Part 6 out of 8
disinterested as they undoubtedly were, did not justify him in
letting her expose herself to the consequences which might follow
the proposed interview. All that he engaged to do was to repeat
to Mrs. Norman what Miss Westerfield had said, and to inform the
young lady of the result.
"In the intervals of business, I had felt some uneasiness when I
thought of Miss Westerfield's prospects. Your good brother at
once set all anxiety on this subject at rest.
"He proposed to place Miss Westerfield under the care of an old
and dear friend of her late father--Captain Bennydeck. Her
voluntary separation from you offered to your brother, and to the
Captain, the opportunity for which they had both been waiting.
Captain Bennydeck was then cruising at sea in his yacht.
Immediately on his return, Miss Westerfield's inclination would
be consulted, and she would no doubt eagerly embrace the
opportunity of being introduced to her father's friend.
"I have now communicated all that I know, in reply to the
questions which you have addressed to me. Let me earnestly advise
you to make the one reparation to this poor girl which is in your
power. Resign yourself to a separation which is not only for her
good, but for yours.--SAMUEL SARRAZIN."
Listen to Reason.
Not having heard from Captain Bennydeck for some little time,
Randal thought it desirable in Sydney's interests to make
inquiries at his club. Nothing was known of the Captain's
movements there. On the chance of getting the information that he
wanted, Randal wrote to the hotel at Sandyseal.
The landlord's reply a little surprised him.
Some days since, the yacht had again appeared in the bay. Captain
Bennydeck had landed, to all appearance in fairly good health;
and had left by an early train for London. The sailing-master
announced that he had orders to take the vessel back to her
port--with no other explanation than that the cruise was over.
This alternative in the Captain's plans (terminating the voyage a
month earlier than his arrangements had contemplated) puzzled
Randal. He called at his friend's private residence, only to hear
from the servants that they had seen nothing of their master.
Randal waited a while in London, on the chance that Bennydeck
might pay him a visit.
During this interval his patience was rewarded in an unexpected
manner. He discovered the Captain's address by means of a letter
from Catherine, dated "Buck's Hotel, Sydenham." Having gently
reproached him for not writing to her or calling on her, she
invited him to dinner at the hotel. Her letter concluded in these
words: "You will only meet one person besides ourselves--your
friend, and (since we last met) our friend too. Captain Bennydeck
has got tired of the sea. He is staying at this hotel, to try the
air of Sydenham, and he finds that it agrees with him."
These lines set Randal thinking seriously.
To represent Bennydeck as being "tired of the sea," and as being
willing to try, in place of the breezy Channel, the air of a
suburb of London, was to make excuses too perfectly futile and
absurd to deceive any one who knew the Captain. In spite of the
appearance of innocence which pervaded Catherine's letter, the
true motive for breaking off his cruise might be found, as Randal
concluded, in Catherine herself. Her residence at the sea-side,
helped by the lapse of time, had restored to her personal
attractions almost all they had lost under the deteriorating
influences of care and grief; and her change of name must have
protected her from a discovery of the Divorce which would have
shocked a man so sincerely religious as Bennydeck. Had her beauty
fascinated him? Was she aware of the interest that he felt in
her? and wa s it secretly understood and returned? Randal wrote
to accept the invitation; determining to present himself before
the appointed hour, and to question Catherine privately, without
giving her the advantage over him of preparing herself for the
In the short time that passed before the day of the dinner,
distressing circumstances strengthened his resolution. After
months of separation, he received a visit from Herbert.
Was this man--haggard, pallid, shabby, looking at him piteously
with bloodshot eyes--the handsome, pleasant, prosperous brother
whom he remembered? Randal was so grieved, that he was for a
moment unable to utter a word. He could only point to a seat.
Herbert dropped into the chair as if he was reduced to the last
extremity of fatigue. And yet he spoke roughly; he looked like an
angry man brought to bay.
"I seem to frighten you," he said.
"You distress me, Herbert, more than words can say."
"Give me a glass of wine. I've been walking--I don't know where.
A long distance; I'm dead beat."
He drank the wine greedily. Whatever reviving effect it might
otherwise have produced on him, it made no change in the
threatening gloom of his manner. In a man morally weak, calamity
(suffered without resisting power) breaks its way through the
surface which exhibits a gentleman, and shows the naked nature
which claims kindred with our ancestor the savage.
"Do you feel better, Herbert?"
He put down the empty glass, taking no notice of his brother's
question. "Randal," he said, "you know where Sydney is."
Randal admitted it.
"Give me her address. My mind's in such a state I can't remember
it; write it down."
"You won't write it? and you won't give it?"
"I will do neither the one nor the other. Go back to your chair;
fierce looks and clinched fists don't frighten me. Miss
Westerfield is quite right in separating herself from you. And
you are quite wrong in wishing to go back to her. There are my
reasons. Try to understand them. And, once again, sit down."
He spoke sternly--with his heart aching for his brother all the
time. He was right. The one way is the positive way, when a man
who suffers trouble is degraded by it.
The poor wretch sank under Randal's firm voice and steady eye.
"Don't be hard on me," he said. "I think a man in my situation is
to be pitied--especially by his brother. I'm not like you; I'm
not accustomed to live alone. I've been accustomed to having a
kind woman to talk to me, and take care of me. You don't know
what it is to be used to seeing a pretty creature, always nicely
dressed, always about the room--thinking so much of you, and so
little of herself--and then to be left alone as I am left, out in
the dark. I haven't got my wife; she has thrown me over, and
taken my child away from me. And, now, Sydney's taken away from
me next. I'm alone. Do you hear that? Alone! Take the poker there
out of the fireplace. Give me back Sydney, or knock out my
brains. I haven't courage enough to do it for myself. Oh, why did
I engage that governess! I was so happy, Randal, with Catherine
and little Kitty."
He laid his head wearily on the back of his chair. Randal offered
him more wine; he refused it.
"I'm afraid," he said. "Wine maddens me if I take too much of it.
You have heard of men forgetting their sorrows in drink. I tried
it yesterday; it set my brains on fire; I'm feeling that glass I
took just now. No! I'm not faint. It eases my head when I rest
like this. Shake hands, Randal; we have never had any unfriendly
words; we mustn't begin now. There's something perverse about me.
I didn't know how fond I was of Sydney till I lost her; I didn't
know how fond I was of my wife till I left her." He paused, and
put his hand to his fevered head. Was his mind wandering into
some other train of thought? He astonished his brother by a new
entreaty--the last imaginable entreaty that Randal expected to
hear. "Dear old fellow, I want you to do me a favor. Tell me
where my wife is living now?"
"Surely," Randal answered, "you know that she is no longer your
"Never mind that! I have something to say to her."
"You can't do it."
"Can _you_ do it? Will you give her a message?"
"Let me hear what it is first."
Herbert lifted his head, and laid his hand earnestly on his
brother's arm. When he said his next words he was almost like his
old self again.
"Say that I'm lonely, say that I'm dying for want of a little
comfort--ask her to let me see Kitty."
His tone touched Randal to the quick. "I feel for you, Herbert,"
he said, warmly. "She shall have your message; all that I can do
to persuade her shall be done."
"As soon as possible?"
"Yes--as soon as possible."
"And you won't forget? No, no; of course you won't forget." He
tried to rise, and fell back again into his chair. "Let me rest a
little," he pleaded, "if I'm not in the way. I'm not fit company
for you, I know; I'll go when you tell me."
Randal refused to let him go at all. "You will stay here with me;
and if I happen to be away, there will be somebody in the house,
who is almost as fond of you as I am." He mentioned the name of
one of the old servants at Mount Morven, who had attached himself
to Randal after the breakup of the family. "And now rest," he
said, "and let me put this cushion under your head."
Herbert answered: "It's like being at home again"--and composed
himself to rest.
Keep Your Temper.
On the next day but one, Randal arranged his departure for
Sydenham, so as to arrive at the hotel an hour before the time
appointed for the dinner. His prospects of success, in pleading
for a favorable reception of his brother's message, were so
uncertain that he refrained--in fear of raising hopes which he
might not be able to justify--from taking Herbert into his
confidence. No one knew on what errand he was bent, when he left
the house. As he took his place in the carriage, the newspaper
boy appeared at the window as usual. The new number of a popular
weekly journal had that day been published. Randal bought it.
After reading one or two of the political articles, he arrived at
the columns specially devoted to "Fashionable Intelligence."
Caring nothing for that sort of news, he was turning over the
pages in search of the literary and dramatic articles, when a
name not unfamiliar to him caught his eye. He read the paragraph
in which it appeared.
