Project Gutenberg Australia
a treasure-trove of literature
treasure found hidden with no evidence of ownership
DefectiveByDesign.org



A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook

Title:      An Oath in Heaven
Author:     John Ryce (Alice M. Browne) (1848-1936)
eBook No.:  0500801.txt
Edition:    1
Language:   English
Character set encoding:     Latin-1(ISO-8859-1)--8 bit
Date first posted:          August 2005
Date most recently updated: August 2005

Project Gutenberg of Australia eBooks are created from printed editions
which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice
is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular
paper edition.

Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the
copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this
file.

This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions
whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms
of the Project Gutenberg of Australia License which may be viewed online at
http://gutenberg.net.au/licence.html

To contact Project Gutenberg of Australia go to http://gutenberg.net.au


Title:      An Oath in Heaven
Author:     John Ryce (Alice M. Browne)

An Oath in Heaven

AN EARLY VICTORIAN ROMANCE

BY

John Ryce (Alice M. Browne)

AUTHOR OF "THE RECTOR OF AMESTY," &C.

"I have an oath in heaven."

--SHYLOCK

JAMES CLARKE & CO., 13 & 14, FLEET ST., LONDON, E.C.

Entered at Stationers' Hall. All Rights Reserved.

AN OATH IN HEAVEN

AN EARLY VICTORIAN ROMANCE

BOOK 1.

CHAPTER I.

"A weaver sat at his loom,
Flinging his shuttle fast,
And a thread that should wear till the hour of doom
Was added at every cast."

1837.

IT was early morning in early November, and the chimes of St. Mary's,
Hurstwick, ringing out the hour of three fell gratefully upon the ear of
Boles, head gamekeeper to Dame Vernon, as he stood ankle-deep in the
rotting leaves of Feringham Wood. For him and his subordinate this was
the very witching hour, demanding their utmost vigilance. "If nothing
happened" between three and five a.m., the keepers might reckon upon
getting comfortably to bed a little after seven. But then one never knew;
and Boles could tell of desperate encounters fought out to the bitter end
in the broad daylight of a wintry morn. These late affairs annoyed him,
and his cruel strength degenerated into sheer savageness whenever
curtailment threatened his hours of slumber. The patent for his local
sobriquet--" B.B.B." (Brutal Brimstone Boles)--was unmistakeably
engrossed upon his countenance, and endorsed whenever he opened his lips,
from which curses tumbled with as much noise and naturalness as water in
flood on the removal of a sluice. Local poachers indeed, avoided
Feringham Wood, deterred from making raids thereon as much by the
proverbial ferocity of Boles, as by the extraordinary precautions taken
by Dame Vernon to prevent ingress or egress. She was no "sportswoman,"
yet was the first of the local landed proprietors to take advantage of
the new law permitting the employment of a second keeper. She bred her
game solely for the market, and as she would neither "let" the shooting
nor permit sportsmen upon her land, was regarded with contempt and
dislike by her neighbours, who never acknowledged her existence by look
or salutation. For this ostracism she cared not a jot, but derived an
immense amount of satisfaction from the fact that she was, at this date,
the sole possessor in the county of the beautiful ring-necked pheasant.
And very jealously these birds were guarded, so jealously, indeed, that
two young fellows in search of adventure had plotted to assault the
stronghold and carry off one of the cherished fowls. The affair
originated in a wager, Tom Ronaldson, the Hurstwick banker's son, betting
his friend, "Lord Jim" (other wise known as Lord James Bagshot Warner),
third son of the Marquis of Pierhampton, that he dared not attempt so
risky a performance. Jim at once took the bet, Tom deciding to be present
to see fair play, which he said was the better half of the fun.

They were aware that Boles' subordinate, Blake,had been dismissed from
his post ten days ago, they knew also that two days back the keeper had
not succeeded in finding a substitute. What time, therefore, could be
better than the present, for the premeditated attack? They counted upon
their excellent disguise for concealing their identity, and besides
assuming wigs and garments foreign to their habit, had arranged to speak,
should speech be obligatory, in the broadest dialect of the county.

The point of the joke with these young men, and one which hugely
delighted them, was that they, in propriâ personae, had feed [sic] Boles
two days previously to show them the ring-necked pheasants. They then saw
for the first time, and with something like dismay, the one long, narrow,
devious trail which was evidently the only route from the pheasants' huts
to the single gate leading to the high road. It would prove "a bigger
job" than they had expected, but the greater the difficulty, the greater
the glory.

The moon rode high in a sky almost cloudless; its stately, dreamy passage
above the wood marked by the ghostly multiplication upon its floor of the
weird, denuded trees. Here and there among the fallen leaves man-traps
were hidden, the boards that once gave warning of their presence hanging
defaced and unreadable from the bare timber above, the unmelodious
playthings of all the winds of heaven, but the special joy of Boles. That
individual found cause for rejoicing at this moment in the brightness of
the night, but the wind was rising, and that bank of clouds to the north
might be driven across the moon's face in no time. This possibility was
the supreme hope of the amateur poachers, who, deter-mined that Boles
solus should prove no match for the two of them, intended to be outside
the wood with the coveted bird before he became aware of their proximity.
Once out of the wood they were safe, for, as the law then stood, a
poacher could only be captured if found in the preserve.

As the last notes of St. Mary's chimes fell on the silent air Boles
detected an approaching footstep, and was at once on the alert. As it
advanced he recognised it to be that of his new assistant Randall, a
fellow of nineteen, whose countenance formed a striking contrast to that
of his principal. Fred Randall lived with his parents at the South Lodge
of Pierton Abbey, and it was in direct opposition to their wishes that he
engaged himself to Boles. But the young man was in love, and imagined
that by working night and day for a time he might hasten the advent of
his far-off wedding-day. Boles had ordered him to watch the north side of
the wood where the ring-necked birds were located; but he was not
surprised to see the young man approaching--he might have something to
report. When, however, no report was forthcoming, the elder man, always
suspicious of his subordinates, said sharply under his breath, "You
haven't been sleepin', you dog? It'll prove a bad night's rest for you if
you have!"

"No, no, Boles--not sleeping, no, no; but I'm, quite ready for
Bedfordshire," replied the young fellow in his natural voice.

"Curse you! You're talking as if it were broad daylight instead o' three
o'clock in the mornin'. Those cursed ways 'll never make a keeper of
you."

"I wish it was six, that's what I wish," rejoined Randall, as he examined
his gun. "I thought the walk might rouse me, but I'll get back now."

And he smothered a yawn.

"Ay, get back, you idle, good-for-nothin' hound, an' don't let me find
any o' they ringers missin', or 't wull be wuss for you afore nightfall.
Hist! What's that? There's someun up at they ringers, I'm certain, an'
you, you villin, come off a-purpose to leave 'em to it! Curse you! You
shall pay for your villiny, as sure's my name's Ben Boles an' Queen
Vict'ry's on the throne!"

"Tis nothing but a twig snapping, Boles," returned the younger man, now
wide awake; "but I'll run on, and if 'tis any poacher-body I'll whistle
for you."

"Ah, you'd go forrard, an' tell yer friens' Boles is comin', so as they
may get clear off wi' their ill-gotten gains," snarled the other. "You'll
just stay wi' me, though, d'ye hear?"

"All's quiet now, you see," said Randall, upon whom the sharp speech of
Boles made little impression.

"Curse you! Hold yer tongue! There 't is agen. 'Tis one o' they cursed
air-guns--I know 'em." And the speaker broke into a run.

During the foregoing fitful talk the two were hurrying along one of the
narrow glades leading to the north side of the wood, and the second
report evidently proceeded from their near vicinity. Boles immediately
stopped, and, seizing his companion, who was for pressing forward,
compelled him to stand behind a broad tree trunk, where the two waited in
breathless silence for some minutes.

The elder man was well aware that no one could Mcale the high,
impenetrable hedge surrounding the wood, and that no one could leave it
from the north without passing the line of vision commanded by his
present standpoint, so ho waited like a dog with ears raised and the
calmness of suppressed excitement.

Within forty yards, but hidden by the undergrowth, lay one of the
cherished pheasants, its pretty white, and now crimson-stained, necklace
standing out clearly from the dark plumage it encircled. Though the bird
was dead its destroyer had not yet claimed his unlawful prey. Jim, the
shooter, and his friend, Tom, were hidden, like the keepers, behind a
tree-trunk, for they had heard approaching footsteps and muffled voices,
doubtless called into action by the faint report of the nobleman's gun.

"Hang it, Jim, you ought not to have had a second shot, you know," said
Ronaldson, beneath his breath. "B.B.B.'s getting up steam, and, by all
the powers, he's got a helper, too! We shall have the dickens to pay
before we get out of this!

Ronaldson was not anxious about his bet: what was money compared to fun
like this? But his nature was the more cautious, and all at once, struck
by a newly-suggested danger, he whispered, as he laid a detaining hand on
his friend's arm, "Give me the gun, Jim; no more firing on any
consideration. Give me the gun, I say."

"Shut up, and be hanged to you!" returned the other, as he looked with
something like affection upon the weapon he carried, and which, to an
inexperienced eye appeared to be nothing more formidable than an ordinary
walking-stick.

Jim was fair, his bearing aristocratic, his figure and stature, now
masked by ill-fitting garments, faultless; his nose, distorted by red and
black paint, strictly classical; his mouth, beneath that false stubble,
firm almost to obstinacy. Ronaldson was dark-skinned, with colour in the
cheeks; his hair, under that chestnut wig, jet-black and wavy; his eyes
black and shining, his whole expression winning.

"Leave the wretched fowl then, and come on. We've not a moment to lose."

"Get!" was the sole but significant response. Boles had just arrived at
the conclusion that Randall had been right in accrediting the noise they
had heard to the snapping of a bough, when his sharp ears detected a
running movement, instantaneously followed by the sight of a pair of legs
in the act of flight. Rushing from his hiding-place, followed by Randall,
he cried in stentorian tones:

"Hold, there! Stan' i' the Queen's name!"

But the legs flew faster and faster.

Boles, who had known the ins and outs of the wood from boyhood, did not
waste time in pursuing the fugitives along the winding trail, but struck
back among the trees, and presently came up within three yards of the
retreating figures, for he now saw there were two men, one well in
advance of the other. But the run had rendered him breathless, and, as he
paused, he raised his gun, shouting:

"Stan'! or in God's name you're dead men! " Click went the gun, but it
missed fire, and as the fugitives sped on, the hindmost turned for a
moment to dangle the bird within the enraged gamekeeper's sight, and,
with a yell of triumph, rushed towards the gate not more than twenty
yards distant.

The moon was now completely hidden.

Boles, with muttered imprecations, turned again to avail himself of a
short cut by means of which he knew he could prevent one, if not both, of
the thieves making good his escape. The path now made a rapid descent,
which was continued right under the little gate as far as the high road,
from whence it lay quite a dozen yards.

Ronaldson had already scaled the pointed wooden palings of the small high
barrier to freedom, and, finding all quiet in the road, turned to
encourage his friend to greater effort.

Randall had not followed Boles, but appeared to be running after the
fugitives along the winding path. When close upon the heels of Jim (who
half turned to look over his shoulder) he called out in hoarse,
breathless tones:

"Fly, Lord James, fly! He'll kill somebody to-night for sure!"

"So, so," returned Jim, who was fast losing his wind. "That's Randall, is
it ? Good Randall."

"For God's sake fly! or there'll be murder! " cried the young keeper in
agonised tones which he dared not raise.

But there was the gate. The foolish escapade was all but concluded, and
no harm done.

Ronaldson waited in breathless suspense as Jim paused for an
infinitesimal space to gather strength for the leap.

But just then, at the very moment when he was within two yards of safety
Boles appeared, and had not Jim instantly retreated that heavy upraised
fist would have given him his quietus. Ronaldson having once cleared the
gate, found it impossible without assistance to get back into the wood,
owing to the great drop in the path. He could not even attack Boles in
the rear, for the top of his billycock alone appeared above the barrier.
With a savage back-handed blow the keeper knocked that off, but he was
not to be decoyed by Jim's endeavour to lure him from his post of
vantage. This man indeed, served only to excite his wrath against
Randall.

"Hi! Randall, you villin! " he cried, " if you don't bring the cursed
rogue here in two minutes, I'll break every bone in yer body! "

The young keeper at once disappeared, apparently determined to seize the
miscreant, but when close upon him he whispered, "Get round to the
left,"-- counsel Jim endeavoured as stealthily as possible to carry out.
But his blood fired, not only by opposition and excitement, but by the
probabilities of discovery and detention, he determined to shoot the
brute and clear the gate over his prone body. Boles, too, was prepared to
shoot; he would stand no more of this cursed nonsense; and, detecting
Jim's advance upon his left, be turned and raised his gun in that
direction. The tension was terrible; even the moon peered out from the
veiling clouds, to see this duel at such exceptionally close quarters,
while Ronaldson (who had recovered and replaced his hat and wig) hung on
by his hands to the pointed palings, a cold sweat enwrapping him.
"Click!" "Snap!" Both men had fired, but as Boles touched the trigger,
Randall rushed forward, and, striking the keeper's gun upwards, himself
received the contents of Jim's, and fell helplessly upon his senior.
While Boles was pinned to the ground, not alone by the dead weight of the
younger man, but by the force with which his head struck the gate behind
him, the two young fellows, whose attempt to make fun had turned out so
disastrously, fled, with scared faces, beating hearts and clamant
consciences along the highway to Hurstwick.

CHAPTER II

We have no friend but Resolution.--ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA

AT length Ronaldson, as they neared the Abbey, managed to jerk out the
words, "Go--to your-- father, Jim. Tell--him. He'll help--you."

And that advice but emphasized the desperate nature of the position. For
though the Marquis was not a severe father, one who visited the slightest
deviation on the part of his sons from the strict line of right with
unflinching rigour, he had ever since Jim's ninth birthday, the day on
which his wife, the beautiful young Marchioness met sudden death, cut
himself adrift alike from acquaintances, friends and relatives.

Yet surely, in this terrible emergency, he would devise a way of escape
for Jim, if only to preserve the ancient and time-honoured name of Warner
from disgrace. There had been some talk of the young lord taking a trip
to America or the Continent, and if be left the town at this juncture his
departure would excite neither suspicion nor comment. But the Marquis
must supply the necessary funds.

So to the east wing of the Abbey, whither the Marquis had removed and
located himself since the death of his adorable wife, and where,
surrounded by everything that could remind him of his loss, he forbade
anyone to visit him unannounced, or occupy rooms in that quarter, sped
Jim. A father, like "the brother" of the Proverbs, is surely "born for
adversity" was his unspoken thought. Indeed, to whom else could he go?
The gallows-tree within the past half-hour had sprung up to bar his path;
his only escape therefrom, as he dumbly reasoned, by means his father
would devise.

It never for a moment occurred to the young fellow that the Marquis
might, or could, regard this matter of life and death from quite another
point of view; that he even might refuse to lend a helping hand in this
dire strait. To tell him everything--yes, that was the only way. But Jim
was ignorant of the fact that only the previous day strong complaints had
been carried to the nobleman of the disgraceful behaviour of his two
elder sons, who, having been "rusticated" during their first and last
Oxford term, were now rejoicing in freedom from all restraints.

With rapid, yet cautious tread, Jim traversed the corridors, and, finding
his father's sitting-room door unlocked, entered without knocking, and
scarcely noticed the look of alarmed displeasure with which the Marquis,
who had not retired to bed, regarded this unexpected intrusion.

For Jim, filled with an overpowering sense of the awfulness of the late
catastrophe, was oblivious of the fact that his costume of country yokel
must disguise his identity, was entirely unconscious that the bead of the
ring-necked pheasant (trifling cause of dire calamity!) was dangling from
the pocket of his jacket.

The Marquis had risen, as if to repel the intruder, but re-seated himself
as he recognised the voice of his youngest son, his look of angry
displeasure gradually changing to one of unmitigated sternness and
contempt.

What a hideous story! Contemptible in every par-ticular! How despicable
the whole business, which, from first to last, without faltering or
palliation Jim unfolded in all its ghastly details, save only the part
Ronaldson had borne in it.

"What must--what can I do, sir?"

That was the heart cry of this young creature brought face to face so
suddenly, so cruelly, yet withal so naturally, so deservedly with the
huge terror of impending doom. Doomed he believed himself to a shameful
death unless a way of escape were at once opened up. Doomed at an age
when life is so beautiful, so desirable, such a land of sweet promises!

And what could be the matter with the Marquis? Was be deaf to this woeful
story? Was he blind to the approaching horror? Why was he so cold, so
indifferent?

Jim paused expectantly, refusing to listen to the inward voice, which
began to whisper his appeal for help had been made in vain.

"Do?" echoed the Marquis. "Begone!"

"How ?--where?" faltered the culprit, too dazed to be sensible of the
feeble nature of his questionings.

"How you like and where you like. The world, fortunately, is wide--put as
much of it between us as you can, and never cross my path again!"

Turning as he spoke to a cash-box beside him, he rapidly counted out some
twenty guineas in gold, then, fixing a stern, contemptuous gaze on the
demoralised-looking being before him, he said, in clear, biting tones:

"Take that and begone! At once, too, if you wish to save your skin from
the hangman and your sainted mother's name from disgrace. Remember, from
henceforth you are no son of mine; I will not tolerate you on the
premises and. herewith I solemnly disown and disinherit you! A son of
mine, a son of hers to turn thief and murderer! Good God I how terrible!"

Then, seeing that the boy stood, as it were transfixed, with wide,
staring eyes, tears frozen upon his cheeks, body and soul alike numbed by
this unlooked-for harshness, the Marquis exclaimed, striking the table as
be did so:

"Go! D'ye hear?"

Hear? Who could help hearing?

Stung by the taunting, cruel words, Jim's muscles relaxed, and with a cry
of mingled anguish and. bitterness, be fled from the room, leaving the
gold untouched upon the table.

But, in passing along the corridors to his own chamber, be passed also
the boundary that marks off youth from manhood, a transition full of
danger when effected in the teeth of a father's maledictions and with the
sound of scaffold-making impelling one to instant action.

Yet there was no appearance of haste in Lord James Warner's movements as
he changed the disguising costume for a thick, serviceable suit but
lately returned from the tailor. Very quietly he gathered his few
trinkets together and placed them with the miniature portraits of the
Marquis and Marchioness, two changes of linen and the yokel's suit in a
small portmanteau.

His mind was made up; he would take the coach which passed Brickington
toll-bar at seven, and be would go abroad. He would be his own saviour
from disgrace and death. So far so good.

Then his callow, untrained manhood counselled him to preserve his dignity
at all costs, and, as banishment was a necessity, to make a virtue of it.

Still preserving a calm demeanour, young Jim sat down and wrote as
follows:

To the most noble the Marquis of Pierhampton.

MY LORD,--I write these few lines to inform you that I am leaving
Hurstwick and the country at seven this morning, and you need be under no
apprehension that I shall ever trouble you again. You have disowned me,
and I, I have sworn solemnly to God that I will never acknowledge your
relationship to me, and remain

Your lordship's obedient servant,

The Abbey, November, 1837.                                      JAMES.

Carefully sealing this document, with which he was evidently well
pleased, he carried it to the bedside of the servant who usually attended
upon him, but who had understood his young master would be absent for
eight-and-forty hours, so had retired to his room at midnight.

"Beckton," said Jim, as he bent over the recumbent figure, "I'm back
earlier than I expected The fact is, if I can catch the coach at
Brickington toll- bar at seven--and I've heaps of time--I shall be able
to join people who are leaving for New York tomorrow. Don't disturb
yourself; I've packed my traps--the less I take the better--and Mr.
Ronaldson will walk to the coach with me. Say good-bye to everybody,
Beckton, and tell them to keep up their spirits till I come back, The
Marquis knows I'm going, but be sure you send this letter up to him with
his shaving water."

Meanwhile Ronaldson, after creeping stealthily to his home in the
High-street to remove his disguise, and, if possible, obtain money for
his friend, was awaiting the result of Jim's interview with the Marquis
at one of the side entrances to the Abbey.

Shivering in the chill of the November morning, with a guilty dread at
his heart lest he should be pounced upon in the darkness by the avenger
of blood, he was presently relieved to see Jim appear attired for
travelling and carrying a portmanteau.

He did not speak to Tom, though aware of his presence, for, taking him by
the arm, be hurried into the broad carriage-drive now flooded by the
moonlight.

Tom was scared by his friend's unusual manner. That be was under the
influence of strong emotion was very evident, but it was emotion in which
regret and despair had no part.

Pausing in the centre of the drive and immediately in front of the Abbey
the young nobleman uncovered his head, and in tones of deep and
awe-striking solemnity, exclaimed:

"God do so to me, as I fear I have done to my poor playmate if ever I
return to Hurstwick, or ever again call the Marquis of Pierhampton
father! The Almighty be my witness that as be has disowned me, I now and
for ever disown him!"

Replacing his hat, be turned to the dumb-stricken Ronaldson.

"Tom, my good friend, good-bye. We have been a couple of fools and are
like to pay dear for our folly. From henceforth our paths lie asunder.
Never seek to know where I am nor what has become of me. Remember I am as
truly dead to you from this time forward as though I hung on the
gallows-tree. Go home. Forget this night--forget you have ever known me.
I do not say 'change your ways,' you will do that without one word from
me. Say nothing to a living soul about to-night's work. I owe that much
to the Marquis, and he knows nothing of your connection with it."

The two were hurrying down the long carriage-drive, and Jim spoke with
great rapidity as though he feared interruption

"That was Randall I shot, Tom, I told you so before. Poor fellow, he
recognised me, he wanted to save me. God grant I have not killed him!"
And the speaker's voice quivered with emotion. "We ought not to have left
him, Tom; we might have saved him. Now it is too late--too late!"

Ronaldson more than once tried to speak, but Jim gave him no opening.
With a catch in his breath he continued:

"For you all is well, and you need not scruple to throw blame upon me if
suspicion points to you. Your hands are free from stain; as for me I go
forth with the brand of Cain upon my brow! "

"No, no, dear Jim," cried Ronaldson, with breaking voice. "You must not
say that; you only fired in self-defence."

"Bah!" returned the other, brusquely. "Had I any business there? But we
won't waste the few minutes we have together; what's done can't be
undone, more's the pity. Now I want you to execute one or two commissions
for me, Tom. This "--and here the young lord took a tiny packet from his
coat- pocket--" is for Randall. Leave it at the South Lodge
to-morrow--no, to-day, I mean. You will have to feign surprise at his
illness. Pray God you find him alive. Tell the old folks if--well, if you
can't see him--that as I was leaving the town for a time I wished to give
him a small parting gift in memory of the old days when he and I played
together. It is my breast-brooch, the one set with eight rubies, and, if
he should ever find himself in need--you see, Tom, I can't help
hoping--it would bring him a few shillings; and if he gets well ho will
value it more than money. But you must never let him want."

"I never will," said Tom.

Then producing an unwieldy parcel carelessly wrapped in brown paper, the
young nobleman proceeded.

"And this is the fateful bet. I could not leave it in my room; you must
dispose of it."

Tom's fingers closed over the dead pheasant with a thrill of horror.

"I am taking the disguise with me," continued Jim, as though he feared
the emotion under which be was labouring would overpower him. "I may find
it useful, and it would not have been wise to leave it behind."

Tom was astonished at the methodical way his friend had gone to work; he
appeared to have sealed up every avenue against suspicion.

Instinctively they hushed their voices as they passed the North Lodge,
and just as they stepped on to Brickington highway St. Mary's chimes rang
out the hour of six.

"I shall manage the coach comfortably, and when I'm outside it I can
decide where to go."

Ronaldson, who knew himself to have been the prime mover in this
disastrous affair, could not now restrain the evidences of his grief and
exclaimed brokenly:

"But tell me, Jim, where may I write to you? "

"Tom, there will be no writing between us. I told you just now that from
this time forth I am dead to you and to Hurstwick. My mind is quite made
up. You heard my oath. When I enter the coach, indeed, now at this very
moment, I am nameless and homeless."

"But, Jiw, the Marquis did not mean what he said; he spoke in a passion,
and will have repented before to-morrow."

"He repent! He forgive! You don't know what you're talking about, Tom,
and you don't know the Marquis either. I didn't till I went to his rooms
just now. Bah! don't speak of him. He's not a man-- mere skin and bone,
with a tongue that bites and stings like a serpent's tooth. I was an ass
to think he would help me."

"But a father can't disown his son, Jim; that is pure nonsense. Once a
father always a father, and once a son always a son."

"Just shut up, old fellow, and talk sense, or hold your tongue
altogether. I know what I'm talking about. But it's time you got back;
you've to go to bed, you know."

"Didn't the Marquis give you any money, Jim?" said Ronaldson, anxiously.

"Give me money? Of course he did; but d'ye think I'd touch it ?--sell my
birthright like Esau for a matter of twenty pounds sterling? I shall do
well enough without him and his money, and the beauty of it is I have now
no position to maintain," and a hard laugh accompanied the harsh
delivery.

Then, arrived at a turn, in the road, from which the toll-gate was
visible, the friends stopped, and Jim, taking Ronaldson's hand, said in
tones vibrant with resolve, "Understand, Tom, this is good-bye for ever,
I'm never coming back."

"Oh, dash it all!" cried Ronaldson, now all but sobbing. "I'll come with
you."

"If you try that game, Tom, I'll shoot myself. I mean what I say." Then
in gentler voice the young lord proceeded, "No, you must stay here and do
your best to make something out of life. I'm an old man since three
o'clock this morning, yet I've no right to turn parson."

"But, Jim," besought Ronaldson, in choking tones, "I feel certain Boles
is only stunned, and perhaps there's no great harm done to Randall; then
you could come back, say in a year or two?"

"Never!" rejoined the other, with convincing emphasis--" never! Make no
mistake, I'm never coming back!"

"But you must, Jim," implored the other; "I tell you what it is, I won't
have my hair cut till you do!"

And the two parted at Brickington toll-gate with a hearty handgrasp and
the cheerless laugh this mad little vow had raised; Tom's sole
consolation the fact that, unsuspected by his friend, he had slipped a
purse of £20 (the amount of the wager) into the traveller's coat-pocket.

But during the long coach ride young Jim (he was barely nineteen) had
ample time to consider his position. And he did not disguise from himself
that loneliness, heartache, possibly physical destitution, lay ahead. He
saw himself a sapling loosened from its native soil by the wind of his
own folly, uprooted by the hurricane of his father's anger. But as he
recalled the stern and cruel words "Herewith I solemnly disown and
disinherit you," his young heart swelled afresh with wounded pride and
bitter resentment, and for the third time he repeated the oath which cut
him adrift from kith and kin. It seemed, indeed, an easy matter to cast
off a father who lacked the most elemental instincts of fatherhood,
while, as for his brothers, Jim had long abhorred their ways and shunned
their company. And God, the universal Father, would not forsake him. What
were those words his mother had taught him in childhood's days, "None of
them that trust in Him shall be desolate." God was surely on his side; it
was God he had called upon to witness and assist him in the keeping of
his oath.

So reasoned Lord Jim with youth's pathetic ignorance of the many and
marvellous possibilities of the mystery called Life. All his thoughts
were directed to the keeping of his oath, and it never once occurred to
him that a time might come when he would give all he possessed to be able
to abjure it. Would He, Whose aid he now so confidently invoked, assist
him then?

CHAPTER III.

Had you then

Discoursed with him,
Of his own business and the goings-on
Of earth and sky, then truly you had seen
That in his thoughts there were obscurities,
Wonder and admiration, things that wrought
Not less than a religion in his heart.

--WORDSWORTH.

IT is the Vesper hour in the month of October, 1846, and the mountains
clustering at the head of a magnificent valley in the Californian Sierras
await with hushed, yet tremulous expectancy their nightly Farewell from
the Sun-God. For one intense, brief moment, crimsoning beneath his glance
they stand, mute, in rapt ecstacy, a shining throng.

Then with swift wing swoops Night, eager as a liberated bird of prey to
snatch from the stricken Daylight its last vestiges of strength and
beauty. Already in mournful monotones the falling waters chant its
funeral dirge, and depression and desolation reign in that
mountain-cluster, erstwhile a company of the glorified. The silver crags
gleam harsh and cruel in the waning light, and the solitary human witness
of these sharply-contrasted manifestations of glory and gloom, turns with
a slight shiver to kindle the pile of wood lying near.

He stands on the broad, thick rim of a glacier-basin 10,500 feet above
sea-level, and his choice of a camping ground bespeaks him an experienced
campaigner, for the neighbouring pine-thicket will afford fire, shelter
and bed, and the small lake in the hollow of the basin sweet drinking
water and a refreshing bath.

As the flames mount from the kindled wood they illumine a strong,
handsome face, a face which has evidently been in close contact with the
fire of life. It is evident, too, that the man gives himself up entirely
for the time being to whatever object demands his attention; but now, as
he prepares a couple of mountain quail for his supper, his thoughts are
manifestly dissociated from the work.

It may be the contact of his fingers with the wild creatures, it may be
the shadow of the dwarfed-pine cast by the rising moon; but whatever the
cause, this solitary being (none other than Lord James Bagshot Warner) is
for the time transported by memory far, far from the Californian Alps to
the heart of Old England, to his childhood's home at Hurstwick--the
lovely Abbey of Pierton.

So far as he is aware the law of England has neither attempted, nor
desired, to lay a finger upon him, and he is ignorant to this very hour
of the consequences of that disastrous shot, which, aimed at old Boles,
brought down both keepers. Yet he would give a great deal to know himself
free from the the [sic] stain of homicide.

When, in fulfilment of his promise to the Marquis, "Lord Jim" left
England, he took ship for Mexico, and enlisted there as a private in the
army of Santa Anna under the name of James James. In 1840, at his own
request, he was despatched, with his com pany, to Sonoma, California,
with further orders from Congress for the suppression of the Missions of
the Domimcan Fathers.

At Sonoma Jim met Don Guadeloupe Vallejo, Alcalde and collector for the
Mexican Government. This Spaniard, anxious to perfect himself in the
English language, and recognising Jim's superiority to the rare and
average Englishman to be found in the country, offered him the post of
tutor. Jim by this time could read, and also write, Spanish fairly well,
and though glad to obtain his discharge from the Mexican army, then
largely composed (particularly that part of it drafted to California) of
dissolute creatures, entered upon his new duties with little ardour. His
tastes were all for an outdoor life, and he barely concealed his contempt
for the Californian indolence and frivolity, while their eternal
fandangoes he loathed with his whole soul.

But Vallejo, then about thirty, quickly impressed him with his unique
personality, and the acquaintance rapidly ripened to friendship, which
unlocked for Jim the Spaniard's most valued possession--a small library
of choice books, many of them English and Spanish translations. As these
would have been denounced heretical by the Fathers, Vallejo concealed
them from every one save his nephew, Don Alvaraldo.

This mine of enjoyment Jim was now invited to exploit, and therein
discovered copies of works he remembered to have seen in the rooms of the
Father Superior at the gigantic Religious Retreat in Puebla de los
Angeles, Mexico; but they, unlike these, had every page torn or defaced.
Evidently those had been given up by, or taken from, recluses.

So shallow had been his education before leaving England, so scant his
opportunities for study since, Jim seized with avidity the mental food so
unexpectedly placed before him; but the writers who from the first
enchained his interest, and that of his intelligent host, were Werner and
Hutton. Soon tutor and pupil were discussing with head and soul the
question whether fire or water had produced the solids of the earth's
crust. Were mountains gigantic crystals, or the upshot of waste material
from the fiery womb of the world? So, on a small stage and with imperfect
weapons, the battle of the Plutonists and Neptunists was fought away in
the Far, Far West, Vallejo, with Werner, arguing strongly for the aqueous
origin of rocks and mountains; Jim, with the Scotsman, contending with
equal fierceness that their existence is due to volcanic upheaval.

At length Jim resolved to do that which his host's social and official
duties debarred him from under taking. He would obey the voice which now
perpetually called him from valley and height; he would go and
investigate for himself.

So--Vallejo aiding and abetting--it was decided that, with the meagre
assistance obtainable from the rare and imperfect maps of the country,
Jim should traverse the Coast Range from Mount Shasta to San Jacinto,
thence take the Great Spanish Trail from Puebla to Santa Fé, and, leaving
it midway, strike northwards to Lake Timpanogos, since known as Great
Salt Lake. Should he have the luck to get so far, he was then to turn
homewards, traverse the unknown region lying between the lake and the
Sierra Nevadas, cross these latter, if possible about lat. 39°, and so
reach Sacramento Valley and Sonoma.

This was no light undertaking, for beyond the risk attending the ascent
of hitherto unsealed mountains and unexplored regions, there were hostile
Indians and wild beasts to be reckoned with. But an investigator welcomes
difficulties and ignores dangers; and days, weeks, and months passed in a
life to Jim of indescribable charm.

Meanwhile these same months were adding an important chapter to the
history of the United States, and the happy-go-lucky California Lord Jim
had known was rapidly slipping from the loose grasp of Mexico. In '42
Commodore Jones had audaciously hoisted the American flag on the Pacific
Coast, while Colonel Freemont had struck at the heart of the country from
its eastern side.

Though the Californians were by no means in accord with their Mexican
rulers, they naturally resented these intrusions, yet from sheer
indolence did little more.

When, however, Freemont, in June of the very year which finds Jim on the
Nevadas, seized on the horses of the Military Commandante midway between
San Rafael and Santa Clara, captured the Sonoma Pre Nidio, and proclaimed
California a dependence of the United States, the Californians rushed to
arms only to meet disaster and defeat.

Jim was in the vicinity of Vegas de Santa Clara--the halting-place of the
California and New Mexico caravans--when he first heard of the
probabilities of war, and at once decided he would go no further
eastwards.

Lake Timpanogos should be abandoned, and this, not because he felt any
desire to take up arms for either side, but solely because he was seized
with the misgiving that the safety of the only property he really valued,
and therefore would not carry about with him, might now be endangered. As
the American Freemont had actually crossed the Nevadas, Jim determined to
find a way over them to the San Joaquin Valley and thence to Sacramento
and Sonoma.

Turning sheer westwards, he made direct for what is now known as Owen's
Lake, to the west of which tower the domes and pinnacles of the highest
Sierras. When actually upon the mountains he found it almost impossible
to leave them, so greatly did they interest and fascinate him. Whence, he
asked himself again and again, came those frozen seas over which he
tramped, whence those huge boulders standing here and there? Monuments,
surely, they of a living, seething flood.

And he knew not that one Perraudin had long puzzled over that same
question upon his native Alps, and had already solved it. Yet, novice as
he was in geological lore, Jim was quick to detect the flow of the
immense ice-rivers, and gauge their enormous silent force by the natural
passes they had carved for themselves through or around all obstacles.

As to the superior merits of either the Huttonian or Wernerian theories
he was unable to arrive at any decision. What impressed him most was his
own colossal ignorance, his unspeakable littleness.

When the splendours of dawn and sunset displayed themselves; when the
atmosphere about him was suffused (like an over-full heart) with the most
delicate and tender colourings; when his eye rested enchanted on the
virgin whiteness of snow-clad pinnacle and dome; when he stood unattended
in the vast solitudes beneath beetling precipice, or groped his way
cautiously along the edge of some gigantic cañon; when his gaze was
directed to his only canopy--" the beauty of heaven with his glorious
show,"--the grandeur, dignity, sweetness, and sublimity of the Eternal
Thought as contrasted with his own petty pretensions, humbled him to the
very dust. What a piece of rhodomontade that oath he had so solemnly
sworn, and which he had hitherto regarded with the commingled
satisfaction of the anchorite, as he feels the smart of
self-flagellation, and the savage, as his eye rests on the retaliatory
wounds he has inflicted on his enemy! How small, how pitifully mean, that
note in which, in stilted phrase, he had so glibly renounced his
God-given birthright!

As day followed day "the still small voice of the level twilight" made
its pathetic appeal to him to repudiate his vow, to write to the Marquis
acknowledging his relationship and beg him to let bygones be bygones. So
it came to pass that in the solitudes of the Highest Sierras Lord James
Bagshot Warner determined to rid his soul of that loathly oath as soon as
he should regain the haunts of men. At Sonoma the renunciatory letter
should be written. True, lie could not by any manner of means bring
himself to regard the Marquis with anything like filial affection, but
his heart no longer held any bitterness towards him. "The flakes of
scarlet clouds burning like watch fires in the green sky of the horizon"
had slowly but surely consumed the canker of hatred and revenge, and now
Jim was anxious to translate and transmit to his father the new feelings
that animated his breast. So determined, he creeps to his bed-chamber of
stunted pine this early October night, and with the first streak of dawn
he leaves it next morning, disturbing as he does so his room-mates the
sparrows. In the little lake, one of the full bowls of the glacier basin,
he takes his morning dip, and breakfasts afterwards on the remnants of
his last night's supper.

Then he stands for a moment to give a last look at the unique beauty
surrounding him. How he loved these Alps! As the sun rose higher fresh
beauties were disclosed. The highest peaks no longer stood alone like
burning islands in a sea of liquid night. From Jim's point of vantage
lakes one after another revealed themselves, sparkling like diamonds of
every size and shape. Sharp, slender columns rearing themselves towards
the south caught on their northern side and returned the sun's greeting,
while beyond them a caravan of white veiled mountains filled up the whole
horizon, summit after summit standing a-tip-toe to look over the shoulder
of its more advanced companion.

But Jim's path lay westwards and downwards, and speedily called upon him
to take heed to his goings. Often was he in peril of death, often he had
perforce to retrace his steps, often he paused to examine the tokens left
by fire or water upon rock or soil; but by nightfall he had reached the
first belt of vegetation. Instead of the snow-fields he now had to steer
his course through forests of superb pines, whose branches were divided
with the mathematical regularity of toy trees.

Here he fell in with a party of Indians retreating to their stronghold in
the mountains, a retreat they believed undiscoverable by the white man,
but which he now knows and delights in as the Yosemite Valley. They not
only supplied him with jerked bear's meat and cooked beans, but gave him
the very latest news from the seat of war. The whole country was up in
arms, they said. Monté-Rey, Yerba Buena, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and
Sonoma were in the hands of the Americans, who had seized all horses and
cattle at the presidios and missions. Don Vallejo had been taken
prisoner, but released on parole after six days' captivity. There was
fighting, too, in New Mexico; and Santa Fé, it was reported, had fallen
to the invaders.

These tidings decided Jim to strike a bargain with the old Indian chief,
Tenaya, for a fleet horse and sack of oats. He then pushed forward, and
forty-eight hours after leaving the Indians found himself on the Foot
Hills of the Nevadas. Here, among the Big Trees, progress was less rapid,
and in his search for a trail, however faint, his attention and interest
were claimed by tokens, as he conjectured, of a primeval river-bed. Could
he have stumbled upon the bed of one of the four immense subterranean
rivers upon which tradition said the Nevadas stood? Tethering his horse
to a black oak-tree, he stooped to make a closer inspection, when the
sudden, unnatural darkening of the air and a faint moan, assured him that
a human being was in extremis in his near vicinity.

Hurriedly rising, he ran towards a ragged-looking object he descried at
the entrance to one of the cross-valleys, the rocky sides of which were
still clothed with manzanita and chamiso. On closer inspection the ragged
object resolved itself into a man in a state of collapse, both legs
broken, torn and bleeding. No wonder the vultures hovered expectantly
about him but Jim would balk them of their prey.

Fortunately he had taken the precaution to replenish his water-flask
before leaving the heights, and now, partially filling his horn-cup
therefrom, he added half the contents of a phial of agua ardente Vallejo
had given him.

With infinite difficulty he administered the draught, and when at length
signs of returning consciousness were apparent, he was quite unprepared
for the token of joyful recognition which leapt into the dimmed eyes of
the sufferer as they rested upon his benefactor. The stranger was
evidently an Englishman and not, as Jim had at first conjectured, an
American. Yes, he certainly knew those rugged features, though he could
not at once give a name to their owner.

But memory assisted him, and as he cried "Why, Isaac, how come you here?"
he recognised in the wounded man one of two brothers named Bennett, who
formed part of the crew of the vessel in which he shipped for Mexico nine
years ago. The men were so superior to the ordinary drinking sailor then
employed that Jim had quickly conceived a liking for them, and had more
than once shielded them from the wrath of the fiery little Mexican
captain. Strange that one of the brothers should turn up here and now!
But stranger still, after giving a brief account of himself, is the
request Bennett makes that "Mr. James" shall accept certain specified
property of his to be found "in a cave, back of Big Tree yonder," on the
understanding that all else he finds there he will have conveyed to Sarah
Bennett, Isaac's only sister now in England. Jim finds little difficulty
in acceding to a request made under such sad conditions, but where in
England is the woman to be found? "Miss Sarah Bennett?" he commences.
"No, no," the dying man feebly murmurs. "Randall--Mrs. Fred
Randall--letters tell." "Fred Randall?" At the mention of that name "Lord
Jim" started as though he had been shot, but Bennett was going fast.
Letters he had mentioned. "WHERE are the letters?" cried Jim, in such
compelling tones that the sufferer, brought back to consciousness for a
brief moment, sighed rather than said, "S'n Carlos." And Jim, who had
bent to catch the feeble articulation, saw a smile flicker over the ashen
face and found himself alone with the dead.

"Blessed, thrice-blessed Bennett," he exclaimed, "who in the very act and
circumstance of death has e my innocence and given me peace."

CHAPTER IV.

But these, their gloom, the mountains and the bay,
The whole land weighed him down as Ætna does
The Giant in Mythology.

THE LOVER'S TALE

This chance encounter with Bennett, involving the trusteeship which (in
utter ignorance of its magnitude) he had so readily undertaken, made it
impossible for Jim to carry out his intention of going direct to Sonoma.
On visiting the cave containing the dead man's property he immediately
realised that the business of getting it to the sea-coast for shipment
would demand not merely skill and secrecy but almost superhuman strength.
But Jim was no carpet-knight, and, like all good travellers, resourceful
and methodical. Moreover, he was now consumed by the desire to prove
beyond question whether Fred Randall--his Fred Randall--were indeed
alive; and in making for the little port of Monté-Rey it would be
necessary to pass the Mission of San Carlos, where Bennett had said
informing letters were to be seen. It was not, however, till the second
day after Jim had buried Isaac beneath a black oak-tree that he and the
small team he had collected, and which consisted of the horse he had
bargained for with the Indians and two mules, set out to pick its painful
way across the pathless and parched valley of the Lower San Joaquin. Much
valuable time was lost in seeking for a ford, which, when found, landed
the little convoy on the upper part of the Great Tulare Plain.

Here troops of antlered elk and deer were frequently encountered, as well
as bands of wild horses. When these latter, in their search for food or
water, rushed past like a mountain torrent, making the very ground
beneath them to shake, Jim had the utmost difficulty in preventing his
team from making a stampede and joining their rampant brethren. But what
a glorious picture they made, with their glossy flanks, arched necks, and
flowing manes and tails!

Then, as he neared the valleys of the Coast Range, wolves, or rather
coyotes, were not wanting to add to his troubles, so that by day and by
night he was compelled to an almost ceaseless vigilance. Of food he got
little, and that very irregularly--fish when he rested his animals near
water and a bird once in a way, for though the valley abounded in game,
Jim dared not leave his team for five minutes.

Now and again he fell in with a stray traveller or two who seemed as
anxious to avoid him as he was to evade their notice, but to his surprise
he saw nothing of the armed forces of either belligerent party.

The reason was explained when he set foot on the Coast Range. He learned
then from the vagrant Indians (who, having been freed by the Mexican
Government--i.e., disbanded from their homes at the various missions--now
roamed shelterless and incapable upon the lands they were supposed to own
and cultivate) that the fighting was concentrated on and about San Pedro,
Los Angeles, and San Diégo.

The forces of both parties were all focussed in that neighbourhood, they
said, so that in Monté-Rey there was scarcely an American or Californian
left capable of bearing arms.

This was good news to Jim, and encouraged him to push forward in the hope
of reaching the little port before the conquering army returned there.

But he was well-nigh spent, exhausted mentally and physically. The
intense heat of the valley, now the clammy, penetrating damp of the coast
fogs, anxiety, sleeplessness, and want of proper food, all combined to
undermine his splendid strength. And in the wake of departing strength
his confidence in the wisdom and feasibility of the plans he had formed
departed. While his beasts rested, he had ample time to consider, and
re-consider his position, and by degrees he managed to convince himself
that he had too hastily accepted as a fact the implication contained in
Bennett's last words that Randall lived. And even if Randall lived, Boles
might have succumbed to that night's injuries. But the letters the dying
man had referred to, letters he had said were at San Carlos Mission--they
would give him definite information on these points. He must have their
testimony before he could, or indeed ought to, permit himself to rejoice
in his own bloodguiltlessness. Yet Bennett had even forgotten in those
last moments that his sister was about to marry, what more likely than
that he had substituted Randall's name by mistake for the true
bridegroom's? The letters would clear up that point, but was it likely,
urged Probability, that he would ever find those letters? Would the
Fathers have taken the trouble to preserve the belongings of a man who
left the Mission without a farewell, and had given no hint of any
intention to return? Why, San Carlos itself had, in all likelihood, been
dismantled since Bennett left it for the valley! Numbers of the Missions,
abandoned eight or ten years back were even now crumbling to dust, and
Jim recalled with dismay, that when he set for his tour of investigation
an imperative order for the sale of all the others by public auction had
been received from the Mexican Congress. Congress orders were not always
enforced in California, but if San Carlos had fallen under the hammer, or
a prey to private cupidity, then farewell to all hope of finding
Bennett's letters.

The rainy season had commenced, and November was a week old when Jim and
his convoy rounded a mountain spur at the foot of which lay the crumbling
Mission buildings of San Juan Bautista distant, as he was well aware,
only some thirty miles from Monté-Rey. Though he could detect no token of
man's presence there, the place had for him a home-like look, and was not
without picturesqueness when viewed from the height.

The early sunlight glanced tenderly over the decaying adobe, church and
houses, but was caught and reflected by the wild oats and mustard, which
disputed territorial rights where not so long ago the graceful maize had
responded with a grander music to the invisible baton of Æolus.

In the two princely gardens, each from fifteen to twenty acres in extent,
the Californian poppy flaunted, as it had never dared to do under the
regime of the Fathers; the hundred, or rather thousand, fruit-trees which
lined the walks and walls were now the orchestra of myriad bees and
wasps; decaying apricots and peaches, to say nothing of apples and pears,
strewed the ground which vine-tendrils and wild convolvulus were doing
their beat to conceal with an impenetrable net-work.

After passing San Juan Bautista, Jim found the road fairly defined, and
as it rose but gently, it was easy travelling for the animals; but their
backs, especially the mules, wore sore, and one of the latter was lame.
Soon, however, they would be able to rest, and with that possibility now
within measurable distance Jim strove to keep up his spirits and
encourage the poor beasts.

At sunrise on the second morning after leaving San Juan, he crested the
last hill-top from whence (oh! welcome sight!) as far as the eye could
reach, the sparkling waters of the Pacific were distinctly visible. Never
did sweeter music fall on the ears of homeless Jim than that made by the
roll of its mighty breakers on the beach.

Like armies whispering, where great echoes be.

Below him stretched the green lawn on which the white-plastered,
red-tiled adobe dwellings constituting Monté-Rey stood; there the low
presidio from which now waved "the Stars and Stripes"; to the south the
dense wood of pines he knew so well; and here, in nearest proximity, the
valley of Carmel and the cluster of buildings known as the Mission of San
Carlos.

Suddenly, in obedience to an unconscious impulse, Jim was upon his knees,
a "thank God" upon his lips, for out on the still, morning air floated
the tones of the matin bell. God be praised, San Carlos was not then
deserted!

A moment later ocean and town were swallowed up as completely as though
they had never existed by the thick coast fog, which at the same time
converted the cheerful call to prayer to the muffled tones of a passing
bell.

At mid-day the fog lightened somewhat, but just as Jim was preparing to
take advantage of the change, his quick ear detected the sound of
galloping hoofs behind. Who could be coming, friend or foe? Surely all
risk of harm to himself, his beasts, or the treasure was over and done
with now!

Whoever the comer might be he was well mounted, for he covered the ground
rapidly. Soon horseman and steed loomed large through the now quickly
lifting fog, and then, to his intense relief, Jim recognised the features
of Thomas O. Larkin, Esq., first, and as it proved last, U.S. Consul at
Monté-Rey. He could not be mistaken, for no other man of Jim's
acquaintance wore his hair as did Mr. Larkin.

The exigencies of hard travel, even war itself, had been powerless to
disturb the thick cannon-like curl, which, by a skilful union and twist
of front locks with those from the back of the head rested above each ear
and, supported from below by a shorter, more elegant convolution of the
whisker, gave to the otherwise bare face of their owner the appearance of
a light battery.

But there was no sign of recognition on Mr. Larkin's countenance as he
reined up beside the now stationary team and scrutinised the features of
the man in charge of it.

"Friend or foe?" he cried.

"Mr. Larkin, don't you know me?"

"No, can't say I do, but you've got an animal there I should like to have
a nearer acquaintance with," and the Consul pointed to the Indian steed.

"Surely I've not changed beyond all recognition, Mr. Larkin? I think, at
any rate, your brother, Mr. Cooper, would know me, and Don Vallejo, too,
I trust, spite of my travel-stains," returned Jim, ignoring the allusion
to his beast.

"Why, it's James!" returned Larkin, with evident pleasure. "But you're a
changed man, and no mistake. You're getting back from your exploring
tour, of course, of course. And you've had experiences and hair-breadth
escapes, of course. And they change a man like the very devil. We've had
experiences, too, since you left us, I can tell you. But you've not been
forgotten, James. It was only the last time I saw Vallejo we spoke of
you, and wondered whether you were in the body or out of the body. He
guessed you'd turn up all right, and so you have!"

"Ah! how is Vallejo?" inquired Jim, anxious to divert his companion's
thoughts from his team.

"Oh, he's all right," returned Larkin, now walking his horse to suit the
slower movements of the burdened animals. "Freemont lodged him in
Sutter's Fort for six days last June and then let him out on parole.
Vallejo's always been in favour of shunting the Mexicans, as you know,
and he's a man of his word, which is more than can be said either of
Flores or Castro. By the bye, Vallejo sent a small chest of your
belongings to my house at Monté-Rey when the Sonoma troubles began."

Jim's spirits rose, but concealing his delight he said, "I'm much obliged
to him and to you, too, sir. As you see, I'm desperately hard up for a
change of garments, and all I possess in that line is in that chest."

"But what have you here ? " and Larkin's gaze was again directed to the
sacks and their bearers. Then, as though conscious he had asked a foolish
question, he answered himself and Jim did not contradict.

"Specimens of course. I got it out of Vallejo one day what you were
after; but I warn you, James, that he and the whole lot of us are far too
busy to look at sands and gravels. We're fighting in dead earnest now and
haven't time to give a second or first thought either to Pluto or
Neptune. And, James, I can't linger now, and you can't hurry. Like you,
I'm but just returned from the mountains, though I have only been to the
foot of them."

In answer to Jim's inquiring look Larkin proceeded, "I had notice that an
emigrant party was crossing by Freemont's Pass (he crossed there in '42,
soon after you left us), and I rode out in the hope of meeting it and
enlisting the men at once for Freemont's battalion. But I left my little
Maisie very ill, and am most anxious about her and all the others. So you
see how I'm placed."

"Pray don't let me detain you, sir," urged Jim, wishing devoutly that
since Larkin could not help him he would ride forward, but Larkin still
lingered.

"You must come to us to-night, James," he said. "I can't promise you
anything better than pot luck, but we'll share and. share alike."

"You're very kind, but I couldn't think of intruding upon Mrs. Larkin in
this disreputable condition, I really couldn't. You've sickness in the
house, too. Besides, I hardly think I shall get as far as Mouté-Rey
to-night. I had made up my mind to try to get shelter at San Carlos.
To-morrow I shall certainly look you up and tell you my adventures."

"There's only the mad padre at San Carlos. You know the Mission was sold
last year, but the owner, like the rest of us, has been too busy to set
new wheels in motion. The padre will give you a decent shake down, I've
no doubt, and as I said just now, I don't know how things are at home.
I'm told the Californians have set a price on my head, but that doesn't
trouble me. I've got a good nag here who ought to carry me out of all
danger, but it's like drawing blood from a stone to get hold of a horse
in these times. This one is only loaned to me, and I'm under a written
covenant to pay fifty dollars--did you ever know such a figure ?--if
anything happens to it. Things are different nowadays to what they were.
You've got a nice little thing there, James," and Mr. Larkin, to Jim's
annoyance, again indicated the Indian steed. He would be feeling the
sacks next.

Suddenly turning in his saddle the American exclaimed, "Ah! there's my
man, Slater, at last!"

And Jim, turning, too, saw a horseman on the hill top behind.

"He's on the very devil of a mount, and I was getting quite anxious about
him. Well, James, I must press on, and I won't forget to send a Kanaka
along to San Carlos with your box as soon as I reach home. Say, will you
do me the favour to exchange your animal there for Slater's here?
Slater's will do your business just as well, you know."

The astute American had from the first cast a covetous eye on Jim's
horse, and would long since have excused himself and continued his
journey but that he hoped to effect an exchange of animals by waiting
till his servant overtook him.

Jim had really no objection to offer. Slater's beast certainly would
manage the slower pace and the few remaining miles to San Carlos. But he
himself removed the baggage while Slater, with evident delight, saddled
and bridled his new acquisition.

"Much obliged, James, much obliged," said Larkin. "I won't forget your
trunk. Now, Slater, we can keep closer to each other, which will be
better for both of us. Yes, yes, James, we're in for rain, as you say,
and you won't be sorry to have dry clothes waiting at San Carlos when you
arrive. I wish you'd leave your rubbishy stones and come and fight under
our flag, though I can't say you look very fit. See what you're like
after a night's rest. I'll expect you tomorrow."

Again Jim was alone on the hill feeling a veritable hypocrite. Yet surely
the present was an inopportune moment for speaking of his trust!

To-morrow he would see Larkin and consult with him as to the best way of
shipping it off. By tomorrow he would know whether Randall and Boles were
living or dead, for since San Carlos was standing surely the letters were
safe. Again hope sang lustily, the letters would be in his grasp before
nightfall.

But circumstances were still adverse. Scarcely were Larkin and his
servant out of sight than the rain came down, as it does there in the
rainy season, four days' ordinary rain being launched on the earth in as
many hours. Wet to the skin in spite of the shelter they were compelled
to seek beneath the pines, Jim and his beasts made such slow progress
that it was near midnight when, having passed through a wide gateway,
they reached the open square on three sides of which the Mission
buildings and church of San Carlos were ranged.

Eagerly but fruitlessly Jim scanned the doorways and grated holes which
served as windows in both lower and upper storeys. Had he indeed at
length reached San Carlos to find it a city of the dead?

CHAPTER V.

I stand as one that after darkness feels
The twilight, all the air is promise
Yet strangely chill, and though the sense delight
In sweet deliverance, something in the blood
Cries for the sun.

--BAYARD TAYLOR.

IN vain Jim halloed: the hollow square alone seemed stirred to respond,
and that with the most ghostly of echoes.

The stifiness, as of death, oppressed him with a foolish terror which
made the blacker depths of darkness beneath the eaves the lurking place
of mocking evil spirits.

His courage, which had never yet failed him, disappeared altogether, and
Hope herself slunk out of sight abashed by this unlooked-for delay. Again
and again she had assured him that, having overcome all difficulties and
dangers, Sarah Bennett's letters would be within his grasp ere night
fell. And since his rencontre with Mr. Larkin he had looked forward to
the certainty that he and his beasts would enjoy a long and. well-earned
rest.

True, he was late in arriving, but then Larkin's messenger would have
informed the padre that he Jim, was on his way and might be expected at
any moment. Things must have changed even while Larkin was absent in the
valley. Perhaps the purchaser or an administradore had put in au
appearance and turned out the padre.

But food and shelter must be had, for the rain still came down
pitilessly, though not as copiously as on the hill-side. Twice Jim walked
his team across the square, halting the second time at the fountain in
the centre to give the animals water. He meanwhile ran up the steps to
and along the gallery upon which the sleeping apartments of the Fathers
and responsible officers of the Mission gave. He knew the latter had long
since departed, but surely some caretaker might be within earshot. Still
silence, except when Jim broke it with a thunderous knock at every door
he came to.

The whole length of the gallery was traversed, and then Jim returned to
his team uncertain what to do. Shelter of a sort might be had beneath the
gallery, but food and warmth were even of greater importance at this
moment. With the reins again between his cold fingers Jim stood
irresolute. Should he go on to Monté-Rey and Larkin? That seemed the
wisest, indeed the only thing to do.

But just as he had-decided to do this, his eye caught a faint glimmer of
light beneath the door of the church, and Hope sprang up once more. The
mad padre might be holding vigil there. Still grasping the leading-rein
Jim crossed to the church, and to his intense relief found the door
unsecured.

Weird and ghostly looked the barn-like building in the sole light of the
six candles burning upon the altar at the extreme end, the altar itself,
to Jim's amazement, being heavily draped in black. Surely this was
neither All Souls' Day nor yet Good Friday?

With a mildly approbative ray the candle-light gleamed upon the devils
who, in the horrible picture of Hell, for which San Carlos was famous and
which the Fathers had found so effectual in making converts, were busy
pitch-forking the unbaptized into quenchless fires. The less effective
convert-making picture of Paradise which hung above was lost in the
pervading darkness, a darkness that deepened to gloom in the long, empty
nave, and etherealised the tawdry dress of a Madonna or Saint placed upon
bracket or pedestal in remote corners.

The silence was more oppressive here than in the square outside, and Jim,
who had swung the door back upon its hinges, cast a searching
comprehensive glance over the whole interior and satisfied himself that
he was alone in the building.

As he was about to close the door his quick eye all at once distinguished
a moving, shapeless object near the north wall of the nave and well
outside the radius of the candle light. What could it be? Black even
amidst blackness: no human being could be so shapen, or rather so
misshapen, as this moving mass! Jim, overwrought by excitement,
disappointment, and fatigue, would have fled forthwith into the rain and
wholesome darkness of the night, when impulse and steps were arrested by
the tones of a human voice. And what a voice! Such tenderness, such
sweetness, such strength, such yearning could alone proceed from Spanish
lips and an aching heart.

Jim's mind was at once relieved. This would be the mad padre, as the
dévote Geronimo Encarnacion was usually styled, and whom Jim had
occasionally seen and spoken to when he had visited Monte-Rey. He had
been sorely affected by the dispersion of the Indians, for whom he had
felt a fatherly and fraternal affection, and had greatly taken to heart
the secularisation of the Missions. The successive changes which had
reduced them to a condition of powerlessness and destitution he was never
tired of ascribing to the lack of holiness and zeal in priests and
people, and his constant upbraidings, together with his unalterable
determination to remain at San Carlos until he should be literally turned
out of its doors, had made him a remarkable personality at this juncture.

But the somewhat misleading sobriquet, "mad," had been conferred upon him
by his detractors from his habit of thinking aloud, or, as they styled
it, preaching to himself in some lonely spot.

Spellbound Jim listened to the melodious syllables, which, as they fell
upon the silence and the gloom, reminded him of the liquid music of the
heights. But what words were these? Mystified and apprehensive he stole
noiselessly up the church forgetful of the reins between his fingers.

And this is what he saw beside a small, square picture on the wall as his
eyes accustomed themselves to the darkness. The clear-cut profile of a
haggard, tonsured face, a figure, whose proper shape was bent and
obscured by a huge wooden cross, in which sharp, headless nails had been
fixed and were pressing, nay, piercing, the tender flesh whose sole
shield was the thin, black garb of the penitent.

And this is what Jim heard:

"Oh, sweet and adorable Jesus, why shouldst Thou be as a stranger in the
land, and as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night?
Thou who didst tread the wine-press alone, and of the people there was
none with Thee, suffer me, oh, I beseech Thee, suffer me who am the least
of all Thy servants to taste this night of the cup Thou didst drink of.
Suffer me, oh, suffer me to die, even as Thou did for the sins of this
backsliding people--to be their Redeemer, their Saviour!"

The unutterable yearning of the speaker's tones quite unmanned Jim, who,
unconscious that he had fallen upon his knees, was also unaware that his
three beasts had ranged themselves behind him, their foot falls returning
no echo from the earthen floor.

They, tossing weary heads and lifting remonstrant hoofs in the church
porch, had gladly responded to what appeared to them the double
invitation to shelter and food afforded by the open door and the
connecting reins.

But the padre, after a short interval, is again speaking.

"Is it not expedient, O sweet Jesus, that now, as in the old Judean days,
one should die for the people? Yea? Thou answerest yea? Ah! what, what
can I render to Thee for thus graciously accepting my life? 'Lo, I come
to do Thy will, oh, my God.' And now I beseech Thee accompany me through
the via dolorosa, the via crucis, and when I die beneath the cross
receive me to Thy kingdom in glory!"

A look of ecstacy irradiated the worn face of the priest as, rising, he
chanted a verse of the rhythmic hymn prescribed by the Roman Church for
the office of "the Way of the Cross."

Sancta Mater istud agas,
Crucifixi figi plagas
Cordi mio valide.

Jim, too, had risen and, aware for the first time that the three beasts
were sctually in the church and standing meekly behind him, ho dimly
recognised the incongruity of the situation, and was able in some measure
to account for the padre's evident insensibility to his surroundings.

Something, however, must be done, and that at once. The enthusiast, now
performing an act of self or vicarious abnegation, and contemplating
giving or taking (surely synonym and antonym were here strangely
confounded) his own life, was the only being to whom Jim could apply for
the Bennett letters.

But on the ground merely of common humanity he must not permit this
devotee to die before his eyes. Moreover, Jim was himself sick unto
death, not alone with hope deferred, but with fatigue, anxiety, hunger
and cold. The beasts, too, were well-nigh spent. In the interests of all
Jim must interfere without further delay.

