Part 3 out of 15
Instead of making a direct reply, Geoffrey lifted his mighty
hand, and gave Arnold a friendly slap on the shoulder which shook
him from head to foot. Arnold steadied himself, and
waited--wondering what was coming next.
"I say, old fellow!" said Geoffrey.
"Do you remember when the boat turned keel upward in Lisbon
Arnold started. If he could have called to mind his first
interview in the summer-house with his father's old friend he
might have remembered Sir Patrick's prediction that he would
sooner or later pay, with interest, the debt he owed to the man
who had saved his life. As it was his memory reverted at a bound
to the time of the boat-accident. In the ardor of his gratitude
and the innocence of his heart, he almost resented his friend's
question as a reproach which he had not deserved.
"Do you think I can ever forget," he cried, warmly, "that you
swam ashore with me and saved my life?"
Geoffrey ventured a step nearer to the object that he had in
"One good turn deserves another," he said, "don't it?"
Arnold took his hand. "Only tell me!" he eagerly rejoined--"only
tell me what I can do!"
"You are going to-day to see your new place, ain't you?"
"Can you put off going till to-morrow?"
"If it's any thing serious--of course I can!"
Geoffrey looked round at the entrance to the summer-house, to
make sure that they were alone.
"You know the governess here, don't you?" he said, in a whisper.
"Yes. I've got into a little difficulty with Miss Silvester. And
there isn't a living soul I can ask to help me but _you._"
"You know I will help you. What is it?"
"It isn't so easy to say. Never mind--you're no saint either, are
you? You'll keep it a secret, of course? Look here! I've acted
like an infernal fool. I've gone and got the girl into a
Arnold drew back, suddenly understanding him.
"Good heavens, Geoffrey! You don't mean--"
"I do! Wait a bit--that's not the worst of it. She has left the
"Left the house?"
"Left, for good and all. She can't come back again."
"Because she's written to her missus. Women (hang 'em!) never do
these things by halves. She's left a letter to say she's
privately married, and gone off to her husband. Her husband
is--Me. Not that I'm married to her yet, you understand. I have
only promised to marry her. She has gone on first (on the sly) to
a place four miles from this. And we settled I was to follow, and
marry her privately this afternoon. That's out of the question
now. While she's expecting me at the inn I shall be bowling along
to London. Somebody must tell her what has happened--or she'll
play the devil, and the whole business will burst up. I can't
trust any of the people here. I'm done for, old chap, unless you
Arnold lifted his hands in dismay. "It's the most dreadful
situation, Geoffrey, I ever heard of in my life!"
Geoffrey thoroughly agreed with him. "Enough to knock a man
over," he said, "isn't it? I'd give something for a drink of
beer." He produced his everlasting pipe, from sheer force of
habit. "Got a match?" he asked.
Arnold's mind was too preoccupied to notice the question.
"I hope you won't think I'm making light of your father's
illness," he said, earnestly. "But it seems to me--I must say
it--it seems to me that the poor girl has the first claim on
Geoffrey looked at him in surly amazement.
"The first claim on me? Do you think I'm going to risk being cut
out of my father's will? Not for the best woman that ever put on
Arnold's admiration of his friend was the solidly-founded
admiration of many years; admiration for a man who could row,
box, wrestle, jump--above all, who could swim--as few other men
could perform those exercises in contemporary England. But that
answer shook his faith. Only for the moment--unhappily for
Arnold, only for the moment.
"You know best," he returned, a little coldly. "What can I do?"
Geoffrey took his arm--roughly as he took every thing; but in a
companionable and confidential way.
"Go, like a good fellow, and tell her what has happened. We'll
start from here as if we were both going to the railway; and I'll
drop you at the foot-path, in the gig. You can get on to your own
place afterward by the evening train. It puts you to no
inconvenience, and it's doing the kind thing by an old friend.
There's no risk of being found out. I'm to drive, remember!
There's no servant with us, old boy, to notice, and tell tales."
Even Arnold began to see dimly by this time that he was likely to
pay his debt of obligation with interest--as Sir Patrick had
"What am I to say to her?" he asked. "I'm bound to do all I can
do to help you, and I will. But what am I to say?"
It was a natural question to put. It was not an easy question to
answer. What a man, under given muscular circumstances, could do,
no person living knew better than Geoffrey Delamayn. Of what a
man, under given social circumstances, could say, no person
living knew less.
"Say?" he repeated. "Look here! say I'm half distracted, and all
that. And--wait a bit--tell her to stop where she is till I write
Arnold hesitated. Absolutely ignorant of that low and limited
form of knowledge which is called "knowledge of the world," his
inbred delicacy of mind revealed to him the serious difficulty of
the position which his friend was asking him to occupy as plainly
as if he was looking at it through the warily-gathered experience
of society of a man of twice his age.
"Can't you write to her now, Geoffrey?" he asked.
"What's the good of that?"
"Consider for a minute, and you will see. You have trusted me
with a very awkward secret. I may be wrong--I never was mixed up
in such a matter before--but to present myself to this lady as
your messenger seems exposing her to a dreadful humiliation. Am I
to go and tell her to her face: 'I know what you are hiding from
the knowledge of all the world;' and is she to be expected to
"Bosh!" said Geoffrey. "They can
endure a deal more than you think. I wish you had heard how she
bullied me, in this very place. My good fellow, you don't
understand women. The grand secret, in dealing with a woman, is
to take her as you take a cat, by the scruff of the neck--"
"I can't face her--unless you will help me by breaking the thing
to her first. I'll stick at no sacrifice to serve you; but--hang
it!--make allowances, Geoffrey, for the difficulty you are
putting me in. I am almost a stranger; I don't know how Miss
Silvester may receive me, before I can open my lips."
Those last words touched the question on its practical side. The
matter-of-fact view of the difficulty was a view which Geoffrey
instantly recognized and understood.
"She has the devil's own temper," he said. "There's no denying
that. Perhaps I'd better write. Have we time to go into the
"No. The house is full of people, and we haven't a minute to
spare. Write at once, and write here. I have got a pencil."
"What am I to write on?"
"Any thing--your brother's card."
Geoffrey took the pencil which Arnold offered to him, and looked
at the card. The lines his brother had written covered it. There
was no room left. He felt in his pocket, and produced a
letter--the letter which Anne had referred to at the interview
between them--the letter which she had written to insist on his
attending the lawn-party at Windygates.
"This will do," he said. "It's one of Anne's own letters to me.
There's room on the fourth page. If I write," he added, turning
suddenly on Arnold, "you promise to take it to her? Your hand on
He held out the hand which had saved Arnold's life in Lisbon
Harbor, and received Arnold's promise, in remembrance of that
"All right, old fellow. I can tell you how to find the place as
we go along in the gig. By-the-by, there's one thing that's
rather important. I'd better mention it while I think of it."
"What is that?"
"You mustn't present yourself at the inn in your own name; and
you mustn't ask for her by _her_ name."
"Who am I to ask for?"
"It's a little awkward. She has gone there as a married woman, in
case they're particular about taking her in--"
"I understand. Go on."
"And she has planned to tell them (by way of making it all right
and straight for both of us, you know) that she expects her
husband to join her. If I had been able to go I should have asked
at the door for 'my wife.' You are going in my place--"
"And I must ask at the door for 'my wife,' or I shall expose Miss
Silvester to unpleasant consequences?"
"You don't object?"
"Not I! I don't care what I say to the people of the inn. It's
the meeting with Miss Silvester that I'm afraid of."
"I'll put that right for you--never fear!"
He went at once to the table and rapidly scribbled a few
lines--then stopped and considered. "Will that do?" he asked
himself. "No; I'd better say something spooney to quiet her." He
considered again, added a line, and brought his hand down on the
table with a cheery smack. "That will do the business! Read it
yourself, Arnold--it's not so badly written."
Arnold read the note without appearing to share his friend's
favorable opinion of it.
"This is rather short," he said.
"Have I time to make it longer?"
"Perhaps not. But let Miss Silvester see for herself that you
have no time to make it longer. The train starts in less than
half an hour. Put the time."
"Oh, all right! and the date too, if you like."
He had just added the desired words and figures, and had given
the revised letter to Arnold, when Sir Patrick returned to
announce that the gig was waiting.
"Come!" he said. "You haven't a moment to lose!"
Geoffrey started to his feet. Arnold hesitated.
"I must see Blanche!" he pleaded. "I can't leave Blanche without
saying good-by. Where is she?"
Sir Patrick pointed to the steps, with a smile. Blanche had
followed him from the house. Arnold ran out to her instantly.
"Going?" she said, a little sadly.
"I shall be back in two days," Arnold whispered. "It's all right!
Sir Patrick consents."
She held him fast by the arm. The hurried parting before other
people seemed to be not a parting to Blanche's taste.
"You will lose the train!" cried Sir Patrick.
Geoffrey seized Arnold by the arm which Blanche was holding, and
tore him--literally tore him--away. The two were out of sight, in
the shrubbery, before Blanche's indignation found words, and
addressed itself to her uncle.
"Why is that brute going away with Mr. Brinkworth?" she asked.
"Mr. Delamayn is called to London by his father's illness,"
replied Sir Patrick. "You don't like him?"