"The charming widow, Mrs. Norman, is, we hear, among the
distinguished guests staying at Buck's Hotel. It is whispered
that the lady is to be shortly united to a retired naval officer
of Arctic fame; now better known, perhaps, as one of our leading
The allusion to Bennydeck was too plain to be mistaken. Randal
looked again at the first words in the paragraph. "The charming
widow!" Was it possible that this last word referred to
Catherine? To suppose her capable of assuming to be a widow,
and--if the child asked questions--of telling Kitty that her
father was dead, was, in Randal's estimation, to wrong her
cruelly. With his own suspicions steadily contradicting him, he
arrived at the hotel, obstinately believing that "the charming
widow" would prove to be a stranger.
A first disappointment was in store for him when he entered the
house. Mrs. Norman and her little daughter were out driving with
a friend, and were expected to return in good time for dinner.
Mrs. Presty was at home; she was reported to be in the garden of
Randal found her comfortably established in a summerhouse, with
her knitting in her hands, and a newspaper on her lap. She
advanced to meet him, all smiles and amiability. "How nice of you
to come so soon!" she began. Her keen penetration discovered
something in his face which checked the gayety of her welcome.
"You don't mean to say that you are going to spoil our pleasant
little dinner by bringing bad news!" she added, looking at him
"It depends on you to decide that," Randal replied.
"How very complimentary to a poor useless old woman! Don't be
mysterious, my dear. I don't belong to the generation which
raises storms in tea-cups, and calls skirmishes with savages
battles. Out with it!"
Randal handed his paper t o her, open at the right place. "There
is my news," he said.
Mrs. Presty looked at the paragraph, and handed _her_ newspaper
"I am indeed sorry to spoil your dramatic effect," she said. "But
you ought to have known that we are only half an hour behind you,
at Sydenham, in the matter of news. The report is premature, my
good friend. But if these newspaper people waited to find out
whether a report is true or false, how much gossip would society
get in its favorite newspapers? Besides, if it isn't true now, it
will be true next week. The author only says, 'It's whispered.'
How delicate of him! What a perfect gentleman!"
"Am I really to understand, Mrs. Presty, that Catherine--"
"You are to understand that Catherine is a widow. I say it with
pride, a widow of my making!"
"If this is one of your jokes, ma'am--"
"Nothing of the sort, sir."
"Are you aware, Mrs. Presty, that my brother--"
"Oh, don't talk of your brother! He's an obstacle in our way, and
we have been compelled to get rid of him."
Randal drew back a step. Mrs. Presty's audacity was something
more than he could understand. "Is this woman mad?" he said to
"Sit down," said Mrs. Presty. "If you are determined to make a
serious business of it--if you insist on my justifying
myself--you are to be pitied for not possessing a sense of humor,
but you shall have your own way. I am put on my defense. Very
well. You shall hear how my divorced daughter and my poor little
grandchild were treated at Sandyseal, after you left us."
Having related the circumstances, she suggested that Randal
should put himself in Catherine's place, before he ventured on
expressing an opinion. "Would you have exposed yourself to be
humiliated again in the same way?" she asked. "And would you have
seen your child made to suffer as well as yourself?"
"I should have kept in retirement for the future," he answered,
"and not have trusted my child and myself among strangers in
"Ah, indeed? And you would have condemned your poor little
daughter to solitude? You would have seen her pining for the
company of other children, and would have had no mercy on her? I
wonder what you would have done when Captain Bennydeck paid us a
visit at the seaside? He was introduced to Mrs. Norman, and to
Mrs. Norman's little girl, and we were all charmed with him. When
he and I happened to be left together he naturally wondered,
after having seen the beautiful wife, where the lucky husband
might be. If he had asked you about Mr. Norman, how would you
have answered him?"
"I should have told the truth."
"You would have said there was no Mr. Norman?"
"Exactly what I did! And the Captain of course concluded (after
having been introduced to Kitty) that Mrs. Norman was a widow. If
I had set him right, what would have become of my daughter's
reputation? If I had told the truth at this hotel, when everybody
wanted to know what Mrs. Norman, that handsome lady, was--what
would the consequences have been to Catherine and her little
girl? No! no! I have made the best of a miserable situation; I
have consulted the tranquillity of a cruelly injured woman and an
innocent child--with this inevitable result; I have been obliged
to treat your brother like a character in a novel. I have
ship-wrecked Herbert as the shortest way of answering
inconvenient questions. Vessel found bottom upward in the middle
of the Atlantic, and everybody on board drowned, of course. Worse
stories have been printed; I do assure you, worse stories have
Randal decided on leaving her. "Have you done all this with
Catherine's consent?" he asked as he got up from his chair.
"Catherine submits to circumstances, like a sensible woman."
"Does she submit to your telling Kitty that her father is dead?"
For the first time Mrs. Presty became serious.
"Wait a minute," she answered. "Before I consented to answer the
child's inquiries, I came to an understanding with her mother. I
said, 'Will you let Kitty see her father again?'"
The very question which Randal had promised to ask in his
brother's interests! "And how did Catherine answer you?" he
"Honestly. She said: 'I daren't!' After that, I had her mother's
authority for telling Kitty that she would never see her father
again. She asked directly if her father was dead--"
"That will do, Mrs. Presty. Your defense is thoroughly worthy of
your conduct in all other respects."
"Say thoroughly worthy of the course forced upon me and my
daughter by your brother's infamous conduct--and you will be
nearer the mark!"
Randal passed this over without notice. "Be so good," he said,
"as to tell Catherine that I try to make every possible allowance
for her, but that I cannot consent to sit at her dinner-table,
and that I dare not face my poor little niece, after what I have
Mrs. Presty recovered all her audacity. "A very wise decision,"
she remarked. "Your sour face would spoil the best dinner that
ever was put on the table. Have you any message for Captain
Randal asked if his friend was then at the hotel.
Mrs. Presty smiled significantly. "Not at the hotel, just now."
"Where is he?"
"Where he is every day, about this time--out driving with
Catherine and Kitty."
It was a relief to Randal--in the present state of Catherine's
relations toward Bennydeck--to return to London without having
seen his friend.
He took leave of Mrs. Presty with the formality due to a
stranger--he merely bowed. That incorrigible old woman treated
him with affectionate familiarity in return.
"Good-by, dear Randal. One moment before you go! Will it be of
any use if we invite you to the marriage?"
Arrived at the station, Randal found that he must wait for the
train. While he was walking up and down the platform with a mind
doubly distressed by anxiety about his brother and anxiety about
Sydney, the train from London came in. He stood, looking absently
at the passengers leaving the carriage on the opposite side of
the platform. Suddenly, a voice that he knew was audible, asking
the way to Buck's Hotel. He crossed the line in an instant, and
found himself face to face with Herbert.
Make the Best of It.
For a moment the two men looked at each other without speaking.
Herbert's wondering eyes accurately reflected his brother's
"What are you doing here?" he asked. Suspicion overclouded his
face as he put the question. "You have been to the hotel?" he
burst out; "you have seen Catherine?"
Randal could deny that he had seen Catherine, with perfect
truth--and did deny it in the plainest terms. Herbert was
satisfied. "In all my remembrance of you," he said, you have
never told me a lie. We have both seen the same newspaper, of
course--and you have been the first to clear the thing up. That's
it, isn't it?"
"I wonder who this other Mrs. Norman is; did you find out?"
"She's not Catherine, at any rate; I, for one, shall go home with
a lighter heart." He took his brother's arm, to return to the
other platform. "Do you know, Randal, I was almost afraid that
Catherine was the woman. The devil take the thing, and the people
who write in it!"
He snatched a newspaper out of his pocket as he spoke--tore it in
half--and threw it away. "Malcolm meant well, poor fellow," he
said, referring to the old servant, "but he made a miserable man
of me for all that."
Not satisfied with gossip in private, the greedy public appetite
devours gossip in print, and wants more of it than any one editor
can supply. Randal picked up the torn newspaper. It was not the
newspaper which he had bought at the station. Herbert had been
reading a rival journal, devoted to the interests of Society--in
which the report of Mrs. Norman's marriage was repeated, with
this difference, that it boldly alluded to Captain Bennydeck by
name. "Did Malcolm give you this?" Randal asked.
"Yes; he and the servant next door subscribe to take it in; and
Malcolm thought it might amuse me. It drove me out of the house
and into the railway. If it had driven me out of mind, I
shouldn't have been surprised."
"Gently, Herbert! Supposing the report had been true--?"
"After what you have told me, wh y should I suppose anything of
"Don't be angry; and do pray remember that the Divorce allows you
and Catherine to marry again, if you like."
Herbert became more unreasonable than ever. "If Catherine does
think of marrying again," he said, "the man will have to reckon
first with me. But that is not the point. You seem to have
forgotten that the woman at Buck's Hotel is described as a Widow.
The bare doubt that my divorced wife might be the woman was bad
enough--but what I wanted to find out was how she had passed off
her false pretense on our child. _That_ was what maddened me! No
more of it now. Have you seen Catherine lately?"
"I suppose she is as handsome as ever. When will you ask her to
let me see Kitty?"
"Leave that to me," was the one reply which Randal could venture
to make at the moment.
