Part 7 out of 15
self-sacrifice and living for others, he invited the whole party to
inspect his collection; and they all went, with the exception of the
Heavenly Twins, who were not to be found at the moment. When the others
reached the room in which Father Ricardo kept his treasures, however, they
were surprised to find the cabinets comparatively speaking bare, and with
great gaps on the shelves as if someone had been weeding them
indiscriminately. The good Father looked very blank at first; but the
windows were wide open, and before he could think what had happened, a
noise on the lawn below attracted everybody's attention, and on looking
out to see what was the matter, they beheld the Heavenly Twins apparently
intent upon organizing a revel. They were very busy at the moment, and had
been for some hours evidently, for they had collected an organ man with a
monkey; a wandering musician with a harp; a man with a hammer who had been
engaged in breaking stones; a Punch and Judy party, consisting of a man,
woman, and boy, with their Toby-dog; five christy minstrels in their war
paint; a respectable looking mechanic with his wife and three children who
were tramping from one place to another in search of work; and a blind
beggar; and all these were seated in more or less awkward and constrained
attitudes on easy-chairs, covered with satin, velvet, or brocade, about
the lawn, with little tables before them on which was spread all the
cooked food, apparently, that the castle contained. When their admiring
relatives first caught sight of the twins, Angelica--who had coiled up her
hair, and wore a long black dress, borrowed from her Aunt Fulda's wardrobe;
a white apron with a bib, and a white cap like a nurse's, the property of
one of the lady's maids--was pouring tea out of a silver urn, and Diavolo,
in his shirt sleeves, with a serviette under his arm like a waiter in a
restaurant, was standing beside her with a salver in his hand, waiting to
carry it to the mechanic's lady.
"What on earth are you children doing?" Lord Dawne exclaimed.
"Feeding the hungry, sir," Diavolo drawled cheerfully.
"Well," groaned the poor priest, "you needn't have taken all my best china
for that purpose."
"We did that, sir," Diavolo replied with dignity, "in order that you, all
unworthy as you are, might have the pleasure of participating in this good
work. But, there!" he said to Angelica, "I told you he wouldn't appreciate
To the credit of the Heavenly Twins and their guests, it must be recorded
that no harm happened either to the china or the plate.
The next day was a Saint's day, and the children announced at breakfast
that they intended to keep it. They said they were going to compose a
religion for themselves out of all the most agreeable practices enjoined
by other religions, and they proposed to begin by making that day a
Mr. Ellis would have remonstrated at the waste of time, and Father Ricardo
at the absence of proper intention, but the way the twins had put the
proposition happened to amuse the duke, and therefore they gained their
point. But, having gained it, they did not know very well what to do with
themselves. Angelica wouldn't make plans. She was thinking of the long
dress she had worn the day before, and feeling a vague desire to have her
own lengthened; and she wanted also to take that mysterious packet known
as her "work" to her Aunt Fulda's sitting room, where the ladies usually
spent the morning, so as to be with them, but she knew that Diavolo would
scorn her if she did; and the outcome of all this vagueness of intention
was a fit of excessive irritability. She wanted sympathy, but without
being aware of the fact herself, and the way she set about obtaining it
was by being excessively disagreeable to everybody. There was a rose in a
glass beside her plate, and she took it out, and began to twiddle it
between her fingers and thumb impatiently, till she managed to prick
herself with the thorns, and then she complained of the pain.
"Oh, that sort of thing doesn't hurt much," Diavolo declared.
"It _does_ hurt," she maintained aggressively; "and pain is pain,
whether the seat of it be your head, heart, or hind-quarters."
"_Angelica!_" Lady Fulda exclaimed with tragic emphasis. "Someone
must really talk to you _seriously!_ you are positively
"Thank Heaven!" Angelica ejaculated fervently. "I knew I was going to be
She get up as she spoke, and walked out of the room with her head in the
air, affecting a proud consciousness of having had greatness suddenly
thrust upon her.
Lady Fulda looked helplessly, first at Father Ricardo, then at Mr. Ellis.
"Can't you do something?" she said to the latter.
Mr. Ellis replied by an almost imperceptible shrug of his shoulders. "We
know better than to interfere when she's in one of her bad-language
tantrums," Diavolo explained.
When his grandfather left the table, he followed him uninvited on a tour
of inspection around the castle and grounds, and, finally, retiring with
him to the library, whither the old duke usually went to rest, read, or
meditate sometime during the morning, he coiled himself up in an armchair,
took a small book out of his pocket, and began to study it dilligently.
His grandfather glanced at him affectionately and with interest, from time
to time. He was lonely in his old age, and liked to have the boy about. He
had nobody left to him now who could touch his heart or take him out of
himself as Diavolo did, for nobody else attached themselves to him in the
same way, or showed such an unaffected preference for having him all to
"What are you reading, sir?" he asked him at last.
"'Euripides,' sir," Diavolo answered, glancing over the top of his book
for a moment as he spoke. "I'm just where Hippolytus exclaims: 'O Jove!
wherefore indeed didst thou place in the light of the sun that specious
evil to men--woman?'"
"Are you reading 'Euripides' with a 'Key'?" his grandfather asked sternly.
"No, I am reading a key to 'Euripides,'" Diavolo answered,
"Don't you know your Greek, sir?" his grandfather demanded.
"I'm just looking to see, sir," Diavolo rejoined, returning to his book.
When he had finished the page, he looked up at his grandfather, who was
sitting with his hands folded upon a large volume he held open on his
knee, meditating, apparently.
"Beastly bad tone about women in the Classics," Diavolo remarked; "don't
you think so, sir?"
"Ah, my boy, you don't know women yet!" the old duke responded.
"Then I've not made the most of my opportunities," Diavolo said with a
grin, "for we meet with a fine variety in the houses about here! But what
I object to in these classical chaps," he resumed, "is the way they
sneaked and snivelled about women's faults, as if they had none of their
own! and then their mean trick of going back upon the women, and
reproaching them with their misfortunes."
"What do you mean by that?" his grandfather asked.
"Well, sir, I suppose you would call old age a misfortune to a pretty
woman?" Diavolo answered. "And just look at the language in which that
fellow Horace taunts Lydia and Lyce when they grow old, and after the
sickening way he fawned upon them when they were young, too! And here
again," he said, holding up his book, "is that fellow Hippolytus. Just
because one woman has shocked him, he says '... Never shall I be satisfied
in my hatred against women.... For in some way or other they are always
bad.' And a little further back, too"--he scuffed the leaves over--"he
says that woman is a great evil _because_ men squander away the
wealth of their houses upon them. If the men were such superior beings,
why don't they show it somehow? Horace was as spiteful himself as any old
woman; we should have called him a cad nowadays. And all this abuse"--he
shook his 'Euripides'--"is beastly bad form whichever way you look at it."
He ruffled his thick tow-hair as he spoke, and yawned in conclusion.
"Then you are coming out as a champion of women?" said the duke.
"Oh, by Jove, no!" Diavolo exclaimed, straightening himself. "I haven't
the conceit to suppose they would accept such a champion, and besides, I
think it's the other way on now; _we_ shall want champions soon. You
see, in the old days, women were so ignorant and subdued, they couldn't
retaliate or fight for themselves in any way; they never thought of such a
thing. But, now, if you hit a woman, she'll give you one back promptly,"
he asseverated, rubbing a bump on his head suspiciously. "She'll put you
in _Punch_, or revile you in the Dailies; Magazine you; write you
down an ass in a novel; blackguard you in choice language from a public
platform; or paint a picture of you which will make you wish you had never
been born. Ridicule!" he ejaculated, lowering his voice. "They ridicule
you. That's the worst of it. Now, there's Ideala, she can make a fellow
ridiculous without a word. When old Lord Groome came back from Malta the
other day, he called, and began to jeer at Mrs. Churston's feet for being
big and ugly. Ideala let him finish; and then she just looked down at his
own feet, and you could see in a minute that he wished himself an Eastern
potentate with petticoats to hide them under; for they were ugly enough to
The duke stretched out one of his own miniature models of feet upon this,
and glanced at it complacently.
"Where do you get all these ideas?" he asked. "At your age I never had any;
and if I had, I should have been ashamed to own it. You'll be a prig,
sir, if you don't mind."
"_I_ don't mind," Diavolo rejoined. "I've heard you say that ladies
dearly love a prig, and therefore I rather think of cultivating that
"You should have been sent to a public school," his grandfather said. "It
would have made a man of you."
"Oh, time will do that just as well," Diavolo answered encouragingly.
At that moment the door opened, and Lady Fulda entered.
"Papa, may I speak to you now?" she asked, and Diavolo got up politely and
lounged off to look for Angelica. He did not succeed in finding her,
however, because she had driven into Morningquest to do some shopping with
her Aunt Claudia and Ideala. She hated shopping as a rule, and could
seldom be persuaded to do any; but that morning, after breakfast, she had
gone to Lady Fulda's room, where the three ladies were sitting, and after
fidgeting them to death by wandering up and down, doing nothing, with a
scowl on her face, and an ugly look of discontent in her fine dark eyes,
she had burst out suddenly: "Aunt Fulda! I want some long dresses." Lady
Fulda looked up at her in blank amazement; but Lady Claudia, who was all
energy, rolled up her work on the instant, rang the bell, ordered the
carriage, and answered: "Come, then, and get what you like."
And ten minutes afterward they had started.
Several unsuccessful attempts had been made to persuade Angelica to wear
long dresses, and Lady Claudia felt that now, when she proposed it
herself, it would never do to check the impulse; and accordingly, in less
than a week from that day, Angelica, the tom-boy, was to all appearance no
more, and Miss Hamilton-Wells astonished the neighbourhood.
She came down to the drawing room quite shyly in her first long dinner
dress, with her dark hair coiled neatly high on her head. She had met Mr.
Kilroy on the stairs, and he had looked at her in a strange, startled way,
but he said nothing; and neither did anybody else when she entered the
room. Her grandfather, however, opened his eyes wide when he saw her, and
smiled as if he were gratified. Lord Dawne gave her a second glance, and
seemed a little sad; and Ideala went up to her and kissed her, and then
looked into her face for a moment very gravely, making her feel as if she
were on the eve of something momentous. But Diavolo would not look at her
a second time. One glimpse had been enough for him, and during the whole
of dinner he never raised his eyes.
His uncle Dawne saw what was wrong with the boy, and glanced at him from
time to time sympathetically. He meant to talk to him when the ladies had
left the table, but Diavolo escaped unobserved before he could carry out
Mr. Ellis, however, had seen him go, and followed him. He found him in the
schoolroom, crying as if his heart would break, his slender frame all
shaken with great convulsive sobs, and the old books and playthings which
had suddenly assumed for him the bitterly pathetic interest that attaches
to once loved things when they are carelessly cast aside and forgotten,
scattered about him. Mr. Ellis sat down beside, him, and touched his hand,
and tried to comfort him, but the tutor was sad at heart himself.
