Part 6 out of 8
he wondered at the non-arrival of the telegram. It was half-past
four before Malachi brought in the yellow envelope. Malcolm frowned
as he read it.
"Know all--have forgiven all--engagement holds good--sorry cannot
"Unhappy boy," he groaned, "the fowler has him in his net again."
Then he scrunched the thin paper in his hand, and set his teeth hard
like a man who sees the dentist coming towards him with the forceps.
"I must go down to them; there is nothing else for me to do. I dare
not take the responsibility of keeping this to myself an hour
longer. It is all in the day's work, as the lion-tamer said when the
lion prepared to bite off his head." And after this grim jest
Malcolm summoned Malachi and confided the Gladstone bag to his care,
and they sallied forth together. At Waterloo he sent off a telegram
to Verity; a few minutes later he was in the train and on his way to
"SHE IS A WICKED WOMAN"
Am I cold--
Ungrateful--that for these most manifold
High gifts, I render nothing back at all?
Not so! not cold, but very poor instead.
--E. BARRETT BROWNING.
To love, is to be made up of faith and service.
It was half-past six when Malcolm reached the well-known station,
and taking a fly bade the man drive him to the "King's Arms," an
old-fashioned inn of good repute about half a mile distant from the
Wood House. Here he secured a room for the night; ordered supper, of
which he partook without appetite; then sallied forth to pay his
call. It was late in October, and the darkness of the country roads
surprised him, accustomed as he was to the well-lighted London
streets; he could scarcely find out his bearings until a welcome
light streamed out from the windows of the Crow's Nest. Malcolm
lingered a moment at the little gate. "It was there I dwelt in my
fool's paradise," he muttered, "and tried to eat of the forbidden
fruit. Now I know good and evil, and am a sadder and wiser man." And
then he went on doggedly; but he stopped again before he reached the
gate of the Wood House, for he knew intuitively that he had stumbled
into the little path leading to the woodlands. He strained his eyes
through the darkness, but could see nothing-only the chill, damp
October wind played round him, and the smell of moist earth and
decaying vegetation filled his nostrils. "Change and decay in all
around I see," he thought heavily; but as he turned away and crossed
the road a sudden remembrance came to him and made him giddy.
It was morning or early afternoon, he forgot which, and the sunshine
was filtering through the firs, and steeping his senses with the
warm, resinous perfume--"spices of Araby," he had called it to
himself, for he loved the scent above all things. He had clambered
up the bank to pick some honeysuckle, and then the little gate had
clanged on its hinges, and he had peeped through the brambles to see
who was coming.
And of course he knew who it was--that tall, robust young woman in
the white sun-bonnet who came down the path swinging her arms
slightly, but with the free proud step of an empress. "Elizabeth,
Elizabeth!" he had whispered even then, and all the manhood within
him seemed to welcome her gracious presence. Poor fool--poor blind
fool that he was!
Perhaps it was as well that Malcolm stumbled over the root of a tree
at that moment; the rude shock roused him.
"It is a blessing I have not sprained my ankle," he said to himself;
but he had struck his foot rather severely and limped on with
difficulty. The pain sobered him, and he thought how Elizabeth had
told him that they always used lanterns in the grounds; and he made
up his mind to borrow one for his return journey.
"I wonder if Carlyon will be there," he muttered, as he went up to
the front door. He had never seen it closed before, for in summer it
was always open from morning to night. Somehow the sight chilled
him: he was outside in the darkness and the cold, and for him no
household fires would burn warm and bright, and a bitter sigh came
to his lips.
He had raised his hand to the bell, when the door opened suddenly,
and the rosy-cheeked housemaid he remembered peered out into the
darkness. She was evidently very much startled when she saw Malcolm.
"Did you ring, sir?" she asked in some confusion, "for no one heard
a bell. The ladies are still in the dining-room, but I will tell
"Please do not bring them, I can well wait. I know my way to the
drawing-room." And Malcolm put down his hat and crossed the hall,
which looked warm and cheery with its bright fire.
The lamps had been lighted in the drawing-room, and the fireplace
was heaped with pine logs that spluttered and blazed merrily, and
diffused a sort of aromatic fragrance. There were pleasant tokens of
feminine occupation on the round table: an open book and a knitting
basket that he knew belonged to Dinah, and a piece of embroidery of
an ecclesiastical pattern, over which he had often seen Elizabeth
bending. There were the very gold scissors and thimble that she had
once left down by the Pool, which cost him and Cedric an hour's
search before they could find them. How pleased she had been when he
had brought them back to her! Malcolm felt an irresistible desire to
hold them in his hand a moment--then he turned quickly away.
There was a little side window in the drawing-room that formed a
sort of alcove; it was fitted up very prettily with palms and
flowering plants, and amongst the foliage stood a beautiful marble
figure of a Roman peasant with her pitcher on her shoulder.
Malcolm had often admired it. It was the work of a young German
sculptor, whom the sisters found in somewhat distressing
circumstances in Rome, with a sick wife and hampered with debt.
Arnim Freiligrath always regarded the dear ladies, as he called
them, as his benefactresses, for, strange to say, from that time
orders flowed in upon him, and he was soon looked upon as a rising
and successful sculptor.
Dinah had once told Malcolm that the woman's features reminded her
of Elizabeth, and Malcolm had agreed with her.
"I think it is the figure that most resembles your sister," he had
said; "but you were wise to buy it, it is very beautiful, and Arnim
Freiligrath is becoming quite the fashion."
Malcolm stepped up to the alcove; he would look at his favourite
water-carrier again. He put aside the heavy plush curtains that
half-veiled the recess, but the next moment he recoiled--for
Elizabeth herself was standing there, almost as motionless as the
marble woman beside her.
She was lost in thought, and had evidently not heard his footfall on
the soft carpet, and she was gazing out into the darkness. Something
in her expression arrested Malcolm's attention: he had never seen
her look like that before, her lips were pressed tightly together,
and her eyes were full of sadness. One hand was resting lightly on
the statue, and Malcolm could see the gleam of the opal ring on her
He feared to startle her, and yet it was impossible for him to stand
there any longer. He pronounced her name almost timidly; and as
Elizabeth started violently and turned round, he could see the tears
glistening in the large gray eyes. "Mr. Herrick," in an astonished
tone, as she gave him her hand--it was very cold, and trembled a
little in his grasp--"what makes you steal upon us like a ghost in
the darkness? Why did you not tell us you were coming?"
"I thought it would be better not," he returned quietly. "I wanted
to speak to you and your sister about something that seemed to me
important." Then Elizabeth gave him one of her quick, searching
"It is about Cedric," she said abruptly--"that boy has got into
trouble again?" Then Malcolm bowed his head. They were standing on
the rug before the fire now, and at Malcolm's mute answer Elizabeth
shivered slightly and held out her hands to the blaze as though she
were physically cold. Malcolm leant for support against the mantel-
piece, and watched her for a moment under his shading hand--if she
had only seen that hungry, eloquent look! But Elizabeth's eyes were
fixed on the fire. Poor Malcolm! never had she looked more beautiful
to him: the black velvet gown suited her to perfection, and the
antique Roman necklace she wore just fitted the full white throat.
This was not the rustic owner of the white sun-bonnet, but a grand,
imperial-looking Elizabeth. Malcolm felt as though he were fast
losing self-control: his forehead grew clammy, and though he tried
to speak--to break the embarrassing silence--no words would come;
but Elizabeth, lost in her own sad thoughts, was oblivious of his
"Dinah will be here directly," she observed presently; "she is
engaged just now with a woman from the village, but she will not be
long, I hope. I trust"--and here she looked at him anxiously--"that
you have no bad news for us."
"I am afraid it is not good," he replied evasively.
"It has something to do with those odious Jacobis?" Again Malcolm
bowed his head.
"Cedric seems infatuated about them," she returned, with something
of her old impetuosity, the words tripping each other up in the
usual Elizabethan way. "We thought the man detestable--even Dinah
could not tolerate him. Oh," interrupting herself, "what am I
thinking about? you have come all this distance on our account, and
I have never thought of your comfort--you have not dined, of
course;" and Elizabeth's hand was on the bell, but he stopped her.
"I have just had supper at the 'King's Arms,' where I have taken a
bed; I want nothing, I assure you."
"At the King's Arms'!" exclaimed Elizabeth. Then she suddenly
flushed and bit her lip. She had forgotten--how could she suppose
that anything would induce him to sleep under their roof again!
Malcolm's manner, his painful air of consciousness, the deep
melancholy in his eyes, told her plainly that his trouble was as
fresh as ever.
Elizabeth began to feel nervous; it was a relief to both of them
when Mullins entered the room with the coffee. "At least, you will
have a cup of coffee," she said with a little effort. "Mullins, will
you put the tray down, and tell my sister that Mr. Herrick has come
down to speak to us on business, and ask her not to keep him
Malcolm did not refuse the coffee. As he took the cup in his hand he
said in a low voice, "I hope Mr. Carlyon is well."
"Thank you, he is far from well," she returned gravely. "Mr.
Charrington has been away for the last six weeks, and he has had far
too much to do; he has taken a bad cold, and his cough is
troublesome. I have been speaking to Dr. Randolph to-day, and he
thinks the vicar ought to come back." Then she stopped as Dinah came
hurriedly into the room. Malcolm's unexpected visit had evidently
"Oh, Mr. Herrick, what is it?" she said in such a troubled voice
that Malcolm felt almost afraid to tell his news. Evidently
Elizabeth read his thoughts.
"You must tell us everything," she said rather abruptly; "it will be
wrong to keep anything back." And thus admonished, Malcolm began his
long story--his summons to the Manor House, and Hugh Rossiter's
revelation concerning the Jacobi family. The sisters listened in
breathless silence, only when Malcolm mentioned the words billiard-
marker and valet Elizabeth uttered a quick exclamation, and threw up
her head with a proud gesture, while poor Dinah grew white when she
heard that her boy was actually engaged. "It is impossible--there
must be some mistake," she whispered, as though to herself--"our
dear boy would never keep such a thing from his sisters. Cedric is
so frank and open, he would never have secrets from us."
"Cedric is under a bad influence," replied Malcolm; "these people
have got hold of him and will not let him go." And then he went on
to tell of his interview with Cedric, and his total want of success.
