Part 7 out of 15
that, and you will do enough. Pah! how that cigar poisons the
air! What will have become of your stomach when you get to my
"I sha'n't complain, Sir Patrick, if I can eat as good a dinner
as you do."
"That reminds me! I met somebody I knew at the station. Hester
Dethridge has left her place, and gone to London by the train. We
may feed at Windygates--we have done with dining now. It has been
a final quarrel this time between the mistress and the cook. I
have given Hester my address in London, and told her to let me
know before she decides on another place. A woman who _can't_
talk, and a woman who _can_ cook, is simply a woman who has
arrived at absolute perfection. Such a treasure shall not go out
of the family, if I can help it. Did you notice the Béchamel
sauce at lunch? Pooh! a young man who smokes cigars doesn't know
the difference between Béchamel sauce and melted butter.
Good afternoon! good afternoon!"
He slackened the reins, and away he went to Craig Fernie.
Counting by years, the pony was twenty, and the pony's driver was
seventy. Counting by vivacity and spirit, two of the most
youthful characters in Scotland had got together that afternoon
in the same chaise.
An hour more wore itself slowly out; and nothing had passed
Arnold on the cross-roads but a few stray foot-passengers, a
heavy wagon, and a gig with an old woman in it. He rose again
from the heather, weary of inaction, and resolved to walk
backward and forward, within view of his post, for a change. At
the second turn, when his face happened to be set toward the open
heath, he noticed another foot-passenger--apparently a man--far
away in the empty distance. Was the person coming toward him?
He advanced a little. The stranger was doubtless advancing too,
so rapidly did his figure now reveal itself, beyond all doubt, as
the figure of a man. A few minutes more and Arnold fancied he
recognized it. Yet a little longer, and he was quite sure. There
was no mistaking the lithe strength and grace of _that_ man, and
the smooth easy swiftness with which he covered his ground. It
was the hero of the coming foot-race. It was Geoffrey on his way
back to Windygates House.
Arnold hurried forward to meet him. Geoffrey stood still, poising
himself on his stick, and let the other come up.
"Have you heard what has happened at the house?" asked Arnold.
He instinctively checked the next question as it rose to his
lips. There was a settled defiance in the expression of
Geoffrey's face, which Arnold was quite at a loss to understand.
He looked like a man who had made up his mind to confront any
thing that could happen, and to contradict any body who spoke to
"Something seems to have annoyed you?" said Arnold.
"What's up at the house?" returned Geoffrey, with his loudest
voice and his hardest look.
"Miss Silvester has been at the house."
"Who saw her?"
"Nobody but Blanche."
"Well, she was miserably weak and ill, so ill that she fainted,
poor thing, in the library. Blanche brought her to."
"And what then?"
"We were all at lunch at the time. Blanche left the library, to
speak privately to her uncle. When she went back Miss Silvester
was gone, and nothing has been seen of her since."
"A row at the house?"
"Nobody knows of it at the house, except Blanche--"
"And you? And how many besides?"
"And Sir Patrick. Nobody else."
"Nobody else? Any thing more?"
Arnold remembered his promise to keep the investigation then on
foot a secret from every body. Geoffrey's manner made
him--unconsciously to himself--readier than he might otherwise
have been to consider Geoffrey as included in the general
"Nothing more," he answered.
Geoffrey dug the point of his stick deep into the soft, sandy
ground. He looked at the stick, then suddenly pulled it out of
the ground and looked at Arnold. "Good-afternoon!" he said, and
went on his way again by himself.
Arnold followed, and stopped him. For a moment the two men looked
at each other without a word passing on either side. Arnold spoke
"You're out of humor, Geoffrey. What has upset you in this way?
Have you and Miss Silvester missed each other?"
Geoffrey was silent.
"Have you seen her since she left Windygates?"
"Do you know where Miss Silvester is now?"
Still no reply. Still the same mutely-insolent defiance of look
and manner. Arnold's dark color began to deepen.
"Why don't you answer me?" he said.
"Because I have had enough of it."
"Enough of what?"
"Enough of being worried about Miss Silvester. Miss Silvester's
my business--not yours."
"Gently, Geoffrey! Don't forget that I have been mixed up in that
business--without seeking it myself."
"There's no fear of my forgetting. You have cast it in my teeth
"Cast it in your teeth?"
"Yes! Am I never to hear the last of my obligation to you? The
devil take the obligation! I'm sick of the sound of it."
There was a spirit in Arnold--not easily brought to the surface,
through the overlying simplicity and good-humor of his ordinary
character--which, once roused, was a spirit not readily quelled.
Geoffrey had roused it at last.
"When you come to your senses," he said, "I'll remember old
times--and receive your apology. Till you _do_ come to your
senses, go your way by yourself. I have no more to say to you."
Geoffrey set his teeth, and came one step nearer. Arnold's eyes
met his, with a look which steadily and firmly challenged
him--though he was the stronger man of the two--to force the
quarrel a step further, if he dared. The one human virtue which
Geoffrey respected and understood was the virtue of courage. And
there it was before him--the undeniable courage of the weaker
man. The callous scoundrel was touched on the one tender place in
his whole being. He turned, and went on his way in silence.
Left by himself, Arnold's head dropped on his breast. The friend
who had saved his life--the one friend he possessed, who was
associated with his earliest and happiest remembrances of old
days--had grossly insulted him: and had left him deliberately,
without the slightest expression of regret. Arnold's affectionate
nature--simple, loyal, clinging where it once fastened--was
wounded to the quick. Geoffrey's fast-retreating figure, in the
open view before him, became blurred and indistinct. He put his
hand over his eyes, and hid, with a boyish shame, the hot tears
that told of the heartache, and that honored the man who shed
He was still struggling with the emotion which had overpowered
him, when something happened at the place where the roads met.
The four roads pointed as nearly as might be toward the four
points of the compass. Arnold was now on the road to the
eastward, having advanced in that direction to meet Geoffrey,
between two and three hundred yards from the farm-house inclosure
before which he had kept his watch. The road to the westward,
curving away behind the farm, led to the nearest market-town. The
road to the south was the way to the station. And the road to the
north led back to Windygates House.
While Geoffrey was still fifty yards from the turning which would
take him back to Windygates--while the tears were still standing
thickly in Arnold's eyes--the gate of the farm inclosure opened.
A light four-wheel chaise came out with a man driving, and a
woman sitting by his side. The woman was Anne Silvester, and the
man was the owner of the farm.
Instead of taking the way which led to the station, the chaise
pursued the westward road to the market-town.
Proceeding in this direction, the backs of the persons in the
vehicle were necessarily turned on Geoffrey, advancing behind
them from the eastward. He just carelessly noticed the shabby
little chaise, and then turned off north on his way to
By the time Arnold was composed enough to look round him, the
chaise had taken the curve in the road which wound behind the
farmhouse. He returned--faithful to the engagement which he had
undertaken--to his post before the inclosure. The chaise was then
a speck in the distance. In a minute more it was a speck out of
So (to use Sir Patrick's phrase) had the woman broken through
difficulties which would have stopped a man. So, in her sore
need, had Anne Silvester won the sympathy which had given her a
place, by the farmer's side, in the vehicle that took him on his
own business to the market-town. And so, by a hair's-breadth, did
she escape the treble risk of discovery which threatened
her--from Geoffrey, on his way back; from Arnold, at his post;
and from the valet, on the watch for her appearance at the
The afternoon wore on. The servants at Windygates, airing
themselves in the grounds--in the absence of their mistress and
her guests--were disturbed, for the moment, by the unexpected
return of one of "the gentlefolks." Mr. Geoffrey Delamayn
reappeared at the house alone; went straight to the smoking-room;
and calling for another supply of the old ale, settled himself in
an arm-chair with the newspaper, and began to smoke.
He soon tired of reading, and fell into thinking of what had
happened during the latter part of his walk.
The prospect before him had more than realized the most sanguine
anticipations that he could have formed of it. He had braced
himself--after what had happened in the library--to face the
outbreak of a serious scandal, on his return to the house. And
here--when he came back--was nothing to face! Here were three
people (Sir Patrick, Arnold, and Blanche) who must at least know
that Anne was in some serious trouble keeping the secret as
carefully as if they felt that his interests were at stake! And,
more wonderful still, here was Anne herself--so far from raising
a hue and cry after him--actually taking flight without saying a
word that could compromise him with any living soul!
What in the name of wonder did it mean? He did his best to find
his way to an explanation of some sort; and he actually contrived
to account for the silence of Blanche and her uncle, and Arnold.
It was pretty clear that they must have all three combined to
keep Lady Lundie in ignorance of her runaway governess's return
to the house.
But the secret of Anne's silence completely baffled him.
He was simply incapable of conceiving that the horror of seeing
herself set up as an obstacle to Blanche's marriage might have
been vivid enough to overpower all sense of her own wrongs, and
to hurry her away, resolute, in her ignorance of what else to do,
never to return again, and never to let living eyes rest on her
in the character of Arnold's wife. "It's clean beyond _my_ making
out," was the final conclusion at which Geoffrey arrived. "If
it's her interest to hold her tongue, it's my interest to hold
mine, and there's an end of it for the present!"
He put up his feet on a chair, and rested his magnificent muscles
after his walk, and filled another pipe, in thorough contentment
with himself. No interference to dread from Anne, no more awkward
questions (on the terms they were on now) to come from Arnold. He
looked back at the quarrel on the heath with a certain
complacency--he did his friend justice; though they _had_
disagreed. "Who would have thought the fellow had so much pluck
in him!" he said to himself as he struck the match and lit his
An hour more wore on; and Sir Patrick was the next person who
He was thoughtful, but in no sense depressed. Judging by
appearances, his errand to Craig Fernie had certainly not ended
in disappointment. The old gentleman hummed his favorite little
Scotch air--rather absently, perhaps--and took his pinch of snuff
from the knob of his ivory cane much as usual. He went to the
library bell and summoned a servant.
