Part 13 out of 15
"Suppose I informed him--as I inform you in confidence--that his
son _has_ gravely wronged Miss Silvester? And suppose I followed
that up by telling him that his son has made atonement by
"After the feeling that he has shown in the matter, I believe he
would sign the codicil."
"Then, for God's sake, let me see him!"
"I must speak to the doctor."
"Do it instantly!"
With the will in his hand, Mr. Marchwood advanced to the bedroom
door. It was opened from within before he could get to it. The
doctor appeared on the threshold. He held up his hand warningly
when Mr. Marchwood attempted to speak to him.
"Go to Lady Holchester," he said. "It's all over."
SIXTEENTH SCENE.--SALT PATCH.
CHAPTER THE FORTY-EIGHTH.
EARLY in the present century it was generally reported among the
neighbors of one Reuben Limbrick that he was in a fair way to
make a comfortable little fortune by dealing in Salt.
His place of abode was in Staffordshire, on a morsel of freehold
land of his own--appropriately called Salt Patch. Without being
absolutely a miser, he lived in the humblest manner, saw very
little company; skillfully invested his money; and persisted in
remaining a single man.
Toward eighteen hundred and forty he first felt the approach of
the chronic malady which ultimately terminated his life. After
trying what the medical men of his own locality could do for him,
with very poor success, he met by accident with a doctor living
in the western suburbs of London, who thoroughly understood his
complaint. After some journeying backward and forward to consult
this gentleman, he decided on retiring from business, and on
taking up his abode within an easy distance of his medical man.
Finding a piece of freehold land to be sold in the neighborhood
of Fulham, he bought it, and had a cottage residence built on it,
under his own directions. He surrounded the whole--being a man
singularly jealous of any intrusion on his retirement, or of any
chance observation of his ways and habits--with a high wall,
which cost a large sum of money, and which was rightly considered
a dismal and hideous object by the neighbors. When the new
residence was completed, he called it after the name of the place
in Staffordshire where he had made his money, and where he had
lived during the happiest period of his life. His relatives,
failing to understand that a question of sentiment was involved
in this proceeding, appealed to hard facts, and reminded him that
there were no salt mines in the neighborhood. Reuben Limbrick
answered, "So much the worse for the neighborhood"--and persisted
in calling his property, "Salt Patch."
The cottage was so small that it looked quite lost in the large
garden all round it. There was a ground-floor and a floor above
it--and that was all.
On either side of the passage, on the lower floor, were two
rooms. At the right-hand side, on entering by the front-door,
there was a kitchen, with its outhouses attached. The room next
to the kitchen looked into the garden. In Reuben Limbrick's time
it was called the study and contained a small collection of books
and a large store of fishing-tackle. On the left-hand side of the
passage there was a drawing-room situated at the back of the
house, and communicating with a dining-room in the front. On the
upper floor there were five bedrooms--two on one side of the
passage, corresponding in size with the dining-room and the
drawing-room below, but not opening into each other; three on the
other side of the passage, consisting of one larger room in
front, and of two small rooms at the back. All these were solidly
and completely furnished. Money had not been spared, and
workmanship had not been stinted. It was all substantial--and, up
stairs and down stairs, it was all ugly.
The situation of Salt Patch was lonely. The lands of the
market-gardeners separated it from other houses. Jealously
surrounded by its own high walls, the cottage suggested, even to
the most unimaginative persons, the idea of an asylum or a
prison. Reuben Limbrick's relatives, occasionally coming to stay
with him, found the place prey on their spirits, and rejoiced
when the time came for going home again. They were never pressed
to stay against their will. Reuben Limbrick was not a hospitable
or a sociable man. He set very little value on human sympathy, in
his attacks of illness; and he bore congratulations impatiently,
in his intervals of health. "I care about nothing but fishing,"
he used to say. "I find my dog very good company. And I am quite
happy as long as I am free from pain."
On his death-bed, he divided his money justly enough among his
relations. The only part of his Will which exposed itself to
unfavorable criticism, was a clause conferring a legacy on one of
his sisters (then a widow) who had estranged herself from her
family by marrying beneath her. The family agreed in considering
this unhappy person as undeserving of notice or benefit. Her name
was Hester Dethridge. It proved to be a great aggravation of
Hester's offenses, in the eyes of Hester's relatives, when it was
discovered that she possessed a life-interest in Salt Patch, and
an income of two hundred a year.
Not visited by the surviving members of her family, living,
literally, by herself in the world, Hester decided, in spite of
her comfortable little income, on letting lodgings. The
explanation of this strange conduct which she had written on her
slate, in reply to an inquiry from Anne, was the true one. "I
have not got a friend in the world: I dare not live alone." In
that desolate situation, and with that melancholy motive, she put
the house into an agent's hands. The first person in want of
lodgings whom the agent sent to see the place was Perry the
trainer; and Hester's first tenant was Geoffrey Delamayn.
The rooms which the landlady reserved for herself were the
kitchen, the room next to it, which had once been her brother's
"study," and the two small back bedrooms up stairs--one for
herself, the other for the servant-girl whom she employed to help
her. The whole of the rest of the cottage was to let. It was more
than the trainer wanted; but Hester Dethridge refused to dispose
of her lodgings--either as to the rooms occupied, or as to the
period for which they were to be taken--on other than her own
terms. Perry had no alternative but to lose the advantage of the
garden as a private training-ground, or to submit.
Being only two in number, the lodgers had three bedrooms to
choose from. Geoffrey established himself in the back-room, over
the drawing-room. Perry chose the front-room, placed on the other
side of the cottage, next to the two smaller apartments occupied
by Hester and her maid. Under this arrangement, the front
bedroom, on the opposite side of the passage--next to the room in
which Geoffrey slept--was left empty, and was called, for the
time being, the spare room. As for the lower floor, the athlete
and his trainer ate their meals in the dining-room; and left the
drawing-room, as a needless luxury, to take care of itself.
The Foot-Race once over, Perry's business at the cottage was at
an end. His empty bedroom became a second spare room. The term
for which the lodgings had been taken was then still unexpired.
On the day after the race Geoffrey had to choose between
sacrificing the money, or remaining in the lodgings by himself,
with two spare bedrooms on his hands, and with a drawing-room for
the reception of his visitors--who called with pipes in their
mouths, and whose idea of hospitality was a pot of beer in the
To use his own phrase, he was "out of sorts." A sluggish
reluctance to face change of any kind possessed him. He decided
on staying at Salt Patch until his marriage to Mrs. Glenarm
(which he then looked upon as a certainty) obliged him to alter
his habits completely, once for all. From Fulham he had gone, the
next day, to attend the inquiry in Portland Place. And to Fulham
he returned, when he brought the wife who had been forced upon
him to her "home."
Such was the position of the tenant, and such were the
arrangements of the interior of the cottage, on the memorable
evening when Anne Silvester entered it as Geoffrey's wife.
CHAPTER THE FORTY-NINTH.
ON leaving Lady Lundie's house, Geoffrey called the first empty
cab that passed him. He opened the door, and signed to Anne to
enter the vehicle. She obeyed him mechanically. He placed himself
on the seat opposite to her, and told the man to drive to Fulham.
The cab started on its journey; husband and wife preserving
absolute silence. Anne laid her head back wearily, and closed her
eyes. Her strength had broken down under the effort which had
sustained her from the beginning to the end of the inquiry. Her
power of thinking was gone. She felt nothing, knew nothing,
feared nothing. Half in faintness, half in slumber, she had lost
all sense of her own terrible position before the first five
minutes of the journey to Fulham had come to an end.
Sitting opposite to her, savagely self-concentrated in his own
thoughts, Geoffrey roused himself on a sudden. An idea had sprung
to life in his sluggish brain. He put his head out of the window
of the cab, and directed the driver to turn back, and go to an
hotel near the Great Northern Railway.
Resuming his seat, he looked furtively at Anne. She neither moved
nor opened her eyes--she was, to all appearance, unconscious of
what had happened. He observed her attentively. Was she really
ill? Was the time coming when he would be freed from her? He
pondered over that question--watching her closely. Little by
little the vile hope in him slowly died away, and a vile
suspicion took its place. What, if this appearance of illness was
a pretense? What, if she was waiting to throw him off his guard,
and escape from him at the first opportunity? He put his head out
of the window again, and gave another order to the driver. The
cab diverged from the direct route, and stopped at a public house
in Holborn, kept (under an assumed name) by Perry the trainer.
Geoffrey wrote a line in pencil on his card, and sent it into the
house by the driver. After waiting some minutes, a lad appeared
and touched his hat. Geoffrey spoke to him, out of the window, in
an under-tone. The lad took his place on the box by the driver.
The cab turned back, and took the road to the hotel near the
Great Northern Railway.
Arrived at the place, Geoffrey posted the lad close at the door
of the. cab, and pointed to Anne, still reclining with closed
eyes; still, as it seemed, too weary to lift her head, too faint
to notice any thing that happened. "If she attempts to get out,
stop her, and send for me." With those parting directions he
entered the hotel, and asked for Mr. Moy.
Mr. Moy was in the house; he had just returned from Portland
Place. He rose, and bowed coldly, when Geoffrey was shown into
"What is your business with me?" he asked.
"I've had a notion come into my head," said Geoffrey. "And I want
to speak to you about it directly."