The serious embarrassments that surrounded him were thickening
fast. His natural frank nature urged him to undeceive Herbert. If
he followed his inclinations, in the near neighborhood of the
hotel, who could say what disasters might not ensue, in his
brother's present frame of mind? If he made the disclosure on
their return to the house, he would be only running the same risk
of consequences, after an interval of delay; and, if he remained
silent, the march of events might, at any moment, lead to the
discovery of what he had concealed. Add to this, that his
confidence in Catherine had been rudely shaken. Having allowed
herself to be entrapped into the deception proposed by her
mother, and having thus far persevered in that deception, were
the chances in favor of her revealing her true
position--especially if she was disposed to encourage Bennydeck's
suit? Randal's loyalty to Catherine hesitated to decide that
serious question against the woman whom he had known, trusted,
and admired for so many years. In any event, her second marriage
would lead to one disastrous result. It would sooner or later
come to Herbert's ears. In the meantime, after what Mrs. Presty
had confessed, the cruel falsehood which had checked poor Kitty's
natural inquiries raised an insuperable obstacle to a meeting
between father and child.
If Randal shrank from the prospect which thus presented itself to
him, in his relations with his brother, and if his thoughts
reverted to Sydney Westerfield, other reasons for apprehension
found their way into his mind.
He had promised to do his best toward persuading Catherine to
grant Sydney an interview. To perform that promise appeared to be
now simply impossible. Under the exasperating influence of a
disappointment for which she was not prepared, it was hard to say
what act of imprudence Sydney might not commit. Even the chance
of successfully confiding her to Bennydeck's protection had lost
something of its fair promise, since Randal's visit to Sydenham.
That the Captain would welcome his friend's daughter as
affectionately as if she had been his own child, was not to be
doubted for a moment. But that she would receive the same
unremitting attention, while he was courting Catherine, which
would have been offered to her under other circumstances, was not
to be hoped. Be the results, however, what they might, Randal
could see but one plain course before him now. He decided on
hastening Sydney's introduction to Bennydeck, and on writing at
once to prepare the Captain for that event.
Even this apparently simple proceeding required examination in
its different bearings, before he could begin his letter.
Would he be justified in alluding to the report which associated
Bennydeck with Catherine? Considerations of delicacy seemed to
forbid taking this liberty, even with an intimate friend. It was
for the Captain to confirm what Mrs. Presty had said of him, if
he thought it desirable to touch on the subject in his reply.
Besides, looking to Catherine's interest--and not forgetting how
she had suffered--had Randal any right to regard with other than
friendly feelings a second marriage, which united her to a man
morally and intellectually the superior of her first husband?
What happier future could await her--especially if she justified
Randal's past experience of all that was candid and truthful in
her character--than to become his friend's wife?
Written under the modifying influence of these conclusions, his
letter contained the few words that follow:
"I have news for you which I am sure you will be glad to hear.
Your old friend's daughter has abandoned her sinful , and has
made sacrifices which prove the sincerity of her repentance.
Without entering into particulars which may be mercifully
dismissed from notice, let me only assure you that I answer for
Sydney Westerfield as being worthy of the fatherly interest which
you feel in her. Shall I say that she may expect an early visit
from you, when I see her to-morrow? I don't doubt that I am free
already to do this; but it will encourage the poor girl, if I can
speak with your authority."
He added Sydney's address in a postscript, and dispatched his
letter that evening.
On the afternoon of the next day two letters were delivered to
Randal, bearing the Sydenham postmark
The first which he happened to take up was addressed to him in
Mrs. Presty's handwriting. His opinion of this correspondent was
expressed in prompt action--he threw the letter, unopened, into
the waste-paper basket
The next letter was from Bennydeck, written in the kindest terms,
but containing no allusion to any contemplated change in his
life. He would not be able (he wrote) to leave Sydenham for a day
or two. No explanation of the cause of this delay followed. But
it might, perhaps, be excusable to infer that the marriage had
not yet been decided on, and that the Captain's proposals were
still waiting for Catherine's reply.
Randal put the letter in his pocket and went at once to Sydney's
Try to Excuse Her.
The weather had been unusually warm. Of all oppressive summers a
hot summer in London is the hardest to endure. The little
exercise that Sydney could take was, as Randal knew, deferred
until the evening. On asking for her, he was surprised to hear
that she had gone out.
"Is she walking?" he asked, "on a day such as this?"
No: she was too much overcome by the heat to be able to walk. The
landlady's boy had been sent to fetch a cab, and he had heard
Miss Westerfield tell the driver to go to Lincoln's Inn Fields.
The address at once reminded Randal of Mr. Sarrazin. On the
chance of making a discovery, he went to the lawyer's office. It
had struck him as being just possible that Sydney might have
called there for the second time; and, on making inquiry, he
found that his surmise was correct. Miss Westerfield had called,
and had gone away again more than an hour since.
Having mentioned this circumstance, good Mr. Sarrazin rather
abruptly changed the subject.
He began to talk of the weather, and, like everybody else, he
complained of the heat. Receiving no encouragement so far, he
selected politics as his next topic. Randal was unapproachably
indifferent to the state of parties, and the urgent necessity for
reform. Still bent, as it seemed, on preventing his visitor from
taking a leading part in the conversation, Mr. Sarrazin tried the
exercise of hospitality next. He opened his cigar-case, and
entered eagerly into the merits of his cigars; he proposed a cool
drink, and described the right method of making it as
distinguished from the wrong. Randal was not thirsty, and was not
inclined to smoke. Would the pertinacious lawyer give way at
last? In appearance, at least, he submitted to defeat. "You want
something of me, my friend," he said, with a patient smile. "What
"I want to know why Miss Westerfield called on you?"
Randal flattered himself that he had made a prevaricating reply
simply impossible. Nothing of the sort! Mr. Sarrazin slipped
through his fingers once more. The unwritten laws of gallantry
afforded him a refuge now.
"The most inviolate respect," he solemnly declared, "is due to a
lady's confidence--and, what is more, to a young lady's
confidence--and, what is more yet, to a pretty young lady's
confidence. The sex, my dear fellow! M ust I recall your
attention to what is due to the sex?"
This little outbreak of the foreign side of his friend's
character was no novelty to Randal. He remained as indifferent to
the inviolate claims of the sex as if he had been an old man of
"Did Miss Westerfield say anything about me?" was his next
Slippery Mr. Sarrazin slid into another refuge: he entered a
"Here is a change of persons and places!" he exclaimed. "Am I a
witness of the court of justice--and are you the lawyer who
examines me? My memory is defective, my learned friend. _Non mi
ricordo._ I know nothing about it."
Randal changed his tone. "We have amused ourselves long enough,"
he said. "I have serious reasons, Sarrazin, for wishing to know
what passed between Miss Westerfield and you--and I trust my old
friend to relieve my anxiety."
The lawyer was accustomed to say of himself that he never did
things by halves. His answer to Randal offered a proof of his
accurate estimate of his own character
"Your old friend will deserve your confidence in him," he
answered. "You want to know why Miss Westerfield called here. Her
object in view was to twist me round her finger--and I beg to
inform you that she has completely succeeded. My dear Randal,
this pretty creature's cunning is remarkable even for a woman. I
am an old lawyer, skilled in the ways of the world--and a young
girl has completely overreached me. She asked--oh, heavens, how
innocently!--if Mrs. Norman was likely to make a long stay at her
present place of residence."
Randal interrupted him. "You don't mean to tell me you have given
her Catherine's address?"
"Buck's Hotel, Sydenham," Mr. Sarrazin answered. "She has got the
address down in her nice little pocketbook."
"What amazing weakness!" Randal exclaimed.
Mr. Sarrazin cordially agreed with him. "Amazing weakness, as you
say. Pretty Miss Sydney has extracted more things, besides the
address. She knows that Mrs. Norman is here on business relating
to new investments of her money. She knows besides that one of
the trustees is keeping us waiting. She also made sensible
remarks. She mentioned having heard Mrs. Norman say that the air
of London never agreed with her; and she hoped that a
comparatively healthy neighborhood had been chosen for Mrs.
Norman's place of residence. This, you see, was leading up to the
discovery of the address. The spirit of mischief possessed me; I
allowed Miss Westerfield to take a little peep at the truth.
'Mrs. Norman is not actually in London,' I said; 'she is only in
the neighborhood.' For what followed on this, my experience of
ladies ought to have prepared me. I am ashamed to say _this_ lady
took me completely by surprise."
"What did she do?"
"Fell on her knees, poor dear--and said: 'Oh, Mr. Sarrazin, be
kinder to me than you have ever been yet; tell me where Mrs.
Norman is!'--I put her back in her chair, and I took her
handkerchief out of her pocket and I wiped her eyes."
"And then you told her the address?"
"I was near it, but I didn't do it yet. I asked what you had done
in the matter. Alas, your kind heart has led you to promise more
than you could perform. She had waited to hear from you if Mrs.