"Any body been here for me?"--"No, Sir Patrick."--"No
letters?"--"No, Sir Patrick."--"Very well. Come up stairs to my
room, and help me on with my dressing-gown." The man helped him
to his dressing-gown and slippers "Is Miss Lundie at home?"--"No,
Sir Patrick. They're all away with my lady on an
excursion."--"Very good. Get me a cup of coffee; and wake me half
an hour before dinner, in case I take a nap." The servant went
out. Sir Patrick stretched himself on the sofa. "Ay! ay! a little
aching in the back, and a certain stiffness in the legs. I dare
say the pony feels just as I do. Age, I suppose, in both cases?
Well! well! well! let's try and be young at heart. 'The rest' (as
Pope says) 'is leather and prunella.' " He returned resignedly to
his little Scotch air. The servant came in with the coffee. And
then the room was quiet, except for the low humming of insects
and the gentle rustling of the creepers at the window. For five
minutes or so Sir Patrick sipped his coffee, and meditated--by no
means in the character of a man who was depressed by any recent
disappointment. In five minutes more he was asleep.
A little later, and the party returned from the ruins.
With the one exception of their lady-leader, the whole expedition
was depressed--Smith and Jones, in particular, being quite
speechless. Lady Lundie alone still met feudal antiquities with a
cheerful front. She had cheated the man who showed the ruins of
his shilling, and she was thoroughly well satisfied with herself.
Her voice was flute-like in its melody, and the celebrated
"smile" had never been in better order. "Deeply interesting!"
said her ladyship, descending from the carriage with ponderous
grace, and addressing herself to Geoffrey, lounging under the
portico of the house. "You have had a loss, Mr. Delamayn. The
next time you go out for a walk, give your hostess a word of
warning, and you won't repent it." Blanche (looking very weary
and anxious) questioned the servant, the moment she got in, about
Arnold and her uncle. Sir Patrick was invisible up stairs. Mr.
Brinkworth had not come back. It wanted only twenty minutes of
dinner-time; and full evening-dress was insisted on at
Windygates. Blanche, nevertheless, still lingered in the hall in
the hope of seeing Arnold before she went up stairs. The hope was
realized. As the clock struck the quarter he came in. And he,
too, was out of spirits like the rest!
"Have you seen her?" asked Blanche.
"No," said Arnold, in the most perfect good faith. "The way she
has escaped by is not the way by the cross-roads--I answer for
They separated to dress. When the party assembled again, in the
library, before dinner, Blanche found her way, the moment he
entered the room, to Sir Patrick's side.
"News, uncle! I'm dying for news."
"Good news, my dear--so far."
"You have found Anne?"
"Not exactly that."
"You have heard of her at Craig Fernie?"
"I have made some important discoveries at Craig Fernie, Blanche.
Hush! here's your step-mother. Wait till after dinner, and you
may hear more than I can tell you now. There may be news from the
station between this and then."
The dinner was a wearisome ordeal to at least two other persons
present besides Blanche. Arnold, sitting opposite to Geoffrey,
without exchanging a word with him, felt the altered relations
between his former friend and himself very painfully. Sir
Patrick, missing the skilled hand of Hester Dethridge in every
dish that was offered to him, marked the dinner among the wasted
opportunities of his life, and resented his sister-in-law's flow
of spirits as something simply inhuman under present
circumstances. Blanche followed Lady Lundie into the drawing-room
in a state of burning impatience for the rising of the gentlemen
from their wine. Her step-mother--mapping out a new antiquarian
excursion for the next day, and finding Blanche's ears closed to
her occasional remarks on baronial Scotland five hundred years
since--lamented, with satirical
emphasis, the absence of an intelligent companion of her own
sex; and stretched her majestic figure on the sofa to wait until
an audience worthy of her flowed in from the dining-room. Before
very long--so soothing is the influence of an after-dinner view
of feudal antiquities, taken through the medium of an approving
conscience--Lady Lundie's eyes closed; and from Lady Lundie's
nose there poured, at intervals, a sound, deep like her
ladyship's learning; regular, like her ladyship's habits--a sound
associated with nightcaps and bedrooms, evoked alike by Nature,
the leveler, from high and low--the sound (oh, Truth what
enormities find publicity in thy name!)--the sound of a Snore.
Free to do as she pleased, Blanche left the echoes of the
drawing-room in undisturbed enjoyment of Lady Lundie's audible
She went into the library, and turned over the novels. Went out
again, and looked across the hall at the dining-room door. Would
the men never have done talking their politics and drinking their
wine? She went up to her own room, and changed her ear-rings, and
scolded her maid. Descended once more--and made an alarming
discovery in a dark corner of the hall.
Two men were standing there, hat in hand whispering to the
butler. The butler, leaving them, went into the dining-room--came
out again with Sir Patrick--and said to the two men, "Step this
way, please." The two men came out into the light. Murdoch, the
station-master; and Duncan, the valet! News of Anne!
"Oh, uncle, let me stay!" pleaded Blanche.
Sir Patrick hesitated. It was impossible to say--as matters stood
at that moment--what distressing intelligence the two men might
not have brought of the missing woman. Duncan's return,
accompanied by the station-master, looked serious. Blanche
instantly penetrated the secret of her uncle's hesitation. She
turned pale, and caught him by the arm. "Don't send me away," she
whispered. "I can bear any thing but suspense."
"Out with it!" said Sir Patrick, holding his niece's hand. "Is
she found or not?"
"She's gone by the up-train," said the station-master. "And we
Sir Patrick breathed freely; Blanche's color came back. In
different ways, the relief to both of them was equally great.
"You had my orders to follow her," said Sir Patrick to Duncan.
"Why have you come back?"
"Your man is not to blame, Sir," interposed the station-master.
"The lady took the train at Kirkandrew."
Sir Patrick started and looked at the station-master. "Ay? ay?
The next station--the market-town. Inexcusably stupid of me. I
never thought of that."
"I took the liberty of telegraphing your description of the lady
to Kirkandrew, Sir Patrick, in case of accidents."
"I stand corrected, Mr. Murdoch. Your head, in this matter, has
been the sharper head of the two. Well?"
"There's the answer, Sir."
Sir Patrick and Blanche read the telegram together.
"Kirkandrew. Up train. 7.40 P.M. Lady as described. No luggage.
Bag in her hand. Traveling alone. Ticket--second-class.
"Edinburgh!" repeated Blanche. "Oh, uncle! we shall lose her in a
great place like that!"
"We shall find her, my dear; and you shall see how. Duncan, get
me pen, ink, and paper. Mr. Murdoch, you are going back to the
station, I suppose?"
"Yes, Sir Patrick."
"I will give you a telegram, to be sent at once to Edinburgh."
He wrote a carefully-worded telegraphic message, and addressed it
to The Sheriff of Mid-Lothian.
"The Sheriff is an old friend of mine," he explained to his
niece. "And he is now in Edinburgh. Long before the train gets to
the terminus he will receive this personal description of Miss
Silvester, with my request to have all her movements carefully
watched till further notice. The police are entirely at his
disposal; and the best men will be selected for the purpose. I
have asked for an answer by telegraph. Keep a special messenger
ready for it at the station, Mr. Murdoch. Thank you;
good-evening. Duncan, get your supper, and make yourself
comfortable. Blanche, my dear, go back to the drawing-room, and
expect us in to tea immediately. You will know where your friend
is before you go to bed to-night."
With those comforting words he returned to the gentlemen. In ten
minutes more they all appeared in the drawing-room; and Lady
Lundie (firmly persuaded that she had never closed her eyes) was
back again in baronial Scotland five hundred years since.
Blanche, watching her opportunity, caught her uncle alone.
"Now for your promise," she said. "You have made some important
discoveries at Craig Fernie. What are they?"
Sir Patrick's eye turned toward Geoffrey, dozing in an arm-chair
in a corner of the room. He showed a certain disposition to
trifle with the curiosity of his niece.
"After the discovery we have already made," he said, "can't you
wait, my dear, till we get the telegram from Edinburgh?"
"That is just what it's impossible for me to do! The telegram
won't come for hours yet. I want something to go on with in the
She seated herself on a sofa in the corner opposite Geoffrey, and
pointed to the vacant place by her side.
Sir Patrick had promised--Sir Patrick had no choice but to keep
his word. After another look at Geoffrey, he took the vacant
place by his niece.
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-FOURTH.
"WELL?" whispered Blanche, taking her uncle confidentially by the
"Well," said Sir Patrick, with a spark of his satirical humor
flashing out at his niece, "I am going to do a very rash thing. I
am going to place a serious trust in the hands of a girl of
"The girl's hands will keep it, uncle--though she _is_ only
"I must run the risk, my dear; your intimate knowledge of Miss
Silvester may be of the greatest assistance to me in the next
step I take. You shall know all that I can tell you, but I must
warn you first. I can only admit you into my confidence by
startling you with a great surprise. Do you follow me, so far?"
"If you fail to control yourself, you place an obstacle in the
way of my being of some future use to Miss Silvester. Remember
that, and now prepare for the surprise. What did I tell you
"You said you had made discoveries at Craig Fernie. What have you
"I have found out that there is a certain person who is in full
possession of the information which Miss Silvester has concealed
from you and from me. The person is within our reach. The person
is in this neighborhood. The person is in this room!"
