Part 11 out of 15
way for the investigation on which she was determined to enter
before she slept that night.
"So much for the indoor arrangements," she said. "You must be my
prime minister, Hopkins, while I lie helpless here. Is there any
thing wanted by the people out of doors? The coachman? The
"I have just seen the gardener, my lady. He came with last week's
accounts. I told him he couldn't see your ladyship to-day."
"Quite right. Had he any report to make?"
"No, my lady."
"Surely, there was something I wanted to say to him--or to
somebody else? My memorandum-book, Hopkins. In the basket, on
that chair. Why wasn't the basket placed by my bedside?"
Hopkins brought the memorandum-book. Lady Lundie consulted it
(without the slightest necessity), with the same masterly gravity
exhibited by the doctor when he wrote her prescription (without
the slightest necessity also).
"Here it is," she said, recovering the lost remembrance. "Not the
gardener, but the gardener's wife. A memorandum to speak to her
about Mrs. Inchbare. Observe, Hopkins, the association of ideas.
Mrs. Inchbare is associated with the poultry; the poultry are
associated with the gardener's wife; the gardener's wife is
associated with the gardener--and so the gardener gets into my
head. Do you see it? I am always trying to improve your mind. You
do see it? Very well. Now about Mrs. Inchbare? Has she been here
"No, my lady."
"I am not at all sure, Hopkins, that I was right in declining to
consider the message Mrs. Inchbare sent to me about the poultry.
Why shouldn't she offer to take any fowls that I can spare off my
hands? She is a respectable woman; and it is important to me to
live on good terms with al my neighbors, great and small. Has she
got a poultry-yard of her own at Craig Fernie?"
"Yes, my lady. And beautifully kept, I am told."
"I really don't see--on reflection, Hopkins--why I should
hesitate to deal with Mrs. Inchbare. (I don't think it beneath me
to sell the game killed on my estate to the poulterer.) What was
it she wanted to buy? Some of my black Spanish fowls?"
"Yes, my lady. Your ladyship's black Spaniards are famous all
round the neighborhood. Nobody has got the breed. And Mrs.
"Wants to share the distinction of having the breed with me,"
said Lady Lundie. "I won't appear ungracious. I will see her
myself, as soon as I am a little better, and tell her that I have
changed my mind. Send one of the men to Craig Fernie with a
message. I can't keep a trifling matter of this sort in my
memory--send him at once, or I may forget it. He is to say I am
willing to see Mrs. Inchbare, about the fowls, the first time she
finds it convenient to come this way."
"I am afraid, my lady--Mrs. Inchbare's heart is so set on the
black Spaniards--she will find it convenient to come this way at
once as fast as her feet can carry her."
"In that case, you must take her to the gardener's wife. Say she
is to have some eggs--on condition, of course, of paying the
price for them. If she does come, mind I hear of it."
Hopkins withdrew. Hopkins's mistress reclined on her comfortable
pillows and fanned herself gently. The vindictive smile
reappeared on her face. "I fancy I shall be well enough to see
Mrs. Inchbare," she thought to herself. "And it is just possible
that the conversation may get beyond the relative merits of her
poultry-yard and mine."
A lapse of little more than two hours proved Hopkins's estimate
of the latent enthusiasm in Mrs. Inchbare's character to have
been correctly formed. The eager landlady appeared at Windygates
on the heels of the returning servant. Among the long list of
human weaknesses, a passion for poultry seems to have its
practical advantages (in the shape of eggs) as compared with the
more occult frenzies for collecting snuff-boxes and fiddles, and
amassing autographs and old postage-stamps. When the mistress of
Craig Fernie was duly announced to the mistress of Windygates,
Lady Lundie developed a sense of humor for the first time in her
life. Her ladyship was feebly merry (the result, no doubt, of the
exhilarating properties of the red lavender draught) on the
subject of Mrs. Inchbare and the Spanish fowls.
"Most ridiculous, Hopkins! This poor woman must be suffering from
a determination of poultry to the brain. Ill as I am, I should
have thought that nothing could amuse me. But, really, this good
creature starting up, and rushing here, as you say, as fast as
her feet can carry her--it's impossible to resist it! I
positively think I must see Mrs. Inchbare. With my active habits,
this imprisonment to my room is dreadful. I can neither sleep nor
read. Any thing, Hopkins, to divert my mind from myself: It's
easy to get rid of her if she is too much for me. Send her up."
Mrs. Inchbare made her appearance, courtesying deferentially;
amazed at the condescension which admitted her within the
hallowed precincts of Lady Lundie's room.
"Take a chair," said her ladyship, graciously. "I am suffering
from illness, as you perceive."
"My certie! sick or well, yer leddyship's a braw sight to see!"
returned Mrs. Inchbare profoundly impressed by the elegant
costume which illness assumes when illness appears in the regions
of high life.
"I am far from being in a fit state to receive any body,"
proceeded Lady Lundie. "But I had a motive for wishing to speak
to you when you next came to my house. I failed to treat a
proposal you made to me, a short time since, in a friendly and
neighborly way. I beg you to understand that I regret having
forgotten the consideration due from a person in my position to a
person in yours. I am obliged to say this under very unusual
circumstances," added her ladyship, with a glance round her
magnificent bedroom, "through your unexpected promptitude in
favoring me with a call. You have lost no time, Mrs. Inchbare, in
profiting by the message which I had the pleasure of sending to
"Eh, my leddy, I wasna' that sure (yer leddyship having ance
changed yer mind) but that ye might e'en change again if I failed
to strike, as they say, while the iron's het. I crave yer pardon,
I'm sure, if I ha' been ower hasty. The pride o' my hairt's in my
powltry--and the black Spaniards' (as they ca' them) are a sair
temptation to me to break the tenth commandment, sae lang as
they're a' in yer leddyship's possession, and nane o' them in
"I am shocked to hear that I have been the innocent cause of your
falling into temptation, Mrs. Inchbare! Make your proposal--and I
shall be happy to meet it, if I can."
"I must e'en be content wi' what yer leddyship will condescend
on. A haitch o' eggs if I can come by naething else."
"There is something else you would prefer to a hatch of eggs?"
"I wad prefer," said Mrs. Inchbare, modestly, "a cock and twa
"Open the case on the table behind you," said Lady Lundie, "and
you will find some writing paper inside. Give me a sheet of
it--and the pencil out of the tray."
Eagerly watched by Mrs. Inchbare, she wrote an order to the
poultry-woman, and held it out with a gracious smile.
"Take that to the gardener's wife. If you agree with her about
the price, you can have the cock and the two pullets."
Mrs. Inchbare opened her lips--no doubt to express the utmost
extremity of human gratitude. Before she had said three words,
Lady Lundie's impatience to reach the end which she had kept in
view from the time when Mrs. Glenarm had left the house burst the
bounds which had successfully restrained it thus far. Stopping
the landlady without ceremony, she fairly forced the conversation
to the subject of Anne Silvester's proceedings at the Craig
"How are you getting on at the hotel, Mrs. Inchbare? Plenty of
tourists, I suppose, at this time of year?"
"Full, my leddy (praise Providence), frae the basement to the
"You had a visitor, I think, some time since of whom I know
something? A person--" She paused, and put a strong constraint on
herself. There was no alternative but to yield to the hard
necessity of making her inquiry intelligible. "A lady," she
added, "who came to you about the middle of last month."
"Could yer leddyship condescend on her name?"
Lady Lundie put a still stronger constraint on herself.
"Silvester," she said, sharply.
"Presairve us a'!" cried Mrs. Inchbare. "It will never be the
same that cam' driftin' in by hersel'--wi' a bit bag in her hand,
and a husband left daidling an hour or mair on the road behind
"I have no doubt it is the same."
"Will she be a freend o' yer leddyship's?" asked Mrs. Inchbare,
feeling her ground cautiously.
"Certainly not!" said Lady Lundie. "I felt a passing curiosity
about her--nothing more."
Mrs. Inchbare looked relieved. "To tell ye truth, my leddy, there
was nae love lost between us. She had a maisterfu' temper o' her
ain--and I was weel pleased when I'd seen the last of her."
"I can quite understand that, Mrs. Inchbare--I know something of
her temper myself. Did I understand you to say that she came to
your hotel alone, and that her husband joined her shortly
"E'en sae, yer leddyship. I was no' free to gi' her house-room in
the hottle till her husband daidled in at her heels and answered
"I fancy I must have seen her husband," said Lady Lundie. "What
sort of a man was he?"
Mrs. Inchbare replied in much the same words which she had used
in answering the similar question put by Sir Patrick.
"Eh! he was ower young for the like o' _her._ A pratty man, my
leddy--betwixt tall and short; wi' bonny brown eyes and cheeks,
and fine coal-blaik hair. A nice douce-spoken lad. I hae naething
to say against him--except that he cam' late one day, and took
leg-bail betimes the next morning, and left madam behind, a load
on my hands."
The answer produced precisely the same effect on Lady Lundie
which it had produced on Sir Patrick. She, also, felt that it was
too vaguely like too many young men of no uncommon humor and
complexion to be relied on. But her ladyship possessed one
immense advantage over her brother-in-law in attempting to arrive
at the truth. _She_ suspected Arnold--and it was possible, in her
case, to assist Mrs. Inchbare's memory by hints contributed from
her own superior resources of experience and observation.