Norman consented to see her, and had waited in vain. Hard on her,
wasn't it? I was sorry, but I was still obdurate. I only felt the
symptoms which warned me that I was going to make a fool of
myself, when she let me into her secret for the first time, and
said plainly what she wanted with Mrs. Norman. Her tears and her
entreaties I had resisted. The confession of her motives
overpowered me. It is right," cried Mr. Sarrazin, suddenly
warming into enthusiasm, "that these two women should meet.
Remember how that poor girl has proved that her repentance is no
sham. I say, she has a right to tell, and the lady whom she has
injured has a right to hear, what she has done to atone for the
past, what confession she is willing to make to the one woman in
the world (though she _is_ a divorced woman) who is most
interested in hearing what Miss Westerfield's life has been with
that wretched brother of yours. Ah, yes, I know what the English
cant might say. Away with the English cant! it is the worst
obstacle to the progress of the English nation!"
Randal listened absently: he was thinking.
There could be little doubt to what destination Sydney
Westerfield had betaken herself, when she left the lawyer's
office. At that moment, perhaps, she and Catherine were
together--and together alone.
Mr. Sarrazin had noticed his friend's silence. "Is it possible
you don't agree with me?" he asked
"I don't feel as hopefully as you do, if these two ladies meet."
"Ah, my friend, you are not a sanguine man by nature. If Mrs.
Norman treats our poor Sydney just as a commonplace ill-tempered
woman would treat her, I shall be surprised indeed. Say, if you
like, that she will be insulted--of this I am sure, she will not
return it; there is no expiation that is too bitter to be endured
by that resolute little creature. Her fine nature has been
tempered by adversity. A hard life has been Sydney's, depend upon
it, in the years before you and I met with her. Good heavens!
What would my wife say if she heard me? The women are nice, but
they have their drawbacks. Let us wait till tomorrow, my dear
boy; and let us believe in Sydney without allowing our wives--I
beg your pardon, I mean _my_ wife--to suspect in what forbidden
directions our sympathies are leading us. Oh, for shame!"
Who could persist in feeling depressed in the company of such a
man as this? Randal went home with the influence of Mr.
Sarrazin's sanguine nature in undisturbed possession of him,
until his old servant's gloomy face confronted him at the door.
"Anything gone wrong, Malcolm?"
"I'm sorry to say, sir, Mr. Herbert has left us."
"Left us! Why?"
"I don't know, sir."
"Where has he gone?"
"He didn't tell me."
"Is there no letter? No message?"
"There's a message, sir. Mr. Herbert came back--"
"Stop! Where had he been when he came back?"
"He said he felt a little lonely after you went out, and he
thought it might cheer him up if he went to the club. I was to
tell you where he had gone if you asked what had become of him.
He said it kindly and pleasantly--quite like himself, sir. But,
when he came back--if you'll excuse my saying so--I never saw a
man in a worse temper. 'Tell my brother I am obliged to him for
his hospitality, and I won't take advantage of it any longer.'
That was Mr. Herbert's message. I tried to say a word. He banged
the door, and away he went."
Even Randal's patient and gentle nature rose in revolt against
his brother's treatment of him. He entered his sitting-room in
silence. Malcolm followed, and pointed to a letter on the table.
"I think you must have thrown it away by mistake, sir," the old
man explained; "I found it in the waste-paper basket." He bowed
with the unfailing respect of the old school, and withdrew.
Randal's first resolve was to dismiss his brother from further
consideration. "Kindness is thrown away on Herbert," he thought;
"I shall treat him for the future as he has treated me."
But his brother was still in his mind. He opened Mrs. Presty's
letter--on the chance that it might turn the current of his
thoughts in a new direction.
In spite of Mrs. Presty, in spite of himself, his heart softened
toward the man who had behaved so badly to him. Instead of
reading the letter, he was now trying to discover a connection
between his brother's visit to the club and his brother's angry
message. Had Herbert heard something said, among gossiping
members in the smoking-room, which might account for his conduct?
If Randal had belonged to the club he would have gone there to
make inquiries. How could he get the information that he wanted,
in some other way?
After considering it for a while, he remembered the dinner that
he had given to his friend Sarrazin on his return from the United
States, and the departure of the lawyer to his club, with a
purpose in view which interested them both. It was the same club
to which Herbert belonged. Randal wrote at once to Mr. Sarrazin,
mentioning what had happened, and acknowledging the anxiety tha t
weighed on his mind.
Having instructed Malcolm to take the letter to the lawyer's
house, and, if he was not at home, to inquire where he might be
found, Randal adopted the readiest means of composing himself, in
the servant's absence, by lighting his pipe.
He was enveloped in clouds of tobacco-smoke--the only clouds
which we can trust never to prove unworthy of our confidence in
them--when Mrs. Presty's letter caught his attention. If the
month had been January instead of July, he would have thrown it
into the fire. Under present circumstances, he took it up and
"I bear no malice, dear Randal, and I write to you as
affectionately as if you had kept your temper on the occasion
when we last met.
"You will be pleased to hear that Catherine was as thoroughly
distressed as you could wish her to be, when it became my
disagreeable duty to mention what had passed between us, by way
of accounting for your absence. She was quite unable to rally her
spirits, even with dear Captain Bennydeck present to encourage
"'I am not receiving you as I ought,' she said to him, when we
began dinner, 'but there is perhaps some excuse for me. I have
lost the regard and esteem of an old friend, who has cruelly
wronged me.' From motives of delicacy (which I don't expect you
to understand) she refrained from mentioning your name. The
prettiest answer that I ever heard was the answer that the
Captain returned. 'Let the true friend,' he said, 'take the place
in your heart which the false friend has lost.'
"He kissed her hand. If you had seen how he did it, and how she
looked at him, you would have felt that you had done more toward
persuading my daughter to marry the Captain than any other person
about her, myself included. You had deserted her; you had thrown
her back on the one true friend left. Thank you, Randal. In our
best interests, thank you.
"It is needless to add that I got out of the way, and took Kitty
with me, at the earliest opportunity--and left them by
"At bed-time I went into Catherine's room. Our interview began
and ended in less than a minute. It was useless to ask if the
Captain had proposed marriage; her agitation sufficiently
informed me of what had happened. My one question was: 'Dearest
Catherine, have you said Yes?' She turned shockingly pale, and
answered: 'I have not said No.' Could anything be more
encouraging? God bless you; we shall meet at the wedding."
Randal laid down the letter and filled his pipe again. He was not
in the least exasperated; he was only anxious to hear from Mr.
Sarrazin. If Mrs. Presty had seen him at that moment, she would
have said to herself: "I forgot the wretch was a smoker."
In half an hour more the door was opened by Malcolm, and Mr.
Sarrazin in person answered his friend.
"There are no such incorrigible gossips," he said, "as men in the
smoking-room of a club. Those popular newspapers began the
mischief, and the editor of one of them completed it. How he got
his information I am not able to say. The small-talk turned on
that report about the charming widow; and the editor
congratulated himself on the delicacy of his conduct. 'When the
paragraph reached me,' he said, 'the writer mentioned that Mrs.
Norman was that well-known lady, the divorced Mrs. Herbert
Linley. I thought this rather too bad, and I cut it out.' Your
brother appears to have been present--but he seldom goes to the
club, and none of the members knew him even by sight. Shall I
give you a light? Your pipe's out."
Randal's feelings, at that moment, were not within reach of the
comforting influence of tobacco.
"Do you think your brother has gone to Sydenham?" Mr. Sarrazin
Randal answered: "I haven't a doubt of it now."
Know Your Own Mind.
The garden of the hotel at Sydenham had originally belonged to a
private house. Of great extent, it had been laid out in excellent
taste. Flower-beds and lawns, a handsome fountain, seats shaded
by groups of fine trees at their full growth, completed the
pastoral charm of the place. A winding path led across the garden
from the back of the house. It had been continued by the
speculator who purchased the property, until it reached a road at
the extremity of the grounds which communicated with the Crystal
Palace. Visitors to the hotel had such pleasant associations with
the garden that many of them returned at future opportunities
instead of trying the attraction of some other place. Various
tastes and different ages found their wishes equally consulted
here. Children rejoiced in the finest playground they had ever
seen. Remote walks, secluded among shrubberies, invited persons
of reserved disposition who came as strangers, and as strangers
desired to remain. The fountain and the lawn collected sociable
visitors, who were always ready to make acquaintance with each
other. Even the amateur artist could take liberties with Nature,
and find the accommodating limits of the garden sufficient for
his purpose. Trees in the foreground sat to him for likenesses
that were never recognized; and hills submitted to unprovoked
familiarities, on behalf of brushes which were not daunted by
On the day after the dinner which had so deplorably failed, in
respect of one of the guests invited, to fulfill Catherine's
anticipations, there was a festival at the Palace. It had proved
so generally attractive to the guests at the hotel that the
grounds were almost deserted.
