Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Black Robe by Wilkie Collins

Part 7 out of 7

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.8 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

If you wish to see him, you must do what I have done--you must go
to church and look at him in the pulpit. He preaches in
English--I think for the last time this season--on Thursday
evening next. Shall I call here and take you to the church?"

If I had followed my inclinations, I should have refused. I feel
no sort of interest in Romayne--I might even say I feel a
downright antipathy toward him. But I have no wish to appear
insensible to the banker's kindness, and my reception at St.
Germain depends greatly on the attention I show to Mrs.
Eyrecourt's request. So it was arranged that I should hear the
great preacher--with a mental reservation on my part, which
contemplated my departure from the church before the end of his

But, before I see him, I feel assured of one thing--especially
after what the banker has told me. Stella's view of his character
is the right one. The man who has deserted her has no heart to be
touched by wife or child. They are separated forever.

March 3.--I have just seen the landlord of the hotel; he can help
me to answer one of Mrs. Eyrecourt's questions. A nephew of his
holds some employment at the Jesuit headquarters here, adjoining
their famous church _Il Gesu_. I have requested the young man to
ascertain if Father Benwell is still in Rome--without mentioning
me. It would be no small trial to my self-control if we met in
the street.

March 4.--Good news this time for Mrs. Eyrecourt, as far as it
goes. Father Benwell has long since left Rome, and has returned
to his regular duties in England. If he exercises any further
influence over Romayne, it must be done by letter.

March 5.--I have returned from Romayne's sermon. This double
renegade--has he not deserted his religion and his wife?--has
failed to convince my reason. But he has so completely upset my
nerves that I ordered a bottle of champagne (to the great
amusement of my friend the banker) the moment we got back to the

We drove through the scantily lighted streets of Rome to a small
church in the neighborhood of the Piazza Navona. To a more
imaginative man than myself, the scene when we entered the
building would have been too impressive to be described in
words--though it might perhaps have been painted. The one light
in the place glimmered mysteriously from a great wax candle,
burning in front of a drapery of black cloth, and illuminating
dimly a sculptured representation, in white marble, of the
crucified Christ, wrought to the size of life. In front of this
ghastly emblem a platform projected, also covered with black
cloth. We could penetrate no further than to the space just
inside the door of the church. Everywhere else the building was
filled with standing, sitting and kneeling figures, shadowy and
mysterious, fading away in far corners into impenetrable gloom.
The only sounds were the low, wailing notes of the organ,
accompanied at intervals by the muffled thump of fanatic
worshipers penitentially beating their breasts. On a sudden the
organ ceased; the self-inflicted blows of the penitents were
heard no more. In the breathless silence that followed, a man
robed in black mounted the black platform, and faced the
congregation. His hair had become prematurely gray; his face was
of the ghastly paleness of the great crucifix at his side. The
light of the candle, falling on him as he slowly turned his head,
cast shadows into the hollows of his cheeks, and glittered in his
gleaming eyes. In tones low and trembling at first, he stated the
subject of his address. A week since, two noteworthy persons had
died in Rome on the same day. One of them was a woman of
exemplary piety, whose funeral obsequies had been celebrated in
that church. The other was a criminal charged with homicide under
provocation, who had died in prison, refusing the services of the
priest--impenitent to the last. The sermon followed the spirit of
the absolved woman to its eternal reward in heaven, and described
the meeting with dear ones who had gone before, in terms so
devout and so touching that the women near us, and even some of
the men, burst into tears. Far different was the effect produced
when the preacher, filled with the same overpowering sincerity of
belief which had inspired his description of the joys of heaven,
traced the downward progress of the lost man, from his impenitent
death-bed to his doom in hell. The dreadful superstition of
everlasting torment became doubly dreadful in the priest's
fervent words. He described the retributive voices of the mother
and the brother of the murdered man ringing incessantly in the
ears of the homicide. "I, who speak to you, hear the voices," he
cried. "Assassin! assassin! where are you? I see him--I see the
assassin hurled into his place in the sleepless ranks of the
damned--I see him, dripping with the flames that burn forever,
writhing under the torments that are without respite and without
end." The climax of this terrible effort of imagination was
reached when he fell on his knees and prayed with sobs and cries
of entreaty--prayed, pointing to the crucifix at his side--that
he and all who heard him might die the death of penitent sinners,
absolved in the divinely atoning name of Christ. The hysterical
shrieks of women rang through the church. I could endure it no
longer. I hurried into the street, and breathed again freely,
when I looked up at the cloudless beauty of the night sky, bright
with the peaceful radiance of the stars.

And this man was Romayne! I had last met with him among his
delightful works of art; an enthusiast in literature; the
hospitable master of a house filled with comforts and luxuries to
its remotest corner. And now I had seen what Rome had made of

"Yes," said my companion, "the Ancient Church not only finds out
the men who can best serve it, but develops qualities in those
men of which they have been themselves unconscious. The advance
which Roman Catholic Christianity has been, and is still, making
has its intelligible reason. Thanks to the great Reformation, the
papal scandals of past centuries have been atoned for by the
exemplary lives of servants of the Church, in high places and low
places alike. If a new Luther arose among us, where would he now
find abuses sufficiently wicked and widely spread to shock the
sense of decency in Christendom? He would find them nowhere--and
he would probably return to the respectable shelter of the Roman

I listened, without making any remark. To tell the truth, I was
thinking of Stella.

March 6.--I have been to Civita Vecchia, to give a little
farewell entertainment to the officers and crew before they take
the yacht back to England.

In a few words I said at parting, I mentioned that it was my
purpose to make an offer for the purchase of the vessel, and that
my guests should hear from me again on the subject. This
announcement was received with enthusiasm. I really like my
crew--and I don't think it is vain in me to believe that they
return the feeling, from the sailing-master to the cabin-boy. My
future life, after all that has passed, is likely to be a roving
life, unless--No! I may think sometimes of that happier prospect,
but I had better not put my thoughts into w ords. I have a fine
vessel; I have plenty of money; and I like the sea. There are
three good reasons for buying the yacht.

Returning to Rome in the evening, I found waiting for me a letter
from Stella.

She writes (immediately on the receipt of my telegram) to make a
similar request to the request addressed to me by her mother. Now
that I am at Rome, she too wants to hear news of a Jesuit priest.
He is absent on a foreign mission, and his name is Penrose. "You
shall hear what obligations I owe to his kindness," she writes,
"when we meet. In the meantime, I will only say that he is the
exact opposite of Father Benwell, and that I should be the most
ungrateful of women if I did not feel the truest interest in his

This is strange, and, to my mind, not satisfactory. Who is
Penrose? and what has he done to deserve such strong expressions
of gratitude? If anybody had told me that Stella could make a
friend of a Jesuit, I am afraid I should have returned a rude
answer. Well, I must wait for further enlightenment, and apply to
the landlord's nephew once more.

