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LITTLE NOVELS by Wilkie Collins

Part 2 out of 10

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life--except when one of my schoolgirl friends sometimes took me
home with her for a few days at vacation time. Never mind. My
pride held me up.

As the last half-year of my time at school approached, I began to
consider the serious question of my future life.

Of course, I could have lived on my eighty pounds a year; but
what a lonely, barren existence it promised to be!--unless
somebody married me; and where, if you please, was I to find him?
My education had thoroughly fitted me to be a governess. Why not
try my fortune, and see a little of the world in that way? Even
if I fell among ill-conditioned people, I could be independent of
them, and retire on my income.

The rector, visiting London, came to see me. He not only approved
of my idea--he offered me a means of carrying it out. A worthy
family, recently settled at Sandwich, were in want of a
governess. The head of the household was partner in a business
(the exact nature of which it is needless to mention) having
"branches" out of London. He had become superintendent of a new
"branch"--tried as a commercial experiment, under special
circumstances, at Sandwich. The idea of returning to my native
place pleased me--dull as the place was to others. I accepted the

When the steward's usual half-yearly letter arrived soon
afterward, inquiring what plans I had formed on leaving school,
and what he could do to help them, acting on behalf of Sir
Gervase, a delicious tingling filled me from head to foot when I
thought of my own independence. It was not ingratitude toward my
benefactor; it was only my little private triumph over Lady
Damian. Oh, my sisters of the sex, can you not understand and
forgive me?

So to Sandwich I returned; and there, for three years, I remained
with the kindest people who ever breathed the breath of life.
Under their roof I was still living when I met with my lost
gentleman in the street.

Ah, me! the end of that quiet, pleasant life was near. When I
lightly spoke to the odd stranger of the expiring trade of the
town, I never expected that my employer's trade was expiring too.
The speculation had turned out to be a losing one; and all his
savings had been embarked in it. He could no longer remain at
Sandwich, or afford to keep a governess. His wife broke the sad
news to me. I was so fond of the children, I proposed to her to
give up my salary. Her husband refused even to consider the
proposal. It was the old story of poor humanity over again. We
cried, we kissed, we parted.

What was I to do next?--Write to Sir Gervase?

I had already written, soon after my return to Sandwich; breaking
through the regulations by directly addressing Sir Gervase. I
expressed my grateful sense of his generosity to a poor girl who
had no family claim on him; and I promised to make the one return
in my power by trying to be worthy of the interest he had taken
in me. The letter was written without any alloy of mental
reserve. My new life as a governess was such a happy one that I
had forgotten my paltry bitterness of feeling against Lady

It was a relief to think of this change for the better, when the
secretary at Garrum Park informed me that he had forwarded my
letter to Sir Gervase, then at Madeira with his sick wife. She
was slowly and steadily wasting away in a decline. Before another
year had passed, Sir Gervase was left a widower for the second
time, with no child to console him under his loss. No answer came
to my grateful letter. I should have been unreasonable indeed if
I had expected the bereaved husband to remember me in his grief
and loneliness. Could I write to him again, in my own trumpery
little interests, under these circumstances? I thought (and still
think) that the commonest feeling of delicacy forbade it. The
only other alternative was to appeal to the ever-ready friends of
the obscure and helpless public. I advertised in the newspapers.

The tone of one of the answers which I received impressed me so
favorably, that I forwarded my references. The next post brought
my written engagement, and the offer of a salary which doubled my

The story of the past is told; and now we may travel on again,
with no more stoppages by the way.


THE residence of my present employer was in the north of England.
Having to pass through London, I arranged to stay in town for a
few days to make some necessary additions to my wardrobe. An old
servant of the rector, who kept a lodging-house in the suburbs,
received me kindly, and guided my choice in the serious matter of
a dressmaker. On the second morning after my arrival an event
happened. The post brought me a letter forwarded from the
rectory. Imagine my astonishment when my correspondent proved to
be Sir Gervase Damian himself!

The letter was dated from his house in London. It briefly invited
me to call and see him, for a reason which I should hear from his
own lips. He naturally supposed that I was still at Sandwich, and
requested me, in a postscript, to consider my journey as made at
his expense.

I went to the house the same day. While I was giving my name, a
gentleman came out into the hall. He spoke to me without

"Sir Gervase," he said, "believes he is going to die. Don't
encourage him in that idea. He may live for another year or more,
if his friends will only persuade him to be hopeful about

With that, the gentleman left me; the servant said i t was the

The change in my benefactor, since I had seen him last, startled
and distressed me. He lay back in a large arm-chair, wearing a
grim black dressing-gown, and looking pitiably thin and pinched
and worn. I do not think I should have known him again, if we had
met by accident. He signed to me to be seated on a little chair
by his side.

"I wanted to see you," he said quietly, "before I die. You must
have thought me neglectful and unkind, with good reason. My
child, you have not been forgotten. If years have passed without
a meeting between us, it has not been altogether my fault--"

He stopped. A pained expression passed over his poor worn face;
he was evidently thinking of the young wife whom he had lost. I
repeated--fervently and sincerely repeated--what I had already
said to him in writing. "I owe everything, sir, to your fatherly
kindness." Saying this, I ventured a little further. I took his
wan white hand, hanging over the arm of the chair, and
respectfully put it to my lips.

He gently drew his hand away from me, and sighed as he did it.
Perhaps _she_ had sometimes kissed his hand.

"Now tell me about yourself," he said.

I told him of my new situation, and how I had got it. He listened
with evident interest.

"I was not self-deceived," he said, "when I first took a fancy to
you in the shop. I admire your independent feeling; it's the
right kind of courage in a girl like you. But you must let me do
something more for you--some little service to remember me by
when the end has come. What shall it be?"

"Try to get better, sir; and let me write to you now and then," I
answered. "Indeed, indeed, I want nothing more."

"You will accept a little present, at least?" With those words he
took from the breast-pocket of his dressing-gown an enameled
cross attached to a gold chain. "Think of me sometimes," he said,
as he put the chain round my neck. He drew me to him gently, and
kissed my forehead. It was too much for me. "Don't cry, my dear,"
he said; "don't remind me of another sad young face--"

Once more he stopped; once more he was thinking of the lost wife.
I pulled down my veil, and ran out of the room.


THE next day I was on my way to the north. My narrative brightens
again--but let us not forget Sir Gervase Damian.

I ask permission to introduce some persons of distinction:--Mrs.
Fosdyke, of Carsham Hall, widow of General Fosdyke; also Master
Frederick, Miss Ellen, and Miss Eva, the pupils of the new
governess; also two ladies and three gentlemen, guests staying in
the house.

Discreet and dignified; handsome and well-bred--such was my
impression of Mrs. Fosdyke, while she harangued me on the subject
of her children, and communicated her views on education. Having
heard the views before from others, I assumed a listening
position, and privately formed my opinion of the schoolroom. It
was large, lofty, perfectly furnished for the purpose; it had a
big window and a balcony looking out over the garden terrace and
the park beyond--a wonderful schoolroom, in my limited
experience. One of the two doors which it possessed was left
open, and showed me a sweet little bedroom, with amber draperies
and maplewood furniture, devoted to myself. Here were wealth and
liberality, in the harmonious combination so seldom discovered by
the spectator of small means. I controlled my first feeling of
bewilderment just in time to answer Mrs. Fosdyke on the subject
of reading and recitation--viewed as minor accomplishments which
a good governess might be expected to teach.

"While the organs are young and pliable," the lady remarked, "I
regard it as of great importance to practice children in the art
of reading aloud, with an agreeable variety of tone and
correctness of emphasis. Trained in this way, they will produce a
favorable impression on others, even in ordinary conversation,
when they grow up. Poetry, committed to memory and recited, is a
valuable means toward this end. May I hope that your studies have
enabled you to carry out my views?"

Formal enough in language, but courteous and kind in manner. I
relieved Mrs. Fosdyke from anxiety by informing her that we had a
professor of elocution at school. And then I was left to improve
my acquaintance with my three pupils.

They were fairly intelligent children; the boy, as usual, being
slower than the girls. I did my best--with many a sad remembrance
of the far dearer pupils whom I had left--to make them like me
and trust me; and I succeeded in winning their confidence. In a
week from the time of my arrival at Carsham Hall, we began to
understand each other.

The first day in the week was one of our days for reciting
poetry, in obedience to the instructions with which I had been
favored by Mrs. Fosdyke. I had done with the girls, and had just
opened (perhaps I ought to say profaned) Shakespeare's "Julius
Caesar," in the elocutionary interests of Master Freddy. Half of
Mark Antony's first glorious speech over Caesar's dead body he
had learned by heart; and it was now my duty to teach him, to the
best of my small ability, how to speak it. The morning was warm.
We had our big window open; the delicious perfume of flowers in
the garden beneath filled the room.

I recited the first eight lines, and stopped there feeling that I
must not exact too much from the boy at first. "Now, Freddy," I
said, "try if you can speak the poetry as I have spoken it."

"Don't do anything of the kind, Freddy," said a voice from the
garden; "it's all spoken wrong."

Who was this insolent person? A man unquestionably--and, strange
to say, there was something not entirely unfamiliar to me in his
voice. The girls began to giggle. Their brother was more
explicit. "Oh," says Freddy, "it's only Mr. Sax."

The one becoming course to pursue was to take no notice of the
interruption. "Go on," I said. Freddy recited the lines, like a
dear good boy, with as near an imitation of my style of elocution
as could be expected from him.

"Poor devil!" cried the voice from the garden, insolently pitying
my attentive pupil.

I imposed silence on the girls by a look--and then, without
stirring from my chair, expressed my sense of the insolence of
Mr. Sax in clear and commanding tones. "I shall be obliged to
close the window if this is repeated." Having spoken to that
effect, I waited in expectation of an apology. Silence was the
only apology. It was enough for me that I had produced the right
impression. I went on with my recitation.