"I must request you to consult some one else. Consider me, if you
please, as having withdrawn from all further connection with your
Geoffrey looked at him in stolid surprise.
"Do you mean to say you're going to leave me in the lurch?" he
"I mean to say that I will take no fresh step in any business of
yours," answered Mr. Moy, firmly. "As to the future, I have
ceased to be your legal adviser. As to the past, I shall
carefully complete the formal duties toward you which remain to
be done. Mrs. Inchbare and Bishopriggs are coming here by
appointment, at six this evening, to receive the money due to
them before they go back. I shall return to Scotland myself by
the night mail. The persons referred to, in the matter of the
promise of marriage, by Sir Patrick, are all in Scotland. I will
take their evidence as to the handwriting, and as to the question
of residence in the North--and I will send it to you in written
form. That done, I shall have done all. I decline to advise you
in any future step which you propose to take."
After reflecting for a moment, Geoffrey put a last question.
"You said Bishopriggs and the woman would be here at six this
"Where are they to be found before that?"
Mr. Moy wrote a few words on a slip of paper, and handed it to
Geoffrey. "At their lodgings," he said. "There is the address."
Geoffrey took the address, and left the room. Lawyer and client
parted without a word on either side.
Returning to the cab, Geoffrey found the lad steadily waiting at
"Has any thing happened?"
"The lady hasn't moved, Sir, since you left her."
"Is Perry at the public house?"
"Not at this time, Sir."
"I want a lawyer. Do you know who Perry's lawyer is?"
"And where he is to be found?"
"Get up on the box, and tell the man where to drive to."
The cab went on again along the Euston Road, and stopped at a
house in a side-street, with a professional brass plate on the
door. The lad got down, and came to the window.
"Here it is, Sir."
"Knock at the door, and see if he is at home."
He prove d to be at home. Geoffrey entered the house, leaving his
emissary once more on the watch. The lad noticed that the lady
moved this time. She shivered as if she felt cold--opened her
eyes for a moment wearily, and looked out through the
window--sighed, and sank back again in the corner of the cab.
After an absence of more than half an hour Geoffrey came out
again. His interview with Perry's lawyer appeared to have
relieved his mind of something that had oppressed it. He once
more ordered the driver to go to Fulham--opened the door to get
into the cab--then, as it seemed, suddenly recollected
himself--and, calling the lad down from the box, ordered him to
get inside, and took his place by the driver.
As the cab started he looked over his shoulder at Anne through
the front window. "Well worth trying," he said to himself. "It's
the way to be even with her. And it's the way to be free."
They arrived at the cottage. Possibly, repose had restored Anne's
strength. Possibly, the sight of the place had roused the
instinct of self-preservation in her at last. To Geoffrey's
surprise, she left the cab without assistance. When he opened the
wooden gate, with his own key, she recoiled from it, and looked
at him for the first time.
He pointed to the entrance.
"Go in," he said.
"On what terms?" she asked, without stirring a step.
Geoffrey dismissed the cab; and sent the lad in, to wait for
further orders. These things done, he answered her loudly and
brutally the moment they were alone:
"On any terms I please."
"Nothing will induce me," she said, firmly, "to live with you as
your wife. You may kill me--but you will never bend me to that."
He advanced a step--opened his lips--and suddenly checked
himself. He waited a while, turning something over in his mind.
When he spoke again, it was with marked deliberation and
constraint--with the air of a man who was repeating words put
into his lips, or words prepared beforehand.
"I have something to tell you in the presence of witnesses," he
said. "I don't ask you, or wish you, to see me in the cottage
She started at the change in him. His sudden composure, and his
sudden nicety in the choice of words, tried her courage far more
severely than it had been tried by his violence of the moment
He waited her decision, still pointing through the gate. She
trembled a little--steadied herself again--and went in. The lad,
waiting in the front garden, followed her.
He threw open the drawing-room door, on the left-hand side of the
passage. She entered the room. The servant-girl appeared. He said
to her, "Fetch Mrs. Dethridge; and come back with her yourself."
Then he went into the room; the lad, by his own directions,
following him in; and the door being left wide open.
Hester Dethridge came out from the kitchen with the girl behind
her. At the sight of Anne, a faint and momentary change passed
over the stony stillness of her face. A dull light glimmered in
her eyes. She slowly nodded her head. A dumb sound, vaguely
expressive of something like exultation or relief, escaped her
Geoffrey spoke--once more, with marked deliberation and
constraint; once more, with the air of repeating something which
had been prepared beforehand. He pointed to Anne.
"This woman is my wife," he said. "In the presence of you three,
as witnesses, I tell her that I don't forgive her. I have brought
her here--having no other place in which I can trust her to
be--to wait the issue of proceedings, undertaken in defense of my
own honor and good name. While she stays here, she will live
separate from me, in a room of her own. If it is necessary for me
to communicate with her, I shall only see her in the presence of
a third person. Do you all understand me?"
Hester Dethridge bowed her head. The other two answered,
"Yes"--and turned to go out.
Anne rose. At a sign from Geoffrey, the servant and the lad
waited in the room to hear what she had to say.
"I know nothing in my conduct," she said, addressing herself to
Geoffrey, "which justifies you in telling these people that you
don't forgive me. Those words applied by you to me are an insult.
I am equally ignorant of what you mean when you speak of
defending your good name. All I understand is, that we are
separate persons in this house, and that I am to have a room of
my own. I am grateful, whatever your motives may be, for the
arrangement that you have proposed. Direct one of these two women
to show me my room."
Geoffrey turned to Hester Dethridge.
"Take her up stairs," he said; "and let her pick which room she
pleases. Give her what she wants to eat or drink. Bring down the
address of the place where her luggage is. The lad here will go
back by railway, and fetch it. That's all. Be off."
Hester went out. Anne followed her up the stairs. In the passage
on the upper floor she stopped. The dull light flickered again
for a moment in her eyes. She wrote on her slate, and held it up
to Anne, with these words on it: "I knew you would come back.
It's not over yet between you and him." Anne made no reply. She
went on writing, with something faintly like a smile on her thin,
colorless lips. "I know something of bad husbands. Yours is as
bad a one as ever stood in shoes. He'll try you." Anne made an
effort to stop her. "Don't you see how tired I am?" she said,
gently. Hester Dethridge dropped the slate--looked with a steady
and uncompassionate attention in Anne's face--nodded her head, as
much as to say, "I see it now"--and led the way into one of the
It was the front bedroom, over the drawing-room. The first glance
round showed it to be scrupulously clean, and solidly and
tastelessly furnished. The hideous paper on the walls, the
hideous carpet on the floor, were both of the best quality. The
great heavy mahogany bedstead, with its curtains hanging from a
hook in the ceiling, and with its clumsily carved head and foot
on the same level, offered to the view the anomalous spectacle of
French design overwhelmed by English execution. The most
noticeable thing in the room was the extraordinary attention
which had been given to the defense of the door. Besides the
usual lock and key, it possessed two solid bolts, fastening
inside at the top and the bottom. It had been one among the many
eccentric sides of Reuben Limbrick's character to live in
perpetual dread of thieves breaking into his cottage at night.
All the outer doors and all the window shutters were solidly
sheathed with iron, and had alarm-bells attached to them on a new
principle. Every one of the bedrooms possessed its two bolts on
the inner side of the door. And, to crown all, on the roof of the
cottage was a little belfry, containing a bell large enough to
make itself heard at the Fulham police station. In Reuben
Limbrick's time the rope had communicated with his bedroom. It
hung now against the wall, in the passage outside.
Looking from one to the other of the objects around her, Anne's
eyes rested on the partition wall which divided the room from the
room next to it. The wall was not broken by a door of
communication, it had nothing placed against it but a
wash-hand-stand and two chairs.
"Who sleeps in the next room?" said Anne.
Hester Dethridge pointed down to the drawing-room in which they
had left Geoffrey, Geoffrey slept in the room.
Anne led the way out again into the passage.
"Show me the second room," she said.
The second room was also in front of the house. More ugliness (of
first-rate quality) in the paper and the carpet. Another heavy
mahogany bedstead; but, this time, a bedstead with a canopy
attached to the head of it--supporting its own curtains.
Anticipating Anne's inquiry, on this occasion, Hester looked
toward the next room, at the back of the cottage, and pointed to
herself. Anne at once decided on choosing the second room; it was
the farthest from Geoffrey. Hester waited while she wrote the
address at which her luggage would be found (at the house of the
musical agent), and then, having applied for, and received her
directions as to the evening meal which she should send up
stairs, quitted the room.
Left alone, Anne secured the door, and threw herself on the bed.
Still too weary to exert her mind, still physically incapable of
realizing the helplessness and the peril of her position, she
opened a locket that hung from her neck, kissed the portrait of
her mother and the portrait of Blanche placed opposite to each
other inside it, and sank into a deep and dreamless sleep.
Meanwhile Geoffrey repeated his final orders to the lad, at the
"When you have got the luggage, you are to go to the lawyer. If
he can come here to-night, you will show him the way. If he can't
come, you will bring me a letter from him. Make any mistake in
this, and it will be the worst day's work you ever did in your
life. Away with you, and don't lose the train."
The lad ran off. Geoffrey waited, looking after him, and turning
over in his mind what had been done up to that time.
"All right, so far," he said to himself. "I didn't ride in the
cab with her. I told her before witnesses I didn't forgive her,
and why I had her in the house. I've put her in a room by
herself. And if I _must_ see her, I see her with Hester Dethridge
for a witness. My part's done--let the lawyer do his."