Before very long, however, Angelica burst in upon them, with her hair
down, and in the shortest and oldest dress she possessed. Her passionate
love for her brother had always been the great hopeful and redeeming point
of her character, and if she did show it principally by banging his head,
she never meant to hurt him. Almost any other sister would have owed him a
grudge for not admiring her in her first fine gown, and so spoiling her
pleasure; but Angelica saw that he was thinking that the old days were
over, and there had come a change now which would divide them, and she
thought only of the pain he was suffering on that account. So, when she
found that he was not going to join the ladies in the drawing room, she
rushed upstairs to her own room, which her maid was arranging for the
night, and relieved her feelings by tearing off her dinner dress, rolling
it in a whisp, and throwing it at the woman. Her petticoats followed it,
and then she kicked off her white satin shoes, one of which lit on the
mantelpiece, the other on the dressing table; and, tearing out her
hairpins, flung them about the floor in all directions.
"My old brown gown, Elizabeth," she demanded, stamping.
"What's the matter, Miss--"
But Angelica had snatched the gown from the wardrobe, put it on, and was
halfway downstairs, buttoning it as she went, before the maid could finish
When she entered the schoolroom, she threw herself on her knees beside
Diavolo, and hugged him tight, as if she been going to lose him
altogether, or he had just escaped from a great danger.
"I won't wear long dresses if you don't like them," she protested.
"Well, you can't go about like that," he grumbled, recovering himself the
moment he felt her close to him again, and struck by a sense of
impropriety in her short skirt after the grown-up appearance she had
presented in the long one. "You look like a beggar."
"Well, if I _do_ wear a long one," she declared, "it shall only be a
disguise. I promise you I'll be just as bad as ever in it," and she drew a
handkerchief out of her pocket, which had been left there for months and
was frowsy, and wiped her own eyes and Diavolo's abruptly, "Your feelings
are quite boggy, Diavolo," she said, giving a dry sob herself as she
spoke. "You can't touch them at all without coming to water. You cry when
Mr. Ellis had stolen softly out of the room as soon as he could do so
unobserved, and now the twins were sitting together in their favourite
position on the same chair, with their arms around each other, and
Angelica's dark head slanted so as to lean against Diavolo's fair one.
He had rewarded her last remark with a melancholy grin; but the clouds had
broken, and it now only required time for them to roll away.
"You'll get a moustache in time," Angelica proceeded, in her most
matter-of-fact tone. "I can see signs of it now in some lights, only it's
so fair it doesn't show much."
"I'll shave it to make it darker," he suggested.
"No, you mustn't do that," she answered, "because that'll make it coarse,
and I want you to have one like Uncle Dawne's. But when it comes it will
make you look as much grown up as my long dresses do me, and then we'll
study some art and practise it together, and not be separated all our
"We will," said Diavolo.
"But I think we ought to begin at once," Angelica added thoughtfully.
"Just give me time to consider. And come out into the grounds for a
frolic. I feel smothered in here; and there's a moon!"
Edith Beale had now been married for more than a year to Sir Mosley
Menteith, and the whole of their life together had been to her a painful
period of gradual disillusion--and all the more painful because she was
totally unprepared even for the possibility of any troubles of the kind
which had beset her. Parental opinion and prejudice, ignorance, education,
and custom had combined to deceive her with regard to the transient nature
of her own feeling for her lover; and it was also inevitable that she
should lend herself enthusiastically to the deception; for who would not
believe, if they could, that a state so ecstatic is enduring? Even people
who do know better are apt to persuade themselves that an exception will
be made in their favour, and this being so, it naturally follows that a
girl like Edith, all faith and fondness, is foredoomed by every
circumstance of her life and virtue of her nature, to make the fatal
mistake. But, as Evadne told her, passion stands midway between love and
hate, and is an introduction to either; and there is no doubt that, if
Menteith had been the kind of repentant erring sinner she imagined him,
her first wild desire would have cooled down into the lasting joy of
tranquil love. Menteith, however, was not at all that kind of man, and,
consequently, from the first the marriage had been a miserable example of
the result of uniting the spiritual or better part of human nature with
the essentially animal or most degraded side of it. In that position there
was just one hope of happiness left for Edith, and that was in her
children. If such a woman so situated can be happy anywhere it will be in
her nursery. But Edith's child, which arrived pretty promptly, only proved
to be another whip to scourge her. Although of an unmistakable type, he
was apparently healthy when he was born, but had rapidly degenerated, and
Edith herself was a wreck.
They had been out to Malta for a short time, but had come home, Menteith
being invalided, and were now at a bracing sea-side place, trying what the
air would do for them all.
It was Edith's habit to send the child out with his nurse directly after
breakfast, and having done so as usual one morning, she remained alone
with her husband in the breakfast room, which looked out upon the sands.
She had her hands idly folded on her lap, and was watching Menteith as she
might have watched a stranger about whom she was curious. He sat at some
distance from her reading a paper, and there was no perceptible change in
him; but she had changed very much for the worse. Why was she not
recovering her strength? Why had it pleased Heaven to afflict her? That
was what she was thinking, but at the same time she blamed herself for
repining, and, in order to banish the thought, she rose, and, going over
to her husband, laid her hand gently on his shoulder, courting a caress.
He had been lavish enough of caresses at first, but all that was over now,
and he finished the paragraph he was reading before he noticed Edith at
all. Then he glanced at her, but his eyes were cold and critical.
"You certainly are not looking well," he observed, evidently meaning not
attractive, as if he were injured by the fact. He got up when he had
spoken, so that in the act of rising he dislodged her hand from his
shoulder. Then he yawned and lounged over to the window, which was wide
open, the weather being warm; and stood there with his legs apart, and his
hands in his pockets, looking out.
One little loving caress or kindly word would have changed the whole
direction of Edith's thoughts; but, wanting that, she stood where he had
left her for some moments, lost in pained reflection; and then she
followed him listlessly, seated herself in a low easy-chair, and looked
There were crowds of people on the sands, and her dull eyes wandered from
group to group, then up to the sky, and down again to the sea and shore.
The sun shone radiantly; sparkles of light from the rippling wavelets
responded to his ardent caress. The sea-sweet air fanned her face. But
neither light, nor air, nor sound availed to move her pleasurably.
"Is this to be my life?" she thought.
The tide was coming in over the sands. Some children with their shoes and
stockings off were playing close to the water's edge. They had made a
castle, and were standing on the top of it, all crowded together, waiting
for a big wave to come and surround them; and when at last it came, it
carried half their fortress away with it, and they all hopped off into the
water, and splashed up through it helter-skelter, with shouts of laughter,
to the dry land.
"I should have enjoyed that once," thought Edith.
A party of grown-up people cantered past upon donkeys, driven by boys with
big sticks. The women were clinging to the pommels of their saddles, and
shrieking as they bumped along, while the men shouted, and beat and kicked
the donkeys with all their might.
"Horrid, common, cruel people!" thought Edith. "How dreadful it would be
to have to know them!"
A girl came riding past alone on a hired horse. She wore a rusty black
skirt over her petticoats. It was gathered in by a drawing string at the
waist, and made her look ludicrously bunchy. Her stirrup was too short;
and she clung desperately with both hands to whip and reins and saddle,
only venturing to guide her horse now and then-in a timid, half apologetic
sort of way, as if she were afraid he would resent it. She must have felt
far from comfortable, but probably the dream of her life had been to ride,
and now that she was riding she admired herself extremely.
Edith involuntarily drew a mental picture of the contrast she herself
presented on horseback. "But that girl is well and happy," she objected,
to her own disadvantage.
She became aware at this moment of another girl who was passing on foot.
She was one of those good-looking girls of the middle class who throng to
fashionable watering-places in the season--young women with senses
rampant, and minds undisciplined, impelled by natural instinct to find a
mate, and practising every little art of dress and manner which they
imagine will help them to that end by making them attractive. Their object
is always evident in their eyes, which rove from man to man pathetically,
pleadingly, anxiously, mischievously, according to their temperaments, but
always with the same inquiry: "Will it be you?"
This girl had made herself by tight-lacing into a notable specimen of the
peg-top figure, bulgy at the bust and shoulders, and tapering off at the
waist. She had also squeezed her feet into boots that were much too small
for them, and fluffed her hair out till her head seemed preposterously
large--by which means she had achieved the appearance known to her set as
When Edith first saw her she was walking along very quickly with a
dissatisfied look on her face; but as she approached the window she
glanced up, and, seeing Menteith, her countenance cleared; and she
slackened her speed, seeming suddenly to become uncertain of the direction
she wished to take. First, she half stopped, and appeared to be thinking;
then she hastily put her hand in her pocket, and looked back the way she
had come, as if she had lost something; then shrugged her shoulders to
signify that it didn't much matter, and with a far-away look in her eyes
walked slowly into the sea; this was in order that she might spring nimbly
out again with a fine pretence of confusion at her affected fit of
Menteith watched these manoeuvres attentively, patiently awaiting the
inevitable moment when she would look at him again. So far, she had
pretended to ignore him, but he understood her tactics, and as he observed
them, he twisted first one end and then the other of his little light
moustache, with a self-complacency not to be concealed. He had been
feeling bored all the morning, but now his interest in life revived. He
had only the one interest in life, and when the girl on the beach had done
all she could to excite it, she glanced at him again, and saw by the look
with which he responded that she had succeeded. Then she sat down on the
sand, placing herself so that she could meet his eyes every time she
looked up, and taking a letter out of her pocket she began to read it,
varying the expression of her countenance the while, to show that she
derived great pleasure from the perusal. This was to pique Menteith into
supposing that he had a rival.
The girl had not troubled herself about Edith's presence, but the latter
had also been watching her wiles--dully enough, however, until all at once
a thought occurred to her, a hateful thought.
It was the emotional rather than the intellectual side of her nature which
had been developed by early associations. She had been accustomed to feel
more than to think, and now, when all food for elevating emotions had been
withdrawn from her daily life, others, mostly of a distressing kind, took
possession of her mind. She had gone through all the phases of acute
misery to which a girl so trained and with such a husband is liable. She
had been weakened into dependence by excess of sympathy, and now was being
demoralised for want of any. Menteith had hung upon her words at first,
had been responsive to her every glance; but latterly he had become
indifferent to both; and she knew it, without, however, comprehending the
why and wherefore of the change, or of the growing sense of something
wanting which was fast becoming her own normal condition. She was still
fighting hard to preserve the spiritual fervour which had been the
predominant characteristic of her girlhood; but, at this period of their
intercourse, she knew better than to attempt to re-arouse in him that
semblance of spirituality which had deluded her in their early
passion-period. But she had from the first cultivated a passive attitude
toward him, and that even when the natural instinct of her womanhood
impelled her to war with him. In any case, however, instinct is not
safeguard enough for creatures living under purely artificial conditions;
they must have knowledge; and Edith had been robbed of all means of
self-defence by the teaching which insisted that her only duty as a wife
consisted in silent submission to her husband's will. Her intellectual
life, such as it was, had stopped short from the time of her intimate
association with Menteith; and her spiritual nature had been starved in
close contact with him; only her senses had been nourished, and these were
now being rendered morbidly active by disease. The shadow of an awful form
of insanity already darkened her days. The mental torture was extreme; but
she fought for her reason with the fearful malady valiantly; and all the
time presented outwardly only the same dull apathy, giving no sign and
speaking no word which could betray the fury of the rage within.