"Here, under leave of Brutus, and the rest
(For Brutus is an honorable man;
So are they all, all honorable men),
Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me--"

"Oh, good heavens, I can't stand _that!_ Why don't you speak the
last line properly? Listen to me."

Dignity is a valuable quality, especially in a governess. But
there are limits to the most highly trained endurance. I bounced
out into the balcony--and there, on the terrace, smoking a cigar,
was my lost stranger in the streets of Sandwich!

He recognized me, on his side, the instant I appeared. "Oh,
Lord!" he cried in tones of horror, and ran round the corner of
the terrace as if my eyes had been mad bulls in close pursuit of
him. By this time it is, I fear, useless for me to set myself up
as a discreet person in emergencies. Another woman might have
controlled herself. I burst into fits of laughter. Freddy and the
girls joined me. For the time, it was plainly useless to pursue
the business of education. I shut up Shakespeare, and
allowed--no, let me tell the truth, encouraged--the children to
talk about Mr. Sax.

They only seemed to know what Mr. Sax himself had told them. His
father and mother and brothers and sisters had all died in course
of time. He was the sixth and last of the children, and he had
been christened "Sextus" in consequence, which is Latin (here
Freddy interposed) for sixth. Also christened "Cyril" (here the
girls recovered the lead) by his mother's request; "Sextus" being
such a hideous name. And which of his Christian names does he
use? You wouldn't ask if you knew him! "Sextus," of course,
because it is the ugliest. Sextus Sax? N ot the romantic sort of
name that one likes, when one is a woman. But I have no right to
be particular. My own name (is it possible that I have not
mentioned it in these pages yet?) is only Nancy Morris. Do not
despise me--and let us return to Mr. Sax.

Is he married? The eldest girl thought not. She had heard mamma
say to a lady, "An old German family, my dear, and, in spite of
his oddities, an excellent man; but so poor--barely enough to
live on--and blurts out the truth, if people ask his opinion, as
if he had twenty thousand a year!" "Your mamma knows him well, of
course?" "I should think so, and so do we. He often comes here.
They say he's not good company among grown-up people. _We_ think
him jolly. He understands dolls, and he's the best back at
leap-frog in the whole of England." Thus far we had advanced in
the praise of Sextus Sax, when one of the maids came in with a
note for me. She smiled mysteriously, and said, "I'm to wait for
an answer, miss."

I opened the note, and read these lines:--

"I am so ashamed of myself, I daren't attempt to make my
apologies personally. Will you accept my written excuses? Upon my
honor, nobody told me when I got here yesterday that you were in
the house. I heard the recitation, and--can you excuse my
stupidity?--I thought it was a stage-struck housemaid amusing
herself with the children. May I accompany you when you go out
with the young ones for your daily walk? One word will do. Yes or
no. Penitently yours--S. S."

In my position, there was but one possible answer to this.
Governesses must not make appointments with strange
gentlemen--even when the children are present in the capacity of
witnesses. I said, No. Am I claiming too much for my readiness to
forgive injuries, when I add that I should have preferred saying

We had our early dinner, and then got ready to go out walking as
usual. These pages contain a true confession. Let me own that I
hoped Mr. Sax would understand my refusal, and ask Mrs. Fosdyke's
leave to accompany us. Lingering a little as we went downstairs,
I heard him in the hall--actually speaking to Mrs. Fosdyke! What
was he saying? That darling boy, Freddy, got into a difficulty
with one of his boot-laces exactly at the right moment. I could
help him, and listen--and be sadly disappointed by the result.
Mr. Sax was offended with me.

"You needn't introduce me to the new governess," I heard him say.
"We have met on a former occasion, and I produced a disagreeable
impression on her. I beg you will not speak of me to Miss

Before Mrs. Fosdyke could say a word in reply, Master Freddy
changed suddenly from a darling boy to a detestable imp. "I say,
Mr. Sax!" he called out, "Miss Morris doesn't mind you a bit--she
only laughs at you."

The answer to this was the sudden closing of a door. Mr. Sax had
taken refuge from me in one of the ground-floor rooms. I was so
mortified, I could almost have cried.

Getting down into the hall, we found Mrs. Fosdyke with her garden
hat on, and one of the two ladies who were staying in the house
(the unmarried one) whispering to her at the door of the
morning-room. The lady--Miss Melbury--looked at me with a certain
appearance of curiosity which I was quite at a loss to
understand, and suddenly turned away toward the further end of
the hall.

"I will walk with you and the children," Mrs. Fosdyke said to me.
"Freddy, you can ride your tricycle if you like." She turned to
the girls. "My dears, it's cool under the trees. You may take
your skipping-ropes."

She had evidently something special to say to me; and she had
adopted the necessary measures for keeping the children in front
of us, well out of hearing. Freddy led the way on his horse on
three wheels; the girls followed, skipping merrily. Mrs. Fosdyke
opened the business by the most embarrassing remark that she
could possibly have made under the circumstances.

"I find that you are acquainted with Mr. Sax," she began; "and I
am surprised to hear that you dislike him."

She smiled pleasantly, as if my supposed dislike of Mr. Sax
rather amused her. What "the ruling passion" may be among men, I
cannot presume to consider. My own sex, however, I may claim to
understand. The ruling passion among women is Conceit. My
ridiculous notion of my own consequence was wounded in some way.
I assumed a position of the loftiest indifference.

"Really, ma'am," I said, "I can't undertake to answer for any
impression that Mr. Sax may have formed. We met by the merest
accident. I know nothing about him."

Mrs. Fosdyke eyed me slyly, and appeared to be more amused than

"He is a very odd man," she admitted, "but I can tell you there
is a fine nature under that strange surface of his. However," she
went on, "I am forgetting that he forbids me to talk about him in
your presence. When the opportunity offers, I shall take my own
way of teaching you two to understand each other: you will both
be grateful to me when I have succeeded. In the meantime, there
is a third person who will be sadly disappointed to hear that you
know nothing about Mr. Sax."

"May I ask, ma'am, who the person is?"

"Can you keep a secret, Miss Morris? Of course you can! The
person is Miss Melbury."

(Miss Melbury was a dark woman. It cannot be because I am a fair
woman myself--I hope I am above such narrow prejudices as
that--but it is certainly true that I don't admire dark women.)

"She heard Mr. Sax telling me that you particularly disliked him,
" Mrs. Fosdyke proceeded. "And just as you appeared in the hall,
she was asking me to find out what your reason was. My own
opinion of Mr. Sax, I ought to tell you, doesn't satisfy her; I
am his old friend, and I present him of course from my own
favorable point of view. Miss Melbury is anxious to be made
acquainted with his faults--and she expected you to be a valuable
witness against him."

Thus far we had been walking on. We now stopped, as if by common
consent, and looked at one another.

In my previous experience of Mrs. Fosdyke, I had only seen the
more constrained and formal side of her character. Without being
aware of my own success, I had won the mother's heart in winning
the goodwill of her children. Constraint now seized its first
opportunity of melting away; the latent sense of humor in the
great lady showed itself, while I was inwardly wondering what the
nature of Miss Melbury's extraordinary interest in Mr. Sax might
be. Easily penetrating my thoughts, she satisfied my curiosity
without committing herself to a reply in words. Her large gray
eyes sparkled as they rested on my face, and she hummed the tune
of the old French song, _"C'est l'amour, l'amour, l'amour!"_
There is no disguising it--something in this disclosure made me
excessively angry. Was I angry with Miss Melbury? or with Mr.
Sax? or with myself? I think it must have been with myself.

Finding that I had nothing to say on my side, Mrs. Fosdyke looked
at her watch, and remembered her domestic duties. To my relief,
our interview came to an end.

"I have a dinner-party to-day," she said, "and I have not seen
the housekeeper yet. Make yourself beautiful, Miss Morris, and
join us in the drawing-room after dinner."


I WORE my best dress; and, in all my life before, I never took
such pains with my hair. Nobody will be foolish enough, I hope,
to suppose that I did this on Mr. Sax's account. How could I
possibly care about a man who was little better than a stranger
to me? No! the person I dressed at was Miss Melbury.

She gave me a look, as I modestly placed myself in a corner,
which amply rewarded me for the time spent on my toilet. The
gentlemen came in. I looked at Mr. Sax (mere curiosity) under
shelter of my fan. His appearance was greatly improved by evening
dress. He discovered me in my corner, and seemed doubtful whether
to approach me or not. I was reminded of our first odd meeting;
and I could not help smiling as I called it to mind. Did he
presume to think that I was encouraging him? Before I could
decide that question, he took the vacant place on the sofa. In
any other man--after what had passed in the morning--this would
have been an audacious proceeding. _He_ looked so painfully
embarrassed, that i t became a species of Christian duty to pity

"Won't you shake hands?" he said, just as he had said it at

I peeped round the corner of my fan at Miss Melbury. She was
looking at us. I shook hands with Mr. Sax.

"What sort of sensation is it," he asked, "when you shake hands
with a man whom you hate?"

"I really can't tell you," I answered innocently; "I have never
done such a thing."

"You would not lunch with me at Sandwich," he protested; "and,
after the humblest apology on my part, you won't forgive me for
what I did this morning. Do you expect me to believe that I am
not the special object of your antipathy? I wish I had never met
with you! At my age, a man gets angry when he is treated cruelly
and doesn't deserve it. You don't understand that, I dare say."

"Oh, yes, I do. I heard what you said about me to Mrs. Fosdyke,
and I heard you bang the door when you got out of my way."

He received this reply with every appearance of satisfaction. "So
you listened, did you? I'm glad to hear that."