"I hate him!"
Sir Patrick reflected a little.
"She is a young girl of eighteen," he thought to himself. "And I
am an old man of seventy. Curious, that we should agree about any
thing. More than curious that we should agree in disliking Mr.
He roused himself, and looked again at Blanche. She was seated at
the table, with her head on her hand; absent, and out of
spirits--thinking of Arnold, and set, with the future all smooth
before them, not thinking happily.
"Why, Blanche! Blanche!" cried Sir Patrick, "one would think he
had gone for a voyage round the world. You silly child! he will
be back again the day after to-morrow."
"I wish he hadn't gone with that man!" said Blanche. "I wish he
hadn't got that man for a friend!"
"There! there! the man was rude enough I own. Never mind! he will
leave the man at the second station. Come back to the ball-room
with me. Dance it off, my dear--dance it off!"
"No," returned Blanche. "I'm in no humor for dancing. I shall go
up stairs, and talk about it to Anne."
"You will do nothing of the sort!" said a third voice, suddenly
joining in the conversation.
Both uncle and niece looked up, and found Lady Lundie at the top
of the summer-house steps.
"I forbid you to mention that woman's name again in my hearing,"
pursued her ladyship. "Sir Patrick! I warned you (if you
remember?) that the matter of the governess was not a matter to
be trifled with. My worst anticipations are realized. Miss
Silvester has left the house!"
CHAPTER THE EIGHTH.
IT was still early in the afternoon when the guests at Lady
Lundie's lawn-party began to compare notes together in corners,
and to agree in arriving at a general conviction that "some thing
Blanche had mysteriously disappeared from her partners in the
dance. Lady Lundie had mysteriously abandoned her guests. Blanche
had not come back. Lady Lundie had returned with an artificial
smile, and a preoccupied manner. She acknowledged that she was
"not very well." The same excuse had been given to account for
Blanche's absence--and, again (some time previously), to explain
Miss Silvester's withdrawal from the croquet! A wit among the
gentlemen declared it reminded him of declining a verb. "I am not
very well; thou art not very well; she is not very well"--and so
on. Sir Patrick too! Only think of the sociable Sir Patrick being
in a state of seclusion--pacing up and down by himself in the
loneliest part of the garden. And the servants again! it had even
spread to the servants! _They_ were presuming to whisper in
corners, like their betters. The house-maids appeared,
spasmodically, where house maids had no business to be. Doors
banged and petticoats whisked in the upper regions. Something
wrong--depend upon it, something wrong! "We had much better go
away. My dear, order the carriage"--"Louisa, love, no more
dancing; your papa is going."--"_Good_-afternoon, Lady
Lundie!"--"Haw! thanks very much!"--"_So_ sorry for dear
Blanche!"--"Oh, it's been _too_ charming!" So Society jabbered
its poor, nonsensical little jargon, and got itself politely out
of the way before the storm came.
This was exactly the consummation of events for which Sir Patrick
had been waiting in the seclusion of the garden.
There was no evading the responsibility which was now thrust upon
him. Lady Lundie had announced it as a settled resolution, on her
part, to trace Anne to the place in which she had taken refuge,
and discover (purely in the interests of virtue) whether she
actually was married or not. Blanche (already overwrought by the
excitem ent of the day) had broken into an hysterical passion of
tears on hearing the news, and had then, on recovering, taken a
view of her own of Anne's flight from the house. Anne would never
have kept her marriage a secret from Blanche; Anne would never
have written such a formal farewell letter as she had written to
Blanche--if things were going as smoothly with her as she was
trying to make them believe at Windygates. Some dreadful trouble
had fallen on Anne and Blanche was determined (as Lady Lundie was
determined) to find out where she had gone, and to follow, and
It was plain to Sir Patrick (to whom both ladies had opened their
hearts, at separate interviews) that his sister-in-law, in one
way, and his niece in another, were equally likely--if not duly
restrained--to plunge headlong into acts of indiscretion which
might lead to very undesirable results. A man in authority was
sorely needed at Windygates that afternoon--and Sir Patrick was
fain to acknowledge that he was the man.
"Much is to be said for, and much is to be said against a single
life," thought the old gentleman, walking up and down the
sequestered garden-path to which he had retired , and applying
himself at shorter intervals than usual to the knob of his ivory
cane. "This, however, is, I take it, certain. A man's married
friends can't prevent him from leading the life of a bachelor, if
he pleases. But they can, and do, take devilish good care that he
sha'n't enjoy it!"
Sir Patrick's meditations were interrupted by the appearance of a
servant, previously instructed to keep him informed of the
progress of events at the house.
"They're all gone, Sir Patrick," said the man.
"That's a comfort, Simpson. We have no visitors to deal with now,
except the visitors who are staying in the house?"
"None, Sir Patrick."
"They're all gentlemen, are they not?"
"Yes, Sir Patrick."
"That's another comfort, Simpson. Very good. I'll see Lady Lundie
Does any other form of human resolution approach the firmness of
a woman who is bent on discovering the frailties of another woman
whom she hates? You may move rocks, under a given set of
circumstances. But here is a delicate being in petticoats, who
shrieks if a spider drops on her neck, and shudders if you
approach her after having eaten an onion. Can you move _her,_
under a given set of circumstances, as set forth above? Not you!
Sir Patrick found her ladyship instituting her inquiries on the
same admirably exhaustive system which is pursued, in cases of
disappearance, by the police. Who was the last witness who had
seen the missing person? Who was the last servant who had seen
Anne Silvester? Begin with the men-servants, from the butler at
the top to the stable boy at the bottom. Go on with the
women-servants, from the cook in all her glory to the small
female child who weeds the garden. Lady Lundie had cross-examined
her way downward as far as the page, when Sir Patrick joined her.
"My dear lady! pardon me for reminding you again, that this is a
free country, and that you have no claim whatever to investigate
Miss Silvester's proceedings after she has left your house."
Lady Lundie raised her eyes, devotionally, to the ceiling. She
looked like a martyr to duty. If you had seen her ladyship at
that moment, you would have said yourself, "A martyr to duty."
"No, Sir Patrick! As a Christian woman, that is not _my_ way of
looking at it. This unhappy person has lived under my roof. This
unhappy person has been the companion of Blanche. I am
responsible--I am, in a manner, morally responsible. I would give
the world to be able to dismiss it as you do. But no! I must be
satisfied that she _is_ married. In the interests of propriety.
For the quieting of my own conscience. Before I lay my head on my
pillow to-night, Sir Patrick--before I lay my head on my pillow
"One word, Lady Lundie--"
"No!" repeated her ladyship, with the most pathetic gentleness.
"You are right, I dare say, from the worldly point of view. I
can't take the worldly point of view. The worldly point of view
hurts me." She turned, with impressive gravity, to the page. "You
know where you will go, Jonathan, if you tell lies!"
Jonathan was lazy, Jonathan was pimply, Jonathan was fat--_but_
Jonathan was orthodox. He answered that he did know; and, what is
more, he mentioned the place.
Sir Patrick saw that further opposition on his part, at that
moment, would be worse than useless. He wisely determined to
wait, before he interfered again, until Lady Lundie had
thoroughly exhausted herself and her inquiries. At the same
time--as it was impossible, in the present state of her
ladyship's temper, to provide against what might happen if the
inquiries after Anne unluckily proved successful--he decided on
taking measures to clear the house of the guests (in the
interests of all parties) for the next four-and-twenty hours.
"I only want to ask you a question, Lady Lundie," he resumed.
"The position of the gentlemen who are staying here is not a very
pleasant one while all this is going on. If you had been content
to let the matter pass without notice, we should have done very
well. As things are, don't you think it will be more convenient
to every body if I relieve you of the responsibility of
entertaining your guests?"
"As head of the family?" stipulated Lady Lundie.
"As head of the family!" answered Sir Patrick.
"I gratefully accept the proposal," said Lady Lundie.
"I beg you won't mention it," rejoined Sir Patrick.
He quitted the room, leaving Jonathan under examination. He and
his brother (the late Sir Thomas) had chosen widely different
paths in life, and had seen but little of each other since the
time when they had been boys. Sir Patrick's recollections (on
leaving Lady Lundie) appeared to have taken him back to that
time, and to have inspired him with a certain tenderness for his
brother's memory. He shook his head, and sighed a sad little
sigh. "Poor Tom!" he said to himself, softly, after he had shut
the door on his brother's widow. "Poor Tom!"
On crossing the hall, he stopped the first servant he met, to
inquire after Blanche. Miss Blanche was quiet, up stairs,
closeted with her maid in her own room. "Quiet?" thought Sir
Patrick. "That's a bad sign. I shall hear more of my niece."
Pending that event, the next thing to do was to find the guests.
Unerring instinct led Sir Patrick to the billiard-room. There he
found them, in solemn conclave assembled. wondering what they had
better do. Sir Patrick put them all at their ease in two minutes.
"What do you say to a day's shooting to-morrow?" he asked.
Every man present--sportsman or not--said yes.
