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I SAY NO by Wilkie Collins

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Mrs. Ellmother sat by the dying embers of the kitchen fire;
thinking over the events of the day in perplexity and distress.

She had waited at the cottage door for a friendly word with
Alban, after he had left Emily. The stern despair in his face
warned her to let him go in silence. She had looked into the
parlor next. Pale and cold, Emily lay on the sofa--sunk in
helpless depression of body and mind. "Don't speak to me," she
whispered; "I am quite worn out." It was but too plain that the
view of Alban's conduct which she had already expressed, was the
view to which she had adhered at the interview between them. They
had parted in grief---perhaps in anger--perhaps forever. Mrs.
Ellmother lifted Emily in compassionate silence, and carried her
upstairs, and waited by her until she slept.

In the still hours of the night, the thoughts of the faithful old
servant--dwelling for a while on past and present--advanced, by
slow degrees, to consideration of the doubtful future. Measuring,
to the best of her ability, the responsibility which had fallen
on her, she felt that it was more than she could bear, or ought
to bear, alone. To whom could she look for help?

The gentlefolks at Monksmoor were strangers to her. Doctor Allday
was near at hand--but Emily had said, "Don't send for him; he
will torment me with questions--and I want to keep my mind quiet,
if I can." But one person was left, to whose ever-ready kindness
Mrs. Ellmother could appeal--and that person was Miss Ladd.

It would have been easy to ask the help of the good
schoolmistress in comforting and advising the favorite pupil whom
she loved. But Mrs. Ellmother had another object in view: she was
determined that the cold-blooded cruelty of Emily's treacherous
friend should not be allowed to triumph with impunity. If an
ignorant old woman could do nothing else, she could tell the
plain truth, and could leave Miss Ladd to decide whether such a
person as Francine deserved to remain under her care.

To feel justified in taking this step was one thing: to put it
all clearly in writing was another. After vainly making the
attempt overnight, Mrs. Ellmother tore up her letter, and
communicated with Miss Ladd by means of a telegraphic message, in
the morning. "Miss Emily is in great distress. I must not leave
her. I have something besides to say to you which cannot be put
into a letter. Will you please come to us?"

Later in the forenoon, Mrs. Ellmother was called to the door by
the arrival of a visitor. The personal appearance of the stranger
impressed her favorably. He was a handsome little gentleman; his
manners were winning, and his voice was singularly pleasant to

"I have come from Mr. Wyvil's house in the country," he said;
"and I bring a letter from his daughter. May I take the
opportunity of asking if Miss Emily is well?"

"Far from it, sir, I am sorry to say. She is so poorly that she
keeps her bed."

At this reply, the visitor's face revealed such sincere sympathy
and regret, that Mrs. Ellmo ther was interested in him: she added
a word more. "My mistress has had a hard trial to bear, sir. I
hope there is no bad news for her in the young lady's letter?"

"On the contrary, there is news that she will be glad to
hear--Miss Wyvil is coming here this evening. Will you excuse my
asking if Miss Emily has had medical advice?"

"She won't hear of seeing the doctor, sir. He's a good friend of
hers--and he lives close by. I am unfortunately alone in the
house. If I could leave her, I would go at once and ask his

"Let _me_ go!" Mirabel eagerly proposed.

Mrs. Ellmother's face brightened. "That's kindly thought of,
sir--if you don't mind the trouble."

"My good lady, nothing is a trouble in your young mistress's
service. Give me the doctor's name and address--and tell me what
to say to him."

"There's one thing you must be careful of," Mrs. Ellmother
answered. "He mustn't come here, as if he had been sent for--she
would refuse to see him."

Mirabel understood her. "I will not forget to caution him. Kindly
tell Miss Emily I called--my name is Mirabel. I will return

He hastened away on his errand--only to find that he had arrived
too late. Doctor Allday had left London; called away to a serious
case of illness. He was not expected to get back until late in
the afternoon. Mirabel left a message, saying that he would
return in the evening.

The next visitor who arrived at the cottage was the trusty
friend, in whose generous nature Mrs. Ellmother had wisely placed
confidence. Miss Ladd had resolved to answer the telegram in
person, the moment she read it.

"If there is bad news," she said, "let me hear it at once. I am
not well enough to bear suspense; my busy life at the school is
beginning to tell on me."

"There is nothing that need alarm you, ma'am--but there is a
great deal to say, before you see Miss Emily. My stupid head
turns giddy with thinking of it. I hardly know where to begin."

"Begin with Emily," Miss Ladd suggested.

Mrs. Ellmother took the advice. She described Emily's unexpected
arrival on the previous day; and she repeated what had passed
between them afterward. Miss Ladd's first impulse, when she had
recovered her composure, was to go to Emily without waiting to
hear more. Not presuming to stop her, Mrs. Ellmother ventured to
put a question "Do you happen to have my telegram about you,
ma'am?" Miss Ladd produced it. "Will you please look at the last
part of it again?"

Miss Ladd read the words: "I have something besides to say to you
which cannot be put into a letter." She at once returned to her

"Does what you have still to tell me refer to any person whom I
know?" she said.

"It refers, ma'am, to Miss de Sor. I am afraid I shall distress

"What did I say, when I came in?" Miss Ladd asked. "Speak out
plainly; and try--it's not easy, I know--but try to begin at the

Mrs. Ellmother looked back through her memory of past events, and
began by alluding to the feeling of curiosity which she had
excited in Francine, on the day when Emily had made them known to
one another. From this she advanced to the narrative of what had
taken place at Netherwoods--to the atrocious attempt to frighten
her by means of the image of wax--to the discovery made by
Francine in the garden at night--and to the circumstances under
which that discovery had been communicated to Emily.

Miss Ladd's face reddened with indignation. "Are you sure of all
that you have said?" she asked.

"I am quite sure, ma'am. I hope I have not done wrong," Mrs.
Ellmother added simply, "in telling you all this?"

"Wrong?" Miss Ladd repeated warmly. "If that wretched girl has no
defense to offer, she is a disgrace to my school--and I owe you a
debt of gratitude for showing her to me in her true character.
She shall return at once to Netherwoods; and she shall answer me
to my entire satisfaction--or leave my house. What cruelty! what
duplicity! In all my experience of girls, I have never met with
the like of it. Let me go to my dear little Emily--and try to
forget what I have heard."

Mrs. Ellmother led the good lady to Emily's room--and, returning
to the lower part of the house, went out into the garden. The
mental effort that she had made had left its result in an aching
head, and in an overpowering sense of depression. "A mouthful of
fresh air will revive me," she thought.

The front garden and back garden at the cottage communicated with
each other. Walking slowly round and round, Mrs. Ellmother heard
footsteps on the road outside, which stopped at the gate. She
looked through the grating, and discovered Alban Morris.

"Come in, sir!" she said, rejoiced to see him. He obeyed in
silence. The full view of his face shocked Mrs. Ellmother. Never
in her experience of the friend who had been so kind to her at
Netherwoods, had he looked so old and so haggard as he looked
now. "Oh, Mr. Alban, I see how she has distressed you! Don't take
her at her word. Keep a good heart, sir--young girls are never
long together of the same mind."

Alban gave her his hand. "I mustn't speak about it," he said.
"Silence helps me to bear my misfortune as becomes a man. I have
had some hard blows in my time: they don't seem to have blunted
my sense of feeling as I thought they had. Thank God, she doesn't
know how she has made me suffer! I want to ask her pardon for
having forgotten myself yesterday. I spoke roughly to her, at one
time. No: I won't intrude on her; I have said I am sorry, in
writing. Do you mind giving it to her? Good-by--and thank you. I
mustn't stay longer; Miss Ladd expects me at Netherwoods."

"Miss Ladd is in the house, sir, at this moment."

"Here, in London!"

"Upstairs, with Miss Emily."

"Upstairs? Is Emily ill?"

"She is getting better, sir. Would you like to see Miss Ladd?"

"I should indeed! I have something to say to her--and time is of
importance to me. May I wait in the garden?"

"Why not in the parlor, sir?"

"The parlor reminds me of happier days. In time, I may have
courage enough to look at the room again. Not now."

"If she doesn't make it up with that good man," Mrs. Ellmother
thought, on her way back to the house, "my nurse-child is what I
have never believed her to be yet--she's a fool."

In half an hour more, Miss Ladd joined Alban on the little plot
of grass behind the cottage. "I bring Emily's reply to your
letter," she said. "Read it, before you speak to me."

Alban read it: "Don't suppose you have offended me--and be
assured that I feel gratefully the tone in which your note is
written. I try to write forbearingly on my side; I wish I could
write acceptably as well. It is not to be done. I am as unable as
ever to enter into your motives. You are not my relation; you
were under no obligation of secrecy: you heard me speak
ignorantly of the murder of my father, as if it had been the
murder of a stranger; and yet you kept me--deliberately, cruelly
kept me--deceived! The remembrance of it burns me like fire. I
cannot--oh, Alban, I cannot restore you to the place in my
estimation which you have lost! If you wish to help me to bear my
trouble, I entreat you not to write to me again."