"I could do nothing," he went on despondently; "I seem to have lost
my influence with him. I did my best, Miss Templeton," with an
appealing look at Dinah's sad, sweet face; but it was Elizabeth who
"Do you think we do not know that," she returned impulsively--"that
Dinah and I are not grateful to you! You have taken all this trouble
for us--you have been to Cookham and Oxford, and now you have come
here, and you are quite tired and worn out with the worry of it all,
and we can do nothing for you in return!" and Elizabeth quivered
with emotion. But Malcolm, suppressing his own agitation, tried to
turn off her speech with a laugh. She was grateful to him--good
heavens! she might as well have offered a cupful of earth to a man
dying of thirst!
"Let him finish, Betty dear," observed Dinah faintly; "he has more
to tell us." And then Malcolm produced the telegram and laid it
before them. The sisters glanced at each other with dismay, and
Dinah's forehead was furrowed like an old woman's.
"What is to be done, Mr. Herrick, to save my poor boy from this
iniquitous marriage?" she inquired in a tremulous tone, and
Elizabeth's eyes were asking him the same question.
"That is just the difficulty, my dear lady," he replied slowly. "If
I can only see my way clear--Mr. Rossiter advised me to speak to
Miss Jacobi; he seems to think she is more amenable to reason than
her brother, and probably he is right." But to Malcolm's surprise
Dinah's mild eyes began to flush angrily.
"I have a worse opinion of her than I have of her brother," she said
hurriedly; "she is a wicked woman--she let men make love to her when
she knew her husband was alive! If she marries Cedric, I will never
see her or him either;" and here Dinah trembled from head to foot.
Elizabeth, startled by the excitement of one generally so gentle,
knelt down by her sister and put her arms round her. "Dear Die," she
implored, "don't make it worse for us all. Mr. Herrick is trying to
help us, and we must not make things more difficult for him. What do
you advise?" she continued, turning to Malcolm. "You have seen this
Leah--would it be better to bribe or frighten her?"
"That is impossible for me to say," returned Malcolm, averting his
eyes quickly from the earnest, troubled face. "I have only exchanged
a few words with Miss Jacobi, and know little about her."
"You mean the Contessa Ferrari," interrupted Dinah almost harshly;
"for heaven's sake let the woman be called by her right name!"
"It is a name she refuses to own," he returned quietly. "Will you
let me say what I really think?--you know I have only seen her
twice. I think she is a wronged and unhappy woman, and that her
troubles have hardened her nature and made her reckless. Her brother
tyrannises over her, and she has never been free to lead her own
life or follow her own better impulses, and her beauty and wonderful
fascination have only been used to further Saul Jacobi's ambitious
aims. In my opinion Cedric was right when he declared to me that she
was more sinned against than sinning."
"Then in that case you will be able to influence her," returned
Dinah quickly. "Tell her from me, Mr. Herrick, that if she persists
in marrying my poor boy, she will be marrying a pauper; that on the
day the marriage takes place I shall alter my will, and that my
sister Elizabeth will be my heir. Tell her this, and I will write to
Cedric and let him know what he has to expect."
"Do you really mean this?" asked Malcolm, much impressed by this
unexpected resolution on the part of one usually so yielding and
"I mean every word," returned Dinah firmly. "Yes, Betty dear," as
she saw her sister's astonished face, "I am perfectly serious. You
know what Cedric is to me"--and here her sweet voice quavered for a
moment--"if it would do him good, I would give him half my fortune
at this moment, and would never grudge it; but no money of mine
shall be used for his undoing. Let him give up this woman and come
back to me, and there is nothing I will not do for him. Am I right,
Elizabeth? Do you agree with me?"
"I agree with you, and you are always right, darling. Mr. Herrick,
will you do as she says, and make this Leah understand that she has
nothing to expect from us. Oh, what trouble we are giving you, and
we have no right!" and here Elizabeth turned her head away in pained
confusion. She had said the wrong thing. Why did not Dinah come to
her assistance and say some word of grateful acknowledgment?
"You have every right to use me as you will," returned Malcolm in a
low voice, "for I have done nothing to forfeit your friendship." And
with a dreary attempt at a smile--"A friend is born for adversity."
Then Elizabeth rose from her kneeling position, but she did not
answer--perhaps she could not, for Malcolm's worn face and sad, kind
eyes seemed to bring a sudden lump to her throat. How good he was--
how generous and forgiving and unselfish! She longed to take his
hand and bid God bless him; but she could not trust herself or him.
"It has gone too deep," she said with inward wonder, for Elizabeth
was truly humble in her estimation of herself. Dinah was too much
wrapped up in her own troubled thoughts to notice Elizabeth's
"Will you tell me what you mean to do?" she asked anxiously, for
Malcolm had risen too as though he intended to take his leave. He
explained briefly that he intended to act on Hugh Rossiter's
suggestion. He would waylay Leah Jacobi in Kensington Gardens and do
his best to induce her to give Cedric up.
"I shall tell her you have written to him and advise her to talk
things over with her brother. When he knows Cedric Templeton is not
his sister's heir, he will be the first to insist that your
projected marriage should be broken off--I shall say some such words
"And you will come down again, and let us know the result of your
interview?" and Dinah looked at him imploringly. "Your room shall be
ready for you at any time."
"You are very kind," he returned hesitating. "My room at the 'King's
Arms' seems very comfortable." Then Dinah understood and changed
"It will be giving you trouble," she observed regretfully.
"No--no, it is not that," he returned hurriedly; "but it is
impossible to say how things may be--what circumstances, or what
complications may arise to keep me in town. I will write--you shall
not be kept in suspense an hour longer than I can help; and you may
depend on me that I will do my utmost to break off this wretched
"I trust you implicitly," returned Dinah gravely. "You will forgive
me if I cannot thank you properly to-night."
"You need not move, Die; I will light Mr. Herrick's lantern for
him"--Elizabeth spoke in her old natural way. Malcolm stood beside
her silently as she performed her hospitable task. Then she placed
it in his hand. "I wonder how you groped your way through the
plantation," she said smiling; "but this little glimmer will guide
you safely. Good-night, Mr. Herrick; we shall look eagerly for your
promised letter. Poor Dinah will have one of her bad sick headaches
to-morrow--worry always brings them on."
"She looks far from well," replied Malcolm; "I fear this has been a
great shock to her, and to you too;" and then he shook hands and
went out into the darkness. When he was half-way down the drive he
turned round--the door was still open, and the cheerful light
streamed out into the blackness. Elizabeth was standing on the
threshold looking after him. When she saw him stop she waved her
hand with a friendly 'good-night;' then the door closed, and there
was only the October darkness, and an eerie, wandering wind moaning
through the woodlands.
IN KENSINGTON GARDENS
If you would fall into any extreme, let it be on the side of
gentleness. The human mind is so constructed that it resists
vigour and yields to softness.
--ST. FRANCIS DE SALES.
Malcolm went up by an early train the next morning. He had a long
day's work before him--a mass of correspondence to sift, several
business interviews, and some proofs to revise. It was later than
usual when he went back to Cheyne Walk, but Verity had put aside his
dinner for him, and sat beside him while he ate it. She even brought
him coffee with her own hands. Perhaps these little womanly
attentions soothed him insensibly--though he was so used to them by
this time that he was almost tempted to take them as a matter of
course--for his face lost its strained, weary look.
"There is a beautiful fire in your room, Mr. Herrick," she observed
cheerfully before she left him. "I shall tell Amias that you are
tired, and that he must not expect you in the studio to-night."
Malcolm smiled gratefully. "What a good little soul you are, Verity-
-you always say just the right thing! Tell Goliath, with my love,
that I am busy, so there must be no pipe and no palaver to-night. I
shall have to be up betimes too;" and then he took counsel with
Verity as to the hour when his breakfast should be served.
It was quite true that he had business waiting to be done;
nevertheless, as he lay back in his easy-chair by the fire, he could
not bring himself to take up his pen. At this very hour on the
previous evening he had been with Elizabeth; the dear face--dearer,
alas! than ever--had been before him; the changing, characteristic
voice, so musical yet so uneven, had been in his ears! He recalled
her look as she stood so wrapt in thought in the alcove before she
perceived his presence. Its deep sadness had surprised him. What
could be troubling her? In a few months she would marry the man she
loved. Truly God's best gifts were hers--health, wealth, and love--
and yet the shadowed brow and the eyes misty with unshed tears
seemed to speak of some hidden sorrow. What could it be? That was
his last waking thought that night, and the question still troubled
him when he walked the next morning in the direction of Kensington
Gardens to keep his self-made tryst with Leah Jacobi.
He knew the gate that was nearest to Gresham Gardens; but it was
long before the hour that Hugh Rossiter had mentioned when he
reached it, and began pacing up and down like a sentinel on duty.
Fortunately the morning was fine, and a faint gleam of sunshine
tried to penetrate the thin haze brooding over the Gardens. Although
it was the last day of October, the air was mild; but, contrary to
his usual custom, Malcolm failed to notice the effect of the
clinging mist round the leafless trees, the nebulous distances, and
the faint golden streaks of sunshine; his mind was full of the
approaching interview and the difficult work that lay before him.
It was so early that the place seemed quite deserted; but presently
he heard dogs barking, and the next moment two little fox-terriers,
curiously alike, rushed past him intent on their play. He recognised
them at once from Cedric's description--they were Tim and Tartar,
belonging to Saul Jacobi; and he knew their mistress was at hand.
He looked at her intently as she came slowly towards him. She wore a
dark red dress and jacket, that set off her graceful figure, and her
close velvet hat was a darker shade of the same colour.
On any one else the effect might have been too striking, but it
exactly suited her; and as Malcolm noticed the exquisite colour of
her face and the. wonderful coils of black hair, he was obliged to
acknowledge that Cedric's temptation had been strong, and that many
an older man might have lost his heart to so beautiful a creature.
Leah's eyes had been fixed on the ground, and she did not see
Malcolm until she was quite close to him; but, though she was
evidently surprised to meet him, she only bowed gravely, and would
have passed on. But Malcolm placed himself at her side.
"You are an early riser, Miss Jacobi," he observed in a friendly
tone. "Are you always so energetic?"
"I like an early morning walk," she replied quietly; but there was
an uneasy flush on her face, as though she found Malcolm's society
embarrassing. "I generally have the Gardens to myself at this hour.
My brother is a late riser, and this is my leisure time. I have
never met you here before, Mr. Herrick;" and here Leah gave him a
quick, furtive glance from under her long lashes.