This last thought took her unawares as usual, and followed an accustomed
course. She had entertained it for a moment, turning it over in her mind
with interest before she realized its nature. When she did so, however,
her soul sickened. "What am I coming to?" she mentally ejaculated,
recovering herself with an effort; which resulted also in a sudden
"I want to go home," she said. Her voice was very husky.
Menteith, startled from the absorbing occupation of ogling the girl on the
beach, looked at her sharply. Had she noticed what he was up to, and was
she jealous by any chance, as these confounded unreasonable women are apt
to be? No, he concluded, after carefully scrutinizing her face and
attitude; there was not a trace of that kind of thing, and she evidently
only meant what she had said. "And, by Jove!" he thought, "it's an
excellent idea, for she's looking anything but nice at present. Marriage
is certainly a lottery! A fellow chooses a girl for her health and beauty,
and gives her everything she can want in the world, and in less than a
year she's a wreck?" The injury done to himself, implied in this last
reflection, caused a certain amount of irritation, which betrayed itself
in the politely "nagging" tone of his reply:
"What precisely do you mean by 'home'?" he asked.
"I mean Morningquest," she answered.
"Ah!" he ejaculated. "That was what I inferred."
"I hope I have not said anything to annoy you?" she exclaimed.
"Oh, dear, no!" he assured her. "I know your sex too well to be annoyed by
any of its caprices. But still," he added, "a wife does not usually make
her 'home' with her parents."
"But we have no settled home," she remonstrated.
"Do you mean that for a reproach, because my want of means at present
obliges me to keep my houses shut up?" he asked.
"No," she answered with a gleam of spirit, "and you know I do not."
There was a pause after this. It pleased him to make her ask for his
permission to go to her mother, in so many words. He perceived that she
found it difficult to do so, and there was satisfaction in the respect and
fear which he thought were betokened by her hesitation. The sense of power
and possession flattered his self-esteem and enlivened him.
"Do you object?" she ventured at last.
"To what, dear?" he asked, without interrupting an exchange of amorous
glances which was just then going on between himself and the girl on the
"To my going home?"
"Oh, no!" he exclaimed, smiling. "Only to that way of putting it. By the
way," he added pleasantly, taking up a pair of opera glasses that were
lying on a table beside him, and adjusting the sight, "shall I accompany
Edith had taken it for granted that he would, as they had never yet been
separated since their marriage; and the question, striking as it did
another note of change, surprised and hurt her. But as it was evident that
he would not have asked it had he wished to go, she answered quietly: "Oh,
no! Why should you trouble yourself?"
"It would be no trouble, I assure you," he answered, confirming her first
impression that he did not wish to go.
"Oh, no!" she repeated. "I could not think of taking you away from
here--if the air is doing you good."
"Ah, well," he answered, catching at the excuse, "I suppose I ought to
forego the pleasure, for I am just beginning at last to feel some benefit
from the change, and I should probably lose the little good it has done me
if I go away now. Morningquest is relaxing. However, I shall join you as
soon as I can, you know!" This was said with a plausible affectation of
being impelled by a sense of duty to act contrary to his inclination,
which did not, however, impose upon Edith; and the thought that the wish
to be with her now was not imperative _although_ she was ill became
another haunting torment during the short remaining time they were
together; but, happily for herself, she never perceived that he did not
care to accompany her principally _because_ she was ill.
She left that afternoon with her servants and child, and he saw to the
preparations for their departure with cheerful alacrity. She was
depressed, and he told her she must keep up her spirits
for--everybody's--sake! and set her a good example by keeping his own up
manfully. He saw her off at the station, and stood smiling and bowing,
with his hat in his hand, until she was out of sight; and then he turned
on his heel and went with a jaunty air to look for the girl on the beach.
Up to the last moment, Edith would have been thankful for any excuse to
change her mind and stay; but when she found herself alone, and the
journey had fairly begun, she experienced a sudden sense of relief.
She had not realized the fact; but latterly her husband's presence had
The Beales had not seen their daughter and grandson for some months, and
the appearance of both was a shock to them. They said not a word to each
other at first, but neither of them could help looking at Edith furtively
from time to time on the evening of her arrival. When the bishop came up
to the drawing room after dinner and had settled himself in his accustomed
easy-chair, Edith had crept to his side, and, slipping her hand through
his arm, sat leaning her head against his shoulder, and staring straight
before her, neither speaking nor listening except when directly addressed.
Her father, between whom and herself there had always been a great deal of
sympathy, was inexpressively touched by this silent appeal to his love;
and letting the paper lie on his lap, he sat silent also, and serious,
feeling, without in any way knowing, that all was not well.
Mrs. Beale was also depressed, although she assured herself again and
again that such deep devotion between father and daughter was an elevating
and beautiful sight, which it was a privilege to witness; and tried to
persuade herself that they were all extremely happy in the tranquil joy of
this peaceful evening spent alone together, with the world shut out.
"That child is not right," the Bishop said, when Edith had gone to bed.
"Have you noticed her face? I don't like the look of it at all; not at
"Isn't that rather unkind, dear?" Mrs. Beale replied. "I always recovered
"You never were as ill as the poor child evidently is," he answered; and
retired to his library, much disturbed.
But Mrs. Beale determined not to worry herself, and managed to dismiss the
subject from her mind until next day, when she was sitting alone with her
daughter in the morning room up stairs. They were both working, but the
conversation flagged, and Mrs. Beale, from wondering why Edith was so
uncommunicative, found herself involuntarily repeating the bishop's
observation: "That child is not right," and the question: "What is the
matter with your face, dearest?" slipped from her unawares.
"I don't know, mother," Edith answered shortly.
She had never before in her life spoken to her mother in that tone, and
the latter was surprised and hurt for a moment; but then persuaded herself
that some irritability was only natural if the child were out of health,
and at once made proper allowances.
Edith got up when she had spoken, and left the room.
She was occupying one of the state departments of the palace then, but on
the way to it she had to pass the room which had been hers as a girl. The
door was open, and she went in. Nothing was changed there; but the moment
she entered she felt that there was a direful difference in herself. The
sad, benignant Christ, with tender, sympathetic eyes, looked down upon her
from the picture on the wall; but she returned the glance indifferently at
first, and then, remembering the rapture with which she had been wont to
kneel at his feet, she looked again. The recollection of the once dear
delight tantalized her now, however, because it did not renew it; and,
turning from the picture impatiently, she went to the window, and there
sank on to the seat from whence she had looked out at the moonlight and
the shadows on the night of the day on which it had been arranged that she
should winter with her mother at Malta. And here again she endeavoured to
recall the glow of sensation which had thrilled her then; but only the
lifeless ashes of that fire remained, and they were burnt out past all
hope of rekindling them. Even the remembrance of what her feelings had
been eluded her, and she could think of nothing but after
experiences--experiences of her married life, and those precisely which it
was not wise to recall. They were not exactly thoughts, however, that
occupied her, but emotions, to which, looking out on the sunlit garden
with rounded eyes and pupils dilated to the uttermost, she had
unconsciously lent herself for some time, as on other occasions, before
she realized what she was doing. Suddenly, however, she came to her
senses, and fled in affright to the morning room, where she threw herself
down on her knees beside her mother impetuously, and buried her face in
"Take care, dear child!" Mrs. Beale exclaimed. "You will hurt yourself."
"Mother! Mother!" Edith cried. "I have such terrible, terrible thoughts! I
cannot control them. I cannot keep them away. The torment of my mind is
awful. I could kill myself."
Mrs. Beale turned pale. "Pray, dearest!" she ejaculated.
"I do, I do, mother," Edith wailed; "but they mingle with my prayers. God
is a demon, isn't he?"
Mrs. Beale threw her arms round her daughter, and almost shook her in her
consternation. "Edith, darling, do you know what you are saying?" she
Edith looked into her face in a bewildered way. "No, mother, what was it?"
Then all outward sign of Mrs. Beale's agitation subsided. Some shocks
stun, and some strengthen and steady us. The piteous appeal in Edith's
eyes, the puzzle and the pain of her face as she made an effort to recall
her words and understand them, had the latter effect upon her mother.
"I am afraid you are very weak, dear child," the poor lady bravely
responded. "Weakness makes people unhealthy-minded. You must see the
doctor, and have a tonic."
"The doctor again!" Edith groaned. "It has been nothing but the doctor and
'tonics' ever since I have been married."
"What does he say is the matter exactly?" Mrs. Beale asked.
"All his endeavour seems to be not to say what is the matter exactly,"
Mrs. Beale reflected, caressing her daughter the while, and under the
soothing influence of her loving touch, Edith's countenance began to
"When is Mosley coming?" her mother said at last.
Edith's face contracted again, and she rose to her feet. "I don't know,
mother," she answered coldly.
The chime rang out at this moment, and she frowned as she listened to it.
"I wish those bells could be stopped!" she exclaimed, "They deafen me."
Mrs. Beale had also risen from her chair, smiling mechanically, but with
pain and perplexity at her heart. "I am sure it is the journey," she said.
"It has quite upset you. Your nerves are all jarred. You must really lie
down for a little--see, dearest, here on the couch; and keep quite
quiet." She arranged the cushions.
"Come, dear," she urged, "like a good child, and I will cover you up."
Edith had been accustomed to this kind of gentle compulsion all her life,
and as she yielded to it now she began to feel more like herself. "I knew
I should be better with you, mother," she said sighing; and then she
reached up her arm, and drew her mother's face down to hers. "Kiss me,
mother, and tell me you forgive me for being impatient."
"Dear child, you are not impatient," her mother answered, adding to
herself, as she returned to her seat; "I hope it is only impatience!"
Edith had turned her face to the wall, and soon appeared to be asleep.
Then her mother went down to the library. The bishop rose from his writing
table when she entered. It was a habit of his to be polite to his wife.
"I think you were right last night about Edith," she said. "She is not as
she should be. Write to Dr. Galbraith. Ask him to come here to-morrow. Ask
him to dine and stay the night, as if it were only an ordinary visit--not
to alarm her, you know. But tell him why we want him to come. I am nervous
Mrs. Beale's face quivered, and she burst into tears as she spoke.