"It shows you take some interest in me, after all."

Throughout this frivolous talk (I only venture to report it
because it shows that I bore no malice on my side) Miss Melbury
was looking at us like the basilisk of the ancients. She owned to
being on the wrong side of thirty; and she had a little
money--but these were surely no reasons why she should glare at a
poor governess. Had some secret understanding of the tender sort
been already established between Mr. Sax and herself? She
provoked me into trying to find out--especially as the last words
he had said offered me the opportunity.

"I can prove that I feel a sincere interest in you," I resumed.
"I can resign you to a lady who has a far better claim to your
attention than mine. You are neglecting her shamefully."

He stared at me with an appearance of bewilderment, which seemed
to imply that the attachment was on the lady's side, so far. It
was of course impossible to mention names; I merely turned my
eyes in the right direction. He looked where I looked--and his
shyness revealed itself, in spite of his resolution to conceal
it. His face flushed; he looked mortified and surprised. Miss
Melbury could endure it no longer. She rose, took a song from the
music-stand, and approached us.

"I am going to sing," she said, handing the music to him. "Please
turn over for me, Mr. Sax."

I think he hesitated--but I cannot feel sure that I observed him
correctly. It matters little. With or without hesitation, he
followed her to the piano.

Miss Melbury sang--with perfect self-possession, and an immense
compass of voice. A gentleman near me said she ought to be on the
stage. I thought so too. Big as it was, our drawing-room was not
large enough for her. The gentleman sang next. No voice at
all--but so sweet, such true feeling! I turned over the leaves
for him. A dear old lady, sitting near the piano, entered into
conversation with me. She spoke of the great singers at the
beginning of the present century. Mr. Sax hovered about, with
Miss Melbury's eye on him. I was so entranced by the anecdotes of
my venerable friend, that I could take no notice of Mr. Sax.
Later, when the dinner-party was over, and we were retiring for
the night, he still hovered about, and ended in offering me a
bedroom candle. I immediately handed it to Miss Melbury. Really a
most enjoyable evening!


THE next morning we were startled by an extraordinary proceeding
on the part of one of the guests. Mr. Sax had left Carsham Hall
by the first train--nobody knew why.

Nature has laid--so, at least, philosophers say--some heavy
burdens upon women. Do those learned persons include in their
list the burden of hysterics? If so, I cordially agree with them.
It is hardly worth speaking of in my case--a constitutional
outbreak in the solitude of my own room, treated with
eau-de-cologne and water, and quite forgotten afterward in the
absorbing employment of education. My favorite pupil, Freddy, had
been up earlier than the rest of us--breathing the morning air in
the fruit-garden. He had seen Mr. Sax and had asked him when he
was coming back again. And Mr. Sax had said, "I shall be back
again next month." (Dear little Freddy!)

In the meanwhile we, in the schoolroom, had the prospect before
us of a dull time in an empty house. The remaining guests were to
go away at the end of the week, their hostess being engaged to
pay a visit to some old friends in Scotland.

During the next three or four days, though I was often alone with
Mrs. Fosdyke, she never said one word on the subject of Mr. Sax.
Once or twice I caught her looking at me with that unendurably
significant smile of hers. Miss Melbury was equally unpleasant in
another way. When we accidentally met on the stairs, her black
eyes shot at me passing glances of hatred and scorn. Did these
two ladies presume to think--?

No; I abstained from completing that inquiry at the time, and I
abstain from completing it here.

The end of the week came, and I and the children were left alone
at Carsham Hall.

I took advantage of the leisure hours at my disposal to write to
Sir Gervase; respectfully inquiring after his health, and
informing him that I had been again most fortunate in my
engagement as a governess. By return of post an answer arrived. I
eagerly opened it. The first lines informed me of Sir Gervase
Damian's death.

The letter dropped from my hand. I looked at my little enameled
cross. It is not for me to say what I felt. Think of all that I
owed to him; and remember how lonely my lot was in the world. I
gave the children a holiday; it was only the truth to tell them
that I was not well.

How long an interval passed before I could call to mind that I
had only read the first lines of the letter, I am not able to
say. When I did take it up I was surprised to see that the
writing covered two pages. Beginning again where I had left off,
my head, in a moment more, began to swim. A horrid fear
overpowered me that I might not be in my right mind, after I had
read the first three sentences. Here they are, to answer for me
that I exaggerate nothing:--

"The will of our deceased client is not yet proved. But, with the
sanction of the executors, I inform you confidentially that you
are the person chiefly interested in it. Sir Gervase Damian
bequeaths to you, absolutely, the whole of his personal property,
amounting to the sum of seventy thousand pounds."

If the letter had ended there, I really cannot imagine what
extravagances I might not have committed. But the writer {head
partner in the firm of Sir Gervase's lawyers) had something more
to say on his own behalf. The manner in which he said it strung
up my nerves in an instant. I can not, and will not, copy the
words here. It is quite revolting enough to give the substance of

The man's object was evidently to let me perceive that he
disapproved of the will. So far I do not complain of him--he had,
no doubt, good reason for the view he took. But, in expressing
his surprise "at this extraordinary proof of the testator's
interest in a perfect stranger to the family," he hinted his
suspicion of an influence, on my part, exercised over Sir
Gervase, so utterly shameful, that I cannot dwell on the subject.
The language, I should add, was cunningly guarded. Even I could
see that it would bear more than one interpretation, and would
thus put me in the wrong if I openly resented it. But the meaning
was plain; and part at least of the motive came out in the
following sentences:

"The present Sir Gervase, as you are doubtless aware, is not
seriously affected by his father's will. He is already more
liberally provided for, as heir under the entail to the whole of
the landed property. But, to say nothing of old friends who are
forgotten, there is a surviving relative of the late Sir Gervase
passed over, who is nearly akin to him by blood. In the event of
this person disputing the will, you will of course hear from us
again, and refer us to your legal adviser."

The letter ended with an apology for delay in writing to me,
caused by difficulty in discovering my address.

And what did I do?--Write to the rector, or to Mrs. Fosdyke, fo r
advice? Not I!

At first I was too indignant to be able to think of what I ought
to do. Our post-time was late, and my head ached as if it would
burst into pieces. I had plenty of leisure to rest and compose
myself. When I got cool again, I felt able to take my own part,
without asking any one to help me.

Even if I had been treated kindly, I should certainly not have
taken the money when there was a relative living with a claim to
it. What did _I_ want with a large fortune! To buy a husband with
it, perhaps? No, no! from all that I have heard, the great Lord
Chancellor was quite right when he said that a woman with money
at her own disposal was "either kissed out of it or kicked out of
it, six weeks after her marriage." The one difficulty before me
was not to give up my legacy, but to express my reply with
sufficient severity, and at the same time with due regard to my
own self-respect. Here is what I wrote:

"SIR--I will not trouble you by attempting to express my sorrow
on hearing of Sir Gervase Damian's death. You would probably form
your own opinion on that subject also; and I have no wish to be
judged by your unenviable experience of humanity for the second

"With regard to the legacy, feeling the sincerest gratitude to my
generous benefactor, I nevertheless refuse to receive the money.

"Be pleased to send me the necessary document to sign, for
transferring my fortune to that relative of Sir Gervase mentioned
in your letter. The one condition on which I insist is, that no
expression of thanks shall be addressed to me by the person in
whose favor I resign the money. I do not desire (even supposing
that justice is done to my motives on this occasion) to be made
the object of expressions of gratitude for only doing my duty."

So it ended. I may be wrong, but I call that strong writing.

In due course of post a formal acknowledgment arrived. I was
requested to wait for the document until the will had been
proved, and was informed that my name should be kept strictly
secret in the interval. On this occasion the executors were
almost as insolent as the lawyer. They felt it their duty to give
me time to reconsider a decision which had been evidently formed
on impulse. Ah, how hard men are--at least, some of them! I
locked up the acknowledgment in disgust, resolved to think no
more of it until the time came for getting rid of my legacy. I
kissed poor Sir Gervase's little keepsake. While I was still
looking at it, the good children came in, of their own accord, to
ask how I was. I was obliged to draw down the blind in my room,
or they would have seen the tears in my eyes. For the first time
since my mother's death, I felt the heartache. Perhaps the
children made me think of the happier time when I was a child


THE will had been proved, and I was informed that the document
was in course of preparation when Mrs. Fosdyke returned from her
visit to Scotland.

She thought me looking pale and worn.

"The time seems to me to have come," she said, "when I had better
make you and Mr. Sax understand each other. Have you been
thinking penitently of your own bad behavior?"

I felt myself blushing. I _had_ been thinking of my conduct to
Mr. Sax--and I was heartily ashamed of it, too.

Mrs. Fosdyke went on, half in jest, half in earnest. "Consult
your own sense of propriety!" she said. "Was the poor man to
blame for not being rude enough to say No, when a lady asked him
to turn over her music? Could _he_ help it, if the same lady
persisted in flirting with him? He ran away from her the next
morning. Did you deserve to be told why he left us? Certainly
not--after the vixenish manner in which you handed the bedroom
candle to Miss Melbury. You foolish girl! Do you think I couldn't
see that you were in love with him? Thank Heaven, he's too poor
to marry you, and take you away from my children, for some time
to come. There will be a long marriage engagement, even if he is
magnanimous enough to forgive you. Shall I ask Miss Melbury to
come back with him?"

She took pity on me at last, and sat down to write to Mr. Sax.
His reply, dated from a country house some twenty miles distant,
announced that he would be at Carsham Hall in three days' time.

On that third day the legal paper that I was to sign arrived by
post. It was Sunday morning; I was alone in the schoolroom.

In writing to me, the lawyer had only alluded to "a surviving
relative of Sir Gervase, nearly akin to him by blood." The
document was more explicit. It described the relative as being a
nephew of Sir Gervase, the son of his sister. The name followed.