"You can start from this house," pursued Sir Patrick; "or you can
start from a shooting-cottage which is on the Windygates
property--among the woods, on the other side of the moor. The
weather looks pretty well settled (for Scotland), and there are
plenty of horses in the stables. It is useless to conceal from
you, gentlemen, that events have taken a certain unexpected turn
in my sister-in-law's family circle. You will be equally Lady
Lundie's guests, whether you choose the cottage or the house. For
the next twenty-four hours (let us say)--which shall it be?"
Every body--with or without rheumatism--answered "the cottage."
"Very good," pursued Sir Patrick, "It is arranged to ride over to
the shooting-cottage this evening, and to try the moor, on that
side, the first thing in the morning. If events here will allow
me, I shall be delighted to accompany you, and do the honors as
well as I can. If not, I am sure you will accept my apologies for
to-night, and permit Lady Lundie's steward to see to your comfort
in my place."
Adopted unanimously. Sir Patrick left the guests to their
billiards, and went out to give the necessary orders at the
In the mean time Blanche remained portentously quiet in the upper
regions of the house; while Lady Lundie steadily pursued her
inquiries down stairs. She got on from Jonathan (last of the
males, indoors) to the coachman (first of the males,
out-of-doors), and dug down, man by man, through that new
stratum, until she struck the stable-boy at the bottom . Not an
atom of information having been extracted in the house or out of
the house, from man or boy, her ladyship fell back on the women
next. She pulled the bell, and summoned the cook--Hester
A very remarkable-looking person entered the room.
Elderly and quiet; scrupulously clean; eminently respectable; her
gray hair neat and smooth under her modest white cap; her eyes,
set deep in their orbits, looking straight at any person who
spoke to her--here, at a first view, was a steady, trust-worthy
woman. Here also on closer inspection, was a woman with the seal
of some terrible past suffering set on her for the rest of her
life. You felt it, rather than saw it, in the look of immovable
endurance which underlain her expression--in the deathlike
tranquillity which never disappeared from her manner. Her story
was a sad one--so far as it was known. She had entered Lady
Lundie's service at the period of Lady Lundie's marriage to Sir
Thomas. Her character (given by the clergyman of her parish)
described her as having been married to an inveterate drunkard,
and as having suffered unutterably during her husband's lifetime.
There were drawbacks to engaging her, now that she was a widow.
On one of the many occasions on which her husband had personally
ill-treated her, he had struck her a blow which had produced very
remarkable nervous results. She had lain insensible many days
together, and had recovered with the total loss of her speech. In
addition to this objection, she was odd, at times, in her manner;
and she made it a condition of accepting any situation, that she
should be privileged to sleep in a room by herself As a set-off
against all this, it was to be said, on the other side of the
question, that she was sober; rigidly honest in all her dealings;
and one of the best cooks in England. In consideration of this
last merit, the late Sir Thomas had decided on giving her a
trial, and had discovered that he had never dined in his life as
he dined when Hester Dethridge was at the head of his kitchen.
She remained after his death in his widow's service. Lady Lundie
was far from liking her. An unpleasant suspicion attached to the
cook, which Sir Thomas had over-looked, but which persons less
sensible of the immense importance of dining well could not fail
to regard as a serious objection to her. Medical men, consulted
about her case discovered certain physiological anomalies in it
which led them to suspect the woman of feigning dumbness, for
some reason best known to herself. She obstinately declined to
learn the deaf and dumb alphabet--on the ground that dumbness was
not associated with deafness in her case. Stratagems were
invented (seeing that she really did possess the use of her ears)
to entrap her into also using her speech, and failed. Efforts
were made to induce her to answer questions relating to her past
life in her husband's time. She flatly declined to reply to them,
one and all. At certain intervals, strange impulses to get a
holiday away from the house appeared to seize her. If she was
resisted, she passively declined to do her work. If she was
threatened with dismissal, she impenetrably bowed her head, as
much as to say, "Give me the word, and I go." Over and over
again, Lady Lundie had decided, naturally enough, on no longer
keeping such a servant as this; but she had never yet carried the
decision to execution. A cook who is a perfect mistress of her
art, who asks for no perquisites, who allows no waste, who never
quarrels with the other servants, who drinks nothing stronger
than tea, who is to be trusted with untold gold--is not a cook
easily replaced. In this mortal life we put up with many persons
and things, as Lady Lundie put up with her cook. The woman lived,
as it were, on the brink of dismissal--but thus far the woman
kept her place--getting her holidays when she asked for them
(which, to do her justice, was not often) and sleeping always (go
where she might with the family) with a locked door, in a room by
Hester Dethridge advanced slowly to the table at which Lady
Lundie was sitting. A slate and pencil hung at her side, which
she used for making such replies as were not to be expressed by a
gesture or by a motion of the head. She took up the slate and
pencil, and waited with stony submission for her mistress to
Lady Lundie opened the proceedings with the regular formula of
inquiry which she had used with all the other servants
"Do you know that Miss Silvester has left the house?"
The cook nodded her head affirmatively,
"Do you know at what time she left it?"
Another affirmative reply. The first which Lady Lundie had
received to that question yet. She eagerly went on to the next
"Have you seen her since she left the house?"
A third affirmative reply.
Hester Dethridge wrote slowly on the slate, in singularly firm
upright characters for a woman in her position of life, these
"On the road that leads to the railway. Nigh to Mistress Chew's
"What did you want at Chew's Farm?"
Hester Dethridge wrote: "I wanted eggs for the kitchen, and a
breath of fresh air for myself."
"Did Miss Silvester see you?"
A negative shake of the head.
"Did she take the turning that leads to the railway?"
Another negative shake of the head.
"She went on, toward the moor?"
An affirmative reply.
"What did she do when she got to the moor?"
Hester Dethridge wrote: "She took the footpath which leads to
Lady Lundie rose excitedly to her feet. There was but one place
that a stranger could go to at Craig Fernie. "The inn!" exclaimed
her ladyship. "She has gone to the inn!"
Hester Dethridge waited immovably. Lady Lundie put a last
precautionary question, in these words:
"Have you reported what you have seen to any body else?"
An affirmative reply. Lady Lundie had not bargained for that.
Hester Dethridge (she thought) must surely have misunderstood
"Do you mean that you have told somebody else what you have just
Another affirmative reply.
"A person who questioned you, as I have done?"
A third affirmative reply.
"Who was it?"
Hester Dethridge wrote on her slate: "Miss Blanche."
Lady Lundie stepped back, staggered by the discovery that
Blanche's resolution to trace Anne Silvester was, to all
appearance, as firmly settled as her own. Her step-daughter was
keeping her own counsel, and acting on her own
responsibility--her step-daughter might be an awkward obstacle in
the way. The manner in which Anne had left the house had mortally
offended Lady Lundie. An inveterately vindictive woman, she had
resolved to discover whatever compromising elements might exist
in the governess's secret, and to make them public property (from
a paramount sense of duty, of course) among her own circle of
friends. But to do this--with Blanche acting (as might certainly
be anticipated) in direct opposition to her, and openly espousing
Miss Silvester's interests--was manifestly impossible.
The first thing to be done--and that instantly--was to inform
Blanche that she was discovered, and to forbid her to stir in the
Lady Lundie rang the bell twice--thus intimating, according to
the laws of the household, that she required the attendance of
her own maid. She then turned to the cook--still waiting her
pleasure, with stony composure, slate in hand.
"You have done wrong," said her ladyship, severely. "I am your
mistress. You are bound to answer your mistress--"
Hester Dethridge bowed her head, in icy acknowledgment of the
principle laid down--so far.
The bow was an interruption. Lady Lundie resented it.
"But Miss Blanche is _not_ your mistress," she went on, sternly.
"You are very much to blame for answering Miss Blanche's
inquiries about Miss Silvester."
Hester Dethridge, perfectly unmoved, wrote her justification on
her slate, in two stiff sentences: "I had no orders _not_ to
answer. I keep nobody's secrets but my own."
That reply settled the question of the cook's dismissal--the
question which had been pending for months past.
"You are an insolent woman! I have borne with you long enough--I
will bear with you no longer. When your month is up, you go!"
In those words Lady Lundie dismissed Hester Dethridge from her
Not the slightest change passed over the sinister tranquillity of
the cook. She bowed her head again, in acknowledgment of the
sentence pronounced on her--dropped her slate at her side--turned
about--and left the room. The woman was alive in the world, and
working in the world; and yet (so far as all human interests were
concerned) she was as completely out of the world as if she had
been screwed down in her coffin, and laid in her grave.
Lady Lundie's maid came into the room as Hester left it.
"Go up stairs to Miss Blanche," said her mistress, "and say I
want her here. Wait a minute!" She paused, and considered.
Blanche might decline to submit to her step-mother's interference
with her. It might be necessary to appeal to the higher authority
of her guardian. "Do you know where Sir Patrick is?" asked Lady
"I heard Simpson say, my lady, that Sir Patrick was at the
"Send Simpson with a message. My compliments to Sir Patrick--and
I wish to see him immediately."
* * * * * *
The preparations for the departure to the shooting-cottage were
just completed; and the one question that remained to be settled
was, whether Sir Patrick could accompany the party--when the
man-servant appeared with the message from his mistress.
"Will you give me a quarter of an hour, gentlemen?" asked Sir
Patrick. "In that time I shall know for certain whether I can go
with you or not."