"Had he any thing about him of the look and way of a sailor?" she
asked. "And did you notice, when you spoke to him, that he had a
habit of playing with a locket on his watch-chain?"
There he is, het aff to a T!" cried Mrs. Inchbare. "Yer
leddyship's weel acquented wi' him--there's nae doot o' that."
"I thought I had seen him," said Lady Lundie. "A modest,
well-behaved young man, Mrs. Inchbare, as you say. Don't let me
keep you any longer from the poultry-yard. I am transgressing the
doctor's orders in seeing any body. We quite understand each
other now, don't we? Very glad to have seen you. Good-evening."
So she dismissed Mrs. Inchbare, when Mrs. Inchbare had served her
Most women, in her position, would have been content with the
information which she had now obtained. But Lady Lundie--having a
man like Sir Patrick to deal with--determined to be doubly sure
of her facts before she ventured on interfering at Ham Farm. She
had learned from Mrs. Inchbare that the so-called husband of Anne
Silvester had joined her at Craig Fernie on the day when she
arrived at the inn, and had left her again the next morning. Anne
had made her escape from Windygates on the occasion of the
lawn-party--that is to say, on the fourteenth of August. On the
same day Arnold Brinkworth had taken his departure for the
purpose of visiting the Scotch property left to him by his aunt.
If Mrs. Inchbare was to be depended on, he must have gone to
Craig Fernie instead of going to his appointed destination--and
must, therefore, have arrived to visit his house and lands one
day later than the day which he had originally set apart for that
purpose. If this fact could be proved, on the testimony of a
disinterested witness, the case against Arnold would be
strengthened tenfold; and Lady Lundie might act on her discovery
with something like a certainty that her information was to be
After a little consideration she decided on sending a messenger
with a note of inquiry addressed to Arnold's steward. The apology
she invented to excuse and account for the strangeness of the
proposed question, referred it to a little family discussion as
to the exact date of Arnold's arrival at his estate, and to a
friendly wager in which the difference of opinion had ended. If
the steward could state whether his employer had arrived on the
fourteenth or on the fifteenth of August, that was all that would
be wanted to decide the question in dispute.
Having written in those terms, Lady Lundie gave the necessary
directions for having the note delivered at the earliest possible
hour on the next morning; the messenger being ordered to make his
way back to Windygates by the first return train on the same day.
This arranged, her ladyship was free to refresh herself with
another dose of the red lavender draught, and to sleep the sleep
of the just who close their eyes with the composing conviction
that they have done their duty.
The events of the next day at Windygates succeeded each other in
due course, as follows:
The post arrived, and brought no reply from Sir Patrick. Lady
Lundie entered that incident on her mental register of debts owed
by her brother-in-law--to be paid, with interest, when the day of
Next in order occurred the return of the messenger with the
He had referred to his Diary; and he had discovered that Mr.
Brinkworth had written beforehand to announce his arrival at his
estate for the fourteenth of August--but that he had not actually
appeared until the fifteenth. The one discovery needed to
substantiate Mrs. Inchbare's evidence being now in Lady Lundie's
possession, she decided to allow another day to pass--on the
chance that Sir Patrick might al ter his mind, and write to her.
If no letter arrived, and if nothing more was received from
Blanche, she resolved to leave Windygates by the next morning's
train, and to try the bold experiment of personal interference at
The third in the succession of events was the appearance of the
doctor to pay his professional visit.
A severe shock awaited him. He found his patient cured by the
draught! It was contrary to all rule and precedent; it savored of
quackery--the red lavender had no business to do what the red
lavender had done--but there she was, nevertheless, up and
dressed, and contemplating a journey to London on the next day
but one. "An act of duty, doctor, is involved in this--whatever
the sacrifice, I must go!" No other explanation could be
obtained. The patient was plainly determined--nothing remained
for the physician but to retreat with unimpaired dignity and a
paid fee. He did it. "Our art," he explained to Lady Lundie in
confidence, "is nothing, after all, but a choice between
alternatives. For instance. I see you--not cured, as you
think--but sustained by abnormal excitement. I have to ask which
is the least of the two evils--to risk letting you travel, or to
irritate you by keeping you at home. With your constitution, we
must risk the journey. Be careful to keep the window of the
carriage up on the side on which the wind blows. Let the
extremities be moderately warm, and the mind easy--and pray don't
omit to provide yourself with a second bottle of the Mixture
before you start." He made his bow, as before--he slipped two
guineas into his pocket, as before--and he went his way, as
before, with an approving conscience, in the character of a
physician who had done his duty. (What an enviable profession is
Medicine! And why don't we all belong to it?)
The last of the events was the arrival of Mrs. Glenarm.
"Well?" she began, eagerly, "what news?"
The narrative of her ladyship's discoveries--recited at full
length; and the announcement of her ladyship's
resolution--declared in the most uncompromising terms--raised
Mrs. Glenarm's excitement to the highest pitch.
"You go to town on Saturday?" she said. "I will go with you. Ever
since that woman declared she should be in London before me, I
have been dying to hasten my journey--and it is such an
opportunity to go with you! I can easily manage it. My uncle and
I were to have met in London, early next week, for the foot-race.
I have only to write and tell him of my change of
plans.--By-the-by, talking of my uncle, I have heard, since I saw
you, from the lawyers at Perth."
"More anonymous letters?"
"One more--received by the lawyers this time. My unknown
correspondent has written to them to withdraw his proposal, and
to announce that he has left Perth. The lawyers recommended me to
stop my uncle from spending money uselessly in employing the
London police. I have forwarded their letter to the captain; and
he will probably be in town to see his solicitors as soon as I
get there with you. So much for what _I_ have done in this
matter. Dear Lady Lundie--when we are at our journey's end, what
do _you_ mean to do?"
"My course is plain," answered her ladyship, calmly. "Sir Patrick
will hear from me, on Sunday morning next, at Ham Farm."
"Telling him what you have found out?"
"Certainly not! Telling him that I find myself called to London
by business, and that I propose paying him a short visit on
"Of course, he must receive you?"
"I think there is no doubt of that. Even _his_ hatred of his
brother's widow can hardly go to the length--after leaving my
letter unanswered--of closing his doors against me next."
"How will you manage it when you get there?"
"When I get there, my dear, I shall be breathing an atmosphere of
treachery and deceit; and, for my poor child's sake (abhorrent as
all dissimulation is to me), I must be careful what I do. Not a
word will escape my lips until I have first seen Blanche in
private. However painful it may be, I shall not shrink from my
duty, if my duty compels me to open her eyes to the truth. Sir
Patrick and Mr. Brinkworth will have somebody else besides an
inexperienced young creature to deal with on Monday next. I shall
With that formidable announcement, Lady Lundie closed the
conversation; and Mrs. Glenarm rose to take her leave.
"We meet at the Junction, dear Lady Lundie?"
"At the Junction, on Saturday."
ELEVENTH SCENE.--SIR PATRICK'S HOUSE.
CHAPTER THE FORTY-SECOND.
THE SMOKING-ROOM WINDOW.
"I CAN'T believe it! I won't believe it! You're trying to part me
from my husband--you're trying to set me against my dearest
friend. It's infamous. It's horrible. What have I done to you?
Oh, my head! my head! Are you trying to drive me mad?"
Pale and wild; her hands twisted in her hair; her feet hurrying
her aimlessly to and fro in the room--so Blanche answered her
step-mother, when the object of Lady Lundie's pilgrimage had been
accomplished, and the cruel truth had been plainly told.
Her ladyship sat, superbly composed, looking out through the
window at the placid landscape of woods and fields which
surrounded Ham Farm.
"I was prepared for this outbreak," she said, sadly. "These wild
words relieve your over-burdened heart, my poor child. I can
wait, Blanche--I can wait!"
Blanche stopped, and confronted Lady Lundie.
"You and I never liked each other," she said. "I wrote you a pert
letter from this place. I have always taken Anne's part against
you. I have shown you plainly--rudely, I dare say--that I was
glad to be married and get away from you. This is not your
revenge, is it?"
"Oh, Blanche, Blanche, what thoughts to think! what words to say!
I can only pray for you."
"I am mad, Lady Lundie. You bear with mad people. Bear with me. I
have been hardly more than a fortnight married. I love _him_--I
love _her_--with all my heart. Remember what you have told me
about them. Remember! remember! remember!"
She reiterated the words with a low cry of pain. Her hands went
up to her head again; and she returned restlessly to pacing this
way and that in the room.
Lady Lundie tried the effect of a gentle remonstrance. "For your
own sake," she said, "don't persist in estranging yourself from
me. In this dreadful trial, I am the only friend you have."
Blanche came back to her step-mother's chair; and looked at her
steadily, in silence. Lady Lundie submitted to inspection--and
bore it perfectly.
"Look into my heart," she said. "Blanche! it bleeds for you!"
Blanche heard, without heeding. Her mind was painfully intent on
its own thoughts. "You are a religious woman," she said,
abruptly. "Will you swear on your Bible, that what you told me is
"_My_ Bible!" repeated Lady Lundie with sorrowful emphasis. "Oh,
my child! have _you_ no part in that precious inheritance? Is it
not _your_ Bible, too?"
A momentary triumph showed itself in Blanche's face. "You daren't
swear it!" she said. "That's enough for me!"
She turned away scornfully. Lady Lundie caught her by the hand,
and drew her sharply back. The suffering saint disappeared, and
the woman who was no longer to be trifled with took her place.