It was Sextus Cyril Sax.

I have tried on three different sheets of paper to describe the
effect which this discovery produced on me--and I have torn them
up one after another. When I only think of it, my mind seems to
fall back into the helpless surprise and confusion of that time.
After all that had passed between us--the man himself being then
on his way to the house! what would he think of me when he saw my
name at the bottom of the document? what, in Heaven's name, was I
to do?

How long I sat petrified, with the document on my lap, I never
knew. Somebody knocked at the schoolroom door, and looked in and
said something, and went out again. Then there was an interval.
Then the door was opened again. A hand was laid kindly on my
shoulder. I looked up--and there was Mrs. Fosdyke, asking, in the
greatest alarm, what was the matter with me.

The tone of her voice roused me into speaking. I could think of
nothing but Mr. Sax; I could only say, "Has he come?"

"Yes--and waiting to see you."

Answering in those terms, she glanced at the paper in my lap. In
the extremity of my helplessness, I acted like a sensible
creature at last. I told Mrs. Fosdyke all that I have told here.

She neither moved nor spoke until I had done. Her first
proceeding, after that, was to take me in her arms and give me a
kiss. Having so far encouraged me, she next spoke of poor Sir

"We all acted like fools," she announced, "in needlessly
offending him by protesting against his second marriage. I don't
mean you--I mean his son, his nephew, and myself. If his second
marriage made him happy, what business had we with the disparity
of years between husband and wife? I can tell you this, Sextus
was the first of us to regret what he had done. But for his
stupid fear of being suspected of an interested motive, Sir
Gervase might have known there was that much good in his sister's

She snatched up a copy of the will, which I had not even noticed
thus far.

"See what the kind old man says of you," she went on, pointing to
the words. I could not see them; she was obliged to read them for
me. "I leave my money to the one person living who has been more
than worthy of the little I have done for her, and whose simple
unselfish nature I know that I can trust."

I pressed Mrs. Fosdyke's hand; I was not able to speak. She took
up the legal paper next.

"Do justice to yourself, and be above contemptible scruples," she
said. "Sextus is fond enough of you to be almost worthy of the
sacrifice that you are making. Sign--and I will sign next as the

I hesitated.

"What will he think of me?" I said.

"Sign!" she repeated, "and we will see to that."

I obeyed. She asked for the lawyer's letter. I gave it to her,
with the lines which contained the man's vile insinuation folded
down, so that only the words above were visible, which proved
that I had renounced my legacy, not even knowing whether the
person to be benefited was a man or a woman. She took this, with
the rough draft of my own letter, and the signed
renunciation--and opened the door.

"Pray come back, and tell me about it!" I pleaded.

She smiled, nodded, and went out.

Oh, what a long time passed before I heard the long-expected
knock at the door! "Come in," I cried impatiently.

Mrs. Fosdyke had deceived me. Mr. Sax had returned in her place.
He closed the door. We two were alone.

He was deadly pale; his eyes, as they rested on me, had a wild
startled look. With icy cold fingers he took my hand, and lifted
it in silence to his lips. The sight of his agitation encouraged
me--I don't to this
day know why, unless it appealed in some way to my compassion. I
was bold enough to look at him. Still silent, he placed the
letters on the table--and then he laid the signed paper beside
them. When I saw that, I was bolder still. I spoke first.

"Surely you don't refuse me?" I said.

He answered, "I thank you with my whole heart; I admire you more
than words can say. But I can't take it."

"Why not?"

"The fortune is yours," he said gently. "Remember how poor I am,
and feel for me if I say no more."

His head sank on his breast. He stretched out one hand, silently
imploring me to understand him. I could endure it no longer. I
forgot every consideration which a woman, in my position, ought
to have remembered. Out came the desperate words, before I could
stop them.

"You won't take my gift by itself?" I said.


"Will you take Me with it?"

That evening, Mrs. Fosdyke indulged her sly sense of humor in a
new way. She handed me an almanac.

"After all, my dear," she remarked, "you needn't be ashamed of
having spoken first. You have only used the ancient privilege of
the sex. This is Leap Year."



THE guests would have enjoyed their visit to Sir Peter's country
house--but for Mr. Cosway. And to make matters worse, it was not
Mr. Cosway but the guests who were to blame. They repeated the
old story of Adam and Eve, on a larger scale. The women were the
first sinners; and the men were demoralized by the women.

Mr. Cosway's bitterest enemy could not have denied that he was a
handsome, well-bred, unassuming man. No mystery of any sort
attached to him. He had adopted the Navy as a profession--had
grown weary of it after a few years' service--and now lived on
the moderate income left to him, after the death of his parents.
Out of this unpromising material the lively imaginations of the
women built up a romance. The men only noticed that Mr. Cosway
was rather silent and thoughtful; that he was not ready with his
laugh; and that he had a fancy for taking long walks by himself.
Harmless peculiarities, surely? And yet, they excited the
curiosity of the women as signs of a mystery in Mr. Cosway's past
life, in which some beloved object unknown must have played a
chief part.

As a matter of course, the influence of the sex was tried, under
every indirect and delicate form of approach, to induce Mr.
Cosway to open his heart, and tell the tale of his sorrows. With
perfect courtesy, he baffled curiosity, and kept his supposed
secret to himself. The most beautiful girl in the house was ready
to offer herself and her fortune as consolations, if this
impenetrable bachelor would only have taken her into his
confidence. He smiled sadly, and changed the subject.

Defeated so far, the women accepted the next alternative.

One of the guests staying in the house was Mr. Cosway's intimate
friend--formerly his brother-officer on board ship. This
gentleman was now subjected to the delicately directed system of
investigation which had failed with his friend. With unruffled
composure he referred the ladies, one after another, to Mr.
Cosway. His name was Stone. The ladies decided that his nature
was worthy of his name.

The last resource left to our fair friends was to rouse the
dormant interest of the men, and to trust to the confidential
intercourse of the smoking-room for the enlightenment which they
had failed to obtain by other means.

In the accomplishment of this purpose, the degree of success
which rewarded their efforts was due to a favoring state of
affairs in the house. The shooting was not good for much; the
billiard-table was under repair; and there were but two really
skilled whist-players among the guests. In the atmosphere of
dullness thus engendered, the men not only caught the infection
of the women's curiosity, but were even ready to listen to the
gossip of the servants' hall, repeated to their mistresses by the
ladies' maids. The result of such an essentially debased state of
feeling as this was not slow in declaring itself. But for a lucky
accident, Mr. Cosway would have discovered to what extremities of
ill-bred curiosity idleness and folly can lead persons holding
the position of ladies and gentlemen, when he joined the company
at breakfast on the next morning.

The newspapers came in before the guests had risen from the
table. Sir Peter handed one of them to the lady who sat on his
right hand.

She first looked, it is needless to say, at the list of births,
deaths, and marriages; and then she turned to the general
news--the fires, accidents, fashionable departures, and so on. In
a few minutes, she indignantly dropped the newspaper in her lap.

"Here is another unfortunate man," she exclaimed, "sacrificed to
the stupidity of women! If I had been in his place, I would have
used my knowledge of swimming to save myself, and would have left
the women to go to the bottom of the river as they deserved!"

"A boat accident, I suppose?" said Sir Peter.

"Oh yes--the old story. A gentleman takes two ladies out in a
boat. After a while they get fidgety, and feel an idiotic impulse
to change places. The boat upsets as usual; the poor dear man
tries to save them--and is drowned along with them for his pains.
Shameful! shameful!"

"Are the names mentioned?"

"Yes. They are all strangers to me; I speak on principle."
Asserting herself in those words, the indignant lady handed the
newspaper to Mr. Cosway, who happened to sit next to her. "When
you were in the navy," she continued, "I dare say _your_ life was
put in jeopardy by taking women in boats. Read it yourself, and
let it be a warning to you for the future."

Mr. Cosway looked at the narrative of the accident--and revealed
the romantic mystery of his life by a burst of devout
exclamation, expressed in the words:

"Thank God, my wife's drowned!"


To declare that Sir Peter and his guests were all struck
speechless, by discovering in this way that Mr. Cosway was a
married man, is to say very little. The general impression
appeared to be that he was mad. His neighbors at the table all
drew back from him, with the one exception of his friend. Mr.
Stone looked at the newspaper: pressed Mr. Cosway's hand in
silent sympathy--and addressed himself to his host.

"Permit me to make my friend's apologies," he said, until he is
composed enough to act for himself. The circumstances are so
extraordinary that I venture to think they excuse him. Will you
allow us to speak to you privately?"

Sir Peter, with more apologies addressed to his visitors, opened
the door which communicated with his study. Mr. Stone took Mr.
Cosway's arm, and led him out of the room. He noticed no one,
spoke to no one--he moved mechanically, like a man walking in his

After an unendurable interval of nearly an hour's duration, Sir
Peter returned alone to the breakfast-room. Mr. Cosway and Mr.
Stone had already taken their departure for London, with their
host's entire approval.

"It is left to my discretion " Sir Peter proceeded, "to repeat to
you what I have heard in my study. I will do so, on one
condition--that you all consider yourselves bound in honor not to
mention the true names and the real places, when you tell the
story to others."

Subject to this wise reservation, the narrative is here repeated
by one of the company. Considering how he may perform his task to
the best advantage, he finds that the events which preceded and
followed Mr. Cosway's disastrous marriage resolve themselves into
certain well-marked divisions. Adopting this arrangement, he
proceeds to relate:

_The First Epoch in Mr. Cosway's Life._

The sailing of her Majesty's ship _Albicore_ was deferred by the
severe illness of the captain. A gentleman not possessed of
political influence might, after the doctor's unpromising report
of him, have been superseded by another commanding officer. In
the present case, the Lords of the Admiralty showed themselves to
be models of patience and sympathy. They kept the vessel in port,
waiting the captain's recovery.