"I daresay not," he returned coolly, "this is hardly my beat. To
tell you the truth. Miss Jacobi, my errand is to you this morning."
A quick, undefinable expression almost resembling fear came over her
face; but she answered him quietly.
"You have come here to talk to me?" with an air of well-simulated
surprise. "How could you know my habits? I think," a little stiffly,
"we have only met twice."
"You are quite right, Miss Jacobi. I spoke to you first in the porch
at Cookham church, and the second time at the Etheridges--as far as
that goes we are little acquainted with each other; but we have a
mutual friend, you and I." Then he saw her eyes suddenly droop.
"Forgive me if I am abrupt," he went on, "but the matter concerns me
intimately. I am informed that you are engaged to my friend Cedric
It was evident that she was prepared for this--the bolt out of the
blue had not startled her. She stood still and looked at him with an
air of proud displeasure.
"May I ask the name of your informant, Mr. Herrick?" she asked
coldly; but he saw that she knew.
"Why should I not have heard it from Cedric himself--we are close
friends?" but he watched her narrowly as he said this.
"Because he would be the last person to tell you." Then she checked
herself, as she saw the snare he had laid for her. "What if I am
engaged to him?" as though determined to brave it out; "it can
surely be no business of yours, Mr. Herrick." There was rising
temper in Leah's voice.
"You must forgive me if I say that I differ from you there--my
friend's interests are my own. Miss Jacobi, how can you reconcile it
to your conscience to injure that poor boy's prospects by entering
into a clandestine engagement with him?"
He could see her eyes flash with anger, but she made no reply.
"You know his position. He is utterly dependent on his sisters--his
father left him nothing; he has no profession; he has not even
finished his university training; he is far too young to think of
She opened her lips to speak, and then closed them resolutely again.
"Pardon me if I am obliged to speak plainly, but I have no option.
This engagement cannot go on--you must set him free."
"Who says so--you, or Hugh Rossiter?" stopping and regarding him
with a frown that made her look for the moment like a beautiful
Medusa. Then she walked on again. "Excuse me, Mr. Herrick," very
haughtily, "if I say that I regard your interference with my private
concerns as unjustifiable impertinence. I refuse to discuss the
matter with you; I am going home. Tartar--Tim!" raising her voice.
And she turned and walked back so swiftly that he had some trouble
in overtaking her.
"Miss Jacobi," in an urgent voice, "I must speak to you. I am an
accredited ambassador from Miss Templeton and her sister--they have
asked me to speak to you."
"They must choose another ambassador then," and Leah walked on
Malcolm was at his wits' end. How could he compel this haughty and
obstinate young woman to listen to him? Then an idea came to him.
"If Miss Jacobi is so unapproachable," he said quietly, "perhaps the
Countess Ferrari will not refuse to listen to me?" Leah stopped
suddenly as though she had been shot, and her face grew white.
"What do you mean? How dare you call me that--do you want to kill
me!" But the expression in her eyes was not pleasant to see. For a
moment she seemed almost distraught.
"Hush--hush!" he said soothingly; "I would not have called you that
if I could have helped it; but you would not hear me. Let us go down
that little path; there is a seat there, and we will talk this out
quietly;" and taking her arm, he gently guided her to the bench.
"Sit down and recover yourself," he continued kindly; for she was
drawing deep breaths as though she were on the verge of an
hysterical attack. Malcolm felt secretly frightened at the result of
his experiment. It was clear to him that the mere utterance of her
married name almost maddened her--that for some occult reason it was
not safe to use it. Up to this moment she had played her cards well:
she had guessed his errand and had evaded and kept him at bay--first
by pretended ignorance, and next by refusing to discuss the
engagement with him. That he was Miss Templeton's mouthpiece and
messenger mattered little or nothing to her. No wonder Malcolm found
himself nonplussed. A moment later he heard his name called. Leah's
manner had changed; she was still very pale, but she had regained
outward calmness. "I will hear you now," she said in a low voice;
"but you must be more careful--if you mention that name again I must
leave you. What is the message you have for me from Miss Templeton?"
"You shall know directly; but there is one thing I must say first.
Miss Templeton and her sister are fully acquainted with your past
life--your parentage, your brother's occupations, and above all, the
fact that you have only recently become a widow--hardly more than
six or seven weeks ago."
He was standing before her as he spoke, and she tried to look at
him; but some sudden sense of womanly shame made her cover her face
with her hands.
"It was not my fault," she almost whispered; "I am not good, but I
am not so bad as that. Saul said it did not matter; and after that,
when I began to get uncomfortable, he told me a lie."
"You mean that he told you that your husband was dead?"
Leah shivered, and bowed her head in assent. Then as she saw
Malcolm's kind and pitying look, she continued in a low, constrained
voice, as though something compelled her to speak--"It was not all
Saul's fault. I ought not to have believed him, for he does not
always tell the truth. After a time I found out that it was a lie,
and then it was too late--Cedric knew I cared for him."
"You really care for him?" Malcolm was not aware how gently he
spoke, but his tone thrilled through Leah; her manner softened still
more, and her dark, unfathomable eyes were full of womanly
"Is that such a strange thing?" she asked in a dreary tone. "Could
not any woman love him?--so young, so fresh, so true--so different
from any one I have ever met in my unhappy life! What does it matter
that I am older--what has age to do with it, when two people care
for each other!"
"Ah, I will grant you that," returned Malcolm slowly.
"I shall make him a good wife," she went on, "and in the years to
come the old wounds will be healed, and I shall forget the terrible
past. Oh," recalling herself with difficulty," why am I talking to
you like this, and I have never even heard Miss Templeton's
message." Then Malcolm sat down beside her and gently repeated
"'Tell her from me that if she persists in marrying my poor boy, she
will be marrying a pauper; that on the day the marriage takes place
I shall alter my will, and that my sister Elizabeth will be my heir.
Tell her this, and I will write to Cedric.'"
There was no answer to this; but he could feel the tremor that
passed through her. "She has written," he went on, "and by this time
Cedric has her letter. Miss Jacobi, if you love this poor lad, how
can you have the heart to ruin him? Be generous, be merciful, and
set him free!" Then she turned upon him almost fiercely.
"Generous! merciful!--and who has ever shown me mercy! When my own
flesh and blood have traded on my beauty--my hateful beauty--and
sold me without pity or remorse. And now," still more passionately,
"you and his people want to come between me and happiness. You wish
me to give him up, but I cannot--I will not. I am not marrying him
for Miss Templeton's money," she continued indignantly, "but for
himself, and because we love each other. It is Saul who thinks of
the money; but he will not believe that message--he knows she will
not do it. Her sister Elizabeth is rich--rich, and we should be so
"You are wrong, Miss Jacobi, she will do it. Miss Templeton is
gentle and loving, but she is very firm. It is possible--nay,
probable--that she would continue Cedric's allowance, but in the
event of this marriage he will have nothing more from her."
"Do you mean that she would let him starve?"
"I mean that he would have to work for his bread as other men have
to work, and that his whole life, and yours too, will probably be a
failure. Miss Jacobi, I entreat you to listen to me for a few
moments--I am speaking for your good as well as his. May I tell you
what I think?" She made a movement of assent. Malcolm never could
recollect afterwards what he said to her; but his words, strong,
eloquent, convincing, seemed to overwhelm her like a torrent, and
yet his manner was perfectly quiet and calm.
He told her, without attempting to soften or palliate the fact, that
nothing would reconcile Miss Templeton and her sister to such a
marriage; that her brother's character was regarded by them with
abhorrence; that their cherished brother should marry the sister of
a billiard-marker--a mere adventurer and gambler--was utterly
impossible; and Leah's head was bowed low as she listened. He
touched delicately on her own past; but his few words were terribly
convincing. "You have spoken to me of Cedric's youth and freshness,"
he observed--"do you think that your past life with its sad
experiences make you a fit mate for him? You may tell me you are
only a few years older; but in knowledge of life he is a mere child
compared to you. It is in the name of his youth--his fresh,
unsullied youth--that I implore you to be generous and set him
Malcolm said more than this--for his own love for Elizabeth made him
eloquent. He must do her this one service: he must deliver her young
brother out of the contaminating hands of these Philistines; and so
he reasoned and pleaded with Leah as he had never pleaded in his
Soon she was weeping; he could see the tears dropping into her lap.
Then suddenly, as a clock struck, she started up. "It is late--I
must go now or Saul will question me. Indeed--indeed I must go."
"But you will think over all I have said, and let me see you again?"
asked Malcolm anxiously.
"Yes, I will think over it; and if possible I will be here to-
morrow. But I cannot answer you now. You have made me very unhappy,
Mr. Herrick. What is it that the Bible says?--'There is no peace for
the wicked.' I must be wicked, for there is no peace for me."
"No--no, you must not say that," he returned kindly; "let me give
you my card, that you may know where to find me. Miss Jacobi, if you
will only bring yourself to do this thing, you will be a brave
woman, and I shall be your friend for life." But she only smiled
faintly as she took the card and asked him as a special favour not
to come any farther with her.
"Have I done any good?" thought Malcolm sorrowfully, as he walked
away. "Poor soul, how she loves him! Cedric was right, as I told
Miss Templeton: Leah Jacobi is more sinned against than sinning.
Nature intended her for a noble woman, but Saul Jacobi and Count
Antonio Ferrari have marred her handiwork." And all the rest of the
day Malcolm thought of Leah with strange kindness and pity.
PLOT AND COUNTERPLOT
Many a one, by being thought better than he was, has
Not as little as we dare, but as much as we can.
--BISHOP OF WESTCOTT.
Malcolm wrote to Dinah that afternoon, giving her a full account of
his interview with Leah Jacobi; then he spent the rest of the day
making up arrears of work. The last post brought him a reproachful
little note from Anna.
"Mother thinks you have forgotten us. Why are you staying away in
this unmannerly fashion, you naughty boy?" she wrote. "It is ten
whole days since you were here, and we both feel lone and lorn
without you"--and so on. But under the playful words he could detect
a shade of earnestness.
Tired as he was, and needing rest sorely, he answered the letter and
posted it before he slept.
Anna read it aloud to Mrs. Herrick the next morning, and they both
agreed that it was a charming letter. The dear home people must
forgive his seeming neglect, it said, for it was not possible for
him to put in an appearance just yet. He was arranging a troublesome
affair for a friend that gave him a great deal of anxiety and worry.
He had been to Oxford, and might have to go down again, and he could
not spare an hour for social duties.