"There must be an end to this," she said. "You don't believe what
I have told you. Have you courage enough to put it to the test?"
Blanche started, and released her hand. She trembled a little.
There was a horrible certainty of conviction expressed in Lady
Lundie's sudden change of manner.
"How?" she asked.
"You shall see. Tell me the truth, on your side, first. Where is
Sir Patrick? Is he really out, as his servant told me?"
"Yes. He is out with the farm bailiff. You have taken us all by
surprise. You wrote that we were to expect you by the next
"When does the next train arrive? It is eleven o'clock now."
"Between one and two."
"Sir Patrick will not be back till then?"
"Not till then."
"Where is Mr. Brinkworth?"
"Your husband--if you like. Is he out, too?"
"He is in the smoking-room."
"Do you mean the long room, built out from the back of the
"Come down stairs at once with me."
Blanche advanced a step--and drew back. "What do you want of me?"
she asked, inspired by a
Lady Lundie turned round, and looked at her impatiently.
"Can't you see yet," she said, sharply, "that your interest and
my interest in this matter are one? What have I told you?"
"Don't repeat it!"
"I must repeat it! I have told you that Arnold Brinkworth was
privately at Craig Fernie, with Miss Silvester, in the
acknowledged character of her husband--when we supposed him to be
visiting the estate left him by his aunt. You refuse to believe
it--and I am about to put it to the proof. Is it your interest or
is it not, to know whether this man deserves the blind belief
that you place in him?"
Blanche trembled from head to foot, and made no reply.
"I am going into the garden, to speak to Mr. Brinkworth through
the smoking-room window," pursued her ladyship. "Have you the
courage to come with me; to wait behind out of sight; and to hear
what he says with his own lips? I am not afraid of putting it to
that test. Are you?"
The tone in which she asked the question roused Blanche's spirit.
"If I believed him to be guilty," she said, resolutely, "I should
_not_ have the courage. I believe him to be innocent. Lead the
way, Lady Lundie, as soon as you please."
They left the room--Blanche's own room at Ham Farm--and descended
to the hall. Lady Lundie stopped, and consulted the railway
time-table hanging near the house-door.
"There is a train to London at a quarter to twelve," she said.
"How long does it take to walk to the station?"
"Why do you ask?"
"You will soon know. Answer my question."
"It's a walk of twenty minutes to the station."
Lady Lundie referred to her watch. "There will be just time," she
"Time for what?"
"Come into the garden."
With that answer, she led the way out
The smoking-room projected at right angles from the wall of the
house, in an oblong form--with a bow-window at the farther end,
looking into the garden. Before she turned the corner, and showed
herself within the range of view from the window Lady Lundie
looked back, and signed to Blanche to wait behind the angle of
the wall. Blanche waited.
The next instant she heard the voices in conversation through the
open window. Arnold's voice was the first that spoke.
"Lady Lundie! Why, we didn't expect you till luncheon time!"
Lady Lundie was ready with her answer.
"I was able to leave town earlier than I had anticipated. Don't
put out your cigar; and don't move. I am not coming in."
The quick interchange of question and answer went on; every word
being audible in the perfect stillness of the place. Arnold was
the next to speak.
"Have you seen Blanche?"
"Blanche is getting ready to go out with me. We mean to have a
walk together. I have many things to say to her. Before we go, I
have something to say to _you._"
"Is it any thing very serious?"
"It is most serious."
"About you. I know where you went on the evening of my lawn-party
at Windygates--you went to Craig Fernie."
"Good Heavens! how did you find out--?"
"I know whom you went to meet--Miss Silvester. I know what is
said of you and of her--you are man and wife."
"Hush! don't speak so loud. Somebody may hear you!"
"What does it matter if they do? I am the only person whom you
have kept out of the secret. You all of you know it here."
"Nothing of the sort! Blanche doesn't know it."
"What! Neither you nor Sir Patrick has told Blanche of the
situation you stand in at this moment?"
"Not yet. Sir Patrick leaves it to me. I haven't been able to
bring myself to do it. Don't say a word, I entreat you. I don't
know how Blanche may interpret it. Her friend is expected in
London to-morrow. I want to wait till Sir Patrick can bring them
together. Her friend will break it to her better than I can. It's
_my_ notion. Sir Patrick thinks it a good one. Stop! you're not
going away already?"
"She will be here to look for me if I stay any longer."
"One word! I want to know--"
"You shall know later in the day."
Her ladyship appeared again round the angle of the wall. The next
words that passed were words spoken in a whisper.
"Are you satisfied now, Blanche?"
"Have you mercy enough left, Lady Lundie, to take me away from
"My dear child! Why else did I look at the time-table in the
CHAPTER THE FORTY-THIRD.
ARNOLD'S mind was far from easy when he was left by himself again
in the smoking-room.
After wasting some time in vainly trying to guess at the source
from which Lady Lundie had derived her information, he put on his
hat, and took the direction which led to Blanche's favorite walk
at Ham Farm. Without absolutely distrusting her ladyship's
discretion, the idea had occurred to him that he would do well to
join his wife and her step-mother. By making a third at the
interview between them, he might prevent the conversation from
assuming a perilously confidential turn.
The search for the ladies proved useless. They had not taken the
direction in which he supposed them to have gone.
He returned to the smoking-room, and composed himself to wait for
events as patiently as he might. In this passive position--with
his thoughts still running on Lady Lundie--his memory reverted to
a brief conversation between Sir Patrick and himself, occasioned,
on the previous day, by her ladyship's announcement of her
proposed visit to Ham Farm. Sir Patrick had at once expressed his
conviction that his sister-in-law's journey south had some
acknowledged purpose at the bottom of it.
"I am not at all sure, Arnold" (he had said), "that I have done
wisely in leaving her letter unanswered. And I am strongly
disposed to think that the safest course will be to take her into
the secret when she comes to-morrow. We can't help the position
in which we are placed. It was impossible (without admitting your
wife to our confidence) to prevent Blanche from writing that
unlucky letter to her--and, even if we had prevented it, she must
have heard in other ways of your return to England. I don't doubt
my own discretion, so far; and I don't doubt the convenience of
keeping her in the dark, as a means of keeping her from meddling
in this business of yours, until I have had time to set it right.
But she may, by some unlucky accident, discover the truth for
herself--and, in that case, I strongly distrust the influence
which she might attempt to exercise on Blanche's mind."
Those were the words--and what had happened on the day after they
had been spoken? Lady Lundie _had_ discovered the truth; and she
was, at that moment, alone somewhere with Blanche. Arnold took up
his hat once more, and set forth on the search for the ladies in
The second expedition was as fruitless as the first. Nothing was
to be seen, and nothing was to be heard, of Lady Lundie and
Arnold's watch told him that it was not far from the time when
Sir Patrick might be expected to return. In all probability,
while he had been looking for them, the ladies had gone back by
some other way to the house. He entered the rooms on the
ground-floor, one after another. They were all empty. He went up
stairs, and knocked at the door of Blanche's room. There was no
answer. He opened the door and looked in. The room was empty,
like the rooms down stairs. But, close to the entrance, there was
a trifling circumstance to attract notice, in the shape of a note
lying on the carpet. He picked it up, and saw that it was
addressed to him in the handwriting of his wife.
He opened it. The note began, without the usual form of address,
in these words:
"I know the abominable secret that you and my uncle have hidden
from me. I know _your_ infamy, and _her_ infamy, and the position
in which, thanks to you and to her, I now stand. Reproaches would
be wasted words, addressed to such a man as you are. I write
these lines to tell you that I have placed myself under my
step-mother's protection in London. It is useless to attempt to
follow me. Others will find out whether the ceremony of marriage
which you went through with me is binding on you or not. For
myself, I know enough already. I have gone, never to come back,
and never to let you see me again.--Blanche."
Hurrying headlong down the stairs with but one clear idea in his
mind--the idea of instantly following his wife--Arnold
encountered Sir Patrick, standing by a table in the hall, on
which cards and notes left by visitors were usually placed, with
an open letter in his hand. Seeing in an instant what had
happened, he threw one of his arms round Arnold, and stopped him
at the house-door.
"You are a man," he said, firmly. "Bear it like a man."
Arnold's head fell on the shoulder of his kind old friend. He
burst into tears.
Sir Patrick let the irrepressible outbreak of grief have its way.
In those first moments, silence was mercy. He said nothing. The
letter which he had been reading (from Lady Lundie, it is
needless to say), dropped unheeded at his feet.
Arnold lifted his head, and dashed away the tears.
"I am ashamed of myself," he said. "Let me go."
"Wrong, my poor fellow--doubly wrong!" returned Sir Patrick.
"There is no shame in shedding such tears as those. And there is
nothing to be done by leaving _me._"
"I must and will see her!"
"Read that," said Sir Patrick, pointing to the letter on the
floor. "See your wife? Your wife is with the woman who has
written those lines. Read them."
Arnold read them.
"DEAR SIR PATRICK,--If you had honored me with your confidence, I
should have been happy to consult you before I interfered to
rescue Blanche from the position in which Mr. Brinkworth has
placed her. As it is, your late brother's child is under my
protection at my house in London. If _you_ attempt to exercise
your authority, it must be by main force--I will submit to
nothing less. If Mr. Brinkworth attempts to exercise _his_
authority, he shall establish his right to do so (if he can) in a
"Very truly yours, JULIA LUNDIE.
