Part 2 out of 6
them. She did not appear to be surprised or confused at my
venturing to address her.
"I know this part of the country well," I went on. "Can I be of
any use to you?"
She still looked at me with steady, inquiring eyes. For a moment,
stranger as I was, my face seemed to trouble her as if it had
been a face that she had seen and forgotten again. If she really
had this idea, she at once dismissed it with a little toss of her
head, and looked away at the river as if she felt no further
interest in me.
"Thank you. I have not lost my way. I am accustomed to walking
She spoke coldly, but courteously. Her voice was delicious; her
bow, as she left me, was the perfection of unaffected grace. She
left the bridge on the side by which I had first seen her
approach it, and walked slowly away along the darkening track of
Still I was not quite satisfied. There was something underlying
the charming expression and the fascinating manner which my
instinct felt to be something wrong. As I walked away toward the
opposite end of the bridge, the doubt began to grow on me whether
she had spoken the truth. In leaving the neighborhood of the
river, was she simply trying to get rid of me?
I at once resolved to put this suspicion of her to the test.
Leaving the bridge, I had only to cross the road beyond, and to
enter a plantation on the bank of the river. Here, concealed
behind the first tree which was large enough to hide me, I could
command a view of the bridge, and I could fairly count on
detecting her, if she returned to the river, while there was a
ray of light to see her by. It was not easy walking in the
obscurity of the plantation: I had almost to grope my way to the
nearest tree that suited my purpose.
I had just steadied my foothold on the uneven ground behind the
tree, when the stillness of the twilight hour was suddenly broken
by the distant sound of a voice.
The voice was a woman's. It was not raised to any high pitch; its
accent was the accent of prayer, and the words it uttered were
"Christ, have mercy on me!"
There was silence again. A nameless fear crept over me, as I
looked out on the bridge.
She was standing on the parapet. Before I could move, before I
could cry out, before I could even breathe again freely, she
leaped into the river.
The current ran my way. I could see her, as she rose to the
surface, floating by in the light on the mid-stream. I ran
headlong down the bank. She sank again, in the moment when I
stopped to throw aside my hat and coat and to kick off my shoes.
I was a practiced swimmer. The instant I was in the water my
composure came back to me--I felt like myself again.
The current swept me out into the mid-stream, and greatly
increased the speed at which I swam. I was close behind her when
she rose for the second time--a shadowy thing, just visible a few
inches below the surface of the river. One more stroke, and my
left arm was round her; I had her face out of the water. She was
insensible. I could hold her in the right way to leave me master
of all my movements; I could devote myself, without flurry or
fatigue, to the exertion of taking her back to the shore.
My first attempt satisfied me that there was no reasonable hope,
burdened as I now was, of breasting the strong current running
toward the mid-river from either bank. I tried it on one side,
and I tried it on the other, and gave it up. The one choice left
was to let myself drift with her down the stream. Some fifty
yards lower, the river took a turn round a promontory of land, on
which stood a little inn much frequented by anglers in the
season. As we approached the place, I made another attempt (again
an attempt in vain) to reach the shore. Our last chance now was
to be heard by the people of the inn. I shouted at the full pitch
of my voice as we drifted past. The cry was answered. A man put
off in a boat. In five minutes more I had her safe on the bank
again; and the man and I were carrying her to the inn by the
The landlady and her servant-girl were equally willing to be of
service, and equally ignorant of what they were to do.
Fortunately, my medical education made me competent to direct
them. A good fire, warm blankets, hot water in bottles, were all
at my disposal. I showed the women myself how to ply the work of
revival. They persevered, and I persevered; and still there she
lay, in her perfect beauty of form, without a sign of life
perceptible; there she lay, to all outward appearance, dead by
A last hope was left--the hope of restoring her (if I could
construct the apparatus in time) by the process called
"artificial respiration." I was just endeavoring to tell the
landlady what I wanted and was just conscious o f a strange
difficulty in expressing myself, when the good woman started
back, and looked at me with a scream of terror.
"Good God, sir, you're bleeding!" she cried. "What's the matter?
Where are you hurt?"
In the moment when she spoke to me I knew what had happened. The
old Indian wound (irritated, doubtless, by the violent exertion
that I had imposed on myself) had opened again. I struggled
against the sudden sense of faintness that seized on me; I tried
to tell the people of the inn what to do. It was useless. I
dropped to my knees; my head sunk on the bosom of the woman
stretched senseless upon the low couch beneath me. The
death-in-life that had got _her_ had got _me_. Lost to the world
about us, we lay, with my blood flowing on her, united in our
Where were our spirits at that moment? Were they together and
conscious of each other? United by a spiritual bond, undiscovered
and unsuspected by us in the flesh, did we two, who had met as
strangers on the fatal bridge, know each other again in the
trance? You who have loved and lost--you whose one consolation it
has been to believe in other worlds than this--can you turn from
my questions in contempt? Can you honestly say that they have
never been _your_ questions too?
THE KINDRED SPIRITS
THE morning sunlight shining in at a badly curtained window; a
clumsy wooden bed, with big twisted posts that reached to the
ceiling; on one side of the bed, my mother's welcome face; on the
other side, an elderly gentleman unremembered by me at that
moment--such were the objects that presented themselves to my
view, when I first consciously returned to the world that we live
"Look, doctor, look! He has come to his senses at last."
"Open your mouth, sir, and take a sup of this." My mother was
rejoicing over me on one side of the bed; and the unknown
gentleman, addressed as "doctor," was offering me a spoonful of
whisky-and-water on the other. He called it the "elixir of life";
and he bid me remark (speaking in a strong Scotch accent) that he
tasted it himself to show he was in earnest.
The stimulant did its good work. My head felt less giddy, my mind
became clearer. I could speak collectedly to my mother; I could
vaguely recall the more marked events of the previous evening. A
minute or two more, and the image of the person in whom those
events had all centered became a living image in my memory. I
tried to raise myself in the bed; I asked, impatiently, "Where is
The doctor produced another spoonful of the elixir of life, and
gravely repeated his first address to me.
"Open your mouth, sir, and take a sup of this."
I persisted in repeating my question:
"Where is she?"
The doctor persisted in repeating his formula:
"Take a sup of this."
I was too weak to contest the matter; I obeyed. My medical
attendant nodded across the bed to my mother, and said, "Now,
he'll do." My mother had some compassion on me. She relieved my
anxiety in these plain words:
"The lady has quite recovered, George, thanks to the doctor
I looked at my professional colleague with a new interest. He was
the legitimate fountainhead of the information that I was dying
to have poured into my mind.
"How did you revive her?" I asked. "Where is she now?"
The doctor held up his hand, warning me to stop.
"We shall do well, sir, if we proceed systematically," he began,
in a very positive manner. "You will understand, that every time
you open your mouth, it will be to take a sup of this, and not to
speak. I shall tell you, in due course, and the good lady, your
mother, will tell you, all that you have any need to know. As I
happen to have been first on what you may call the scene of
action, it stands in the fit order of things that I should speak
first. You will just permit me to mix a little more of the elixir
of life, and then, as the poet says, my plain unvarnished tale I
So he spoke, pronouncing in his strong Scotch accent the most
carefully selected English I had ever heard. A hard-headed,
square-shouldered, pertinaciously self-willed man--it was plainly
useless to contend with him. I turned to my mother's gentle face
for encouragement; and I let my doctor have his own way.
"My name," he proceeded, "is MacGlue. I had the honor of
presenting my respects at your house yonder when you first came
to live in this neighborhood. You don't remember me at present,
which is natural enough in the unbalanced condition of your mind,
consequent, you will understand (as a professional person
yourself) on copious loss of blood."
There my patience gave way.
"Never mind me!" I interposed. "Tell me about the lady!"
"You have opened your mouth, sir!" cried Mr. MacGlue, severely.
"You know the penalty--take a sup of this. I told you we should
proceed systematically," he went on, after he had forced me to
submit to the penalty. "Everything in its place, Mr.
Germaine--everything in its place. I was speaking of your bodily
condition. Well, sir, and how did I discover your bodily
condition? Providentially for _you_ I was driving home yesterday
evening by the lower road (which is the road by the river bank),
and, drawing near to the inn here (they call it a hotel; it's
nothing but an inn), I heard the screeching of the landlady half
a mile off. A good woman enough, you will understand, as times
go; but a poor creature in any emergency. Keep still, I'm coming
to it now. Well, I went in to see if the screeching related to
anything wanted in the medical way; and there I found you and the
stranger lady in a position which I may truthfully describe as
standing in some need of improvement on the score of propriety.
Tut! tut! I speak jocosely--you were both in a dead swoon. Having
heard what the landlady had to tell me, and having, to the best
of my ability, separated history from hysterics in the course of
the woman's narrative, I found myself, as it were, placed between
two laws. The law of gallantry, you see, pointed to the lady as
the first object of my professional services, while the law of
humanity (seeing that you were still bleeding) pointed no less
imperatively to you. I am no longer a young man: I left the lady
to wait. My word! it was no light matter, Mr. Germaine, to deal
with your case, and get you carried up here out of the way. That
old wound of yours, sir, is not to be trifled with. I bid you
beware how you open it again. The next time you go out for an
evening walk and you see a lady in the water, you will do well
for your own health to leave her there. What's that I see? Are
you opening your mouth again? Do you want another sup already?"
"He wants to hear more about the lady," said my mother,
interpreting my wishes for me.
"Oh, the lady," resumed Mr. MacGlue, with the air of a man who
found no great attraction in the subject proposed to him.