As a matter of course, the guests decided to wait. The younger
men among them (being Englishmen) naturally occupied their
leisure time in betting. Would Sir Patrick get the better of the
domestic crisis? or would the domestic crisis get the better of
Sir Patrick? The domestic crisis was backed, at two to one, to
Punctually at the expiration of the quarter of an hour, Sir
Patrick reappeared. The domestic crisis had betrayed the blind
confidence which youth and inexperience had placed in it. Sir
Patrick had won the day.
"Things are settled and quiet, gentlemen; and I am able to
accompany you," he said. "There are two ways to the
shooting-cottage. One--the longest--passes by the inn at Craig
Fernie. I am compelled to ask you to go with me by that way.
While you push on to the cottage, I must drop behind, and say a
word to a person who is staying at the inn."
He had quieted Lady Lundie--he had even quieted Blanche. But it
was evidently on the condition that he was to go to Craig Fernie
in their places, and to see Anne Silvester himself. Without a
word more of explanation he mounted his horse, and led the way
out. The shooting-party left Windygates.
SECOND SCENE.--THE INN.
CHAPTER THE NINTH.
"YE'LL just permit me to remind ye again, young leddy, that the
hottle's full--exceptin' only this settin'-room, and the
bedchamber yonder belonging to it."
So spoke "Mistress Inchbare," landlady of the Craig Fernie Inn,
to Anne Silvester, standing in the parlor, purse in hand, and
offering the price of the two rooms before she claimed permission
to occupy them.
The time of the afternoon was about the time when Geoffrey
Delamayn had started in the train, on his journey to London.
About the time also, when Arnold Brinkworth had crossed the moor,
and was mounting the first rising ground which led to the inn.
Mistress Inchbare was tall and thin, and decent and dry. Mistress
Inchbare's unlovable hair clung fast round her head in wiry
little yellow curls. Mistress Inchbare's hard bones showed
themselves, like Mistress Inchbare's hard Presbyterianism,
without any concealment or compromise. In short, a
savagely-respectable woman who plumed herself on presiding over a
There was no competition to interfere with Mistress Inchbare. She
regulated her own prices, and made her own rules. If you objected
to her prices, and revolted from her rules, you were free to go.
In other words, you were free to cast yourself, in the capacity
of houseless wanderer, on the scanty mercy of a Scotch
wilderness. The village of Craig Fernie was a collection of
hovels. The country about Craig Fernie, mountain on one side and
moor on the other, held no second house of public entertainment,
for miles and miles round, at any point of the compass. No
rambling individual but the helpless British Tourist wanted food
and shelter from strangers in that part of Scotland; and nobody
but Mistress Inchbare had food and shelter to sell. A more
thoroughly independent person than this was not to be found on
the face of the hotel-keeping earth. The most universal of all
civilized terrors--the terror of appearing unfavorably in the
newspapers--was a sensation absolutely unknown to the Empress of
the Inn. You lost your temper, and threatened to send her bill
for exhibition in the public journals. Mistress Inchbare raised
no objection to your taking any course you pleased with it. "Eh,
man! send the bill whar' ye like, as long as ye pay it first.
There's nae such thing as a newspaper ever darkens my doors.
Ye've got the Auld and New Testaments in your bedchambers, and
the natural history o' Pairthshire on the coffee-room table--and
if that's no' reading eneugh for ye, ye may een gae back South
again, and get the rest of it there."
This was the inn at which Anne Silvester had appeared alone, with
nothing but a little bag in her hand. This was the woman whose
reluctance to receive her she innocently expected to overcome by
showing her purse.
"Mention your charge for the rooms," she said. "I am willing to
pay for them beforehand."
Her majesty, Mrs. Inchbare, never even looked at her subject's
poor little purse.
"It just comes to this, mistress," she answered. "I'm no' free to
tak' your money, if I'm no' free to let ye the last rooms left in
the hoose. The Craig Fernie hottle is a faimily hottle--and has
its ain gude name to keep up. Ye're ower-well-looking, my young
leddy, to be traveling alone."
The time had been when Anne would have answered sharply enough.
The hard necessities of her position made her patient now.
"I have already told you," she said, "my husband is coming here
to join me." She sighed wearily as she repeated her ready-made
story--and dropped into the nearest chair, from sheer inability
to stand any longer.
Mistress Inchbare looked at her, with the exact measure of
compassionate interest which she might have shown if she had been
looking at a stray dog who had fallen footsore at the door of the
"Weel! weel! sae let it be. Bide awhile, and rest ye. We'll no'
chairge ye for that--and we'll see if your husband comes. I'll
just let the rooms, mistress, to _him,_, instead o' lettin' them
to _you._ And, sae, good-morrow t' ye." With that final
announcement of her royal will and pleasure, the Empress of the
Anne made no reply. She watched the landlady out of the room--and
then struggled to control herself no longer. In her position,
suspicion was doubly insult. The hot tears of shame gathered in
her eyes; and the heart-ache wrung her, poor soul--wrung her
A trifling noise in the room startled her. She looked up, and
detected a man in a corner, dusting the furniture, and apparently
acting in the capacity of attendant at the inn. He had shown her
into the parlor on her arrival; but he had remained so quietly in
the room that she had never noticed him since, until that moment.
He was an ancient man--with one eye filmy and blind, and one eye
moist and merry. His head was bald; his feet were gouty; his nose
was justly celebrated as the largest nose and the reddest nose in
that part of Scotland. The mild wisdom of years was expressed
mysteriously in his mellow smile. In contact with this wicked
world, his manner revealed that happy mixture of two
extremes--the servility which just touches independence, and the
independence which just touches servility--attained by no men in
existence but Scotchmen. Enormous native impudence, which amused
but never offended; immeasurable cunning, masquerading habitually
under the double disguise of quaint prejudice and dry humor, were
the solid moral foundations on which the character of this
elderly person was built. No amount of whisky ever made him
drunk; and no violence of bell-ringing ever hurried his
movements. Such was the headwaiter at the Craig Fernie Inn;
known, far and wide, to local fame, as "Maister Bishopriggs,
Mistress Inchbare's right-hand man."
"What are you doing there?" Anne asked, sharply.
Mr. Bishopriggs turned himself about on his gouty feet; waved his
duster gently in the air; and looked at Anne, with a mild,
"Eh! Am just doostin' the things; and setin' the room in decent
order for ye."
"For _me?_ Did you hear what the landlady said?"
Mr. Bishopriggs advanced confidentially, and pointed with a very
unsteady forefinger to the purse which Anne still held in her
"Never fash yoursel' aboot the landleddy!" said the sage chief of
the Craig Fernie waiters. "Your purse speaks for you, my lassie.
Pet it up!" cried Mr. Bishopriggs, waving temptation away from
him with the duster. "In wi' it into yer pocket! Sae long as the
warld's the warld, I'll uphaud it any where--while there's siller
in the purse, there's gude in the woman!"
Anne's patience, which had resisted harder trials, gave way at
"What do you mean by speaking to me in that familiar manner?" she
asked, rising angrily to her feet again.
Mr. Bishopriggs tucked his duster under his arm, and proceeded to
satisfy Anne that he shared the landlady's view of her position,
without sharing the severity of the landlady's principles.
"There's nae man livin'," said Mr. Bishopriggs, "looks with mair
indulgence at human frailty than my ain sel'. Am I no' to be
familiar wi' ye--when I'm auld eneugh to be a fether to ye, and
ready to be a fether to ye till further notice? Hech! hech! Order
your bit dinner lassie. Husband or no husband, ye've got a
stomach, and ye must een eat. There's fesh and there's fowl--or,
maybe, ye'll be for the sheep's head singit, when they've done
with it at the tabble dot?"
There was but one way of getting rid of him: "Order what you
like," Anne said, "and leave the room." Mr. Bishopriggs highly
approved of the first half of the sentence, and totally
overlooked the second.
"Ay, ay--just pet a' yer little interests in my hands; it's the
wisest thing ye can do. Ask for Maister Bishopriggs (that's me)
when ye want a decent 'sponsible man to gi' ye a word of advice.
Set ye doon again--set ye doon. And don't tak' the arm-chair.
Hech! hech! yer husband will be coming, ye know, and he's sure to
want it!" With that seasonable pleasantry the venerable
Bishopriggs winked, and went out.
Anne looked at her watch. By her calculation it was not far from
the hour when Geoffrey might be expected to arrive at the inn,
assuming Geoffrey to have left Windygates at the time agreed on.
A little more patience, and the landlady's scruples would be
satisfied, and the ordeal would be at an end.
Could she have met him nowhere else than at this barbarous house,
and among these barbarous people?
No. Outside the doors of Windygates she had not a friend to help
her in all Scotland. There was no place at her disposal but the
inn; and she had only to be thankful that it occupied a
sequestered situation, and was not likely to be visited by any of
Lady Lundie's friends. Whatever the risk might be, the end in
view justified her in confronting it. Her whole future depended
on Geoffrey's making an honest woman of her. Not her future with
_him_--that way there was no hope; that way her life was wasted.
Her future with Blanche--she looked forward to nothing now but
her future with Blanche.