"Oh, my dear! I am sure there is no need to agitate yourself," the bishop
exclaimed. "Now do--now don't, really! See! I will write at once."
He sat down, and began, "My dear George," and then looked up at his wife
to see if she were not already relieved.
Mrs. Beale could not speak, but she stroked his head once or twice in
acknowledgment of his great kindness. Then more tears came because he
_was_ so very kind; and finally she was obliged to go to her own room
to recover herself.
As the day wore on, however, she became reassured. Edith seemed much
refreshed by her sleep, and, in the afternoon when the three ladies came
from the castle to call upon her, bringing Angelica with them, she quite
"What, Angelica a grown up young lady in a long dress!" she exclaimed.
"But where is Diavolo?"
"We had a slight difference of opinion this morning," Angelica answered
"Dear me! that is a new thing!" Mrs. Beale commented.
"No, it is not," Angelica contradicted, bridling visibly. "Only, when we
were younger we used to--settle our differences--at once, and have done
with them. But now that I am in long dresses Diavolo won't do that, so we
have to sulk like married people."
"But, my dear child, I don't see why you should quarrel at all," Mrs.
"You would if you were with us, I expect," Angelica answered, and then she
turned her attention to Edith, but not by a sign did she betray, the
slightest consciousness of the latter's disfigurement--unless making
herself unusually agreeable was a symptom of commiseration; and in this
she succeeded so thoroughly that when the others rose to go Edith did not
feel inclined to part with her.
"Won't you stay with me here a few days?" she entreated.
Angelica reflected. "It would do him good, I should think," she said at
"I should think it would!" Edith agreed, laughing.
"Did I speak?" said Angelica.
"Yes," Edith answered. "You informed me that you are going to stay here in
order to punish Diavolo by depriving him of your society for a time."
"I am sure I did not say all that!" Angelica exclaimed.
"Well, not exactly, perhaps," Edith confessed; "but you led me to infer
"Well, I will stay," Angelica decided. "Aunt Fulda, I'm going to stay here
for a few days with Edith," she answered.
"Very well, dear," her aunt meekly rejoined. "Are you going to stay now?"
"Yes. Tell Elizabeth to bring me some wearing apparel."
As they drove back to Morne, Lady Claudia scolded Lady Fulda for so weakly
allowing Angelica to have her own way in everything.
"I thought you would agree with me that the sweet womanly influence at the
palace would do her good," Lady Fulda answered, in an injured tone.
"'Sweet womanly' _nonsense_!" said Lady Claude. "She will twist them
all round her little finger, and turn the whole place upside down before
she leaves, or I am much mistaken."
"Well, dear, If you would only make Angelica do what _you_ wish while
you are here to influence her I should be thankful," Lady Fulda rejoined
with gentle dignity.
Lady Claudia said no more.
Things went merrily at the palace for the rest of the day. Mrs. Orton Beg
called, and Mr. Kilroy of Ilverthorpe, between whom and Angelica there was
always an excellent understanding; and she entertained him now with
observations and anecdotes which so amused Edith that, as Mrs. Beale said
to the bishop afterward: "The dear, naughty child quite took her out of
Angelica had never been in the same house with a baby before, and she was
all interest. Whatever defects of character the new women may eventually
acquire, lack of maternal affection will not be one of them.
"Have you seen the baby?" she asked Elizabeth, when the latter was
brushing her hair for dinner. He had not been visible during the
afternoon, but Angelica had thought of him incessantly.
"Yes, Miss," Elizabeth answered.
"Is he a pretty baby?" Angelica wanted to know.
Elizabeth pursed up her lips with an air of reserve.
"You don't think so?" Angelica said--she had seen the maid's face in the
mirror before her. "What is he like?"
"He's exactly like the bishop, Miss."
Angelica broke into a broad smile at herself in the glass. "What! a little
old man baby!" she exclaimed.
"Yes, Miss--with a cold in his head," the maid said seriously.
When she was dressed, Angelica went to make his acquaintance. On the way
she discovered her particular friend, the bishop, going furtively in the
same direction, and slipped her hand through his arm.
"We'll go together," she said confidentially, taking it for granted that
his errand was the same as her own.
The nurse was undressing the child when they entered, and Edith sat
watching her. She was already dressed for the evening, and looked worse in
an elaborate toilet than she had done in her morning dress. A stranger
would have found it hard to believe that only the year before she had been
radiantly healthy and beautiful. The puzzled, pathetic expression again in
her eyes as she watched the child. She had no smile for him, and uttered
no baby words to him--nor had he a smile for her. He was old, old already,
and exhausted with suffering, and as his gaze wandered from one to the
other it was easy to believe that he was asking each dumbly why had he
ever been born?
"Is _that_ Edith's baby?" Angelica exclaimed in her astonishment and
horror under her breath, slipping her hand from the bishop's arm.
She had seen enough in one momentary glance, and she fled from the room.
The bishop followed her. Mrs. Beale was there when they entered, standing
behind her daughter's chair, but she did not look at her husband, nor he
at her. For the first time in their married life, poor souls, they were
afraid to meet each other's eyes.
Next day, in the afternoon, Mrs. Beale being otherwise engaged, Edith
proposed that she and Angelica should go for a drive together. Edith was
feeling better, and Angelica had recovered her equanimity. She suggested
that they should drive toward Fountain Towers. Edith had not been on that
road since her marriage, and when they passed the place where she and her
mother had seen the young French girl lying insensible on the pathway with
her baby beside her she was reminded of the incident, and described it to
Angelica, adding: "I have so often longed to know what became of her."
"I can tell you," said Angelica. "I know her quite well by sight. She is
living with Nurse Griffiths, in Honeysuckle Cottage, on Dr. Galbraith's
estate. Nurse Griffiths told us he brought her there one day in his
carriage very ill, and she has been there ever since. He always gets angry
and snaps at you if he's bothered about anybody who's ill or unfortunate,
and Diavolo and I met him that day coming away from the cottage, and he
spoke to us so shortly we were sure there was something bad the matter, so
we went to see what it was, and Nurse Griffiths said she was French. I've
not been there since, but I expect it's the same girl. Shall we stop and
see? We pass the end of the lane where the cottage is."
Edith agreed eagerly. She said it would be a relief to her mind to know
that the girl was well cared for and happy.
"Oh, everybody is well cared for and happy on Dr. Galbraith's estate,"
said Angelica. "His tenants worship him. And they would rather be abused
by him than complimented by anybody else."
The cottage, covered with the honeysuckle from which it took its name,
stood in a large old-fashioned garden, at the edge of a fir plantation,
which sheltered it from the northeast wind at the back, and filled the air
about it with balsamic fragrance.
Edith and Angelica left the carriage at the end of the lane and walked up.
"What a lovely spot!" Edith exclaimed. "On a still bright day like this it
makes one realize what the Saints meant by 'holy calm,' I think I should
like to live in such a place, and never hear another echo from the outside
"I suppose you would just like to add dear Mosley to the establishment,"
Edith's heart contracted. She had not thought of her husband, and now when
she did it was with a pang, because she could not include him in her idea
The French girl was standing at the door of the cottage with a child in
"Is Nurse Griffiths in?" Angelica asked.
Edith looked at the child. It should have been running about by that time,
but it was small and rickety, with bones that bent beneath its weight,
slight as it was. Edith had looked at it first with some interest, but its
unhealthy appearance repelled her. She managed, however, to speak to the
girl about it kindly.
"What is your baby's name?" she asked.
"Mosley Menteith," was the answer.
For a moment it seemed to Edith as if all the world were blotted out, and
then again the hum of bees, the chirrup of birds, the fall of a fir-cone,
the call of the cock-pheasant in the wood sounded obtrusively, making the
girl's voice as she continued speaking appear far off and indistinct.
"I called him after his father, then, didn't I?" she was saying to the
baby in good English, but with a French accent. "And he's to grow up, and
be a big strong fellow and beat his father, isn't he, for he's a bad, bad
Nurse Griffiths hearing voices in the porch came out.
"Hush, Louise," she said to the girl. "You've no call to talk in that way
now. You must excuse her," she added to the ladies. "She's had a bad
"I can't--believe you," Edith faltered. "Tell me--exactly."
"Well, it was in this way," the girl rejoined, speaking in the prosaic
tone in which her countrywomen are accustomed to discuss matters that
inspire ours with too much disgust to be mentioned. "Menteith came after
me, and my sister wanted money, so she made me believe that he couldn't
marry me because there was a law, to prevent it. She said he loved me, and
if I loved him well enough, it would be a noble thing to disregard the
law, and he gave her seventy-five pounds for that. I found her letter to
Menteith about it, and I've got it here," tapping the bosom of her gown.
"He took me abroad when he wanted to get rid of me, and left me in Paris
with five pounds in my pocket; but it was enough to bring me back. I was
sick when I landed at Dover, and they sent me to the workhouse; and when I
got well again I told them I had friends in Morningquest, and they gave me
a little help to get there; but I had to tramp most of the way, and I was
weak--I couldn't have got as far as I did if I hadn't wanted to kill them
"Now, hush!" said Nurse Griffiths. "The Lord saved you from such a sin."
"The Lord!" said the girl derisively. "If the Lord had been inclined to
help me, he wouldn't have waited till I came to murder. It wasn't the Lord
"She will say that, and I can't cure her," Nurse Griffiths declared. "But
I'm afraid you're feeling the heat, ma'am, and you are not very strong,"
she added, addressing Edith, who was clinging to the porch for support,
looking strangely haggard. "Won't you come in and sit down a bit?"
"No, thank you, it is nothing," Edith answered steadily, recovering
"Will you come and sit down with me on that seat?" she said to Louise,
indicating a rustic bench under an old pear tree at the end of the garden.
"I want to talk to you."
Nurse Griffiths and Angelica remained in the porch.
"Who is that lady, Miss?" the nurse asked when Edith was out of hearing.
"Lady Menteith," Angelica answered.
The woman threw up her hands. "O Lord! have mercy upon her--and upon us!
What a cruel, cruel shame! She's showing her the letter. Eh! it's enough
to kill her. You generally know all the mischief that's going, Miss! Why
did you bring her here?"
"I wish I had known this, then," said Angelica, whose heart was thumping
painfully. "If any harm comes of it, I shall always think it was my
"Well, there's no call to do that if you didn't know," the woman answered.
"I see she was a great lady myself, but I never thought it was _her_.
Eh! but it's the dirty men makes the misery."
On the way back, Edith stopped the carriage at the telegraph office, and
despatched a message to her husband to come to her, "Come at once."
They only arrived in time to dress hurriedly for dinner, and when they
went down to the drawing room they found Dr. Galbraith there with the
bishop and Mrs. Beale.