"There's not much that I know of to be said about the lady. A
fine woman, no doubt. If you could strip the flesh off her bones,
you would find a splendid skeleton underneath. For, mind this!
there's no such thing as a finely made woman without a good bony
scaffolding to build her on at starting. I don't think much of
this lady--morally speaking, you will understand. If I may be
permitted to say so in your presence, ma'am, there's a man in the
background of that dramatic scene of hers on the bridge. However,
not being the man myself, I have nothing to do with that. My
business with the lady was just to set her vital machinery going
again. And, Heaven knows, she proved a heavy handful! It was even
a more obstinate case to deal with, sir, than yours. I never, in
all my experience, met with two people more unwilling to come
back to this world and its troubles than you two were. And when I
had done the business at last, when I was wellnigh swooning
myself with the work and the worry of it, guess--I give you leave
to speak for this once--guess what were the first words the, lady
said to me when she came to herself again."
I was too much excited to be able to exercise my ingenuity. "I
give it up!" I said, impatiently.
"You may well give it up," remarked Mr. MacGlue. "The first words
she addressed, sir, to the man who had dragged her
out of the very jaws of death were these: 'How dare you meddle
with me? why didn't you leave me to die?' Her exact
language--I'll take my Bible oath of it. I was so provoked that I
gave her the change back (as the saying is) in her own coin.
'There's the river handy, ma'am,' I said; 'do it again. I, for
one, won't stir a hand to save you; I promise you that.' She
looked up sharply. 'Are you the man who took me out of the
river?' she said. 'God forbid!' says I. 'I'm only the doctor who
was fool enough to meddle with you afterward.' She turned to the
landlady. 'Who took me out of the river?' she asked. The landlady
told her, and mentioned your name. 'Germaine?' she said to
herself; 'I know nobody named Germaine; I wonder whether it was
the man who spoke to me on the bridge?' 'Yes,' says the landlady;
'Mr. Germaine said he met you on the bridge.' Hearing that, she
took a little time to think; and then she asked if she could see
Mr. Germaine. 'Whoever he is,' she says, 'he has risked his life
to save me, and I ought to thank him for doing that.' 'You can't
thank him tonight,' I said; 'I've got him upstairs between life
and death, and I've sent for his mother: wait till to-morrow.'
She turned on me, looking half frightened, half angry. 'I can't
wait,' she says; 'you don't know what you have done among you in
bringing me back to life. I must leave this neighborhood; I must
be out of Perthshire to-morrow: when does the first coach
southward pass this way?' Having nothing to do with the first
coach southward, I referred her to the people of the inn. My
business (now I had done with the lady) was upstairs in this
room, to see how you were getting on. You were getting on as well
as I could wish, and your mother was at your bedside. I went home
to see what sick people might be waiting for me in the regular
way. When I came back this morning, there was the foolish
landlady with a new tale to tell 'Gone!' says she. 'Who's gone?'
says I. 'The lady,' says she, 'by the first coach this morning!'
"You don't mean to tell me that she has left the house?" I
"Oh, but I do!" said the doctor, as positively as ever. "Ask
madam your mother here, and she'll certify it to your heart's
content. I've got other sick ones to visit, and I'm away on my
rounds. You'll see no more of the lady; and so much the better,
I'm thinking. In two hours' time I'll be back again; and if I
don't find you the worse in the interim, I'll see about having
you transported from this strange place to the snug bed that
knows you at home. Don't let him talk, ma'am, don't let him
With those parting words, Mr. MacGlue left us to ourselves.
"Is it really true?" I said to my mother. "Has she left the inn,
without waiting to see me?"
"Nobody could stop her, George," my mother answered. "The lady
left the inn this morning by the coach for Edinburgh."
I was bitterly disappointed. Yes: "bitterly" is the word--though
she _was_ a stranger to me.
"Did you see her yourself?" I asked.
"I saw her for a few minutes, my dear, on my way up to your
"What did she say?"
"She begged me to make her excuses to you. She said, 'Tell Mr.
Germaine that my situation is dreadful; no human creature can
help me. I must go away. My old life is as much at an end as if
your son had left me to drown in the river. I must find a new
life for myself, in a new place. Ask Mr. Germaine to forgive me
for going away without thanking him. I daren't wait! I may be
followed and found out. There is a person whom I am determined
never to see again--never! never! never! Good-by; and try to
forgive me!' She hid her face in her hands, and said no more. I
tried to win her confidence; it was not to be done; I was
compelled to leave her. There is some dreadful calamity, George,
in that wretched woman's life. And such an interesting creature,
too! It was impossible not to pity her, whether she deserved it
or not. Everything about her is a mystery, my dear. She speaks
English without the slightest foreign accent, and yet she has a
"Did she give you her name?"
"No, and I was afraid to ask her to give it. But the landlady
here is not a very scrupulous person. She told me she looked at
the poor creature's linen while it was drying by the fire. The
name marked on it was, 'Van Brandt.' "
"Van Brandt?" I repeated. "That sounds like a Dutch name. And yet
you say she spoke like an Englishwoman. Perhaps she was born in
"Or perhaps she may be married," suggested my mother; "and Van
Brandt may be the name of her husband."
The idea of her being a married woman had something in it
repellent to me. I wished my mother had not thought of that last
suggestion. I refused to receive it. I persisted in my own belief
that the stranger was a single woman. In that character, I could
indulge myself in the luxury of thinking of her; I could consider
the chances of my being able to trace this charming fugitive, who
had taken so strong a hold on my interest--whose desperate
attempt at suicide had so nearly cost me my own life.
If she had gone as far as Edinburgh (which she would surely do,
being bent on avoiding discovery), the prospect of finding her
again--in that great city. and in my present weak state of
health--looked doubtful indeed. Still, there was an underlying
hopefulness in me which kept my spirits from being seriously
depressed. I felt a purely imaginary (perhaps I ought to say, a
purely superstitious) conviction that we who had nearly died
together, we who had been brought to life together, were surely
destined to be involved in some future joys or sorrows common to
us both. "I fancy I shall see her again," was my last thought
before my weakness overpowered me, and I sunk into a peaceful
That night I was removed from the inn to my own room at home; and
that night I saw her again in a dream.
The image of her was as vividly impressed on me as the far
different image of the child Mary, when I used to see it in the
days of old. The dream-figure of the woman was robed as I had
seen it robed on the bridge. She wore the same broad-brimmed
garden-hat of straw. She looked at me as she had looked when I
approached her in the dim evening light. After a little her face
brightened with a divinely beautiful smile; and she whispered in
my ear, "Friend, do you know me?"
I knew her, most assuredly; and yet it was with an
incomprehensible after-feeling of doubt. Recognizing her in my
dream as the stranger who had so warmly interested me, I was,
nevertheless, dissatisfied with myself, as if it had not been the
right recognition. I awoke with this idea; and I slept no more
In three days' time I was strong enough to go out driving with my
mother, in the comfortable, old-fashioned, open carriage which
had once belonged to Mr. Germaine.
On the fourth day we arranged to make an excursion to a little
waterfall in our neighborhood. My mother had a great admiration
of the place, and had often expressed a wish to possess some
memorial of it. I resolved to take my sketch-book: with me, on
the chance that I might be able to please her by making a drawing
of her favorite scene.
Searching for the sketch-book (which I had not used for years), I
found it in an old desk of mine that had remained unopened since
my departure for India. In the course of my investigation, I
opened a drawer in the desk, and discovered a relic of the old
times--my poor little Mary's first work in embroidery, the green
The sight of the forgotten keepsake took my mind back to the
bailiff's cottage, and reminded me of Dame Dermody, and her
confident prediction about Mary and me.
I smiled as I recalled the old woman's assertion that no human
power could "hinder the union of the kindred spirits of the
children in the time to come." What had become of the prophesied
dreams in which we were to communicate with each other through
the term of our separation? Years had passed; and, sleeping or
waking, I had seen nothing of Mary. Years had passed; and the
first vision of a woman that had come to me had been my dream a
few nights since of the stranger whom I had saved from drowning.
I thought of these chances and changes in my life, but not
contemptuously or bitterly. The new love that was now stealing
its way into my heart had softened and humanized me. I said to
myself, "Ah, poor little Mary!" and I kissed the green flag, in
grateful memory of the days that were gone forever.
We drove to the waterfall.
It was a beautiful day; the lonely sylvan scene was at its
brightest and best. A wooden summer-house, commanding a prospect
of the falling stream, had been built for the accommodation of
pleasure parties by the proprietor of the place. My mother
suggested that I should try to make a sketch of the view from
this point. I did my best to please her, but I was not satisfied
with the result; and I abandoned my drawing before it was half
finished. Leaving my sketch-book and pencil on the table of the
summer-house, I proposed to my mother to cross a little wooden
bridge which spanned the stream, below the fall, and to see how
the landscape looked from a new point of view.
The prospect of the waterfall, as seen from the opposite bank,
presented even greater difficulties, to an amateur artist like
me, than the prospect which he had just left. We returned to the
I was the first to approach the open door. I stopped, checked in
my advance by an unexpected discovery. The summer-house was no
longer empty as we had left it. A lady was seated at the table
with my pencil in her hand, writing in my sketch-book!
After waiting a moment, I advanced a few steps nearer to the
door, and stopped again in breathless amazement. The stranger in
the summer-house was now plainly revealed to me as the woman who
had attempted to destroy herself from the bridge!
There was no doubt about it. There was the dress; there was the
memorable face which I had seen in the evening light, which I had
dreamed of only a few nights since! The woman herself--I saw her
as plainly as I saw the sun shining on the waterfall--the woman
herself, with my pencil in her hand, writing in my book!