He caught up Blanche's hand, resting on his arm, and pressed it
significantly. She looked at him with the cry of surprise
suspended on her lips--waited a little with her eyes fixed on Fir
Patrick's face--struggled resolutely, and composed herself.
"Point the person out." She said the words with a self-possession
which won her uncle's hearty approval. Blanche had done wonders
for a girl in her teens.
"Look!" said Sir Patrick; "and tell me what you see."
"I see Lady Lundie, at the other end of the room, with the map of
Perthshire and the Baronial Antiquities of Scotland on the table.
And I see every body but you and me obliged to listen to her."
Blanche looked carefully round the room, and noticed Geoffrey in
the opposite corner; fast asleep by this time in his arm-chair.
"Uncle! you don't mean--?"
"There is the man."
"Mr. Delamayn knows every thing."
Blanche held mechanically by her uncle's arm, and looked at the
sleeping man as if her eyes could never see enough of him.
"You saw me in the library in private consultation with Mr.
Delamayn," resumed Sir Patrick. "I have to acknowledge, my dear,
that you were quite right in thinking this a suspicious
circumstance, And I am now to justify myself for having purposely
kept you in the dark up to the present time."
With those introductory words, he briefly reverted to the earlier
occurrences of the day, and then added, by way of commentary, a
statement of the conclusions which events had suggested to his
The events, it may be remembered, were three in number. First,
Geoffrey's private conference with Sir Patrick on the subject of
Irregular Marriages in Scotla nd. Secondly, Anne Silvester's
appearance at Windygates. Thirdly, Anne's flight.
The conclusions which had thereupon suggested themselves to Sir
Patrick's mind were six in number.
First, that a connection of some sort might possibly exist
between Geoffrey's acknowledged difficulty about his friend, and
Miss Silvester's presumed difficulty about herself. Secondly,
that Geoffrey had really put to Sir Patrick--not his own
case--but the case of a friend. Thirdly, that Geoffrey had some
interest (of no harmless kind) in establishing the fact of his
friend's marriage. Fourthly, that Anne's anxiety (as described by
Blanche) to hear the names of the gentlemen who were staying at
Windygates, pointed, in all probability, to Geoffrey. Fifthly,
that this last inference disturbed the second conclusion, and
reopened the doubt whether Geoffrey had not been stating his own
case, after all, under pretense of stating the case of a friend.
Sixthly, that the one way of obtaining any enlightenment on this
point, and on all the other points involved in mystery, was to go
to Craig Fernie, and consult Mrs. Inchbare's experience during
the period of Anne's residence at the inn. Sir Patrick's apology
for keeping all this a secret from his niece followed. He had
shrunk from agitating her on the subject until he could be sure
of proving his conclusions to be true. The proof had been
obtained; and he was now, therefore, ready to open his mind to
Blanche without reserve.
"So much, my dear," proceeded Sir Patrick, "for those necessary
explanations which are also the necessary nuisances of human
intercourse. You now know as much as I did when I arrived at
Craig Fernie--and you are, therefore, in a position to appreciate
the value of my discoveries at the inn. Do you understand every
thing, so far?"
"Very good. I drove up to the inn; and--behold me closeted with
Mrs. Inchbare in her own private parlor! (My reputation may or
may not suffer, but Mrs. Inchbare's bones are above suspicion!)
It was a long business, Blanche. A more sour-tempered, cunning,
and distrustful witness I never examined in all my experience at
the Bar. She would have upset the temper of any mortal man but a
lawyer. We have such wonderful tempers in our profession; and we
can be so aggravating when we like! In short, my dear, Mrs.
Inchbare was a she-cat, and I was a he-cat--and I clawed the
truth out of her at last. The result was well worth arriving at,
as you shall see. Mr. Delamayn had described to me certain
remarkable circumstances as taking place between a lady and a
gentleman at an inn: the object of the parties being to pass
themselves off at the time as man and wife. Every one of those
circumstances, Blanche, occurred at Craig Fernie, between a lady
and a gentleman, on the day when Miss Silvester disappeared from
this house And--wait!--being pressed for her name, after the
gentleman had left her behind him at the inn, the name the lady
gave was, 'Mrs. Silvester.' What do you think of that?"
"Think! I'm bewildered--I can't realize it."
"It's a startling discovery, my dear child--there is no denying
that. Shall I wait a little, and let you recover yourself?"
"No! no! Go on! The gentleman, uncle? The gentleman who was with
Anne? Who is he? Not Mr. Delamayn?"
"Not Mr. Delamayn," said Sir Patrick. "If I have proved nothing
else, I have proved that."
"What need was there to prove it? Mr. Delamayn went to London on
the day of the lawn-party. And Arnold--"
"And Arnold went with him as far as the second station from this.
Quite true! But how was I to know what Mr. Delamayn might have
done after Arnold had left him? I could only make sure that he
had not gone back privately to the inn, by getting the proof from
"How did you get it?"
"I asked her to describe the gentleman who was with Miss
Silvester. Mrs. Inchbare's description (vague as you will
presently find it to be) completely exonerates that man," said
Sir Patrick, pointing to Geoffrey still asleep in his chair.
"_He_ is not the person who passed Miss Silvester off as his wife
at Craig Fernie. He spoke the truth when he described the case to
me as the case of a friend."
"But who is the friend?" persisted Blanche. "That's what I want
"That's what I want to know, too."
"Tell me exactly, uncle, what Mrs. Inchbare said. I have lived
with Anne all my life. I _must_ have seen the man somewhere."
"If you can identify him by Mrs. Inchbare's description,"
returned Sir Patrick, "you will be a great deal cleverer than I
am. Here is the picture of the man, as painted by the landlady:
Young; middle-sized; dark hair, eyes, and complexion; nice
temper, pleasant way of speaking. Leave out 'young,' and the rest
is the exact contrary of Mr. Delamayn. So far, Mrs. Inchbare
guides us plainly enough. But how are we to apply her description
to the right person? There must be, at the lowest computation,
five hundred thousand men in England who are young, middle-sized,
dark, nice-tempered, and pleasant spoken. One of the footmen here
answers that description in every particular."
"And Arnold answers it," said Blanche--as a still stronger
instance of the provoking vagueness of the description.
"And Arnold answers it," repeated Sir Patrick, quite agreeing
They had barely said those words when Arnold himself appeared,
approaching Sir Patrick with a pack of cards in his hand.
There--at the very moment when they had both guessed the truth,
without feeling the slightest suspicion of it in their own
minds--there stood Discovery, presenting itself unconsciously to
eyes incapable of seeing it, in the person of the man who had
passed Anne Silvester off as his wife at the Craig Fernie inn!
The terrible caprice of Chance, the merciless irony of
Circumstance, could go no further than this. The three had their
feet on the brink of the precipice at that moment. And two of
them were smiling at an odd coincidence; and one of them was
shuffling a pack of cards!
"We have done with the Antiquities at last!" said Arnold; "and we
are going to play at Whist. Sir Patrick, will you choose a card?"
"Too soon after dinner, my good fellow, for _me_. Play the first
rubber, and then give me another chance. By-the-way," he added
"Miss Silvester has been traced to Kirkandrew. How is it that you
never saw her go by?"
"She can't have gone my way, Sir Patrick, or I must have seen
Having justified himself in those terms, he was recalled to the
other end of the room by the whist-party, impatient for the cards
which he had in his hand.
"What were we talking of when he interrupted us?" said Sir
Patrick to Blanche.
"Of the man, uncle, who was with Miss Silvester at the inn."
"It's useless to pursue that inquiry, my dear, with nothing
better than Mrs. Inchbare's description to help us."
Blanche looked round at the sleeping Geoffrey.
"And _he_ knows!" she said. "It's maddening, uncle, to look at
the brute snoring in his chair!"
Sir Patrick held up a warning hand. Before a word more could be
said between them they were silenced again by another
The whist-party comprised Lady Lundie and the surgeon, playing as
partners against Smith and Jones. Arnold sat behind the surgeon,
taking a lesson in the game. One, Two, and Three, thus left to
their own devices, naturally thought of the billiard-table; and,
detecting Geoffrey asleep in his corner, advanced to disturb his
slumbers, under the all-sufficing apology of "Pool." Geoffrey
roused himself, and rubbed his eyes, and said, drowsily, "All
right." As he rose, he looked at the opposite corner in which Sir
Patrick and his niece were sitting. Blanche's self-possession,
resolutely as she struggled to preserve it, was not strong enough
to keep her eyes from turning toward Geoffrey with an expression
which betrayed the reluctant interest that she now felt in him.
He stopped, noticing something entirely new in the look with
which the young lady was regarding him.
"Beg your pardon," said Geoffrey. "Do you wish to speak to me?"
Blanche's face flushed all over. Her uncle came to the rescue.
"Miss Lundie and I hope you have slept well Mr. Delamayn," said
Sir Patrick, jocosely.
"Oh? That's all?" said Geoffrey still looking at Blanche. "Beg
your pardon again. Deuced long walk, and deuced heavy dinner.
Natural consequence--a nap."
Sir Patrick eyed him closely. It was plain that he had been
honestly puzzled at finding himself an object of special
attention on Blanche's part. "See you in the billiard-room?" he
said, carelessly, and followed his companions out of the room--as
usual, without waiting for an answer.
"Mind what you are about," said Sir Patrick to his niece. "That
man is quicker than he looks. We commit a serious mistake if we
put him on his guard at starting."