Alban offered the letter silently to Miss Ladd. She signed to him
to keep it.

"I know what Emily has written," she said; "and I have told her,
what I now tell you--she is wrong; in every way, wrong. It is the
misfortune of her impetuous nature that she rushes to
conclusions--and those conclusions once formed, she holds to them
with all the strength of her character. In this matter, she has
looked at her side of the question exclusively; she is blind to
your side."

"Not willfully!" Alban interposed.

Miss Ladd looked at him with admiration. "You defend Emily?" she

"I love her," Alban answered.

Miss Ladd felt for him, as Mrs. Ellmother had felt for him.
"Trust to time, Mr. Morris," she resumed. "The danger to be
afraid of is--the danger of some headlong action, on her part, in
the interval. Who can say what the end may be, if she persists in
her present way of thinking? There is something monstrous, in a
young girl declaring that it is _her_ duty to pursue a murderer,
and to bring him to justice! Don't you see it yourself?"

A lban still defended Emily. "It seems to me to be a natural
impulse," he said--"natural, and noble."

"Noble!" Miss Ladd exclaimed.

"Yes--for it grows out of the love which has not died with her
father's death."

"Then you encourage her?"

"With my whole heart--if she would give me the opportunity!"

"We won't pursue the subject, Mr. Morris. I am told by Mrs.
Ellmother that you have something to say to me. What is it?"

"I have to ask you," Alban replied, "to let me resign my
situation at Netherwoods."

Miss Ladd was not only surprised; she was also--a very rare thing
with her--inclined to be suspicious. After what he had said to
Emily, it occurred to her that Alban might be meditating some
desperate project, with the hope of recovering his lost place in
her favor.

"Have you heard of some better employment?" she asked.

"I have heard of no employment. My mind is not in a state to give
the necessary attention to my pupils."

"Is that your only reason for wishing to leave me?"

"It is one of my reasons."

"The only one which you think it necessary to mention?"


"I shall be sorry to lose you, Mr. Morris."

"Believe me, Miss Ladd, I am not ungrateful for your kindness."

"Will you let me, in all kindness, say something more?" Miss Ladd
answered. "I don't intrude on your secrets--I only hope that you
have no rash project in view."

"I don't understand you, Miss Ladd."

"Yes, Mr. Morris--you do."

She shook hands with him--and went back to Emily.



Alban returned to Netherwoods--to continue his services, until
another master could be found to take his place.

By a later train Miss Ladd followed him. Emily was too well aware
of the importance of the mistress's presence to the well-being of
the school, to permit her to remain at the cottage. It was
understood that they were to correspond, and that Emily's room
was waiting for her at Netherwoods, whenever she felt inclined to
occupy it

Mrs. Ellmother made the tea, that evening, earlier than usual.
Being alone again with Emily, it struck her that she might take
advantage of her position to say a word in Alban's favor. She had
chosen her time unfortunately. The moment she pronounced the
name, Emily checked her by a look, and spoke of another
person--that person being Miss Jethro.

Mrs. Ellmother at once entered her protest, in her own downright
way. "Whatever you do," she said, "don't go back to that! What
does Miss Jethro matter to you?"

"I am more interested in her than you suppose--I happen to know
why she left the school."

"Begging your pardon, miss, that's quite impossible!"

"She left the school," Emily persisted, "for a serious reason.
Miss Ladd discovered that she had used false references."

"Good Lord! who told you that?"

"You see I know it. I asked Miss Ladd how she got her
information. She was bound by a promise never to mention the
person's name. I didn't say it to her--but I may say it to you. I
am afraid I have an idea of who the person was."

"No," Mrs. Ellmother obstinately asserted, "you can't possibly
know who it was! How should you know?"

"Do you wish me to repeat what I heard in that room opposite,
when my aunt was dying?"

"Drop it, Miss Emily! For God's sake, drop it!"

"I can't drop it. It's dreadful to me to have suspicions of my
aunt--and no better reason for them than what she said in a state
of delirium. Tell me, if you love me, was it her wandering fancy?
or was it the truth?"

"As I hope to be saved, Miss Emily, I can only guess as you do--I
don't rightly know. My mistress trusted me half way, as it were.
I'm afraid I have a rough tongue of my own sometimes. I offended
her--and from that time she kept her own counsel. What she did,
she did in the dark, so far as I was concerned."

"How did you offend her?"

"I shall be obliged to speak of your father if I tell you how?"

"Speak of him."

"_He_ was not to blame--mind that!" Mrs. Ellmother said
earnestly. "If I wasn't certain of what I say now you wouldn't
get a word out of me. Good harmless man--there's no denying
it--he _was_ in love with Miss Jethro! What's the matter?"

Emily was thinking of her memorable conversation with the
disgraced teacher on her last night at school. "Nothing" she
answered. "Go on."

"If he had not tried to keep it secret from us, "Mrs. Ellmother
resumed, "your aunt might never have taken it into her head that
he was entangled in a love affair of the shameful sort. I don't
deny that I helped her in her inquiries; but it was only because
I felt sure from the first that the more she discovered the more
certainly my master's innocence would show itself. He used to go
away and visit Miss Jethro privately. In the time when your aunt
trusted me, we never could find out where. She made that
discovery afterward for herself (I can't tell you how long
afterward); and she spent money in employing mean wretches to pry
into Miss Jethro's past life. She had (if you will excuse me for
saying it) an old maid's hatred of the handsome young woman, who
lured your father away from home, and set up a secret (in a
manner of speaking) between her brother and herself. I won't tell
you how we looked at letters and other things which he forgot to
leave under lock and key. I will only say there was one bit, in a
journal he kept, which made me ashamed of myself. I read it out
to Miss Letitia; and I told her in so many words, not to count
any more on me. No; I haven't got a copy of the words--I can
remember them without a copy. 'Even if my religion did not forbid
me to peril my soul by leading a life of sin with this woman whom
I love'--that was how it began--'the thought of my daughter would
keep me pure. No conduct of mine shall ever make me unworthy of
my child's affection and respect.' There! I'm making you cry; I
won't stay here any longer. All that I had to say has been said.
Nobody but Miss Ladd knows for certain whether your aunt was
innocent or guilty in the matter of Miss Jethro's disgrace.
Please to excuse me; my work's waiting downstairs."

From time to time, as she pursued her domestic labors, Mrs.
Ellmother thought of Mirabel. Hours on hours had passed--and the
doctor had not appeared. Was he too busy to spare even a few
minutes of his time? Or had the handsome little gentleman, after
promising so fairly, failed to perform his errand? This last
doubt wronged Mirabel. He had engaged to return to the doctor's
house; and he kept his word.

Doctor Allday was at home again, and was seeing patients.
Introduced in his turn, Mirabel had no reason to complain of his
reception. At the same time, after he had stated the object of
his visit, something odd began to show itself in the doctor's

He looked at Mirabel with an appearance of uneasy curiosity; and
he contrived an excuse for altering the visitor's position in the
room, so that the light fell full on Mirabel's face.

"I fancy I must have seen you," the doctor said, "at some former

"I am ashamed to say I don't remember it," Mirabel answered.

"Ah, very likely I'm wrong! I'll call on Miss Emily, sir, you may
depend on it."

Left in his consulting-room, Doctor Allday failed to ring the
bell which summoned the next patient who was waiting for him. He
took his diary from the table drawer, and turned to the daily
entries for the past month of July.

Arriving at the fifteenth day of the month, he glanced at the
first lines of writing: "A visit from a mysterious lady, calling
herself Miss Jethro. Our conference led to some very unexpected

No: that was not what he was in search of. He looked a little
lower down: and read on regularly, from that point, as follows:

"Called on Miss Emily, in great anxiety about the discoveries
which she might make among her aunt's papers. Papers all
destroyed, thank God--except the Handbill, offering a reward for
discovery of the murderer, which she found in the scrap-book.
Gave her back the Handbill. Emily much surprised that the wretch
should have escaped, with such a careful description of him
circulated everywhere. She read the description aloud to me, in
her nice clear voice: 'Supposed age between twenty-five and
thirty years. A well-made man of small stature. Fai r complexion,
delicate features, clear blue eyes. Hair light, and cut rather
short. Clean shaven, with the exception of narrow
half-whiskers'--and so on. Emily at a loss to understand how the
fugitive could disguise himself. Reminded her that he could
effectually disguise his head and face (with time to help him) by
letting his hair grow long, and cultivating his beard. Emily not
convinced, even by this self-evident view of the case. Changed
the subject."

The doctor put away his diary, and rang the bell.

"Curious," he thought. "That dandified little clergyman has
certainly reminded me of my discussion with Emily, more than two
months since. Was it his flowing hair, I wonder? or his splendid
beard? Good God! suppose it should turn out--?"

He was interrupted by the appearance of his patient. Other ailing
people followed. Doctor Allday's mind was professionally occupied
for the rest of the evening.