The padre, now at the "Fifth Station" and within the outer radius of the
candle-light, made scarcely any effort to support the huge cross, but
allowed it rather to press and press, and pierce and pierce, for Jim
could now see drops of blood falling down to the ground.

Sickened at the sight and horrified at the thought which flashed upon him
as a revelation that the man, without doubt, intended literally to die
beneath the the [sic]cross, Jim sprang forward and gently, lest the nails
should rankle in the wounds, lifted the heavy rood and placed it against
the wall.

"Padre Geronimo," he began, but could add no more, for the momentary look
of bewilderment on the face of the dévote was immediately followed by one
of keenest disappointment, as falling on his knees, he exclaimed in
accents of sweet reproachfulness, "Unworthy, unworthy! Thou deemest me
unworthy!"

But Jim, raising the suppliant, drew him, as well as the beasts, into the
fuller light, and anxious to cover the possible confusion of the padre,
commenced in rapid tones to explain his intrusion.

"My father," he said, pointing to the patient burdened creatures whose
dumb endurance contrasted eloquently with the contemplated sacrifice of
the priest, "I crave your pardon, with shelter and food for myself and
these. We come from the other side of the valley; I, indeed, from beyond
the snowy mountains. We are wet to the skin. I have not touched food for
twenty-four hours, and it is too late to go on to Monté Rey. Of your
charity and for the love of God give us aid. Come," and he put his hand
within the padre's, "show us where we may find food and warmth. My name
is James, and--"

"Ah! Señor James ?" interrupted the priest upon whose abstraction the
touch of Jim's feverish hand had acted like, magic, "Pardone--"

But Jim heard no more, for, seized by sudden faintness, he swayed and
would have fallen had not the priest caught and supported him.

When he next opened his eyes he was wrapped in blankets and lying on a
pallet bed in a small, cell-like apartment destitute of all other
furniture save a settle, a crucifix on the wall, and an image of the
Virgin before which a lamp was burning.

He was at once sensible of a pleasing warmth stealing over his body, and
presently recognised that it proceeded from some warm object at his feet,
probably a heated brick.

A box which seemed strangely familiar stood on the rough settle within
reach, but as he stretched out his arm to take and examine it more
closely he realised for the first time, with something like horror, that
Bennett's treasure was no longer in his possession. He must at once go
and find it. But essaying to do so, he fell back with a groan. His lower
limbs refused all movement except at a frightful cost of pain. Strong man
that he was, exposure, fatigue, and anxiety had at length worked their
will and rendered him not only helpless, but pain-ridden.

Oh, that gold! Why had he been so foolish as to make that promise to
Bennett? It might even now have been carried off where he might never
find it. Indeed he, Jim, was perhaps even now a prisoner of the mad
padre; for was he not a heretic and of the race of the hated invaders of
the land?

Tortured and impotent lay Jim when the door of the apartment opened and
the padre himself appeared bearing upon his shoulders one of the heavy
sacks, which he deposited on the floor at the foot of the bed. Then,
glancing at its occupant, a delightful smile lit up the worn face as he
exclaimed:

"Good, good! Nay, lie still, my son. I come back to you at the moment.
Paciencia, paciencia! " And before Jim could speak the priest had
vanished, only to return again as he said "at the moment" with a basin of
steaming atole.

"There, my son! Drink, and by the help of our Blessed Lady, we will get
back the lost strength and send away the fever-ague. Nay, nay, talk not!
I know you have much to tell me, but I go now to fetch all your
properties; it is well that you have them with your eye on. See, I place
them here."

And Jim judged that the little room he occupied led out of the church,
for the priest soon had all the sacks "with Jim's eye on them."

"Mi padre," he said, "you are too good: it is I who should be caring for
you."

"Nay, nay, my son. You came as our Blessed Lord to me, and you say for
Him, 'Work, do not die for Me; to work is better.' And so I live. Nay,
say me no thanks. But read here your letter which a Kanaka bring with
this box for you. As for me, I go now to take away the poor beasts from
the church and find them some oats."

Jim's eyes lit up with pleasure at sight of the letter, which proved to
be from Mr. Larkin; but before opening it, he said, "Father Geronimo, I
have much to say to you, a strange story to tell."

"Nay, my son; first I must to the beasts, then to ring the matin bell,
and then, though none will come," he said, sorrowfully, "I offer the
Blessed Sacrifice of the Mass. After that I come to you and bring you
some pozzoli. Read and sleep; paciencia, paciencia, my son, and we will
get rid of the fever-ague. Benedicite, Benedicite." And the priest was
gone, to return Jim knew not when.

Larkin's letter read as follows:

DEAR JAMES,--It's lucky you didn't come on here. Wife and children left
by ship for San Francisco three days ago; too frightened to stop, for
there's not an American, or Californian either, left in the place. Slater
and I follow on horseback tonight. Hope to God I shall find them all
right, and Maisie recovered. Can't you join us? Anyway, hope to see you
on our return, though with things in this muddle can fix no date.--Yours
in haste,

THOS. O. LARKIN.

"I shall have to manage single-handed," was Jim's comment; "yet here I am
tied by the leg." He tossed restlessly as he realised the impossibility
of getting himself and his treasure away without extraneous aid. Yet
where was he to obtain help? Vallejo a prisoner on parole, his power and
authority as alcalde temporarily if not permanently gone, Larkin at San
Francisco, no one of any position left in Monté-Rey.

To exhibit gold in sacks either to Californian or American at this
critical political. moment would be to ensure its loss. Each would claim
it as treasure-trove and requisition it for public if not private ends.
The owner of the Mission, too, might appear at any moment; would it be
possible to hide the gold then?

It was maddening to lie here helpless and inert, and this condition of
mind only increased the body's indisposition. The brain craved for
complete rest; instead it was called upon to settle matters of the
highest importance, to make a path through a very tangle-wood of
difficulties.

"I must consult with the padre," was Jim's final decision, "and he must
find me those letters. At last!" he exclaimed aloud, as the door of the
little chamber opened and the priest entered bearing a basin of pozzoli.

"Now, my son, this good mess of peas, beans, and maize will help you
much." Jim waved it impatiently away.

"I'm mad with anxiety; I thought you were never coming back. Now listen."

And the padre, seeing that remonstrance was useless, seated himself on
the rough settle and with a hand caressing as a woman's parted the thick
hair upon Jim's heated brow. Yet those wounds on his own back and
shoulders! And the face gave no token of their presence, though the
slightest pressure must produce an exquisite torture.

"That's better," said Jim, more calmly. "Now do you remember the wreck of
the Falcon about two years ago? You must remember it?" And the speaker
paused in anxious expectancy while the priest said, musingly:

"The Falcon? Would that be the sloop that should have carried our last
cargo of hides and was lost in a 'south-easter' off Point Pinos? You see,
I had not to do with the hides--I--for the church--Father Antonio for the
hides."

"Yes," interrupted Jim, "but you must have known about the Falcon;
everybody perished but one man, and he came here, father, and his little
chest was saved; and you nursed him, and he got well, and then he went
away over the mountains to the valley."

"Well, my son, and what of him?" questioned the padre, with a sudden
darkening of the face as he noted the feverish eagerness of the man
before him--a man doubtless who had a crime to confess, though he would
hardly have thought it. "Have you stolen from him?" he continued, "have
you perhaps killed him?"

"Good God, father, what do you take me for?" cried Jim, fairly enraged,
and spite of bodily pain now in a sitting posture. "Am I a man or a
devil? Do I look like a murderer?"

Then flashed upon him the memory of Feringham Wood and he became quieter.
Poor fellow, he could not know how the past four weeks had changed him.
Larkin even had not recognised him, though Bennett had known him at once.

"I crave your pardon, Señor James," said the priest in calm tones, "but
seeing your anxiety to make confession, and seeing also that you have
with you three sacks of gold--"

"Ah! you have examined them," said Jim, drily. "Well, you shall learn how
they came into my possession.,,

"First, my son, I will tell you how I know you have gold. I unfasten the
blanket on the poor horse hoping to find oats for the beasts and so save
my time in searching for some in our deserted stables. Instead of oats I
see gold--fine, much gold. That is all, my son. Now I wait to hear your
story."

And Jim told of his meeting with Bennett and of the latter's dying
commission--but he breathed no syllable of his former life.

"These letters," he concluded, "are supposed to give me the address of
the woman to whom this gold dust belongs. So you see how important it is
that I should have them."

The padre shook his head. "Letters, my son, I know nothing of, nor the
chest of this Bennett. Everything, as you see, is changed since two years
are past, and Padre Antonio, when he forsake the Mission, look over all
things and tear all paper and letters. So I think it would be foolish to
expect I will find some."

Jim groaned aloud alike with disappointment and bodily pain. "I'll get up
and look myself," he commenced, attempting to throw off his coverings.

"Nay, nay, my son, that I will not permit. Your business is to lie still
and so lose the fever-ague. Now, I will make with you what you call a
bargain, is it not? I will look for these English papers in all rooms and
houses if you promise to take much of my pottage."

Soon the steaming wholesome mess was before the stricken man, and he did
his best to partake of it, though he had no appetite and was racked with
pain.

"Sleep, sleep, my son, and have much patience. I say for you six Ave
Marias and six Pater-nosters. All will be well, I doubt not."

Hour after hour passed wearily away. Somehow Jim had come to regard these
letters, whose very existence was so improbable, as a sort of vade mecum.
They would inform him upon every point he desired information. There
would be something in them not only about Randall and Boles, but also
about the Marquis, for did not Randall live at the South Lodge of Pierton
Abbey? They would have some mention, too, of Ronaldson--Ronaldson, who
must return with Jim and live the true, the only beautiful and worthy
life. But Tom might refuse to come, he might even be married, or worse
still--he might be dead. So day waxed and waned in the cell-like room,
the fever meanwhile gaining upon its victim. What could the padre be
doing? At length, just before the Angelus, the priest entered bringing
more pozzoli, otherwise his hands were empty.

"Have you found them?" said Jim, querulously, as he put himself in a
sitting posture.

"No, my dear son," returned the dévote, regretfully. "No, I have searched
much, but I still search more-- more rooms I have yet. Courage, courage,"
he continued, as Jim fell back with a groan of mingled pain and
irritation.

"No, I cannot, I will not eat till I have the letters " The padre looked
at the pain-racked being before him, wondering greatly at his anxiety to
send off this gold, which other men would surely be glad of an excuse to
keep. Sadly he left the room. He knew Jim could not expect to recover if
he did not take the light nourishment he so greatly needed, yet to
remonstrate would be hurtful as well as futile.

In a few minutes the good creature returned bearing a freshly-trimmed
lamp, which he placed on the settle together with some folded, tattered
newspapers.

"No letters, my son, but these are without doubt the journals of England.
They may, perhaps, give you some interest while I go to pray to our
Blessed Lady for you. It is the Vesper hour. I may delay no more."

Jim pushed the printed papers from him with some thing like anger and
disgust; but in doing so his eye fell on the word "Hurstwick." In a
moment he drew them nearer. They must have been sent to Bennett by his
sister. For who on this, the other side of the world and in the old
Mission of San Carlos, could have the slightest interest in such
ultra-provincial English news as The Hurstwick Advertiser purveyed?

CHAPTER VI.

It knows not wrath nor pardon; utter true
Its measures mete, its faultless balance weighs;
Times are as nought, to-morrow it will judge
Or after many days.

"THE LIGHT OF ASIA."

WITH feverish, trembling fingers Jim unfolded the soiled, small-typed
gazette which the English duty on paper fettered in size and heightened
in price.

There were two copies which, through damp and long-folding, had lost
their tenuity and in places were barely decipherable. The first he
examined bore date February 27, 1838.

What might he expect to find? Ah, here is some thing in blacker type
headed "The Feringham Wood Mystery." With beating heart and throbbing
temples he read:--

We are thankful to be able to report the convalescence of Fred Randall,
the young keeper whose life was so seriously endangered in the desperate
encounter with unknown poachers in Feringham Wood last November. His
conduct on that occasion (as our readers 'will remember) was
characterised by Boles, the head keeper, as suspiciously like connivance
with the blackguards, and unfortunately the young fellow can offer no
explanation of a satisfactory nature. This is to be regretted both in the
interests of Randall and justice, but when the former says he has "clean
forgot every thing," the latter is too heavily handicapped to take
action.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, according to the several standpoints of
onlookers, medical evidence goes to support the young man's assertion,
and if he has "clean forgot everything," there seems scant probability of
the Feringham Wood mystery ever being cleared up. Meanwhile, the police
have only the meagre description of the Bennett brothers furnished by
Boles, and this has been forwarded both to Melbourne and Sydney, for the
suspects are supposed to have sailed to one or other port.

Able-bodied sailors they are, and were spending a few days' leave of
absence with their respected uncle, the schoolmaster at Sheringham, early
in November last. At present the only shred of evidence against them is
that proffered by Boles--namely, that the poachers had bright chestnut
hair of the same shade as Miss Sarah Bennett's, who resides with her
uncle at Sheringham, and whom, we understand, the young keeper has "kept
company" with for some months past. Truly, this is a case in which
justice may be said to depend upon if not "from" a hair.

"Poor fellows!" was Jim's first exclamation. "To think the Bennetts
should have suffered for my crime! That's why they took to the Boston
trade and Jacob got drowned. Dear, dear! Well, I'll get Isaac's gold to
the sister as soon as possible if only to show my gratitude.

All at once he commenced to laugh immoderately, for the idea that the
wigs he and Ronaldson had worn should have resembled Sarah Bennett's
hair, and so have involved her brothers in an affair with which they had
not the slightest connection, was forced by his disordered imagination
into an undue grotesqueness and importance.

Gradually he became calmer, and though but partially realising that he
was now free from all stain of bloodguiltiness his thoughts turned
towards the Marquis. Taking a key from a string depending from his neck
he unlocked the box Larkin had sent, and for the first time since he
packed it nine years before, opened the case containing his father's
miniature. Long and intently he gazed upon it, but instead of the
smiling, handsome, aristocratic features there depicted, ho beheld a
countenance upon which premature age, indulged grief, and self-absorption
had drawn indelible lines, accentuated by harshness and contempt. For
such was the face of the Marquis when Jim last looked upon it in the
flesh, and such the portrait memory pronounced true and life-like. Could
the owner of such a face forget and forgive? As if in answer to the
unspoken question the words, "Herewith I solemnly disown and disinherit
you," rang through the cell-like room, a very death-knell to hope.
Shudderingly Jim closed the case. Was he not a fool to imagine for one
moment that his father would meet the advances he, Jim, was prepared to
make? Yet the repudiatory letter should be written as soon as ever the
padre returned, and would give him a pen. For had he not covenanted with
himself so to write when away on the mountains? Throwing himself back on
the hard pillow he closed his eyes for a moment, and in fancy saw a flock
of wild sheep leap a precipice in the moonlight. But he was too restless
for quiet thought, and when his feverish fingers touched the other copy
of The Hurstwick Advertiser, the desire to know what it might contain
brought him again to a sitting posture.

It bore date June 30, 1838, and squeezed in at the foot of a column Jim
read with a sudden sinking of the heart:

We understand that the Randalls, who have been lodge-keep at Pierton
Abbey for nearly thirty years, will be leaving shortly for New Zealand
under the auspices of the New Zealand Land Company. This association,
which numbers among its members such influential personages as Mr. Edward
Gibbon Wakefield, Mr. Francis Baring, Lord Durham, Mr. Woolrych, and
others, has for its object the settlement of persons of small capital and
industrious habits in the new colony, the climate and soil of which are
described as perfect. The Randalls will carry with them the good wishes
of all Hurstwick people, whose sympathies were entirely theirs during the
cloud which rested, for a time, on their good name after the still
unexplained Feringham Wood affray.

Their son Frederick is, so we understand, to be married shortly to Miss
Sarah Bennett, who, until the decease of her uncle and aunt last April,
resided at Sheringbam. It is to be hoped that a voyage to the Antipodes
may not only restore the young man's health but his memory, for Hurstwick
people would dearly love to have that mystery with which he was connected
explained.

Jim groaned. How the poor fellow must have suffered from these annoying
remarks. And now it was quite evident that all idea of finding Sarah
Bennett, either at Hurstwick or Sheringham, must be given up. Then the
problem as to how the gold was to be sent to her worried Jim's over-taxed
brain and unstrung nerves, clamouring for solution.

Turning the tattered newspaper aimlessly over and over as he revolved
this extremely simple question (for when he wrote to Hurstwick would it
not be an easy matter to learn the address of the Randalls ?), a
paragraph in bolder type caught his eye. Holding the worn sheet closer to
the lamp, for he could scarcely believe the evidence of his senses, he
read:

Yesterday, in the presence of the Marquis of Pierhampton, the Earl of
Towermains and Lord Arthur Warner, a tablet of white marble to the memory
of the lamented young nobleman, Lord James Bagshot Warner, whose untimely
death we chronicled last December, was unveiled. It is on the north wall
of the Pierton Chapel, in St. Mary's, immediately above the magnificent
tomb of the late Marchioness. The inscription in gold letters runs,
"Sacred to the memory of Lord James Bagshot Warner, third son of John,
tenth Marquis of Pierhampton, and Alicia his wife, who met death by the
foundering of The Sultan mid ocean about November the 30th, 1837. Ætat
XIX. "And the sea gave up its dead,"

"Monstrous! Shameful!" cried Jim, as he tossed off the healing blankets
and sprang from the pallet-bed. He felt himself stifling, and with that
insensibility to physical pain often lent for a brief period by strong
excitement, he paced the little room, his utterance thick and rapid.

The position was perfectly clear to him, and with that readiness to
understand and grapple with a novel situation so characteristic of a
fever-weakened, overwrought brain, he at once proceeded to portray the
express object for which he had been killed off in this beneath-sea and
above-board fashion.

"So, I'm at the bottom of the ocean? Ha! ha! A clever dodge, Mr. Marquis!
I see your game! This ship--the what-you-may-call-it ?--goes down. All
hands lost, none left to tell the tale. Splendid opp'rtunity to get rid
of wicked son and stop his returning! James James, what a joke it is! I'm
dead, you know! Ha! ha! And what's more, publicly buried with a verse of
Scripture for my shroud! Ha! ha! ha! HA!"

And the speaker's voice gained in strength as delirium took the throne
from which swaying reason had fallen. Then sinking his voice to view with
apparent calmness a pitfall he had but narrowly escaped, he continued:

"What a fool I should have made of myself if I hadn't seen that paper!
I--the dead man--should have gone back to Hurstwick. Ha! ha! ha!

"I, the dead man," he re-commenced, as he stumbled over the uneven floor,
"I, the--dead---man--should have--should--" Suddenly, he came to a stand
and, violently striking his forehead with his hand, a cry deep, pitiful,
and piercing as that of a heartbroken child who realises in one brief,
vivid moment he has been abandoned to certain destruction, a cry that
must have startled the angels about the throne, rang out upon the air--"
My oath! My oath! Ah, God!"

And his excitement having spent itself, and its spurious strength, Jim
fell heavily upon the bed, and in so doing overturned the lamp but
newly-filled with oil.

The padre, who since Vespers had renewed his search for the letters,
re-entered the cell a minute later and. found the bed in flames.

With super-human strength he dragged the insensible Jim from it, leaving
him upon the floor. Then, having no water at hand, he flung the sacks of
gold one upon the other on the burning mass. The under sack was quickly
consumed and its contents strewed the ground, but what might have proved
a terrible conflagration was averted.

That night the padre found it necessary to shave Jim's head.

That night, too, Mr. Larkin was taken prisoner by the Californians; and
four days after Jim's arrival at the Mission of San Carlos, the owner
appeared and took possession of every stick and stone on the premises.

BOOK II.

CHAPTER I.

Love is enough; while ye deemed him a-sleeping
There were signs of his coming and sounds of his feet:
His touch it was that would bring you to weeping,
When summer was deepest and music most sweet;
In his footsteps ye followed the day to its dying,
Ye went forth by his gown-skirts the morning to meet,
In his place in the beaten-down orchard grass lying
Of the sweet ways ye pondered yet left for life's trying.

--WILLIAM MORRIS.

1868.

"MINE has been a dog's life, neither more nor less!" remarked Mary
Barnard, as with unconscious art she grouped dark, crimson roses and
graceful sprays of white jessamine in an old-fashioned broad, flat,
Crown-Derby vase. Voice and manner were wholly devoid of passion, her
words evidently but a sudden crystallization of thoughts long held in
solution.

Though to the casual observer there was nothing dog-like in the woman's
appearance save, perhaps, the thick, wavy, silky brown hair which framed
a face singularly girlish for its forty-two years, yet withal refined, as
youth unaided never refines, the comparison seemed to please her and be
worth following up.

"Yes, there's no doubt about it, a dog's life! .1 believe my nature must
be three-parts dog, which is, perhaps, a condition not wholly
contemptible. One can be too faithful, though, too loving. I'm sure of
it, though it seems downright heresy to say so. Why," and here the
speaker crossed to the low mantel for the companion vase, "I've never all
these years, until just lately--well, perhaps for the past six or seven
years--questioned Martha's right to mould my life and all connected with
it: I've given her the hearty, aye, the blind affection of the dog. Like
a dog, too, I have found her at times incomprehensible, yet I've always
excused her to myself and everybody else. She's wonderful, too--such
sense, such brightness, aye, and such spirit. I'm nowhere compared with
her. No wonder she has no patience with me at times; we are so different,
she so intensely practical, I--well, I love differently and think
differently--I suppose because I see things differently. My real, best
pleasures are mere dust and ashes in her sight. Yet Martin "-- and here
the voice was unconsciously lowered--" has thoughts like mine, and so
I'll keep my thoughts."

Placing the now filled vases on the muslin-draped dressing-table of the
low-ceiled bedroom, Mary Barnard paused for a moment before the broad,
latticed rose-clad window.

Of that outlook she never tired, for though its salient features were
ever the same, her wonderful intuition for the beautiful enabled her to
apprehend (even after the lapse of a short half-hour.) some fresh object
for admiration, some delightful, if trifling, change in the scene around
her.

To pause for a moment now and again in the midst of her domestic duties,
and. gaze up or down the lovely Derwent Valley, high above which she and
her sister dwelt, was to Mary Barnard a joy akin to that with which a
true, yet immature artist watches the working of some immortal painter.

"So full of fancies is Mary! " was a frequent saying of Martha, and
though the sisters loved each other truly, their spirits dwelt far apart.

The elder, by right of her eighteen years' seniority combined with an
uncommon personality and indomitable will, had always seized upon, or
acquired without effort, a foremost position in the regard of every one
with whom she came in contact, and permitted no one, not even her sister,
to share that position.

If persons manifested a decided preference for Mary, Martha would either
inoculate Mary with a distaste for them, or make things too unpleasant
for the friendship to be continued.

And Mary, who from her earliest childhood had loved her sister with that
devotion which is only possible when allied to a blind faith in its
object, had sacrificed more than one friendship on the altar of Martha's
egotism. To be first in the thoughts and consideration of everyone, this,
Martha argued, was but her due, and if anyone should be willing and ready
to give her her due, that one was certainly Mary, who owed everything,
save actual existence, to her.

But of late years it had been impossible for Martha to make Mary see
persons and things from her own special point of view, and consequently
there were, at times, unpleasant scenes between the sisters. For as
Martha grew older, she was now just sixty, she held more tenaciously than
ever to what she called "the respect due to her," but which Mary could
not but regard as an unlovely craving for admiration and attention.

So when Martin Davenant--a wonderful carver in wood from Picardie, who
twelve years ago had established himself and his little grand-niece
Joanna, with an old French housekeeper, some three or four miles distant
from Heather's Edge--not only regarded Mary with favour, but actually
refused to act upon the advice Martha offered as to the bringing of the
little Joanna, the intimacy with him, though not actually broken off, was
sensibly impaired.

As Mary looked forth this August morning the moors were a sea of
crimson-shaded waves, upon which expectant sportsmen were preparing to
embark, for next Wednesday was " the twelfth " and visitors were coming
to the sisters at latest on Tuesday. The Misses Barnard did not receive
boarders, as did several of their equally isolated neighbours during the
shooting season.

But Mr. Tom Ronaldson, the wealthy Hurstwick banker, though ostensibly
coming to join Lord Clanfalkland's party on the moors, had requested the
Misses Barnard to receive him in order that he might introduce himself
to, and make friends with, a young man, none other than his nephew--whom,
though the Barnards had known from babyhood, he had never yet set eyes
upon.

For Jack Ronaldson, as the young man was called, was a native of
Friston-Boughton, having been born at Heather's Edge nearly twenty years
ago, in the very bedroom Mary is now preparing. As she recalled that
never-to-be-forgotten event while deftly encasing a couple of downy
pillows in slips of fine, lavender-scented linen, the door opened and
Martha entered.

She was an exceedingly handsome woman for her sixty years, her perfectly
white, wavy hair and deep-black eyes and brows giving her at all times a
grand air of distinction. Throwing a contemptuous glance at the flowers
Mary had arranged, she seated herself on the couch at the foot of the
bed, and, with a beckoning movement, said in her quick imperious manner,
"Come here,my dear; I want to speak to you while I have the opportunity.
You know Jack comes with Mr. Ronaldson, don't you?"

Of course, Mary knew, for was she not even now preparing his bedchamber?
Long experience, too, had made the younger Miss Barnard somewhat
suspicious of the Socratic method as practised by Martha, for it was a
favourite modus operandi with the latter to inveigle her sister into
making admissions, and then saddle her with the deductions she herself
drew therefrom.

"Well, you know, don't you, that Jack will be twenty next November?" and
again the questioner waited.

"Why, sister, of course I know that; I was only thinking of it when you
came in."

"Never mind what you were thinking of, dear, but listen. At twenty young
men are apt to fall in love, aren't they? "

Mary smiled. "I'm afraid I don't know much about young men at that age,"
she said.

"Perhaps not; they didn't trouble you a great deal, did they?" questioned
the elder, drily.

To this remark, which Mary could never have made to any one, she
vouchsafed no reply, but that she felt it was manifest by the colour
which flushed her brow as she rose from the couch with the object of
resuming her work.

"There's nothing to be vexed, about," continued Martha, with a slight
laugh, as she pulled her sister to her own level again. "It's not about
you, but about Jack I want to speak. You know he is motherless, don't
you?"

"I wish, Martha, you would not trouble me with these endless, unnecessary
questions," retorted Mary, now justly annoyed. "Say what you want to say
and let me finish the bed!"

"There's no need to get angry, and by this time you ought to be well
aware that when I speak I speak with a purpose. If you choose to use the
common-sense, which, as a Barnard, you must have somewhere about
you--though I'm free to confess it is rarely on show--you would have seen
what I was driving at. But I'll be more explicit. Jack's motherless, that
we are agreed upon; well, then, it behoves us to act a mother's part by
him. Do you comprehend me?"

Mary, now at the bed-making again, was silent. She did not approve of
Martha's didactic-satirical style, though she was too well accustomed to
it not to be fully aware that to object to or expose it as disagreeable
and unsisterly would be a useless expenditure of breath.

"There's no good in being sulky," continued Martha, in dangerously
equable tones. "You understand, I may venture to suppose, that Mr.
Ronaldson's object in coming here next week is to make things right with
Jack and decide on his future?"

"We shall miss him very much if he leaves us altogether," observed Mary,
as, her bed-making finished, she stood gazing out at the moor.

"Don't be a fool, child," was the elder woman's unceremonious retort.
"Jack has been away nearly six years--it's sheer nonsense to talk about
missing him. We must just make up our minds that he has to go, and the
wisest thing we can do is to encourage him to be friendly with Mr.
Ronaldson."

Mary made no reply to this suggestion, for if any one had made a point of
arousing Jack's ill-feeling against the banker it had been Martha. Miss
Barnard, somewhat nettled by her sister's silence, proceeded to offer a
remark which seemed almost an apology for what was evidently in Mary's
mind.

"Now that after all these years Mr. Ronaldson is going to do the right
thing by the lad (at least I should hope so), and give him his proper
place in society, it will be our duty to see he forms no
connections--makes no friends, I mean, that the banker would disapprove
of. You agree with me, eh?"

I wish, Martha, you wouldn't ask me these questions. You know how dearly
I love Jack, and that I would do anything and everything in my power to
further his happiness," said Mary, almost plaintively.

Experience told her that Martha was keeping some thing back. Moreover,
that same experience warned her that she was being egged on to a duel of
high words and sharp sayings in which, as usual, she would be wounded as
well as worsted.

"I'm sorry I brought up these matters if they make you angry, sister,"
was Martha's suspiciously calm deliverance. "But if you have, as you say,
and, as I do not, mind you, for one moment deny, this great affection for
the young fellow, you will support me in the suggestion I am about to
make for his benefit?

And the speaker paused for an assurance from her listener. But Mary was
shy; she was not to be caught.

"What is it you want me to do, sister?" she asked, wearily.

"Do ?--do?" retorted Martha, rising to her feet, her long-smouldering
wrath at Mary's unpliability breaking into flame and scorching its object
in its fury. "Do? You want to know what I wish you to do. I'll tell you,
and mind you do it! D'ye hear? Keep your dirty little Joanna away from
Jack! I'll not have her here, and if you ever dare to ask or bring her,
I'll put her outside the house myself, if I have to take a pair of tongs
to do it! Ah, you may well get out of my way!"

For with hands to her ears Mary fled before her sister's diabolic look
and scathing words.

"As for your affection for that chit--bah! it's about as real as mine!"
continued the strident voice now at the stair-head. "If you're not the
talk of the whole dale it's not your fault. I hate a woman that doesn't
know her own value, but must be for ever hankering after a man, and such
a man!"

And the speaker ground her teeth in impotent rage as she walked away to
her own room, to be heartily ashamed of herself an hour later.

But Martha Barnard's soul had no experience of the benefits that "open
confession" is said to bestow, and if she repented of these exhibitions
of spite and jealousy none but herself knew.

Mary, trembling from head to foot, more from the terrible insinuations
(which pierced like sharp knives the bosom where she had fondly conceived
her most cherished thoughts were securely hidden) than from the
exhibition of fury, found refuge in the garden. Had she not had more than
one experience of such a scene she might justly have feared that her
sister had taken leave of her senses.

In days gone by Mary had attributed such ebullitions to sudden attacks of
illness or indigestion; now she could not fail to see they sprang from
wounded pride or jealousy.

"Poor little chap! How heart-broken he was when he left us, and how
delighted he is at the thought of coming back! But he'll be too big now
for Martha to bully. If only I were different, I suppose she wouldn't
dare to bully me."

And Mary sighed. It was the evening after the storm and she was wending
her way to the churchyard of Friston-Boughton, four miles distant from
Heather's Edge. In her hands she carried a basket of green moss and white
roses destined f or a grave, at the head of which stood an unpretentious
stone with the inscription:

Sacred to the memory of Eleanor Gavin Jones, née Rona1dson, formerly of
Hurstwick, who died November 10th, 1848, aged 27 years.

For years the lady's last resting-place had been unmarked, save by the
flowers or evergreens which, summer or winter, if the roads were
passable, Mary never failed each Saturday to bring.

But about ten months or so ago Mr. Tom Ronaldson, as was supposed, had
given orders for the erection of this headstone as it stood. Mary did not
like the inscription; it read, she thought, like an insult to the dead.
For the lady, Jack's mother, when she came to Heather's Edge Cottage for
those few, brief hours when death followed so quickly on the boy's birth,
had never mentioned the name of Jones or given the least idea to the
sisters that that was her husband's name.

Martha, indeed, had always regarded the banker himself as the lady's
husband and Jack's father, and though Mary could never make up her mind
that Martha was right in that conclusion, she could not but own that all
the circumstances connected with Jack's birth were exceedingly
mysterious.

"Appearances are dead against him," Martha remarked, the first and only
time she had seen the banker. "A man who sets himself to wear his hair
like our Blessed Lord and the holy apostles is either a great hypocrite
or a great sinner, and it's my belief Mr. RonaJdson is both one and the
other. His hair hangs long, and thereby hangs a tale, as Shakespeare
says. You mark my words!"

And when after a lapse of eighteen years the stone was placed at the head
of the mother's grave, Martha merely remarked when she heard of it, "It's
a wonder to me the poor thing doesn't rise up and confound it. To have
stories piled on top of you like that is enough to make you lose all
patience with the resurrection morn!"

But, mystery or no mystery, from the first appearance of the baby, the
banker or his agent had regularly forwarded each quarter a handsome
cheque for its support--an allowance which had been forwarded with equal
regularity during the whole of the time the boy had been in Switzerland.
When Miss Barnard protested against receiving money for no
outlay--Martha's métier was to be considered independent to the core of
her being--she was informed that Mr. Ronaldson would be obliged by the
sisters permitting Jack to regard Heather's Edge as his home until other
arrangements could be made for him.

And now Jack was really returning. As Mary stooped over the grave of the
mother he had never seen, she wondered, for the thousandth time, if he
were greatly changed in appearance. He would certainly be very angry when
he saw this head-stone.

And would he be falling in love as Martha had suggested? Well, there
could be nothing wrong in that, and who could make him a sweeter or more
lovely wife than Jo.? Joanna was so clever, so charming! It was really
foolish, so Mary reasoned, for Martha to suppose that Jack and Joanna
could be kept apart. If Jo. could not come to Heather's Edge, Jack would
be sure to go to the Gap, for Davenant was Jack's hero. Besides, Jack and
Jo. were school-mates in childhood, for when arrangements were made with
Mr. Cartwright, the bachelor rector, to educate the lad, that gentleman
asked Davenant to let Jo. who was prime favourite with him, take lessons
at the rectory too. And Jack always sent Jo. messages in his letters to
Mary.

Of course Mr. Ronaldson might take Jack away altogether, as Martha said,
but if Martha chose (yes, that was the pivot on which so much, so very
much, depended), if Martha chose, she might introduce Jo. to the banker
and then he would see for himself what a charming girl she was, quite
fitted for any society, though, of course, she had very little, if any,
money.

The worst of the matter was that Martha might put all sorts of wrong
notions into Mr. Ronaldson's head about her, and then there would be
unpleasantness. Mary was for leaving things for Providence to arrange.
Providence, without the slightest warning, had sent Jack to be born at
Heather's Edge. Why, then, should Martha trouble herself or anyone else
as to whom Jack should or should not fall in love with? Did not God
breathe upon the land in the springtime, and wheresoever His breath
penetrated the soil all sorts of lovely coloured things sprang up to
sweeten the air and gladden the heart?

And, surely, it was the same with the heart's spring time. In God's good
pleasure He would breathe upon these young hearts, and, if such was His
design flowers of love and trust for and in each other would blossom as
by magic. If He had other plans for them, then they would meet and part
merely as ordinary acquaintances. So to Mary it seemed best to leave a
matter of such immense importance in Higher hands.

But Martha had quite other ideas of Providence, and would have laughed to
scorn the Hebrew's poet song of the wonders accomplished by God's Voice.
Providence in her eyes was less of a Divinity than a stage manager under
whom she held no lower post than the important one of local leading-lady.

After the scene of the morning in which Joanna had been so shamefully
vilified, Mary decided she would not see her, though she knew by the
organ strains now floating through the open church door and the
lozenge-shaped windows that the girl was rehearsing for the morrow's
services. So resolved, Mary hurried across the paved pathway of the
churchyard only to be confronted at the lych-gate by Martin Davenant.

"Good evening, Miss Mary," said the carver, a spare man of about fifty,
with a somewhat dreamy and unmistakably foreign cast of countenance.
"I've been to the other side of Axmoor Edge to look at some oak I'm
growing, and on my way back thought I would call in for Jo., it's about
her time, I think. Do you know if she is ready?"

Long residence in England had made the carver a fluent speaker of
English, though he usually employed his native tongue when talking to Jo.

"I haven't been into the church to-night, Mr. Davenant, for I'm anxious
to get home," replied Mary, somewhat confused by her disingenuousness.
"We're expecting visitors next Tuesday, or may be earlier."

"Ah, yes, Master Jack sent me a line last week telling me I might expect
to see him before our harvest-moon is grey-headed. He writes a capital
French letter. And I have heard from a Mr. Ronaldson, of Hurstwiok--a
relative of Jack's, is he not? He tells us he is coming into this
neighbourhood shortly to meet him, and will call and see me. He wants me
to undertake rather a big thing for a new house be is going to,"
continued the carver, evidently desirous of making the most of this
unusual opportunity of converse with Mary. "It is to divide a great
hall--a four-fold oak screen, the panels to be in high relief."

"That means a lot of work, doesn't it? "said Mary, whose very anxiety to
cut the conversation short and be gone made her prolong it. "Does he ask
for any thing special, or merely conventional treatment?"

"He has a fancy, he says, for something illustrative of the history or
legends of these parts. I've looked out one or two scenes that I think
will show up well; the figures will have to be nearly life-size. I wish,
Miss Mary," continued Davenant, with unmistakable sincerity in his tones,
"that you would come up and look at some rough sketches Jo. and I have
made for three of the panels. Jo. is a great help, but I always prize the
opinion of an outsider, and, you know I do not flatter, yours more than
any other."

As Mary turned nervously away from the Frenchman's raised hat, bracing
herself to give him some careless refusal and go on her way, for surely
some of the villagers would have seen the two talking together, to her
great relief she saw Joanna approaching.

"Oh, here's Jo.," she cried, her soul unconsciously gladdened by the
picture the girl helped to make. The blue of her soft cambric gown and
cross-over against the luxuriant green of the churchyard grass, the
red-gold of her abundant hair, deepened in the sunset glow, made a
delightful combination of contrast and harmony.

The graceful poise and sway of the body as, on perceiving the two at the
gate, the girl hurried forward were eclipsed when she joined them by the
splendour of her eyes, which were blue as her gown, blue as the sky
above, as the harebells that but now were gemming the hedgerows and
moorland paths.

"Oh, Mary, you were not going without speaking to me," she cried in
reproachful tones, as her gaze fell on the emptied basket.

"I was indeed, child," returned the other, her former nervousness now
quenched in the light of loving admiration which illumined her gentle
countenance. "We're expecting visitors, you know, and that means work."

"But you don't call Jack a visitor, surely, and as for this uncle, I
should think the maid and Miss Martha--pardonne, I should have said Miss
Martha and the maid--are capable of preparing for him without your aid.
Besides your visitors are not coming for days yet. No, no, not another
word, but back to the Gap you go with us, and we'll take you home along
the Ridge after supper. We both want you, don't we, Dads?"

Martin, leaning against the gate, was startled by the girl's abrupt
question from his contemplation of Mary's face, a face whose refinement
had always greatly attracted him.

"I was asking Miss Mary to come and look at our sketches for Mr.
Ronaldson's screen as you came up," he said.

"Yes, and Dads thinks a lot of your opinion, Mary, you know. I've been
trying my pencil on 'Miss Mellet,' if you please, Pain Peveril's warlike
daughter," and the girl mouthed the last few words to signify that that
individual was a person of immense importance. "Our new maid," she
continued, "will make a splendid model for----. Oh, but I must tell you a
joke about her." And the speaker broke off suddenly to say, "You go on,
Dads, I want to tell Mary something privately."

And with a delightful air of secrecy she drew her friend through the
gateway. But Mary, mindful of that terrible scene in the morning and
desirous above all things that her sister's wrath should have no
opportunity of expending itself on the head of the innocent Jo., gently
disengaged herself, saying:

"Not now, dear, another time. I really cannot stay any longer."

"Another time?" echoed the girl. "But when? Say when and I'll be content.
You never come near the Gap, and you can't think how badly I want you
sometimes. Mr. Cartwright dead, you always too busy to come, and Miss
Martha hating me and all my works. Oh! you needn't try to deny it, Mary.
But I've an idea in my head--a lovely idea," she continued with a sudden
return to her former vivacity. "I shan't tell you now, but you'll know
some day."

And the look which accompanied the words was brimful of mystery and
significance wholly inexplicable to Mary.

Good-byes were said, but before her friend had taken many steps Joanna
was at her side again.

"Mary," she cried, "don't on any account tell Jack that I play the organ
now. I want to surprise him."

"I don't suppose you'll see him before Sunday, dear. I know Mr. Ronaldson
means to take him grouse-driving."

"If he doesn't want to come he can stop away, voilá! Au revoir, ma
chérie."

And the girl flew back to her uncle while Mary puzzled herself all the
way home about that lovely idea. What could it be?

CHAPTER II.

All was bright, but Thou camest so dreadful and brief,

Like a thunderbolt falling in gardens of flowers.

Ii, was perhaps scarcely surprising that when Miss Barnard first made the
acquaintance of Mr. Tom Ronaldson she should have conceived a suspicion
of his genuineness of which she was never wholly disabused.

It was on the 11th of November, 1848, that she saw him for the first
time, and his personal appearance, together with the circumstances which
attended his coming to Heather's Edge, certainly gave colour to her
suspicions.

Martha Barnard was then hourly expecting the husband of a young and
extremely handsome lady, who scarcely more than three days before had
begged shelter at the cottage, the post-boy who had brought her so far
refusing to go further, the snow having (so he said) rendered the moor
impassable.

To add to the peculiarity of the situation, this lady gave birth to a boy
twenty-four hours after her arrival, and died six hours later.

These events following with such rapidity upon each other greatly
distressed the inmates of Heather's Edge Cottage. But nothing shocked the
elder Miss Barnard so much as what she called the repudiation by the
banker of the relationship the lady had assigned to him. She was always
extremely thankful that she had insisted upon the stranger writing at
once to her husband; the note, as she took care to see, being handed to
the postboy for immediate despatch, his return to Sheafland involving no
danger either to himself or horses.

It was at ten o'clock on the morning after these tragic events that Miss
Barnard's little maid-servant, having opened the front door in response
to a knock, handed her mistress a card with the information that a
queer-looking gentleman wanted to see "Miss Ronaldson."

"Miss Ronaldson, indeed!" she exclaimed, "that won't do for me," and
hurrying to the door she found a man (apparently about thirty years of
age) with thick raven hair hanging in wavy curls below his shoulders. As
he approached with cheerfulness to greet her she said with great
solemnity:

"I deeply regret to have to inform you, sir, that your wife died last
night after giving birth to a boy."

The peculiar looking individual fell back as though to avert a blow, but
quickly recovering himself, said in explanatory tones:

"My wife? There must be some mistake, my dear madam. My name is
Ronaldson, and from a note I received early yesterday morning, I was led
to expect I should find Miss Ronaldson, my sister, here. The weather has
changed, and I have, as you see, good horses ready to conduct us home."

"Then is there another Mr. Ronaldson living at Hurstwick? And are you the
banker there?"

"There is no other Mt. Ronaldson living at Hurstwick that I am aware of,"
returned Tom. "My father died three years ago, and we have no near
relatives either in Hurstwick or elsewhere. I am the head of the banking
firm of Ronaldson and Ronaldson there."

But even as Tom spoke his heart sank low with apprehension of coming
evil, this woman regarded him so fixedly. And why did she not call
Eleanor?

"Well, it is, I grieve to say, Mrs., not Miss, Ronaldson who lies dead in
this house, sir, and I trust you will think seriously before you venture
to repudiate the solemn responsibility she, without a doubt, assigned to
you--a responsibility which affects both the living and the dead. But you
shall see her remains, then you will be under no delusion as to her
identity."

Up the narrow, winding stairs Tom, stifled by conflicting emotions,
followed his evidently displeased conductress to a comfortably furnished
bedroom, the very atmosphere of which announced Death's presence.

At sight of the beautiful, but lifeless, features of his only, and
fondly-cherished sister, Tom could restrain himself no longer, and,
sinking down by the bedside, sobbed aloud.

As Martha watched his utter abandonment to grief, as she heard his
agonised repetition of "Eleanor, my Eleanor!" she believed she saw before
her a conscience-stricken husband; and her own regret at the untimely
death of the beautiful young stranger was largely tempered by the
satisfaction she derived at finding her theory of relationship supported
by such unmistakeable evidence.

Quietly withdrawing to the keeping-room below she shook her head in wise,
sad fashion.

"He's a bad lot, Mary, I fear; a very bad lot."

And as Mary with red eyes questioned the statement Martha continued.
"What tale do you think he wanted to stuff me with? That he was that poor
dear's brother; brother! do you hear?"

"But," said Mary, "he may have meant brother in-law, perhaps."

"Dear! that's just like you, always trying to put me right. Do you think,
child, that I didn't at once ask him if he had any brothers, and whether
he was the Hurstwick banker? Of course I did, and he has no relations
there, nor anywhere else, he says. You know as well as I do that that
poor dear said her name was Ronaldson--now you do know that?"

"Yes, I certainly understood her to say so," returned Mary, with
something like reluctance. She was then twenty-two, and unwilling to
think badly of her fellows. "Yet why should he wish to call her his
sister if she was his wife? "she asked, her thoughts taking voice.

"Ah! you may well ask that; for it's not likely such a child as you
should know the ways of men. But I've heard my dear mother say that
they'll stick at nothing to compass their own ends. Why, it's my belief
he's got a wife down at this Hurstwick place, and won't own up to this,
who, I haven't a shadow of a doubt, is his true and lawful one."

"Oh, sister, that would be too dreadful," exclaimed Mary, shocked at such
a supposition; "don't let us think so badly of him as that."

"Ah! you always take an opposite view of things," returned Martha,
tartly. "I'm seldom wrong, and I'm sure I'm right now. Anyway, I desire
you keep your thoughts about the matter to yourself when he comes down.
You must come into the parlour with me then, but you'd best not speak
unless you're spoken to. Perhaps when you've seen the strange-looking
creature you won't think quite so well of him."

For the next two hours there was no sound from the death-chamber, for
after that first, irrepressible outburst of grief a great calm fell upon
the banker. Sweeping aside for the moment his deep, personal sorrow, he
bent every faculty of his mind to solve the problem of his sister's
presence in this out-of-the-world spot--a wife, a mother. Nor was the
absence of the husband the only remarkable part of the mystery, her very
silence respecting him, whose place was surely by her side at this
moment, was more significant even than his absence. Tom had not seen her
for two years, for in 1846 it had been arranged that she should visit her
friends, the Mountjoys, in Dublin, and afterwards accompany them on a
lengthened continental tour. Tom, at the same time, took ship for New
Zealand, mainly with the object of looking after the Randalls, who left
Hurstwick the year following "The Feringham Wood Affray." For since nine
years had elapsed, and no word had been received from "Lord Jim," Tom
could no longer refuse to believe the report of his death that reached
Hurstwick the month after the young nobleman's departure therefrom. He
was, therefore, the more anxious to redeem his promise respecting Fred
Randall. The limit of absence was fixed at two years; and as the
movements of brother and sister would necessarily be liable to
alteration, it had been agreed between them that all news respecting
either should be transmitted to Mr. Brotherton, the bank manager, who
would then forward such information, when possible, to the proper
quarters. When Roualdson reached Port Arthur, Tasmania, the captain of
his vessel refused to go on to New Zealand, for the native war was then
at its height, and massacres of white men by Maoris not infrequent. Tom
was greatly annoyed at this decision, but recognising it would be a
foolhardy act to seek for the Randalls at such a juncture resolved to
stick to the ship, which at once proceeded to the eastern coast of China.
The return voyage was made via Ceylon and the Cape of Good Hope.
Eventually Ronaldson landed at Marseilles, as he had business to transact
in Paris, then in a state of revolution of which he was unaware until his
vessel had again left port.

By this same vessel he had forwarded a letter for Brotherton, informing
him that he should be in Hurstwick and ready to attend to business at
latest by the 6th of November. But it was close upon midnight of the 9th
when he drove up to his house, Eleanor's note being immediately handed to
him, together with a telegram, also from her, which he was informed had
been waiting for him since the previous day. The latter despatched from
Liverpool and bearing date November 7th, ran:

Meet me at Brickington Hotel at noon on the 10th.--ELEANOR.

The letter Tom now drew from his pocket, and re-perused in the hope of
extracting something of an elucidatory nature. It promised much
information of importance, but gave absolutely none.

DEAREST TOM,--I find it will be impossible for me to reach Brickington by
noon to-morrow, so please come on here directly you receive this. The
postboy is afraid to cross the moor became a little snow has fallen, and
I don't urge the matter, for he is a careless driver and nearly had me
out on the road half-an-hour ago. It is such a comfort to know you are in
England. I'm longing to see you, and I've a lovely surprise for you.
Don't fail to come at once.--As always, Your loving ELEANOR.

No time for more.

The address was appended by another hand.

As the bereaved brother sat now by the side of the lifeless writer, he
could not but deeply feel the cruelty of circumstance, which had robbed
him, not only of his dearly loved sister, but of the opportunity of
learning from her own lips the nature of "the pleasant surprise" she had
had in store for him. The "surprises" he had experienced since entering
this cottage were ghastly and solid; the "surprise" Eleanor had promised,
though a pleasant one, had vanished for ever.

What could it have been ? Surely not the baby child?

The shock of finding things so entirely different to what he had expected
was the greater, as from her note he anticipated no evil for her beyond
the temporary discomfort consequent upon an enforced lengthening of a
troublesome journey. Eleanor was evidently well, he had concluded, and
would be all right with her maid. But where was the maid? He had not
known whether his sister would be at home to meet him, or whether she
would wait for him to fetch her from Dublin. But the telegram and note
had at once settled that question. Brotherton must have told her when he
was expected, and she was hastening to meet him when the snow-storm
prevented her progress. But the babe, whose wailing now penetrated to his
ear from below, who was its father?

And what could have induced Eleanor to give her maiden name to these
people or permit them to suppose he was her husband? Perhaps she had not
done so, but in the hurry and confusion attending her coming and the
arrival of the babe with death in its train they had misunderstood her.

Surely, he at length roused himself to say, surely all these questions
would be satisfactorily answered by the Mountjoys, Eleanor's Dublin
friends. They would tell him whom she had met and married without waiting
for her brother's approval. Eleanor was not a girl to do anything foolish
or wrong. Of course, there was no mystery, and had they not both foreseen
the futility of attempting to correspond, some explanatory letter might
have reached Tom and put him in possession of all the lacking facts long
ago. Even now such letters might be awaiting him at Hurstwick, for just
as he was setting off for Friston-Boughton, the caretaker brought him a
pile of documents he had bidden her keep till his return, saying, "as
they had waited so long, they might wait a few days longer." He wished
now he had brought them with him; amongst them he would doubtless have
found some solution to the present incomprehensible situation.

But Brotherton would know, he would have heard from Eleanor, of course,
and, knowing that Tom was to meet her, would have thought it unnecessary
to refer to matters Eleanor would herself prefer to inform her brother
of. With an effort Ronaldson shook off something of the depression which
crushed him. He would hear at once all that these people could tell him,
and, as he stooped and reverently kissed the dear face of the dead, he
determined he would neither do nor say anything that could contradict any
impression Eleanor had intended to convey to them.

With lips compressed and holding himself well in check, Tom at length
descended to the little parlour, in which a bright fire was burning and
where the sisters awaited him.

After signifying his desire to be furnished with minute particulars of
Eleanor's coming and the events following, he listened for some time in
complete silence to Miss Barnard's story.

He winced slightly, but did not contradict her as she commenced: "Your
wife, sir, came here not quite three days ago, just at dusk and in a
blinding snowstorm. She was apparently very well and not much annoyed
that the post-boy would not take her further. She was, indeed, very
bright, and said if we did not mind giving her food and lodging she would
be glad to stay until Mr. Ronaldson, the Hurstwick banker, could come and
fetch her. Those were her very words, sir, and she put five sovereigns
down on the table."

Tom bowed his head. Eleanor had not then spoken of him as her husband,
that so far was satisfactory.

"I said," continued Miss Martha-- " for I could see how things were with
her and thought it best you should know where she was, sir--I said I
shall have no objection if you will send a line at once to your husband,
ma'am, the post-boy will see it is posted--our letter-post is gone for
to-day. So she sat down and wrote the note which she handed to me to head
with the proper address. Ah, sir! it's sad she couldn't have had the
pleasure of showing you the baby herself: she thought it would be '
pleasant surprise' for you, poor dear!"

And Martha wiped the moisture from her eyes, while Mary's tears fell in a
bright shower as, with her hands in her lap, she stared into the fire.

"Go on," said Tom, hoarsely, and unable to sit still, he paced up and
down the little room. "Tell me everything she said and did."

"Well, as I said before, sir, she was very bright and not at all ill. She
told us a lot that first evening about the poor Irish. It seems, at least
so I gathered, that she had been working with them, helping to give them
food, nursing them, and so on in the terrible famine time. I think, too,
though I'm not quite sure," continued Martha, "that she went over more
than once to New York with some of the emigrants. She said they were
wretched creatures, perfect skeletons some of them, and that they could
not bear to leave their native land. But you will have heard all about
them from her, sir," and the narrator paused for an assurance from her
interested listener.

This was all news to Tom, but he merely inclined his head gravely, which
movement might either signify assent or merely an intimation to proceed
with the recital.

"She also said her husband had been detained on the sea or somewhere, but
she felt certain you would have returned by now. You have been away on
the sea, haven't you, sir?"

And Miss Barnard again broke off, determined not only to convict the man
before her, hut also to convince Mary of the righteousness of her own
theory with regard to him.

"I am but just returned," briefly responded Tam.

"' Yes,' she said, 'my husband went to New Zealand to discover some
people who settled there nine or ten years ago,' and she thought the war
there had interfered with his plans. You have been to New Zealand, sir,
haven't you?" said Martha, true to the Socratic method she delighted in.

And again Tom could reply with truth that he had just returned from an
unsuccessful attempt to land in New Zealand, his object having been to
search for a Hurstwick family he was anxious not to lose sight of.

Miss Martha was overjoyed to see how well things were fitting themselves
to her theory, and even Mary found herself inclined to own that her
sister, as usual, had been right in her conclusions. As for Ronaldson,
the question hammered itself--a truly repeating-hammer of a
question--into his brain, What was Eleanor's object, she a very mirror of
truthfulness, what was her object in confounding facts as seemed
abundantly evident? Why have placed him in so false, so unpleasant a
position? Why had she not plainly said she had written to and was
expecting her brother? But what would be the good of contradicting this
opinionated woman until he had consulted those unopened letters and heard
what Brotherton knew; or had visited the Mountjoys and learned all they
knew of Eleanor? What avail to tell this Miss Barnard, until he held the
key to Eleanor's desire for secrecy, that two years had elapsed since he
left England for the Antipodes, since he had seen Eleanor? Why endeavour
to enlighten her as to the improbability of any one going to and from New
Zealand under ten months if business of an indefinite nature was to be
transacted? When in possession of all the facts it would be a
comparatively easy matter to convince the lady of the egregious mistake
she was making.

So Tom thought, but he did not then know how tenaciously Martha Barnard
clung to a theory she had herself evolved, neither could he foresee that
he would be unable to produce the facts necessary to disprove this
particular one.

"Tell me about her illness," he said, with some abruptness.

"She was up yesterday morning, sir, and delighted to find the snow had
gone. She was in the bedroom most of the morning, reading and resting, I
think, and in the afternoon she went a little way on the moor with Mary;
she thought the air would do her good. About five o'clock she was taken
very ill; we got her to bed at once and did all we could for her.
Whenever she could speak she called 'Tom, Tom!' and we soothed her all we
could, telling her you would be here first thing this morning, and that
if she didn't excite herself she would be able to see you as soon as you
arrived. She seemed so strong, I never thought there was any real danger,
though, from what she had told me, I knew it would be a terrible thing
for her to be ill anywhere away from you and Hurstwick. She was most
anxious to get there, she said, before she fell ill."

"Didn't she try to write to me?" inquired Tom, with thickened utterance.

"Lord love you, sir, the poor dear was much too ill to hold a pencil or
even a thought. I sent five miles for the doctor, but the sweet creature
sank directly after he got upstairs."

There was silence in the little room, its three occupants overcome by
emotion they could not restrain. Tom was the first to recover himself.

"What did she say?" was his brief inquiry.

"She said, sir, that her illness was caused by the post-boy's careless
driving, or rather that she was not strong enough to be driving or
travelling at all."

"The child, did she know of it?"

"Oh, yes, she knew of it, sir, and a heavenly smile was on her face when
I held it for her to see. 'It's a boy,' I cried, 'won't his father be
pleased?' But she went off in a dead faint, and only came to for a few
minutes when I was out of the room finding something for the child."

"You didn't leave her alone?" said Tom, sharply.

"No, sir, I knew my duty better than that. I'd a woman as well as Mary
with her, and the brandy brought her to for a minute or so."

"Did she say nothing?" demanded Ronaldson, fixedly regarding Mary, as she
turned at the mention of her name.

"She opened her eyes, sir, and tried so hard to speak." Here Mary broke
into irrepressible sobs. "I stooped down," she continued, brokenly,
"quite close to her, and she whispered 'John.' Then she looked at me till
I said, 'John, yes,' then--"

"Ah, Mary," interrupted the elder Miss Barnard, authoritatively, "I don't
think you heard her correctly. It is easy to make a mistake at such
times, I feel sure, sir," she continued, addressing herself to the
banker, "that your wife said 'Tom,' not 'John.'"

"No, sister, she said 'John,' I'm positive," corrected Mary, with
convincing emphasis, which made itself felt in spite of her sobs. "She
even tried to make the word with her finger on the sheet, but when she
had traced the 'J' her hand fell, and--"

The girl could add no more, and Tom, gulping down the lump in his throat,
said with an effort, "And John the child shall be called."

Here was at least one fact unconnected with himself that he might work at
for the elucidation of the mystery. Then he asked what luggage his sister
brought, and went upstairs to examine it. It consisted solely of a
cowhide bag Tom well remembered, and which bore her name in large black
letters, "Eleanor Ronaldson"--there had been no room for her second name
"Gavin." He searched it for papers, as well as her pockets, but found
none of any importance, not even an envelope with her maiden or married
name. She had evidently carried the bag with her, for it bore no labels,
no clue to the route she had taken. But from the presence of "
greenbacks" in her purse, along with English money, she certainly must
have come direct from America, as Miss Martha had opined.

Oppressed by the sense of mystery which almost outweighed the sense of
loss, after making certain necessary arrangements, he left Heather's Edge
for Hurstwick, promising to return in five or six days. But to Martha's
disgust and Mary's distress, be neither saw nor expressed a wish to see
the child who, unwittingly, had robbed him of his sister.

CHAPTER III.

Those we love, we love for everything, even for the pain they have given
us.--WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR.

ALTHOUGH Ronaldson would not permit himself to entertain a doubt as to
the speedy clearing-up of everything that appeared mysterious in regard
to his sister's marriage and death, he was, nevertheless, completely
crushed by these events. She had been his sole confidante, the one joy
remaining to him after the departure of his friend, Lord James Bagshot
Warner. Indeed, from their motherless childhood the brother and sister
had been bound to each other by the strongest ties of affection.

When later on "Lord Jim" and Tom became bosom friends, Eleanor was never
permitted to consider herself de trop, and if she did not actually
participate in their hare-brained enterprises, she was always consulted
before the event, and manifested the keenest interest in every detail of
its working.

It was Eleanor, then close upon eighteen, who helped to disguise the
friends for the "B.B.--D.V.A.," which abbreviations stood for "the Ben
Boles--Dame Vernon Attack," with the trio. It was paint placed by her
fingers on the aristocratic nose of "Lord Jim" that so effectually
transformed it, and made the young noble man loathly in the sight of the
Marquis some hours later. And it was Eleanor's money that Tom after-wards
slipped into his friend's coat-pocket on Brickington highway, for Tom was
just then too low in funds to pay his lost wager.

Though her share in this and similar exploits was unknown to any but her
fellow-conspirators, Mr. Ronaldson, senior, was, from time to time,
reminded by the ladies of his acquaintance that his daughter's prospects
would be utterly ruined if she were not sent abroad to enjoy the
companionships and avocations of her own age and sex. But it was not
until the Christmas following the Feringham Wood affray and the news of
Lord Jim's death, that Eleanor would entertain the idea of leaving home.

Tom at the same time expressed a wish to go to London and seriously study
for the banking business, for he was not altogether at his ease. Boles
was convalescent, and Boles was filled with an insensate rage against the
young keeper, Randall; there was no telling what Boles might unearth, so
it would be as well to get away from the town.

The report of the young nobleman's death neither Eleanor nor Tom
believed. They were firmly convinced that he was never on board the
Sultan. Earnestly and with closed doors they discussed the situation. Jim
had distinctly said he would never use his title again. Was it likely he
would advertise everybody of his whereabouts when he might be wanted any
moment for knocking Boles and Randall over? No; this was a blind, a ruse
on Jim's part.

So the two, keeping their own counsel, gave no credence to what the Abbey
people and Hurstwickians generally regarded as incontrovertible evidence
of the young nobleman's death, namely, that Lord Blakenbridge had booked
No. 4 cabin for himself and Lord James Bagshot Warner (as the clerk at
the shipping office affirmed). Certainly there was no denying that Lord
Blakenbridge was on board The Sultan.

The brother and sister, however, looked forward to the exile's return
when all possibility of his connection with the poaching affray was
removed. The keepers, mercifully, were both recovering, and Tom pictured
Jim in some safe, secret shelter where, effectually concealed, he might
make himself cognisant of the passage of events in Hurstwick. So the
brother and sister determined to follow out their father's
frequently-expressed wishes, but at the end of two years they were at
home again, their affection for each other more deeply rooted than ever.

Yet no news from Jim had reached Tom or the Abbey. A monument or rather a
marble tablet to his memory had been placed in the Pierton private
chapel, yet Eleanor and Tom still believed him to be alive. But when the
Randalls had left the town and the country, it seemed strange to them he
should make no sign.

"He means to keep that vow of not returning," remarked Tom. "Well, I said
I wouldn't have my hair cut till he came back, and I haven't had it cut,
and I won't have it cut!"

Eleanor mildly observed that Self-torture in public was quite out of
fashion, and, moreover, was of no practical value whatever.

"If any man deserves punishment for that affair, it is I, Tom Ronaldson."

"Well, get a hair-shirt, dear, that will be quite as effective as a
hair-coat, I should say," counselled the sister.

