Part 3 out of 8
interested me--I am his dear miss; and he is mine ever truly.
The other part of the letter told me that he had been detained
in London, and he lamented it. At the end was a delightful
announcement that he was coming to me by the afternoon train.
I ran upstairs to see how I looked in the glass.
My first feeling was regret. For the thousandth time, I was
obliged to acknowledge that I was not as pretty as Helena. But
this passed off. A cheering reflection occurred to me. Philip
would not have found, in my sister's face, what seems to have
interested him in my face. Besides, there is my figure.
The pity of it is that I am so ignorant about some things. If
I had been allowed to read novels, I might (judging by what papa
said against them in one of his sermons) have felt sure of my own
attractions; I might even have understood what Philip really
thought of me. However, my mind was quite unexpectedly set at
ease on the subject of my figure. The manner in which it happened
was so amusing--at least, so amusing to me--that I cannot resist
My sister and I are forbidden to read newspapers, as well as
novels. But the teachers at the Girls' Scripture Class are too
old to be treated in this way. When the morning lessons were
over, one of them was reading the newspaper to the other, in
the empty schoolroom; I being in the passage outside, putting on
It was a report of "an application made to the magistrates by
the lady of his worship the Mayor." Hearing this, I stopped to
listen. The lady of his worship (what a funny way of describing
a man's wife!) is reported to be a little too fond of notoriety,
and to like hearing the sound of her own voice on public
occasions. But this is only my writing; I had better get back
to the report. "In her address to the magistrates, the Mayoress
stated that she had seen a disgusting photograph in the shop
window of a stationer, lately established in the town. She
desired to bring this person within reach of the law, and to have
all his copies of the shameless photograph destroyed. The usher
of the court was thereupon sent to purchase the photograph."--On
second thoughts, I prefer going back to my own writing again;
it is so uninteresting to copy other people's writing. Two
of the magistrates were doing justice. They looked at the
photograph--and what did it represent? The famous statue called
the Venus de' Medici! One of the magistrates took this discovery
indignantly. He was shocked at the gross ignorance which could
call the classic ideal of beauty and grace a disgusting work.
The other one made polite allowances. He thought the lady was
much to be pitied; she was evidently the innocent victim of
a neglected education. Mrs. Mayor left the court in a rage,
telling the justices she knew where to get law. "I shall expose
Venus," she said, "to the Lord Chancellor."
When the Scripture Class had broken up for the day, duty ought
to have taken me home. Curiosity led me astray--I mean, led me
to the stationer's window.
There I found our two teachers, absorbed in the photograph;
having got to the shop first by a short cut. They seemed to think
I had taken a liberty whom I joined them. "We are here," they
were careful to explain, "to get a lesson in the ideal of beauty
and grace." There was quite a little crowd of townsfolk collected
before the window. Some of them giggled; and some of them
wondered whether it was taken from the life. For my own part,
gratitude to Venus obliges me to own that she effected a great
improvement in the state of my mind. She encouraged me. If that
stumpy little creature--with no waist, and oh, such uncertain
legs!--represented the ideal of beauty and grace, I had reason
indeed to be satisfied with my own figure, and to think it quite
possible that my sweetheart's favorable opinion of me was not
I was at the bedroom window when the time approached for Philip's
Quite at the far end of the road, I discovered him. He was on
foot; he walked like a king. Not that I ever saw a king, but I
have my ideal. Ah, what a smile he gave me, when I made him look
up by waving my handkerchief out of the window! "Ask for papa,"
I whispered as he ascended the house-steps.
The next thing to do was to wait, as patiently as I could, to be
sent for downstairs. Maria came to me in a state of excitement.
"Oh, miss, what a handsome young gentleman, and how beautifully
dressed! Is he--?" Instead of finishing what she had to say, she
looked at me with a sly smile. I looked at her with a sly smile.
We were certainly a couple of fools. But, dear me, how happy
sometimes a fool can be!
My enjoyment of that delightful time was checked when I went into
I had expected to see papa's face made beautiful by his winning
smile. He was not only serious; he actually seemed to be ill
at ease when he looked at me. At the same time, I saw nothing
to make me conclude that Philip had produced an unfavorable
impression. The truth is, we were all three on our best behavior,
and we showed it. Philip had brought with him a letter from Mrs.
Staveley, introducing him to papa. We spoke of the Staveleys,
of the weather, of the Cathedral--and then there seemed to be
nothing more left to talk about.
In the silence that followed--what a dreadful thing silence
is!--papa was sent for to see somebody who had called on
business. He made his excuses in the sweetest manner, but still
seriously. When he and Philip had shaken hands, would he leave us
together? No; he waited. Poor Philip had no choice but to take
leave of me. Papa then went out by the door that led into his
study, and I was left alone.
Can any words say how wretched I felt?
I had hoped so much from that first meeting--and where were my
hopes now? A profane wish that I had never been born was finding
its way into my mind, when the door of the room was opened
softly, from the side of the passage. Maria, dear Maria, the best
friend I have, peeped in. She whispered: "Go into the garden,
miss, and you will find somebody there who is dying to see you.
Mind you let him out by the shrubbery gate." I squeezed her hand;
I asked if she had tried the shrubbery gate with a sweetheart of
her own. "Hundreds of times, miss."
Was it wrong for me to go to Philip, in the garden? Oh, there is
no end to objections! Perhaps I did it _because_ it was wrong.
Perhaps I had been kept on my best behavior too long for human
How sadly disappointed he looked! And how rashly he had placed
himself just where he could be seen from the back windows! I took
his arm and led him to the end of the garden. There we were out
of the reach of inquisitive eyes; and there we sat down together,
under the big mulberry tree.
"Oh, Eunice, your father doesn't like me!"
Those were his first words. In justice to papa (and a little for
my own sake too) I told him he was quite wrong. I said: "Trust
my father's goodness, trust his kindness, as I do."
He made no reply. His silence was sufficiently expressive;
he looked at me fondly.
I may be wrong, but fond looks surely require an acknowledgment
of some kind? Is a young woman guilty of boldness who only
follows her impulses? I slipped my hand into his hand. Philip
seemed to like it. We returned to our conversation.
He began: "Tell me, dear, is Mr. Gracedieu always as serious
as he is to-day?"
"When he takes exercise, does he ride? or does he walk?"
"Papa always walks."
"Sometimes by himself. Sometimes with me. Do you want to meet him
when he goes out?"
"When he is out with me?"
"No. When he is out by himself."
Was it possible to tell me more plainly that I was not wanted?
I did my best to express indignation by snatching my hand away
from him. He was completely taken by surprise.
"Eunice! don't you understand me?"
I was as stupid and as disagreeable as I could possibly be:
"No; I don't!"
"Then let me help you," he said, with a patience which I had not
Up to that moment I had been leaning against the back of a garden
chair. Something else now got between me and my chair. It stole
round my waist--it held me gently--it strengthened its hold--it
improved my temper--it made me fit to understand him. All done by
what? Only an arm!
Philip went on:
"I want to ask your father to do me the greatest of all
favors--and there is no time to lose. Every day, I expect to get
a letter which may recall me to Ireland."
My heart sank at this horrid prospect; and in some mysterious way
my head must have felt it too. I mean that I found my head
resting on his shoulder. He went on:
"How am I to get my opportunity of speaking to Mr. Gracedieu?
I mustn't call on him again as soon as to-morrow or next day. But
I might meet him, out walking alone, if you will tell me how to
do it. A note to my hotel is all I want. Don't tremble, my sweet.
If you are not present at the time, do you see any objection to
my owning to your father that I love you?"
I felt his delicate consideration for me--I did indeed feel it
gratefully. If he only spoke first, how well I should get on
with papa afterward! The prospect before me was exquisitely
encouraging. I agreed with Philip in everything; and I waited
(how eagerly was only known to myself) to hear what he would say
to me next. He prophesied next:
"When I have told your father that I love you, he will expect me
to tell him something else. Can you guess what it is?"
If I had not been confused, perhaps I might have found the answer
to this. As it was, I left him to reply to himself. He did it,
in words which I shall remember as long as I live.
"Dearest Eunice, when your father has heard my confession, he
will suspect that there is another confession to follow it--he
will want to know if you love me. My angel, will my hopes be your
hopes too, when I answer him?"
What there was in this to make my heart beat so violently that
I felt as if I was being stifled, is more than I can tell. He
leaned so close to me, so tenderly, so delightfully close, that
our faces nearly touched. He whispered: "Say you love me, in
His lips touched my lips, pressed them, dwelt on them--oh, how
can I tell of it! Some new enchantment of feeling ran deliciously
through and through me. I forgot my own self; I only knew of one
person in the world. He was master of my lips; he was master of
my heart. When he whispered, "kiss me," I kissed. What a moment
it was! A faintness stole over me; I felt as if I was going to
die some exquisite death; I laid myself back away from him--I was
not able to speak. There was no need for it; my thoughts and
his thoughts were one--he knew that I was quite overcome; he
saw that he must leave me to recover myself alone. I pointed to
the shrubbery gate. We took one long last look at each other for
that day; the trees hid him; I was left by myself.