Arnold's resolution was not to be shaken even by this. "What do I
care," he burst out, hotly, "whether I am dragged through the
streets by the police or not! I _will_ see my wife. I _will_
clear myself of the horrible suspicion she has about me. You have
shown me your letter. Look at mine!"
Sir Patrick's clear sense saw the wild words that Blanche had
written in their true light.
"Do you hold your wife responsible for that letter?" be asked. "I
see her step-mother in every line of it. You descend to something
unworthy of you, if you seriously defend yourself against _this!_
You can't see it? You persist in holding to your own view? Write,
then. You can't get to her--your letter may. No! When you leave
this house, you leave it with me. I have conceded something on my
side, in allowing you to write. I insist on your conceding
something, on your side, in return. Come into the library! I
answer for setting things right between you and Blanche, if you
will place your interests in my hands. Do you trust me or not?"
Arnold yielded. They went into the library together. Sir Patrick
pointed to the writing-table. "Relieve your mind there," he said.
"And let me find you a reasonable man again when I come back."
When he returned to the library the letter was written; and
Arnold's mind was so far relieved--for the time at least.
"I shall take your letter to Blanche myself," said Sir Patrick,
"by the train that leaves for London in half an hour's time."
"You will let me go with you?"
"Not to-day. I shall be back this evening to dinner. You shall
hear all that has happened; and you shall accompany me to London
to-morrow--if I find it necessary to make any lengthened stay
there. Between this and then, after the shock that you have
suffered, you will do well to be quiet here. Be satisfied with my
assurance that Blanche shall have your letter. I will force my
authority on her step-mother to that extent (if her step-mother
resists) without scruple. The respect in which I hold the sex
only lasts as long as the sex deserves it--and does _not_ extend
to Lady Lundie. There is no advantage that a man can take of a
woman which I am not fully prepared to take of my sister-in-law."
With that characteristic farewell, he shook hands with Arnold,
and departed for the station.
At seven o'clock the dinner was on the table. At seven o'clock
Sir Patrick came down stairs to eat it, as perfectly dressed as
usual, and as composed as if nothing had happened.
"She has got your letter," he whispered, as he took Arnold's arm,
and led him into the dining-room.
"Did she say any thing?"
"Not a word."
"How did she look?"
"As she ought to look--sorry for what she has done."
The dinner began. As a matter of necessity, the subject of Sir
Patrick's expedition was dropped while the servants were in the
room--to be regularly taken up again by Arnold in the intervals
between the courses. He began when the soup was taken away.
"I confess I had hoped to see Blanche come back with you!" he
said, sadly enough.
"In other words," returned Sir Patrick, "you forgot the native
obstinacy of the sex. Blanche is beginning to feel that she has
been wrong. What is the necessary consequence? She naturally
persists in being wrong. Let her alone, and leave your letter to
have its effect. The serious difficulties in our way don't rest
with Blanche. Content yourself with knowing that."
The fish came in, and Arnold was silenced--until his next
opportunity came with the next interval in the course of the
"What are the difficulties?" he asked
"The difficulties are my difficulties and yours," answered Sir
Patrick. "My difficulty is, that I can't assert my authority, as
guardian, if I assume my niece (as I do) to be a married woman.
Your difficulty is, that you can't assert your authority as her
husband, until it is distinctly proved that you and Miss
Silvester are not man and wife. Lady Lundie was perfectly aware
that she would place us in that position, when she removed
Blanche from this house. She has cross-examined Mrs. Inchbare;
she has written to your steward for the date of your arrival at
your estate; she has done every thing, calculated every thing,
and foreseen every thing--except my excellent temper. The one
mistake she has made, is in thinking she could get the better of
_that._ No, my dear boy! My trump card is my temper. I keep it in
my hand, Arnold--I keep it in my hand!"
The next course came in--and there was an end of the subject
again. Sir Patrick enjoyed his mutton, and entered on a long and
interesting narrative of the history of some rare white Burgundy
on the table imported by himself. Arnold resolutely resumed the
discussion with the departure of the mutton.
"It seems to be a dead lock," he said.
"No slang!" retorted Sir Patrick.
"For Heaven's sake, Sir, consider my anxiety, and tell me what
you propose to do!"
"I propose to take you to London with me to-morrow, on this
condition--that you promise me, on your word of honor, not to
attempt to see your wife before Saturday next."
"I shall see her then?"
"If you give me your promise."
"I do! I do!"
The next course came in. Sir Patrick entered on the question of
the merits of the partridge, viewed as an eatable bird, "By
himself, Arnold--plainly roasted, and tested on his own
merits--an overrated bird. Being too fond of shooting him in this
country, we become too fond of eating him next. Properly
understood, he is a vehicle for sauce and truffles--nothing more.
Or no--that is hardly doing him justice. I am bound to add that
he is honorably associated with the famous French receipt for
cooking an olive. Do you know it?"
There was an end of the bird; there was an end of the jelly.
Arnold got his next chance--and took it.
"What is to be done in London to-morrow?" he asked.
"To-morrow," answered Sir Patrick, "is a memorable day in our
calendar. To-morrow is Tuesday--the day on which I am to see Miss
Arnold set down the glass of wine which he was just raising to
"After what has happened," he said, "I can hardly bear to hear
her name mentioned. Miss Silvester has parted me from my wife."
"Miss Silvester may atone for that, Arnold, by uniting you
"She has been the ruin of me so far."
"She may be the salvation of you yet."
The cheese came in; and Sir Patrick returned to the Art of
"Do you know the receipt for cooking an olive, Arnold?"
"What _does_ the new
generation know? It knows how to row, how to shoot, how to play
at cricket, and how to bat. When it has lost its muscle and lost
its money--that is to say, when it has grown old--what a
generation it will be! It doesn't matter: I sha'n't live to see
it. Are you listening, Arnold?"
"How to cook an olive! Put an olive into a lark, put a lark into
a quail; put a quail into a plover; put a plover into a
partridge; put a partridge into a pheasant; put a pheasant into a
turkey. Good. First, partially roast, then carefully stew--until
all is thoroughly done down to the olive. Good again. Next, open
the window. Throw out the turkey, the pheasant, the partridge,
the plover, the quail, and the lark. _Then, eat the olive._ The
dish is expensive, but (we have it on the highest authority) well
worth the sacrifice. The quintessence of the flavor of six birds,
concentrated in one olive. Grand idea! Try another glass of the
white Burgundy, Arnold."
At last the servants left them--with the wine and dessert on the
"I have borne it as long as I can, Sir," said Arnold. "Add to all
your kindness to me by telling me at once what happened at Lady
It was a chilly evening. A bright wood fire was burning in the
room. Sir Patrick drew his chair to the fire.
"This is exactly what happened," he said. "I found company at
Lady Lundie's, to begin with. Two perfect strangers to me.
Captain Newenden, and his niece, Mrs. Glenarm. Lady Lundie
offered to see me in another room; the two strangers offered to
withdraw. I declined both proposals. First check to her ladyship!
She has reckoned throughout, Arnold, on our being afraid to face
public opinion. I showed her at starting that we were as ready to
face it as she was. 'I always accept what the French call
accomplished facts,' I said. 'You have brought matters to a
crisis, Lady Lundie. So let it be. I have a word to say to my
niece (in your presence, if you like); and I have another word to
say to you afterward--without presuming to disturb your guests.'
The guests sat down again (both naturally devoured by curiosity).
Could her ladyship decently refuse me an interview with my own
niece, while two witnesses were looking on? Impossible. I saw
Blanche (Lady Lundie being present, it is needless to say) in the
back drawing-room. I gave her your letter; I said a good word for
you; I saw that she was sorry, though she wouldn't own it--and
that was enough. We went back into the front drawing-room. I had
not spoken five words on our side of the question before it
appeared, to my astonishment and delight, that Captain Newenden
was in the house on the very question that had brought me into
the house--the question of you and Miss Silvester. My business,
in the interests of _my_ niece, was to deny your marriage to the
lady. His business, in the interests of _his_ niece, was to
assert your marriage to the lady. To the unutterable disgust of
the two women, we joined issue, in the most friendly manner, on
the spot. 'Charmed to have the pleasure of meeting you, Captain
Newenden.'--'Delighted to have the honor of making your
acquaintance, Sir Patrick.'--'I think we can settle this in two
minutes?'--'My own idea perfectly expressed.'--'State your
position, Captain.'--'With the greatest pleasure. Here is my
niece, Mrs. Glenarm, engaged to marry Mr. Geoffrey Delamayn. All
very well, but there happens to be an obstacle--in the shape of a
lady. Do I put it plainly?'--'You put it admirably, Captain; but
for the loss to the British navy, you ought to have been a
lawyer. Pray, go on.'--'You are too good, Sir Patrick. I resume.