He strolled round into the back garden, and lit his pipe. After a
while, as the twilight faded, he saw a light in Hester's
sitting-room on the ground-floor. He went to the window. Hester
and the servant-girl were both there at work. "Well?" he asked.
"How about the woman up stairs?" Hester's slate, aided by the
girl's tongue, told him all about "the woman" that was to be
told. They had taken up to her room tea and an omelet; and they
had been obliged to wake her from a sleep. She had eaten a little
of the omelet, and had drunk eagerly of the tea. They had gone up
again to take the tray down. She had returned to the bed. She was
not asleep--only dull and heavy. Made no remark. Looked clean
worn out. We left her a light; and we let her be. Such was the
report. After listening to it, without making any remark,
Geoffrey filled a second pipe, and resumed his walk. The time
wore on. It began to feel chilly in the garden. The rising wind
swept audibly over the open lands round the cottage; the stars
twinkled their last; nothing was to be seen overhead but the
black void of night. More rain coming. Geoffrey went indoors.
An evening newspaper was on the dining-room table. The candles
were lit. He sat down, and tried to read. No! There was nothing
in the newspaper that he cared about. The time for hearing from
the lawyer was drawing nearer and nearer. Reading was of no use.
Sitting still was of no use. He got up, and went out in the front
of the cottage--strolled to the gate--opened it--and looked idly
up and down the road.
But one living creature was visible by the light of the gas-lamp
over the gate. The creature came nearer, and proved to be the
postman going his last round, with the last delivery for the
night. He came up to the gate with a letter in his hand.
"The Honorable Geoffrey Delamayn?"
He took the letter from the postman, and went back into the
dining-room. Looking at the address by the light of the candles,
he recognized the handwriting of Mrs. Glenarm. "To congratulate
me on my marriage!" he said to himself, bitterly, and opened the
Mrs. Glenarm's congratulations were expressed in these terms:
MY ADORED GEOFFREY,--I have heard all. My beloved one! my own!
you are sacrificed to the vilest wretch that walks the earth, and
I have lost you! How is it that I live after hearing it? How is
it that I can think, and write, with my brain on fire, and my
heart broken! Oh, my angel, there is a purpose that supports
me--pure, beautiful, worthy of us both. I live, Geoffrey--I live
to dedicate myself to the adored idea of You. My hero! my first,
last, love! I will marry no other man. I will live and die--I vow
it solemnly on my bended knees--I will live and die true to You.
I am your Spiritual Wife. My beloved Geoffrey! _she_ can't come
between us, there--_she_ can never rob you of my heart's
unalterable fidelity, of my soul's unearthly devotion. I am your
Spiritual Wife! Oh, the blameless luxury of writing those words!
Write back to me, beloved one, and say you feel it too. Vow it,
idol of my heart, as I have vowed it. Unalterable fidelity!
unearthly devotion! Never, never will I be the wife of any other
man! Never, never will I forgive the woman who has come between
us! Yours ever and only; yours with the stainless passion that
burns on the altar of the heart; yours, yours, yours--E. G."
This outbreak of hysterical nonsense--in itself simply
ridiculous--assumed a serious importance in its effect on
Geoffrey. It associated the direct attainment of his own
interests with the gratification of his vengeance on Anne. Ten
thousand a year self-dedicated to him--and nothing to prevent his
putting out his hand and taking it but the woman who had caught
him in her trap, the woman up stairs who had fastened herself on
him for life!
He put the letter into his pocket. "Wait till I hear from the
lawyer," he said to himself. "The easiest way out of it is _that_
way. And it's the law."
He looked impatiently at his watch. As he put it back again in
his pocket there was a ring at the bell. Was it the lad bringing
the luggage? Yes. And, with it, the lawyer's report? No. Better
than that--the lawyer himself.
"Come in!" cried Geoffrey, meeting his visitor at the door.
The lawyer entered the dining-room. The candle-light revealed to
view a corpulent, full-lipped, bright-eyed man--with a strain of
negro blood in his yellow face, and with unmistakable traces in
his look and manner of walking habitually in the dirtiest
professional by-ways of the law.
"I've got a little place of my own in your neighborhood," he
said. "And I thought I would look in myself, Mr. Delamayn, on my
"Have you seen the witnesses?"
"I have examined them both, Sir. First, Mrs. Inchbare and Mr.
Bishopriggs together. Next, Mrs. Inchbare and Mr. Bishopriggs
"Well, Sir, the result is unfavorable, I am sorry to say."
"What do you mean?"
"Neither the one nor the other of them, Mr. Delamayn, can give
the evidence we want. I have made sure of that."
"Made sure of that? You have made an infernal mess of it! You
don't understand the case!"
The mulatto lawyer smiled. The rudeness of his client appeared
only to amuse him.
"Don't I?" he said. "Suppose you tell me where I am wrong about
it? Here it is in outline only. On the fourteenth of August last
your wife was at an inn in Scotland. A gentleman named Arnold
Brinkworth joined her there. He represented himself to be her
husband, and he staid with her till the next morning. Starting
from those facts, the object you have in view is to sue for a
Divorce from your wife. You make Mr. Arnold Brinkworth the
co-respondent. And you produce in evidence the waiter and the
landlady of the inn. Any thing wrong, Sir, so far?"
Nothing wrong. At one cowardly stroke to cast Anne disgraced on
the world, and to set himself free--there, plainly and truly
stated, was the scheme which he had devised, when he had turned
back on the way to Fulham to consult Mr. Moy.
"So much for the case," resumed the lawyer. "Now for what I have
done on receiving your instructions. I have examined the
witnesses; and I have had an interview (not a very pleasant one)
with Mr. Moy. The result of those two proceedings is briefly
this. First discovery: In assuming the character of the lady's
husband Mr. Brinkworth was acting under your directions--which
tells dead against _you._ Second discovery: Not the slightest
impropriety of conduct, not an approach even to harmless
familiarity, was detected by either of the witnesses, while the
lady and gentleman were together at the inn. There is literally
no evidence to produce against them, except that they _were_
together--in two rooms. How are you to assume a guilty purpose,
when you can't prove an approach to a guilty act? You can no more
take such a case as that into Court than you can jump over the
roof of this cottage."
He looked hard at his client, expecting to receive a violent
reply. His client agreeably disappointed him. A very strange
impression appeared to have been produced on th is reckless and
headstrong man. He got up quietly; he spoke with perfect outward
composure of face and manner when he said his next words.
"Have you given up the case?"
"As things are at present, Mr. Delamayn, there is no case."
"And no hope of my getting divorced from her?"
"Wait a moment. Have your wife and Mr. Brinkworth met nowhere
since they were together at the Scotch inn?"
"As to the future, of course I can't say. As to the past, there
is no hope of your getting divorced from her."
"Thank you. Good-night."
"Good-night, Mr. Delamayn."
Fastened to her for life--and the law powerless to cut the knot.
He pondered over that result until he had thoroughly realized it
and fixed it in his mind. Then he took out Mrs. Glenarm's letter,
and read it through again, attentively, from beginning to end.
Nothing could shake her devotion to him. Nothing would induce her
to marry another man. There she was--in her own words--dedicated
to him: waiting, with her fortune at her own disposal, to be his
wife. There also was his father, waiting (so far as _he_ knew, in
the absence of any tidings from Holchester House) to welcome Mrs.
Glenarm as a daughter-in-law, and to give Mrs. Glenarm's husband
an income of his own. As fair a prospect, on all sides, as man
could desire. And nothing in the way of it but the woman who had
caught him in her trap--the woman up stairs who had fastened
herself on him for life.
He went out in the garden in the darkness of the night.
There was open communication, on all sides, between the back
garden and the front. He walked round and round the cottage--now
appearing in a stream of light from a window; now disappearing
again in the darkness. The wind blew refreshingly over his bare
head. For some minutes he went round and round, faster and
faster, without a pause. When he stopped at last, it was in front
of the cottage. He lifted his head slowly, and looked up at the
dim light in the window of Anne's room.
"How?" he said to himself. "That's the question. How?"
He went indoors again, and rang the bell. The servant-girl who
answered it started back at the sight of him. His florid color
was all gone. His eyes looked at her without appearing to see
her. The perspiration was standing on his forehead in great heavy
"Are you ill, Sir?" said the girl.
He told her, with an oath, to hold her tongue and bring the
brandy. When she entered the room for the second time, he was
standing with his back to her, looking out at the night. He never
moved when she put the bottle on the table. She heard him
muttering as if he was talking to himself.
The same difficulty which had been present to his mind in secret
under Anne's window was present to his mind still.
How? That was the problem to solve. How?
He turned to the brandy, and took counsel of that.
CHAPTER THE FIFTIETH.
WHEN does the vain regret find its keenest sting? When is the
doubtful future blackened by its darkest cloud? When is life
least worth having. and death oftenest at the bedside? In the
terrible morning hours, when the sun is rising in its glory, and
the birds are singing in the stillness of the new-born day.
Anne woke in the strange bed, and looked round her, by the light
of the new morning, at the strange room.
The rain had all fallen in the night. The sun was master in the
clear autumn sky. She rose, and opened the window. The fresh
morning air, keen and fragrant, filled the room. Far and near,
the same bright stillness possessed the view. She stood at the
window looking out. Her mind was clear again--she could think,
she could feel; she could face the one last question which the
merciless morning now forced on her--How will it end?
