Part 9 out of 15
cottage, "Now, Mr. Geoffrey! Time's up!" Another voice answered,
"All right!" and, after an interval, Geoffrey Delamayn appeared
on the open ground, proceeding to the point from which he was
accustomed to walk his measured mile.
Advancing a few steps to look at his man more closely,
Bishopriggs was instantly detected by the quick eye of the
trainer. "Hullo!" cried Perry, "what do you want here?"
Bishopriggs opened his lips to make an excuse. "Who the devil are
you?" roared Geoffrey. The trainer answered the question out of
the resources of his own experience. "A spy, Sir--sent to time
you at your work." Geoffrey lifted his mighty fist, and sprang
forward a step. Perry held his patron back. "You can't do that,
Sir," he said; "the man's too old. No fear of his turning up
again--you've scared him out of his wits." The statement was
strictly true. The terror of Bishopriggs at the sight of
Geoffrey's fist restored to him the activity of his youth. He ran
for the first time for twenty years; and only stopped to remember
his infirmities, and to catch his breath, when he was out of
sight of the cottage, among the trees.
He sat down to rest and recover himself, with the comforting
inner conviction that, in one respect at least, he had gained his
point. The furious savage, with the eyes that darted fire and the
fist that threatened destruction, was a total stranger to him. In
other words, _not_ the man who had passed as the lady's husband
at the inn.
At the same time it was equally certain that he _was_ the man
involved in the compromising correspondence which Bishopriggs
possessed. To appeal, however, to his interest in obtaining the
letter was entirely incompatible (after the recent exhibition of
his fist) with the strong regard which Bishopriggs felt for his
own personal security. There was no alternative now but to open
negotiations with the one other person concerned in the matter
(fortunately, on this occasion, a person of the gentler sex), who
was actually within reach. Mrs. Glenarm was at Swanhaven. She had
a direct interest in clearing up the question of a prior claim to
Mr. Geoffrey Delamayn on the part of another woman. And she could
only do that by getting the correspondence into her own hands.
"Praise Providence for a' its mercies!" said Bishopriggs, getting
on his feet again. "I've got twa strings, as they say, to my boo.
I trow the woman's the canny string o' the twa--and we'll een try
the twanging of her."
He set forth on his road back again, to search among the company
at the lake for Mrs. Glenarm.
The dance had reached its climax of animation when Bishopriggs
reappeared on the scene of his duties; and the ranks of the
company had been recruited, in his absence, by the very person
whom it was now his foremost object to approach.
Receiving, with supple submission, a reprimand for his prolonged
absence from the chief of the servants, Bishopriggs--keeping his
one observant eye carefully on the look-out--busied himself in
promoting the circulation of ices and cool drinks.
While he was thus occupied, his attention was attracted by two
persons who, in very different ways, stood out prominently as
marked characters among the rank and file of the guests.
The first person was a vivacious, irascible old gentleman, who
persisted in treating the undeniable fact of his age on the
footing of a scandalous false report set afloat by Time. He was
superbly strapped and padded. His hair, his teeth, and his
complexion were triumphs of artificial youth. When he was not
occupied among the youngest women present--which was very
seldom--he attached himself exclusively to the youngest men. He
insisted on joining every dance. Twice he measured his length
upon the grass, but nothing daunted him. He was waltzing again,
with another young woman, at the next dance, as if nothing had
happened. Inquiring who this effervescent old gentleman might be,
Bishopriggs discovered that he was a retired officer in the navy;
commonly known (among his inferiors) as "The Tartar;" more
formally described in society as Captain Newenden, the last male
representative of one of the oldest families in England.
The second person, who appeared to occupy a position of
distinction at the dance in the glade, was a lady.
To the eye of Bishopriggs, she was a miracle of beauty, with a
small fortune for a poor man carried about her in silk, lace, and
jewelry. No woman present was the object of such special
attention among the men as this fascinating and priceless
creature. She sat fanning herself with a matchless work of art
(supposed to be a handkerchief) representing an island of cambric
in the midst of an ocean of lace. She was surrounded by a little
court of admirers, who fetched and carried at her slightest nod,
like well-trained dogs. Sometimes they brought refreshments,
which she had asked for, only to decline taking them when they
came. Sometimes they brought information of what was going on
among the dancers, which the lady had been eager to receive when
they went away, and in which she had ceased to feel the smallest
interest when they came back. Every body burst into ejaculations
of distress when she was asked to account for her absence from
the dinner, and answered, "My poor nerves." Every body said,
"What should we have done without you!"--when she doubted if she
had done wisely in joining the party at all. Inquiring who this
favored lady might be, Bishopriggs discovered that she was the
niece of the indomitable old gentleman who _would_ dance--or,
more plainly still, no less a person than his contemplated
customer, Mrs. Glenarm.
With all his enormous assurance Bishopriggs was daunted when he
found himself facing the question of what he was to do next.
To open negotiations with Mrs. Glenarm, under present
circumstances, was, for a man in his position, simply impossible.
But, apart from this, the prospect of profitably addressing
himself to that lady in the future was, to say the least of it,
beset with difficulties of no common kind.
Supposing the means of disclosing Geoffrey's position to her to
be found--what would she do, when she received her warning? She
would in all probability apply to one of two formidable men, both
of whom were interested in the matter. If she went straight to
the man accused of attempting to marry her, at a time when he was
already engaged to another woman--Bishopriggs would find himself
confronted with the owner of that terrible fist, which had justly
terrified him even on a distant and cursory view. If, on the
other hand she placed her interests in the care of her
uncle--Bishopriggs had only to look at the captain, and to
calculate his chance of imposing terms on a man who owed Life a
bill of more than sixty years' date, and who openly defied time
to recover the debt.
With these serious obstacles standing in the way, what was to be
done? The only alternative left was to approach Mrs. Glenarm
under shelter of the dark.
Reaching this conclusion, Bishopriggs decided to ascertain from
the servants what the lady's future movements might be; and, thus
to startle her by anonymous warnings, conveyed through the post,
and claiming their answer through the advertising channel of a
newspaper. Here was the certainty of alarming her, coupled with
the certainty of safety to himself! Little did Mrs. Glenarm
dream, when she capriciously stopped a servant going by with some
glasses of lemonade, that the wretched old creature who offered
the tray contemplated corresponding with her before the week was
out, in the double character of her "Well-Wisher" and her "True
The evening advanced. The shadows lengthened. The waters of the
lake grew pitchy black. The gliding of the ghostly swans became
rare and more rare. The elders of the party thought of the drive
home. The juniors (excepting Captain Newenden) began to flag at
the dance. Little by little the comfortable attractions of the
house--tea, coffee, and candle-light in snug rooms--resumed their
influence. The guests abandoned the glade; and the fingers and
lungs of the musicians rested at last.
Lady Lundie and her party were the first to send for the carriage
and say farewell; the break-up of the household at Windygates on
the next day, and the journey south, being sufficient apologies
for setting the example of retreat. In an hour more the only
visitors left were the guests staying at Swanhaven Lodge.
The company gone, the hired waiters from Kirkandrew were paid and
On the journey back the silence of Bishopriggs created some
surprise among his comrades.
"I've got my ain concerns. to think of," was the only answer he
vouchsafed to the remonstrances addressed to him. The "concerns"
alluded to, comprehended, among other changes of plan, his
departure from Kirkandrew the next day--with a reference, in case
of inquiries, to his convenient friend at the Cowgate, Edinburgh.
His actual destination--to be kept a secret from every body--was
Perth. The neighborhood of this town--as stated on the authority
of her own maid--was the part of Scotland to which the rich widow
contemplated removing when she left Swanhaven in two days' time.
At Perth, Bishopriggs knew of more than one place in which he
could get temporary employment--and at Perth he determined to
make his first anonymous advances to Mrs. Glenarm.
The remainder of the evening passed quietly enough at the Lodge.
The guests were sleepy and dull after the excitement of the day.
Mrs. Glenarm retired early. At eleven o'clock Julius Delamayn was
the only person left up in the house. He was understood to be in
his study, preparing an address to the electors, based on
instructions sent from London by his father. He was actually
occupied in the music-room--now that there was nobody to discover
him--playing exercises softly on his beloved violin.
At the trainer's cottage a trifling incident occured, that night,
which afforded materials for a note in Perry's professional
Geoffrey had sustained the later trial of walking for a given
time and distance, at his full speed, without showing any of
those symptoms of exhaustion which had followed the more serious
experiment of running, to which he had been subjected earlier in
the day. Perry, honestly bent--though he had privately hedged his
own bets--on doing his best to bring his man in good order to the
post on the day of the race, had forbidden Geoffrey to pay his
evening visit to the house, and had sent him to bed earlier than
usual. The trainer was alone, looking over his own written rules,
and considering what modifications he should introduce into the
diet and exercises of the next day, when he was startled by a
sound of groaning from the bedroom in which his patron lay
He went in, and found Geoffrey rolling to and fro on the pillow,
with his face contorted, with his hands clenched, and with the
perspiration standing thick on his forehead--suffering evidently
under the nervous oppression produced by the phantom-terrors of a
Perry spoke to him, and pulled him up in the bed. He woke with a
scream. He stared at his trainer in vacant terror, and spoke to
his trainer in wild words. "What are your horrid eyes looking at
over my shoulder?" he cried out. "Go to the devil--and take your
infernal slate with you!" Perry spoke to him once more. "You've
been dreaming of somebody, Mr. Delamayn. What's to do about a
slate?" Geoffrey looked eagerly round the room, and heaved a
heavy breath of relief. "I could have sworn she was staring at me
over the dwarf pear-trees," he said. "All right, I know where I
am now." Perry (attributing the dream to nothing more important
than a passing indigestion) administered some brandy and water,
and left him to drop off again to sleep. He fretfully forbade the
extinguishing of the light. "Afraid of the dark?" said Perry,
with a laugh. No. He was afraid of dreaming again of the dumb
cook at Windygates House.