How long a time passed before my composure came back to me, I
cannot remember now. It seemed as if I was waiting through some
interval of my life that was a mystery to myself. I was content
to wait, and feel the light evening air in the garden wafting
happiness over me. And all this had come from a kiss! I can call
the time to mind when I used to wonder why people made such a
fuss about kissing.
I had been indebted to Maria for my first taste of Paradise. I
was recalled by Maria to the world that I had been accustomed to
live in; the world that was beginning to fade away in my memory
already. She had been sent to the garden in search of me; and
she had a word of advice to offer, after noticing my face when
I stepped out of the shadow of the tree: "Try to look more like
yourself, miss, before you let them see you at the tea-table."
Papa and Miss Jillgall were sitting together talking, when I
opened the door. They left off when they saw me; and I supposed,
quite correctly as it turned out, that I had been one of the
subjects in their course of conversation. My poor father seemed
to be sadly anxious and out of sorts. Miss Jillgall, if I had
been in the humor to enjoy it, would have been more amusing than
ever. One of her funny little eyes persisted in winking at me;
and her heavy foot had something to say to my foot, under the
table, which meant a great deal perhaps, but which only succeeded
in hurting me.
My father left us; and Miss Jillgall explained herself.
"I know, dearest Euneece, that we have only been acquainted for
a day or two and that I ought not perhaps to have expected you
to confide in me so soon. Can I trust you not to betray me if
I set an example of confidence? Ah, I see I can trust you! And,
my dear, I do so enjoy telling secrets to a friend. Hush! Your
father, your excellent father, has been talking to me about young
She provokingly stopped there. I entreated her to go on. She
invited me to sit on her knee. "I want to whisper," she said. It
was too ridiculous--but I did it. Miss Jillgall's whisper told me
"The minister has some reason, Euneece, for disapproving of Mr.
Dunboyne; but, mind this, I don't think he has a bad opinion of
the young man himself. He is going to return Mr. Dunboyne's call.
Oh, I do so hate formality; I really can't go on talking of _Mr._
Dunboyne. Tell me his Christian name. Ah, what a noble name! How
I long to be useful to him! Tomorrow, my dear, after the one
o'clock dinner, your papa will call on Philip, at his hotel.
I hope he won't be out, just at the wrong time."
I resolved to prevent that unlucky accident by writing to Philip.
If Miss Jillgall would have allowed it, I should have begun my
letter at once. But she had more to say; and she was stronger
than I was, and still kept me on her knee.
"It all looks bright enough so far, doesn't it, dear sister?
Will you let me be your second sister? I do so love you, Euneece.
Thank you! thank you! But the gloomy side of the picture is to
come next! The minister--no! now I am your sister I must call him
papa; it makes me feel so young again! Well, then, papa has asked
me to be your companion whenever you go out. 'Euneece is too
young and too attractive to be walking about this great town
(in Helena's absence) by herself.' That was how he put it. Slyly
enough, if one may say so of so good a man. And he used your
sister (didn't he?) as a kind of excuse. I wish your sister was
as nice as you are. However, the point is, why am I to be your
companion? Because, dear child, you and your young gentleman
are not to make appointments and to meet each other alone. Oh,
yes--that's it! Your father is quite willing to return Philip's
call; he proposes (as a matter of civility to Mrs. Staveley) to
ask Philip to dinner; but, mark my words, he doesn't mean to let
Philip have you for his wife."
I jumped off her lap; it was horrible to hear her. "Oh," I said,
"_can_ you be right about it?" Miss Jillgall jumped up too. She
has foreign ways of shrugging her shoulders and making signs with
her hands. On this occasion she laid both hands on the upper part
of her dress, just below her throat, and mysteriously shook her
"When my views are directed by my affections," she assured me,
"I never see wrong. My bosom is my strong point."
She has no bosom, poor soul--but I understood what she meant. It
failed to have any soothing effect on my feelings. I felt grieved
and angry and puzzled, all in one. Miss Jillgall stood looking
at me, with her hands still on the place where her bosom was
supposed to be. She made my temper hotter than ever.
"I mean to marry Philip," I said.
"Certainly, my dear Euneece. But please don't be so fierce about
"If my father does really object to my marriage," I went on,
"it must be because he dislikes Philip. There can be no other
"Oh, yes, dear--there can."
"What is the reason, then?"
"That, my sweet girl, is one of the things that we have got to
. . . . . . .
The post of this morning brought a letter from my sister. We were
to expect her return by the next day's train. This was good news.
Philip and I might stand in need of clever Helena's help, and we
might be sure of getting it now.
In writing to Philip, I had asked him to let me hear how papa and
he had got on at the hotel.
I won't say how often I consulted my watch, or how often I looked
out of the window for a man with a letter in his hand. It will be
better to get on at once to the discouraging end of it, when
the report of the interview reached me at last. Twice Philip had
attempted to ask for my hand in marriage--and twice my father
had "deliberately, obstinately" (Philip's own words) changed the
subject. Even this was not all. As if he was determined to show
that Miss Jillgall was perfectly right, and I perfectly wrong,
papa (civil to Philip as long as he did not talk of Me) had asked
him to dine with us, and Philip had accepted the invitation!
What were we to think of it? What were we to do?
I wrote back to my dear love (so cruelly used) to tell him that
Helena was expected to return on the next day, and that her
opinion would be of the greatest value to both of us. In a
postscript I mentioned the hour at which we were going to the
station to meet my sister. When I say "we," I mean Miss Jillgall
as well as myself.
. . . . . . .
We found him waiting for us at the railway. I am afraid he
resented papa's incomprehensible resolution not to give him
a hearing. He was silent and sullen. I could not conceal that
to see this state of feeling distressed me. He showed how truly
he deserved to be loved--he begged my pardon, and he became
his own sweet self again directly. I am more determined to marry
him than ever.
When the train entered the station, all the carriages were full.
I went one way, thinking I had seen Helena. Miss Jillgall went
the other way, under the same impression. Philip was a little way
Not seeing my sister, I had just turned back, when a young man
jumped out of a carriage, opposite Philip, and recognized and
shook hands with him. I was just near enough to hear the stranger
say, "Look at the girl in our carriage." Philip looked. "What
a charming creature!" he said, and then checked himself for fear
the young lady should hear him. She had just handed her traveling
bag and wraps to a porter, and was getting out. Philip politely
offered his hand to help her. She looked my way. The charming
creature of my sweetheart's admiration was, to my infinite
amusement, Helena herself.
The day of my return marks an occasion which I am not likely
to forget. Hours have passed since I came home--and my agitation
still forbids the thought of repose.
As I sit at my desk I see Eunice in bed, sleeping peacefully,
except when she is murmuring enjoyment in some happy dream. To
what end has my sister been advancing blindfold, and (who knows?)
dragging me with her, since that disastrous visit to our friends
in London? Strange that there should be a leaven of superstition
in _my_ nature! Strange that I should feel fear of something--I
hardly know what!
I have met somewhere (perhaps in my historical reading) with the
expression: "A chain of events." Was I at the beginning of that
chain, when I entered the railway carriage on my journey home?
Among the other passengers there was a young gentleman,
accompanied by a lady who proved to be his sister. They were both
well-bred people. The brother evidently admired me, and did his
best to make himself agreeable. Time passed quickly in pleasant
talk, and my vanity was flattered--and that was all.
My fellow-travelers were going on to London. When the train
reached our station the young lady sent her brother to buy some
fruit, which she saw in the window of the refreshment-room. The
first man whom he encountered on the platform was one of his
friends; to whom he said something which I failed to hear. When
I handed my traveling bag and my wraps to the porter, and showed
myself at the carriage door, I heard the friend say: "What a
charming creature!" Having nothing to conceal in a journal which
I protect by a lock, I may own that the stranger's personal
appearance struck me, and that what I felt this time was not
flattered vanity, but gratified pride. He was young, he was
remarkably handsome, he was a distinguished-looking man.
All this happened in one moment. In the moment that followed, I
found myself in Eunice's arms. That odious person, Miss Jillgall,
insisted on embracing me next. And then I was conscious of
an indescribable feeling of surprise. Eunice presented the
distinguished-looking gentleman to me as a friend of hers--Mr.
"I had the honor of meeting your sister," he said, "in London, at
Mr. Staveley's house." He went on to speak easily and gracefully
of the journey I had taken, and of his friend who had been my
fellow-traveler; and he attended us to the railway omnibus before
he took his leave. I observed that Eunice had something to say to
him confidentially, before they parted. This was another example
of my sister's childish character; she is instantly familiar with
new acquaintances, if she happens to like them. I anticipated
some amusement from hearing how she had contrived to establish
confidential relations with a highly-cultivated man like Mr.
Dunboyne. But, while Miss Jillgall was with us, it was just as
well to keep within the limits of commonplace conversation.
Before we got out of the omnibus I had, however, observed one
undesirable result of my absence from home. Eunice and Miss
Jillgall--the latter having, no doubt, finely flattered the
former--appeared to have taken a strong liking to each other.
Two curious circumstances also caught my attention. I saw a
change to, what I call self-assertion, in my sister's manner;
something seemed to have raised her in her own estimation. Then,
again, Miss Jillgall was not like her customary self. She had
delightful moments of silence; and when Eunice asked how I liked
Mr. Dunboyne, she listened to my reply with an appearance of
interest in her ugly face which was quite a new revelation in
my experience of my father's cousin.