Among the unimportant junior officers, not wanted on board under
these circumstances, and favored accordingly by obtaining leave
to wait for orders on shore, were two yo ung men, aged
respectively twenty-two and twenty-three years, and known by the
names of Cosway and Stone. The scene which now introduces them
opens at a famous seaport on the south coast of England, and
discloses the two young gentlemen at dinner in a private room at
their inn.

"I think that last bottle of champagne was corked," Cosway
remarked. "Let's try another. You're nearest the bell, Stone.

Stone rang, under protest. He was the elder of the two by a year,
and he set an example of discretion.

"I am afraid we are running up a terrible bill," he said. "We
have been here more than three weeks--"

"And we have denied ourselves nothing," Cosway added. "We have
lived like princes. Another bottle of champagne, waiter. We have
our riding-horses, and our carriage, and the best box at the
theater, and such cigars as London itself could not produce. I
call that making the most of life. Try the new bottle. Glorious
drink, isn't it? Why doesn't my father have champagne at the
family dinner-table?"

"Is your father a rich man, Cosway?"

"I should say not. He didn't give me anything like the money I
expected, when I said good-by--and I rather think he warned me
solemnly, at parting, to take the greatest care of it.' There's
not a farthing more for you,' he said, 'till your ship returns
from her South American station.' _Your_ father is a clergyman,

"Well, and what of that?"

"And some clergymen are rich."

"My father is not one of them, Cosway."

"Then let us say no more about him. Help yourself, and pass the

Instead of adopting this suggestion, Stone rose with a very grave
face, and once more rang the bell. "Ask the landlady to step up,"
he said, when the waiter appeared.

"What do you want with the landlady?" Cosway inquired.

"I want the bill."

The landlady--otherwise Mrs. Pounce--entered the room. She was
short, and old, and fat, and painted, and a widow. Students of
character, as revealed in the face, would have discovered malice
and cunning in her bright black eyes, and a bitter vindictive
temper in the lines about her thin red lips. Incapable of such
subtleties of analysis as these, the two young officers differed
widely, nevertheless, in their opinions of Mrs. Pounce. Cosway's
reckless sense of humor delighted in pretending to be in love
with her. Stone took a dislike to her from the first. When his
friend asked for the reason, he made a strangely obscure answer.
"Do you remember that morning in the wood when you killed the
snake?" he said. "I took a dislike to the snake." Cosway made no
further inquiries.

"Well, my young heroes," said Mrs. Pounce (always loud, always
cheerful, and always familiar with her guests), "what do you want
with me now?"

"Take a glass of champagne, my darling," said Cosway; "and let me
try if I can get my arm round your waist. That's all _I_ want
with you."

The landlady passed this over without notice. Though she had
spoken to both of them, her cunning little eyes rested on Stone
from the moment when she appeared in the room. She knew by
instinct the man who disliked her--and she waited deliberately
for Stone to reply.

"We have been here some time," he said, "and we shall be obliged,
ma'am, if you will let us have our bill."

Mrs. Pounce lifted her eyebrows with an expression of innocent

"Has the captain got well, and must you go on board to-night?"
she asked.

"Nothing of the sort!" Cosway interposed. "We have no news of the
captain, and we are going to the theater to-night."

"But," persisted Stone, "we want, if you please, to have the

"Certainly, sir," said Mrs. Pounce, with a sudden assumption of
respect. "But we are very busy downstairs, and we hope you will
not press us for it to-night?"

"Of course not!" cried Cosway.

Mrs. Pounce instantly left the room, without waiting for any
further remark from Cosway's friend.

"I wish we had gone to some other house," said Stone. "You mark
my words--that woman means to cheat us."

Cosway expressed his dissent from this opinion in the most
amiable manner. He filled his friend's glass, and begged him not
to say ill-natured things of Mrs. Pounce.

But Stone's usually smooth temper seemed to be ruffled; he
insisted on his own view. "She's impudent and inquisitive, if she
is not downright dishonest," he said. "What right had she to ask
you where we lived when we were at home; and what our Christian
names were; and which of us was oldest, you or I? Oh, yes--it's
all very well to say she only showed a flattering interest in us!
I suppose she showed a flattering interest in my affairs, when I
awoke a little earlier than usual, and caught her in my bedroom
with my pocketbook in her hand. Do you believe she was going to
lock it up for safety's sake? She knows how much money we have
got as well as we know it ourselves. Every half-penny we have
will be in her pocket tomorrow. And a good thing, too--we shall
be obliged to leave the house."

Even this cogent reasoning failed in provoking Cosway to reply.
He took Stone's hat, and handed it with the utmost politeness to
his foreboding friend. "There's only one remedy for such a state
of mind as yours," he said. "Come to the theater."

At ten o'clock the next morning Cosway found himself alone at the
breakfast-table. He was informed that Mr. Stone had gone out for
a little walk, and would be back directly. Seating himself at the
table, he perceived an envelope on his plate, which evidently
inclosed the bill. He took up the envelope, considered a little,
and put it back again unopened. At the same moment Stone burst
into the room in a high state of excitement.

"News that will astonish you!" he cried. "The captain arrived
yesterday evening. His doctors say that the sea-voyage will
complete his recovery. The ship sails to-day--and we are ordered
to report ourselves on board in an hour's time. Where's the

Cosway pointed to it. Stone took it out of the envelope.

It covered two sides of a prodigiously long sheet of paper. The
sum total was brightly decorated with lines in red ink. Stone
looked at the total, and passed it in silence to Cosway. For
once, even Cosway was prostrated. In dreadful stillness the two
young men produced their pocketbooks; added up their joint stores
of money, and compared the result with the bill. Their united
resources amounted to a little more than one-third of their debt
to the landlady of the inn.

The only alternative that presented itself was to send for Mrs.
Pounce; to state the circumstances plainly; and to propose a
compromise on the grand commercial basis of credit.

Mrs. Pounce presented herself superbly dressed in walking
costume. Was she going out; or had she just returned to the inn?
Not a word escaped her; she waited gravely to hear what the
gentlemen wanted. Cosway, presuming on his position as favorite,
produced the contents of the two pocketbooks and revealed the
melancholy truth.

"There is all the money we have," he concluded. "We hope you will
not object to receive the balance in a bill at three months"

Mrs. Pounce answered with a stern composure of voice and manner
entirely new in the experience of Cosway and Stone.

"I have paid ready money, gentlemen, for the hire of your horses
and carriages," she said; "here are the receipts from the livery
stables to vouch for me; I never accept bills unless I am quite
sure beforehand that they will be honored. I defy you to find an
overcharge in the account now rendered; and I expect you to pay
it before you leave my house."

Stone looked at his watch.

"In three-quarters of an hour," he said, "we must be on board."

Mrs. Pounce entirely agreed with him. "And if you are not on
board," she remarked "you will be tried by court-martial, and
dismissed the service with your characters ruined for life."

"My dear creature, we haven't time to send home, and we know
nobody in the town," pleaded Cosway. "For God's sake take our
watches and jewelry, and our luggage--and let us go."

"I am not a pawnbroker," said the inflexible lady. "You must
either pay your lawful debt to me in honest money, or--"

She paused and looked at Cosway. Her fat face brightened--she
smiled graciously for the first time.

C osway stared at her in unconcealed perplexity. He helplessly
repeated her last words. " We must either pay the bill," he said,
"or what?"

"Or," answered Mrs. Pounce, "one of you must marry ME."

Was she joking? Was she intoxicated? Was she out of her senses?
Neither of the three; she was in perfect possession of herself;
her explanation was a model of lucid and convincing arrangement
of facts.

"My position here has its drawbacks," she began. "I am a lone
widow; I am known to have an excellent business, and to have
saved money. The result is that I am pestered to death by a set
of needy vagabonds who want to marry me. In this position, I am
exposed to slanders and insults. Even if I didn't know that the
men were after my money, there is not one of them whom I would
venture to marry. He might turn out a tyrant and beat me; or a
drunkard, and disgrace me; or a betting man, and ruin me. What I
want, you see, for my own peace and protection, is to be able to
declare myself married, and to produce the proof in the shape of
a certificate. A born gentleman, with a character to lose, and so
much younger in years than myself that he wouldn't think of
living with me--there is the sort of husband who suits my book!
I'm a reasonable woman, gentlemen. I would undertake to part with
my husband at the church door--never to attempt to see him or
write to him afterward--and only to show my certificate when
necessary, without giving any explanations. Your secret would be
quite safe in my keeping. I don't care a straw for either of you,
so long as you answer my purpose. What do you say to paying my
bill (one or the other of you) in this way? I am ready dressed
for the altar; and the clergyman has notice at the church. My
preference is for Mr. Cosway," proceeded this terrible woman with
the cruelest irony, "because he has been so particular in his
attentions toward me. The license (which I provided on the chance
a fortnight since) is made out in his name. Such is my weakness
for Mr. Cosway. But that don't matter if Mr. Stone would like to
take his place. He can hail by his friend's name. Oh, yes, he
can! I have consulted my lawyer. So long as the bride and
bridegroom agree to it, they may be married in any name they
like, and it stands good. Look at your watch again, Mr. Stone.
The church is in the next street. By my calculation, you have
just got five minutes to decide. I'm a punctual woman, my little
dears; and I will he back to the moment."

She opened the door, paused, and returned to the room.

"I ought to have mentioned," she resumed, "that I shall make you
a present of the bill, receipted, on the conclusion of the
ceremony. You will be taken to the ship in my own boat, with all
your money in your pockets, and a hamper of good things for the
mess. After that I wash my hands of you. You may go to the devil
your own way."