As the sun declined, on a lovely summer evening, the few invalids
feebly wandering about the flower-beds, or resting under the
trees, began to return to the house in dread of the dew.
Catherine and her child, with the nursemaid in attendance, were
left alone in the garden. Kitty found her mother, as she openly
declared, "not such good company as usual." Since the day when
her grandmother had said the fatal words which checked all
further allusion to her father, the child had shown a disposition
to complain, if she was not constantly amused. She complained of
Mrs. Presty now.
"I think grandmamma might have taken me to the Crystal Palace,"
"My dear, your grandmamma has friends with her--ladies and
gentlemen who don't care to be troubled with a child."
Kitty received this information in a very unamiable spirit. "I
hate ladies and gentlemen!" she said.
"Even Captain Bennydeck?" her mother asked.
"No; I like my nice Captain. And I like the waiters. They would
take me to the Crystal Palace--only they're always busy. I wish
it was bedtime; I don't know what to do with myself."
"Take a little walk with Susan."
"Where shall I go?"
Catherine looked toward the gate which opened on the road, and
proposed a visit to the old man who kept the lodge.
Kitty shook her head. There was an objection to the old man. "He
asks questions; he wants to know how I get on with my sums. He's
proud of his summing; and he finds me out when I'm wrong. I don't
like the lodge-keeper."
Catherine looked the other way, toward the house. The pleasant
fall of water in the basin of the distant fountain was just
audible. "Go and feed the gold-fishes," she suggested.
This was a prospect of amusement which at once raised Kitty's
spirits. "That's the thing!" she cried, and ran off to the
fountain, with the nursemaid after her.
Catherine seated herself under the trees, and watched in solitude
the decline of the sun in a cloudless sky. The memory of the
happy years of her marriage had never been so sadly and
persistently present to her mind as at this time, when the choice
of another married life waited her decision to become an
accomplished fact. Remembrances of the past, which she had such
bitter reason to regret, and forebodings of the future, in which
she was more than half inclined to believe, oppressed her at one
and the same moment. She thought of the different circumstances,
so widely separated by time, under which Herbert (years ago) and
Bennydeck (twenty-four hours since) had each owned his love, and
pleaded for an indulgent hearing. Her mind contrasted the
Pressed by the faithless man who had so cruelly wronged her in
after-years, she only wondered why he had waited so long before h
e asked her to marry him. Addressed with equal ardor by that
other man, whose age, whose character, whose modest devotion
offered her every assurance of happiness that a woman could
desire, she had struggled against herself, and had begged him to
give her a day to consider. That day was now drawing to an end.
As she watched the setting sun, the phantom of her guilty husband
darkened the heavenly light; imbittered the distrust of herself
which made her afraid to say Yes; and left her helpless before
the hesitation which prevented her from saying No.
The figure of a man appeared on the lonely path that led to the
Impulsively she rose from her seat as he advanced. She sat down
again. After that first act of indecision, the flutter of her
spirits abated; she was able to think.
To avoid him, after he had spared her at her own request, would
have been an act of ingratitude: to receive him was to place
herself once more in the false position of a woman too undecided
to know her own mind. Forced to choose between these
alternatives, her true regard for Bennydeck forbade her to think
of herself, and encouraged her to wait for him. As he came
nearer, she saw anxiety in his face and observed an open letter
in his hand. He smiled as he approached her, and asked leave to
take a chair at her side. At the same time, when he perceived
that she had noticed his letter, he put it away hurriedly in his
"I hope nothing has happened to annoy you," she said.
He smiled again; and asked if she was thinking of his letter. "It
is only a report," he added, "from my second in command, whom I
have left in charge of my Home. He is an excellent man; but I am
afraid his temper is not proof against the ingratitude which we
sometimes meet with. He doesn't yet make allowances for what even
the best natures suffer, under the deteriorating influence of
self-distrust and despair. No, I am not anxious about the results
of this case. I forget all my anxieties (except one) when I am
His eyes told her that he was about to return to the one subject
that she dreaded. She tried--as women will try, in the little
emergencies of their lives--to gain time.
"I am interested about your Home," she said: "I want to know what
sort of place it is. Is the discipline very severe?"
"There is no disciplined," he answered warmly. "My one object is
to be a friend to my friendless fellow-creatures; and my one way
of governing them is to follow the teaching of the Sermon on the
Mount. Whatever else I may remind them of, when they come to me,
I am determined not to remind them of a prison. For this
reason--though I pity the hardened wanderers of the streets, I
don't open my doors to them. Many a refuge, in which discipline
is inevitable, is open to these poor sinners already. My welcome
is offered to penitents and sufferers of another kind--who have
fallen from positions in life, in which the sense of honor has
been cultivated; whose despair is associated with remembrances
which I may so encourage, with the New Testament to help me, as
to lead them back to the religious influences under which their
purer and happier lives may have been passed. Here and there I
meet with disappointments. But I persist in my system of trusting
them as freely as if they were my own children; and, for the most
part, they justify my confidence in them. On the day--if it ever
comes--when I find discipline necessary, I shall suffer my
disappointment and close my doors."
"Is your house open," Catherine asked, "to men and women alike?"
He was eager to speak with her on a subject more interesting to
him even than his Home. Answering her question, in this frame of
mind, his thoughts wandered; he drew lines absently with his
walking-stick on the soft earth under the trees.
"The means at my disposal," he said, "are limited. I have been
obliged to choose between the men and the women."
"And you have chosen women?"
"Because a lost woman is a more friendless creature than a lost
"Do they come to you? or do you look for them?"
"They mostly come to me. There is one young woman, however, now
waiting to see me, whom I have been looking for. I am deeply
interested in her."
"Is it her beauty that interests you?"
"I have not seen her since she was a child. She is the daughter
of an old friend of mine, who died many years ago."
"And with that claim on you, you keep her waiting?"
He let his stick drop on the ground and looked at Catherine; but
he offered no explanation of his strange conduct. She was a
little disappointed. "You have been some time away from your
Home," she said; still searching for his reasons. "When do you go
"I go back," he answered, "when I know whether I may thank God
for being the happiest man living."
They were both silent.
Think of Consequences.
Catherine listened to the fall of water in the basin of the
fountain. She was conscious of a faint hope--a hope unworthy of
her--that Kitty might get weary of the gold-fishes, and might
interrupt them. No such thing happened; no stranger appeared on
the path which wound through the garden. She was alone with him.
The influences of the still and fragrant summer evening were
influences which breathed of love.
"Have you thought of me since yesterday?" he asked gently.
She owned that she had thought of him.
"Is there no hope that your heart will ever incline toward me?"
"I daren't consult my heart. If I had only to consider my own
feelings--" She stopped.
"What else have you to consider?"
"My past life--how I have suffered, and what I have to repent
"Has your married life not been a happy one?" he asked.
"Not a happy one--in the end," she answered.
"Through no fault of yours, I am sure?"
"Through no fault of mine, certainly."
"And yet you said just now that you had something to repent of?"
"I was not thinking of my husband, Captain Bennydeck, when I said
that. If I have injured any person, the person is myself."
She was thinking of that fatal concession to the advice of her
mother, and to the interests of her child, which placed her in a
false position toward the honest man who loved her and trusted
her. If he had been less innocent in the ways of the world, and
not so devotedly fond of her, he might, little by little, have
persuaded Catherine to run the risk of shocking him by a
confession of the truth. As it was, his confidence in her raised
him high above the reach of suspicions which might have occurred
to other men. He saw her turn pale; he saw distress in her face,
which he interpreted as a silent reproach to him for the
questions he had asked.
"I hope you will forgive me?" he said simply.
She was astonished. "What have I to forgive?"
"My want of delicacy."
"Oh, Captain Bennydeck, you speak of one of your great merits as
if it were a fault! Over and over again I have noticed your
delicacy, and admired it."
He was too deeply in earnest to abandon his doubts of himself.
"I have ignorantly led you to think of your sorrows," he said;
"sorrows that I cannot console. I don't deserve to be forgiven.
May I make the one excuse in my power? May I speak of myself?"
She told him by a gesture that he had made a needless request.
"The life I have led," he resumed, "accounts, perhaps, in some
degree, for what is deficient in me. At school, I was not a
popular boy; I only made one friend, and he has long since been
numbered with the dead. Of my life at college, and afterward in
London, I dare not speak to you; I look back at it with horror.
My school-friend decided my choice of a profession; he went into
the navy. After a while, not knowing what else to do, I followed
his example. I liked the life--I may say the sea saved me. For
years, I was never on shore for more than a few weeks at a time.