Mr. Delamayn asserts that this person in the back-ground has no
claim on him, and backs his assertion by declaring that she is
married already to Mr. Arnold Brinkworth. Lady Lundie and my
niece assure me, on evidence which satisfies _them,_ that the
assertion is true. The evidence does not satisfy _me._ 'I hope,
Sir Patrick, I don't strike you as being an excessively obstinate
man?'--'My dear Sir, you impress me with the highest opinion of
your capacity for sifting human testimony! May I ask, next, what
course you mean to take?'--'The very thing I was going to
mention, Sir Patrick! This is my course. I refuse to sanction my
niece's engagement to Mr. Delamayn, until Mr. Delamayn has
actually proved his statement by appeal to witnesses of the
lady's marriage. He refers me to two witnesses; but declines
acting at once in the matter for himself, on the ground that he
is in training for a foot-race. I admit that that is an obstacle,
and consent to arrange for bringing the two witnesses to London
myself. By this post I have written to my lawyers in Perth to
look the witnesses up; to offer them the necessary terms (at Mr.
Delamayn's expense) for the use of their time; and to produce
them by the end of the week. The footrace is on Thursday next.
Mr. Delamayn will be able to attend after that, and establish his
own assertion by his own witnesses. What do you say, Sir Patrick,
to Saturday next (with Lady Lundie's permission) in this
room?'--There is the substance of the captain's statement. He is
as old as I am and is dressed to look like thirty; but a very
pleasant fellow for all that. I struck my sister-in-law dumb by
accepting the proposal without a moment's hesitation. Mrs.
Glenarm and Lady Lundie looked at each other in mute amazement.
Here was a difference about which two women would have mortally
quarreled; and here were two men settling it in the friendliest
possible manner. I wish you had seen Lady Lundie's face, when I
declared myself deeply indebted to Captain Newenden for rendering
any prolonged interview with her ladyship quite unnecessary.
'Thanks to the captain,' I said to her, in the most cordial
manner, 'we have absolutely nothing to discuss. I shall catch the
next train, and set Arnold Brinkworth's mind quite at ease.' To
come back to serious things, I have engaged to produce you, in
the presence of every body--your wife included--on Saturday next.
I put a bold face on it before the others. But I am bound to tell
_you_ that it is by no means easy to say--situated as we are
now--what the result of Saturday's inquiry will be. Every thing
depends on the issue of my interview with Miss Silvester
to-morrow. It is no exaggeration to say, Arnold, that your fate
is in her hands."
"I wish to heaven I had never set eyes on her!" said Arnold.
"Lay the saddle on the right horse," returned Sir Patrick. "Wish
you had never set eyes on Geoffrey Delamayn."
Arnold hung his head. Sir Patrick's sharp tongue had got the
better of him once more.
TWELFTH SCENE.--DRURY LANE.
CHAPTER THE FORTY-FOURTH.
THE LETTER AND THE LAW.
THE many-toned murmur of the current of London life--flowing
through the murky channel of Drury Lane--found its muffled way
from the front room to the back. Piles of old music lumbered the
dusty floor. Stage masks and weapons, and portraits of singers
and dancers, hung round the walls. An empty violin case in one
corner faced a broken bust of Rossini in another. A frameless
print, representing the Trial of Queen Caroline, was pasted over
the fireplace. The chairs were genuine specimens of ancient
carving in oak. The table was an equally excellent example of
dirty modern deal. A small morsel of drugget was on the floor;
and a large deposit of soot was on the ceiling. The scene thus
presented, revealed itself in the back drawing-room of a house in
Drury Lane, devoted to the transaction of musical and theatrical
business of the humbler sort. It was late in the afternoon, on
Michaelmas-day. Two persons were seated together in the room:
they were Anne Silvester and Sir Patrick Lundie.
The opening conversation between them--comprising, on one side,
the narrative of what had happened at Perth and at Swanhaven;
and, on the other, a statement of the circumstances attending the
separation of Arnold and Blanche--had come to an end. It rested
with Sir Patrick to lead the way to the next topic. He looked at
his companion, and hesitated.
"Do you feel strong enough to go on?" he asked. "If you would
prefer to rest a little, pray say so."
"Thank you, Sir Patrick. I am more than ready, I a m eager, to go
on. No words can say how anxious I feel to be of some use to you,
if I can. It rests entirely with your experience to show me how."
"I can only do that, Miss Silvester, by asking you without
ceremony for all the information that I want. Had you any object
in traveling to London, which you have not mentioned to me yet? I
mean, of course, any object with which I hare a claim (as Arnold
Brinkworth's representative) to be acquainted?"
"I had an object, Sir Patrick. And I have failed to accomplish
"May I ask what it was?"
"It was to see Geoffrey Delamayn."
Sir Patrick started. "You have attempted to see _him!_ When?"
"Why, you only arrived in London last night!"
"I only arrived," said Anne, "after waiting many days on the
journey. I was obliged to rest at Edinburgh, and again at
York--and I was afraid I had given Mrs. Glenarm time enough to
get to Geoffrey Delamayn before me."
"Afraid?" repeated Sir Patrick. "I understood that you had no
serious intention of disputing the scoundrel with Mrs. Glenarm.
What motive could possibly have taken you _his_ way?"
"The same motive which took me to Swanhaven."
"What! the idea that it rested with Delamayn to set things right?
and that you might bribe him to do it, by consenting to release
him, so far as your claims were concerned?"
"Bear with my folly, Sir Patrick, as patiently as you can! I am
always alone now; and I get into a habit of brooding over things.
I have been brooding over the position in which my misfortunes
have placed Mr. Brinkworth. I have been obstinate--unreasonably
obstinate--in believing that I could prevail with Geoffrey
Delamayn, after I had failed with Mrs. Glenarm. I am obstinate
about it still. If he would only have heard me, my madness in
going to Fulham might have had its excuse." She sighed bitterly,
and said no more.
Sir Patrick took her hand.
"It _has_ its excuse," he said, kindly. "Your motive is beyond
reproach. Let me add--to quiet your mind--that, even if Delamayn
had been willing to hear you, and had accepted the condition, the
result would still have been the same. You are quite wrong in
supposing that he has only to speak, and to set this matter
right. It has passed entirely beyond his control. The mischief
was done when Arnold Brinkworth spent those unlucky hours with
you at Craig Fernie."
"Oh, Sir Patrick, if I had only known that, before I went to
Fulham this morning!"
She shuddered as she said the words. Something was plainly
associated with her visit to Geoffrey, the bare remembrance of
which shook her nerves. What was it? Sir Patrick resolved to
obtain an answer to that question, before be ventured on
proceeding further with the main object of the interview.
"You have told me your reason for going to Fulham," he said. "But
I have not heard what happened there yet."
Anne hesitated. "Is it necessary for me to trouble you about
that?" she asked--with evident reluctance to enter on the
"It is absolutely necessary," answered Sir Patrick, "because
Delamayn is concerned in it."
Anne summoned her resolution, and entered on her narrative in
"The person who carries on the business here discovered the
address for me," she began. "I had some difficulty, however, in
finding the house. It is little more than a cottage; and it is
quite lost in a great garden, surrounded by high walls. I saw a
carriage waiting. The coachman was walking his horses up and
down--and he showed me the door. It was a high wooden door in the
wall, with a grating in it. I rang the bell. A servant-girl
opened the grating, and looked at me. She refused to let me in.
Her mistress had ordered her to close the door on all
strangers--especially strangers who were women. I contrived to
pass some money to her through the grating, and asked to speak to
her mistress. After waiting some time, I saw another face behind
the bars--and it struck me that I recognized it. I suppose I was
nervous. It startled me. I said, 'I think we know each other.'
There was no answer. The door was suddenly opened--and who do you
think stood before me?"
"Was it somebody I know?"
"Man? or woman?"
"It was Hester Dethridge."
"Yes. Dressed just as usual, and looking just as usual--with her
slate hanging at her side."
"Astonishing! Where did I last see her? At the Windygates
station, to be sure--going to London, after she had left my
sister-in-law's service. Has she accepted another place--without
letting me know first, as I told her?"
"She is living at Fulham."
"No. As mistress of her own house."
"What! Hester Dethridge in possession of a house of her own?
Well! well! why shouldn't she have a rise in the world like other
people? Did she let you in?"
"She stood for some time looking at me, in that dull strange way
that she has. The servants at Windygates always said she was not
in her right mind--and you will say, Sir Patrick, when you hear
what happened, that the servants were not mistaken. She must be
mad. I said, 'Don't you remember me?' She lifted her slate, and
wrote, 'I remember you, in a dead swoon at Windygates House.' I
was quite unaware that she had been present when I fainted in the
library. The discovery startled me--or that dreadful, dead-cold
look that she has in her eyes startled me--I don't know which. I
couldn't speak to her just at first. She wrote on her slate
again--the strangest question--in these words: 'I said, at the
time, brought to it by a man. Did I say true?' If the question
had been put in the usual way, by any body else, I should have
considered it too insolent to be noticed. Can you understand my
answering it, Sir Patrick? I can't understand it myself, now--and
yet I did answer. She forced me to it with her stony eyes. I said
"Did all this take place at the door?"
"At the door."
"When did she let you in?"
"The next thing she did was to let me in. She took me by the arm,
in a rough way, and drew me inside the door, and shut it. My
nerves are broken; my courage is gone. I crept with cold when she
touched me. She dropped my arm. I stood like a child, waiting for
what it pleased her to say or do next. She rested her two hands
on her sides, and took a long look at me. She made a horrid dumb
sound--not as if she was angry; more, if such a thing could be,
as if she was satisfied--pleased even, I should have said, if it
had been any body but Hester Dethridge. Do you understand it?"
"Not yet. Let me get nearer to understanding it by asking
something before you go on. Did she show any attachment to you,
when you were both at Windygates?"