These little discoveries (after what I had already observed at
the railway-station) ought perhaps to have prepared me for what
was to come, when my sister and I were alone in our room. But
Eunice, whether she meant to do it or not, baffled my customary
penetration. She looked as if she had plenty of news to tell
me--with some obstacle in the way of doing it, which appeared to
amuse instead of annoying her. If there is one thing more than
another that I hate, it is being puzzled. I asked at once if
anything remarkable had happened during Eunice's visit to London.
She smiled mischievously. "I have got a delicious surprise for
you, my dear; and I do so enjoy prolonging it. Tell me, Helena,
what did you propose we should both do when we found ourselves
at home again?"
My memory was at fault. Eunice's good spirits became absolutely
boisterous. She called out: "Catch!" and tossed her journal into
my hands, across the whole length of the room. "We were to read
each other's diaries," she said. "There is mine to begin with."
Innocent of any suspicion of the true state of affairs, I began
the reading of Eunice's journal.
If I had not seen the familiar handwriting, nothing would have
induced me to believe that a girl brought up in a pious
household, the well-beloved daughter of a distinguished
Congregational Minister, could have written that shameless record
of passions unknown to young ladies in respectable English life.
What to say, what to do, when I had closed the book, was more
than I felt myself equal to decide. My wretched sister spared me
the anxiety which I might otherwise have felt. It was she who
first opened her lips, after the silence that had fallen on us
while I was reading. These were literally the words that she
"My darling, why don't you congratulate me?"
No argument could have persuaded me, as this persuaded me, that
all sisterly remonstrance on my part would be completely thrown
"My dear Eunice," I said, "let me beg you to excuse me. I am
There she interrupted me--and, oh, in what an impudent manner!
She took my chin between her finger and thumb, and lifted my
downcast face, and looked at me with an appearance of eager
expectation which I was quite at a loss to understand.
"You have been away from home, too," she said. "Do I see in this
serious face some astonishing news waiting to overpower me? Have
_you_ found a sweetheart? Are _you_ engaged to be married?"
I only put her hand away from me, and advised her to return to
her chair. This perfectly harmless proceeding seemed absolutely
to frighten her.
"Oh, my dear," she burst out, "surely you are not jealous of me?"
There was but one possible reply to this: I laughed at it. Is
Eunice's head turned? She kissed me!
"Now you laugh," she said, "I begin to understand you again;
I ought to have known that you are superior to jealousy. But,
do tell me, would it be so very wonderful if other girls found
something to envy in my good luck? Just think of it! Such a
handsome man, such an agreeable man, such a clever man, such
a rich man--and, not the least of his merits, by-the-by, a man
who admires You. Come! if you won't congratulate me, congratulate
yourself on having such a brother-in-law in prospect!"
Her head _was_ turned. I drew the poor soul's attention
compassionately to what I had said a moment since.
"Pardon me, dear, for reminding you that I have not yet refused
to offer my congratulations. I only told you I was waiting."
"Waiting, of course, to hear what my father thinks of your
wonderful good luck."
This explanation, offered with the kindest intentions, produced
another change in my very variable sister. I had extinguished her
good spirits as I might have extinguished a light. She sat down
by me, and sighed in the saddest manner. The heart must be hard
indeed which can resist the distress of a person who is dear to
us. I put my arm round her; she was becoming once more the Eunice
whom I so dearly loved.
"My poor child," I said. "don't distress yourself by speaking
of it; I understand. Your father objects to your marrying Mr.
She shook her head. "I can't exactly say, Helena, that papa does
that. He only behaves very strangely."
"Am I indiscreet, dear, if I ask in what way father's behavior
has surprised you?"
She was quite willing to enlighten me. It was a simple little
story which, to my mind, sufficiently explained the strange
behavior that had puzzled my unfortunate sister.
There could indeed be no doubt that my father considered Eunice
far too childish in character, as yet, to undertake the duties of
matrimony. But, with his customary delicacy, and dread of causing
distress to others, he had deferred the disagreeable duty of
communicating his opinion to Mr. Dunboyne. The adverse decision
must, however, be sooner or later announced; and he had arranged
to inflict disappointment, as tenderly as might be, at his own
Considerately leaving Eunice in the enjoyment of any vain hopes
which she may have founded on the event of the dinner-party, I
passed the evening until supper-time came in the study with my
Our talk was mainly devoted to the worthy people with whom I had
been staying, and whose new schools I had helped to found. Not
a word was said relating to my sister, or to Mr. Dunboyne. Poor
father looked so sadly weary and ill that I ventured, after what
the doctor had said to Eunice, to hint at the value of rest and
change of scene to an overworked man. Oh, dear me, he frowned,
and waved the subject away from him impatiently, with a wan, pale
After supper, I made an unpleasant discovery. Not having
completely finished the unpacking of my boxes, I left Miss
Jillgall and Eunice in the drawing-room, and went upstairs.
In half an hour I returned, and found the room empty. What had
become of them? It was a fine moonlight night; I stepped into the
back drawing-room, and looked out of the window. There they were,
walking arm-in-arm with their heads close together, deep in talk.
With my knowledge of Miss Jillgall, I call this a bad sign.
An odd thought has just come to me. I wonder what might have
happened, if I had been visiting at Mrs. Staveley's, instead
of Eunice, and if Mr. Dunboyne had seen me first.
Absurd! if I was not too tired to do anything more, those last
lines should be scratched out.
I said so to Miss Jillgall, and I say it again here. Nothing will
induce me to think ill of Helena.
My sister is a good deal tired, and a little out of temper after
the railway journey. This is exactly what happened to me when
I went to London. I attribute her refusal to let me read her
journal, after she had read mine, entirely to the disagreeable
consequences of traveling by railway. Miss Jillgall accounted
for it otherwise, in her own funny manner: "My sweet child, your
sister's diary is full of abuse of poor me." I humored the joke:
"Dearest Selina, keep a diary of your own, and fill it with abuse
of my sister." This seemed to be a droll saying at the time. But
it doesn't look particularly amusing, now it is written down. We
had ginger wine at supper, to celebrate Helena's return. Although
I only drank one glass, I daresay it may have got into my head.
However that may be, when the lovely moonlight tempted us into
the garden, there was an end to our jokes. We had something to
talk about which still dwells disagreeably on my mind.
Miss Jillgall began it.
"If I trust you, dearest Euneece, with my own precious secrets,
shall I never, never, never live to repent it?"
I told my good little friend that she might depend on me,
provided her secrets did no harm to any person whom I loved.
She clasped her hands and looked up at the moon--I can only
suppose that her sentiments overpowered her. She said, very
prettily, that her heart and my heart beat together in heavenly
harmony. It is needless to add that this satisfied me.
Miss Jillgall's generous confidence in my discretion was, I am
afraid, not rewarded as it ought to have been. I found her
tiresome at first.
She spoke of an excellent friend (a lady), who had helped her,
at the time when she lost her little fortune, by raising a
subscription privately to pay the expenses of her return to
England. Her friend's name--not very attractive to English
ears--was Mrs. Tenbruggen; they had first become acquainted under
interesting circumstances. Miss Jillgall happened to mention that
my father was her only living relative; and it turned out that
Mrs. Tenbruggen was familiar with his name, and reverenced his
fame as a preacher. When he had generously received his poor
helpless cousin under his own roof, Miss Jillgall's gratitude and
sense of duty impelled her to write and tell Mrs. Tenbruggen how
happy she was as a member of our family.
Let me confess that I began to listen more attentively when the
narrative reached this point.
"I drew a little picture of our domestic circle here," Miss
Jillgall said, describing her letter; "and I mentioned the
mystery in which Mr. Gracedieu conceals the ages of you two dear
girls. Mrs. Tenbruggen--shall we shorten her ugly name and call
her Mrs. T.? Very well--Mrs. T. is a remarkably clever woman, and
I looked for interesting results, if she would give her opinion
of the mysterious circumstance mentioned in my letter."
By this time, I was all eagerness to hear more.
"Has she written to you?" I asked.
Miss Jillgall looked at me affectionately, and took the reply out
of her pocket.
"Listen, Euneece; and you shall hear her own words. Thus she
"'Your letter, dear Selina, especially interests me by what it
says about the _two_ Miss Gracedieus. '--Look, dear; she
underlines the word Two. Why, I can't explain. Can you? Ah, I
thought not. Well, let us get back to the letter. My accomplished
friend continues in these terms:
"'I can understand the surprise which you have felt at the
strange course taken by their father, as a means of concealing
the difference which there must be in the ages of these young
ladies. Many years since, I happened to discover a romantic
incident in the life of your popular preacher, which he has his
reasons, as I suspect, for keeping strictly to himself. If I may
venture on a bold guess, I should say that any person who could
discover which was the oldest of the two daughters, would be
also likely to discover the true nature of the romance in Mr.
Gracedieu's life.'--Isn't that very remarkable, Euneece? You
don't seem to see it--you funny child! Pray pay particular
attention to what comes next. These are the closing sentences
in my friend's letter:
"'If you find anything new to tell me which relates to this
interesting subject, direct your letter as before--provided you
write within a week from the present time. Afterward, my letters
will be received by the English physician whose card I inclose.