"It sha'n't happen again, uncle," said Blanche. "But think of
_his_ being in Anne's confidence, and of _my_ being shut out of
"In his friend's confidence, you mean, my dear; and (if we only
avoid awakening his suspicion) there is no knowing how soon he
may say or do something which may show us who his friend is."
"But he is going back to his brother's to-morrow--he said so at
"So much the better. He will be out of the way of seeing strange
things in a certain young lady's face. His brother's house is
within easy reach of this; and I am his legal adviser. My
experience tells me that he has not done consulting me yet--and
that he will let out something more next time. So much for our
chance of seeing the light through Mr. Delamayn--if we can't see
it in any other way. And that is not our only chance, remember. I
have something to tell you about Bishopriggs and the lost
"Is it found?"
"No. I satisfied myself about that--I had it searched for, under
my own eye. The letter is stolen, Blanche; and Bishopriggs has
got it. I have left a line for him, in Mrs. Inchbare's care. The
old rascal is missed already by the visitors at the inn, just as
I told you he would be. His mistress is feeling the penalty of
having been fool enough to vent her ill temper on her
head-waiter. She lays the whole blame of the quarrel on Miss
Silvester, of course. Bishopriggs neglected every body at the inn
to wait on Miss Silvester. Bishopriggs was insolent on being
remonstrated with, and Miss Silvester encouraged him--and so on.
The result will be--now Miss Silvester has gone--that Bishopriggs
will return to Craig Fernie before the autumn is over. We are
sailing with wind and tide, my dear. Come, and learn to play
He rose to join the card-players. Blanche detained him.
"You haven't told me one thing yet," she said. "Whoever the man
may be, is Anne married to him?"
"Whoever the man may be," returned Sir Patrick, "he had better
not attempt to marry any body else."
So the niece unconsciously put the question, and so the uncle
unconsciously gave the answer on which depended the whole
happiness of Blanche's life to come, The "man!" How lightly they
both talked of the "man!" Would nothing happen to rouse the
faintest suspicion--in their minds or in Arnold's mind--that
Arnold was the "man" himself?
"You mean that she _is_ married?" said Blanche.
"I don't go as far as that."
"You mean that she is _not_ married?"
"I don't go so far as _that._"
"Oh! the law! "
"Provoking, isn't it, my dear? I can tell you, professionally,
that (in my opinion) she has grounds to go on if she claims to be
the man's wife. That is what I meant by my answer; and, until we
know more, that is all I can say."
"When shall we know more? When shall we get the telegram?"
"Not for some hours yet. Come, and learn to play whist."
"I think I would rather talk to Arnold, uncle, if you don't
"By all means! But don't talk to him about what I have been
telling you to-night. He and Mr. Delamayn are old associates,
remember; and he might blunder into telling his friend what his
friend had better not know. Sad (isn't it?) for me to be
instilling these lessons of duplicity into the youthful mind. A
wise person once said, 'The older a man gets the worse he gets.'
That wise person, my dear, had me in his eye, and was perfectly
He mitigated the pain of that confession with a pinch of snuff,
and went to the whist table to wait until the end of the rubber
gave him a place at the game.
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-FIFTH.
BLANCHE found her lover as attentive as usual to her slightest
wish, but not in his customary good spirits. He pleaded fatigue,
after his long watch at the cross-roads, as an excuse for his
depression. As long as there was any hope of a reconciliation
with Geoffrey, he was unwilling to tell Blanche what had happened
that afternoon. The hope grew fainter and fainter as the evening
advanced. Arnold purposely suggested a visit to the
billiard-room, and joined the game, with Blanche, to give
Geoffrey an opportunity of saying the few gracious words which
would have made them friends again. Geoffrey never spoke the
words; he obstinately ignored Arnold's presence in the room.
At the card-table the whist went on interminably. Lady Lundie,
Sir Patrick, and the surgeon, were all inveterate players, evenly
matched. Smith and Jones (joining the game alternately) were aids
to whist, exactly as they were aids to conversation. The same
safe and modest mediocrity of style distinguished the proceedings
of these two gentlemen in all the affairs of life.
The time wore on to midnight. They went to bed late and they rose
late at Windygates House. Under that hospitable roof, no
intrusive hints, in the shape of flat candlesticks exhibiting
themselves with ostentatious virtue on side-tables, hurried the
guest to his room; no vile bell rang him ruthlessly out of bed
the next morning, and insisted on his breakfasting at a given
hour. Life has surely hardships enough that are inevitable
without gratuitously adding the hardship of absolute government,
administered by a clock?
It was a quarter past twelve when Lady Lundie rose blandly from
the whist-table, and said that she supposed somebody must set the
example of going to bed. Sir Patrick and Smith, the surgeon and
Jones, agreed on a last rubber. Blanche vanished while her
stepmother's eye was on her; and appeared again in the
drawing-room, when Lady Lundie was safe in the hands of her maid.
Nobody followed the example of the mistress of the house but
Arnold. He left the billiard-room with the certainty that it was
all over now between Geoffrey and himself. Not even the
attraction of Blanche proved strong enough to detain him that
night. He went his way to bed.
It was past one o'clock. The final rubber was at an end, the
accounts were settled at the card-table; the surgeon had strolled
into the billiard-room, and Smith and Jones had followed him,
when Duncan came in, at last, with the telegram in his hand.
Blanche turned from the broad, calm autumn moonlight which had
drawn her to the window, and looked over her uncle's shoulder
while he opened the telegram.
She read the first line--and that was enough. The whole
scaffolding of hope built round that morsel of paper fell to the
ground in an instant. The train from Kirkandrew had reached
Edinburgh at the usual time. Every passenger in it had passed
under the eyes of the police, and nothing had been seen of any
person who answered the description given of Anne!
Sir Patrick pointed to the two last sentences in the telegram:
"Inquiries telegraphed to Falkirk. If with any result, you shall
"We must hope for the best, Blanche. They evidently suspect her
of having got out at the junction of the two railways for the
purpose of giving the telegraph the slip. There is no help for
it. Go to bed, child--go to bed."
Blanche kissed her uncle in silence and went away. The bright
young face was sad with the first hopeless sorrow which the old
man had yet seen in it. His niece's parting look dwelt painfully
on his mind when he was up in his room, with the faithful Duncan
getting him ready for his bed.
"This is a bad business, Duncan. I don't like to say so to Miss
Lundie; but I greatly fear the governess has baffled us."
"It seems likely, Sir Patrick. The poor young lady looks quite
heart-broken about it."
"You noticed that too, did you? She has lived all her life, you
see, with Miss Silvester; and there is a very strong attachment
between them. I am uneasy about my niece, Duncan. I am afraid
this disappointment will have a serious effect on her."
"She's young, Sir Patrick."
"Yes, my friend, she's young; but the young (when they are good
for any thing) have warm hearts. Winter hasn't stolen on _them,_
Duncan! And they feel keenly."
"I think there's reason to hope, Sir, that Miss Lundie may get
over it more easily than you suppose."
"What reason, pray?"
"A person in my position can hardly venture to speak freely, Sir,
on a delicate matter of this kind."
Sir Patrick's temper flashed out, half-seriously,
half-whimsically, as usual.
"Is that a snap at Me, you old dog? If I am not your friend, as
well as your master, who is? Am _I_ in the habit of keeping any
of my harmless fellow-creatures at a distance? I despise the cant
of modern Liberalism; but it's not the less true that I have, all
my life, protested against the inhuman separation of classes in
England. We are, in that respect, brag as we may of our national
virtue, the most unchristian people in the civilized world."
"I beg your pardon, Sir Patrick--"
"God help me! I'm talking polities at this time of night! It's
your fault, Duncan. What do you mean by casting my station in my
teeth, because I can't put my night-cap on comfortably till you
have brushed my hair? I have a good mind to get up and brush
yours. There! there! I'm uneasy about my niece--nervous
irritability, my good fellow, that's all. Let's hear what you
have to say about Miss Lundie. And go on with my hair. And don't
be a humbug."
"I was about to remind you, Sir Patrick, that Miss Lundie has
another interest in her life to turn to. If this matter of Miss
Silvester ends badly--and I own it begins to look as if it
would--I should hurry my niece's marriage, Sir, and see if _that_
wouldn't console her."
Sir Patrick started under the gentle discipline of the hair-brush
in Duncan's hand.
"That's very sensibly put," said the old gentleman. "Duncan! you
are, what I call, a clear-minded man. Well worth thinking of, old
Truepenny! If the worst comes to the worst, well worth thinking
It was not the first time that Duncan's steady good sense had
struck light, under the form of a new thought, in his master's
mind. But never yet had he wrought such mischief as the mischief
which he had innocently done now. He had sent Sir Patrick to bed
with the fatal idea of hastening the marriage of Arnold and
The situation of affairs at Windygates--now that Anne had
apparently obliterated all trace of herself--was becoming
serious. The one chance on which the discovery of Arnold's
position depended, was the chance that accident might reveal the
truth in the lapse of time. In this posture of circumstances, Sir
Patrick now resolved--if nothing happened to relieve Blanche's
anxiety in the course of the week--to advance the celebration of
the marriage from the end of the autumn (as originally
contemplated) to the first fortnight of the ensuing month. As
dates then stood, the change led (so far as free scope for the
development of accident was concerned) to this serious result. It
abridged a lapse of three months into an interval of three weeks.
The next morning came; and Blanche marked it as a memorable
morning, by committing an act of imprudence, which struck away
one more of the chances of discovery that had existed, before the
arrival of the Edinburgh telegram on the previous day.