Shortly after Miss Ladd had taken her departure, a parcel arrived
for Emily, bearing the name of a bookseller printed on the label.
It was large, and it was heavy. "Reading enough, I should think,
to last for a lifetime," Mrs. Ellmother remarked, after carrying
the parcel upstairs.

Emily called her back as she was leaving the room. "I want to
caution you," she said, "before Miss Wyvil comes. Don't tell
her--don't tell anybody--how my father met his death. If other
persons are taken into our confidence, they will talk of it. We
don't know how near to us the murderer may be. The slightest hint
may put him on his guard."

"Oh, miss, are you still thinking of that!"

"I think of nothing else."

"Bad for your mind, Miss Emily--and bad for your body, as your
looks show. I wish you would take counsel with some discreet
person, before you move in this matter by yourself."

Emily sighed wearily. "In my situation, where is the person whom
I can trust?"

"You can trust the good doctor."

"Can I? Perhaps I was wrong when I told you I wouldn't see him.
He might be of some use to me."

Mrs. Ellmother made the most of this concession, in the fear that
Emily might change her mind. "Doctor Allday may call on you
tomorrow," she said.

"Do you mean that you have sent for him?"

"Don't be angry! I did it for the best--and Mr. Mirabel agreed
with me."

"Mr. Mirabel! What have you told Mr. Mirabel?"

"Nothing, except that you are ill. When he heard that, he
proposed to go for the doctor. He will be here again to-morrow,
to ask for news of your health. Will you see him?"

"I don't know yet--I have other things to think of. Bring Miss
Wyvil up here when she comes."

"Am I to get the spare room ready for her?"

"No. She is staying with her father at the London house."

Emily made that reply almost with an air of relief. When Cecilia
arrived, it was only by an effort that she could show grateful
appreciation of the sympathy of her dearest friend. When the
visit came to an end, she felt an ungrateful sense of freedom:
the restraint was off her mind; she could think again of the one
terrible subject that had any interest for her now. Over love,
over friendship, over the natural enjoyment of her young life,
predominated the blighting resolution which bound her to avenge
her father's death. Her dearest remembrances of him--tender
remembrances once--now burned in her (to use her own words) like
fire. It was no ordinary love that had bound parent and child
together in the bygone time. Emily had grown from infancy to
girlhood, owing all the brightness of her life--a life without a
mother, without brothers, without sisters--to her father alone.
To submit to lose this beloved, this only companion, by the cruel
stroke of disease was of all trials of resignation the hardest to
bear. But to be severed from him by the murderous hand of a man,
was more than Emily's fervent nature could passively endure.
Before the garden gate had closed on her friend she had returned
to her one thought, she was breathing again her one aspiration.
The books that she had ordered, with her own purpose in
view--books that might supply her want of experience, and might
reveal the perils which beset the course that lay before
her--were unpacked and spread out on the table. Hour after hour,
when the old servant believed that her mistress was in bed, she
was absorbed over biographies in English and French, which
related the stratagems by means of which famous policemen had
captured the worst criminals of their time. From these, she
turned to works of fiction, which found their chief topic of
interest in dwelling on the discovery of hidden crime. The night
passed, and dawn glimmered through the window--and still she
opened book after book with sinking courage--and still she gained
nothing but the disheartening conviction of her inability to
carry out her own plans. Almost every page that she turned over
revealed the immovable obstacles set in her way by her sex and
her age. Could _she_ mix with the people, or visit the scenes,
familiar to the experience of men (in fact and in fiction), who
had traced the homicide to his hiding-place, and had marked him
among his harmless fellow-creatures with the brand of Cain? No! A
young girl following, or attempting to follow, that career, must
reckon with insult and outrage--paying their abominable tribute
to her youth and her beauty, at every turn. What proportion would
the men who might respect her bear to the men who might make her
the object of advances, which it was hardly possible to imagine
without shuddering. She crept exhausted to her bed, the most
helpless, hopeless creature on the wide surface of the earth--a
girl self-devoted to the task of a man.

Careful to perform his promise to Mirabel, without delay, the
doctor called on Emily early in the morning--before the hour at
which he usually entered his consulting-room.

"Well? What's the matter with the pretty young mistress?" he
asked, in his most abrupt manner, when Mrs. Ellmother opened the
door. "Is it love? or jealousy? or a new dress with a wrinkle in

"You will hear about it, sir, from Miss Emily herself. I am
forbidden to say anything."

"But you mean to say something--for all that?"

"Don't joke, Doctor Allday! The state of things here is a great
deal too serious for joking. Make up your mind to be surprised--I
say no more."

Before the doctor could ask what this meant, Emily opened the
parlor door. "Come in!" she said, impatiently.

Doctor Allday's first greeting was strictly professional. "My
dear child, I never expected this," he began. "You are looking
wretchedly ill." He attempted to feel her pulse. She drew her
hand away from him.

"It's my mind that's ill," she answered. "Feeling my pulse won't
cure me of anxiety and distress. I want advice; I want help. Dear
old doctor, you have always been a good friend to me--be a better
friend than ever now."

"What can I do?"

"Promise you will keep secret what I am going to say to you--and
listen, pray listen patiently, till I have done."

Doctor Allday promised, and listened. He had been, in some degree
at least, prepared for a surprise--but the disclosure which now
burst on him was more than his equanimity could sustain. He
looked at Emily in silent dismay. She had surprised and shocked
him, not only by what she said, but by what she unconsciously
suggested. Was it possible that Mirabel's personal appearance had
produced on her the same impression which was present in his own
mind? His first impulse, when he was composed enough to speak,
urged him to put the question cautiously.

"If you happened to meet with the suspected man," he said, "have
you any means of identifying him?"

"None whatever, doctor. If you would only think it over--"

He stopped her there; convinced of the danger of encouraging her,
and resolved to act on his conviction.

"I have enough to occupy me in my profession," he said. "Ask your
other friend to think it over."

"What other friend?"

"Mr. Alban Morris."

The moment he pronounced the name, he saw that he had touched on
some painful association. "Has Mr. Morris refused to help you?"
he inquired.

"I have not asked him to help me."


There was no choice (with such a man
as Doctor Allday) between offending him or answering him. Emily
adopted the last alternative. On this occasion she had no reason
to complain of his silence.

"Your view of Mr. Morris's conduct surprises me," he
replied--"surprises me more than I can say," he added;
remembering that he too was guilty of having kept her in
ignorance of the truth, out of regard--mistaken regard, as it now
seemed to be--for her peace of mind.

"Be good to me, and pass it over if I am wrong," Emily said: "I
can't dispute with you; I can only tell you what I feel. You have
always been so kind to me--may I count on your kindness still?"

Doctor Allday relapsed into silence.

"May I at least ask," she went on, "if you know anything of
persons--" She paused, discouraged by the cold expression of
inquiry in the old man's eyes as he looked at her.

"What persons?" he said.

"Persons whom I suspect."

"Name them."

Emily named the landlady of the inn at Zeeland: she could now
place the right interpretation on Mrs. Rook's conduct, when the
locket had been put into her hand at Netherwoods. Doctor Allday
answered shortly and stiffly: he had never even seen Mrs. Rook.
Emily mentioned Miss Jethro next--and saw at once that she had
interested him.

"What do you suspect Miss Jethro of doing?" he asked.

"I suspect her of knowing more of my father's death than she is
willing to acknowledge," Emily replied.

The doctor's manner altered for the better. "I agree with you,"
he said frankly. "But I have some knowledge of that lady. I warn
you not to waste time and trouble in trying to discover the weak
side of Miss Jethro."

"That was not my experience of her at school," Emily rejoined.
"At the same time I don't know what may have happened since those
days. I may perhaps have lost the place I once held in her


"Through my aunt."

"Through your aunt?"

"I hope and trust I am wrong," Emily continued; "but I fear my
aunt had something to do with Miss Jethro's dismissal from the
school--and in that case Miss Jethro may have found it out." Her
eyes, resting on the doctor, suddenly brightened. "You know
something about it!" she exclaimed.

He considered a little--whether he should or should not tell her
of the letter addressed by Miss Ladd to Miss Letitia, which he
had found at the cottage.

"If I could satisfy you that your fears are well founded," he
asked, "would the discovery keep you away from Miss Jethro?"

"I should be ashamed to speak to her--even if we met."

"Very well. I can tell you positively, that your aunt was the
person who turned Miss Jethro out of the school. When I get home,
I will send you a letter that proves it."

Emily's head sank on her breast. "Why do I only hear of this
now?" she said.

"Because I had no reason for letting you know of it, before
to-day. If I have done nothing else, I have at least succeeded in
keeping you and Miss Jethro apart."

Emily looked at him in alarm. He went on without appearing to
notice that he had startled her. "I wish to God I could as easily
put a stop to the mad project which you are contemplating."

"The mad project?" Emily repeated. "Oh, Doctor Allday. Do you
cruelly leave me to myself, at the time of all others, when I am
most in need of your sympathy?"

That appeal moved him. He spoke more gently; he pitied, while he
condemned her.