I saw nothing of society; I was hardly ever in the company of
ladies. The next change in my life associated me with an Arctic
expedition. God forbid I should tell you of what men go through
who are lost in the regions of eternal ice! Let me only say I was
preserved--miraculously preserved--to profit by that dreadful
experience. It made a new man of me; it altered me ( I hope for
the better) into what I am now. Oh, I feel that I ought to have
kept my secret yesterday--I mean my daring to love you. I should
have waited till you knew more of me; till my conduct pleased you
perhaps, and spoke for me. You won't laugh, I am sure, if I
confess (at my age!) that I am inexperienced. Never till I met
you have I known what true love is--and this at forty years old.
How some people would laugh! I own it seems melancholy to me."
"No; not melancholy."
Her voice trembled. Agitation, which it was not a pain but a
luxury to feel, was gently taking possession of her. Where
another man might have seen that her tenderness was getting the
better of her discretion, and might have presumed on the
discovery, this man, innocently blind to his own interests, never
even attempted to take advantage of her. No more certain way
could have been devised, by the most artful lover, of touching
the heart of a generous woman, and making it his own. The
influence exerted over Catherine by the virtues of Bennydeck's
character--his unaffected kindness, his manly sympathy, his
religious convictions so deeply felt, so modestly restrained from
claiming notice--had been steadily increasing in the intimacy of
daily intercourse. Catherine had never felt his ascendancy over
her as strongly as she felt it now. By fine degrees, the warning
remembrances which had hitherto made her hesitate lost their hold
on her memory. Hardly conscious herself of what she was doing,
she began to search his feelings in his own presence. Such love
as his had been unknown in her experience; the luxury of looking
into it, and sounding it to its inmost depths, was more than the
woman's nature could resist.
"I think you hardly do yourself justice," she said. "Surely you
don't regret having felt for me so truly, when I told you
yesterday that my old friend had deserted me?"
"Do you like to remember that you showed no jealous curiosity to
know who my friend was?"
"I should have been ashamed of myself if I had asked the
"And did you believe that I had a good motive--a motive which you
might yourself have appreciated--for not telling you the name of
"Is he some one whom I know?"
"Ought you to ask me that, after what I have just said?"
"Pray forgive me! I spoke without thinking."
"I can hardly believe it, when I remember how you spoke to me
yesterday. I could never have supposed, before we became
acquainted with each other, that it was in the nature of a man to
understand me so perfectly, to be so gentle and so considerate in
feeling for my distress. You confused me a little, I must own, by
what you said afterward. But I am not sure that ought to be
severe in blaming you. Sympathy--I mean such sympathy as
yours--sometimes says more than discretion can always approve.
Have you not found it so yourself?"
"I have found it so with you."
"And perhaps I have shown a little too plainly how dependent I am
on you--how dreadful it would be to me if I lost you too as a
She blushed as she said it. When the words had escaped her, she
felt that they might bear another meaning than the simple meaning
which she had attached to them. He took her hand; his doubts of
himself, his needless fear of offending her, restrained him no
"You can never lose me," he said, "if you will only let me be the
nearest friend that a woman can have. Bear with me, dearest! I
ask for so much; I have so little to offer in return. I dream of
a life with you which is perhaps too perfectly happy to be
enjoyed on earth. And yet, I cannot resign my delusion. Must my
poor heart always long for happiness which is beyond my reach? If
an overruling Providence guides our course through this world,
may we not sometimes hope for happier ends than our mortal eyes
He waited a moment--and sighed--and dropped her hand. She hid her
face; she knew what it would tell him: she was ashamed to let him
"I didn't mean to distress you," he said sadly.
She let him see her face. For a moment only, she looked at
him--and then let silence tell him the rest.
His arms closed round her. Slowly, the glory of the sun faded
from the heavens, and the soft summer twilight fell over the
earth. "I can't speak," he whispered; "my happiness is too much
"Are you sure of your happiness?" she asked.
"Could I think as I am thinking now, if I were not sure of it?"
"Are you thinking of _me?_"
"Of you--and of all that you will be to me in the future. Oh, my
angel, if God grants us many years to come, what a perfect life I
"Tell me--what do you see?"
"I see a husband and wife who are all in all to each other. If
friends come to us, we are glad to bid them welcome; but we are
always happiest by ourselves."
"Do we live in retirement?"
"We live where you like best to live. Shall it be in the
"Yes! yes! You have spoken of the sea as you might have spoken of
your best friend--we will be near the sea. But I must not keep
you selfishly all to myself. I must remember how good you have
been to poor creatures who don't feel our happiness, and who need
your kindness. Perhaps I might help you? Do you doubt it?"
"I only doubt whether I ought to let you see what I have seen; I
am only afraid of the risk of making you unhappy. You tempt me to
run the risk. The help of a woman--and of such a woman as you
are--is the one thing I have wanted. Your influence would succeed
where my influence has often failed. How good, how thoughtful you
"I only want to be worthy of you," she said, humbly. "When may I
see your Home?"
He drew her closer to him: tenderly and timidly he kissed her for
the first time. "It rests with you," he answered. "When will you
be my wife?"
She hesitated; he felt her trembling. "Is there any obstacle?" he
Before she could reply, Kitty's voice was heard calling to her
mother--Kitty ran up to them.
Catherine turned cold as the child caught her by the hand,
eagerly claiming her attention. All that she should have
remembered, all that she had forgotten in a few bright moments of
illusion, rose in judgment against her, and struck her mind
prostrate in an instant, when she felt Kitty's touch.
Bennydeck saw the change. Was it possible that the child's sudden
appearance had startled her? Kitty had something to say, and said
it before he could speak.
"Mamma, I want to go where the other children are going. Susan's
gone to her supper. You take me."
Her mother was not even listening. Kitty turned impatiently to
Bennydeck. "Why won't mamma speak to me?" she asked. He quieted
her by a word. "You shall go with me." His anxiety about
Catherine was more than he could endure. "Pray let me take you
back to the house," he said. "I am afraid you are not well."
"I shall be better directly. Do me a kindness--take the child!"
She spoke faintly and vacantly. Bennydeck hesitated. She lifted
her trembling hands in entreaty. "I beg you will leave me!" Her
voice, her manner, made it impossible to disobey. He turned
resignedly to Kitty and asked which way she wanted to go. The
child pointed down the path to one of the towers of the Crystal
Palace, visible in the distance. "The governess has taken the
others to see the company go away," she said; "I want to go too."
Bennydeck looked back before he lost sight of Catherine.
She remained seated, in the attitude in which he had left her. At
the further end of the path which led to the hotel, he thought he
saw a figure in the twilight, approaching from the house. There
would be help near, if Catherine wanted it.
His uneasy mind was in some degree relieved, as he and Kitty left
the garden together.
Love Your Enemies.
She tried to think of Bennydeck.
Her eyes followed him as long as he was in sight, but her
thoughts wandered. To look at him now was to look at the little
companion walking by his side. Still, the child reminded her of
the living father; still, the child innocently tortured her with
the consciousness of deceit. The faithless man from whom the law
had released her, possessed himself of her thoughts, in spite of
the law. He, and he only, was the visionary compani on of her
solitude when she was left by herself.
Did he remind her of the sin that he had committed?--of the
insult that he had inflicted on the woman whom he had vowed to
love and cherish? No! he recalled to her the years of love that
she had passed by his side; he upbraided her with the happiness
which she had owed to him, in the prime and glory of her life.
Woman! set _that_ against the wrong which I have done to you. You
have the right to condemn me, and Society has the right to
condemn me--but I am your child's father still. Forget me if you
All thought will bear the test of solitude, excepting only the
thought that finds its origin in hopeless self-reproach. The soft
mystery of twilight, the solemn silence of the slowly-coming
night, daunted Catherine in that lonely place. She rose to return
to light and human beings. As she set her face toward the house,
a discovery confronted her. She was not alone.
A woman was standing on the path, apparently looking at her.
In the dim light, and at the distance between them, recognition
of the woman was impossible. She neither moved nor spoke.
Strained to their utmost point of tension, Catherine's nerves
quivered at the sight of that shadowy solitary figure. She
dropped back on the seat. In tones that trembled she said: "Who
are you? What do you want?"
The voice that answered was, like her own voice, faint with fear.
It said: "I want a word with you."
Moving slowly forward--stopping--moving onward again--hesitating
again--the woman at last approached. There was light enough left
to reveal her face, now that she was near. It was the face of
The survival of childhood, in the mature human being, betrays
itself most readily in the sex that bears children. The chances
and changes of life show the child's mobility of emotion
constantly associating itself with the passions of the woman. At
the moment of recognition the troubled mind of Catherine was
instantly steadied, under the influence of that coarsest sense
which levels us with the animals--the sense of anger.
"I am amazed at your audacity," she said.
There was no resentment--there was only patient submission in
"Twice I have approached the house in which you are living; and
twice my courage has failed me. I have gone away again--I have
walked, I don't know where, I don't know how far. Shame and fear
seemed to be insensible to fatigue. This is my third attempt. If
I was a little nearer to you, I think you would see what the
effort has cost me. I have not much to say. May I ask you to hear
"You have taken me by surprise, Miss Westerfield. You have no
right to do that; I refuse to hear you."