"But it wouldn't punish me as much. Besides, I said I wouldn't have my
hair cut till he came back, that was my bargain. I'll stand to it, cost
what it will. That wager cost Jim his home. Am I to suffer nothing?"

Eleanor sighed. "I'm with you whatever you do, old boy--long hair or
short hair, I am yours till death."

But one by one Tom's former associates dropped him as his raven locks, in
wavy lines, hung longer, and in ever-increasing length, until they
threatened to descend to his waist. Dandies did not care to be seen with
a fellow who was evidently demented, or bent on making himself
ridiculous.

His father, however, was willing to condone this eccentricity as he noted
Tom's growing devotion to the banking business, which promised, under his
auspices, to become one of the most wealthy and important private
concerns in the country. As for his former companions Tom did not lament
their desertion. Eleanor's constant affection and unfailing sympathy
proved amply compensatory.

The devotion of the sister and brother, indeed, formed at one time the
subject of universal comment in "sleepy old Hurstwick." At first it was
commended, and held up as an example to all brothers and sisters in the
somnolent borough and its neighbourhood. But as years rolled by the
comment took on a censorious flavour. Such affection was uncalled for,
even unnatural! A girl of twenty-two (or was she not twenty-three ?)
ought to marry. Especially a girl who might undoubtedly be regarded as an
heiress, and who in addition to wealth had, undeniably, good looks to
transmit.

But Eleanor turned a deaf ear to her many suitors, several of whom were
troublesomely persevering, refusing to regard her "No" as a final answer.
And so it was that the mothers of these young men began to look upon and
speak with disfavour of the handsome Miss Ronaldson.

"There's something queer in the family. Look, for instance, at Tom with
hair that many women would give half their fortune for. And the girl
refusing Lord Marcus Tuke! There's a something, you may depend--insanity,
perhaps, one never knows."

And tongues wagged, and Eleanor heeded them not. She was not, however,
averse to the prospect of being out of earshot of them when soon after
her father's death the Mountjoys invited her to Dublin. Jim would never
come back now, he must have gone down in The Sultan. But Tom should go to
New Zealand, and see that all was right with Fred Randall. He had
promised "Lord Jim" to look after him, then the brother and sister would
settle down together for life.

Such had been their programme, but alas! it would never, could never now
be carried out.

The old stone-house in High Street, the home of many departed Ronaldsons,
wore an air of befitting mournfulness as Tom drove up in the gloom of a
November dawn. He had set out with such delight to fetch Eleanor, glad
she was so unexpectedly near and that he had not to go to Dublin for her.
How different the prospect to the reality! Eleanor had always declared to
him that she would never marry. What manner of man had at length
prevailed upon her to listen to his suit?

Who was the fortunate individual she had favoured? Was he worthy of her?
Why was he not at her side l Why, indeed, had he ever left her?

These, and other questions, presented themselves to his troubled mind
during the long journey from Heather's Edge Cottage, and hoping to
effectually silence their importunity, Tom shut himself up in his study
as soon as he reached home. Giving orders that Mr. Brotherton should be
requested to wait upon him at once, he set himself to examine the parcel
of unopened letters from which he hoped so much.

But they gave him no information respecting Eleanor's courtship or
marriage. The first his eye fell on was in her handwriting, and evidently
written some six months after the brother and sister had parted. It was
headed "Barra Barra, co. Galway."

"Although" [it ran] "I know you cannot receive this until you return to
'sleepy old Hurstwick' (I may be there, too, then), I feel I must tell
you what I am doing, that if blame attaches to anyone you may know that I
alone deserve it. I have given up all idea of the continental tour (you
and I must go together some day) and intend to spend my time and money
here. Oh! my dear Tom, if you knew the suffering, the starvation of these
poor souls (they are almost bodiless) I'm sure you would say I am right
to try to help them. You need not be the least bit anxious about me, for
I'm well cared for, though this district is one of the worst on the west
coast. I'm one of three lady volunteers working under the Rev. John
Jones, a devoted clergyman who inspires every one with his own
enthusiasm. I do hope you are well and enjoying your sail. I'm quite
looking forward to our life together when you return. At six o'clock each
morning 'I am in heaven for you.' God bless and preserve you ever!--Your
loving sister,

"ELEANOR."

Tom's eyes were moist, as be read the foregoing, the only one from
Eleanor. There were letters of an earlier date from the Mountjoys, the
first informing him that, spite of remonstrances and entreaties on their
part, Eleanor had insisted on going to the west coast with two older
ladies to a as a private relief committee under the guidance of the Rev.
John Jones, a Welshman, of whom nothing further was known in Dublin.

The latter letter stated that Mrs. Mountjoy was then ignorant of her late
visitor's whereabouts. When she last heard from her she was about to
accompany a party of emigrants to New York or Canada. The writer was
evidently annoyed at Miss Ronaldson's desertion, and did not scruple to
assert that the girl had acted very foolishly. She, Mrs. Mountjoy,
however was in no wise to blame, and Tom must acquit her of all
responsibility for his sister's subsequent doings. This was most
unsatisfactory, but all Tom's searching elicited no further information,
and he was feeling sorely depressed when Mr. Brotherton (whom he had been
unable to see before he left for Heather's Edge) entered.

"Why, sir," exclaimed the latter, anxiety in every tone as he noted the
banker's dejected appearance. "You. are looking none the better for your
voyaging. And Miss Eleanor? Is she well?"

"She is dead, Brotherton," Tom managed to say, and then his pent-up, but
now unsubduable emotion, broke forth in heart-rending sobs to the
consternation of the faithful old servant of the firm.

"Dead?" he echoed. "No, no! that cannot be! I received a letter from her
a fortnight:ago, and-- Dear, dear, this is terrible, terrible, my dear
young sir."

"Yet there are some things worse then death, Brotherton," Tom said, when
by a supreme effort he recovered some measure of self-control, though the
storm of grief at his heart revealed its presence in his quivering lips
and stilted utterance. "To find her dead in the midst of strangers, no
familiar hand or voice to comfort or close her eyes, was in itself
sufficient to wound me to the quick. But to find her a wife and mother,
yet to be in utter ignorance of the name or whereabouts of her husband,
completely unmans me. Did you know of her marriage?" concluded the
bereaved man, his tones now stern and anxious.

"Indeed, I did not, sir. I had one letter from her when you had been gone
a little over a year."

"You've got it? Eh, that's right; now let me hear it, date and all."

"Certainly," returned the other, opening a drawer containing filed
letters.

Poste Restante, New York. November 30, 1847.

DEAR MR BROTHERTON,--Will you let me know at once my brother's
whereabouts in so far as you are acquainted with them? I am particularly
anxious to know whether he is likely to return before the time we
originally fixed, viz., next November. I shall be glad, too, if you can
give me any address that will be likely to find him within the next few
months. I take this opportunity of saying that I am about to withdraw
through the New York Bank five hundred pounds of the amount standing to
my credit at Hurst- wick (making in all £1,000 since I left England). How
are you and all Hurstwickians? Though I hope to be back in the sleepy old
town before long, any news of it will be welcome.--Faithfully yours,

ELEANOR RONALDSON.

P.S.--Let me have a line at above address whenever you hear from my
brother.

"And this is the copy of my reply," continued the manager.

The Bank, Hurstwick, England. December 30th, 1847.

DEAR MADAM,--I am in receipt of your favour of the 30th ult, and in reply
beg to inform you that the only letter I have as yet received from your
brother arrived at the close of September last. It contains instructions
relative to certain securities and other financial business, and empowers
me to act for him in one or two matters, thus emphasizing his intention
(elsewhere definitely expressed) of not returning to England for another
ten or twelve months. I copy the following from his letter. "If you are
aware of my sister's present whereabouts, please tell her it is extremely
improbable that I shall reach Hurstwick until next October or early
November. I fear that it will be useless to give you any address as my
movements are so uncertain, while a letter from me will scarcely travel
faster than I can. Therefore, remember that no news is good news." His
letter was posted at Port Arthur, Tasmania, but was evidently written
before the vessel arrived there. You kindly enquire after my health and
the old town. I think I may say both are looking up, especially the town,
for the Marquis appears to have quite discarded the melancholy which
enwrapped him for so many years after the death of the Marchionees and is
mixing in society again. I understand that the health of the Earl of
Towermains is not in a satisfactory state. I note that you intend to
withdraw the sum of £500. Your investments have proved singularly good
this year. You have now £19,540 standing to your credit.--I remain, dear
madam, your obedient servant,

Miss E. Ronaldson.                              JOSHUA BROTHERTON.

"Then Mrs. Mountjoy was right. My sister must have accompanied a party of
emigrants to New York. Ah, I forgot; you are wondering why she went to
America! Here is a letter I found this morning; it will explain why the
European tour was abandoned, and here is one from Mrs. Mountjoy. You say
you received a letter from my sister a fortnight ago. 'Where is it ?

"Here, sir, upon the file. It is merely a request that I would read and
give you 'the enclosed' on your arrival. 'Please give my brother the
enclosed when he arrives, after reading it yourself. Should you have any
fresh news let me have it at Brooklyn Hotel, Liverpool, not later than
November 5th.' As you see, it is not signed, sir."

"Neither is mine, otherwise than 'Eleanor,' which seems strange," mused
Tom, as he glanced over the few lines. They ran:

DEAR TOM,--I'm coming home as quickly as I can. I have indeed arranged to
leave New York on or about the 18th inst.; and should be due at Liverpool
about the 5th or 6th prox. If I hear nothing to the contrary from Mr.
Brotherton, I shall conclude you are at home and will then telegraph and
ask you to meet me somewhere, probably at Brickington. You can't tell how
I long to be at home again, and oh! how very much I have to tell you! God
grant us a happy meeting. I must not add more or I shall miss the
mail.--Your loving ELEANOR.

"This is dated October 10th."

"Yes, sir, just about a week before she sailed, or perhaps more, for it
reached me ten days before I expected your arrival."

"I wish I had had this letter before I set off to Heather's Edge."

"All the letters were in readiness, filed, as you see, sir; and had I
known when you arrived I would have run down here to meet you. But you
were so late. I had quite given you up for the night."

"I wouldn't have you disturbed, Brotherton; but what reply did you make
to my sister?"

"I had just received your letter from Marseilles, so I wrote and told
Miss-- your sister that you would be at home, or rather that you purposed
to be at home, at latest by the 6th."

"Ha! that explains, then, why she telegraphed so confidently from the
Brooklyn Hotel, asking me to meet her at Brickington. She had requested
you to let her know if I made any change in my plans. She could not have
reached there until the 7th, I should think, for that is the date on the
telegram. But this brings us no nearer to the solution of the mystery. I
must set out at once for New York."

"But you couldn't be back in time for the funeral, sir," urged
Brotherton. "Why not go direct to this Barra-Barra in Ireland? The
clergyman Jones is named John, I see, and you say your sister wished the
baby to be called John. Don't be down-hearted, sir, and don't let it be
supposed for one moment that there is anything to hide with regard to
your sister. Hurst-wick may be sleepy, but it's a very monkey-jungle for
chatter if it catches a glint of scandal beneath its half-open eye."

"Of course, she is the soul of honour, I know that well enough. Besides,
this Miss Barnard tells me she had expressed the hope that her baby would
be born in Hurstwick," said Tom, though his tones were very despondent.
"What puzzles me is the remarkable manner in which she must have
confounded me with her absent husband."

And Ronaldson detailed all the facts he had learned at Heather's Edge,
and the singular and unpleasant conclusions drawn by the mistress of that
comfortable little dwelling-house.

"All will come right, you'll find, sir; these women have mixed things up.
It seems to me just probable," continued Brotherton, tentatively, as he
examined afresh the first letter Eleanor had written to him, "that your
sister may have had some idea of getting married when she wrote this, and
perhaps would have postponed the wedding if you had been likely to return
earlier."

"I don't know what to think," rejoined Tom, dubiously.

"It's best to keep an open mind, perhaps. But we must know something
definite as soon as possible, sir, for her death ought to be announced in
The Advertiser immediately."

"You forget we don't know her name," said Tom, bitterly.

"No, but you'll find that out, sir, at Barra-Barra," replied Brotherton,
with an assumption of confidence barely skin-deep. "You had better post,
sir," he continued, as Tom rose with the evident purpose of getting off
at once; "our line, the Great WayRound, as we call it, will be no help to
you."

And the faithful creature's parting words, "A husband must be found,"
repeated themselves in the footfalls of the posting horses, and in every
revolution of paddle and carriage wheels until Barra-Barra was reached.

But it was to Liverpool Tom went first, for from the Brooklyn Hotel
Eleanor had despatched her telegram. There he learned that a lady--a Mrs.
Ronaldson, that was the name upon her bag--arrived late on the night of
the 6th, and left about six o'clock on the evening of the 7th. She was
quite alone took her meals in her room, and, it was understood, had
crossed from New York in the Titania.

At Barra-Barra where Tom at once proceeded, he had the singular good
fortune, as he then regarded it, to fall in with Miss Enstone, one of the
trio of ladies who had worked under the Rev. John Jones. Though the
relief works had been practically abandoned for close upon twelve months,
she had remained in the place, aiding those who had survived starvation
or withstood the temptation to emigrate, to earn a scant livelihood.

On receiving Tom's card Miss Enstone accorded him a warm welcome. She had
heard of him, she explained, from his sister, who had frequently spoken
of him.

"I have lost her," Ronaldson said, simply, but with such pathos there was
no mistaking the sad import of his words.

"Lost her? "echoed the lady, " then she has indeed known but a brief
spell of married life."

"Please tell me all you know about her, madam.

I only reached Hurstwick five days ago, and I had no idea of her marriage
until I heard of her death."

"Indeed! "and Miss Enstone's single ejaculation was perhaps as kind, as
effective a herald of coming un pleasantness as under the circumstances
could have been impressed for that office.

But Tom was as though he heard it not.

"When my sister and I parted," he continued, "it was with the
understanding that she as well as myself would be travelling for about
two years, and, as our movements would necessarily be uncertain, we
agreed to forego correspondence. She, however, wrote me when she first
came here, though the letter, naturally, did not reach me until my return
to Hurstwick, the day before her death. In that letter she tells me the
necessities of the poor starving Irish so wrought upon her that she
determined to give up the intended Continental tour and devote herself to
their relief. Will you be good enough to tell me when she left here for
America and all you know of her marriage?"

"I think it will be better for me to give you a brief history of our
work," said Miss Enstone, "for your sister's marriage is no doubt an
outcome of that work. Miss Ronaldson came here, as she told you in her
letter, and was not only a great help in the matter of actual labour, but
was ever ready with money for the purchase of food and clothing. The
great desire of Mr. Jones was to encourage these Barra-Barra people to
emigrate to America, his design being to form a little community of Irish
there. Land was to be purchased and stocked with animals, implements, and
cereals; cottages were to be built. Lace-making, laundry work, and other
industries were to be carried on by the females; farming, building, and
carpentry by the men. We were all greatly interested in this scheme, and
your sister promised the large amount of £500, which Mr. Jones said would
be sufficient for the purchase of land and the farm stock. Land was very
cheap there, he said. Well, the long and short of it was that seventy of
these people fell in with the proposal, and in October or November of
last year your sister, Miss Pearce, and Mr. Jones accompanied these
emigrants to New York."

Tom was all attention; he could so well realise the enthusiasm Eleanor
would throw into such an undertaking.

"I do not care for the water," continued Miss Enstone, "so I remained
here, and all further history of the work and your sister's connection
with it has come to me through Miss Pearce. It appears that on reaching
New York many of the Irish females were quite unfit for further travel.
Moreover, the land had yet to be purchased and the cottages erected. So,
as I understand, your sister volunteered to remain in New York and look
after the women and sick, while Miss Pearce and Mr. Jones, with the men
folk, went further up the country to inspect the land that had been
offered for sale and which, I believe, lay on the north bank of the
Hudson. Some months passed before all was ready for the reception of
those left in New York. If my memory serves me rightly, it was the end of
February or early in March when Miss Ronaldson brought up her party to
the farm which Mr. Jones had purchased and christened 'Patricia.' It
naturally was an arduous business, this of arranging the different
departments, and Mr. Jones's health, Miss Pearce tells me, began to flag
about June last, and something was said about his returning to England.

When that question was mooted, it seems your sister expressed a desire to
travel to England at the same time. She wished to be at home, she said,
to welcome you on your return. Miss Pearce's suspicions were aroused by
one or two little circumstances; and the long and short of it was she
taxed your sister with having privately married Mr. Jones. Your sister
told her she had better address her remarks to that gentle man. There was
a good deal of friction, I gather from Miss Pearce's letters, and matters
came to such a pass that she refused to work any longer with your sister.
The outcome of her resolution was that Mr. Jones and Miss Ronaldson left
Patricia last August with the avowed intention of proceeding direct to
England, via New York. But in her last letter Miss Pearce told me that
they were both in New York City as late as the close of last September.
That is all I know of the matter."

"Thank you, very much," said Tom, gratefully. "There is no question that
my sister was lawfully married to this gentleman. She was the soul of
honour, and though her generous impulses often carried her into peculiar
situations, she could never act dishonourably. I can understand even that
there would be wisdom in not proclaiming the marriage to that little
community."

"Perhaps so; still, Miss Pearce might have been made acquainted with it,
one would have thought."

"I shall go over to New York directly after the funeral, when I expect I
shall find Mr. Jones has been anxiously awaiting news of Eleanor's
arrival at Hurstwick."

"But 'why should he not have accompanied her ?"

"My dear lady, you shall know all when I have seen him. For aught I know
he may be waiting at my house at this very moment."

Yet hopefully as Tom spoke, his mind was greatly disquieted by Miss
Enstone's story. And he could not resist the conviction that she was
keeping something back, that Miss Pearce's statements or insinuations had
been watered down.

Yet the simple fact she had detailed--viz., that Eleanor had remained in
New York with Mr. Jones for some weeks prior to her return to
England--was, in itself, a guarantee that that gentleman was her husband.

"No smoke without fire," Tom translated "No love without marriage" in
Eleanor's case. "Eleanor was Eleanor," he told himself over and over
again, which was simply a variation of that eternal truth, "The Queen can
do no wrong."

Naturally she had desired to be the first to tell her brother of the new
relationship she had entered into; she would have asked her husband to go
to his friends first, and join her later, when she would have acquainted
Tom with the remarkable history of her past two years of life. Mr. Jones
had, of course, all her papers with him.

And Tom by degrees had mapped out the probable programme the pair had
drawn up, and before retiring to rest at the little inn, where he was
compelled to sojourn for the night, he wrote at some length to Brotherton
telling him that Mr. Jones was, without a doubt, the missing husband.
Ronaldson went so far even as to advise his manager that Mr. Jones might
himself be expected to reach Hurstwick at any moment. And, with that
probability in view, he authorised Brotherton to open any letters
addressed either to himself or his sister which might arrive in his
absence. Having posted this epistle Tom, with a mind somewhat relieved,
went to bed, the landlord promising to secure him a seat in the mail-cart
next morning, that being the quickest mode of travelling from Barra
Barra.

While waiting for the driver to breakfast before commencing the return
journey a note was put into Ronaldson's hands. It was from Miss Enstone.

DEAR MR. RONALDSON,--The mail has just brought me The New York Tribune,
from which I have copied the following and hasten to send it, knowing it
will prove of interest to you. It occurs under the heading ' Deaths." "At
New York, on the 9th of October, after a lingering illness, the Rev. John
Jones, M.A., of Llanfair, Wales, Barra-Barra, Ireland, and Patricia, New
York State, aged fifty-six years."

Tom stumbled into the now waiting vehicle. Before his face the heavens
and the earth fled away and the mountains were not. The old landmarks had
vanished, he saw a new heaven and a new earth and his soul moaned dumbly,
for Eleanor and honour found no place therein.

CHAPTER IV.

There are dark abysses and yawning gulfs in the human heart which can be
rendered passable only by bridging them over with iron nerves and
sinews.--LONGFELLOW.

BUT the breeze, borne from the Atlantic, by degrees penetrated to his
consciousness, and before he reached the railway station he had resolved
on another course of action.

Avoiding Dublin and the Mountjoys, he took train for the Cove of Cork
(now Queenstown) and, arrived there, telegraphed to Brotherton: "Attend
funeral in my absence. Address me Poste Restante, New York. Letter
follows."

Better be absent from the funeral than permit Miss Barnard's tongue to
embitter that closing scene with caustic, if natural, inquiries. To go to
Heather's Edge with the story that Eleanor's husband had died a month
ago, would be about as wise a thing to do as to remove the flood-gates
during a heavy downpour. No, there must be some other solution than that
of the Enstone-Pearce, and Tom was determined to discover it.

Arrived in New York, he immediately waited upon Justice Matsell, chief of
"the Star Police," as the guardians of public safety in that city were
then styled. This gentleman was able to confirm the statement that the
Rev. John Jones lay ill for many weeks in Rose Street and that he was
buried in Brooldyn Cemetery. But whether he was married or not, he could
not say. No doubt the landlady of the house where he lodged would be able
to tell Mr. Ronaldson.

Though the wealthy New Yorkers at that time were being gradually swept
further and further from the Battery and Harbour, there were still
persons of means residing in Rose Street. But the landlady of the late
Rev. John Jones was a coarse, disagreeable creature, as Tom found to his
cost when he begged her for details of that clergyman's life under her
roof. She evidently resented her late lodger's lengthened illness, for it
had prevented her letting her other spare rooms.

"He had every attention? His wife was devoted to him?" Ronaldson
ventured.

"Um! Well, it's not for me to talk. She paid handsomely for the two of
them, and if she wasn't his wife, all I can say is she ought to have
been. You're her brother, you say? Um! pity you didn't come here sooner."

And Tom never in all his life felt so small as when this coarse creature
swept him down from top to toe with a glance that spoke volumes of
contempt.

"I'm bound to tell you though, for I owe her no grudge, that she did no
more for the dying man than she would have done for any poor creature in
like case. As I understood, she would have joined her husband (whom she
said she was to meet in England) long ago, only she couldn't leave the
Rev'rend to die alone. It was cancer, that's what it was with him, and
the doctor wouldn't hear of his being moved. No, she was never called
anything but Ronaldson. I called her Mrs. Ronaldson, but some folks down
by the Battery knew her as 'Miss,' and nobody had ever beard of her
English husband. She was one as helped the Irishers, but it wasn't till
after his funeral as I found all that out. Here, she scarce stirred
outside the door. Well, good morning; I can't tell you more if I stop all
day."

So Eleanor expected to find her husband in England! And Miss Barnard had
positively affirmed that Eleanor's husband had gone to New Zealand. But
then Miss Barnard was equally sure that Tom was Eleanor's husband! What a
labyrinth of garbled facts!

Yet there must be a clue somewhere, and Tom was resolved to find it.

He made house-to-house visits among the denizens of the Battery and Five
Points districts, but though here and there a watchman or private
individual recalled Miss Ronaldson as an almoner ten or twelve months
before, no one ever referred to her past or prospective marriage. As a
matter of fact very few, if any, of the emigrants she brought out had
remained in New York, and the rush for the Californian gold-mines in the
spring had utterly changed the population in those quarters. So, as a
last resort, Ronaldson betook himself to Miss Pearce at Patricia.

He found the little colony in a state of collapse, nearly, all the male
members having deserted en masse for California. Miss Pearce was bravely
endeavouring to find positions as cooks, laundry-maids, and "helps" for
all the women, excepting the lace-makers These latter she hoped she might
keep together and make the association self-supporting. Tom promised to
assist in the winding-up and sale of the farm and stock, as well as in
the matter of an endowment for the lace school. Miss Pearce, in her turn,
promised to make strict inquiry of those still under her care who had
remained in New York with Miss Ronaldson while Patricia was being
prepared for their reception. For Tom felt convinced, as he told Miss
Pearce, that it was then, and there, Eleanor formed the acquaintance that
ripened into marriage.

Miss Pearce could give no opinion on that point. She had been much pained
by what she had discovered last July; she was indeed indignant that
matters should have gone so far. Mr. Jones had not denied the marriage,
for the simple reason that Miss Pearce had never taxed him with it. But
then they saw no other gentleman; indeed Miss Ronaldson had never left
Patricia for an hour since she arrived there the beginning of March.

"The baby, you tell me, was born on the 10th of November. Well, as I said
before, I am not in a position to speak of who she might, or did, meet in
New York before she came up here, and I have never questioned the girls.
They were deeply attached to her, and it was chiefly that her influence
with them might not be injured or impaired that I insisted on her leaving
us. I will, however, since you desire it, make inquiry of them."

But the result was extremely unsatisfactory. The girls and women
remembered no one their "blessed Miss Ronaldson--glory be to God! ever
'took up with' unless it were the good Father Jeremy, the little dark
praste she would bring sometimes to speak with them at their bedsides.
And sometimes she would go with him to see some poor English. But the
good father--glory be to God!--had gone over the say, he had told them he
would do so, to teach the poor haythens."

That was the net result of Miss Pearce's inquiries, and when Ronaldson
had ferreted out the doctor who attended Mr. Jones in his last illness,
and had searched every church register in the city, he felt he was no
nearer the solution of the mystery than he was when he knelt beside
Eleanor's lifeless form at Heather's Edge Cottage. Truly this marriage
must have been a very secret affair. Yet, what should make secrecy
necessary ?

It was this air of mystery with which Eleanor had herself invested the
position that distressed Tom so greatly, and the more he tried to
disperse it, the more he dreaded what its possible dispersion might
disclose.

This Father Jeremy who had gone across the sea-- had he assumed the
priest's garb, or was he the genuine article? Surely it was not to him
that Eleanor had referred when she spoke of New Zealand. But no stone
must be left unturned; this "little dark praste" must, if possible, be
found. Yet what could induce a man, newly married, and to such a woman as
Eleanor, to leave his wife and go off to the Antipodes? The question was
an insult to both husband and wife. No; Eleanor must have married Mr.
Jones, perhaps before leaving Ireland.

But to New Zealand Tom decided to go, and before setting sail gave
explicit orders that the announcement of his sister's death should appear
in the New York City daily newspapers for three months, as follows:--" On
November 10th, 1848, at Friston Boughton, Derbyshire, Eleanor Gavin
Ronaldson, late of Hurstwick, England, aged 27 years. Australian and New
Zealand papers please copy."

Ronaldson spent more than a year on the New Zealand Islands, and during
that time learned that the elder Randall had formed one of the party of
English under Captain Wakefield, massacred in 1843, at Wairau, by the
chiefs Rauperaha and Rhangihaeta. But of Mrs. Randall, her son, or her
son's wife, he discovered no trace.

The failure of the English Government to recognise and confirm the claims
of the New Zealand Land Company to the lands they asserted they had
honourably purchased from the natives, had led many would-be settlers,
brought over by the Company, to abandon the Colony in disgust. But
whether Fred Randall had been one to do so, or whether he had been killed
in one of the numerous conflicts between the whites and natives,
Ronaldson failed to discover.

Of Eleanor, or anyone connected with her, he, as he had opined, heard
nothing, and though the Roman Catholics had several missionaries in New
Zealand, none answered to "the little dark praste" the Irish girls had
spoken of, so Toni dismissed him from the position of a possible actor in
his sister's secret marriage.

During a five years' search, in which period Ronaldson was accredited by
his acquaintances in England with the establishment of branch banks in
New York and Australia, no news reached him from Hurstwick of the missing
husband. But Brotherton was anxious to consult his principal on important
business affairs, so Tom turned homeward, telegraphing by the first
submarine cable in the Channel to his manager to meet him in Paris.

Then he learned, for the first time, that Brotherton, acting on the
instructions Tom had sent from Barra-Barra, had felt no scruple in
appropriating the dead Jones as Eleanor's husband. Hurstwickians, he
said, had accepted, with more or less comment, the notice he had inserted
in The Hurstwick Advertiser the week of her death, which, while it
proclaimed her demise, proclaimed her also as the widow of the late Rev.
John Jones of Barra-Barra. He had had numerous inquiries from
acquaintances and friends, but was able to silence impertinent curiosity
by the simple statement that both she and her husband, without a doubt,
had fallen victims to their benevolent efforts to aid the Irish.

"Foolish woman, to throw away her beauty and wealth on a mere nobody; but
Eleanor Ronaldson was always too independent, or rather self-willed, 'to
make a success.' And why wasn't the body brought to Hurstwick?

Brotherton had uniformly replied that Mr. Ronaldson was away in America,
and for the present things would remain as they were. But he was bound to
confess that he had found himself unable to meet or parry Miss Barnard's
questions. She told him to his face that she would never accept the story
of the dead Jones as the husband of the dead Eleanor.

He had filled up the certificate of death with the name Jones, inserting
Ronaldson as the maiden name, but this Miss Barnard had characterised as
"flat perjury."

"She had a wet nurse for the child, and I didn't want to exasperate her
further, so I said you would explain on your return. But six months after
the funeral she wrote me that as the boy had been taken suddenly ill she
had sent for the clergyman to christen him and had had him duly
registered 'John Ronaldson, son of Thomas and Eleanor Ronaldson, of
Hurstwick.' She said she wasn't going to have a lie resting on her
conscience, neither did she intend to be a party to keeping the child out
of his lawful rights when he grew up. And she ended with some pretty
plain remarks on your absenting yourself from the funeral, sir."

"I'd give everything I possess, Brotherton, to get at the bottom of this
mystery. God knows it was a sore grief to me not to see her laid in the
grave, but I couldn't meet Miss Barnard when I heard that Jones had died
a month before Eleanor reached Heather's Edge. It was a great comfort to
me to know that you were there and that every respect possible was paid
to her memory."

"It was a very quiet affair, sir. I had to take over a Denby clergyman to
officiate, for the living of Friston Boughton was then vacant. It was
snowing, and there were not more than half-a-dozen people present. Miss
Mary Barnard accompanied me as chief mourner--her sister was much too
indignant to attend. Indeed, she is not best pleased that a birth should
have taken place in her house, and keeps the child quite in the
background."

"They are kind to the boy, though?"

"Very; especially Miss Mary. He grows a fine sturdy little chap. I ran
over last week that I might bring you the latest news. But you'll be
seeing him yourself soon, sir?"

"Not till I know his father's name, Brotherton. No, I shall continue the
search, and when I can greet him by name--his true surname--then I shall
be delighted, not only to see him, but to have him with me."

"Then you are determined not to accept Jones as your nephew's father,
sir?"

"I cannot bring myself to believe in him. No, I feel sure there is
another solution to this mystery, and I trust before long to find it.
You, meanwhile, must look after little Jack for me. If the new clergyman
at Friston-Boughton is anything of a scholar, try to arrange with him to
give the boy daily lessons. There will be a fair fortune for him when he
comes of age, so his education must not be neglected. Later on he must go
to the University if the father turns up, if not he shall go abroad."

Shortly after this conversation Ronaldson returned to Hurstwick and,
while he threw himself with more ardour than ever into the business of
making money, it was tacitly understood by all Hurstwickians that any
reference to his sister's death was taboo.

From time to time he went abroad, and branches of the greatly-trusted
firm of "Ronaldson and Ronaldson" were established in New York, at the
Cape, and also at Valparaiso and Buenos Ayres [sic]. Yet with all these
aids to communication with the Principal, nobody, either in these remote
parts, or at home, ever came forward to offer information regarding the
dead Eleanor's marriage.

At length the conviction forced itself upon Tom that Jones, if not her
husband, must be accepted as such.

The question of advertising for the marriage certificate Brotherton had
always talked down whenever Ronaldson had advanced it.

"Why not leave things as they are, sir?" he would say. "People here have
accepted Mr. Jones as the husband, to advertise for the marriage
certificate, would be to raise doubt in their minds as to a marriage
having taken place. For my own part I have no doubt about it, though I am
quite willing to admit it was strange your sister made no reference to
Jones's death when she was talking things over at Heather's Edge. But may
not her very silence as to his death have been intentional? She may have
intended; she doubtless did intend, to take you entirely into her
confidence before she returned to Hurstwick. No, sir, take my advice,
leave things as they are. As for imagining your sister acted in a
reprehensible manner, banish the thought at once and for ever from your
mind. You have done your best to find the lad's father and, if you will
permit me to say so, I have always thought you would have been better
employed in gaining the young fellow's affection."

"Yes, I know you have, Brotherton, and I own I shall find it a difficult
job to introduce myself to young Jack now. I said I would adopt him when
he was twenty."

"And he will be nineteen next November," re marked Brotherton. "I only
hope he will take kindly to the life here, but you mustn't try to force
him, sir. What I've seen of him I like, but since I took him over to
Geneva four years ago I've had little to do with him. Still, M. Vernet
speaks highly of him."

"Well, you shall go next year, and bring him home, Brotherton. He is old
enough now to understand things. I dare say he has often wondered why I
have not sent for, or seen him, before, but you will explain it all. Tell
him just what you like. I know you'll say your best for me."

And Ronaldson sighed. In his heart of hearts he was well aware that had
his general appearance been that of an ordinary man he would have felt
less embarrassment in introducing himself to his nephew, whom M. Vernet
wrote of as "a fine-grown, handsome fellow."

But Brotherton's life work was nearly over, and soon after the foregoing
conversation he died, leaving the master whom he had served so devotedly
to undertake, and carry through unaided, the difficult task of attracting
to himself one who, unknown to him, had conceived for his uncle an
aversion that almost amounted to hatred.

To settle the point of Jack's parentage, should any lingering doubt
remain in Miss Martha Barnard's mind, Ronaldson had caused a simple
headstone, bearing the name of Jones, to be placed above his sister's
last resting-place in Friston-Boughton churchyard soon after Brotherton's
death. The fact that his nephew had been known from his birth as Jack
Ronaldson 'did not greatly trouble the banker, for he intended to
legalise the name when he formally adopted the young man as his son and
heir. Yet it was on all accounts of the utmost importance that Jack
should be fully acquainted with the fact that he was born "Jones," for,
in coming to Hurstwick, people would not fail to question him about his
father and mother.

So the banker decided to meet Jack at Heather's Edge in August of the
year of grace 1868, when he would lay before him the story of his birth,
and also, perhaps, acquaint him with the circumstances which had resulted
in his own lengthy chevelure. For although, long before Eleanor's death,
he had ceased to doubt that " Lord Jim" went down in The Sultan, he still
clung to what Eleanor had fancifully styled his " hair coat."

CHAPTER V

No heart is pure that is not passionate;

No virtue is safe that is not enthusiastic.

--PARKER.

THE story of Jack's dramatic appearance on life's stage had been again
and again rehearsed to him in his childhood by Martha Barnard; his
frequent inquiries about his father being invariably met by mysterious
head-shakings, which impressed themselves indelibly upon his waxen mind.

"In the ground wiv muvver?" he would ask, apprehension in his tones.

"There, don't question me. He's no fit company for her above or below
ground, and it's a pity on all accounts they can't change places.
However, you must see her righted when you're a man!"

But Mary, though she could not in any way explain the mystery of Mr.
Ronaldson's continued absence on any other ground than that first
advanced by Martha--namely, "that he had another wife some where "--had
always shrunk from inciting the child's anger against one whose money (as
she believed) was always ungrudgingly expended upon him.

Martha, however, allowed no such considerations to subvert her sense of
right or to interfere with her proclamation of what she deemed "a cruel
wrong."

"A wrong to the dead and to the living." His absence from the funeral
after promising to attend it, the employment of Mr. Brotherton to
disseminate lies on purpose to shield himself, the ridiculous story of
Mr. Jones; the fact that be had never set eyes on the child, and that the
mother's grave was unmarked were "clear proofs of guilt," said Martha,
"that none but the wilfully blind could fail to see."

So Martha talked by the fireside, and in the summer parlour at Heather's
Edge, while Jack drank in her fierce words, and made up his mind to
become a man as quickly as possible that he might expose and denounce the
being who had acted so cruelly to the dead. Therefore his spirits rose
when he learned from M. Vernet that he was to return to Heather's Edge,
where Mr. Ronaldson would meet and discuss the plans for his future. The
hour and the man were come. God would defend the right.

The actual meeting took place at Denby railway-station, where it was, of
course, impossible to make a declaration of war. Indeed, both uncle and
nephew were unable to shake off the embarrassment which mutually affected
them at first sight of each other. Jack, six feet in his stockings and
with a proportionate breadth of chest and strength of muscle, fought hard
to prevent any overt token of the unmistakable aversion which seized upon
him when his eyes rested on the long, wavy hair of the man who addressed
him as "Nephew." In his secret heart be at once decided that for some
great crime the banker had made himself this object of contempt by way of
penance.

As for Ronaldson, when his sister's son stepped from the train in all the
glory of young manhood, he experienced a painfully acute feeling of
disgust at the contrast he was conscious of producing beside him. Jack's
averted eyes were a positive torment to him, and as he took furtive
glances at the handsome, open, resolute young countenance he shrank from
the task of explanation he had set himself. With a look, or trick of
movement characteristic of Eleanor, the cast and play of the features
wholly differed from hers, yet stirred him strangely, with an undefined,
yet sweet, familiarity. If only those features would reveal the lost, the
unknown father!

To gain the young fellow's confidence would evidently prove a delicate
and difficult business; for though Jack (now seated opposite his uncle in
the carriage which, with a pair of horses, had been chartered to carry
them to their destination) was courteous in his replies, allied to his
well-bred air was a thoroughly definite reserve which proved an effectual
barrier to all overtures of a confidential nature.

Ronaldson, who had fondly hoped that the long absence from Heather's Edge
would have removed any disagreeable impressions Miss Barnard might have
conveyed, now saw himself, with silent dismay, face to face with the
distressing probability that the love he had intended and was longing to
bestow would be rejected with contempt.

Jack, now in his native county, gave himself up almost entirely to the
enjoyment of the delightful scenery through which they were passing, and
presently fairly forgot his companion, so absorbed was he in identifying
roads and heights and moors familiar to him in boyish rambles.

When the travellers reached the small cluster of grey stone houses known
as Friston-Boughton, Jack, as well as the driver, descended while the
horses (the banker apparently asleep behind them) took the hill to the
side of which the village clung. Jack, on the qui vive for familiar
faces, was specially anxious to discover who the young lady in blue
draperies pursuing an upward direction on the side walk, might be. The
driver, hailing from Sheafland, knew nothing of Friston people, but, in
answer to Jack's inquiry, would be bound that the lady ahead was one of
the numerous summer visitors the new railway had brought into the county.

How loudly the measured footfalls of the horses resounded upon the hard,
white road, so still was the air! And what a charm that blue-draped
figure, with the thick coils of red-gold hair, gave to the sad-coloured
houses. The graceful poise of the golden head and carriage of the lissom
body made Jack curious to see their owner's face; yet the figure never
turned. An open carriage used not to be an every-day event in
Friston-Boughton, and Jack recalled with amusement the keen scrutiny he
and Jo. bestowed on chance passers through the little place and the
romances they would weave about them.

Now the vehicle was gaining on the figure, but just as Jack was
congratulating himself he should get a glimpse of the face, the girl
passed through a gate leading to a cottage, and said to its occupant, as
Jack could distinctly hear, "May I come in, Mrs. Rumball?" The voice
sounded strangely familiar, but it was not until Jack was again seated in
the carriage that he identified it.

"Why, that was little Jo.!" he exclaimed, aloud.

"Do you mean the driver ?" inquired Ronaldson, opening his eyes.

"No, sir," returned Jack, somewhat stiffly, "some one I used to know."
And he felt glad the banker had not seen the girl.

But Joanna! Who could have thought she would have grown so tall and fair
l His pulses quickened as memory brought to his mind a hundred
reminiscences of childhood in which she had always played the most
important part. Would she have forgotten him and the old, delightful days
when they married each other at least once a week, and sometimes oftener,
if Jo. happened to be wearing a new ribbon or frock. To morrow be would
go to the Gap directly after breakfast. What a lot he would have to hear
and to tell! The banker, though, had other plans for Jack.

"There!" he exclaimed, presently, with a wave of his right hand, "there
lies Broadshaw Moor! I hope you'll feel fit to be on it at five to-morrow
morning sharp." And he looked his companion full in the face, while he
closed a pocket-map of the county he had from time to time consulted.

Where breathes the young fellow whose heart does not beat the faster at
the prospect of a day's shooting? Jack's fine eyes danced with joy at the
suggestion. But to accept the invitation would be to give himself
unconditionally into the hand of the enemy. Yet what had M. Vernet, to
whom Jack had confided all that he knew concerning his birth, advised?
"Meet your guardian with courtesy, assume nothing, above all do not let
prejudice influence you. If he shows no disposition to explain things, it
will be your duty, not only to require and demand an explanation, but to
investigate matters for yourself."

As Jack rapidly recalled this counsel the banker rightly construed his
silence. "Of course we have much to say to each other, but we have time
before us. I haven't missed being on the moors on the twelfth for the
past ten years, and with such weather it would be criminal to miss sport.
Our business can well wait till next week. Besides, I want to see how you
shoot!"

And before Jack could offer any objection the elder man was deep in
grouse-lore, and had skilfully inveigled his companion into a discussion
of the respective merits of shooting over dogs, grouse-driving, muzzle
and breech-loaders, until Heather's Edge came in sight with the Barnard
sisters at the door.

"The twelfth" rose gloriously, and Ronaldson and Jack, accompanied by a
youth and a retriever, were afoot for Broadshaw about 4.30 a.m. Although
Jack had had no experience of English sport, he could not but rejoice in
the exhilarating combination of good "heather, weather, and feather," and
was soon deeply interested in the movements of all connected with "the
drive." He made no attempt to shoot until he had well noted the methods
and results of his uncle's firing. But when be made his first essay and
brought down two birds flying parallel, the banker's delight--and he was
an excellent shot--was unbounded.

"Well shot! Well shot!" he exclaimed. "I was afraid you meant having a go
at 'the brown,' but you know what you're about, lad! I'm proud of you,
indeed I am!"

And Jack, flushing under the combined praise and shoulder-patting,
explained that during the past two summers he had had good practice in
the Swiss mountains with a fowling-piece. He only made twenty shots after
that brilliant one, but he had eleven brace of birds to carry away at
half-past four, the banker five more.

"My word, Jack, you've made yourself the hero of the drive," said
Ronaldson, as the two wended their way back to Heather's Edge, the banker
having declined the invitation of Lord Clan Falkland to dine with him
that evening. "You'll outdo me long before the season's over."

Jack, however, declared himself distinctly averse to shooting from behind
walls or batteries. He disliked the inaction of waiting for the birds,
and was inclined to think "driving" cruel.

"Ah, well, I'll write to Lord Winthorpmere. I've no doubt he can give us
two or three days stalking at his Highland place later on."

As a good shot and as a banker, always ready to oblige with a loan, as a
"warm" man, a man, too, whose prescience in speculative business was
acknowledged to be well-nigh infallible, Ronaldson, spite of his
eccentric appearance, was a welcome addition to any shooting party, a
persona grata everywhere.

But Jack made no response to this suggestion of future intimacy and
companionship; and an indifferent observation respecting the birds he
carried signalised his intention to hold himself aloof, at least, for the
present, from anything conducive to such a position. And if this were the
first, it was by no means the only reminder the elder man was destined to
receive, that until he had made "a clean breast" of things to his nephew,
there would be no bridging of the great gulf yawning between them.

"You are not going out again!" he cried, in surprised tones an hour or
two later as, seated in the rustic summer-house in Heather's Edge garden
enjoying his pipe, he caught sight of Jack with two brace of birds and
walking stick in hand coming down the path.

"I'm going; across to the Gap, sir. I want to see Mr. Davenant, and he
will like a bird or two. The walk will do me good after standing all
day."

"A mile to the moor, and a mile back, I should have thought would have
satisfied you," returned the elder man, drily. "But take another, brace.
Davenant did you say? Is that the wood-carver?"

And having received an affirmative reply, the banker continued, "I want
to see him about some work I've asked him to do. I've a great mind to
come with you. How far is it?"

"Between four and five miles, sir." But Jack did not encourage the;
suggestion as to companion ship, so the elder man shook his head at the
distance, and if a sigh escaped him as the gate clicked behind his nephew
it, doubtless, but emphasized the regret that filled his soul. Of course
he, who had never associated himself with Jack's life, its pleasures, or
its sorrows, he who had allowed the mystery attending the mother's
marriage and death to alienate him from her son through baby and boyhood,
was not in a position, now that son was of an age to think and act for
himself, to requisition his companionship.

Nevertheless, he felt very sore, and did not disguise from himself that
there was something aggressive in the young fellow's action in going off
to-night without consulting his wishes on the matter. The outlook for the
future was not very rosy; moreover, another difficulty presented itself
as likely to prove a serious obstacle to the banker's scheme of adopting
his nephew. Surely he was not on terms of intimacy with this wood-carver?
Ronaldson had hoped that the long absence in Switzerland would have
loosened, if not entirely destroyed, any ties Jack might have formed in
childhood.

But here was Miss Barnard herself, with tumblers and spirit-stand. He
could not do better than invite her to join him in a glass, and so lead
her on to speak of the nature of Jack's friendship with this carver and
others in the neighbourhood. He had been somewhat apprehensive that she
would make unpleasant references, such as had made him wince and writhe
in secret agony at his impotence to denounce and overthrow on that
never-to-be-forgotten occasion of their former and only meeting.

He had arranged to see Jack here after much anxious thought, and was glad
he had done so, for the young fellow's attitude of armed neutrality
served to inform the banker that his assumption of that position was
largely due to the representations, or misrepresentations, of the elder
Miss Barnard. Evidently she was the bull, whom, on all accounts, it would
be wise to take by the horns. As yet though, these instruments of offence
and defence had not been allowed to appear; indeed the being who now bore
the spirit-stand and its accompaniments to the summer house had nothing
whatever in common with "a curly cornulated, bovine beast." She must,
however, be completely won over to his side either by concealed or direct
attack.

But to his astonishment Ronaldson found, when at his request the lady
seated herself, that the enemy had capitulated unconditionally, and,
furthermore, was prepared in future to fight openly under his banner. For
Martha Barnard was too shrewd a woman to jeopardise her own interests,
and if Jack were to be entirely removed from Heather's Edge, it would, so
she silently reasoned, be only a graceful act on the part of the banker
to remember the services of the sisters by an annual remittance. But
Martha assured herself that this possibility had little, or nothing, to
do with her gracious reception of the man she had delighted to make the
target for Jack's boyish scorn and indignation.

Was he not now a reformed character, ready to acknowledge, albeit
tardily, the child from whom he had so long and so wickedly held aloof
Was it not, therefore, a simple. duty on her part to welcome his
assumption of a position she had always declared for, and let bygones be
bygones Besides the near future promised her the post her soul loved
dearly--namely, that of a petty (though that adjective was not hers)
Providence in Jack's affairs.

Mary was busy with her watering-pot among the flowers and only the sound
of voices reached her now and again. But a she paused for a moment
enchained by the lovely iridescence of the billowy clouds above her, she
heard Martha say as she was leaving the summer house, "If you'll take my
advice, sir, you'll keep the young man as much as possible under your own
eye while he's here. I won't say more."

And Mary recognised at once that her sister had assumed the part of
"leading lady," and that whatever the drama might be, she would control
the action of all the players in it.

CHAPTER VI.

Her face

Seemed a perpetual daybreak, and the woods

Wherever she rambled, echoed through their aisles

The music of a laugh so softly gay

That Spring with all her songsters and her songs

Knew nothing like it.

--SIR H. TAYLOR.

As Jack hurried along the road leading down to Friston-Boughton his mind
was in a turmoil. Spite of M. Vernet's counsel, his burning sense of what
he owed to himself and, in a still greater degree, to his mother's memory
upbraided him with having truckled to the man he had been taught to
regard as his mother's greatest enemy.

"'Write to your husband, ma'am,' I said to her, and down she sat at once,
and wrote a note which she handed to me to head with the right address.
'Dearest Tom,' it commenced, and ended 'Always your loving Eleanor.'
Wasn't that clear enough? And he never came anigh the funeral; never
asked to see you, but sends his manager to bury her in the name of Jones!
Jones indeed? A name the dear creature never once breathed. But that
wasn't the worst even. This manager had the impudence to tell me that
this Jones (a handy name enough) actually died before your mother set her
foot in England to meet her husband. Bah! my blood boils when I think of
it, and you, boy, if you're a true and worthy son will see your mother
righted. Bide your time though, keep a still tongue, and you'll be even
with that deceiver yet!

How plainly this oft-repeated story sounded in Jack's ears as he plodded
on, and the recollection of it made his face flush as though he had been
caught red-handed in some questionable action. He ought to have had no
dealings whatever with this individual, who "wore his hair like our
blessed Lord and the holy apostles," until he had either threshed things
out with him or thrashed the creature himself. Moreover, the hints,
pretty broad hints too, that this man had made now and again during the
day about a future which Jack was to share with him had annoyed the young
fellow extremely. In all pictures of the future Jack had painted for
himself, the banker had had no part, except as an enemy to be met and
fought, conquered and put out of mind everlastingly.

Yet he had broken bread with him, though he was glad to remember his
attitude had been unmistakably hostile. It was quite time though that the
encounter took place. Davenant should know just what he intended to do,
and Davenant would be sure to approve. But then Jack reminded himself
that the carver in all probability knew little or nothing about this
matter, which was of the highest importance in his, Jack's, eyes.
Davenant was never one to trouble himself about other people's affairs,
and Miss Barnard had expressly forbidden Jack in his childhood ever to
speak of his father and mother to outsiders. When Martin Davenant came to
settle in the district he accepted, without comment, the generally
received statement of Miss Barnard, that she was boarding the little
fellow at the request and expense of Mr. Ronaldson, the Hurstwick banker.
So it would be necessary to tell everything from the beginning.

But as Jack unconsciously paused and leant against the grey-stone wall
which fenced the Pass, the evening breeze, as it swept over the moor, and
the enchanting view spread out before him, presented themselves as the
proverbial oil and wine to heal and cheer his troubled mind.

Deep, deep down below him lay the long valley of the Derwent, widening
westwards into dales of pastoral beauty, through which the silver stream,
stained here and there with the reflected glances of the emerald meadows
beside, and the billowy clouds above, made ever its royal progress. Right
before the enchanted gazer lay Deem Moor, while in the far distant west
the stern and sterile Kinderscout reared itself. By degrees loved haunts
of long ago were recognised; spires and towers, villages nestling amidst
their elms and beeches, glens within glens, glancing brooks, ripening
cornfields all set in the deep amethyst of the abounding heather and
canopied with the turquoise of the gods. What a scene it was! And there,
right away to the left, was the tiny oak-spinney where Martin Davenant
trained his wood; and perched a mile beyond, hanging in the cleft of the
hill, was The Gap itself.

All Jack's distress vanished as he remembered whither he was bound, and
resuming his walk with a quick, ringing step his recovered
light-heartedness found voice in the refrain, "Le jour! 1e jour! le jour
fait beau!" For did not Jo. live at The Gap?

At that moment she and her uncle were standing in the long, lean-to
building attached to the south side of the cottage, and sacred to the two
workers.

A carver's bench ran from end to end, the windows so arranged that
throughout the day light fell upon it. An oil-stone, with all the
necessary tools and implements of a carver were ranged conveniently for
use, while a large slate, mounted on an easel which could be raised or
lowered at will, occupied the centre of the room. Upon the slate a rough,
yet perfect, sketch of a female figure appeared, clad in somewhat
outlandish garments and minus a face. Before it stood Davenant and Jo.,
the latter holding a piece of chalk in one hand, while the other rested
on the shoulder of the carver, who had watched with interest and
concealed admiration the ease with which the girl had sketched, from
memory, this figure in early Norman costume.

With these two, work was always a serious matter, and for some time past
Davenant had found his niece's suggestions of the greatest possible value
to him.

"Don't you think, Dads, that as Miss Mellet* was such a very warlike
being she ought to have the features of Mars? I think so, or, perhaps
Minerva; at any rate, she must be totally different from all the rest in
the group."

"She should be a little squarer in the body, mon enfant, that will take
something from her height and give her a less girlish look," remarked
Davenant, critically examining the sketch. "Those long, thick cables of
ribbon-twisted hair will make a deeper relief, too, than I care for."

* Guarine de Meer, a branch of the House of Lorraine and an ancestor of
the Lords Fitz-Warrine, repaired to the Peverils' place in the Peke, and
there engaged with a son of the King of Scotland and also with a baron of
Burgoyne; and, vanquishing them both, obtained the prize for which he
fought, viz., Mellet, daughter of Pain Peveril (half-brother to William
Peveril, natural son of the Conqueror), Lord of Whittington in the county
of Salop.--Pilkingtons View of Derbyshire.

"Of course, you can make the cables, as you call them, as thin as you
like, Dads," returned Jo., "but those are just the size of mine. Look!"

And even as she spoke her hair, from which she had withdrawn the
supporting pins, fell to her feet, clothing her in a garment of ruddy
gold which, threw back, caught and held the less golden rays of the sun
as it stooped to the west. With a quick, deft movement Jo. had parted the
wavy mass, and, again dividing it, twisted one-half cable-wise to show
her uncle the exact distance it would stand out from the figure.

"I would rather have it drawn into one cable down the back," he remarked,
musingly; "that would be better both for face and shoulder."

"But pig-tails weren't the fashion in England or Europe then," objected
Jo., as Davenant turned to examine a large calf-bound volume of
"Illustrated Costume" (the text in old French) which lay open on the
bench.

The picture the girl made, clad in the shimmering, glancing, golden-red
robe which seemed to have enveloped her as by magic, gave him a strangely
sweet shock, thereby disclosing the hitherto unrecognised fact that the
child he had loved and cherished ever since her birth in Old Picardie
would very shortly be supplanted by a woman of rare grace and beauty.

To-day the child looked out at him from those lovely hare-bell eyes, but
signs of the woman's advent were abundant; some touch from without or
within and she would stand revealed, ready to enter upon the heritage of
beauty with which Nature had so liberally endowed her. And this
conviction, as it deepened, saddened the carver, though he appeared to be
wholly engrossed by the drawings on the page he was regarding.

Jo., pinning up her hair as she followed her uncle and as unconscious of
his thoughts as of her own charms, her mind wholly given up to the
business in hand exclaimed, "You haven't decided about the face yet. I
want you to have that blocked out before Mr. Ronaldson comes. Ah, I
forgot. I did some things for you this morning when you were out. How do
you like this and this!" as, having crossed to her own particular corner
of the workshop, she handed Davenant two water-colour sketches under each
of which appeared the words "Miss Mellet and the man of her choice,
Guarine De Meer."

The drawing was faultless, the colouring perfect. That the girl had
learned much from her uncle was not surprising, and. what he was in wood
she was in colours--a master-worker. The carved panels, crestings,
sketches, designs, drawings in pencil, chalk or pigments which literally
covered every inch of wall-space, and occupied every available square of
flooring spoke, not only of the diligence and thoroughness of the
workers, but of their marvellous sympathy.

And something more--that something the chosen one sees in gazing on a
landscape or the heavens; the suggestion of loveliness greater, if 'less
tangible than the loveliness manifest, the worker's ideal haunting the
worker's portrayal of it. To dream out his work and then work out his
dream had, from youth, been Davenant's ambition, and his influence upon
his niece's work was very marked.

As he now took the proffered sketches from her hand his eye fell first
upon the inscription beneath the figures, and he remarked (as though
trying to oust an unwelcome train of thought), "Ladies choose their
husbands differently in these days."

"Choose their husbands ? "echoed Jo., astonishment in her tones. "Why,
women never choose them now. Oh, that reminds me, Dads," she continued
with something like brusqueness, " I want to ask you a very particular
question. It's time to put by work now, and we can have a lovely talk á
deux before the bell rings."

As she spoke she gently closed the book on costume and took the sketches
from Davenant's hand; then, slipping her arm within his, drew him to the
bench and pulled him down beside her, turning her lovely eyes full upon
him as if desirous of reading his very heart.

But the important question she had referred to remained unasked; and the
carver, much amused by these preliminaries, noted her hesitation with
provoking deliberation.

"Eh bien! Let us then hear this important--this question particulière.
Est-ce une nouvelle robe, ou--?"

"Ah, tais-toi donc je vous prie!" interrupted the girl, with a pretty
petulant movement. "Seest thou not, mon chéri, that it is an affaire bien
sérieuse? I want to know," she continued, as she fidgetted with a button
on her uncle's working blouse, "whether you wouldn't like to---- Oh,
dear! Voilá!" and the speaker broke off with a smothered sigh. "Cette
affaire est certainment bien difficile d'expliquer."

And the look the girl raised to the face of the man bending over and
enjoying her confusion was so troubled that Davenant, smitten with
compunction apprehension, and sympathy, instantly exclaimed, in tones of
tender remorse, "Qu' as tu donc, mignonne ? Dis-le moi immédiatement!"

Now that the man's heart as well as ear had been gained, the girl no
longer felt her self-imposed task so difficult. With a bewitching smile
she placed a hand on each of her uncle shoulders, saying, "Ecoutez! Je
vais parler bien, bien rapidement! Dites-moi-- wouldn't you like "--here
the speaker flung her face upon the breast of the astonished carver-- "
to--to-- marry Miss Mary? Voilá, it is said!"

Then, as if realising to the full the extreme delicacy of the position in
which she had placed her uncle, she raised her head, imprinted a kiss on
his cheek, and then hid her flaming face upon his shoulder. "But, isn't
it a splendid idea, Dads?" (Kiss.) "The more one thinks about it" (kiss)
"the better it seems."

When at length released, Davenant had quite recovered his lost
self-control, and with it his former mischievousness. Turning upon the
half-frightened girl a very solemn look, he said, with feigned
seriousness, "Since when, mademoiselle, have you decided to leave me?
Who, I have at least the right to ask, is the man of your choice? And
what date have you fixed pour les noces? Answer, without delay!"

For answer, Jo., at first misled by her uncle's manner, burst into a
long, pealing laugh that rippled away and found an echo in every corner
of the room now filled with the luminous beauty of the after-glow.

"Ah, mon chéri," she at length found breath to say, "mon chéri, but you
are clever, very clever! I never thought of it like that. Me marry,
indeed! Jamais! How you make me laugh! But mine was a serious thing,
Dads; I meant what I said." And the girl nodded her head in what she
intended to be a. convincing manner.

Davenant nodded, too, an action which only provoked her (as he intended
it) to enter into detail, and so furnish him with her views on this
strange question, while his own might find shape and perhaps voice.

"No, it is bad of you to tease when I am in real earnest. Don't you
think, now, it would be splendid for both of us if we could have Miss
Mary here always? Well, we couldn't, you know, unless you married her.
Oh, I've thought a lot about it, I assure you." And then, as she caught a
lurking gleam of mischief in the eye of her apparently-interested
listener, she broke off in mingled distress and annoyance. " Voilá! you
laugh at me, just as if I didn't mean every word I am saying. I declare
I'll never, never try again to make three people happy--never!"

"Three people?" queried Davenant, with every appearance of mystification.

"Of course, three people--yourself first of all. You say so often to me
that Marthe is too old, and I am too young to look after the house
properly. Now what could be better than to have Miss Mary here, someone
who would be nicer far than any housekeeper? A sweet, and clever woman,
too, who loves your work and everything that is good and beautiful. Why,
the wonder to me is that we have never thought of this before! I can't
say how good it would be for me to have her here. She's just the very
woman in the world I would like for my aunt. Fancy, Dads, I've never had
a cousine, never in all my life; and when you are away dreaming on the
heather I shall find it heavenly to talk and read with Mary; and Mary,
cela va sans dire, will be much happier here, where she would be loved
and valued, than with that sister who bullies her so."

Jo.'s arguments for her case followed so quickly upon each other that
Davenant found no opportunity either to combat or endorse them, and as
she came suddenly to a full stop and discovered that the mischievous
gleam had completely vanished from her listener's eye, she hoped he was
at last seriously weighing her proposition.

"Do think of it, Dads, dear," she concluded, at the same time throwing
her arms round his neck and pressing her fair cheek against his dark one.

Just then a thundering knock startled them both, and before Jo. could
move, the door was roughly opened and the fat young servant entered,
carrying a handbell, and blurted out her errand in the unceremonious
fashion peculiar to her.

"Eh, master, will you an' Miss Joanner please go an' wash yerselves
d'reckly minute. The heart's out o' the bell, yer see, so I can't ring
it."

The speaker here exhibited that instrument minus its clapper, while Jo.
exclaimed beneath her breath, "Cette fille me donne sur les nerfs!"

"Marthe's got what her calls the doolers," continued the unabashed maid,
"you know what they be, Miss Joanner? An' if they ommerlettes is spoilt
her'll have more doolers, an' her's got more now than's good for her, you
may depend."

"Les douleurs? Oh, la pauvre Marthe!" exclaimed Jo. "You must be very
good, then, Eliza. I'll go and dress at once."

And the girl hurried away, knowing by experience the discomfort that
always followed unpunctuality whenever Marthe was attacked by les
douleurs.

The little household at The Gap was a well-ordered one, for the old
French housekeeper, scrupulously neat and clean, insisted on meals being
punctually served and as Davenant and Jo. never thought of tasting food
in their working garb, a first and second bell gave due warning of each
approaching repast. But supper was always the festive meal, as was
acknowledged by uncle and niece appearing then in festive attire. And Jo.
never looked more lovely than on this August evening, when, at the sound
of the reinstated clapper, she descended, and, to her great surprise and
delight, found Jack Ronaldson as well as Davenant awaiting her at the
entrance to the little salle á manger.

CHAPTER VII

They have chang'd eyes,

They are both in either's powers.

But this swift business

I must uneasy make.

--THE TEMPEST

THAT night Martin Davenant scarcely closed his eyes. The question of
marriage--his marriage--put forward as not merely possible but desirable
by one who, next to himself and his selected bride, would be most nearly
affected by it, proved an effectual barrier to slumber. Marriage, even in
the days of his youth and early manhood had never any charm for him,
rather had it appeared as a rock to be avoided if he would guide his
craft into the haven of perfection where he would have it. And
Circumstance had hitherto been singularly kind, promoting as well as
fostering the man's one ambition, that of proving a worthy descendant of
his long-ago ancestor the Arnold Boulin under whose skill and
superintendence the wonderful choir in Amiens Cathedral had blossomed
into fadeless beauty.