With this parting benediction, she left them.

Caught in the landlady's trap, the two victims looked at each
other in expressive silence. Without time enough to take legal
advice; without friends on shore; without any claim on officers
of their own standing in the ship, the prospect before them was
literally limited to Marriage or Ruin. Stone made a proposal
worthy of a hero.

"One of us must marry her," he said; "I'm ready to toss up for

Cosway matched him in generosity. "No," he answered. "It was I
who brought you here; and I who led you into these infernal
expenses. I ought to pay the penalty--and I will."

Before Stone could remonstrate, the five minutes expired.
Punctual Mrs. Pounce appeared again in the doorway.

"Well?" she inquired, "which is it to be-- Cosway, or Stone?"

Cosway advanced as reckless as ever, and offered his arm.

"Now then, Fatsides," he said, "come and be married!"

In five-and-twenty minutes more, Mrs. Pounce had become Mrs.
Cosway; and the two officers were on their way to the ship.

_The Second Epoch in Mr. Cosway's Life._

Four years elapsed before the _Albicore_ returned to the port
from which she had sailed.

In that interval, the death of Cosway's parents had taken place.
The lawyer who had managed his affairs, during his absence from
England, wrote to inform him that his inheritance from his late
father's "estate" was eight hundred a year. His mother only
possessed a life interest in her fortune; she had left her jewels
to her son, and that was all.

Cosway's experience of the life of a naval officer on foreign
stations (without political influence to hasten his promotion)
had thoroughly disappointed him. He decided on retiring from the
service when the ship was "paid off." In the meantime, to the
astonishment of his comrades, he seemed to be in no hurry to make
use of the leave granted him to go on shore. The faithful Stone
was the only man on board who knew that he was afraid of meeting
his "wife." This good friend volunteered to go to the inn, and
make the necessary investigation with all needful prudence. "Four
years is a long time, at _her_ age," he said. "Many things may
happen in four years."

An hour later, Stone returned to the ship, and sent a written
message on board, addressed to his brother-officer, in these
words: "Pack up your things at once, and join me on shore. "

"What news?" asked the anxious husband.

Stone looked significantly at the idlers on the landing-place.
"Wait," he said, "till we are by ourselves."

"Where are we going?"

"To the railway station."

They got into an empty carriage; and Stone at once relieved his
friend of all further suspense.

"Nobody is acquainted with the secret of your marriage, but our
two selves," he began quietly. "I don't think, Cosway, you need
go into mourning."

"You don't mean to say she's dead!"

"I have seen a letter (written by her own lawyer) which announces
her death," Stone replied. "It was so short that I believe I can
repeat it word for word: 'Dear Sir--I have received information
of the death of my client. Please address your next and last
payment, on account of the lease and goodwill of the inn, to the
executors of the late Mrs. Cosway.' There, that is the letter.
'Dear Sir' means the present proprietor of the inn. He told me
your wife's previous history in two words. After carrying on the
business with her customary intelligence for more than three
years, her health failed, and she went to London to consult a
physician. There she remained under the doctor's care. The next
event was the appearance of an agent, instructed to sell the
business in consequence of the landlady's declining health. Add
the death at a later time-- and there is the beginning and the
end of the story. Fortune owed you a good turn, Cosway --and
Fortune has paid the debt. Accept my best congratulations."

Arrived in London, Stone went on at once to his relations in the
North. Cosway proceeded to the office of the family lawyer (Mr.
Atherton), who had taken care of his interests in his absence.
His father and Mr. Atherton had been schoolfellows and old
friends. He was affectionately received, and was invited to pay a
visit the next day to the lawyer's villa at Richmond.

"You will be near enough to London to attend to your business at
the Admiralty," said Mr. Atherton, "and you will meet a visitor
at my house, who is one of the most charming girls in
England--the only daughter of the great Mr. Restall. Good
heavens! have you never heard of him? My dear sir, he's one of
the partners in the famous firm of Benshaw, Restall, and

Cosway was wise enough to accept this last piece of information
as quite conclusive. The next day, Mrs. Atherton presented him to
the charming Miss Restall; and Mrs. Atherton's young married
daughter (who had been his playfellow when they were children)
whispered to him, half in jest, half in earnest: "Make the best
use of your time; she isn't engaged yet."

Cosway shuddered inwardly at the bare idea of a second marriage.
Was Miss Restall the sort of woman to restore his confidence?

She was small and slim and dark--a graceful, well-bred, brightly
intelligent person, with a voice exquisitely sweet and winning in
tone. Her ears, hands, and feet were objects to worship; and she
had an attraction, irresistibly rare among the women of the
present time--the attraction of a perfectly natural smile. Before
Cosway had been an hour in the house, she discovered that his
long term of service on foreign stations had furnished him with
subjects of conversation which favorably contrasted with the
commonplace gossip addressed to her by other men. Cosway at once
became a favorite, as Othello became a favorite in his day.

The ladies of the household all rejoiced in the young officer's
success, with the exception of Miss Restall's companion (supposed
to hold the place of her lost mother, at a large salary), one
Mrs. Margery.

Too cautious to commit herself in words, this lady expressed
doubt and disapprobation by her looks. She had white hair,
iron-gray eyebrows, and protuberant eyes; her looks were
unusually expressive. One evening, she caught poor Mr. Atherton
alone, and consulted him confidentially on the subject of Mr.
Cosway's income. This was the first warning which opened the eyes
of the good lawyer to the nature of the "friendship" already
established between his two guests. He knew Miss Restall's
illustrious father well, and he feared that it might soon be his
disagreeable duty to bring Cosway's visit to an end.

On a certain Saturday afternoon, while Mr. Atherton was still
considering how he could most kindly and delicately suggest to
Cosway that it was time to say good-by, an empty carriage arrived
at the villa. A note from Mr. Restall was delivered to Mrs.
Atherton, thanking her with perfect politeness for her kindness
to his daughter. Circumstances," he added, "rendered it necessary
that Miss Restall should return home that afternoon."

The "circumstances" were supposed to refer to a garden-party to
be given by Mr. Restall in the ensuing week. But why was his
daughter wanted at home before the day of the party?

The ladies of the family, still devoted to Cosway's interests,
entertained no doubt that Mrs. Margery had privately communicated
with Mr. Restall, and that the appearance of the carriage was the
natural result. Mrs. Atherton's married daughter did all that
could be done: she got rid of Mrs. Margery for one minute, and so
arranged it that Cosway and Miss Restall took leave of each other
in her own sitting-room.

When the young lady appeared in the hall she had drawn her veil
down. Cosway escaped to the road and saw the last of the carriage
as it drove away. In a little more than a fortnight his horror of
a second marriage had become one of the dead and buried emotions
of his nature. He stayed at the villa until Monday morning, as an
act of gratitude to his good friends, and then accompanied Mr.
Atherton to London. Business at the Admiralty was the excuse. It
imposed on nobody. He was evidently on his way to Miss Restall.

"Leave your business in my hands," said the lawyer, on the
journey to town, "and go and amuse yourself on the Continent. I
can't blame you for falling in love with Miss Restall; I ought to
have foreseen the danger, and waited till she had left us before
I invited you to my house. But I may at least warn you to carry
the matter no further. If you had eight thousand instead of eight
hundred a year, Mr. Restall would think it an act of presumption
on your part to aspire to his daughter's hand, unless you had a
title to throw into the bargain. Look at it in the true light, my
dear boy; and one of these days you will thank me for speaking

Cosway promised to "look at it in the true light."

The result, from his point of view, led him into a change of
residence. He left his hotel and took a lodging in the nearest
bystreet to Mr. Restall's palace at Kensington.

On the same evening he applied (with the confidence due to a
previous arrangement) for a letter at the neighboring
post-office, addressed to E. C.--the initials of Edwin Cosway.
"Pray be careful," Miss Restall wrote; "I have tried to get you a
card for our garden party. But that hateful creature, Margery,
has evidently spoken to my father; I am not trusted with any
invitation cards. Bear it patiently, dear, as I do, and let me
hear if you have succeeded in finding a lodging near us."

Not submitting to this first disappointment very patiently,
Cosway sent his reply to the post-office, addressed to A. R.--the
initials of Adela Restall. The next day the impatient lover
applied for another letter. It was waiting for him, but it was
not directed in Adela's handwriting. Had their correspondence
been discovered? He opened the letter in the street; and read,
with amazement, these lines:

"Dear Mr. Cosway, my heart sympathizes with two faithful lovers,
in spite of my age and my duty. I inclose an invitation to the
party tomorrow. Pray don't betray me, and don't pay too marked
attention to Adela. Discretion is easy. There will be twelve
hundred guests. Your friend, in spite of appearances, Louisa

How infamously they had all misjudged this excellent woman!
Cosway went to the party a grateful, as well as a happy man. The
first persons known to him, whom he discovered among the crowd of
strangers, were the Athertons. They looked, as well they might,
astonished to see him. Fidelity to Mrs. Margery forbade him to
enter into any explanations. Where was that best and truest
friend? With some difficulty he succeeded in finding her. Was
there any impropriety in seizing her hand and cordially pressing
it? The result of this expression of gratitude was, to say the
least of it, perplexing.

Mrs. Margery behaved like the Athertons! She looked astonished to
see him and she put precisely the same question: "How did you get
here?" Cosway could only conclude that she was joking. "Who
should know that, dear lady, better than yourself?" he rejoined.
"I don't understand you," Mrs. Margery answered, sharply. After a
moment's reflection, Cosway hit on another solution of the
mystery. Visitors were near them; and Mrs. Margery had made her
own private use of one of Mr. Restall's invitation cards. She
might have serious reasons for pushing caution to its last
extreme. Cosway looked at her significantly. "The least I can do
is not to be indiscreet," he whispered-- and left her.