You will be pleased to hear that my professional interests call
me to London at the earliest moment that I can spare.'--There.
dear child, the letter comes to an end. I daresay you wonder what
Mrs. T. means, when she alludes to her professional interests?"
No: I was not wondering about anything. It hurt me to hear of a
strange woman exercising her ingenuity in guessing at mysteries
in papa's life.
But Miss Jillgall was too eagerly bent on setting forth the
merits of her friend to notice this. I now heard that Mrs. T.'s
marriage had turned out badly, and that she had been reduced to
earn her own bread. Her manner of doing this was something quite
new to me. She went about, from one place to another, curing
people of all sorts of painful maladies, by a way she had
of rubbing them with her hands. In Belgium she was called a
"Masseuse." When I asked what this meant in English, I was told,
"Medical Rubber," and that the fame of Mrs. T.'s wonderful cures
had reached some of the medical newspapers published in London.
After listening (I must say for myself) very patiently, I was
bold enough to own that my interest in what I had just heard was
not quite so plain to me as I could have wished it to be.
Miss Jillgall looked shocked at my stupidity. She reminded me
that there was a mystery in Mrs. Tenbruggen's letter and a
mystery in papa's strange conduct toward Philip. "Put two and two
together, darling," she said; "and, one of these days, they may
If this meant anything, it meant that the reason which made papa
keep Helena's age and my age unknown to everybody but himself,
was also the reason why he seemed to be so strangely unwilling to
let me be Philip's wife. I really could not endure to take such a
view of it as that, and begged Miss Jillgall to drop the subject.
She was as kind as ever.
"With all my heart, dear. But don't deceive yourself--the subject
will turn up again when we least expect it."
Only two days now, before we give our little dinner-party, and
Philip finds his opportunity of speaking to papa. Oh, how I wish
that day had come and gone!
I try not to take gloomy views of things; but I am not quite so
happy as I had expected to be when my dear was in the same town
with me. If papa had encouraged him to call again, we might have
had some precious time to ourselves. As it is, we can only meet
in the different show-places in the town--with Helena on one
side, and Miss Jillgall on the other, to take care of us.
I do call it cruel not to let two young people love each other,
without setting third persons to watch them. If I was Queen
of England, I would have pretty private bowers made for lovers,
in the summer, and nice warm little rooms to hold two, in
the winter. Why not? What harm could come of it, I should like
The cathedral is the place of meeting which we find most
convenient, under the circumstances. There are delightful nooks
and corners about this celebrated building in which lovers can
lag behind. If we had been in papa's chapel I should have
hesitated to turn it to such a profane use as this; the cathedral
doesn't so much matter.
Shall I own that I felt my inferiority to Helena a little keenly?
She could tell Philip so many things that I should have liked to
tell him first. My clever sister taught him how to pronounce the
name of the bishop who began building the cathedral; she led him
over the crypt, and told him how old it was. He was interested
in the crypt; he talked to Helena (not to me) of his ambition
to write a work on cathedral architecture in England; he made a
rough little sketch in his book of our famous tomb of some king.
Helena knew the late royal personage's name, and Philip showed
his sketch to her before he showed it to me. How can I blame him,
when I stood there the picture of stupidity, trying to recollect
something that I might tell him, if it was only the Dean's name?
Helena might have whispered it to me, I think. She remembered it,
not I--and mentioned it to Philip, of course. I kept close by him
all the time, and now and then he gave me a look which raised my
spirits. He might have given me something better than that--I
mean a kiss--when we had left the cathedral, and were by
ourselves for a moment in a corner of the Dean's garden. But he
missed the opportunity. Perhaps he was afraid of the Dean himself
coming that way, and happening to see us. However, I am far from
thinking the worse of Philip. I gave his arm a little
squeeze--and that was better than nothing.
. . . . . . .
He and I took a walk along the bank of the river to-day; my
sister and Miss Jillgall looking after us as usual.
On our way through the town, Helena stopped to give an order at a
shop. She asked us to wait for her. That best of good creatures,
Miss Jillgall, whispered in my ear: "Go on by yourselves, and
leave me to wait for her." Philip interpreted this act of
kindness in a manner which would have vexed me, if I had not
understood that it was one of his jokes. He said to me: "Miss
Jillgall sees a chance of annoying your sister, and enjoys the
Well, away we went together; it was just what I wanted; it gave
me an opportunity of saying something to Philip, between
I could now beg of him, in his interests and mine, to make the
best of himself when he came to dinner. Clever people, I told
him, were people whom papa liked and admired. I said: "Let him
see, dear, how clever _you_ are, and how many things you
know--and you can't imagine what a high place you will have in
his opinion. I hope you don't think I am taking too much on
myself in telling you how to behave."
He relieved that doubt in a manner which I despair of describing.
His eyes rested on me with such a look of exquisite sweetness and
love that I was obliged to hold by his arm, I trembled so with
the pleasure of feeling it.
"I do sincerely believe," he said, "that you are the most
innocent girl, the sweetest, truest girl that ever lived. I wish
I was a better man, Eunice; I wish I was good enough to be worthy
To hear him speak of himself in that way jarred on me. If such
words had fallen from any other man's lips, I should have been
afraid that he had done something, or thought something, of which
he had reason to feel ashamed. With Philip this was impossible.
He was eager to walk on rapidly, and to turn a corner in the
path, before we could be seen. "I want to be alone with you,"
I looked back. We were too late; Helena and Miss Jillgall had
nearly overtaken us. My sister was on the point of speaking to
Philip, when she seemed to change her mind, and only looked at
him. Instead of looking at her in return, he kept his eyes cast
down and drew figures on the pathway with his stick. I think
Helena was out of temper; she suddenly turned my way. "Why didn't
you wait for me?" she asked.
Philip took her up sharply. "If Eunice likes seeing the river
better than waiting in the street," he said, "isn't she free to
do as she pleases?"
Helena said nothing more; Philip walked on slowly by himself.
Not knowing what to make of it, I turned to Miss Jillgall.
"Surely Philip can't have quarreled with Helena?" I said.
Miss Jillgall answered in an odd off-hand manner: "Not he! He is
a great deal more likely to have quarreled with himself."
"Suppose you ask him why?"
It was not to be thought of; it would have looked like prying
into his thoughts. "Selina!" I said, "there is something odd
about you to-day. What is the matter? I don't understand you."
"My poor dear, you will find yourself understanding me before
long." I thought I saw something like pity in her face when she
"My poor dear?" I repeated. "What makes you speak to me in that
"I don't know--I'm tired; I'm an old fool-- I'll go back to the
Without another word, she left me. I turned to look for Philip,
and saw that my sister had joined him while I had been speaking
to Miss Jillgall. It pleased me to find that they were talking in
a friendly way when I joined them. A quarrel between Helena and
my husband that is to be--no, my husband that _shall_ be--would
have been too distressing, too unnatural I might almost call it.
Philip looked along the backward path, and asked what had become
of Miss Jillgall. "Have you any objection to follow her example?"
he said to me, when I told him that Selina had returned to the
town. "I don't care for the banks of this river."
Helena, who used to like the river at other times, was as ready
as Philip to leave it now. I fancy they had both been kindly
waiting to change our walk, till I came to them, and they could
study my wishes too. Of course I was ready to go where they
pleased. I asked Philip if there was anything he would like to
see, when we got into the streets again.
Clever Helena suggested what seemed to be a strange amusement to
offer to Philip. "Let's take him to the Girls' School," she said.
It appeared to be a matter of perfect indifference to him;
he was, what they call, ironical. "Oh, yes, of course. Deeply
interesting! deeply interesting!" He suddenly broke into the
wildest good spirits, and tucked my hand under his arm with a
gayety which it was impossible to resist. "What a boy you are!"
Helena said, enjoying his delightful hilarity as I did.
On entering the schoolroom we lost our gayety, all in a moment.
Something unpleasant had evidently happened.
Two of the eldest girls were sitting together in a corner,
separated from the rest, and looking most wickedly sulky. The
teachers were at the other end of the room, appearing to be ill
at ease. And there, standing in the midst of them, with his face
flushed and his eyes angry--there was papa, sadly unlike his
gentle self in the days of his health and happiness. On former
occasions, when the exercise of his authority was required in the
school, his forbearing temper always set things right. When I saw
him now, I thought of what the doctor had said of his health,
on my way home from the station.
Papa advanced to us the moment we showed ourselves at the door.
He shook hands--cordially shook hands--with Philip. It was
delightful to see him, delightful to hear him say: "Pray don't
suppose, Mr. Dunboyne, that you are intruding; remain with us by
all means if you like." Then he spoke to Helena and to me, still
excited, still not like himself: "You couldn't have come here,
my dears, at a time when your presence was more urgently needed."
He turned to the teachers. "Tell my daughters what has happened;
tell them why they see me here--shocked and distressed, I don't
We now heard that the two girls in disgrace had broken the rules,
and in such a manner as to deserve severe punishment.
One of them had been discovered hiding a novel in her desk. The
other had misbehaved herself more seriously still--she had gone
to the theater. Instead of expressing any regret, they had
actually dared to complain of having to learn papa's improved
catechism. They had even accused him of treating them with
severity, because they were poor girls brought up on charity.