"Where have you two been the whole afternoon?" the latter asked.
"We had tea in the library at Fountain Towers," Angelica answered easily,
"and obtained some useful knowledge from your books."
Dr. Galbraith looked hard at her: "I wonder what devilment you've been up
to now?" he thought.
But Angelica's manner was as unconcerned as possible. Edith's was not,
however. Her face was flushed, her eyes unnaturally glittering, and she
became excited about trifles, and talked loudly at table; and in the
drawing room after dinner she could not keep still. Mrs. Beale asked
Angelica to play, and Angelica tried something soothing at first, but
Edith complained impatiently that those things always made her melancholy.
Then Angelica played some bars of patriotic music, stirring in the
extreme, but Edith stopped her again.
"That wearies my brain," she said, and began to pace about the room, up
and down, up and down. Her mother watched her anxiously. Angelica closed
the piano. Dr. Galbraith and the bishop came in from the dining room, and
then Edith declared that driving in the open air had made her so sleepy
she must go to bed.
Angelica noticed that Dr. Galbraith scrutinized her face sharply as he
shook hands with her.
"God bless you, my dear child," the bishop said when she kissed him, and
his lips moved afterward for some seconds as if he were in prayer. Her
mother followed her out of the room; and then silence settled on the three
who were left. The bishop was obviously uneasy. Dr. Galbraith's
good-looking plainness was softened by a serious expression which added
much to the attractiveness of his strong kind face. Angelica shivered, and
was about to break the spell of silence boldly in her energetic way, when
suddenly, and apparently overhead, a heavy bell tolled once.
It was only the cathedral clock striking the hour, but it sounded
portentously through the solemn stillness of the night, and with quickened
attention they all looked up and listened.
Slowly the big bell boomed forth ten strokes. Then came a pause; and then
the chime rolled through the room, a deafening volume of sound, in long
reverberations, from amidst which the constant message disentangled itself
as it were, but distinctly, although to each listener with a different
[Illustration: (musical notation); lyrics: He, watch-ing o-ver Is--ra--el,
slumbers not, nor sleeps.]
It awoke Dr. Galbraith from a train of painful reflections; it reassured
the bishop; and it made Angelica fret for Diavolo remorsefully.
Angelica must have fallen asleep the moment she got into bed that night,
and just as instantly she began to dream. She had never hitherto felt a
throb of passion. She had given the best love of her life to her brother,
and had made no personal application of anything she had heard, or seen,
or read of lovers, so that the possibility of ever having one of her own
had never cost her a serious thought. But the excitement of that day and
the occupations had so wrought upon her imagination that when she slept
she dreamt, and in her dream she saw a semblance, the semblance of a man,
a changing semblance, the features of which she could not discern,
although she tried with frenzied effort, because she knew that when she
saw him fully face to face he would be hers. They were not in this world,
nor in the next. They were not eyen in the universe. They were simply each
the centre of a great light which formed a sphere about them, and
separated them from one another; and heaven and hell, and earth and sky,
and night and day, and life and death were, all added to the glory of
those spheres of light. And she knew _how_; but there is no word of
human speech to express it. She lay on light, she stood on light, she sat
on light, she swam in light; and wallowed, and walked, and ran, and
leaped, and soared, rolling along in her own sphere until the monotony
made her giddy; and all her endeavour was to reach her lover, not for
himself so much as because she knew that if their two lights could be
added in equal parts to each other and mingled into one, their combined
effulgence would make a pathway to heaven. But try as she would she could
not attain her object, and finally she became so exhausted by the struggle
that she was obliged to desist. The moment she did so, however, the other
sphere tamed of its own accord, and rolled up to her. "Dear me!" said
Angelica. "How easily things are done when the right time comes!" The
semblance now took shape, and kissed her. "How nice!" thought Angelica,
returning the kiss. "This is love. Love is life. I am his. He is mine.
Most of all, he is _mine!_" "No, we can't allow that!" said a chorus
of men from the earth. "You're beginning to know too much. You'll want to
be paid for your labour next just as well as we are, and that is
_unwomanly!_" But Angelica only laughed and kissed her lover. "Talk
does no good," she said; "this is the one thing the great man-boy-booby
understands at present!" So she kissed him again, and every time she
kissed him, he changed. He was Samson, Abraham, Lot, Antony, Caesar, Pan,
Achilles, Hercules, Jove; he was Lancelot and Arthur, Percival, Galahad
and Gawaine. He was Henry VIII., Richelieu, Robespierre, Luther, and
several Popes. He was David the Psalmist, beloved of the man-god of the
Hebrews. He was golden-haired Absalom, and St. Paul in his unregenerate
days. But he never was Solomon. She saw hundreds of women dividing Solomon
among them, and cherishing the little bits in the Woman's Sphere of their
day, and they offered her a portion, but she refused to take it. She said
she would have the whole of him or none at all, and they were horribly
shocked. They said: "Fie! you are no true woman! A woman is satisfied with
very little, and silently submits." But Angelica answered: "Rubbish! What
do you know of womanhood and truth? you talk like a bishop!" And the
clergy were dreadfully offended at this. They said she was all wrong. They
said it mildly. They shouted it rudely. They whispered it persuasively,
and then they blustered. "We are right, and you are wrong!" they
maintained. "Well, I have only your word for that," said Angelica, which
provoked them again. "We speak in the name of the Lord!" they answered.
"Oh, anybody could do that," said Angelica, "but it wouldn't prove that
they have the Lord's permission to use his name." Then they reminded her
that the true spirit of God had been bestowed upon them for transmission,
and she answered: "Yes, but it was taken from you again for your sins, and
confided to us; and wherever a virtuous woman is, there is the spirit of
God, and the will of God, and there only!" Then they drew off a little and
consulted, and when they spoke again they had lowered their tone
considerably. "But you will allow, I suppose, that we have done some good
in the world?" they said collectively. "Oh, yes," she answered, "you have
done your duty here and there to the best of your ability, but your
ability was considerably impaired by vice. However, you have brought the
world up out of the dark ages of physical force at our instigation, and
helped to prepare it for us; now step down gracefully, take your pensions
and perquisites, and hold your tongues. Men are the muscle, the hard
working material of the nation; women are the soul and spirit, the
directing intelligence." They were about to reply, but before they could
do so, a stentorian voice proclaimed:
"HOME IS THE WOMAN'S SPHERE!"
"Who are you?" said Angelica coolly. "I am the Pope of Rome," he answered,
strutting up to her with dignity. "And what do _you_ know about the
Woman's Sphere?" she said laughing. "I am informed of God!" he declared.
But she answered that she had much later information, and slammed the
doors of the Sphere in his face. Then she peeped through the keyhole, and
saw that the pope was in consultation with the Archbishops of Canterbury
and York, and two popular cardinals. They were very quiet at first, but
presently they began to quarrel. "Don't make such a noise," she shrieked
through the keyhole: "go away and be good, will you? We're very busy in
here, and you disturb us. We're revising the moral laws." The shock of
this intelligence electrified them, and while they stared at each other
helplessly, not knowing what to do, she armed herself with the vulgar
vernacular, which was the best weapon, she understood, to level at cant.
"Lord," she said to herself, "how Diavolo would enjoy this! I wish he was
here!" She found the work of the Sphere very heavy, and she tried to
remember the name of some saint, but for the life of her she couldn't
think of any, so she called upon Ouida and Rhoda Broughton. Then she
peeped through the keyhole again, and finding that the pope was listening,
she squirted water into his ear. The other Ecclesiastical Commissioners
remained in the background, looking anxious. "We're attending to man the
iniquitous now," she called to them kindly to relieve their minds. "He's
been too much for you, it seems, but we'll soon settle him." "You're a
nasty-minded woman," said the pope. "Always abusive, old candles and
vestments," Angelica retorted. "Candles and vestments--_in excess_"
said the Archbishop of York hurriedly. "Where?" And he went off to see
about them. "To the pure all things are pure," a powerful voice proclaimed
at that moment. "Ah, that is St. Paul!" said Angelica, surprised and
delighted, and then she shook hands with him. "The sacred duties of wife
and mother," one of the cardinals began to pipe--"There you are meddling
again," Angelica interrupted him rudely; "will you go away, and let us
mind our own business?" "This is all your fault," the pope said to the
Archbishop of Canterbury. The archbishop defended himself courteously, but
another quarrel seemed inevitable nevertheless. Before it could come off,
however, it suddenly appeared that if it were anything it was UNWOMANLY!
About that they were quite in accord; and having made the discovery they
went their several ways, shaking their several heads impressively. "Now I
shall have time to consider the state of the Sphere," said Angelica. "Just
wait till I can come and teach you your duty," she called to the women
there. "I am not Esther, most decidedly! But I am Judith. I am Jael. I am
Vashti. I am Godiva. I am all the heroic women of all the ages rolled into
one, not for the shedding of blood, but for the saving of suffering." They
did not understand her a bit, however, they were so dazed, and they all
looked askance at her. "I see," she said; "I shall have to save you in
spite of yourselves." But when she had looked a little longer, and seen
men, women, and children crowding like loathsome maggots together, she was
disheartened. "All this filth will breed a pestilence," she said, "and I
shouldn't be surprised if that pestilence were ME!" But just at that
moment the light went out, someone uttered a cry, and Angelica awoke. The
room was flooded with moonlight. "I am awake now," she said to herself,
"and that was a real cry. It was 'murder!' I think"--and she rose
intrepidly to rush to the rescue. She was going off at once, just as she
was, in her nightdress; but the house was so still at the moment that she
thought she might be mistaken. She was determined to go and see for
herself, however, in order to make sure; and having pinned up her hair,
she put on her shoes and stockings and a dressing gown, and opened the
door, her heart beating wildly all the time. It was a sickening sensation.
But as she listened she became aware of voices speaking naturally, and
people moving to and fro, which somewhat reassured her. She left the room,
however, and ran down the corridor.
At the farther end a bright shaft of light streamed across it from a
half-open door, and she heard Edith speaking wildly.
"My poor child! my poor child," Mrs. Beale answered with tears in her
voice. "Do try and calm yourself. Won't you tell us this story that is
troubling you now? You will feel better if you tell us."
"No, no," Edith answered quickly. "I will not tell you until he comes, any
of you. But _when_ he comes!" There was a pause, then she asked
feebly: "Doctor, what is the matter with my head?" But before he could
answer, she broke out into a stream of horrid imprecations.
Angelica put her hands to her ears, and flew back past her own room to the
top of the stairs. There she encountered the bishop. He was trembling. He
was at a loss. Nothing he had ever studied either in theology or
metaphysics had in the slightest degree prepared him for the state of
things in society which he was now being forced to consider.
"My dear child!" he exclaimed, "What are you doing here?"