Was there any hope?--hope for instance, in what she might do for
herself. What can a married woman do for herself? She can make
her misery public--provided it be misery of a certain kind--and
can reckon single-handed with Society when she has done it.
Was there hope in what others might do for her? Blanche might
write to her--might even come and see her--if her husband allowed
it; and that was all. Sir Patrick had pressed her hand at
parting, and had told her to rely on him. He was the firmest, the
truest of friends. But what could he do? There were outrages
which her husband was privileged to commit, under the sanction of
marriage, at the bare thought of which her blood ran cold. Could
Sir Patrick protect her? Absurd! Law and Society armed her
husband with his conjugal rights. Law and Society had but one
answer to give, if she appealed to them--You are his wife.
No hope in herself; no hope in her friends; no hope any where on
earth. Nothing to be done but to wait for the end--with faith in
the Divine Mercy; with faith in the better world.
She took out of her trunk a little book of Prayers and
Meditations--worn with much use--which had once belonged to her
mother. She sat by the window reading it. Now and then she looked
up from it--thinking. The parallel between her mother's position
and her own position was now complete. Both married to husbands
who hated them; to husbands whose interests pointed to mercenary
alliances with other women; to husbands whose one want and one
purpose was to be free from their wives. Strange, what different
ways had led mother and daughter both to the same fate! Would the
parallel hold to the end? "Shall I die," she wondered, thinking
of her mother's last moments, "in Blanche's arms?"
The time had passed unheeded. The morning movement in the house
had failed to catch her ear. She was first called out of herself
to the sense of the present and passing events by the voice of
the servant-girl outside the door.
"The master wants you, ma'am, down stairs."
She rose instantly and put away the little book.
"Is that all the message?" she asked, opening the door.
She followed the girl down stairs; recalling to her memory the
strange words addressed to her by Geoffrey, in the presence of
the servants, on the evening before. Was she now to know what
those words really meant? The doubt would soon be set at rest.
"Be the trial what it may," she thought to herself, "let me bear
it as my mother would have borne it."
The servant opened the door of the dining-room. Breakfast was on
the table. Geoffrey was standing at the window. Hester Dethridge
was waiting, posted near the door. He came forward--with the
nearest approach to gentleness in his manner which she had ever
yet seen in it--he came forward, with a set smile on his lips,
and offered her his hand!
She had entered the room, prepared (as she believed) for any
thing that could happen. She was not prepared for this. She stood
speechless, looking at him.
After one glance at her, when she came in, Hester Dethridge
looked at him, too--and from that moment never looked away again,
as long as Anne remained in the room.
He broke the silence--in a voice that was not like his own; with
a furtive restraint in his manner which she had never noticed in
"Won't you shake hands with your husband," he asked, "when your
husband asks you?"
She mechanically put her hand in his. He dropped it instantly,
with a start. "God! how cold!" he exclaimed. His own hand was
burning hot, and shook incessantly.
He pointed to a chair at the head of the table.
"Will you make the tea?" he asked.
She had given him her hand mechanically; she advanced a step
mechanically--and then stopped.
"Would you prefer breakfasting by yourself?" he said.
"If you please," she answered, faintly.
"Wait a minute. I have something to say before you go."
She waited. He considered with himself; consulting his
memory--visibly, unmistakably, consulting it before he spoke
"I have had the night to think in," he said. "The night has made
a new man of me. I beg your pardon for what I said yesterday. I
was not myself yesterday. I talked nonsense yesterday. Please to
forget it, and forgive it. I wish to turn over a new leaf. and
make amends--make amends for my past conduct. It shall be my
endeavor to be a good husband. In the presence of Mrs. Dethridge,
I request you to give me a chance. I won't force your inclinati
ons. We are married--what's the use of regretting it? Stay here,
as you said yesterday, on your own terms. I wish to make it up.
In the presence of Mrs. Dethridge, I say I wish to make it up. I
won't detain you. I request you to think of it. Good-morning."
He said those extraordinary words like a slow boy saying a hard
lesson--his eyes on the ground, his fingers restlessly fastening
and unfastening a button on his waistcoat.
Anne left the room. In the passage she was obliged to wait, and
support herself against the wall. His unnatural politeness was
horrible; his carefully asserted repentance chilled her to the
soul with dread. She had never felt--in the time of his fiercest
anger and his foulest language--the unutterable horror of him
that she felt now.
Hester Dethridge came out, closing the door behind her. She
looked attentively at Anne--then wrote on her slate, and held it
out, with these words on it:
"Do you believe him?"
Anne pushed the slate away, and ran up stairs. She fastened the
door--and sank into a chair.
"He is plotting something against me," she said to herself.
A sickening, physical sense of dread--entirely new in her
experience of herself--made her shrink from pursuing the
question. The sinking at her heart turned her faint. She went to
get the air at the open window.
At the same moment there was a ring at the gate bell. Suspicious
of any thing and every thing. she felt a sudden distrust of
letting herself be seen. She drew back behind the curtain and
A man-servant, in livery, was let in. He had a letter in his
hand. He said to the girl as he passed Anne's window, "I come
from Lady Holchester; I must see Mr. Delamayn instantly."
They went in. There was an interval. The footman reappeared,
leaving the place. There was another interval. Then there came a
knock at the door. Anne hesitated. The knock was repeated, and
the dumb murmuring of Hester Dethridge was heard outside. Anne
opened the door.
Hester came in with the breakfast. She pointed to a letter among
other things on the tray. It was addressed to Anne, in Geoffrey's
handwriting, and it contained these words:
"My father died yesterday. Write your orders for your mourning.
The boy will take them. You are not to trouble yourself to go to
London. Somebody is to come here to you from the shop."
Anne dropped the paper on her lap without looking up. At the same
moment Hester Dethridge's slate was passed stealthily between her
eyes and the note--with these words traced on it. "His mother is
coming to-day. His brother has been telegraphed from Scotland. He
was drunk last night. He's drinking again. I know what that
means. Look out, missus--look out."
Anne signed to her to leave the room. She went out, pulling the
door to, but not closing it behind her.
There was another ring at the gate bell. Once more Anne went to
the window. Only the lad, this time; arriving to take his orders
for the day. He had barely entered the garden when he was
followed by the postman with letters. In a minute more Geoffrey's
voice was heard in the passage, and Geoffrey's heavy step
ascended the wooden stairs. Anne hurried across the room to draw
the bolts. Geoffrey met her before she could close the door.
"A letter for you," he said, keeping scrupulously out of the
room. "I don't wish to force your inclinations--I only request
you to tell me who it's from."
His manner was as carefully subdued as ever. But the
unacknowledged distrust in him (when he looked at her) betrayed
itself in his eye.
She glanced at the handwriting on the address.
"From Blanche," she answered.
He softly put his foot between the door and the post--and waited
until she had opened and read Blanche's letter.
"May I see it?" he asked--and put in his hand for it through the
The spirit in Anne which would once have resisted him was dead in
her now. She handed him the open letter.
It was very short. Excepting some brief expressions of fondness,
it was studiously confined to stating the purpose for which it
had been written. Blanche proposed to visit Anne that afternoon,
accompanied by her uncle, she sent word beforehand, to make sure
of finding Anne at home. That was all. The letter had evidently
been written under Sir Patrick's advice.
Geoffrey handed it back, after first waiting a moment to think.
"My father died yesterday," he said. "My wife can't receive
visitors before he is buried. I don't wish to force your
inclinations. I only say I can't let visitors in here before the
funeral--except my own family. Send a note down stairs. The lad
will take it to your friend when he goes to London." With those
words he left
An appeal to the proprieties of life, in the mouth of Geoffrey
Delamayn, could only mean one of two things. Either he had spoken
in brutal mockery--or he had spoken with some ulterior object in
view. Had he seized on the event of his father's death as a
pretext for isolating his wife from all communication with the
outer world? Were there reasons, which had not yet asserted
themselves, for his dreading the result, if he allowed Anne to
communicate with her friends?
The hour wore on, and Hester Dethridge appeared again. The lad
was waiting for Anne's orders for her mourning, and for her note
to Mrs. Arnold Brinkworth.
Anne wrote the orders and the note. Once more the horrible slate
appeared when she had done, between the writing paper and her
eyes, with the hard lines of warning pitilessly traced on it. "
He has locked the gate. When there's a ring we are to come to him
for the key. He has written to a woman. Name outside the letter,
Mrs. Glenarm. He has had more brandy. Like my husband. Mind
The one way out of the high walls all round the cottage locked.
Friends forbidden to see her. Solitary imprisonment, with her
husband for a jailer. Before she had been four-and-twenty hours
in the cottage it had come to that. And what was to follow?
She went back mechanically to the window. The sight of the outer
world, the occasional view of a passing vehicle, helped to
The lad appeared in the front garden departing to perform his
errand to London. Geoffrey went with him to open the gate, and
called after him, as he passed through it, "Don't forget the
The "books?" What "books?" Who wanted them? The slightest thing
now roused Anne's suspicion. For hours afterward the books
haunted her mind.
He secured the gate and came back again. He stopped under Anne's
window and called to her. She showed herself. "When you want air
and exercise," he said, "the back garden is at your own
disposal." He put the key of the gate in his pocket and returned
to the house.