As he lay on his hard mattress this August night, his thoughts harked
back to boyhood's days, and one by one he traced the epochs in his life,
epochs which had their close in his advent to The Gap, when, as he had
fondly hoped, an era of freedom to dream and work had dawned, and would
know no setting until death. Another epoch now loomed in the near future
but, unlike its predecessors, it had been sprung suddenly upon him, and,
so shrouded was it in the mists of the unknowable, he could not at once
decide to accept or avoid it.

Yet why should he fear that Circumstance would be less kind now than of
yore? She had given him first, not merely his ambition, but the
opportunity for daily contemplation and study of his ancestor's work in
the old cathedral; then, by the sale of the paternal farm, had provided
means for his further study in England and other lands, and finally, had
crowned her gifts by the bestowment of the little orphaned daughter of
his English niece to brighten a life from which all other near relations
had been taken.

To be freed from the fret of French politics, which at any moment might
compel him to leave both the little Joanna and his work, to fight under
the tricolour, Davenant left France when the child was six, and,
attracted by the scenery and reposefulness of the Peak District, had
established his little ménage at The Gap. An offer from an English firm
to take all he could produce at his own figure gave him the opportunity
he had always longed for--to dream out his work and work out his dream.

He had, without a doubt, dreamed though, when he should have been wide
awake he--he who loved her so devotedly--had forgotten Jo., had allowed
her needs to be eclipsed, had even been unaware, until this very
afternoon, that she was already upon the threshold of womanhood.

His own mother--Mdme. Davenant--would never have permitted a girl with
Jo.'s face and carriage to go out alone, yet he had given no thought to
the matter.

Then Davenant--hitherto wide-eyed and rigid--shuddered as he recalled
young Jack's attitude this very night towards Jo.; the deference he had
shown, as though he were in the presence of a queen; the veiled
admiration and delight he had evinced. Even when the two had laughed
almost uproariously over some amusing reminiscence, the young man had
never presumed on the familiarity of their old camaraderie.

And Martin knew--for as a master-carver he understood the significance as
well as the beauty of light and apparently, purposeless touches, knew
without any manner of doubt that those two at the supper table had,
albeit unconsciously, formed a design each on the heart of the other. The
tools they had unwittingly made use of, light now, as his own veiners,
would ere long be thrown aside for others capable of striking deep down
to the very core of their being. Yet that possibility must be avoided at
all costs.

This Mr. Ronaldson, the banker, was, without doubt, a very rich man, for
only a rich man could afford such a screen as he had requested the carver
to furnish. And that he was young Jack's uncle was certain-- for he had
mentioned he was coming to Heather's Edge to meet his nephew. This meant,
in all probability that he had Jack's future in his hands, and that,
again, meant that he would never countenance the marriage of Jack and Jo.
And Jack had been well-educated, educated, no doubt, for his uncle's
position, and destined to move in a very different social atmosphere.

Jo., too, had been well educated, and had natural endowments of which any
girl might be proud, but Davenant was well aware that he himself had no
social status. Indeed, what society was to be met with in this
sparsely-peopled district? And how could he, a bachelor, even had he
wished so to do, entertain guests? Lord Clanfalkland would sometimes call
in and have a look at what was being done in the atelier, and Mr.
Cartwright had been a frequent visitor. But Cartwright was dead and,
without affectation, Jo. might well say she was triste at times.

But to let Jack come and go as he used to in boyhood would be only to
make Jo. happy for a time and unhappy, perhaps, for always. Personally,
Martin liked Jack exceedingly and never better than to-night.

Then, what a handsome couple they would make! Pshaw! the idea of marriage
for them must not for a moment be entertained. Nothing but trouble would
come of it, trouble to all concerned. Martin sighed.

His only hope was that the banker would take his nephew away before any
harm was done. Yet Jack had not spoken with anything like admiration of
his uncle when Davenant had occasionally referred to him. And it would be
a difficult matter to treat the lad with coolness. Martin saw that. He
saw, too, that if he did so Jo. would be asking "Why?" She would want to
know why Jack might not come when he liked--just as he did in the old
days. It would never do to tell her his fears; she would probably laugh
out right if he even hinted at them.

All the same, Davenant determined that for the present, Jack should only
visit at The Gap by special invitation. If he were allowed to come when
he liked, the banker--and undoubtedly Miss Martha--would be saying that
the girl wanted to entrap the lad!

Poor Davenant! He had been roughly awakened from his dreamful existence
this evening, not only to the important fact that Jo. was on the verge of
womanhood, but that her position there was fraught with danger which
demanded immediate and delicate treatment. And, single-handed, he felt he
should only bungle and increase the danger he was anxious to withdraw her
from.

Only a woman, he at length decided, could manage this delicate business.
A woman would understand a woman. At least, Mary would understand Jo.,
and would be able in some subtle way, to show her the necessity of making
young Jack a very infrequent visitor. She would be a comfort to the girl
as well as a chaperone. Besides, Jo. loved her, Jo. wanted her.

Then Davenant allowed himself to consider the girl's strange proposal,
and the longer he considered it the more enamoured of it he became. As he
weighed pro against con. the pro assumed such gracious proportions and
wore such an attractive aspect, that, as the early blackbird whistled
(before Chanticleer had spoken), Davenant registered a vow that he would
waylay Miss Mary the next time she paid her weekly visit to the
churchyard, and there and then put his fate to the test.

It struck him as somewhat ungallant that he shrank from going to
Heather's Edge to ask the momentous question. But there he could not be
sure of seeing Mary alone. Martha had always been present on the occasion
of every visit he had ever paid to the cottage, and though Martin was a
brave little man, he could not bring himself to propose to Mary while
Miss Martha looked on. No, he would be wiser to see her in the churchyard
on the coming Saturday--three days from now.

It almost took Davenant's breath away when he realised that in so short a
space of time such a mighty change might have been effected. Then he
recognised that he had unconsciously made up his mind on this question of
marriage hours before; at the very moment, indeed, when Jack had
intimated his desire to have 'a confidential talk with him as soon as
possible. " Come on Sunday," the carver had replied. "I'm very busy just
now--to-morrow I must go to Exmoor, and on Friday Jo. and I are going to
Denby, and I don't suppose we shall return until the last train."

He would talk over things with Mary first. She would advise him, and not
only so, she would be able to tell him something definite as to Jack's
position, who his parents were, and what his prospects.

As for Jack, he had found Jo.'s beauty so bewi1dering, the mingling of
English frankness and unconscious French coquetry so delightful that he
had not taken Davenant's excuse to listen there and then to his
confidences as anything remarkable until he was within a mile or so of
Heather's Edge again. Then the remembrance of it struck him like a
well-aimed blow, and he asked himself abruptly whether the carver
intended to make a formal visitor of him. Were not the old glad days when
he came and went to The Gap whenever he chose to be renewed ? Would not
Jo.'s companionship be available as of yore? Did the carver intend to dig
a gulf between two such old friends as Jack and Jo.?

If such were his intentions Jack recognised that, in some way or other,
the banker must be the cause of their formation. He recalled, too, that,
when at supper he had spoken of his dislike to grouse-driving, Davenant
had appeared to take it for granted that Mr. Ronaldson's wishes would be
his first consideration. It had not been possible, then, to explain
matters; indeed, the carver gave him no opportunity for confidential
talk. Certainly, there had been something in his manner; what it was Jack
found a difficulty in defining--a reserve, a lack of cordiality, a sort
of approach-me-not air which was unmistakeable.

Davenant must have got it into his head that he, Jack, would now be
mixing with the banker and Lord Clanfalkland's friends. Then he must be
made aware, without any manner of doubt, that for Jack there could never
be any friends so loved and valued as those at The Gap. Why, in those
far-off days of childhood, Jo. used to call herself his little wife! The
very recollection of that speech, with all that its realisation
signified, made the young heart beat faster, the young feet press more
proudly the moorland path.

Not to be free to see Jo. whenever he liked, not to be permitted to
resume the old, and now more than ever to be desired, companionship would
be to take the sun from the heavens and darken all his days! Yet the old
companionship would not suffice him now; he recognised in a moment that
it could not.

If she would but listen to him, if she would stoop to link her life with
his! And this cry of his heart, gathering strength and volume, filled his
being, and broke away through the parted lips till it smote the far stars
with its throbbing.

But Hope draws its breath and being from meditated action, and as it
whispered of a happy future, it bid Jack in loud tones beware of
compromising himself further with the banker. M. Vernet had told him he
would be quite justified in making investigations for himself. Why should
he not go to-morrow as far as Hurstwick and satisfy himself by an
inspection of the church registers there as to whether Mr. Ronaldson had
or had not a sister named Eleanor? To accompany that gentleman again to
the drive would only be to enmesh himself with people he did not desire
to know, people who would patronise Jo. and therefore could never be his
friends.

His mind was made up; he had always been liberally supplied with
pocket-money; he would leave an explanatory note for Mr. Ronaldson and be
back at Heather's Edge either to-morrow night or Friday. Davenant seemed
to be full of business. Friday he said would be spent at Denby, indeed,
he had distinctly said, "Come on Sunday."

"Pretty plain speaking that," said Jack, sotto voce. "Well, on all
accounts I can't do better than go to Hurstwick to-morrow. I must have a
name, as well as love and life to offer Jo."

Mr. Ronaldson, tired out with his long day, had gone to bed when Jack
reached Heather's Edge, and had given orders for breakfast to be ready
not earlier than eight o'clock. Miss Barnard was ashamed, she said, that
he should have been left alone all the evening. Jack's duty was plain, he
certainly had no call to go trapesing off to The Gap and keep folk
sitting up till half-past ten.

"I'm sorry to have kept you up. Miss Martha, but there really was no
reason why I should not have let myself in, and bolted the door as I have
often done before."

"Well, I wished to speak to you. I never yet failed to tell you your
duty, and though you may think you're now beyond being brought to task, I
can assure you I don't. Sit down "--for Jack had taken up his candlestick
and was looking somewhat bored. "Well, if you won't sit down you must
stand."

And then in a lower and persuasive voice the lady proceeded. "Take my
advice, Jack, my advice is good, cultivate Mr. Ronaldson's company,
and--"

"Look here, Miss Barnard," cried Jack, with scant politeness (who can
study politeness when indignation has the bit in her teeth ?), " if I do
not love this man or his company, who but yourself is to blame ? As soon
as I could speak did you not teach me to say 'bad man' whenever his name
was mentioned? And onwards from that time until I left for Switzerland
have you not again and again laid it as a solemn obligation on my soul to
call this man out and make him render an account of the wrongs done to my
mother and me?"

"Hush, hush, Jack! I can't allow you to talk in this way. When I spoke to
you of Mr. Ronaldson I spoke of a man who, whatever his relationship, had
given you no sign of affection from your birth upwards. But now he is
ready to give you not only affection but wealth, and when a man is ready
to do his duty, and not only ready but anxious, it certainly ill becomes
you not to meet him halfway and let bygones be bygones."

But all Jack said was "Good-night, Miss Barnard."

He was breakfasting with the sisters at six o'clock next morning, and on
the conclusion of that meal requested Miss Martha to give Mr. Ronaldson
the note he handed to her. But when he coolly announced that he would be
absent all day and might not return till the morrow she was extremely
indignant. She knew very well what he was after; no good, she was
certain, would result from his having gone to The Gap. Mr. Davenant ought
to know better than to encourage a young man in flouting his best friend.
But it was easy to see "that girl" was at the bottom of this
unaccountable behaviour.

At this discourteous reference to Jo. Jack rose from the table and strode
into the kitchen for his boots. Martha was furious at this silent but
obvious manifestation of his feelings, and, had she dared, would have
appealed straightway to Mr. Ronaldson, but she feared to disturb him.

Mary, distressed and puzzled, and hoping he would give her some clue to
his movements, accompanied Jack to the half-way elm and begged him to "do
nothing rash." He told her she need have no fears on his account, but he
was determined, he said, to have nothing further to do with Mr. Ronaldson
until he gave him the explanations he ought to have given him on the
night of his arrival.

"I've no wish to keep out of his way, Miss Mary, and he knows that very
well. A few words from him, and I should know what to be at. But be puts
me off till next week and that looks bad. I can see his object clearly
enough! He wants to mix me up with these 'big' folk at the drive, to
introduce me as his adopted son, and so on; and then, when he has made
these public announcements, then he will tell me what I ought to have
known long ago. But he'll find I'm no chicken, that I have a will of my
own, and that I mean to exercise it. Why, he made more than one reference
at dinner last evening to my going to live with him at Hurstwick! The
idea! I wouldn't live with him if I had to choose between him and the
workhouse!"

"Hush, hush, dear! Remember he has brought you up, and educated you,"
ventured Mary. "With whose money, though; that's what I want to know, and
mean to know," interrupted the young fellow, fiercely. "What does he
think I'm made of, I wonder. India-rubber, or calf's foot jelly,
warranted to fit into and fill any mould he may choose to order! All
these years, nearly twenty, he never troubles himself to set eyes on me,
and then, when at last he has made up his mind to try to repair his
neglect, instead of at once explaining it, he puts me off with an excuse
that he wants to shoot. Shoot forsooth! He can never have loved my
mother, Miss Mary, never! or he would know something of my feelings. But
as he wants to shoot, let him shoot. Meanwhile, I'm going to keep out of
his way, for I've no wish to interfere with his pleasures."

Then, in quieter tones, as Mary paused preparatory to turning back, the
young man said, "I shall be all right, never fear. Expect me to-morrow
afternoon, if not to-night. I want us to go together to some of the old
haunts."

"There, sir," exclaimed Miss Barnard, an hour or so later, "your nephew's
gone the Lord knows where. I never came anigh such audacious
independence. But you may be pretty sure The Gap people have influenced
him. Tried to turn him against you, I make no doubt. As like as not he
arranged to take the girl I told you about somewhere to-day. She's one of
those dressy creatures (I haven't spoken to her for twelve months or
more) that, as the saying goes, would wheedle the wheel off a
wheel-barrow. She's French blood in her veins, sir, and you know what
that means!"

As her listener looked the ignorance he felt Miss Barnard proceeded to
enlighten him or explain herself. "It means for one thing, sir, that she
can put her clothes on more as if she were a countess born, than a girl
with scarce twenty shillings a year to call her own. And it's that sort
of thing that is the undoing of young men in these days. I make no doubt
she's laid her traps well, and is with him at this moment."

Her listener was evidently impressed by the plausibility of Miss Martha's
reasoning. Jack had certainly evinced a great desire to see this girl; he
would scarcely have taken a nine miles walk last night on the off-chance
of finding the carver at home.

Ronaldson's annoyance at his nephew's unlooked for independence was,
however, trifling in comparison with his distress at the prospect of the
ignominious failure of all his plans for the young man's benefit. When he
had proposed to postpone all business matters until the coming week, he
had had a double purpose in view. He hoped during the intervening days,
when they were together on the moor, that each would come to know and
esteem the other; while Jack would be thrown into the society the banker
desired. Lord Clanfalkland's lady visitors were to have lunched with the
shooters to-day. And Miss Barnard was telling him that the young fellow
was liable to be entangled by a girl with French blood in her veins!

Recognising, however, his own culpability in having weakly evaded his
duty towards his orphaned nephew in the past, he was the more lenient in
his judgment of Jack's conduct.

"I can't altogether blame the chap," he said, "for keeping away from me.
I asked him to wait till next week for any explanations he might desire,
as well as for the proposition I have to make for his future. When we
have had our talk we shall no doubt be better friends, or rather I should
say, good friends. His note is really very courteous; he will hold
himself in readiness for the interview at what ever time and day I choose
to name. In the meanwhile, he has some business matter he wishes to
execute, so may be absent for six-and-thirty hours or so. No, no, let him
alone. He is a man of his word, or he would not be my sister's son. He
will be back to-morrow as he promises. And now I must be off, Miss
Barnard. Should I not be returning for dinner, Morris shall bring you
word by five o'clock. My present intention is to accept Lord
Clanfalkland's invitation to spend the night at the Grange, but I shall
certainly be with you again to-morrow night."

And hiding his annoyance under an assumed cheerfulness, Ronaldson set out
for the grouse-drive.

"Well enough he may stay away for his dinner," remarked Martha Barnard,
as she watched her boarder as far as the half-way elm. "He'll have good
company at The Grange, but lor' me, how can the man abide that hair upon
him? It makes me feel all creepy crawly to see it rise and fall in the
wind!"

And Ronaldson at the same moment was denouncing his folly in not having
had these same curling locks shorn before he came near Heather's Edge.
What earthly good had they accomplished?

CHAPTER VIII.

"Overhead bends the blue sky dewy and soft, and radiant with

innumerable stars like the inverted bell of some blue-flower sprinkled

with golden dust and breathy fragrance."

JACK returned to Heather's Edge on the afternoon of Friday to find Miss
Martha away, making purchases in Denby, and Mr. Ronaldson the guest of
Lord Clanfalkland.

"Let us go and have a chat with old Ann Vigors, Miss Mary, when we've had
tea, then I can tell you my news." So, leaving a message with Bridget
(who had been in service with the sisters for the past three-and-twenty
years), Mary and Jack set out in the cool of the evening just as Martha
came in sight at the half-way elm.

But they were bound for a hill behind the house, so did not come in
contact with that lady, who would doubtless have detained them until her
curiosity respecting the young man's absence had been satisfied. Mary
asked no questions, for if Jack's absence had anything to do with Jo., as
Martha averred, she would rather not be his confidante. Her astonishment,
though, equalled her relief when he told her he had been to Hurstwick,
and had proved from the registers of St. Mary's Church that his mother
was Mr. Ronaldson's sister.

"God be praised," was Mary's fervent rejoinder. "Now you must put away
all the prejudice you have nurtured against him for so long and give him
the opportunity of explaining himself."

"You know I am only longing for him to do so. It is he who has put off
the day of explanations, and why or wherefore, I cannot for the life of
me conceive."

"Tell me all you did yesterday; how you went to work I mean. When you
were born Hurstwick was too far off for us to make enquiries, even had
Martha thought well to do so. There was no railway then; but I suppose
you would not be more than two or three hours getting there?

"It is rather a roundabout road, now," returned Jack, "and with changes
and waits, it takes a good four hours to reach Hurstwick. But I'll tell
you what I did. It was close on twelve when I arrived yesterday, and I
inquired at once for the vicarage. It is a sleepy place, is Hurstwick,
but just such a town, Miss Mary, as you would like; full of quaint gabled
houses, and with so little stir in it you would think it had just been
unpacked from a sixteenth-century band-box."

"And did you have any trouble in getting to see the registers?

"Not much; the awkward part of it was giving my name to the vicar. I
wouldn't give 'Ronaldson' for more reasons than one. It really isn't my
name. Well, I gave the name of Jones, and begged permission to see the
register for the year 1820. I said I wished to verify a birth, but gave
no name, for, of course, I did not know whether my mother was a Ronaldson
or not. I knew, however, the year of her birth, for you had told me she
was twenty-seven when she died."

"And you found the entry in that year ? " questioned Mary, eagerly.

"Yes; there it was, 'Eleanor Gavin Ronaldson, daughter of Thomas and
Eleanor Ronaldson, of The Bank, Hurstwick.' I can tell you I thanked God
when my eyes fell upon it. Then I looked back and discovered my uncle's
name. He was born in 1819--about eighteen months before my mother. There
were tombs of the Ronaldson family in the church, and tablets on the
walls bearing their names as far back as 1680; and may be there were
Ronaldsons before that date, but St. Mary's, or rather the greater part
of it, was burnt down in 1660. And now I must tell you something that
makes my heart warm towards my uncle. Of course, I did not appear to take
any special interest in the Ronaldson family, but I managed to set the
cicerone--a curious old fellow he was--talking about them. He shook his
head regretfully when telling me that the family would die out with this
Mr. Ronaldson, my uncle. And by a skilful question I got him to speak of
my mother. She was a beautiful woman, he said, but perhaps a bit
headstrong, though not given to frivolity like some. As for offers of
marriage, she'd had them by the score, but she wouldn't leave her
brother, 'they two thought all the world of each other.' So that speaks
well for my uncle."

"But didn't the man know anything about her death?" questioned Mary, her
interest growing in intensity.

"No; he had heard that 'the poor thing died abroad somewhere'; there was
some talk too, 'a many years ago,' about her having married a
clergyman--but he never heard 'the truth on it.' Anyway the banker had
never been the same man since, and that was why he wore his hair hanging
down his back."

"But that is not true, Jack; M Ronaldson's hair was on his shoulders when
he came to fetch your mother away," interrupted Mary.

"Yes, I know, and he will have to explain why. But I can't help hoping he
will come out all right. Ah, here we are. Now I trust Ann Vigors won't
send us into fits. Perhaps age will have made her dull."

"I don't think it has changed her, she will always be peculiar; but pray
don't encourage her to be silly Jack."

The companions had entered a small spinney, at the other end of which,
almost overshadowed by pine trees, stood an insignificant stone cottage--
the abode of Ann Vigors. At sight of it Jack's innate love of teasing
assumed temporary sovereignty over his deeper feelings, and during the
next half hour a stranger might justly have surmised that he had not a
care in the world.

The door, standing partially open, gave the visitors silent welcome, but
though the sound of a human voice was heard from the adjoining, and only
other, room no one was visible. A minute later the inner door was opened,
and a little shrivelled woman, with a half-dazed look upon her
countenance, appeared. She barely recognised Miss Mary before commencing
an apology, which was conveyed in very rapid tones.

"You'll excuse, me, though, Miss Mary Barnard," she continued, "when I
tell you I was at me prayers. Yes, sir, me prayers," and the little
creature addressed her last remark in answer to Jack's look of inquiry,
nodding her head to emphasise her assertion.

"In general," she proceeded, at the same time dangling her spectacles
from her right hand and swinging her shoulders from side to side in a
leisurely way, which contrasted strangely with her rapid enunciation, "I
don't say 'em so early, but I've had a passel from me son in Lunnon."

Here the speaker paused to judge the effect of this weighty
communication; and as her hearers appeared suitably impressed by it, she
continued, "I never let nothin' interfere wi' me thanksgivin' prayer.
summat 'ud sure to go wrong if I did. But sit ye down, please."

And, having offered the only chairs she possessed, the old lady stood
with hands clasped meekly before her.

That's very good and proper of you, Ann," remarked Jack, as he insisted
upon her occupying one of the chairs. "Very good. Upon my word, it isn't
everybody who says 'thank you,' nowadays."

"Ah, it's not just a mere--so to say--ha'penny thank you as satisfies
me," returned Ann. "I makes a p'int o' sayin' the w'ole prayer ev'ry time
I gets anythin' give me."

"You don't say so, Ann?" And Jack's tones were nothing if not sceptical.
"I don't. profess to know to what length even ordinary gratitude extends;
but you wouldn't do that--I mean, you would never be so extravagantly
grateful as to repeat that thanksgiving prayer, let us say, twice in one
half-hour?" and the scepticism in his tones was more pronounced than
ever. "That would be too much to expect," he concluded, while Mary tried
in vain to catch his eye, and frustrate his evident intention to make fun
of what promised to be a sacred business.

"Not from me, sir," returned the little creature, nodding her head
vigorously at her questioner, who seemed to exercise some fascination for
her, her bird like eyes following his every movement; while Mary's
presence was quite ignored. "You astonish me, Ann. I should hardly have
thought there had been so much gratitude in the country. For my own
part," he continued, from his standpoint in front of a large fire, "I'm
not in favour of the exhibition of gratitude on anything like such a
large scale. When gratitude becomes colossal, it becomes depressing.
Indeed, and I think you will agreed with me, Ann, to my mind, abnormal
gratitude exercises a deteriorating influence on the individual fibre, so
to say, a weakening, enervating effect on the moral--er--well--er--you
understand what I mean. Ahem! Ahem.!"

And Jack was compelled to simulate a violent fit of coughing, for the
small creature's eyes were fastened on him, and for some moments he had
suffered agonies in his endeavour to control his facial muscles.

But the bird-like eyes gave him no chance either of concealment or
escape, and now watched with unabated interest the visible tokens of
chest-derangement on exhibition. After another prolonged ahem, Jack
remarked, with every appearance of relief, "That's better, the dust gets
into one's throat so. Now to return to what we were saying about
gratitude, Ann" (for the hungry eyes were still fastened on him). "Did I
understand you to say that you would actually repeat your thanksgiving
prayer twice in one half-hour if occasion offered.?"

"In coorse I should, sir. I've never called meself a scholard, sir, but
them two prayers,. 'Our Father which are in 'evven,' and me thanksgivin',
I've said so regler that I've never forgot 'em."

"That's very praiseworthy, Ann, very," observed the young man, delighted
to keep the old lady's expectations on tenter-hooks a little longer. "You
see I've been away from these parts for several years--oh, you wouldn't
remember me, I'm sure--but I shall never cease to remember you, my memory
perhaps being on a par with your gratitude. A moment, Miss Mary," for
Mary here intimated that they must be going. "As I was saying, Ann, any
exhibition of gratitude beyond what you so felicitously style 'a mere
ha'penny thank you' is quite a novelty to me. Yet believe me" (and here
the young man slid the fingers of his right hand to his waistcoat pocket,
an action followed with breathless eagerness by his fascinated listener)
"if you will do me the honour to accept this half-crown I shall think not
one whit less highly of you if your gratitude takes the mere 'ha'penny
form' of expression."

But as soon as Ann's fingers closed over the silver she rose to her feet,
and making a low "bob" vanished into the next room, the door of which (as
her honour was now at stake) she left wide open. Falling on her knees by
the bedside she proceeded in a highly-pitched voice to recite her
"thanksgiving prayer," and well it was for both her hearers that the
speaker's eyes were fast shut. As for Jack, his feelings so overcame him
after listening to the opening words of the invocation, that he was fain
to retreat outside the cottage on tiptoe with handkerchief well-stuffed
into his mouth; and Mary was almost equally affected, so unprepared was
she for the style of expressing gratitude adopted by Ann Vigors.

"Let" (so the prayer [?] commenced).

Let dogs delight to bark and bite,

For God has made them so;

Let bears and lions growl and fight,

For 'tis their nature to Then followed another stanza, which recorded the
questionable statement that "Birds in their little nests agree," but an
unexpected diversion was caused by Miss Mary.

To conceal her emotion the better she had risen from her chair, intending
to stand at the door of the cottage, but not choosing her way in the
gloom, and forgetting to stoop, her bonnet struck against an ill-secured
piece of bacon depending from the ceiling. This came down with an
alarming noise on to the table, from whence it bounded to the floor. In
the confusion that followed, the visitors recovered voice and some
measure of seriousness, but Jack had his laugh out before they were many
yards away.

Then it all at once occurred to him that Martin Davenant had said that he
and Jo. would be returning from Denby by the last train to-night. Why not
go round then by Gladford Rise Station on the mere chance of seeing them?
The possibility was quite sufficient to decide the young man, and
chatting gaily of Ann Vigors he deliberately ignored the turn which led
direct to Heather's Edge cottage.

As for Mary, though she knew the vanished sun had stolen the bright tints
of the heather, and that the bracken had exchanged its day-garb of forest
green for an outfit of funereal blackness, she gave no heed to her ways,
all her thoughts concentrated upon her companion.

Could it, indeed, be true, she was asking herself, as Jack swung along
beside her, his every movement one of unconscious grace, that this young
giant was once the baby child who had lain and wailed in her arms nearly
twenty years ago? Though the boy was still alive, as a hundred little
words and ways abundantly proclaimed, the man had assumed the command,
and was even at this moment (and Mary as she listened to his outpouring
unconsciously trembled) contemplating that change which, more than any
other, cuts off youth from manhood.

The pedestrians were now well on their way to Gladford Rise Station, and
there were no landmarks which might serve to call attention to the change
of route. Twilight had long since fallen, and away on the high land
skirting the moor, an air of desolation reigned that made companionship
pleasant if not desirable. It was, indeed, the very hour and whereabouts
for confidences, and Jack was not slow to recognise this opportunity of
speaking of his love which, like the vast expanse of moor around, seemed
limitless, and in its purity but little removed from the stooping blue
that canopied the friends.

Mary uttered no word as, in tones which proclaimed the intensity of the
speaker's feeling, Jack poured forth the story of his love for Jo., and
his determination to win her.

"Please God we will live out our lives together," he concluded, and the
throb in his voice made Mary wince, for she thought of Martha and the
mischief she was brewing.

"On Sunday," continued Jack speaking now with less tension, "I shall tell
Davenant. Do you think I have any chance, Miss Mary?" and the tones were
eager and humble. "I thought he seemed rather stiff with me the other
night. It might have been my fancy, but he put me off when I told him I
wanted to have a talk with him, and be never did that before. I used to
come and go as I liked in the old days."

"You were a boy then," explained Mary, "now you are a man, and naturally
he would wish to treat you as such."

"I hope he will."

"But, Jack dear," continued Mary, hesitatingly, anxious to give the young
fellow a hint that Mr. Ronaldson might not approve of his choice. She,
how ever, had no opportunity of saying more for, as they turned a bend of
the road, Jack exclaimed with delight, "Pardonne, Miss Mary, but here
come Jo. and Mr. Davenant!"

CHAPTER IX.

Two truths are common to lofty and affectionate natures. One is extreme
susceptibility to other people's opinions, the other is extreme
bitterness when those opinions are unjust.

MARIE BASHKIRTSEFF.

"But where are we?" rejoined Mary, coming at once to a standstill, and
looking about her. "You don't mean to say Jack that you have let me pass
Heather's Edge turn? How could you do so? We shall be another hour
getting home!"

But before she could hear Jack's excuse (if he had one to offer) Jo.,
with a lovely flush on her face, was kissing her, French fashion, on both
cheeks.

"You haven't been to The Gap I hope?" she exclaimed. "That would be too
vexatious, and Jack knew we were to be in Denby all day, he ought to have
told you!"

While Mary and Jo. cast reproachful glances at the young man, he turned
from Davenant and, apparently having heard nothing, the girl was saying,
greeted her with unaffected delight.

"This is a happy chance!" he said, as he raised his cap again. "Miss Mary
and I have been up to see Ann Vigors, and I really find her more amusing
than ever."

"Why, what has she been doing or saying now," asked Jo., with manifest
interest as Jack turned in the direction of The Gap, and the two walked
forward, leaving their elders stationary. "I find our Eliza," she
continued; "quite as much as my risibles will stand. Vraiment, she is
really too fatiguing at times."

But conversation and progress were shortly arrested by the voice of Miss
Mary.

"Come, come, Jack," she cried, "we must get back at once; the field path
just below will be our nearest. I had no idea Mr. Davenant," and she
turned again to the carver, "that we were so far from home. No, no,
dear," for Jo. was again at her friend's side, "it would take us quite
half an hour longer to walk back to the turn. As it is Martha will be
getting anxious. You are coming as usual to the church to-morrow evening?
Oh, I am sorry, dear," she concluded, as the girl looked reproachfully at
her.

"Ca m'est egal," returned the latter, good-naturedly; Jack would know on
Sunday, if not before, about her organ playing.

And the girl, having completely forgotten the remarkable request she had
made to her uncle only two evenings before, had no suspicion that, in the
few words he and Miss Mary had but just now interchanged, the second step
towards establishing Miss Mary at The Gap had been taken. Two days ago,
to her young eyes, life was a small, reposeful picture in which sober
tints abounded, and its highest light the possible conversion of her only
friend to the position of her uncle's wife.

To-day life was a huge kaleidoscope, full of surprising combinations from
which rich colours refracted light and beauty in the most charming
manner, and at wholly unexpected moments. And she, in the unconscious
eagerness with which she watched for some fresh arrangement of hues and
facets, had entirely lost sight of the small, reposeful picture, high
lights and all.

"I shall be coming to the churchyard to-morrow, Miss Mary," chimed in
Jack, anxious to delay the farewells Mary was endeavouring to hasten.
When at length he caught her up (for she would not wait for him) he found
her disinclined for conversation, and respecting her silence, fell to
contemplating anew Jo.'s many and wonderful charms. He was bound to
confess that she did not as yet regard him in the light of a possible
lover. No, there was nothing but the old camaraderie in her manner,
nothing of self-consciousness either in look or speech. But her very
naturalness was adorable! Surely she must know that to look upon her was
to love her! Soon he would make her understand what she was to him. Jack
thought the carver already understood, for he had seemed none too cordial
to-night. But on Sunday Davenant should know of his love for Jo., and his
plans for her happiness.

All at once Jack's brow darkened; Davenant might not care for this
beautiful and accomplished girl to marry one whose birth was surrounded
by mystery. But surely that would be dispelled when once he could have
speech with Mr. Ronaldson. He had already proved one of Miss Martha's
assumptions to have been utterly false, might he not hope that the Jones,
whose right to the title of his father that lady had always flouted, was
in very deed his mother's husband? Yet, if so, why make a mystery of it?
Why, indeed, if he so fondly loved her, as the old verger had said, why
had the banker neglected his sister's child, leaving him for just twenty
years to the chance affection and influence of strangers, strangers for
the most part, too, in a rank of life lower than her own? What would Mr.
Ronaldson reply when these questions were put to him?

Surely, surely it could not be that he had permitted a cloud to rest upon
himself, in order to shield that loved sister's memory from the breath of
scandal? And this Jones, had he been brought forward for the same
purpose--a dead man--one, therefore, who could neither attest nor deny
any statement concerning himself. This mystery promised to be a
many-headed dragon, which a visit to Hurstwick, and an inspection of the
register of St. Mary's, were ineffectual to enfeeble, much less to
destroy. Yet, as he strode forward in the dusk of this August night, Jack
told himself he would never, never, never believe anything but good of
that sweet mother, whom Miss Mary had described so often, and so
graphically, that she was enshrined in his heart as the perfection of
motherhood, the purest and loveliest of all womankind.

And again the old suspicion of, and resentment against, the banker surged
in the young man's heart, and filled it with bitterness. Why had he
postponed explanations? Was he afraid to speak even after twenty years?

On Monday morning though, he had promised an interview, then he should be
brought to book; no subterfuges would avail, Jack would insist upon a
clear Yea or Nay to the searching questions he had already, and most
carefully, drawn up. That long, wavy hair, what was the meaning of it?
Certainly it was not the outward visible sign of grief at his sister's
death, nothing of the sort. But the day of reckoning was at hand. And
to-morrow and Sunday was he not to see Jo.

Mary's thoughts, meanwhile, at first wholly occupied in the pleasant task
of conjecturing what Martin could possibly have to say to her when she
went down as usual to the churchyard to-morrow, were now wholly of Martha
and her probable attitude when she heard of the coming interview. For, of
course, Mary would tell her of it; not to do so would have seemed like
deception, and would at once have lowered the prospective pleasure to an
ignoble level in the eyes of this singularly transparent woman. But in
all probability Martha would know beforehand (for Martha's intuitions
were almost diabolic) that she and Jack had met Martin and Jo. If so,
there was a bad quarter of an hour awaiting Mary, and her sensitive
nature shrank, as a timid child shrinks from a prospective whipping.

Martha, by that wonderful compulsion (which, in some organisations is
nothing less than a sixth sense), had in bygone years so traded upon her
sister's unquestioning affection that the girl's impulses and motives
were as truly visible to her in their workings as were the fingers which
held her knitting, and from time to time produced now a stocking, now a
muffler. Mary was almost middle-aged when she awoke to the distressing
knowledge that the idolised Martha's qualities were not the pure gold she
had assumed them to be, but were largely, very largely, made up of gilded
clay.

When, in some degree, she had learned to fathom her half-sister's
motives, she knew herself powerless to combat them. The confidences, that
in the days of her blind affection she had given so unquestioningly, were
but too often used to wound her, for as Martha grew older she demanded
not merely more, but all the love Mary's nature was capable of producing.

Mary, with her firm belief in providence, had never made the slightest
effort to ingratiate herself with any male being; to do so, Martha had
often told her was both immodest and wicked. If God wished her to marry,
He would bring her face to face with the man she would call husband. But
in her young days she little knew how often Martha had supplanted
Providence, and on more than one occasion had quietly hinted to a
would-be suitor that his attentions would be unwelcome to their object.

"There's eleven!" said Jack, for the sound of eleven strokes from the
deep-toned grandfather's clock thrilled upon the air, and roused him from
his reverie, as he and his companion reached the half way elm, and
hurried forward. On their entry Miss Barnard curtly ordered Jack to go
into the parlour, take his supper, and be off to bed.

Following Mary into the keeping-room, she remarked in her most sarcastic
tones, "A pretty time of night this! But, of course, you've been detained
with dear Jo. and dear Mr. Davenant!"

"I'm very much annoyed to be so late," returned Mary, cheerfully. "I
can't think how we both happened to miss the turn. We were close to the
field-path before I had any idea we were near it. Jo. and Mr. Davenant
had come in by the last train. I suppose you would see them in Denby "

"I saw them, but took good care they shouldn't see me. I don't run out of
shops after them, neither do I say that I'm walking to Gladford Rise when
I intend to go round by the station in the hope that I may meet people I
ought to avoid. I'm thankful to say I have a little self-respect and some
regard for gossipping tongues."

"This is very unkind, sister," returned Mary, who would have been wiser
to have held her tongue (though in Martha's present mood that would have
been all but impossible). "I did not know that Mr. Davenant and Jo. were
to be in Denby to-day, nor that they were returning by the last train
to-night."

"But you can't deny that Jack knew all their movements? When Bridget told
me you had gone to Gladford Rise, I was pretty certain you would come
back by the station in the hope of getting a glimpse of your friend
Martin Davenant, who cares about as much for you as he cares for me, and
that is just that." And the irate woman snapped her fingers noisily.

"Hush, sister," said Mary, with unlooked-for firmness. "We were not five
minutes in their company, and you are welcome to know every word Mr.
Davenant said to me. He merely asked if I would give him half-an-hour
to-morrow when I go down to the churchyard. I fancy he wants to ask my
advice about some trifle ho may wish to buy for Jo."

The two were now seated at the supper-table, and for a long moment after
Mary had made the foregoing statement there was an awful silence
emphasized by a look of annihilation and wrath from Martha.

"Well?" said the latter, at length, as though willing to hear anything of
an extenuating nature before opening the storm vials.

Suddenly realising what her candour would cost, Mary remarked with
assumed calmness, "There is nothing more. I said I should be there, and
if he liked to walk back with me I should be pleased, or ready or willing
(I can't remember exactly which word I used) to hear what he had to say."

"Do you moan to tell me that you have actually arranged to meet a man in
the churchyard?" Martha would have shrieked out the words had she not
feared to arouse the banker, who had been in bed for an hour or more; but
her tones were none the less cruel because they were drawn from the depth
instead of the height of the register.

"How dare you think of making this appointment ?" she continued, anger
and jealousy rapidly gaining complete mastery over her, while a lurid
light beamed from her eyes. "If he thinks he's going to arrange matters
with you about Joanna and Jack, he's very much mistaken. I am the elder.
I am the person to be spoken to; I am the head of this house and you, if
you had the slightest sense of what is due to my position, to say nothing
of your own, would have referred him to me. You have a home, haven't you
A home you have to thank me for! I'm ashamed of you! Where's your
self-respect, I should like to know ? Most women keep a little of that
commodity in stock. Why didn't you say, as any female with a grain of
sense would have said, 'I shall be at home, Mr. Davenant, from two till
five, and my sister will make you very welcome if you will call.' Why
didn't you say so? Answer me!"

"Well, I didn't say so, sister," returned Mary, who with flushed face was
making a miserable pretence to eat, "because it did not occur to me to do
so. It is a long walk from The Gap here, and Mr. Davenant is particularly
busy just now. Why, then, should I trouble him to come all this way, when
I must go as far as the church? Oh dear, oh dear, what a fuss to make
over nothing at all!"

"Ah," ejaculated Martha, and getting up from her chair she snarled like a
vicious dog in her sister's ear, "You know all about him and his
business, do you? But let me tell you you'll have to answer to Mr.
Ronaldson for taking Jack into such company. You were warned to keep
those two apart. Davenant shall be told his duty though, I'll go myself
to-morrow! I'll see him! If he wants advice I'll give it. Oh, he shall
have advice, I promise you, the very best. Keep still!"

For Mary had risen, and though careful to repress all signs of fear, she
was always nervous when Martha had one of these moods, and gladly
remembered that Jack was not far off.

"I'm going to bed sister," she said, with all the calmness she could
muster. If she displayed any heat she felt the consequences might be
serious. Yet it was a hard matter to keep from retaliating.

"You'll wait and hear what I have to say," were the words literally
growled out by Martha. "If you will act foolishly and wickedly you shall
never have it in your power to say I stood by, and never opened my lips
to prevent you. You've met him before at the churchyard ? Oh, it's of no
use to deny it," for Mary had closed her lips firmly. She would not
degrade herself by contradicting. "What a fool I've been to let this sort
of thing go on," continued Martha, in a more natural tone of voice. "I
can understand now why you've been so regular in going each Saturday
almost to the minute. But Mary Barnard, I had not thought you capable of
such deception."

"What I think well to do that I shall do," remarked Mary, as she reached
for her gloves and parasol. Clearly this scene would extend to the small
hours of the morning if she listened any longer to Martha's rhodomontade.

"You'll only be sorry once for the way you are acting," asserted the
elder, her mood at once transformed by Mary's unusual self-assertiveness.
And then true to her practice of endeavouring to show some raison d'être
for her outburst, she continued, with a break in her voice (which in
similar circumstances had always proved her most effective field piece),
"I've been as a mother to you all these years, and while I can shield you
I will. Therefore, I go with you to the churchyard to-morrow."

And seeing Mary was ready to object, she proceeded to furnish reasons.

"There can or should be nothing that Davenant, or any other man, can have
to say to you--a woman of your age--that I should not hear. I know I'm
right, and you won't pass twenty-four hours without saying so.'

Having thus bolstered her pride and jealousy with the phantom idea that
she was merely desirous of doing what was convenable and even kind,
Martha Barnard was her ordinary self again, except for an almost
imperceptible nervous trembling.

"Come, kiss me now and go to bed, as you say. After a night's rest you
will own my advice is the best. As for Davenant, he will respect you much
more for refusing to see him in this clandestine manner. Now, don't
interrupt, and don't get angry. It would be clandestine. Mind you, if he
wanted to marry you I should never offer the least objection," she
concluded, her voice betraying the acidity of her feeling on such a
remote possibility.

Mary, whose sense of delicacy had suffered outrage, whose most cherished
imaginings had been so ruthlessly violated, was tethered during the whole
of the foregoing harangue by Martha's strong grasp of her arm. Her anger
was too fierce for words; inwardly and outwardly she writhed at her
position and welcomed as an angel's call the voice of Jack at the door,
saying "May I come in?"

He had recognised on their entry that Miss Mary would be subjected to a
fierce fire (for he had not forgotten similar scenes in boyhood's days),
and, thinking that he might create a diversion in her favour, he was
prepared to take the whole blame of their late arrival upon himself. But
his excuses were received with scant courtesy, and he was requested to go
to bed at once.

Mary, as soon as her sister's grasp slackened, escaped to her room, where
she fell to weeping uncontrollably, so unstrung and overwrought was she
by the late encounter. Any gratification she had permitted herself to
derive from the prospect of being of some slight service to the carver,
had been roughly dissipated by Martha's terrible words and the way she
insisted upon regarding an act that, to Mary, appeared entirely
straightforward and lacking in all sentiment but that of ordinary esteem.

How was it that Martha would never permit her to feel herself of use ?
Why should she persist in treating her as a child incapable of judgment?
If Mary's advice was ever requested, Martha always managed to forestall
it, or give the idea that Mary knew nothing about the subject it was
required to aid.

"Oh, Martha! Martha!" she cried, with the silent, heaven-opening voice of
her heart. "I have loved you so, why cannot you look through my eyes some
times?"

Martha, who could have made life so beautiful, and who did so when her
own supremacy was preserved and acknowledged, was, when that supremacy
was even lightly invaded, scarcely human. And as Mary reviewed the
ability with which her sister turned circumstance, and dressed up her
unlovely and harassing ways in the garb of principle and virtue, her soul
was heavy with the awe and loathing that filled it.

But why, she asked herself, should she submit to these outbursts? Why not
leave Heather's Edge altogether and let Martha reign there without a
rival? Yet where could she go ? Their friends were few, and they, of
course, chiefly Martha's; relatives they had none. And Mary shrank from
the thought of contact with the strange world outside Friston. Besides,
as she told herself, it was only occasionally that Martha gave way to
jealous passion. In her heart she was sure Martha loved her. But what is
love without sympathy? Just a contradiction of terms, a rainbow without
its colours, the moor with neither heather nor snow.

And Martha, who never went to church more than once in three months
because she found the distance too great, talked of going as far
to-morrow simply to prevent Mary hearing what Davenant expressly wished
her to hear! Ah, well! if Martha would go Mary was determined she would
not.

And, having arrived at this conclusion, the fatigues and excitements of
the day drifted her presently to a condition of partial oblivion.

But the modern woman would have laughed at Mary's distress, and, had she
deemed it of sufficient importance to merit comment, would have proved to
demonstration that Mary was but reaping what she had herself sown. And
Mary, in grieved astonishment, would have shown the grapes and figs she
had planted. Could it indeed be possible that from them had sprung these
thorns and thistles?

"Even so, my dear," would have come the equable reply; "you have loved
'not wisely, but too well.'"

CHAPTER X.

"Why is man endowed with the capacity for a beard?" he asked. "To hide
his mouth, which would else betray his processes of mind and leave him
helpless before an adversary." "But why has a woman no beard?" "Because
with her, dissimulation and command of countenance are
inborn."--SCHOPENHAUER.

WHETHER or no Martha acted upon the advice she had given to Mary to
"sleep" on the question that had aroused so much rancour, it is certain
she had decided long before the breakfast hour next morning not to
accompany her sister to the churchyard. The man would naturally suspect
her of vulgar curiosity or worse, and Martha never wilfully allowed
herself to occupy any position upon which invidious comment could be made
by outsiders.

She was, nevertheless, more than ever determined to frustrate the
proposed interview, and she had, as she told herself, most justifiable
grounds for interference. To have made an appointment with a man was in
itself too reprehensible an act to be even winked at, but that Davenant
and Mary should meet and discuss matters relating to Jack and Joanna
would be nothing less than criminal.

As Martha pondered, suspicion supplied her with an index of the carver's
mind. Her brow darkened. He was arranging (was he ?) that this girl of
his should marry Jack! And Mary would aid and abet, for was she not
"soft" on the carver? They would marry these young people and then each
other! Their plans were as plain to be seen by a woman of sense as were
their noses. But Martha would upset them. The banker should hear of them;
he should be made to interfere; the proposed interview should--nay,
must--be prevented. It would be the ruination of Jack were he to marry
this girl, for whom Martha Barnard nourished a strong dislike, for the
sole reason that Joanna had always manifested a marked preference for the
gentle Mary.

But at the six o'clock breakfast, which Jack took with the sisters, Miss
Barnard was all smiles and betrayed no curiosity as to that young man's
doings or intentions.

"Ah, you spend to-day in Denby," was her sole and caustic comment, when
he casually mentioned he thought of so doing.

But when he had set out, nothing daunted by the warm drizzle, the ideal
"wet blanket," which enwrapped and effaced all animate and inanimate
objects, Martha turned to Mary, who was putting the cups and saucers
together, and in her blandest manner announced the decision she had
arrived at.

"I have thought the matter well over, my dear, and shall not accompany
you. At the same time I trust your good sense will lead you to avoid this
interview, or arrange for it to take place in your own home, and under my
protection. I will spare Stubbs to go over to The Gap this morning with
such a message. A woman, remember, is never called upon to sacrifice her
good name. I am sure you will agree with me there ? "

And accompanying her worth with a confident, encouraging smile, Martha
left the room that both words and smile might the better work her will on
Mary's sensitive nature. By such methods she had again and again
influenced her sister to forego harmless pleasures, or decline overtures
of friendship (for Mary had found no happiness in courses Martha
disapproved), and she fondly hoped they would now be strong enough to
lead her to voluntarily refuse to see Davenant. But they might fail, so
Martha determined to set other wheels in motion, wheels whose movements
could never be traced to the steam from the "pretty kettle of fish" she
lost no time in setting on to boil

The banker breakfasted at eight this morning, and that meal concluded,
Miss Barnard knocked at the parlour door ostensibly to learn her
boarder's plans for the day.

"I sha'n't go out till it clears," said the banker. "But sit down, Miss
Barnard, and tell me about my nephew. He came back all right, of course?"

"He came back certainly, sir; but he's off again this morning, Treats the
house more like an hotel than anything else. He'll be in for his supper,
he tells me. But it's quite time, sir, that you exerted your authority.
I've no wish to complain, but I must have something like proper hours
kept. It was past eleven when he sat down to his supper last night, and I
can't keep Bridget up night and day. When he was a child he dared not
have set my rules at nought; but since he has put on these grand airs,
and imagines himself a man, and you, sir, are in the house, I don't care
to speak."

And the lady having cast her burden upon the banker paused, that he might
critically examine and report upon it. Ronaldson was, indeed, most
favourably disposed to listen to his landlady's statements and even
opinions, for only the previous evening Lord Clanfalkland had spoken in
the highest terms of her intelligence and perspicacity.

"The Misses Barnard," he had said, "belong to a family as ancient as our
own, and that particular farm has been held by a Barnard for the past
five hundred years. When the last male Barnard died he left a heritage of
debts and empty coffers. His widow (a second wife, and a woman of
education and refinement) only survived her husband twelve months,
leaving the little Mary, a child of two, to the guardianship of Martha
then close on twenty."

"And did you allow her to retain the farm, a girl of that age, and with
no experience?" questioned Ronaldson.

"My father did," replied the host. "He said he could not resist her
pleadings; moreover, she was something of a beauty, and my father had
always a weakness for the fair sex. So, spite of his agent's advice, he
permitted her to remain at Heather's Edge, and from that day to this she
has never been an hour late with the rent, and, what is more, before she
was thirty had paid off all her father's debts Ah, you wonder how," for
the banker looked the surprise he did not audibly disclose.

"Well, that I can hardly tell you. I do know though, that she was up
every morning at daybreak, and saw for herself that the farm hands were
at their appointed tasks; and what is more, she came to be regarded by
them, I've heard my father say, as a sort of 'God A'mighty,' for whatever
she undertook was carried through, spite of let or hindrance. What with a
rigid system of retrenchment and a readiness to apprehend where a penny
might be turned, she had no difficulty in meeting all expenses, and
giving her sister, her half-sister, I should say, an uncommonly good
education, as education went then."

"A model wife lost, I should think," remarked a guest who had carefully
followed his lordship's narration; "one of those rara aves, an
unappropriated blessing."

"Perhaps; I shouldn't like, though, to dogmatise on that point," returned
the nobleman, dubiously; "when a woman shows such abnormal ruling power
she is surely better without such an encumbrance as a mere husband; while
he--"

"Ah! poor beggar," and with a light laugh Miss Barnard had been dismissed
from the conversation. But that brief biography was not without influence
this morning.

"I'm sorry if he has upset your domestic arrangements," was Ronaldson's
first response to his landlady's indictment of Jack. "I thought he
returned early yesterday afternoon."

"So I heard, sir, but it seems he went off out with my sister directly he
had had tea. I was in Denby, and--well------"

"Did you come upon him there! "asked the banker, for the lady's pause was
significant.

"No, I saw nothing of him, sir, but the Davenants were in town, and your
nephew met them last night on their return."

As her listener's look of astonishment was blended with annoyance Miss
Martha proceeded with deprecation in tone and manner. "It's not my
business, and certainly not my pleasure, sir, to find fault with the
child I brought up from his birth to his fourteenth year, but after what
you were good enough to tell me the other night, I should not be doing my
duty if I kept you in ignorance of doings you ought to be aware of. You
wouldn't like, I know, to see his mother's fortune, let alone your own,
thrown away on this or any girl he may take it into his head to propose
to."

"Goodness no!" ejaculated Ronaldson, coming to a full stop in his pacing
of the room, and fixing his gaze on his companion. "But there's surely no
fear of anything of that sort yet awhile, Miss Barnard? He hasn't been in
the place a week! He can scarcely have come to an understanding with this
girl you say he met last night ?

"I know no more than you do about that, sir," replied Martha, slightly
ruffled; "but it doesn't want an Elijah the Tishbite to foretell what
will happen when a girl sets herself to entrap a young fellow."

"Is she that sort of creature? "inquired Ronaldson, conciliatingly. "What
is her name, do you say?"

"Her name?" echoed Martha, snappily. "I can't tell you her name, simply
because I don't know it. Davenant calls her niece, and she calls him
'Dads,' that's all I know; except that when she is spoken of it is as Jo.
Davenant."

"Jo. ?" echoed Ronaldson, and tone and manner disclosed strong
disapproval of that nomenclature. It certainly sounded "fast"; he had
been prepared for a "Susan" or "Jane." "So you think her a bad lot, Miss
Barnard?"

"I did not say so, sir. My rule is never to discuss my neighbours, nor
inquire into their pedigrees; but when a young man's future is at stake,
it would be nothing less than a piece of gross wickedness if I didn't
warn his guardian of what will certainly injure it."

"Quite so; quite so, Miss Barnard; and I'm truly obliged to you. Then you
think--?"

"Well, if you ask.. me what I think--for when I say 'I think,' I'm on
level ground and can't stumble-- then I think, sir, that this Jo.
couldn't be better described than as a lady's maid spoilt. That's my
plain and unvarnished opinion, for, as I told you the other night, she
has a trick of dressing herself, and really, if you didn't know just who
she was, you might at first sight be deceived into thinking she was
somebody else. And what's a young fellow to do in such a case

Although Ronaldron seemed to appreciate the difficulties of such a
position as Miss Barnard depicted, he could not bring himself to believe
that in the three or four days Jack had been in the place anything of a
serious nature could have happened.

"You know what I mean, sir," continued Martha in explanatory tones; "that
sort of thing tells so with an impressionable young man."

"Then what do you advise?" was the banker's next question.

Martha regarded her questioner with blank amazement, while her lips
unconsciously pursed themselves in contemptuous curves.

"I mean," stammered Ronaldsou, "you would take him right away, I
suppose?"

"I should break off the connection at once, whether he remained or not."

"But I've really no influence with him, you see," replied the other,
seating himself at the same time at the opposite side of the table. "I've
never identified myself at all with Master Jack's troubles or pleasures,
and I don't relish the thought of being harsh with him now." "Why should
you not tell him of your plans, sir, at once? He's going to lunch at The
Gap to-morrow. If he knows what you are prepared to do for him he won't
oppose your wishes. Young men, and, for the matter of that, old ones,
too, won't let a girl stand between themselves and fortune."

"It would, perhaps, have been wiser had I gone at once into things with
my nephew," remarked Ronaldson, with something like dejection in tones
and manner; "but I thought by postponing explanations until next week we
might meantime become friends, and then the explanations would have been
easier to make and to accept. I might, of course, speak to him now, as
you suggest, but, as you see, he avoids me, will have none of me. If he
gives me the chance I certainly will speak to him; but you tell me he is
to be in Denby to-day."

"I said, sir," corrected Miss Barnard, "that he told us he was going
direct to Denby at seven this morning--where he spends the day, though,
is quite another matter. As like as not he'll drift to The Gap before
tea-time. You forget they were children together and schoolmates."

"Then this girl is not without education?" ques tioned Ronaldson, with
hopeful intonation.

"What she knows or what she doesn't know I'm not in a position to say,"
returned Martha, drily. "She's had no schooling except what she got in
the village. But it's her position I think of, sir. Why, the girl visits
nowhere; the Grange folks wouldn't think of asking her when they're here
for the shooting. Indeed, sir, she would be just the wife, I should say,
for Lord Clanfalkland's valet."

With a gesture of disgust the banker exclaimed, "The idea is intolerable;
such a marriage would be a catastrophe, and must at all costs be
prevented. As you have warned me, Miss Barnard, I am sure you won't
refuse to help me. There's not the ghost of a chance of my seeing him
to-day, for I dine at the Grange and stay the night there. You are
certain to have the opportunity of speaking to him before he goes to
these people to-morrow, and I shall be infinitely obliged to you if you
will tell him from me what I am prepared to do for him. My conditions are
not hard. I propose to settle a thousand a year upon him till he marries
or I die. In the former case I shall probably make it five, in the
latter, he will have all my wealth. All I require in his turn is his
acceptance of the position of my legal son, and his promise to choose a
wife from my rank of life. Money I do not stipulate for, but I shall
expect birth and refinement. Now, will you make these matters clear to
him ?

Miss Barnard with difficulty concealed her delight at the offer of a
commission so truly after her own heart. One wheel was working admirably,
she now put on all steam to make the other revolve.

"Naturally, sir, you have the right to make conditions when you are ready
to do so much for the young man," she remarked, in even tones; "but did I
not understand you to say the other night that he will come into his
mother's money next year? If so he may yet snap his fingers at you and
take the girl."

"That is true," returned the banker, gravely; "but then he knows nothing,
and need know nothing about that money just now."

"Well, sir, if you really desire the intimacy between Jack and Jo.
Davenant broken off, there's a more likely way of doing it, I take it,
than by putting your offer before him."

And Ronaldson listened with relief to the alternative policy the lady
proceeded to propound.

"Were I in your place I should call and see Davenant himself, and tell
him in a way something of your intentions for young Jack. Davenant's a
dreamy sort of fellow, but he can take a hint, and, if I know anything of
him, he has too much pride, I'm certain, to permit the friendship to
continue. As likely as not he'll forbid Master Jack the house, in which
case you will have accomplished your desire without exposing your little
finger."

"That's not a bad idea, Miss Barnard," returned the banker, sincere
admiration in his voice. Lord Cla falkland had not over-estimated the
lady's perspicacity. "As you are perhaps aware, I have had some
correspondence with this carver (he was recommended to me by a friend in
the north who heard of him through the London firm who takes all the work
he can send them), so I shall be able to call on him without exciting
comment. In fact, he is expecting me, and I couldn't do better than go
to-day. It will clear soon, I should hope, and if so I'll call upon him
on my way to the Grange."

"It will clear about two o'clock, I think, if not before, and if you
really wish to see Davenant to-day, sir, I'll send Stubbs along to The
Gap to tell him to expect you, or as like as not you will miss him. What
time shall I say you will be there, sir?

"It is very kind of you to arrange this for me, Miss Barnard," said
Ronaldson, gratefully. "I have some letters I want to write, then I must
call in the village for one I'm expecting, and I want to be at the Grange
a little before six."

"Shall I say between four and half-past five you will hope to find him
in?" questioned Martha, with an almost imperceptible shade of anxiety in
her tones.

"That will do nicely, thanks; it will be a capital thing if this foolish
affair can be nipped in the bud and by other hands than mine. I only wish
I had taken the boy from the first, then there would have been none of
this trouble."

"Yes," returned Martha, an adept in "touching the spot," "that's what you
should have done, sir; things would have been comfortable then all
round."

"Yet how could I come here, Miss Barnard, unless I could tell you who the
boy's father was? Was it possible (I put it to you) for me to have the
child brought to Hurstwick, to his mother's native town, until I was in a
position to give inquirers facts concerning the man she had married?"

Miss Martha made no other reply to these earnest questionings than that
she endeavoured to convey by a stiff inclination of the head. She still
believed that the banker held the key to the mystery surround ing the
boy's birth, and she was not prepared to swallow any concoction made for
the purging of a guilty conscience, or condone a silence, in itself
criminal. Mr. Ronaldson, so she reasoned, had not paid her money year
after year for nothing. That yearly payment was without a doubt the price
for her silence, and silent she had been as regarded Jack, for never a
word of any kind had she written to him since his departure from
Heather's Edge. Silent she would remain, and on the eve of Jack's return
she had been able to supply Mary with a truly praiseworthy reason for her
change of front.

"Now that the banker is going to do the right thing by the lad it will
-be best to let bygones be bygones," she had said. But it was quite
another matter to allow Mr. Ronaldson to suppose that she was herself
deceived by his professions of ignorance.

When, however, he laid, bit by bit, the whole story of his search for the
missing husband before her, she was compelled, spite of her prejudices,
to admit that this was no romance of his own weaving, but a history both
true and strange. No one could simulate such emotion as the banker with
such manifest difficulty held in check, and, as she followed the
speaker's experiences in Ireland, New York, and New Zealand Martha could
not refrain from ejaculating from time to time, "Well, I never!" "Humph!
"and "Ay, me!"

"Believe me or not, as you choose, Miss Barnard, but I declare to you
before God that from the hour I saw her lying dead in this house to the
present moment, I have never obtained the slightest clue to the
unravelling of this mystery. I know no more than the dead whom she
married. That she did marry "--and here Ronaldson spoke more calmly--" I
am convinced, and so, I am sure, were you. Unfortunately, you did not
choose to believe my statement--"

Here Martha would have defended herself, but with a wave of the hand the
speaker proceeded.

"Your attitude I forgave, for I recognised it as one of true, though
mistaken, loyalty to my sister, and naturally I hoped to be able to prove
your assumptions to be, what they were in every particular, false. But
Fate willed otherwise. Then Mr. Brotherton complicated matters, for,
acting upon the contents of a letter I had written him in Ireland the
night before I was made acquainted with the fact of Mr. Jones's death, he
caused a notice of my sister's death to appear in the Hurstwick paper
under the name of Jones. Of course, when I heard that that gentleman died
a month before my sister arrived in England I could not bring myself to
believe, and I do not even now believe, that he was her husband."

"I should think not, indeed," interposed Miss Martha, "and nobody as ever
had the privilege of speech with Master Jack's mother would give that
notion a second thought. The man who married her must have died directly
after her death, or he would have turned up long ago. Unless, indeed,
he'd anything to hide, and then he's best left to bide quiet. Jones,
indeed! No, sir, that tub of a tale won't hold a drop of. water, and if
you tell it to Master Jack he'll pretty soon throw it back in your face.
Would she now have told me her husband was on his way home from New
Zealand if she had but just buried him l

"But for Jack's sake, we can't drop this Jones; you must own that we
can't ? " and there was some thing pathetic in the man's evident
helplessness.