My mother was close behind me. She noticed my agitation.
"George!" she exclaimed, "what is the matter with you?"
I pointed through the open door of the summer-house.
"Well?" said my mother. "What am I to look at?"
"Don't you see somebody sitting at the table and writing in my
My mother eyed me quickly. "Is he going to be ill again?" I heard
her say to herself.
At the same moment the woman laid down the pencil and rose slowly
to her feet.
She looked at me with sorrowful and pleading eyes: she lifted her
hand and beckoned me to approach her. I obeyed. Moving without
conscious will of my own, drawn nearer and nearer to her by an
irresistible power, I ascended the short flight of stairs which
led into the summer-house. Within a few paces of her I stopped.
She advanced a step toward me, and laid her hand gently on my
bosom. Her touch filled me with strangely united sensations of
rapture and awe. After a while, she spoke in low melodious tones,
which mingled in my ear with the distant murmur of the falling
water, until the two sounds became one. I heard in the murmur, I
heard in the voice, these words: "Remember me. Come to me." Her
hand dropped from my bosom; a momentary obscurity passed like a
flying shadow over the bright daylight in the room. I looked for
her when the light came back. She was gone.
My consciousness of passing events returned.
I saw the lengthening shadows outside, which told me that the
evening was at hand. I saw the carriage approaching the
summerhouse to take us away. I felt my mother's hand on my arm,
and heard her voice speaking to me anxiously. I was able to reply
by a sign entreating her not to be uneasy about me, but I could
do no more. I was absorbed, body and soul, in the one desire to
look at the sketch-book. As certainly as I had seen the woman, so
certainly I had seen her, with my pencil in her hand, writing in
I advanced to the table on which the book was lying open. I
looked at the blank space on the lower part of the page, under
the foreground lines of my unfinished drawing. My mother,
following me, looked at the page too.
There was the writing! The woman had disappeared, but there were
her written words left behind her: visible to my mother as well
as to me, readable by my mother's eyes as well as by mine!
These were the words we saw, arranged in two lines, as I copy
When the full moon shines
On Saint Anthony's Well.
NATURAL AND SUPERNATURAL.
I POINTED to the writing in the sketch book, and looked at my
mother. I was not mistaken. She _had_ seen it, as I had seen it.
But she refused to acknowledge that anything had happened to
alarm her--plainly as I could detect it in her face.
"Somebody has been playing a trick on you, George," she said.
I made no reply. It was needless to say anything. My poor mother
was evidently as far from being satisfied with her own shallow
explanation as I was. The carriage waited for us at the door. We
set forth in silence on our drive home.
The sketch-book lay open on my knee. My eyes were fastened on it;
my mind was absorbed in recalling the moment when the apparition
beckoned me into the summer-house and spoke. Putting the words
and the writing together, the conclusion was too plain to be
mistaken. The woman whom I had saved from drowning had need of me
And this was the same woman who, in her own proper person, had
not hesitated to seize the first opportunity of leaving the house
in which we had been sheltered together--without stopping to say
one grateful word to the man who had preserved her from death!
Four days only had elapsed since she had left me, never (to all
appearance) to see me again. And now the ghostly apparition of
her had returned as to a tried and trusted friend; had commanded
me to remember her and to go to her; and had provided against all
possibility of my memory playing me false, by writing the words
which invited me to meet her "when the full moon shone on Saint
What had happened in the interval? What did the supernatural
manner of her communication with me mean? What ought my next
course of action to be?
My mother roused me from my reflections. She stretched out her
hand, and suddenly closed the open book on my knee, as if the
sight of the writing in it were unendurable to her.
"Why don't you speak to me, George?" she said. "Why do you keep
your thoughts to yourself?"
"My mind is lost in confusion," I answered. "I can suggest
nothing and explain nothing. My thoughts are all bent on the one
question of what I am to do next. On that point I believe I may
say that my mind is made up." I touched the sketch-book as I
spoke. "Come what may of it," I said, "I mean to keep the
My mother looked at me as if she doubted the evidence of her own
"He talks as if it were a real thing!" she exclaimed. "George,
you don't really believe that you saw somebody in the
summer-house? The place was empty. I tell you positively, when
you pointed into the summer-house, the place was empty. You have
been thinking and thinking of this woman till you persuade
yourself that you have actually seen her."
I opened the sketch-book again. "I thought I saw her writing on
this page," I answered. "Look at it, and tell me if I was wrong."
My mother refused to look at it. Steadily as she persisted in
taking the rational view, nevertheless the writing frightened
"It is not a week yet," she went on, "since I saw you lying
between life and death in your bed at the inn. How can you talk
of keeping the appointment, in your state of health? An
appointment with a shadowy Something in your own imagination,
which appears and disappears, and leaves substantial writing
behind it! It's ridiculous, George; I wonder you can help
laughing at yourself."
She tried to set the example of laughing at me--with the tears in
her eyes, poor soul! as she made the useless effort. I began to
regret having opened my mind so freely to her.
"Don't take the matter too seriously, mother," I said. "Perhaps I
may not be able to find the place. I never heard of Saint
Anthony's Well; I have not the least idea where it is. Suppose I
make the discovery, and suppose the journey turns out to be an
easy one, would you like to go with me?"
"God forbid" cried my mother, fervently. "I will have nothing to
do with it, George. You are in a state of delusion; I shall speak
to the doctor."
"By all means, my dear mother. Mr. MacGlue is a sensible person.
We pass his house on our way home, and we will ask him to dinner.
In the meantime, let us say no more on the subject till we see
I spoke lightly, but I really meant what I said. My mind was
sadly disturbed; my nerves were so shaken that the slightest
noises on the road startled me. The opinion of a man like Mr.
MacGlue, who looked at all mortal matters from the same immovably
practical point of view, might really have its use, in my case,
as a species of moral remedy.
We waited until the dessert was on the table, and the servants
had left the dining-room. Then I told my story to the Scotch
doctor as I have told it here; and, that done, I opened the
sketch-book to let him see the writing for himself.
Had I turned to the wrong page?
I started to my feet, and held the book close to the light of the
lamp that hung over the dining table. No: I had found the right
page. There was my half-finished drawing of the waterfall--but
where were the two lines of writing beneath?
I strained my eyes; I looked and looked. And the blank white
paper looked back at me.
I placed the open leaf before my mother. "You saw it as plainly
as I did," I said. "Are my own eyes deceiving me? Look at the
bottom of the page."
My mother sunk back in her chair with a cry of terror.
"Gone?" I asked.
I turned to the doctor. He took me completely by surprise. No
incredulous smile appeared on his face; no jesting words passed
his lips. He was listening to us attentively. He was waiting
gravely to hear more.
"I declare to you, on my word of honor," I said to him, "that I
saw the apparition writing with my pencil at the bottom of that
page. I declare that I took the book in my hand, and saw these
words written in it, 'When the full moon shines on Saint
Anthony's Well.' Not more than three hours have passed since that
time; and, see for yourself, not a vestige of the writing
"Not a vestige of the writing remains, " Mr. MacGlue repeated,
"If you feel the slightest doubt of what I have told you," I went
on, "ask my mother; she will bear witness that she saw the
"I don't doubt that you both saw the writing," answered Mr.
MacGlue, with a composure that surprised me.
"Can you account for it?" I asked.
"Well," said the impenetrable doctor, "if I set my wits at work,
I believe I might account for it to the satisfaction of some
people. For example, I might give you what they call the rational
explanation, to begin with. I might say that you are, to my
certain knowledge, in a highly excited nervous condition; and
that, when you saw the apparition (as you call it), you simply
saw nothing but your own strong impression of an absent woman,
who (as I greatly fear) has got on the weak or amatory side of
you. I mean no offense, Mr. Germaine--"
"I take no offense, doctor. But excuse me for speaking
plainly--the rational explanation is thrown away on me."
"I'll readily excuse you," answered Mr. MacGlue; "the rather that
I'm entirely of your opinion. I don't believe in the rational
This was surprising, to say the least of it. "What _do_ you
believe in?" I inquired.
Mr. MacGlue declined to let me hurry him.
"Wait a little," he said. "There's the _ir_rational explanation
to try next. Maybe it will fit itself to the present state of
your mind better than the other. We will say this time that you
have really seen the ghost (or double) of a living person. Very
good. If you can suppose a disembodied spirit to appear in
earthly clothing--of silk or merino, as the case may be--it's no
great stretch to suppose, next, that this same spirit is capable
of holding a mortal pencil, and of writing mortal words in a
mortal sketching-book. And if the ghost vanishes (which your
ghost did), it seems supernaturally appropriate that the writing
should follow the example and vanish too. And the reason of the
vanishment may be (if you want a reason), either that the ghost
does not like letting a stranger like me into its secrets, or
that vanishing is a settled habit of ghosts and of everything
associated with them, or that this ghost has changed its mind in
the course of three hours (being the ghost of a woman, I am sure
that's not wonderful), and doesn't care to see you 'when the full
moon shines on Saint Anthony's Well.' There's the _ir_rational
explanation for you. And, speaking for myself, I'm bound to add
that I don't set a pin's value on _that_ explanation either."
Mr. MacGlue's sublime indifference to both sides of the question
began to irritate me.
"In plain words, doctor," I said, "you don't think the
circumstances that I have mentioned to you worthy of serious
"I don't think serious investigation capable of dealing with the
circumstances," answered the doctor. "Put it in that way, and you
put it right. Just look round you. Here we three persons are
alive and hearty at this snug table. If (which God forbid!) good
Mistress Germaine or yourself were to fall down dead in another
moment, I, doctor as I am, could no more explain what first
principle of life and movement had been suddenly extinguished in
you than the dog there sleeping on the hearth-rug. If I am
content to sit down ignorant in the face of such an impenetrable
mystery as this--presented to me, day after day, every time I see
a living creature come into the world or go out of it--why may I
not sit down content in the face of your lady in the
summer-house, and say she's altogether beyond my fathoming, and
there is an end of her?"