"If we had been young ladies," they were audacious enough to say,
"more indulgence would have been shown to us; we should have been
allowed to read stories and to see plays."
All this time I had been asking myself what papa meant, when
he told us we could not have come to the schoolroom at a better
time. His meaning now appeared. When he spoke to the offending
girls, he pointed to Helena and to me.
"Here are my daughters," he said. "You will not deny that they
are young ladies. Now listen. They shall tell you themselves
whether my rules make any difference between them and you.
Helena! Eunice! do I allow you to read novels? do I allow you
to go to the play?"
We said, "No"--and hoped it was over. But he had not done yet.
He turned to Helena.
"Answer some of the questions," he went on, "from my Manual of
Christian Obligation, which the girls call my catechism." He
asked one of the questions: "If you are told to do unto others as
you would they should do unto you, and if you find a difficulty
in obeying that Divine Precept, what does your duty require?"
It is my belief that Helena has the materials in her for making
another Joan of Arc. She rose, and answered without the slightest
sign of timidity: "My duty requires me to go to the minister,
and to seek for advice and encouragement."
"And if these fail?"
"Then I am to remember that my pastor is my friend. He claims
no priestly authority or priestly infallibility. He is my
fellow-Christian who loves me. He will tell me how he has himself
failed; how he has struggled against himself; and what a blessed
reward has followed his victory--a purified heart, a peaceful
Then papa released my sister, after she had only repeated two out
of all the answers in Christian Obligation, which we first began
to learn when we were children. He then addressed himself again
to the girls.
"Is what you have just heard a part of my catechism? Has my
daughter been excused from repeating it because she is a young
lady? Where is the difference between the religious education
which is given to my own child, and that given to you?"
The wretched girls still sat silent and obstinate, with their
heads down. I tremble again as I write of what happened next.
Papa fixed his eyes on me. He said, out loud: "Eunice!"--and
waited for me to rise and answer, as my sister had done.
It was entirely beyond my power to get on my feet.
Philip had (innocently, I am sure) discouraged me; I saw
displeasure, I saw contempt in his face. There was a dead silence
in the room. Everybody looked at me. My heart beat furiously,
my hands turned cold, the questions and answers in Christian
Obligation all left my memory together. I looked imploringly
For the first time in his life, he was hard on me. His eyes were
as angry as ever; they showed me no mercy. Oh, what had come
to me? what evil spirit possessed me? I felt resentment; horrid,
undutiful resentment, at being treated in this cruel way. My
fists clinched themselves in my lap, my face felt as hot as fire.
Instead of asking my father to excuse me, I said: "I can't do
it." He was astounded, as well he might be. I went on from bad
to worse. I said: "I won't do it."
He stooped over me; he whispered: "I am going to ask you
something; I insist on your answering, Yes or No." He raised
his voice, and drew himself back so that they could all see me.
"Have you been taught like your sister?" he asked. "Has the
catechism that has been her religious lesson, for all her life,
been your religious lesson, for all your life, too?"
I said: "Yes"--and I was in such a rage that I said it out loud.
If Philip had handed me his cane, and had advised me to give
the young hussies who were answerable for this dreadful state
of things a good beating, I believe I should have done it.
Papa turned his back on me and offered the girls a last chance:
"Do you feel sorry for what you have done? Do you ask to be
Neither the one nor the other answered him. He called across the
room to the teachers: "Those two pupils are expelled the school."
Both the women looked horrified. The elder of the two approached
him, and tried to plead for a milder sentence. He answered in one
stern word: "Silence!"--and left the schoolroom, without even
a passing bow to Philip. And this, after he had cordially shaken
hands with my poor dear, not half an hour before.
I ought to have made affectionate allowance for his nervous
miseries; I ought to have run after him, and begged his pardon.
There must be something wrong, I am afraid, in girls loving
anybody but their fathers. When Helena led the way out by another
door, I ran after Philip; and I asked _him_ to forgive me.
I don't know what I said; it was all confusion. The fear of
having forfeited his fondness must, I suppose, have shaken my
mind. I remember entreating Helena to say a kind word for me.
She was so clever, she had behaved so well, she had deserved
that Philip should listen to her. "Oh," I cried out to him
desperately, "what must you think of me?"
"I will tell you what I think of you," he said. "It is your
father who is in fault, Eunice--not you. Nothing could have been
in worse taste than his management of that trumpery affair in
the schoolroom; it was a complete mistake from beginning to end.
Make your mind easy; I don't blame You."
"Are you, really and truly, as fond of me as ever?"
"Yes, to be sure!"
Helena seemed to be hardly as much interested in this happy
ending of my anxieties as I might have anticipated. She walked on
by herself. Perhaps she was thinking of poor papa's strange
outbreak of excitement, and grieving over it.
We had only a little way to walk, before we passed the door of
Philip's hotel. He had not yet received the expected letter from
his father--the cruel letter which might recall him to Ireland.
It was then the hour of delivery by our second post; he went
to look at the letter-rack in the hall. Helena saw that I was
anxious. She was as kind again as ever; she consented to wait
with me for Philip, at the door.
He came out to us with an open letter in his hand.
"From my father, at last," he said--and gave me the letter
to read. It only contained these few lines:
"Do not be alarmed, my dear boy, at the change for the worse in
my handwriting. I am suffering for my devotion to the studious
habits of a lifetime: my right hand is attacked by the malady
called Writer's Cramp. The doctor here can do nothing. He tells
me of some foreign woman, mentioned in his newspaper, who cures
nervous derangements of all kinds by hand-rubbing, and who is
coming to London. When you next hear from me, I may be in London
too."--There the letter ended.
Of course I knew who the foreign woman, mentioned in the
But what does Miss Jillgall's friend matter to me? The one
important thing is, that Philip has not been called back to
Ireland. Here is a fortunate circumstance, which perhaps means
more good luck. I may be Mrs. Philip Dunboyne before the year
They all notice at home that I am looking worn and haggard. That
hideous old maid, Miss Jillgall, had her malicious welcome ready
for me when we met at breakfast this morning: "Dear Helena, what
has become of your beauty? One would think you had left it in
your room!" Poor deluded Eunice showed her sisterly sympathy:
"Don't joke about it, Selina: can't you see that Helena is ill?"
I _have_ been ill; ill of my own wickedness.
But the recovery to my tranquillity will bring with it the
recovery of my good looks. My fatal passion for Philip promises
to be the utter destruction of everything that is good in me.
Well! what is good in me may not be worth keeping. There is a
fate in these things. If I am destined to rob Eunice of the one
dear object of her love and hope--how can I resist? The one kind
thing I can do is to keep her in ignorance of what is coming,
by acts of affectionate deceit.
Besides, if she suffers, I suffer too. In the length and breadth
of England, I doubt if there is a much more wicked young woman to
be found than myself. Is it nothing to feel that, and to endure
it as I do?
Upon my word, there is no excuse for me!
Is this sheer impudence? No; it is the bent of my nature. I have
a tendency to self-examination, accompanied by one merit--I don't
There are excuses for Eunice. She lives in a fools' paradise;
and she sees in her lover a radiant creature, shining in the halo
thrown over him by her own self-delusion, Nothing of this sort
is to be said for me. I see Philip as he is. My penetration looks
into the lowest depths of his character--when I am not in his
company. There seems to be a foundation of good, somewhere in
his nature. He despises and hates himself (he has confessed it
to me), when Eunice is with him--still believing in her false
sweetheart. But how long do these better influences last? I have
only to show myself, in my sister's absence, and Philip is mine
body and soul. His vanity and his weakness take possession of him
the moment he sees my face. He is one of those men--even in
my little experience I have met with them--who are born to be
led by women. If Eunice had possessed my strength of character,
he would have been true to her for life.
Ought I not, in justice to myself, to have lifted my heart high
above the reach of such a creature as this? Certainly I ought! I
know it, I feel it. And yet, there is some fascination in having
him which I am absolutely unable to resist.
What, I ask myself, has fed the new flame which is burning in me?
Did it begin with gratified pride? I might well feel proud when
I found myself admired by a man of his beauty, set off by such
manners and such accomplishments as his. Or, has the growth of
this masterful feeling been encouraged by the envy and jealousy
stirred in me, when I found Eunice (my inferior in every respect)
distinguished by the devotion of a handsome lover, and having a
brilliant marriage in view--while I was left neglected, with no
prospect of changing my title from Miss to Mrs.? Vain inquiries!
My wicked heart seems to have secrets of its own, and to keep
them a mystery to me.
What has become of my excellent education? I don't care to
inquire; I have got beyond the reach of good books and religious
examples. Among my other blamable actions there may now be
reckoned disobedience to my father. I have been reading novels
At first I tried some of the famous English works, published
at a price within the reach of small purses. Very well written,
no doubt--but with one unpardonable drawback, so far as I am
concerned. Our celebrated native authors address themselves
to good people, or to penitent people who want to be made good;
not to wicked readers like me.
Arriving at this conclusion, I tried another experiment. In
a small bookseller's shop I discovered some cheap translations
of French novels. Here, I found what I wanted--sympathy with sin.
Here, there was opened to me a new world inhabited entirely by
unrepentant people; the magnificent women diabolically beautiful;
the satanic men dead to every sense of virtue, and alive--perhaps
rather dirtily alive--to the splendid fascinations of crime.