"Not the least. She appeared to be incapable of attachment to me,
or to any body."
"Did she write any more questions on her slate?"
"Yes. She wrote another question under what she had written just
before. Her mind was still running on my fainting fit, and on the
'man' who had 'brought me to it.' She held up the slate; and the
words were these: 'Tell me how he served you, did he knock you
down?' Most people would have laughed at the question. _I_ was
startled by it. I told her, No. She shook her head as if she
didn't believe me. She wrote on her slate, 'We are loth to own it
when they up with their fists and beat us--ain't we?' I said,
'You are quite wrong.' She went on obstinately with her writing.
'Who is the man?'--was her next question. I had control enough
over myself to decline telling her that. She opened the door, and
pointed to me to go out. I made a sign entreating her to wait a
little. She went back, in her impenetrable way, to the writing on
the slate--still about the 'man.' This time, the question was
plainer still. She had evidently placed her own interpretation of
my appearance at the house. She wrote, 'Is it the man who lodges
here?' I saw that she would close the door on me if I didn't
answer. My only chance with her was to own that she had guessed
right. I said 'Yes. I want to see him.' She took me by the arm,
as roughly as before--and led me into the house."
"I begin to understand her," said Sir Patrick. "I remember
hearing, in my brother's time, that she had been brutally
ill-used by her husband. The association of id eas, even in _her_
confused brain, becomes plain, if you bear that in mind. What is
her last remembrance of you? It is the remembrance of a fainting
woman at Windygates."
"She makes you acknowledge that she has guessed right, in
guessing that a man was, in some way, answerable for the
condition in which she found you. A swoon produced by a shock
indicted on the mind, is a swoon that she doesn't understand. She
looks back into her own experience, and associates it with the
exercise of actual physical brutality on the part of the man. And
she sees, in you, a reflection of her own sufferings and her own
case. It's curious--to a student of human nature. And it
explains, what is otherwise unintelligible--her overlooking her
own instructions to the servant, and letting you into the house.
What happened next?"
"She took me into a room, which I suppose was her own room. She
made signs, offering me tea. It was done in the strangest
way--without the least appearance of kindness. After what you
have just said to me, I think I can in some degree interpret what
was going on in her mind. I believe she felt a hard-hearted
interest in seeing a woman whom she supposed to be as unfortunate
as she had once been herself. I declined taking any tea, and
tried to return to the subject of what I wanted in the house. She
paid no heed to me. She pointed round the room; and then took me
to a window, and pointed round the garden--and then made a sign
indicating herself. 'My house; and my garden'--that was what she
meant. There were four men in the garden--and Geoffrey Delamayn
was one of them. I made another attempt to tell her that I wanted
to speak to him. But, no! She had her own idea in her mind. After
beckoning to me to leave the window, she led the way to the
fire-place, and showed me a sheet of paper with writing on it,
framed and placed under a glass, and hung on the wall. She
seemed, I thought, to feel some kind of pride in her framed
manuscript. At any rate, she insisted on my reading it. It was an
extract from a will."
"The will under which she had inherited the house?"
"Yes. Her brother's will. It said, that he regretted, on his
death-bed, his estrangement from his only sister, dating from the
time when she had married in defiance of his wishes and against
his advice. As a proof of his sincere desire to be reconciled
with her, before he died, and as some compensation for the
sufferings that she had endured at the hands of her deceased
husband, he left her an income of two hundred pounds a year,
together with the use of his house and garden, for her lifetime.
That, as well as I remember, was the substance of what it said."
"Creditable to her brother, and creditable to herself," said Sir
Patrick. "Taking her odd character into consideration, I
understand her liking it to be seen. What puzzles me, is her
letting lodgings with an income of her own to live on."
"That was the very question which I put to her myself. I was
obliged to be cautious, and to begin by asking about the lodgers
first--the men being still visible out in the garden, to excuse
the inquiry. The rooms to let in the house had (as I understood
her) been taken by a person acting for Geoffrey Delamayn--his
trainer, I presume. He had surprised Hester Dethridge by barely
noticing the house, and showing the most extraordinary interest
in the garden."
"That is quite intelligible, Miss Silvester. The garden you have
described would be just the place he wanted for the exercises of
his employer--plenty of space, and well secured from observation
by the high walls all round. What next?"
"Next, I got to the question of why she should let her house in
lodgings at all. When I asked her that, her face turned harder
than ever. She answered me on her slate in these dismal words: 'I
have not got a friend in the world. I dare not live alone.' There
was her reason! Dreary and dreadful, Sir Patrick, was it not?"
"Dreary indeed! How did it end? Did you get into the garden?"
"Yes--at the second attempt. She seemed suddenly to change her
mind; she opened the door for me herself. Passing the window of
the room in which I had left her, I looked back. She had taken
her place, at a table before the window, apparently watching for
what might happen. There was something about her, as her eyes met
mine (I can't say what), which made me feel uneasy at the time.
Adopting your view, I am almost inclined to think now, horrid as
the idea is, that she had the expectation of seeing me treated as
_she_ had been treated in former days. It was actually a relief
to me--though I knew I was going to run a serious risk--to lose
sight of her. As I got nearer to the men in the garden, I heard
two of them talking very earnestly to Geoffrey Delamayn. The
fourth person, an elderly gentleman, stood apart from the rest at
some little distance. I kept as far as I could out of sight,
waiting till the talk was over. It was impossible for me to help
hearing it. The two men were trying to persuade Geoffrey Delamayn
to speak to the elderly gentleman. They pointed to him as a
famous medical man. They reiterated over and over again, that his
opinion was well worth having--"
Sir Patrick interrupted her. "Did they mention his name?" he
"Yes. They called him Mr. Speedwell."
"The man himself! This is even more interesting, Miss Silvester,
than you suppose. I myself heard Mr. Speedwell warn Delamayn that
he was in broken health, when we were visiting together at
Windygates House last month. Did he do as the other men wished
him? Did he speak to the surgeon?"
"No. He sulkily refused--he remembered what you remember. He
said, 'See the man who told me I was broken down?--not I!' After
confirming it with an oath, he turned away from the others.
Unfortunately, he took the direction in which I was standing, and
discovered me. The bare sight of me seemed to throw him instantly
into a state of frenzy. He--it is impossible for me to repeat the
language that he used: it is bad enough to have heard it. I
believe, Sir Patrick, but for the two men, who ran up and laid
hold of him, that Hester Dethridge would have seen what she
expected to see. The change in him was so frightful--even to me,
well as I thought I knew him in his fits of passion--I tremble
when I think of it. One of the men who had restrained him was
almost as brutal, in his way. He declared, in the foulest
language, that if Delamayn had a fit, he would lose the race, and
that I should be answerable for it. But for Mr. Speedwell, I
don't know what I should have done. He came forward directly.
'This is no place either for you, or for me,' he said--and gave
me his arm, and led me back to the house. Hester Dethridge met us
in the passage, and lifted her hand to stop me. Mr. Speedwell
asked her what she wanted. She looked at me, and then looked
toward the garden, and made the motion of striking a blow with
her clenched fist. For the first time in my experience of her--I
hope it was my fancy--I thought I saw her smile. Mr. Speedwell
took me out. 'They are well matched in that house,' he said. 'The
woman is as complete a savage as the men.' The carriage which I
had seen waiting at the door was his. He called it up, and
politely offered me a place in it. I said I would only trespass
on his kindness as far as to the railway station. While we were
talking, Hester Dethridge followed us to the door. She made the
same motion again with her clenched hand, and looked back toward
the garden--and then looked at me, and nodded her head, as much
as to say, 'He will do it yet!' No words can describe how glad I
was to see the last of her. I hope and trust I shall never set
eyes on her again!"
"Did you hear how Mr. Speedwell came to be at the house? Had he
gone of his own accord? or had he been sent for?"
"He had been sent for. I ventured to speak to him about the
persons whom I had seen in the garden. Mr. Speedwell explained
everything which I was not able of myself to understand, in the
kindest manner. One of the two strange men in the garden was the
trainer; the other was a doctor, whom the trainer was usually in
the habit of consulting. It seems that the real reason for their
bringing Geof frey Delamayn away from Scotland when they did, was
that the trainer was uneasy, and wanted to be near London for
medical advice. The doctor, on being consulted, owned that he was
at a loss to understand the symptoms which he was asked to treat.
He had himself fetched the great surgeon to Fulham, that morning.
Mr. Speedwell abstained from mentioning that he had foreseen what
would happen, at Windygates. All he said was, 'I had met Mr.
Delamayn in society, and I felt interest enough in the case to
pay him a visit--with what result, you have seen yourself.' "
"Did he tell you any thing about Delamayn's health?"
"He said that he had questioned the doctor on the way to Fulham,
and that some of the patient's symptoms indicated serious
mischief. What the symptoms were I did not hear. Mr. Speedwell
only spoke of changes for the worse in him which a woman would be
likely to understand. At one time, he would be so dull and
heedless that nothing could rouse him. At another, he flew into
the most terrible passions without any apparent cause. The
trainer had found it almost impossible (in Scotland) to keep him
to the right diet; and the doctor had only sanctioned taking the
house at Fulham, after being first satisfied, not only of the
convenience of the garden, but also that Hester Dethridge could
be thoroughly trusted as a cook. With her help, they had placed
him on an entirely new diet. But they had found an unexpected
difficulty even in doing that. When the trainer took him to the
new lodgings, it turned out that he had seen Hester Dethridge at
Windygates, and had taken the strongest prejudice against her. On
seeing her again at Fulham, he appeared to be absolutely
"Nobody knows why. The trainer and the doctor together could only
prevent his leaving the house, by threatening to throw up the
responsibility of preparing him for the race, unless he instantly
controlled himself, and behaved like a man instead of a child.