March 7.--There is small prospect, I fear, of my being able to
appreciate the merits of Mr. Penrose by personal experience. He
is thousands of miles away from Europe, and he is in a situation
of peril, which makes the chance of his safe return doubtful in
the last degree.

The Mission to which he is attached was originally destined to
find its field of work in Central America. Rumors of more
fighting to come, in that revolutionary part of the world,
reached Rome before the missionaries had sailed from the port of
Leghorn. Under these discouraging circumstances, the priestly
authorities changed the destination of the Mission to the
territory of Arizona, bordering on New Mexico, and recently
purchased by the United States. Here, in the valley of Santa
Cruz, the Jesuits had first attempted the conversion of the
Indian tribes two hundred years since, and had failed. Their
mission-house and chapel are now a heap of ruins, and the
ferocious Apache Indians keep the fertile valley a solitude by
the mere terror of their name. To this ill-omened place Penrose
and his companions have made their daring pilgrimage; and they
are now risking their lives in the attempt to open the hearts of
these bloodthirsty savages to the influence of Christianity.
Nothing has been yet heard of them. At the best, no trustworthy
news is expected for months to come.

What will Stella say to this? Anyhow, I begin to understand her
interest in Penrose now. He is one of a company of heroes. I am
already anxious to hear more of him.

To-morrow will be a memorable day in my calendar. To-morrow I
leave Rome for St. Germain.

If any further information is to be gained for Mrs. Eyrecourt and
her daughter, I have made the necessary arrangements for
receiving it. The banker has promised to write to me, if there is
a change in Romayne's life and prospects. And my landlord will
take care that I hear of it, in the event of news reaching Rome
from the Mission at Arizona.

Sixth Extract.

St. Germain, March 14.--I arrived yesterday. Between the fatigue
of the journey and the pleasurable agitation caused by seeing
Stella again, I was unfit to make the customary entry in my diary
when I retired for the night.

She is more irresistibly beautiful than ever. Her figure (a
little too slender as I remember it) has filled out. Her lovely
face has lost its haggard, careworn look; her complexion has
recovered its delicacy; I see again in her eyes the pure serenity
of expression which first fascinated me, years since. It may be
due to the consoling influence of the child--assisted, perhaps,
by the lapse of time and the peaceful life which she now
leads--but this at least is certain, such a change for the better
I never could have imagined as the change I find in Stella after
a year's absence.

As for the baby, he is a bright, good-humored little fellow; and
he has one great merit in my estimation--he bears no resemblance
to his father. I saw his mother's features when I first took him
on my knee, and looked at his face, lifted to mine in grave
surprise. The baby and I are certain to get on well together.

Even Mrs. Eyrecourt seems to have improved in the French air, and
under the French diet. She has a better surface to lay the paint
on; her nimble tongue runs faster than ever; and she has so
completely recovered her good spirits, that Monsieur and Madame
Villeray declare she must have French blood in her veins. They
were all so unaffectedly glad to see me (Matilda included), that
it was really like returning to one's home. As for Traveler, I
must interfere (in the interests of his figure and his health) to
prevent everybody in the house from feeding him with every
eatable thing, from plain bread to _pate de foie gras._

My experience of to-day will, as Stella tells me, be my general
experience of the family life at St. Germain.

We begin the morning with the customary cup of coffee. At eleven
o'clock I am summoned from my "pavilion" of three rooms to one of
those delicious and artfully varied breakfasts which are only to
be found in France and in Scotland. An interval of about three
hours follows, during which the child takes his airing and his
siesta, and his elders occupy themselves as they please. At three
o'clock we all go out--with a pony chaise which carries the
weaker members of the household--for a ramble in the forest. At
six o'clock we assemble at the dinner-table. At coffee time, some
of the neighbors drop in for a game at cards. At ten, we all wish
each other good-night.

Such is the domestic programme, varied by excursions in the
country and by occasional visits to Paris. I am naturally a man
of quiet stay-at-home habits. It is only when my mind is
disturbed that I get restless and feel longings for change.
Surely the quiet routine at St. Germain ought to be welcome to me
now? I have been looking forward to this life through a long year
of travel. What more can I wish for?

Nothing more, of course.

And yet--and yet--Stella has innocently made it harder than ever
to play the part of her "brother." The recovery of her beauty is
a subject for congratulation to her mother and her friends. How
does it affect Me?

I had better not think of my hard fate. Can I help thinking of
it? Can I dismiss from memory the unmerited misfortunes which
have taken from me, in the prime of her charms, the woman whom I
love? At least I can try.

The good old moral must be _my_ moral: "Be content with such
things as ye have."

March 15.--It is eight in the morning--and I hardly know how to
employ myself. Having finished my coffee, I have just looked
again at my diary.

It strikes me that I am falling into a bad habit of writing too
much about myself. The custom of keeping a journal certainly has
this drawback--it encourages egotism. Well, the remedy is easy.
From this date, I lock up my book--only to open it again when
some event has happened which has a claim to be recorded for its
own sake. As for myself and my feelings, they have made their
last appearance in these pages.

Seventh Extract.

June 7.--The occasion for opening my diary once more has
presented itself this morning.

News has reached me of Romayne, which is too important to be
passed over without notice. He has been appointed one of the
Pope's Chamberlains. It is also reported, on good authority, that
he will be attached to a Papal embassy when a vacancy occurs.
These honors, present and to come, seem to remove him further
than ever from the possibility of a return to his wife and child.

June 8.--In regard to Romayne, Mrs. Eyrecourt seems to be of my

Being in Paris to-day, at a morning concert, she there met with
her old friend, Doctor Wybrow. The famous physician is suffering
from overwork, and is on his way to Italy for a few months of
rest and recreation. They took a drive together, after the
performance, in the Bois de Boulogne; and Mrs. Eyrecourt opened
her mind to the doctor, as freely as usual, on the subject of
Stella and the child. He entirely agreed (speaking in the future
interests of the boy) that precious time has been lost in
informing Romayne of the birth of an heir; and he has promised,
no matter what obstacles may be placed in his way, to make the
announcement himself, when he reaches Rome.