I know now that Love is above everything but itself. Love is
the one law that we are bound to obey. How deep! how consoling!
how admirably true! The novelists of England have reason indeed
to hide their heads before the novelists of France. All that I
have felt, and have written here, is inspired by these wonderful
I have relieved my mind, and may now return to the business of
my diary--the record of domestic events.
An overwhelming disappointment has fallen on Eunice. Our
dinner-party has been put off.
The state of father's health is answerable for this change in
our arrangements. That wretched scene at the school, complicated
by my sister's undutiful behavior at the time, so seriously
excited him that he passed a sleepless night, and kept his
bedroom throughout the day. Eunice's total want of discretion
added, no doubt, to his sufferings: she rudely intruded on him
to express her regret and to ask his pardon. Having carried
her point, she was at leisure to come to me, and to ask (how
amazingly simple of her!) what she and Philip were to do next.
"We had arranged it all so nicely," the poor wretch began.
"Philip was to have been so clever and agreeable at dinner,
and was to have chosen his time so very discreetly, that papa
would have been ready to listen to anything he said. Oh, we
should have succeeded; I haven't a doubt of it! Our only hope,
Helena, is in you. What are we to do now?"
"Wait," I answered.
"Wait?" she repeated, hotly. "Is my heart to be broken? and, what
is more cruel still, is Philip to be disappointed? I expected
something more sensible, my dear, from you. What possible reason
can there be for waiting?"
The reason--if I could only have mentioned it--was beyond
dispute. I wanted time to quiet Philip's uneasy conscience,
and to harden his weak mind against outbursts of violence, on
Eunice's part, which would certainly exhibit themselves when she
found that she had lost her lover, and lost him to me. In the
meanwhile, I had to produce my reason for advising her to wait.
It was easily done. I reminded her of the irritable condition
of our father's nerves, and gave it as my opinion that he would
certainly say No, if she was unwise enough to excite him on
the subject of Philip, in his present frame of mind.
These unanswerable considerations seemed to produce the right
effect on her. "I suppose you know best," was all she said.
And then she left me.
I let her go without feeling any distrust of this act of
submission on her part; it was such a common experience,
in my life, to find my sister guiding herself by my advice.
But experience is not always to be trusted. Events soon showed
that I had failed to estimate Eunice's resources of obstinacy
and cunning at their true value.
Half an hour later I heard the street door closed, and looked
out of the window. Miss Jillgall was leaving the house; no one
was with her. My dislike of this person led me astray once more.
I ought to have suspected her of being bent on some mischievous
errand, and to have devised some means of putting my suspicions
to the test. I did nothing of the kind. In the moment when I
turned my head away from the window, Miss Jillgall was a person
forgotten--and I was a person who had made a serious mistake.
The event of to-day began with the delivery of a message
summoning me to my father's study. He had decided--too hastily,
as I feared--that he was sufficiently recovered to resume his
usual employments. I was writing to his dictation, when we were
interrupted. Maria announced a visit from Mr. Dunboyne.
Hitherto Philip had been content to send one of the servants
of the hotel to make inquiry after Mr. Gracedieu's health.
Why had he now called personally? Noticing that father seemed
to be annoyed, I tried to make an opportunity of receiving
Philip myself. "Let me see him," I suggested; "I can easily say
you are engaged."
Very unwillingly, as it was easy to see, my father declined to
allow this. "Mr. Dunboyne's visit pays me a compliment," he said;
"and I must receive him." I made a show of leaving the room, and
was called back to my chair. "This is not a private interview,
Helena; stay where you are."
Philip came in--handsomer than ever, beautifully dressed--and
paid his respects to my father with his customary grace. He was
too well-bred to allow any visible signs of embarrassment to
escape him. But when he shook hands with me, I felt a little
trembling in his fingers, through the delicate gloves which
fitted him like a second skin. Was it the true object of
his visit to try the experiment designed by Eunice and himself,
and deferred by the postponement of our dinner-party? Impossible
surely that my sister could have practiced on his weakness,
and persuaded him to return to his first love! I waited,
in breathless interest, for his next words. They were not worth
listening to. Oh, the poor commonplace creature!
"I am glad, Mr. Gracedieu, to see that you are well enough to be
in your study again," he said. The writing materials on the table
attracted his attention. "Am I one of the idle people," he asked,
with his charming smile, "who are always interrupting useful
He spoke to my father, and he was answered by my father. Not once
had he addressed a word to me--no, not even when we shook hands.
I was angry enough to force him into taking some notice of me,
and to make an attempt to confuse him at the same time.
"Have you seen my sister?" I asked.
It was the shortest reply that he could choose. Having flung it
at me, he still persisted in looking at my father and speaking to
my father: "Do you think of trying change of air, Mr. Gracedieu,
when you feel strong enough to travel?"
"My duties keep me here," father answered; "and I cannot honestly
say that I enjoy traveling. I dislike manners and customs that
are strange to me; I don't find that hotels reward me for giving
up the comforts of my own house. How do you find the hotel here?"
"I submit to the hotel, sir. They are sad savages in the kitchen;
they put mushroom ketchup into their soup, and mustard and
cayenne pepper into their salads. I am half-starved at
dinner-time, but I don't complain."
Every word he said was an offense to me. With or without reason,
I attacked him again.
"I have heard you acknowledge that the landlord and landlady are
very obliging people," I said. "Why don't you ask them to let you
make your own soup and mix your own salad?"
I wondered whether I should succeed in attracting his notice,
after this. Even in these private pages, my self-esteem finds it
hard to confess what happened. I succeeded in reminding Philip
that he had his reasons for requesting me to leave the room.
"Will you excuse me, Miss Helena," he said, "if I ask leave
to speak to Mr. Gracedieu in private?"
The right thing for me to do was, let me hope, the thing that
I did. I rose, and waited to see if my father would interfere.
He looked at Philip with suspicion in his face, as well as
surprise. "May I ask," he said, coldly, "what is the object
of the interview?"
"Certainly," Philip answered, "when we are alone." This cool
reply placed my father between two alternatives; he must either
give way, or be guilty of an act of rudeness to a guest in his
own house. The choice reserved for me was narrower still--I had
to decide between being told to go, or going of my own accord.
Of course, I left them together.
The door which communicated with the next room was pulled to,
but not closed. On the other side of it, I found Eunice.
"Listening!" I said, in a whisper.
"Yes," she whispered back. "You listen, too!"
I was so indignant with Philip, and so seriously interested
in what was going on in the study, that I yielded to temptation.
We both degraded ourselves. We both listened.
Eunice's base lover spoke first. Judging by the change in
his voice, he must have seen something in my father's face
that daunted him. Eunice heard it, too. "He's getting nervous,"
she whispered; "he'll forget to say the right thing at the right
"Mr. Gracedieu," Philip began, "I wish to speak to you--"
Father interrupted him: "We are alone now, Mr. Dunboyne. I want
to know why you consult me in private?"
"I am anxious to consult you, sir, on a subject--"
"On what subject? Any religious difficulty?"
"Anything I can do for you in the town?"
"Not at all. If you will only allow me--"
"I am still waiting, sir, to know what it is about."
Philip's voice suddenly became an angry voice. "Once for all,
Mr. Gracedieu," he said, "will you let me speak? It's about
"No more of it, Mr. Dunboyne!" (My father was now as loud as
Philip.) "I don't desire to hold a private conversation with you
on the subject of my daughter."
"If you have any personal objection to me, sir, be so good as
to state it plainly."
"You have no right to ask me to do that."
"You refuse to do it?"
"You are not very civil, Mr. Gracedieu."
"If I speak without ceremony, Mr. Dunboyne, you have yourself
to thank for it."
Philip replied to this in a tone of savage irony. "You are a
minister of religion, and you are an old man. Two privileges--and
you presume on them both. Good-morning."
I drew back into a corner, just in time to escape discovery
in the character of a listener. Eunice never moved. When Philip
dashed into the room, banging the door after him, she threw
herself impulsively on his breast: "Oh, Philip! Philip! what
have you done? Why didn't you keep your temper?"
"Did you hear what your father said to me?" he asked.
"Yes, dear; but you ought to have controlled yourself--you ought,
indeed, for my sake."
Her arms were still round him. It struck me that he felt her
influence. "If you wish me to recover myself," he said, gently,
"you had better let me go."
"Oh, how cruel, Philip, to leave me when I am so wretched! Why
do you want to go?"
"You told me just now what I ought to do," he answered, still
restraining himself. "If I am to get the better of my temper,
I must be left alone."
"I never said anything about your temper, darling."
"Didn't you tell me to control myself?"
"Oh, yes! Go back to Papa, and beg him to forgive you."
"I'll see him damned first!"
If ever a stupid girl deserved such an answer as this, the girl
was my sister. I had hitherto (with some difficulty) refrained
from interfering. But when Eunice tried to follow Philip out
of the house, I could hesitate no longer; I held her back.
"You fool," I said; "haven't you made mischief enough already?"
"What am I to do?" she burst out, helplessly.
"Do what I told you to do yesterday--wait."