"Oh, I'm frightened! I'm frightened!" Angelica cried, thumping him hard on
the chest with both fists. "Let us go away and hide ourselves!" She seized
his hand impetuously, and dragged him downstairs after her sideways, a
mode of descent which was more rapid than either safe or graceful for a
little fat bishop in evening dress.
"Come, come, come to the library with me, and talk about God and good
angels, and that kind of thing," she cried.
"But this is the middle of the night," the bishop objected.
"Well, and is there any time like the present?" Angelica exclaimed. "Come
at once--come and say nice soothing things from the psalms."
As she spoke, she dragged him across the hall and into the library from
whence he had just issued, and then slammed the door. The bishop reproved
her for this, and wanted her to go to bed, but she refused. "Go to bed,
and lie awake in the dark with horrid words about, how can you expect it?"
she demanded. "I shall not go to bed unless you come and sit beside me all
Poor Angelica! impetuous, imperious, but in that she was her father's
daughter, not saved by her wonderful intelligence from being fantastical.
There must inevitably have been an element of broad farce in the veriest
tragedy into which she might have been brought at that time, an element
which was rendered all the more conspicuous by her own inability to
perceive at the moment that she was behaving ridiculously, and making
others ridiculous. But the bishop himself was not conscious of any
absurdity or loss of dignity. It was only the inconvenience that he felt
just then. For he was fresh from a painful interview with Dr. Galbraith,
and every nerve was jarring in response to the horror that had come upon
him. His heart was wrung, and his conscience did not acquit him. He did
recognize now, however, that Angelica was in no fit state of mind to be
left alone, and sitting down beside a little table on which stood his
constant companion and friend for many years, a large quarto copy of the
Bible, he folded his hands upon it, seeming to pray, while he waited
patiently until she should have calmed herself.
Her indignation had driven her to seek a more popular form of relief than
the bishop had chosen. As she paced up and down the room in evident
agitation, every now and then stopping short to wring her hands when
terrible thoughts came crowding, she became in her own mind exceedingly
She revised and enlarged her reply to that cardinal who had piped to her
earlier in the night about the sacred duties of wife and mother. "What do
_you_ know about 'the Sacred Duties of Wife and Mother'?" she jeered,
increasing her pace as her passion waxed. "Wait until you're a wife and
mother yourself, and then perhaps you'll be able to give an opinion; and,
meanwhile, attend to your own 'Sacred Duties.' You _will_ come poking
your nose into the Sphere where it's not wanted"--she shook her fist at
him--"with your theories." She exclaimed: "You meddling priest! What
you're afraid of is that there won't be slaves enough in the world to make
money for you; or poor enough to bear witness to your Christian charity!
You needn't be afraid, though. So long as we have _you_ there'll be
poverty in plenty!" Here she became conscious of the attitude of her
companion. The bishop blotted out the cardinal. His wrinkled hands, meekly
folded; his white head bowed; his benign face expressive of intense mental
suffering heroically borne, impressed her. "Resignation? No, not
resignation exactly," her thoughts ran on. "To be resigned is to
acquiesce. Resistance? Yes. To resist--but not to resist with rage. Be
firm, but be gentle." She sat down at last in an easy-chair and leaned
back, looking up at the ceiling. In a few minutes she was fast asleep.
When she awoke the room was empty, but outside she heard receding
footsteps, and springing up with characteristic impetuosity she followed
after "to see for herself."
The shutters were still closed in the library, and the lamps were burning;
but it was broad daylight in the hall, and a heavy squall of rain was
beating against the windows with mournful effect. Angelica saw a
manservant standing beside some baggage as she passed, and wondered who
At the foot of the stairs she overtook Dr. Galbraith, and caught his arm.
"Is Edith better?" she exclaimed.
Dr. Galbraith looked down at her, clasped both her hands in one of his as
they rested on his arm, and led her upstairs. Before they reached the top,
his firm, cool touch had steadied her nerves, and calmed her.
"This is your room, I think," he said, stopping when they reached it.
Angelica took the hint, and went in, but she did not shut the door. "You
might have told me, you pig, and then perhaps I should have been
satisfied," she reflected, standing just inside her room, holding her head
very high, and straining her ears to listen. She heard Dr. Galbraith go to
the end of the corridor, and then, as the sound of his footsteps ceased,
she knew that he must have gone into Edith's room. The house was
oppressively still. "I suppose I am to be tortured with suspense because I
am young," she thought, and then she followed Dr. Galbraith.
The shutters were still closed in Edith's room, and the gas was burning.
Nobody had thought of letting the daylight in. The door was open, and a
screen was drawn across it, but Angelica could see past the screen. She
saw Edith first. She was lying on her bed, still dressed, and sensible
now, but exhausted. Her yellow hair, all in disorder, fell over the pillow
to one side, and on the same side her mother sat facing her, rocking
herself to and fro, and holding Edith's hand, which she patted from time
to time in a helpless, piteous sort of way.
Edith was lying on her back, with her face turned toward Angelica. There
were deep lines of suffering marked upon it, and her eyes glittered
feverishly, but otherwise she was gray and ghastly, and old. It was the
horrible look of age that impressed Angelica. There were three gentlemen
present, the bishop, Dr. Galbraith, and Sir Mosley Menteith.
Edith was looking at her father. "That is why I sent for you all," she was
saying feebly--"to tell you, you who reprersent the arrangement of society
which has made it possible for me and my child to be sacrificed in this
way. I have nothing more to say to any of you--except"--she sat up in bed
suddenly, and addressed her husband in scathing tones--"except to you. And
what I want to say to you is--Go! go! Father! turn him out of the house.
Don't let me ever see that dreadful man again!"
She fell back on her pillow, white and still, and shut her eyes.
"My darling, you will kill yourself!" her mother exclaimed.
Dr. Galbraith stepped to the side of the bed hurriedly, and bent over her.
The bishop stood at the foot, holding on to the rail with both hands, his
whole face quivering with suppressed emotion. Menteith gave them a
vindictive glance, and then stole quietly away. Angelica had made her
escape, and was standing at the head of the stairs, wringing her hands.
She was trembling with rage and excitement. "I am Jael--I am Judith--No! I
am Cassandra," she was saying to herself. "I must speak!"
"I wish to God I hadn't answered that telegram so promptly--coming to be
made an exhibition of by a sick woman in her tantrums," Menteith reflected
as he walked down the corridor. "I'm surprised at Edith. But it is so like
a woman; you never can count upon them." Here he caught sight of Angelica,
and quite started with interest. "That's a deuced fine girl," he thought,
and followed her to the library instinctively.
A servant had just opened the shutters. Angelica went to one of the
windows and, throwing it up to the top, inhaled a deep breath of the fresh
morning air. The rain had stopped. The servant put out the lamps and
withdrew, after standing aside for a moment respectfully to allow Sir
Mosley Menteith to enter. The latter glanced round the room, but Angelica
was hidden by the curtain in the deep embrasure of the window. Menteith
bit his nails and stood still for some time. Then the bishop came,
followed by Dr. Galbraith, and walked straight up to him. It was a bad
moment for Sir Mosley Menteith. He tried to inspect his father-in-law
coolly, but his hand was somewhat tremulous as he raised it to twist the
ends of his little light moustache.
"My daughter wishes you to leave the house," the bishop said sternly;
"and--eh--I may say that I--that _we_--eh--her father and mother,
also wish you to go--eh--now, at once."
Angelica sprang from her hiding place. "And take that," she cried, "for a
present, you father of a speckled toad!" And seizing the heavy quarto
Bible from the table, she flung it with all her might full in his face. It
happened to hit him on the bridge of his nose, which it broke.
Later in the day Lord Dawne, who had ridden in, saw Dr. Galbraith's
carriage waiting before Mrs. Orton Beg's little house in the Close. He
reined in his horse, which was fidgety, and at the same moment Dr.
Galbraith came out.
"Nothing wrong here, I hope?" Lord Dawne inquired.
"No," was the curt response, "it is that poor child at the palace. I have
been up with her all night."
"What is the matter now?" Lord Dawne inquired.
"Now--it is her brain," the doctor answered; then stepped into his
carriage and was driven away.
Lord Dawne dismounted and met Mrs. Orton Beg, who was coming out with her
"No hope, I suppose!" he said in a tone of deep commiseration.
"Oh, it is worse than death!" she answered. "I am going there now. Dr.
Galbraith says I shall be of use."
The bishop and Angelica spent some time in the library together that
morning. The bishop had sent for Angelica to talk to her, and she had come
to talk to the bishop; and, being quicker of speech than he, she had taken
"Did you ever feel like a horse with a bearing rein, champing his bit?"
she began the moment she burst into the room.
"No, I never did," said the bishop severely.
"Ah! then I can never make you understand how I feel now!" she said,
throwing herself on to a chair opposite to him, sideways, so that she
could clasp the back. "You look very unsympathetic," she remarked.
"It seems to me," the bishop began with increased severity, "that you have
no respect for anybody."
"No, I have not," she answered decidedly--"at least not for bishops and
doctors who let Menteith miscreants loose in society to marry whom they
The bishop winced.
"I am sorry to have to reprove you seriously," he recommenced, shaking his
head. "But I feel that I should not be doing my duty if I neglected to
point out to you the extremely reprehensible nature of your conduct, first
in causing grievous distress of mind to Edith, in consequence of which
partly she is now lying dangerously ill upstairs--"
Angelica stopped him by suddenly assuming a dignified position on her
chair. She looked hard at him, and as she did so great tears came into her
eyes, and ran down her cheeks. "If I have done Edith any injury," she
exclaimed, "I shall never forgive myself."
"Well, well," said the bishop kindly--
"But do you think I was so much to blame?" Angelica demanded, interrupting
him. "I only did what you and Mrs. Beale and everybody else did--took it
for granted that she had married a decent man. But go on," said Angelica,
throwing herself back in her chair, and folding her arms. "What else have
"You have grievously injured a fellow-creature."
"Oh,'fellow' if you like, and 'creature' too," said Angelica; "but the
injury I did him was a piece of luck for which I expect to be
"You took the sacred word of God," the bishop began--
"Because of the weight of it," Angelica interrupted again, "figuratively,
too, it was most appropriate. I call it poetical justice, whichever way
you look at it, and"--she burst into a sudden squall of rage--"if you nag
me any more I'll throw Bibles about until there isn't a whole one in the
The bishop looked at her steadily. "I shall say no more," he observed very
gently; "but I beg of you to reflect." Then he opened the quarto Bible and
began to read to himself. Angelica remained sitting opposite to him,
looking moodily at the floor; but now and then they stole furtive glances
at each other, and every time the bishop looked at Angelica he shook his
"Things have gone wrong in the Sphere," slipped from Angelica at last.
"'The Sphere'?" said the bishop looking up. "What Sphere?"