"You'll excuse me, sir, if I refuse point-blank to assist in patching up
a name for the public," exclaimed Martha, tones and manner severe. "You
ought never to have taken up this Jones. And why didn't you come and tell
me all these things twenty years ago? Then neither I nor Master Jack
would have had any queer notions about you. If a mystery comes that you
can't unravel, why on earth should you fence it round with lies? For a
lie it is, that 'Jones' on the dear creature's gravestone. Better believe
at once as the times of our Blessed Lord and the Virgin Mary have come
again, than marry your sister in her grave to a man who was dead in his
own weeks before. Come, sir," continued the speaker, as she noted her
listener's evident dejection, "leave things as they be; do no more,
meddle no more with this mystery, or you may come face to face with what
will fright you. Take that name off the gravestone. Tell Master Jack what
you've told me, or give me leave to tell him. He'll see the wisdom of
accepting your offer now, and you'll have him at Hurstwick with you
before Christmas. What call to tell folks there he is your sister's son?
Can't you adopt a child if you like, and if folk choose to sneer, I
suppose you can bear it, sir? You'll have been sneered at already I
should think, as much or more than any man living!"

However bracing Martha Barnard's advice might be, her way of
administering it was at times almost brutal. Yet, though Ronaldson
winced, he was bound to confess she had right on her side. The
inscription on the gravestone was a lie, and to advise Jack that his
father's name was Jones would be lie number two. Of course, he could
adopt Jack (if Jack would be adopted) without making any reference to
Eleanor or her husband. Miss Barnard, it was clear, adjudged him a fool
and something worse, yet how was it possible now to put things back as
they were twenty years ago? He could not remove the gravestone, though he
might adopt Jack. But if the young man saw that inscription and learned
that it was placed there merely to whitewash his mother's name (so to
say), doubtless there would be trouble Why, ah why, had not he,
Ronaldson, taken the child from babyhood and so shielded him from the
shock of this scandal? All would now have been forgotten, and he would
have had comfort and joy in his declining years. But the voice of Miss
Barnard aroused him from his painful reverie.

"I shall tell Master Jack everything," she was saying in hopeful tones,
"and you'll find he'll come round right enough. Indeed, he may think
himself lucky to have you ready to do such a good part by him. I can
certainly speak better for you, sir, than you could for yourself, so
don't be downhearted. Dear me! there's twelve o'clock. I'd no idea it was
so late. I'll send Stubbs off to Davenant at once."

"Ah, do, please, and for God's sake, Miss Barnard, don't let Jack drift
into this entanglement, or I shall feel my burden beyond my powers of
endurance."

"Now, don't you worry, sir; the longest lane must have a turning. When I
get him quietly alone to night, he won't stand out against your kindness.
Bless you, sir, he'll be offering you his hand when you come back
to-morrow."

And Martha, with these encouraging words, left the banker. Born lover of
power that she was, she felt several inches taller as she wended her way
to the cowhouse, for the information she had just received gave her more
pleasure than a gift of gold or jewels. Never did any being more
thoroughly realise the truth of the dictum, "Knowledge is power," than
did this woman who, in the sparsely-peopled world in which she lived,
aimed at a sovereignty over her fellows as intimate and far-reaching as
that of any Eastern potentate. But her crowning joy at this moment lay in
the certainty that she had frustrated the meeting of Mary and Davenant.
For if the latter remained at home, as he was bound, to see Mr.
Ronaldson, it would be impossible for him to reach the churchyard until
long after Mary had left it.

"But I'm only doing the right thing," she remarked, sotto voce. "The idea
of his wishing to consult Mary, and asking for an interview out of doors!
Tut, tut! If he wants advice the least he can do is to call here for it."

When at her usual hour Mary set out with a basket of jessamine and white
lilies for the churchyard, Martha remarked with feigned or real regret,
"Ah, my dear, I had hoped better things of you. It would have been so
easy to have gone an hour earlier or later. But I'll say no more."

She could not, however, repress a smile when again seated in the
keeping-room she bent over her work. Mary might wait ten, fifteen, even
thirty minutes, but Davenant would not come to her, for it would be
necessary for him to leave The Gap at four o'clock if he intended to meet
her.

Other forces, though, besides those Miss Barnard could muster were at
work that day, and proved the stronger. On reaching Friston Boughton that
after noon the banker found a telegram announcing the death of the Earl
of Towermains. As Ronaldson had several claims on the late Earl's estate,
his presence at Hurstwick was imperative. So he despatched a note to the
Grange explaining his change of plan to his lordship, and then, finding
he had a spare hour before his train left the junction, he hired a cob
from "The Hand and Foot " and rode on to The Gap.

True, indeed, is it that "the best-laid schemes o' mice and men gang aft
agleg," for it wanted five minutes to four when the banker and carver
parted. As for the latter, he lost no time in keeping his appointment
with Mary in Friston Boughton churchyard, for he had now more matter than
ever to discuss with her.

CHAPTER XI.

A woman's love is essentially lonely and spiritual in its nature.

It is the heathenism of the heart.--L. E. LANDON.

IT cost Mary far more than Martha's intuitions, powerful though they
were, could appraise, to brave her sister's warnings and meet Davenant.
Yet why, she argued, should she refuse to do an ordinary act of kindness
because Martha chose to characterise it as wrong? Supposing a woman had
said she would like to ask her a question when she went through the
churchyard, would Martha have found just the same fault ?

Was it really wicked of her to love this man? Could it even be unwomanly
if he and everybody were in ignorance of her affection? Why should it be
a crime to love a being who wore a coat and trousers, when a creature in
petticoats might be loved to infatuation and no comment evoked? Had not
God made both? Surely she might love this man as long as her love never
disclosed itself!

Yet it seemed as though Martha, with her almost diabolic powers of
intuition, had discovered her secret. What then? Then Mary owned to
herself that in sheer self-defence she must strike out, and not merely
parry Martha's blows. She would, she was sure, always regard Martin with
affection; she should never, she was equally sure, love any other man,
but in order that her love might remain inviolate she would, so she
determined, repudiate it so thoroughly that even Martha herself would be
deceived.

After all, it was mere jealousy on Martha's part, and to regard a simple
matter like this as if it were one of life and death was as foolish as it
was unkind. Naturally Mary asked herself why she, whose advice had been
requested, should withhold it and allow Martha the opportunity of
tendering hers. For, as Mary knew well, if she were to follow Martha's
dictum and not only avoid the meeting with Davenant but ask him instead
to call at the cottage, she would have no opportunity of speech with him.
Martha would be present and, as usual, monopolise the visitor and the
object of his visit, so Davenant's desire to obtain Mary's advice would
be defeated.

Martha might say what she liked about this meeting. It was ridiculous to
make such a fuss over exchanging a few words with a man who happened to
pass through the churchyard when she made her weekly visit there. Of
course, if Davenant cared to return to Heather's Edge with her she would
offer no objection.

Yet the flutter at her heart as she neared the churchyard proclaimed to
its owner in unmistakable language that the coming meeting was no
ordinary, everyday affair.

Scarcely raising her eyes as she passed through the lych gate (though she
heard the strains of the organ), she was well aware, long before she
reached the grave, that Davenant was beside it. If only Martha had not
tormented her so!

But controlling herself, as was her habit, she hid away every sign of
self-consciousness under the cover of well-adjusted unconcern, and
extending her dis engaged hand, remarked in even tones on the loveliness
of the air after the morning's rain.

"Have you seen Jack? "was her next observation, as she knelt to remove
the withered flowers.

"I thought he said last night that he would come down with you."

"I had an idea that he would meet us here," said Mary, her shapely, deft
fingers busy arranging the flower-stalks so that flowers and leaves only
were visible in a design which called forth Davenant's silent admiration.

"Has Jo. been down long?" she asked, for she felt nervous as she realised
that Martin was watching her.

"Yes," replied the carver, "she came off early this afternoon; she wanted
extra time for practice she told Marthe. I had a visitor, so she didn't
come in to say Au revoir as usual. Your Mr. Ronaldson called to see me."

And Davenant made a significant pause.

"Ah!" returned Mary, "was he pleased with the panels? I wonder where Jack
can be," she continued, anxiety in her tones. Why did not Davenant say
what he wanted to and go? "He went to Denby this morning. He is upset
about several matters, and I know he wants to have a talk with you before
he goes over them with Mr. Ronaldson. I wonder where he can be," she
repeated, as, her work finished, she rose from her kneeling posture and
looked anxiously up and down the pathway.

"Jack will be all right, Miss Mary. May I tell you what Mr. Ronaldson has
been saying to me about him?"

And the carver by look and gesture invited his companion to accompany him
across the graves to a track which passed behind and above the vicarage,
and where there were no cottages with idle women standing to gossip at
the doors. All Mary's self consciousness vanished in her desire to learn
what the banker had made known to Davenant, and in answer to her
questioning look the latter said:

"He tells me he has made every arrangement to adopt him--make him by law
his son and heir; that Jack will join him at Hurstwick before long, very
soon indeed; that he will have a large fortune at the banker's death, and
that he intends, if he is a good chap and follows out his wishes to
settle, I think he said a thousand a year on him when he comes of age."

As the carver concluded, he, in his turn, looked inquiringly at his
companion.

"Yes," she said, "I understand." And, as in a flash, her sister's
unusually long colloquy with the banker that morning served to make her
apprehension of the position clearer.

"You understand?" and Davenant nodded. "I thought you would. I did not
let him think I did. I took it all as just a matter of course, and that
it was of no particular interest to me. 'I am glad,' I said, 'to know he
is so well provided for; he is a worthy young man,' and I dismissed the
subject. But I saw through his talk, especially when he said he hoped
Jack would not be foolish, and trusted he had got into no entanglements
in Switzerland. And it was for this same matter I wanted your advice,
Miss Mary, if you will be so good as to give it. You understand?" And
when he brought his gaze to bear directly upon his companion she
involuntarily felt the beauty and the power of the eyes so brown, so
clear.

"It is about Jo. you are troubling," she said, her

19 [sic]

self-consciousness returning under the fire of that look. "Do you, then,
think she cares for him?"

"Ah, that I could not say; the thing with me is to prevent her doing so.
He--I think, I do think that he loves her--and she must not have her life
spoiled."

The two had been climbing a woodland path above the road for the past ten
minutes, and when they emerged upon a small meadow which seemed to cut
them off from all connection with any existence but their own, Mary felt
a great shock at her heart. This was what Martha might with truth
describe as a clandestine meeting, for the meadow was forlornly empty,
neither goat nor cattle browsing there, and no view obtainable therefrom.

Though she knew it was a short cut to the Ridge, she instinctively
quickened her steps towards the wood at its other side which, in
comparison, was crowded with life. But her companion was still speaking
of Jo.

"Oh, Jo. must not suffer," she exclaimed, scarcely knowing what she said,
her great aim being to reach the other side of the meadow and enter the
coppice which fringed it. There the trees would be friendly
personalities, and their feathered tenants help to restore her
fast-vanishing self-confidence. Martha had been right, she was now saying
to herself, as she listened to the murmur of Davenant's voice; she ought
to have declined this meeting.

Then, as they passed through the gate into the coppice, she regained some
measure of self-control, though at first she scarcely knew what she was
saying.

"Jack loves Jo., Mr. Davenant, he told me so yesterday; and it is his
intention to marry her if she, too, cares for him, and you offer no
objection. Indeed, I don't think he would trouble about any one's
objections if Jo. would listen to him," continued Mary, feeling more at
her ease now she was talking again.

"Is it so serious as that, Miss Mary? " and the carver's tones were
grave. "What can I do, then? I must forbid him to come to The Gap. Hélas!
Hélas! What will Jo. say if I have to do this? It is not that I do not
like the young man, but I cannot have Jo. looked down upon by his people.
And besides, I will not have it said that I encourage a chap who is to
have much money to marry my niece. Why, Miss Mary, they might even say
that Jo. used some arts to entrap him--voyez vous?"

That Davenant was excited was evident by his employment of idiomatic
French literally translated. He looked so distressed, too, that his
companion's self-consciousness fled away and her natural kindliness on
the instant manifested itself.

"We must think," she said, "what will be best to do; indeed, I have been
thinking ever since Jack told me how he felt towards Jo. It is scarcely
likely that Jo. has given any thought to marriage yet, or even--" Mary
hesitated, and the carver came to her relief with

"No, no, no! I feel sure she thinks yet nothing about such things."

"Well, then, we need not consider her so much just now. You know, Mr.
Davenant," continued Mary, tentatively, "I can't rid myself of the
feeling that it is Jack's duty to follow out Mr. Ronaldson's wishes, at
least until he is twenty-one, and I dare not take the responsibility upon
myself of advising him to refuse this generous offer."

"I am with you there, Miss Mary!" returned the carver, warmly. "
Vraiment, the offer is magnifique! A thousand pounds each year! For Jo.'s
dot I can only give one hundred fifty pounds, though when I am dead she
will have more. No, no; he must not forego this wealth! And we must, you
think, use every 'argument to urge him to accept? Eh?"

"I don't know about that," returned Mary Barnard, dreamily; indeed,
unconscious for the moment to whom she was speaking. "Money is little,
oh, so little, so poor and despicable in comparison with real love."

"C'est vrai," and Davenant's tones as well as words strongly endorsed his
companion's observation; "but, you see, Miss Mary, this may be for young
Jack--this feeling he told you of--only a passing fancy, and it may be,
when he finds himself with other young ladies, that he will no more
remember Jo. I have heard that it is sometimes like that with young men."

"Perhaps with some, but I think not with Jack," was Mary's response. And
she shook her head as she remembered the voice, hoarse and tense with
emotion, saying, "I love Jo., and please God, we will live out our lives
together."

"Still, it would not be well either for him or Jo.," she continued, "that
an intimacy should be encouraged now. He has yet to hear Mr. Ronaldson's
offer, and when that is before him he will be compelled either to accept
or reject it. Should he reject it, I am sure he will do so solely or
chiefly on Jo.'s account, because he feels convinced that she would not
be received by the banker on terms of equality with himself. He will not
have Jo. looked down upon, I am certain."

"He is a good fellow, Miss Mary," said the little Frenchman, in whose
eyes a suspicious looking moisture was gathering, "but he must not be
permitted to injure his prospects for what may prove only a passing
fancy. When he speaks to me to-morrow I shall use my strongest
persuasions to make him accept this offer."

"Ah, I could not do that," remarked Mary. "I could not urge him either
way. But if he persists in refusing it, what will you do then?"

"Well, then, Miss Mary, I shall forbid him' to come to rlhe Gap at all.
But if he refuse, how will he live ? Oh, he must not dream of refusing!"

"He has some project on hand to earn his own living. He is a good
linguist, and thinks he could easily obtain a tutorship--a travelling
tutorship is what he would prefer."

"He's a good boy, truly a good boy, Miss Mary; but if he will not accept
the banker's offer I shall tell him that I do not wish to see him; that,
indeed, I will not have him at The Gap again. It does not hurt young men
to be tried. If this affection you tell me of be sincere, then, when he
is of age, he will come to me and then I will let Jo. listen--that is, of
course, if he will be able, by working, to keep her. But now I shall give
him no thought that I will receive him even then. No, he must have no
small, small encouragement to forego this magnifique offer. Do you not
agree, Miss Mary, that this is a good plan that I propose? See," and the
speaker used his right hand with much vigour, to emphasize his words--"
see, I say to him when I have listened to what he will tell me to-morrow,
'You go to Hurstwick with Mr. Ronaldson. You won't go? Then you don't
come here. I not have you.' You think that will be right, Miss Mary?"

"Yes, yes, quite right," returned Mary, hurriedly, for she all at once
discovered that they were nearing the end of the coppice and that another
lonely little meadow lay ahead.

"I thank you a thousand times," Davenant proceeded, "for all the good
counsel you have given me, and which it is my intention to act upon. And
now--"

"And now," interrupted Mary, alarmed by she knew not what in the carver's
manner, "I think we have said all that need be said on this matter, and I
will not bring you farther. I feel sure all will go well, and your plan
will be best for both Jack and Jo."

As she concluded she held out her hand in parting salute, and came to an
abrupt stand.

The pause was made beneath a spreading fir, by whose branches the
westering sunlight was broken into a thousand shapes and shades.

"But, Miss Mary," said Davenant, as he took her proffered hand, "I have
not yet said my most important word, the word for which I begged you to
accord me this interview."

And Mary, who thought she had given her hand in farewell, found herself
drawn towards the purple of the tree trunk, and above the sound of
innumerous bells ringing in her ears, saw the carver kneeling at her feet
and heard him ask her to become his wife. The surprise of finding herself
needed (as he assured her) by the man she had so long secretly loved,
together with the agitation and the excitement attending this interview,
so overcame her that she lost consciousness, and would have fallen had
not Davenant, springing to his feet, caught her in his arms.

When two minutes later she opened her eyes, she heard her lover murmuring
"Je t'aime! Mon Dieu, Je t'aime!" and in the look fixed upon her pale
face read more eloquently than any words could render that her love was
desired as well as returned.

For the carver, when his arms were about her in her helplessness,
discovered that the feelings of high esteem with which he had always
regarded her were transmuted under the magic charm of protectiveness into
enduring love. All idea of Mary being of use to himself or to Jo.
vanished then and there and forever in the longing that possessed him to
have her for his very own, to love and to cherish.

He was all tenderness for having startled her, but, if she would listen
to his supplication, she would make him the happiest man on earth. Mary,
trembling with the sweet shock of this unexpected avowal, for sole answer
slipped her arm within his, and raised her eyes for one brief moment to
his face. She dared not yet trust her voice.

And he, overjoyed, led her forward to the empty meadow, the companion one
to that they had passed through a short half-hour ago. Somehow the empty
meadow seemed now of all spots the most desirable, for both had suddenly
realised that each was for the other the only being in existence. Martha,
Jack, Jo. were all forgotten, and Davenant had no thought of surprise at
himself as he spoke of his past, and mapped out a future in which Mary
was to bring him his chief joy.

On and on they walked and talked, forth and back, and back and forth in
the little meadow where no prying sparrow nor whistling blackbird
disturbed the happiness of these newly-made lovers.

Then all at once Mary thought of Jo. and with a sudden pang at her heart
she faltered forth, "But Jo.?"

"Jo. will be a happy girl when she hears of my good fortune, Marie; she
told me only the other day he wished you could live with us always."

"I couldn't come to you, Martin, if it would make Jo. unhappy."

"Oh, my dear love, there is no fear, no fear. She will be full of joy
when I tell her you have done me so much honour. But what will Miss
Martha say? She will not want to spare you, n'est ce pas?"

"Ah, Martha!" and Mary stood stock-still in the meadow from which the
sunlight had long since de parted, her heart heavy, as she thought of her
sister. "She will be very angry, Martin." And the hand on Davenant's arm
trembled.

"Hé bien, but that will not hurt us, Marie," re turned the carver,
lightly; he was much too happy to entertain forebodings of evil. "She
will get over that soon, and as you say in England, 'hard words make no
bones break.' You will see, I will say all things very nice to her and
she will be very pleasant."

Mary shook her head, though she could not help smiling.

"Ah, but you will see," continued Davenant, confidently. "I have just the
right tool that shall turn her from an ugly angle into a pleasant curve.
Let us go now and tell her."

"No, no, Martin," cried Mary, genuinely distressed, "not to-night; I
could not bear to have her angry with you to-night. I must try to prepare
her in some way, but I feel such a coward."

"Now, you leave everything to me, Marie, and do as I propose. Say with my
respectful compliments to Miss Martha that I hope to call to see her
to-morrow afternoon. I will come as soon as I have heard what Master Jack
has to tell me, and if you will be somewhere near the half-way elm at
five o'clock, I will bring Jack and the two of you can walk down to
church together. At the same time I will talk to Miss Martha. All will be
right, Marie, never fear."

"I must go home now, Martin; see the dew is heavy, and she will ask me
what I have been doing and why I am so late. No, do not come any farther,
Martin, I shall just fly along by myself. Ah!" And in another minute Mary
was fleeing from her lover-- the first kiss she had ever received from
man's lips imprinted on her own, her whole being thrilled with the
marvel, the joy of it.

But as to how Jack and Jo. had spent the evening neither of the
middle-aged child-lovers in their great happiness gave even a passing
thought.

CHAPTER XII.

Or I'll be thine, my fair,

Or not my father's. For I cannot be

Mine own, nor anything to any, if

I be not thine. To this I am most constant,

Though destiny say No.

--The Winter's Tale

APART from the promise of joy which the prospect of a quiet outlook upon
the wonderful change in store for her afforded Mary Barnard, she felt
physically too weak to bear anything of a contentious nature after
parting from her lover.

On reaching the half-way elm she moderated her pace, and then an
unutterable longing seized her to weep out her happiness on some kind
breast. To have that joy spurned, covered with opprobrium, treated as
altogether worthless, would, she felt, kill her outright. So,
instinctively, she let the light of it fade from her eyes, permitted her
shoulders to droop and her feet to drag as she entered the cottage, while
all the time her heart was singing the refrain it had never ceased to
repeat since Martin held her in his arms. "Je t'aime, Mon Dieu, je
t'aime!"

What a hypocrite she knew herself to be as she flung herself with a sigh
on to the nearest chair in the keeping-room and well out of the range of
the lamp, close to which Martha was seated knitting.

The latter, taking no notice whatever of this exhibition of fatigue,
calmly raised her head and regarded her sister with a severity the
spectacled eyes did much to accentuate. "I must request you in future to
be at home at the appointed hour for meals," she remarked in her iciest
tones.

"I'm so sorry, Martha, I am late to-night," was Mary's ready response. "I
promise it sha'n't occur again."

"No; and I promise you I'll not have you going to The Gap again. If you
have no respect for yourself, no sense of decency to prevent you going up
there after the man whom I'd taken good care should not meet you in the
churchyard, I have fully determined to take matters into my own hands. If
I have to leave Heather's Edge I'll do it rather than have our good name
dragged in the dirt. I'm ashamed of my own flesh and blood."

"What do you mean, sister?" cried Mary, on the very verge of tears;
Martha's words were so terrible, her look withering in its scorn. "I've
not been near The Gap; I went to the churchyard as usual and came back by
Braxted Coppice, and--and--I've got my feet quite wet," she concluded,
lamely, a sob in her voice.

"Then do you mean to tell me you haven't seen Davenant? " said Martha,
sharply.

But before Mary could make any reply Jack strode in from the garden.
"Davenant?" he echoed. "Davenant went to Axmoor Edge this afternoon after
Mr. Ronaldson left him, and he hadn't come back an hour ago." Miss
Barnard greeted this information with a sceptical smile.

"You can please yourself about believing me," continued the man. "I have
walked straight here from The Gap, and in my hearing the young servant
told Jo. that her master had an appointment with someone at Axmoor and
might not be back till late."

Martha's face fell. All the evening she had been nursing a righteous
anger, so she styled it, against Mary's shamelessness, and to have it
proved by independent authority that her accusations were as baseless as
they were base galled her very soul. The knowledge that her plans had
worked out so well and that the proposed interview between Mary and
Davenant had not taken place, did not at first bring her sufficient
satisfaction to outweigh this latest annoyance. Mary had, of course, been
to see Jane Badger, who lived on the north side of Braxted Coppice; she
did so now and again after her weekly visit to the churchyard. Davenant,
it was quite clear, could not have been with her, for he could not have
got to the churchyard before she left it. That explained why he had gone
to Axmoor, where he grew his own wood for carving purposes, and from time
to time disposed of surplus or unsuitable material. Martha felt she had
acted like a fool in making so much of what Mary had insisted to be a
trivial matter.

Well, it was a very good thing the two had not met, and before she could
exhibit anything like awkwardness or embarrassment Jack gave her fresh
food for surprise.

"By the bye, Miss Barnard, Mr. Ronaldson left a message for you with Mrs.
Gibbs, of 'The Hand and Foot.' He found a telegram at the post-office
recalling him to Hurstwick, and thither he went this evening. He would
not have gone till to-morrow, though, had there been any trains running
on Sunday."

"Gone back to Hurstwick?" exclaimed Martha, the almost incredible
announcement sweeping away by its gravity and suddenness all the angry
reserve in which she had entrenched herself. "What's he gone back there
for? "

"I believe he went because the Earl of Towermains, the eldest son of the
Marquis of Pierhampton, of the Abbey, Hurstwick, died yesterday. I
suppose the Earl was a client of his. Anyway, he's gone, and Mrs. Gibbs
asked me to tell you that he will write to you early next week."

Then turning to Mary, whose very breath had been taken away by Jack's
unlooked-for, opportune appearance and announcement, the young man said,
in quite another manner, "I must have been in the church when you arrived
with the flowers and so missed you. I had no idea Jo. played the organ,
and by Jove, she plays it beautifully, don't you think so?"

But Mary dared not trust herself to attempt anything like conversation.
Rising, and at the same time pressing Jack's hand, she said, "Excuse me,
sister, I must take these damp shoes off, and if you do not want me I
won't come downstairs again."

"As you please," returned Martha, drily, "there's food in the pantry; you
can help yourself."

Mary wanted no supper, she was only too delighted to be alone. What happy
chance could have occurred to lead the fat Eliza to say her master had
gone to Axmoor? But Mary had not delivered Martin's message, and she felt
like a criminal in having kept silence as to his whereabouts. So before
permitting herself to contemplate her newly-acquired joy, she wrote a
little note and affixed it to the pincushion in Martha's bedroom.

Dear Sister [it ran], I did not go to The Gap. I should never have
dreamed of doing so; but I did see Mr. Davenant, and he wished me to tell
you that ho hopes to call upon you to-morrow after tea.--Your loving
sister, MARY

She could not say lees, and she dared not say more. And now that her
conscience was at ease she fell on her knees beside the bed and poured
out her heart-- she had no words--in silent thanksgiving to the Invisible
Giver for the wondrous joy He, and He alone, she was convinced, had
Himself bestowed. It seemed almost incredible that she was now to have a
kingdom all her own; joys, hopes, fears, confidences which Martha could
neither mar nor meddle with. How true the remark she had read only a few
days ago in a book of Jack's on drawing: "It is where the bird is makes
the bird." What a happy bird would she be safely domiciled in Martin's
heart! And what a nest for her! Then Mary remembered Jo.'s enigmatic
words of the previous week, her "lovely idea." Could she have referred to
such a possibility as in one short hour had become so grand a reality?

While Mary's thoughts, like a player who has unexpectedly become
possessed of a Cremona, were occupied in evolving ever fresh and
delightful harmonies, a fierce and mortal conflict was being waged below
between Miss Martha and Jack.

The latter had spent the greater part of the evening with Jo., an
experience of itself more than sufficient to raise his spirits to their
highest level. But his crowning joy had been the sight--for the first
time-- of the stone at the head of his mother's grave--surely the
stepping-stone to that Paradise he had pictured wherein Joanna would
reign, his queen and wife. Such a public attestation of his mother's
absolute right to the name of Jones as the inscription afforded was in
itself, so Jack reasoned, irrefutable evidence of its truth. And,
accepting it as truth, he found it an easy matter--for Jo. was beside
him--to believe that though his uncle might be eccentric, Miss Barnard
was the mother, as she certainly had been the nurse, of the mystery that
hung over his parentage.

So when, on Mary's departure to bed, that lady informed him she had a
message from the banker for him, he found it difficult to conceal the
contempt he felt. He had already proved one of her statements, or rather
insinuations, to have had no foundation in fact, and he was deeply
annoyed that his uncle had chosen her as his medium of communication.

"Don't look daggers and thunderbolts at me," she remarked, as she
regarded the tall figure now leaning against the high mantel, "and do sit
down, for I've quite a history to give you."

"I prefer to stand, Miss Barnard," returned Jack, drily.

"Oh, very well; please yourself," said Martha, pleasantly.

She was determined, if possible, to keep her temper; if she lost it she
recognised that all her power to influence would go with it.

"First of all, you must be told that Mr. Ronaldson is, without doubt,
your mother's brother, and, therefore, your uncle."

The lady expected some expression of astonishment, some token of interest
to follow this announcement. But it was she who was surprised when her
listener remarked, with a brevity bordering on rudeness,

"The church registers at Hurstwick testify to that fact."

"So that's where you went last Thursday," she exclaimed, at length, and
with an unconscious addition of respect in her voice. "Hum, hum! "she
continued. "Well, it makes my task all the easier, and remember, if I
gave you wrong ideas about his relationship to you, he, not I, is to
blame. He owns that and, moreover, admires my loyalty to your mother in
acting as I did."

"Your message, Miss Martha," said Jack, with tense intonation.

"The message first, if you will, and the history after. Your uncle offers
to settle a thousand a year upon you till you marry or he dies, and will
leave you all his fortune on condition that you become his legal son and
marry from his rank of life."

Martha here deliberately placed her knitting on the table, as though it
were the shadow of the good things to come of which she had spoken, and
then peered through her spectacles at the figure now standing drawn up to
its full height upon the hearthrug. What she saw was not calculated to
inspire her with confidence in her persuasive powers. The hazel eyes of
the handsome young face, flashed with a glitter of steel, and the lips,
crowned with moustache of deepest brown, fell into contemptuous curves
when the banker's conditions were announced.

"Haven't you a word of thanks for such a magnificent offer? Are you
wholly without feeling?" burst from Miss Martha, at length.

"The history, Miss Barnard, and make haste, if you please."

Then, with some preliminary remarks on gratitude, which made Jack think
of Ann Vigors and her "so-to-say ha'penny thank you," Martha commenced
the wonderful story, following closely the order in which she had
received it. As she proceeded her listener's look and bearing gradually
changed, he left the hearth-rug and seated himself at the table opposite
the narrator. As he sat there, grim and alert, now putting a brief,
disconcerting question, now noting a date or name in his pocket-book,
Miss Barnard felt herself in the presence of a Spanish Inquisitor, and
her hopes of inducing him to entertain his uncle's offer rapidly fell to
zero.

"And that is all? " he said, at length.

"So far as I am aware, that is all; a very strange and a very sad story.
But all's well that ends well, and there is no occasion to publish it.
I've always kept a still tongue in my head, and, as you know, I always
forbade you to talk to any one about your mother. No one excepting
Bridget (for her aunt and old Dr. Stocks are dead) knows that you are the
son of the lady who lies buried in our churchyard under the name of
Jones. Mary, of course, knows. It would have been better on all
accounts," continued Miss Martha, judicially, "as I told him this
morning, if your uncle had not had the stone put there, then no one could
have connected you with it, but having 'Ronaldson' upon it has made some
people talk. When they speak to me I always say that you were related to
her very distantly."

Jack, who for some minutes had been pacing up and down the little room,
his brows knit, his eyes almost shut, his mind debating whether it should
or should not accept the remarkable story offered for its consumption,
became suddenly alive to the nature of Miss Barnard's last remark.

"How dared you tell such a lie?" he thundered. "You know as well as I do
that she was and is my mother. Why shouldn't the village know it, and the
whole world, too? Ay, and the world shall know it. When I was a child,"
he continued, pausing before the woman, who, in spite of herself, was a
little scared by his vehemence, "I believed all you told me; but now I am
a man I fling from my mind, as I fling this wasp and crush it beneath my
feet, the suspicions and insinuations you have fed me with from babyhood.
What are the plain facts? My mother marries during her brother's absence,
and because she does not know where to address a letter to him, waits
till his return to inform him of the fact. She travels from America,
where she has been doing an angel's work, to meet and tell her brother of
her marriage. On her way she is belated here; you take her in; she writes
to her brother, asking him to come at once and fetch her away; I am born,
she dies before he can arrive. Then, you and my uncle, trump up a mystery
which has no foundation in fact. She told you her husband was on his way
either to or from New Zealand. What more likely than that he was the
captain of a vessel, or even a passenger, and what more likely than that
the ship went down, and instead of joining each other, as they had fondly
hoped at Hurstwick, their meeting-place is heaven?"

"You talk like a child," interrupted Miss Martha, utterly ignoring the
young fellow's reproaches. "Do you suppose anyone but yourself would
believe such a tale?"

"If I had been my mother's brother the world should have been made to
believe it, for I am as certain that my father was my mother's husband as
I am certain that I stand here, and, God helping me, I will discover who
my father was or die in the attempt!"

"Fine words! Fine words! But fine words butter no parsnips. Your uncle
has done all that any man--"

"Done all? How dares he say so? He never even advertised for particulars
of her marriage, you told me that yourself."

"Of course not; how could he? To have done that would have been to cast a
slur upon her name."

"Cast a slur, do you say? "returned Jack, with all his former fierceness.
"Let me tell you, Miss Martha, I won't have such words spoken in my
presence. To have advertised would have been proof positive to all the
world that she was wife as well as mother. His silence was criminal, for
who should have known her so well as the brother who professed to be
devoted to her?"

"Your uncle never has doubted the fact of your mother's marriage, and he
lived for many years in the hope that your father would discover himself.
We all make mistakes, and if we had our time over again we should very
likely act differently. But there is no going back, and no amount of
fault-finding will alter things. The best you can do is to let bygones be
bygones, and accept Mr. Ronaldson's offer in the spirit in which it is
made."

Jack was again on the hearthrug towering to his full height and, with
bands crossed and clenched behind him, said in low, tense tones, "I'll
break stones on the road before I'll touch a penny of his money! He is a
liar! That gravestone is a black and cruel lie!"

"Yes, but think how strangely he was placed. Mr. Brotherton gave your
mother's name as Jones in the certificate of death, though I begged him
not to do so, and as Jones it was entered in the church register. Your
uncle, under these circumstances (for it is open to anyone to consult
these registers), felt that it would be wise not to drop the name, for
when you are at Hurstwick with him people are sure to ask you about your
father. Come, forget and forgive, lad. Don't stand in your own light; a
thousand a year is not to be despised, and some nice girl down at
Hurstwick will--"

"Silence!" thundered Jack, his brows heavy with brooding anger.

But Martha's patience was exhausted. Springing from her seat she
exclaimed, "Silence yourself! I'll not be told to hold my tongue in my
own house. I'm not deceived, let me tell you, by all this fine talk, and
I've taken good care Mr. Ronaldson sha'n't be deceived. You fancy
yourself in love with that chit at The Gap, and you pit a girl you know
about as much of as I know of Greek, against the generosity of a man
worth five hundred of her! Let me tell you Mr. Ronaldson won't have
anything to do with baggage of that sort, nor give a penny piece of his
money for you to waste on gimcracks for her. If you want her, you may
want the banker's money for ever, for never a glint of it will you get
till you've turned your back on her for good and all. Bah! Go, I say! I
haven't patience even to look at you!"

But this contemptuous adjuration, accompanied as it was by a wave of the
speaker's right hand to the door, left Jack unmoved upon the hearthrug.
When (as he phrased it) the fireworks were over, he added insult to
injury by quietly inquiring, "Did he give you the history of his
back-hair, Miss Martha?"

For reply the lady cast upon him a glance that would have shrivelled the
less robust Mary, and lifting the lamp from the table she marched from
the room, leaving Jack to grope his way to bed in the darkness.

Late though it was, his mind was too alert as yet for sleep. He was
furious that his uncle had permitted himself to doubt for a moment the
honour of his sister, furious that his own birth had not been proclaimed
to the whole world, and particularly furious was Jack that Ronaldson had
erected that lying stone above his mother's grave. For, accepting as
gospel truth the inscription upon it, Jack had told Jo., as they had
stood this evening beside it together, much that now it would be
necessary for him to contradict.

Ah, Jo.!---Jo., with the eyes of heavenly blue, eyes so soft and
luminous, eyes that could dim with tender sympathy, yet dance and flash
in mirthful anger! For her, Mr. Ronaldson, the world itself would be very
well lost.

That anger of Miss Martha's (as anger so often is) had been very
informing, and Jack now had no lingering doubts as to the banker's
feelings towards Jo. Well, peace be with him, his mysteries, his
eccentricities. Let his money go to whomsoever he might choose; as for
Jack, he would have none of it. Mercifully he was not bound to this
blunderer, whose faith in the sister for whom he had professed a love
passing the love of women had proved too rickety for him to venture, on
the strength of it, to advertise for particulars of her marriage! An
advertisement in the New York papers twenty years ago would certainly
have brought the truth to light; now other methods would have to be used.
Such cowardly affection was not worth calling by the name of love. Jack,
with the fine scorn and intolerance of youth, could find no excuses for
it; his passionate devotion to his mother's memory admitted of no shadow
of doubt as to the ultimate result of his quest.

So he found no difficulty in casting off the banker and all his works,
and quietly set himself to form plans which had for their ultimate object
the presenting to Jo., with his undying affection, the offer of his true
surname. For nothing that was false would he ever beg her to accept.

As day dawned he fell asleep, and in dreams he again heard that
compassionate entreaty peal from the organ in response to Jo.'s touch:
"O, rest in the Lord, wait patiently for Him, and He shall give thee thy
heart's desire!"

CHAPTER XIII.

The colour gladdens all your heart;

You call it heaven, dear, but I--

Now hope and I are far apart--

Call it the sky

I know that Nature's tears have wet

The world with sympathy, but you--

Who know not any sorrow yet--

Call it the dew.

--Alethea Gyles, from "The Dome."

AT eight o'clock next morning Jo., a broad-brimmed straw hat upon her
head, was standing at the top of a flight of moss-grown steps in the rear
of The Gap, dispensing corn to a company of pigeons as they strutted in
the paved yard below. Their glossy necks and heads gleamed gloriously in
the August sunshine, and the girl's hair, as her hat slipped back, made a
golden auriole, from beneath which the deep-blue eyes looked out in keen
enjoyment of the scene.

"Do come here, Dads!" she cried, as she caught sight of the carver's form
at the back door. "Just look at Peter! Oh! le petit gourmand! And see how
pouter Jean looks after his little wife! I shall rechristen him Le
Modèle, I think. Non, non! Allez-vous-en! Allez-vous-en! Venez-ici,
venez-ici, ma petite!" she continued, her exhortation addressed with much
severity to greedy Peter, her invitation, couched in tender, encouraging
tones, to a timid, non-assertive bird who was faring rather badly in the
crowd, and for whose special benefit she now flung a good handful of
maize beyond the margin made by the feathered feeders.

"Oh t but you are stupide, stupide! she exclaimed, as the non-assertive
creature failed to take advantage of the special providence; and with a
"Fort bien, 'tis your own fault!" Jo. sprang down the steps and, linking
her arm within Davenant's, drew him towards the moor beyond.

To reach it they passed a curious looking erection composed of twelve
stone pillars, six vis-a-vis, about ten feet high and five feet apart,
upon which a wooden, well-thatched roof was spread, the sides being open.
Under the cover afforded oak, pear, cherry and boxwood for carving
purposes were stored, as well as a quantity of firewood--all neatly
piled. At the distance of a few feet, where the ground shelved down to
the huge gap in the limestone, ran a small stream, in which newly-cut
timber lay soaking to get rid of the sap and so prevent after-shrinkage.
In the grey stone walls which surrounded three sides of the yard and
fenced it off from the moor, the polypodium, the foxglove, the tiny
English geranium and the poppy found a lodgment and waved their beautiful
ensigns in glad response to the gentle salute of the morning breeze.

And the colours on the walls were reproduced over and over again above
the carpet of crimson heather summer had spread over the moor. On to this
rich and gay carpet uncle and niece stepped, steering their course
towards a huge limestone boulder--a favourite perch of Jo.'s. The girl
chattered in high glee, the loveliness of the morning in her eyes and in
her heart a well of joy, the source of which was as yet undetected by
her.

"Oh, Dads!" she cried, "isn't the world a lovely thing and our moor the
most charming spot in it? But you haven't a button-hole! How could I have
forgotten it! Ah! these bachelor's buttons will be just the thing for a
bachelor; and what a splendour of colour they have! I think I never saw
such crimson ones on the moor before; they must have been coquetting with
the heather!"

And with a merry laugh the happy girl fixed the flowers in her uncle's
coat and then stood back to judge of the effect.

"Ça ira!" she sang. Then struck by some undefined but evident difference
in her uncle, she said, approvingly, "But you do look nice this morning,
mon chéri! What have you done to yourself? It can't be the new tie
altogether, nor yet the white waistcoat."

"Et tu, mignonne? Qu' as tu?" echoed Davenant, his usually dreamy eyes
shining with a steady light. "You look quite bewitching, yet it can't be
altogether the new white gown with its sprinkling of forget-me nots ?

"Of course, I look specially nice because to-day is my name-day," Jo.
answered with a delightful assumption of sauciness, "and you have given
me just the very book I wanted. Can you believe it, though, Dads--I
can't; but can you believe that to-day I am nineteen? Now I'm so old I
really must be grave. Fancy, I go out of my teens to-day! Isn't it sad?

And though the girl's voice harmonised with the sentiments she
enunciated, her look and laugh entirely contradicted them.

"There's no reason why you should ever be sad, my child," remarked
Davenant, with conviction; "but tell me, now, what you were doing last
evening."

"Ah, Dads!" and Jo. lifted and shook her f orefinger in reproving
fashion, "you were very naughty. It is you who must tell me what you were
doing. Jack and I had such a chase--goose-chase, Eliza calls it--and a
very good word, too, I think--after you. When we came back from the
church Marthe told us you had gone to Axmoor, so we went far, far along
the fields, but no goose--I mean no Dads--could we see. Oh! I was tired,
fatigued to death, and when we got back still you were not returned, so I
sent Jack away and went to bed. Tired ? Yes, I was tired. I fell asleep
at once and never heard you come in."

"Then you and Jack spent the evening walking about," remarked the carver,
thoughtfully. Had he and Miss Mary been locking the stable door after the
steed had been stolen? "Where did you come upon him?"

The two were now seated on the boulder, Jo. on the round, flat top, and
Davenant on a lower shelf, from which, as he put his last question, he
raised his eyes to the bright face above him.

"Why, Dads," and the carver noted with some uneasiness the flush which
suffused her cheeks as she busied herself with his button-hole, "do you
know, Jack was in the church all the time I was practising, and I hadn't
the least idea of it! I thought, of course, he would be with Miss Mary. I
played 'The Storm' and 'O, rest in the Lord' and the hymn-tunes for to
day, and several of the Leider ohne worte, and when I came down I never
saw him nor any one. Then I went into the churchyard, and while I was
standing by the grave looking at the flowers Mary had left Jack came and
stood beside me."

"Well," said Davenant, "and what then? "for the girl had paused; some
happy memory had evidently checked her utterance, for a sweet look was on
her face, followed quickly by one of eager interest.

"Oh! first I must tell you about the grave and that wicked Miss Martha! I
never did like her, and now I right down hate her for the cruel trick she
played on Jack. Would you believe it, she has pretended to him ever since
he was born that she didn't know who his father was, although she was
expressly told by the gentleman who came to his mother's funeral that her
husband's name was Jones. Actually, all these years she has kept the
truth back from Jack; she never even told him about the gravestone, and
when he saw it for the first time last evening I really thought he would
have cried for joy."

"I can't for the life of me make out what you are talking about,"
observed Davenant. "Do you mean to say that the lady whose grave Miss
Mary looks after was Jack's mother?"

Jo. nodded. "I have known that," she said, "almost ever since the stone
was put there, for I was so surprised to see 'Ronaldson' upon it that I
asked Miss Mary whether the lady was related to Jack. Then she told me,
but said I must never tell any one until Miss Martha gave permission. But
now Jack knows he wants all the world to know, and won't he be angry with
Miss Martha! You should have seen the contempt on his face when he spoke
of her. I never wish to have anything more to do with her; she is as fond
of mischief and mystery as a dog is of the sun. Jack says so, and be
lived with her till he was fourteen."

"Miss Martha is not a very nice person, I grant you, Joanne, yet I should
never have thought she would have gone out of her way to annoy an
innocent child," remarked the carver, gravely. "Besides, his uncle could
have set that matter right at any moment."

"Yes, that's just what he has done by putting this stone up; for, as Jack
truly says, Mr. Ronaldson would not have dared to put a downright lie
upon a grave-stone. He was so happy, Dads, when be saw it, and he says he
will never call himself Ronaldson again. Won't it be strange to have to
say Jack Jones?" and the girl laughed merrily as she fanned herself with
her hat. "All the same, though, Jack doesn't like his uncle, and blames
him as much as he blames Miss Martha," she continued, fully realising the
importance of her position as raconteuse.

Davenant felt vaguely uneasy and keenly annoyed that this queer history
should have been thrust upon Joanna. He had never troubled himself to
inquire into Jack's parentage, and had accepted without question the
statement that Miss Martha tended the grave of the lady who had died at
Heather's Edge so many years ago, because the lady had no near relatives,
had died, in fact, a stranger among strangers. Dreaming over his work, he
had neither time nor inclination to listen to gossip, and had never
connected Jack with the lady whose sudden death was now an almost for
gotten incident in the neighbourhood.

On all accounts, it would be better that the intimacy between the young
people should be broken off; Miss Martha must have had good and
sufficient reasons for her action; she was no fool. It was not worth
while, though, to discuss the subject with Joanna; the best thing he
could do was to prepare her for the coming separation. Rising to his feet
and taking a prolonged stretch, he gazed over the moor in perfunctory
fashion.

"Come, my child, let us walk," he said; "these stones are a little damp
for you. As for this history you have just recounted," he continued, in
matter-of- fact tones, as, his arm in the girl's, he turned in the
direction of home, "it is of no importance to us, and you had better put
it out of your mind at once. Jack will never need to change his name, for
his uncle has decided to make him his legal son, and heir to all his
property."

"But, mon chéri, did I not just now tell you that Jack doesn't like his
uncle ? I'm sure he won't go to live with him, he told me he wouldn't.
Neither would I, if he asked me a hundred times. He's never taken the
trouble, if you can believe it, Dads, even to see Jack until this week,
and now he pretends a great affection for him. 'Come,' he says, 'come to
me; I am hot, fan me; I am dull, cheer me; my back hair is in a tangle,
get it out!' But Jack knows better."

And the girl's pleasantry crowned itself with silvery laughter, while her
lovely eyes danced to its measure.

"This is foolish talk," observed the carver, with something of severity.
"Mr. Ronaldson, as Miss Mary would tell you, has a claim upon Jack. He
placed him at Heather's Edge, and has provided for and educated him. It
is plainly Jack's duty to go to his uncle. Indeed, what else can he do,
he has no money "

"He is going to break stones on the road before he goes to Mr. Ronaldson,
he says. You see, Dads, his mind is quite made up. He wouldn't live with
that chimpanzee fellow for anything, he says, I think he's quite right."

"I know that it is very wrong of Jack to talk so of a man who, however
eccentric he may look, has done a good part by him," said Davenant,
didactically. " Besides, chimpanzees haven't hair hanging down their
backs."

Jo. smiled. "You couldn't call him a lion, Dads; he didn't look a bit
like the king of beasts when I caught sight of him on the cob yesterday."

"Let me tell you, Joanne, that this is no laughing matter. Jack didn't
know, when you saw him yesterday, all that his uncle is prepared to do
for him. But I know for Mr. Ronaldson told me himself. As soon as Jack
comes of age he will settle a thousand a year on him.

"A thousand pounds a year!" echoed Joanne, slowly her gaze riveted upon
her companion. "Why does he offer him so much to be his son? It is like
bribing."

Nothing of the kind, my child. Mr. Ronaldson has no children, but be has
a lot of money, and naturally wishes his sister's son to enjoy it. He
told me yesterday that Jack is his sole remaining relative. He is an
uncommonly lucky fellow, and all who profess friendship for him will
rejoice in his good fortune."

A strange, disagreeable feeling, as of the claws of some wild creature at
her heart, held Jo. for a moment silent, but recalling Jack's confident
words and looks of the previous evening, she ventured: ." All the same,
Dads, I don't think he will take this money, and Mr. Ronaldson cannot
compel him to be his son."

"If Jack is such an ingrate, such a fool as to refuse this offer, I, for
my part, shall have nothing more to do with him. But it's not worth while
to discuss such an improbability," continued the carver, with a finality
in his tones that struck his listener chill. "His duty and his
advancement go together, and both are equally plain. We, too, have a
duty, which, if we have the slightest regard for Jack, we shall not fail
to perform; if he hesitates we must urge him to accept."

"But, Dads," said the girl, wonderingly, that claw-like grasp upon her
heart no whit relaxed, "why not leave him to do as he likes? Why should
you mind?"

Davenant cleared his throat and vigorously blew his nose before replying.
"Because I have a great regard for the lad, Jo.; because I can't stand by
and see a young man throw away a chance that doesn't come to one in a
thousand. Supposing he objects, as you think he will, and I were to
listen, sympathise with and support his objections, ten to one in five
years' time he would turn round and reproach me for having done so. Jack
is young, and young people, though they think they know everything, want
saving from themselves. Because I am his friend, because I know, too, how
greatly his guardian will suffer if Jack refuses this offer, I shall
counsel him to accept it, and you, ma petite, must give him the same
counsel, too."

Jo., though she scarcely knew what she was fighting for, would not yet
lay down her arms, but her final arguments were somewhat lamely
presented. "Jack doesn't care for money at all, and I'm sure he would
hate to be always idle."

"He won't be idle, my child. There is the banking business he would
probably go into, or the University. With his uncle's influence,
position, and fortune he will, no doubt, later on enter the Senate. Oh,
there is a great future before the lad if he is only wise enough to take
advantage of his opportunities."

The two had for some time carried on their conversation while leaning
against the gate that led from the moor into the yard, Jo. making little
excursions every now and again for a flower that caught her fancy, though
she never went out of range of her companion's voice.

"Hark!" she cried, as she stood with her back to her uncle, her right
hand raised. "Are not those the Gladford bells ringing?" So loud, so
metallic was the clanging in her ears she might well have mistaken it for
bells beaten, shapen and rung by the hand of man.

"It is only a little past nine," returned Davenant, consulting his watch
and still speaking in French, as he usually did to Joanna.

"Ah! I have time then," said the girl. "I want a few more flowers for the
salle á manger, and then I must go and try on my new gloves." And she ran
off in the direction of the brook, to reappear in a few minutes on the
other side of the gate against which Davenant still leaned.'

"Regardez, mon oncle," she cried, gleefully, while she displayed a huge
bunch of large-eyed forget-me-nots, their lovely colours gaining in depth
and clearness from the background of the girl's white gown. Then she ran
into the house, talked gaily with old Marthe as she arranged the flowers,
and at length sought her chamber.

As she crossed its threshold her whole attitude and appearance changed.
Dry-eyed, she seated herself sideways upon a chair, and with an elbow
thrown over its back, supported her cheek upon her hand as she gazed away
over the moor which half-an-hour ago had seemed so lovely. Now it might
have been a desert, for one thing alone filled up her vision and that
stood out stern and bare and cruel--Jack and she were to be separated for
ever.

"Poor little life that toddles half-an-hour,

Crown'd with a flower or two, and then an end."

If only he had never returned from Switzerland, if only they had not had
that talk together last evening, that talk which had brought them so
close to each other, it would not have mattered so much. If only last
Thursday she had known of this proposal it would have been different, but
now the thought of separation was insupportable.

If Jack accepted this offer she knew quite well that he would be cut off
completely from all intercourse with his old friends, cut off more
irrevocably, more 'cruelly than by death itself.

And yet--and yet--!

Thought seemed checked for a moment, and the girl's heart stood still,
for the stern, hard fact at which she gazed so sorrowfully was actually
moving, moving to disclose a Presence, which all this time it had
concealed, although without it there would have been no stern, hard fact
at all.

At the sight the girl's eyes dilated, a gentle sigh escaped from the
parted lips, and then, with raised head and outstretched arms, she cried
in softest tones,

My love! my love!"

For now and here for the first time she realised the true significance of
Jack's looks and tones and words of the previous evening--knew herself
beloved. Rising, and still with outstretched arms, she walked to the
window as though to meet a visible object. But now her hands were
clasped, her eyes lifted to the filmy blue of the heavens. She loved and
was beloved! As that knowledge continued to force itself upon her
consciousness, her whole being was thrilled through and through with its
magnetic might, and she was fain to sink upon her knees and rest her arms
upon the window-sill.

Yes, the moor was indeed charming, the blue of the sky deep and tender as
a mother's bosom. Jo.'s lovely eyes grew soft and luminous as, for a
brief time, her fair spirit bathed itself in its newly-discovered fount
of joy, only to spread wing and fly to the Giver of all love.

Yet three days ago she had ridiculed the idea of a lover! But then she
had no idea that love could come so swiftly, so suddenly. It was like a
mighty eagle bearing her aloft whether she would or no.

Yet close upon it followed Duty ready to drag it down, and even trample
it in the dust. Jack's prospects must not be spoiled nor endangered for
love of her. Dads had said in plainest words that no one having the
slightest regard for Jack's interests would give him even the smallest
encouragement to forego the banker's offer.

What a horrid man that banker was! Of course, he would never think of
including Jo., or her uncle in his visiting-list; and Jo. had no desire
to be there. She fully shared Jack's aversion for the strange-looking
individual, but if Jack accepted this offer he would have to follow out
Mr. Ronaldson's wishes, and mix with his friends.

She now understood the true significance of Jack's reiterated
determination last evening that nothing should, or could, 'induce him to
do anything which would involve the loss of the friends and companions of
his boyhood. What ought she to do?

She had risen, as though to face the difficult question more squarely,
but all the time Love was whispering to her that Jack would think neither
of money, nor position, in comparison of her love. It was of no use
attempting to come to any decision, for every other minute her attention
was diverted by the recollection of some look or word of Jack's; or some
lovely possibility Hope insisted upon showing her.

In the midst of her reverie, which had made her oblivious of the fact
that the bells had been ringing for some minutes, a sharp knock at the
door was followed by the summary entrance of the fat Eliza, fully attired
for church.

"Laws, Miss Joanner!" she exclaimed, "ain't yer begun to dress yet? Yer
uncle's a-brushin' his hat down below, an's ready to be off."

"Ah, Je me dépêche," said Jo., as she ran to her wardrobe, from whence
she took a hat of black lace with sprays of blue convolvulus, a hat,
which, spite of its simplicity, Lady Miriam Clanfalkland might well have
envied, so admirably did it set off the lovely face and glorious hair.

Eliza was, however, far too much concerned about her own appearance to
bestow any consideration upon that of her young mistress, for whose
attention she instantly clamoured.

"Look y' here, Miss Jo.! I've come in a purpose to show yer me new
bodice. You won't have to find fault wi' me shape now. Ain't it nice, an'
I got it for a surprise for yer. Ain't it nice, I say? "she repeated.

But as Jo. cast merely a fleeting glance at her, while she opened a
drawer for the neglected pair of new gloves, Eliza continued, "Oh, yer
can't see just lookin' like that!"

Then planting herself by the dressing-table with her back to the window
and with a touch of impertinence in her manner, she again apostrophised
her mistress, whose thoughts were otherwhere.

"I say, Miss Jo., do look just for a minute. See, I come out here, I go
in again here, and come out again lovely! Lors, I do hope I sha'n't
sneeze."

It was utterly impossible for Jo to refrain from laughing, and for once
Eliza had done her a good turn. For when Davenant caught sight of his
niece's merry face, he concluded he must have been altogether mistaken in
supposing she had conceived any deep feeling for handsome fatherless
Jack.

CHAPTER XIV.

I did not take my leave of him, but had

Most pretty things to say; ere I could tell him

How I would think on him at certain hours

Such thoughts and such; or have charged him

At the sixth hour of morn, at noon, at midnight,

To encounter me with orisons, for then

I am in heaven for him; comes in my father

And like the tyrannous breathings of the north

Shakes all my buds from growing.

CYMBELINE.

THE change in her uncle which, on the moor, Jo. had dimly apprehended,
must have betrayed its raison d'etre long before the two had arrived at
church, had not the girl been so desirous to conceal her newly-discovered
joy and sorrow.

The Davenant of a week ago had vanished, and in place of that dreamer and
worker-out of dreams was a man whose every movement this Sunday morning
proclaimed the alert, responsible being. The sense of protectiveness
which only yesterday's interview with Mary Barnard had thoroughly
developed, was now in active exercise in regard to her as well as Jo.

This was evident when, at the close of the morning service he exchanged a
few words with the former, and turning to Jack, who stood beside her,
said, "You are coming to lunch with me? Good; but oblige me by taking
Miss Mary as far as 'The Cross Fingers.' Jo. is sure to be a few minutes
longer, and you will reach The Gap across the fields almost as soon as we
do."

The request surprised the young man, but he went off with a good grace
and felt rewarded by Jo.'s bright smile when he caught up the pair; while
Davenant congratulated himself that he had prevented the young people
having been seen together by either the villagers or the visitors at the
Grange.

Jack had not forgotten Jo.'s name-day, and in her uncle's presence
presented his small gift, a tiny prayer-book, upon the fly-leaf of which
was written "Jo.-- from Jack." The carver thought it wiser to take no
notice of the matter; what he intended to say to the young man later on
would be too plain for its significance to be ignored.

And the wind was unexpectedly taken out of the sails of Jack's offering
by the fat Eliza, who, after the three were seated at table, presented
her mistress with a ball of blue-grey fur, over which Jo. immediately
fell into ecstacies.

"Oh, you darling!" cried the happy recipient, as the blue-grey ball
uncurled itself and a lovely Persian kitten stretched fore-paws and jaws
in the style of the best English pussydom.

"For yer buthday, Miss Joanner; yer said you'd like one, so I begged it
of Mrs. Smith, the coachman's wife down at the Grange."

"Thank you so much, Eliza. There, asseyez vous donc minette!"

But Jack wished the kitten at Jericho, for Jo., apparently, had neither
eyes nor ears for any other body or thing, while Davenant kept up a
tiresome monologue on Swiss carving. What with the kitten on one hand and
carving on the other, poor Jack felt himself cruelly used, and thankful,
when, the meal concluded, an adjournment was made to the summer house.
Davenant had expended much artistic skill upon the place, the shadowed
interior of which was now brightened by dishes of ripe raspberries and
strawberries upon the rustic table.

Jack and Jo. were soon engaged in a hand-to-hand tussle over the kitten,
who, serpent-like, had followed its mistress into this Eden, when
Davenant startled them both by saying, "I have a confession to make."

His listeners regarded him with unfeigned astonishment, while a whimsical
smile for a moment held his lips from further speech. Then, having filled
the pipe upon which his fingers had been busy, he said with commendable
brevity, "I'm going to be married!"

"Oh, you lovely man!" cried Jo., springing to his side, while puss, to
save herself from an ignominious fall, hung on by her claws to Jack until
she had obtained sufficient purchase for a flying vault. "I couldn't
imagine what it was that had changed you so. So that's where you were
last night when we went that goose-chase! Now, when will Miss Mary come?"

"Miss Mary?" echoed Jack, "and she never said a word to me about it!"

"No, for Miss Martha has yet to be told," remarked the carver, grimly.
Then Joanna opened upon the affianced man such a fire of questions that
he almost lost his equanimity, while Jack would so gladly have changed
places with him, for the girl's hand was upon her uncle's arm, her lovely
eyes dancing with mischief as they tried to read his very soul.

"Come, come, that's enough, Jo., quite enough! Now, Jack, let me hear
what you had to tell me, for I must go to Heather's Edge after tea."

"Poor Dads! I do pity you from the very bottom of my heart," said Joanne,
as, without casting so much as a glance at Jack, she strolled out of the
summer-house and down the garden-path, from whence her voice was
presently wafted as she called in coaxing tories, "Minette, minette!"

Jack was somewhat embarrassed by the carver's sudden demand. To be called
"to stand and deliver" one's hopes and fears as though they could be
produced as easily as a watch or coin from some outside pocket, struck
him as an unfeeling request. There was, however, no time to be lost, and
without pausing to arrange his confidences in anything like sequential
order, he said, "I've quarrelled with Miss Barnard, I've thrown over Mr.
Ronaldson, and I'm leaving Heather's Edge in a few hours' time!"

This brief summary of past and coming actions was followed by the hurling
of a newly-lit cigarette into the Gap, to the side of which the summer
house clung. "The fact is, sir," continued the young man, looking
straightly at his elder, "I am going to finish the work my uncle, Mr.
Ronaldson, ought to have completed twenty years ago. To-morrow I'm off to
seek for my father."

"But, my dear fellow, I thought--didn't Joanne tell me that----?"
commenced Davenant.

"Yes; last evening when I saw Joanne, I believed the story--I ought to
say the lie--my uncle has had placed above my mother's grave. Nay, I am
not wrong in so describing it, sir" (for the carver's look was a
reprimand), " as I have it direct from Mr. Ronaldson, conveyed and
supported by Miss Barnard, that the name Jones is not, and was not, and
could never have been, my mother's. That being so, my first business, for
my mother's sake, is to discover her husband's name, and place it where
the false one stands."

"Let us get down to the glen," said the carver, "we shall not be
disturbed there, and I confess that I don't in the least understand what
you are talking about. You must know that yesterday your uncle called
here, and was in high spirits at the prospect of having you shortly with
him at Hurstwick. He told me, indeed, that he intended to make you his
legal son and heir, and settle a thousand a year on you."

Jack's lips curved scornfully, while Davenant awaited his- explanation.

"I'll have nothing to do either with him or his money." And with flashing
eyes. came the statement, unanswerable in the speaker's opinion, as an
argument against further intercourse with the banker. "He was
afraid--afraid, you understand--to advertise for particulars of my
mother's marriage. It was not merely cowardly, but criminal neglect. I'll
not be unfair, though. You shall hear the whole story as he gave it to
Miss Barnard yesterday morning, commissioning her to detail it to me. I
suppose he was afraid of my reproaches. Coward!"

The two were pacing up and down a strip of green sward which meandered
between two miniature forests of birch and fir. The sun was high, but a
pleasant breeze stirred the trees and brought refreshment to the heated
brow of the young man. Davenant, in his growing interest in the recital,
paused in his walk, and both men stood rooted to the ground until it was
finished.