"Oxford--I wonder if the business concerns his friend Cedric
Templeton," observed Anna thoughtfully. But Mrs. Herrick only looked
grave and said she did not know, and that evidently Malcolm did not
wish to enlighten them. She spoke dispassionately and not in the
least as though his reserve troubled her; but Anna was rather absent
and distrait the rest of the day. She had watched Malcolm narrowly
and had come to the conclusion that he had something on his mind.
All his attempts at gaiety, his little jokes, his badinage, did not
deceive her for a moment. Trouble had come to him. In some ways he
was a changed man: he looked older, graver, and in repose his
features had a care-worn expression, as of one who has worked hard
in turmoil of soul. And this trouble--could it be connected in any
way with this mysterious Elizabeth, of whom he never spoke? Ah, that
was the question over which Anna pondered so heavily as her fair
head bent over her typewriter.
Malcolm had ordered an early breakfast again in his own room, but as
be sat down to it Hepsy brought him a note. A slip of a lad had
delivered it, she said, and was waiting for an answer.
Malcolm had never seen the handwriting before, but he at once
guessed it was from Leah--and he was right. It was written in
pencil, and was without any conventional beginning or end.
"I am not going out this morning--will you come straight to 12
Gresham Gardens? If you come early you will find me alone. Saul went
to Oxford last night, and will be back by mid-day. Send answer by
Malcolm wrote a few words--"Many thanks. Will be with you as early
as possible;" then he made a hasty meal, for he felt there was no
time to be lost; and as he walked to Sloane Square station his
thoughts were full of perplexity. Why had Saul Jacobi gone down to
Oxford--on what new mischief was he bent? Malcolm felt he had good
reason for his fears. Cedric's weak, impressionable nature would be
like wax in the hands of this unscrupulous adventurer; he would
simply mould him to his will; the poor lad's passionate love for his
sister would be turned to account and made to further his own wily
purposes. Malcolm groaned inwardly, as he realised that their sole
chance lay with Leah herself. Her message had given him a shade of
hope, but he would not allow himself to be sanguine; he knew too
well that women of Leah's calibre were not always to be depended on;
in such cases one must reckon with moods and impulses. Her brother
dominated her; he was the evil genius of her life. How could any one
hope to influence her, when she, poor soul, lived under a reign of
terror? One might as well ask some wretched prisoner to break off
the fetters that bound him, as to expect Leah Jacobi to walk out of
that house of bondage a free woman.
Malcolm found it impossible to rid himself of these gloomy
forebodings; nevertheless he made such good speed that it was barely
half-past nine when he stood in the stone porch of 12 Gresham
Gardens. It was evident that he was expected, for though the maid
who admitted him regarded him somewhat curiously, she did not ask
his name, but conducted him at once upstairs to a handsome drawing-
room where a fire was burning.
The little fox-terriers, Tim and Tartar, began barking furiously at
the sight of a stranger; but before Malcolm could quiet them the
plush curtains that veiled the archway were thrown back and Leah
entered from an inner room.
Malcolm was quite shocked when he saw her face. She looked as though
she had spent a night of weeping, that had dimmed her beauty; the
hand she gave him was icy cold. Perhaps she read the silent pity in
Malcolm's eyes, for her lips quivered.
"I am not ill--not really ill," she said quickly; "only I have not
slept, and the night was so terrible. You were right to come early,
Mr. Herrick; sometimes Saul takes an earlier train than he says. He
has done that two or three times; he declares he never really trusts
me. He made me promise not to go in the Gardens this morning, so I
was obliged to stay at home."
"Will you tell me why your brother has gone to Oxford?" asked
Malcolm, with a keen, steady glance, under which she grew still
"Yes, I will tell you: he has gone to see Cedric. He was waiting for
me when I got back yesterday, and he saw at once by my face that
something had happened. Oh, you don't know Saul--when he means to
find a thing out he is like a gimlet, one has no chance at all. He
held my wrists until I told him everything--you can see how bruised
they are," and she showed him the purple marks. "Oh, how angry he
was! I never saw him in such a rage before, but it only made him
more determined to hurry on the marriage."
"He has no objection then to your marrying a pauper?" asked Malcolm
coolly, but inwardly he was boiling with impotent wrath.
"Oh, he will not believe that Cedric is poor," she returned sadly;
"he only laughs at the idea of Miss Templeton disinheriting him.
'She wants to frighten him, and to choke us off, but I know a trick
worth two of that,' was all he said; and then he cooled down, and
called me a little fool, and bade me bring him the time-table, and
ten minutes later he told me he was going to Oxford to arrange
things with Cedric."
"You mean about your marriage?"
"Yes; it was fixed for next week, but last evening I received this
telegram," and Leah put it in his hand. She had said all this in a
weary, mechanical voice, as though she were reciting a lesson she
had learnt by heart.
"Make preparations at once--Cedric returns with me--function day
after to-morrow, nine sharp--all arranged--hang results." Malcolm's
lip curled with disgust as he gave it back to her.
"Do you understand it?" she asked, as though distrustful of his
quiet bearing. "Saul has hurried things on because he is afraid. He
does not trust Cedric: he thinks he is weak and easily influenced,
and fears that you may get hold of him again; his one idea is to
have the marriage ceremony performed before Miss Templeton knows of
"Ah, just so;" but Malcolm muttered "the villain!" between his
"That is why I sent for you," continued Leah in the same dull,
inward voice; "because he and Cedric have fixed it for to-morrow,
and there is no time to lose. If he comes, and I were to see him
again," and here her voice broke and her eyes grew piteous, "I
should not have the strength to do it--to do what you want."
"What I want?" And then he added breathlessly, "Do you mean that you
will give him up?"
"Yes, I mean that," in a choked voice. "I must give him up--the only
creature I ever loved, and who was good to me. All night long I was
thinking of it, fighting and struggling for my poor little bit of
happiness; but you were right, Mr. Herrick, I love him too well to
drag him down to poverty and ruin, for Saul would ruin him, I know
that too well."
"I know it too. God bless you for this noble resolve," returned
Malcolm quickly; but she stopped him.
"Hush! not a word of praise; you do not know--I have been to blame
as well as Saul. But now what am I to do? they must not find me
"No, of course not. Is there any friend to whom I could take you?"
But Leah shook her head.
"We have no friends, only a few acquaintances at Henley; but I could
not go to them. I might take a lodging somewhere, only"--here her
poor face grew crimson--"Saul never gives me any money, except a few
shillings at a time; he pays my bills or leaves them unpaid, but it
always makes him angry when I ask him for money."
"That need be no difficulty," returned Malcolm kindly. "Will you
allow me to settle things for you?" Then she looked at him
inquiringly, yet with an air of trust that moved him profoundly.
"Will you put on your walking things at once, while I make my
plans?" he went on. "Be as quick as possible; we must not lose
time." And she went off with the ready obedience of a child.
Malcolm hastily reviewed the situation. It was full of difficulties.
Where could he take her? He thought of his mother; then he
remembered that she was a woman of strong prejudices--she had her
own opinions and would decline to see with other people's eyes. Leah
would be to her merely an extremely dangerous and objectionable
young woman, and she would dislike the idea of Anna being brought
into contact with her.
The Kestons would help him, he knew that, and Verity would be a
trusty and faithful little counsellor; but Cheyne Walk was hardly
the place for her, and he would not be safe from Cedric.
For a moment he thought of the Wood House--they would never look for
her there; but he dismissed this idea the next moment. No; the Manor
House was their only resource. He would put her in Mrs. Godfrey's
care, and ask her to keep her safe until they had made their plans.
Mrs. Godfrey was a woman of the world; she would make allowances for
any human creature so broken and buffeted in the battle of life,
whose womanhood had been so tempted and crushed. His mother was
kind-hearted, but her sympathies were less broad, and she often
failed in tact. Leah would be to her a puzzling enigma. He felt with
shrewd intuition that it would be impossible for them to understand
"No, it must be my dear Mrs. Godfrey," he said to himself. "She is
more human; it is not her way to use a sledge-hammer when a lighter
weapon will serve her purpose; and then she never forces confidence,
she is the most tactful woman I know." Malcolm broke off abruptly
here as Leah entered the room. She wore the same dark red dress she
had worn the previous day, and had a travelling wrap over her arm.
She carried a small Gladstone bag, of which Malcolm at once relieved
"I packed this last night," she said in a low voice, "and I wrote
this letter. Will you give it to him?" Then Malcolm glanced at the
address; it was to Cedric, and he put it carefully in his breast-
"He shall have it," was his answer. "Now, if you are ready, we may
as well go."
"If we are quiet no one will hear us," she observed in the same
subdued voice. "The servants are in the back kitchen; I heard them
laughing and talking as I came downstairs."
Then she led the way, and Malcolm followed her closely. Leah's
remark about an earlier train had made him supremely uncomfortable.
What if they should come face to face with Saul Jacobi and Cedric as
they turned out of Gresham Gardens! The idea was unpleasant.
Fortunately, at that moment he saw an empty cab crawling towards
them, after the manner of growlers when a fare is wanted, and he at
once hailed it. Leah looked somewhat surprised when she heard him
direct the man to a pastry-cook's shop in the near vicinity of
Paddington station. She gave him a questioning glance.
"We cannot go straight to our destination until I am sure the coast
is clear," he explained. "There is an upstairs room at Falconer's,
and I am going to order you some luncheon, and you must do your best
to eat it. I shall have to leave you for a quarter of an hour or so,
until the Oxford train is in."
"You mean to go to the station?" she asked nervously.
"Oh, Mr. Herrick, is that wise? Saul is so sharp-sighted, if he sees
you he will guess that you have been to Gresham Gardens."
"He will not see me," returned Malcolm confidently; "there is a
corner where I can secrete myself and watch the passengers go by.
When we are really off I will tell you our destination, but at
present I must ask you to have faith that I am doing my best for
She smiled faintly and said no more. Five minutes later the cab
stopped, and Malcolm took her upstairs and found a quiet corner for
her. "You must take a few spoonfuls of soup," he pleaded, "for the
sake of appearances. Falconer is rather famed for mock-turtle." Then
he put down the bag beside her and went on his quest. It was more
than twenty minutes before he returned.
"It is all right," he observed. "They passed me quite close. We
shall be in the train before they reach Gresham Gardens. I think I
heard your brother say that they had better do their business
first." Leah shivered; she knew too well what that business was. A
quarter of an hour later they were on their way to Cookham.