"_The Woman's Sphere!_" Angelica answered solemnly, and then she told
him her dream. It took her exactly an hour to relate it with such comments
and elucidations as she deemed necessary, and the bishop heard her out.
When she finished he was somewhat exhausted; but he said that he thought
it a very remarkable dream.
"If you had been able to manage the Sphere, you see," Angelica concluded,
"and to regulate the extent of it, you would have been able to make it a
proper place for us to live in by this time."
"My dear child, you are talking nonsense!" the bishop exclaimed.
"Well, it may sound so to you at present," Angelica answered temperately;
"but there is a small idea in my mind which won't be nonsense when it
grows up." She was silent for a little after that, and then she ejaculated:
"I shouldn't be surprised if that pestilence were Me!"
"Eh?" said the bishop.
"Did I speak?" said Angelica.
"Ah, then, that is because I am tired out. I shall go to bed. Don't, for
the life of you, let anybody disturb me."
She got up and left the room, yawning desperately; and very soon afterward
her aunts came to take her back to Morne; but the bishop obeyed her last
injunction implicitly, and they were obliged to return without her.
The news that Edith had returned to the palace, bringing her little son
for the first time, was soon known in the neighbourhood. The arrival of
the boy was one of those events of life, originally destined to be a great
joy, which soften the heart and make it tender. And very soon carriages
came rolling up with ladies leaning forward in them all in a flutter of
sympathy and interest, eager to offer their congratulations to the young
mother, and to be introduced to the child. And meanwhile Mrs. Beale sat
beside her daughter's bed, patting her slender white hand from time to
time as it lay upon the coverlet, with that little gesture which had
struck Angelica as being so piteous. Edith had not spoken for hours; but
suddenly she exclaimed: "Evadne was right!"
Mrs. Beale rocked herself to and fro, and the tears gathered in her eyes
and slowly trickled down her cheeks, "Edith, darling," she said at last
with a great effort, "do you blame me?"
"Oh, no, mother! oh, no!" Edith cried, pressing her hand, and looking at
her with a last flash of loving recognition. "The same thing may happen
now to any mother--to any daughter--and _will_ happen so long as we
refuse to know and resist." A spasm of pain contracted her face. She
pressed her mother's hand again gently, and closed her eyes.
Presently she laughed. "I am quite, quite mad!" she said. "Do you know
what I have been doing? I've been murdering him! I've been creeping,
creeping, with bare feet, to surprise him in his sleep; and I had a tiny
knife--very sharp--and I felt for the artery"--she touched her neck--"and
then stabbed quickly! and he awoke, and knew he must die--and cowered! and
it was all a pleasure to me. Oh, yes! I am quite, quite mad!"
She did not notice the coming and going of people now, or anything that
was done in her room that day. Only once when she heard a servant outside
the door whisper: "For her ladyship," she asked what it was, and a silver
salver was brought to her covered with visiting cards. She looked at one
or two. "Kind messages," she said, "great names! and I am a great lady
too, I suppose! I made a splendid match. And now I have a lovely little
boy--the one thing wanting to complete my happiness. What numbers of girls
must envy me! Ah! they don't know! But tell them--tell them that I'm
quite, quite mad!"
Mrs. Beale was at last persuaded to go and rest, and Mrs. Orton Beg
"I am glad you have come," said Edith. "I want to show you my lovely
little son. Naturally I want to show him to everyone!" and she laughed.
Late in the evening, when the room was lighted up, Edith noticed her
father and mother and Dr. Galbraith. Angelica was there too, but in the
"Oh-h!" Edith exclaimed with a sudden shriek, starting up in bed--"I want
to kill--I want to kill _him_. I want to kill that monstrous child!"
Dr. Galbraith was in time to prevent her springing out of bed.
"I know I am mad," she moaned in a broken voice. "I am quite, quite mad! I
never hurt a creature in my life--never thought an evil thought of anyone;
why must I suffer so? Father, my head." Again she started up. "Can't
you--can't you save me?" she shrieked. "Father, my head! my head!"
Angelica stole away to her own room, put on her things, and walked back to
Angelica had been baptized into the world of anguish. She had assisted at
horrid mysteries of life and death, and the experience was likely to be
She had fled from the palace, first, because she could not bear the place
any longer, and secondly, because she felt imperatively that she must see
Diavolo. He had been in bed and asleep for some time when she went to his
room that night, and awoke him by flashing a light in his face. He was
startled at first, but when he saw who it was, he remembered their last
quarrel and the base way she had deserted him by going to stay at the
palace, and he thought it due to his wounded heart to snap at her.
"What _do_ you mean by disturbing me so late at night?" he drawled
plaintively; "bringing in such a beastly lot of fresh air with you too.
You make me shiver."
"Don't be a fool, Diavolo," Angelica answered. "You know you're delighted
to see me. How nice you look with your hair all tousled! I wish my hair
was fair like yours. Oh! I have such a lot to tell you."
"Get on then," he said, lying back on his broad white pillows resignedly;
"or go away, and keep your confidences till to-morrow. If you would be so
good as to kindly consult my inclinations, that is what I should ask," he
Angelica curled herself up on the end of his bed, and leant against the
foot-rail. The room was large and lofty, and the only light in it was that
of the candle which she still held in her hand. She had a walking jacket
on over an evening dress, and a hat, but this she took off and threw on
"I've run away," she said. "I walked home all alone."
"What, up all that long dark hill!" he exclaimed, with interest, but
without incredulity. The Heavenly Twins never lied to each other.
"Yes," she answered impressively, "and I cut across the pine woods, and
the big black shadows fluttered about me like butterfly bogies, and I
wasn't afraid. I threw my arms about, and ran, and jumped, and
_breathed!_ Oh!" she exclaimed, "after holding your breath for
twenty-four hours, in a house full of gaslight and groans, you learn what
it is to be able to breathe freely out under the stars in the blessed
dark. And there was a little crescent moon above the trees," she added.
Diavolo had opened his great gray eyes, and looked out over her head
through the wall opposite, watching her with enthusiasm as she "cut across
the pine woods." "And how did you get in?" he asked.
"At the back," she answered. They looked into each other's intelligent
faces, and grinned. "Everybody is in bed," she added, "and I'm half
inclined to return to the palace, and come back to-morrow in the carriage
"I shouldn't do that," said Diavolo, feeling that such a proceeding would
be an inartistic anticlimax. "And it's to-morrow now, I should think." He
raised himself on his elbow, and peered at the clock on the mantelpiece.
Angelica held up the candle. "It's two," she said. "What do you do when
you first wake up in the morning?"
"Turn round and go to sleep again," Diavolo grunted.
"_I_ always look at the clock," said Angelica. "But I want to tell
you. You know after you said I was a cyclone in petticoats?"
Diavolo nodded. "So you are," he remarked.
"Well, I _am_, then," Angelica retorted. "Have it so, only don't
interrupt me. I can't think why I cared," she added upon reflection; "it
seems so little now, and such a long way off."
"Is it as far from the point as you are?" Diavolo courteously inquired.
"Ah, I'm coming to that!" she resumed, and then she graphically recounted
her late painful experiences, including the bishop's charge to Sir Mosley
Menteith, and poor Edith's last piteous appeal to heaven and earth for the
relief which she was not to receive.
"And did she die?" Diavolo asked in an awestruck whisper.
Being less sturdy and more sensitive than Angelica, he was quite shaken by
the bare recital of such suffering.
"Not while I was there," Angelica answered. "I heard her as I came out.
She was calling on God then."
They were both silent for some moments after this, Angelica fixed her eyes
on the candle, and Diavolo looked up to the unanswering heaven, full of
the vague wonderment which asks Why? Why? Why?
"There is no law, you see," Angelica, resumed, "either to protect us or
avenge us. That is because men made the law for themselves, and that is
why women are fighting for the right to make laws too."
"I'll help them!" Diavolo exclaimed.
"Will you?" said Angelica. "That's right! Shake hands!"
Having solemnly ratified the compact, Angelica boldly asserted that all
the manly men were helping women now, including Uncle Dawne and Dr.
Then she thought she would go to bed. Of course she had flung the door
wide open when she entered, and left it so, and happening to glance toward
it now, it seemed to her that there was a horrible peculiar kind of pitchy
black darkness streaming in.
"O Diavolo!" she exclaimed, "I'm frightened! I daren't go alone!"
"_You_ frightened!" he jeered, "after dancing home alone in tip dark,
through the pine woods too!"
"There were only birds, beasts, and bogies there--pleasant creatures," she
said. "But here, behind those rows and rows of closed doors, there will be
ghosts of tortured women, and I shall hear them shriek!"
Her terror communicated itself to Diavolo's quick imagination, and he
glanced toward the door apprehensively. Then he deliberately arose, put on
his dressing gown and slippers, and lit a candle, by which time his face
was steadily set. "Come," he said. "I'll see you safely to your room."
"Diavolo, you're a real gentleman!" Angelica protested, "for I know you're
in as big a fright as I am."
Diavolo drew himself up and led the way.
Their rooms were far apart, it having been deemed advisable to separate
them when they first came to the castle, at which time there had been a
curious delusion that distance would do this. The first part of their
progress that night was nervous work, but they had not gone far before the
new aspect which familiar things took on by the light of their candles
arrested their attention.
"The light makes great-grandpapa wink," said Angelica looking up at a
portrait. "And Venus has put on a cloak."
"She's _wrapt in shadow_," said Diavolo poetically.
They were talking quite unconcernedly by this time, and in, their usual
somewhat loud tone of voice, fear of discovery not being one of their
characteristics. They were bound to have awakened any light sleeper, but
it so happened that they passed no occupied rooms but their Uncle Dawne's.
He, however, being up, heard them, and opened his door on them suddenly.
They both jumped.
"What are you two doing?" he said; "and why are you here at all,
"I didn't think it delicate to stay at the palace any longer under the
circumstances," she answered glibly.
Lord Dawne was struck by the extreme propriety of this reply, "And may I
ask _when_ you returned?" he said.
"Yesterday," she answered, "and I've had nothing to eat since."
"Oh!" he observed. "And you've not had time to remove your walking jacket
either?" He looked hard at her. "I should like very much to know how you
got in," he said, shaking his head.
The Heavenly Twins looked at him affably.
"Well," he concluded, knowing better than to question them--"I suppose you
know where to find food, if that is your object!"
They both grinned.
"Come along, Uncle Dawne, and we'll show you!" Angelica burst out
"Yes, _do!_" Diavolo entreated. "Come and revel!"
The Heavenly Twins never worked on any regular plan; their ideas always
came to them as they went on.
Lord Dawne felt that this was really claiming a kinship with him, and a
picture which presented itself to his mind's eye, of himself foraging for
food in his father's castle with the Heavenly Twins in the small hours of
the night, appealed to him. It was an opportunity not to be lost.