"My poor dear child, I should be cruel indeed, if I encouraged
you. You are giving yourself up to an enterprise, so shockingly
unsuited to a young girl like you, that I declare I contemplate
it with horror. Think, I entreat you, think; and let me hear that
you have yielded--not to my poor entreaties--but to your own
better sense!" His voice faltered; his eyes moistened. "I shall
make a fool of myself," he burst out furiously, "if I stay here
any longer. Good-by."

He left her.

She walked to the window, and looked out at the fair morning. No
one to feel for her--no one to understand her--nothing nearer
that could speak to poor mortality of hope and encouragement than
the bright heaven, so far away! She turned from the window. "The
sun shines on the murderer," she thought, "as it shines on me."

She sat down at the table, and tried to quiet her mind; to think
steadily to some good purpose. Of the few friends that she
possessed, every one had declared that she was in the wrong. Had
_they_ lost the one loved being of all beings on earth, and lost
him by the hand of a homicide--and that homicide free? All that
was faithful, all that was devoted in the girl's nature, held her
to her desperate resolution as with a hand of iron. If she shrank
at that miserable moment, it was not from her design--it was from
the sense of her own helplessness. "Oh, if I had been a man!" she
said to herself. "Oh, if I could find a friend!"



Mrs. Ellmother looked into the parlor. "I told you Mr. Mirabel
would call again," she announced. "Here he is."

"Has he asked to see me?"

"He leaves it entirely to you."

For a moment, and a moment only, Emily was undecided. "Show him
in," she said.

Mirabel's embarrassment was visible the moment he entered the
room. For the first time in his life--in the presence of a
woman--the popular preacher was shy. He who had taken hundreds of
fair hands with sympathetic pressure--he who had offered fluent
consolation, abroad and at home, to beauty in distress--was
conscious of a rising color, and was absolutely at a loss for
words when Emily received him. And yet, though he appeared at
disadvantage--and, worse still, though he was aware of it
himself--there was nothing contemptible in his look and manner.
His silence and confusion revealed a change in him which inspired
respect. Love had developed this spoiled darling of foolish
congregations, this effeminate pet of drawing-rooms and boudoirs,
into the likeness of a Man--and no woman, in Emily's position,
could have failed to see that it was love which she herself had

Equally ill at ease, they both took refuge in the commonplace
phrases suggested by the occasion. These exhausted there was a
pause. Mirabel alluded to Cecilia, as a means of continuing the

"Have you seen Miss Wyvil?" he inquired.

"She was here last night; and I expect to see her again to-day
before she returns to Monksmoor with her father. Do you go back
with them?"

"Yes--if _you_ do."

"I remain in London."

"Then I remain in London, too."

The strong feeling that was in him had forced its way to
expression at last. In happier days--when she had persistently
refused to let him speak to her seriously--she would have been
ready with a light-hearted reply. She was silent now. Mirabel
pleaded with her not to misunderstand him, by an honest
confession of his motives which presented him under a new aspect.
The easy plausible man, who had hardly ever seemed to be in
earnest before--meant, seriously meant, what he said now.

"May I try to explain myself?" he asked.

"Certainly, if you wish it."

"Pray, don't suppose me capable," Mirabel said earnestly, "of
presuming to pay you an idle compliment. I cannot think of you,
alone and in trouble, without feeling anxiety which can only be
relieved in one way--I must be near enough to hear of you, day by
day. Not by repeating this visit! Unless you wish it, I will not
again cross the threshold of your door. Mrs. Ellmother will tell
me if your mind is more at ease; Mrs. Ellmother will tell me if
there is any new trial of your fortitude. She needn't even
mention that I have been speaking to her at the door; and she may
be sure, and you may be sure, that I shall ask no inquisitive
questions. I can feel for you in your misfortune, without wishing
to know what that misfortune is. If I can ever be of the smallest
use, think of me as your other servant. Say to Mrs. Ellmother, 'I
want him'--and say no more."

Where is the woman who could have resisted such devotion as
this--inspired, truly inspired, by herself? Emily's eyes softened
as she answered him.

"You little know how your kindness touches me," she said.

"Don't speak of my kindness until you have put me to the proof,"
he interposed. "Can a friend (such a friend as I am, I mean) be
of any use?"

"Of the greatest
use if I could feel justified in trying you."

"I entreat you to try me!"

"But, Mr. Mirabel, you don't know what I am thinking of."

"I don't want to know."

"I may be wrong. My friends all say I _am_ wrong."

"I don't care what your friends say; I don't care about any
earthly thing but your tranquillity. Does your dog ask whether
you are right or wrong? I am your dog. I think of You, and I
think of nothing else."

She looked back through the experience of the last few days. Miss
Ladd--Mrs. Ellmother--Doctor Allday: not one of them had felt for
her, not one of them had spoken to her, as this man had felt and
had spoken. She remembered the dreadful sense of solitude and
helplessness which had wrung her heart, in the interval before
Mirabel came in. Her father himself could hardly have been kinder
to her than this friend of a few weeks only. She looked at him
through her tears; she could say nothing that was eloquent,
nothing even that was adequate. "You are very good to me," was
her only acknowledgment of all that he had offered. How poor it
seemed to be! and yet how much it meant!

He rose--saying considerately that he would leave her to recover
herself, and would wait to hear if he was wanted.

"No," she said; "I must not let you go. In common gratitude I
ought to decide before you leave me, and I do decide to take you
into my confidence." She hesitated; her color rose a little. "I
know how unselfishly you offer me your help," she resumed; "I
know you speak to me as a brother might speak to a sister--"

He gently interrupted her. "No," he said; "I can't honestly claim
to do that. And--may I venture to remind you?--you know why."

She started. Her eyes rested on him with a momentary expression
of reproach.

"Is it quite fair," she asked, "in my situation, to say that?"

"Would it have been quite fair," he rejoined, "to allow you to
deceive yourself? Should I deserve to be taken into your
confidence, if I encouraged you to trust me, under false
pretenses? Not a word more of those hopes on which the happiness
of my life depends shall pass my lips, unless you permit it. In
my devotion to your interests, I promise to forget myself. My
motives may be misinterpreted; my position may be misunderstood.
Ignorant people may take me for that other happier man, who is an
object of interest to you--"

"Stop, Mr. Mirabel! The person to whom you refer has no such
claim on me as you suppose."

"Dare I say how happy I am to hear it? Will you forgive me?"

"I will forgive you if you say no more."

Their eyes met. Completely overcome by the new hope that she had
inspired, Mirabel was unable to answer her. His sensitive nerves
trembled under emotion, like the nerves of a woman; his delicate
complexion faded away slowly into whiteness. Emily was
alarmed--he seemed to be on the point of fainting. She ran to the
window to open it more widely.

"Pray don't trouble yourself," he said, "I am easily agitated by
any sudden sensation--and I am a little overcome at this moment
by my own happiness."

"Let me give you a glass of wine."

"Thank you--I don't need it indeed."

"You really feel better?"

"I feel quite well again--and eager to hear how I can serve you."

"It's a long story, Mr. Mirabel--and a dreadful story."


"Yes! Let me tell you first how you can serve me. I am in search
of a man who has done me the cruelest wrong that one human
creature can inflict on another. But the chances are all against
me--I am only a woman; and I don't know how to take even the
first step toward discovery."

"You will know, when I guide you."

He reminded her tenderly of what she might expect from him, and
was rewarded by a grateful look. Seeing nothing, suspecting
nothing, they advanced together nearer and nearer to the end.

"Once or twice," Emily continued, "I spoke to you of my poor
father, when we were at Monksmoor--and I must speak of him again.
You could have no interest in inquiring about a stranger--and you
cannot have heard how he died."

"Pardon me, I heard from Mr. Wyvil how he died."

"You heard what I had told Mr. Wyvil," Emily said: "I was wrong."

"Wrong!" Mirabel exclaimed, in a tone of courteous surprise. "Was
it not a sudden death?"

"It _was_ a sudden death."

"Caused by disease of the heart?"

"Caused by no disease. I have been deceived about my father's
death--and I have only discovered it a few days since."

At the impending moment of the frightful shock which she was
innocently about to inflict on him, she stopped--doubtful whether
it would be best to relate how the discovery had been made, or to
pass at once to the result. Mirabel supposed that she had paused
to control her agitation. He was so immeasurably far away from
the faintest suspicion of what was coming that he exerted his
ingenuity, in the hope of sparing her.

"I can anticipate the rest," he said. "Your sad loss has been
caused by some fatal accident. Let us change the subject; tell me
more of that man whom I must help you to find. It will only
distress you to dwell on your father's death."

"Distress me?" she repeated. "His death maddens me!"

"Oh, don't say that!"

"Hear me! hear me! My father died murdered, at Zeeland--and the
man you must help me to find is the wretch who killed him."

She started to her feet with a cry of terror. Mirabel dropped
from his chair senseless to the floor.