Since that time, he has become reconciled, little by little, to
his new abode--partly through Hester Dethridge's caution in
keeping herself always out of his way; and partly through his own
appreciation of the change in his diet, which Hester's skill in
cookery has enabled the doctor to make. Mr. Speedwell mentioned
some things which I have forgotten. I can only repeat, Sir
Patrick, the result at which he has arrived in his own mind.
Coming from a man of his authority, the opinion seems to me to be
startling in the last degree. If Geoffrey Delamayn runs in the
race on Thursday next, he will do it at the risk of his life."
"At the risk of dying on the ground?"
Sir Patrick's face became thoughtful. He waited a little before
he spoke again.
"We have not wasted our time," he said, "in dwelling on what
happened during your visit to Fulham. The possibility of this
man's death suggests to my mind serious matter for consideration.
It is very desirable, in the interests of my niece and her
husband, that I should be able to foresee, if I can, how a fatal
result of the race might affect the inquiry which is to be held
on Saturday next. I believe you may be able to help me in this."
"You have only to tell me how, Sir Patrick."
"I may count on your being present on Saturday?"
"You thoroughly understand that, in meeting Blanche, you will
meet a person estranged from you, for the present--a friend and
sister who has ceased (under Lady Lundie's influence mainly) to
feel as a friend and sister toward you now?"
"I was not quite unprepared, Sir Patrick, to hear that Blanche
had misjudged me. When I wrote my letter to Mr. Brinkworth, I
warned him as delicately as I could, that his wife's jealousy
might be very easily roused. You may rely on my self-restraint,
no matter how hardly it may be tried. Nothing that Blanche can
say or do will alter my grateful remembrance of the past. While I
live, I love her. Let that assurance quiet any little anxiety
that you may have felt as to my conduct--and tell me how I can
serve those interests which I have at heart as well as you."
"You can serve them, Miss Silvester, in this way. You can make me
acquainted with the position in which you stood toward Delamayn
at the time when you went to the Craig Fernie inn."
"Put any questions to me that you think right, Sir Patrick."
"You mean that?"
"I mean it."
"I will begin by recalling something which you have already told
me. Delamayn has promised you marriage--"
"Over and over again!"
"Do you see what I am coming to?"
"You referred, when we first met in this room, to a letter which
you recovered from Bishopriggs, at Perth. I have ascertained from
Arnold Brinkworth that the sheet of note-paper stolen from you
contained two letters. One was written by you to Delamayn--the
other was written by Delamayn to you. The substance of this last
Arnold remembered. Your letter he had not read. It is of the
utmost importance, Miss Silvester, to let me see that
correspondence before we part to-day."
Anne made no answer. She sat with her clasped hands on her lap.
Her eyes looked uneasily away from Sir Patrick's face, for the
"Will it not be enough," she asked, after an interval, "if I tell
you the substance of my letter, without showing it?"
"It will _not_ be enough," returned Sir Patrick, in the plainest
manner. "I hinted--if you remember--at the propriety of my seeing
the letter, when you first mentioned it, and I observed that you
purposely abstained from understanding me, I am grieved to put
you, on this occasion, to a painful test. But if you _are_ to
help me at this serious crisis, I have shown you the way."
Anne rose from her chair, and answered by putting the letter into
Sir Patrick's hands. "Remember what he has done, since I wrote
that," she said. "And try to excuse me, if I own that I am
ashamed to show it to you now."
With those words she walked aside to the window. She stood there,
with her hand pressed on her breast, looking out absently on the
murky London view of house roof and chimney, while Sir Patrick
opened the letter.
It is necessary to the right appreciation of events, that other
eyes besides Sir Patrick's should follow the brief course of the
correspondence in this place.
1. _From Anne Silvester to Geoffrey Delamayn._
WINDYGATES HOUSE. _August_ 19, 1868.
"GEOFFREY DELAMAYN,--I have waited in the hope that you would
ride over from your brother's place, and see me--and I have
waited in vain. Your conduct to me is cruelty itself; I will bear
it no longer. Consider! in your own interests, consider--before
you drive the miserable woman who has trusted you to despair. You
have promised me marriage by all that is sacred. I claim your
promise. I insist on nothing less than to be what you vowed I
should be--what I have waited all this weary time to be--what I
_am,_ in the sight of Heaven, your wedded wife. Lady Lundie gives
a lawn-party here on the 14th. I know you have been asked. I
expect you to accept her invitation. If I don't see you, I won't
answer for what may happen. My mind is made up to endure this
suspense no longer. Oh, Geoffrey, remember the past! Be
faithful--be just--to your loving wife,
2. _From Geoffrey Delamayn to Anne Silvester._
"DEAR ANNE,--Just called to London to my father. They have
telegraphed him in a bad way. Stop where you are, and I will
write you. Trust the bearer. Upon my soul, I'll keep my promise.
Your loving husband that is to be,
WINDYGATES HOUSE _Augt._ 14, 4 P. M.
"In a mortal hurry. The train starts 4.30."
Sir Patrick read the correspondence with breathless attention to
the end. At the last lines of the last letter he did what he had
not done for twenty years past--he sprang to his feet at a bound,
and he crossed a room without the help of his ivory cane.
Anne started; and turning round from the window, looked at him in
silent surprise. He was under the influence of strong emotion;
his face, his voice, his manner, all showed it.
"How long had you been in Scotland, when you wrote this?" He
pointed to Anne's letter as he asked the question, put ting it so
eagerly that he stammered over the first words. "More than three
weeks?" he added, with his bright black eyes fixed in absorbing
interest on her face.
"Are you sure of that?"
"I am certain of it."
"You can refer to persons who have seen you?"
He turned the sheet of note-paper, and pointed to Geoffrey's
penciled letter on the fourth page.
"How long had _he_ been in Scotland, when _he_ wrote this? More
than three weeks, too?"
Anne considered for a moment.
"For God's sake, be careful!" said Sir Patrick. "You don't know
what depends on this, If your memory is not clear about it, say
"My memory was confused for a moment. It is clear again now. He
had been at his brother's in Perthshire three weeks before he
wrote that. And before he went to Swanhaven, he spent three or
four days in the valley of the Esk."
"Are you sure again?"
"Do you know of any one who saw him in the valley of the Esk?"
"I know of a person who took a note to him, from me."
"A person easily found?"
Sir Patrick laid aside the letter, and seized in ungovernable
agitation on both her hands.
"Listen to me," he said. "The whole conspiracy against Arnold
Brinkworth and you falls to the ground before that
correspondence. When you and he met at the inn--"
He paused, and looked at her. Her hands were beginning to tremble
"When you and Arnold Brinkworth met at the inn," he resumed, "the
law of Scotland had made you a married woman. On the day, and at
the hour, when he wrote those lines at the back of your letter to
him, you were _Geoffrey Delamayn's wedded wife!_"
He stopped, and looked at her again.
Without a word in reply, without the slightest movement in her
from head to foot, she looked back at him. The blank stillness of
horror was in her face. The deadly cold of horror was in her
In silence, on his side, Sir Patrick drew back a step, with a
faint reflection of _her_ dismay in his face. Married--to the
villain who had not hesitated to calumniate the woman whom he had
ruined, and then to cast her helpless on the world. Married--to
the traitor who had not shrunk from betraying Arnold's trust in
him, and desolating Arnold's home. Married--to the ruffian who
would have struck her that morning, if the hands of his own
friends had not held him back. And Sir Patrick had never thought
of it! Absorbed in the one idea of Blanche's future, he had never
thought of it, till that horror-stricken face looked at him, and
said, Think of _my_ future, too!
He came back to her. He took her cold hand once more in his.
"Forgive me," he said, "for thinking first of Blanche."
Blanche's name seemed to rouse her. The life came back to her
face; the tender brightness began to shine again in her eyes. He
saw that he might venture to speak more plainly still: he went
"I see the dreadful sacrifice as _you_ see it. I ask myself, have
I any right, has Blanche any right--"
She stopped him by a faint pressure of his hand.
"Yes," she said, softly, "if Blanche's happiness depends on it."
CHAPTER THE FORTY-FIFTH.
A SOLITARY foreigner, drifting about London, drifted toward
Fulham on the day of the Foot-Race.
Little by little, he found himself involved in the current of a
throng of impetuous English people, all flowing together toward
one given point, and all decorated alike with colors of two
prevailing hues--pink and yellow. He drifted along with the
stream of passengers on the pavement (accompanied by a stream of
carriages in the road) until they stopped with one accord at a
gate--and paid admission money to a man in office--and poured
into a great open space of ground which looked like an
Arrived here, the foreign visitor opened his eyes in wonder at
the scene revealed to view. He observed thousands of people
assembled, composed almost exclusively of the middle and upper
classes of society. They were congregated round a vast inclosure;
they were elevated on amphitheatrical wooden stands, and they
were perched on the roofs of horseless carriages, drawn up in
rows. From this congregation there rose such a roar of eager
voices as he had never heard yet from any assembled multitude in
these islands. Predominating among the cries, he detected one
everlasting question. It began with, "Who backs--?" and it ended
in the alternate pronouncing of two British names unintelligible
to foreign ears. Seeing these extraordinary sights, and hearing
these stirring sounds, he applied to a policeman on duty; and
said, in his best producible English, "If you please, Sir, what
The policeman answered, " North against South--Sports."