SEVENTH SCENE.--HAM FARM.
CHAPTER THE THIRTY-FOURTH.
THE NIGHT BEFORE.
THE time was the night before the marriage. The place was Sir
Patrick's house in Kent.
The lawyers had kept their word. The settlements had been
forwarded, and had been signed two days since.
With the exception of the surgeon and one of the three young
gentlemen from the University, who had engagements elsewhere, the
visitors at Windygates had emigrated southward to be present at
the marriage. Besides these gentlemen, there were some ladies
among the guests invited by Sir Patrick--all of them family
connections, and three of them appointed to the position of
Blanche's bridesmaids. Add one or two neighbors to be invited to
the breakfast--and the wedding-party would be complete.
There was nothing architecturally remarkable about Sir Patrick's
house. Ham Farm possessed neither the splendor of Windygates nor
the picturesque antiquarian attraction of Swanhaven. It was a
perfectly commonplace English country seat, surrounded by
perfectly commonplace English scenery. Snug monotony welcomed you
when you went in, and snug monotony met you again when you turned
to the window and looked out.
The animation and variety wanting at Ham Farm were far from being
supplied by the company in the house. It was remembered, at an
after-period, that a duller wedding-party had never been
Sir Patrick, having no early associations with the place, openly
admitted that his residence in Kent preyed on his spirits, and
that he would have infinitely preferred a room at the inn in the
village. The effort to sustain his customary vivacity was not
encouraged by persons and circumstances about him. Lady Lundie's
fidelity to the memory of the late Sir Thomas, on the scene of
his last illness and death, persisted in asserting itself, under
an ostentation of concealment which tried even the trained temper
of Sir Patrick himself. Blanche, still depressed by her private
anxieties about Anne, was in no condition of mind to look gayly
at the last memorable days of her maiden life. Arnold,
sacrificed--by express stipulation on the part of Lady Lundie--to
the prurient delicacy which forbids the bridegroom, before
marriage, to sleep in the same house with the bride, found
himself ruthlessly shut out from Sir Patrick's hospitality, and
exiled every night to a bedroom at the inn. He accepted his
solitary doom with a resignation which extended its sobering
influence to his customary flow of spirits. As for the ladies,
the elder among them existed in a state of chronic protest
against Lady Lundie, and the younger were absorbed in the
essentially serious occupation of considering and comparing their
wedding-dresses. The two young gentlemen from the University
performed prodigies of yawning, in the intervals of prodigies of
billiard playing. Smith said, in despair, "There's no making
things pleasant in this house, Jones." And Jones sighed, and
mildly agreed with him.
On the Sunday evening--which was the evening before the
marriage--the dullness, as a matter of course, reached its
But two of the occupations in which people may indulge on week
days are regarded as harmless on Sunday by the obstinately
anti-Christian tone of feeling which prevails in this matter
among the Anglo-Saxon race. It is not sinful to wrangle in
religious controversy; and it is not sinful to slumber over a
religious book. The ladies at Ham Farm practiced the pious
observance of the evening on this plan. The seniors of the sex
wrangled in Sunday controversy; and the juniors of the sex
slumbered over Sunday books. As for the men, it is unnecessary to
say that the young ones smoked when they were not yawning, and
yawned when they were not smoking. Sir Patrick staid in the
library, sorting old letters and examining old accounts. Every
person in the house felt the oppression of the senseless social
prohibitions which they had imposed on themselves. And yet every
person in the house would have been scandalized if the plain
question had been put: You know this is a tyranny of your own
making, you know you don't really believe in it, you know you
don't really like it--why do you submit? The freest people on the
civilized earth are the only people on the civilized earth who
dare not face that question.
The evening dragged its slow length on; the welcome time drew
nearer and nearer for oblivion in bed. Arnold was silently
contemplating, for the last time, his customary prospects of
banishment to the inn, when he became aware that Sir Patrick was
making signs to him. He rose and followed his host into the empty
dining-room. Sir Patrick carefully closed the door. What did it
It meant--so far as Arnold was concerned--that a private
conversation was about to diversify the monotony of the long
Sunday evening at Ham Farm.
"I have a word to say to you, Arnold," the old gentleman began,
"before you become a married man. Do you remember the
conversation at dinner yesterday, about the dancing-party at
"Do you remember what Lady Lundie said while the topic was on the
"She told me, what I can't believe, that Geoffrey Delamayn was
going to be married to Mrs. Glenarm."
"Exactly! I observed that you appeared to be startled by what my
sister-in-law had said; and when you declared that appearances
must certainly have misled her, you looked and spoke (to my mind)
like a man animated by a strong feeling of indignation. Was I
wrong in drawing that conclusion?"
"No, Sir Patrick. You were right."
"Have you any objection to tell me why you felt indignant?"
"You are probably at a loss to know what interest _I_ can feel in
Arnold admitted it with his customary frankness.
"In that case," rejoined Sir Patrick, "I had better go on at once
with the matter in hand--leaving you to see for yourself the
connection between what I am about to say, and the question that
I have just put. When I have done, you shall then reply to me or
not, exactly as you think right. My dear boy, the subject on
which I want to speak to you is--Miss Silvester."
Arnold started. Sir Patrick looked at him with a moment's
attention, and went on:
"My niece has her faults of temper and her failings of judgment,"
he said. "But she has one atoning quality (among many others)
which ought to make--and which I believe will make--the happiness
of your married life. In the popular phrase, Blanche is as true
as steel. Once her friend, always her friend. Do you see what I
am coming to? She has said nothing about it, Arnold; but she has
not yielded one inch in her resolution to reunite herself to Miss
Silvester. One of the first questions you will have to determine,
after to-morrow, will be the question of whether you do, or not,
sanction your wife in attempting to communicate with her lost
Arnold answered without the slightest reserve
"I am heartily sorry for Blanche's lost friend, Sir Patrick. My
wife will have my full approval if she tries to bring Miss
Silvester back--and my best help too, if I can give it."
Those words were earnestly spoken. It was plain that they came
from his heart.
"I think you are wrong," said Sir Patrick. "I, too, am sorry for
Miss Silvester. But I am convinced that she has not left Blanche
without a serious reason for it. And I believe you will be
encouraging your wife in a hopeless effort, if you encourage her
to persist in the search for her lost friend. However, it is your
affair, and not mine. Do you wish me to offer you any facilities
for tracing Miss Silvester which I may happen to possess?"
"If you _can_ help us over any obstacles at starting, Sir
Patrick, it will be a kindness to Blanche, and a kindness to me."
"Very good. I suppose you remember what I said to you, one
morning, when we were talking of Miss Silvester at Windygates?"
"You said you had determined to let her go her own way."
"Quite right! On the evening of the day when I said that I
received information that Miss Silvester had been traced to
Glasgow. You won't require me to explain why I never mentioned
this to you or to Blanche. In mentioning it now, I communicate to
you the only positive information, on the subject of the missing
woman, which I possess. There are two other chances of finding
her (of a more speculative kind) which can only be tested by
inducing two men (both equally difficult to deal with) to confess
what they know. One of those two men is--a person named
Bishopriggs, formerly waiter at the Craig Fernie inn."
Arnold started, and changed color. Sir Patrick (silently noticing
him) stated the circumstances relating to Anne's lost letter, and
to the conclusion in his own mind which pointed to Bishopriggs as
the person in possession of it.
"I have to add," he proceeded, "that Blanche, unfortunately,
found an opportunity of speaking to Bishopriggs at Swanhaven.
When she and Lady Lundie joined us at Edinburgh she showed me
privately a card which had been given to her by Bishopriggs. He
had described it as the address at which he might be heard
of--and Blanche entreated me, before we started for London, to
put the reference to the test. I told her that she had committed
a serious mistake in attempting to deal with Bishopriggs on her
own responsibility; and I warned her of the result in which I was
firmly persuaded the inquiry would end. She declined to believe
that Bishopriggs had deceived her. I saw that she would take the
matter into her own hands again unless I interfered; and I went
to the place. Exactly as I had anticipated, the person to whom
the card referred me had not heard of Bishopriggs for years, and
knew nothing whatever about his present movements. Blanche had
simply put him on his guard, and shown him the propriety of
keeping out of the way. If you should ever meet with him in the
future--say nothing to your wife, and communicate with me. I
decline to assist you in searching for Miss Silvester; but I have
no objection to assist in recovering a stolen letter from a
thief. So much for Bishopriggs.--Now as to the other man."
"Who is he?"
"Your friend, Mr. Geoffrey Delamayn."
Arnold sprang to his feet in ungovernable surprise.
"I appear to astonish you," remarked Sir Patrick.
Arnold sat down again, and waited, in speechless suspense, to
hear what was coming next.
"I have reason to know," said Sir Patrick, "that Mr. Delamayn is
thoroughly well acquainted with the nature of Miss Silvester's
present troubles. What his actual connection is with them, and
how he came into possession of his information, I have not found
out. My discovery begins and ends with the simple fact that he
has the information."
"May I ask one question, Sir Patrick?"
"What is it?"
"How did you find out about Geoffrey Delamayn?"
"It would occupy a long time," answered Sir Patrick, "to tell you
how--and it is not at all necessary to our purpose that you
should know. My present obligation merely binds me to tell
you--in strict confidence, mind!--that Miss Silvester's secrets
are no secrets to Mr. Delamayn. I leave to your discretion the
use you may make of that information. You are now entirely on a
par with me in relation to your knowledge of the case of Miss
Silvester. Let us return to the question which I asked you when
we first came into the room. Do you see the connection, now,
between that question, and what I have said since?"