Leah seemed very much startled and even alarmed when she learnt
their destination, and at first Malcolm found it difficult to
reassure her. "Mrs. Godfrey!" she exclaimed. "Oh, I scarcely know
her. Somehow she frightens me; her eyes seem to read one through and
through. And then the Etheridges will be so near."
"I believe they are abroad," replied Malcolm, "and not expected home
until the middle of December, so you need not trouble your head
about them. But indeed you are wrong about Mrs. Godfrey; she is a
dear woman, and the greatest friend I have. She is so warm-hearted
and true that she would go through fire and water for any one she
"Oh yes, no doubt."
"And not only for her friends," he went on, "for her sympathies are
world-wide. Trust her, my dear Miss Jacobi, and you will see how
good she is to you. She is not hard and censorious in her judgments,
she is far too well-balanced for that; if you can only secure Mrs.
Godfrey for a friend, you will need no other." But it was plain to
him that Leah was only half convinced; under her veil he could see
she was vainly trying to repress her tears, and his heart ached for
During their short walk to the Manor House he kept silence; he was
wondering what he should say to Mrs. Godfrey, and how he could best
explain matters. But just as they turned into the drive he saw her
coming round from the garden with a basket of late blowing flowers
in her hand; she stood still as though petrified with astonishment
when she saw Malcolm's companion.
"What is it--what does it mean?" she asked in her clear voice. "Has
"Much has happened, my dear lady," he returned quietly. "I am going
to confide Miss Jacobi to your care for a few days;" and then very
briefly but distinctly he gave her an account of Saul Jacobi's
scheme--the intended marriage and Cedric's arrival at Gresham
Gardens. "But for Miss Jacobi's noble behaviour," he continued,
"this disgraceful plot would have been carried out. She has
generously given him up, and I for one am deeply indebted to her."
"Will you hide me for a few days, until I know what to do?" asked
Leah, fixing her great troubled eyes on the other woman's face. Mrs.
Godfrey's manner changed.
"Hide you from your brother do you mean, or Cedric, or both? My
dear, you will be perfectly safe with us. No one will molest you at
the Manor House, and we will both do all we can for you." She took
the girl's hand kindly and kissed her cheek. "We will have such a
talk presently--you and I; but just now you are worn out, and must
lie down. Your head aches, does it not?" Then Leah owned that she
"Alick is about the grounds somewhere," Mrs. Godfrey continued;
"when I have made Miss Jacobi comfortable I will join you both." But
when she rejoined them half an hour later, Malcolm was quite sure
she had been shedding tears. "Poor thing," she said to him in an
undertone, "how she must have suffered; she is terribly exhausted,
she has had no sleep, and has eaten nothing for four-and-twenty
hours. I made her swallow some warm brandy and milk, and have
covered her up snugly. Now I mean to send the servant away at
luncheon, and we will wait on ourselves, and then you can tell us
"You must promise not to interrupt me then," was Malcolm's answer,
"for I shall have to be off in an hour or so. I mean to go down to
Staplegrove by a late afternoon train, and tell Miss Templeton all
we have done."
Malcolm certainly had the art of narration. Not only Mrs. Godfrey
but the Colonel hung on his words with the deepest attention.
Neither did they interrupt him by comment or question until he had
finished. Then Mrs. Godfrey said softly--"You have done a good work
there, Mr. Herrick."
"Who, I?--pooh--nonsense," but Malcolm flushed a little at her
appreciative look. "I have done nothing--it is all Miss Jacobi's
"I think we should hear a different version from her," returned Mrs.
Godfrey with a smile, "and I can see Alick agrees with me," nodding
to her husband. "Must you really go to Staplegrove to-night? Suppose
Cedric goes to Cheyne Walk?"
"That is quite possible," returned Malcolm; "nay, more, it is
extremely probable; and I pencilled a line to Verity in the train.
She is to tell him where I have gone; but my only fear is that he
will not follow me--Saul Jacobi will keep too tight a hold of him.
By the bye, Colonel, I wonder what infernal lies that fellow has
induced him to tell the authorities. If he has taken French leave of
absence, they will rusticate him."
"I think he had better leave the university," returned Colonel
Godfrey grimly, "for he is only bent on mischief, and will never
pass his examination. Let him go abroad a bit with some reliable
person and get over his folly, and then see if he will not settle
down better. Dinah could afford to give him a year's travelling, and
I know she would never begrudge the money."
"No, indeed, she is only too generous by nature," returned his wife;
and then after a little more conversation Malcolm took leave of Mrs.
Godfrey, and he and the Colonel walked down to the station.
STORM AND STRESS
And yet, because I love thee, I obtain
From that same love this vindicating grace--
To live on still in love, and yet in vain;
To bless thee, yet renounce thee to thy face.
ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.
"C'est le premier pas qui coute," and Malcolm proved the truth of
the old French proverb, as he dismissed his fly and walked up the
dark drive towards the Wood House.
He no longer felt the hot and cold fits that had shaken him as
though with inward ague on his previous visit. He had seen Elizabeth
again, had at least retained his outward calmness, and now he felt
more sure of himself.
"The pains and penalties of life," Leah had said to him once, and he
had thought the expression a strange one on the lips of so beautiful
a woman; but he knew better now, and how such pains and penalties
fall to the share of many men. "It is all in the day's work," he
muttered as he rang the bell, for it was Malcolm's nature to
philosophise even in trouble.
It was only six o'clock, and the two sisters were sitting together
in the fire-lit twilight. Dinah was lying back in her easy-chair
with her eyes closed, but Elizabeth had drawn her chair opposite the
fire, and sat with her chin supported by her hands, gazing fixedly
at the blazing logs with an absorbed gravity that again surprised
When they heard the visitor announced they both started to their
feet and came towards him, but it was Elizabeth who spoke first.
"Mr. Herrick, this is too good of you. I hope--I trust," in an
anxious tone, "that your news is also good."
"You may rest assured of that," he returned, with an unconscious
pressure of her hand. Dinah heaved a deep sigh of relief, and
pointed silently to the chair that stood between them. She did not
speak, perhaps because she could not: her face looked as though she
had passed through an illness. Elizabeth, with her wonted quickness,
answered Malcolm's unspoken question.
"Dinah has had one of her bad sick headaches, and has only just come
downstairs. All this sad business has upset her greatly, but you
will be her best physician," with the old beaming smile which
Malcolm dared not meet. "Now," with a housewifely air, "shall I give
you some tea? You will dine with us, of course?" But Malcolm
declined the offered refreshment.
"I will dine with you if you wish it," he said rather formally, "and
if you and Miss Templeton will excuse the absence of war-paint; but
I am going back to town to-night."
"Oh no, not to-night!" she exclaimed in quite a shocked voice; "you
will be so tired." But Malcolm assured her with absolute truth that
he had never been less tired in his life. The storm and stress and
excitement of the day had acted on him like a tonic as well as an
anodyne; in thinking and planning for others he had found relief
from the intolerable ache of ever-present pain that had made ms life
so purgatorial of late, and the unhealed wound throbbed less
"I have so much to tell you that I think I had better begin at
once," he observed in a business-like tone, and then both the
sisters composed themselves to listen. But this time they heard him
less calmly. The shock of learning Saul Jacobi's disgraceful plot,
and Cedric's infatuation and weakness, was too much for Dinah, and
she sobbed audibly.
"Oh, Betty!" she exclaimed piteously, "to think that our dear boy
should be deceiving us like this! But that woman has deluded him."
"The woman beguiled me and I did eat," murmured Malcolm. Then
Elizabeth looked at him rather sharply, as though she suspected a
double meaning. But as he proceeded with his story, and she heard of
Leah's noble act of self-sacrifice, her mood changed and her eyes
filled with tears. Malcolm fancied that he heard her say softly
under her breath, "She loved much, because much has been forgiven
But the climax of their wonder seemed reached when Malcolm told them
that Leah was at the Manor House. Dinah seemed as though she could
not believe her ears, and again Elizabeth looked at him curiously.
"Our dear Mrs. Godfrey!" she ejaculated. "I wonder what made you go
to her. I thought," with a little laugh, "only a woman would have
"Do you consider men so dense?" was his answer. "Mrs. Godfrey is the
best friend I have in the world, and she has never disappointed me
once. She is not only wise and almost masculine in her breadth of
view, but she is also the most womanly of women."
"How well you have grasped her!" returned Elizabeth in an approving
voice. "Yes, you are right, she will be a true friend to that poor
Miss Jacobi. It was magnificent strategy. I do not believe any one
else would have thought of it." But Malcolm only flushed at this
"I promised you that I would do my best," he said in a constrained
voice; but Elizabeth was too elated and excited by the good news to
measure her words.
"Oh, but your best is so much better than other people's best," she
said gaily. "Die, dear, why do you not make some pretty speeches to
Mr. Herrick when he has achieved all this?" Then Dinah smiled and
held out her hand.
"What should we have done without you!" was all she said, but
Malcolm felt amply rewarded for his trouble.
They talked a little more about Leah Jacobi, and then Elizabeth said
"I have an idea. I will go to the Manor House and talk to Mrs.
Godfrey--it is our affair, and we must not shunt our
responsibilities on other people's shoulders--and then I can judge
of this poor Leah." And though Dinah was evidently startled by this
bold suggestion, she did not attempt to gainsay it.
"Shall you go to-morrow?" she asked. "Perhaps I could go too." But
Elizabeth promptly negatived this.
"You will do nothing of the kind," she returned decidedly; "I shall
have you falling ill on my hands. Besides, you must be at the Wood
House, in case Cedric comes;" and as Dinah perceived the force of
this argument, she said no more about accompanying her sister.
Malcolm, however, was not so easily satisfied. "Are you sure that
you had better do this?" he said rather gravely. "Would it not be
wiser to leave Mrs. Godfrey to deal with Miss Jacobi?" But Elizabeth
seemed quite indignant.
"Mr. Herrick, I did not expect this from you," she said severely. "I
thought we were to do good to our enemies--and this poor soul is not
our enemy after all. We have a debt to pay to her, have we not, Die?
for she has set our boy free. We must do all we can to help her, and
to free her from her terrible brother; for as long as she is with
him there can be no peace for her."
"No, you are right," replied Malcolm slowly; "Saul Jacobi is her
curse. He is a cold-hearted, selfish schemer. Well, I will not try
to hinder your good work, for I see you are bent on doing it. You
will go to-morrow, then?"