Before she could reply, or I could say anything more, the door
that led to the landing was opened softly and slyly, and Miss
Jillgall peeped in. Eunice instantly left me, and ran to the
meddling old maid. They whispered to each other. Miss Jillgall's
skinny arm encircled my sister's waist; they disappeared
I was only too glad to get rid of them both, and to take the
opportunity of writing to Philip. I insisted on an explanation
of his conduct while I was in the study--to be given within
an hour's time, at a place which I appointed. "You are not to
attempt to justify yourself in writing," I added in conclusion.
"Let your reply merely inform me if you can keep the appointment.
The rest, when we meet."
Maria took the letter to the hotel, with instructions to wait.
Philip's reply reached me without delay. It pledged him to
justify himself as I had desired, and to keep the appointment.
My own belief is that the event of to-day will decide his future
Indeed, I am a most unfortunate creature; everything turns out
badly with me. My good, true friend, my dear Selina, has become
the object of a hateful doubt in my secret mind. I am afraid she
is keeping something from me.
Talking with her about my troubles, I heard for the first time
that she had written again to Mrs. Tenbruggen. The object of
her letter was to tell her friend of my engagement to young Mr.
Dunboyne. I asked her why she had done this. The answer informed
me that there was no knowing, in the present state of my affairs,
how soon I might not want the help of a clever woman. I ought,
I suppose, to have been satisfied with this. But there seemed
to be something not fully explained yet.
Then again, after telling Selina what I heard in the study, and
how roughly Philip had spoken to me afterward, I asked her what
she thought of it. She made an incomprehensible reply: "My sweet
child, I mustn't think of it--I am too fond of you."
It was impossible to make her explain what this meant. She began
to talk of Philip; assuring me (which was quite needless) that
she had done her best to fortify and encourage him, before he
called on papa. When I asked her to help me in another way--that
is to say, when I wanted to find out where Philip was at that
moment--she had no advice to give me. I told her that I should
not enjoy a moment's ease of mind until I and my dear one were
reconciled. She only shook her head and declared that she was
sorry for me. When I hit on the idea of ringing for Maria, this
little woman, so bright, and quick and eager to help me at other
times, said "I leave it to you, dear," and turned to the piano
(close to which I was sitting), and played softly and badly
stupid little tunes.
"Maria, did you open the door for Mr. Dunboyne when he went away
Nothing but ill-luck for me! If I had been left to my own
devices, I should now have let the housemaid go. But Selina
contrived to give me a hint, on a strange plan of her own.
Still at the piano, she began to confuse talking to herself
with playing to herself. The notes went _tinkle, tinkle_--and
the tongue mixed up words with the notes in this way: "Perhaps
they have been talking in the kitchen about Philip?"
The suggestion was not lost on me. I said to Maria--who was
standing at the other end of the room, near the door--"Did you
happen to hear which way Mr. Dunboyne went when he left us?"
"I know where he was, miss, half an hour ago."
"Where was he?"
"At the hotel."
Selina went on with her hints in the same way as before. "How
does she know--ah, how does she know?" was the vocal part of
the performance this time. My clever inquiries followed the vocal
part as before:
"How do you know that Mr. Dunboyne was at the hotel?"
"I was sent there with a letter for him, and waited for
There was no suggestion required this time. The one possible
question was: "Who sent you?"
Maria replied, after first reserving a condition: "You won't
tell upon me, miss?"
I promised not to tell. Selina suddenly left off playing.
"Well," I repeated, "who sent you?"
Selina looked round at me. Her little eyes seemed to have
suddenly become big, they stared me so strangely in the face.
I don't know whether she was in a state of fright or of wonder.
As for myself, I simply lost the use of my tongue. Maria, having
no more questions to answer, discreetly left us together.
Why should Helena write to Philip at all--and especially without
mentioning it to me? Here was a riddle which was more than I
could guess. I asked Selina to help me. She might at least have
tried, I thought; but she looked uneasy, and made excuses.
I said: "Suppose I go to Helena, and ask her why she wrote
to Philip?" And Selina said: "Suppose you do, dear."
I rang for Maria once more: "Do you know where my sister is?"
"Just gone out, miss."
There was no help for it but to wait till she came back, and
to get through the time in the interval as I best might. But for
one circumstance, I might not have known what to do. The truth
is, there was a feeling of shame in me when I remembered having
listened at the study door. Curious notions come into one's
head--one doesn't know how or why. It struck me that I might make
a kind of atonement for having been mean enough to listen, if
I went to papa, and offered to keep him company in his solitude.
If we fell into pleasant talk, I had a sly idea of my own--I
meant to put in a good word for poor Philip.
When I confided my design to Selina, she shut up the piano and
ran across the room to me. But somehow she was not like her old
self again, yet.
"You good little soul, you are always right. Look at me again,
Euneece. Are you beginning to doubt me? Oh, my darling, don't do
that! It isn't using me fairly. I can't bear it--I can't bear
I took her hand; I was on the point of speaking to her with
the kindness she deserved from me. On a sudden she snatched
her hand away and ran back to the piano. When she was seated on
the music-stool, her face was hidden from me. At that moment she
broke into a strange cry--it began like a laugh, and it ended
like a sob.
"Go away to papa! Don't mind me--I'm a creature of impulse--ha!
ha! ha! a little hysterical--the state of the weather--I get rid
of these weaknesses, my dear, by singing to myself. I have
a favorite song: 'My heart is light, my will is free.'--Go away!
oh, for God's sake, go away!"
I had heard of hysterics, of course; knowing nothing about them,
however, by my own experience. What could have happened to
agitate her in this extraordinary manner?
Had Helena's letter anything to do with it? Was my sister
indignant with Philip for swearing in my presence; and had she
written him an angry letter, in her zeal on my behalf? But Selina
could not possibly have seen the letter--and Helena (who is often
hard on me when I do stupid things) showed little indulgence for
me, when I was so unfortunate as to irritate Philip. I gave up
the hopeless attempt to get at the truth by guessing, and went
away to forget my troubles, if I could, in my father's society.
After knocking twice at the door of the study, and receiving no
reply, I ventured to look in.
The sofa in this room stood opposite the door. Papa was resting
on it, but not in comfort. There were twitching movements in his
feet, and he shifted his arms this way and that as if no restful
posture could he found for them. But what frightened me was this.
His eyes, staring straight at the door by which I had gone in,
had an inquiring expression, as if he actually did not know me!
I stood midway between the door and the sofa, doubtful about
going nearer to him.
He said: "Who is it?" This to me--to his own daughter. He said:
"What do you want?"
I really could _not_ bear it. I went up to him. I said: "Papa,
have you forgotten Eunice?"
My name seemed (if one may say such a thing) to bring him to
himself again. He sat upon the sofa--and laughed as he answered
"My dear child, what delusion has got into that pretty little
head of yours? Fancy her thinking that I had forgotten my own
daughter! I was lost in thought, Eunice. For the moment, I was
what they call an absent man. Did I ever tell you the story of
the absent man? He went to call upon some acquaintance of his;
and when the servant said, 'What name, sir?' He couldn't answer.
He was obliged to confess that he had forgotten his own name.
The servant said, 'That's very strange.' The absent man at once
recovered himself. 'That's it!' he said: 'my name is Strange.'
Droll, isn't it? If I had been calling on a friend to-day,
I daresay _I_ might have forgotten my name, too. Much to think
of, Eunice--too much to think of."
Leaving the sofa with a sigh. as if he was tired of it, he began
walking up and down. He seemed to be still in good spirits.
"Well, my dear," he said, "what can I do for you?"
"I came here, papa to see if there was anything I could do for
He looked at some sheets of paper, strung together, and laid on
the table. They were covered with writing (from his dictation)
in my sister's hand. "I ought to get on with my work," he said.
"Where is Helena?"
I told him that she had gone out, and begged leave to try what
I could do to supply her place.
The request seemed to please him; but he wanted time to think.
I waited; noticing that his face grew gradually worried and
anxious. There came a vacant look into his eyes which it grieved
me to see; he appeared to have quite lost himself again. "Read
the last page," he said, pointing to the manuscript on the table;
"I don't remember where I left off."
I turned to the last page. As well as I could tell, it related to
some publication, which he was recommending to religious persons
of our way of thinking.
Before I had read half-way through it, he began to dictate,
speaking so rapidly that my pen was not always able to follow
him. My handwriting is as bad as bad can be when I am hurried. To
make matters worse still, I was confused. What he was now saying
seemed to have nothing to do with what I had been reading.
Let me try if I can call to mind the substance of it.
He began in the most strangely sudden way by asking: "Why should
there be any fear of discovery, when every possible care had
been taken to prevent it? The danger from unexpected events was
far more disquieting. A man might find himself bound in honor
to disclose what it had been the chief anxiety of his life
to conceal. For example, could he let an innocent person be
the victim of deliberate suppression of the truth--no matter
how justifiable that suppression might appear to be? On the other
hand, dreadful consequences might follow an honorable confession.
There might be a cruel sacrifice of tender affection; there might
be a shocking betrayal of innocent hope and trust."
I remember those last words, just as he dictated them, because
he suddenly stopped there; looking, poor dear, distressed and
confused. He put his hand to his head, and went back to the sofa.
"I'm tired," he said. "Wait for me while I rest."