June 9.--Madame Villeray has been speaking to me confidentially
on a very delicate subject.

I am pledged to discontinue writing about myself. But in these
private pages I may note the substance of what my good friend
said to me. If I only look back often enough at this little
record, I may gather the resolution to profit by her advice. In
brief, these were her words:

"Stella has spoken to me in confidence, since she met you
accidentally in the garden yesterday. She cannot be guilty of the
poor affectation of concealing what you must have already
discovered for yourself. But she prefers to say the words that
must be said to you, through me. Her husband's conduct to her is
an outrage that she can never forget. She now looks back with
sentiments of repulsion, which she dare not describe, to that
'love at first sight' (as you call it in England), conceived on
the day when they first met--and she remembers regretfully that
other love, of years since, which was love of steadier and slower
growth. To her shame she confesses that she failed to set you the
example of duty and self-restraint when you two happened to be
alone yesterday. She leaves it to my discretion to tell you that
you must see her for the future, always in the presence of some
other person. Make no reference to this when you next meet; and
understand that she has only spoken to me instead of to her
mother, because she fears that Mrs. Eyrecourt might use harsh
words, and distress you again, as she once distressed you in
England. If you will take my advice, you will ask permission to
go away again on your travels."

It matters nothing what I said in reply. Let me only relate that
we were interrupted by the appearance of the nursemaid at the
pavilion door.

She led the child by the hand. Among his first efforts at
speaking, under his mother's instruction, had been the effort to
call me Uncle Bernard. He had now got as far as the first
syllable of my Christian name, and he had come to me to repeat
his lesson. Resting his little hands on my knees, he looked up at
me with his mother's eyes, and said, "Uncle Ber'." A trifling
incident, but, at that moment, it cut me to the heart. I could
only take the boy in my arms, and look at Madame Villeray. The
good woman felt for me. I saw tears in her eyes.

No! no more writing about myself. I close the book again.

Eighth Extract.

July 3.--A letter has reached Mrs. Eyrecourt this morning, from
Doctor Wybrow. It is dated, "Castel Gandolpho, near Rome." Here
the doctor is established during the hot months--and here he has
seen Romayne, in attendance on the "Holy Father," in the famous
summer palace of the Popes. How he obtained the interview Mrs.
Eyrecourt is not informed. To a man of his celebrity, doors are
no doubt opened which remain closed to persons less widely known.

"I have performed my promise," he writes "and I may say for
myself that I spoke with every needful precaution. The result a
little startled me. Romayne was not merely unprepared to hear of
the birth of his child--he was physically and morally incapable
of sustaining the shock of the disclosure. For the moment, I
thought he had been seized with a fit of catalepsy. He moved,
however, when I tried to take his hand to feel the
pulse--shrinking back in his chair, and feebly signing to me to
leave him. I committed him to the care of his servant. The next
day I received a letter from one of his priestly colleagues,
informing me that he was slowly recovering after the shock that I
had inflicted, and requesting me to hold no further communication
with him, either personally or by letter. I wish I could have
sent you a more favorable report of my interference in this
painful matter. Perhaps you or your daughter may hear from him."

July 4-9.--No letter has been received. Mrs. Eyrecourt is uneasy.
Stella, on the contrary, seems to be relieved.

July 10.--A letter has arrived from London, addressed to Stella
by Romayne's English lawyers. The income which Mrs. Romayne has
refused for herself is to be legally settled on her child.
Technical particulars follow, which it is needless to repeat

By return of post, Stella has answered the lawyers, declaring
that, so long as she lives, and has any influence over her son,
he shall not touch the offered income. Mrs. Eyrecourt, Monsieur
and Madame Villeray--and even Matilda--entreated her not to send
the letter. To my thinking, Stella acted with becoming spirit.
Though there is no entail, still Vange Abbey is morally the boy's
birthright--it is a cruel wrong to offer him anything else.

July 11.--For the second time I have proposed to leave St.
Germain. The presence of the third person, whenever I am in her
company, is becoming unendurable to me. She still uses her
influence to defer my departure. "Nobody sympathizes with me,"
she said, "but you."

I am failing to keep my promise to myself, not to write about
myself. But there is some little excuse this time. For the relief
of my own conscience, I may surely place it on record that I have
tried to do what is right. It is not my fault if I remain at St.
Germain, insensible to Madame Villeray's warning.

Ninth Extract.

September 13.--Terrible news from Rome of the Jesuit Mission to

The Indians have made a night attack on the new mission-house.
The building is burned to the ground, and the missionaries have
been massacred--with the exception of two priests, carried away
captive. The names of the priests are not known. News of the
atrocity has been delayed four months on its way to Europe, owing
partly to the civil war in the United States, and partly to
disturbances in Central America.

Looking at the _Times_ (which we receive regularly at St.
Germain), I found this statement confirmed in a short
paragraph--but here also the names of the two prisoners failed to

Our one present hope of getting any further information seems to
me to depend on our English newspaper. The _Times_ stands alone
as the one public journal which has the whole English nation for
volunteer contributors. In their troubles at home, they appeal to
the Editor. In their travels abroad, over civilized and savage
regions alike, if they meet with an adventure worth mentioning
they tell it to the Editor. If any one of our countrymen knows
anything of this dreadful massacre, I foresee with certainty
where we shall find the information in print.

Soon after my arrival here, Stella had told me of her memorable
conversation with Penrose in the garden at Ten Acres Lodge. I was
well acquainted with the nature of her obligation to the young
priest, but I was not prepared for the outbreak of grief which
escaped her when she had read the telegram from Rome. She
actually went the length of saying, "I shall never enjoy another
happy moment till I know whether Penrose is one of the two living

The inevitable third person with us, this morning, was Monsieur
Villeray. Sitting at the window with a book in his
hand--sometimes reading, sometimes looking at the garden with the
eye of a fond horticulturist--he discovered a strange cat among
his flower beds. Forgetful of every other consideration, the old
gentleman hobbled out to drive away the intruder, and left us

I spoke to Stella, in words which I would now give everything I
possess to recall. A detestable jealousy took possession of me. I
meanly hinted that Penrose could claim no great merit (in the
matter of Romayne's conversion) for yielding to the entreaties of
a beautiful woman who had fascinated him, though he might be
afraid to own it. She protested against my unworthy
insinuation--but she failed to make me ashamed of myself. Is a
woman ever ignorant of the influence which her beauty exercises
over a man? I went on, like the miserable creature that I was,
from bad to worse.