She had passed a sleepless night; fevered in mind and body;
thinking, hour after hour, of nothing but Anne. At sunrise she
could endure it no longer. Her power to control herself was
completely exhausted; her own impulses led her as they pleased.
She got up, determined not to let Geoffrey leave the house
without risking an effort to make him reveal what he knew about
Anne. It was nothing less than downright treason to Sir Patrick
to act on her own responsibility in this way. She knew it was
wrong; she was heartily ashamed of herself for doing it. But the
demon that possesses women with a recklessness all their own, at
the critical moments of their lives, had got her--and she did it.
Geoffrey had arranged overnight, to breakfast early, by himself,
and to walk the ten miles to his brother's house; sending a
servant to fetch his luggage later in the day.
He had got on his hat; he was standing in the hall, searching his
pocket for his second self, the pipe--when Blanche suddenly
appeared from the morning-room, and placed herself between him
and the house door.
"Up early--eh?" said Geoffrey. "I'm off to my brother's."
She made no reply. He looked at her closer. The girl's eyes were
trying to read his face, with an utter carelessness of
concealment, which forbade (even to his mind) all unworthy
interpretation of her motive for stopping him on his way out
"Any commands for me?" he inquired
This time she answered him. "I have something to ask you," she
He smiled graciously, and opened his tobacco-pouch. He was fresh
and strong after his night's sleep--healthy and handsome and
good-humored. The house-maids had had a peep at him that morning,
and had wished--like Desdemona, with a difference--that "Heaven
had made all three of them such a man."
"Well," he said, "what is it?"
She put her question, without a single word of preface--purposely
to surprise him.
"Mr. Delamayn," she said, "do you know where Anne Silvester is
He was filling his pipe as she spoke, and he dropped some of the
tobacco on the floor. Instead of answering before he picked up
the tobacco he answered after--in surly self-possession, and in
"Do you know nothing about her?"
He devoted himself doggedly to the filling of his pipe.
"On your word of honor, as a gentleman?"
"On my word of honor, as a gentleman."
He put back his tobacco-pouch in his pocket. His handsome face
was as hard as stone. His clear blue eyes defied all the girls in
England put together to see into _his_ mind. "Have you done, Miss
Lundie?" he asked, suddenly changing to a bantering politeness of
tone and manner.
Blanche saw that it was hopeless--saw that she had compromised
her own interests by her own headlong act. Sir Patrick's warning
words came back reproachfully to her now when it was too late.
"We commit a serious mistake if we put him on his guard at
There was but one course to take now. "Yes," she said. "I have
"My turn now," rejoined Geoffrey. "You want to know where Miss
Silvester is. Why do you ask Me?"
Blanche did all that could be done toward repairing the error
that she had committed. She kept Geoffrey as far away as Geoffrey
had kept _her_ from the truth.
"I happen to know," she replied "that Miss Silvester left the
place at which she had been staying about the time when you went
out walking yesterday. And I thought you might have seen her."
"Oh? That's the reason--is it?" said Geoffrey, with a smile.
The smile stung Blanche's sensitive temper to the quick. She made
a final effort to control herself, before her indignation got the
better of her.
"I have no more to say, Mr. Delamayn." With that reply she turned
her back on him, and closed the door of the morning-room between
Geoffrey descended the house steps and lit his pipe. He was not
at the slightest loss, on this occasion, to account for what had
happened. He assumed at once that Arnold had taken a mean revenge
on him after his conduct of the day before, and had told the
whole secret of his errand at Craig Fernie to Blanche. The thing
would get next, no doubt, to Sir Patrick's ears; and Sir Patrick
would thereupon be probably the first person who revealed to
Arnold the position in which he had placed himself with Anne. All
right! Sir Patrick would be an excellent witness to appeal to,
when the scandal broke out, and when the time came for
repudiating Anne's claim on him as the barefaced imposture of a
woman who was married already to another man. He puffed away
unconcernedly at his pipe, and started, at his swinging, steady
pace, for his brother's house.
Blanche remained alone in the morning-room. The prospect of
getting at the truth, by means of what Geoffrey might say on the
next occasion when he co nsulted Sir Patrick, was a prospect that
she herself had closed from that moment. She sat down in despair
by the window. It commanded a view of the little side-terrace
which had been Anne's favorite walk at Windygates. With weary
eyes and aching heart the poor child looked at the familiar
place; and asked herself, with the bitter repentance that comes
too late, if she had destroyed the last chance of finding Anne!
She sat passively at the window, while the hours of the morning
wore on, until the postman came. Before the servant could take
the letter bag she was in the hall to receive it. Was it possible
to hope that the bag had brought tidings of Anne? She sorted the
letters; and lighted suddenly on a letter to herself. It bore the
Kirkandrew postmark, and It was addressed to her in Anne's
She tore the letter open, and read these lines:
"I have left you forever, Blanche. God bless and reward you! God
make you a happy woman in all your life to come! Cruel as you
will think me, love, I have never been so truly your sister as I
am now. I can only tell you this--I can never tell you more.
Forgive me, and forget me, our lives are parted lives from this
Going down to breakfast about his usual hour, Sir Patrick missed
Blanche, whom he was accustomed to see waiting for him at the
table at that time. The room was empty; the other members of the
household having all finished their morning meal. Sir Patrick
disliked breakfasting alone. He sent Duncan with a message, to be
given to Blanche's maid.
The maid appeared in due time Miss Lundie was unable to leave her
room. She sent a letter to her uncle, with her love--and begged
he would read it.
Sir Patrick opened the letter and saw what Anne had written to
He waited a little, reflecting, with evident pain and anxiety, on
what he had read--then opened his own letters, and hurriedly
looked at the signatures. There was nothing for him from his
friend, the sheriff, at Edinburgh, and no communication from the
railway, in the shape of a telegram. He had decided, overnight,
on waiting till the end of the week before he interfered in the
matter of Blanche's marriage. The events of the morning
determined him on not waiting another day. Duncan returned to the
breakfast-room to pour out his master's coffee. Sir Patrick sent
him away again with a second message
"Do you know where Lady Lundie is, Duncan?"
"Yes, Sir Patrick."
"My compliments to her ladyship. If she is not otherwise engaged,
I shall be glad to speak to her privately in an hour's time."
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-SIXTH.
SIR PATRICK made a bad breakfast. Blanche's absence fretted him,
and Anne Silvester's letter puzzled him.
He read it, short as it was, a second time, and a third. If it
meant any thing, it meant that the motive at the bottom of Anne's
flight was to accomplish the sacrifice of herself to the
happiness of Blanche. She had parted for life from his niece for
his niece's sake! What did this mean? And how was it to be
reconciled with Anne's position--as described to him by Mrs.
Inchbare during his visit to Craig Fernie?
All Sir Patrick's ingenuity, and all Sir Patrick's experience,
failed to find so much as the shadow of an answer to that
While he was still pondering over the letter, Arnold and the
surgeon entered the breakfast-room together.
"Have you heard about Blanche?" asked Arnold, excitedly. "She is
in no danger, Sir Patrick--the worst of it is over now."
The surgeon interposed before Sir Patrick could appeal to him.
"Mr. Brinkworth's interest in the young lady a little exaggerates
the state of the case," he said. "I have seen her, at Lady
Lundie's request; and I can assure you that there is not the
slightest reason for any present alarm. Miss Lundie has had a
nervous attack, which has yielded to the simplest domestic
remedies. The only anxiety you need feel is connected with the
management of her in the future. She is suffering from some
mental distress, which it is not for me, but for her friends, to
alleviate and remove. If you can turn her thoughts from the
painful subject--whatever it may be--on which they are dwelling
now, you will do all that needs to be done." He took up a
newspaper from the table, and strolled out into the garden,
leaving Sir Patrick and Arnold together.
"You heard that?" said Sir Patrick.
"Is he right, do you think?" asked Arnold.
"Right? Do you suppose a man gets _his_ reputation by making
mistakes? You're one of the new generation, Master Arnold. You
can all of you stare at a famous man; but you haven't an atom of
respect for his fame. If Shakspeare came to life again, and
talked of playwriting, the first pretentious nobody who sat
opposite at dinner would differ with him as composedly as he
might differ with you and me. Veneration is dead among us; the
present age has buried it, without a stone to mark the place. So
much for that! Let's get back to Blanche. I suppose you can guess
what the painful subject is that's dwelling on her mind? Miss
Silvester has baffled me, and baffled the Edinburgh police.
Blanche discovered that we had failed last night and Blanche
received that letter this morning."
He pushed Anne's letter across the breakfast-table.
Arnold read it, and handed it back without a word. Viewed by the
new light in which he saw Geoffrey's character after the quarrel
on the heath, the letter conveyed but one conclusion to his mind.
Geoffrey had deserted her.
"Well?" said Sir Patrick. "Do you understand what it means?"
"I understand Blanche's wretchedness when she read it."
He said no more than that. It was plain that no information which
he could afford--even if he had considered himself at liberty to
give it--would be of the slightest use in assisting Sir Patrick
to trace Miss Silvester, under present circumstances, There
was--unhappily--no temptation to induce him to break the
honorable silence which he had maintained thus far. And--more
unfortunately still--assuming the temptation to present itself,
Arnold's capacity to resist it had never been so strong a
capacity as it was now.
To the two powerful motives which had hitherto tied his
tongue--respect for Anne's reputation, and reluctance to reveal
to Blanche the deception which he had been compelled to practice
on her at the inn--to these two motives there was now added a
third. The meanness of betraying the confidence which Geoffrey
had reposed in him would be doubled meanness if he proved false
to his trust after Geoffrey had personally insulted him. The
paltry revenge which that false friend had unhesitatingly
suspected him of taking was a revenge of which Arnold's nature
was simply incapable. Never had his lips been more effectually
sealed than at this moment--when his whole future depended on Sir
Patrick's discovering the part that he had played in past events
at Craig Fernie.