The foreigner was informed, but not satisfied. He pointed all
round the assembly with a circular sweep of his hand; and said,
The policeman declined to waste words on a man who could ask such
a question as that. He lifted a large purple forefinger, with a
broad white nail at the end of it, and pointed gravely to a
printed Bill, posted on the wall behind him. The drifting
foreigner drifted to the Bill.
After reading it carefully, from top to bottom, he consulted a
polite private individual near at hand, who proved to be far more
communicative than the policeman. The result on his mind, as a
person not thoroughly awakened to the enormous national
importance of Athletic Sports, was much as follows:
The color of North is pink. The color of South is yellow. North
produces fourteen pink men, and South produces thirteen yellow
men. The meeting of pink and yellow is a solemnity. The solemnity
takes its rise in an indomitable national passion for hardening
the arms and legs, by throwing hammers and cricket-balls with the
first, and running and jumping with the second. The object in
view is to do this in public rivalry. The ends arrived at are
(physically) an excessive development of the muscles, purchased
at the expense of an excessive strain on the heart and the
lungs--(morally), glory; conferred at the moment by the public
applause; confirmed the next day by a report in the newspapers.
Any person who presumes to see any physical evil involved in
these exercises to the men who practice them, or any moral
obstruction in the exhibition itself to those civilizing
influences on which the true greatness of all nations depends, is
a person without a biceps, who is simply incomprehensible.
Muscular England develops itself, and takes no notice of him.
The foreigner mixed with the assembly, and looked more closely at
the social spectacle around him.
He had met with these people before. He had seen them (for
instance) at the theatre, and observed their manners and customs
with considerable curiosity and surprise. When the curtain was
down, they were so little interested in what they had come to
see, that they had hardly spirit enough to speak to each other
between the acts. When the curtain was up, if the play made any
appeal to their sympathy with any of the higher and nobler
emotions of humanity, they received it as something wearisome, or
sneered at it as something absurd. The public feeling of the
countrymen of Shakespeare, so far as they represented it,
recognized but two duties in the dramatist--the duty of making
them laugh, and the duty of getting it over soon. The two great
merits of a stage proprietor, in England (judging by the rare
applause of his cultivated customers), consisted in spending
plenty of money on his scenery, and in hiring plenty of
brazen-faced women to exhibit their bosoms and their legs. Not at
theatres only; but among other gatherings, in other places, the
foreigner had noticed the same stolid languor where any effort
was exacted from genteel English brains, and the same stupid
contempt where any appeal was made to genteel English hearts.
Preserve us from enjoying any thing but jokes and scandal!
Preserve us from respecting any thing but rank and money! There
were the social aspirations of these insular ladies and
gentlemen, as expressed under other circumstances, and as
betrayed amidst other scenes. Here, all was changed. Here was the
strong feeling, the breathless interest, the hearty enthus iasm,
not visible elsewhere. Here were the superb gentlemen who were
too weary to speak, when an Art was addressing them, shouting
themselves hoarse with burst on burst of genuine applause. Here
were the fine ladies who yawned behind their fans, at the bare
idea of being called on to think or to feel, waving their
handkerchiefs in honest delight, and actually flushing with
excitement through their powder and their paint. And all for
what? All for running and jumping--all for throwing hammers and
The foreigner looked at it, and tried, as a citizen of a
civilized country, to understand it. He was still trying--when
there occurred a pause in the performances.
Certain hurdles, which had served to exhibit the present
satisfactory state of civilization (in jumping) among the upper
classes, were removed. The privileged persons who had duties to
perform within the inclosure, looked all round it; and
disappeared one after another. A great hush of expectation
pervaded the whole assembly. Something of no common interest and
importance was evidently about to take place. On a sudden, the
silence was broken by a roar of cheering from the mob in the road
outside the grounds. People looked at each other excitedly, and
said, "One of them has come." The silence prevailed again--and
was a second time broken by another roar of applause. People
nodded to each other with an air of relief and said, "Both of
them have come." Then the great hush fell on the crowd once more,
and all eyes looked toward one particular point of the ground,
occupied by a little wooden pavilion, with the blinds down over
the open windows, and the door closed.
The foreigner was deeply impressed by the silent expectation of
the great throng about him. He felt his own sympathies stirred,
without knowing why. He believed himself to be on the point of
understanding the English people.
Some ceremony of grave importance was evidently in preparation.
Was a great orator going to address the assembly? Was a glorious
anniversary to be commemorated? Was a religious service to be
performed? He looked round him to apply for information once
more. Two gentlemen--who contrasted favorably, so far as
refinement of manner was concerned, with most of the spectators
present--were slowly making their way, at that moment, through
the crowd near him. He respectfully asked what national solemnity
was now about to take place. They informed him that a pair of
strong young men were going to run round the inclosure for a
given number of turns, with the object of ascertaining which
could run the fastest of the two.
The foreigner lifted his hands and eyes to heaven. Oh,
multifarious Providence! who would have suspected that the
infinite diversities of thy creation included such beings as
these! With that aspiration, he turned his back on the
race-course, and left the place.
On his way out of the grounds he had occasion to use his
handkerchief, and found that it was gone. He felt next for his
purse. His purse was missing too. When he was back again in his
own country, intelligent inquiries were addressed to him on the
subject of England. He had but one reply to give. "The whole
nation is a mystery to me. Of all the English people I only
understand the English thieves!"
In the mean time the two gentlemen, making their way through the
crowd, reached a wicket-gate in the fence which surrounded the
Presenting a written order to the policeman in charge of the
gate, they were forthwith admitted within the sacred precincts
The closely packed spectators, regarding them with mixed feelings
of envy and curiosity, wondered who they might be. Were they
referees appointed to act at the coming race? or reporters for
the newspapers? or commissioners of police? They were neither the
one nor the other. They were only Mr. Speedwell, the surgeon, and
Sir Patrick Lundie.
The two gentlemen walked into the centre of the inclosure, and
looked round them.
The grass on which they were standing was girdled by a broad
smooth path, composed of finely-sifted ashes and sand--and this
again was surrounded by the fence and by the spectators ranked
behind it. Above the lines thus formed rose on one side the
amphitheatres with their tiers of crowded benches, and on the
other the long rows of carriages with the sight-seers inside and
out. The evening sun was shining brightly, the light and shade
lay together in grand masses, the varied colors of objects
blended softly one with the other. It was a splendid and an
Sir Patrick turned from the rows of eager faces all round him to
his friend the surgeon.
"Is there one person to be found in this vast crowd," he asked,
"who has come to see the race with the doubt in his mind which
has brought _us_ to see it?"
Mr. Speedwell shook his head. "Not one of them knows or cares
what the struggle may cost the men who engage in it."
Sir Patrick looked round him again. "I almost wish I had not come
to see it," he said. "If this wretched man--"
The surgeon interposed. "Don't dwell needlessly, Sir Patrick, on
the gloomy view," he rejoined. "The opinion I have formed has,
thus far, no positive grounds to rest on. I am guessing rightly,
as I believe, but at the same time I am guessing in the dark.
Appearances _may_ have misled me. There may be reserves of vital
force in Mr. Delamayn's constitution which I don't suspect. I am
here to learn a lesson--not to see a prediction fulfilled. I know
his health is broken, and I believe he is going to run this race
at his own proper peril. Don't feel too sure beforehand of the
event. The event may prove me to be wrong."
For the moment Sir Patrick dropped the subject. He was not in his
Since his interview with Anne had satisfied him that she was
Geoffrey's lawful wife, the conviction had inevitably forced
itself on his mind that the one possible chance for her in the
future, was the chance of Geoffrey's death. Horrible as it was to
him, he had been possessed by that one idea--go where he might,
do what he might, struggle as he might to force his thoughts in
other directions. He looked round the broad ashen path on which
the race was to be run, conscious that he had a secret interest
in it which it was unutterably repugnant to him to feel. He tried
to resume the conversation with his friend, and to lead it to
other topics. The effort was useless. In despite of himself, he
returned to the one fatal subject of the struggle that was now
close at hand.
"How many times must they go round this inclosure," he inquired,
"before the race is ended?"
Mr. Speedwell turned toward a gentleman who was approaching them
at the moment. "Here is somebody coming who can tell us," he
"You know him?"
"He is one of my patients."
"Who is he?"
"After the two runners he is the most important personage on the
ground. He is the final authority--the umpire of the race."
The person thus described was a middle-aged man, with a
prematurely wrinkled face, with prematurely white hair and with
something of a military look about him--brief in speech, and
quick in manner.
"The path measures four hundred and forty yards round," he said,
when the surgeon had repeated Sir Patrick's question to him. "In
plainer words, and not to put you to your arithmetic once round
it is a quarter of a mile. Each round is called a 'Lap.' The men
must run sixteen Laps to finish the race. Not to put you to your
arithmetic again, they must run four miles--the longest race of
this kind which it is customary to attempt at Sports like these."
"Professional pedestrians exceed that limit, do they not?"
"Considerably--on certain occasions."