"Excuse me," I said, "if I have unintentionally made you angry. I
ought to have known that I was treading on delicate ground. Your
interest in Penrose may be due to a warmer motive than a sense of

She turned away from me--sa dly, not angrily--intending, as it
appeared, to leave the room in silence. Arrived at the door, she
altered her mind, and came back.

"Even if you insult me, Bernard, I am not able to resent it," she
said, very gently. _I_ once wronged _you_--I have no right to
complain of your now wronging me. I will try to forget it."

She held out her hand. She raised her eyes--and looked at me.

It was not her fault; I alone am to blame. In another moment she
was in my arms. I held her to my breast--I felt the quick beating
of her heart on me--I poured out the wild confession of my
sorrow, my shame, my love--I tasted again and again and again the
sweetness of her lips. She put her arms round my neck and drew
her head back with a long sigh. "Be merciful to my weakness," she
whispered. "We must meet no more."

She pushed me back from her, with a trembling hand, and left the

I have broken my resolution not to write about myself--but there
is no egotism, there is a sincere sense of humiliation in me,
when I record this confession of misconduct. I can make but one
atonement--I must at once leave St. Germain. Now, when it is too
late, I feel how hard for me this life of constant repression has

Thus far I had written, when the nursemaid brought me a little
note, addressed in pencil. No answer was required.

The few lines were in Stella's handwriting: "You must not leave
us too suddenly, or you may excite my mother's suspicions. Wait
until you receive letters from England, and make them the pretext
for your departure.--S."

I never thought of her mother. She is right. Even if she were
wrong, I must obey her.

September 14.--The letters from England have arrived. One of them
presents me with the necessary excuse for my departure, ready
made. My proposal for the purchase of the yacht is accepted. The
sailing-master and crew have refused all offers of engagement,
and are waiting at Cowes for my orders. Here is an absolute
necessity for my return to England.

The newspaper arrived with the letters. My anticipations have
been realized. Yesterday's paragraph has produced another
volunteer contributor. An Englishman just returned from Central
America, after traveling in Arizona, writes to the _Times._ He
publishes his name and address--and he declares that he has
himself seen the two captive priests.

The name of this correspondent carries its own guarantee with it.
He is no less a person than Mr. Murthwaite--the well-known
traveler in India, who discovered the lost diamond called "the
Moonstone," set in the forehead of a Hindoo idol. He writes to
the editor as follows:

"Sir--I can tell you something of the two Jesuit priests who were
the sole survivors of the massacre in the Santa Cruz Valley four
months since.

"I was traveling at the time in Arizona, under the protection of
an Apache chief, bribed to show me his country and his nation
(instead of cutting my throat and tearing off my scalp) by a
present tribute of whisky and gunpowder, and by the promise of
more when our association came to an end.

"About twelve miles northward of the little silver-mining town of
Tubac we came upon an Apache encampment. I at once discovered two
white men among the Indians These were the captive priests.

"One of them was a Frenchman, named L'Herbier. The other was an
Englishman, named Penrose. They owed their lives to the influence
of two powerful considerations among the Indians. Unhappy
L'Herbier lost his senses under the horror of the night massacre.
Insanity, as you may have heard, is a sacred thing in the
estimation of the American savages; they regard this poor madman
as a mysteriously inspired person The other priest, Penrose, had
been in charge of the mission medicine-chest, and had
successfully treated cases of illness among the Apaches. As a
'great medicine-man,' he too is a privileged person--under the
strong protection of their interest in their own health. The
lives of the prisoners are in no danger, provided they can endure
the hardship of their wandering existence among the Indians.
Penrose spoke to me with the resignation of a true hero. 'I am in
the hands of God,' he said; 'and if I die, I die in God's

"I was entirely unprovided with the means of ransoming the
missionaries--and nothing that I could say, or that I could
promise, had the smallest effect on the savages. But for severe
and tedious illness, I should long since have been on my way back
to Arizona with the necessary ransom. As it is, I am barely
strong enough to write this letter. But I can head a subscription
to pay expenses; and I can give instructions to any person who is
willing to attempt the deliverance of the priests."

So the letter ended.

Before I had read it, I was at a loss to know where to go, or
what to do, when I leave St. Germain. I am now at no loss. I have
found an object in life, and a means of making atonement to
Stella for my own ungracious and unworthy words. Already I have
communicated by telegraph with Mr. Murthwaite and with my
sailing-master. The first is informed that I hope to be with him,
in London, to-morrow morning. The second is instructed to have
the yacht fitted out immediately for a long voyage. If I can save
these men--especially Penrose--I shall not have lived in vain.

London, September 15.--No. I have resolution enough to go to
Arizona, but I have no courage to record the parting scene when
it was time to say good-by.

I had intended to keep the coming enterprise a secret, and only
to make the disclosure in writing when the vessel was ready to
sail. But, after reading the letter to the _Times,_ Stella saw
something in my face (as I suppose) that betrayed me. Well, it's
over now. I do my best to keep myself from thinking of it--and,
for this reason, I abstain from dwelling on the subject here.

Mr. Murthwaite has not only given me valuable instructions--he
has provided me with letters of introduction to persons in
office, and to the _padres_ (or priests) in Mexico, which will be
of incalculable use in such an expedition as mine. In the present
disturbed condition of the United States, he recommends me to
sail for a port on the eastern coast of Mexico, and then to
travel northward overland, and make my first inquiries in Arizona
at the town of Tubac. Time is of such importance, in his opinion,
that he suggests making inquiries in London and Liverpool for a
merchant vessel under immediate sailing orders for Vera Cruz or
Tampico. The fitting out of the yacht cannot be accomplished, I
find, in less than a fortnight or three weeks. I have therefore
taken Mr. Murthwaite's advice.

September 16.--No favorable answer, so far as the port of London
is concerned. Very little commerce with Mexico, and bad harbors
in that country when you do trade. Such is the report.

September 17.--A Mexican brig has been discovered at Liverpool,
under orders for Vera Cruz. But the vessel is in debt, and the
date of departure depends on expected remittances! In this state
of things I may wait, with my conscience at ease, to sail in
comfort on board my own schooner.

September 18-30.--I have settled my affairs; I have taken leave
of my friends (good. Mr. Murthwaite included); I have written
cheerfully to Stella; and I sail from Portsmouth to-morrow, well
provided with the jars of whisky and the kegs of gunpowder which
will effect the release of the captives.