"Yes, I think so," but Elizabeth hesitated and looked at her sister.
"David is expecting his father to-morrow, and he will not want me
until the next day--" but she broke off here as dinner was
It could not be said that Malcolm enjoyed his meal. The presence of
the servants prevented any freedom in the conversation, and as Dinah
was still oppressed and weak from the effects of her headache, the
brunt of the talk fell on Malcolm and Elizabeth, and neither of them
seemed quite at their ease. The mention of his rival had affected
Malcolm painfully, and Elizabeth was aware of this and was at once
on her guard. She avoided all local subjects and plied him with
questions about his mother and Anna and the Kestons; all of which
Malcolm answered punctiliously. When a pause in the conversation
seemed inevitable, he plunged into the breach with a description of
Amias Keston's latest picture, and an anecdote or two about that
infant prodigy Babs; he spoke of a book he had been reading, from
which he gave them copious extracts; and then, dessert being placed
on the table, he drew a sigh of relief. By that time he was sensible
He left them soon after this. When he bade Dinah good-bye, she took
both his hands and looked wistfully in his face. "I cannot say
anything to-night," she whispered--"I am too giddy and confused; but
I will write, and--and God bless you!"
To his surprise Elizabeth followed him into the hall. As she opened
the door for him, the rush of raw, damp air came full in their
"It is a regular November evening," she observed, with a little
shiver. "It is the month I like least--the month of decay and--"
then she checked herself abruptly. "Mr. Herrick, there is a question
I wanted to ask, and that I did not wish Dinah to hear. You are
going back to town this evening, are you not, because you expect
that Cedric will come to Cheyne Walk?"
"I think he will be here," he returned reluctantly, for he had not
wished to hint at this; in his own mind he was prepared for a stormy
"I feel sure of it," she continued. "He is very unbalanced and
passionate--he will say things that he does not mean, and that he
will repent afterwards. You will bear with him--you will be patient,
will you not?"
"Do you think you need ask me that?" Malcolm's voice was so full of
reproach and meaning that a sudden flush crossed Elizabeth's face.
"Have you forgotten already?" his expression seemed to say--"is he
not your brother, and am I not your devoted and humble servant?"
Then his manner changed.
"I will deal with him as gently as possible, you may be sure of
that," he said kindly. But Elizabeth gave him her hand rather
timidly and without looking at him.
This time there was no backward glance as Malcolm and his lantern
disappeared into the dark woodlands; but Elizabeth stood so long in
the porch that the dead leaves swirled round her feet and even blew
across the hall.
"I wish I had not said that," she thought; "I might have trusted
him. He will be firm, but he will be gentle too." And then she went
back to Dinah, and they talked together of all that should be done
on the morrow.
It was not long past eleven when Malcolm let himself into the house
in Cheyne Walk with his latch-key, but Verity was evidently on the
watch for him.
"Mr. Templeton is here," she said, and he detected a trace of
anxiety in her manner. "He has been here quite two hours. Amias
wanted him to come into the studio, but he preferred going to your
room. I am afraid he is not well, or something is troubling him; he
does nothing but walk about."
"I will go up to him," rejoined Malcolm. "I suppose there is a
fire?" Verity nodded, and wished him goodnight.
The fire was burning cheerily; nevertheless, as Malcolm opened the
door, the room felt as cold as a vault. The window opening on to the
balcony had been flung up,, and the damp air from the river pervaded
the whole place. The sudden draught made the lamp smoke, and he
moved it hastily. As he did so a dark figure came between him. and
the light, and seized him almost roughly by the arm.
"So it is you, Herrick, at last!" in a hoarse voice that was
scarcely recognisable. "Now tell me, please, what have you done with
The grip on Malcolm's arm was so painful that he winced. "Let me
shut that window first, there's a good fellow," he returned coolly,
"or we shall be blown into the street;" and as Cedric sullenly let
him go, he fastened it and drew down the blind and turned up the
Cedric watched him savagely.
Verity might well have suspected that something was seriously amiss.
Cedric's face was pale and his whole aspect disordered, and the
strained, fierce look in his blue eyes almost dismayed Malcolm.
There was something aggressive too in his manner that affected him
"Well, are you going to speak?" in a defiant voice, "or do you wish
to drive me crazy? What have you done with the girl who is to be my
"Why do you imagine that I have done anything with her?" returned
Malcolm steadily, for he wanted to find out what Cedric really knew.
"I have just come from the Wood House. Your sisters are in great
trouble about this."
"You have not taken her there," retorted Cedric, with a sneer, "and
I am not in a mood to discuss my sisters. Herrick, I call this an
infernal shame! What right have you to come between a man and his
affianced wife? I will not bear it--you shall make me amends!"--
stammering with passion. "Saul says you are at the bottom of this."
"Mr. Jacobi will have to prove it then," returned Malcolm quietly.
"Prove it! Do you think we have not sufficient proof?" exclaimed
Cedric angrily. "I suppose you do not deny that you were at Gresham
Gardens this morning."
"I was there certainly; Miss Jacobi sent for me. I had seen her in
Kensington Gardens the previous day."
"I know all about that," interrupted Cedric rudely. "Saul told me
you were bent on making mischief between me and Leah. You left the
house with her this morning. One of the servants saw you go. You
were carrying a Gladstone bag and a travelling wrap, evidently a
Malcolm bit his lip. They had been seen then.
"Before we go on with this cross-examination, will you allow me to
explain matters," he observed. "It is no use your taking this tone
with me, Cedric; I have done nothing of which I am ashamed. As far
as I can, and up to a certain point, I will tell you the exact
truth, and it may be well for you to hear me."
Malcolm's quiet tone was not without influence, and Cedric flung
himself on a chair; but his attitude was still defiant.
"I own that I have done all in my power to induce Leah Jacobi to
break off this disastrous engagement," continued Malcolm. "I did
this not only for your sake, and because you were the tool of a
designing and unscrupulous man, but also for your sisters' sake.
When I left her yesterday it was impossible to know how far I had
succeeded in my purpose." Cedric looked up when Malcolm said this.
"This morning Miss Jacobi sent me a note, and I went to her at once.
She was in deep distress, and showed me her brother's telegram. To
my astonishment, she told me that she fully intended to break off
her engagement, and entrusted this letter to my care;" and here he
stopped and handed it to Cedric, and withdrew to another part of the
room while he read it.
A long time afterwards Malcolm read that letter.
"My darling, I cannot marry you," Leah wrote. "I am going to set you
free. I pray God that I may never see your dear face again, for this
is the hardest piece of work I have ever done in my life. Mr.
Herrick has been talking to me; he has made me see things in a
different light. I know now that I am no fit wife for you, my life
has been too soiled and degraded. In experience I am twenty or
thirty years older than you, and though I am only nine-and-twenty,
my heart is gray. Dear--dearest, you are so young--perhaps that is
why I love you--your youth is so gracious and lovely in my eyes. But
Mr. Herrick is right. You must not be angry with him, Cedric. He has
been so kind and gentle, and he is so true a friend to you. I have
sent for him--when he comes I shall ask him to hide me in some safe
place where you and Saul cannot find me. I am so afraid of Saul--he
is so strong, he makes me do things against my conscience."
"Darling, let me say just this one thing more. It is because of Saul
that I am so determined not to marry you. If you became my husband,
he would be a drag on you all your life. He has absolutely no
conscience; he would ruin you. No--no, you shall be free. I will not
hurt a hair of your head. Farewell.--Your loving and unhappy Leah"
Malcolm had turned his back, and stood looking down into the fire,
until a choked sob reached his ears. Cedric's head was sunk on his
arms, and his whole frame was convulsed with suppressed emotion; but
when Malcolm put his hand on his shoulder, he started up as though
"This is your doing," he said furiously. "I will never forgive you,
Herrick--never! Oh!"--as midnight chimed from a church near--"this
is our wedding-day--: Leah's and mine, and you have hidden my bride
away! But you shall give her up," with an oath, and for the moment
Malcolm thought the lad would have struck him in his insane passion.
Cedric was no mean athlete, and Malcolm was hardly a match for him,
but he caught his uplifted hand and held it firmly.
"Don't be a fool, Cedric," he said quietly. "Do you suppose this
violence will serve your purpose? Miss Jacobi has placed herself
under my protection, and I shall certainly not betray her. Sit down
and behave like a gentleman, and let us talk this out. Good
heavens!" with a sudden change of voice, "do you suppose you are the
only man in the world who cannot marry the woman he loves," and
Malcolm's tone and manner seemed to check Cedric's passion. "Let us
talk it out like men," he repeated, and Cedric sank back on his
chair, still sullen but half subdued.
"HE WILL COME RIGHT"
If your eyes look for nothing but evil, you will always
see evil triumphant; but if you have learned to let
your glance rest on sincerity, simpleness, truth, you
will ever discover deep down in all things the silent
overpowering victory of that you love.
Long afterwards Malcolm compared that night's work to a severe
wrestling-match, and owned that it had taxed his mental and bodily
strength to the utmost. The illustration was singularly apt. The
whole force of his manhood and will were set to rescue this poor lad
from the effects of his own infatuation and folly, but at first he
made little progress.
Saul Jacobi's pernicious influence had done its work, and Malcolm,
to his dismay and disgust, was forced to realise that his baleful
and hated arguments had already poisoned Cedric's mind. More than
once he was revolted by ideas which he knew had been inculcated by
Saul Jacobi. "He has poisoned the wells," Malcolm said to himself
indignantly--"Cedric's fresh young mind has been contaminated by his
odious philosophy," and his heart grew sad as he remembered Dinah's
faith in her boy.
More than once he was so sickened by Cedric's want of restraint and
childish abandon of grief that he was tempted to give up the
struggle. Only Elizabeth's pleading voice was in his ears-"You will
bear with him--you will be patient with him, will you not?" and then
again he would nerve himself to fresh effort.
All at once a thought came to him as an inspiration. Cedric had been
giving way to a perfect paroxysm of despair, and Malcolm had with
some sternness remonstrated with him on his want of manliness and
self-control. "You are making things worse," he said; "why don't you
take your trouble like a man?" But the rebuke only exasperated
"Oh, it is all very well for you to talk," he returned angrily, "but
if you were in my place you would not bear it any better. You are so
immaculate, Herrick, you can't make allowance for a poor miserable
devil like me. I don't believe you have ever cared for a woman in
your life. Good heavens!" as he caught sight of Malcolm's face, "do
you mean that you have ever been in love?"