"You cannot, you dare not, tell me, sir, that this man--my uncle, mind
you, the only brother of my mother, has the ghost of a claim upon either
my companionship or affection? Why, be never cared to set eyes on me till
last week!"

"I must tell you, Jack," explained Davenant, resuming his walk, "that
when Mr. Ronaldson told me of his plans for you yesterday, I made up my
mind to quarrel with you if you refused to carry them out. But----"

"But now you have heard my views on the question," interposed the younger
man, with more cheerfulness than he had manifested throughout the
conversation, "now you are ready to give me your blessing, and a 'God
speed you.' Is it not so?"

"1 hardly think I can go so far as that, my lad," returned Davenant,
slowly, as though weighing his words. "I cannot see how you are to
succeed where your uncle failed; neither do I for one moment believe that
your father still lives. I recognise your goodness of heart in the
endeavour you propose to make with the object of establishing your
mother's honour but, so far as I am able to judge, her honour has not,
nor has it ever been jeopardised, since she was buried in the name of
Jones, and that name now rests as hers above her grave."

"But that name is not hers. Oh, sir," and the carver looked with admiring
wonder at the handsome, earnest young face of the boy who believed so
firmly not only in his mother's honour, but in his ability to prove it,
"do you not see that until I have discovered my father, I, myself, am
nameless; that I have no name to offer Joanne, for love of whom I am
ready to lay down my life! No, no! I must seek, and seek until I find!"

"Come, Jack; leave Joanne out of this question, please; whatever plans
you make let none be founded on the hope of marriage with her. She is but
a child, and with no thought of love or lovers, so I forbid you to speak
to her of your affection, or to tell her this strange story of your
parentage. Let her believe, as she does, that your mother's name was
Jones. Go on this quest of yours, if you are so minded, but do nothing
without full consideration. If you decide to go, remember, I wish to hear
nothing from you for full five years, or at least, until you have
discovered your father."

"Meanwhile, sir," implored the young man, deeply agitated, "she may
forget me."

"She may or she may not. I tell you, Jack, I won't have her bound; so
there's an end of the matter. Joanne is not a girl to forget her friends,
but it is better for both of you that you should neither hear of nor see
each other for some time to come. You know I like you, lad, and no lad
better, but believe me, how ever hard you may find it now to stand alone,
in the end you will be glad to be able to say, 'This did I of myself; no
one persuaded me.' Come, pull yourself together, Jack, and let us get
back; Joanne will wonder what has become of us."

And from this decision Davenant would not budge.

But Joanne was wondering greatly what had come to herself. How was it,
that though her heart ached with the longing to show Jack how terrible
was the prospect of the separation he had hinted at as being so near of
realisation, she laughed and talked like a creature without ordinary
sensibility?

As the two men came up the garden path, she was standing on the step of
the porch, and when they drew nearer she plucked the crimson roses as
they climbed about her, and pelted them both therewith, while she
remained apparently oblivious of the eagerness with which Jack caught and
reverently preserved the lovely blooms.

Tea had been set in the shade cast by the gables, and when the three were
seated (Jo., bantering her company upon their fondness for each other's
society), the carver said, "What have you been doing with yourself, mon
enfant?"

"I've been breaking the joyful news of Mary's advent to Marthe and Eliza.
Marthe is very glad, but Eliza said--oh, but Eliza is a droll creature--"

"What thinkest thou, mon enfant" interposed the carver, by no means
desirous to hear what the fat Eliza thought of his prospective marriage,
"this fellow here had an offer of a thousand a year for life last night,
yet he coolly refuses it as though it were a pottle of cranberries!"

"Vraiment! Are you then so rich, Jack ?"

"No, no; but you see this money had conditions tacked to it, one of which
was--"

"Very easy conditions, let me tell you," interposed Davenant. "However,
be prefers to have his own way, and all we can do is just to bid him good
luck."

"You refuse this money? "cried the girl, her brows puckered as though
such a probability were nigh inconceivable.

"If I take this money I must lose my friends, Jo.," and the look that
accompanied the young man's words was more informing than any speech; but
the girl was apparently oblivious of it.

Shrugging her shoulders she said, "Well, I won't meddle in the matter. If
I had the offer of a thousand a year I should just pop down on my knees,
and say;. 'Let dogs delight to bark and bite,! I should be so grateful.
But oh! Dads, I can't get the thought out of my head that Mary is coming.
I'm just dying to have her! I shall have to go with you on the honeymoon,
you know; you won't be able to get rid of me, for I shall stick like a
burr, part of me on you, and part of me on Mary. And won't I tease you
both!"

So the girl rattled on, as though the momentous decision Jack had taken
was not worth a second thought. All the interest she had manifested in
his doings only twenty-four hours ago had vanished as completely as
though it had never had any existence. The young man was pained and
puzzled, yet he found his love adorable, even when she put salt in his
tea, and burnt his hand with the hot spoon she had secretly prepared for
that purpose.

The meal concluded, Davenant went indoors to wash his hands preparatory
to his visit to Heather's Edge, whither Jack was to accompany him as far
as "The Cross Fingers." Thence the young man would make for Gladford Rise
Station to inquire about his train. Jo., unable to remain quiet for an
instant, dashed after the kitten, as it made a false start after the
carver, but when it sought shelter beneath a gooseberry bush the girl was
brought to a standstill.

Jack, realizing how precious and fleeting were the moments that remained
to them, said with tender reproach, "This will be a long 'Goodbye,' I
fear, Jo.; for me it will be an eternity. But you won't forget me," he
continued, imploringly.

Joanne's face visibly paled, but her glance falling on a thin, red mark,
which zigzagged down the back of his left hand, she utterly ignored his
appeal, as she cried in tones in which flippancy and interest were
equally mingled, " Why, what have you done to yourself ? That's Minette's
doings, I'm sure! I'll punish her!" And away flew the girl to seize the
culprit kitten, which, unconscious of impending evil, had emerged from
beneath the gooseberry bush, and was calmly and diligently washing its
face in the middle of the path.

"How dared you treat a friend so basely, a friend you'll never see for
ages ?" asked Jo., of the now frightened creature she was holding out at
arm's length, her fingers firmly gripped beneath its forepaws. "You'll be
sorry for your cruelty when he's gone. Tell him you're sorry at once.
There! That will teach you to behave properly in future! Ah----!"

"Oh, Jo.! she has scratched you too! What a spiteful little beast she
must be! Here, have my handkerchief."

And while Jo. with a grim smile observed, "She thought I wanted
punishing, I suppose. Well, we each have a wound now," Jack reverently
stanched the crimson drops that oozed from the small white hand, and
carried the stained handkerchief away with the crimson roses as part and
parcel of Joanne's very self.

But Davenant's voice was heard calling the young man, and with an "Au
revoir, Jack! My best love to Mary!" Joanne scarcely waited till the men
were out of sight ere she fled to the glen; where, for the hour that
remained before the evening service she paced up and down wondering what
manner of creature she could be.

"He thinks I do not him," she murmured. "He believes each word I said.
Ah! how could I, how could I act as I did? I believe I could be a great
actress if I tried. I'm sure I deceived Dads." And then she fell to
weeping. To have found him, only to lose him! And it was not until her
fingers were upon the organ keys that her heart was in any degree
lightened of its burden of self-reproach and apprehension.

And she never guessed that, in response to Jack's silent call, her heart
had leapt to her eyes in the moment of parting, and that he knew himself
beloved.

CHAPTER XV.

For she had a tongue with a tang.

The Tempest.

IT was shortly after Jack went to Switzerland that Jo. had begged Mr.
Cartwright to teach her to play the organ, and in an incredibly short
space of time the pupil bid fair to surpass her master. As her muscular
powers developed she lost nothing of that delicacy, that sympathetic
treatment which gave to her sketches their chief charm. But on this
Sunday evening, so eventful to the inmates of Heather's Edge and The Gap,
there was no hint of sympathetic treatment, no suggestion even of a
player. The organ itself had vanished, and in its stead the voice of a
soul thrilled and throbbed through and above the aisles till it reached
the footstool of the Throne itself. It was the chorus from Athalie
"Promised joys, menaced woes," and as the voice, now hopeful, now
despairing, rose and fell in impassioned tones, all present felt the
tension as well as the relief when, soft and clear as an angel's voice,
rang out the Vox humana of the soprano--

These cries of doubt forbear!
Our God will make all clear.

And following it, the triple harmony of the trebles expanded into the
full, convincing chorus,

Hearts feel that love Thee

Nought can disturb their rest. And so Jo. eased her heart, and Miss Mary,
too, was comforted. Poor woman! She had, indeed, had a hard time ever
since she left her bedroom in the morning and her dreams of coming joy.
Martha, who rarely went to church in the height of summer, yet more
rarely regarded Sunday as an occasion for late rising. But on this
particular morning, overcome by fatigue and petulance consequent upon her
fruitless efforts to shape the destinies of Jack and Mary to her own
pattern, she decided to remain in bed until the dinner hour. She still
believed that she had wrongfully accused her sister of meeting Davenant,
for her sleepiness on retiring after her stormy interview with Jack, and
her shortsightedness this morning, had prevented her seeing the modest
little note affixed to the pin-cushion. When Mary entered with tea and
toast Martha pretended to be asleep, and Mary had no difficulty in
removing the missive as she left the room on tip-toe. "Surely," she
silently argued, "I may as well give Martha a verbal message from Martin
when I return from church; she is so very angry now, I do believe she
would have a fit if she knew I had seen him yesterday."

As it was, the message Mary gave at dinner, that Davenant wanted to see
Miss Martha and would call for that purpose early in the evening, sounded
quite natural to its recipient, and gave her a grim kind of pleasure. "He
wants to see me, now! Hum! He shall hear my mind on several matters! But
what ails you l You look as white as a sheet!"

"Oh, sister; I'm so upset. Jack has been telling me all about the talk he
had with you last night. He talks of leaving us to-morrow, perhaps
to-night." And Mary was so overcome by conflicting emotions that she
buried her face in her handkerchief to hide her tears and stifle her
sobs.

"Well, you and Martin Davenant between you have been the lad's undoing,"
remarked Miss Barnard, cuttingly. "Davenant wants him for Jo., as I knew
he would. If he hadn't got some plan in his head to entrap the boy he
would never have asked him to The Gap to-day. Jo.'s at the bottom of
Jack's obstinacy, and I took care to tell Mr. Ronaldson so. Between you
all you've ruined the lad's future. I've told him his duty plain enough,
and now I wash my hands of him."

"But don't you think, sister, that it is a little too much to ask Jack to
give up all his friends for a man who has never taken the least notice of
him since he was born, and whom he was brought up to--"

"Now, now, be quiet," interposed Martha, in warning tones. "You're going
to blame me, as usual; but I'll not have it. Eat your dinner, and leave
Jack and his concerns alone."

Mary met Davenant at the garden gate as she was setting out for church in
the evening, and had just time to say, shyly, "Martha knows nothing about
our talk last night, nor even that I saw you; please don't tell her.
She's going to be very angry with you because Jack won't go to his uncle.
But I mustn't stop."

Martha was evidently getting impatient, for she was now standing upon the
doorstep with much the same look upon her physiognomy as that assumed by
the spider when he invited the fly into his contracting parlour. But
Davenant felt himself equal to the occasion, and cleverly concealed his
sang froid under the gay covering of cordiality.

He commenced the interview by saying how greatly he regretted Jack's
determination to have nothing to do with his uncle.

"I should not have asked him to take lunch with me to-day had he not
expressed the wish to have some talk with me. I like the lad, mind you,
Miss Barnard, but I think him foolish to throw away this good fortune. If
he persists in doing so I told him I shall prefer to hear nothing of or
from him, at least for some time to come."

"Quite right, Mr. Davenant; you are quite right. I'm afraid," continued
the lady, with an apologetic laugh, "that I was ready to misjudge you
when I heard you had invited the young man to lunch to-day. I really fear
a dreamy person, and such I know you to be. Dreamers let things drift,
and drift, and then, as the saying is, there's the devil to pay!

"I am afraid, Madame," returned the carver with great politeness, "that I
have been somewhat of a dreamer, but hope that now I am awake, wide
awake, as you English say, and that I will not go to sleep any more!"

And the two laughed affably together, Martha delighted to find her
companion so agreeable. But his next words brought her figure to
attention, and caused her curved lips to harden into straight lines.

"I beg of you now a great favour, Miss Barnard; it is that you accord me
your approval to my paying my addresses to your sister, Miss Mary. I
know, of course," he continued, diplomatically, "that she is of an age to
decide for herself, yet I should be glad to have your sanction and
approval of my suit."

For a scarcely appreciable moment there was silence in the room, and then
Martha observed, an acidity in her tones she vainly tried to secrete, "I
suppose you have discovered, Mr. Davenant, that Miss Joanna requires a
chaperone?"

The carver bowed pleasantly. What a woman this was for intuitions!

"Without a doubt, Madame, Jo. will be much happier with a lady for
companion, but I have myself a high esteem, I may say a great affection,
for Miss Mary."

"Ha!" interrupted Martha, still holding herself well in hand. "You know
we have a proverb, 'No fool like the old fool.'"

"Mees Barnard! I beg you will not be hard on a poor bachelor. You have,
too, another proverb is it not-- 'Never too late to mend.'?" And the
Frenchman laughed so heartily at his opportune quotation that Martha was
compelled to laugh, too.

But she had not yet done with the man, and if he had expected to plane
off her many angles by dexterous compliments he was destined to find
himself mistaken.

"You must understand, sir," she remarked, as the easily-roused laughter
fell into silence, "that that proverb refers only to things that can be
mended. Some things it is impossible to repair--I should say, rather, to
undo; you recognise that?"

But the carver, albeit dimly, recognised only that a trap had been set to
catch him unawares, and though puzzled, was silent. What could the woman
be driving at?

"Ah! you will not help me, I see," continued Martha, "so I must speak
plainly. There is one matter which I must have satisfactorily explained
before I can consent to your paying your addresses to Mary."

Still silence on the part of the carver, so, after a slight pause and a
little apologetic cough, Martha proceeded:

"There is Miss Joanna."

"Ah, Jo! yes, yes!" interrupted Davenant, immensely relieved; "she will
make no trouble for Miss Mary, she will only be too happy to welcome her,
to have her company always."

"Excuse me, sir," returned Martha, drily (she did not appreciate this
tribute to Mary's popularity), "I have not the slightest doubt as to Miss
Jo.'s desire to have Mary's companionship, nor of the benefits which
would accrue to the girl therefrom; the matter I referred to is of far
greater moment. It is not pleasant for an unmarried lady, as I am, to
have to go into these questions, but I have a duty to Mary, as well as to
our family, to perform, and I am not one to shirk duty, however
disagreeable I may find it. So I ask you to be good enough to inform me
of the exact-- the exact, I repeat--relationship between yourself and
Miss Joanna."

"Mon Dieu!" cried Davenant, his fair speeches put to instant flight by
this unexpected attack. Rising to his feet, his hands spread out, his
body bending, swaying as it had not bent or swayed since his first coming
to England, he poured forth a complete vocabulary of the French language.

A supercilious smile curved the lips of Martha Barnard as she sat erect
during this performance of French antics, as she afterwards described the
carver's movements. How she revelled in her power to reduce men to
puppets, and then make the puppets dance to her measure!

As Davenant at length concluded his harangue with an emphatic "voila
tout! "Martha merely shook her head.

Then, withdrawing the supercilious smile, she observed, in her driest
tones, "This is all very fine that you have been saying, I doubt not, Mr.
Davenant but I know nothing of French, and will, therefore, trouble you,
if it is an explanation you were giving me, to put it into English. If it
was only an excuse, I should prefer not to have it translated. In which
case you will understand that I shall never give my consent to your
having anything to do with Mary."

"Pardonne, Madame," said the carver, with sudden calmness, "in my great
surprise at your question I forget that you know not French. I will now
say to you these facts in English. Jo. is my niece, that is to say, the
daughter of my only niece, and lest you should still have any fear that
such is not the case, to-morrow shall bring you the--certificate, you
call it ?--of her birth. But this I told you twelve, nearly thirteen
years ago, when I come first to The Gap."

"But if your niece--we should say great-niece--why does she always call
you Dad?" was Martha's next query--she wasn't one to leave a stone,
however small, unturned.

"Ah," returned Davenant, "that is for her only a little, what you call
pet name. Her father was English like her mother, and he taught her when
a baby to use the English word 'daddy,' and when he died, before she was
three years old, she looked on me as her 'Dad,' and has never left off
using the word."

"You say her father was a Englishman, why, then, is she called Davenant?"
continued Miss Barnard, determined not to let her victim go until all
doubtful matter was cleared away.

"Ah," said Davenant, in deprecatory tones, "that has perhaps been
foolish, but I had not thought harm could come of it. She never liked her
own name, and always as a child called herself Joanne Davenant, so when
she came to England I foresaw no reason, no objection to her still using
my name. Now, though, since you speak of it, I see it was not perhaps
wise. However, to-morrow I shall bring you not only the birth certificate
of Joanne, but that also of the marriage of her parents. Had she some
English relations, then I would have said 'keep your own name,' but they
are all dead. Now you see, voila tout!"

"I am bound to tell you, Mr. Davenant, that you have acted very
foolishly, certainly most thoughtlessly, in this matter," said Martha,
primly. "Of course, I believe what you have told me, yet I think it will
be wise for you to let me see the certificates as you propose. I shall
then be in a position to speak with accuracy on the subject if questions
are put to me, as doubtless they will be. Now, with regard to Mary, I
have always told her that I would never prevent her marrying, so she can
do as she likes. I fancy you will find her an easy conquest."

And again the supercilious smile curved the lady's lips. Yet she was not
altogether displeased. To have brought Davenant to acknowledge that he
had in any way acted foolishly added considerably to Miss Barnard's
already considerable stock of self-esteem and so paved the way for a less
unpleasant interview with Mary than the latter had dared to expect.
Besides, though Davenant was utterly unconscious of the fact, his
inquisitor had very cleverly compelled him to place an important piece of
information in her hands, information which she had apparently desired
solely in the interests of virtue and her sister. "Just as I thought,"
she remarked sotto voce, a few evenings later, when the promised
certificates were before her; "the girl's a mere nobody, and now I've got
black and white to support my statement to Mr. Ronaldson."

CHAPTER XVI.

My son, my son I cannot speak the rest;

Ye that have sons alone can know my fondness,

STe that have lost them, or who fear to lose,

None else can guess them.

H. MORE.

THE June following young Jack's departure from Heather's Edge found his
guardian in Hurstwick after an absence of months spent in aimless travel.
He knew nothing of his nephew's whereabouts, and this ignorance, coupled
with the young fellow's hostile determination to render himself
independent of his uncle, placed the latter in an unpleasant as well as
painful position. True, he had said nothing in Hurstwick of his intention
to adopt his sister's son, but all his plans, for at least the past two
years, had centred in that resolve of his to acknowledge the relationship
and enjoy the companionship of one so closely bound to him by blood. The
new place he was building a mile or so outside Hurstwick was still
unfinished, the contractors unable to fulfil their engagements for lack
of definite orders. Such and such rooms were to have been devoted to
Jack's use, furnished and decorated as he himself might desire.

To avoid explanations and inquiries, Ronaldson had absented himself as
much as possible from the town, and though recalled now by some business
matter, he had planned to leave for Norway in a day or two. As far as he
knew, no one excepting those concerned with the business he had returned
to negotiate was aware of his presence in Hurstwick at this moment. He
was, therefore, extremely surprised, when seated at breakfast on the
morning he had fixed to set out for Norway, to receive a brief note from
the Marquis of Pierhampton, begging him to proceed to the Abbey at once
as he had matters of the greatest importance to lay before him.

Now, Ronaldson had always avoided anything like intimacy with his
lordship, even when, as had frequently happened of late years, the two
had served side by side on the same council or committee. His attitude
towards Jim's father had never advanced beyond the most distant courtesy,
and this for Jim's sake. For though Tom never ceased to blame himself for
his share in an act which had banished and probably brought about the
death of his friend, he considered the treatment of Jim by the Marquis as
beyond the range either of vindication or forgiveness.

Yet there was no denying that the old man had been grievously punished,
and with all Ronaldson's bitterness a very real pity for him was mingled.
His eldest son had died childless nearly a year ago, his second and only
remaining son was also childless and in such a precarious state of
health--brought on by excesses--that his life was not worth "a year's
purchase." So, in a desolate old age, the nobleman had to face the
distressing fact that the Marquisate, for so many centuries held by the
Warner family, must pass ere long to a distant branch, and the name of
Warner be known in connection with it no more.

Was he contemplating destroying the entail, or did he wish to negotiate a
loan? That the Pierhampton property had suffered through the
extravagances of the two Sons was a matter of general knowledge. It was
just possible the Marquis might only be wishing to consult him about some
private matter connected with the late Earl Towermains. The present Earl
banked elsewhere.

But conjecture was merely waste of thought; soon Ronaldson would hear
what the business was. So hastily finishing his breakfast, he lost no
time in setting out for the Abbey.

St. Mary's chimes were ringing the hour of nine as be stepped on to the
broad, flagged High Street of "sleepy old Hurstwick," and a pleasant stir
of bustle mingled with the sweet freshness of the summer atmosphere, for
it was market day. Ronaldson's house stood on the key-stone of the hill,
up and down which the fine street stretched, terminating in either
direction in a double massive stone gateway. These, formerly entrances to
the ancient feudal town, are each crowned with tower and church,
differing in style of architecture as well as age.

The scene this June morning was, indeed, beautiful. The sun, like a happy
memory, was shedding his radiance athwart and through the double archways
towards the east, and touching with tender caress the old oaken joists
which gave to so many of the houses their special claim to age and
admiration. Sunlight illumined the little chapel of the quaint hospital
founded by Elizabeth's favourite Leycester, making the numerous shields
and coats of arms adorning the quadrangle as radiant as though the
painter's hand had but newly left them.

As Tom Ronaldson hurried down Jewry Street, on his way to the Abbey, his
thoughts harked back to the occasion of his last visit there. For a brief
moment the glorious June sunshine merges into soft, clear moonlight, and
Tom is again in the glades of Feringham Wood, as on that eventful morning
more than thirty years before. How everything has changed since then, not
merely his own life, but life of the town itself! For Tom recalls scenes
and doings which were but the preface to that series of events which
ended in the banishment and death of the young Lord James Bagshot Warner.

In those, so-called, "good old days" of thirty years ago, when he and Tom
were up with their company for the seven days' annual training (which was
deemed all-sufficient for the members of the county Yeomanry Cavalry),
the inhabitants of "sleepy old Hurstwick" were kept very wide awake,
inconveniently and unpleasantly wide awake; indeed, they were scarcely
permitted to indulge in the orthodox nightly snooze.

Till the early morning hours the respectable streets, sacred throughout
the rest of the year to the tread of the half-dozen " Peelers" who
constituted the borough police force, were scandalised by the rude
awakening of echoes, which startled and alarmed the inmates of the
antique dwellings.

Parties of young officers paraded the road-ways arm in arm, giving
indubitable proof of their soundness of lung by the hoarse laughs, coarse
jokes and ribald songs that rang out upon the night air. Not satisfied
with a tour of the borough, these embryo defenders of their country
became an attacking party. Knockers and bells, which ill-advised
Hurstwickians had confidingly left to perform their usual office, were
stormed and taken. "Peal after peal gave token "that a dozen bells were
in the grasp of as many hands, and ere the sounds thus evoked could die
away, a dozen more bells  were laid under contribution to produce music
for these individuals, whose taste for nocturnes of this particular style
appeared insatiable.

Then they would evince an uncontrollable desire to raise themselves above
their surroundings, and many were the bets lost and won as to the ability
of each, and all, to scale the borough lamp-posts, and extinguish the
faint light they carried. Yes, those "good old days," when Ronaldson and
his friends were in the hey-day of youth and folly, were of a past that
could never return, and though here and there an old country nobleman
might deplore the extinction of the wild spirit of a dead and gone
generation, the modern Hurstwickian rejoiced in the certainty of peaceful
nights, undisturbed slumbers, and whole knockers and bell-pulls.

How the old memories crowded upon the banker as he made his way up the
beautiful drive leading to the Abbey! But he resolutely drove them away
when, in response to his knock at the great oaken door, he was at once
shown into the presence of the Marquis.

That the matter upon which he had been summoned was of no ordinary nature
was evident to Tom as soon as his glance fell, upon the nobleman. His
fine and usually immobile features were no longer under their ordinary
control; a faint twitching of the lips and eyebrows indicated the
presence of high nervous excitation, but excitation whose full strength,
if not already expended, was for the time being suppressed. To add to the
importance of the situation Skelton, his lordship's family lawyer, was
seen to be hurriedly leaving by an opposite door as Tom was ushered in.

Maintaining his ordinary attitude of courteous reserve, he advanced
towards the table at which his lordship was seated, but was astonished to
see the old man rise to meet and greet him. Never before had the Marquis
attempted to pass the barrier Tom had erected, but when to grave
cordiality reproach was added, Tom could only be silent and await
explanations.

"Au, sir," the Marquis was saying, his tones and manner alike sad and
weighty, "if only you had trusted me, how different things would have
been!"

Then, as Ronaldson regarded the speaker with questioning surprise, his
lordship continued, " Yes, I repeat, had you but confided in me, I might
have been able even then to atone for the past."

Still Tom was silent. Cautious always, perfect man of business as he was,
he rarely hazarded even a remark; he required sure, if circumscribed,
ground upon which to base even an observation.

But his thoughts were not idle. Could it be possible that now, for the
first time, the Marquis was about to refer to his share in that wager
which ended so disastrously in the Feringham Wood affray? How could the
matter have come to his ears? Tom must first learn the extent of his
lordship's knowledge before he admitted anything. But the next words the
Marquis uttered put caution to the right-about, and tore away the mask
beneath which the banker hid himself.

"Why did you not come to me when your sister died? I would have spared
neither time nor money in seeking my lost Jim."

"Eleanor? Jim? What, what do you say?" Had the Marquis taken leave of his
senses? Jim had been dead thirty years--ay! more. But his lordship, a
very evident surprise in his tones, was saying, "Is it possible, then,
that you, too, are in ignorance, that you--?"

"Explain yourself, my lord," interrupted Ronaldson, hoarsely, and with a
touch of hauteur. "My sister is dead, I know to my sorrow, but I am here
to defend her honour with my last breath."

For answer the Marquis turned to his writing-table, and taking from it a
long blue envelope bearing a foreign postmark, as Tom could see (for he
followed his companion's every movement with a keenness that was almost
savage), put it into his hand, saying curtly:

"Sit down. Read!"

Mechanically Tom sat down and critically examined the sheet of foreign
paper he drew from the envelope before setting himself to master its
contents. The writing and style of address were evidently not those of a
person of much education, and the matter of the communication appeared to
bear no connection what ever with the nobleman's enigmatical remarks.

16, Ingersoll Street, Cape Town, May 10th, 1869.

To the Marquis of Pierhampton.

DEAR SIR,--The enclosed was found by Mrs. Glass among her late husband's
papers. She did not find it until a few months ago, and being in poor
circumstances and not rightly knowing what to do about it, kept it by
her. When she named the matter to me I advised her to send it to you at
once. She thinks the person who wrote it was for some months on the
Island of Tristan in 1848 and 1849, but she is not sure. If so, he was
lost at sea, for one day the boat in which he used to go out to look for
a ship came back empty. Mrs. Glass is now very old and feeble, and is
unable to recollect the name of the gentleman. She wishes me to say that
the paper is just as she found it, and she is sorry it was not found and
sent before. But it was in a box with other papers which came from
Tristan when she left the island and was never unpacked till a few months
ago.--I remain, your lordship's obedient servant,

HARRIET HARRISS, for MRS. GLASS

(widow of Governor Glass, late of Tristan D'Acunha.)

P.S.--It would be an act of charity if your lordship would remit postage
to Mrs. Glass, for she is not well off now.--H. H.

What had all this to do with Eleanor? What with Jim? 1848? Why Jim had
then been dead for more than ten years.

Tristan D'Acunha? Where on earth was that? Some island, was it not in the
South Atlantic ocean? Of course, he remembered sighting it on the way to
New Zealand. Eleanor certainly was never there; indeed, she died that
very year.

These thoughts passed rapidly through Ronaldson's mind as he gazed at the
letter for some minutes after he had read and re-read it. Then, raising
his eyes, with a questioning look, he found those of the Marquis bent
upon him.

"You are puzzled, I see," said the latter, "and I was wrong in supposing
you had wilfully kept back facts with which I ought to have been made
acquainted. That letter and this" (and his lordship held up a bulky
packet) "reached me by last night's post. I will leave you alone to
master the matter there set forth, for that it will prove of an agitating
nature I am convinced. Old as I am, and fairly seasoned, perhaps
hardened, to calamity, the story these pages disclose has proved almost
too much for my strength."

With breaking voice the man proceeded. "After a hasty perusal I sent at
once for Skelton, and he has only now left me to return in an hour. By
that time I trust you will have made yourself acquainted with the facts
here narrated, and give us the benefit of your counsel."

The two men rose simultaneously, and as the Marquis held out the bulky
letter-package his hand visibly trembled, and sobs, which he vainly
endeavoured to repress, shook his frame. In another moment he was gone.

Alone, and with mingled foreboding and eagerness, Tom opened the package.
On removing the outer envelope he found several old-fashioned broad
sheets of letter-paper folded together, and addressed on the outer page
(as in the thirties) to "The most noble The Marquis of Pierhampton,
Hurstwick, England." The seals were but newly broken, but the paper was
yellow with age, the ink upon it rapidly fading.

With something like dread Tom opened the sheets and turned them over to
discover the name of the writer. Amazement, horror, hope, were alike
represented in the unconsciously uttered exclamation as, after carrying
the document to the window (for a mist seemed to have gathered about his
eyes) he caught sight of the subscription, "James Bagshot Warner."

Then the mist about his eyes thickened, and his limbs trembled so
violently that he was compelled to seat himself, and some minutes passed
ere he could summon the courage and strength necessary to acquaint
himself with this message from the dead. Yes, from the dead, for now he
understood the connection between these pages and the note from Mrs.
Glass. She had said the writer was drowned, and she was right, or he
would have written again, or have returned to Hurstwick long since. Still
no thought of Eleanor entered Ronaldson's mind as he smoothed out the
sheets, which, spite of the thickness of the paper, were beginning to
drop into holes where they had so long been folded.

The superscription was clear.

Tristan D'Acunha, South Atlantlic Ocean,

August 20th, 1848.

'48 and '69? Nearly twenty-one years ago Jim had penned these pages. No
wonder Tom's eyes were clouded and his heart heavy. Oh, the pity of it
all! Jim, for love of whom he had made himself for so many years an
object of ridicule, for fidelity to whom he had risked even a reputation
for sanity, was actually alive the very year that Jack was born, the year
that Eleanor died.

Ah! what was it the Marquis had said about Eleanor? With a quickening
pulse Tom fumbled for an eye glass he always carried, though rarely used,
and having adjusted it read as follows

MY DEAR FATHER,--I scarcely know how to write with anything like
coherence--I have so much to say. You will have heard how the mistake
arose about my being on the Sultan, but alas! there is no mistake about
my being banished here. I am, indeed, literally cut off from civilisation
until a ship touches at the island, and here I have been for the past
four months. Whether I shall see you first, or whether this reaches you
after my departure or death, I do not know, but I can no longer delay
writing.

Yet before I tell you how I come to be here at all, and news of a still
more important nature, which makes my detention here nothing less than a
terrible martyrdom, let me beg your forgiveness for that rash, that
wicked vow I made on leaving Hurstwick. Gladly do I acknowledge once more
my relationship to you, and, God helping me, on my return to Hurstwick
will so act that you need never be ashamed to call me your son, and the
son of my sainted mother.

But now for the fact which makes every day, every night, every hour,
every moment spent on this island an eternity of torment. At the end of
last February I married (as you will before this, I trust, have learned
from her own lips) Miss Eleanor Ronaldson, the only daughter of the
Hurstwick banker, and sister of the great friend of my youth--Tom
Ronaldson.

Here Tom unconsciously let the papers slip from his grasp, and for some
moments seemed incapable of realising the true significance of this
amazing disclosure.

"Eleanor marry Jim," he continued to repeat, and he struck his forehead
more than once while he stared out of the window, unconscious of the beds
of scarlet geraniums and blue lobelia in the emerald setting of the trim
lawn. For Memory had opened her portfolio of pictures, in one of which he
saw himself, Lord Jim and Eleanor standing by the fireplace in the old
schoolroom of the house in High Street. The girl, tall for her seventeen
years, was listening with eager interest to the details of a practical
joke her companions were proposing to play on the Whig candidate at the
coming election.

Of course, Eleanor was his chum then, and Lord Jim chummed with her as
much as with him. Yet she had never said she loved Jim; indeed, as Tom
turned over picture after picture Memory presented to him, he found no
token of "softness," as he would in that far-off time have spoken of
love, on the part of either of them.

They must have met in America. How easy of solution was the mystery which
had darkened so many long years, now that Tom held the key. Yet who could
have imagined that Jim was alive ten years after the report of his death
had been accepted? Then Ronaldson's thoughts reverted to the pair who had
met to love, to marry, and to be for ever parted in the space of a few
brief months.

The pathos, the irony, the cruelty of circumstance appealed to him with
overwhelming force. The young husband eating out his heart in that
enforced captivity, the young bride carried off by death before she had
lost the hope of again seeing the father of her child the son born into
the world nameless and now homeless; the cruel slanders Eleanor had been
called to bear; the incriminating mystery that had enveloped her ever
since her marriage to this very moment--each and all craved attention and
evoked bitter regret. Strong, hardened man of business as he was, Tom
shudderingly recognised the might, the pitifulness of Destiny, and, as
though himself physically beneath its power, sank on his knees, while
sobs that would not be restrained broke from his heaving breast.

How long he remained in that position, a prey to grief and remorse, he
never knew, but, aroused at length by an approaching footstep, he
regained his feet. Turning, he found himself confronted by the Marquis.
"I could not remain away any longer," he said; and then, moved by an
uncontrollable impulse, the two men hid their faces from each other,
speechless from excess of grief.

CHAPTER XVII.

Duly every morn

Thou climb'st the mountain-top, with eager eye

Exploring far and wide the watery waste

For sight of ship from England. Ev'ry speck

Seen in the dim horizon turns thee pale

With conflict of contending hopes and fears.

But comes at last the dull and dusky eve,

And sends thee to thy cabin well-prepared

To dream all night of what the day denied.

 COWPER.

THE Marquis was the first to recover himself, though incapable for a time
of walking or even standing without assistance.

"Have you read it all?" he at length managed to say in broken tones,
while Tom hurriedly suppressed any further outward expression of his
grief, a gently supported the old man to a chair.

"No, my lord, not yet; indeed, I have not read more than half-a-dozen
sentences."

"Then, excuse me, will you go on to read it at once? We can do nothing
without your help, and you cannot help until you know all. So read, read,
I beg. We have not a moment to lose if we are to find Jim and bring him
home."

Tom feared that grief had upset the balance of the old man's mind, or he
could never have indulged the chimerical idea of finding Jim alive after
all these years. But he made no remark whatever as he lifted the yellow
manuscript from the floor, and, seating himself at some distance from the
Marquis, continued its perusal.

The first keenness of his surprise blunted by the knowledge that Jim was
actually the husband of Eleanor, Ronaldson sought eagerly yet
dispassionately for details of the circumstances which had led to the
separation (if but for a brief period) of the newly- married couple. But
he sought in vain. Allusions to the separation and to the circumstances
which led to it recurred again and again, but were always either preceded
or followed by such remarks as "Eleanor will have explained to you" or
"Eleanor will have told yo so I will not recapitulate," and so on.

The manuscript was indeed more in the nature of a diary than a letter,
and the entries for the most part were made at long intervals (especially
towards the end), and with little or no attempt to explain anything
except the circumstance which led to Jim's setting foot on Tristan
d'Acunha. Often Ronaldson was unable to distinguish the words beneath his
eye; the recital of Jim's grief at his enforced absence from Eleanor was
heart-breaking, and would have melted the hardest nature. In fact, these
lamentations made up the larger part of the whole production.

The last entry was dated November 10th, 1848, the very day, as Tom never
forgot, of Eleanor's death.

No ship again; still fog, fog, interminable fog! Think, my dear father,
what your feelings would be in such a case, and pity and comfort my
darling! To-day I am more depressed than ever, the most God-forsaken
creature in God's universe! Away in the lovely Californian Alps, where
for days I never encountered a human being, I was never wretched as I am
among these people, good and kind as they are. But then I had no wife,
and to-day I feel that she needs me, that she is in distress with none to
help her, and I, wretched, most miserable of men, cannot go to her. Ah,
God! why hast Thou torn us from each other? Fool, fool that I was ever to
leave her, ever to leave the Clytie, ever to set foot on this accursed
island! I will be calm, though; the fine season is now close at
hand--surely a ship will come tomorrow! Sometimes they approach and then
a gale will spring up and they hurry past and there is no possibility of
reaching them, even with the boat which I always keep in readiness to put
out. Every morning, as soon as it is light, I piece together the broken
hope of yesterday, only to find it shattered into a thousand fragments
ere night falls. Every day when it is fine I climb the cliffs and the
Cone; and when they are shrouded in mist I stand on the shore ready to
launch out at the first signs of an approaching vessel. But I will write
no more. It hurts me to write, it hurts me not to write. My old friend
Tom was to be back at Hurstwick this month. Tell him, with my love, to
have his hair cut at once--no good comes of vow-making or keeping. Vows
are simply gyves which never give as one grows. Would to God I had never
made one! May He yet be merciful and bring me once again to my adored
Eleanor. To your tenderest care I again commend her, my dear
father.--Your affectionate and suffering son, JAMES BAGSHOT WARNER.

By a very strong effort Ronaldson prevented the moisture that had
gathered in his eyes from falling, and, turning over page after page, set
himself to extract the salient facts, either definitely set forth or
implied.

So far as he could follow the manuscript it would seem that "Lord Jim"
and Eleanor met in New York and were married just before the latter left
that city for the little settlement at Patricia. That for some
unexplained reason Jim had left his newly-made bride to go--where?
Presumably to New Zealand, as Eleanor had given the Misses Barnard to
understand. But the MS. was silent on that point and also as to the
business calling him to that colony.

The MS., however, gave the circumstances which led to the bridegroom's
detention at Tristan d'Acunha. It appeared that Jim had begged the
captain of the Clytie, if opportunity occurred, to land him for a few
hours on the island that he might examine, if possible, the geological
formation of the Cone, its chief feature, particulars of which he had
promised to furnish to a Mr. Dawson, whom be referred to as a Canadian
geologist of some repute. Through stress of weather the captain, who had
promised not to leave the neighbourhood till night (no ship could
approach the beach), had been compelled to signal the boat which had
carried Jim to the island, and the hands, finding he was away climbing
with Governor Glass, returned without him.

Another fact, and one that in some measure explained Eleanor's apparently
singular lack of anxiety on her husband's account, was supplied by the
MS. Jim had written to her since sailing, and had been able to forward
his letter by a passing vessel before the Clytie reached Tristan. In that
letter (evidently addressed to Patricia) it was manifest he had given her
to understand that his return might be delayed by the native war in New
Zealand; and further had instructed her to proceed to Hurstwick not later
than October. Should her brother not have reached home by that time
Eleanor was to go direct to the Marquis and tell him everything.

Ah, cruel Fate! The pity of it all, pity too deep for words, too solid
for tears!

When Ronaldson had ceased for some minutes to turn the pages he still
held, the Marquis, who had closely watched his every movement for the
past hour, rose from his chair and, as the banker remained entirely
oblivious of his presence, advanced and seated himself beside him.

On perceiving the old man Tom started, and, removing his eyeglass,
commenced to blow his nose vigorously, while the Marquis, possessing
himself of the manuscript, pointed to its concluding statement-- "Your
affectionate and suffering son."

"You ought to know, Ronaldson," he said, "it is my duty to tell you
before we go further into this sad business, that but for my cruelty, my
heartlessness, Jim would never have been an outcast or a wanderer, need
never have concealed his marriage. Foolish he was, thoughtless I know,
but not wicked. He came to me one night in sore trouble, and I--God
forgive me!--hounded him from me like a dog--yes, and disowned him! That
is why he remained away so many years; that is why your sister kept her
marriage a secret; that is why I am a lonely, heartbroken old man
to-day."

And the speaker completely gave way again, his spare frame shaking like a
leaf, so mighty was the tempest of his emotion. Tom, alarmed for the
consequences of this terrible agitation, hastily interposed with the
story of his own share in this disastrous business.

"But it was I, my lord, who laid the wager with Jim. Had it not been for
me he would never have been in Feringham Wood that night, would never
have needed to come to you for help. I know, for Jim told me," continued
Ronaldson, as the Marquis raised his head from his hands and gazed
inquiringly at the speaker, "all about his interview with you. But I am
not less guilty than you of all the trouble and misery that has resulted
from that night's folly."

"Ah, you were foolish, wild, perhaps wicked," returned the nobleman,
gravely; "but you were not Jim's father; you were under no solemn
obligation to God and to his mother for his well-being, body and soul. I
was, and sinner that I am"--and the venerable man's voice gained in
strength as he unfalteringly proclaimed his guiltiness--" I shamefully
neglected that trust and even disowned my son. God grant, Ronaldson, that
you may never know remorse, sorrow such as mine! When I look back upon
those years of self-indulgence I can only think I must have been
possessed by the devil himself. My God! what have I not lost, what have I
not suffered! That the Marquisate will pass on my death or Arthur's--and
he, I am told, will go first--from the Warner family, unless, indeed, Jim
be now living, is but a part of my punishment, and I accept it as
deserved, though I bitterly deplore it."

"But there is Jack!" cried Ronaldson, for the first time recognising the
one bright, blessed boon amongst these abounding troubles.

"Jack? Jack who?" cried the Marquis, sharply.

"Why Jack, Eleanor's son, Jim's son. Ah! I see now why she insisted upon
his being called John," concluded the banker, musingly, while his eye
brightened. "With her last breath she intimated that the child should be
named after you, sir."

"For God's sake explain yourself," cried his lordship. "I thought you
said you knew nothing about this marriage, and now you tell me there is a
son and that he is named after me. What does it all mean?"

"There was a child, my lord, and now that I know the truth I can trace a
very distinct likeness in him to his father."

"Heaven be praised!" ejaculated the old man. "This is mercy, mercy I had
not dared to hope for. Where is the lad? Fetch him at once that I may
clasp him to my heart! A handsome fellow like my Jim? But how is it
Skelton did not tell me? Naturally the first question I asked him was,
'Is there a child?' Explain! I am too old to be trifled with."

"Mr. Skelton would not have heard of his existence," returned Ronaldson,
"for though Eleanor's death was publicly notified in Hurstwick the week
after it took place, no mention was made of the child. It was impossible
to publish its birth until we could give the name of its father. I've
worked every possible clue, I've travelled half over the world in the
hope of finding my sister's husband. Unfortunately, I never went to this
island, this Tristan d'Acunha, 1200 miles from everybody. Would to God I,
too, had been stranded there!"

"But the boy, what did you do with him?" asked the Marquis, with a vain
effort to appear calm.

"Brotherton (he was my sole confidant and adviser) and I agreed it would
be best to let him remain where he was until the father turned up. I felt
so certain he would discover himself, or be discovered, that I said I
would not see my nephew until I could greet him by his true surname, but
I was forced to break that resolve."

"By what name has he been known?" was the nobleman's next enquiry.

And then he had to listen to the long history of Ronaldson's experiences
in his search for the missing parent, to the difficulties Miss Barnard
had made for him by insisting that he was not the brother of Eleanor, to
the recital of the hostility manifested by the young man when uncle and
nephew met for the first time last August, hostility that culminated in
the latter's sudden disappearance from Heather's Edge.

"Good God, Ronaldson!" exclaimed the Marquis, in angry reproach, "you
don't mean to say you've let him slip away without knowing where you
could reach him at an hour's notice? Surely we have not found the father
only to lose the son!"

"Jack is searching for his father, my lord," returned Ronaldson, the
gloom of his face lightened for a moment, "but where I know not. I've
been an arrant fool," he continued, lapsing into despondence. "My nephew
demonstrated that fact last summer. In my desire to screen Eleanor's name
from the tongue of scandal I preserved a silence which has proved louder,
more fierce than any slanderous voice. The boy was furious when he
learned for the first time last August of the secrecy I had observed with
respect to his birth, and more furious still that I had dared to make use
of the name 'Jones' as his and his mother's. He fiercely demanded of Miss
Barnard (as she herself told me later) why I had not advertised for
particulars of his mother's marriage, why I had not impressed the whole
world into the search for his father? God helping him, he said, the world
should know whom his mother married, for he would search until he found
the man."

"Noble fellow!" ejaculated the Marquis, greatly affected. "It is his
mother speaking through him, sir."

"It must be, my lord, and that thought has alone kept alive the hope that
he will not only succeed where I have failed, but that he may in the end
forgive my blunders and accord me some measure of esteem."

"But what has he to live on; he can't prosecute this search without
money?"

Then the banker detailed the young man's plans as be had received them by
letter and word of mouth from the Misses Barnard, for on learning that
Jack had not been to Geneva, as he had surmised. Ronaldson had gone over
at once to Heather's Edge to make further inquiries. "He is a capital
linguist, my lord, and as, by my desire, his vacations have been spent in
different places on the Continent, he is singularly well equipped for the
post of travelling-tutor, a post he told one of the Misses Barnard he
should endeavour to obtain. He hoped to save sufficient in a year or two
to undertake his mission, and trusted he might meet with an appointment
which would eventually bring him to New York."

"The fellow has grit," observed the nobleman, admiringly. "He wouldn't
have your money?"

"No, my lord; he said be would rather break stones on the road than touch
a penny of it. So low have I fallen, or rather so low do I lie in his
regard. In justice to myself, though, I ought to tell you that Miss
Barnard attributes much of his animosity towards me to the fact that I am
opposed to an attachment he has formed with a girl in that neighbourhood.
When I heard from Miss Barnard how ill-fitted she was in every respect to
be Jack's wife, I begged her to use her efforts to break off the
intimacy."

"And she told Jack how you felt about it, I suppose?" observed the
nobleman, drily.

"She did, my lord," returned Ronaldson, somewhat disconcerted by the
other's manner. "The girl is partly French, so Miss Barnard said, and
lowly born. She was anxious to show me her certificate of birth to prove
that she did not speak without the book; but I told her it was quite
unnecessary for me to see it. And now that we know Jack to be your
grandson, my lord, it is more important than ever that the affair should
be broken off."

"I'm not so sure of that," was the unlooked-for rejoinder, "and I haven't
the same amount of faith as yourself in this Miss Barnard. It strikes me
that though she may now and then take a five-barred gate, she is more
likely to come a cropper at an anthill. You have seen this girl, I
suppose?" And the keen eyes of the old man looked mercilessly into those
of the banker.

"No, no, my lord. Well no, I've not seen the girl, but she is of no
position, and there's not the slightest doubt it is largely on her
account that Jack is determined to find his father."

"All honour to Jack and the girl then. She is so worthy that he will not,
dares not offer her anything that is false; not even a false surname. Ah,
sir, having seen my grandson you should have known that he could not care
for a vain, silly creature; his devotion to his mother's memory should
have taught you that. But much may yet be repaired. Go, see this girl for
yourself, and if she be such an one as I believe her to be, bring her
here. She shall tell us all she knows of Jack, and you and I may shortly
have him with us to cheer our last days. Mine can only be few at the
most, for last week I passed my seventy-fifth birthday; you, I trust,
have many years in. store. But go, go at once to this place, and come
again to me with news of the lad. Ah, here is Skelton at last," and the
nobleman turned as the lawyer entered, apologies upon his lips.

He had been making inquiries about Tristan d'Acunha, and putting engines
to work to discover every scrap of information respecting Miss
Ronaldson's marriage.

"Congratulate me, Skelton, I am a grandfather, and have been for more
than twenty years, though I knew it not. Ronaldson, too, was ignorant of
the name of his sister's husband, we have both had our trials. He's going
now to find the lad, and you and I must--"

"But have you--excuse me, my lord--but have you your sister's marriage
certificate?" inquired the lawyer, anxiously. And when Ronaldson had to
reply in the negative, Skelton said, cheerily, "Oh, we'll have it before
long we must publish all the facts we're in possession of at once. We
have the name of the ship, the Clytie; there will probably be passengers
still living who remember the circumstance that one of their number was
left at Tristan d'Acunha. We are not, of course, aware that Lord Jim
travelled under his title, or what name he used. But we must have the
facts we are in possession of published, my lord. The publication of
facts breeds facts, and we want all we can get, for there is the
heir-apparent to be met."

"Ah, yes; but it is the heir himself I want to meet."

"I'll go straight away to Heather's Edge, my lord," said Ronaldson,
rising.

"Ay,that's right, and if you don't find him there telegraph; but be sure
you bring the young lady back with you, and"--here the Marquis lowered
his voice-- "make use of the scissors before you call on her."

CHAPTER XVIII.

It is better to stir a question without deciding it, than to decide it
without stirring it.

Never out what you can untie.   JOUBERT

SELF-SHORN, and therefore somewhat apprehensive of the criticism of Miss
Barnard's eyes and tongue, Tom Ronaldson would gladly have welcomed the
worst they were capable of than have found no Miss Barnard. But when he
reached Heather's Edge the bright, roomy cottage was closed, the blinds
drawn down, and front and back doors fast locked. What could be the
reason? Had she gone to reside with her sister at The Gap? But, on
arriving at Davenant's house he found that also deserted. Now, thoroughly
alarmed, he drove to the vicarage and learned from Mr. Cartwright's
successor there that The Gap had been untenanted ever since Davenant's
wedding last October. "The old housekeeper died at the end of September,
and Miss Davenant wasn't looking at all well. Probably it is on her
account they are staying away, but I assure you we want Miss Davenant
badly on Sundays; indeed, my wife quite misses her, she had taken a great
liking for her."

Then Ronaldson inquired for Miss Barnard and heard, to his unbounded
astonishment, that she and her servant went abroad at the end of
February. "Abroad?" echoed Tom, suspicion and incredulity about equally
blended in his intonation. Could she and the Davenants have joined Jack
somewhere? "What could induce a woman of her age to go abroad?"

"She is no ordinary woman," responded the vicar, a twinkle in his eye;
"moreover, she is reputed to have a snug little sum in the bank. I must
own I admire her pluck in venturing out to see the world. Of all
disagreeable people commend me to the miserly female."

Then, noting the banker's evident annoyance, the vicar inquired if he
could assist him in any way.

The two men had never met before, but as Ronaldson replied, "I hardly
think so, thank you," he regarded his questioner attentively, and,
satisfied be was a man who might safely be trusted with a confidential
communication, continued, "Yet I may as well tell you my business, if you
are good enough to spare me half an hour. You are doubtless aware, sir,
that my only nephew, indeed, my only surviving relative, was born at
Heather's Edge and lived with the Misses Barnard until he was fourteen."

The vicar regarded his companion with a puzzled air. "Nephew? "he echoed,
questioningly, "only near relative? My dear sir, if you are referring to
the young fellow who was here for a few days last August and whom I only
saw at church, I am bound in duty to tell you that I have always been led
to understand he was and is your son."

Tom did not flinch, neither did he manifest any surprise at this
statement. He remembered that Lord Clanfalkland last summer had bestowed
an aggravatingly benign glance upon him as he listened to the banker's
announcement of his intention to adopt the handsome young fellow he
called his nephew Looks must be ignored, unless one would subject himself
to the dictum, "qui s'excuse s'accuse," but a man can be forced to eat
his words or apologise for them.

"May I ask your authority for that lie?" was Ronaldson's quiet rejoinder.

"My dear sir," returned the vicar, nonplussed by the other's coolness,
"does not the boy bear your name, while the register in the coffer yonder
attests the fact that he is the son of Thomas and Eleanor Ronaldson, of
Hurstwick?"

"His mother, nevertheless, was my only sister; there she lies," and Tom
indicated by a wave of the hand the grave which was distinctly visible
from the vicarage window---" her life the price of her child's."

"My dear sir," repeated the clergyman, again taken aback, "do you mean to
infer that the Eleanor Jones who lies there was the mother of the young
man called Ronaldson? Her death I had been led to understand was brought
about by the overturning of the post-chaise as she was posting from
Sheafland to Denby."

"Impossible!" cried Tom, with evident chagrin, for he had never
conceived, amidst all the difficulties that had dogged his endeavours to
put matters right, that Eleanor should be dissociated from her own child.
Verily, he had been a prince among muddlers and merited all the
reproaches that Jack and the Marquis had more or less covertly launched
at him. What with his own, and Miss Martha's tinkerings, it seemed highly
probable that Jack's identity would be difficult to establish. First a
Ronaldson, then a Jones, what court of law would listen to evidence in
support of his claim to the name of Warner? Why had he-- Tom--meddled
with the grave? Why not have left time and circumstance to elucidate all
that was mysterious? Why have "patched up" a name, as Miss Barnard had
remarked, "for the public to swallow" ? Would it ever be possible to
establish Eleanor's identity, even now, with the wife of Lord James
Bagshot Warner? Ronaldson turned hot and cold as he remembered that in
the church register which gave the dates of her death and burial she bore
the name of Jones.

And this amplification of the careless driving of the postboy into a
cause of death, must surely have had its origin in the mouth of Miss
Barnard, who, Tom now remembered, had been annoyed (so Brotherton had
said) that a child should have been born in her house.

The two men were standing at the open window through which the June
sunshine and the perfume of June roses, visible and invisible tokens of
the Divine, in silent, irresistible strength made their way. Perhaps they
brought comfort and hope to poor puzzled Tom.

"Come with me," he said, his tones tense and hoarse. "Come with me to my
sister's grave. There you shall hear her tragic story; there, sir, shall
you acknowledge that a wife and brother were the victims of a set of
circumstances as singular as they were cruel!"

Hands were grasped and warmly pressed when the recital which had deeply
affected both teller and listener was concluded. The vicar spoke
hopefully. He thought that so long as the Misses Barnard were alive their
evidence as to the boy's relationship to the lady who bore the name of
Jones would be accepted in any court of law."

"I should have thought, indeed, I have always thought," observed
Ronaldson, "that the whole countryside was in possession of the actual
fact that my sister was Jack's mother.'

"Twenty years ago, sir, as I can prove by the statistics I have collected
for a history of the parish," remarked the vicar, "this place was but a
scattered hamlet, neighbours often four, five, and sometimes as many as
ten miles apart from each other. Communication was then a difficult
matter, especially in winter, and these people accepting the first
statement of any set of circumstances, would cling to it as veritable
truth, unless it were unmistakeably proved untrue. I should not be at all
surprised if it turned out that your little nephew never appeared in the
village until he was five or six years old, and my parishioners would
never think of connecting him with the lady whose grave Miss Mary Barnard
(I should say Mrs. Davenant) had visited so faithfully (as I am told) for
so long a period."

"Well, I will ask you," said Ronaldson, as the two men returned to the
vicarage, "to let the truth be known to your parishioners as soon as
possible. Now I must be off. As you can give me no news either of Jack's,
or Miss Barnard's, or the Davenants' whereabouts, I shall go direct to
Switzerland to M. Vernet. He may have seen or heard from my nephew by
this time. Should you have anything to communicate please send direct to
the Marquis of Pierhampton, Hurstwick."

"By the bye," observed the vicar, as he relinquished the banker's hand,
'I have an idea that someone was making inquiries in the village about
your sister just a year ago. I was not at home, but he--"

"Jim!" cried Ronaldson, his usual caution at once deserting him, "it will
have been Jim!"

"Not so fast, my dear friend; the stranger in all probability was only a
summer visitor, of whom I should have heard nothing had he not asked to
see the registers. As I was away (I always keep them locked up) he did
not see them."

Tom drew a long breath. "Where can I hear more of this stranger? "

"Davidson, our clerk, will tell you all there is to be known; the
gentleman stayed one night at his cottage."

"I'll go at once and see him; we can't afford to ignore trifles; No, I
can get lunch in town or on board, thanks."

Leaping into the waiting gig Ronaldson and its driver were soon white
with the summer dust raised by the rapid hoof-falls of the fleetest horse
Denby owned. But the banker spent half-an-hour with Davidson.

BOOK III.

CHAPTER I.

There life is easiest unto man; no snow

Or wintry storm or rain at any times

Is there, but evermore the ocean sends

Soft breathing airs of zephyr to refresh

The habitants.

HOMER.

ONE evening in Easter week, some two months or more before the arrival at
Hurstwick of that important document from Tristan d'Acunha, a solitary
canoe, manned by natives, passed through the opening in the barrier-reef
surrounding the small island of San Juan Baptista in the South Pacific.
Beneath the graceful cocoa-nut trees which fringed the shore, a tail man,
bronzed by travel till he was of almost the same complexion as the dusky
rowers, sprang, carpet-bag in hand, on to the white glittering beach.

Bestowing a guerdon, which literally called forth volumes of gratitude
from the recipients, the traveller immediately struck out for the hill
beyond, and was presently lost to sight among the elegant Barringtonias
and Ti trees which clothed its sides. For a time the swish, swish of the
oars, and the song of the rowers, as they returned to their homes at the
easternmost end of the island, were distinguishable above the thunder of
the mighty ocean waves, and the pronounced though inaudible contempt of
the equally mighty barrier reef they assailed. They never ceased their
efforts to move that silent bar. One moment they would lash it with
terrific violence, the next in abject, mock abasement would toss upon its
crest an avalanche of pearls and diamonds which, shattered on the impact,
were flung back with the music of breaking crystal.

Apart from this eternal conflict around it the island was singularly
quiet and deserted this April evening of 1869. Yet when the solitary
pedestrian emerged from the belt of trees surrounding the summit, and
came in full view of the native settlement upon the table-land beyond, be
evinced no surprise at the absence of all tokens of active life.

Turning along a small pathways which skirted the eminence to the left, he
came to a stand on the verandah of a tiny dwelling-house commanding the
broad expanse of waters, which, as the sun declined, looked like the
immense pallet of some giant painter, so wondrously did the murky,
restless element entangle and separate the crimson beams now flung
athwart it.

The frame plastered and white-washed with lime from the coral rocks, was
apparently unoccupied, for a call from the new arrival elicited no
response, and an examination of its four small rooms found them
untenanted. But in one a spotless cloth was laid with pickled fish, ripe
bananas, yams, and fresh cocoa-nut milk, the whole presenting such a
tempting appearance it was small wonder the traveller yielded to the mute
invitation, and discussed, with evident appreciation, the good things
provided. As he did so his eyes fell upon two envelopes lying on the
table, each bearing English stamps and the address "J. B. Warner, Esq."

Their contents afforded the reader manifest satisfaction, and his repast
ended, he rose and, lighting a cigar, proceeded towards the verandah. On
the way thither he paused before a crucifix, the sole object on the
walls. Attentively regarding it for a moment he turned to his carpet-bag,
and took therefrom a small scroll which, by rolling out from the inside,
became flat and readable, for its rescript was set forth in large and
gilded type.

"I wonder whether the padre would mind," said the man, tentatively, as he
produced four drawing-pins, with the evident intention of nailing the
scroll beside the crucifix; "they ought to go together."

But the brief soliloquy was abruptly broken off, and scroll and pins
flung down at the sound of a familiar footstep, while, turning hastily,
the tall, bronzed man almost fell into the outstretched arms of a short,
spare, eager-faced priest advancing through the doorway. Hands long
sundered were grasped with a warmth and strength of feeling which spread
to the very finger-tips, and "eyes looked love to eyes that spake again,"
for hearts were too full for other speech.

"Ah! hiji mio, bienvido, bienvido! " at length broke from the elder man.
"Now am I ready to say my Nunc Dimittis!"

"Nunc dimittis? echoed the other in tender derision. "Nay, nothing of
that sort for years to come. Why, padre mio, I can no more do without you
now than I could twenty years ago. Indeed, I have come here now with the
express purpose of carrying you away from this place instanter!"

Padre Geronimo Encarnacion slowly shook his heads though eye and smile
irradiated the worn countenance.

"But I mean it," continued the younger man, with decision. "You work too
hard. I can see signs all over you of an imperative need for rest and
change. Besides," and here, though the two spoke entirely in Spanish, the
voice was lowered, "I am not at all comfortable about you since news came
of the way those brutes treated good Bishop Patteson at Nupaka the other
day. I have dreaded to take up a newspaper of late lest I should read
some such announcement as this: 'The devoted Padre Geronimo Encarnacion,
who has laboured so faithfully on the island of San Juan Baptista for the
past ten years, was cruelly--'"

"Ah! no, my son, my dear Jacobo; our people are not like those. Yet, if
God will. No, no, my people are good and kind; they would not hurt me. As
you would see, they were all at Vespers to-night-- babies and all. And
last Sunday--ah, I wish you could have seen the young ones in their white
robes making their first Communion! And it is thou, my son, who hast
wrought this great good for them and me!"

I? I? I, my father? I, the heretic? What can you be thinking about?"

"I am thinking what is quite right," returned the priest with an
emphasizing nod. "But we shall walk a little and I will show you how true
are my words." And the two passed out, and linking arms, paced up and
down the white coral pathway in front of the verandah, where the breeze
came direct from the ocean.

"Do you not see, hiji mio, that if you had not interfered at San Carlos
when I was foolishly trying to die I could not have done this work I love
so much. To you, therefore, these people and I, under God, owe all."

"That is one way of shelving responsibility and honour, my father,"
returned the younger man, lightly.

Then, still lightly, but with the lightness that reveals great deeps, he
added; "And where, padre mio, should I have been without your
self-sacrificing aid? How could I, helpless as I was, have shipped myself
and the gold from Monté Rey? Who, but yourself, tended me during that
tempestuous voyage to New York? Who was it that never left me till I
seemed fairly started on the highway to happiness?" A quiet joy shone
from the old man's eyes, while he vainly endeavoured to cut short his
companion's recital. "Nay, I am by far the larger debtor," continued the
latter, "for who but yourself nursed me through that five years'
nightmare of sorrow at Upolu when I, too, foolishly tried to die."