At those words my mother joined in the conversation for the first
"Ah, sir," she said, "if you could only persuade my son to take
your sensible view, how happy I should be! Would you believe
it?--he positively means (if he can find the place) to go to
Saint Anthony's Well!"
Even this revelation entirely failed to surprise Mr. MacGlue.
"Ay, ay. He means to keep his appointment with the ghost, does
he? Well, I can be of some service to him if he sticks to his
resolution. I can tell him of another man who kept a written
appointment with a ghost, and what came of it."
This was a startling announcement. Did he really mean what he
"Are you in jest or in earnest?" I asked.
"I never joke, sir," said Mr. MacGlue. "No sick person really
believes in a doctor who jokes. I defy you to show me a man at
the head of our profession who has ever been discovered in high
spirits (in medical hours) by his nearest and dearest friend. You
may have wondered, I dare say, at seeing me take your strange
narrative as coolly as I do. It comes naturally, sir. Yours is
not the first story of a ghost and a pencil that I have heard."
"Do you mean to tell me," I said, "that you know of another man
who has seen what I have seen?"
"That's just what I mean to tell you," rejoined the doctor. "The
man was a far-away Scots cousin of my late wife, who bore the
honorable name of Bruce, and followed a seafaring life. I'll take
another glass of the sherry wine, just to wet my whistle, as the
vulgar saying is, before I begin. Well, you must know, Bruce was
mate of a bark at the time I'm speaking of, and he was on a
voyage from Liverpool to New Brunswick. At noon one day, he and
the captain, having taken their observation of the sun, were hard
at it below, working out the latitude and longitude on their
slates. Bruce, in his cabin, looked across through the open door
of the captain's cabin opposite. 'What do you make it, sir?' says
Brace. The man in the captain's cabin looked up. And what did
Bruce see? The face of the captain? Devil a bit of it--the face
of a total stranger! Up jumps Bruce, with his heart going full
gallop all in a moment, and searches for the captain on deck, and
finds him much as usual, with his calculations done, and his
latitude and longitude off his mind for the day. 'There's
somebody at your des k, sir,' says Bruce. 'He's writing on your
slate; and he's a total stranger to me.' 'A stranger in my
cabin?' says the captain. 'Why, Mr. Bruce, the ship has been six
weeks out of port. How did he get on board?' Bruce doesn't know
how, but he sticks to his story. Away goes the captain, and
bursts like a whirlwind into his cabin, and finds nobody there.
Bruce himself is obliged to acknowledge that the place is
certainly empty. 'If I didn't know you were a sober man,' says
the captain, 'I should charge you with drinking. As it is, I'll
hold you accountable for nothing worse than dreaming. Don't do it
again, Mr. Bruce.' Bruce sticks to his story; Bruce swears he saw
the man writing on the captain's slate. The captain takes up the
slate and looks at it. 'Lord save us and bless us!' says he;
'here the writing is, sure enough !' Bruce looks at it too, and
sees the writing as plainly as can be, in these words: 'Steer to
the nor'-west.' That, and no more.--Ah, goodness me, narrating is
dry work, Mr. Germaine. With your leave, I'll take another drop
of the sherry wine.
"Well (it's fine old wine, that; look at the oily drops running
down the glass)--well, steering to the north-west, you will
understand, was out of the captain's course. Nevertheless,
finding no solution of the mystery on board the ship, and the
weather at the time being fine, the captain determined, while the
daylight lasted, to alter his course, and see what came of it.
Toward three o'clock in the afternoon an iceberg came of it; with
a wrecked ship stove in, and frozen fast to the ice; and the
passengers and crew nigh to death with cold and exhaustion.
Wonderful enough, you will say; but more remains behind. As the
mate was helping one of the rescued passengers up the side of the
bark, who should he turn out to be but the very man whose ghostly
appearance Bruce had seen in the captain's cabin writing on the
captain's slate! And more than that--if your capacity for being
surprised isn't clean worn out by this time--the passenger
recognized the bark as the very vessel which he had seen in a
dream at noon that day. He had even spoken of it to one of the
officers on board the wrecked ship when he woke. 'We shall be
rescued to-day,' he had said; and he had exactly described the
rig of the bark hours and hours before the vessel herself hove in
view. Now you know, Mr. Germaine, how my wife's far-away cousin
kept an appointment with a ghost, and what came of it."*
Concluding his story in these words, the doctor helped himself to
another glass of the "sherry wine." I was not satisfied yet; I
wanted to know more.
"The writing on the slate," I said. "Did it remain there, or did
it vanish like the writing in my book?"
Mr. MacGlue's answer disappointed me. He had never asked, and had
never heard, whether the writing had remained or not. He had told
me all that he knew, and he had but one thing more to say, and
that was in the nature of a remark with a moral attached to it.
"There's a marvelous resemblance, Mr. Germaine, between your
story and Bruce's story. The main difference, as I see it, is
this. The passenger's appointment proved to be the salvation of a
whole ship's company. I very much doubt whether the lady's
appointment will prove to be the salvation of You."
I silently reconsidered the strange narrative which had just been
related to me. Another man had seen what I had seen--had done
what I proposed to do! My mother noticed with grave displeasure
the strong impression which Mr. MacGlue had produced on my mind.
"I wish you had kept your story to yourself, doctor," she said,
"May I ask why, madam?"
"You have confirmed my son, sir, in his resolution to go to Saint
Mr. MacGlue quietly consulted his pocket almanac before he
"It's the full moon on the ninth of the month," he said. "That
gives Mr. Germaine some days of rest, ma'am,. before he takes the
journey. If he travels in his own comfortable carriage--whatever
I may think, morally speaking, of his enterprise--I can't say,
medically speaking, that I believe it will do him much harm."
"You know where Saint Anthony's Well is?" I interposed.
"I must be mighty ignorant of Edinburgh not to know that,"
replied the doctor.
"Is the Well in Edinburgh, then?"
"It's just outside Edinburgh--looks down on it, as you may say.
You follow the old street called the Canongate to the end. You
turn to your right past the famous Palace of Holyrood; you cross
the Park and the Drive, and take your way upward to the ruins of
Anthony's Chapel, on the shoulder of the hill--and there you are!
There's a high rock behind the chapel, and at the foot of it you
will find the spring they call Anthony's Well. It's thought a
pretty view by moonlight; and they tell me it's no longer beset
at night by bad characters, as it used to be in the old time."
My mother, in graver and graver displeasure, rose to retire to
"I confess you have disappointed me," she said to Mr. MacGlue. "I
should have thought you would have been the last man to encourage
my son in an act of imprudence."
"Craving your pardon, madam, your son requires no encouragement.
I can see for myself that his mind is made up. Where is the use
of a person like me trying to stop him? Dear madam, if he won't
profit by your advice, what hope can I have that he will take
Mr. MacGlue pointed this artful compliment by a bow of the
deepest respect, and threw open the door for my mother to pass
When we were left together over our wine, I asked the doctor how
soon I might safely start on my journey to Edinburgh.
"Take two days to do the journey, and you may start, if you're
bent on it, at the beginning of the week. But mind this," added
the prudent doctor, "though I own I'm anxious to hear what comes
of your expedition--understand at the same time, so far as the
lady is concerned, that I wash my hands of the consequences." --
* The doctor's narrative is not imaginary. It will be found
related in full detail, and authenticated by names and dates, in
Robert Dale Owen's very interesting work called "Footfalls on the
Boundary of Another World." The author gladly takes this
opportunity of acknowledging his obligations to Mr. Owen's
SAINT ANTHONY'S WELL.
I STOOD on the rocky eminence in front of the ruins of Saint
Anthony's Chapel, and looked on the magnificent view of Edinburgh
and of the old Palace of Holyrood, bathed in the light of the
The Well, as the doctor's instructions had informed me, was
behind the chapel. I waited for some minutes in front of the
ruin, partly to recover my breath after ascending the hill;
partly, I own, to master the nervous agitation which the sense of
my position at that moment had aroused in me. The woman, or the
apparition of the woman--it might be either--was perhaps within a
few yards of the place that I occupied. Not a living creature
appeared in front of the chapel. Not a sound caught my ear from
any part of the solitary hill. I tried to fix my whole attention
on the beauties of the moonlit view. It was not to be done. My
mind was far away from the objects on which my eyes rested. My
mind was with the woman whom I had seen in the summer-house
writing in my book.
I turned to skirt the side of the chapel. A few steps more over
the broken ground brought me within view of the Well, and of the
high boulder or rock from the foot of which the waters gushed
brightly in the light of the moon.
She was there.
I recognized her figure as she stood leaning against the rock,
with her hands crossed in front of her, lost in thought. I
recognized her face as she looked up quickly, startled by the
sound of my footsteps in the deep stillness of the night.
Was it the woman, or the apparition of the woman? I waited,
looking at her in silence.
She spoke. The sound of her voice was not the mysterious sound
that I had heard in the summer-house. It was the sound I had
heard on the bridge when we first met in the dim evening light.
"Who are you? What do you want?"
As those words passed her lips, she recognized me. "_You_ here!"
she went on, advancing a step, in uncontrollable surprise . "What
does this mean?"
"I am here," I answered, "to meet you, by your own appointment."