"Yes! yes!" resumed Sir Patrick, impatiently. "Blanche's distress
is intelligible enough. But here is my niece apparently
answerable for this unhappy woman's disappearance. Can you
explain what my niece has got to do with it?"
"I! Blanche herself is completely mystified. How should _I_
Answering in those terms, he spoke with perfect sincerity. Anne's
vague distrust of the position in which they had innocently
placed themselves at the inn had produced no corresponding effect
on Arnold at the time. He had not regarded it; he had not even
understood it. As a necessary result, not the faintest suspicion
of the motive under which Anne was acting existed in his mind
Sir Patrick put the letter into his pocket-book, and abandoned
all further attempt at interpreting the meaning of it in despair.
"Enough, and more than enough, of groping in the dark," he said.
"One point is clear to me after what has happened up stairs this
morning. We must accept the position in which Miss Silvester has
placed us. I shall give up all further effort to trace her from
"Surely that will be a dreadful disappointment to Blanche, Sir
"I don't deny it. We must face that result."
"If you are sure there is nothing else to be done, I suppose we
"I am not sure of any thing of the so rt, Master Arnold! There
are two chances still left of throwing light on this matter,
which are both of them independent of any thing that Miss
Silvester can do to keep it in the dark."
"Then why not try them, Sir? It seems hard to drop Miss Silvester
when she is in trouble."
"We can't help her against her own will," rejoined Sir Patrick.
"And we can't run the risk, after that nervous attack this
morning, of subjecting Blanche to any further suspense. I have
thought of my niece's interests throughout this business; and if
I now change my mind, and decline to agitate her by more
experiments, ending (quite possibly) in more failures, it is
because I am thinking of her interests still. I have no other
motive. However numerous my weaknesses may be, ambition to
distinguish myself as a detective policeman is not one of them.
The case, from the police point of view, is by no means a lost
case. I drop it, nevertheless, for Blanche's sake. Instead of
encouraging her thoughts to dwell on this melancholy business, we
must apply the remedy suggested by our medical friend."
"How is that to be done?" asked Arnold.
The sly twist of humor began to show itself in Sir Patrick's
"Has she nothing to think of in the future, which is a pleasanter
subject of reflection than the loss of her friend?" he asked.
"You are interested, my young gentleman, in the remedy that is to
cure Blanche. You are one of the drugs in the moral prescription.
Can you guess what it is?"
Arnold started to his feet, and brightened into a new being.
"Perhaps you object to be hurried?" said Sir Patrick.
"Object! If Blanche will only consent, I'll take her to church as
soon as she comes down stairs!"
"Thank you!" said Sir Patrick, dryly. "Mr. Arnold Brinkworth, may
you always be as ready to take Time by the forelock as you are
now! Sit down again; and don't talk nonsense. It is just
possible--if Blanche consents (as you say), and if we can hurry
the lawyers--that you may be married in three weeks' or a month's
"What have the lawyers got to do with it?"
"My good fellow, this is not a marriage in a novel! This is the
most unromantic affair of the sort that ever happened. Here are a
young gentleman and a young lady, both rich people; both well
matched in birth and character; one of age, and the other
marrying with the full consent and approval of her guardian. What
is the consequence of this purely prosaic state of things?
Lawyers and settlements, of course!"
"Come into the library, Sir Patrick; and I'll soon settle the
settlements! A bit of paper, and a dip of ink. 'I hereby give
every blessed farthing I have got in the world to my dear
Blanche.' Sign that; stick a wafer on at the side; clap your
finger on the wafer; 'I deliver this as my act and deed;' and
there it is--done!"
"Is it, really? You are a born legislator. You create and codify
your own system all in a breath. Moses-Justinian-Mahomet, give me
your arm! There is one atom of sense in what you have just said.
'Come into the library'--is a suggestion worth attending to. Do
you happen, among your other superfluities, to have such a thing
as a lawyer about you?"
"I have got two. One in London, and one in Edinburgh."
"We will take the nearest of the two, because we are in a hurry.
Who is the Edinburgh lawyer? Pringle of Pitt Street? Couldn't be
a better man. Come and write to him. You have given me your
abstract of a marriage settlement with the brevity of an ancient
Roman. I scorn to be outdone by an amateur lawyer. Here is _my_
abstract: You are just and generous to Blanche; Blanche is just
and generous to you; and you both combine to be just and generous
together to your children. There is a model settlement! and there
are your instructions to Pringle of Pitt Street! Can you do it by
yourself? No; of course you can't. Now don't be slovenly-minded!
See the points in their order as they come. You are going to be
married; you state to whom, you add that I am the lady's
guardian; you give the name and address of my lawyer in
Edinburgh; you write your instructions plainly in the fewest
words, and leave details to your legal adviser; you refer the
lawyers to each other; you request that the draft settlements be
prepared as speedily as possible, and you give your address at
this house. There are the heads. Can't you do it now? Oh, the
rising generation! Oh, the progress we are making in these
enlightened modern times! There! there! you can marry Blanche,
and make her happy, and increase the population--and all without
knowing how to write the English language. One can only say with
the learned Bevorskius, looking out of his window at the
illimitable loves of the sparrows, 'How merciful is Heaven to its
creatures!' Take up the pen. I'll dictate! I'll dictate!"
Sir Patrick read the letter over, approved of it, and saw it safe
in the box for the post. This done, he peremptorily forbade
Arnold to speak to his niece on the subject of the marriage
without his express permission. "There's somebody else's consent
to be got," he said, "besides Blanche's consent and mine."
"Lady Lundie. Strictly speaking, I am the only authority. But my
sister-in-law is Blanche's step-mother, and she is appointed
guardian in the event of my death. She has a right to be
consulted--in courtesy, if not in law. Would you like to do it?"
Arnold's face fell. He looked at Sir Patrick in silent dismay.
"What! you can't even speak to such a perfectly pliable person as
Lady Lundie? You may have been a very useful fellow at sea. A
more helpless young man I never met with on shore. Get out with
you into the garden among the other sparrows! Somebody must
confront her ladyship. And if you won't--I must."
He pushed Arnold out of the library, and applied meditatively to
the knob of his cane. His gayety disappeared, now that he was
alone. His experience of Lady Lundie's character told him that,
in attempting to win her approval to any scheme for hurrying
Blanche's marriage, he was undertaking no easy task. "I suppose,"
mused Sir Patrick, thinking of his late brother--"I suppose poor
Tom had some way of managing her. How did he do it, I wonder? If
she had been the wife of a bricklayer, she is the sort of woman
who would have been kept in perfect order by a vigorous and
regular application of her husband's fist. But Tom wasn't a
bricklayer. I wonder how Tom did it?" After a little hard
thinking on this point Sir Patrick gave up the problem as beyond
human solution. "It must be done," he concluded. "And my own
mother-wit must help me to do it."
In that resigned frame of mind he knocked at the door of Lady
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-SEVENTH.
SIR PATRICK found his sister-in-law immersed in domestic
business. Her ladyship's correspondence and visiting list, her
ladyship's household bills and ledgers; her ladyship's Diary and
Memorandum-book (bound in scarlet morocco); her ladyship's desk,
envelope-case, match-box, and taper candlestick (all in ebony and
silver); her ladyship herself, presiding over her
responsibilities, and wielding her materials, equal to any calls
of emergency, beautifully dressed in correct morning costume,
blessed with perfect health both of the secretions and the
principles; absolutely void of vice, and formidably full of
virtue, presented, to every properly-constituted mind, the most
imposing spectacle known to humanity--the British Matron on her
throne, asking the world in general, When will you produce the
like of Me?
"I am afraid I disturb you," said Sir Patrick. "I am a perfectly
idle person. Shall I look in a little later?"
Lady Lundie put her hand to her head, and smiled faintly.
"A little pressure _here,_ Sir Patrick. Pray sit down. Duty finds
me earnest; Duty finds me cheerful; Duty finds me accessible.
From a poor, weak woman, Duty must expect no more. Now what is
it?" (Her ladyship consulted her scarlet memorandum-book.) "I
have got it here, under its proper head, distinguished by initial
letters. P.--the. poor. No. H.M.--heathen missions. No.
V.T.A.--Visitors to arrive. No. P. I. P.--Here it is: private
interview with Patrick. Will you forgive me the little harmless
familiari ty of omitting your title? Thank you! You are always so
good. I am quite at your service when you like to begin. If it's
any thing painful, pray don't hesitate. I am quite prepared."
With that intimation her ladyship threw herself back in her
chair, with her elbows on the arms, and her fingers joined at the
tips, as if she was receiving a deputation. "Yes?" she said,
interrogatively. Sir Patrick paid a private tribute of pity to
his late brother's memory, and entered on his business.
"We won't call it a painful matter," he began. "Let us say it's a
matter of domestic anxiety. Blanche--"
Lady Lundie emitted a faint scream, and put her hand over her
"_Must_ you?" cried her ladyship, in a tone of touching
remonstrance. "Oh, Sir Patrick, _must_ you?"
"Yes. I must."
Lady Lundie's magnificent eyes looked up at that hidden court of
human appeal which is lodged in the ceiling. The hidden court
looked down at Lady Lundie, and saw--Duty advertising itself in
the largest capital letters.
"Go on, Sir Patrick. The motto of woman is Self-sacrifice. You
sha'n't see how you distress me. Go on."