Arnold was slow to see the connection. His mind was running on
Sir Patrick's discovery. Little dreaming that he was indebted to
Mrs. Inchb are's incomplete description of him for his own escape
from detection, he was wondering how it had happened that _he_
had remained unsuspected, while Geoffrey's position had been (in
part at least) revealed to view.
"I asked you," resumed Sir Patrick, attempting to help him, "why
the mere report that your friend was likely to marry Mrs. Glenarm
roused your indignation, and you hesitated at giving an answer.
Do you hesitate still?"
"It's not easy to give an answer, Sir Patrick."
"Let us put it in another way. I assume that your view of the
report takes its rise in some knowledge, on your part, of Mr.
Delamayn's private affairs, which the rest of us don't
possess.--Is that conclusion correct?"
"Is what you know about Mr. Delamayn connected with any thing
that you know about Miss Silvester?"
If Arnold had felt himself at liberty to answer that question,
Sir Patrick's suspicions would have been aroused, and Sir
Patrick's resolution would have forced a full disclosure from him
before he left the house.
It was getting on to midnight. The first hour of the wedding-day
was at hand, as the Truth made its final effort to struggle into
light. The dark Phantoms of Trouble and Terror to come were
waiting near them both at that moment. Arnold hesitated
again--hesitated painfully. Sir Patrick paused for his answer.
The clock in the hall struck the quarter to twelve.
"I can't tell you!" said Arnold.
"Is it a secret?"
"Committed to your honor?"
"Doubly committed to my honor."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that Geoffrey and I have quarreled since he took me into
his confidence. I am doubly bound to respect his confidence after
"Is the cause of your quarrel a secret also?"
Sir Patrick looked Arnold steadily in the face.
"I have felt an inveterate distrust of Mr. Delamayn from the
first," he said. "Answer me this. Have you any reason to
think--since we first talked about your friend in the
summer-house at Windygates--that my opinion of him might have
been the right one after all?"
"He has bitterly disappointed me," answered Arnold. "I can say no
"You have had very little experience of the world," proceeded Sir
Patrick. "And you have just acknowledged that you have had reason
to distrust your experience of your friend. Are you quite sure
that you are acting wisely in keeping his secret from _me?_ Are
you quite sure that you will not repent the course you are taking
to-night?" He laid a marked emphasis on those last words. "Think,
Arnold," he added, kindly. "Think before you answer."
"I feel bound in honor to keep his secret," said Arnold. "No
thinking can alter that."
Sir Patrick rose, and brought the interview to an end.
"There is nothing more to be said." With those words he gave
Arnold his hand, and, pressing it cordially, wished him
Going out into the hall, Arnold found Blanche alone, looking at
"The glass is at Set Fair, my darling," he whispered. "Good-night
for the last time!"
He took her in his arms, and kissed her. At the moment when he
released her Blanche slipped a little note into his hand.
"Read it," she whispered, "when you are alone at the inn."
So they parted on the eve of their wedding day.
CHAPTER THE THIRTY-FIFTH.
THE promise of the weather-glass was fulfilled. The sun shone on
At nine in the morning the first of the proceedings of the day
began. It was essentially of a clandestine nature. The bride and
bridegroom evaded the restraints of lawful authority, and
presumed to meet together privately, before they were married, in
the conservatory at Ham Farm.
"You have read my letter, Arnold?"
"I have come here to answer it, Blanche. But why not have told
me? Why write?"
"Because I put off telling you so long; and because I didn't know
how you might take it; and for fifty other reasons. Never mind!
I've made my confession. I haven't a single secret now which is
not your secret too. There's time to say No, Arnold, if you think
I ought to have no room in my heart for any body but you. My
uncle tells me I am obstinate and wrong in refusing to give Anne
up. If you agree with him, say the word, dear, before you make me
"Shall I tell you what I said to Sir Patrick last night?"
"Yes. The confession (as you call it) which you make in your
pretty note, is the very thing that Sir Patrick spoke to me about
in the dining-room before I went away. He told me your heart was
set on finding Miss Silvester. And he asked me what I meant to do
about it when we were married."
"And you said--?"
Arnold repeated his answer to Sir Patrick, with fervid
embellishments of the original language, suitable to the
emergency. Blanche's delight expressed itself in the form of two
unblushing outrages on propriety, committed in close succession.
She threw her arms round Arnold's neck; and she actually kissed
him three hours before the consent of State and Church sanctioned
her in taking that proceeding. Let us shudder--but let us not
blame her. These are the consequences of free institutions
"Now," said Arnold, "it's my turn to take to pen and ink. I have
a letter to write before we are married as well as you. Only
there's this difference between us--I want you to help me."
"Who are you going to write to?"
"To my lawyer in Edinburgh. There will be no time unless I do it
now. We start for Switzerland this afternoon--don't we?'
"Very well. I want to relieve your mind, my darling before we go.
Wouldn't you like to know--while we are away--that the right
people are on the look-out for Miss Silvester? Sir Patrick has
told me of the last place that she has been traced to--and my
lawyer will set the right people at work. Come and help me to put
it in the proper language, and the whole thing will be in train."
"Oh, Arnold! can I ever love you enough to reward you for this!"
"We shall see, Blanche--in Switzerland."
They audaciously penetrated, arm in arm, into Sir Patrick's own
study--entirely at their disposal, as they well knew, at that
hour of the morning. With Sir Patrick's pens and Sir Patrick's
paper they produced a letter of instructions, deliberately
reopening the investigation which Sir Patrick's superior wisdom
had closed. Neither pains nor money were to be spared by the
lawyer in at once taking measures (beginning at Glasgow) to find
Anne. The report of the result was to be addressed to Arnold,
under cover to Sir Patrick at Ham Farm. By the time the letter
was completed the morning had advanced to ten o'clock. Blanche
left Arnold to array herself in her bridal splendor--after
another outrage on propriety, and more consequences of free
The next proceedings were of a public and avowable nature, and
strictly followed the customary precedents on such occasions.
Village nymphs strewed flowers on the path to the church door
(and sent in the bill the same day). Village swains rang the
joy-bells (and got drunk on their money the same evening). There
was the proper and awful pause while the bridegroom was kept
waiting at the church. There was the proper and pitiless staring
of all the female spectators when the bride was led to the altar.
There was the clergyman's preliminary look at the license--which
meant official caution. And there was the clerk's preliminary
look at the bridegroom--which meant official fees. All the women
appeared to be in their natural element; and all the men appeared
to be out of it.
Then the service began--rightly-considered, the most terrible,
surely, of all mortal ceremonies--the service which binds two
human beings, who know next to nothing of each other's natures,
to risk the tremendous experiment of living together till death
parts them--the service which says, in effect if not in words,
Take your leap in the dark: we sanctify, but we don't insure, it!
The ceremony went on, without the slightest obstacle to mar its
effect. There were no unforeseen interruptions. There were no
The last words were spoken, and the book was closed. They signed
their names on the register; the husband was congratulated; the
wife was embraced. They went back aga in to the house, with more
flowers strewn at their feet. The wedding-breakfast was hurried;
the wedding-speeches were curtailed: there was no time to be
wasted, if the young couple were to catch the tidal train.
In an hour more the carriage had whirled them away to the
station, and the guests had given them the farewell cheer from
the steps of the house. Young, happy, fondly attached to each
other, raised securely above all the sordid cares of life, what a
golden future was theirs! Married with the sanction of the Family
and the blessing of the Church--who could suppose that the time
was coming, nevertheless, when the blighting question would fall
on them, in the spring-time of their love: Are you Man and Wife?
CHAPTER THE THIRTY-SIXTH.
THE TRUTH AT LAST.
Two days after the marriage--on Wednesday, the ninth of September
a packet of letters, received at Windygates, was forwarded by
Lady Lundie's steward to Ham Farm.
With one exception, the letters were all addressed either to Sir
Patrick or to his sister-in-law. The one exception was directed
to "Arnold Brinkworth, Esq., care of Lady Lundie, Windygates
House, Perthshire"--and the envelope was specially protected by a
Noticing that the post-mark was "Glasgow," Sir Patrick (to whom
the letter had been delivered) looked with a certain distrust at
the handwriting on the address. It was not known to him--but it
was obviously the handwriting of a woman. Lady Lundie was sitting
opposite to him at the table. He said, carelessly, "A letter for
Arnold"--and pushed it across to her. Her ladyship took up the
letter, and dropped it, the instant she looked at the
handwriting, as if it had burned her fingers.
"The Person again!" exclaimed Lady Lundie. "The Person, presuming
to address Arnold Brinkworth, at My house!"
"Miss Silvester?" asked Sir Patrick.
"No," said her ladyship, shutting her teeth with a snap. "The
Person may insult me by addressing a letter to my care. But the
Person's name shall not pollute my lips. Not even in your house,
Sir Patrick. Not even to please _you._"
Sir Patrick was sufficiently answered. After all that had
happened--after her farewell letter to Blanche--here was Miss
Silvester writing to Blanche's husband, of her own accord! It was
unaccountable, to say the least of it. He took the letter back,
and looked at it again. Lady Lundie's steward was a methodical
man. He had indorsed each letter received at Windygates with the
date of its delivery. The letter addressed to Arnold had been
delivered on Monday, the seventh of September--on Arnold's
What did it mean?
It was pure waste of time to inquire. Sir Patrick rose to lock
the letter up in one of the drawers of the writing-table behind
him. Lady Lundie interfered (in the interest of morality).