Emily recovered her presence of mind. She opened the door, so as
to make a draught of air in the room, and called for water.
Returning to Mirabel, she loosened his cravat. Mrs. Ellmother
came in, just in time to prevent her from committing a common
error in the treatment of fainting persons, by raising Mirabel's
head. The current of air, and the sprinkling of water over his
face, soon produced their customary effect. "He'll come round,
directly," Mrs. Ellmother remarked. "Your aunt was sometimes
taken with these swoons, miss; and I know something about them.
He looks a poor weak creature, in spite of his big beard. Has
anything frightened him?"

Emily little knew how correctly that chance guess had hit on the

"Nothing can possibly have frightened him," she replied; "I am
afraid he is in bad health. He turned suddenly pale while we were
talking; and I thought he was going to be taken ill; he made
light of it, and seemed to recover. Unfortunately, I was right;
it was the threatening of a fainting fit--he dropped on the floor
a minute afterward."

A sigh fluttered over Mirabel's lips. His eyes opened, looked at
Mrs. Ellmother in vacant terror, and closed again. Emily
whispered to her to leave the room. The old woman smiled
satirically as she opened the door--then looked back, with a
sudden change of humor. To see the kind young mistress bending
over the feeble little clergyman set her--by some strange
association of ideas--thinking of Alban Morris. "Ah," she
muttered to herself, on her way out, "I call _him_ a Man!"

There was wine in the sideboard--the wine which Emily had once
already offered in vain. Mirabel drank it eagerly, this time. He
looked round the room, as if he wished to be sure that they were
alone. "Have I fallen to a low place in your estimation?" he
asked, smiling faintly. "I am afraid you will think poorly enough
of your new ally, after this?"

"I only think you should take more care of your health," Emily
replied, with sincere interest in his recovery. "Let me leave you
to rest on the sofa."

He refused to remain at the cottage--he asked, with a sudden
change to fretfulness, if she would let her servant get him a
cab. She ventured to doubt whether he was quite strong enough yet
to go away by himself. He reiterated, piteously reiterated, his
request. A passing cab was stopped directly. Emily accompanied
him to the gate. "I know what to do," he said, in a hurried
absent way. "Rest and a little tonic medicine will soon set me
right." The clammy coldness of his skin made Emily shudder, as
they shook hands. "You won't think the worse of me for this?" he

"How can you imagine such a thing!" she answered warmly.

"Will you see me, if I come to-morrow?"

"I shall be anxious to see you."

So they parted. Emily returned to the house, pitying him with all
her heart.




Reaching the hotel at which he was accustomed to stay when he was
in London, Mirabel locked the door of his room. He looked at the
houses on the opposite side of the street. His mind was in such a
state of morbid distrust that he lowered the blind over the
window. In solitude and obscurity, the miserable wretch sat down
in a corner, and covered his face with his hands, and tried to
realize what had happened to him.

Nothing had been said at the fatal interview with Emily, which
could have given him the slightest warning of what was to come.
Her father's name--absolutely unknown to him when he fled from
the inn--had only been communicated to the public by the
newspaper reports of the adjourned inquest. At the time when
those reports appeared, he was in hiding, under circumstances
which prevented him from seeing a newspaper. While the murder was
still a subject of conversation, he was in France--far out of the
track of English travelers--and he remained on the continent
until the summer of eighteen hundred and eighty-one. No exercise
of discretion, on his part, could have extricated him from the
terrible position in which he was now placed. He stood pledged to
Emily to discover the man suspected of the murder of her father;
and that man was--himself!

What refuge was left open to him?

If he took to flight, his sudden disappearance would be a
suspicious circumstance in itself, and would therefore provoke
inquiries which might lead to serious results. Supposing that he
overlooked the risk thus presented, would he be capable of
enduring a separation from Emily, which might be a separation for
life? Even in the first horror of discovering his situation, her
influence remained unshaken--the animating spirit of the one
manly capacity for resistance which raised him above the reach of
his own fears. The only prospect before him which he felt himself
to be incapable of contemplating, was the prospect of leaving

Having arrived at this conclusion, his fears urged him to think
of providing for his own safety.

The first precaution to adopt was to separate Emily from friends
whose advice might be hostile to his interests--perhaps even
subversive of his security. To effect this design, he had need of
an ally whom he could trust. That ally was at his disposal, far
away in the north.

At the time when Francine's jealousy began to interfere with all
freedom of intercourse between Emily and himself at Monksmoor, he
had contemplated making arrangements which might enable them to
meet at the house of his invalid sister, Mrs. Delvin. He had
spoken of her, and of the bodily affliction which confined her to
her room, in terms which had already interested Emily. In the
present emergency, he decided on returning to the subject, and on
hastening the meeting between the two women which he had first
suggested at Mr. Wyvil's country seat.

No time was to be lost in carrying out this intention. He wrote
to Mrs. Delvin by that day's post; confiding to her, in the first
place, the critical position in which he now found himself. This
done, he proceeded as follows:

"To your sound judgment, dearest Agatha, it may appear that I am
making myself needlessly uneasy about the future. Two persons
only know that I am the man who escaped from the inn at Zeeland.
You are one of them, and Miss Jethro is the other. On you I can
absolutely rely; and, after my experience of her, I ought to feel
sure of Miss Jethro. I admit this; but I cannot get over my
distrust of Emily's friends. I fear the cunning old doctor; I
doubt Mr. Wyvil; I hate Alban Morris.

"Do me a favor, my dear. Invite Emily to be your guest, and so
separate her from these friends. The old servant who attends on
her will be included in the invitation, of course. Mrs. Ellmother
is, as I believe, devoted to the interests of Mr. Alban Morris:
she will be well out of the way of doing mischief, while we have
her safe in your northern solitude.

"There is no fear that Emily will refuse your invitation.

"In the first place, she is already interested in you. In the
second place, I shall consider the small proprieties of social
life; and, instead of traveling with her to your house, I shall
follow by a later train. In the third place, I am now the chosen
adviser in whom she trusts; and what I tell her to do, she will
do. It pains me, really and truly pains me, to be compelled to
deceive her--but the other alternative is to reveal myself as the
wretch of whom she is in search. Was there ever such a situation?
And, oh, Agatha, I am so fond of her! If I fail to persuade her
to be my wife, I don't care what becomes of me. I used to think
disgrace, and death on the scaffold, the most frightful prospect
that a man can contemplate. In my present frame of mind, a life
without Emily may just as well end in that way as in any other.
When we are together in your old sea-beaten tower, do your best,
my dear, to incline the heart of this sweet girl toward me. If
she remains in London, how do I know that Mr. Morris may not
recover the place he has lost in her good opinion? The bare idea
of it turns me cold.

"There is one more point on which I must touch, before I can
finish my letter.

"When you last wrote, you told me that Sir Jervis Redwood was not
expected to live much longer, and that the establishment would be
broken up after his death. Can you find out for me what will
become, under the circumstances, of Mr. and Mrs. Rook? So far as
I am concerned, I don't doubt that the alteration in my personal
appearance, which has protected me for years past, may be trusted
to preserve me from recognition by these two people. But it is of
the utmost importance, remembering the project to which Emily has
devoted herself, that she should not meet with Mrs. Rook. They
have been already in correspondence; and Mrs. Rook has expressed
an intention (if the opportunity offers itself) of calling at the
cottage. Another reason, and a pressing reason, for removing
Emily from London! We can easily keep the Rooks out of _your_
house; but I own I should feel more at my ease, if I heard that
they had left Northumberland."

With that confession, Mrs. Delvin's brother closed his letter.



During the first days of Mirabel's sojourn at his hotel in
London, events were in progress at Netherwoods, affecting the
interests of the man who was the especial object of his distrust.
Not long after Miss Ladd had returned to her school, she heard of
an artist who was capable of filling the place to be vacated by
Alban Morris. It was then the twenty-third of the month. In four
days more the new master would be ready to enter on his duties;
and Alban would be at liberty.

On the twenty-fourth, Alban received a telegram which startled
him. The person sending the message was Mrs. Ellmother; and the
words were: "Meet me at your railway station to-day, at two

He found the old woman in the waiting-room; and he met with a
rough reception.

"Minutes are precious, Mr. Morris," she said; "you are two
minutes late. The next train to London stops here in half an
hour--and I must go back by it."

"Good heavens, what brings you here? Is Emily--?"

"Emily is well enough in health--if that's what you mean? As to
why I come here, the reason is that it's a deal easier for me
(worse luck!) to take this journey than to write a letter. One
good turn deserves another. I don't forget how kind you were to
me, away there at the school--and I can't, and won't, see what's
going on at the cottage, behind your back, without letting you
know of it. Oh, you needn't be alarmed about _her!_ I've made an
excuse to get away for a few hours--but I haven't left her by
herself. Miss Wyvil has come to London again; and Mr. Mirabel
spends the best part of his time with her. Excuse me for a
moment, will you? I'm so thirsty after the journey, I can hardly

She presented herself at the counter in the waiting-room. "I'll
trouble you, young woman, for a glass of ale." She returned to
Alban in a better humor. "It's not bad stuff, that! When I have
my say, I'll have a drop more--just to wash the taste of Mr.
Mirabel out of my mouth. Wait a bit; I have something to ask you.
How much longer are you obliged to stop here, teaching the girls
to draw?"