After some hesitation Anne decided on taking him at his word. In
her state of suspense, to remain within the four walls of the
bedroom was unendurable. If some lurking snare lay hid under the
fair-sounding proposal which Geoffrey had made, it was less
repellent to her boldly to prove what it might be than to wait
pondering over it with her mind in the dark. She put on her hat
and went down into the garden. Nothing happened out of the
common. Wherever he was he never showed himself. She wandered up
and down, keeping on the side of the garden which was farthest
from the dining-room window. To a woman, escape from the place
was simply impossible. Setting out of the question the height of
the walls, they were armed at the top with a thick setting of
jagged broken glass. A small back-door in the end wall (intended
probably for the gardener's use) was bolted and locked--the key
having been taken out. There was not a house near. The lands of
the local growers of vegetables surrounded the garden on all
sides. In the nineteenth century, and in the immediate
neighborhood of a great metropolis, Anne was as absolutely
isolated from all contact with the humanity around her as if she
lay in her grave.
After the lapse of half an hour the silence was broken by a noise
of carriage wheels on the public road in front, and a ring at the
bell. Anne kept close to the cottage, at the back; determined, if
a chance offered, on speaking to the visitor, whoever the visitor
She heard voices in the dining-room th rough the open
window--Geoffrey's voice and the voice of a woman. Who was the
woman? Not Mrs. Glenarm, surely? After a while the visitor's
voice was suddenly raised. "Where is she?" it said. "I wish to
see her." Anne instantly advanced to the back-door of the
house--and found herself face to face with a lady who was a total
stranger to her.
"Are you my son's wife?" asked the lady.
"I am your son's prisoner," Anne answered.
Lady Holchester's pale face turned paler still. It was plain that
Anne's reply had confirmed some doubt in the mother s mind which
had been already suggested to it by the son.
"What do you mean?" she asked, in a whisper.
Geoffrey's heavy footsteps crossed the dining-room. There was no
time to explain. Anne whispered back,
"Tell my friends what I have told you."
Geoffrey appeared at the dining-room door.
"Name one of your friends," said Lady Holchester.
"Sir Patrick Lundie."
Geoffrey heard the answer. "What about Sir Patrick Lundie?" he
"I wish to see Sir Patrick Lundie," said his mother. "And your
wife can tell me where to find him."
Anne instantly understood that Lady Holchester would communicate
with Sir Patrick. She mentioned his London address. Lady
Holchester turned to leave the cottage. Her son stopped her.
"Let's set things straight," he said, "before you go. My mother,"
he went on, addressing himself to Anne, "don't think there's much
chance for us two of living comfortably together. Bear witness to
the truth--will you? What did I tell you at breakfast-time?
Didn't I say it should be my endeavor to make you a good husband?
Didn't I say--in Mrs. Dethridge's presence--I wanted to make it
up?" He waited until Anne had answered in the affirmative, and
then appealed to his mother. "Well? what do you think now?"
Lady Holchester declined to reveal what she thought. "You shall
see me, or hear from me, this evening," she said to Anne.
Geoffrey attempted to repeat his unanswered question. His mother
looked at him. His eyes instantly dropped before hers. She
gravely bent her head to Anne, and drew her veil. Her son
followed her out in silence to the gate.
Anne returned to her room, sustained by the first sense of relief
which she had felt since the morning. "His mother is alarmed,"
she said to herself. "A change will come."
A change _was_ to come--with the coming night.
CHAPTER THE FIFTY-FIRST.
TOWARD sunset, Lady Holchester's carriage drew up before the gate
of the cottage.
Three persons occupied the carriage: Lady Holchester, her eldest
son (now Lord Holchester), and Sir Patrick Lundie.
"Will you wait in the carriage, Sir Patrick ?" said Julius. " Or
will you come in?"
"I will wait. If I can be of the least use to _her,_, send for me
instantly. In the mean time don't forget to make the stipulation
which I have suggested. It is the one certain way of putting your
brother's real feeling in this matter to the test."
The servant had rung the bell without producing any result. He
rang again. Lady Holchester put a question to Sir Patrick.
"If I have an opportunity of speaking to my son's wife alone,"
she said, "have you any message to give?"
Sir Patrick produced a little note.
"May I appeal to your ladyship's kindness to give her this?" The
gate was opened by the servant-girl, as Lady Holchester took the
note. "Remember," reiterated Sir Patrick, earnestly "if I can be
of the smallest service to her--don't think of my position with
Mr. Delamayn. Send for me at once."
Julius and his mother were conducted into the drawing-room. The
girl informed them that her master had gone up stairs to lie
down, and that he would be with them immediately.
Both mother and son were too anxious to speak. Julius wandered
uneasily about the room. Some books attracted his notice on a
table in the corner--four dirty, greasy volumes, with a slip of
paper projecting from the leaves of one of them, and containing
this inscription, "With Mr. Perry's respects." Julius opened the
volume. It was the ghastly popular record of Criminal Trials in
England, called the Newgate Calendar. Julius showed it to his
"Geoffrey's taste in literature!" he said, with a faint smile.
Lady Holchester signed to him to put the book back.
"You have seen Geoffrey's wife already--have you not?" she asked.
There was no contempt now in her tone when she referred to Anne.
The impression produced on her by her visit to the cottage,
earlier in the day, associated Geoffrey's wife with family
anxieties of no trivial kind. She might still (for Mrs. Glenarm's
sake) be a woman to be disliked--but she was no longer a woman to
"I saw her when she came to Swanhaven," said Julius. "I agree
with Sir Patrick in thinking her a very interesting person."
"What did Sir Patrick say to you about Geoffrey this
afternoon--while I was out of the room?"
"Only what he said to _you._ He thought their position toward
each other here a very deplorable one. He considered that the
reasons were serious for our interfering immediately."
"Sir Patrick's own opinion, Julius, goes farther than that."
"He has not acknowledged it, that I know of. "
"How _can_ he acknowledge it--to us?"
The door opened, and Geoffrey entered the room.
Julius eyed him closely as they shook hands. His eyes were
bloodshot; his face was flushed; his utterance was thick--the
look of him was the look of a man who had been drinking hard.
"Well?" he said to his mother. "What brings you back?"
"Julius has a proposal to make to you," Lady Holchester answered.
"I approve of it; and I have come with him."
Geoffrey turned to his brother.
"What can a rich man like you want with a poor devil like me?" he
"I want to do you justice, Geoffrey--if you will help me, by
meeting me half-way. Our mother has told you about the will?"
"I'm not down for a half-penny in the will. I expected as much.
"You are wrong--you _are_ down in it. There is liberal provision
made for you in a codicil. Unhappily, my father died without
signing it. It is needless to say that I consider it binding on
me for all that. I am ready to do for you what your father would
have done for you. And I only ask for one concession in return."
"What may that be?"
"You are living here very unhappily, Geoffrey, with your wife."
"Who says so? I don't, for one."
Julius laid his hand kindly on his brother's arm.
"Don't trifle with such a serious matter as this," he said. "Your
marriage is, in every sense of the word, a misfortune--not only
to you but to your wife. It is impossible that you can live
together. I have come here to ask you to consent to a separation.
Do that--and the provision made for you in the unsigned codicil
is yours. What do you say?"
Geoffrey shook his brother's hand off his arm.
"I say--No!" he answered.
Lady Holchester interfered for the first time.
"Your brother's generous offer deserves a better answer than
that," she said.
"My answer," reiterated Geoffrey, "is--No!"
He sat between them with his clenched fists resting on his
knees--absolutely impenetrable to any thing that either of them
"In your situation," said Julius, "a refusal is sheer madness. I
won't accept it."
"Do as you like about that. My mind's made up. I won't let my
wife be taken away from me. Here she stays."
The brutal tone in which he had made that reply roused Lady
"Take care!" she said. "You are not only behaving with the
grossest ingratitude toward your brother--you are forcing a
suspicion into your mother's mind. You have some motive that you
are hiding from us."
He turned on his mother with a sudden ferocity which made Julius
spring to his feet. The next instant his eyes were on the ground,
and the devil that possessed him was quiet again.
"Some motive I'm hiding from you?" he repeated, with his head
down, and his utterance thicker than ever. "I'm ready to have my
motive posted all over London, if you like. I'm fond of her."
He looked up as he said the last words. Lady Holchester turned
away her head--recoiling from her own son. So overwhelming was
the shock inflicted on her that even the strongly rooted
prejudice which Mrs. Glenarm had implanted in her mind yielded to
it. At that moment she absolutely pitied Anne!
"Poor creature!" said Lady Holchester.
He took instant offense at those two words. "I won't have my wife
pitied by any body." With that reply, he dashed into the passage;
and called out, "Anne! come down!"
Her soft voice answered; her light footfall was heard on the
stairs. She came into the room. Julius advanced, took her hand,
and held it kindly in his. "We are having a little family
discussion," he said, trying to give her confidence. "And
Geoffrey is getting hot over it, as usual."
Geoffrey appealed sternly to his mother.
"Look at her!" he said. "Is she starved? Is she in rags? Is she
covered with bruises?" He turned to Anne. "They have come here to
propose a separation. They both believe I hate you. I don't hate
you. I'm a good Christian. I owe it to you that I'm cut out of my
father's will. I forgive you that. I owe it to you that I've lost
the chance of marrying a woman with ten thousand a year. I
forgive you _that._ I'm not a man who does things by halves. I
said it should be my endeavor to make you a good husband. I said
it was my wish to make it up. Well! I am as good as my word. And
what's the consequence? I am insulted. My mother comes here, and
my brother comes here--and they offer me money to part from you.