Then it was that the thought came to Malcolm--Cedric should know
that he was a fellow-sufferer.
"I do mean it," he returned steadily, "and I also mean to say that
your love is as water unto wine compared to mine; that is, if we can
call such mad infatuation by so sacred a name." And there was a tone
of contempt in Malcolm's voice that made Cedric wince.
"Don't be so hard on a fellow," he muttered.
"My dear boy, I would not be hard on you for worlds; if I speak of
myself at such a moment, it is only that you may see that I am fully
competent to sympathise with you."
"Won't you tell me more, Herrick?"
"No, dear lad, I think not, except that my case is even more
hopeless than yours, for the only woman I have loved or can love
will soon marry another man," and here Malcolm's face looked gray
and worn. "I need not add," he continued hastily, "that all this is
between us both."
"Of course--of course," was the eager answer. "I am awfully sorry--I
am indeed. I wish I had not bullied you so."
Malcolm smiled a little sadly.
"Never mind that now. I only want to say this, we must take our
punishment like men, and not whine like fractious children who want
the moon--the moon is no nearer for all that." He sighed a little
bitterly, for he was tired and depressed; and after that Cedric was
more reasonable, and Malcolm regained some of his lost influence.
It was nearly morning before Malcolm could induce him to lie down on
the couch; he had flatly refused to take possession of Malcolm's
"I could not rest quietly in bed," he said piteously; "let me lie
here while you write your letter;" for it had been arranged between
them that Malcolm should send a note to Dinah by the early post; but
long before the letter was written the worn-out lad was sleeping
heavily. Malcolm covered him up with rugs before he slipped out to
the post. Malcolm did not write a very long letter.
"I found Cedric here on my return home," he wrote. "He was very
excited and unhappy, and I had great difficulty in bringing him to a
reasonable frame of mind; but he is calmer now, and is at present
asleep on my couch. I am going with him to Oxford to-morrow, and
shall probably remain with him for a day or two. It will never do to
leave him alone, or that fellow Jacobi will get hold of him again. I
find he has already lent him money. I have been questioning Cedric,
and I find that Saul Jacobi trumped up a false excuse for him to
make to the Dean. Cedric was a little incoherent on the subject, but
I understood him to say that he had begged for a three days' excuse
on account of a sister's illness."
"As far as I can make out, Jacobi merely intended to have the
marriage ceremony performed, and to allow Cedric to return to Oxford
the next day. He had pacified him by promising to bring down his
sister later, and to take lodgings for a week or two; but it is
impossible to guess what the fellow really meant. As far as I can
judge, there will be no further trouble with the authorities, but
Cedric must not be left to himself."
"I know some excellent lodgings not a stone's throw from St. John's.
Do you not think it would be a good thing if you and your sister
were to take possession of them for a week or two? Cedric is not fit
to be alone, and you will be a comfort to him. It seems to me that
there is nothing else to be done. I cannot possibly remain beyond a
night or two. If you wire I will engage the rooms, and they shall be
in readiness for you." And when this letter was safely in the post,
Malcolm sought the rest he needed so urgently, and was soon sleeping
the heavy sleep of exhaustion.
Elizabeth was at the Manor House when Dinah received her letter, but
she answered it and sent off her telegram without an hour's delay.
"I told him to take the rooms, Betty," she said, as she handed the
letter to her sister the next day. "I have packed my things and
shall go to-morrow. Of course, you will do as you like about coming
too." Elizabeth considered the matter.
"If one could only have breathing-time," she murmured; "but to-
morrow gives me so little time. Could you wait until the afternoon,
Die?" she continued, "and then I could go across to Rotherwood and
have a talk with David and his father. You see, dear, I am anxious
to be with Cedric, and to settle you in comfortably, and I should
also like to tell Mr. Herrick the result of my visit to the Manor
House." Then Dinah rather reluctantly consented to put off her
journey until the afternoon. Elizabeth, preoccupied and anxious,
hardly realised what the sacrifice of those few hours was to Dinah,
who could literally hardly sleep or eat for her longing to comfort
Perhaps Elizabeth's thoughts were engrossed by the recollection of
her conversation with Leah, for she spoke of little else that night;
but just before they separated she asked to read Malcolm's letter
again, and when she laid it down there was the old puzzled look in
"Why does he always think of the right thing?" she said slowly.
"What makes him so thoughtful and understanding? He leaves no margin
for other people. This Oxford plan is just splendid. You will be
such a comfort to the poor boy, Die. You will be there waiting and
watching for him, and ready to fuss over him like a mother hen, and
the sly old fox will not be able to get at him;" and she laughed,
and bade her sister good-night. But when she was in her own room the
thoughtful look returned. "He is always so wise and right," she said
to herself. "He has only made one mistake--only one," and her face
was very grave; for no one, not even her chosen lover, knew how the
thought of Malcolm Herrick's patient sorrow oppressed Elizabeth's
Dinah had good reason to regret their postponed journey, for they
arrived at Oxford too late to see Cedric that night; but Malcolm was
at the station to receive them, and accompanied them to their
"I am glad you made up your mind to come," he said, as they drove
from the station, "for I shall be obliged to go up to town to-
morrow, and I feel happier to leave you in possession. I think
Cedric likes the idea of having you. He is not looking well, but one
must expect that; he has had rather a rough time of it. Oh, I forgot
to say that he cannot possibly be with you until nearly twelve
o'clock." Dinah tried not to give her sister a reproachful look when
Malcolm said this. Malcolm only waited to hear how they liked the
rooms he had taken before he went back to his hotel; but at their
earnest request he promised to have breakfast with them the
following morning, and also to take a later train, that they might
have time for a good talk.
He kept his appointment punctually, and the conversation of course
turned first on Cedric, but Malcolm was somewhat reticent on the
subject of that stormy interview in Cheyne Walk.
"One must make allowances under such circumstances, and he was
hardly himself that night," was all he said, but they fully
"Do you think he will get over it?" asked Dinah anxiously.
"Oh yes, he will get over it--he is so young;" but Malcolm avoided
Elizabeth's eyes as he spoke; "youth has immense advantages. But you
must give him time. If you will take my advice, dear Miss Templeton,
you will not watch him too closely, or trouble if you find him a
little altered, and not quite the old Cedric. He will come right by-
"Oh, if I could believe that," wistfully.
"You must make yourself believe it. Of course he will give you
plenty of trouble at first. He will have his bad days, and try to
make you as miserable as he is himself, but you must prepare
yourself for that. Think what a boon it will be to him to turn in
here and find some one ready to listen to his jeremiad." Then Dinah
"I hope you intend to remain with your sister," he continued,
turning rather abruptly to Elizabeth. She coloured and hesitated.
"I am afraid I can only remain a week, but I shall come down again
later on. You need not fear that Dinah will be dull, Mr. Herrick; if
she can only be sure of seeing her boy for an hour in the day, she
will be perfectly happy. I always tell her that she is cut out for a
hermit, she loves her own company so much. I am far more gregarious
in my tastes--the society of my fellow-creatures is absolutely
necessary to me."
Malcolm was quite aware of this, but he listened gravely. "I hope
you mean to let me know your opinion of Leah Jacobi before I go," he
observed presently. To his surprise she gave an embarrassed laugh.
"I have been dreading that question all breakfast time; I am so
afraid I shall shock you. It is wicked of me, of course, but indeed
I am only too ready to sympathise with poor old Cedric, for I have
fallen in love with her myself."
"Do you know, I am not at all surprised to hear you say that,"
"You were aware of my impulsive disposition," returned Elizabeth
with another laugh. "But she is simply the most beautiful creature I
ever saw in my life. All the time I was listening to her I thought
of all those fair women the old patriarchs loved--Sarah and Rebekah
and Rachel; but I think she is most like Rebekah."
"I daresay you are right there," replied Malcolm coolly--"I can
imagine myself that Leah Jacobi would be equally clever at
"For shame, Mr. Herrick!" in an indignant tone; "you know I did not
mean that. I was thinking of the young Rebekah at the well at
"It was too bad of me," he returned apologetically; "but of course I
understood what you meant. There is a strange fascination about Miss
Jacobi. It is not only her beauty, though that is undeniable."
"No, indeed," exclaimed Elizabeth eagerly; "but one can hardly say
where the charm lies; but the moment I saw her deep-set, melancholy
eyes, and heard her low, vibrating voice, I seemed to lose my heart
to her. Poor dear Cedric, how could he help loving her?--how could
any man resist her?" But Elizabeth checked herself as she became
aware of Malcolm's keen, penetrating glance.
"You surely do not wish him to marry her?" he asked in a low voice.
Then Elizabeth looked quite shocked.
"Mr. Herrick-our brother-Cedric; no, a thousand times no; neither
would she marry him now. But oh, how my heart aches for her!"
"You need not tell me that."
"We were up half the night talking," she went on, "and she told me
everything--everything," and here Elizabeth positively shuddered.
"Oh, why are such things allowed? What a mystery life is! Mrs.
Godfrey was with us at first, and then the Colonel carried her off;
but I heard the clock strike three before I left Leah's room, and
then I could not sleep a wink for thinking over some of the horrible
scenes she had described."
"I wish she had not told you," murmured Malcolm. Elizabeth smiled a
"It will not hurt me, and I shall be able to help her better. Mr.
Herrick, Dinah agrees with me that we must never lose sight of her.
I told Mrs. Godfrey so. Oh, that was a masterly stroke of policy,
taking the poor thing to the Manor House. Mrs. Godfrey is so clever-
-she has an idea already. Did you ever see Mrs. Richardson, who
lives in the red house on the road to Combe--Sandy Hollow, I think
they call it?"
"Do you mean that very eccentric old lady whom Mrs. Godfrey always
calls Mother Quixote, who is so rich, and always travels with a
white Persian cat? Of course I have seen her at church. She is
stout, rather addicted to gorgeous raiment, and wears a gold pince-
"That is the very person!" exclaimed Elizabeth. "Oh yes, she is
excessively rich, has not a relative in the world, gives half her
income away, and, as dear Mrs. Godfrey expresses it, spends a good
deal of her time in trying to wash her black sheep white, and
weeping over her failures."
"And I am afraid does more harm than good in the long run," observed
Malcolm; but Elizabeth would not allow this.