"Ah, but, my son, for you there was excuse: God's hand was heavy upon
you."

At these words a stern look crept to the face of the younger man--the
look a man's face wears when his dearest friend is subjected to passing,
if unintentional, insult; the look of a man at "guard," ready to strike,
yet loth to attack one whose friendship he values and whose armour he
deems worthless. No, he would not draw, but it was with unmistakable
relief he saw Juan de Dios (for such was the self-chosen baptismal name
of the padre's native servant) approach and engage his master's
attention.

Rightly or wrongly James Bagshot Warner's whole nature revolted against
the universal practice of heathendom and Christendom alike, to foist
their troubles, their sins, and even the punishment of sins, upon their
Deity. If one sowed the wind, was it not reasonable to expect the
whirlwind? One had one's choice of seeds, and one was free to sow or not
to sow.

As these thoughts passed rapidly through Warner's mind be became aware
that night, with tropical suddenness, had descended, that the stars in
lustrous beauty and with noiseless footfall had stepped on to the deep
blue vault above, and at sight of them the light of joy kindled upon his
face until it was as the face of an angel. For his intense love and
appreciation of all created things, far keener now than in his
Californian days, was but a rivulet from the sea of his passionate love
and devotion to their and his Creator. A very Parsee this man in his
chivalrous treatment of all that is earthy, for the Divine impress was
never obscured to his earnest, loving gaze. The beauty, the potentiality
of the earth were to him an eternal source of wondering joy and
reverence; always there was "the hiding of His power," and more obvious
still the tokens of His tenderness and providence. The Maker of beauties
and blessings so transcendent, the Author and Contriver of the many
sorrows he had experienced? Away with the thought!

Yet one could not (he, least of all) be angry with the padre, a man whose
hand had never rested heavily either on saint or sinner. What is that be
is saying at this moment to Juan de Dies? "Es necesario amar á todo el
mundo, hasta á nuestros enemigos."* Surely he was a man after God's own
heart. And, so thinking, Warner re-entered the little frame-house with
"En poco tiempo mi padre."** Picking up the fallen scroll, its
inscription, "Every man must bear his own burden," coinciding so exactly
with his own theory and experience of life, he replaced it in his
portrnanteau and proceeded to an adjoining room for a wash and brush up.

Meanwhile, Juan de Dios having departed, the padre's thoughts recurred to
the interrupted conversation as he paced up and down the little pathway.

Ah, who in all the world had suffered as Jacobo had suffered? The old
priest knew by heart every paragraph in his well-thumbed "Lives of the
Saints" and, while he acknowledged the trials there recorded were great
and manifold, entitling each saint to the martyr's crown, he privately
confessed their sufferings to be as the fine dust of the balance in
comparison with the heavy burden of sorrow this man had borne. From that
eventful night when as the Señor James, Jim has appeared to the padre in
the church of San Carlos right on to the present moment, the two had
never lost touch, though often separated, as on this last occasion, for
five years or so.

What a history, thought the priest, as circumstance after circumstance
passed rapidly through his mind, a history which, if inserted in the
"Lives of the Saints," would be regarded as savouring more of tradition
than truth. Yet how terribly true it was, as true as eventful! What an
undertaking the shipping of that gold!

_____________________________________________________________________*
"We must love everybody, even our enemies." ** Presently.

As the padre recalled it he saw again the tiny cell, the insensible
Englishman, the gold-strewn floor, the charred bedding. Then his eye
kindled with the light which ilumines the face of a skilful general when
he looks back on some successful strategic movement, as he reviewed his
tactics on that occasion.

Surely he was aided by our Blessed Lady of Sorrows, whose heart is ever
full of pity for the helpless and distressed. How else could he, a weak,
insignificant priest, have conceived such a scheme for saving this man
and his gold--this man, who was then almost a stranger, but now, heretic
though he was, his very dear son?

Yes, it certainly was a scheme that any man, even a big general, might be
proud of, and there was so little time and so much, so very much gold.
Afterwards he had had the help of some devoted Indians, but the scheme
was all his own. True, a Spanish ship was in the harbour just then, and
the captain of it, a good Catholic, was quite willing to take, for a
small sum, a poor priest and his sick friend who were fleeing from the
heretic Yankees. The little town, too, was empty, all the men folk, both
invaders and invaded, away South at Los Angeles and San Diego, and the
American vessels which had filled Monté-Rey Bay in July were down South
too. So that, after all, it was not such a difficult matter to get right
off when one was outside San Carlos as it might have been.

Indeed, if it had not been for that gold the English man was so anxious
to send to someone, there would have been no difficulty. But there was
the gold, and certainly it should not be left for the heretic who had
bought the sacred Mission, and would soon pull down the holy church and
destroy all it contained.

And then our Blessed Lady of Sorrows had said, "Take with you the
Madonna, and the Holy Child, also San Juan de Capristano. See, you can
hide them, one in each of the unburnt sacks, and with the gold about them
they will travel safely, and their presence will be to you a blessing."
Then she had pointed to the burnt bedding and bid him stuff the rest of
the gold into the mattress with some straw. How his fingers had ached,
for it was necessary to patch the burnt parts, and cover all over with
some old hides he had discovered in an outhouse. All the time the
Englishman lay on the floor, the cushion upon which the crucifix usually
rested in the church beneath his head. Better the sick man has it than
the rough, rude Yankee.

Then, when after much pains the mattress of gold and straw is finished,
with great reverence the Madonna and Child and San Juan de Capristano
were lifted from their pedestals and inserted in the centre (one in each)
of the two whole sacks. When the "specimens" Jim had placed in the mouth
were removed there was ample room for the sacred images, and when they,
too, had been hide-bound and the nuggets put in the Señor James' box (the
key of which was taken from his neck and replaced there) but little time
remained.

The final sweepings up of the yellow grains made good payment for the
voyage. And now that all is finished three devoted Indians, who (spite of
the Government edict) would not accept their independence and were always
within hail, were called. They are informed that a sick man who came for
shelter must be carried down to the Hispania that night. As payment for
their services they must each take on of the stranger's three beasts. The
padre recalls with a thrill the last time he entered the church of San
CarIos, how, after prostrating himself before it, he raised the heavy
rood beneath which he had so lately sought to sacrifice his life. Asking
pardon for the daring act, he fixed another cross-piece near the lower
end of the upright, and with shuddering thankfulness extracted the cruel,
headless, bloodstained nails. For the rood shall be the stretcher upon
which the sick man on the hard mattress shall be conveyed to the vessel.

What a tramp, tramp that was in the darkness and the rain! Three miles of
it, and all in profound silence. It might have been a corpse those
bearers carried, so still lay the figure beneath its rough tarpaulin
covering, his trunk with the nuggets at his feet, the sacred cushion
beneath his head. Monté-Rey was deserted, and the heavy rain muffled the
hoof-falls of the two beasts, which carried each a sack with its rich and
sacred contents.

I take with me,' I said to the captain of the Hispania, 'the Holy Mother
of God and San Juan de Capristano. See, I have packed them well in the
sand of our country that so they shall not be injured. I will not that
they be left to fall into the hands of the heretic, and they will bring
you good winds."

"Bueno, bueno, and this, then, is your sick friend?" So all was well.

But when Jacobo and his belongings were safely aboard, and the captain
had crowded all sail, and favoured by a nor'wester, had rounded Point
Pinos unmolested, Geronimo Encarnacion's work was not over.

This Señor James had crept into the desolate heart of the poor priest,
and his weakness and helplessness made powerful appeals to the innate
tenderness and devotion of the man. He would not leave the Señor until he
should be strong enough to care and do for himself; and perhaps (quien
sabe ?) our Blessed Lady, who had helped him already so much, would give
him the joy of saving the soul of this young, fine man. So determined,
the padre found no difficulty in refusing a very pressing offer made by
the Mission Bishop of Hawaii, where the vessel called, to remain and work
in his diocese. He promised, however, that later on he would, if spared,
return; and the bishop struck by the evident suitability of the man for a
life of hardship and unquestioning service, was fain to be content.

Poor Jacobo did not make much progress; he seemed to have no wish to
live. The heart of the padre was very sad in those days, and he
remembered now how often, as he had paced the deck of that vessel, he had
thought to himself that the young Señor below, who had so miraculously
interposed to save him from death, was himself slowly dying beneath some
heavy invisible rood. How he longed to be able to remove that weighty,
impalpable burden.

The captain was a very holy man, and was sure that the Madonna and San
Juan had brought him good luck, so he told the padre where he might find
good, clean lodgings on the quay at New York Harbour.

"My men shall carry for you the sacred images and the bed of your sick
friend, but, Holy Mother of God! what a hard one it is!"

And so the voyagers were safely housed in strange, poor, but clean
quarters. Yet Jacobo did not grow strong for months and months, and all
that time the two were busy extracting the gold from the straw in the
mattress, and re-arranging it that no suspicion of its enormous value
should excite the curiosity of the landlady. Ah, that was a dreary time,
and what a tiring, tiresome business to separate and collect the gold.

And Jacobo will not venture out, so on the padre fell all the business of
seeking a place for this great wealth. "Jacobo was feverishly anxious to
be rid of it so I go myself to see the man at the head of the America
Treasure House, and he comes to our lodgings and brings with him a young
lawyer. They ask many questions of Jacobo. Jacobo tells them where this
gold was found, and they look at each other and nod wisely. Then they
say, 'We will take care of this for you, and for every hundred pounds
will give you £3 l0s. each year.' Jacobo says, 'Bueno, but I will that
you assay and weigh it here, and that you keep it until the woman Sarah
Bennett or her child shall ask it of you. These nuggets keep for me until
I want them.'

"So they agreed, and when the dust and nuggets have been tried and
weighed, then it is found that Jacobo has more than £7,000, and the woman
nearly twice as much!--Jacobo says he will at once go to New Zealand and
find and tell her of this great fortune, but he is still very weak, and
on the way to ask about a ship he slips and breaks his leg. So we go
again back to our lodgings, and there Jacobo must stay till the leg is
well joined. Then it was that the Battery, and the Bowery, and Five
Points were thronged with the gaunt, pale Irish, who, because they had no
potatoes to eat in their own country, the English must send them to
America to get food. Poor creatures! And Jacobo was so sorry for them. He
did not care much to live in those days. His gold he cared not for.

"Let the Irish have it, caro padre mio,' be would say, 'and take much for
yourself.'

"But I would have him well. I would have him go to his father, the
marchese. Then one day came the beautiful English Señorita Ronaldson, a
heretic, but full of goodness for the poor Catholics. Yes, she soon was
el amigon with me, and then I ask her to come and see her compatriot who
had broken his leg, but whose heart was still more broken. She came, and
very soon the broken heart was mended, and then Jacobo no longer needs
the old mad padre.

"I could see how they loved each other, and my heart was glad. It was
better so, better he should go back to the noble Inglese his father and
all be happy. And I had my mission work. The Yankees, too, said that no
more would they permit the poor Irish to land on their shores, so what
better could I do than go to Hawaii to the good bishop who wanted me?

"And Jacobo will go at once, since he is well, to New Zealand, so that
Sarah Bennett shall know about the gold waiting for her. And the Señorita
says, 'Yes, go quickly, and you will find my brother there, and it will
be well that you go back to England with him. As for me I will finish my
work with my protégées, and the padre Jones will take me safely back, and
I shall be there at home to welcome you both.'

"Ah, yes, and how good it would have been if what she wished had been
done. But Jacobo, when he has found a very fast ship that will go from
Boston, he loves so much the Señorita that before he goes he begs her to
marry, that so he may call her his very own. And in those last hours she
can deny him nothing. So at Boston the day before his ship leaves they
marry. Marry--and the day after they part! Ah, God! What brightness, what
sweetness, what prospects of delight!

"They would come to see me at my station some day, they said. Ah, me! It
was at the end of February they marry, and fifteen months after Jacobo
did indeed land at my station. But--well, no, not to-night; one must not
even think of it."

"? De qué se trata padre mio?" cried Warner, breaking in upon his
friend's reverie from the verandah. "What is going on down there?" he
repeated, as shouts and laughter ascended from the beach, above which the
moon had now risen in tranquil beauty.

Hurrying down the little pathway to a point from whence a good view of
the shore was obtainable, the two men paused while the padre exclaimed,
"It is the march of the mali'o to-night."

"Ah, let us go down," said the other. "I haven't seen a march for years."

The beach was a scene of great excitement, dusky natives, with flaming
torches, screaming with laughter as they rushed hither and thither after
the mali'o. For the mali'o, or land crabs, were marching down in their
thousands to the water's edge to take their customary dip in the sea at
the change of the moon.

The natives, who regard these votaries of the bath as delicate morsels
when baked in banana-leaves with the juice of an old cocoanut, waylaid,
chased, and finally captured them with much noisy good humour. From a
canoe, which the padre and Warner pushed into the quiet water within the
barrier, the sight was both gay and beautiful.

The cocoanut trees silhouetted on the white sands, the shadows of the
hunters as they glanced here and there with their bright torches, their
musical mirth, the lovely moonlight on sea and land, severally united to
bring gladness to the eye and heart of the wanderer, the man without home
or kindred, the man whose whole being, body and soul, was steeped in the
love of God.

"We are not free

To say we see not, for the glory comes

Nightly and daily like the flowing sea;

His lustre pierceth through the midnight glooms

And at prime hour behold! He follows me

With golden shadows to my secret rooms,"

repeated Warner, as he stretched himself upon his mat some two hours
later, and composed himself to sleep.

But as he slept he dreamed, and the dream was as though he slept not, so
vivid, so dominating was the vision.

CHAPTER II.

The sense of beauty is one of the most potent of talismans by which we
defeat or keep at a distance the evil genii of what we call Fate.
                               MATTHEW BROWNE.

SOON after sunrise next morning Warner, with a preoccupied air, strolled
down to the shore, and (unlike the mali'o) without fear of molestation,
took his dip in the sea. Then, finding he had some spare moments before
the breakfast hour, he pushed out a small canoe, and, after paddling for
some time, attached the painter to one of the highest coral-branches
(some two feet below the surface) that he might ride at anchor. Next,
with face downwards, and in horizontal position, he gave himself up to
the full enjoyment of the wondrous picture beneath.

The depth varied greatly, as did the width of this belt of water which
the reef barred so securely from the fury of the tireless waves beyond.
Here, perhaps, not more than two or three fathoms, there ten or twelve,
but always the floor was distinctly visible. Many years had passed since
Warner had gazed, as now, into the placid waters of the Pacific, and
never had he done so under happier conditions.

Not a breath ruffled the surface; the sun shone in all its strength of
heat and light, and no disturbing element was present. As the man gazed,
his soul was filled anew with wonder and delight. There in the clear
water the coral sprouts and sprays spread in grace and beauty, studded
with shell-fish of every size, shape, and clour. Warner's object was to
watch these myriad shell-fish feed, for when they take in food it as
though the coral were encrusted with flashing jewels, so brilliant and
beautiful are the tints they display; while fish of all hues glance
hither and thither about them, playing hide-and-seek among the
coral-branches

The sight recalled a long-gone past to the gazer. He remembered how in
another island, a prey to the dumb despair which seized and held him in
thrall for years after he learned the terrible tidings of his young
wife's death, he spent whole days gazing face downwards on the
coral-forests and their denizens. What he saw then made him a
pearl-seeker, and for a long period, during which time he strove to blot
from memory all trace of his former existence, with its many sorrows and
its few outstanding joys, he dived with, and became as expert as, the
natives in the watery element.

The world of ocean then was as entirely new to him as the Californian
Alps when he first set foot upon them, and his mind by degrees became
again absorbed by the old questions he and Vallejo had discussed so
hotly. From one tropical island to another he roved, his pearl
oyster-fishing always bringing him a sufficiency for his simple wants,
and in time a small competency. Then he decided to see what other wonders
earth had yet to show, and with that resolve came the recollection of the
trust Isaac Bennett had made over to him, and which, for aught he knew to
the contrary, might, as a consequence of his neglect, have long since
passed beyond his control.

Fortunately the padre had preserved the U.S. Treasury receipts, and,
after satisfying the officials as to the cause of his long silence the
interest upon the nuggets was forwarded to Warner, and had been duly
forwarded ever since. Hitherto though, all efforts to discover Sarah
Bennett or her heirs had proved abortive, and Warner blamed himself
greatly for those years in which her claims upon him had remained
unheeded. Had he, as he frequently told himself, but "stood and taken his
punishment like a man, instead of bending beneath it like a dumb tree in
the blast," Isaac Bennett's gold might long since have been in the
possession of its rightful owner

But now there seemed every probability that the rightful owner had been
discovered; yet before this immense sum (for with twenty years' interest
it now amounted to something more than £200,000) was paid over, the U.S.
Treasury would, without doubt, institute a strict investigation into the
whole matter. Warner was therefore anxious to carry Geronimo Encarnacion
to New York, to contribute his important quota of evidence as to the
deposit and amount of the original specie. And he had not yet named the
subject to the old man, but there must be no further delay in mooting and
settling the question.

Sounds of activity on shore assured the sea-gazer that the congregation
had been dismissed from the white coral church, so, releasing the
painter, he made haste to join the padre, who, surrounded by an
affectionate crowd, was evidently about to pronounce his blessing upon a
small fleet of fishing-canoes lying some hundred yards distant. That
service concluded, the two friends climbed the hill, and were glad to
find breakfast set outside the little house in the shade cast by a
plantation of young cocoanut trees.

The meal ended, the padre, observing Warner's evident preoccupation, said
tenderly, "? Qué tiene Vuestra, hiji mio?"*

"Un sueño me ha despertado, mi padre, a singularly vivid dream, an
unpleasant dream, too," was the unexpected reply.

The priest had looked forward to a whole budget of news connected with
Jacobo's visit to England, and his doings generally during his long
absence--but a dream!

"Yes, my father, it has taken such a hold on me that I shall be wise to
tell it, and then, perhaps, it will pass from my mind."

"Do so, my son," said the padre. Dreams held a high position in his
regards, and he gave his undivided attention to the recital of this one.

"It was very strange," continued Warner, and there was something dreamy
in his tones, "that in my dream I went back to the night before I left
England, and that, in sleep, I should have felt all the misery and
forlornness of my position at that time, as keenly as I felt it in
reality. In fancy I was again upon the old Liverpool landing-stage, so
different to the splendid docks of to-day. A dense fog hung over the sea,
and a strong west wind every now and again dashed rain upon me. I assure
you, my father, I felt the drops upon my face as I lay sleeping last
night; indeed, I have wondered many times since how reality and fancy
could have been so powerfully, so strangely blended."

"Go on, my son," said the padre. To himself he said, "We shall presently
see whether this vision is not of God."

_____________________________________________________________

*What troubles you, my son?

"Man-forsaken, God-forsaken, as I had been in reality, so in my dream. I
seated myself upon a capstan, undecided what to do or where to go. The
fog lifted now and again, thereby disclosing the shifty, leaden Atlantic
waves, which seemed, even in my dream, to mock me with their instability;
while they, in their turn, were blotted out, and the two prostrate
figures in Feringham Wood filled up my whole mental horizon. People were
passing, drays were arriving, sailors were busy, yet there I sat, my eyes
on the fog, my thoughts in the wood, when (this is dream)," Warner
explained, and the padre slowly bent his head--" when a gentle touch on
my arm startled me so, that, springing up, I almost knocked down a frail
old man at my elbow who, with every mark of deference, apologised for the
liberty he had taken.

"' I beg your pardon, sir,' he said, 'but might I make so bold as to ask
whether you are sailing in the Arethusa to Vera Cruz?' And I could see
with what anxiety he awaited my answer, and hear, too, how greatly his
voice trembled. 'Well, I've not quite decided whether to go to Canada,
New York, or Mexico,' I answered, jauntily; 'which would you recommend '

"'God bless you for your kindness, sir; but if it is not a great matter
to you where you go, if you will take passage in the Arethusa I will
never cease as long as I have breath to call down Heaven's blessing upon
you.'

"I thought the man daft in my dream, and yet he was terribly in earnest
for all his gentle way; and I had not the heart, sad, too, as I was, to
laugh, or, indeed, feel anything but sympathy for him. Before I could
speak the old man continued: 'It will be twenty years come Christmas,
sir, since I sent my boy Harry away, bidding him never return!'"

"Ah! "ejaculated the padre, drawing a long breath, while to himself he
said, again, "We shall presently see whether this vision is not of God."

"I started violently," continued Warner, "thinking in my dream it were
scarcely possible that two fathers in England and in the same century had
turned a son adrift. 'He would be about your age, sir, I should think,'
said the old man, 'but a foolish, foolish fellow; continually in disgrace
and mixed up in a thousand scrapes. At last I turned him out of house and
home, and threatened to make him over to justice if he should ever dare
to return. But now I want him; my God, how I want him!' That cry rings in
my ears, my father, like the cry of a lost soul."

"Ah!" again ejaculated the padre, "this vision is of God, my son."

But Warner continued his recital as if he had not heard the remark. "' I
want you,' the old man said, 'to find my son, young sir, and beg him to
forgive me.'"

"In my dream I did not feel surprised at the strange request, but
listened with deepest interest while he told me what his son was like,
and that be had last been heard of in Mexico City. Would I go there and
find him and give him his father's message? The next thing I was afloat
on the Arethusa, and after landing at Vera Cruz I proceeded at once to
the City of Mexico. In my dream I felt again the same sensations of
pleasure and wonder as when I, in reality, first set foot there. There
was so much to claim my attention in the solid, palatial buildings, the
breadth and regularity, of the numerous squares, the gay dresses of the
Indians, and the beauty of the Spanish women, that I quite forgot the old
man's commission. But as I gazed on the novel sights I became aware that
the people were most certainly on the watch for some thing of importance,
and then my promise recurred to me. Almost before I remembered that I did
not know the young man's surname, I became possessed of it by one of
those unaccountable methods known only to dreamers. Mason, Harry Mason,
was the man I wanted, but how was I, stranger that I was, to discover
him? It was then about ten o'clock in the morning, and as I saw the
inhabitants one after another take their stand in the street, at their
balconies and above the parapets of the flat-roofed houses, I determined
to wait and see what would come--then I would seek for Harry Mason."

Warner paused for a moment, and turning to his interested listener said,
"I was standing in the long thoroughfare (you know it well, mi padre)
which leads on to the Vera Cruz gate, and suddenly the distant sound of
muffled drums fell on my ear from the opposite direction. Some great man
was about to be borne to his last resting-place I thought, and strained
my eyes to catch the first glimpse of what was evidently an advancing
cavalcade. In the far distance loomed that immense building which you, my
father, will remember as the palace of the Viceroys, but which when I saw
it in reality was prison, palace, and public library. From out this
building in my dream issued a military guard of horse and foot to the
slow music of the muffled drums. Behind the soldiers walked the officers
of justice, followed by some thousands of persons, each carrying an.
ornamental lantern enclosing a lighted candle. You guess, my father?"

"Go on, my son, go on; tell me all the vision, every detail of it."

"Slowly the mournful procession advanced, and when those who carried the
lighted candles had passed by I saw an innumerable company of Franciscans
and Dominicans, every third man carrying an enormous crucifix."

The padre nodded, he knew well what was coming.

"At intervals of perhaps two minutes, each crucifix was simultaneously
raised on high, while every religious exclaimed in tones deep as the
muffled drums, 'Look to the Lord! Look to the Lord!' Immediately behind
the priests were two men, to whom the invocation was evidently addressed.
You will know, my father, that they were prisoners on their way to
execution. Poor creatures! I once saw such a sight in reality, and my
pity and horror were as keen in my dream last night as upon that single
occasion of which I was a spectator. The unhappy criminals were attired
in white woollen gowns and caps, upon which red crosses had been sewn,
and so overcome by emotion were they that had they not been supported,
they would have fallen from the asses upon which they were seated and to
which they were attached by irons. I shuddered at the spectacle they
presented, and as women and children fell upon their knees and with
dimmed eye and trembling lip besought Heaven's mercy on the doomed, my
feelings became almost unbearable. Suddenly I remembered Harry Mason, and
eagerly scrutinised the prisoners. Was it possible the fair one could be
he? I felt myself choking, yet in my poor Spanish endeavoured to extract
some information from my neighbour. Yes, one was an Englishman, a wicked
creature, a fiend incarnate, whe had robbed, had murdered, had committed
sacrilege, and now was about to receive the due reward of his deeds. His
name ? I feverishly inquired. That my informant did not know. Mason ? Ah,
yes, Henriquez Mason, that was the name.

"Then, in mad haste, I turned to follow the procession to give the
prisoner his father's message. Thrusting aside every person and thing
that impeded my way I rushed, I fought, I struggled, yet I got no nearer
to the object of my efforts. As in a nightmare I panted, and was all but
suffocated in my attempt to reach that culprit. It was not to be, for
when at length I found myself in the open space before the Vera Cruz
gate, from one of the two high gallows standing there swung the lifeless
form of the Englishman. And I awoke crying, 'Too late; my God, too
late!'"

As Warner finished his recital he covered his eyes with his hand, as if
to shut out the awful picture.

Upon his over-strained imagination the voice of Padre Geronimo fell
calmly. "My son, that was a vision from Heaven! Su padre de Vuestra le
llama*; he longs to ask your forgiveness. You must go to him quickly lest
it be too late."

Warner rose, and for a moment or more as he paced before the little
breakfast-table he remained silent. Then he said, "Naturally you give
that interpretation, mi padre, and when I tell you that on his death the
estates and title must pass to a distant branch of the family not bearing
even the name of Warner, it may well be that the Marquis should, and
does, feel some remorse."

"Pass to a distant branch?" echoed the priest.

_______________________________________________________

* Your father is calling you.

"How can that be ? Where then are the brothers of your grace?"

"The eldest died last August, soon after my flying visit to England, and
from the obituary notices (which you may be sure I read with great
interest) I learned that my only surviving brother, now Earl Towermains,
is in such weak health the doctors do not expect him to outlive the
Marquis. Both brothers are childless, indeed, the elder one never
married, so it may well be that my father thinks with regret upon having
banished me."

"Estoy seguro de eso,"* said the padre, softly. "But you will go to him,
Jacobo, before it is too late?"

"Mi padre, it is already too late," returned Warner, sadly. "Parting in
anger, as we did, the vows we then made, that we would henceforth be as
strangers to each other were manifestly registered in heaven and we must
each abide the consequences."

"But now, even now, you should speak, my son; for it is surely right in
the sight of God and the blessed saints that father and son be reconciled
before death parts them indeed for ever. Ah, Jacobo, go not down to the
grave without trying at least once more to remove from your soul the
stain of that terrible oath. Believe me, this vision is a heaven-sent
picture of your father's heart. You must not shut your eyes, nor close
your ears, or greater sorrow will befall you in the world beyond this,
when the books are opened and every man shall be judged by the deeds
recorded there."

"But some deeds can never be undone, mi padre," said the younger man, the
throb in his voice proclaiming how greatly he was moved. "Nothing has
been the same since I made that oath, and if I had not believed that the
only thing left for me was to stand and take my deserved punishment
without a murmur, I might long ago have taken my life, so valueless did
it at one time appear."

* I am sure of it.

"But now, my son," urged the other, "now you will go to the Marchese;
now, even at this eleventh hour, you will see him and tell how God and
the blessed saints have preserved you to each other."

Slowly "Lord Jim" shook his head. "It is impossible for me to open my
lips now," he said, "impossible! I am not the boy I was when the Marquis
and I parted. None would recognise me for the same. Then I have no proofs
of identity to offer. My marriage certificate the miniatures of the
Marquis and Marchioness, where are they? Either lost or wilfully
suppressed. Besides, the monument in St. Mary's commemorates my death
thirty years ago, and the newspapers last year referred to it in their
obituary notices of my brother William. No, mi padre, as I said before,
our oath was registered above and neither I nor the Marquis can abjure
it."

"But God and the blessed saints might wipe it out," persisted the priest.
And to himself he murmured, "After ye have suffered awhile, stablish,
strengthen, settle you."

As though he heard not, Warner continued, "It would be madness to speak
now, with no credentials, no proof of identity save only your word, mi
padre. And what end would be gained by bringing an action in a court of
law (for, believe me, the heir would rightly contest such a flimsy
claim), since, on my death, the Marquisate must pass to this distant
branch of the family? No, no, let us not speak again on this question.
Later I shall tell you of other circumstances connected with my visit to
England. But now," he continued, "I must leave my own concerns for other
and more pressing business. Can you, dear padre, without great
inconvenience, go to New York with me very soon?"

The priest looked aghast at question and questioner. His fixed purpose
for years had been to live and die on this island (unless Jacobo needed
him elsewhere) the island he fondly believed to be the identical San Juan
Bautista discovered by his fellow-countryman, the great Quiros, in 1606,
for was it not, although hilly, "plain and even a-top" as described by
that celebrated voyager? And why should he go to New York?

"It is about this gold of Isaac Bennett's," explained Warner. "As a
result of all the inquiries set afoot we are at last on the track of the
Randalls. One of the letters I found on my arrival yesterday was from the
principal agent I have employed in this business. He informs me that he
hopes to have the heir in New York early in June and begs me to meet him
there and bring you, too. I had the good fortune when in England last
year to come across the Blue-book of the New Zealand Land Company, and
discovered Fred Randall's name there as one of the claimants for redress
from Government. As the address of each claimant was necessarily given,
it greatly simplified matters, as we knew exactly where he was in 1852
(the date of the claim), and also that he had at that time a child, for
whom he also claimed, whose mother, we have since ascertained, was Isaac
Bennett's sister. I cannot tell you how thankful I shall be to be
relieved of this trust. It seems we lost a great deal of time in
prosecuting the search for so long in New Zealand, for the Blue-book
states that Fred Randall left the colony in '46 or '47 and that he did
not marry till '49 or '50. You will go, my father?"

"You think it is really necessary that I go?"

"I do indeed, and the change will do you good. It will seem like a new
world to you; we shall look in vain for our old lodgings by the Battery,
now."

"But I do not think there will be a steamer going for some time," said
the priest, tentatively; "and I must send to the Marais Fathers at Upolu
if I am to leave my people for awhile."

"Suppose I go along to the harbour now, and find out what vessels are
expected," suggested Warner. "I have some baggage there, and a sail will
be just the thing for me."

"Bueno mi hijo," returned the padre, "there is now a fine breeze. As you
come back, go ashore by Taku wood and you will find me near the river. I
go there to catch my favourite fish for you, and in your honour I take a
holiday."

"Mil gracias, mi padre!"

And the two parted, secretly rejoiced that the tension of the past hour
would be broken by a temporary separation.

CHAPTER III.

O Captain, my Captain! Our fearful trip is done,

The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won.

The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,

While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:

But O heart! heart! heart!

O the bleeding drops of red,

Where on the deck my Captain lies

Fallen, cold and dead.

WALT WHITMAN.

IF Warner set out for a ten miles' sail to the harbour in the hope of
obliterating the impression of the dream, Geronimo Encarnacion betook
himself to Taku wood with the express object, of discovering his special
duty in regard to it.

Jacobo had dismissed it and the interpretation thereof as beyond the
bounds of consideration. But one must not stop the ears when God speaks.
And one must have time to look into such matters, and silence and
solitude.

So the good priest called for Juan de Dios and his fishing tackle, and
having given his servant with the remarkable cognomen (John the Baptist)
orders to bring lunch in three hours' time to the river-side, set out for
the wood. With every appearance of haste, lest he should be delayed, he
crossed the small tableland upon which stood the cottages of the natives
and the coral church, and was soon beneath the shade of a fine avenue of
immense vatu trees, their long tassels of pink and white flowers filling
the air with delicate perfume.

Here, 'little brown, bare-breasted children ran from their play that the
good padre might sign them with the sign of the Cross. But he did not
linger with them as was his custom, neither did he pause to chat with the
scattered workers in the garden-plots of the natives--gardens he had
himself assisted to lay out, and which now looked gay with glossy-leaved
coffee plants, pink-flowered tobacco clumps, and yellow-blossoming cotton
bushes. The padre's thoughts this morning were otherwhere, the cry of the
dream-father ringing in his ears "I want him! oh, God. 'how I want him!"

Presently he had left the level land and was descending a hill clothed
with trees about whose bark and branches the trailing convolvulus had
wreathed itself in dense coils, and at whose feet orchids sprang in
luxuriant loveliness. Then came ravines, their sides all but hidden by
lofty tree-ferns, the floor of the wood carpeted with wild cinnamon and
nutmeg, and here and there more stately flowering plants. Away below ran
the river, sparkling wherever the sun's rays pierced the green tracery.
There the wood was more open and a breeze from the sea perceptible.
There, also, above and beyond every other boon, was solitude.

Without glancing at the bait Juan de Dies had provided, the padre cast
his line and, oblivious of the necessity for silence if he would catch
fish, commenced to think aloud while he paced up and down the bank. As at
San Carlos, so here, whenever he desired to thrash out any question he
betook himself to solitude, and ranging the pros. and cons. in
opposition, after the method of St. Ignatius, would deliver himself of
them in his sermon voice. But now he forsook the office of preacher, or
rather regarded himself as both hearer and preacher combined, one who
must equally endeavour to convince and be convinced. When Jacobo was with
him the padre invariably spoke English, as otherwise he had little
opportunity of preserving his knowledge of that language. And this
morning, as the matter he was about to discuss had reference solely to
Jacobo, he unconsciously stated his arguments in English, broken at
times, and occasionally sprinkled with Spanish.

A remarkable figure he presented as he strode forwards and backwards,
fighting mentally for and against himself--a spare, tonsured figure, clad
in gown of spotless white su1u, from his neck depending a wooden cross,
from his waist a rosary.

"It is not," he commenced, "that Jacobo is angry with his father. Oh, no;
in his heart there is no longer any anger towards anyone. No, it is not
that; Jacobo has always the good heart. But what says he? He says, and
has always said, 'I have done all in my power to unsay my wicked oath,
but see, the oath still stands, it will not, cannot, be wiped away, so I
will try no more, it is the law that I suffer. I make the oath, I must
then keep it. I must not again try to undo it or more sorrow will come.'

"Bueno, I say. But now let me go over all that he has done to put aside
this great oath. First, he would write to his father more than twenty
years ago when he came to me at San Carlos. He is determined so to do;
then he discovers that he is already dead in his father's sight, and that
they have even put up the monument in their church in Inglaterra. So he
does not write. He thinks his father wished him to be dead. Then he no
more cares to live until the sweet señora comes, and again all is bright
once more. They will go to the English lord and the bad vow shall be now
washed out. But no. * Yo creo en Dios, but oh, what mystery, what pain,
what grief!"

And the speaker's voice throbbed with the emotion evoked by memory.

"Now come I to the most grief-ful part--the time when Jacobo gives up and
will try no more to do away with the oath. Poor fellow! ** Lo compadezco
de todo corazon! Yes, it was in April, a day like this, that I see
Jacobo--Jacobo, who, fifteen months before I left so bright. I am then at
Upolu where the Bishop had placed me. That month he tells me to look for
La Colombe--the ship of the Société pour le progrès de l'océan--for it
will bring me books and a Madonna and St. Joseph for the little church.
So I am there on the shore just after matins, and I find La Colombe at
anchor, and the mission priests who came in her on shore. They have only
two hours, for the vessel goes to take them to other islands, so I talk
with them and receive the books and the box with the Blessed Virgin and
St. Joseph."

Here the padre paused to cross himself, and perhaps to gain breath to
describe what he had always regarded as the supreme moment in his life at
Upolu.

"They will see my church, so I walk with them, and we return to the
shore, for La Colombe is raising her anchor. The priests go on board, I
bid them farewell, I turn among my people who watch the ship, and I see
there a strange man, and as I look he turns also from watching the ship,
and when his look falls upon me he smiles, and I wonder and wonder till
he is by my side and saying * ' Padre mio soy su hijo, su hijo Jacobo!'
Jacobo? Yes, yes; I was glad, though all at once the sun seemed black,
and beneath my robe I made secretly the sign of the cross. Jacobo here?
He had quickly come to my station. And the beautiful señora, where was
she? And why is Jacobo so thin, and his clothes--why so old?

* I believe in God.     ** I pity him with all my heart.

But he will tell me everything, everything, from the time I bid them
adios before they marry. And he tells me how he is left on that terrible
island Tristan D'Acunha found, far, far away from everyone, on his way to
New Zealand, and how his heart was eaten out with sorrow. How he waits
day after day, week after week, and month after month, yet no ship comes
to take him away to England and the señora. At last he can wait no
longer, but will go out, without telling anyone, in the frail boat on the
open sea, and by good fortune, or I should say gracias á Dios, was picked
up by whalers. He was almost drowned and his boat quite lost, yet be was
surely away from the terrible island.

"As he tells me these things I ask myself 'Why, why, and again why,
should such troubles come?' But to him I said only, § ' Y pues mi hijo?'"

"The whalers were very kind, and though they were going round the
Horn--not the right way for Jacobo-- they promise to put him on the first
ship they sight. But it is close to Juan Fernandez they are before they
fall in with one, and that was La Colombe with the mission priests on
board. The Capitan tells him he will surely find a vessel for England at
Upolu, and Jacobo had gone already to the British Consul to find

* It is I, your son--Jacobo, my father §And then, my son if this were so
before I came down to the shore. And Jacobo was glad_to-morrow at noon a
ship would call and sail for England. Once more he would be with the
señora and all again be well!"

The padre paused for a moment to moisten his lips.

"Ah, the poor señora! Jacobo said, * ' Ella tiene un motivo de tristeza,'
but § ' El fin corona la obra.'

"To myself I said, **' Bien Vengas mal si vienes solo,' but I, too, hoped
for the best.

"And now comes the great, the crowning obstacle. It tears my heart, so I
hasten. Jacobo must have other clothing, so later we go to the store of
the Yankee. While Jacobo speaks to him I take in my bands The Polynesian
from where it lies upon a bale of cotton-prints. And I see there
something that makes me cry out before I know what I do.

"Jacobo turns to me and say, ***'? Qui tiene Vuestra?' I speak not, then
he snatch the paper at which I am staring and reads that his wife is
dead.

**** "Tocante á eso, no se qué decir. Dead! Ah, God! Dead in all her
beauty and youth and happiness--dead for nearly seven months! My heart
breaks for him. There can be no mistake; her name, her age, her town that
she was born in, all so true. For the marriage name she had not yet
taken. She wish not that the poor Irish know she is married.

"What mystery, what pain, what grief! Jacobo he pushes the paper in his
pocket and walks out away--away from the ship--away to the hills. I
follow; I say, 'Tenga, paciencía, caro hiji mio; tranquilicese Usted;
there will, perhaps, be some mistake.'

* She has cause for sorrow § All's well that ends well.

**Troubles rarely come alone. ***What is the matter with you?

****I scarcely know how to speak of it.

"But he speaks not, and he walks fast, so fast that I can scarce keep
with him. On and on we go far up the mountain, and the sun sets and the
stars come out, and still he will not stop. Then all at once he staggers,
he falls upon the ground, he can no further go.

"That night I go not to Vespers, ah, no; I could not. I would not leave
the poor stricken fellow. But be knew not that I carried him those miles
back to the mission. At last he is safe upon my mat and I give him water,
but he say only, * ' Yo me ahogo! Yo me ahogo!'

"Ah, those were sad days when no one must speak of these troubles. I must
put away, too, the paper about the gold I find in his pocket, for the
sight of it would bring back all his sorrow. He goes for weeks and months
blind and deaf to all that went before be touched Upolu, and when one day
I say, quietly, 'Will you not go now to Inglaterra and see your father
and the brother of La Condesa?' he say, sharply, 'No, no. Do not speak of
it; I ought never to have tried to undo that solemn vow, for that I am
now punished.' Then, more sadly, he say, 'They want me not, to them I am
dead; dead I will be.'

"I urge him, I say, '? Quién sabe? I there may be a little son?

"But he turn roughly upon me, 'If we can be told of a death out here we
can be told of a birth,' and he will listen no more to any entreaties.
And that, for Jacobo, is the end.

"But for me? No. So again I say, 'I myself will send a letter to the
Marchese!' And Jacobo reply that if I do he will go away, away where none
can find him. He say if his father want him why does he not put again
some notice in The Polynesian, why not send some people to look for and
find him? The marriage paper and the portraits the señora had with her,
these the Marchese must have, or if they are lost then there is the
letter with the heart-break which Jacobo wrote at the island D'Acunha
found. Why, then, is not that letter answered? And if everything be lost,
then of what use to fight against God? So Jacobo reply to my urgings.

* I am drowning!

"And to-day comes this vision of the father longing to ask his son whom
he has banished to forgive him. Is it not that now I must at last speak,
that I delay no longer? Yet, who knows if sorrow will not follow should I
write to the Marchese of Inglaterra? If the vision be indeed not from
above and I bring only more sorrow upon Jacobo whom I love so well? Ah,
that an angel would come and tell me 'Speak,' or 'Do not speak,' for I
know not what I must do!"

The distress of the padre was so real he had lost all cognisance of his
surroundings. To all intents and purposes be was waiting at heaven's
gate. He paused, his head thrown back, his gaze fixed on the blue vault
above. Would not some white messenger cleave the air and by some definite
pronouncement make duty unmistakably clear? He waited; still expectant,
only to start in genuine alarm when a quiet voice be him said, "Se ha
servido, mi padre!"

Lunch ready? How could that be? As yet the fish were not caught, much
less were they cooked. But Juan de Dios had not lived with Padre Geronimo
for twelve years without knowing well, besides a few Spanish phrases,
what usually happened when his master "preached in Taku Wood."

Privately he regarded these sermons as highly con-ducive to the catching
of fish, for he found little difficulty in taking a goodly number about a
hundred yards further down the river. The smoke from his earth oven was
plainly visible when the padre turned at his servant's voice, and there,
in a pleasant perspective was Jacobo, who had followed the stream up from
the sea. On the quay he had opened some luggage which it had been
impossible to bring from the harbour yesterday, and when luncheon was
over, to the great delight of the priest, be produced a number of
beautiful photographs.

There were views from and of almost every part of the world--mountain
scenery, arctic scenery, scenery of lake and plain; and there was much to
tell and to hear, for Warner had visited in person at some time or other
all the places represented.

Presently he took from his breast-pocket a smaller set of views, and
passing one over to his friend said, quietly, "That is the churchyard
where Eleanor lies, and that is her grave."

"You saw it, then, my son ?" and the padre's voice was very tender. "I am
glad that you went to your town."

"No, no, I did not go to Hurstwick; I could not have borne to tread those
familiar streets. No, this is Friston-Boughton churchyard, the lovely
little village where she met death. I should like to tell you what
discovered there, and afterwards, my dear padre, we will not speak of
these things."

Then the younger man told how, after an expedition to Iceland, he last
year summoned up courage to go to England for the first time since he
left it a boy of nineteen. Sure that he would not be recognised, he had
ventured to Friston-Boughton, and had been greatly surprised to find that
his wife was buried there and not at Hurstwick, as he had always
supposed. That he learned that her death was the result of an accident as
she was posting to Hurstwick on her return from America, and (most
singular and distressing fact) that the stone above her grave bore the
inscription: "Sacred to the memory of Eleanor Gavin Jones, née Ronaldson,
formerly of Hurstwick, who died November 10th, 1848, aged 27 years."

At this quotation the padre could no longer refrain from interrupting the
recital. "Oh, mi hijo," he exclaimed, "my dear Jacobo, it will be as I
have always thought. There was a child. See, there is the child, but no
father for it, so they have put this name that La Condesa and her son
shall not be evil spoken of. Ah, blessed mother of God! If only you had
gone there long ago! But even now--did you not ask for the child?" he
broke off to inquire, and awaited the answer with intense eagerness.

"Dear padre," returned Warner, sad conviction in his tones, "she left no
child. These people with whom I stayed were quite certain on that point;
they would have heard of it if she had, they were sure. And when I tell
you I stayed with the parish clerk and his wife, you may know I could not
have gone to a better source of information. This man (Davidson he is
called) remembered perfectly the burial of Eleanor. He told me who was at
the funeral even. No," continued Warner, in answer to an observation made
by his companion, "no, the husband was not there. Davidson understood
that Mr. Jones was in America. Someone who came over from Hurstwick to
the funeral told him so. No it was not Tom Ronaldson, probably his bank
manager; Davidson had forgotten the man's name. Jones was the name given
at the funeral, and as I told you just now Jones is the name upon the
gravestone, though that had only been put up a few months before I was
there."

"But then," commenced the priest, greatly puzzled, "why marry her as they
have, unless there were a child? She could not have--"

"Nay, nay, do not hint at such a thing," interrupted the other, as he
strode up and down, his anger at the unspoken suggestion barely kept
within bounds. "Let us not quarrel. No, she would never have married
another had I never returned and she had lived to be a hundred."

"Nay, Jacobo," returned the priest, tender reproach in his voice, "such a
thought came not to my mind. But she may have given that name as hers,
waiting till you could come and she should use her own, which is yours.
See again, and that will prove that I am right. She gives this name
because soon she will be a mother, or, if not, why should she not keep
her own which she bears till her marriage? The brother, you say, was not
at the burial; that is surely because he is not returned from New
Zealand. She dies and none is there to whom she may tell of you. If she
has already, before she is ill, called herself by this name Jones, she
cannot afterwards change it. But she would not (I say it with all my
heart) have taken this name had there not been a child."

Warner had listened patiently to this long explanation, then he said:
"What you say, my padre, may be true in some respects, yet the fact
remains, there is and was no child."

"I think those people must be wrong who told you there is no child. Was
it before their own door that this accident comes that they know so
surely there was no child, or was it not far from their cottage in a far
away hacienda? And the padre of the English church and the people at
whose house La Condesa died, have you not seen and spoken with them all?"

"No, I saw none of them. The clergyman, who has only been there about two
years, was not in the village then, so I could not see the books, and
what excuse could I have made to the people who were with Eleanor at the
last? If they knew her as Mrs. Jones what good could I do by going and
upsetting their ideas? No, I was better away from them, more particularly
as I should have probably stumbled upon my brother-in-law there."

"The Señor Ronaldson?" exclaimed the priest, in great astonishment. "Why
should he go there now, since that his sister has been dead so many
years?"

"It seems these people (they are maiden ladies) have brought up a child
of his almost from babyhood," explained Warner. "The boy--for it is a
boy--was sent to Switzerland, I gathered, when he was about twelve, and
there was some talk of his going back to Friston last summer to meet his
father there"

"That is a strange story, my Jacobo," said the padre, his eyes fixed on
his companion's face. "Why is the boy brought up away from his father and
mother? Why is he not living at Hurstwick? Why is he kept away while he
is a baby, boy and young man? Nay, answer me not, Jacobo; I see you
cannot tell. But now I will tell you. That child will be your own son,"
he continued, with convincing impressiveness, "and because you, his
father, have not come forward to own him he must be kept away from the
friends of his true parents lest evil shall be spoken of him and his
mother. Ah, Jacobo," and the old man rose, and tenderly laid his hand
upon the other's shoulder, "be not like your father, the Marchese, but go
quickly and claim your son. Let him not suffer for your silence. Delay no
longer."

It was impossible to remain unmoved during this invocation, and it was
some little time before Warner had his voice sufficiently under control
to reply. Then, linking the priest's arm in his, and raising his head as
if to take in fresh strength from the beauty of the azure sky as it
canopied the wood and stream, he said:

"Dear padre, you are mistaken. I have no son. This boy bears the name of
Jack Ronaldson. There is no manner of doubt about it. Davidson, the
clerk, was present at the child's christening and has seen the entry in
the church book fifty times or more; so that he knew it by heart and
repeated it for my benefit. I had to explain that I was very distantly
related to some Ronaldsons, and had been struck by the name on a
gravestone in the churchyard."

"But the boy--what was in the church book about him?" inquired the padre,
with almost feverish anxiety.

"This: 'John, son of Thomas and Eleanor Ronaldson, of Hurstwick.'"

"Eleanor?" echoed the priest, as a drowning man clutches at a straw.

"Yes, Eleanor, but Eleanor is not an uncommon name, though Eleanor Gavin
is. You see, dear padre, if this boy were my Eleanor's son, he would
naturally be known by the same name, Jones--you see that?"

"No, no, my son; I cannot see anything but this: that the boy you have
heard of is your own child. Do not ask me to believe he is not, for the
angel I but now prayed for has come into my heart and has told me this.
And last night the vision has come to you of the breaking heart of your
father. Ah, dear Jacobo'"--and the Spaniard's tones fell as balm upon the
wounded heart Warner had carried for years so bravely, so securely
hidden--"you have told me so often, you know, that at the centre of every
flint is a sponge. Now it is that the Marchese has no longer the hard
heart, but is crying out for you that he may see you before he goes hence
and is no more. Your father and your son both call you. You must heed."

As the old man explained and entreated, Warner listened and mused. What
if, after all, things were as the padre had pictured? What if he had been
wrong in accepting Eleanor's death as an intimation that, like Cain's
offering, his effort to abjure his vow was and ever would be rejected? Or
that later theory of his that all he had suffered was but the natural,
automatic consequence of his own and his father's wrongdoing, and that
any further endeavour to undo the wrong was foredoomed to failure. Ought
he to have tried again? But no, there could be no child or he would have
heard of it long since.

Yet, that Eleanor should bear the name of Jones distressed him beyond
measure. It was a personal injury to her, so it seemed to him, to let it
rest above her grave. But what could he do? Having kept silence for so
long how was it possible that if he spoke now his story would be believed
and Eleanor righted? He had suffered many things because of his oath, but
that Eleanor should, to all posterity, go down as the wife of some
unknown Jones was to crown sorrow with sorrow. He must brace himself,
however, to bear what he was powerless to alter. "No hay plazo que no se
cumpla, ni denda que no se paque,"* broke in Geronimo, his face aglow
with the fire of hope.

"Let us leave the matter now, dear padre," said Warner, rousing himself.
"You, who believe that all our life from start to finish lies in the hand
of God, that a pressure from His finger here or there shapes it in this
form or the other; and I, who believe that we ourselves, or those
connected with us, shape life by acts we elect to do or leave undone,
shall we not each await with patience whatever Time may bring? We need
not fear, I dare not hope, I must not, cannot, act."

An orange-breasted dove cooed in an adjacent tree, the harsh clang of the
Vesper bell, softened by distance rang through the wood. Yes, the friends
could afford to wait.

*All is not lost that is delayed.

CHAPTER IV.

"He needs no other rosary whose thread of life is strung with beads of
love and thought."      THE ZEND AVESTA.

WHEN Jack left Heather's Edge he had fully determined to go direct to
Geneva. But on the passage from Dover to Calais he drifted into converse
with a gentleman who, accompanied by two sons, aged respectively fourteen
and sixteen, was making a tour of the Continent before returning to New
York.

Just as the boat entered Calais Harbour the American said, bluntly, "Say,
can you make it convenient to go around with me and the boys? If so, I'll
make it worth your while; you know the lingo, and you evidently know the
places I want to see. My name is Chalfont Merridew, acting lawyer to the
United States Treasury. I'm good for two hundred guineas and all 'exes.'
till June next. If those terms suit give me your name and your hand. I
want nothing more, for, if I don't know who I've got to deal with after
half-an-hour's talk, my name is not Chalfont Merridew and I'd better let
the President have my checks at once."

Now Jack had given much thought on the railway journey as to what name he
should adopt. To make use either of Jones or Ronaldson would be to insult
his mother's memory, and he at last decided to take the first surname his
eye fell upon on reaching the next station, so was able to reply without
hesitation, as he offered Mr. Merridew his hand, "Warner, Mr. John
Warner, sir."

To his intense gratification he found himself, with out further parley,
attached to the travelling ménage of this American with the prospect of
seeing New York in less than twelve months' time.

Jack's linguistic powers deprived the tour of that host of disagreeables
which invariably dogs the steps of the tourist who knows no language save
his own. Mr. Merridew, thus at liberty to enjoy himself thoroughly, was
consequently annoyed on reaching Constantinople to find letters rendering
his immediate return to New York imperative. Murmurs arose, too, from the
young Merridews Why might they not continue their travels with Mr.
Warner? Mr. Warner was, of course, very young, but three months' close
companionship with him had convinced the lawyer that his sons could not
be better off in older hands. So the desired permission was given, and
the young people set out by themselves to visit the Holy Land. and later,
Algiers, Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Berlin, One sole stipulation did Mr.
Merridew make, and that was that the trio should reach New York not later
than the coming June.

So it happened that a week before the Marquis of Pierhampton received the
remarkable and gratifying news that he was a grandfather, his grandson,
with the young Merridews, embarked at Hamburg for the States. Jack had
immensely enjoyed the months spent in travel, and their influence upon
him physically and mentally was very marked.

Now he was about to set foot in America, and as soon as he had delivered
himself of his charges it was his intention to commence and follow up the
search for his father. There must be people, even at this distance of
time, who remembered his mother; it was absurd he told himself, that all
trace of her should have been lost. The banker had failed because he had
been afraid to push inquiries. Jack had no fears; moreover, it was
imperative he should have a name to offer Jo. before he made formal
application for her hand to the carver next November. Mr. Merridew had
been extremely liberal, so the search would not prove abortive for lack
of funds.

That gentleman, however, seemed in no hurry to lose sight of Jack, and
the sons were full of plans to make him acquainted with "the land o'
freedom." At dinner on the night of their arrival, a campaign on New York
City, to be made on the morrow, was eagerly discussed.

But with the entrance of dessert and the retirement of the servants, the
lawyer brought forward another proposition.

"'I had almost forgotten," he exclaimed, "but whatever you do or leave
undone to-morrow, remember you are all expected to be at the Hotel London
at four o'clock."

"Some horrid call, I suppose," said Granger, the younger of the brothers.
"1 hate making calls, and a call at that hour will break into the day and
upset it altogether."

"You've plenty of days before you," returned his father; "Mr. Warner is
not going to leave us yet awhile."

"And you'll never forgive yourself if you don't go," remarked Miss
Merridew, the lawyer's maiden sister, who had occupied the place left
vacant at her brother's table ever since his wife's death twelve years
before. "But tell them, Chalfont, about the people they are to see; when
they've heard the story they'll want to go fast enough. It's more like a
fairy-tale than anything I've heard since I was in my teens."

"Pray let us hear this modem fairy-tale, sir," said Horatio, the elder
brother; "I'm rather too well-travelled," he continued, with mock
pretentiousness, "to go into heroics over a trifle."

"Well, here it is, and I'll wager you will have nothing so pretty or so
singular among all your newly-acquired old stories. I shall condense as
much as possible. Once upon a time--"

"Oh, come now," interrupted Granger.

"Well, we'll consider the preface as said, and without further
circumlocution or use of legal phraseology be it known unto you all and
severally that in the year 1844--three years before the outbreak of the
Californian gold fever--one Isaac Bennett, sometime first mate on the
Boston sloop, the Falcon, 'struck ile.' In other words, he wandered into
the San Joaquin Valley, from thence to the Nevada Foot Hills, and there
found gold. And continued to find it, and in course of time (two years)
filled a cave with the findings thereof."

"Draw it mild, father," interposed Granger.

"That is exactly what I am doing, my child. Behold, then, a cave, three
feet long and seven feet high, nearly full of fine gold upon which three
or four valuable nuggets rest. Remember, too, that this cave is or was,
situated on the Foothills of the Nevadas, which at that period scarce
knew the foot of any human being save the gentle savage Indian."

"And the cave has only just been discovered with the goldfinder's last
will and testament cut in cruciform characters on the rock," ventured
Horatio.

"Nothing of the sort, my dear fellow, as you shall hear. In October,
1846, the gold amasser comes to grief, meets with an accident which
proves fatal. The air is already darkened by the vultures who impatiently
await his last-drawn breath, when a stranger appears upon the scene,
disperses the vultures and gives the man aqua ardente."

"Wounded man makes him his heir. Lucky beggar!"

"Not so fast, Granger. The nuggets are pressed upon the new arrival, who
turns out to be no stranger, but a passenger on board the vessel in which
the said Isaac had been an officer before he went into the Boston trade.
Isaac, revived by the spirit, recognises his succourer who, by the bye,
bears the same name as yourself, Mr. Warner."

And the lawyer turned and bowed to Jack.

"Perhaps he'll prove a cousin three times removed, and you'll come in for
the yellow boys, Mr. Jack. That would be a capital finale to this lengthy
modern fairy-tale. Can't you hurry up a bit, father?"

"Well, the gold dust is to be despatched to the finder's sister, and Mr.
Warner, the new arrival, promises the dying man that she shall have it,
though at the time he gave the promise he had no idea that he was
undertaking such a big job. I'll leave you to imagine for yourselves the
difficulties attending the transport of this gold across the San Joaquin
Valley, just when our people were making a raid on the country. However,
this Mr. Warner in due course reaches the Mission of San Carlos outside
Monte Rey. There he falls ill. The Mission has been sold by auction, the
purchaser comes to take possession. These events happened nearly
twenty-three years ago, and ten days back the money reached for the first
time the hands of the rightful owner."

"But how did they get the gold away from the Mission ?

"Ah, I thought, Granger, you would take the thing seriously at last."

And Jack was evidently as greatly interested as the brothers.

"The deus ex machina in the case was one of the Mission Fathers, who
succeeded in getting the invalid and all the gold on board a vessel bound
for this port. In due time the specie was transported to Washington, and
has lain in the States' Treasury awaiting its rightful owner ever since.
Of course, we have made use of the money, and have paid for the use of
it. We wanted cash very badly in those days, and if this unexpected
windfall did not actually avert national bankruptcy I may safely say (at
this distance of time) that it largely influenced our determination to
purchase California."

"Well, I never! The fairy-tale is actually budding into an historical
event," remarked Horatio, while Jack followed with the question,

"Why wasn't the gold claimed before, sir?"

The Sarah Bennett could not be found, perhaps because the Mr. Warner, who
in the spring of 1848 himself set out for New Zealand (where she was then
said to be), was unfortunately stranded on the island of Tristan d'Acunha
en route, and it was months before he had an opportunity of getting away.
Then he was taken just in the contrary direction, to the Samoan islands,
and there fell ill. I believe his illness was caused by some domestic
bereavement, but of this I am not certain. I know, though, that nothing
was done in respect of the claim for seven or eight years, when this Mr.
Warner wrote giving us this explanation of his long silence. Since then
he has been indefatigable in his efforts to fulfil his trust to the dying
Bennett, and his efforts are at length crowned with success. After a most
careful examination of all the facts we are convinced the rightful owners
have been discovered, and you are all to go and have a look at the
fortunate ones to-morrow between four and six o'clock."

"It's not half a bad story, Aunt Sarah," remarked Granger, with amusing
patronage, "but tell us, father, how much money there is."

"Well, I'll tell you what it amounts to in English pounds, and you can
work it out in dollars at your leisure. It's a nice little sum, and we've
nursed it well; just now it amounts to something like a quarter of a
million pounds English."

"My word! That's something worth having!" observed Horatio; "but then as
like as not it will soon be scattered. People who are not used to money,
and have a fortune all at once showered upon them rarely use it wisely,"
he continued, with the air of l'homme sage.

"What sort of a chap is the heir?" was Granger's next question.

"You must go and see for yourself," replied Merridew, senior, and his eye
twinkled if it did not in reality wink across to his sister. "Now don't
put on any patronising airs, Horatio," he continued; "I shouldn't be
surprised if you find quite a family party to receive you; very likely
the old Mission Father as well as Mr. Warner. They have begged that the
affair may be kept as much as possible out of the newspapers, indeed,
they appear most anxious to avoid anything like publicity."

"They want to avoid being squeezed, I expect," interpolated Merridew
major.

"I don't know about that, but I know they have declined several
introductions I offered them. However, as I have had the sole conduct of
the case for the Treasury and they are pleased to express themselves as
thoroughly satisfied with my methods, they could scarcely refuse me when
I proposed that the members of my family should pay a complimentary visit
before they leave for England."

"It's a pity they are so anxious to return," remarked Aunt Sarah, "it
would only be fair to spend their money where they found it."

Jack had listened with mingled feelings to this curious history. At
first, with the indifferent interest one gives to purely impersonal
matters, then, when a Mr. Warner proved to be an important factor in the
story, an apprehension seized him lest unpleasant consequences should
follow were the false and the true Warner to meet. He would formulate an
excuse for not accompanying the Merridews on their visit to these
nouveaux riches.

Hitherto, Jack's self-appropriated surname had caused him not the
slightest inconvenience, no one had ever questioned his right to it, or
had even ventured to ask whether he was a member of the Warner family of
Blank, in Blankshire. Granger Merridew's curiosity, it is true, had led
him in the early days of their acquaintanceship to suggest that it would
be wiser to have one's own name painted on one's travelling bag rather
than some one else's. For Jack, determined to carry away everything that
had belonged to his mother, was using his mother's bag which, until he
laid hands upon it, had never been touched since Ronaldson ransacked it
twenty years before. As he now silently resolved to avoid any contact
with this other 'Warner, he was struck by something that seemed familiar
in the narration of the "modern fairy tale" by the lawyer. It would
indeed be a remarkable coincidence if two people, in the very same year,
should leave America for New Zealand and each be prevented reaching that
colony. Could it be possible that here was a clue which, if followed up,
might bring him the information he so earnestly desired? Then and there
Jack silently determined that nothing should prevent his making one of
the party of callers on the morrow, and more important still, that he
would confide everything to Mr. Merridew without delay. Naturally he
would be his best adviser, for not only had he proved himself a friend,
not only was his legal ability of the highest, but he had knowledge,
personal knowledge of the United States and New York City. So that summer
night in Central Park, he introduced the subject as they two stood
together in the Belvedere.

"My mother was married in New York City or State," he commenced, "and I
am anxious to discover the church where the ceremony took place." Then,
feeling that it would be wiser to tell the whole story as Miss Barnard
had detailed it, he did so,

His listener was deeply interested, it was a case after his own heart.
Cautious, though, as lawyers should be, be committed himself to no
opinion, though he bid Jack be of good cheer.