It is strange, considering the serious matters I have to think
of, but it is also true, that I feel out of spirits at the
prospect of leaving England without my traveling companion, the
dog. I am afraid to take the dear old fellow with me, on such a
perilous expedition as mine may be. Stella takes care of
him--and, if I don't live to return, she will never part with
him, for his master's sake. It implies a childish sort of mind, I
suppose--but it is a comfort to me to remember that I have never
said a hard word to Traveler, and never lifted my hand on him in

All this about a dog! And not a word about Stella? Not a word.
_Those_ thoughts are not to be written.

I have reached the last page of my diary. I shall lock it, and
leave it in charge of my bankers, on my way to the Portsmouth
train. Shall I ever w ant a new diary? Superstitious people might
associate this coming to the end of the book with coming to an
end of another kind. I have no imagination, and I take my leap in
the dark hopefully--with Byron's glorious lines in my mind:

"Here's a sigh to those who love me,
And a smile to those that bate;
And whatever sky's above met
Here's heart for every fated


(An inclosure is inserted here, marking a lapse of seven months,
before the entries in the diary are resumed. It consists of two
telegrams, dispatched respectively on the 1st and 2d of May,

1. "From Bernard Winterfield, Portsmouth, England. To Mrs.
Romayne care of M. Villeray, St. Germain, near Paris. --Penrose
is safe on board my yacht. His unfortunate companion has died of
exhaustion, and he is himself in a feeble state of health. I at
once take him with me to London for medical advice. We are eager
for news of you. Telegraph to Derwent's Hotel."

2. "From Mrs. Eyrecourt, St. Germain. To Bernard Winterfield,
Derwent's Hotel, London. --Your telegram received with joy, and
sent on to Stella in Paris. All well. But strange events have
happened. If you cannot come here at once, go to Lord Loring. He
will tell you everything."

Tenth Extract.

London, 2d May, 1864.--Mrs. Eyrecourt's telegram reached me just
after Doctor Wybrow had paid his first professional visit to
Penrose, at the hotel. I had hardly time to feel relieved by the
opinion of the case which he expressed, before my mind was upset
by Mrs. Eyrecourt. Leaving Penrose under the charge of our
excellent landlady, I hurried away to Lord Loring.

It was still early in the day: his lordship was at home. He
maddened me with impatience by apologizing at full length for
"the inexcusable manner in which he had misinterpreted my conduct
on the deplorable occasion of the marriage ceremony at Brussels."
I stopped his flow of words (very earnestly spoken, it is only
right to add), and entreated him to tell me, in the first place,
what Stella was doing in Paris.

"Stella is with her husband," Lord Loring replied.

My head turned giddy, my heart beat furiously. Lord Loring looked
at me--ran to the luncheon table in the next room--and returned
with a glass of wine. I really don't know whether I drank the
wine or not. I know I stammered out another inquiry in one word.

"Reconciled?" I said.

"Yes, Mr. Winterfield--reconciled, before he dies."

We were both silent for a while.

What was he thinking of? I don't know. What was I thinking of? I
daren't write it down.

Lord Loring resumed by expressing some anxiety on the subject of
my health. I made the best excuse for myself that I could, and
told him of the rescue of Penrose. He had heard of my object in
leaving England, and heartily congratulated me. "This will be
welcome news indeed," he said, "to Father Benwell."

Even the name of Father Benwell now excites my distrust. "Is _he_
in Paris too?" I inquired.

"He left Paris last night," Lord Loring answered; "and he is now
in London, on important business (as I understand) connected with
Romayne's affairs."

I instantly thought of the boy.

"Is Romayne in possession of his faculties?" I asked.

"In complete possession."

"While justice is in his power, has he done justice to his son?"

Lord Loring looked a little confused. "I have not heard," was all
he said in reply.

I was far from satisfied. "You are one of Romayne's oldest
friends," I persisted. "Have you not seen him yourself?"

"I have seen him more than once. But he has never referred to his
affairs." Having said this he hastily changed the subject. "Is
there any other information that I can give you?" he suggested.

I had still to learn under what circumstances Romayne had left
Italy for France, and how the event of his illness in Paris had
been communicated to his wife. Lord Loring had only to draw on
his own recollections to enlighten me.

"Lady Loring and I passed the last winter in Rome," he said.
"And, there, we saw Romayne. You look surprised. Perhaps you are
aware that we had offended him, by advice which we thought it our
duty to offer to Stella before her marriage?"

I was certainly thinking of what Stella had said of the Lorings
on the memorable day when she visited me at the hotel.

"Romayne would probably have refused to receive us," Lord Loring
resumed, "but for the gratifying circumstance of my having been
admitted to an interview with the Pope. The Holy Father spoke of
him with the most condescending kindness; and, hearing that I had
not yet seen him, gave instructions, commanding Romayne to
present himself. Under these circumstances it was impossible for
him to refuse to receive Lady Loring and myself on a later
occasion. I cannot tell you how distressed we were at the sad
change for the worse in his personal appearance. The Italian
physician, whom he occasionally consulted, told me that there was
a weakness in the action of his heart, produced, in the first
instance, by excessive study and the excitement of preaching, and
aggravated by the further drain on his strength due to
insufficient nourishment. He would eat and drink just enough to
keep him alive, and no more; and he persistently refused to try
the good influence of rest and change of scene. My wife, at a
later interview with him, when they were alone, induced him to
throw aside the reserve which he had maintained with me, and
discovered another cause for the deterioration in his health. I
don't refer to the return of a nervous misery, from which he has
suffered at intervals for years past; I speak of the effect
produced on his mind by the announcement--made no doubt with best
intentions by Doctor Wybrow--of the birth of his child. This
disclosure (he was entirely ignorant of his wife's situation when
he left her) appears to have affected him far more seriously than
the English doctor supposed. Lady Loring was so shocked at what
he said to her on the subject, that she has only repeated it to
me with a certain reserve. 'If I could believe I did wrong,' he
said, 'in dedicating myself to the service of the Church, after
the overthrow of my domestic happiness, I should also believe
that the birth of this child was the retributive punishment of my
sin, and the warning of my approaching death. I dare not take
this view. And yet I have it not in me, after the solemn vows by
which I am bound, to place any more consoling interpretation on
an event which, as a priest, it disturbs and humiliates me even
to think of.' That one revelation of his tone of thought will
tell you what is the mental state of this unhappy man. He gave us
little encouragement to continue our friendly intercourse with
him. It was only when we were thinking of our return to England
that we heard of his appointment to the vacant place of first
attache to the Embassy at Paris. The Pope's paternal anxiety on
the subject of Romayne's health had chosen this wise and generous
method of obliging him to try a salutary change of air as well as
a relaxation from his incessant employments in Rome. On the
occasion of his departure we met again. He looked like a worn-out
old man. We could now only remember his double claim on us--as a
priest of our religion, and as a once dear friend--and we
arranged to travel with him. The weather at the time was mild;
our progress was made by easy stages. We left him at Paris,
apparently the better for his journey."