"Don't you consider it your duty to open that letter?"
"My dear lady! what can you possibly be thinking of?"
The most virtuous of living women had her answer ready on the
"I am thinking," said Lady Lundie, "of Arnold's moral welfare."
Sir Patrick smiled. On the long list of those respectable
disguises under which we assert our own importance, or gratify
our own love of meddling in our neighbor's affairs, a moral
regard for the welfare of others figures in the foremost place,
and stands deservedly as number one.
"We shall probably hear from Arnold in a day or two," said Sir
Patrick, locking the letter up in the drawer. "He shall have it
as soon as I know where to send it to him."
The next morning brought news of the bride and bridegroom.
They reported themselves to be too supremely happy to care where
they lived, so long as they lived together. Every question but
the question of Love was left in the competent hands of their
courier. This sensible and trust-worthy man had decided that
Paris was not to be thought of as a place of residence by any
sane human being in the month of September. He had arranged that
they were to leave for Baden--on their way to Switzerland--on the
tenth. Letters were accordingly to be addressed to that place,
until further notice. If the courier liked Baden, they would
probably stay there for some time. If the courier took a fancy
for the mountains, they would in that case go on to Switzerland.
In the mean while nothing mattered to Arnold but Blanche--and
nothing mattered to Blanche but Arnold.
Sir Patrick re-directed Anne Silvester's letter to Arnold, at the
Poste Restante, Baden. A second letter, which had arrived that
morning (addressed to Arnold in a legal handwriting, and bearing
the post-mark of Edinburgh), was forwarded in the same way, and
at the same time.
Two days later Ham Farm was deserted by the guests. Lady Lundie
had gone back to Windygates. The rest had separated in their
different directions. Sir Patrick, who also contemplated
returning to Scotland, remained behind for a week--a solitary
prisoner in his own country house. Accumulated arrears of
business, with which it was impossible for his steward to deal
single-handed, obliged him to remain at his estates in Kent for
that time. To a man without a taste for partridge-shooting the
ordeal was a trying one. Sir Patrick got through the day with the
help of his business and his books. In the evening the rector of
a neighboring parish drove over to dinner, and engaged his host
at the noble but obsolete game of Piquet. They arranged to meet
at each other's houses on alternate days. The rector was an
admirable player; and Sir Patrick, though a born Presbyterian,
blessed the Church of England from the bottom of his heart.
Three more days passed. Business at Ham Farm began to draw to an
end. The time for Sir Patrick's journey to Scotland came nearer.
The two partners at Piquet agreed to meet for a final game, on
the next night, at the rector's house. But (let us take comfort
in remembering it) our superiors in Church and State are as
completely at the mercy of circumstances as the humblest and the
poorest of us. That last game of Piquet between the baronet and
the parson was never to be played.
On the afternoon of the fourth day Sir Patrick came in from a
drive, and found a letter from Arnold waiting for him, which had
been delivered by the second post.
Judged by externals only, it was a letter of an unusually
perplexing--possibly also of an unusually interesting--kind.
Arnold was one of the last persons in the world whom any of his
friends would have suspected of being a lengthy correspondent.
Here, nevertheless, was a letter from him, of three times the
customary bulk and weight--and, apparently, of more than common
importance, in the matter of news, besides. At the top the
envelope was marked "_Immediate._." And at one side (also
underlined) was the ominous word, "_Private._."
"Nothing wrong, I hope?" thought Sir Patrick.
He opened the envelope.
Two inclosures fell out on the table. He looked at them for a
moment. They were the two letters which he had forwarded to
Baden. The third letter remaining in his hand and occupying a
double sheet, was from Arnold himself. Sir Patrick read Arnold's
letter first. It was dated "Baden," and it began as follows:
"My Dear Sir Patrick,--Don't be alarmed, if you can possibly help
it. I am in a terrible mess."
Sir Patrick looked up for a moment from the letter. Given a young
man who dates from "Baden," and declares himself to be in "a
terrible mess," as representing the circumstances of the
case--what is the interpretation to be placed on them? Sir
Patrick drew the inevitable conclusion. Arnold had been gambling.
He shook his head, and went on with the letter.
"I must say, dreadful as it is, that I am not to blame--nor she
either, poor thing."
Sir Patrick paused again. "She?" Blanche had apparently been
gambling too? Nothing was wanting to complete the picture but an
announcement in the next sentence, presenting the courier as
carried away, in his turn, by the insatiate passion for play. Sir
"You can not, I am sure, expect _me_ to have known the law. And
as for poor Miss Silvester--"
"Miss Silvester?" What had Miss Silvester to do with it? And what
could be the meaning of the reference to "the law?"
Sir Patrick had re ad the letter, thus far, standing up. A vague
distrust stole over him at the appearance of Miss Silvester's
name in connection with the lines which had preceded it. He felt
nothing approaching to a clear prevision of what was to come.
Some indescribable influence was at work in him, which shook his
nerves, and made him feel the infirmities of his age (as it
seemed) on a sudden. It went no further than that. He was obliged
to sit down: he was obliged to wait a moment before he went on.
The letter proceeded, in these words:
"And, as for poor Miss Silvester, though she felt, as she reminds
me, some misgivings--still, she never could have foreseen, being
no lawyer either, how it was to end. I hardly know the best way
to break it to you. I can't, and won't, believe it myself. But
even if it should be true, I am quite sure you will find a way
out of it for us. I will stick at nothing, and Miss Silvester (as
you will see by her letter) will stick at nothing either, to set
things right. Of course, I have not said one word to my darling
Blanche, who is quite happy, and suspects nothing. All this, dear
Sir Patrick, is very badly written, I am afraid, but it is meant
to prepare you, and to put the best side on matters at starting.
However, the truth must be told--and shame on the Scotch law is
what _I_ say. This it is, in short: Geoffrey Delamayn is even a
greater scoundrel than you think him; and I bitterly repent (as
things have turned out) having held my tongue that night when you
and I had our private talk at Ham Farm. You will think I am
mixing two things up together. But I am not. Please to keep this
about Geoffrey in your mind, and piece it together with what I
have next to say. The worst is still to come. Miss Silvester's
letter (inclosed) tells me this terrible thing. You must know
that I went to her privately, as Geoffrey's messenger, on the day
of the lawn-party at Windygates. Well--how it could have
happened, Heaven only knows--but there is reason to fear that I
married her, without being aware of it myself, in August last, at
the Craig Fernie inn."
The letter dropped from Sir Patrick's hand. He sank back in the
chair, stunned for the moment, under the shock that had fallen on
He rallied, and rose bewildered to his feet. He took a turn in
the room. He stopped, and summoned his will, and steadied himself
by main force. He picked up the letter, and read the last
sentence again. His face flushed. He was on the point of yielding
himself to a useless out burst of anger against Arnold, when his
better sense checked him at the last moment. "One fool in the
family is, enough," he said. "_My_ business in this dreadful
emergency is to keep my head clear for Blanche's sake."
He waited once more, to make sure of his own composure--and
turned again to the letter, to see what the writer had to say for
himself, in the way of explanation and excuse.
Arnold had plenty to say--with the drawback of not knowing how to
say it. It was hard to decide which quality in his letter was
most marked--the total absence of arrangement, or the total
absence of reserve. Without beginning, middle, or end, he told
the story of his fatal connection with the troubles of Anne
Silvester, from the memorable day when Geoffrey Delamayn sent him
to Craig Fernie, to the equally memorable night when Sir Patrick
had tried vainly to make him open his lips at Ham Farm.
"I own I have behaved like a fool," the letter concluded, "in
keeping Geoffrey Delamayn's secret for him--as things have turned
out. But how could I tell upon him without compromising Miss
Silvester? Read her letter, and you will see what she says, and
how generously she releases me. It's no use saying I am sorry I
wasn't more cautious. The mischief is done. I'll stick at
nothing--as I have said before--to undo it. Only tell me what is
the first step I am to take; and, as long as it don't part me
from Blanche, rely on my taking it. Waiting to hear from you, I
remain, dear Sir Patrick, yours in great perplexity, Arnold
Sir Patrick folded the letter, and looked at the two inclosures
lying on the table. His eye was hard, his brow was frowning, as
he put his hand to take up Anne's letter. The letter from
Arnold's agent in Edinburgh lay nearer to him. As it happened, he
took that first.
It was short enough, and clearly enough written, to invite a
reading before he put it down again. The lawyer reported that he
had made the necessary inquiries at Glasgow, with this result.
Anne had been traced to The Sheep's Head Hotel. She had lain
there utterly helpless, from illness, until the beginning of
September. She had been advertised, without result, in the
Glasgow newspapers. On the 5th of September she had sufficiently
recovered to be able to leave the hotel. She had been seen at the
railway station on the same day--but from that point all trace of
her had been lost once more. The lawyer had accordingly stopped
the proceedings, and now waited further instructions from his
This letter was not without its effect in encouraging Sir Patrick
to suspend the harsh and hasty judgment of Anne, which any man,
placed in his present situation, must have been inclined to form.
Her illness claimed its small share of sympathy. Her friendless
position--so plainly and so sadly revealed by the advertising in
the newspapers--pleaded for merciful construction of faults
committed, if faults there were. Gravely, but not angrily, Sir
Patrick opened her letter--the letter that cast a doubt on his
Thus Anne Silvester wrote:
"GLASGOW, _September_ 5.
"DEAR MR. BRINKWORTH,--Nearly three weeks since I attempted to
write to you from this place. I was seized by sudden illness
while I was engaged over my letter; and from that time to this I
have laid helpless in bed--very near, as they tell me, to death.