"I'll sleep on your story, and we will formulate some plan towards the
solution of the mystery to morrow. At present I do not think I would
advertise for particulars of the marriage. Our population has been almost
nomadic during the past twenty years, and the event will not be fresh in
any one's memory. I grant you it would very probably have brought an
answer had your uncle advertised when he came over after your mother's
death. But, you must remember, in 'the forties' newspapers were not sown
broadcast over the land as they are at the present day. Where did you say
you were born?"

"In Derbyshire, England."

"Yes; but where?"

"At the village of Friston-Boughton, or rather at a small farm-house
about four miles from the village."

"Ah! indeed! And---- But we'll talk again tomorrow, for here come the
boys."

Although Jack made no reference to the fact that the Mr. Warner of " the
modern fairy tale" had been prevented reaching New Zealand the very year
that his mother had spoken of her husband as having been delayed on his
way thither, the coincidence had not failed to strike Mr. Merridew. " I
must draw the old Mission-Father," was his unspoken comment.

An invitation for Miss and the young Merridews to take lunch with
relatives next day enabled the lawyer to carry out a project he had
formed in the small hours of the morning.

"Certainly you must go to your Uncle Ben," he said, when the boys made
objection. "I'll take charge of Mr. Warner. He can drive to the office
with me and we'll meet you all at the Hotel London at four o'clock, when
I shall introduce you to my clients."

"You didn't tell us how these nouveaux riches are called," remarked
Granger.

"Your father told you, my dear," said Aunt Sarah, for the lawyer was
occupied with his letters, "that the Sarah Bennett married a Mr.
Randall."

"Oh, Randall, quite an ordinary English name; but that won't be good
enough for them now. You'll see they'll be coming out as Vere de Veres
before long."

Aunt Sarah smiled, she liked to see young people happy.

"Randall père now, will be some fat, pompous creature with fat
capon-lined."

"Don't be an ass, Granger," interrupted the elder brother, severely.

"And Randall mère," continued the younger, nothing daunted, "will have
red cheeks, red nose, red elbows (she'll be sure to have her elbows on
show), and hair to match."

"Shut up, silly; it's a pity there are no sophronista stones to throw at
your head, you'll never learn discretion," remarked Horatio.

Then, turning and addressing himself exclusively to his aunt and Jack, he
said, in his most sententious manner:

"It's always a mistake (in this case, of course, a misfortune) when the
wife has the money; it humiliates the husband and brutalises the wife."

This observation produced a general outburst of hilarity--Horatio's wise
sayings contrasted so strangely with his hobble-de-hoyhood.

"What's this? A Daniel come to judgment?" exclaimed the lawyer, rising,
as a servant entered to say the trap was in readiness. "We must be off
now, Mr. Warner."

And, as the boys accompanied their seniors into the hail, Horatio
whispered to Jack, "Don't forget to make up to your namesake this
afternoon; he had the nuggets, you know!"

CHAPTER V.

"I'm sorry that I spelt the word,

I hate to go above you,

Because," the brown eyes lower fell,

"Because, you see, I love you!"

"I SHALL drive Mr. Warner towards West Point, Vedder, so take the ears
and meet us at Vesey Street not later than half-past eleven."

The groom touched his hat and turned in the direction of the stables,
while the lawyer and Jack set out unattended.

"Now we can speak freely," remarked Mr. Merridew, as they bowled along
Fifth Avenue. "I want a few more particulars before deciding what course
of action to pursue. Your case interests me greatly, and, as the Randalls
have been discovered after a lapse of twenty-two years, I see no reason
why your missing parent should not be unearthed. But I must honestly tell
you that, so far as I am able to judge you have acted foolishly in coming
to an open breach with your uncle. Granted that his appearance (which
annoys and mystifies you) is a self-imposed penalty for some folly of his
youth, granted even that he is a liar as well as bungler, I still
maintain it would have been wisdom on your part to have kept in touch
with him."

As Jack slowly shook his head the lawyer continued, "There must be money
to come to you from your mother, I should imagine, and--"

"Perhaps he has expended it all on my education and bringing up, sir; if
so, I shall have the joy of knowing that I am not indebted to him for
anything."

Mr. Chalfont Merridew regarded his companion narrowly, silently
questioning the source of so much bitter resentment. His next utterance
chased the flush from the young man's cheeks, leaving them of lily
whiteness. "Who is she ? " was the short, simple, significant inquiry.

Now Jack had made up his mind to leave Joanna's name entirely out of the
case, and had repeatedly assured himself that the reasons he had given
Mr. Merridew for his breach with the banker were more than sufficient to
explain and justify that act. ' The lawyer evidently thought otherwise,
and it was manifest he would not now be gainsaid. Indeed, his
professional success he largely, though privately, attributed, to the
role of confessor which he invariably assumed towards his clients.

"I will tell you everything," commenced Jack, but still be hesitated. To
speak of his love at all was a hard matter; indeed, what bearing could it
have on the case?

"Let me help you," said Merridew, kindly. "She is beautiful, good,
accomplished, but unacceptable to your uncle because she lacks wealth and
position."

"That is exactly the case," cried Jack, relief and gratitude apparent in
his tones. "You can't know her, though; how did you manage to guess so
correctly?"

"I don't know her; of course not.' She's no country woman of mine I
should say--certainly not a New Yorker? "

"No, indeed," returned Jack. "She and I did lessons together away at
Friston-Boughton until I was fourteen. We've known each other ever since
we were quite small; but, as I told you last night, I was sent to
Switzerland for six years, and when I went back last August and saw
Jo.,--I mean Miss Davenant--I--"

"Confound you, Bess! Why can't you behave yourself? There, there, my
pretty! So, so, that's better. I beg your pardon for interrupting you,
Mr. Warner, while I congratulate you on keeping your seat. Bess has few
tricks, but, unfortunately, only indulges in them when one is off guard.
You're all right, I hope?"

Jack was all right, though he confessed it was almost a miracle that he
had not been shot on to the road.

"And there was nothing for her to shy at," he remarked. "To rear up like
that for nothing seems scarcely natural. Perhaps some part of the saddle
is pressing; or a dragon fly might have stung her. Shall I get down and
haul her over?"

"She's all right now. I must be more careful. But please continue your
story. This lady Miss-- who did you say?"

"Miss Davenant," replied Jack.

"What fault has your uncle to find with her? Has he seen her?"

"I don't think so; I don't know. But I do know that he authorised Miss
Martha Barnard, in whose house I was born, and where I lived till I went
to Switzerland, to tell me he would never give his consent to my having
anything to do with Joanna. Miss Barnard was very insulting about it; his
money, she said, would never be thrown away upon her. Oh, she was
extremely rude."

To Jack's astonishment the lawyer chuckled. "Excuse me," he said, "but I
can't help being amused when I hear of a stoutish old maid planting
herself as a dam in the tidal wave of young love. She's bound to go
under, you know; it's only a matter of time and tide. But what surprises
me is this: your uncle knowing you, ought to know, just as truly as I
did, that you could not care for any girl who was not worthy of his and
your position."

"Thank you," said Jack, gratefully. "But Mr. Ronaldson knows far less of
me than you do. He has never seemed to wish to gain my confidence or
affection."

"Yet he offers you a good price for your companionship now," observed
Merridew.

"Yes, but he wouldn't meet Jo. as an equal."

"So as he wouldn't receive her, you determined to have nothing to do with
him? I don't blame you. I should have thought he would have been thankful
for you to have married a nice, good girl, such as you describe. It's
rather a risky matter to advise young lovers (for one thing advice is
about the last thing they'll take, so I rarely offer it). But I don't
mind telling you that if your lady friend is all you say, I should stick
to her, money or no money."

"I couldn't think twice about it," said Jack, simply, "and that makes me
so anxious to find my true name. I wouldn't offer her Mr Ronaldson's at
any price. And I shall have to work to make her a home. Bu you must know,
sir, that I haven't spoke to Joanna yet."

"Not spoken to her?" exclaimed the 1awyer, as he solemnly shook his head.
"Foolish, very foolish. If you don't tell a pretty girl you love her
before you leave her, the chances are ten to one that some other fellow
will, and when you return with name and fortune secured you may find your
bird already caged or flown."

"But I told her uncle, Mr. Davenant," rejoined Jack, who, recalling the
secret that had leapt to the girl's eyes in the moment of parting, would
not be depressed; "he knows my love for her, and he knows that as soon as
I have found my true name I shall ask him formally for Jo.'s hand. I do
hope we may find it before next November," concluded the young man,
fervently, "for then I come of age."

"Well, I'm glad you've spoken to the uncle. We have our work cut out, for
November will soon be here. Now," continued the lawyer, lapsing into his
professional manner, "did any incident in the narrative of the nouveaux
riches I detailed last night strike you as bearing on your case?"

Jack nodded impressively.

"Of course, it may be only a coincidence, yet the year, I take it,
corresponds, and the object of the voyage--New Zealand. We'll work this
clue for all it's worth. We'll go this afternoon, half-an-hour earlier
than the boys, to the Hotel London, and if possible see Mr. Warner and
the old Mission Father."

"What about my using the name 'Warner'? Would you advise me to drop it
now?"

"Certainly not. The use of it may help to introduce the sort of
conversation we are anxious for. I'm not sure whether he and the padre
have returned to New York yet. They accompanied the Randalls to
Washington some ten days back when the Sarah Bennett money was made over
by the Treasury, and from there they went on to Indiana to see the caves.
Mr. Warner is great on geology. Indeed, he is a splendid all-round man, a
great traveller and, (as I incidentally learned the other day) a
contributor to the chief scientific periodicals of the world. For a
number of years scientists have endeavoured to find out who 'J. B. W.'
is, but no editor could inform them. No money has ever been demanded for
his contributions, and no address sent with them."

"He must be a man worth knowing," said Jack. "I do hope he may help us."

"I hope we shall find him at the London this afternoon, we can then
arrange an interview for to-morrow. But all this time I have shown you
none of our lions, and here we are at Vesey Street, and there's Vedder.
We'll get down."

After bestowing a well-deserved pat on poor Bess the two men passed into
the Broadway.

"I must show you something or the boys will be eaten up with curiosity as
to our doings when we return. Twelve o'clock, I declare! Well, we'll go
in and have a look at Old Trinity. Yes, if the church itself is not old,
its site is, and so is the parish. As for its wealth well, Crœsus himself
was a pauper by comparison, and when I tell you that the original grant
for church and parish was called Queen Anne's farm, and was made over to
the city in her reign, you won't fight the question of antiquity."

Some time was spent in the beautiful Gothic pile of brown sandstone, a
young structure of five-and-twenty summers, standing where two of its
ancestors had stood and fallen, its cool and calm interior contrasting
markedly with the glare and feverish bustle of the Broadway outside. The
oaken pews with their carved scrolls and flowers reminded Jack of the
less elaborate but ancient carvings on the pew doors of Friston-Boughton
Church.

Then Mr. Merridew told the story of the brave curate, Mr. Inglis, who
persisted, after the Declaration of Independence (and on one occasion in
the face of a band of soldiers who entered the church with flags flying,
drums beating, and bayonets pointed), in beseeching "Almighty God to
behold with continual favour, our most gracious sovereign, King George."

"His church was burned, himself sent back to England, while his
sovereign, in true republican fashion, was thereafter included in the
petition for 'all sorts and conditions of men,'" concluded the lawyer as
they emerged into the outside glare.

"And here is Wall Street," he continued, "as ever, spiritual and material
forces rubbing shoulders. This is the arena where fortunes spring up like
mushrooms-- where, also, they are lost with equal celerity. Here the
rail-splitters, the 'corner' men, the creators of 'bulls and bears,'
jostle one against the other in their feverish quest for the almighty
dollar. Now I must just call at my office, then we'll get lunch at
Delmonico's."

Luncheon over Mr. Merridew remarked:

"We must get rid of this dust, and on all accounts I want you to make the
best appearance possible. So much depends upon a first impression. If you
make a good one, Mr. Warner may open his mouth in regard to his past; if
not, we may whistle and wait indefinitely for the information we want."

It was very good of his patron to take so much interest in his concerns,
Jack thought and openly acknowledged. "That's nothing, lad," returned Mr.
Merridew. "I took a liking to you the first time I saw you, and if you
had disappointed me I should have lost faith in my judgment for ever.
Mind you, I'm not sure that we shall find any one to receive us, for we
shall be a full half hour earlier than we are expected."

Just at 3.30 the two were seated in the elevator of the Hotel London, and
a minute later were ushered into an apartment on the fifth floor, their
entry heralded in the attendant's most nasal tones, "Mr. Merridew, Mr.
Warner."

Though the spacious room was darkened by Venetians and additional
coolness conveyed by the flowering plants and tree ferns placed here and
there, Jack, nevertheless, felt the air surcharged with electricity. He
had scarcely thought it possible he should have been so greatly affected
by this meeting with Mr. Warner. Yet how much depended upon it!

At the first glance the room appeared unoccupied, but as Mr. Merridew
advanced at a quick pace Jack saw that a lady rose from the depths of an
easy-chair, a lady who, though her face was in shadow, was evidently
young and slight. Then he heard the lawyer say, "I must apologise for
coming quite half an hour before the time I named, but my friend Mr.
Warner here-----"

And the speaker paused and stood aside to introduce his friend.

"Mr. Warner ? " echoed the lady in faltering tones, and with outstretched
hand.

The next moment the latter was clasped by Jack, but all he could say was
"Jo.? Why, Jo., how came you here?"

For a long moment they looked into each other's eyes until Mr. Merridew,
no unmoved spectator, broke in upon the silence with well-simulated
surprise:

"Then you know each other ?"

"Know each other?" echoed Jack, finding voice, as he led Jo. to a seat.
"I should think we do know each other. This is Miss Davenant, the lady of
whom I told you this morning."

And the pride thrilling through the young man's tones made the lawyer
somewhat apprehensive as to how he would act when the exact state of
things had been realised by him. At present it was evident he had not the
slightest idea that Miss Randall the nouvelle riche and Miss Jo. Davenant
were one and the same.

"But tell me how you come to be so far from dear old Friston? What a very
long honeymoon your uncle has taken; I thought be only intended to go to
Paris."

"We haven't seen The Gap since the wedding," said Jo. making a great
effort to recover her composure. "I am longing for a breath of moorland
air."

"You do look pale," remarked the young fellow with concern; "I fear I
startled you coming in like this, but I had no idea of seeing you, no
thought but that you were back at The Gap where I so often picture you."

He seemed unable to remove his eyes from the girl's face and for the
moment had entirely forgotten the lawyer's presence. As for Jo., joy and
confusion at this unexpected meeting had created a perfect tumult in her
heart and she vainly struggled to appear at ease. What would Jack say and
do when he knew all? And why, knowing nothing, had Mr. Merridew brought
him this afternoon--Mr. Merridew, who was well aware that her uncle and
aunt were driving until four the time fixed for the reception of his
family?

But the lawyer had taken up a book and appeared oblivious of the lovers.

"I hope you won't go back yet, Jo.," Jack said, in earnest tones. "I only
arrived last night. And now I must explain why I am calling myself Mr.
Warner. But first let me say that Mr. Merridew and I came to the hotel
this afternoon in the hope of seeing another Mr. Warner. I suppose,
though, that the man made a mistake and took us to the wrong room."

And Jack, remembering the lawyer, turned inquiringly towards him and was
disconcerted to find that gentleman apparently deeply interested in the
book he held. He. raised his head, however, at Jack's question, and shook
it, slowly, but significantly.

"No mistake?"

Jack was puzzled.

"Then where is Mr. Warner?"

Jack rose from his seat. There was mystery in the air, and in some
unaccountable way be felt he was being victimised.

"Explain," he said, hoarsely. The lawyer rose. Jo. alone remained seated.

"My dear fellow," explained Merridew, "the lady you call Miss Davenant is
in reality Miss Randall, the sole inheritrix of the fortune Mr. Warner
held for so many years in trust."

The statement was sufficiently definite in all conscience, but Jack as
yet did not comprehend the position.

Then his eyes travelled to the dress of the lovely girl, in whose cheeks
the rose and the lily followed each other in alarmingly quick succession.
The robe of soft white silk in which roses of palest pink were enwoven,
and whose adornment was priceless lace at wrists and throat, told him the
truth he would never have guessed from its wearer's countenance.

"My God, is it possible?" he at length exclaimed, almost in a whisper.

Jo. was ready to sink to the floor as she noted the effect of his
recognition of the truth. The light of joy had vanished from his eye, his
figure drooped, his whole attitude was that of one stricken sharply,
suddenly, irrevocably.

In deep distress, but with a world of tenderness in tone and touch, Jo.
was beside him, her hand upon his arm, her glorious eyes gemmed with
unshed tears. But Jack saw her not, the unpretending richness of her gown
claimed all his thoughts, for the story it told was the story of his own
undoing.

"Qu'as tu donc?" cried the girl, her voice trembling with emotion. "Qu'as
tu donc? Ecoutez! Je vais renoncer toute suite cette fortune bête; J'en
parlerai--"

At this moment the door at the farther end of the long room opened, and
the nasal tones were again heard proclaiming the advent of "Miss and Mr.
Horatio and Mr. Granger Merridew."

For Jack the tension was broken, and, seizing his hat, without look or
word of farewell, he made his exit through a door on his left, and
rushing down the staircase, was unaware that he passed and almost upset
Mr. and Mrs. Davenant, who were hastening to welcome their expected
guests.

CHAPTER VI.

Farewell! since all divides us now, the heart

Must come away. My thoughts no longer dare

Fly to thy breast and lodge in secret there:

But like storm-driven birch outnested, dart

Hither and thither. Lo, in every part

Shattered I see my bower of patience, bare

My hope's green garden, ruin everywhere.

Farewell! now all proclaims it. Where thou art

I may not be: these eyes must lose their light,

Silence invade mine ear; death, death to all

That yesterday was very life! I call

These truths into my soul--it will not hear,

But smiles within me still, as one whose ear

Is held by distant music in the night.

                LAURENCE ALMA-TADEMA

WITH the recovery of his physical powers Jack's mental faculties sprang a
once into vigorous action, and as be stepped on to the busy thoroughfare
the atmosphere of unrest surrounding him was reflected in the turmoil of
his soul. There thought jostled thought, to be in turn hustled, thrown
down and trampled upon by other thoughts equally boisterous and
impetuous.

Reasoning under such conditions was impossible, yet Jack attempted it.
Why had he been such a fool as to refuse the banker's offer? With the
name and fortune Mr. Ronaldson had been ready to bestow he might have
ventured to approach Jo., even in this hour of her wealth. As it was he,
the nameless, the friendless, the poor was for ever cut off from her!

"By my own act, too, and in the teeth of the advice of those who only
desired my good." So he cried in bitterness of spirit, unmindful of the
jostling crowds, who were indeed equally unmindful of him.

"If I had had but the commonest sense I should never have left Heather's
Edge without telling her of my love--never have risked the possibility of
losing her. Merridew himself said as much this morning. As it is, I've no
claim on her, nothing to go back on, nothing to plead. I haven't even a
name to offer her! Life, fortune, love all staked on a single chance! The
veriest bumpkin on the face of the earth would have shown more sense!
Now, now that she is rolling in wealth, how can 1, how dare I go to her?
Lovers? She'll have lovers by the score, and I, through my dumb folly in
the past, must stand aside, while they pretend to discover her
excellencies--excellencies they would have been blind to were it not for
the golden halo that surrounds her! But how dare I talk like this? She is
an angel, transcendent in beauty and goodness, and had I name and fortune
and she were penniless, I could never, never be worthy of her."

So, sometimes gaining audible expression, sometimes in a silence more
oppressive than speech, the bitter conflict with circumstance waged in
the young man's breast. Time was as heedlessly passed as the throngers of
the streets, and Jack was equally careless as to his whereabouts.

As Old Trinity rang out the hour of five his elbowing career was brought
to a sudden stop by the sound of a sharp, familiar voice, and he became,
for the first time, aware that for the past hour he must have been
hurrying round the square in which the Hotel London stood and before
which he was now brought to a standstill.

"No, young man, you shall not enter here! I will not permit it!"

And the form of Miss Martha Barnard seemed, to Jack's perturbed vision,
to widen out indefinitely until it stretched across the spacious opening
that gave ingress to the hotel. He had no idea this lady was in New York,
but nothing in his present condition had power to surprise him. He was
about to pass on with lifted hat when she seized his arm.

"And it will be of no use for you to attempt to call later on, when I'm
back in my rooms, for I shall give strict orders that Mr. Jack Ronaldson
is not to be admitted here."

Perhaps something in the young fellow's appearance made her give pause,
for she added in the nearest approach to an apologetic tone she could
muster, "I gave my word to your uncle that you should have nothing to do
with Jo., and I'm a woman who keeps her word, as you know. I told him,
too, that whenever I knew where you were he should know, and he'll have a
letter sent off to him to-night. I don't want to know your address--it
will be for him to discover that if he wants it."

Jack as yet had said nothing, but that he was in an extremely unpleasant
position was very evident to Mr. Merridew who, at this moment appeared at
the top of the hotel steps. Smothering all token of the relief he
experienced at sight of him, he hastened to join the pair. With a bow to
the lady, he said:

"Ah, Jack," using that familiar name for the first time, "I want to take
you over to Governor's Island before dinner. Please excuse him, Miss
Barnard, he shall call and pay his respects to you another day. I think
your number is 84, Fifty-seventh Street, is it not?"

Miss Martha could scarcely believe her eyes as she saw the American
lawyer, of whom she had stood somewhat in awe, fraternising with her
former charge, who was in disgrace with everybody on account of his
obstinacy and independence. How had the two become acquainted.
Astonishment made her dumb for a moment, and in that moment Merridew and
Jack walked off together.

Anxious to give the young fellow time to recover himself the lawyer
chatted exclusively of passing objects as they wended their way to a
theatre-box office.

"I should like you and the boys to see Joseph Jefferson in Rip Van
Winkle. He's playing it at the Olympia to-night. I'll telegraph to my
sister to come along with them after dinner. We'll take ours on
Governor's Island and join them later."

Jack was dimly grateful for an arrangement which would-postpone his
pupils' inevitable discussion of the nouveaux riches, and more thankful
still to find he was not expected to carry on a conversation with their
father.

"Yo must see Agnes Perry before the Old Broadway closes," remarked the
latter, when he and Jack were bowling down to South Ferry. To himself he
said, "It would never do for him to see her to-night, he might be
inclined to regard Old Love Letters as prophetic. Agnes would unman him
entirely." But his manner was extremely matter-of-fact, and gave no
indication whatever that anything of an extraordinary nature had
occurred. Yet Jack was not slow to discern and, with something like
bitterness, apply to himself a certain significance in his companion's
otherwise commonplace observations.

"There's a big thing we're putting up," remarked the latter as they
passed extensive building operations newly commenced. "The plans for it
have been accepted by a specially appointed set of commissioners and
endorsed as satisfactory, indeed, admirable, by many of our leading
citizens. But if they are carried out we shall have a costly white
elephant and an ugly one to boot. It's surprising how differently plans
work out on paper, and in bricks and mortar."

Jack pulled himself together. It was abundantly evident Mr. Merridew
entertained no doubt that his, Jack's, plans had been proved unworkable,
and was anxious he should recognise the fact at once and form others.
This attitude of the elder man was in itself a means of bracing. Yet Jack
hesitated. His plan had cost so much to make, he could not bring himself
to destroy it at a moment's notice. Moreover, its destruction would mean
the destruction of all that made life worth living. Yet if it must go?

If a hope were doomed to extinction it certainly would be better for
everybody that it should be quickly and effectually put out. That there
would be fewer disagreeable odours in the world if people would deal
sensibly with flickering hopes was an undeniable truism. But when Jack
turned to look at his own and bring a sharp puff, puff to bear upon it,
he found it burning as brightly as it had burnt this very morning--when
he had pictured Jo. at The Gap in her always dainty attire, her harebell
eyes hinting the secret they had surprised in her heart. Surely, surely,
spite of Mr. Merridew's truism, the flame need not be extinguished.

The delicious breeze from the ocean as they stepped aboard the steam
ferry seemed rather to endow it with fresh life. Presently the two were
again on terra firma, and the lawyer was seriously narrating, to his
uninterested companion, the history of Castle William (the circular
battery of granite at the westernmost point of the island) in the
amphitheatre formed by its walls. It was a comfort to be away from the
jostle and stir of the big city, now half a mile distant, but Jack tried
in vain to simulate any interest, even in the story of the Confederate
Beall's ghost, who was said to pace the parapet on moonlight nights.

Yes, the view here was very fine, he admitted. Yet Jack saw not the
blinking waves of sea and river, as the sun in its setting poured a flood
of light upon them they were unable to meet without flinching; the deep
tender blue of the hills on the other shore, as they stood out from their
crimson background in the west, was unnoted. For him there was no colour
anywhere, save only that flame of hope within his breast; must he feed
it, or must he blow it out?

And Mr. Merridew became at length aware that he was overdoing his part,
that his companion's enforced interest was waning rapidly. So, as they
left the parapet and took their way along the quiet shore lying between
Castle William and Buttermilk Channel, the lawyer threw his disguise away
and, motioning Jack to seat himself upon a block of granite on the grass,
he at once attacked the question that occupied both their minds.

In as few words as possible he told Jack what the latter had dimly
surmised, that his love's name was in reality Randall, she being the only
child of Sarah Bennett and Fred Randall. That her father and mother did
not marry till 1849, upon Randall's return from New Zealand, and that the
couple went directly after the marriage (which took place in an East End
London church) to Amiens. There they both died of cholera when the little
Joanne was scarcely old enough to realise her loss, her great
grandmother, Mdme. Davenant, whom Mrs. Randall was nursing, having
predeceased them about a year. Had not Joanne discarded her surname for
the more euphonious Davenant of her uncle, the money would doubtless have
long since been made over to her. Her father was always weakly, and hoped
till the day of his death that the New Zealand Land Company would obtain
redress from the English Government for the monies expended for and by
the emigrants, for Randall had put his all into that venture.

Jack heard, too, that it was entirely owing to Miss Martha Barnard that
Jo.'s whereabouts and even existence had been made known. But without
giving the young man an opportunity to express either surprise or
distress at his recital the lawyer continued:

"I owe you an apology, and here I tender it. I thought, though, it would
be better both for you and Miss Davenant to meet for the first time
alone--and my presence counted for nought. Had I given you any hint you
would have refused to see her?"

"Most likely I should, sir, but then--"

"Now don't scold, my dear fellow. Miss Davenant, for so she still desires
to be called, came down pretty hard upon me for not letting her know you
were in New York. Oh, I have been quite sufficiently punished. I told
her, of course, that I had not the remotest idea that you and she were
old acquaintances until you told me so this morning. I can't say, though,
that the possibility did not strike me when you named Friston-Boughton
last night, but--"

"Ah, I see now why you asked me that impertinent question, 'Who is she?'
I hope, sir, you are satisfied with your diplomacy or your policy,
whichever you may please to call it," and with a vicious kick Jack sent a
piece of flint to find an early grave in the ocean. "Perhaps," he
continued, with a poor attempt to conceal his distress, "you will try to
see this Mr. Warner for me to-morrow, and if the----" But, unable to
proceed, he sprang to his feet with what object he knew not.

"Come, come, lad, don't be foolish," said Merridew, as he, too, rose and
linked his arm in that of his young friend "Surely, you don't think so
badly of Miss Davenant as to suppose this money will make any difference
in her friendship for you?"

"But how can I go to her, sir; I, who have neither name nor a penny piece
to offer her?"

"Tut, tut! Don't talk nonsense. As for a name, I promise you I'll find
your father if I move New York City from stem to stern. So don't let me
hear any more of that rubbishy talk. I had given you credit for more
sense. Supposing you discover that your father was related to royalty, or
that Miss Davenant were a beggar to-morrow, would you give her up? Of
course not. There are fifty ways, I tell you, by which a man can make
himself the social equal of a wealthy wife, whatever Horatio may say or
think to the contrary. Now this ought to put heart into you, though you
scarcely deserve such comforting. After my sister and the boys had gone,
Miss Davenant begged me to find you and assure you that nothing could,
would, or should make even the slightest difference in her regard for
you. She told me how the two of you had been friends in childhood, and
more. Mr. and Mrs. Davenant, too, were greatly interested to hear of you.
Mr. J. B. Warner is expected to return to-night, and I have promised to
take you to the Hotel London to-morrow evening. It will certainly be your
own fault if you come back to dine with us! But we must get our dinner
immediately, or we shall miss Jefferson in the opening scene."

"You are too good to me, sir," murmured Jack, gratefully, "but give me
time to think."

To himself Merridew said, "A fellow who, without a straw of evidence, has
built up such a firm belief in his mother's honour is a fellow worth
working for, and, by Uncle Sam, I'll wager the father turns up trumps."

But all he said aloud was "Poor Bess! She won't shy the next time she
hears Miss Davenant mentioned."

CHAPTER VII.

And how do I like my position?

And what do I think of New York?

And now in my higher ambition

With whom do I waltz, flirt, or talk?"

But know, if you haven't got riches,

And are poor, dearest Jack, and all that,

That my heart's somewhere there in the ditches,

And you've struck it, on Poverty Flat.

BRET HARTE

WHEN Martha Barnard had somewhat recovered from her astonishment she
ascended the hotel elevator and bent her steps to her sister's bedroom,
telling an attendant to inform Mrs. Davenant of her presence there.

But on her entry she discovered Mary standing at a window overlooking
nothing but slated roofs of varying heights. She appeared somewhat
anxious as she gazed down upon them, though in reality her thoughts were
fairly divided between Jo.'s distress and the reflections cast by cloud
and sky upon a tenement below. While Jack had been pacing the square a
shower had fallen, and now these undried slates appeared to Mary's eye as
sheets of fairest opal, for their lovely blue grew now deeper, now paler,
and again merged into a delicious green with faintest tinge of crimson as
sun, sky, or cloud in turn, or together, attempted to efface all trace of
the shower.

On Mr. Merridew's departure Mary had left uncle and niece together as she
often did. She wished them both to feel as free and as close to each
other as in the old days before her marriage. Her advice was never
obtruded, though her sympathy was quick and generous as ever. She was
well aware of Jo.'s anxiety to return to The Gap, and of the girl's
desire that their mode of living there should not be materially altered,
at least for some time to come. And that indefinite period Mary rightly
translated would expire only when Jack should again appear at The Gap, or
when he should have given proof that he had forgotten its inmates.

But who could have foreseen that he would appear now, and that the news
of this wonderful fortune should have been suddenly thrust upon him? No
wonder he had been upset; no wonder if he were filled with regrets that
he had not accepted Mr. Ronaldson's offer. Poor fellow!

But Mary's thoughts were chiefly of Jo. She had talked somewhat wildly
after Miss Merridew and her nephews had departed about giving back this
money. She did not want it, she never had wanted it, and she would not
touch a penny more of it, if it were to cut her off from her friends, if
Jack were to be allowed to consider it as a barrier to their former
intimacy.

Mr. Merridew had spoken wisely and kindly. Certainly this money ought not
to divide old friends. No doubt Jack was somewhat upset--that was only
natural; but he knew Jack, and was convinced he would do nothing rash.
Then the lawyer had spoken of the hope he entertained that Mr. Warner
might be able to throw some light upon the mystery attaching to Jack's
birth. But Jo. was still fearful. Jack had looked so strange when he
rushed from the room-- would not Mr. Merridew go and look for him?

"Oh, he's all right, my dear young lady," the lawyer had said; "if he's
not with me by dinner-time I'll send you a telegram."

And now Jo. and her uncle were having a talk. Martin was so good, he
would comfort the poor child. Without a doubt she would marry Jack, spite
of all Martha had said and devised.

But there stood Martha looking brimful of news and importance. Mary
turned at once. Her sister might have seen Jack; if so, he was safe.

"Oh, here you are," was Martha's greeting. "Now I needn't tell you I've
seen Jack Ronaldson, for it's clear to me you've seen him. But one thing
is not clear, so I'll ask you to explain."

And the lady seated herself on an ottoman; the heat of the day, combined
with stoutness of build and an abnormal thirst for information, was
fatiguing. "Now how does he come to know Mr. Merridew? That lawyer
doesn't go walking off arm-in-arm with a young fellow as he did five
minutes ago unless he knows him pretty well. Now tell me."

"Excuse me a moment, sister; I'll be back directly." And Mary
disappeared, and a second later, having knocked at the door of Jo.'s
little sitting-room, she entered and said, "Jack's all right, dear.
Martha saw him with Mr. Merridew five minutes ago."

"I wanted to tell Martin that you had seen Jack with Mr. Merridew," Mary
explained, for Martha wore a somewhat injured air when her sister
returned to her.

"How do they know each other so well, you ask? Why, Jack has been
travelling half over Europe with Mr. Merridew's two sons since be left us
last August, and he only brought them back here yesterday. Of course,
Jack knew nothing about Jo.'s fortune; indeed, he had no idea that she
was in New York. It upset him a good deal, I fear, but--"

"Well, I've told him pretty plainly that he will not be admitted here if
he calls," remarked Martha, with grim decision.

"Martha, how dare you give orders to or about him!" cried Mary. "It is
for Martin to say who shall or shall not visit here."

"Don't attempt to browbeat me," returned Martha, with exasperating
coolness. "I know what I'm doing, and I know that my duty is to see that
Mr. Ronaldson's wishes are carried out, as well as the promises I made to
him. But leaving Mr. Ronaldson out of the question, you and Martin must
be daft indeed to encourage Jack to dangle round Joanna now. What is he,
even with Mr. Ronaldson's money, which it's ten to one if he will ever
have? What is his name--Ronaldson? Jones? Eh?"

"Don't talk in that way, sister, of a boy we have known and loved from
babyhood. He is not to be blamed because he has no name, neither is he to
be despised, but rather to be honoured, because he has no fortune. He
gave up the chance, nay, the certainty of fortune for Jo.'s sake, as you
well know. I really am ashamed that you should think and speak as you do.
I'm thankful Mr. Merridew saw Jack and took him off. Your unkind words
would cut him keenly, poor fellow."

"And your foolish milk-and-water ways will land you and Martin and Joanna
in a muddle. If anyone has the right to give advice on this matter it is
certainly myself. Would Joanna have ever had this money if I had not
insisted upon having the certificate of her birth from Davenant? Answer
me."

"I don't know whether she might not have had it later through some other
channel, sister, but we all of us often say we wish you had never replied
to the advertisement you saw in Lloyd's."

"That's gratitude, and from people who set themselves up to have finer
feelings than their fellows," exclaimed Martha, sarcastically, as she
untied her bonnet-strings and fanned herself with a newspaper she
carried. "It's not every woman of sixty who would have taken the trouble
to cross the Channel and the ocean to put money into the pocket of a girl
that was neither kith nor kin to her. And this is my reward! However, I
shall not neglect my duty because folks are ungrateful, and whether you
and Martin deliberately choose to neglect the opportunity of making your
niece a Countess, as she well might be, I shall write to Mr. Ronaldson
to-night, and I shall tell him it is my wish that Jack does not visit us
while we are here, but that I am unable to do more than express my
wishes, seeing I am not in my own house. One word before I go (Bridget
will have tea waiting for me), let me again urge upon you and Martin the
wisdom of returning to England as soon as possible."

"We are all anxious to do so."

"Don't interrupt, please. By England I mean London. Take a house near
Hyde Park. Have Jo. presented at Court, and you will soon have plenty of
suitors for her hand--suitors Mr. Ronaldson and Lord Clanfalkland himself
would be thankful to receive as guests."

"Yet once you told me that Jo. might be thankful if Lord
Clanfalkland's--"

"Held your tongue, Mary. You have no sense of decorum. Whatever I may
have said in the past I have no wish to deny; but conditions,
circumstances all were so different a year ago. Besides, the girl
herself--who would have guessed that she would ever have turned out such
a beauty, a little rough-headed, pale-faced chit as she was at twelve? If
I had only the handling of her fortunes she would soon have a title.
There are heaps of the nobility that would be thankful to have her purse.
And now she has a picture in the Sal--whatever you call that Gallery in
Paris--she will have fame as well as money. You'll ruin her prospects
with your fads, though. However, I shall do my best for her, spite of
your ingratitude."

And the sisters, kissing in perfunctory fashion, parted.

Mary, left by herself, did not return to the window, but paced up and
down the room. The difficulty in dealing with Martha arose chiefly from
her habit of advancing undeniable truths as arguments. There was no
denying that she, and she only, had brought this wealth to Jo. how
strange that she should have insisted upon having the certificate of
Jo.'s birth, from Martin, strange that she should have copied it, and
stranger still that she should have, seen the advertisement offering a
handsome reward for information concerning the child or children, living
or dead, of Sarah Bennet or Randall. Certainly there was no denying that
circumstances had entirely changed for all the inmates of Heather's Edge
and The Gap during the past year. Neither could there be any manner of
doubt that Jo. was very beautiful. Within the past nine months her beauty
had impressed itself upon all who came in contact with her. Decidedly she
could hold her own in dignity and loveliness with any titled beauty in
England or any country. Money, of course, brought with it its own
peculiar responsibilities and duties, yet Mary felt convinced that Jo.
would make over every penny of her fortune to some charitable institution
were Jack to be driven from her side on account of it. And rightly, too,
Mary thought. Had not Jack foregone as much for her, and not money only
but name and position? Martha's arguments might be undeniable,
unanswerable from a certain point of view, but Mary's sympathies were
entirely with Jack and Jo. Indeed, she owned to herself that if it were
possible Martin should manifest a disposition to adopt Martha's
arguments, she--Mary--should feel compelled to aid the lovers.

Here a knock at the door was followed by the entrance of Davenant.

"Poor child he said, "she is happier now that she knows Jack is with
Merridew. I think Merridew was somewhat to blame, though, in not
preparing either one or both of them for the meeting. She is gone to lie
down, and will be glad if you will go to her, Mary, in about an hour's
time. She will be all right by dinner-time, she says."

Then Mary told him of Martha's visit; how she had forbidden Jack to call
at the hotel, and of her intention to inform Mr. Ronaldson at once that
the young man was in New York.

"She may tell the banker just what she chooses--I mind not. But we will
not let her order--that is to say, spoil our little Jo.'s life. No, I
have promised the child that while we are here Jack shall come and go as
he did at The Gap in the days when they were children. And when he is of
age, quite his own master, then he shall say what he wishes to me and to
her. He has the heart of gold, Mary, as you know--and how the lawyer did
praise him! Think what it is for one so young to have had those boys all
to himself for months!"

And Jo., in her darkened chamber, was rejoicing in all that Mr. Merridew
had detailed. As she lay on her bed she held Jack's parting gift in her
hand. The soft, flexible binding seemed to return the pressure of her
fingers, and now and again she would open it at the fly-leaf and press
her burning cheek or lips beneath the writing--"Jo., from Jack." Beneath,
because it was there his hand had rested when he traced the words, and so
often had her cheek or lip touched that spot she saw with shame its
whiteness was for ever dimmed.

But he was coming to-morrow, and Dads had promised to be no more angry
with him! How strange it was! Dads had thrown Jack over last year because
he would not take his uncle's riches. This year it was Jo. who had the
riches--Jo., for whose sake Jack had willingly given up, name and
fortune. And Jo. smiled to herself as the dimmed page of the little book
rested against her hot cheek, for she had resolved that all this wealth
of hers should be made over to Jack as soon as ever they two should be
married.

Why, there was no one to compare with him in looks or ways. She knew well
enough (for how could she help knowing?) that if she but lifted her
finger half-a-dozen men would fall at her feet. It was so even at Mentone
before this fortune had come to her--at Mentone, where her uncle and Mary
had taken her after the Paris visit because they thought she was ailing.
And it was when they were there that Miss Martha had come bringing the
news of some money that would be hers if she would go to New York for it.
How Jo. had hated the idea of this money lest Jack should hear of it, and
never come near her again!

But now all was well, and Jack was coming to see her to-morrow! And his
love was just as strong as over, or he would never have looked so sad
when he heard of her wealth. Perhaps he would refuse her money as he had
refused the banker's. Then if he would not have it, Jo. was determined
she would not. Well, she would have a long talk with Mr. Warner about it
when he returned from Indiana; he would understand and arrange things
just as she wished, for she and he were great friends.

He had known her father, the father she but dimly remembered--the father
who, so Mr. Warner said, had once interposed to save that gentleman's
life. Ah, it was good to have had a father so brave, and with so good a
heart! And to think that the only piece of jewellery she had ever
possessed was a little brooch Mr. Warner had sent as a parting gift to
her father!

It would be an easy matter to make Mr. Warner understand that she would
be happier without this money. Yet how could she explain? No, it would
not be at all easy, but Mary would help her.

What a lot she had to tell Jack when he came! There was the picture she
had painted in France which now hung in the Salon, and much, much more.
And he was coming to-morrow!

CHAPTER VIII.

A passionate outpouring of the founts

Of deepest tenderness and grief; . . . A song

Through all whose tearful sadness there yet shone

A mild, unshaken star, the faith sublime

That ever pointed upward, a great trust

In Him who doeth all things well.

G. STERNE.

JOSEPH JEFFERSON'S rendering of Rip Van Winkle might, or might not, be
beyond praise, for Jack, after sitting through the performance, was
incapable of expressing any opinion concerning it. His thoughts were
entirely occupied with his own concerns, and though his eyes were upon
the stage, his critical faculties were absorbed in the examination of
various roles which, on varying pretexts, presented themselves as certain
to secure distinction to whom-so-ever decided to adopt them.

The arguments and, above all, the pledge to discover his father the
lawyer had brought forward and made on Governor's Island, together with
the messages from Jo. and Davenant, had raised his fainting courage.
Despair was ousted, the mist she had created about his outlook was
vanishing; possibilities were assuming solid proportions, and once more
Jo. stood forth the goal of his ambition, as she was, and would ever be,
the queen of his heart and life.

There was logic, good logic, he silently affirmed, in Mr. Merridew's
reductio ad absurdum. As if Jo. without a penny were not a thousand times
more desirable than gold, yea, than much fine gold; a worthy mate,
indeed, for any royal scion.

But fortunately for Jack no royal scion now had power to gain her ear; of
that he was convinced, for all at once Memory presented him with a
picture she had had for some hours in her keeping--a picture which
blotted out entirely the stage, its figures and equipment. In their stead
the lovely figure of a girl, with harebell eyes, filled his vision, a
girl whose hand rested upon his arm detainingly, whose voice broke upon
his ear in a tender passion of entreaty.

"Qu'as tu donc? Qu'as tu donc? Ecoutez! Je vais renoncer toute suite,
cette fortune bête!"

Jack stirred upon his seat; his eyes were film-bound, his mind made up.
Jo. at all cost, even the cost of his pride!

Then he fell again to the consideration of ways and means, for he was
determined that the home, if nothing else, should be of his providing. He
would, moreover, make himself the social equal of his wife, as Mr.
Merridew phrased it. Fifty ways were open to the attainment of that end,
the lawyer had said, and, while the bright chorus "Rip, Rip, Rip!"
resounded through the house Jack busily weighed pros. and cons.

Yet nothing could be done until the missing father was found; for his
mother's sake, as much as for his own and Joanna's--nay, more--the search
must be pressed and New York City, as Mr. Merridew had promised, "moved
from stem to stern." Surely God would Himself aid in establishing the
honour of one who had so nobly devoted herself to His suffering poor?

But the play was over, and two minutes later the Merridew party were
warmly discussing it and the chief actor as the carriage rapidily
conveyed them to Fifth Avenue. In this new interest the boys forgot for
the time being the nouveaux riches, and Jack gained his chamber well
pleased to have successfully escaped Horatio's criticisms.

"I generally get a walk in the Park after my bath," the lawyer had
quietly remarked to the young man as he bade him good-night. "If you care
to join me I shall leave the house at seven sharp."

On reaching his room the question as to what profession or occupation he
should engage in again obtruded itself. There were, of course, eminent
lawyers, and eminent lawyers sometimes, and after many years of
successful practice, were elevated to the rank of judge. Then there was
the profession of letters. Writing might prove to be his métier, and if
he cultivated style and all that makes for literature he might find
distinction as an author.

This suggestion gave Jack pleasure. He knew his classics well; he was no
mean linguist; he possessed also a first-hand acquaintanceship with most
European cities and works of art. Moreover, the life of an author
appeared to Jack's inexperienced eye a life of perfect freedom.

He had kept a journal of his late travels with the Merridew boys. He
would have a look at it and see how it read. He might even finish it now,
for his mind was too busy for sleep. He had not written a line on the
passage from Hamburg to New York, for that--his first sea-voyage of any
length--he had determined to enjoy to the full.

Where had the thing got to? It was certainly in his bag at Hamburg, for
he now remembered he had placed it in the deep pocket that ran all along
one side, lest the German officials, with their ready suspiciousness,
should light upon it and imagine the document contained plans of their
border defences. It was wonderful how much this bag of his mother's held.
He really must turn it out.

"I don't think it has been emptied since I left Heather's Edge. Ho!
Here's the little ikon I bought for Jo. I thought I put that in the box
with my ties!"

But this was not the ikon; that was square, this was oval and smaller
than the ikon.

"Horatio must have slipped this in to give me a surprise. How he could
have done so without my knowledge quite gets over me!

Walking across to the gas-jet to examine his find more closely, Jack
exclaimed with delight as his eye fell upon one of the most
exquisitely-painted miniatures he had ever seen. And he knew good work
when he saw it.

The portrait was either by Cosway or Sullivan, most likely the latter,
and must be at least fifty years old. A lovely woman in a low, square
bodice of pale green silk, and of a charming figure, stood out against a
sky of a warm green hue. Her lily and rose complexion was wrought with
consummate art, her hair of a rich brown fell into natural waves and
curls; a knot of primroses appeared in her stomacher, and about her
slender, well-poised neck a string of pearls.

"Where could Horatio have picked up this gem? But that youth never had
the money it must or ought to have cost. It is a treasure, and no
mistake!"

By this time Jack had the bag upon a chair beneath the gas-jet, and after
diving again into the deep side pocket, he brought up another miniature,
evidently the companion portrait, probably the husband of the lady in the
bodice of pale green.

The conviction now impressed itself upon him that these miniatures must
have been in the bag when Miss Mary made it over to him last August, and
that they were connected with the story of his birth. But why had he not
seen them then?

He now proceeded to take out every article from the pocket, but
discovered nothing more than he had himself placed there. Certainly those
miniatures were not visible when he packed the bag before leaving
Heather's Edge, or was it possible that they were there in some pocket or
receptacle then concealed from view? Jack had heard of false sides and
bottoms to boxes and bags, secret drawers, and such things.

His excitement was intense, though under firm control. He would destroy
the bag utterly, if need be, in his endeavour to solve this mystery.
Taking his penknife he cut the leather pocket right out and then
discovered that the bag had, as he had conjectured, a false bottom, the
spring of which was concealed by the deep side pocket. The bottom was not
more than an inch in thickness, and when Jack drew from it several broad
sheets of old-fashioned letter-paper neatly folded, he understood how it
was the miniatures had not bulged or made their presence noticeable. They
had lain beneath the smoothly-folded paper and close to the true bottom
of the bag.

No doubt the rough-and-tumble life the bag had known of late had set the
spring in action, and so dislodged the miniatures. But that they should
have remained there, together with these no doubt important papers, for
more than twenty years, impressed Jack with the feeling that their
concealment had been nothing less than the handiwork of Destiny.

As he unfolded the packet one or two loose papers fell to the ground. But
he gave them no heed, eye and attention riveted upon the fine pointed
writing of the document he held, which bore in clear though fading ink
the heading:

Diary of Eleanor Gavin Ronaldson, 1846.

Jack recognised he was on the brink of an important discovery. What might
not these pages disclose? But bracing himself to meet the unknown he sat
down, and soon became absorbed in the story his mother had set forth.

The journal commenced--as the date proved-- directly after the brother
and sister separated for the two years' absence Miss Barnard had told him
of before he left Heather's Edge last August. And Jack was surprised at
the very evident relief this temporary separation afforded the writer;
relief, not merely because she was leaving Hurstwick for a time, but
relief because she was parting from her brother. Yet that she loved him
very dearly was abundantly manifest.

But as Jack continued to read, he soon discovered there was someone, even
in 1846, she had loved still better. Some one named Jim; some one who had
died years before; some one of whom her brother, by his peculiar mode of
wearing his hair, put her in constant and painfu1 remembrance; some one,
moreover, whom she, the writer, considered herself largely responsible
for trouble he had evidently undergone. In Dublin she would not have
these continual reminders of "the happy days" when she and Tom and Jim
"played the fool" together.

Jim most certainly (so the journal inferred) knew nothing of her love,
the love of a girl of seventeen, who had even then resolved that none but
Jim should ever woo her. Even Tom was not made acquainted with the girl's
secret.

"Poor Tom! It helps him, I suppose, to wear his hair-coat. Ah, well!"

Then came a description of the horrors of the potato famine, the call of
the Rev. John Jones, and the writer's glad response. Afterwards the story
of the emigration project, the landing and detention in New York, the
coming of a Spanish priest to minister to the party of Irish the writer
had in charge.

From the chronicling of this latter circumstance the whole atmosphere of
the journal changed. The writer's devotion to her charges was as great as
ever, perhaps greater. But a wondrous joy had place of the calm pleasure
her work had hitherto afforded.

The "Jim" she had so long regarded as, dead was actually alive--she had
seen and talked with him! Self-regret was banished, her outlook was
brightly tinted, a song of gladness sped the hours from dawn to dark.

Then came passages to read which Jack somehow felt to be an injustice to
the dead. Was it right that any should enter the very holy of holies of a
woman's heart? To do so was certainly sacrilege, albeit a revelation.

Did good women love as this woman had loved? What if Jo. loved him with a
love so pure, so strong, so tender, and, withal, so elevating! His whole
being thrilled as he contemplated it. Could he ever be worthy of such
affection?

Again the journal claimed him. The importance of keeping the unexpected
meeting with "Jim" a secret until the brother (away in New Zealand) had
returned was more than once referred to, as well as the necessity for
caution in disclosing the very questionable fact of his existence to his
father, the Marquis of Pierhampton, until the disposition of that
nobleman towards the son with whom he had quarrelled could be
ascertained.

Here Jack unconsciously dropped the diary and, in his agitation, paced
the room. Could it indeed be possible that he was the grandson of the
Marquis of Pierhampton, grandson of the nobleman whose sole surviving son
was not only childless, but an invalid? If so, then he, Jack, the
hitherto nameless one, was heir to the marquisate! Jo ? Jo. a
marchioness? That was the very position for her! But softly; the marriage
he had yet to read of--yet, perhaps, to prove.

Deeply agitated, he unconsciously stooped and picked up the hitherto
unheeded papers that had fallen to the floor. A moment afterwards be
became aware that he held between his fingers the long and vainly-sought
certificate of his mother's marriage with "James Bagshot Warner, of
Pierton Abbey, Hurstwick, England," a letter, too, from that individual
penned on board the Clytie, as well as a letter in his mother's
handwriting addressed to "Mr. Thomas Ronaldson, Hurstwick, England"--this
last dated a month before the writer finally left New York. With
difficulty Jack restrained himself from going straight-way to Mr.
Merridew. There was no mistake, of that he was convinced. But now his
thoughts were no longer of Jo., no longer even of himself, but of those
two cut off so cruelly from each other just when their future had worn
such roseate hues. Eagerly Jack returned to the journal in the hope of
discovering further tidings of his father. But though no more essential
fact than the loose papers contained was to be found in its pages, Jack
was able to understand how comparatively easy it had been for his mother
to leave her charges for thirty-six hours without provoking comment. Then
no home such as New York has now at the Battery existed for arriving
emigrants; consequently the members of Eleanor Ronaldson's party were
scattered, and, many of them being sick, she rarely saw them all on the
same day.

The hand of Fate Jack seemed to detect in all this business. Evidently
his mother had had no desire to marry until her brother's return; but
when, after accompanying Jim to Boston to see him off by the fast ship
(one of the first steamboats to run to New Zealand), that vessel was
delayed at its moorings another twenty-four hours, she had been unable to
resist her lover's pleadings. And if the marriage preliminaries required
by English law had been in vogue in Boston the marriage could not have
taken place, "and then," Jack silently commented, "I should be
non-existent.

The irony of fate culminated in the fact that the last entry in the
journal had been made at Heather's Edge the very morning of the day on
which the writer died. It was not possible for Jack to read these final
words, so redolent of hope, so sentient of love, with undimmed eyes:

The thought that Jim may come with Tom to-day to take me on to Hurstwick
fills me with joy too deep for words. How often have I blamed myself for
letting him go from me; sometimes, too, have I blamed myself for yielding
at the last moment to his prayer that we should marry. Yet no, I would
not have things other than they are; it is so sweet to know that he is in
very truth my dear, dear love, my sweet sweetheart, my husband! Ah! what
joy will be his when he knows of our little son. Fly, fly! oh dragging
hours, and bring my dear love back to me! But it may be that he and Tom
have not yet met, and that I must tell all the wondrous story before he
can return. Tom will not, perhaps, at first believe; he will, perhaps, be
angry that Jim is not with me. But it is I myself who sent my dear love
away; I only am to blame for this. Jim, dear heart, would have me go with
him then and there. Ah! how masterful he was, but I was firm. My work
remained undone; I had upon me the care of all those unhappy Irish. How
could I leave them in their misery and drown myself in happiness: I, I
who had already drunk of it from a brimming cup? Ah! that parting! But
courage, it is now the hour for meeting; my heart almost stands still; it
is so full of joy, for if Jim comes not with Tom we shall see him soon at
Hurstwick. No, no, Thou God of Love, who hast the wide world for Thy
pleasure ground and eternity for enjoyment, Thou wilt not, Thou couldst
not, snatch our tiny garden plot of happiness from us.

Later. These people here tell me I must not expect "my husband" before
ten o'clock to-morrow. Evidently they think Tom is my husband, and it
will not do to undeceive them, or Miss Martha (the elder sister) might
put me to the door, she is so very, very proper. The singular thing is
that, as Tom and Jim have both been to New Zealand, when I am speaking of
the latter, these people imagine I am referring to the former. But what
does it matter? Next year Jim and I and little Jack will come here and
tell these sisters the wonderful story. Supposing Tom should not have
reached Hurstwick! I will telegraph to-morrow for Mr. Brotherton. I feel
I must tell someone my secret before I enter Hurstwick. He is a man to be
trusted, and he would go for me to the Marquis. Ah, if only Mr. Jones had
lived he would have done this for me long ago! But I am getting
despondent. Wake up, O heart; thy love flies to thy side. No longer shalt
thou bear thy burden of secrecy; no longer shall cruel tongues prick nor
cruel glances stab thee. Thy suffering time is spent; joy is at hand.
Why, Tom will have to cut his curls off! What a glad man he'll be! But I
wish he could have been with me to-day. Now, my sole confidante, my book,
I put you away for the last time in your safe hiding-place with the
miniatures and my marriage lines. The letter I wrote to Tom explaining
all will not be needed, yet I will leave it; one never knows what may
happen. Why do I thus forbode sorrow? The false bottom I had made for
these precious things will discover itself to anyone who diligently
searches the bag, and Tom will search diligently; the spring acts well.
My dear, dear love, I kiss my heart to thee; it aches for thee. Come
quickly and shelter me within thine arms! My head that I have held so
proudly longs--ah! God knows how much it longs!--to lean once again on
thy dear breast. For, through life, through death and on through
immortality I am your love, your wife!

Your

ELEANOR GAVIN WARNER

CHAPTER IX.

Tell me, gentle traveller, who hast wandered through the world and seen
the sweetest roses blow, and the brightest gliding rivers, of all thine
eyes have seen which is the fairest land? Shall I tell thee, child, where
Nature is most blest and fair? It is where those whom we love abide. The
space may be small, but it is more ample than kingdoms; it may be a
desert, but through it runs the river of Paradise, and there are the
enchanted bowers.

THE ZEND-AVESTA.

BEFORE ten o'clock next morning Jack was seated in solitude at the
lawyer's office penning, by that gentleman's advice, an account of his
wonderful discoveries to the Marquis of Pierhampton and Mr. Tom
Ronaldson.

Merridew, in his own private sanctum, was busy with a copy of Debrett's
English Peerage. "The difficulty, as far as I can see the only one," he
solioquised, as he examined the statements under "Pierhampton," "will be
the identification of the personage who married Miss Ronaldson with this
Lord James Bagshot Warner, whose death is given here as having taken
place in 1837. There is no manner of doubt that she recognised him as the
'Lord Jim' she had so secretly and romantically attached herself to in
her girlhood. But the question is whether, not the Marquis, but the
heir-apparent will make that a point of dispute. Fortunately the journal
casts some light on the intervening years between the supposition of his
death and his appearance in New York. This Don Guadeloupe Vallejo is
actually living, I believe; at any rate, there is a town named after him
in California. Then Thomas O. Larkin was over here last month with his
family. He will inform us whether he had an English friend calling
himself 'James James' in the forties and if 'James James,' 'Lord Jim,'
and J. B. Warner, Esq., are not one and the same, and the father of
Master Jack here I'll--well, I never make rash promises, but if I'm wrong
I solemnly declare I'll eat my new silk hat."

And the lawyer rose and put Debrett in its place. He felt like a
schoolboy in his gladness.

"I'll go at once and ferret him out, he was to return last night, and
when I've put one or two leading questions we shall know where we are.
But Jack must give me a copy of the marriage certificate."

So he looked in upon the young man, and while the latter made the
transcription, Merridew took up The New York Tribune, which hitherto he
had had neither time nor inclination to examine. In turning to the stocks
and shares column, his eye was caught by the heading in leaded type, "A
Romance in English High Life." A glance at the printed matter below
revealed the names "Marquis of Pierhampton," "Lord Jim," "Miss
Ronaldson," and in a few minutes he was aware that young Jack's right to
the title of the Honourable John Warner was not likely to be disputed in
Hurstwick. The "romance" was almost a literal reproduction of the details
published by command of the Marquis in the Hurstwick Advertiser the
Saturday after the receipt of the d'Acunha letter, and Merridew found
himself in the triumphant position of instrument in furnishing not only
the lacking marriage certificate but the lost heir himself.

As Jack handed him the copy he had asked for, the lawyer silently pointed
to the newspaper article, and hurriedly leaving the room proceeded at
once to the telegraph office, whence he cabled to Pierton Abbey--
"Marriage certificate found. Further particulars follow.--Merridew, U.S.
Treasury lawyer."

The next moment he was driving post-haste to the Hotel Cosmopolitaine,
and to his delight found Mr. J. B. Warner and the Spanish padre there,
and willing to receive him.

Jack, newspaper in hand, was rooted to his chair. The rapidity with which
the dense mystery, which had surrounded him from his very birth, had
dispersed itself, almost took away his breath and power of motion. But
all at once the consciousness that this strange story must be lying read
or unread in every house and hotel in New York roused him to instant
action. Snatching up the letters he had written and sealed, be gave them
to a clerk for immediate despatch, and, turning the key upon the room
containing the precious journal and certificate, he boarded a street car
and was soon scaling the steps of the Hotel London. If Davenant got wind
of his position there was no telling what he might do.

An hour later Miss Barnard burst in upon Mr. and Mrs. Davenant as they
were quietly discussing family matters.

"Was that young Jack I saw in the hall as I got into the elevator ? "she
asked, excitedly. "If so--"

But here Davenant interrupted, anxious to avoid anything like a scene.
"Jack was here for close on an hour this morning, and only left because
Mr. Merridew sent a special messenger for him. The lawyer wanted him at
once; he thought he had found his father."

"Yes, sister, and even if that should prove a false hope, we decided last
night that nothing shall interfere with Jack's friendship for Jo.,"
continued Mary. "and I may as well tell you at once they will marry when
he comes of age."

"I'm very glad to hear it," was Martha's surprising rejoinder, as she
sank upon an ottoman and commenced to unfold the newspaper she carried;
"in fact, I hurried up here on purpose to advise you both to do all in
your power to keep up the intimacy between the two."

"Really, Martha, I confess I cannot understand you," said Mary,
chidingly; "last night you were going to write to Mr. Ronaldson--"

"But I didn't!" interrupted the other, with an energy surprising in a
woman of sixty-one. "No, I was sharper than that, I cabled--cabled, you
understand? I knew Mr. Ronaldson would refund the money."

Martin and Mary looked unutterable things; it appeared an impossible task
for either of them to attempt to comprehend the speaker.

"And lucky I did so, though I must say I generally do have luck with my
ventures, be they guinea-fowls or a cow in calf," continued Miss Barnard.
"Oh, you dreamers!" (and here her contempt flowed in an overwhelming
flood upon the devoted heads of her listeners) "when will you act like
ordinary human beings and read the papers? Here, take this, and when
you've read the story it tells be thankful you have a relative whose head
is stocked with brains, instead of pegs for foolish fancies to dangle
from!"

As the wondering pair took the proffered journal, Martha observed with
immense self-complacency:

"You will notice that a large reward is offered for any news concerning
Jack's whereabouts. Of course, I could claim it, but I have resolved to
say nothing about it. I shall prefer to be the adviser of the young
people who are so largely indebted to me."

But quite in another vein was the rejoicing of Padre Geronimo
Encarnacion. Leaving the father and son, who till that moment had never
seen each other, he shut himself in the chamber Jim had provided for him
at the Cosmopolitaine. With hands clasped behind his back, and head
erect, he paced the floor. "At last! at last! " he cried. "Ah, Jacobo, at
last! For thee these words were written; for thee are these promises."

And with the joy of him who joyeth only in the joy of another, he
repeated in Spanish those poetic words from Isaiah: "In overflowing wrath
I hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will
I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer. Behold, I will set thy
stones in fair colours and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will
make thy pinnacles of rubies and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy
border of precious stones. And all thy children shall be taught of the
Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children."



End of this Project Gutenberg of Australia ebook





This site is full of FREE ebooks - Project Gutenberg Australia