"I leave Netherwoods in three days more," Alban replied.

"That's all right! You may be in time to bring Miss Emily to her
senses, yet."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean--if you don't stop it--she will marry the parson."

"I can't believe it, Mrs. Ellmother! I won't believe it!"

"Ah, it's a comfort to him, poor fellow, to say that! Look here,
Mr. Morris; this is how it stands. You're in disgrace with Miss
Emily--and he profits by it. I was fool enough to take a liking
to Mr. Mirabel when I first opened the door to him; I know better
now. He got on the blind side of me; and now he has got on the
blind side of _her_. Shall I tell you how? By doing what you
would have done if you had had the chance. He's helping her--or
pretending to help her, I don't know which--to find the man who
murdered poor Mr. Brown. After four years! And when all the
police in England (with a reward to encourage them) did their
best, and it came to nothing!"

"Never mind that!" Alban said impatiently. "I want to know how
Mr. Mirabel is helping her?"

"That's more than I can tell you. You don't suppose they take me
into their confidence? All I can do is to pick up a word, here
and there, when fine weather tempts them out into the garden. She
tells him to suspect Mrs. Rook, and to make inquiries after Miss
Jethro. And he has his plans; and he writes them down, which is
dead against his doing anything useful, in my opinion. I don't
hold with your scribblers. At the same time I wouldn't count too
positively, in your place, on his being likely to fail. That
little Mirabel--if it wasn't for his beard, I should believe he
was a woman, and a sickly woman too; he fainted in our house the
other day--that little Mirabel is in earnest. Rather than leave
Miss Emily from Saturday to Monday, he has got a parson out of
employment to do his Sunday work for him. And, what's more, he
has persuaded her (for some reasons of his own) to leave London
next week."

"Is she going back to Monksmoor?"

"Not she! Mr. Mirabel has got a sister, a widow lady; she's a
cripple, or something of the sort. Her name is Mrs. Delvin. She
lives far away in the north country, by the sea; and Miss Emily
is going to stay with her."

"Are you sure of that?"

"Sure? I've seen the letter."

"Do you mean the letter of invitation?"

"Yes--I do. Miss Emily herself showed it to me. I'm to go with
her--'in attendance on my mistress,' as the lady puts it. This I
will say for Mrs. Delvin: her handwriting is a credit to the
school that taught her; and the poor bedridden creature words her
invitation so nicely, that I myself couldn't have resisted
it--and I'm a hard one, as you know. You don't seem to heed me,
Mr. Morris."

"I beg your pardon, I was thinking."

"Thinking of what--if I may make so bold?"

"Of going back to London with you, instead of waiting till the
new master comes to take my place."

"Don't do that, sir! You would do harm instead of good, if you
showed yourself at the cottage now. Besides, it would not be fair
to Miss Ladd, to leave her before the other man takes your girls
off your hands. Trust me to look after your interests; and don't
go near Miss Emily--don't even write to her--unless you have got
something to say about the murder, which she will be eager to
hear. Make some discovery in that direction, Mr. Morris, while
the parson is only trying to do it or pretending to do it--and
I'll answer for the result. Look at the clock! In ten minutes
more the train will be here. My memory isn't as good as it was;
but I do think I have told you all I had to tell."

"You are the best of good friends!" Alban said warmly.

"Never mind about that, sir. If you want to do a friendly thing
in return, tell me if you know what has become of Miss de Sor."

"She has returned to Netherwoods."

"Aha! Miss Ladd is as good as her word. Would you mind writing to
tell me of it, if Miss de Sor leaves the school again? Good Lord!
there she is on the platform with bag and baggage. Don't let her
see me, Mr. Morris! If she comes in here, I shall set the marks
of my ten finger-nails on that false face of hers, as sure as I
am a Christian woman."

Alban placed himself at the door, so as to hide Mrs. Ellmother.
There indeed was Francine, accompanied by one of the teachers at
the school. She took a seat on the bench outside the
booking-office, in a state of sullen indifference--absorbed in
herself--noticing nothing. Urged by ungovernable curiosity, Mrs.
Ellmother stole on tiptoe to Alban's side to look at her. To a
person acquainted with the circumstances there could be no
possible doubt of what had happened. Francine had failed to
excuse herself, and had been dismissed from Miss Ladd's house.

"I would have traveled to the world's end," Mrs. Ellmother said,
"to see _that!_"

She returned to her place in the waiting-room, perfectly

The teacher noticed Alban, on leaving the booking-office after
taking the tickets. "I shall be glad," she said, looking toward
Francine, "when I have resigned the charge of that young lady to
the person who is to receive her in London."

"Is she to be sent back to her parents?" Alban asked.

"We don't know yet. Miss Ladd will write to St. Domingo by the
next mail. In the meantime, her father's agent in London--the
same person who pays her allowance--takes care of her until he
hears from the West Indies."

"Does she consent to this?"

"She doesn't seem to care what becomes of her. Miss Ladd has
given her every opportunity of explaining and excusing herself,
and has produced no impression. You can see the state she is in.
Our good mistress--always hopeful even in the worst cases, as you
know--thinks she is feeling ashamed of herself, and is too proud
and self-willed to own it. My own idea is, that some secret
disappointment is weighing on her mind. Perhaps I am wrong."

No. Miss Ladd was wrong; and the teacher was right.

The passion of revenge, being essentially selfish in its nature,
is of all passions the narrowest in its range of view. In
gratifying her jealous hatred of Emily, Francine had correctly
foreseen consequences, as they might affect the other object of
her enmity--Alban Morris. But she had failed to perceive the
imminent danger of another result, which in a calmer frame of
mind might not have escaped discovery. In triumphing over Emily
and Alban, she had been the indirect means of inflicting on
herself the bitterest of all disappointments--she had brought
Emily and Mirabel together. The first forewarning of this
catastrophe had reached her, on hearing that Mirabel would not
return to Monksmoor. Her worst fears had been thereafter
confirmed by a letter from Cecilia, which had followed her to
Netherwoods. From that moment, she, who had made others wretched,
paid the penalty in suffering as keen as any that she had
inflicted. Completely prostrated; powerless, through ignorance of
his address in London, to make a last appeal to Mirabel; she was
literally, as had just been said, careless what became of her.
When the train approached, she sprang to her feet--advanced to
the edge of the platform--and suddenly drew back, shuddering. The
teacher looked in terror at Alban. Had the desperate girl
meditated throwing herself under the wheels of the engine? The
thought had been in both their minds; but neither of them
acknowledged it. Francine stepped quietly into the carriage, when
the train drew up, and laid her head back in a corner, and closed
her eyes. Mrs. Ellmother took her place in another compartment,
and beckoned to Alban to speak to her at the window.

"Where can I see you, when you go to London?" she asked.

"At Doctor Allday's house."

"On what day?"

"On Tuesday next."



Alban reached London early enough in the afternoon to find the
doctor at his luncheon. "Too late to see Mrs. Ellmother," he
announced. "Sit down and have something to eat."

"Has she left any message for me?"

"A message, my good friend, that you won't like to hear. She is
off w ith her mistress, this morning, on a visit to Mr. Mirabel's

"Does he go with them?"

"No; he follows by a later train."

"Has Mrs. Ellmother mentioned the address?"

"There it is, in her own handwriting."

Alban read the address:--"Mrs. Delvin, The Clink, Belford,

"Turn to the back of that bit of paper," the doctor said. "Mrs.
Ellmother has written something on it."

She had written these words: "No discoveries made by Mr. Mirabel,
up to this time. Sir Jervis Redwood is dead. The Rooks are
believed to be in Scotland; and Miss Emily, if need be, is to
help the parson to find them. No news of Miss Jethro."

"Now you have got your information," Doctor Allday resumed, "let
me have a look at you. You're not in a rage: that's a good sign
to begin with."

"I am not the less determined," Alban answered.

"To bring Emily to her senses?" the doctor asked.

"To do what Mirabel has _not_ done--and then to let her choose
between us."

"Ay? ay? Your good opinion of her hasn't altered, though she has
treated you so badly?"

"My good opinion makes allowance for the state of my poor
darling's mind, after the shock that has fallen on her," Alban
answered quietly. "She is not _my_ Emily now. She will be _my_
Emily yet. I told her I was convinced of it, in the old days at
school--and my conviction is as strong as ever. Have you seen
her, since I have been away at Netherwoods?"

"Yes; and she is as angry with me as she is with you."

"For the same reason?"

"No, no. I heard enough to warn me to hold my tongue. I refused
to help her--that's all. You are a man, and you may run risks
which no young girl ought to encounter. Do you remember when I
asked you to drop all further inquiries into the murder, for
Emily's sake? The circumstances have altered since that time. Can
I be of any use?"

"Of the greatest use, if you can give me Miss Jethro's address."

"Oh! You mean to begin in that way, do you?"

"Yes. You know that Miss Jethro visited me at Netherwoods?"