I was strong enough to be dressed, and to sit up for a little
while yesterday and the day before. To-day, I have made a better
advance toward recovery. I can hold my pen and control my
thoughts. The first use to which I put this improvement is to
write these lines.
"I am going (so far as I know) to surprise--possibly to
alarm--you. There is no escaping from it, for you or for me; it
must be done.
"Thinking of how best to introduce what I am now obliged to say,
I can find no better way than this. I must ask you to take your
memory back to a day which we have both bitter reason to
regret--the day when Geoffrey Delamayn sent you to see me at the
inn at Craig Fernie.
"You may possibly not remember--it unhappily produced no
impression on you at the time--that I felt, and expressed, more
than once on that occasion, a very great dislike to your passing
me off on the people of the inn as your wife. It was necessary to
my being permitted to remain at Craig Fernie that you should do
so. I knew this; but still I shrank from it. It was impossible
for me to contradict you, without involving you in the painful
consequences, and running the risk of making a scandal which
might find its way to Blanche's ears. I knew this also; but still
my conscience reproached me. It was a vague feeling. I was quite
unaware of the actual danger in which you were placing yourself,
or I would have spoken out, no matter what came of it. I had what
is called a presentiment that you were not acting
discreetly--nothing more. As I love and honor my mother's
memory--as I trust in the mercy of God--this is the truth.
"You left the inn the next morning, and we have not met since.
"A few days after you went away my anxieties grew more than I
could bear alone. I went secretly to Windygates, and had an
interview with Blanche.
"She was absent for a few minutes from the room in which we had
met. In that interval I saw Geoffrey Delamayn for the first time
since I had left him at Lady Lundie's lawn-party. He treated me
as if I was a stranger. He told me that he had found out all that
had passed between us at the inn. He said he had taken a lawyer's
opinion. Oh, Mr. Brinkworth! how can I break it to you? how can I
write the words which repeat what he said to me next? It must be
done. Cruel as it is, it must be done. He refused to my face to
marr y me. He said I was married already. He said I was your
"Now you know why I have referred you to what I felt (and
confessed to feeling) when we were together at Craig Fernie. If
you think hard thoughts, and say hard words of me, I can claim no
right to blame you. I am innocent--and yet it is my fault.
"My head swims, and the foolish tears are rising in spite of me.
I must leave off, and rest a little.
"I have been sitting at the window, and watching the people in
the street as they go by. They are all strangers. But, somehow,
the sight of them seems to rest my mind. The hum of the great
city gives me heart, and helps me to go on.
"I can not trust myself to write of the man who has betrayed us
both. Disgraced and broken as I am, there is something still left
in me which lifts me above _him._ If he came repentant, at this
moment, and offered me all that rank and wealth and worldly
consideration can give, I would rather be what I am now than be
"Let me speak of you; and (for Blanche's sake) let me speak of
"I ought, no doubt, to have waited to see you at Windygates, and
to have told you at once of what had happened. But I was weak and
ill and the shock of hearing what I heard fell so heavily on me
that I fainted. After I came to myself I was so horrified, when I
thought of you and Blanche that a sort of madness possessed me. I
had but one idea--the idea of running away and hiding myself.
"My mind got clearer and quieter on the way to this place; and,
arrived here, I did what I hope and believe was the best thing I
could do. I consulted two lawyers. They differed in opinion as to
whether we were married or not--according to the law which
decides on such things in Scotland. The first said Yes. The
second said No--but advised me to write immediately and tell you
the position in which you stood. I attempted to write the same
day, and fell ill as you know.
"Thank God, the delay that has happened is of no consequence. I
asked Blanche, at Windygates, when you were to be married--and
she told me not until the end of the autumn. It is only the fifth
of September now. You have plenty of time before you. For all our
sakes, make good use of it.
"What are you to do?
"Go at once to Sir Patrick Lundie, and show him this letter.
Follow his advice--no matter how it may affect _me._ I should ill
requite your kindness, I should be false indeed to the love I
bear to Blanche, if I hesitated to brave any exposure that may
now be necessary in your interests and in hers. You have been all
that is generous, all that is delicate, all that is kind in this
matter. You have kept my disgraceful secret--I am quite sure of
it--with the fidelity of an honorable man who has had a woman's
reputation placed in his charge. I release you, with my whole
heart, dear Mr. Brinkworth, from your pledge. I entreat you, on
my knees, to consider yourself free to reveal the truth. I will
make any acknowledgment, on my side, that is needful under the
circumstances--no matter how public it may be. Release yourself
at any price; and then, and not till then, give back your regard
to the miserable woman who has laden you with the burden of her
sorrow, and darkened your life for a moment with the shadow of
"Pray don't think there is any painful sacrifice involved in
this. The quieting of my own mind is involved in it--and that is
"What has life left for _me?_ Nothing but the barren necessity of
living. When I think of the future now, my mind passes over the
years that may be left to me in this world. Sometimes I dare to
hope that the Divine Mercy of Christ--which once pleaded on earth
for a woman like me--may plead, when death has taken me, for my
spirit in Heaven. Sometimes I dare to hope that I may see my
mother, and Blanche's mother, in the better world. Their hearts
were bound together as the hearts of sisters while they were
here; and they left to their children the legacy of their love.
Oh, help me to say, if we meet again, that not in vain I promised
to be a sister to Blanche! The debt I owe to her is the
hereditary debt of my mother's gratitude. And what am I now? An
obstacle in the way of the happiness of her life. Sacrifice me to
that happiness, for God's sake! It is the one thing I have left
to live for. Again and again I say it--I care nothing for myself.
I have no right to be considered; I have no wish to be
considered. Tell the whole truth about me, and call me to bear
witness to it as publicly as you please!
"I have waited a little, once more, trying to think, before I
close my letter, what there may be still left to write.
"I can not think of any thing left but the duty of informing you
how you may find me. if you wish to write--or if it is thought
necessary that we should meet again.
"One word before I tell you this.
"It is impossible for me to guess what you will do, or what you
will be advised to do by others, when you get my letter. I don't
even know that you may not already have heard of what your
position is from Geoffrey Delamayn himself. In this event, or in
the event of your thinking it desirable to take Blanche into your
confidence, I venture to suggest that you should appoint some
person whom you can trust to see me on your behalf--or, if you
can not do this that you should see me in the presence of a third
person. The man who has not hesitated to betray us both, will not
hesitate to misrepresent us in the vilest way, if he can do it in
the future. For your own sake, let us be careful to give lying
tongues no opportunity of assailing your place in Blanche's
estimation. Don't act so as to risk putting yourself in a false
position _again!_ Don't let it be possible that a feeling
unworthy of her should be roused in the loving and generous
nature of your future wife!
"This written, I may now tell you how to communicate with me
after I have left this place.
"You will find on the slip of paper inclosed the name and address
of the second of the two lawyers whom I consulted in Glasgow. It
is arranged between us that I am to inform him, by letter, of the
next place to which I remove, and that he is to communicate the
information either to you or to Sir Patrick Lundie, on your
applying for it personally or by writing. I don't yet know myself
where I may find refuge. Nothing is certain but that I can not,
in my present state of weakness, travel far.
"If you wonder why I move at all until I am stronger, I can only
give a reason which may appear fanciful and overstrained.
"I have been informed that I was advertised in the Glasgow
newspapers during the time when I lay at this hotel, a stranger
at the point of death. Trouble has perhaps made me morbidly
suspicious. I am afraid of what may happen if I stay here, after
my place of residence has been made publicly known. So, as soon
as I can move, I go away in secret. It will be enough for me, if
I can find rest and peace in some quiet place, in the country
round Glasgow. You need feel no anxiety about my means of living.
I have money enough for all that I need--and, if I get well
again, I know how to earn my bread.
"I send no message to Blanche--I dare not till this is over. Wait
till she is your happy wife; and then give her a kiss, and say it
comes from Anne.
"Try and forgive me, dear Mr. Brinkworth. I have said all. Yours
Sir Patrick put the letter down with unfeigned respect for the
woman who had written it.
Something of the personal influence which Anne exercised more or
less over all the men with whom she came in contact seemed to
communicate itself to the old lawyer through the medium of her
letter. His thoughts perversely wandered away from the serious
and pressing question of his niece's position into a region of
purely speculative inquiry relating to Anne. What infatuation (he
asked himself) had placed that noble creature at the mercy of
such a man as Geoffrey Delamayn?
We have all, at one time or another in our lives, been perplexed
as Sir Patrick was perplexed now.
If we know any thing by experience, we know that women cast
themselves away impulsively on unworthy men, and that men ruin
themselves headlong for unworthy w omen. We have the institution
of Divorce actually among us, existing mainly because the two
sexes are perpetually placing themselves in these anomalous
relations toward each other. And yet, at every fresh instance
which comes before us, we persist in being astonished to find
that the man and the woman have not chosen each other on rational
and producible grounds! We expect human passion to act on logical
principles; and human fallibility--with love for its guide--to be
above all danger of making a mistake! Ask the wisest among Anne
Silvester's sex what they saw to rationally justify them in
choosing the men to whom they have given their hearts and their
lives, and you will be putting a question to those wise women
which they never once thought of putting to themselves. Nay, more
still. Look into your own experience, and say frankly, Could you
justify your own excellent choice at the time when you
irrevocably made it? Could you have put your reasons on paper
when you first owned to yourself that you loved him? And would
the reasons have borne critical inspection if you had?
Sir Patrick gave it up in despair. The interests of his niece
were at stake. He wisely determined to rouse his mind by
occupying himself with the practical necessities of the moment.