"Try, madam, to bear in mind that no unhappy creature, in my
place, would expose herself to your anger and contempt without a
serious reason. Will you think again?"
Sydney turned to go away--and suddenly stopped.
Another person was advancing from the hotel; an interruption, a
trivial domestic interruption, presented itself. The nursemaid
had missed the child, and had come into the garden to see if she
was with her mother.
"Where is Miss Kitty, ma'am?" the girl asked.
Her mistress told her what had happened, and sent her to the
Palace to relieve Captain Bennydeck of the charge that he had
undertaken. Susan listened, looking at Sydney and recognizing the
familiar face. As the girl moved away, Sydney spoke to her.
"I hope little Kitty is well and happy?"
The mother does not live who could have resisted the tone in
which that question was put. The broken heart, the love for the
child that still lived in it, spoke in accents that even touched
the servant. She came back; remembering the happy days when the
governess had won their hearts at Mount Morven, and, for a moment
at least, remembering nothing else.
"Quite well and happy, miss, thank you," Susan said.
As she hurried away on her errand, she saw her mistress beckon to
Sydney to return, and place a chair for her. The nursemaid was
not near enough to hear what followed.
"Miss Westerfield, will you forget what I said just now?" With
those words, Catherine pointed to the chair. "I am ready to hear
you," she resumed--"but I have something to ask first. Does what
you wish to say to me relate only to yourself?"
"It relates to another person, as well as to myself."
That reply, and the inference to which it led, tried Catherine's
resolution to preserve her self-control, as nothing had tried it
"If that other person," she began, "means Mr. Herbert Linley--"
Sydney interrupted her, in words which she was entirely
unprepared to hear.
"I shall never see Mr. Herbert Linley again."
"Has he deserted you?"
"No. It is _I_ who have left _him._"
The emphasis laid on that one word forced Sydney to assert
herself for the first time.
"If I had not left him of my own free will," she said, "what else
would excuse me for venturing to come here?"
Catherine's sense of justice felt the force of that reply. At the
same time her sense of injury set its own construction on
Sydney's motive. "Has his cruelty driven you away from him?" she
"If he has been cruel to me," Sydney answered, "do you think I
should have come here to complain of it to You? Do me the justice
to believe that I am not capable of such self-degradation as
that. I have nothing to complain of."
"And yet you have left him?"
"He has been all that is kind and considerate: he has done
everything that a man in his unhappy position could do to set my
mind at ease. And yet I have left him. Oh, I claim no merit for
my repentance, bitterly as I feel it! I might not have had the
courage to leave him--if he had loved me as he once loved you."
"Miss Westerfield, you are the last person living who ought to
allude to my married life."
"You may perhaps pardon the allusion, madam, when you have heard
what I have still to say. I owe it to Mr. Herbert Linley, if not
to you, to confess that his life with me has _not_ been a life of
happiness. He has tried, compassionately tried, to keep his
secret sorrow from discovery, and he has failed. I had long
suspected the truth; but I only saw it in his face when he found
the book you left behind you at the hotel. Your image has, from
first to last, been the one living image in his guilty heart. I
am the miserable victim of a man's passing fancy. You have been,
you are still, the one object of a husband's love. Ask your own
heart if the woman lives who can say to you what I have
said--unless she knew it to be true."
Catherine's head sank on her bosom; her helpless hands lay
trembling on her lap. Overpowered by the confession which she had
just heard--a confession which had followed closely on the
thoughts inspired by the appearance of the child--her agitation
was beyond control; her mind was unequal to the effort of
decision. The woman who had been wronged--who had the right to
judge for herself, and to speak for herself--was the silent woman
of the two!
It was not quite dark yet. Sydney could see as well as hear.
For the first time since the beginning of the interview, she
allowed the impulse of the moment to lead her astray. In her
eagerness to complete the act of atonement, she failed to
appreciate the severity of the struggle that was passing in
Catherine's mind. She alluded again to Herbert Linley, and she
spoke too soon.
"Will you let him ask your pardon?" she said. "He expects no
Catherine's spirit was roused in an instant. "He expects too
much!" she answered, sternly. "Is he here by your connivance? Is
he, too, waiting to take me by surprise?"
"I am incapable, madam, of taking such a liberty with you as
that; I may perhaps have hoped to be able to tell him, by
writing, of a different reception--" She checked herself. "I beg
your pardon, if I have ventured to hope. I dare not ask you to
alter your opinion--"
"Do you dare to look the truth in the face?" Catherine
interposed. "Do you remember what sacred ties that man has
broken? what memories he has profaned? what years of faithful
love he has cast from him? Must I tell you how he poisoned his
wife's mind with doubts of his truth and despair of his honor,
when he basely deserted
her? You talk of your repentance. Does your repentance forget
that he would still have been my blameless husband but for You?"
Sydney silently submitted to reproach, silently endured the shame
that finds no excuse for itself.
Catherine looked at her and relented. The noble nature which
could stoop to anger, but never sink to the lower depths of
malice and persecution, restrained itself and made amends. "I say
it in no unkindness to you," she resumed. "But when you ask me to
forgive, consider what you ask me to forget. It will only
distress us both if we remain longer together," she continued,
rising as she spoke. "Perhaps you will believe that I mean well,
when I ask if there is anything I can do for you?"
All the desolation of the lost woman told its terrible tale in
that one word. Invited to rest herself in the hotel, she asked
leave to remain where she was; the mere effort of rising was too
much for her now. Catherine said the parting words kindly. "I
believe in your good intentions; I believe in your repentance."
"Believe in my punishment!" After that reply, no more was said.
Behind the trees that closed the view at the further extremity of
the lawn the moon was rising. As the two women lost sight of each
other, the new light, pure and beautiful, began to dawn over the
No horror of her solitude, no melancholy recollections, no dread
of the future disturbed Sydney's mind. The one sense left in her
was the sense of fatigue. Vacantly, mechanically, the girl rested
as a tired animal might have rested. She saw nothing, heard
nothing; the one feeling of which she was conscious was a dull
aching in every limb. The moon climbed the heavens, brightened
the topmost leaves of the trees, found the gloom in which Sydney
was hidden, and cheered it tenderly with radiant light. She was
too weary to sleep, too weary even to shade her face when the
moonbeams touched it. While the light still strengthened, while
the slow minutes still followed each other unheeded, the one
influence that could rouse Sydney found her at last--set her
faint heart throbbing--called her prostrate spirit to life again.
She heard a glad cry of recognition in a child's voice:
"Oh, Sydney, dear, is it you?"
In another instant her little pupil and playfellow of former days
was in her arms.
"My darling, how did you come here?"
Susan answered the question. "We are on our way back from the
Palace, miss. I am afraid," she said, timidly, "that we ought to
Silently resigned, Sydney tried to release the child. Kitty clung
to her and kissed her; Kitty set the nurse at defiance. "Do you
think I am going to leave Syd now I have found her? Susan, I am
astonished at you!"
Susan gave way. Where the nature is gentle, kindness and delicacy
go hand-in-hand together, undisturbed by the social
irregularities which beset the roadway of life. The nursemaid
drew back out of hearing. Kitty's first questions followed each
other in breathless succession. Some of them proved to be hard,
indeed, to answer truly, and without reserve. She inquired if
Sydney had seen her mother, and then she was eager to know why
Sydney had been left in the garden alone.
"Why haven't you gone back to the house with mamma?" she asked.
"Don't ask me, dear," was all that Sydney could say. Kitty drew
the inevitable conclusion: "Have you and mamma quarreled?"
"Then come indoors with me."
"Wait a little, Kitty, and tell me something about yourself. How
do you get on with your lessons?"
"You dear foolish governess, do you expect me to learn my
lessons, when I haven't got you to teach me? Where have you been
all this long while? _I_ wouldn't have gone away and left _you!_"
She paused; her eager eyes studied Sydney's face with the
unrestrained curiosity of a child. "Is it the moonlight that
makes you look pale and wretched?" she said. "Or are you really
unhappy? Tell me, Syd, do you ever sing any of those songs that I
taught you, when you first came to us?"
"Have you anybody to go out walking with you and running races
with you, as I did?"
"No, my sweet! Those days have gone by forever."
Kitty laid her head sadly on Sydney's bosom. "It's not the
moonlight," she said; "shall I tell you a secret? Sometimes I am
not happy either. Poor papa is dead. He always liked you--I'm
sure you are sorry for him."
Astonishment held Sydney speechless. Before she could ask who had
so cruelly deceived the child, and for what purpose, the
nursemaid, standing behind the chair, warned her to be silent by
"I think we are all unhappy now," Kitty went on, still following
her own little train of thought. "Mamma isn't like what she used
to be. And even my nice Captain hasn't a word to say to me. He
wouldn't come back with us; he said he would go back by himself."