Sir Patrick went on impenetrably--without betraying the slightest
expression of sympathy or surprise.
"I was about to refer to the nervous attack from which Blanche
has suffered this morning," he said. "May I ask whether you have
been informed of the cause to which the attack is attributable?"
"There!" exclaimed Lady Lundie with a sudden bound in her chair,
and a sudden development of vocal power to correspond. "The one
thing I shrank from speaking of! the cruel, cruel, cruel behavior
I was prepared to pass over! And Sir Patrick hints on it!
Innocently--don't let me do an injustice--innocently hints on
"Hints on what, my dear Madam?"
"Blanche's conduct to me this morning. Blanche's heartless
secrecy. Blanche's undutiful silence. I repeat the words:
Heartless secrecy. Undutiful silence."
"Allow me for one moment, Lady Lundie--"
"Allow _me,_ Sir Patrick! Heaven knows how unwilling I am to
speak of it. Heaven knows that not a word of reference to it
escaped _my_ lips. But you leave me no choice now. As mistress of
the household, as a Christian woman, as the widow of your dear
brother, as a mother to this misguided girl, I must state the
facts. I know you mean well; I know you wish to spare me. Quite
useless! I must state the facts."
Sir Patrick bowed, and submitted. (If he had only been a
bricklayer! and if Lady Lundie had not been, what her ladyship
unquestionably was, the strongest person of the two!)
"Permit me to draw a veil, for your sake," said Lady Lundie,
"over the horrors--I can not, with the best wish to spare you,
conscientiously call them by any other name--the horrors that
took place up stairs. The moment I heard that Blanche was ill I
was at my post. Duty will always find me ready, Sir Patrick, to
my dying day. Shocking as the whole thing was, I presided calmly
over the screams and sobs of my step-daughter. I closed my ears
to the profane violence of her language. I set the necessary
example, as an English gentlewoman at the head of her household.
It was only when I distinctly heard the name of a person, never
to be mentioned again in my family circle, issue (if I may use
the expression) from Blanche's lips that I began to be really
alarmed. I said to my maid: 'Hopkins, this is not Hysteria. This
is a possession of the devil. Fetch the chloroform.' "
Chloroform, applied in the capacity of an exorcism, was entirely
new to Sir Patrick. He preserved his gravity with considerable
difficulty. Lady Lundie went on:
"Hopkins is an excellent person--but Hopkins has a tongue. She
met our distinguished medical guest in the corridor, and told
him. He was so good as to come to the door. I was shocked to
trouble him to act in his professional capacity while he was a
visitor, an honored visitor, in my house. Besides, I considered
it more a case for a clergyman than for a medical man. However,
there was no help for it after Hopkins's tongue. I requested our
eminent friend to favor us with--I think the exact scientific
term is--a Prognosis. He took the purely material view which was
only to be expected from a person in his profession. He
prognosed--_am_ I right? Did he prognose? or did he diagnose? A
habit of speaking correctly is _so_ important, Sir Patrick! and I
should be _so_ grieved to mislead you!"
"Never mind, Lady Lundie! I have heard the medical report. Don't
trouble yourself to repeat it."
"Don't trouble myself to repeat it?" echoed Lady Lundie--with her
dignity up in arms at the bare prospect of finding her remarks
abridged. "Ah, Sir Patrick! that little constitutional impatience
of yours!--Oh, dear me! how often you must have given way to it,
and how often you must have regretted it, in your time!"
"My dear lady! if you wish to repeat the report, why not say so,
in plain words? Don't let me hurry you. Let us have the
prognosis, by all means."
Lady Lundie shook her head compassionately, and smiled with
angelic sadness. "Our little besetting sins!" she said. "What
slaves we are to our little besetting sins! Take a turn in the
Any ordinary man would have lost his temper. But the law (as Sir
Patrick had told his niece) has a special temper of its own.
Without exhibiting the smallest irritation, Sir Patrick
dextrously applied his sister-in-law's blister to his
"What an eye you have!" he said. "I was impatient. I _am_
impatient. I am dying to know what Blanche said to you when she
The British Matron froze up into a matron of stone on the spot.
"Nothing!" answered her ladyship, with a vicious snap of her
teeth, as if she had tried to bite the word before it escaped
"Nothing!" exclaimed Sir Patrick.
"Nothing," repeated Lady Lundie, with her most formidable
emphasis of look and tone. "I applied all the remedies with my
own hands; I cut her laces with my own scissors, I completely
wetted her head through with cold water; I remained with her
until she was quite exhausted- I took her in my arms, and folded
her to my bosom; I sent every body out of the room; I said, 'Dear
child, confide in me.' And how were my advances--my motherly
advances--met? I have already told you. By heartless secrecy. By
Sir Patrick pressed the blister a little closer to the skin. "She
was probably afraid to speak," he said.
"Afraid? Oh!" cried Lady Lundie, distrusting the evidence of her
own senses. "You can't have said that? I have evidently
misapprehended you. You didn't really say, afraid?"
"I said she was probably afraid--"
"Stop! I can't be told to my face that I have failed to do my
duty by Blanche. No, Sir Patrick! I can bear a great deal; but I
can't bear that. After having been more than a mother to your
dear brother's child; after having been an elder sister to
Blanche; after having toiled--I say _toiled,_ Sir Patrick!--to
cultivate her intelligence (with the sweet lines of the poet ever
present to my memory: 'Delightful task to rear the tender mind,
and teach the young idea how to shoot!'); after having done all I
have done--a place in the carriage only yesterday, and a visit to
the most interesting relic of feudal times in Perthshire--after
having sacrificed all I have sacrificed, to be told that I have
behaved in such a manner to Blanche as to frighten her when I ask
her to confide in me, is a little too cruel. I have a
sensitive--an unduly sensitive nature, dear Sir Patrick. Forgive
me for wincing when I am wounded. Forgive me for feeling it when
the wound is dealt me by a person whom I revere."
Her ladyship put her handkerchief to her eyes. Any other man
would have taken off the blister. Sir Patrick pressed it harder
"You quite mistake me," he replied. "I meant that Blanche was
afraid to tell you the true cause of her illness. The true cause
is anxiety about Miss Silvester."
Lady Lundie emitted another scream--a loud scream this time--and
closed her eyes in horror.
"I can run out of the house," cried her ladyship, wildly. "I can
fly to the uttermost corners of the earth; but I can _not_ hear
that person's name mentioned! No, Sir Patrick! not in my pre
sence! not in my room! not while I am mistress at Windygates
"I am sorry to say any thing that is disagreeable to you, Lady
Lundie. But the nature of my errand here obliges me to touch--as
lightly as possible--on something which has happened in your
house without your knowledge."
Lady Lundie suddenly opened her eyes, and became the picture of
attention. A casual observer might have supposed her ladyship to
be not wholly inaccessible to the vulgar emotion of curiosity.
"A visitor came to Windygates yesterday, while we were all at
lunch," proceeded Sir Patrick. "She--"
Lady Lundie seized the scarlet memorandum-book, and stopped her
brother-in-law, before he could get any further. Her ladyship's
next words escaped her lips spasmodically, like words let at
intervals out of a trap.
"I undertake--as a woman accustomed to self-restraint, Sir
Patrick--I undertake to control myself, on one condition. I won't
have the name mentioned. I won't have the sex mentioned. Say,
'The Person,' if you please. 'The Person,' " continued Lady
Lundie, opening her memorandum-book and taking up her pen,
"committed an audacious invasion of my premises yesterday?"
Sir Patrick bowed. Her ladyship made a note--a fiercely-penned
note that scratched the paper viciously--and then proceeded to
examine her brother-in-law, in the capacity of witness.
"What part of my house did 'The Person' invade? Be very careful,
Sir Patrick! I propose to place myself under the protection of a
justice of the peace; and this is a memorandum of my statement.
The library--did I understand you to say? Just so--the library."
"Add," said Sir Patrick, with another pressure on the blister,
"that The Person had an interview with Blanche in the library."
Lady Lundie's pen suddenly stuck in the paper, and scattered a
little shower of ink-drops all round it. "The library," repeated
her ladyship, in a voice suggestive of approaching suffocation.
"I undertake to control myself, Sir Patrick! Any thing missing
from the library?"
"Nothing missing, Lady Lundie, but The Person herself. She--"
"No, Sir Patrick! I won't have it! In the name of my own sex, I
won't have it!"
"Pray pardon me--I forgot that 'she' was a prohibited pronoun on
the present occasion. The Person has written a farewell letter to
Blanche, and has gone nobody knows where. The distress produced
by these events is alone answerable for what has happened to
Blanche this morning. If you bear that in mind--and if you
remember what your own opinion is of Miss Silvester--you will
understand why Blanche hesitated to admit you into her
There he waited for a reply. Lady Lundie was too deeply absorbed
in completing her memorandum to be conscious of his presence in
" 'Carriage to be at the door at two-thirty,' " said Lady Lundie,
repeating the final words of the memorandum while she wrote them.
" 'Inquire for the nearest justice of the peace, and place the
privacy of Windygates under the protection of the law.'--I beg
your pardon!" exclaimed her ladyship, becoming conscious again of
Sir Patrick's presence. "Have I missed any thing particularly
painful? Pray mention it if I have!"
"You have missed nothing of the slightest importance," returned
Sir Patrick. "I have placed you in possession of facts which you
had a right to know; and we have now only to return to our
medical friend's report on Blanche's health. You were about to
favor me, I think, with the Prognosis?"