It was essential to send an apology to the rector, in the first
place, so as to leave the evening at his disposal for considering
what preliminary course of conduct he should advise Arnold to
After writing a few lines of apology to his partner at
Piquet--assigning family business as the excuse for breaking his
engagement--Sir Patrick rang the bell. The faithful Duncan
appeared, and saw at once in his master s face that something had
"Send a man with this to the Rectory," said Sir Patrick. "I can't
dine out to-day. I must have a chop at home."
"I am afraid, Sir Patrick--if I may be excused for remarking
it--you have had some bad news?"
"The worst possible news, Duncan. I can't tell you about it now.
Wait within hearing of the bell. In the mean time let nobody
interrupt me. If the steward himself comes I can't see him."
After thinking it over carefully, Sir Patrick decided that there
was no alternative but to send a message to Arnold and Blanche,
summoning them back to England in the first place. The necessity
of questioning Arnold, in the minutest detail, as to every thing
that had happened between Anne Silvester and himself at the Craig
Fernie inn, was the first and foremost necessity of the case.
At the same time it appeared to be desirable, for Blanche's sake,
to keep her in ignorance, for the present at least, of what had
happened. Sir Patrick met this difficulty with characteristic
ingenuity and readiness of resource.
He wrote a telegram to Arnold, expressed in the following terms:
"Your letter and inclosures received. Return to Ham Farm as soon
as you conveniently can. Keep the thing still a secret from
Blanche. Tell her, as the reason for coming back, that the lost
trace of Anne Silvester has been recovered, and that there may be
reasons for her returning to England before any thing further can
Duncan having been dispatched to the station with this message,
Duncan's master proceeded to calculate the question of time.
Arnold would in all probability receive the telegram at Baden, on
the next day, September the seventeenth. In three days more he
and Blanche might be expected to reach Ham Farm. During the
interval thus placed at his disposal Sir Patrick would have ample
time in which to recover himself, and to see his way to acting
for the best in the alarming emergency that now confronted him.
On the nineteenth Sir Patrick received a telegram informing him
that he might expect to see the young couple late in the evening
on the twentieth.
Late in the evening the sound of carriage-wheels was audible on
the drive; and Sir Patrick, opening the door of his room, heard
the familiar voices in the hall.
"Well!" cried Blanche, catching sight of him at the door, "is
"Not just yet, my dear."
"Is there news of her?"
"Am I in time to be of use?"
"In excellent time. You shall hear all about it to-morrow. Go and
take off your traveling-things, and come down again to supper as
soon as you can."
Blanche kissed him, and went on up stairs. She had, as her uncle
thought in the glimpse he had caught of her, been improved by her
marriage. It had quieted and steadied her. There were graces in
her look and manner which Sir Patrick had not noticed before.
Arnold, on his side, appeared to less advantage. He was restless
and anxious; his position with Miss Silvester seemed to be
preying on his mind. As soon as his young wife's back was turned,
he appealed to Sir Patrick in an eager whisper.
"I hardly dare ask you what I have got it on my mind to say," he
began. "I must bear it if you are angry with me, Sir Patrick.
But--only tell me one thing. Is there a way out of it for us?
Have you thought of that?"
"I can not trust myself to speak of it clearly and composedly
to-night," said Sir Patrick. "Be satisfied if I tell you that I
have thought it all out--and wait for the rest till to-morrow."
Other persons concerned in the coming drama had had past
difficulties to think out, and future movements to consider,
during the interval occupied by Arnold and Blanche on their
return journey to England. Between the seventeenth and the
twentieth of September Geoffrey Delamayn had left Swanhaven, on
the way to his new training quarters in the neighborhood in which
the Foot-Race at Fulham was to be run. Between the same dates,
also, Captain Newenden had taken the opportunity, while passing
through London on his way south, to consult his solicitors. The
object of the conference was to find means of discovering an
anonymous letter-writer in Scotland, who had presumed to cause
serious annoyance to Mrs. Glenarm.
Thus, by ones and twos, converging from widely distant quarters,
they were now beginning to draw together, in the near
neighborhood of the great city which was soon destined to
assemble them all, for the first and the last time in this world,
face to face.
CHAPTER THE THIRTY-SEVENTH.
THE WAY OUT.
BREAKFAST was just over. Blanche, seeing a pleasantly-idle
morning before her, proposed to Arnold to take a stroll in the
The garden was blight with sunshine, and the bride was bright
with good-humor. She caught her uncle's eye, looking at her
admiringly, and paid him a little compliment in return. "You have
no idea," she said, "how nice it is to be back at Ham Farm!"
"I am to understand then," rejoined Sir Patrick, "that I am
forgiven for interrupting the honey-moon?"
"You are more than forgiven for interrupting it," said
Blanche--"you are thanked. As a married woman," she proceeded,
with the air of a matron of at least twenty years' standing, "I
have been thinking the subject over; and I have arrived at the
conclusion that a honey-moon which takes the form of a tour on
the Continent, is one of our national abuses which stands in need
of reform. When you are in love with each other (consider a
marriage without love to be no marriage at all), what do you want
with the excitement of seeing strange places? Isn't it excitement
enough, and isn't it strange enough, to a newly-married woman to
see such a total novelty as a husband? What is the most
interesting object on the face of creation to a man in Arnold's
position? The Alps? Certainly not! The most interesting object is
the wife. And the proper time for a bridal tour is the time--say
ten or a dozen years later--when you are beginning (not to get
tired of each other, that's out of the question) but to get a
little too well used to each other. Then take your tour to
Switzerland--and you give the Alps a chance. A succession of
honey-moon trips, in the autumn of married life--there is my
proposal for an improvement on the present state of things! Come
into the garden, Arnold; and let us calculate how long it will be
before we get weary of each other, and want the beauties of
nature to keep us company."
Arnold looked appealingly to Sir Patrick. Not a word had passed
between them, as yet, on the se rious subject of Anne Silvester's
letter. Sir Patrick undertook the responsibility of making the
necessary excuses to Blanche.
"Forgive me," he said, "if I ask leave to interfere with your
monopoly of Arnold for a little while. I have something to say to
him about his property in Scotland. Will you leave him with me,
if I promise to release him as soon as possible?"
Blanche smiled graciously. "You shall have him as long as you
like, uncle. There's your hat," she added, tossing it to her
husband, gayly. "I brought it in for you when I got my own. You
will find me on the lawn."
She nodded, and went out.
"Let me hear the worst at once, Sir Patrick," Arnold began. "Is
it serious? Do you think I am to blame?"
"I will answer your last question first," said Sir Patrick. "Do I
think you are to blame? Yes--in this way. You committed an act of
unpardonable rashness when you consented to go, as Geoffrey
Delamayn's messenger, to Miss Silvester at the inn. Having once
placed yourself in that false position, you could hardly have
acted, afterward, otherwise than you did. You could not be
expected to know the Scotch law. And, as an honorable man, you
were bound to keep a secret confided to you, in which the
reputation of a woman was concerned. Your first and last error in
this matter, was the fatal error of involving yourself in
responsibilities which belonged exclusively to another man."
"The man had saved my life." pleaded Arnold--"and I believed I
was giving service for service to my dearest friend."
"As to your other question," proceeded Sir Patrick. "Do I
consider your position to be a serious one? Most assuredly, I do!
So long as we are not absolutely certain that Blanche is your
lawful wife, the position is more than serious: it is
unendurable. I maintain the opinion, mind, out of which (thanks
to your honorable silence) that scoundrel Delamayn contrived to
cheat me. I told him, what I now tell you--that your sayings and
doings at Craig Fernie, do _not_ constitute a marriage, according
to Scottish law. But," pursued Sir Patrick, holding up a warning
forefinger at Arnold, "you have read it in Miss Silvester's
letter, and you may now take it also as a result of my
experience, that no individual opinion, in a matter of this kind,
is to be relied on. Of two lawyers, consulted by Miss Silvester
at Glasgow, one draws a directly opposite conclusion to mine, and
decides that you and she are married. I believe him to be wrong,
but in our situation, we have no other choice than to boldly
encounter the view of the case which he represents. In plain
English, we must begin by looking the worst in the face."
Arnold twisted the traveling hat which Blanche had thrown to him,
nervously, in both hands. "Supposing the worst comes to the
worst," he asked, "what will happen?"
Sir Patrick shook his head.
"It is not easy to tell you," he said, "without entering into the
legal aspect of the case. I shall only puzzle you if I do that.
Suppose we look at the matter in its social bearings--I mean, as
it may possibly affect you and Blanche, and your unborn
Arnold gave the hat a tighter twist than ever. "I never thought
of the children," he said, with a look of consternation.
"The children may present themselves," returned Sir Patrick,
dryly, "for all that. Now listen. It may have occurred to your
mind that the plain way out of our present dilemma is for you and
Miss Silvester, respectively, to affirm what we know to be the
truth--namely, that you never had the slightest intention of
marrying each other. Beware of founding any hopes on any such
remedy as that! If you reckon on it, you reckon without Geoffrey
Delamayn. He is interested, remember, in proving you and Miss
Silvester to be man and wife. Circumstances may arise--I won't
waste time in guessing at what they may be--which will enable a
third person to produce the landlady and the waiter at Craig
Fernie in evidence against you--and to assert that your
declaration and Miss Silvester's declaration are the result of
collusion between you two. Don't start! Such things have happened
before now. Miss Silvester is poor; and Blanche is rich. You may
be made to stand in the awkward position of a man who is denying
his marriage with a poor woman, in order to establish his
marriage with an heiress: Miss Silvester presumably aiding the
fraud, with two strong interests of her own as inducements--the
interest of asserting the claim to be the wife of a man of rank,
and the interest of earning her reward in money for resigning you
to Blanche. There is a case which a scoundrel might set up--and
with some appearance of truth too--in a court of justice!"