"Very well," he said, putting his hands in the pockets of the short velvet
jacket he was wearing, and preparing to follow. The twins led the way,
holding their candles aloft, and descending the stairs in step. But
exactly what the mysteries were into which they initiated their uncle that
night nobody knows. Only they were all very late for breakfast next
morning, and when Lord Dawne saw his sisters, he listened in silence to
such explanations of Angelica's reappearance at the castle as they were
able to offer.
Angelica herself forgot she was not at home, and came down to breakfast
yawning unconcernedly. The exclamation of surprise with which she was
greeted took her aback at first. She had intended to send a carriage,
early in the morning, for her maid Elizabeth, and to walk in herself with
her hat on when it returned, as if she had come in it; but as she only
remembered this intention when Lady Fulda exclaimed "Why, Angelica, how
did you come?" she was obliged to have recourse to the simple truth, and
after answering blandly: "I walked, auntie," she left the matter there for
others to elucidate at their leisure if they chose to make inquiries.
But the accustomed trouble with the Heavenly Twins seemed insignificant at
this time compared with other perplexities which were pending at the
castle. The old duke had been very queer lately. He had "been dreaming and
seeing things," as Diavolo explained to Angelica.
"Storms and what dreams, ye holy gods, what dreams!"
Father Ricardo said they were miraculous temptations of the devil, the
implication being that the poor old duke's soul was more specially worth
wrangling for than those of less exalted sinners. The one dear wish of
Father Ricardo's life was to be mixed up in something miraculous. He was
too humble to expect anything to be revealed to himself personally, but he
had great hopes of the saintly Lady Fulda; and certainly, if concessions
are to be wrung from the Infinite to the Finite by perfect holiness of
life and mind, she should have obtained some. She had become deeply read
in that kind of lore under Father Ricardo's direction, and had meditated
so much about occurrences of the kind that it would; not have surprised
her if she had met "Our Lady" anywhere, bright light, blue cloak,
supernatural beauty, indefinite draperies, lilies, sacred heart, and all.
She had, in fact, thought too much about it, and was becoming somewhat
hysterical, which raised Father Ricardo's hopes, for he was not a
scientific man, and knew nothing of the natural history of the human being
and of hysteria; and, besides, by dint of long watching, fasting, and
otherwise outraging what he believed to have been created in the image of
God, viz., his own poor body, and also by the feverish fervour with which
he entreated Heaven to vouchsafe them a revelation at Morne for the
benefit of Holy Church, he was worn to a shadow, and had become somewhat
hysterical himself. The twins had discovered him on his knees before the
altar in the chapel at night, and had been much interested in the "vain
repetitions" and other audible ejaculations which he was offering up with
many contortions of his attenuated form.
"Isn't he enjoying himself?" Diavolo whispered.
"He must be in training to wrestle with the devil when they meet,"
But all this was having a bad effect upon the old duke. In private, he and
Lady Fulda and the priest talked of nothing but apparitions and
supernatural occurrences generally. Lord Dawne had obtained a hint of what
was going on from some chance observations of the Heavenly Twins, but
until the day after Angelica's return from the palace neither his father
nor sister had spoken to him on the subject.
That morning, however, he happened to go into the chapel to see how the
colours were lasting in some decorative work which he had done there
himself years before, and there he found his father standing in the aisle
to the right of the altar near the door of the sacristy, gazing up fixedly
at a particular panel in the dark oakwork which covered that portion of
"Anything wrong, father?" he said, going up to him.
"Dawne," the old duke replied in an undertone, touching his son's arm with
the point of the forefinger of his left hand, and pointing up to the panel
with the stick he held in his right: "Dawne, if it were not for what that
panel conceals--" he ended by folding his hands on the top of his stick,
looking down at the pavement, and shaking his head. "I saw it in a dream
first," he resumed, looking up at the panel. "But now it appears during
every service. It comes out. It stretches its baby hands to me. It sobs,
it sighs, it begs, it prays; and sometimes it smiles, and then there are
dimples about its innocent mouth."
Some disturbance of the atmosphere caused Lord Dawne to look round at this
moment, although he had heard nothing, and he was startled to find his
sister Fulda standing behind him, looking as awestruck as the duke.
"We must tear down that panel!" the old man exclaimed, becoming excited.
"We must exorcise, and purify, and cleanse the house. It is
that--that"--shaking his stick at the panel--"which hinders the Event!
Bury it deep! bury it deep! give it the holy rites, and _then!_" His
voice dropped. He muttered something inaudible, and walked feebly down the
Lady Fulda followed him out of the chapel, but presently she returned. Her
brother was still standing as she had left him, looking now at the
pavement and now at the panel, and deep in thought. His grave face lighted
with tenderness as he turned to meet her. She was very pale.
"I am afraid all this is too much for you, Fulda," he said seriously.
"No. This is nothing," she answered. "Nothing--no _human_ excitement
ever disturbs me. But, Dawne, I have seen _it_ myself!"
"It! What, Fulda?"
"The Child--just as he describes it. It appears there"--looking up at the
panel--"and stretches out its little hands to me smiling, but when I move
to take it, it is gone!"
"My dear Fulda," Lord Dawne replied, with a shiver which he attributed to
the chill of the chapel, "people who live in such an atmosphere as you do
are liable to _see things!_"
"It would ease my mind," she said, clasping her hands on his shoulder, and
laying her cheek upon them: "it would ease my mind if that panel were
removed. There is something behind it."
"It must be solid masonry then," he answered, smiling; and, stepping up to
the panel, he tapped it hard with his knuckles; but, contrary to his
expectations, the sound it emitted was somewhat hollow. Then he examined
it carefully, and discovered that it was not fitted into grooves as the
other panels were, but was held in its place by four screws, the heads of
which had been carefully concealed by putty, stained and varnished to the
color of the oak. "I will see about this at once," he said.
The message from the palace that morning, sent by Mrs. Orton Beg, had been:
"Edith still lingers," and Lord Dawne had intended to go there to see the
bishop (in times of sickness and sorrow he was everywhere welcome); but
now he went with the further intention of finding Dr. Galbraith. In this
he was successful, and they had a long talk about the state of affairs at
the castle, and it was finally arranged that Dr. Galbraith should dine
there that evening and remain for the night.
"That panel must be removed," he said, "and it should be done with great
ceremony. The best time would be midnight. But leave all that to Father
Ricardo, and only insist upon one thing, and that is the presence of the
"Are you meditating a _coup de theatre?_"
"No, not at all," Dr. Galbraith replied. "Only I am quite sure that if
there is any exorcism to be done, the Heavenly Twins will accomplish it
better than any priest."
Lord Dawne, however, remained somewhat uncertain about the wisdom of this
recommendation, but as Dr. Galbraith had always managed his father's
foibles and other difficult matters at the castle with admirable tact and
delicacy he gave in.
The twins themselves soon perceived that there was something in the air.
During the day several strange priests arrived, all looking more or less
important; but they did not dine with the duke. The demeanour of the
latter was portentously solemn; Diavolo tried to take him out of himself,
but was reproved for his levity; and Father Ricardo and Lady Fulda went
about with exalted expressions of countenance, and looking greatly in need
of food and rest. Even in the early part of the evening nobody talked
much, and as the hours dragged on slowly toward midnight, the silence in
the castle became oppressive. The servants stole about on tiptoe, and in
pairs, being nervous about going into the big empty rooms, and down the
long shadowy corridors alone. There was, besides, a general inclination to
glance about furtively, as the hush of anxious expectancy settled upon
everybody. The twins felt it themselves, but they were everywhere all the
same, and if any particular preparations had been made, it would have been
at the risk of their discovering them. The night was sultry and very dark.
Dr. Galbraith and Lord Dawne stood together, stirring their coffee, at an
open window in the great drawing room.
"It is curiously still," said Lord Dawne, looking out. "It reminds me of
the legend of Nature waiting breathless for the happy release of an
imprisoned soul. I wonder how that poor child Edith is!"
"I would give--I would give anything that anybody could name," Dr.
Galbraith said slowly, "to be quite sure that she would pass into peace
"Ah, poor girl! poor innocent girl!" Lord Dawne ejaculated; and then he
said, as if speaking to himself: "How long, O Lord, how long? We are so
powerless; we accomplish so little; the great sum of suffering never seems
lessened, do what we will!"
They were silent for some time after that, each occupied with painful
thoughts, and then Dr. Galbraith spoke with an effort to change the
direction of them.
"A storm to-night would be most opportune," he said.
"But things of that kind never do happen opportunely," Lord Dawne
rejoined. Just as he spoke, however, a brilliant flash of lightning lit up
vividly the precipitous side of the hill and the whole valley beneath them
for a moment.
"Let us hope it is a happy omen," said Dr. Galbraith.
Toward midnight, the various members of the household who were privileged
to be present at the coming ceremony began to assemble in the chapel; but
the very first to arrive found that the Heavenly Twins were before them,
and had secured the best seats for seeing and hearing. The chapel was dim
and even dark at the corners and at the farther end, there being no light
except from the candles which were burning upon the altar. Four priests
were kneeling before it at the rails, and a fifth came out of the sacristy
presently, and passed in. It was Father Ricardo, and as he made the
genuflection, it was seen that his face was irradiated by profound
emotion. He remained on his knees before the altar for some moments, then
he arose, and at the same instant the chapel glowed in every colour of the
prism. It was merely the play of the lightning through the stained glass
windows, but the unexpected effect, combined with the electricity in the
atmosphere and the tension of expectancy, wrought upon the nerves of all
The Heavenly Twins snuggled up close to each other. Lady Fulda's lips
began to move rapidly in fervent prayer. Angelica noticed this, and as she
watched her aunt, her own lips began to move in imitation, either
involuntarily or in order to see if she could work them as fast.
But now the attention of all present became riveted upon the priests.
Father Ricardo descended the altar steps, and two of the others followed
him into the sacristy. They returned in the same order, but Father Ricardo
was carrying a basin of holy water and an aspergillus, with which he
proceeded to sprinkle all present, murmuring some inaudible adjuration the
while. One of the strange priests held an open book, and the other carried
some common carpenter's tools. During this interval the lightning flashed
again, and was seen to play about the chapel in fantastic figures before
the black darkness engulfed it. A long irregular roll of distant thunder
succeeded, and then, after a perceptible pause, there was a sound as of
hundreds of little feet pattering upon the roof. They were the advanced
guard of rain drops heralding the approaching storm, and halted instantly,
while the air in the chapel became perceptibly colder, and Dr. Galbraith
himself began, to experience sensations which made him fear it would have
been wiser if a less appropriate time had been chosen to lay the ghost.
The priest now approached the panel, upon one corner of which a ray of
light from the altar fell obliquely. Father Ricardo sprinkled it liberally
from where he stood on the ground, repeating some formula as he did so,