I asked if they had seen Stella on that occasion.

"No," said Lord Loring. "We had reason to doubt whether Stella
would be pleased to see us, and we felt reluctant to meddle,
unasked, with a matter of extreme delicacy. I arranged with the
Nuncio (whom I have the honor to know) that we should receive
written information of Romayne's state of health, and on that
understanding we returned to England. A week since, our news from
the Embassy was so alarming that Lady Loring at once returned to
Paris. Her first letter informed me that she had felt it her duty
to tell Stella of the critical condition of Romayne's health. She
expressed her sense of my wife's kindness most gratefully and
feelingly and at once removed to Paris, to be on the spot if her
husband expressed a wish to see her. The two ladies are now
staying at the same hotel. I have thus far been detained in
London by family affairs. But, unless I hear of a change for the
better before evening, I follow Lady Loring to Paris by the mail

It was needless to trespass further on Lord Loring's time. I
thanked him, and returned to Penrose. He was sleeping when I got
to the hotel.

On the table in the sitting-room I found a telegram waiting for
me. It had been sent by Stella, and it contained these lines:

"I have just returned from his bedside, after telling him of the
rescue of Penrose. He desires to see you. There is no positive
suffering--he is sinking under a complete prostration of the
forces of life. That is what the doctors tell me. They said, when
I spoke of writing to you, 'Send a telegram; there is no time to
lose.' "

Toward evening Penrose awoke. I showed him the telegram.
Throughout our voyage, the prospect of seeing Romayne again had
been the uppermost subject in his thoughts. In the extremity of
his distress, he declared that he would accompany me to Paris by
the night train. Remembering how severely he had felt the fatigue
of the short railway journey from Portsmouth, I entreated him to
let me go alone. His devotion to Romayne was not to be reasoned
with. While we were still vainly trying to convince each other,
Doctor Wybrow came in.

To my amazement he sided with Penrose.

"Oh, get up by all means," he said; "we will help you to dress."
We took him out of bed and put on his dressing-gown. He thanked
us; and saying he would complete his toilet by himself, sat down
in an easy chair. In another moment he was asleep again, so
soundly asleep that we put him back in his bed without waking
him. Doctor Wybrow had foreseen this result: he looked at the
poor fellow's pale peaceful face with a kindly smile.

"There is the treatment," he said, "that will set our patient on
his legs again. Sleeping, eating, and drinking--let that be his
life for some weeks to come, and he will be as good a man as
ever. If your homeward journey had been by land, Penrose would
have died on the way. I will take care of him while you are in

At the station I met Lord Loring. He understood that I too had
received bad news, and gave me a place in the _coupe_ carriage
which had been reserved for him. We had hardly taken our seats
when we saw Father Benwell among the travelers on the platform,
accompanied by a gray-haired gentleman who was a stranger to both
of us. Lord Loring dislikes strangers. Otherwise, I might have
found myself traveling to Paris with that detestable Jesuit for a

Paris, May 3.--On our arrival at the hotel I was informed that no
message had yet been received from the Embassy.

We found Lady Loring alone at the breakfast-table, when we had
rested after our night journey.

"Romayne still lives," she said. "But his voice has sunk to a
whisper, and he is unable to breathe if he tries to rest in bed.
Stella has gone to the Embassy; she hopes to see him to-day for
the second time."

"Only for the second time!" I exclaimed.

"You forget, Mr. Winterfield, that Romayne is a priest. He was
only consecrated on the customary condition of an absolute
separation from his wife. On her side--never let her know that I
told you this--Stella signed a formal document, sent from Rome,
asserting that she consented of her own free will to the
separation. She was relieved from the performance of another
formality (which I need not mention more particularly) by a
special dispensation. Under these circumstances--communicated to
me while Stella and I have been together in this house--the
wife's presence at the bedside of her dying husband is regarded
by the other priests at the Embassy as a scandal and a
profanation. The kind-hearted Nuncio is blamed for having
exceeded his powers in yielding (even under protest) to the last
wishes of a dying man. He is now in communication with Rome,
waiting for the final instructions which are to guide him."

"Has Romayne seen his child?" I asked.

"Stella has taken the child with her to-day. It is doubtful in
the last degree whether the poor little boy will be allowed to
enter his father's room. _That_ complication is even more serious
than the other. The dying Romayne persists in his resolution to
see the child. So completely has his way of thinking been altered
by the approach of death, and by the closing of the brilliant
prospect which was before him, that he even threatens to recant,
with his last breath, if his wishes are not complied with. How it
will end I cannot even venture to guess.

"Unless the merciful course taken by the Nuncio is confirmed,"
said Lord Loring, "it may end in a revival of the protest of the
Catholic priests in Germany against the prohibition of marriage
to the clergy. The movement began in Silesia in 1826, and was
followed by unions (or Leagues, as we should call them now) in
Baden, Wurtemburg, Bavaria, and Rhenish Prussia. Later still, the
agitation spread to France and Austria. It was only checked by a
papal bull issued in 1847, reiterating the final decision of the
famous Council of Trent in favor of the celibacy of the
priesthood. Few people are aware that this rule has been an
institution of slow growth among the clergy of the Church of
Rome. Even as late as the twelfth century, there were still
priests who set the prohibition of marriage at defiance."

I listened, as one of the many ignorant persons alluded to by
Lord Loring. It was with difficulty that I fixed my attention on
what he was saying. My thoughts wandered to Stella and to the
dying man. I looked at the clock.

Lady Loring evidently shared the feeling of suspense that had got
possession of me. She rose and walked to the window.

"Here is the message!" she said, recognizing her traveling
servant as he entered the hotel door.

The man appeared, with a line written on a card. I was requested
to present the card at the Embassy, without delay.

May 4.--I am only now able to continue my record of the events of

A silent servant received me at the Embassy, looked at the card,
and led the way to an upper floor of the house. Arrived at the
end of a long passage, he opened a door, and retired.

As I crossed the threshold Stella met me. She took both my hands
in hers and looked at me in silence. All that was true and good
and noble expressed itself in that look.

The interval passed, and she spoke--very sadly, very quietly.