"Surely, the law wouldn't allow him to do that?"
"The law will argue any thing, with any body who will pay the law
for the use of its brains and its time. Let that view of the
matter alone now. Delamayn can set the case going, if he likes,
without applying to any lawyer to help him. He has only to cause
a report to reach Blanche's ears which publicly asserts that she
is not your lawful wife. With her temper, do you suppose she
would leave us a minute's peace till the matter was cleared up?
Or take it the other way. Comfort yourself, if you will, with the
idea that this affair will trouble nobody in the present. How are
we to know it may not turn up in the future under circumstances
which may place the legitimacy of your children in doubt? We have
a man to deal with who sticks at nothing. We have a state of the
law which can only be described as one scandalous uncertainty
from beginning to end. And we have two people (Bishopriggs and
Mrs. Inchbare) who can, and will, speak to what took place
between you and Anne Silvester at the inn. For Blanche's sake,
and for the sake of your unborn children, we must face this
matter on the spot--and settle it at once and forever. The
question before us now is this. Shall we open the proceedings by
communicating with Miss Silvester or not?"
At that important point in the conversation they were interrupted
by the reappearance of Blanche. Had she, by any accident, heard
what they had been saying?
No; it was the old story of most interruptions. Idleness that
considers nothing, had come to look at Industry that bears every
thing. It is a law of nature, apparently, that the people in this
world who have nothing to do can not support the sight of an
uninterrupted occupation in the hands of their neighbors. Blanche
produced a new specimen from Arnold's collection of hats. "I have
been thinking about it in the garden," she said, quite seriously.
"Here is the brown one with the high crown. You look better in
this than in the white one with the low crown. I have come to
change them, that's all." She changed the hats with Arnold, and
went on, without the faintest suspicion that she was in the way.
"Wear the brown one when you come out--and come soon, dear. I
won't stay an instant longer, uncle--I wouldn't interrupt you for
the world." She kissed her hand to Sir Patrick, and smiled at her
husband, and went out.
"What were we saying?" asked Arnold. "It's awkward to be
interrupted in this way, isn't it?"
"If I know any thing of female human nature," returned Sir
Patrick, composedly, "your wife will be in and out of the room,
in that way, the whole morning. I give her ten minutes, Arnold,
before she changes her mind again on the serious and weighty
subject of the white hat and the brown. These little
interruptions--otherwise quite charming--raised a doubt in my
mind. Wouldn't it be wise (I ask myself), if we made a virtue of
necessity, and took Blanche into the conversation? What do you
say to calling her back and telling her the truth?"
Arnold started, and changed color.
"There are difficulties in the way," he said.
"My good fellow! at every step of this business there are
difficulties in the way. Sooner or later, your wife must know
what has happened. The time for telling her is, no doubt, a
matter for your decision, not mine. All I say is this. Consider
whether the disclosure won't come from you with a better grace,
if you make it before you are fairly driven to the wall, and
obliged to open your lips."
Arnold rose to his fee t--took a turn in the room--sat down
again--and looked at Sir Patrick, with the expression of a
thoroughly bewildered and thoroughly helpless man.
"I don't know what to do," he said. "It beats me altogether. The
truth is, Sir Patrick, I was fairly forced, at Craig Fernie, into
deceiving Blanche--in what might seem to her a very unfeeling,
and a very unpardonable way."
"That sounds awkward! What do you mean?"
"I'll try and tell you. You remember when you went to the inn to
see Miss Silvester? Well, being there privately at the time, of
course I was obliged to keep out of your way."
"I see! And, when Blanche came afterward, you were obliged to
hide from Blanche, exactly as you had hidden from me?"
"Worse even than that! A day or two later, Blanche took me into
her confidence. She spoke to me of her visit to the inn, as if I
was a perfect stranger to the circumstances. She told me to my
face, Sir Patrick, of the invisible man who had kept so strangely
out of her way--without the faintest suspicion that I was the
man. And I never opened my lips to set her right! I was obliged
to be silent, or I must have betrayed Miss Silvester. What will
Blanche think of me, if I tell her now? That's the question!"
Blanche's name had barely passed her husband's lips before
Blanche herself verified Sir Patrick's prediction, by reappearing
at the open French window, with the superseded white hat in her
"Haven't you done yet!" she exclaimed. "I am shocked, uncle, to
interrupt you again--but these horrid hats of Arnold's are
beginning to weigh upon my mind. On reconsideration, I think the
white hat with the low crown is the most becoming of the two.
Change again, dear. Yes! the brown hat is hideous. There's a
beggar at the gate. Before I go quite distracted, I shall give
him the brown hat, and have done with the difficulty in that
manner. Am I very much in the way of business? I'm afraid I must
appear restless? Indeed, I _am_ restless. I can't imagine what is
the matter with me this morning."
"I can tell you," said Sir Patrick, in his gravest and dryest
manner. "You are suffering, Blanche, from a malady which is
exceedingly common among the young ladies of England. As a
disease it is quite incurable--and the name of it is
Blanche dropped her uncle a smart little courtesy. "You might
have told me I was in the way in fewer words than that." She
whisked round, kicked the disgraced brown hat out into the
veranda before her, and left the two gentlemen alone once more.
"Your position with your wife, Arnold," resumed Sir Patrick,
returning gravely to the matter in hand, "is certainly a
difficult one." He paused, thinking of the evening when he and
Blanche had illustrated the vagueness of Mrs. Inchbare's
description of the man at the inn, by citing Arnold himself as
being one of the hundreds of innocent people who answered to it!
"Perhaps," he added, "the situation is even more difficult than
you suppose. It would have been certainly easier for _you_--and
it would have looked more honorable in _her_ estimation--if you
had made the inevitable confession before your marriage. I am, in
some degree, answerable for your not having done this--as well as
for the far more serious dilemma with Miss Silvester in which you
now stand. If I had not innocently hastened your marriage with
Blanche, Miss Silvester's admirable letter would have reached us
in ample time to prevent mischief. It's useless to dwell on that
now. Cheer up, Arnold! I am bound to show you the way out of the
labyrinth, no matter what the difficulties may be--and, please
God, I will do it!"
He pointed to a table at the other end of the room, on which
writing materials were placed. "I hate moving the moment I have
had my breakfast," he said. "We won't go into the library. Bring
me the pen and ink here."
"Are you going to write to Miss Silvester?"
"That is the question before us which we have not settled yet.
Before I decide, I want to be in possession of the facts--down to
the smallest detail of what took place between you and Miss
Silvester at the inn. There is only one way of getting at those
facts. I am going to examine you as if I had you before me in the
witness-box in court."
With that preface, and with Arnold's letter from Baden in his
hand as a brief to speak from, Sir Patrick put his questions in
clear and endless succession; and Arnold patiently and faithfully
answered them all.
The examination proceeded uninterruptedly until it had reached
that point in the progress of events at which Anne had crushed
Geoffrey Delamayn's letter in her hand, and had thrown it from
her indignantly to the other end of the room. There, for the
first time, Sir Patrick dipped his pen in the ink, apparently
intending to take a note. "Be very careful here," he said; "I
want to know every thing that you can tell me about that letter."
"The letter is lost," said Arnold.
"The letter has been stolen by Bishopriggs," returned Sir
Patrick, "and is in the possession of Bishopriggs at this
"Why, you know more about it than I do!" exclaimed Arnold.
"I sincerely hope not. I don't know what was inside the letter.
"Yes. Part of it at least."
"Part of it?"
"There were two letters written, on the same sheet of paper,"
said Arnold. "One of them was written by Geoffrey Delamayn--and
that is the one I know about."
Sir Patrick started. His face brightened; he made a hasty note.
"Go on," he said, eagerly. "How came the letters to be written on
the same sheet? Explain that!"
Arnold explained that Geoffrey, in the absence of any thing else
to write his excuses on to Anne, had written to her on the fourth
or blank page of a letter which had been addressed to him by Anne
"Did you read that letter?" asked Sir Patrick.
"I might have read it if I had liked."
"And you didn't read it?"
"Out of delicacy."
Even Sir Patrick's carefully trained temper was not proof against
this. "That is the most misplaced act of delicacy I ever heard of
in my life!" cried the old gentleman, warmly. "Never mind! it's
useless to regret it now. At any rate, you read Delamayn's answer
to Miss Silvester's letter?"
"Repeat it--as nearly as you can remember at this distance of
"It was so short," said Arnold, "that there is hardly any thing
to repeat. As well as I remember, Geoffrey said he was called
away to London by his father's illness. He told Miss Silvester to
stop where she was; and he referred her to me, as messenger.
That's all I recollect of it now."
"Cudgel your brains, my good fellow! this is very important. Did
he make no allusion to his engagement to marry Miss Silvester at
Craig Fernie? Didn't he try to pacify her by an apology of some
The question roused Arnold's memory to make another effort.
"Yes," he answered. "Geoffrey said something about being true to
his engagement, or keeping his promise or words to that effect."
"You're sure of what you say now?"
"I am certain of it."
Sir Patrick made another note.
"Was the letter signed?" he asked, when he had done.
"Yes." Arnold's memory made a second effort, after he had given
his second affirmative answer. "Wait a little," he said. "I
remember something else about the letter. It was not only dated.
The time of day at which it was written was put as well."
"How came he to do that?"
"I suggested it. The letter was so short I felt ashamed to
deliver it as it stood. I told him to put the time--so as to show
her that he was obliged to write in a hurry. He put the time when
the train started; and (I think) the time when the letter was
written as well."
"And you delivered that letter to Miss Silvester, with your own
hand, as soon as you saw her at the inn?"
Sir Patrick made a third note, and pushed the paper away from him
with an air of supreme satisfaction.
"I always suspected that lost letter to be an important
document," he said--"or Bishopriggs would never have stolen it.
We must get possession of it, Arnold, at any sacrifice. The first
thing to be done (exactly as I anticipated), is to write to the
Glasgow lawyer, and find Miss Silvester."
"Wait a lit tle!" cried a voice at the veranda. "Don't forget
that I have come back from Baden to help you!"
Sir Patrick and Arnold both looked up. This time Blanche had
heard the last words that had passed between them. She sat down
at the table by Sir Patrick's side, and laid her hand caressingly
on his shoulder.
"You are quite right, uncle," she said. "I _am_ suffering this
morning from the malady of having nothing to do. Are you going to
write to Anne? Don't. Let me write instead."
Sir Patrick declined to resign the pen.
"The person who knows Miss Silvester's address," he said, "is a
lawyer in Glasgow. I am going to write to the lawyer. When he
sends us word where she is--then, Blanche, will be the time to
employ your good offices in winning back your friend."
He drew the writing materials once more with in his reach, and,
suspending the remainder of Arnold's examination for the present,
began his letter to Mr. Crum.
Blanche pleaded hard for an occupation of some sort. "Can nobody
give me something to do?" she asked. "Glasgow is such a long way
off, and waiting is such weary work. Don't sit there staring at
me, Arnold! Can't you suggest something?"
Arnold, for once, displayed an unexpected readiness of resource.
"If you want to write," he said, "you owe Lady Lundie a letter.
It's three days since you heard from her--and you haven't
answered her yet."
Sir Patrick paused, and looked up quickly from his writing-desk.
"Lady Lundie?" he muttered, inquiringly.
"Yes," said Blanche. "It's quite true; I owe her a letter. And of
course I ought to tell her we have come back to England. She will
be finely provoked when she hears why!"
The prospect of provoking Lady Lundie seemed to rouse Blanche s
dormant energies. She took a sheet of her uncle's note-paper, and
began writing her answer then and there.
Sir Patrick completed his communication to the lawyer--after a
look at Blanche, which expressed any thing rather than approval
of her present employment. Having placed his completed note in
the postbag, he silently signed to Arnold to follow him into the
garden. They went out together, leaving Blanche absorbed over her
letter to her step-mother.
"Is my wife doing any thing wrong?" asked Arnold, who had noticed
the look which Sir Patrick had cast on Blanche.
"Your wife is making mischief as fast as her fingers can spread
Arnold stared. "She must answer Lady Lundie's letter," he said.
"And she must tell Lady Lundie we have come back."
"I don't deny it."
"Then what is the objection to her writing?"
Sir Patrick took a pinch of snuff--and pointed with his ivory
cane to the bees humming busily about the flower-beds in the
sunshine of the autumn morning.
"I'll show you the objection," he said. "Suppose Blanche told one
of those inveterately intrusive insects that the honey in the
flowers happens, through an unexpected accident, to have come to
an end--do you think he would take the statement for granted? No.
He would plunge head-foremost into the nearest flower, and
investigate it for himself."
"Well?" said Arnold.
"Well--there is Blanche in the breakfast-room telling Lady Lundie
that the bridal tour happens, through an unexpected accident, to
have come to an end. Do you think Lady Lundie is the sort of
person to take the statement for granted? Nothing of the sort!
Lady Lundie, like the bee, will insist on investigating for
herself. How it will end, if she discovers the truth--and what
new complications she may not introduce into a matter which,
Heaven knows, is complicated enough already--I leave you to
imagine. _My_ poor powers of prevision are not equal to it."
Before Arnold could answer, Blanche joined them from the
"I've done it," she said. "It was an awkward letter to write--and
it's a comfort to have it over."
"You have done it, my dear," remarked Sir Patrick, quietly. "And
it may be a comfort. But it's not over."
"What do you mean?"
"I think, Blanche, we shall hear from your step-mother by return
CHAPTER THE THIRTY-EIGHTH.
THE NEWS FROM GLASGOW.
THE letters to Lady Lundie and to Mr. Crum having been dispatched
on Monday, the return of the post might be looked for on
Wednesday afternoon at Ham Farm.
Sir Patrick and Arnold held more than one private consultation,
during the interval, on the delicate and difficult subject of
admitting Blanche to a knowledge of what had happened. The wise
elder advised and the inexperienced junior listened. "Think of
it," said Sir Patrick; "and do it." And Arnold thought of it--and
left it undone.
Let those who feel inclined to blame him remember that he had
only been married a fortnight. It is hard, surely, after but two
weeks' possession of your wife, to appear before her in the
character of an offender on trial--and to find that an angel of
retribution has been thrown into the bargain by the liberal
destiny which bestowed on you the woman whom you adore!
They were all three at home on the Wednesday afternoon, looking
out for the postman.
The correspondence delivered included (exactly as Sir Patrick had
foreseen) a letter from Lady Lundie. Further investigation, on
the far more interesting subject of the expected news from
Glasgow, revealed--nothing. The lawyer had not answered Sir
Patrick's inquiry by return of post.
"Is that a bad sign?" asked Blanche.
"It is a sign that something has happened," answered her uncle.
"Mr. Crum is possibly expecting to receive some special
information, and is waiting on the chance of being able to
communicate it. We must hope, my dear, in to-morrow's post."
"Open Lady Lundie's letter in the mean time," said Blanche. "Are
you sure it is for you--and not for me?"
There was no doubt about it. Her ladyship's reply was ominously
addressed to her ladyship's brother-in-law. "I know what that
means." said Blanche, eying her uncle eagerly while he was
reading the letter. "If you mention Anne's name you insult my
step-mother. I have mentioned it freely. Lady Lundie is mortally
offended with me."
Rash judgment of youth! A lady who takes a dignified attitude, in
a family emergency, is never mortally offended--she is only
deeply grieved. Lady Lundie took a dignified attitude. "I well
know," wrote this estimable and Christian woman, "that I have
been all along regarded in the light of an intruder by the family
connections of my late beloved husband. But I was hardly prepared
to find myself entirely shut out from all domestic confidence, at
a time when some serious domestic catastrophe has but too
evidently taken place. I have no desire, dear Sir Patrick, to
intrude. Feeling it, however, to be quite inconsistent with a due
regard for my own position--after what has happened--to
correspond with Blanche, I address myself to the head of the
family, purely in the interests of propriety. Permit me to ask
whether--under circumstances which appear to be serious enough to
require the recall of my step-daughter and her husband from their
wedding tour--you think it DECENT to keep the widow of the late
Sir Thomas Lundie entirely in the dark? Pray consider this--not
at all out of regard for Me!--but out of regard for your own
position with Society. Curiosity is, as you know, foreign to my
nature. But when this dreadful scandal (whatever it may be) comes
out--which, dear Sir Patrick, it can not fail to do--what will
the world think, when it asks for Lady Lundie's, opinion, and
hears that Lady Lundie knew nothing about it? Whichever way you
may decide I shall take no offense. I may possibly be
wounded--but that won't matter. My little round of duties will
find me still earnest, still cheerful. And even if you shut me
out, my best wishes will find their way, nevertheless, to Ham
Farm. May I add--without encountering a sneer--that the prayers
of a lonely woman are offered for the welfare of all?"
"Well?" said Blanche.
Sir Patrick folded up the letter, and put it in his pocket.
"You have your step-mother's best wishes, my dear." Having
answered in those terms, he bowed to his niece with his best
grace, and walked out of the room.
"Do I think it decent," he repeated to himself, as he closed the
door, "to leave the widow of the late Sir Thomas Lundie in the
dark? When a lady's temper is a little ruffled, I think it more
than decent, I think it absolutely desirable, to let that lady
have the last word." He went into the library, and dropped his
sister-in-law's remonstrance into a box, labeled "Unanswered
Letters." Having got rid of it in that way, he hummed his
favorite little Scotch air--and put on his hat, and went out to
sun himself in the garden.
Meanwhile, Blanche was not quite satisfied with Sir Patrick's
reply. She appealed to her husband. "There is something wrong,"
she said--"and my uncle is hiding it from me."
Arnold could have desired no better opportunity than she had
offered to him, in those words, for making the long-deferred
disclosure to her of the truth. He lifted his eyes to Blanche's
face. By an unhappy fatality she was looking charmingly that
morning. How would she look if he told her the story of the
hiding at the inn? Arnold was still in love with her--and Arnold
The next day's post brought not only the anticipated letter from
Mr. Crum, but an unexpected Glasgow newspaper as well.
This time Blanche had no reason to complain that her uncle kept
his correspondence a secret from her. After reading the lawyer's
letter, with an interest and agitation which showed that the
contents had taken him by surprise, he handed it to Arnold and
his niece. "Bad news there," he said. "We must share it
After acknowledging the receipt of Sir Patrick's letter of
inquiry, Mr. Crum began by stating all that he knew of Miss
Silvester's movements--dating from the time when she had left the
Sheep's Head Hotel. About a fortnight since he had received a
letter from her informing him that she had found a suitable place
of residence in a village near Glasgow. Feeling a strong interest
in Miss Silvester, Mr. Crum had visited her some few days
afterward. He had satisfied himself that she was lodging with
respectable people, and was as comfortably situated as
circumstances would permit. For a week more he had heard nothing
from the lady. At the expiration of that time he had received a
letter from her, telling him that she had read something in a
Glasgow newspaper, of that day's date, which seriously concerned
herself, and which would oblige her to travel northward