Her spirits sank lower and lower. The tears rose again. It would
only irritate him if he came and found her crying. She tried to
divert her mind by looking about the room.
There was very little to see. Except that it was solidly built of
good sound stone, the Craig Fernie hotel differed in no other
important respect from the average of second-rate English inns.
There was the usual slippery black sofa--constructed to let you
slide when you wanted to rest. There was the usual
highly-varnished arm-chair, expressly manufactured to test the
endurance of the human spine. There was the usual paper on the
walls, of the pattern designed to make your eyes ache and your
head giddy. There were the usual engravings, which humanity never
tires of contemplating. The Royal Portrait, in the first place of
honor. The next greatest of all human beings--the Duke of
Wellington--in the second place of honor. The third greatest of
all human beings--the local member of parliament--in the third
place of honor; and a hunting scene, in the dark. A door opposite
the door of admission from the passage opened into the bedroom;
and a window at the side looked out on the open space in front of
the hotel, and commanded a view of the vast expanse of the Craig
Fernie moor, stretching away below the rising ground on which the
house was built.
Anne turned in despair from the view in the room to the view from
the window. Within the last half hour it had changed for the
worse. The clouds had gathered; the sun was hidden; the light on
the landscape was gray and dull. Anne turned from the window, as
she had turned from the room. She was just making the hopeless
attempt to rest her weary limbs on the sofa, when the sound of
voices and footsteps in the passage caught her ear.
Was Geoffrey's voice among them? No.
Were the strangers coming in?
The landlady had declined to let her have the rooms: it was quite
possible that the strangers might be coming to look at them.
There was no knowing who they might be. In the impulse of the
moment she flew to the bedchamber and locked herself in.
The door from the passage opened, and Arnold Brinkworth--shown in
by Mr. Bishopriggs--entered the sitting-room.
"Nobody here!" exclaimed Arnold, looking round. "Where is she?"
Mr. Bishopriggs pointed to the bedroom door. "Eh! yer good
leddy's joost in the bedchamber, nae doot!"
Arnold started. He had felt no difficulty (when he and Geoffrey
had discussed the question at Windygates) about presenting
himself at the inn in the assumed character of Anne's husband.
But the result of putting the deception in practice was, to say
the least of it, a little embarrassing at first. Here was the
waiter describing Miss Silvester as his "good lady;" and leaving
it (most naturally and properly) to the "good lady's" husband to
knock at her bedroom door, and tell her that he was there. In
despair of knowing what else to do at the moment, Arnold asked
for the landlady, whom he had not seen on arriving at the inn.
"The landleddy's just tottin' up the ledgers o' the hottle in her
ain room," answered Mr. Bishopriggs. "She'll be here anon--the
wearyful woman!--speerin' who ye are and what ye are, and takin'
a' the business o' the hoose on her ain pair o' shouthers." He
dropped the subject of the landlady, and put in a plea for
himself. "I ha' lookit after a' the leddy's little comforts,
Sir," he whispered. "Trust in me! trust in me!"
Arnold's attention was absorbed in the very serious difficulty of
announcing his arrival to Anne. "How am I to get her out?" he
said to himself, with a look of perplexity directed at the
He had spoken loud enough for the waiter to hear him. Arnold's
look of perplexity was instantly reflected on the face of Mr.
Bishopriggs. The head-waiter at Craig Fernie possessed an immense
experience of the manners and customs of newly-married people on
their honeymoon trip. He had been a second father (with excellent
pecuniary results) to innumerable brides and bridegrooms. He knew
young married couples in all their varieties:--The couples who
try to behave as if they had been married for many years; the
couples who attempt no concealment, and take advice from
competent authorities about them. The couples who are bashfully
talkative before third persons; the couples who are bashfully
silent under similar circumstances. The couples who don't know
what to do, the couples who wish it was over; the couples who
must never be intruded upon without careful preliminary knocking
at the door; the couples who _can_ eat and drink in the intervals
of "bliss," and the other couples who _can't._ But the bridegroom
who stood he lpless on one side of the door, and the bride who
remained locked in on the other, were new varieties of the
nuptial species, even in the vast experience of Mr. Bishopriggs
"Hoo are ye to get her oot?" he repeated. "I'll show ye hoo!" He
advanced as rapidly as his gouty feet would let him, and knocked
at the bedroom door. "Eh, my leddy! here he is in flesh and
bluid. Mercy preserve us! do ye lock the door of the nuptial
chamber in your husband's face?"
At that unanswerable appeal the lock was heard turning in the
door. Mr. Bishopriggs winked at Arnold with his one available
eye, and laid his forefinger knowingly along his enormous nose.
"I'm away before she falls into your arms! Rely on it I'll no
come in again without knocking first!"
He left Arnold alone in the room. The bedroom door opened slowly
by a few inches at a time. Anne's voice was just audible speaking
cautiously behind it.
"Is that you, Geoffrey?"
Arnold's heart began to beat fast, in anticipation of the
disclosure which was now close at hand. He knew neither what to
say or do--he remained silent.
Anne repeated the question in louder tones:
"Is that you?"
There was the certain prospect of alarming her, if some reply was
not given. There was no help for it. Come what come might, Arnold
answered, in a whisper:
The door was flung wide open. Anne Silvester appeared on the
threshold, confronting him.
"Mr. Brinkworth!!!" she exclaimed, standing petrified with
For a moment more neither of them spoke. Anne advanced one step
into the sitting-room, and put the next inevitable question, with
an instantaneous change from surprise to suspicion.
"What do you want here?"
Geoffrey's letter represented the only possible excuse for
Arnold's appearance in that place, and at that time.
"I have got a letter for you," he said--and offered it to her.
She was instantly on her guard. They were little better than
strangers to each other, as Arnold had said. A sickening
presentiment of some treachery on Geoffrey's part struck cold to
her heart. She refused to take the letter.
"I expect no letter," she said. "Who told you I was here?" She
put the question, not only with a tone of suspicion, but with a
look of contempt. The look was not an easy one for a man to bear.
It required a momentary exertion of self-control on Arnold's
part, before he could trust himself to answer with due
consideration for her. "Is there a watch set on my actions?" she
went on, with rising anger. "And are _you_ the spy?"
"You haven't known me very long, Miss Silvester," Arnold
answered, quietly. "But you ought to know me better than to say
that. I am the bearer of a letter from Geoffrey."
She was an the point of following his example, and of speaking of
Geoffrey by his Christian name, on her side. But she checked
herself, before the word had passed her lips.
"Do you mean Mr. Delamayn?" she asked, coldly.
"What occasion have _I_ for a letter from Mr. Delamayn?"
She was determined to acknowledge nothing--she kept him
obstinately at arm's-length. Arnold did, as a matter of instinct,
what a man of larger experience would have done, as a matter of
calculation--he closed with her boldly, then and there.
"Miss Silvester! it's no use beating about the bush. If you won't
take the letter, you force me to speak out. I am here on a very
unpleasant errand. I begin to wish, from the bottom of my heart,
I had never undertaken it."
A quick spasm of pain passed across her face. She was beginning,
dimly beginning, to understand him. He hesitated. His generous
nature shrank from hurting her.
"Go on," she said, with an effort.
"Try not to be angry with me, Miss Silvester. Geoffrey and I are
old friends. Geoffrey knows he can trust me--"
"Trust you?" she interposed. "Stop!"
Arnold waited. She went on, speaking to herself, not to him.
"When I was in the other room I asked if Geoffrey was there. And
this man answered for him." She sprang forward with a cry of
"Has he told you--"
"For God's sake, read his letter!"
She violently pushed back the hand with which Arnold once more
offered the letter. "You don't look at me! He _has_ told you!"
"Read his letter," persisted Arnold. "In justice to him, if you
won't in justice to me."
The situation was too painful to be endured. Arnold looked at
her, this time, with a man's resolution in his eyes--spoke to
her, this time, with a man's resolution in his voice. She took
"I beg your pardon, Sir," she said, with a sudden humiliation of
tone and manner, inexpressibly shocking, inexpressibly pitiable
to see. "I understand my position at last. I am a woman doubly
betrayed. Please to excuse what I said to you just now, when I
supposed myself to have some claim on your respect. Perhaps you
will grant me your pity? I can ask for nothing more."
Arnold was silent. Words were useless in the face of such utter
self-abandonment as this. Any man living--even Geoffrey
himself--must have felt for her at that moment.
She looked for the first time at the letter. She opened it on the
wrong side. "My own letter!" she said to herself. "In the hands
of another man!"
"Look at the last page," said Arnold.
She turned to the last page, and read the hurried penciled lines.
"Villain! villain! villain!" At the third repetition of the word,
she crushed the letter in the palm of her hand, and flung it from
her to the other end of the room. The instant after, the fire
that had flamed up in her died out. Feebly and slowly she reached
out her hand to the nearest chair, and sat down in it with her
back to Arnold. "He has deserted me!" was all she said. The words
fell low and quiet on the silence: they were the utterance of an
"You are wrong!" exclaimed Arnold. "Indeed, indeed you are wrong!
It's no excuse--it's the truth. I was present when the message
came about his father."
She never heeded him, and never moved. She only repeated the
"He has deserted me!"