"Go on."

"She showed me your answer to a letter which she had written to
you. Have you got that letter?"

Doctor Allday produced it. The address was at a post-office, in a
town on the south coast. Looking up when he had copied it, Alban
saw the doctor's eyes fixed on him with an oddly-mingled
expression: partly of sympathy, partly of hesitation.

"Have you anything to suggest?" he asked.

"You will get nothing out of Miss Jethro," the doctor answered,
"unless--" there he stopped.

"Unless, what?"

"Unless you can frighten her."

"How am I to do that?"

After a little reflection, Doctor Allday returned, without any
apparent reason, to the subject of his last visit to Emily.

"There was one thing she said, in the course of our talk," he
continued, "which struck me as being sensible: possibly (for we
are all more or less conceited), because I agreed with her
myself. She suspects Miss Jethro of knowing more about that
damnable murder than Miss Jethro is willing to acknowledge. If
you want to produce the right effect on her--" he looked hard at
Alban and checked himself once more.

"Well? what am I to do?"

"Tell her you have an idea of who the murderer is."

"But I have no idea."

"But _I_ have."

"Good God! what do you mean?"

"Don't mistake me! An impression has been produced on my
mind--that's all. Call it a freak or fancy; worth trying perhaps
as a bold experiment, and worth nothing more. Come a little
nearer. My housekeeper is an excellent woman, but I have once or
twice caught her rather too near to that door. I think I'll
whisper it."

He did whisper it. In breathless wonder, Alban heard of the doubt
which had crossed Doctor Allday's mind, on the evening when
Mirabel had called at his house.

"You look as if you didn't believe it," the doctor remarked.

"I'm thinking of Emily. For her sake I hope and trust you are
wrong. Ought I to go to her at once? I don't know what to do!"

"Find out first, my good fellow, whether I am right or wrong. You
can do it, if you will run the risk with Miss Jethro."

Alban recovered himself. His old friend's advice was clearly the
right advice to follow. He examined his railway guide, and then
looked at his watch. "If I can find Miss Jethro," he answered,
"I'll risk it before the day is out."

Tile doctor accompanied him to the door. "You will write to me,
won't you?"

"Without fail. Thank you--and good-by."




Early in the last century one of the picturesque race of robbers
and murderers, practicing the vices of humanity on the
borderlands watered by the river Tweed, built a tower of stone on
the coast of Northumberland. He lived joyously in the
perpetration of atrocities; and he died penitent, under the
direction of his priest. Since that event, he has figured in
poems and pictures; and has been greatly admired by modern ladies
and gentlemen, whom he would have outraged and robbed if he had
been lucky enough to meet with them in the good old times.

His son succeeded him, and failed to profit by the paternal
example: that is to say, he made the fatal mistake of fighting
for other people instead of fighting for himself.

In the rebellion of Forty-Five, this northern squire sided to
serious purpose with Prince Charles and the Highlanders. He lost
his head; and his children lost their inheritance. In the lapse
of years, the confiscated property fell into the hands of
strangers; the last of whom (having a taste for the turf)
discovered, in course of time, that he was in want of money. A
retired merchant, named Delvin (originally of French extraction),
took a liking to the wild situation, and purchased the tower. His
wife--already in failing health--had been ordered by the doctors
to live a quiet life by the sea. Her husband's death left her a
rich and lonely widow; by day and night alike, a prisoner in her
room; wasted by disease, and having but two interests which
reconciled her to life--writing poetry in the intervals of pain,
and paying the debts of a reverend brother who succeeded in the
pulpit, and prospered nowhere else.

In the later days of its life, the tower had been greatly
improved as a place of residence. The contrast was remarkable
between the dreary gray outer walls, and the luxuriously
furnished rooms inside, rising by two at a time to the lofty
eighth story of the building. Among the scattered populace of the
country round, the tower was still known by the odd name given to
it in the bygone time--"The Clink." It had been so called (as was
supposed) in allusion to the noise made by loose stones, washed
backward and forward at certain times of the tide, in hollows of
the rock on which the building stood.

On the evening of her arrival at Mrs. Delvin's retreat, Emily
retired at an early hour, fatigued by her long journey. Mirabel
had an opportunity of speaking with his sister privately in her
own room.

"Send me away, Agatha, if I disturb you," he said, "and let me
know when I can see you in the morning."

"My dear Miles, have you forgotten that I am never able to sleep
in calm weather? My lullaby, for years past, has been the moaning
of the great North Sea, under my window. Listen! There is not a
sound outside on this peaceful night. It is the right time of the
tide, just now--and yet, 'the clink' is not to be heard. Is the
moon up?"

Mirabel opened the curtains. "The whole sky is one great abyss of
black," he answered. "If I was superstitious, I should think that
horrid darkness a bad omen for the future. Are you suffering,

"Not just now. I suppose I look sadly changed for the worse since
you saw me last?"

But for the feverish brightness of her eyes, she would have
looked like a corpse. Her wrinkled forehead, her hollow cheeks,
her white lips told their terrible tale of the suffering of
years. The ghastly appearance of her face was heightened by the
furnishing of the room. This doomed woman, dying slowly day by
day, delighted in bright colors and sumptuous materials. The
paper on the walls, the curtains, the carpet presented the hues
of the rainbow. She lay on a couch covered with purple silk,
under draperies of green velvet to keep her warm. Rich lace hid h
er scanty hair, turning prematurely gray; brilliant rings
glittered on her bony fingers. The room was in a blaze of light
from lamps and candles. Even the wine at her side that kept her
alive had been decanted into a bottle of lustrous Venetian glass.
"My grave is open," she used to say; "and I want all these
beautiful things to keep me from looking at it. I should die at
once, if I was left in the dark."

Her brother sat by the couch, thinking "Shall I tell you what is
in your mind?" she asked.

Mirabel humored the caprice of the moment. "Tell me!" he said.

"You want to know what I think of Emily," she answered. "Your
letter told me you were in love; but I didn't believe your
letter. I have always doubted whether you were capable of feeling
true love--until I saw Emily. The moment she entered the room, I
knew that I had never properly appreciated my brother. You _are_
in love with her, Miles; and you are a better man than I thought
you. Does that express my opinion?"

Mirabel took her wasted hand, and kissed it gratefully.

"What a position I am in!" he said. "To love her as I love her;
and, if she knew the truth, to be the object of her horror--to be
the man whom she would hunt to the scaffold, as an act of duty to
the memory of her father!"

"You have left out the worst part of it," Mrs. Delvin reminded
him. "You have bound yourself to help her to find the man. Your
one hope of persuading her to become your wife rests on your
success in finding him. And you are the man. There is your
situation! You can't submit to it. How can you escape from it?"

"You are trying to frighten me, Agatha."

"I am trying to encourage you to face your position boldly."

"I am doing my best," Mirabel said, with sullen resignation.
"Fortune has favored me so far. I have, really and truly, been
unable to satisfy Emily by discovering Miss Jethro. She has left
the place at which I saw her last--there is no trace to be found
of her--and Emily knows it."

"Don't forget," Mrs. Delvin replied, "that there is a trace to be
found of Mrs. Rook, and that Emily expects you to follow it."

Mirabel shuddered. "I am surrounded by dangers, whichever way I
look," he said. "Do what I may, it turns out to be wrong. I was
wrong, perhaps, when I brought Emily here."


"I could easily make an excuse," Mirabel persisted "and take her
back to London."

"And for all you know to the contrary," his wiser sister replied,
"Mrs. Rook may go to London; and you may take Emily back in time
to receive her at the cottage. In every way you are safer in my
old tower. And--don't forget--you have got my money to help you,
if you want it. In my belief, Miles, you _will_ want it."

"You are the dearest and best of sisters! What do you recommend
me to do?"

"What you would have been obliged to do," Mrs. Delvin answered,
"if you had remained in London. You must go to Redwood Hall
tomorrow, as Emily has arranged it. If Mrs. Rook is not there,
you must ask for her address in Scotland. If nobody knows the
address, you must still bestir yourself in trying to find it.
And, when you do fall in with Mrs. Rook--"


"Take care, wherever it may be, that you see her privately."

Mirabel was alarmed. "Don't keep me in suspense," he burst out.
"Tell me what you propose."

"Never mind what I propose, to-night. Before I can tell you what
I have in my mind, I must know whether Mrs. Rook is in England or
Scotland. Bring me that information to-morrow, and I shall have
something to say to you. Hark! The wind is rising, the rain is
falling. There is a chance of sleep for me--I shall soon hear the
sea. Good-night."

"Good-night, dearest--and thank you again, and again!"



Early in the morning Mirabel set forth for Redwood Hall, in one
of the vehicles which Mrs. Delvin still kept at "The Clink" for
the convenience of visitors. He returned soon after noon; having
obtained information of the whereabout of Mrs. Rook and her
husband. When they had last been heard of, they were at Lasswade,
near Edinburgh. Whether they had, or had not, obtained the
situation of which they were in search, neither Miss Redwood nor
any one else at the Hall could tell.