She stepped back again, leaning against the rock. The moonlight
shone full upon her face. There was terror as well as
astonishment in her eyes while they now looked at me.
"I don't understand you," she said. "I have not seen you since
you spoke to me on the bridge."
"Pardon me," I replied. "I have seen you--or the appearance of
you--since that time. I heard you speak. I saw you write."
She looked at me with the strangest expression of mingled
resentment and curiosity. "What did I say?" she asked. "What did
"You said, 'Remember me. Come to me.' You wrote, 'When the full
moon shines on Saint Anthony's Well.' "
"Where?" she cried. "Where did I do that?"
"In a summer-house which stands by a waterfall," I answered. "Do
you know the place?"
Her head sunk back against the rock. A low cry of terror burst
from her. Her arm, resting on the rock, dropped at her side. I
hurriedly approached her, in the fear that she might fall on the
She rallied her failing strength. "Don't touch me!" she
exclaimed. "Stand back, sir. You frighten me."
I tried to soothe her. "Why do I frighten you? You know who I am.
Can you doubt my interest in you, after I have been the means of
saving your life?"
Her reserve vanished in an instant. She advanced without
hesitation, and took me by the hand.
"I ought to thank you," she said. "And I do. I am not so
ungrateful as I seem. I am not a wicked woman, sir--I was mad
with misery when I tried to drown myself. Don't distrust me!
Don't despise me!" She stopped; I saw the tears on her cheeks.
With a sudden contempt for herself, she dashed them away. Her
whole tone and manner altered once more. Her reserve returned;
she looked at me with a strange flash of suspicion and defiance
in her eyes. "Mind this!" she said, loudly and abruptly, "you
were dreaming when you thought you saw me writing. You didn't see
me; you never heard me speak. How could I say those familiar
words to a stranger like you? It's all your fancy--and you try to
frighten me by talking of it as if it was a real thing!" She
changed again; her eyes softened to the sad and tender look which
made them so irresistibly beautiful. She drew her cloak round her
with a shudder, as if she felt the chill of the night air. "What
is the matter with me?" I heard her say to herself. "Why do I
trust this man in my dreams? And why am I ashamed of it when I
That strange outburst encouraged me. I risked letting her know
that I had overheard her last words.
"If you trust me in your dreams, you only do me justice," I said.
"Do me justice now; give me your confidence. You are alone--you
are in trouble--you want a friend's help. I am waiting to help
She hesitated. I tried to take her hand. The strange creature
drew it away with a cry of alarm: her one great fear seemed to be
the fear of letting me touch her.
"Give me time to think of it," she said. "You don't know what I
have got to think of. Give me till to-morrow; and let me write.
Are you staying in Edinburgh?"
I thought it wise to be satisfied--in appearance at least--with
this concession. Taking out my card, I wrote on it in pencil the
address of the hotel at which I was staying. She read the card by
the moonlight when I put it into her hand.
"George!" she repeated to herself, stealing another look at me as
the name passed her lips. " 'George Germaine.' I never heard of
'Germaine.' But 'George' reminds me of old times." She smiled
sadly at some passing fancy or remembrance in which I was not
permitted to share. "There is nothing very wonderful in your
being called 'George,' " she went on, after a while. "The name is
common enough: one meets with it everywhere as a man's name And
yet--" Her eyes finished the sentence; her eyes said to me, "I am
not so much afraid of you, now I know that you are called
So she unconsciously led me to the brink of discovery!
If I had only asked her what associations she connected with my
Christian name--if I had only persuaded her to speak in the
briefest and most guarded terms of her past life--the barrier
between us, which the change in our names and the lapse of ten
years had raised, must have been broken down; the recognition
must have followed. But I never even thought of it; and for this
simple reason--I was in love with her. The purely selfish idea of
winning my way to her favorable regard by taking instant
advantage of the new interest that I had awakened in her was the
one idea which occurred to my mind.
"Don't wait to write to me," I said. "Don't put it off till
to-morrow. Who knows what may happen before to-morrow? Surely I
deserve some little return for the sympathy that I feel with you?
I don't ask for much. Make me happy by making me of some service
to you before we part to-night."
I took her hand, this time, before she was aware of me. The whole
woman seemed to yield at my touch. Her hand lay unresistingly in
mine; her charming figure came by soft gradations nearer and
nearer to me; her head almost touched my shoulder. She murmured
in faint accents, broken by sighs, "Don't take advantage of me. I
am so friendless; I am so completely in your power." Before I
could answer, before I could move, her hand closed on mine; her
head sunk on my shoulder: she burst into tears.
Any man, not an inbred and inborn villain, would have respected
her at that moment. I put her hand on my arm and led her away
gently past the ruined chapel, and down the slope of the hill.
"This lonely place is frightening you," I said. "Let us walk a
little, and you will soon be yourself again."
She smiled through her tears like a child.
"Yes," she said, eagerly. "But not that way." I had accidentally
taken the direction which led away from the city; she begged me
to turn toward the houses and the streets. We walked back toward
Edinburgh. She eyed me, as we went on in the moonlight, with
innocent, wondering looks. "What an unaccountable influence you
have over me!" she exclaimed.
"Did you ever see me, did you ever hear my name, before we met
that evening at the river?"
"And I never heard _your_ name, and never saw _you_ before.
Strange! very strange! Ah! I remember somebody--only an old
woman, sir--who might once have explained it. Where shall I find
the like of her now?"
She sighed bitterly. The lost friend or relative had evidently
been dear to her. "A relation of yours?" I inquired--more to keep
her talking than because I felt any interest in any member of her
family but herself.
We were again on the brink of discovery. And again it was decreed
that we were to advance no further.
"Don't ask me about my relations!" she broke out. "I daren't
think of the dead and gone, in the trouble that is trying me now.
If I speak of the old times at home, I shall only burst out
crying again, and distress you. Talk of something else, sir--talk
of something else."
The mystery of the apparition in the summer-house was not cleared
up yet. I took my opportunity of approaching the subject.
"You spoke a little while since of dreaming of me," I began.
"Tell me your dream."
"I hardly know whether it was a dream or whether it was something
else," she answered. "I call it a dream for want of a better
"Did it happen at night?"
"No. In the daytime--in the afternoon."
"Late in the afternoon?"
"Yes--close on the evening."
My memory reverted to the doctor's story of the shipwrecked
passenger, whose ghostly "double" had appeared in the vessel that
was to rescue him, and who had himself seen that vessel in a
"Do you remember the day of the month and the hour?" I asked.
She mentioned the day, and she mentioned the hour. It was the day
when my mother and I had visited the waterfall. It was the hour
when I had seen the apparition in the summer-house writing in my
I stopped in irrepressible astonishment. We had walked by this
time nearly as far on the way back to the city as the old Palace
of Holyrood. My companion, after a glance at me, turned and
looked at the rugged old building, mellowed into quiet beauty by
the lovely moonlight.
"This is my fa vorite walk," she said, simply, "since I have been
in Edinburgh. I don't mind the loneliness. I like the perfect
tranquillity here at night." She glanced at me again. "What is
the matter?" she asked. "You say nothing; you only look at me."
"I want to hear more of your dream," I said. "How did you come to
be sleeping in the daytime?"
"It is not easy to say what I was doing," she replied, as we
walked on again. "I was miserably anxious and ill. I felt my
helpless condition keenly on that day. It was dinner-time, I
remember, and I had no appetite. I went upstairs (at the inn
where I am staying), and lay down, quite worn out, on my bed. I
don't know whether I fainted or whether I slept; I lost all
consciousness of what was going on about me, and I got some other
consciousness in its place. If this was dreaming, I can only say
it was the most vivid dream I ever had in my life."
"Did it begin by your seeing me?" I inquired.
"It began by my seeing your drawing-book--lying open on a table
in a summer-house."
"Can you describe the summer-house as you saw it?"
She described not only the summer-house, but the view of the
waterfall from the door. She knew the size, she knew the binding,
of my sketch-book--locked up in my desk, at that moment, at home
"And you wrote in the book," I went on. "Do you remember what you
She looked away from me confusedly, as if she were ashamed to
recall this part of her dream.
"You have mentioned it already," she said. There is no need for
me to go over the words again. Tell me one thing--when _you_ were
at the summer-house, did you wait a little on the path to the
door before you went in?"
I _had_ waited, surprised by my first view of the woman writing
in my book. Having answered her to this effect, I asked what she
had done or dreamed of doing at the later moment when I entered
"I did the strangest things," she said, in low, wondering tones.
"If you had been my brother, I could hardly have treated you more
familiarly. I beckoned to you to come to me. I even laid my hand
on your bosom. I spoke to you as I might have spoken to my oldest
and dearest friend. I said, 'Remember me. Come to me.' Oh, I was
so ashamed of myself when I came to my senses again, and
recollected it. Was there ever such familiarity--even in a
dream--between a woman and a man whom she had only once seen, and
then as a perfect stranger?"
"Did you notice how long it was," I asked, "from the time when
you lay down on the bed to the time when you found yourself awake
"I think I can tell you," she replied. "It was the dinner-time of
the house (as I said just now) when I went upstairs. Not long
after I had come to myself I heard a church clock strike the
hour. Reckoning from one time to the other, it must have been
quite three hours from the time when I first lay down to the time
when I got up again."
Was the clew to the mysterious disappearance of the writing to be
Looking back by the light of later discoveries, I am inclined to
think that it was. In three hours the lines traced by the
apparition of her had vanished. In three hours she had come to
herself, and had felt ashamed of the familiar manner in which she
had communicated with me in her sleeping state. While she had
trusted me in the trance--trusted me because her spirit was then
free to recognize my spirit--the writing had remained on the
page. When her waking will counteracted the influence of her
sleeping will, the writing disappeared. Is this the explanation?
