
"You would hardly dare to say that to Hugh Rossiter's face, Cedric,"
returned Malcolm somewhat sternly. "He was my informant; he knew the
Jacobis when Saul Jacobi was a billiard-marker in San Francisco, and
his sister living with her husband in Verona. You have been badly
treated, my dear boy--how badly you little know. You have been
encouraged to make love to a married woman. When you were at
Fettercairn, Count Antonio was still alive; he only died last
Cedric seemed too dazed to take it in. He got up from his chair, in
spite of his friend's remonstrance, and began to pace the room
again. "Impossible," he muttered; "I will not believe it. She knew
then that I loved her, and she promised to marry me if Saul gave his
consent. For some reason he seemed to hold off a bit, but we were as
good as engaged then."
"Ah, I thought so," returned Malcolm drily; and then, like a skilful
surgeon, he did his work thoroughly; to be kind it was necessary to
be cruel, so he spared Cedric no particulars. He told him all he
knew himself; he saw him wince when he spoke of the Roman models and
the billiard-marker turned into a valet.
"Saul Jacobi told me his father was a banker and his mother of noble
blood, one of the Orsinos; I suppose he was ashamed of it all, and
wanted to keep it back. He might have trusted me and told the
truth," faltered the lad.
"Instead of which he told you this pack of lies. And his sister is
no better, for she has lied to you too; and this is the sister-in-
law you propose to introduce at the Wood House--a woman who has
allowed you to make love to her in her husband's lifetime!"
"Look here, Herrick," returned Cedric hoarsely--his fresh young face
looked quite gray--"not a word against her--not a word against my
Leah. You may be right about Jacobi--I have had my doubts about him
once or twice myself; he is not always kind to Leah, he bullies her
dreadfully and she is afraid of him, and he is too fond of getting
his own way. But I won't believe that she is to blame. Anyhow, she
is more sinned against than sinning. I will go to her to-morrow and
make her tell me everything. No one shall come between us--not even
Saul Jacobi. Leah shall account to me for this deception. I will get
to the bottom of it as sure as my name is Cedric Templeton."
Cedric spoke with an air of resolution that secretly surprised
Malcolm. "It will make a man of him," he said to himself--"it will
make a man of him." Then he put his hand on his shoulder.
"My dear boy," he said kindly, "I feel for you from the bottom of my
heart, but you must be very firm. There can be no compromise or
vacillation in a case like this; you must give her up, Cedric--you
must break off this unlucky engagement." But Cedric would not be
induced to promise this; he would decide nothing until he had seen
Leah and heard the whole story from her lips. "No one shall come
between us," cried the poor lad; "she is my promised wife." Then
Malcolm's manner changed and became more resolute.
"It will be a wrench, of course," he returned; "desperate diseases
require desperate remedies. But, Cedric, listen to me. If you refuse
to take my advice you will repent it all your life. If you go to
Gresham Gardens to-morrow you will be a lost man. The Jacobis will
talk you over and persuade you that black is white. At least let me
accompany you?" But Cedric absolutely refused this, and Malcolm
could not press it.
"You mean kindly, Herrick," he observed hurriedly, "but a man must
manage his own business. I shall have to leave you now, if I am to
see the Dean to-night and get permission for a few hours' absence;
and as I shall probably go up by the early train to-morrow, I shall
not see you again."
"I shall be in my rooms at Lincoln's Inn by mid-day," returned
Malcolm, "will you come to me there?" But Cedric hesitated.
"I shall have to go back to Oxford," he returned; "I think I had
better write to you." But this proposal by no means satisfied
"That will not do," he said decidedly. "I would rather you wired to
me from Paddington--the letter can follow. Surely you can have no
objection," he continued, as Cedric seemed reluctant to do this; "it
will set my mind at rest, and I shall have a better night;" and then
Cedric rather ungraciously promised that a telegram should be sent.
"You must be very firm," were Malcolm's parting words, and Cedric
nodded impatiently as he put on his cap and gown.
Malcolm slept restlessly; he was tired and anxious, and had done a
hard day's work. His failure to influence Cedric troubled him
"They will talk him over," he repeated, "and that woman will lure
him into her wiles again;" and Malcolm felt there was grave cause
for fear, as he remembered Leah's rare beauty, and the strange
brilliancy of her dark, melancholy eyes. Oh, what would Dinah
Templeton say if she knew of the danger that threatened her
Malcolm tossed restlessly on his bed as he tried to formulate plans,
which he rejected one by one. "If it comes to the worst, I must do
as Mrs. Godfrey suggests," he thought--"I must go down to the Wood
House and take counsel with them;" and in all probability it was
this thought that kept him wakeful.
The next morning Malcolm learnt from Cedric's scout that his master
had left by an early train; and as he himself had one or two
appointments that morning, he only waited to swallow a hasty
breakfast before he followed him.
For the next few hours he was very busy, and could hardly give
Cedric a thought; but as work slackened and the afternoon wore on,