Another allusion which took Sydney by surprise! She asked who the
Captain was. Kitty started as if the question shocked her. "Oh
dear, dear, this is what comes of your going away and leaving us!
You don't know Captain Bennydeck."
The name of her father's correspondent! The name which she
vaguely remembered to have heard in her childhood! "Where did you
first meet with him?" she inquired.
"At the seaside, dear!"
"Do you mean at Sandyseal?"
"Yes. Mamma liked him--and grandmamma liked him (which is
wonderful)--and I gave him a kiss. Promise me not to tell! My
nice Captain is going to be my new papa."
Was there any possible connection between what Kitty had just
said, and what the poor child had been deluded into believing
when she spoke of her father? Even Susan seemed to be in the
secret of this strange second marriage! She interfered with a
sharp reproof. "You mustn't talk in that way, Miss Kitty. Please
put her off your lap, Miss Westerfield; we have been here too
Kitty proposed a compromise; "I'll go," she said, "if Syd will
come with me."
"I'm sorry, my darling, to disappoint you."
Kitty refused to believe it. "You couldn't disappoint me if you
tried," she said boldly.
"Indeed, indeed, I must go away. Oh, Kitty, try to bear it as I
Entreaties were useless; the child refused to hear of another
parting. "I want to make you and mamma friends again. Don't break
my heart, Sydney! Come home with me, and teach me, and play with
me, and love me!"
She pulled desperately at Sydney's dress; she called to Susan to
help her. With tears in her eyes, the girl did her best to help
them both. "Miss Westerfield will wait here," she said to Kitty,
"while you speak to your mamma.--Say Yes!" she whispered to
Sydney; "it's our only chance."
The child instantly exacted a promise. In the earnestness of her
love she even dictated the words. "Say it after me, as I used to
say my lessons," she insisted. "Say, 'Kitty, I promise to wait
Who that loved her could have refused to say it! In one form or
another, the horrid necessity for deceit had followed, and was
still following, that first, worst act of falsehood--the
elopement from Mount Morven.
Kitty was now as eager to go as she had been hitherto resolute to
remain. She called for Susan to follow her, and ran to the hotel.
"My mistress won't let her come back--you can leave the garden
that way." The maid pointed along the path to the left and
hurried after the child.
They were gone--and Sydney was alone again.
At the parting with Kitty, the measure of her endurance was full.
Not even the farewell at Mount Morven had tried her by an ordeal
so cruel as this. No kind woman was willing to receive her and
employ her, now. The one creature left who loved her was the
faithful little friend whom she must never see again. "I am still
innocent to that child," she thought--"and I am parted from her
She rose to leave the garden.
A farewell look at the last place in which she had seen Kitty
tempted her to indulge in a moment of delay. Her eyes rested on
the turn in the path at which she had lost sight of the active
little figure hastening away to plead her cause. Even in absence,
the child was Sydney's good angel still. As she turned away to
follow the path that had been shown to her, the relief of tears c
ame at last. It cooled her burning head; it comforted her aching
heart. She tried to walk on. The tears blinded her--she strayed
from the path--she would have fallen but for a hand that caught
her, and held her up. A man's voice, firm and deep and kind,
quieted her first wild feeling of terror. "My child, you are not
fit to be by yourself. Let me take care of you--let me comfort
you, if I can."
He carried her back to the seat that she had left, and waited by
her in merciful silence.
"You are very young to feel such bitter sorrow," he said, when
she was composed again. "I don't ask what your sorrow is; I only
want to know how I can help you."
"Nobody can help me."
"Can I take you back to your friends?"
"I have no friends."
"Pardon me, you have one friend at least--you have me."
"You? A stranger?"
"No human creature who needs my sympathy is a stranger."
She turned toward him for the first time. In her new position,
she was clearly visible in the light. He looked at her
attentively. "I have seen you somewhere," he said, "before now."
She had not noticed him when they had passed each other at
Sandyseal. "I think you must be mistaken," she answered. "May I
thank you for your kindness? and may I hope to be excused if I
He detained her. "Are you sure that you are well enough to go
away by yourself?" he asked anxiously.
"I am quite sure!"
He still detained her. His memory of that first meeting at the
seaside hotel reminded him that he had seen her in the company of
a man. At their second meeting, she was alone, and in tears. Sad
experience led him to form his own conclusions. "If you won't let
me take care of you," he said, "will you consider if I can be of
any use to you, and will you call at that address?" He gave her
his card. She took it without looking at it; she was confused;
she hardly knew what to say. "Do you doubt me?" he asked--sadly,
"Oh, how can I do that! I doubt myself; I am not worthy of the
interest you feel in me."
"That is a sad thing to say," he answered. "Let me try to give
you confidence in yourself. Do you go to London when you leave
"To-morrow," he resumed, "I am going to see another poor girl who
is alone in the world like you. If l tell you where she lives,
will you ask her if I am a person to be trusted?"
He had taken a letter from his pocket, while he was speaking; and
he now tore off a part of the second leaf, and gave it to her. "I
have only lately," he said, "received the address from a friend."
As he offered that explanation, the shrill sound of a child' s
voice, raised in anger and entreaty, reached their ears from the
neighborhood of the hotel. Faithful little Kitty had made her
escape, determined to return to Sydney had been overtaken by the
maid--and had been carried back in Susan's arms to the house.
Sydney imagined that she was not perhaps alone in recognizing the
voice. The stranger who had been so kind to her did certainly
start and look round.
The stillness of the night was disturbed no more. The man turned
again to the person who had so strongly interested him. The
person was gone.
In fear of being followed, Sydney hurried to the railway station.
By the light in the carriage she looked for the first time at the
fragment of the letter and the card.
The stranger had presented her with her own address! And, when
she looked at the card, the name was Bennydeck!
Better Do It Than Wish It Done.
More than once, on one and the same day, the Captain had been
guilty of a weakness which would have taken his oldest friends by
surprise, if they had seen him at the moment. He hesitated.
A man who has commanded ships and has risked his life in the
regions of the frozen deep, is a man formed by nature and taught
by habit to meet emergency face to face, to see his course
straight before him, and to take it, lead him where it may. But
nature and habit, formidable forces as they are, find their
master when they encounter the passion of Love.
At once perplexed and distressed by that startling change in
Catherine which he had observed when her child approached her,
Bennydeck's customary firmness failed him, when the course of
conduct toward his betrothed wife which it might be most becoming
to follow presented itself to him as a problem to be solved. When
Kitty asked him to accompany her nursemaid and herself on their
return to the hotel, he had refused because he felt reluctant to
intrude himself on Catherine's notice, until she was ready to
admit him to her confidence of her own free will. Left alone, he
began to doubt whether delicacy did really require him to make
the sacrifice which he had contemplated not five minutes since.
It was surely possible that Catherine might be waiting to see
him, and might then offer the explanation which would prove to be
equally a relief on both sides. He was on his way to the hotel
when he met with Sydney Westerfield.
To see a woman in the sorest need of all that kindness and
consideration could offer, and to leave her as helpless as he had
found her, would have been an act of brutal indifference
revolting to any man possessed of even ordinary sensibility. The
Captain had only followed his natural impulses, and had only said
and done what, in nearly similar cases, he had said and done on
Left by himself, he advanced a few steps mechanically on the way
by which Sydney had escaped him--and then stopped. Was there any
sufficient reason for his following her, and intruding himself on
her notice? She had recovered, she was in possession of his
address, she had been referred to a person who could answer for
his good intentions; all that it was his duty to do, had been
done already. He turned back again, in the direction of the
Hesitating once more, he paused half-way along the corridor which
led to Catherine's sitting-room. Voices reached him from persons
who had entered the house by the front door. He recognized Mrs.
Presty's loud confident tones. She was taking leave of friends,
and was standing with her back toward him. Bennydeck waited,
unobserved, until he saw her enter the sitting-room. No such
explanation as he was in search of could possibly take place in
the presence of Catherine's mother. He returned to the garden.
Mrs. Presty was in high spirits. She had enjoyed the Festival;
she had taken the lead among the friends who accompanied her to
the Palace; she had ordered everything, and paid for nothing, at
that worst of all bad public dinners in England, the dinner which
pretends to be French. In a buoyant frame of mind, ready for more
enjoyment if she could only find it, what did she see on opening
the sitting-room door? To use the expressive language of the
stage, Catherine was "discovered alone"--with her elbows on the
table, and her face hidden in her hands--the picture of despair.
Mrs. Presty surveyed the spectacle before her with righteous
indignation visible in every line of her face. The arrangement
which bound her daughter to give Bennydeck his final reply on
that day had been well known to her when she left the hotel in
the morning. The conclusion at which she arrived, on returning at
night, was expressed with Roman brevity and Roman eloquence in
"Oh, the poor Captain!"
Catherine suddenly looked up.
"I knew it," Mrs. Presty continued, with her sternest emphasis;
"I see what you have done, in your face. You have refused