"One more work of mercy, Bernard. Help him to die with a heart at

She drew back--and I approached him.

He reclined, propped up with pillows, in a large easy-chair; it
was the one position in which he could still breathe with
freedom. The ashy shades of death were on his wasted face. In the
eyes alone, as they slowly turned on me, there still glimmered
the waning light of life. One of his arms hung down over the
chair; the other was clasped round his child, sitting on his
knee. The boy looked at me wonderingly, as I stood by his father.
Romayne signed to me to stoop, so that I might hear him.

"Penrose?" he asked, faintly whispering. "Dear Arthur! Not dying,
like me?"

I quieted _that_ anxiety. For a moment there was even the shadow
of a smile on his face, as I told him of the effort that Penrose
had vainly made to be the companion of my journey. He asked me,
by another gesture, to bend my ear to him once more.

"My last grateful blessing to Penrose. And to you. May I not say
it? You have saved Arthur"--his eyes turned toward Stella--"you
have been _her_ best friend." He paused to recover his feeble
breath; looking round the large room, without a creature in it
but ourselves. Once more the melancholy shadow of a smile passed
over his face--and vanished. I listened, nearer to him still.

"Christ took a child on His knee. The priests call themselves
ministers of Christ. They have left me, because of _this_ child,
here on my knee. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Winterfield, Death is a
great teacher. I know how I have erred--what I have lost. Wife
and child. How poor and barren all the rest of it looks now!"

He was silent for a while. Was he thi nking? No: he seemed to be
listening--and yet there was no sound in the room. Stella,
anxiously watching him, saw the listening expression as I did.
Her face showed anxiety, but no surprise.

"Does it torture you still?" she asked.

"No," he said; "I have never heard it plainly, since I left Rome.
It has grown fainter and fainter from that time. It is not a
Voice now. It is hardly a whisper: my repentance is accepted, my
release is coming. --Where is Winterfield?"

She pointed to me.

"I spoke of Rome just now. What did Rome remind me of?" He slowly
recovered the lost recollection. "Tell Winterfield," he whispered
to Stella, "what the Nuncio said when he knew that I was going to
die. The great man reckoned up the dignities that might have been
mine if I had lived. From my place here in the Embassy--"

"Let me say it," she gently interposed, "and spare your strength
for better things. From your place in the Embassy you would have
mounted a step higher to the office of Vice-Legate. Those duties
wisely performed, another rise to the Auditorship of the
Apostolic Chamber. That office filled, a last step upward to the
highest rank left, the rank of a Prince of the Church."

"All vanity!" said the dying Romayne. He looked at his wife and
his child. "The true happiness was waiting for me here. And I
only know it now. Too late. Too late."

He laid his head back on the pillow and closed his weary eyes. We
thought he was composing himself to sleep. Stella tried to
relieve him of the boy. "No," he whispered; "I am only resting my
eyes to look at him again." We waited. The child stared at me, in
infantine curiosity. His mother knelt at his side, and whispered
in his ear. A bright smile irradiated his face; his clear brown
eyes sparkled; he repeated the forgotten lesson of the bygone
time, and called me once more, "Uncle Ber'."

Romayne heard it. His heavy eyelids opened again. "No," he said.
"Not uncle. Something better and dearer. Stella, give me your

Still kneeling, she obeyed him. He slowly raised himself on the
chair. "Take her hand," he said to me. I too knelt. Her hand lay
cold in mine. After a long interval he spoke to me. "Bernard
Winterfield," he said, "love them, and help them, when I am
gone." He laid his weak hand on our hands, clasped together. "May
God protect you! may God bless you!" he murmured. "Kiss me,

I remember no more. As a man, I ought to have set a better
example; I ought to have preserved my self-control. It was not to
be done. I turned away from them--and burst out crying.

The minutes passed. Many minutes or few minutes, I don't know

A soft knock at the door aroused me. I dashed away the useless
tears. Stella had retired to the further end of the room. She was
sitting by the fireside, with the child in her arms. I withdrew
to the same part of the room, keeping far enough away not to
disturb them.

Two strangers came in and placed themselves on either side of
Romayne's chair. He seemed to recognize them unwillingly. From
the manner in which they examined him, I inferred that they were
medical men. After a consultation in low tones, one of them went

He returned again almost immediately, followed by the gray-headed
gentleman whom I had noticed on the journey to Paris--and by
Father Benwell.

The Jesuit's vigilant eyes discovered us instantly, in our place
near the fireside. I thought I saw suspicion as well as surprise
in his face. But he recovered himself so rapidly that I could not
feel sure. He bowed to Stella. She made no return; she looked as
if she had not even seen him.

One of the doctors was an Englishman. He said to Father Benwell:
"Whatever your business may be with Mr. Romayne, we advise you to
enter on it without delay. Shall we leave the room?"

"Certainly not," Father Benwell answered. "The more witnesses are
present, the more relieved I shall feel." He turned to his
traveling companion. "Let Mr. Romayne's lawyer," he resumed,
"state what our business is."

The gray-headed gentleman stepped forward.

"Are you able to attend to me, sir?" he asked.

Romayne, reclining in his chair, apparently lost to all interest
in what was going on, heard and answered. The weak tones of his
voice failed to reach my ear at the other end of the room. The
lawyer, seeming to be satisfied so far, put a formal question to
the doctors next. He inquired if Mr. Romayne was in full
possession of his faculties.

Both the physicians answered without hesitation in the
affirmative. Father Benwell added _his_ attestation. "Throughout
Mr. Romayne's illness," he said firmly, "his mind has been as
clear as mine is."

While this was going on, the child had slipped off his mother's
lap, with the natural restlessness of his age. He walked to the
fireplace and stopped--fascinated by the bright red glow of the
embers of burning wood. In one corner of the low fender lay a
loose little bundle of sticks, left there in case the fire might
need relighting. The boy, noticing the bundle, took out one of
the sticks and threw it experimentally into the grate. The flash
of flame, as the stick caught fire, delighted him. He went on
burning stick after stick. The new game kept him quiet: his
mother was content to be on the watch, to see that no harm was

In the meantime, the lawyer briefly stated his case.

"You remember, Mr. Romayne, that your will was placed, for safe
keeping, in our office," he began. "Father Benwell called upon
us, and presented an order, signed by yourself, authorizing him
to convey the will from London to Paris. The object was to obtain
your signature to a codicil, which had been considered a
necessary addition to secure the validity of the will.--Are you
favoring me with your attention, sir?"