"Don't take it in that way!" pleaded Arnold--"pray don't! It's
dreadful to hear you; it is indeed. I am sure he has _not_
deserted you." There was no answer; no sign that she heard him;
she sat there, struck to stone. It was impossible to call the
landlady in at such a moment as this. In despair of knowing how
else to rouse her, Arnold drew a chair to her side, and patted
her timidly on the shoulder. "Come!" he said, in his
single-hearted, boyish way. "Cheer up a little!"
She slowly turned her head, and looked at him with a dull
"Didn't you say he had told you every thing?" she asked.
"Don't you despise a woman like me?"
Arnold's heart went back, at that dreadful question, to the one
woman who was eternally sacred to him--to the woman from whose
bosom he had drawn the breath of life.
"Does the man live," he said, "who can think of his mother--and
That answer set the prisoned misery in her free. She gave him her
hand--she faintly thanked him. The merciful tears came to her at
Arnold rose, and turned away to the window in despair. "I mean
well," he said. "And yet I only distress her!"
She heard him, and straggled to compose herself "No," she
answered, "you comfort me. Don't mind my crying--I'm the better
for it." She looked round at him gratefully. "I won't distress
you, Mr. Brinkworth. I ought to thank you--and I do. Come back or
I shall think you are angry with me." Arnold went back to her.
She gave him her hand once more. "One doesn't understand people
all at once," she said, simply. "I thought you were like other
men--I didn't know till to-day how kind you could be. Did you
walk here?" she added, suddenly, with an effort to change the
subject. "Are you tired? I have not been kindly received at this
place--but I'm sure I may offer you whatever the inn affords."
It was impossible not to feel for her--it was impossible not to
be interested in her. Arnold's honest longing to help her
expressed itself a little too openly when he spoke next. "All I
want, Miss Silvester, is to be of some service to you, if I can,"
he said. "Is there any thing I can do to make your position here
more comfortable? You will stay at this place,
won't you? Geoffrey wishes it."
She shuddered, and looked away. "Yes! yes!" she answered,
"You will hear from Geoffrey," Arnold went on, "to-morrow or next
day. I know he means to write."
"For Heaven's sake, don't speak of him any more!" she cried out.
"How do you think I can look you in the face--" Her cheeks
flushed deep, and her eyes rested on him with a momentary
firmness. "Mind this! I am his wife, if promises can make me his
wife! He has pledged his word to me by all that is sacred!" She
checked herself impatiently. "What am I saying? What interest can
_you_ have in this miserable state of things? Don't let us talk
of it! I have something else to say to you. Let us go back to my
troubles here. Did you see the landlady when you came in?"
"No. I only saw the waiter."
"The landlady has made some absurd difficulty about letting me
have these rooms because I came here alone."
"She won't make any difficulty now," said Arnold. "I have settled
Arnold smiled. After what had passed, it was an indescribable
relief to him to see the humorous side of his own position at the
"Certainly," he answered. "When I asked for the lady who had
arrived here alone this afternoon--"
"I was told, in your interests, to ask for her as my wife."
Anne looked at him--in alarm as well as in surprise.
"You asked for me as your wife?" she repeated.
"Yes. I haven't done wrong--have I? As I understood it, there was
no alternative. Geoffrey told me you had settled with him to
present yourself here as a married lady, whose husband was coming
to join her."
"I thought of _him_ when I said that. I never thought of _you."_
"Natural enough. Still, it comes to the same thing (doesn't it?)
with the people of this house."
"I don't understand you. "
"I will try and explain myself a little better. Geoffrey said
your position here depended on my asking for you at the door (as
_he_ would have asked for you if he had come) in the character of
"He had no right to say that."
"No right? After what you have told me of the landlady, just
think what might have happened if he had _not_ said it! I haven't
had much experience myself of these things. But--allow me to
ask--wouldn't it have been a little awkward (at my age) if I had
come here and inquired for you as a friend? Don't you think, in
that case, the landlady might have made some additional
difficulty about letting you have the rooms?"
It was beyond dispute that the landlady would have refused to let
the rooms at all. It was equally plain that the deception which
Arnold had practiced on the people of the inn was a deception
which Anne had herself rendered necessary, in her own interests.
She was not to blame; it was clearly impossible for her to have
foreseen such an event as Geoffrey's departure for London. Still,
she felt an uneasy sense of responsibility--a vague dread of what
might happen next. She sat nervously twisting her handkerchief in
her lap, and made no answer.
"Don't suppose I object to this little stratagem," Arnold went
on. "I am serving my old friend, and I am helping the lady who is
soon to be his wife."
Anne rose abruptly to her feet, and amazed him by a very
"Mr. Brinkworth," she said, "forgive me the rudeness of something
I am about to say to you. When are you going away?"
Arnold burst out laughing.
"When I am quite sure I can do nothing more to assist you," he
"Pray don't think of _me_ any longer."
"In your situation! who else am I to think of?"
Anne laid her hand earnestly on his arm, and answered:
"Blanche?" repeated Arnold, utterly at a loss to understand her.
"Yes--Blanche. She found time to tell me what had passed between
you this morning before I left Windygates. I know you have made
her an offer: I know you are engaged to be married to her."
Arnold was delighted to hear it. He had been merely unwilling to
leave her thus far. He was absolutely determined to stay with her
"Don't expect me to go after that!" he said. "Come and sit down
again, and let's talk about Blanche."
Anne declined impatiently, by a gesture. Arnold was too deeply
interested in the new topic to take any notice of it.
"You know all about her habits and her tastes," he went on, "and
what she likes, and what she dislikes. It's most important that I
should talk to you about her. When we are husband and wife,
Blanche is to have all her own way in every thing. That's my idea
of the Whole Duty of Man--when Man is married. You are still
standing? Let me give you a chair."
It was cruel--under other circumstances it would have been
impossible--to disappoint him. But the vague fear of consequences
which had taken possession of Anne was not to be trifled with.
She had no clear conception of the risk (and it is to be added,
in justice to Geoffrey, that _he_ had no clear conception of the
risk) on which Arnold had unconsciously ventured, in undertaking
his errand to the inn. Neither of them had any adequate idea (few
people have) of the infamous absence of all needful warning, of
all decent precaution and restraint, which makes the marriage law
of Scotland a trap to catch unmarried men and women, to this day.
But, while Geoffrey's mind was incapable of looking beyond the
present emergency, Anne's finer intelligence told her that a
country which offered such facilities for private marriage as the
facilities of which she had proposed to take advantage in her own
case, was not a country in which a man could act as Arnold had
acted, without danger of some serious embarrassment following as
the possible result. With this motive to animate her, she
resolutely declined to take the offered chair, or to enter into
the proposed conversation.
"Whatever we have to say about Blanche, Mr. Brinkworth, must be
said at some fitter time. I beg you will leave me."
"Yes. Leave me to the solitude that is best for me, and to the
sorrow that I have deserved. Thank you--and good-by."
Arnold made no attempt to disguise his disappointment and
"If I must go, I must," he said, "But why are you in such a
"I don't want you to call me your wife again before the people of
"Is _that_ all? What on earth are you afraid of?"
She was unable fully to realize her own apprehensions. She was
doubly unable to express them in words. In her anxiety to produce
some reason which might prevail on him to go, she drifted back
into that very conversation about Blanche into which she had
declined to enter but the moment before.
"I have reasons for being afraid," she said. "One that I can't
give; and one that I can. Suppose Blanche heard of what you have
done? The longer you stay here--the more people you see--the more
chance there is that she _might_ hear of it."
"And what if she did?" asked Arnold, in his own straightforward
way. "Do you think she would be angry with me for making myself
useful to _you?_"
"Yes," rejoined Anne, sharply, "if she was jealous of me."
Arnold's unlimited belief in Blanche expressed itself, without
the slightest compromise, in two words:
Anxious as she was, miserable as she was, a faint smile flitted
over Anne's face.
"Sir Patrick would tell you, Mr. Brinkworth, that nothing is
impossible where women are concerned." She dropped her momentary
lightness of tone, and went on as earnestly as ever. "You can't
put yourself in Blanche's place--I can. Once more, I beg you to
go. I don't like your coming here, in this way! I don't like it
She held out her hand to take leave. At the same moment there was
a loud knock at the door of the room.
Anne sank into the chair at her side, and uttered a faint cry of
alarm. Arnold, perfectly impenetrable to all sense of his
position, asked what there was to frighten her--and answered the
knock in the two customary words:
CHAPTER THE TENTH.
THE knock at the door was repeated--a louder knock than before.
"Are you deaf?" shouted Arnold.
The door opened, little by little, an inch at a time. Mr.
Bishopriggs appeared mysteriously, with the cloth for dinner over
his arm, and with his second in c ommand behind him, bearing "the
furnishing of the table" (as it was called at Craig Fernie) on a
"What the deuce were you waiting for?" asked Arnold. "I told you
to come in."
"And _I_ tauld _you,_" answered Mr. Bishopriggs, "that I wadna
come in without knocking first. Eh, man!" he went on, dismissing
his second in command, and laying the cloth with his own
venerable hands, "d'ye think I've lived in this hottle in blinded
eegnorance of hoo young married couples pass the time when
they're left to themselves? Twa knocks at the door--and an unco
trouble in opening it, after that--is joost the least ye can do
for them! Whar' do ye think, noo, I'll set the places for you and
your leddy there?"
Anne walked away to the window, in undisguised disgust. Arnold
found Mr. Bishopriggs to be quite irresistible. He answered,
humoring the joke,
"One at the top and one at the bottom of the table, I suppose ?"
"One at tap and one at bottom?" repeated Mr. Bishopriggs, in high
disdain. "De'il a bit of it! Baith yer chairs as close together
as chairs can be. Hech! hech!--haven't I caught 'em, after
goodness knows hoo many preleeminary knocks at the door, dining
on their husbands' knees, and steemulating a man's appetite by
feeding him at the fork's end like a child? Eh!" sighed the sage
of Craig Fernie, "it's a short life wi' that nuptial business,
and a merry one! A mouth for yer billin' and cooin'; and a' the
rest o' yer days for wondering ye were ever such a fule, and
wishing it was a' to be done ower again.--Ye'll be for a bottle
o' sherry wine, nae doot? and a drap toddy afterwards, to do yer
Arnold nodded--and then, in obedience to a signal from Anne,
joined her at the window. Mr. Bishopriggs looked after them
attentively--observed that they were talking in whispers--and
approved of that proceeding, as representing another of the
established customs of young married couples at inns, in the
presence of third persons appointed to wait on them.
"Ay! ay!" he said, looking over his shoulder at Arnold, "gae to
your deerie! gae to your deerie! and leave a' the solid business
o' life to Me. Ye've Screepture warrant for it. A man maun leave
fether and mother (I'm yer fether), and cleave to his wife. My
certie! 'cleave' is a strong word--there's nae sort o' doot aboot
it, when it comes to 'cleaving!' " He wagged his head
thoughtfully, and walked to the side-table in a corner, to cut
As he took up the knife, his one wary eye detected a morsel of
crumpled paper, lying lost between the table and the wall. It was
the letter from Geoffrey, which Anne had flung from her, in the
first indignation of reading it--and which neither she nor Arnold
had thought of since.
"What's that I see yonder?" muttered Mr. Bishopriggs, under his
breath. "Mair litter in the room, after I've doosted and tidied
it wi' my ain hands!"
He picked up the crumpled paper, and partly opened it. "Eh!
what's here? Writing on it in ink? and writing on it in pencil?
Who may this belong to?" He looked round cautiously toward Arnold
and Anne. They were both still talking in whispers, and both
standing with their backs to him, looking out of the window.
"Here it is, clean forgotten and dune with!" thought Mr.
Bishopriggs. "Noo what would a fule do, if he fund this? A fule
wad light his pipe wi' it, and then wonder whether he wadna ha'
dune better to read it first. And what wad a wise man do, in a
seemilar position?" He practically answered that question by
putting the letter into his pocket. It might be worth keeping, or
it might not; five minutes' private examination of it would
decide the alternative, at the first convenient opportunity. "Am
gaun' to breeng the dinner in!" he called out to Arnold. "And,
mind ye, there's nae knocking at the door possible, when I've got
the tray in baith my hands, and mairs the pity, the gout in baith
my feet." With that friendly warning, Mr. Bishopriggs went his
way to the regions of the kitchen.
Arnold continued his conversation with Anne in terms which showed
that the question of his leaving the inn had been the question
once more discussed between them while they were standing at the
"You see we can't help it," he said. "The waiter has gone to
bring the dinner in. What will they think in the house, if I go
away already, and leave 'my wife' to dine alone?"
It was so plainly necessary to keep up appearances for the
present, that there was nothing more to be said. Arnold was
committing a serious imprudence--and yet, on this occasion,
Arnold was right. Anne's annoyance at feeling that conclusion
forced on her produced the first betrayal of impatience which she
had shown yet. She left Arnold at the window, and flung herself
on the sofa. "A curse seems to follow me!" she thought, bitterly.
"This will end ill--and I shall be answerable for it!"
In the mean time Mr. Bishopriggs had found the dinner in the
kitchen, ready, and waiting for him. Instead of at once taking
the tray on which it was placed into the sitting-room, he
conveyed it privately into his own pantry, and shut the door.
"Lie ye there, my freend, till the spare moment comes--and I'll
look at ye again," he said, putting the letter away carefully in
the dresser-drawer. "Noo aboot the dinner o' they twa
turtle-doves in the parlor?" he continued, directing his
attention to the dinner tray. "I maun joost see that the
cook's;'s dune her duty--the creatures are no' capable o'
decidin' that knotty point for their ain selves." He took off one
of the covers, and picked bits, here and there, out of the dish
with the fork " Eh! eh! the collops are no' that bad!" He took
off another cover, and shook his head in solemn doubt. "Here's
the green meat. I doot green meat's windy diet for a man at my
time o' life!" He put the cover on again, and tried the next
dish. "The fesh? What the de'il does the woman fry the trout for?
Boil it next time, ye betch, wi' a pinch o' saut and a spunefu'
o' vinegar." He drew the cork from a bottle of sherry, and
decanted the wine. "The sherry wine?" he said, in tones of deep
feeling, holding the decanter up to the light. "Hoo do I know but
what it may be corkit? I maun taste and try. It's on my
conscience, as an honest man, to taste and try." He forthwith
relieved his conscience--copiously. There was a vacant space, of
no inconsiderable dimensions, left in the decanter. Mr.
Bishopriggs gravely filled it up from the water-bottle. "Eh !
it's joost addin' ten years to the age o' the wine. The
turtle-doves will be nane the waur--and I mysel' am a glass o'
sherry the better. Praise Providence for a' its maircies!" Having
relieved himself of that devout aspiration, he took up the tray
again, and decided on letting the turtle-doves have their dinner.
The conversation in the parlor (dropped for the moment) had been
renewed, in the absence of Mr. Bishopriggs. Too restless to
remain long in one place, Anne had risen again from the sofa, and
had rejoined Arnold at the window.
"Where do your friends at Lady Lundie's believe you to be now?"
she asked, abruptly.
"I am believed," replied Arnold, "to be meeting my tenants, and
taking possession of my estate."
"How are you to get to your estate to-night?"
"By railway, I suppose. By-the-by, what excuse am I to make for
going away after dinner? We are sure to have the landlady in here
before long. What will she say to my going off by myself to the
train, and leaving 'my wife' behind me?"
"Mr. Brinkworth! that joke--if it _is_ a joke--is worn out!"
"I beg your pardon," said Arnold.
"You may leave your excuse to me," pursued Anne. "Do you go by
the up train, or the down?"
"By the up train."
The door opened suddenly; and Mr. Bishopriggs appeared with the
dinner. Anne nervously separated herself from Arnold. The one
available eye of Mr. Bishopriggs followed her reproachfully, as
he put the dishes on the table.
"I warned ye baith, it was a clean impossibility to knock at the
door this time. Don't blame me, young madam--don't blame _me!"_
"Where will you sit?" asked Arnold, by way of diverting Anne's
attention from the familiarities of Father Bishopriggs.
"Any where!" she answered, impatiently; snatchi ng up a chair,
and placing it at the bottom of the table.
Mr. Bishopriggs politely, but firmly, put the chair back again in
"Lord's sake! what are ye doin'? It's clean contrary to a' the
laws and customs o' the honey-mune, to sit as far away from your
husband as that!"
He waved his persuasive napkin to one of the two chairs placed
close together at the table.
Arnold interfered once more, and prevented another outbreak of
impatience from Anne.
"What does it matter?" he said. "Let the man have his way."
"Get it over as soon as you can," she returned. "I can't, and
won't, bear it much longer."
They took their places at the table, with Father Bishopriggs
behind them, in the mixed character of major domo and guardian
"Here's the trout!" he cried, taking the cover off with a
flourish. "Half an hour since, he was loupin' in the water. There
he lies noo, fried in the dish. An emblem o' human life for ye!
When ye can spare any leisure time from yer twa selves, meditate
Arnold took up the spoon, to give Anne one of the trout. Mr.
Bishopriggs clapped the cover on the dish again, with a
countenance expressive of devout horror.
"Is there naebody gaun' to say grace?" he asked.
"Come! come!" said Arnold. "The fish is getting cold."
Mr. Bishopriggs piously closed his available eye, and held the
cover firmly on the dish. "For what ye're gaun' to receive, may
ye baith be truly thankful!" He opened his available eye, and
whipped the cover off again. "My conscience is easy noo. Fall to!
"Send him away!" said Anne. "His familiarity is beyond all
"You needn't wait," said Arnold.
"Eh! but I'm here to wait," objected Mr. Bishopriggs. "What's the
use o' my gaun' away, when ye'll want me anon to change the
plates for ye?" He considered for a moment (privately consulting
his experience) and arrived at a satisfactory conclusion as to
Arnold's motive for wanting to get rid of him. "Tak' her on yer
knee," he whispered in Arnold's ear, "as soon as ye like! Feed
him at the fork's end," he added to Anne, "whenever ye please!
I'll think of something else, and look out at the proaspect." He
winked--and went to the window.
"Come! come! " said Arnold to Anne. "There's a comic side to all
this. Try and see it as I do."
Mr. Bishopriggs returned from the window, and announced the
appearance of a new element of embarrassment in the situation at
"My certie!" he said, "it's weel ye cam' when ye did. It's ill
getting to this hottle in a storm."
Anne started. and looked round at him. "A storm coming!" she
"Eh! ye're well hoosed here--ye needn't mind it. There's the
cloud down the valley," he added, pointing out of the window,"
coming up one way, when the wind's blawing the other. The storm's
brewing, my leddy, when ye see that!"
There was another knock at the door. As Arnold had predicted, the
landlady made her appearance on the scene.
"I ha' just lookit in, Sir," said Mrs. Inchbare, addressing
herself exclusively to Arnold, "to see ye've got what ye want."
"Oh! you are the landlady? Very nice, ma'am--very nice."
Mistress Inchbare had her own private motive for entering the
room, and came to it without further preface.
"Ye'll excuse me, Sir," she proceeded. "I wasna in the way when
ye cam' here, or I suld ha' made bauld to ask ye the question
which I maun e'en ask noo. Am I to understand that ye hire these
rooms for yersel', and this leddy here--yer wife?"
Anne raised her head to speak. Arnold pressed her hand warningly,
under the table, and silenced her.
"Certainly," he said. "I take the rooms for myself, and this lady
Anne made a second attempt to speak.
"This gentleman--" she began.
Arnold stopped her for the second time.
"This gentleman?" repeated Mrs. Inchbare, with a broad stare of
surprise. "I'm only a puir woman, my leddy--d'ye mean yer husband
Arnold's warning hand touched Anne's, for the third time.
Mistress Inchbare's eyes remained fixed on her in merciless
inquiry. To have given utterance to the contradiction which
trembled on her lips would have been to involve Arnold (after all
that he had sacrificed for her) in the scandal which would
inevitably follow--a scandal which would be talked of in the
neighborhood, and which might find its way to Blanche's ears.
White and cold, her eyes never moving from the table, she
accepted the landlady's implied correction, and faintly repeated
the words: "My husband."
Mistress Inchbare drew a breath of virtuous relief, and waited
for what Anne had to say next. Arnold came considerately to the
rescue, and got her out of the room.
"Never mind," he said to Anne; "I know what it is, and I'll see
about it. She's always like this, ma'am, when a storm's coming,"
he went on, turning to the landlady. "No, thank you--I know how
to manage her. Well send to you, if we want your assistance."
"At yer ain pleasure, Sir, " answered Mistress Inchbare. She
turned, and apologized to Anne (under protest), with a stiff
courtesy. "No offense, my leddy! Ye'll remember that ye cam' here
alane, and that the hottle has its ain gude name to keep up."
Having once more vindicated "the hottle," she made the
long-desired move to the door, and left the room.
"I'm faint!" Anne whispered. "Give me some water."
There was no water on the table. Arnold ordered it of Mr.
Bishopriggs--who had remained passive in the back-ground (a model
of discreet attention) as long as the mistress was in the room.
"Mr. Brinkworth!" said Anne, when they were alone, "you are
acting with inexcusable rashness. That woman's question was an
impertinence. Why did you answer it? Why did you force me--?"
She stopped, unable to finish the sentence. Arnold insisted on
her drinking a glass of wine--and then defended himself with the
patient consideration for her which he had shown from the first.
"Why didn't I have the inn door shut in your face"--he asked,
good humoredly--"with a storm coming on, and without a place in
which you can take refuge? No, no, Miss Silvester! I don't
presume to blame you for any scruples you may feel--but scruples
are sadly out of place with such a woman as that landlady. I am
responsible for your safety to Geoffrey; and Geoffrey expects to
find you here. Let's change the subject. The water is a long time
coming. Try another glass of wine. No? Well--here is Blanche's
health" (he took some of the wine himself), "in the weakest
sherry I ever drank in my life." As he set down his glass, Mr.
Bishopriggs came in with the water. Arnold hailed him
satirically. "Well? have you got the water? or have you used it
all for the sherry?"
Mr. Bishopriggs stopped in the middle of the room, thunder-struck
at the aspersion cast on the wine.
"Is that the way ye talk of the auldest bottle o' sherry wine in
Scotland?" he asked, gravely. "What's the warld coming to? The
new generation's a foot beyond my fathoming. The maircies o'
Providence, as shown to man in the choicest veentages o' Spain,
are clean thrown away on 'em."
"Have you brought the water?"
"I ha' brought the water--and mair than the water. I ha' brought
ye news from ootside. There's a company o' gentlemen on
horseback, joost cantering by to what they ca' the shootin'
cottage, a mile from this."
"Well--and what have we got to do with it?"
"Bide a wee! There's ane o' them has drawn bridle at the hottle,
and he's speerin' after the leddy that cam' here alane. The
leddy's your leddy, as sure as saxpence. I doot," said Mr.
Bishopriggs, walking away to the window, "_that's_ what ye've got
to do with it."
Arnold looked at Anne.
"Do you expect any body?"
"Is it Geoffrey?"
"Impossible. Geoffrey is on his way to London."
"There he is, any way," resumed Mr. Bishopriggs, at the window.
"He's loupin' down from his horse. He's turning this way. Lord
save us!" he exclaimed, with a start of consternation, "what do I
see? That incarnate deevil, Sir Paitrick himself!"
Arnold sprang to his feet.
"Do you mean Sir Patrick Lundie?"
Anne ran to the window.
"It _is_ Sir Patrick!" she said. "Hide yourself before he comes
"What will he think if he sees you with _me?"_
He was Blanche's g uardian, and he believed Arnold to be at that
moment visiting his new property. What he would think was not
difficult to foresee. Arnold turned for help to Mr. Bishopriggs.
"Where can I go?"
Mr. Bishopriggs pointed to the bedroom door.
"Whar' can ye go? There's the nuptial chamber!"
Mr. Bishopriggs expressed the utmost extremity of human amazement
by a long whistle, on one note.
"Whew! Is that the way ye talk o' the nuptial chamber already?"
"Find me some other place--I'll make it worth your while."
"Eh! there's my paintry! I trow that's some other place; and the
door's at the end o' the passage."
Arnold hurried out. Mr. Bishopriggs--evidently under the
impression that the case before him was a case of elopement, with
Sir Patrick mixed up in it in the capacity of guardian--addressed
himself, in friendly confidence, to Anne.
"My certie, mistress! it's ill wark deceivin' Sir Paitrick, if
that's what ye've dune. Ye must know, I was ance a bit clerk body
in his chambers at Embro--"
The voice of Mistress Inchbare, calling for the head-waiter, rose
shrill and imperative from the regions of the bar. Mr.
Bishopriggs disappeared. Anne remained, standing helpless by the
window. It was plain by this time that the place of her retreat
had been discovered at Windygates. The one doubt to decide, now,
was whether it would be wise or not to receive Sir Patrick, for
the purpose of discovering whether he came as friend or enemy to
CHAPTER THE ELEVENTH.
THE doubt was practically decided before Anne had determined what
to do. She was still at the window when the sitting-room door was
thrown open, and Sir Patrick appeared, obsequiously shown in by
"Ye're kindly welcome, Sir Paitrick. Hech, Sirs! the sight of you
is gude for sair eyne."
Sir Patrick turned and looked at Mr. Bishopriggs--as he might
have looked at some troublesome insect which he had driven out of
the window, and which had returned on him again.
"What, you scoundrel! have you drifted into an honest employment
Mr. Bishopriggs rubbed his hands cheerfully, and took his tone
from his superior, with supple readiness
"Ye're always in the right of it, Sir Paitrick! Wut, raal wut in
that aboot the honest employment, and me drifting into it. Lord's
sake, Sir, hoo well ye wear!"
Dismissing Mr. Bishopriggs by a sign, Sir Patrick advanced to
"I am committing an intrusion, madam which must, I am afraid,
appear unpardonable in your eyes," he said. "May I hope you will
excuse me when I have made you acquainted with my motive?"
He spoke with scrupulous politeness. His knowledge of Anne was of
the slightest possible kind. Like other men, he had felt the
attraction of her unaffected grace and gentleness on the few
occasions when he had been in her company--and that was all. If
he had belonged to the present generation he would, under the
circumstances, have fallen into one of the besetting sins of
England in these days--the tendency (to borrow an illustration
from the stage) to "strike an attitude" in the presence of a
social emergency. A man of the present period, in Sir Patrick's
position, would have struck an attitude of (what is called)
chivalrous respect; and would have addressed Anne in a tone of
ready-made sympathy, which it was simply impossible for a
stranger really to feel. Sir Patrick affected nothing of the
sort. One of the besetting sins of _his_ time was the habitual
concealment of our better selves--upon the whole, a far less
dangerous national error than the habitual advertisement of our
better selves, which has become the practice, public and
privately, of society in this age. Sir Patrick assumed, if
anything, less sympathy on this occasion than he really felt.
Courteous to all women, he was as courteous as usual to Anne--and
"I am quite at a loss, Sir, to know what brings you to this
place. The servant here informs me that you are one of a party of
gentlemen who have just passed by the inn, and who have all gone
on except yourself." In those guarded terms Anne opened the
interview with the unwelcome visitor, on her side.