If it is not, where is the explanation to be found?
We walked on until we reached that part of the Canongate street
in which she lodged. We stopped at the door.
THE LETTER OF INTRODUCTION.
I LOOKED at the house. It was an inn, of no great size, but of
respectable appearance. If I was to be of any use to her that
night, the time had come to speak of other subjects than the
subject of dreams.
"After all that you have told me," I said, "I will not ask you to
admit me any further into your confidence until we meet again.
Only let me hear how I can relieve your most pressing anxieties.
What are your plans? Can I do anything to help them before you go
to rest to-night?"
She thanked me warmly, and hesitated, looking up the street and
down the street in evident embarrassment what to say next.
"Do you propose staying in Edinburgh?" I asked.
"Oh no! I don't wish to remain in Scotland. I want to go much
further away. I think I should do better in London; at some
respectable milliner's, if I could be properly recommended. I am
quick at my needle, and I understand cutting out. Or I could keep
accounts, if--if anybody would trust me."
She stopped, and looked at me doubtingly, as if she felt far from
sure, poor soul, of winning my confidence to begin with. I acted
on that hint, with the headlong impetuosity of a man who was in
"I can give you exactly the recommendation you want," I said,
"whenever you like. Now, if you would prefer it."
Her charming features brightened with pleasure. "Oh, you are
indeed a friend to me!" she said, impulsively. Her face clouded
again--she saw my proposal in a new light. "Have I any right,"
she asked, sadly, "to accept what you offer me?"
"Let me give you the letter," I answered, "and you can decide for
yourself whether you will use it or not."
I put her arm again in mine, and entered the inn.
She shrunk back in alarm. What would the landlady think if she
saw her lodger enter the house at night in company with a
stranger, and that stranger a gentleman? The landlady appeared as
she made the objection. Reckless what I said or what I did, I
introduced myself as her relative, and asked to be shown into a
quiet room in which I could write a letter. After one sharp
glance at me, the landlady appeared to be satisfied that she was
dealing with a gentleman. She led the way into a sort of parlor
behind the "bar," placed writing materials on the table, looked
at my companion as only one woman can look at another under
certain circumstances, and left us by ourselves.
It was the first time I had ever been in a room with her alone.
The embarrassing sense of her position had heightened her color
and brightened her eyes. She stood, leaning one hand on the
table, confused and irresolute, her firm and supple figure
falling into an attitude of unsought grace which it was literally
a luxury to look at. I said nothing; my eyes confessed my
admiration; the writing materials lay untouched before me on the
table. How long the silence might have lasted I cannot say. She
abruptly broke it. Her instinct warned her that silence might
have its dangers, in our position. She turned to me with an
effort; she said, uneasily, "I don't think you ought to write
your letter to-night, sir."
"You know nothing of me. Surely you ought not to recommend a
person who is a stranger to you? And I am worse than a stranger.
I am a miserable wretch who has tried to commit a great sin--I
have tried to destroy myself. Perhaps the misery I was in might
be some excuse for me, if you knew it. You ought to know it. But
it's so late to-night, and I am so sadly tired--and there are
some things, sir, which it is not easy for a woman to speak of in
the presence of a man."
Her head sunk on her bosom; her delicate lips trembled a little;
she said no more. The way to reassure and console her lay plainly
enough before me, if I chose to take it. Without stopping to
think, I took it.
Reminding her that she had herself proposed writing to me when we
met that evening, I suggested that she should wait to tell the
sad story of her troubles until it was convenient to her to send
me the narrative in the form of a letter. "In the mean time," I
added, "I have the most perfect confidence in you; and I beg as a
favor that you will let me put it to the proof. I can introduce
you to a dressmaker in London who is at the head of a large
establishment, and I will do it before I leave you to-night."
I dipped my pen in the ink as I said the words. Let me confess
frankly the lengths to which my infatuation led me. The
dressmaker to whom I had alluded had been my mother's maid in f
ormer years, and had been established in business with money lent
by my late step-father, Mr. Germaine. I used both their names
without scruple; and I wrote my recommendation in terms which the
best of living women and the ablest of existing dressmakers could
never have hoped to merit. Will anybody find excuses for me?
Those rare persons who have been in love, and who have not
completely forgotten it yet, may perhaps find excuses for me. It
matters little; I don't deserve them.
I handed her the open letter to read.
She blushed delightfully; she cast one tenderly grateful look at
me, which I remembered but too well for many and many an
after-day. The next moment, to my astonishment, this changeable
creature changed again. Some forgotten consideration seemed to
have occurred to her. She turned pale; the soft lines of pleasure
in her face hardened, little by little; she regarded me with the
saddest look of confusion and distress. Putting the letter down
before me on the table, she said, timidly:
"Would you mind adding a postscript, sir?"
I suppressed all appearance of surprise as well as I could, and
took up the pen again.
"Would you please say," she went on, "that I am only to be taken
on trial, at first? I am not to be engaged for more"--her voice
sunk lower and lower, so that I could barely hear the next
words--"for more than three months, certain."
It was not in human nature--perhaps I ought to say it was not in
the nature of a man who was in my situation--to refrain from
showing some curiosity, on being asked to supplement a letter of
recommendation by such a postscript as this.
"Have you some other employment in prospect?" I asked.
"None," she answered, with her head down, and her eyes avoiding
An unworthy doubt of her--the mean offspring of jealousy--found
its way into my mind.
"Have you some absent friend," I went on, "who is likely to prove
a better friend than I am, if you only give him time?"
She lifted her noble head. Her grand, guileless gray eyes rested
on me with a look of patient reproach.
"I have not got a friend in the world," she said. "For God's
sake, ask me no more questions to-night!"
I rose and gave her the letter once more--with the postscript
added, in her own words.
We stood together by the table; we looked at each other in a
"How can I thank you?" she murmured, softly. "Oh, sir, I will
indeed be worthy of the confidence that you have shown in me!"
Her eyes moistened; her variable color came and went; her dress
heaved softly over the lovely outline of her bosom. I don't
believe the man lives who could have resisted her at that moment.
I lost all power of restraint; I caught her in my arms; I
whispered, "I love you!" I kissed her passionately. For a moment
she lay helpless and trembling on my breast; for a moment her
fragrant lips softly returned the kiss. In an instant more it was
over. She tore herself away with a shudder that shook her from
head to foot, and threw the letter that I had given to her
indignantly at my feet.
"How dare you take advantage of me! How dare you touch me!" she
said. "Take your letter back, sir; I refuse to receive it; I will
never speak to you again. You don't know what you have done. You
don't know how deeply you have wounded me. Oh!" she cried,
throwing herself in despair on a sofa that stood near her, "shall
I ever recover my self-respect? shall I ever forgive myself for
what I have done to-night?"
I implored her pardon; I assured her of my repentance and regret
in words which did really come from my heart. The violence of her
agitation more than distressed me--I was really alarmed by it.
She composed herself after a while. She rose to her feet with
modest dignity, and silently held out her hand in token that my
repentance was accepted.
"You will give me time for atonement?" I pleaded. "You will not
lose all confidence in me? Let me see you again, if it is only to
show that I am not quite unworthy of your pardon--at your own
time; in the presence of another person, if you like."
"I will write to you," she said.
I took up the letter of recommendation from the floor.
"Make your goodness to me complete," I said. "Don't mortify me by
refusing to take my letter."
"I will take your letter," she answered, quietly. "Thank you for
writing it. Leave me now, please. Good-night."
I left her, pale and sad, with my letter in her hand. I left her,
with my mind in a tumult of contending emotions, which gradually
resolved themselves into two master-feelings as I walked on:
Love, that adored her more fervently than ever; and Hope, that
set the prospect before me of seeing her again on the next day.
THE DISASTERS OF MRS. VAN BRANDT.
A MAN who passes his evening as I had passed mine, may go to bed
afterward if he has nothing better to do. But he must not rank
among the number of his reasonable anticipations the expectation
of getting a night's rest. The morning was well advanced, and the
hotel was astir, before I at last closed my eyes in slumber. When
I awoke, my watch informed me that it was close on noon.
I rang the bell. My servant appeared with a letter in his hand.
It had been left for me, three hours since, by a lady who had
driven to the hotel door in a carriage, and had then driven away
again. The man had found me sleeping when he entered my
bed-chamber, and, having received no orders to wake me overnight,
had left the letter on the sitting-room table until he heard my
Easily guessing who my correspondent was, I opened the letter. An
inclosure fell out of it--to which, for the moment, I paid no
attention. I turned eagerly to the first lines. They announced
that the writer had escaped me for the second time: early that
morning she had left Edinburgh. The paper inclosed proved to be
my letter of introduction to the dressmaker returned to me.
I was more than angry with her--I felt her second flight from me
as a downright outrage. In five minutes I had hurried on my
clothes and was on my way to the inn in the Canongate as fast as
a horse could draw me.
The servants could give me no information. Her escape had been
effected without their knowledge.
The landlady, to whom I next addressed myself, deliberately
declined to assist me in any way whatever.
"I have given the lady my promise," said this obstinate person,
"to answer not one word to any question that you may ask me about
her. In my belief, she is acting as becomes an honest woman in
removing herself from any further communication with you. I saw
you through the keyhole last night, sir. I wish you
Returning to my hotel, I left no attempt to discover her untried.