"She is the drollest old dear in the world," she went on, "and is
quite a Mrs. Malaprop in some of her sayings, but she has the best
and kindest heart in the world. Mrs. Godfrey means to enlist her
sympathies on Leah's behalf, and we have no fear of the result."
"And you think this good lady will be able to help Miss Jacobi?"
"We are quite sure of it. Mrs. Richardson has a weak chest, and she
always winters abroad, and she has been in the habit of engaging
some young lady to accompany her as a travelling companion. Her maid
is rather a crotchety old person, and very uneducated; besides, the
cat gives her sufficient employment. I forgot to say he is blind,
and rejoices in the name of Sir Charles Grandison. Mrs. Richardson
is a descendant of the novelist, and always carries Clarissa Harlowe
and Sir Charles Grandison about with her. She is full of amusing
fads and fancies."
"And you mean Miss Jacobi to be her travelling companion?"
"Mrs. Godfrey means it--it is her idea. Anyhow, she promised to go
round to Sandy Hollow the next day and give the old lady a full
description of Leah, and if possible to arrange a meeting."
"I think it a very good idea," chimed in Dinah, her soft voice
breaking the silence for the first time--she was always willing to
leave the conversation in Elizabeth's hands. "Miss Jacobi seems very
willing to do anything, poor thing, that will make her independent
of her brother."
"Yes, indeed, she is terribly afraid of him," returned Elizabeth.
"She has reason to dread his violence, I can see that. Once or twice
he has treated her with absolute cruelty, but then she owned he had
been drinking. You see," appealing to Malcolm, "it would be such a
relief to us all to know she was abroad, and in such kind hands; and
then, as Mrs. Godfrey says, she is so exactly fitted for the post.
She is very accomplished, speaks French, German, and Italian
fluently, and is a good reader. Oh, must you go?" as Malcolm looked
at his watch with some significance.
"I am afraid I must not lose this train," he replied hastily, "but I
shall hope to run down again in a week or two. You will let me know
how things go on," addressing Dinah, "and if there be anything I can
do for you?" and then he shook hands with Elizabeth rather hurriedly
and went off to secure his luggage.
"I hope we did not keep him too long," observed Elizabeth anxiously,
"for he is running as though he were late." But Dinah did not hear
her; she had already taken up her position by the window, and was
looking out for Cedric.
TRAVELLING THROUGH SAHARA
The hope I dreamed of was a dream--
Was but a dream; and now I wake
Exceeding comfortless, and worn and sad
For a dream's sake.
For the next few weeks Malcolm was much occupied with business, but
he contrived to pay a flying visit to Oxford, and to spend a few
hours with Dinah and Cedric. He had corresponded with Dinah
regularly, and her letters told him all he most wished to know. At
first they had been very sad. Cedric had broken down utterly on
seeing his sisters, and both she and Elizabeth had been very much
upset. The change in him was so great that they could hardly
recognise their bright-faced boy, and Dinah owned that they had been
shocked by the hard, reckless manner in which he had spoken. "I
think Mr. Jacobi's influence has done great harm," she wrote;
"Cedric says such extraordinary things sometimes, that I feel quite
frightened to hear him. He never used to talk so--surely Oxford
cannot have done this." Malcolm ground his teeth rather savagely
when he read this. "He has poisoned the wells," he said to himself a
second time. "There is no punishment too severe for one who tries to
contaminate the innocence of youth!"
Dinah's letters became more cheerful after a time. Cedric liked
having her near him, and she saw him for an hour or two every day.
Elizabeth had not come down again. David Carlyon was not well. He
had caught a fresh cold, and Elizabeth seemed worried about him, all
the more that his sister was with him, and Theo did not understand
nursing. "Theo Carlyon is rather an unsatisfactory person," wrote
By-and-by she gave him news of Leah Jacobi. Mrs. Godfrey's brilliant
idea was certainly likely to be verified. Mrs. Richardson had been
several times to the Manor House, she wrote, and had evidently taken
a fancy to Leah. A few days later there was still more satisfactory
"It is all arranged," she wrote triumphantly. "Mrs. Richardson has
engaged Miss Jacobi as a travelling companion, and will pay her a
handsome salary. They are to leave England in about ten days' time.
Mrs. Godfrey says that she and the Colonel will be quite sorry to
lose their guest--Miss Jacobi is so gentle and affectionate that
they have both grown fond of her; and Mrs. Godfrey predicts that
Mrs. Richardson will never part with her."
Malcolm paid his second visit to Oxford soon after the receipt of
this letter. Dinah was delighted to see him, and to hear that he
intended to spend a quiet Sunday with them.
"I was just going to write to you," she said, when the first
greetings had passed between them. "Cedric was so upset last night.
He had a letter from that odious man Jacobi. Such a letter! written
on a dirty scrap of paper in pencil. But I will show it to you;
Cedric left it here;" and Dinah unlocked her writing-case.
Malcolm frowned as he read it.
"I am up Queer Street, my boy," wrote Jacobi; "12 Gresham Gardens is
in the hands of the bailiffs, and every stick of furniture is to be
sold; and as England is rather too hot for me just now, I am going
to make tracks for New York. If I could see that sister of mine, I
would give her a piece of my mind. What a cursed fool the girl has
been! But it is all that fellow Herrick's fault. He is a deep one,
and he has a game of his own on hand; I am as sure of that as that
my name is Saul Jacobi. Well, ta-ta, old fellow, I will let you know
my diggings later on. Hang that fellow! if it had not been for him
we should have pulled the job through, and you would have had the
handsomest wife in Europe. Well, that game's played out, and I was
never the one to cry over spilt milk. 'A short life and a merry
one,' that's my creed.--Yours up to date,"
"SAUL MELCHIOR JACOBI."
"So we are rid of the brute for the present," observed Malcolm. The
expression seemed to alarm Dinah.
"For the present?" she repeated anxiously.
"My dear lady," he returned gravely, "do you suppose that we have
seen the last of Saul Jacobi?"
"Indeed--indeed, I hope so," very earnestly.
"Then 'hope told a flattering tale,' and you must not believe her,"
replied Malcolm smiling. "The Jacobis of this life are not so easily
shaken off. Like the horse-leech's daughters, they cry 'Give, give.'
I should not be the least surprised if a series of begging letters
with the New York postmark reached Cedric at due intervals."
"Oh, Mr. Herrick, what shall we do?"
"Do--why, put them in the fire unread. That will be my advice to
Cedric. I know exactly the sort of letters that fellow will write.
The first one will be jocular and friendly, and the business part
will be in the postscript; the second will be pathetic and somewhat
reproachful, and the demands more urgent; finally, if money is not
forthcoming, he will bluster and threaten and make himself
exceedingly unpleasant. Cedric must simply have no dealings with
him; and above all things, he must take no notice of his letters."
"I hope you will tell Cedric this." And Malcolm promised that he
would speak to him very plainly.
But Cedric was not the docile pupil of old. The lad's sweet
disposition and milk of human kindness had soured under the sudden
shock of his trouble; the loss of his sweetheart and the
consciousness of his own misconduct filled him with bitterness, and
made him at times very irritable. Dinah's gentleness suited him
better than Malcolm's bracing counsels, and her exceeding patience
with him in his fits of despondency sometimes roused him to
By Malcolm's advice she had told him in guarded terms that Leah was
well, and with friends who intended to take her abroad; but no
entreaties on Cedric's part could induce her to reveal the names of
Leah's protectors, or how she had received the information. Cedric
complained bitterly to Malcolm that they were all treating him like
"Not at all, my dear fellow," was Malcolm's answer; "it is by Miss
Jacobi's wish that we keep silence. The lady who has engaged her as
a companion is a stranger to all of us, but I believe she is a very
kind-hearted woman, and that Miss Jacobi will be very comfortable
"Comfortable--a companion--my beautiful Leah!"
But the pain was too great, and Cedric burst into tears. After all,
he was little more than a boy, and Malcolm remembered this and was
On Sunday afternoon, as they were coming out of chapel, Dinah said
suddenly, "I quite forgot to tell you that Mr. Rossiter has been at
the Manor House again, and has seen Leah, and quite approves of the
arrangement with Mrs. Richardson. He is going back to America, and
has promised to keep an eye on Saul Jacobi. He was quite
confidential with Leah."
"He is rather intimate with them," returned Malcolm; "indeed, I
believe he is in love with the fair Rebekah himself"--for he had
never forgotten Elizabeth's name for her. "Hugh Rossiter is a fine
fellow, and would suit her a hundred times better than poor old
Cedric. Oh well, he is too cunning a hunter to make a false shot,
but I have a notion that he will try again some day;" and then
Cedric came out and joined them, and they walked back to the
Malcolm was going back to town that evening, and when Cedric had
left them Dinah talked a little about her future plans.
"Cedric is so much better," she said, "that I think I can go home
next week. He will follow me in another fortnight, and I do not like
leaving Elizabeth so long alone."
"I think you told me that she was worried about Mr. Carlyon?"
returned Malcolm with manifest effort.
"Yes, indeed, and she may well be," replied Dinah with a sigh.
"Young men are so reckless and imprudent--at least David is. Just
think of his madness, Mr. Herrick. He is not strong, and he takes
cold more easily than other people. He got very wet taking a funeral
for a clergyman at Dinglefield, and when he reached home, instead of
changing his clothes, he went a mile farther to baptize a dying
child. He was soaking by the time he got back, and a bad feverish
cold set in. Elizabeth insisted that Dr. Randolph should see him;
and she wrote to Theo herself, but I fancy from her letters that she
rather repented of sending for her; but poultices were needed, and
Mrs. Pratt, his landlady, is simply an impossible woman. However,
things have worked so badly between them that Theo has gone back to
Stokeley, and Elizabeth declares that even her brother is thankful
to be rid of her. But he is better now."
"He is up and about again, but he doesn't lose his cough, and I can
see Elizabeth is anxious. You look surprised, but I assure you my
sister has some reason for her fears. David's mother was
consumptive, and two of his sisters died young of the same
complaint. Theo is the only robust one, and David knows well that he
ought to take care. Mr. Carlyon is always worrying about him."
Malcolm tried to express his sympathy properly, but he felt he
acquitted himself badly. Was this the reason, he wondered, why
Elizabeth had looked so grave? but he thought it wiser not to dwell
on the subject.
Malcolm was having a bad time just then. The excitement of the
Jacobi episode had roused him for a while, but now natural reaction
had set in, and the deadness and dulness of his daily routine