He turned into a side walk; and there he met Adela at last!

It seemed like a fatality. _She_ looked astonished; and _she_
said: "How did you get here?" No intrusive visitors were within
hearing, this time. "My dear!" Cosway remonstrated, "Mrs. Margery
must have told you, when she sent me my invitation." Adela turned
pale. "Mrs. Margery?" she repeated. "Mrs. Margery has said
nothing to me; Mrs. Margery detests you. We must have this
cleared up. No; not now--I must attend to our guests. Expect a
letter; and, for heaven's sake, Edwin, keep out of my father's
way. One of our visitors whom he particularly wished to see has
sent an excuse--and he is dreadfully angry about it."

She left him before Cosway could explain that he and Mr. Restall
had thus far never seen each other.

He wandered away toward the extremity of the grounds, troubled by
vague suspicions; hurt at Adela's cold reception of him. Entering
a shrubbery, which seemed intended to screen the grounds, at this
point, from a lane outside, he suddenly discovered a pretty
little summer-house among the trees. A stout gentleman, of mature
years, was seated alone in this retreat. He looked up with a
frown. Cosway apologized for disturbing him, and entered into
conversation as an act of politeness.

"A brilliant assembly to-day, sir."

The stout gentleman replied by an inarticulate sound--something
between a grunt and a cough.

"And a splendid house and grounds," Cosway continued.

The stout gentleman repeated the inarticulate sound.

Cosway began to feel amused. Was this curious old man deaf and

"Excuse my entering into conversation," he persisted. "I feel
like a stranger here. There are so many people whom I don't

The stout gentleman suddenly burst into speech. Cosway had
touched a sympathetic fiber at last.

"There are a good many people here whom _I_ don't know," he said,
gruffly. "You are one of them. What's your name?"

"My name is Cosway, sir. What's yours?"

The stout gentleman rose with fury in his looks. He burst out
with an oath; and added the in tolerable question, already three
times repeated by others: "How did you get here?" The tone was
even more offensive than the oath. "Your age protects you, sir, "
said Cosway, with the loftiest composure. "I'm sorry I gave my
name to so rude a person."

"Rude?" shouted the old gentleman. "You want my name in return, I
suppose? You young puppy, you shall have it! My name is Restall."

He turned his back and walked off. Cosway took the only course
now open to him. He returned to his lodgings.

The next day no letter reached him from Adela. He went to the
postoffice. No letter was there. The day wore on to evening--and,
with the evening, there appeared a woman who was a stranger to
him. She looked like a servant; and she was the bearer of a
mysterious message.

"Please be at the garden-door that opens on the lane, at ten
o'clock to-morrow morning. Knock three times at the door--and
then say 'Adela.' Some one who wishes you well will be alone in
the shrubbery, and will let you in. No, sir! I am not to take
anything; and I am not to say a word more." She spoke--and

Cosway was punctual to his appointment. He knocked three times;
he pronounced Miss Restall's Christian name. Nothing happened. He
waited a while, and tried again. This time Adela's voice answered
strangely from the shrubbery in tones of surprise: "Edwin, is it
really you?"

"Did you expect any one else?" Cosway asked. "My darling, your
message said ten o'clock--and here I am. "

The door was suddenly unlocked.

"I sent no message," said Adela, as they confronted each other on
the threshold.

In the silence of utter bewilderment they went together into the
summer-house. At Adela's request, Cosway repeated the message
that he had received, and described the woman who had delivered
it. The description applied to no person known to Miss Restall.
"Mrs. Margery never sent you the invitation; and I repeat, I
never sent you the message. This meeting has been arranged by
some one who knows that I always walk in the shrubbery after
breakfast. There is some underhand work going on--"

Still mentally in search of the enemy who had betrayed them, she
checked herself, and considered a little. "Is it possible--?" she
began, and paused again. Her eyes filled with tears. "My mind is
so completely upset," she said, "that I can't think clearly of
anything. Oh, Edwin, we have had a happy dream, and it has come
to an end. My father knows more than we think for. Some friends
of ours are going abroad tomorrow--and I am to go with them.
Nothing I can say has the least effect upon my father. He means
to part us forever--and this is his cruel way of doing it!"

She put her arm round Cosway's neck and lovingly laid her head on
his shoulder. With tenderest kisses they reiterated their vows of
eternal fidelity until their voices faltered and failed them.
Cosway filled up the pause by the only useful suggestion which it
was now in his power to make--he proposed an elopement.

Adela received this bold solution of the difficulty in which they
were placed exactly as thousands of other young ladies have
received similar proposals before her time, and after.

She first said positively No. Cosway persisted. She began to cry,
and asked if he had no respect for her. Cosway declared that his
respect was equal to any sacrifice except the sacrifice of
parting with her forever. He could, and would, if she preferred
it, die for her, but while he was alive he must refuse to give
her up. Upon this she shifted her ground. Did he expect her to go
away with him alone? Certainly not. Her maid could go with her,
or, if her maid was not to be trusted, he would apply to his
landlady, and engage "a respectable elderly person" to attend on
her until the day of their marriage. Would she have some mercy on
him, and just consider it? No: she was afraid to consider it. Did
she prefer misery for the rest of her life? Never mind _his_
happiness: it was _her_ happiness only that he had in his mind.
Traveling with unsympathetic people; absent from England, no one
could say for how long; married, when she did return, to some
rich man whom she hated--would she, could she, contemplate that
prospect? She contemplated it through tears; she contemplated it
to an accompaniment of sighs, kisses, and protestations--she
trembled, hesitated, gave way. At an appointed hour of the coming
night, when her father would be in the smoking-room, and Mrs.
Margery would be in bed, Cosway was to knock at the door in the
lane once more; leaving time to make all the necessary
arrangements in the interval.

The one pressing necessity, under these circumstances, was to
guard against the possibility of betrayal and surprise. Cosway
discreetly alluded to the unsolved mysteries of the invitation
and the message. "Have you taken anybody into our confidence?" he

Adela answered with some embarrassment. "Only one person," She
said--"dear Miss Benshaw."

"Who is Miss Benshaw?"

"Don't you really know, Edwin? She is richer even than papa--she
has inherited from her late brother one half-share in the great
business in the City. Miss Benshaw is the lady who disappointed
papa by not coming to the garden-party. You remember, dear, how
happy we were when we were together at Mr. Atherton's? I was very
miserable when they took me away. Miss Benshaw happened to call
the next day and she noticed it. 'My dear,' she said (Miss
Benshaw is quite an elderly lady now), 'I am an old maid, who has
missed the happiness of her life, through not having had a friend
to guide and advise her when she was young. Are you suffering as
I once suffered?' She spoke so nicely--and I was so
wretched--that I really couldn't help it. I opened my heart to

Cosway looked grave. "Are you sure she is to be trusted?" he

"Perfectly sure."

"Perhaps, my love, she has spoken about us (not meaning any harm)
to some friend of hers? Old ladies are so fond of gossip. It's
just possible--don't you think so?"

Adela hung her head.

"I have thought it just possible myself," she admitted. "There is
plenty of time to call on her to-day. I will set our doubts at
rest before Miss Benshaw goes out for her afternoon drive."

On that understanding they parted.

Toward evening Cosway's arrangements for the elopement were
completed. He was eating his solitary dinner when a note was
brought to him. It had been left at the door by a messenger. The
man had gone away without waiting for an answer. The note ran

"Miss Benshaw presents her compliments to Mr. Cosway, and will be
obliged if he can call on her at nine o'clock this evening, on
business which concerns himself."

This invitation was evidently the result of Adela's visit earlier
in the day. Cosway presented himself at the house, troubled by
natural emotions of anxiety and suspense. His reception was not
of a nature to compose him. He was shown into a darkened room.
The one lamp on the table was turned down low, and the little
light thus given was still further obscured by a shade. The
corners of the room were in almost absolute darkness.

A voice out of one of the corners addressed him in a whisper:

"I must beg you to excuse the darkened room. I am suffering from
a severe cold. My eyes are inflamed, and my throat is so bad that
I can only speak in a whisper. Sit down, sir. I have got news for
you ."

"Not bad news, I hope, ma'am?" Cosway ventured to inquire.

"The worst possible news," said the whispering voice. "You have
an enemy striking at you in the dark."

Cosway asked who it was, and received no answer. He varied the
form of inquiry, and asked why the unnamed person struck at him
in the dark. The experiment succeeded; he obtained a reply.

"It is reported to me," said Miss Benshaw, "that the person
thinks it necessary to give you a lesson, and takes a spiteful
pleasure in doing it as mischievously as possible. The person, as
I happen to know, sent you your invitation to the party, and made
the appointment which took you to the door in the lane. Wait a
little, sir; I have not done yet. The person has put it into Mr.
Restall's head to send his daughter abroad tomorrow.

Cosway attempted to make her speak more plainly.

"Is this wretch
a man or a woman?" he said.

Miss Benshaw proceeded without noticing the interruption.

"You needn't be afraid, Mr. Cosway; Miss Restall will not leave
England. Your enemy is all-powerful. Your enemy's object could
only be to provoke you into planning an elopement--and, your
arrangements once completed, to inform Mr. Restall, and to part
you and Miss Adela quite as effectually as if you were at
opposite ends of the world. Oh, you will undoubtedly be parted!
Spiteful, isn't it? And, what is worse, the mischief is as good
as done already."

Cosway rose from his chair.

"Do you wish for any further explanation?" asked Miss Benshaw.

"One thing more," he replied. "Does Adela know of this?"

"No," said Miss Benshaw; "it is left to you to tell her."

There was a moment of silence. Cosway looked at the lamp. Once
roused, as usual with men of his character, his temper was not to
be trifled with.