Money be hanged! I'll be beholden to nobody. I'll get my own
living. Shame on the people who interfere between man and wife!
Shame!--that's what I say--shame!"
Anne looked, for an explanation, from her husband to her
"Have you proposed a separation between us?" she asked.
"Yes--on terms of the utmost advantage to my son; arranged with
every possible consideration toward you. Is there any objection
on your side?"
"Oh, Lady Holchester! is it necessary to ask me? What does he
"He has refused."
"Yes," said Geoffrey. "I don't go back from my word; I stick to
what I said this morning. It's my endeavor to make you a good
husband. It's my wish to make it up." He paused, and then added
his last reason: "I'm fond of you."
Their eyes met as he said it to her. Julius felt Anne's hand
suddenly tighten round his. The desperate grasp of the frail cold
fingers, the imploring terror in the gentle sensitive face as it
slowly turned his way, said to him as if in words, "Don't leave
me friendless to-night!"
"If you both stop here till domesday," said Geoffrey, "you'll get
nothing more out of me. You have had my reply."
With that, he seated himself doggedly in a corner of the room;
waiting--ostentatiously waiting--for his mother and his brother
to take their leave. The position was serious. To argue the
matter with him that night was hopeless. To invite Sir Patrick's
interference would only be to provoke his savage temper to a new
outbreak. On the other hand, to leave the helpless woman, after
what had passed, without another effort to befriend her, was, in
her situation, an act of downright inhumanity, and nothing less.
Julius took the one way out of the difficulty that was left--the
one way worthy of him as a compassionate and an honorable man.
"We will drop it for to-night, Geoffrey," he said. "But I am not
the less resolved, in spite of all that you have said, to return
to the subject to-morrow. It would save me some inconvenience--a
second journey here from town, and then going back again to my
engagements--if I staid with you to-night. Can you give me a
A look flashed on him from Anne, which thanked him as no words
could have thanked him.
"Give you a bed?" repeated Geoffrey. He checked himself, on the
point of refusing. His mother was watching him; his wife was
watching him--and his wife knew that the room above them was a
room to spare. "All right!" he resumed, in another tone, with his
eye on his mother. "There's my empty room up stairs. Have it, if
you like. You won't find I've changed my mind to-morrow--but
that's your look-out. Stop here, if the fancy takes you. I've no
objection. It don't matter to Me.--Will you trust his lordship
under my roof?" he added, addressing his mother. "I might have
some motive that I'm hiding from you, you know!" Without waiting
for an answer, he turned to Anne. "Go and tell old Dummy to put
the sheets on the bed. Say there's a live lord in the
house--she's to send in something devilish good for supper!" He
burst fiercely into a forced laugh. Lady Holchester rose at the
moment when Anne was leaving the room. "I shall not be here when
you return," she said. "Let me bid you good-night."
She shook hands with Anne--giving her Sir Patrick's note, unseen,
at the same moment. Anne left the room. Without addressing
another word to her second son, Lady Holchester beckoned to
Julius to give her his arm. "You have acted nobly toward your
brother," she said to him. "My one comfort and my one hope,
Julius, are in you." They went out together to the gate, Geoffrey
following them with the key in his hand. "Don't be too anxious,"
Julius whispered to his mother. "I will keep the drink out of his
way to-night--and I will bring you a better account of him
to-morrow. Explain every thing to Sir Patrick as you go home."
He handed Lady Holchester into the carriage; and re-entered,
leaving Geoffrey to lock the gate. The brothers returned in
silence to the cottage. Julius had concealed it from his
mother--but he was seriously uneasy in secret. Naturally prone to
look at all things on their brighter side, he could place no
hopeful interpretation on what Geoffrey had said and done that
night. The conviction that he was deliberately acting a part, in
his present relations with his wife, for some abominable purpose
of his own, had rooted itself firmly in Julius. For the first
time in his experience of his brother, the pecuniary
consideration was not the uppermost consideration in Geoffrey's
mind. They went back into the drawing-room. "What will you have
to drink?" said Geoffrey.
"You won't keep me company over a drop of brandy-and-water?"
"No. You have had enough brandy-and-water."
After a moment of frowning self-consideration in the glass,
Geoffrey abruptly agreed with Julius "I look like it," he said.
"I'll soon put that right." He disappeared, and returned with a
wet towel tied round his head. "What will you do while the women
are getting your bed ready? Liberty Hall here. I've taken to
cultivating my mind---I'm a reformed character, you know, now I'm
a married man. You do what you like. I shall read."
He turned to the side-table, and, producing the volumes of the
Newgate Calendar, gave one to his brother. Julius handed it back
"You won't cultivate your mind," he said, "with such a book as
that. Vile actions recorded in vile English, make vile reading,
Geoffrey, in every sense of the word."
"It will do for me. I don't know good English when I see it."
With that frank acknowledgment--to which the great majority of
his companions at school and college might have subscribed
without doing the slightest injustice to the present state of
English education--Geoffrey drew his chair to the table, and
opened one of the volumes of his record of crime.
The evening newspaper was lying on the sofa. Julius took it up,
and seated himself opposite to his brother. He noticed, with some
surprise, that Geoffrey appeared to have a special object in
consulting his book. Instead of beginning at the first page, he
ran the leaves through his fingers, and turned them down at
certain places, before he entered on his reading. If Julius had
looked over his brother's shoulder, instead of only looking at
him across the table, he would have seen that Geoffrey passed by
all the lighter crimes reported in the Calendar, and marked for
his own private reading the cases of murder only.
CHAPTER THE FIFTY-SECOND.
THE night had advanced. It was close on twelve o'clock when Anne
heard the servant's voice, outside her bedroom door, asking leave
to speak with her for a moment.
"What is it?"
"The gentleman down stairs wishes to see you, ma'am."
"Do you mean Mr. Delamayn's brother?"
"Where is Mr. Delamayn?"
"Out in the garden, ma'am."
Anne went down stairs, and found Julius alone in
"I am sorry to disturb you," he said. "I am afraid Geoffrey is
ill. The landlady has gone to bed, I am told--and I don't know
where to apply for medical assistance. Do you know of any doctor
in the neighborhood?"
Anne, like Julius, was a perfect stranger to the neighborhood.
She suggested making inquiry of the servant. On speaking to the
girl, it turned out that she knew of a medical man, living within
ten minutes' walk of the cottage. She could give plain directions
enabling any person to find the place--but she was afraid, at
that hour of the night and in that lonely neighborhood, to go out
"Is he seriously ill?" Anne asked.
"He is in such a state of nervous irritability," said Julius,
"that he can't remain still for two moments together in the same
place. It began with incessant restlessness while he was reading
here. I persuaded him to go to bed. He couldn't lie still for an
instant--he came down again, burning with fever, and more
restless than ever. He is out in the garden in spite of every
thing I could do to prevent him; trying, as he says, to 'run it
off.' It appears to be serious to _me._. Come and judge for
He led Anne into the next room; and, opening the shutter, pointed
to the garden.
The clouds had cleared off; the night was fine. The clear
starlight showed Geoffrey, stripped to his shirt and drawers,
running round and round the garden. He apparently believed
himself to be contending at the Fulham foot-race. At times, as
the white figure circled round and round in the star-light, they
heard him cheering for "the South." The slackening thump of his
feet on the ground, the heavier and heavier gasps in which he
drew his breath, as he passed the window, gave warning that his
strength was failing him. Exhaustion, if it led to no worse
consequences, would force him to return to the house. In the
state of his brain at that moment who could say what the result
might be, if medical help was not called in?
"I will go for the doctor," said Julius, "if you don't mind my
It was impossible for Anne to set any apprehensions of her own
against the plain necessity for summoning assistance. They found
the key of the gate in the pocket of Geoffrey's coat up stairs.
Anne went with Julius to let him out. "How can I thank you!" she
said, gratefully. "What should I have done without _you!_"
"I won't be a moment longer than I can help," he answered, and
She secured the gate again, and went back to the cottage. The
servant met her at the door, and proposed calling up Hester
"We don't know what the master may do while his brother's away,"
said the girl. "And one more of us isn't one too many, when we
are only women in the house."
"You are quite right," said Anne. "Wake your mistress."
After ascending the stairs, they looked out into the garden,
through the window at the end of the passage on the upper floor.
He was still going round and round, but very slowly: his pace was
fast slackening to a walk.
Anne went back to her room, and waited near the open door--ready
to close and fasten it instantly if any thing occurred to alarm
her. "How changed I am!" she thought to herself. "Every thing
frightens me, now."
The inference was the natural one--but not the true one. The
change was not in herself, but in the situation in which she was
placed. Her position during the investigation at Lady Lundie's
house had tried her moral courage only. It had exacted from her
one of those noble efforts of self-sacrifice which the hidden
forces in a woman's nature are essentially capable of making. Her
position at the cottage tried her physical courage: it called on
her to rise superior to the sense of actual bodily danger--while
that danger was lurking in the dark. There, the woman's nature
sank under the stress laid on it--there, her courage could strike
no root in the strength of her love--there, the animal instincts
were the instincts appealed to; and the firmness wanted was the
firmness of a man.