I traced the coachman who had driven her. He had set her down at
a shop, and had then been dismissed. I questioned the
shop-keeper. He remembered that he had sold some articles of
linen to a lady with her veil down and a traveling-bag in her
hand, and he remembered no more. I circulated a description of
her in the different coach offices. Three "elegant young ladies,
with their veils down, and with traveling-bags in their hands,"
answered to the description; and which of the three was the
fugitive of whom I was in search, it was impossible to discover.
In the days of railways and electric telegraphs I might have
succeeded in tracing her. In the days of which I am now writing,
she set investigation at defiance.
I read and reread her letter, on the chance that some slip of the
pen might furnish the clew which I had failed to find in any
other way. Here is the narrative that she addressed to me, copied
from the original, word for word:
"DEAR SIR--Forgive me for leaving you again as I left you in
Perthshire. After what took place last night, I have no other
choice (knowing my own weakness, and the influence that you seem
to have over me) than to thank you gratefully for your kindness,
and to bid you farewell. My sad position must be my excuse for
separating myself from you in this rude manner, and for venturing
to send you back your letter of introduction. If I use the
letter, I only offer you a means of communicating with me. For
your sake, as well as for mine, this mu st not be. I must never
give you a second opportunity of saying that you love me; I must
go away, leaving no trace behind by which you can possibly
"But I cannot forget that I owe my poor life to your compassion
and your courage. You, who saved me, have a right to know what
the provocation was that drove me to drowning myself, and what my
situation is, now that I am (thanks to you) still a living woman.
You shall hear my sad story, sir; and I will try to tell it as
briefly as possible.
"I was married, not very long since, to a Dutch gentleman, whose
name is Van Brandt. Please excuse my entering into family
particulars. I have endeavored to write and tell you about my
dear lost father and my old home. But the tears come into my eyes
when I think of my happy past life. I really cannot see the lines
as I try to write them.
"Let me, then, only say that Mr. Van Brandt was well recommended
to my good father before I married. I have only now discovered
that he obtained these recommendations from his friends under a
false pretense, which it is needless to trouble you by mentioning
in detail. Ignorant of what he had done, I lived with him
happily. I cannot truly declare that he was the object of my
first love, but he was the one person in the world whom I had to
look up to after my father's death. I esteemed him and respected
him, and, if I may say so without vanity, I did indeed make him a
"So the time went on, sir, prosperously enough, until the evening
came when you and I met on the bridge.
"I was out alone in our garden, trimming the shrubs, when the
maid-servant came and told me there was a foreign lady in a
carriage at the door who desired to say a word to Mrs. Van
Brandt. I sent the maid on before to show her into the
sitting-room, and I followed to receive my visitor as soon as I
had made myself tidy. She was a dreadful woman, with a flushed,
fiery face and impudent, bright eyes. 'Are you Mrs. Van Brandt?'
she said. I answered, 'Yes.' 'Are you really married to him?' she
asked me. That question (naturally enough, I think) upset my
temper. I said, 'How dare you doubt it?' She laughed in my face.
'Send for Van Brandt,' she said. I went out into the passage and
called him down from the room upstairs in which he was writing.
'Ernest,' I said, 'here is a person who has insulted me. Come
down directly.' He left his room the moment he heard me. The
woman followed me out into the passage to meet him. She made him
a low courtesy. He turned deadly pale the moment he set eyes on
her. That frightened me. I said to him, 'For God's sake, what
does this mean?' He took me by the arm, and he answered: 'You
shall know soon. Go back to your gardening, and don't return to
the house till I send for you.' His looks were so shocking, he
was so unlike himself, that I declare he daunted me. I let him
take me as far as the garden door. He squeezed my hand. 'For my
sake, darling,' he whispered, 'do what I ask of you.' I went into
the garden and sat me down on the nearest bench, and waited
impatiently for what was to come.
"How long a time passed I don't know. My anxiety got to such a
pitch at last that I could bear it no longer. I ventured back to
"I listened in the passage, and heard nothing. I went close to
the parlor door, and still there was silence. I took courage, and
opened the door.
"The room was empty. There was a letter on the table. It was in
my husband's handwriting, and it was addressed to me. I opened it
and read it. The letter told me that I was deserted, disgraced,
ruined. The woman with the fiery face and the impudent eyes was
Van Brandt's lawful wife. She had given him his choice of going
away with her at once or of being prosecuted for bigamy. He had
gone away with her--gone, and left me.
"Remember, sir, that I had lost both father and mother. I had no
friends. I was alone in the world, without a creature near to
comfort or advise me. And please to bear in mind that I have a
temper which feels even the smallest slights and injuries very
keenly. Do you wonder at what I had it in my thoughts to do that
evening on the bridge?
"Mind this: I believe I should never have attempted to destroy
myself if I could only have burst out crying. No tears came to
me. A dull, stunned feeling took hold like a vise on my head and
on my heart. I walked straight to the river. I said to myself,
quite calmly, as I went along, '_There_ is the end of it, and the
sooner the better.'
"What happened after that, you know as well as I do. I may get on
to the next morning--the morning when I so ungratefully left you
at the inn by the river-side.
"I had but one reason, sir, for going away by the first
conveyance that I could find to take me, and this was the fear
that Van Brandt might discover me if I remained in Perthshire.
The letter that he had left on the table was full of expressions
of love and remorse, to say nothing of excuses for his infamous
behavior to me. He declared that he had been entrapped into a
private marriage with a profligate woman when he was little more
than a lad. They had long since separated by common consent. When
he first courted me, he had every reason to believe that she was
dead. How he had been deceived in this particular, and how she
had discovered that he had married me, he had yet to find out.
Knowing her furious temper, he had gone away with her, as the one
means of preventing an application to the justices and a scandal
in the neighborhood. In a day or two he would purchase his
release from her by an addition to the allowance which she had
already received from him: he would return to me and take me
abroad, out of the way of further annoyance. I was his wife in
the sight of Heaven; I was the only woman he had ever loved; and
so on, and so on.
"Do you now see, sir, the risk that I ran of his discovering me
if I remained in your neighborhood? The bare thought of it made
my flesh creep. I was determined never again to see the man who
had so cruelly deceived me. I am in the same mind still--with
this difference, that I might consent to see him, if I could be
positively assured first of the death of his wife. That is not
likely to happen. Let me get on with my letter, and tell you what
I did on my arrival in Edinburgh.
"The coachman recommended me to the house in the Canongate where
you found me lodging. I wrote the same day to relatives of my
father, living in Glasgow, to tell them where I was, and in what
a forlorn position I found myself.
"I was answered by return of post. The head of the family and his
wife requested me to refrain from visiting them in Glasgow. They
had business then in hand which would take them to Edinburgh, and
I might expect to see them both with the least possible delay.
"They arrived, as they had promised, and they expressed
themselves civilly enough. Moreover, they did certainly lend me a
small sum of money when they found how poorly my purse was
furnished. But I don't think either husband or wife felt much for
me. They recommended me, at parting, to apply to my father's
other relatives, living in England. I may be doing them an
injustice, but I fancy they were eager to get me (as the common
phrase is) off their hands.
"The day when the departure of my relatives left me friendless
was also the day, sir, when I had that dream or vision of you
which I have already related. I lingered on at the house in the
Canongate, partly because the landlady was kind to me, partly
because I was so depressed by my position that I really did not
know what to do next.
"In this wretched condition you discovered me on that favorite
walk of mine from Holyrood to Saint Anthony's Well. Believe me,
your kind interest in my fortunes has not been thrown away on an
ungrateful woman. I could ask Providence for no greater blessing
than to find a brother and a friend in you. You have yourself
destroyed that hope by what you said and did when we were
together in the parlor. I don't blame you: I am afraid my manner
(without my knowing it) might have seemed to give you some
encouragement. I am only sorry--very, very sorry--to have no
honorable choice left but never to see you again.
"After much thin king, I have made up my mind to speak to those
other relatives of my father to whom I have not yet applied. The
chance that they may help me to earn an honest living is the one
chance that I have left. God bless you, Mr. Germaine! I wish you
prosperity and happiness from the bottom of my heart; and remain,
your grateful servant,
"M. VAN BRANDT.
"P.S.--I sign my own name (or the name which I once thought was
mine) as a proof that I have honestly written the truth about
myself, from first to last. For the future I must, for safety's
sake, live under some other name. I should like to go back to my
name when I was a happy girl at home. But Van Brandt knows it;
and, besides, I have (no matter how innocently) disgraced it.
Good-by again, sir; and thank you again."
So the letter concluded.
I read it in the temper of a thoroughly disappointed and
thoroughly unreasonable man. Whatever poor Mrs. Van Brandt had
done, she had done wrong. It was wrong of her, in the first
place, to have married at all. It was wrong of her to contemplate
receiving Mr. Van Brandt again, even if his lawful wife had died
in the interval. It was wrong of her to return my letter of
introduction, after I had given myself the trouble of altering it
to suit her capricious fancy. It was wrong of her to take an
absurdly prudish view of a stolen kiss and a tender declaration,
and to fly from me as if I were as great a scoundrel as Mr. Van
Brandt himself. And last, and more than all, it was wrong of her
to sign her Christian name in initial only. Here I was,
passionately in love with a woman, and not knowing by what fond
name to identify her in my thoughts! "M. Van Brandt!" I might
call her Maria, Margaret, Martha, Mabel, Magdalen, Mary--no, not
Mary. The old boyish love was dead and gone, but I owed some
respect to the memory of it. If the "Mary" of my early days were
still living, and if I had met her, would she have treated me as
this woman had treated me? Never! It was an injury to "Mary" to
think even of that heartless creature by her name. Why think of
her at all? Why degrade myself by trying to puzzle out a means of
tracing her in her letter? It was sheer folly to attempt to trace
a woman who had gone I knew not whither, and who herself informed
me that she meant to pass under an assumed name. Had I lost all
pride, all self-respect? In the flower of my age, with a handsome
fortune, with the world before me, full of interesting female
faces and charming female figures, what course did it become me
to take? To go back to my country-house, and mope over the loss
of a woman who had deliberately deserted me? or to send for a
courier and a traveling carriage, and forget her gayly among
foreign people and foreign scenes? In the state of my temper at
that moment, the idea of a pleasure tour in Europe fired my
imagination. I first astonished the people at the hotel by
ordering all further inquiries after the missing Mrs. Van Brandt
to be stopped; and then I opened my writing desk and wrote to
tell my mother frankly and fully of my new plans.