"Diagnosis!" said her ladyship, spitefully. "I had forgotten at
the time--I remember now. Prognosis is entirely wrong."
"I sit corrected, Lady Lundie. Diagnosis."
"You have informed me, Sir Patrick, that you were already
acquainted with the Diagnosis. It is quite needless for me to
repeat it now."
"I was anxious to correct my own impression, my dear lady, by
comparing it with yours."
"You are very good. You are a learned man. I am only a poor
ignorant woman. Your impression can not possibly require
correcting by mine."
"My impression, Lady Lundie, was that our so friend recommended
moral, rather than medical, treatment for Blanche. If we can turn
her thoughts from the painful subject on which they are now
dwelling, we shall do all that is needful. Those were his own
words, as I remember them. Do you confirm me?"
"Can _I_ presume to dispute with you, Sir Patrick? You are a
master of refined irony, I know. I am afraid it's all thrown away
on poor me."
(The law kept its wonderful temper! The law met the most
exasperating of living women with a counter-power of defensive
aggravation all its own!)
"I take that as confirming me, Lady Lundie. Thank you. Now, as to
the method of carrying out our friend's advice. The method seems
plain. All we can do to divert Blanche's mind is to turn
Blanche's attention to some other subject of reflection less
painful than the subject which occupies her now. Do you agree, so
"Why place the whole responsibility on my shoulders?" inquired
"Out of profound deference for your opinion," answered Sir
Patrick. "Strictly speaking, no doubt, any serious responsibility
rests with me. I am Blanche's guardian--"
"Thank God!" cried Lady Lundie, with a perfect explosion of pious
"I hear an outburst of devout thankfulness," remarked Sir
Patrick. "Am I to take it as expressing--let me say--some little
doubt, on your part, as to the prospect of managing Blanche
successfully, under present circumstances?"
Lady Lundie's temper began to give way again--exactly as her
brother-in-law had anticipated.
"You are to take it," she said, "as expressing my conviction that
I saddled myself with the charge of an incorrigibly heartless,
obstinate and perverse girl, when I undertook the care of
"Did you say 'incorrigibly?' "
"I said 'incorrigibly.' "
"If the case is as hopeless as that, my dear Madam--as Blanche's
guardian, I ought to find means to relieve you of the charge of
"Nobody shall relieve _me_ of a duty that I have once
undertaken!" retorted Lady Lundie. "Not if I die at my post!"
"Suppose it was consistent with your duty," pleaded Sir Patrick,
"to be relieved at your post? Suppose it was in harmony with that
'self-sacrifice' which is 'the motto of women?' "
"I don't understand you, Sir Patrick. Be so good as to explain
Sir Patrick assumed a new character--the character of a
hesitating man. He cast a look of respectful inquiry at his
sister-in-law, sighed, and shook his head.
"No!" he said. "It would be asking too much. Even with your high
standard of duty, it would be asking too much."
"Nothing which you can ask me in the name of duty is too much."
"No! no! Let me remind you. Human nature has its limits."
"A Christian gentlewoman's sense of duty knows no limits."
"Oh, surely yes!"
"Sir Patrick! after what I have just said your perseverance in
doubting me amounts to something like an insult!"
"Don't say that! Let me put a case. Let's suppose the future
interests of another person depend on your saying, Yes--when all
your own most cherished ideas and opinions urge you to say, No.
Do you really mean to tell me that you could trample your own
convictions under foot, if it could be shown that the purely
abstract consideration of duty was involved in the sacrifice?"
"Yes!" cried Lady Lundie, mounting the pedestal of her virtue on
the spot. "Yes--without a moment's hesitation!"
"I sit corrected, Lady Lundie. You embolden me to proceed. Allow
me to ask (after what I just heard)--whether it is not your duty
to act on advice given for Blanche's benefit, by one the highest
medical authorities in England?" Her ladyship admitted that it
was her duty; pending a more favorable opportunity for
contradicting her brother-in-law.
"Very good," pursued Sir Patrick. "Assuming that Blanche is like
most other human beings, and has some prospect of happiness to
contemplate, if she could only be made to see it--are we not
bound to make her see it, by our moral obligation to act on the
medical advice?" He cast a courteously-persuasive look at her
ladyship, and paused in the most innocent manner for a reply.
If Lady Lundie had not been bent--thanks to the irritation
fomented by her brother-in-law--on disputing the ground with him,
inch by inch, she must have seen signs, by this time, of the
snare that was being set for her. As it was, she saw nothing but
the opportunity of disparaging Blanche and contradicting Sir
"If my step-daughter had any such prospect as you describe," she
answered, "I should of course say, Yes. But Blanche's is an
ill-regulated mind. An ill-regulated mind has no prospect of
"Pardon me," said Sir Patrick. "Blanche _has_ a prospect of
happiness. In other words, Blanche has a prospect of being
married. And what is more, Arnold Brinkworth is ready to marry
her as soon as the settlements can be prepared."
Lady Lundie started in her chair--turned crimson with rage--and
opened her lips to speak. Sir Patrick rose to his feet, and went
on before she could utter a word.
"I beg to relieve you, Lady Lundie--by means which you have just
acknowledged it to be your duty to accept--of all further charge
of an incorrigible girl. As Blanche's guardian, I have the honor
of proposing that her marriage be advanced to a day to be
hereafter named in the first fortnight of the ensuing month."
In those words he closed the trap which he had set for his
sister-in-law, and waited to see what came of it.
A thoroughly spiteful woman, thoroughly roused, is capable of
subordinating every other consideration to the one imperative
necessity of gratifying her spite. There was but one way now of
turning the tables on Sir Patrick--and Lady Lundie took it. She
hated him, at that moment, so intensely, that not even the
assertion of her own obstinate will promised her more than a tame
satisfaction, by comparison with the priceless enjoyment of
beating her brother-in-law with his own weapons.
"My dear Sir Patrick!" she said, with a little silvery laugh,
"you have wasted much precious time and many eloquent words in
trying to entrap me into giving my consent, when you might have
had it for the asking. I think the idea of hastening Blanche's
marriage an excellent one. I am charmed to transfer the charge of
such a person as my step-daughter to the unfortunate young man
who is willing to take her off my hands. The less he sees of
Blanche's character the more satisfied I shall feel of his
performing his engagement to marry her. Pray hurry the lawyers,
Sir Patrick, and let it be a week sooner rather than a week
later, if you wish to please Me."
Her ladyship rose in her grandest proportions, and made a
courtesy which was nothing less than a triumph of polite satire
in dumb show. Sir Patrick answered by a profound bow and a smile
which said, eloquently, "I believe every word of that charming
answer. Admirable woman--adieu!"
So the one person in the family circle, whose opposition might
have forced Sir Patrick to submit to a timely delay, was silenced
by adroit management of the vices of her own character. So, in
despite of herself, Lady Lundie was won over to the project for
hurrying the marriage of Arnold and Blanche.
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-EIGHTH.
IT is the nature of Truth to struggle to the light. In more than
one direction, the truth strove to pierce the overlying darkness,
and to reveal itself to view, during the interval between the
date of Sir Patrick's victory and the date of the wedding-day.
Signs of perturbation under the surface, suggestive of some
hidden influence at work, were not wanting, as the time passed
on. The one thing missing was the prophetic faculty that could
read those signs aright at Windygates House.
On the very day when Sir Patrick's dextrous treatment of his
sister-in-law had smoothed the way to the hastening of the
marriage, an obstacle was raised to the new arrangement by no
less a person than Blanche herself. She had sufficiently
recovered, toward noon, to be able to receive Arnold in her own
little sitting-room. It proved to be a very brief interview. A
quarter of an hour later, Arnold appeared before Sir
Patrick--while the old gentleman was sunning himself in the
garden--with a face of blank despair. Blanche had indignantly
declined even to think of such a thing as her marriage, at a time
when she was heart-broken by the discovery that Anne had left her
"You gave me leave to mention it, Sir Patrick--didn't you?" said
Sir Patrick shifted round a little, so as to get the sun on his
back, and admitted that he had given leave.
"If I had only known, I would rather have cut my tongue out than
have said a word about it. What do you think she did? She burst
out crying, and ordered me to leave the room."
It was a lovely morning--a cool breeze tempered the heat of the
sun; the birds were singing; the garden wore its brightest look.
Sir Patrick was supremely comfortable. The little wearisome
vexations of this mortal life had retired to a respectful
distance from him. He positively declined to invite them to come
"Here is a world," said the old gentleman, getting the sun a
little more broadly on his back, "which a merciful Creator has
filled with lovely sights, harmonious sounds, delicious scents;
and here are creatures with faculties expressly made for
enjoyment of those sights, sounds, and scents--to say nothing of
Love, Dinner, and Sleep, all thrown into the bargain. And these
same creatures hate, starve, toss sleepless on their pillows, see
nothing pleasant, hear nothing pleasant, smell nothing
pleasant--cry bitter tears, say hard words, contract painful
illnesses; wither, sink, age, die! What does it mean, Arnold? And
how much longer is it all to go on?"
The fine connecting link between the blindness of Blanche to the
advantage of being married, and the blindness of humanity to the
advantage of being in existence, though sufficiently perceptible
no doubt to venerable Philosophy ripening in the sun, was
absolutely invisible to Arnold. He deliberately dropped the vast
question opened by Sir Patrick; and, reverting to Blanche, asked
what was to be done.
"What do you do with a fire, when you can't extinguish it?" said
Sir Patrick. "You let it blaze till it goes out. What do you do
with a woman when you can't pacify her? Let _her_ blaze till she
Arnold failed to see the wisdom embodied in that excellent