Hester Dethridge's door opened. She walked straight into Anne's
The yellow clay-cold color of her face showed a faint flush of
warmth; its deathlike stillness was stirred by a touch of life.
The stony eyes, fixed as ever in their gaze, shone strangely with
a dim inner lustre. Her gray hair, so neatly arranged at other
times, was in disorder under her cap. All her movements were
quicker than usual. Something had roused the stagnant vitality in
the woman--it was working in her mind; it was forcing itself
outward into her face. The servants at Windygates, in past times,
had seen these signs, and had known them for a warning to leave
Hester Dethridge to herself.
Anne asked her if she had heard what had happened.
She bowed her head.
"I hope you don't mind being disturbed?"
She wrote on her slate: "I'm glad to be disturbed. I have been
dreaming bad dreams. It's good for me to be wakened, when sleep
takes me backward in my life. What's wrong with you? Frightened?"
She wrote again, and pointed toward the garden with one hand,
while she held the slate up with the other: "Frightened of
She wrote for the third time, and offered the slate to Anne with
a ghastly smile: "I have been through it all. I know. You're only
at the beginning now. He'll put the wrinkles in your face, and
the gray in your hair. There will come a time when you'll wish
yourself dead and buried. You will live through it, for all that.
Look at Me."
As she read the last three words, Anne heard the garden door
below opened and banged to again. She caught Hester Dethridge by
the arm, and listened. The tramp of Geoffrey's feet, staggering
heavily in the passage, gave token of his approach to the stairs.
He was talking to himself, still possessed by the delusion that
he was at the foot-race. "Five to four on Delamayn. Delamayn's
won. Three cheers for the South, and one cheer more. Devilish
long race. Night already! Perry! where's Perry?"
He advanced, staggering from side to side of the passage. The
stairs below creaked as he set his foot on them. Hester Dethridge
dragged herself free from Anne, advanced, with her candle in her
hand, and threw open Geoffrey's bedroom door; returned to the
head of the stairs; and stood there, firm as a rock, waiting for
him. He looked up, as he set his foot on the next stair, and met
the view of Hester's face, brightly illuminated by the candle,
looking down at him. On the instant he stopped, rooted to the
place on which he stood. "Ghost! witch! devil!" he cried out,
"take your eyes off me!" He shook his fist at her furiously, with
an oath--sprang back into the hall--and shut himself into the
dining-room from the sight of her. The panic which had seized him
once already in the kitchen-garden at Windygates, under the eyes
of the dumb cook, had fastened its hold on him once more.
Frightened--absolutely frightened--of Hester Dethridge!
The gate bell rang. Julius had returned with the doctor.
Anne gave the key to the girl to let them in. Hester wrote on her
slate, as composedly as if nothing had happened: "They'll find me
in the kitchen, if they want me. I sha'n't go back to my bedroom.
My bedroom's full of bad dreams." She descended the stairs. Anne
waited in the upper passage, looking over into the hall below.
"Your brother is in the drawing-room," she called down to Julius.
"The landlady is in the kitchen, if you want her." She returned
to her room, and waited for what might happen next.
After a brief interval she heard the drawing-room door open, and
the voices of the men out side. There seemed to be some
difficulty in persuading Geoffrey to ascend the stairs; he
persisted in declaring that Hester Dethridge was waiting for him
at the top of them. After a little they persuaded him that the
way was free. Anne heard them ascend the stairs and close his
Another and a longer interval passed before the door opened
again. The doctor was going away. He said his parting words to
Julius in the passage. "Look in at him from time to time through
the night, and give him another dose of the sedative mixture if
he wakes. There is nothing to b e alarmed about in the
restlessness and the fever. They are only the outward
manifestations of some serious mischief hidden under them. Send
for the medical man who has last attended him. Knowledge of the
patient's constitution is very important knowledge in this case."
As Julius returned from letting the doctor out, Anne met him in
the hall. She was at once struck by the worn look in his face,
and by the fatigue which expressed itself in all his movements.
"You want rest," she said. "Pray go to your room. I have heard
what the doctor said to you. Leave it to the landlady and to me
to sit up."
Julius owned that he had been traveling from Scotland during the
previous night. But he was unwilling to abandon the
responsibility of watching his brother. "You are not strong
enough, I am sure, to take my place," he said, kindly. "And
Geoffrey has some unreasoning horror of the landlady which makes
it very undesirable that he should see her again, in his present
state. I will go up to my room, and rest on the bed. If you hear
any thing you have only to come and call me."
An hour more passed.
Anne went to Geoffrey's door and listened. He was stirring in his
bed, and muttering to himself. She went on to the door of the
next room, which Julius had left partly open. Fatigue had
overpowered him; she heard, within, the quiet breathing of a man
in a sound sleep. Anne turned back again resolved not to disturb
At the head of the stairs she hesitated--not knowing what to do.
Her horror of entering Geoffrey's room, by herself, was
insurmountable. But who else was to do it? "The girl had gone to
bed. The reason which Julius had given for not employing the
assistance of Hester Dethridge was unanswerable. She listened
again at Geoffrey's door. No sound was now audible in the room to
a person in the passage outside. Would it be well to look in, and
make sure that he had only fallen asleep again? She hesitated
once more--she was still hesitating, when Hester Dethridge
appeared from the kitchen.
She joined Anne at the top of the stairs--looked at her--and
wrote a line on her slate: "Frightened to go in? Leave it to Me."
The silence in the room justified the inference that he was
asleep. If Hester looked in, Hester could do no harm now. Anne
accepted the proposal.
"If you find any thing wrong," she said, "don't disturb his
brother. Come to me first."
With that caution she withdrew. It was then nearly two in the
morning. She, like Julius, was sinking from fatigue. After
waiting a little, and hearing nothing, she threw herself on the
sofa in her room. If any thing happened, a knock at the door
would rouse her instantly.
In the mean while Hester Dethridge opened Geoffrey's bedroom door
and went in.
The movements and the mutterings which Anne had heard, had been
movements and mutterings in his sleep. The doctor's composing
draught, partially disturbed in its operation for the moment
only, had recovered its sedative influence on his brain. Geoffrey
was in a deep and quiet sleep.
Hester stood near the door, looking at him. She moved to go out
again--stopped--and fixed her eyes suddenly on one of the inner
corners of the room.
The same sinister change which had passed over her once already
in Geoffrey's presence, when they met in the kitchen-garden at
Windygates, now passed over her again. Her closed lips dropped
apart. Her eyes slowly dilated--moved, inch by inch from the
corner, following something along the empty wall, in the
direction of the bed--stopped at the head of the bed, exactly
above Geoffrey's sleeping face--stared, rigid and glittering, as
if they saw a sight of horror close over it. He sighed faintly in
his sleep. The sound, slight as it was, broke the spell that held
her. She slowly lifted her withered hands, and wrung them above
her head; fled back across the passage; and, rushing into her
room, sank on her knees at the bedside.
Now, in the dead of night, a strange thing happened. Now, in the
silence and the darkness, a hideous secret was revealed.
In the sanctuary of her own room--with all the other inmates of
the house sleeping round her--the dumb woman threw off the
mysterious and terrible disguise under which she deliberately
isolated herself among her fellow-creatures in the hours of the
day. Hester Dethridge spoke. In low, thick, smothered accents--in
a wild litany of her own--she prayed. She called upon the mercy
of God for deliverance from herself; for deliverance from the
possession of the Devil; for blindness to fall on her, for death
to strike her, so that she might never see that unnamed Horror
more! Sobs shook the whole frame of the stony woman whom nothing
human moved at other times. Tears poured over those clay-cold
cheeks. One by one, the frantic words of her prayer died away on
her lips. Fierce shuddering fits shook her from head to foot. She
started up from her knees in the darkness. Light! light! light!
The unnamed Horror was behind her in his room. The unnamed Horror
was looking at her through his open door. She found the
match-box, and lit the candle on her table--lit the two other
candles set for ornament only on the mantle piece--and looked all
round the brightly lighted little room. "Aha!" she said to
herself, wiping the cold sweat of her agony from her face.
"Candles to other people. God's light to _me._ Nothing to be
seen! nothing to be seen!" Taking one of the candles in her hand,
she crossed the passage, with her head down, turned her back on
Geoffrey's open door, closed it quickly and softly, stretching
out her hand behind her, and retreated again to her own room. She
fastened the door, and took an ink-bottle and a pen from the
mantle-piece. After considering for a moment, she hung a
handkerchief over the keyhole, and laid an old shawl longwise at
the bottom of the door, so as to hide the light in her room from
the observation of any one in the house who might wake and come
that way. This done, she opened the upper part of her dress, and,
slipping her fingers into a secret pocket hidden in the inner
side of her stays, produced from it some neatly folded leaves of
thin paper. Spread out on the table, the leaves revealed
themselves--all but the last--as closely covered with writing, in
her own hand.
The first leaf was headed by this inscription: "My Confession. To
be put into my coffin, and to be buried with me when I die."
She turned the manuscript over, so as to get at the last page.
The greater part of it was left blank. A few lines of writing, at
the top, bore the date of the day of the week and month on which
Lady Lundie had dismissed her from her situation at Windygates.
The entry was expressed in these terms:
"I have seen IT again to-day. The first time for two months past.