The answer arrived by return of post.
To my surprise and delight, my good mother was not satisfied with
only formally approving of my new resolution. With an energy
which I had not ventured to expect from her, she had made all her
arrangements for leaving home, and had started for Edinburgh to
join me as my traveling companion. "You shall not go away alone,
George," she wrote, "while I have strength and spirits to keep
In three days from the time when I read those words our
preparations were completed, and we were on our way to the
NOT CURED YET.
WE visited France, Germany, and Italy; and we were absent from
England nearly two years.
Had time and change justified my confidence in them? Was the
image of Mrs. Van Brandt an image long since dismissed from my
No! Do what I might, I was still (in the prophetic language of
Dame Dermody) taking the way to reunion with my kindred spirit in
the time to come. For the first two or three months of our
travels I was haunted by dreams of the woman who had so
resolutely left me. Seeing her in my sleep, always graceful,
always charming, always modestly tender toward me, I waited in
the ardent hope of again beholding the apparition of her in my
waking hours--of again being summoned to meet her at a given
place and time. My anticipations were not fulfilled; no
apparition showed itself. The dreams themselves grew less
frequent and less vivid and then ceased altogether. Was this a
sign that the days of her adversity were at an end? Having no
further need of help, had she no further remembrance of the man
who had tried to help her? Were we never to meet again?
I said to myself: "I am unworthy of the name of man if I don't
forget her now!" She still kept her place in my memory, say what
I saw all the wonders of Nature and Art which foreign countries
could show me. I lived in the dazzling light of the best society
that Paris, Rome, Vienna could assemble. I passed hours on hours
in the company of the most accomplished and most beautiful women
whom Europe could produce--and still that solitary figure at
Saint Anthony's Well, those grand gray eyes that had rested on me
so sadly at parting, held their place in my memory, stamped their
image on my heart.
Whether I resisted my infatuation, or whether I submitted to it,
I still longed for her. I did all I could to conceal the state of
my mind from my mother. But her loving eyes discovered the
secret: she saw that I suffered, and suffered with me. More than
once she said: "George, the good end is not to be gained by
traveling; let us go home." More than once I answered, with the
bitter and obstinate resolution of despair: "No. Let us try more
new people and more new scenes." It was only when I found her
health and strength beginning to fail under the stress of
continual traveling that I consented to abandon the hopeless
search after oblivion, and to turn homeward at last.
I prevailed on my mother to wait and rest at my house in London
before she returned to her favorite abode at the country-seat in
Perthshire. It is needless to say that I remained in town with
her. My mother now represented the one interest that held me
nobly and endearingly to life. Politics, literature,
agriculture--the customary pursuits of a man in my position--had
none of them the slightest attraction for me.
We had arrived in London at what is called "the height of the
season." Among the operatic attractions of that year--I am
writing of the days when the ballet was still a popular form of
public entertainment--there was a certain dancer whose grace and
beauty were the objects of universal admiration. I was asked if I
had seen her, wherever I went, until my social position, as the
one man who was indifferent to the reigning goddess of the stage,
became quite unendurable. On the next occasion when I was invited
to take a seat in a friend's box, I accepted the proposal; and
(far from willingly) I went the way of the world--in other words,
I went to the opera.
The first part of the performance had concluded when we got to
the theater, and the ballet had not yet begun. My friends amused
themselves with looking for familiar faces in the boxes and
stalls. I took a chair in a corner and waited, with my mind far
away from the theater, from the dancing that was to come. The
lady who sat nearest to me (like ladies in general) disliked the
neighborhood of a silent man. She determined to make me talk to
"Do tell me, Mr. Germaine," she said. "Did you ever see a theater
anywhere so full as this theater is to-night?"
She handed me her opera-glass as she spoke. I moved to the front
of the box to look at the audience.
It was certainty a wonderful sight. Every available atom of space
(as I gradually raised the glass from the floor to the ceiling of
the building) appeared to be occupied. Looking upward and upward,
my range of view gradually reached the gallery. Even at that
distance, the excellent glass which had been put into my hands
brought the faces of the audience close to me. I looked first at
the pe rsons who occupied the front row of seats in the gallery
Moving the opera-glass slowly along the semicircle formed by the
seats, I suddenly stopped when I reached the middle.
My heart gave a great leap as if it would bound out of my body.
There was no mistaking _that_ face among the commonplace faces
near it. I had discovered Mrs. Van Brandt!
She sat in front--but not alone. There was a man in the stall
immediately behind her, who bent over her and spoke to her from
time to time. She listened to him, so far as I could see, with
something of a sad and weary look. Who was the man? I might, or
might not, find that out. Under any circumstances, I determined
to speak to Mrs. Van Brandt.
The curtain rose for the ballet. I made the best excuse I could
to my friends, and instantly left the box.
It was useless to attempt to purchase my admission to the
gallery. My money was refused. There was not even standing room
left in that part of the theater.
But one alternative remained. I returned to the street, to wait
for Mrs. Van Brandt at the gallery door until the performance was
Who was the man in attendance on her--the man whom I had seen
sitting behind her, and talking familiarly over her shoulder?
While I paced backward and forward before the door, that one
question held possession of my mind, until the oppression of it
grew beyond endurance. I went back to my friends in the box,
simply and solely to look at the man again.
What excuses I made to account for my strange conduct I cannot
now remember. Armed once more with the lady's opera-glass (I
borrowed it and kept it without scruple), I alone, of all that
vast audience, turned my back on the stage, and riveted my
attention on the gallery stalls.
There he sat, in his place behind her, to all appearance
spell-bound by the fascinations of the graceful dancer. Mrs. Van
Brandt, on the contrary, seemed to find but little attraction in
the spectacle presented by the stage. She looked at the dancing
(so far as I could see) in an absent, weary manner. When the
applause broke out in a perfect frenzy of cries and clapping of
hands, she sat perfectly unmoved by the enthusiasm which pervaded
the theater. The man behind her (annoyed, as I supposed, by the
marked indifference which she showed to the performance) tapped
her impatiently on the shoulder, as if he thought that she was
quite capable of falling asleep in her stall. The familiarity of
the action--confirming the suspicion in my mind which had already
identified him with Van Brandt--so enraged me that I said or did
something which obliged one of the gentlemen in the box to
interfere. "If you can't control yourself," he whispered, "you
had better leave us." He spoke with the authority of an old
friend. I had sense enough left to take his advice, and return to
my post at the gallery door.
A little before midnight the performance ended. The audience
began to pour out of the theater.
I drew back into a corner behind the door, facing the gallery
stairs, and watched for her. After an interval which seemed to be
endless, she and her companion appeared, slowly descending the
stairs. She wore a long dark cloak; her head was protected by a
quaintly shaped hood, which looked (on _her_) the most becoming
head-dress that a woman could wear. As the two passed me, I heard
the man speak to her in a tone of sulky annoyance.
"It's wasting money," he said, "to go to the expense of taking
_you_ to the opera."
"I am not well," she answered with her head down and her eyes on
the ground. "I am out of spirits to-night."
"Will you ride home or walk?"
"I will walk, if you please."
I followed them unperceived, waiting to present myself to her
until the crowd about them had dispersed. In a few minutes they
turned into a quiet by-street. I quickened my pace until I was
close at her side, and then I took off my hat and spoke to her.
She recognized me with a cry of astonishment. For an instant her
face brightened radiantly with the loveliest expression of
delight that I ever saw on any human countenance. The moment
after, all was changed. The charming features saddened and
hardened. She stood before me like a woman overwhelmed by
shame--without uttering a word, without taking my offered hand.
Her companion broke the silence.
"Who is this gentleman?" he asked, speaking in a foreign accent,
with an under-bred insolence of tone and manner.
She controlled herself the moment he addressed her. "This is Mr.
Germaine," she answered: "a gentleman who was very kind to me in
Scotland." She raised her eyes for a moment to mine, and took
refuge, poor soul, in a conventionally polite inquiry after my
health. "I hope you are quite well, Mr. Germaine," said the soft,
sweet voice, trembling piteously.
I made the customary reply, and explained that I had seen her at
the opera. "Are you staying in London?" I asked. "May I have the
honor of calling on you?"
Her companion answered for her before she could speak.
"My wife thanks you, sir, for the compliment you pay her. She
doesn't receive visitors. We both wish you good-night."
Saying those words, he took off his hat with a sardonic
assumption of respect; and, holding her arm in his, forced her to
walk on abruptly with him. Feeling certainly assured by this time
that the man was no other than Van Brandt, I was on the point of
answering him sharply, when Mrs. Van Brandt checked the rash
words as they rose to my lips.
"For my sake!" she whispered, over her shoulder, with an
imploring look that instantly silenced me. After all, she was
free (if she liked) to go back to the man who had so vilely
deceived and deserted her. I bowed and left them, feeling with no
common bitterness the humiliation of entering into rivalry with
Mr. Van Brandt.