"Miss Benshaw," he said, "I dare say you think me a fool; but I
can draw my own conclusion, for all that. _You_ are my enemy."

The only reply was a chuckling laugh. All voices can be more or
less effectually disguised by a whisper but a laugh carries the
revelation of its own identity with it. Cosway suddenly threw off
the shade over the lamp and turned up the wick.

The light flooded the room, and showed him-- His Wife.

_The Third Epoch in Mr. Cosway's Life._

Three days had passed. Cosway sat alone in his lodging--pale and
worn: the shadow already of his former self.

He had not seen Adela since the discovery. There was but one way
in which he could venture to make the inevitable disclosure--he
wrote to her; and Mr. Atherton's daughter took care that the
letter should be received. Inquiries made afterward, by help of
the same good friend, informed him that Miss Restall was
suffering from illness.

The mistress of the house came in.

"Cheer up, sir, " said the good woman. "There is better news of
Miss Restall to-day."

He raised his head.

"Don't trifle with me!" he answered fretfully; "tell me exactly
what the servant said."

The mistress repeated the words. Miss Restall had passed a
quieter night, and had been able for a few hours to leave her
room. He asked next if any reply to his letter had arrived. No
reply had been received.

If Adela definitely abstained from writing to him, the conclusion
would be too plain to be mistaken. She had given him up--and who
could blame her?

There was a knock at the street-door. The mistress looked out.

"Here's Mr. Stone come back, sir!" she exclaimed joyfully--and
hurried away to let him in.

Cosway never looked up when his friend appeared.

"I knew I should succeed," said Stone. "I have seen your wife."

"Don't speak of her," cried Cosway. "I should have murdered her
when I saw her face, if I had not instantly left the house. I may
be the death of the wretch yet, if you presist in speaking of

Stone put his hand kindly on his friend's shoulder.

"Must I remind you that you owe something to your old comrade?"
he asked. "I left my father and mother, the morning I got your
letter-- and my one thought has been to serve you. Reward me. Be
a man, and hear what is your right and duty to know. After that,
if you like, we will never refer to the woman again."

Cosway took his hand, in silent acknowledgment that he was right.
They sat down together. Stone began.

"She is so entirely shameless," he said, "that I had no
difficulty in getting her to speak. And she so cordially hates
you that she glories in her own falsehood and treachery."

"Of course, she lies," Cosway said bitterly, "when she calls
herself Miss Benshaw?"

"No; she is really the daughter of the man who founded the great
house in the City. With every advantage that wealth and position
could give her the perverse creature married one of her father's
clerks, who had been deservedly dismissed from his situation.
From that moment her family discarded her. With the money
procured by the sale of her jewels, her husband took the inn
which we have such bitter cause to remember--and she managed the
house after his death. So much for the past. Carry your mind on
now to the time when our ship brought us back to England. At that
date, the last surviving member of your wife's family--her elder
brother--lay at the point of death. He had taken his father's
place in the business, besides inheriting his father's fortune.
After a happy married life he was left a widower, without
children; and it became necessary that he should alter his will.
He deferred performing his duty. It was only at the time of his
last illness that he had dictated instructions for a new will,
leaving his wealth (excepting certain legacies to old friends) to
the hospitals of Great Britain and Ireland. His lawyer lost no
time in carrying out the instructions. The new will was ready for
signature (the old will having been destroyed by his own hand),
when the doctors sent a message to say that their patient was
insensible, and might die in that condition."

"Did the doctors prove to be right?"

"Perfectly right. Our wretched landlady, as next of kin,
succeeded, not only to the fortune, but (under the deed of
partnership) to her late brother's place in the firm: on the one
easy condition of resuming the family name. She calls herself
"Miss Benshaw." But as a matter of legal necessity she is set
down in the deed as "Mrs. Cosway Benshaw." Her partners only now
know that her husband is living, and that you are the Cosway whom
she privately married. Will you take a little breathing time? or
shall I go on, and get done with it?"

Cosway signed to him to go on.

"She doesn't in the least care," Stone proceeded, "for the
exposure. 'I am the head partner,' she says 'and the rich one of
the firm; they daren't turn their backs on Me.' You remember the
information I received--in perfect good faith on his part--from
the man who keeps the inn? The visit to the London doctor, and
the assertion of failing health, were adopted as the best means
of plausibly severing the lady's connection (the great lady now!)
with a calling so unworthy of her as the keeping of an inn. Her
neighbors at the seaport were all deceived by the stratagem, with
two exceptions. They were both men--vagabonds who had
pertinaciously tried to delude her into marrying them in the days
when she was a widow. They refused to believe in the doctor and
the declining health; they had their own suspicion of the motives
which had led to the sale of the inn, under very unfavorable
circumstances; and they decided on going to London, inspired by
the same base hope of making discoveries which might be turned
into a means of extorting money."

"She escaped them, of course," said Cosway. "How?"

"By the help of her lawyer, who was not above accepting a
handsome private fee. He wrote to the new landlord of the inn,
falsely announcing his client's death, in the letter which I
repeated to you in the railway carriage on our journey to London.
Other precautions were taken to keep up the deception, on which
it is needless to dwell. Your natural conclusion that you were
free to pay your addresses to Miss Restall, and the poor young
lady's innocent confidence in 'Miss Benshaw's' sympathy, gave
this unscrupulous woman the means of playing the heartless trick
on you which is now exposed. Malice and jealousy--I have it,
mind, from herself!--were not her only motives. 'But for that
Cosway,' she said (I spare you the epithet which she put before
your name), 'with my money and position, I might have married a
needy lord, and sunned myself in my old age in the full blaze of
the peerage.' Do you understand how she hated you, now? Enough of
the subject! The moral of it, my dear Cosway, is to leave this
place, and try what change of scene will do for you. I have time
to spare; and I will go abroad with you. When shall it be?"

"Let me wait a day or two more," Cosway pleaded.

Stone shook his head. "Still hoping, my poor friend, for a line
from Miss Restall? You distress me."

"I am sorry to distress you, Stone. If I can get one pitying word
from _her_, I can submit to the miserable life that lies before

"Are you not expecting too much?"

"You wouldn't say so, if you were as fond of her as I am."

They were silent. The evening slowly darkened; and the mistress
came in as usual with the candles. She brought with her a letter
for Cosway.

He tore it open; read it in an instant; and devoured it with
kisses. His highly wrought feelings found their vent in a little
allowable exaggeration. "She has saved my life!" he said, as he
handed the letter to Stone.

It only contained these lines:

"My love is yours, my promise is yours. Through all trouble,
through all profanation, through the hopeless separation that may
be before us in this world, I live yours--and die yours. My
Edwin, God bless and comfort you."

_The Fourth Epoch in Mr. Cosway's Life._

The separation had lasted for nearly two years, when Cosway and
Stone paid that visit to the country house which is recorded at
the outset of the present narrative. In the interval nothing had
been heard of Miss Restall, except through Mr. Atherton. He
reported that Adela was leading a very quiet life. The one
remarkable event had been an interview between "Miss Benshaw" and
herself. No other person had been present; but the little that
was reported placed Miss Restall's character above all praise.
She had forgiven the woman who had so cruelly injured her!

The two friends, it may be remembered, had traveled to London,
immediately after completing the fullest explanation of Cosway's
startling behavior at the breakfast-table. Stone was not by
nature a sanguine man. "I don't believe in our luck," he said.
"Let us be quite sure that we are not the victims of another

The accident had happened on the Thames; and the newspaper
narrative proved to be accurate in every respect. Stone
personally attended the inquest. From a natural feeling of
delicacy toward Adela, Cosway hesitated to write to her on the
subject. The ever-helpful Stone wrote in his place.

After some delay, the answer was received. It inclosed a brief
statement (communicated officially by legal authority) of the
last act of malice on the part of the late head-partner in the
house of Benshaw and Company. She had not died intestate, like
her brother. The first clause of her will contained the
testator's grateful recognition of Adela Restall's Christian act
of forgiveness. The second clause (after stating that there were
neither relatives nor children to be benefited by the will) left
Adela Restall mistress of Mrs. Cosway Benshaw's fortune--on the
one merciless condition that she did _not_ marry Edwin Cosway.
The third clause--if Adela Restall violated the condition--handed
over the whole of the money to the firm in the City, "for the
extension of the business, and the benefit of the surviving

Some months later, Adela came of age. To the indignation of Mr.
Restall, and the astonishment of the "Company," the money
actually went to the firm. The fourth epoch in Mr. Cosway's life
witnessed his marriage to a woman who cheerfully paid half a
million of money for the happiness of passing her life, on eight
hundred a year, with the man whom she loved.

But Cosway felt bound in gratitude to make a rich woman of his
wife, if work and resolution could do it. When Stone last heard
of him, he was reading for the bar; and Mr. Atherton was ready to
give him his first brief.

NOTE.--That "most improbable" part of the present narrative,
which is contained in the division called The First Epoch, is
founded on an adventure which actually occurred to no less a
person than a cousin of Sir Walter Scott. In Lockhart's
delightful "Life," the anecdote will be found as told by Sir
Walter to Captain Basil Hall. The remainder of the present story
is entirely imaginary. The writer wondered what such a woman as
the landlady would do under certain given circumstances, after
her marriage to the young midshipman--and here is the result.



THE day before I left London, to occupy the post of second
secretary of legation at a small German Court, I took leave of my
excellent French singing-master, Monsieur Bonnefoy, and of his
young and pretty daughter named Jeanne.

Our farewell interview was saddened by Monsieur Bonnefoy's family
anxieties. His elder brother, known in the household as Uncle
David, had been secretly summoned to Paris by order of a
republican society. Anxious relations in London (whether

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