In the kitchen-garden. Standing behind the young gentleman whose
name is Delamayn. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. I
have resisted. By prayer. By meditation in solitude. By reading
good books. I have left my place. I have lost sight of the young
gentleman for good. Who will IT stand behind? and point to next?
Lord have mercy upon me! Christ have mercy upon me!"
Under this she now added the following lines, first carefully
prefixing the date:
"I have seen IT again to-night. I notice one awful change. IT has
appeared twice behind the same person. This has never happened
before. This makes the temptation more terrible than ever.
To-night, in his bedroom, between the bed-head and the wall, I
have seen IT behind young Mr. Delamayn again. The head just above
his face, and the finger pointing downward at his throat. Twice
behind this one man. And never twice behind any other living
creature till now. If I see IT a third time behind him--Lord
deliver me! Christ deliver me! I daren't think of it. He shall
leave my cottage to-morrow. I would fain have drawn back from the
bargain, when the stranger took the lodgings for his friend, and
the friend proved to be Mr. Delamayn. I didn't like it, even
then. After the warning to-night, my mind is made up. He shall
go. He may have his money back, if he likes. He shall go.
(Memorandum: Felt the temptation whispering this time, and the
terror tearing at me all the while, as I have
never felt them yet. Resisted, as before, by prayer. Am now
going down stairs to meditate against it in solitude--to fortify
myself against it by good books. Lord be merciful to me a
In those words she closed the entry, and put the manuscript back
in the secret pocket in her stays.
She went down to the little room looking on the garden, which had
once been her brother's study. There she lit a lamp, and took
some books from a shelf that hung against the wall. The books
were the Bible, a volume of Methodist sermons, and a set of
collected Memoirs of Methodist saints. Ranging these last
carefully round her, in an order of her own, Hester Dethridge sat
down with the Bible on her lap to watch out the night.
CHAPTER THE FIFTY-THIRD.
WHAT had happened in the hours of darkness?
This was Anne's first thought, when the sunlight poured in at her
window, and woke her the next morning.
She made immediate inquiry of the servant. The girl could only
speak for herself. Nothing had occurred to disturb her after she
had gone to bed. Her master was still, she believed, in his room.
Mrs. Dethridge was at her work in the kitchen.
Anne went to the kitchen. Hester Dethridge was at her usual
occupation at that time--preparing the breakfast. The slight
signs of animation which Anne had noticed in her when they last
met appeared no more. The dull look was back again in her stony
eyes; the lifeless torpor possessed all her movements. Asked if
any thing had happened in the night, she slowly shook her stolid
head, slowly made the sign with her hand which signified,
Leaving the kitchen, Anne saw Julius in the front garden. She
went out and joined him.
"I believe I have to thank your consideration for me for some
hours of rest," he said. "It was five in the morning when I woke.
I hope you had no reason to regret having left me to sleep? I
went into Geoffrey's room, and found him stirring. A second dose
of the mixture composed him again. The fever has gone. He looks
weaker and paler, but in other respects like himself. We will
return directly to the question of his health. I have something
to say to you, first, about a change which may be coming in your
"Has he consented to the separation?"
"No. He is as obstinate about it as ever. I have placed the
matter before him in every possible light. He still refuses,
positively refuses, a provision which would make him an
independent man for life."
"Is it the provision he might have had, Lord Holchester, if--?"
"If he had married Mrs. Glenarm? No. It is impossible,
consistently with my duty to my mother, and with what I owe to
the position in which my father's death has placed me, that I can
offer him such a fortune as Mrs. Glenarm's. Still, it is a
handsome income which he is mad enough to refuse. I shall persist
in pressing it on him. He must and shall take it."
Anne felt no reviving hope roused in her by his last words. She
turned to another subject.
"You had something to tell me," she said. "You spoke of a
"True. The landlady here is a very strange person; and she has
done a very strange thing. She has given Geoffrey notice to quit
"Notice to quit?" Anne repeated, in amazement.
"Yes. In a formal letter. She handed it to me open, as soon as I
was up this morning. It was impossible to get any explanation
from her. The poor dumb creature simply wrote on her slate: 'He
may have his money back, if he likes: he shall go!' Greatly to my
surprise (for the woman inspires him with the strongest aversion)
Geoffrey refuses to go until his term is up. I have made the
peace between them for to-day. Mrs. Dethridge. very reluctantly,
consents to give him four-and-twenty hours. And there the matter
rests at present."
"What can her motive be?" said Anne.
"It's useless to inquire. Her mind is evidently off its balance.
One thing is clear, Geoffrey shall not keep you here much longer.
The coming change will remove you from this dismal place--which
is one thing gained. And it is quite possible that new scenes and
new surroundings may have their influence on Geoffrey for good.
His conduct--otherwise quite incomprehensible--may be the result
of some latent nervous irritation which medical help might reach.
I don't attempt to disguise from myself or from you, that your
position here is a most deplorable one. But before we despair of
the future, let us at least inquire whether there is any
explanation of my brother's present behavior to be found in the
present state of my brother's health. I have been considering
what the doctor said to me last night. The first thing to do is
to get the best medical advice on Geoffrey's case which is to be
had. What do you think?"
"I daren't tell you what I think, Lord Holchester. I will try--it
is a very small return to make for your kindness--I will try to
see my position with your eyes, not with mine. The best medical
advice that you can obtain is the advice of Mr. Speedwell. It was
he who first made the discovery that your brother was in broken
"The very man for our purpose! I will send him here to-day or
to-morrow. Is there any thing else I can do for you? I shall see
Sir Patrick as soon as I get to town. Have you any message for
Anne hesitated. Looking attentively at her, Julius noticed that
she changed color when he mentioned Sir Patrick's name.
"Will you say that I gratefully thank him for the letter which
Lady Holchester was so good us to give me last night," she
replied. "And will you entreat him, from me, not to expose
himself, on my account, to--" she hesitated, and finished the
sentence with her eyes on the ground--"to what might happen, if
he came here and insisted on seeing me."
"Does he propose to do that?"
She hesitated again. The little nervous contraction of her lips
at one side of the mouth became more marked than usual. "He
writes that his anxiety is unendurable, and that he is resolved
to see me," she answered softly.
"He is likely to hold to his resolution, I think," said Julius.
"When I saw him yesterday, Sir Patrick spoke of you in terms of
He stopped. The bright tears were glittering on Anne's eyelashes;
one of her hands was toying nervously with something hidden
(possibly Sir Patrick's letter) in the bosom of her dress. "I
thank him with my whole heart," she said, in low, faltering
tones. "But it is best that he should not come here."
"Would you like to write to him?"
"I think I should prefer your giving him my message."
Julius understood that the subject was to proceed no further. Sir
Patrick's letter had produced some impression on her, which the
sensitive nature of the woman seemed to shrink from
acknowledging, even to herself. They turned back to enter the
cottage. At the door they were met by a surprise. Hester
Dethridge, with her bonnet on--dressed, at that hour of the
morning, to go out!
"Are you going to market already?" Anne asked.
Hester shook her head.
"When are you coming back?"
Hester wrote on her slate: "Not till the night-time."
Without another word of explanation she pulled her veil down over
her face, and made for the gate. The key had been left in the
dining-room by Julius, after he had let the doctor out. Hester
had it in her hand. She opened he gate and closed the door after
her, leaving the key in the lock. At the moment when the door
banged to Geoffrey appeared in the passage.
"Where's the key?" he asked. "Who's gone out?"
His brother answered the question. He looked backward and forward
suspiciously between Julius and Anne. "What does she go out for
at his time?" he said. "Has she left the house to avoid Me?"
Julius thought this the likely explanation. Geoffrey went down
sulkily to the gate to lock it, and returned to them, with the
key in his pocket.
"I'm obliged to be careful of the gate," he said. "The
neighborhood swarms with beggars and tramps. If you want to go
out," he added, turning pointedly to Anne, "I'm at your service,
as a good husband ought to be."
After a hurried breakfast Julius took his departure. "I don't
accept your refusal," he said to his brother, before Anne. "You
will see me here again." Geoffrey obstinately repe ated the
refusal. "If you come here every day of your life," he said, "it
will be just the same."
The gate closed on Julius. Anne returned again to the solitude of
her own chamber. Geoffrey entered the drawing-room, placed the
volumes of the Newgate Calendar on the table before him, and
resumed the reading which he had been unable to continue on the
Hour after hour he doggedly plodded through one case of murder
after another. He had read one good half of the horrid chronicle
of crime before his power of fixing his attention began to fail
him. Then he lit his pipe, and went out to think over it in the
garden. However the atrocities of which he had been reading might
differ in other respects, there was one terrible point of
resemblance, which he had not anticipated, and in which every one
of the cases agreed. Sooner or later, there was the dead body
always certain to be found; always bearing its dumb witness, in
the traces of poison or in the marks of violence, to the crime
committed on it.
He walked to and fro slowly, still pondering over the problem
which had first found its way into his mind when he had stopped
in the front garden and had looked up at Anne's window in the
dark. "How?" That had been the one question before him, from the
time when the lawyer had annihilated his hopes of a divorce. It
remained the one question still. There was no answer to it in his
own brain; there was no answer to it in the book which he had
been consulting. Every thing was in his favor if he could only
find out "how." He had got his hated wife up stairs at his
mercy--thanks to his refusal of the money which Julius had
offered to him. He was living in a place absolutely secluded from
public observation on all sides of it--thanks to his resolution
to remain at the cottage, even after his landlady had insulted