In half an hour more, another horse was harnessed, and Mirabel
was on his way to the railway station at Belford, to follow Mrs.
Rook at Emily's urgent request. Before his departure, he had an
interview with his sister.

Mrs. Delvin was rich enough to believe implicitly in the power of
money. Her method of extricating her brother from the serious
difficulties that beset him, was to make it worth the while of
Mr. and Mrs. Rook to leave England. Their passage to America
would be secretly paid; and they would take with them a letter of
credit addressed to a banker in New York. If Mirabel failed to
discover them, after they had sailed, Emily could not blame his
want of devotion to her interests. He understood this; but he
remained desponding and irresolute, even with the money in his
hands. The one person who could rouse his courage and animate his
hope, was also the one person who must know nothing of what had
passed between his sister and himself. He had no choice but to
leave Emily, without being cheered by her bright looks,
invigorated by her inspiriting words. Mirabel went away on his
doubtful errand with a heavy heart.

"The Clink" was so far from the nearest post town, that the few
letters, usually addressed to the tower, were delivered by
private arrangement with a messenger. The man's punctuality
depended on the convenience of his superiors employed at the
office. Sometimes he arrived early, and sometimes he arrived
late. On this particular morning he presented himself, at half
past one o'clock, with a letter for Emily; and when Mrs.
Ellmother smartly reproved him for the delay, he coolly
attributed it to the hospitality of friends whom he had met on
the road.

The letter, directed to Emily at the cottage, had been forwarded
from London by the person left in charge. It addressed her as
"Honored Miss." She turned at once to the end--and discovered the
signature of Mrs. Rook!

"And Mr. Mirabel has gone, "Emily exclaimed, "just when his
presence is of the greatest importance to us!"

Shrewd Mrs. Ellmother suggested that it might be as well to read
the letter first--and then to form an opinion.

Emily read it.

"Lasswade, near
Edinburgh, Sept. 26th.

"HONORED MISS--I take up my pen to bespeak your kind sympathy for
my husband and myself; two old people thrown on the world again
by the death of our excellent master. We are under a month's
notice to leave Redwood Hall.

"Hearing of a situation at this place (also that our expenses
would be paid if we applied personally), we got leave of absence,
and made our application. The lady and her son are either the
stingiest people that ever lived--or they have taken a dislike to
me and my husband, and they make money a means of getting rid of
us easily. Suffice it to say that we have refused to accept
starvation wages, and that we are still out of place. It is just
possible that you may have heard of something to suit us. So I
write at once, knowing that good chances are often lost through
needless delay.

"We stop at Belford on our way back, to see some friends of my
husband, and we hope to get to Redwood Hall in good time on the
28th. Would you please address me to care of Miss Redwood, in
case you know of any good situation for which we could apply.
Perhaps we may be driven to try our luck in London. In this case,
will you permit me to have the honor of presenting my respects,
as I ventured to propose when I wrote to you a little time since.

"I beg to remain, Honored Miss,

"Your humble


Emily handed the letter to Mrs. Ellmother. "Read it," she said,
"and tell me what you think."

"I think you had better be careful."

"Careful of Mrs. Rook?"

"Yes--and careful of Mrs. Delvin too."

Emily was astonished. "Are you really speaking seriously?" she
said. "Mrs. Delvin is a most interesting person; so patient under
her sufferings; so kind, so clever; so interested in all that
interests _me_. I shall take the letter to her at once, and ask
her advice."

"Have your own way, miss. I can't tell you why--but I don't like

Mrs. Delvin's devotion to the interests of her guest took even
Emily by surprise. After reading Mrs. Rook's letter, she rang the
bell on her table in a frenzy of impatience. "My brother must be
instantly recalled," she said. "Telegraph to him in your own
name, telling him what has happened. He will find the message
waiting for him, at the end of his journey."

The groom, summoned by the bell, was ordered to saddle the third
and last horse left in the stables; to take the telegram to
Belford, and to wait there until the answer arrived.

"How far is it to Redwood Hall?" Emily asked, when the man had
received his orders.

"Ten miles," Mrs. Delvin answered.

"How can I get there to-day?"

"My dear, you can't get there."

"Pardon me, Mrs. Delvin, I must get there."

"Pardon _me_. My brother represents you in this matter. Leave it
to my brother."

The tone taken by Mirabel's sister was positive, to say the least
of it. Emily thought of what her faithful old servant had said,
and began to doubt her own discretion in so readily showing the
letter. The mistake--if a mistake it was--had however been
committed; and, wrong or right, she was not disposed to occupy
the subordinate position which Mrs. Delvin had assigned to her.

"If you will look at Mrs. Rook's letter again," Emily replied,
"you will see that I ought to answer it. She supposes I am in

"Do you propose to tell Mrs. Rook that you are in this house?"
Mrs. Delvin asked.


"You had better consult my brother, before you take any
responsibility on yourself."

Emily kept her temper. "Allow me to remind you," she said, "that
Mr. Mirabel is not acquainted with Mrs. Rook--and that I am. If I
speak to her personally, I can do much to assist the object of
our inquiries, before he returns. She is not an easy woman to
deal with--"

"And therefore," Mrs. Delvin interposed, "the sort of person who
requires careful handling by a man like my brother--a man of the

"The sort of person, as I venture to think," Emily persisted,
"whom I ought to see with as little loss of time as possible."

Mrs. Delvin waited a while before she replied. In her condition
of health, anxiety was not easy to bear. Mrs. Rook's letter and
Emily's obstinacy had seriously irritated her. But, like all
persons of ability, she was capable, when there was serious
occasion for it, of exerting self-control. She really liked and
admired Emily; and, as the elder woman and the hostess, she set
an example of forbearance and good humor.

"It is out of my power to send you to Redwood Hall at once," she
resumed. "The only one of my three horses now at your disposal is
the horse which took my brother to the Hall this morning. A
distance, there and back, of twenty miles. You are not in too
great a hurry, I am sure, to allow the horse time to rest?"

Emily made her excuses with perfect grace and sincerity. "I had
no idea the distance was so great," she confessed. "I will wait,
dear Mrs. Delvin, as long as you like."

They parted as good friends as ever--with a certain reserve,
nevertheless, on either side. Emily's eager nature was depressed
and irritated by the prospect of delay. Mrs. Delvin, on the other
hand (devoted to her brother's interests), thought hopefully of
obstacles which might present themselves with the lapse of time.
The horse might prove to be incapable of further exertion for
that day. Or the threatening aspect of the weather might end in a

But the hours passed--and the sky cleared--and the horse was
reported to be fit for work again. Fortune was against the lady
of the tower; she had no choice but to submit.

Mrs. Delvin had just sent word to Emily that the carriage would
be ready for her in ten minutes, when the coachman who had driven
Mirabel to Belford returned. He brought news which agreeably
surprised both the ladies. Mirabel had reached the station five
minutes too late; the coachman had left him waiting the arrival
of the next train to the North. He would now receive the
telegraphic message at Belford, and might return immediately by
taking the groom's horse. Mrs. Delvin left it to Emily to decide
whether she would proceed by herself to Redwood Hall, or wait for
Mirabel's return.

Under the changed circumstances, Emily would have acted
ungraciously if she had persisted in holding to her first
intention. She consented to wait.

The sea still remained calm. In the stillness of the moorland
solitude on the western side of "The Clink," the rapid steps of a
horse were heard at some little distance on the highroad.

Emily ran out, followed by careful Mrs. Ellmother, expecting to
meet Mirabel.

She was disappointed: it was the groom who had returned. As he
pulled up at the house, and dismounted, Emily noticed that the
man looked excited.

"Is there anything wrong?" she asked.

"There has been an accident, miss."

"Not to Mr. Mirabel!''

"No, no, miss. An accident to a poor foolish woman, traveling
from Lasswade."

Emily looked at Mrs. Ellmother. "It can't be Mrs. Rook!" she

"That's the name, miss! She got out before the train had quite
stopped, and fell on the platform."

"Was she hurt?"

"Seriously hurt, as I heard. They carried her into a house hard
by--and sent for the doctor."

"Was Mr. Mirabel one of the people who helped her?"

"He was on the other side of the platform, miss; waiting for the
train from London. I got to the station and gave him the
telegram, just as the accident took place. We crossed over to
hear more about it. Mr. Mirabel was telling me that he would
return to 'The Clink' on my horse--when he heard the woman's name
mentioned. Upon that, he changed his mind and went to the house."

"Was he let in?"

"The doctor wouldn't hear of it. He was making his examination;
and he said nobody was to be in the room but her husband and the
woman of the house."

"Is Mr. Mirabel waiting to see her?"

"Yes, miss. He said he would wait all day, if necessary; and he
gave me this bit of a note to take to the mistress."

Emily turned to Mrs. Ellmother. "It's impossible to stay here,
not knowing whether Mrs. Rook is going to live or die," she said.
"I shall go to Belford--and you will go with me."

The groom interfered. "I beg your pardon, miss. It was Mr.
Mirabel's most particular wish that you were not, on any account,

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