In a few minutes he fell asleep. It was a deep repose that
came to him now; and, though I don't think it lasted much longer
than half an hour, it produced a wonderful change in him for
the better when he woke. He spoke quietly and kindly; and when
he returned to me at the table and looked at the page on which
I had been writing, he smiled.
"Oh, my dear, what bad writing! I declare I can't read what I
myself told you to write. No! no! don't be downhearted about it.
You are not used to writing from dictation; and I daresay I have
been too quick for you." He kissed me and encouraged me. "You
know how fond I am of my little girl," he said; "I am afraid
I like my Eunice just the least in the world more than I like
my Helena. Ah, you are beginning to look a little happier now!"
He had filled me with such confidence and such pleasure that
I could not help thinking of my sweetheart. Oh dear, when shall
I learn to be distrustful of my own feelings? The temptation to
say a good word for Philip quite mastered any little discretion
that I possessed.
I said to papa: "If you knew how to make me happier than I have
ever been in all my life before, would you do it?"
"Of course I would."
"Then send for Philip, dear, and be a little kinder to him,
His pale face turned red with anger; he pushed me away from him.
"That man again!" he burst out. "Am I never to hear the last of
him? Go away, Eunice. You are of no use here." He took up my
unfortunate page of writing and ridiculed it with a bitter laugh.
"What is this fit for?" He crumpled it up in his hand and tossed
it into the fire.
I ran out of the room in such a state of mortification that
I hardly knew what I was about. If some hard-hearted person had
come to me with a cup of poison, and had said: "Eunice, you are
not fit to live any longer; take this," I do believe I should
have taken it. If I thought of anything, I thought of going back
to Selina. My ill luck still pursued me; she had disappeared.
I looked about in a helpless way, completely at a loss what to do
next--so stupefied, I may even say, that it was some time before
I noticed a little three-cornered note on the table by which
I was standing. The note was addressed to me:
"EVER-DEAREST EUNEECE--I have tried to make myself useful
to you, and have failed. But how can I see the sad sight of
your wretchedness, and not feel the impulse to try again? I have
gone to the hotel to find Philip, and to bring him back to you
a penitent and faithful man. Wait for me, and hope for great
things. A. hundred thousand kisses to my sweet Euneece.
Wait for her, after reading that note! How could she expect it?
I had only to follow her, and to find Philip. In another minute,
I was on my way to the hotel.
Looking at the last entry in my Journal, I see myself
anticipating that the event of to-day will decide Philip's future
and mine. This has proved prophetic. All further concealment
is now at an end.
Forced to it by fate, or helped to it by chance, Eunice has made
the discovery of her lover's infidelity. "In all human
probability" (as my father says in his sermons), we two sisters
are enemies for life.
I am not suspected, as Eunice is, of making appointments with
a sweetheart. So I am free to go out alone, and to go where
I please. Philip and I were punctual to our appointment this
Our place of meeting was in a secluded corner of the town park.
We found a rustic seat in our retirement, set up (one would
suppose) as a concession to the taste of visitors who are fond
of solitude. The view in front of us was bounded by the park wall
and railings, and our seat was prettily approached on one side
by a plantation of young trees. No entrance gate was near; no
carriage road crossed the grass. A more safe and more solitary
nook for conversation, between two persons desiring to be alone,
it would be hard to find in most public parks. Lovers are said
to know it well, and to be especially fon d of it toward evening.
We were there in broad daylight, and we had the seat to
My memory of what passed between us is, in some degree, disturbed
by the formidable interruption which brought our talk to an end.
But among other things, I remember that I showed him no mercy
at the outset. At one time I was indignant; at another I was
scornful. I declared, in regard to my object in meeting him, that
I had changed my mind, And had decided to shorten a disagreeable
interview by waiving my right to an explanation, and bidding him
farewell. Eunice, as I pointed out, had the first claim to him;
Eunice was much more likely to suit him, as a companion for life,
than I was. "In short," I said, in conclusion, "my inclination
for once takes sides with my duty, and leaves my sister in
undisturbed possession of young Mr. Dunboyne." With this
satirical explanation, I rose to say good-by.
I had merely intended to irritate him. He showed a superiority
to anger for which I was not prepared.
"Be so kind as to sit down again," he said quietly.
He took my letter from his pocket, and pointed to that part of it
which alluded to his conduct, when we had met in my father's
"You have offered me the opportunity of saying a word in my own
defense," he went on. "I prize that privilege far too highly to
consent to your withdrawing it, merely because you have changed
your mind. Let me at least tell you what my errand was, when
I called on your father. Loving you, and you only, I had forced
myself to make a last effort to be true to your sister. Remember
that, Helena, and then say--is it wonderful if I was beside
myself, when I found You in the study?"
"When you tell me you were beside yourself," I said, "do you
mean, ashamed of yourself?"
That touched him. "I mean nothing of the kind," he burst out.
"After the hell on earth in which I have been living between
you two sisters, a man hasn't virtue enough left in him to be
ashamed. He's half mad--that's what he is. Look at my position! I
had made up my mind never to see you again; I had made up my mind
(if I married Eunice) to rid myself of my own miserable life when
I could endure it no longer. In that state of feeling, when my
sense of duty depended on my speaking with Mr. Gracedieu alone,
whose was the first face I saw when I entered the room? If I had
dared to look at you, or to speak to you, what do you think would
have become of my resolution to sacrifice myself?"
"What has become of it now?" I asked.
"Tell me first if I am forgiven," he said--"and you shall know."
"Do you deserve to be forgiven?"
It has been discovered by wiser heads than mine that weak people
are always in extremes. So far, I had seen Philip in the vain
and violent extreme. He now shifted suddenly to the sad and
submissive extreme. When I asked him if he deserved to be
forgiven, he made the humblest of all replies--he sighed and
"If I did my duty to my sister," I reminded him, "I should refuse
to forgive you, and send you back to Eunice."
"Your father's language and your father's conduct," he answered,
"have released me from that entanglement. I can never go back
to Eunice. If you refuse to forgive me, neither you nor she will
see anything more of Philip Dunboyne; I promise you that. Are you
After holding out against him resolutely, I felt myself beginning
to yield. When a man has once taken their fancy, what helplessly
weak creatures women are! I saw through his vacillating
weakness--and yet I trusted him, with both eyes open. My looking-
glass is opposite to me while I write. It shows me a contemptible
Helena. I lied, and said I was satisfied--to please _him_.
"Am I forgiven?" he asked.
It is absurd to put it on record. Of course, I forgave him.
What a good Christian I am, after all!
He took my willing hand. "My lovely darling," he said, "our
marriage rests with you. Whether your father approves of it
or not, say the word; claim me, and I am yours for life."
I must have been infatuated by his voice and his look; my heart
must have been burning under the pressure of his hand on mine.
Was it my modesty or my self-control that deserted me? I let him
take me in his arms. Again, and again, and again I kissed him. We
were deaf to what we ought to have heard; we were blind to what
we ought to have seen. Before we were conscious of a movement
among the trees, we were discovered. My sister flew at me like a
wild animal. Her furious hands fastened themselves on my throat.
Philip started to his feet. When he touched her, in the act of
forcing her back from me, Eunice's raging strength became utter
weakness in an instant. Her arms fell helpless at her sides--her
head drooped--she looked at him in silence which was dreadful,
at such a moment as that. He shrank from the unendurable reproach
in those tearless eyes. Meanly, he turned away from her. Meanly,
I followed him. Looking back for an instant, I saw her step
forward; perhaps to stop him, perhaps to speak to him. The effort
was too much for her strength; she staggered back against
the trunk of a tree. Like strangers, walking separate one from
the other, we left her to her companion--the hideous traitress
who was my enemy and her friend.
On reaching the street which led to Philip's hotel, we spoke
to each other for the first time.
"What are we to do?" I said.
"Leave this place," he answered.
"Together?" I asked.
To leave us (for a while), after what had happened, might be
the wisest thing which a man, in Philip's critical position,
could do. But if I went with him--unprovided as I was with any
friend of my own sex, whose character and presence might sanction
the step I had taken--I should be lost beyond redemption.
Is any man that ever lived worth that sacrifice? I thought of
my father's house closed to me, and of our friends ashamed of me.
I have owned, in some earlier part of my Journal, that I am not
very patient under domestic cares. But the possibility of Eunice
being appointed housekeeper, with my power, in my place, was
more than I could calmly contemplate. "No," I said to Philip.
"Your absence, at such a time as this, may help us both; but,
come what may of it, I must remain at home."
He yielded, without an attempt to make me alter my mind. There
was a sullen submission in his manner which it was not pleasant
to see. Was he despairing already of himself and of me? Had
Eunice aroused the watchful demons of shame and remorse?
"Perhaps you are right," he said, gloomily. "Good-by."
My anxiety put the all-important question to him without
"Is it good-by forever, Philip?"
His reply instantly relieved me: "God forbid!"
But I wanted more: "You still love me?" I persisted.
"More dearly than ever!"
"And yet you leave me!"
He turned pale. "I leave you because I am afraid."
"Afraid of what?"
"Afraid to face Eunice again."
The only possible way out of our difficulty that I could see, now
occurred to me. "Suppose my sister can be prevailed on to give
you up?" I suggested. "Would you come back to us in that case?"
"And you would ask my father to consent to our marriage?"
"On the day of my return, if you like."