Romayne answered by a slight bending of his head. His eyes were
fixed on the boy--still absorbed in throwing his sticks, one by
one, into the fire.

"At the time when your will was executed," the lawyer went on,
"Father Benwell obtained your permission to take a copy of it.
Hearing of your illness, he submitted the copy to a high legal
authority. The written opinion of this competent person declares
the clause, bequeathing the Vange estate to Father Benwell, to be
so imperfectly expressed, that the will might be made a subject
of litigation after the testator's death. He has accordingly
appended a form of codicil amending the defect, and we have added
it to the will. I thought it my duty, as one of your legal
advisers, to accompany Father Benwell on his return to Paris in
charge of the will--in case you might feel disposed to make any
alteration." He looked toward Stella and the child as he
completed that sentence. The Jesuit's keen eyes took the same
direction. "Shall I read the will, sir?" the lawyer resumed; "or
would you prefer to look at it yourself?"

Romayne held out his hand for the will, in silence. He was still
watching his son. There were but few more sticks now left to be
thrown in the fire.

Father Benwell interfered, for the first time.

"One word, Mr. Romayne, before you examine that document," he
said. "The Church receives back from you (through me) the
property which was once its own. Beyond that it authorizes and
even desires you to make any changes which you or your trusted
legal adviser may think right. I refer to the clauses of the will
which relate to the property you have inherited from the late
Lady Berrick--and I beg the persons present to bear in memory the
few plain words that I have now spoken."

He bowed with dignity and drew back. Even the lawyer was
favorably impressed. The doctors looked at each other with silent
approval. For the first time, the sad repose of Stella's face was
disturbed--I could see that it cost her an effort to repress her
indignation. The one unmoved person was Romayne. The sheet of
paper on which the will was written lay unregarded upon his lap;
his eyes were still riveted on the little figure at the

The child had thrown his last stick into the glowing red embers.
He looked about him for a fresh supply, and found nothing. His
fresh young voice rose high through the silence of the room.

"More!" he cried. "More!"

His mother held up a warning finger . "Hush!" she whispered. He
shrank away from her as she tried to take him on her knee, and
looked across the room at his father. "More!" he burst out louder
than ever. Romayne beckoned to me, and pointed to the boy.

I led him across the room. He was quite willing to go with me--he
reiterated his petition, standing at his father's knees.

"Lift him to me," said Romayne.

I could barely hear the words: even his strength to whisper
seemed to be fast leaving him. He kissed his son--with a panting
fatigue under that trifling exertion, pitiable to see. As I
placed the boy on his feet again, he looked up at his dying
father, with the one idea still in his mind.

"More, papa! More!"

Romayne put the will into his hand.

The child's eyes sparkled. "Burn?" he asked, eagerly.


Father Benwell sprang forward with outstretched hands. I stopped
him. He struggled with me. I forgot the privilege of the black
robe. I took him by the throat.

The boy threw the will into the fire. "Oh!" he shouted, in high
delight, and clapped his chubby hands as the bright little blaze
flew up the chimney. I released the priest.

In a frenzy of rage and despair, he looked round at the persons
in the room. "I take you all to witness," he cried; "this is an
act of madness!"

"You yourself declared just now," said the lawyer, "that Mr.
Romayne was in perfect possession of his faculties."

The baffled Jesuit turned furiously on the dying man. They looked
at each other.

For one awful moment Romayne's eyes brightened, Romayne's voice
rallied its power, as if life was returning to him. Frowning
darkly, the priest put his question.

"What did you do it for?"

Quietly and firmly the answer came:

"Wife and child."

The last long-drawn sigh rose and fell. With those sacred words
on his lips, Romayne died.

London, 6th May.--At Stella's request, I have returned to
Penrose--with but one fellow-traveler. My dear old companion, the
dog, is coiled up, fast asleep at my feet, while I write these
lines. Penrose has gained strength enough to keep me company in
the sitting-room. In a few days more he will see Stella again.

What instructions reached the Embassy from Rome--whether Romayne
received the last sacrament at the earlier period of his
illness--we never heard. No objection was made, when Lord Loring
proposed to remove the body to England, to be buried in the
family vault at Vange Abbey.

I had undertaken to give the necessary directions for the
funeral, on my arrival in London. Returning to the hotel, I met
Father Benwell in the street. I tried to pass on. He deliberately
stopped me.

"How is Mrs. Romayne?" he asked, with that infernal suavity which
he seems always to have at command. "Fairly well I hope? And the
boy? Ah, he little thought how he was changing his prospects for
the better, when he made that blaze in the fire! Pardon me, Mr.
Winterfield, you don't seem to be quite so cordial as usual.
Perhaps you are thinking of your inconsiderate assault on my
throat? Let us forgive and forget. Or, perhaps, you object to my
having converted poor Romayne, and to my being ready to accept
from him the restoration of the property of the Church. In both
cases I only did my duty as a priest. You are a liberal-minded
man. Surely I deserve a favorable construction of my conduct?"

I really could not endure this. "I have my own opinion of what
you deserve," I answered. "Don't provoke me to mention it."

He eyed me with a sinister smile.

"I am not so old as I look," he said; "I may live another twenty

"Well?" I asked.

"Well," he answered, "much may happen in twenty years!"

With that he left me. If he means any further mischief, I can
tell him this--he will find Me in his way.

To turn to a more pleasant subject. Reflecting on all that had
passed at my memorable interview with Romayne, I felt some
surprise that one of the persons present had made no effort to
prevent the burning of the will. It was not to be expected of
Stella--or of the doctors, who had no interest in the matter--but
I was unable to understand the passive position maintained by the
lawyer. He enlightened my ignorance in two words.

"The Vange property and the Berrick property were both absolutely
at the disposal of Mr. Romayne," he said. "If he died without
leaving a will, he knew enough of the law to foresee that houses,
lands, and money would go to his 'nearest of kin.' In plainer
words, his widow and his son."

When Penrose can travel, he accompanies me to Beaupark. Stella
and her little son and Mrs. Eyrecourt will be the only other
guests in my house. Time must pass, and the boy will be older,
before I may remind Stella of Romayne's last wishes on that sad
morning when we two knelt on either side of him. In the
meanwhile, it is almost happiness enough for me to look forward
to the day--

NOTE.--The next leaf of the Diary is missing. By some accident, a
manuscript page has got into its place, bearing a later date, and
containing elaborate instructions for executing a design for a
wedding dress. The handwriting has since been acknowledged as her
own, by no less a person than--Mrs. Eyrecourt.

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest